Sunday, May 31, 2009

Carnival of Genealogy 73: The Good Earth Belongs to Someone Else

I do not have any particular ties to any particular plot of land, unless you include cemetery lots where relatives are buried.

My parents did not have any ties to any land, either. My father's family moved a few times during the early 20th century in the Los Angeles area. My mother's family occupied a couple different houses in Pensacola, Florida. Together, my mother and father never owned a house. They always rented. Rats to that, because I can not use property records and tax records to locate them in any particular place. I've had to depend on city directories, for the most part. And even that is not terribly accurate, as they were known to move a couple times within a year. I know they were in Florida at the time of the 1945 state census, but I have not found them in that enumeration yet. I am waiting to see where I might find them in the 1940 census.

My husband and I now have an acre in the country that backs up to a state forest. It is nice for the most part -- until the deer meander out of the forest into the yard and eat every edible and ornamental plant I ever planted. So these days, I do not even have a garden.

I have not found that my ancestors were landed, either, to any great extent. There were some farmers, but it was a tradition that did not continue in the subsequent generations. My great-great grandfather Nelson Reed McKee, about whose disappearance I blogged the other week, is shown in the 1860 census as a farmer in Allen County, Indiana. He apparently did not make much of a go of it, because in the next census he is listed as a silversmith living in Portland, Jay County, Indiana.

Through a query in a Canadian newspaper, as I reported in my blog on cousins the other day, I contacted distant cousins in Quebec who still live on land settled by our mutual ancestor, my fourth great-grandfather Richards Packard, sometime around 1798. Reading his revolutionary war pension file reveals a constant northward trend from his native Massachusetts (he was born in Bridgewater, that portion of which is now Brockton), up to New Hampshire, where he met his wife Sally Coats, thence to Vermont, where my third great-grandfather John Allen Packard was born, and on into Quebec, where they were giving land away. He did not want to remain in New Hampshire, where he worked in a foundry. Apparently he was not satisfied with the lands he found in Vermont. He seems to have been more content with the plot he settled in Quebec, near present-day Georgeville.

My husband's father's family did not seem to be tied to the land very closely, either, though I do not have too many facts about his great-grandfather Samuel Rhoades. My husband's grandfather was a railroad conductor, as was my great-grandfather Francis Harvey ("Frank") Reed. My grandfather, Benjamin Franklin Reed, also called Frank, was a railroad switchman.

In my husband's mother's family there is a farm, no longer active as one, near Darien, GA, which is still in the family. My husband's maiden aunt Lil lives there now, and the property has been divided among some of her siblings. That is the closest thing I've seen, up close and personal, to a plot of land which has been handed down over a century and a half, the original family members having settled the land around the time of the Civil War.

There is not a real tradition of landholding in my family, certainly not as far back as nearly 200 years. I sprang from city and suburban folk, in neat little houses with neat little yards.

But even the humblest plot is home, and was to our ancestors who were not large or even modest landholders.


Bill West said...

Karen, we may be related. I'm a descendant of Reuben Packard and Anne Perkins of North Bridgewater. Is that your line as well?

Karen Packard Rhodes said...

No, I come down from Samuel through Zaccheus, Zaccheus, and Eleazer, who was the father of Richards Packard. But we're cousins of some sort, for sure! How cool!

Thank you for reading my blog.

Bill West said...

Karen, yep,I think we're cousins! Reuben was the son of Deacon James Packard and grandson of the first Zaccheus.

And I'm enjoying your blog!

Karen Packard Rhodes said...

This is so great. I have cousins popping out of the woodwork. I need to get back to work on my one-name study.