Egocentric Genealogy

 

Me.-Center-of-the-Universe-T-ShirtsEgocentric: regarding the self as the center of all things.

As with most people tracing their ancestry, my research and conclusions always revolve around me. How far back? How many generations? Where did my family migrate to and when, and how did I get here?

A few years ago, I had trouble tracing past my maternal great grandmother. (Keep that maternal word in mind for a moment.) She lived in the back hills of Mississippi and didn’t leave a paperwork trail. No census. No education. No land grants. Her family lived on the same land since the 1830s, or maybe even before as there is a Choctaw Indian connection. Members of my family still live on the land today.

A few years ago I found her brother, whom we called Uncle Sug (as in Sugar), and the family opened up. He left a paper trail. I could trace him. I didn’t realize (or care) who he was in my childhood, but now, he became extremely important to my research. He married Aunt Zeffie in 1918. He was 18, she was 13. I imagine him marrying such a young girl because of his raging hormones. He was always a flirt, a sweet-talker, a ladies man, traits I’m sure he didn’t create in his sixties. He was probably always like that.

Okay, stay with me here. The reason I found him was he was listed on my paternal great grandmother’s obituary. Yep, here’s where my family tree stops forking. He was listed as her son-in-law. Aunt Zeffie was my grandfather’s sister. Uncle Sug was my grandmother’s uncle. (This is the point where I had to explain to my mother that her Uncle Sug was also her mother’s Uncle Sug. Welcome to Mississippi.)

Here’s where the egocentric part comes in

Upon finding that info, I always assumed Uncle Sug and Aunt Zeffie met because of my grandparents. I pictured them having cocktails at family gatherings, since my relationship with my grandparents was peppered with numerous family gatherings at their country house. I pondered if other members of the family questioned their attraction. Wouldn’t you wonder why your sister liked some distant relative? I wondered if anyone on either side disavowed their marriage.

This morning, my egocentric view swiftly collapsed into a smoldering pile all around my feet.

I found out Uncle Sug and Aunt Zeffie got married (as stated above) in 1918. Never before have I questioned the years, but my grandparents were both born in 1914. They were both four years old at the time of the wedding.

earl culpepper and ina burkePhoto: In my mind, these are not and have never been little kids. —>>>

The thought of my grandparents knowing each other as children blew my mind. I have always pictured marriage beginning with a young couple meeting in their teens and falling in love. Must be the romantic fairy tales pounded into my brain as a young girl. I can’t emotionally comprehend that more-often-than-not people simply married the best person they could find in their small town. My grandparents had known each other for fifteen years before they got married. Did they like each other the whole time, or did they settle for the best person available? I wish I could ask them, but they’ve long been dead.

My egocentric view of my grandparents being the cause of Uncle Sug and Aunt Zeffie’s marriage is totally and completely wrong. As a matter of fact, since my grandparents probably met because of Uncle Sug and Aunt Zeffie, I think that makes me the product of my Uncle Sug’s 18-year-old testosterone. How strange… and a little creepy.

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