What would he be like? Would he look like his pictures? How comfortable would it be to visit with him? Would we have anything to say after the initial polite introductions? I had butterflies in my stomach and many questions running through my mind as I drove down to the Family History Library recently to do research and meet a distant cousin.
Back in 2000, Claude and I began emailing while searching for more information about Martin Ayers. I had shared some information about Martin on Rootsweb and Claude saw the information and contacted me to see what the connection was. We then began the typical exchange of sharing information and working together to try and fill in the blanks on our family trees. As is so often the case, he had things I did not have and visa versa, so we were able to help each other. We have continued to stay in touch for 13 years now.
|Claude and I with our spouses at
This is the Place Heritage Park
Martin Ayers was born in 1796 in Greenville, South Carolina and his wife, Sarah Simmons, was born 13 July 1800 in Greenville, South Carolina. They married 31 August 1817 in Greenville, but eventually moved to Georgia, where they were living when they died. They are both buried at the Bethlehem Baptist Church Cemetery in Haralson County, Georgia. A picture of the cemetery and their headstone can be found here.
Claude was researching Martin and Sarah’s daughter, Mary Anne Ayers, who married William W. Johnson and I was interested in Martin Ayers for several reasons. Martin and Sarah’s daughter Nancy E. Ayers was the first wife of James W. Ganus, who was brother to my 2nd great grandfather, John Monroe Ganus. In addition, Martin and Sarah’s son, Reuben Ayers, married Frances L. Rainwater, who was sister to my 2nd great grandmother, Olivia Rainwater Ganus. Claude generously shared pictures of descendants and pictures from his trip to Georgia and I shared information that I had been able to find at the Family History Library.
A few weeks ago Claude and his wife flew in with his local genealogy society for a week of research at the Family History Library and so, after all of these years, Claude and I were able to meet. The initial nervousness left as soon as I met Claude and his wife. Their kindness was immediately evident and their deep Texas drawl warmed this displaced southerner to her very core.
|View of Antelope Island
From the marina at the Great Salt Lake
We spent time researching at the library together while sharing more information and enjoyed going to lunch and getting to know each other better. In addition, my husband and I were able to spend some time showing Claude and his wife some of the local sites. I had a great time and was so grateful to finally meet this distant cousin and his wife.
From family reunions to research field trips, there are many opportunities to step outside of court houses and libraries into the present and make connections with cousins—opportunities that I don’t want to miss.
Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2013