May 15: Where are the siblings?

His style stands out from the rest in the collection. Could it be a clue to his identity? George, for instance, went on to become a municipal airport manager.

His style stands out from the rest in the collection. Could it be a clue to his identity? George, for instance, went on to become a municipal airport manager.

Are they brothers? Or the same person? Or even unrelated?

Are they brothers? Or the same person? Or even unrelated?

Alice McSherry had six siblings: Grant, Arthur, Edward, Sarah, George, and Mary. I’m guessing that many of the photos from Joshua Hodson’s collection, rather than his first wife’s, Josie Jones, portray them. Edward died as a child.

A knowledge of military clothing might aid identification of this subject. Ralph McSherry, for instance, served in the U.S. Army in World War I.

A knowledge of military clothing might aid identification of this subject. Ralph McSherry, for instance, served in the U.S. Army in World War I.

Advancing alternative histories

When you casually sit down with other genealogists, the conversation soon turns to alternative histories – not the ones you’re ever taught in classrooms or the textbooks, but the ones that real families encountered. It’s life viewed from the bottom up, rather than top-down. It moves the bigger, more public, picture to the background or gives details that pop the conflicts of the wider history into face-to-face struggles.

In the case of my Piedmont ancestry, both British and Continental armies marched through Guilford County and the Confederacy was just as intense for a people who had long opposed slavery. The mere fact that there were Southern yeomen who tried to buy the freedom of slaves is an alternative history you don’t hear in the conventional versions, much less the fact that many courageously refused to participate in the war. Nor do you think about marauding troops trotting off with their livestock and grain.

You probably didn’t know about the gold mines in North Carolina, either. I still want to know a lot more about the Hodgin holdings.

Discoveries like these help you appreciate similar perspectives from other families. As I said, this are the real-life histories that need to be known. They’re all too easily lost.

~*~

What has most surprised you in your own research? What stands in contrast to the general assumptions? What in your family legacy has changed the way you view history?

As I keep saying, doing genealogy is about a lot more than collecting names and dates.

Sorting through the duplicates

Could she be one of Alice McSherry Hodson's sisters? She resembles neither Alice nor a woman I believe to be Alice's mother. Or is she one of Joshua's relations, perhaps his sister Luranna Ellen?

Could she be one of Alice McSherry Hodson’s sisters? She resembles neither Alice nor a woman I believe to be Alice’s mother. Or is she a sister-in-law? Or is she one of Joshua’s relations, perhaps his sister Luranna Ellen?

Many of my family photographs appearing on the Orphan George blog – especially those displayed in the Josie Jones and Samuel Hodson album galleries – came to me by way of Floyd Hodson.

Recently, via email, I’ve received a lode of additional photos, this time by way of Michael Hodson, and sifting through them is renewing some of my puzzle-solving attempts. Both Floyd and Michael descend from Joshua Hodson’s first wife, Josephine (Josie) Jones, and many of the newly acquired images duplicate those in her gallery, with a few, as I’m finding, accompanied by actual identifications. One thing we can assume from Josie’s set is that all were taken before her death in 1891. (Hence the predominance of tintypes.)

In contrast, I descend from Joshua’s second wife, Alice McSherry, and since many of the portraits in the “new” pictures come from a collection preserved at the time of his death in 1930, I’m curious about how many of them possibly reflect Alice’s side of the family.

One approach has me trying to match up any duplicate photos, especially those from Josie’s own album, and then look more closely at the remainders. The result just might broaden my McSherry family picture.

What you see here is one of the suspects.

Lingering values, pro and con

One thing that’s fascinated me in considering religion as part of a family history is what happens when an individual – that is, a generation – departs from the earlier denomination. When it’s something as disciplined as historic Friends or Brethren tradition, the break can be something as slight as marrying into a somewhat similar stream, say into the Methodist or United Brethren of the time, or something drastic that reflects an outward rejection of everything that came earlier.

I’m interested in seeing what values continue and which ones are lost. In both the Friends and Brethren circles, for instance, divorce was out of the question, yet in one of my related Brethren lines, I was surprised by the prevalence of broken marriages among those no longer part of the faith. Not uncommon, as I’ve been told. Military service or joining secretive fraternal societies are other markers.

Not all of the values need be religion-based, either. For instance, I can now trace my great-grandmother Alice McSherry’s dutiful reading of the daily newspapers (likely deriving from her father, Amos) though my grandfather’s collecting all of the Dayton papers during World War II (“They’ll be valuable someday”) to my father’s youthful desire to be a sportswriter to my own journalism career – not that I knew of Dad’s dream until after his funeral.

As for being frugal or tightfisted or even stingy? I could trace that a number of ways from both Mom and Dad’s lines. (Well, I could just as easily have gone the other way in reaction. As I was saying about rejecting a tradition?)

There are many other values to look at. Racism, for one, or attitudes toward education and learning.

Where does this fit into your own family past and present? What would you add to the list?

Family horsepower

Leroy and James Hodson sit in a buggy drawn by a horse that has to be Prince. In family lore, the wonder steed was first purchased by their brother Samuel, who later sold it to Leroy, and since the photo's from 1918, the proud owner would have been James.

Leroy and James Hodson sit in a buggy drawn by a horse that has to be Prince. In family lore, the wonder steed was first purchased by their brother Samuel, who later sold it to Leroy, and since the photo’s from 1918, the proud owner would have been James. From the neckties and white shirts, we may assume it was Sunday.

Prince occupies a special place in my Hodson history, as I detail in other chapters here. As I’m finding, he wasn’t the horse, either.

This photo of Joshua Hodson with team Dick and Harry includes a notation, "Hauled gravel for roadmaking. Barn carpenter."

This photo of Joshua Hodson with team Dick and Harry includes a notation, “Hauled gravel for roadmaking. Barn carpenter.”

It's one of those photos without identification, other than someone's guess of Prince and Joshua.

It’s one of those photos without identification, other than someone’s guess of Prince and Joshua.

Well, despite the guess accompanying this shot, I'd say it's neither Prince nor Joshua. But the photo was still in Joshua's possession.

Well, despite the guess accompanying this shot, I’d say it’s neither Prince nor Joshua. But the photo was still in Joshua’s possession.

 

Where religion helps

Considering that my genealogical obsession (let’s be candid) was prompted by the mention of unanticipated Quaker ancestry, I’m nonetheless amazed at the central role religion has played in understanding my paternal grandparents’ roots. Arising in two distinct streams – Quaker and Dunker – theirs is far more focused and unified than I’ve found on my mother’s side.

Because both the Quakers (or Friends) and the Dunkers (or Brethren) lived within unique, disciplined faith traditions that relied on lay ministry, simple lifestyles, pacifism, intense honesty, and the like, there’s much I can say about each generation even when I lack specific materials from within the family itself, such as letters or portraits. They were part of distinctive community and its folkways. For that matter, they embodied what we’d now call a counterculture. (Gee, I never would have thought that back in my hippie days!)

This has also given me a unique understanding of Friends and Brethren history. For instance, typical Quaker accounts tend to focus on Philadelphia or London, yet many modern Friends are surprised to learn of the vitality and witness of the Carolina wing of the denomination, even if they are vaguely familiar with the Indiana (and other Midwestern) strands – that is, the lines my family followed.

Sometimes, when I sit down in Quaker worship or committee work these days, I’m comforted or strengthened by insights gleaned from these genealogical perspectives. Some of my ancestors were downright cranky, as I’ve seen, even in the face of church reproof. Ahem.

In many ways, then, this blog is as much about Friends and Brethren as it is about my particular ancestry.

It’s wonderful seeing how the bits I have fit into a larger whole, and not just family.

~*~

In doing your own research, are you finding religion plays a similar role in your personal understanding? Or does some other factor take on a central role – military service, for instance, or social position? Where have you found insights for a clearer understanding of your ancestors’ lifestyles?

A hint of Pleasant and Eunice

It's the faces on the wall behind the wedding guest that interest me the most. It's the best look I've had yet at my great-great-grandparents Pleasant and Eunice.

It’s the faces on the wall behind the wedding guest that interest me the most. It’s the best look I’ve had yet at my great-great-grandparents Pleasant and Eunice.

Sometime after the Civil War, my great-great-grandparents, Pleasant and Eunice, and his parents, George and Delilah, posed for formal photographic portraits in North Carolina. I was told we had a set in Ohio but have never been able to land a copy and their whereabouts are now mysterious.

Thanks to Hank Hodgin, whose line had copies of our common ancestral generation, you can view George and Delilah in an earlier posting, but I’d still like to see the other (younger) half of the set.

I do remember, though, hearing that my great-uncle Samuel Hodson used to have all four portraits displayed in his house, and later, after learning that my grandparents were married in a parlor ceremony there, I took a second look at their wedding photos. Here, behind one of the guests, Pleasant and Eunice look on.