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Family Resemblance
by Jeannette W. Davis

Genealogy is like a cool glass of lemonade on a hot Delta afternoon. It is something you just can't put down because you keep coming back for more.

There is nothing in the world so relaxing than to sit in front of my computer and find that next family member or, in some cases, the whole "kit and kaboodle." You can almost spot genealogists a mile away. You can see that far away look in their eyes, and you know they are back somewhere in another generation, living the life of that ancestor and imagining what it would feel like to walk behind the mules and plow the fields. With your imagination, you can chop cotton, get it weighed, and collect your pay at the end of the day. I still have the cotton weight that belonged to my grandfather, and I can see the cotton sacks as they were hung up and weighed as we waited, hoping we had a good weight.

When the picking was over for the day there was still work for the grown-ups. The chickens had to be fed, and I can still see my Poppaw as he threw the corn from the crib out to them. I can remember gathering eggs from the hen house and trying to learn how to milk a cow. I never did conquer that one.

Times have changed so much now, but I still long to go walking through the cottons fields barefoot and have the dirt come through my toes, or lie down on that same cotton sack and take a nap.

Because of my love of "days gone by" and my devotion to searching for family roots, I find there's nothing more wonderful than to reunite with long-lost family members. Let me share one of those reunions.

It was five o'clock on a cool day two years ago, I believe. I had been waiting all day for the call to come. The voice on the other end of the line said, "Hey, we are here, downtown."

DOWNTOWN, I almost shouted. Oh, dear Lord, I thought. My Tennessee hill folks will get lost or in trouble, for sure.

As quickly as I could, I gave them the simplest directions on how to hightail it out of there and told them where I would meet them in the shopping mall parking lot.

In a few minutes I pulled up beside them in their big, long Cadillac and thought: A car to die for! It was one of those older model Fleetwoods, and I knew a lot of folks who would love to get their hands on that one. We talked for a few minutes and proceeded to head east on down the highway to my home.

Of course, when we went into the house the first thing that came out after the welcome to my home was my stack of genealogy books.

As the men folks talked of the hills of Tennessee, fishing and any other subject that cropped up, we women were discussing who was kin to whom and where they lived and died and how many children and grandchildren they had on down the line.

That day when my cousin, whom I had never seen, stepped out of his car, I saw something beautiful. My grandmother is deceased, but the resemblance with this cousin was apparent. There was no question. He had the face of my grandmother.

I jumped up and down and hollered at my husband, "Look at the chin! Look at the chin! It's the family resemblance!"

This is the type of warm experience that keeps me coming back to my genealogical searching for more. There are few pastimes I've found more rewarding.


Devoted genealogist Jeannette W. Davis will be glad to offer advice to any budding genealogists. Write her at this address.

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