Category: Conklin

Small World, Genealogy-Style

Genealogical “small world” moments are always fun.  There was the day when I discovered that my soon-to-be sister-in-law was also my ninth cousin once removed. Then the moment when I found that my second cousin four times removed and her husband had been keepers of the Little Sable Lighthouse Mom and I had visited in Michigan three years earlier (you can read my earlier blog post about that discovery).

In trying to decide what to write about next, I dug out a letter from Charles Montgomery, my great-grandfather, whose census history I covered on Saturday. It’s one of those documents I had not yet explored for all its genealogical significance (aside: I really need to get organized) – obviously, since it contained previously-unknown marriage information for Charles and his second wife Lyle:

[Postmarked Fort Collins, Colorado, July 16, 1941; Addressed Mr. & Mrs. L C Montgomery, Scotts Bluff Neb. Box 675; Return address Mr. & Mrs. C W Montgomery, 231 Walnut St.; 3c postage]

                                                                        Ft Collins July 17, 41

Mr & Mrs L C Montgomery,
            Dear Children

I got your card this p.m. and sure was glad to hear from you, i am real well. What do you work at in Scottsbluff. Elta was here last winter sure was glad to see her. My wife meet her. i was married March 27 at Kimbell Nebr we get alone OK.
     Elta wrote they were coming here on there vacation. We just have a small apartment but like it, hope to hear from you soon igen.

                                                                         Lot of Love to you and yours,
                                                                                 Dad & Lyle.

            231 Walnut St
                   Ft Collins

As another aside – it’s intriguing that Lawrence’s own father addressed the envelope to “L. C. Montgomery” – there has always been uncertainly about whether Grandpa’s middle name was Theodore or Conklin.

Fast-forward 71 years from Charles and Lyle’s wedding, and Mom and I are making a cross-country trek to my 20-year high school reunion. In search of small mom-and-pop motels, we found one in – where else?  Kimball, Nebraska. We felt a little uncertain about this particular reservation because I made it over the phone and wasn’t sure everything was confirmed.  But obviously our visit was meant to be!

What’s in a Name?

I’ve always found names fascinating.  The stories I would write when I was little always involved families with hordes of children because coming up with names for all of them was my favorite part of the writing process. I often hear people say they don’t want genealogy to be just “a list of names and dates.” While it’s true I love to have all the facts to flesh out the stories of who these relatives are, sometimes even just getting that “list of names” is rewarding.

For example, who wouldn’t be thrilled to find they shared a common ancestry with someone named Grimpie Brittimart Gobble? Or another favorite name, Grizzel Spratt? And sometimes I would come across my own real-life family with hordes of children, like the offspring of Samuel Willson (my 7th-great-grandfather):  John, Mary, Olive, Benjamin, Molley, Samuel, Ester, Eunice, Louis, Persis, Jenne, Nahum, and Elizabeth.

And then there are the “family names” that recur throughout our family history. My nephew, Benjamin Leander Montgomery, for example, has two family names.  His first and middle names were the middle names of his great-grandfathers.  “Benjamin” for Joseph Benjamin Hoffmann, and “Leander” for Herman Leander Likness.

Other names were common in the family generations ago, but not any longer. A prime example is “Tacy,” from the Latin for “silence.”  A quick search indicates there are 46 Tacies in our family tree, but none born since 1893.

Then, of course, there are the name mysteries. Grandpa Montgomery comes to mind first. At different times in his life he went by Lawrence Theodore or by Lawrence Conklin.  The story I remember hearing was that he was never sure which was his real middle name, so he used both interchangeably.  Theodore was the middle name of one of Grandpa’s uncles (Joseph Theodore Montgomery) and was passed on to my father when he was born, and Conklin was the maiden name of Grandpa’s maternal grandmother, Mary Ann.

So, what isn’t in a name?

Marriage License of Marcus Walker and Mary Conklin
Marriage License of Marcus Walker and Mary Conklin