I’m a little late for St. Patrick’s Day but I have a little Irish tale of beginnings and endings.
Once upon a time, there lived an O’Neill named Thomas and his son Owen. The two men hailed from County Clare but, alas, life on the bonny Isle of Eire was not good. Potato blight and famine cursed the land.
Or, in my case, the Danish equivalent of John Smith: Jens Jensen, my paternal great-grandfather.
I know almost nothing about him: he came to the United States in 1900 with my great-grandmother, Thyra Amalia  Martinsen, and their son Oscar; by 1910 , he was farming in Platte, Nebraska and supporting a family of five–wife Amelia, and children Oscar (10), Johanna (7), Marie (6), and Florence (3); by 1920 he has disappeared–separated from my great-grandmother, perhaps divorced. There are stories of his drinking and squandering of money.
One hundred and three years ago today, my husband’s paternal grandmother was born. In wanting to write a tribute to her on her birthday, however, I realize that what I know about Ruth, in the genealogical sense, is very little.
When Great-great-great-great-grandpa Thomas Chilcoat passed on, the will1 he left behind was relatively standard. First, pay all his expenses and his funeral. Second, provide for his wife. Then he starts divvying up his assets among his children: 2/5 to Robert, his eldest son [my 3rd great grandfather], 2/5 to Thomas, his youngest son, 1/5 to Elizabeth, his youngest daughter. And…
I give and devise to Sarah my eldest daughter only five dollars for the caus [sic] of her being a disobedient child
Thomas Chilcoat, Last Will & Testament, written 04 Jul 1840
One just cannot read a statement like that without wondering What in the heck did poor Sarah do to make Papa so angry?
Most of my family trees (I’m at 24 trees and counting) include a lot of travel. The family ancestor arrives in America, then moves three or four times, then his subsequent family moves, then another generation moves, and eventually, there are family members scattered from coast to coast across the U.S.
Not so when talking about my eldest son’s paternal lineage. That story starts and stays in Texas.