Inherit the Wind

by | Oct 25, 2004 | Genealogy

or How Come I’m Such a Blowhard?
Recent events have me thinking about traits we’ve inherited from our ancestors. I’m not talking about genetics, although that is currently a hot topic in genealogy. Scientific studies seem to be one of the traits I did NOT inherit. I conducted my own study–a limited search of family traits on and, no, I cannot tell you how many hits I got, except to say it was a heck of a lot.
I wanted to share some of my findings with you so I’ve split the traits into categories:

  • Physical — hair (baldness), size (shortness), teeth (bucktoothedness or vampire-like);
  • Health — blindness, deafness, high blood pressure, cancer;
  • Mental Health — depression (Scottish problem), low self-esteem (American Indian), suicidal tendencies, insanity;
  • Reproductive– multiple births, family size (or lack of), predominately one sex born in a line;
  • Personality — shyness, easy-going, aggressive, agitated, stubbornness, humorous, sarcastic;
  • Behavioral — detail-oriented, good speller, methodic, handwriting (mostly poor), lack of interest in genealogy, loners (disassociating oneself from family), runaways;
  • Creative/Artistic — writing, art, music, story telling, craftsmanship;
  • Occupations — doctors, preachers, seamen and carpenters (i.e. families report that even when branches of a family have been separated for generations members still follow similar occupations);
  • Abilities — cooking, problem solving, inventiveness, and handymen.

Some may argue that every society has individuals with these characteristics and any reoccurrence in family trees is purely coincidental. On a genealogy forum, an inquirer asked whether certain families inherited psychic abilities. Public outcry was to pooh-pooh the whole idea as voodoo genealogy and that people should limit posts to true genealogical studies. However, off-list the inquirer received a number of replies from both males and females (too embarrassed to respond favorably in public) and all seemed to be from a specific branch of the family tree. As one of those who received the “curse” as many call it, I believe there’s something to the idea of inheriting traits from our ancestors.

I am very proud to say that I have received a great deal of talent from my ancestors, as well as other things I’m not so proud to have inherited. I wonder what talents run in our lines and would love to hear what you, my cousins, have inherited from our ancestors. Who, for instance, can say they have “the luck of the Irish”?

But what do you do when these traits conflict? For instance, cousins Jena Bryant and Robert Bryant happened to mention the Bryant’s laid back attitude. I have to agree that the Bryants are so easy going that it’s very difficult to ruffle their feathers. They are so laid back that they bend over backward to avoid confrontation. I can really identify with this when I am online. I don’t want to take part in the many arguments that go on in different newsgroups. I’m a frequent user of the delete key. If an argument heats up, I can be found to mass-delete all subjects with the same title, just to avoid getting bothered by it. (Of course I don’t delete our Heycuz newsgroup’s messages. I’m talking about the Rootsweb newsgroups.) I’ve even seen my Dad react the same way over different things, but must also acknowledge that once you do ruffle his feathers, he strikes a quick blow. But just as quickly he moves on, returning to his easy-going attitude once again.
On the other hand, or other side of my family — the Rennies — the trait is completely opposite. We are quick to get mad and we hold grudges forever. So in my research on family traits, I was amused to read on the official web site of the MacDonald Clan (of which Rennie is an off-shoot) that this very trait is mentioned on its home page:

  • “If you are a MacDonald, your biggest family trait is to harbor grudges like nobody’s business, mainly because it is the sworn duty of every MacDonald to make sure nobody ever forgets what those bastard Campbells did to them at Glencoe in 1692.”

It’s true! I harbor a grudge forever and Steve, my significant other, will gladly argue with anyone who refutes it. (I think he gets his arguing tendencies from his mother’s side, by the way.) My mother is the same, and her father is the same, and so on. What gets me is that it doesn’t even have to be over any big deal. Heck, I’m still mad at a girl in my fourth grade class who took off with a piece of costume jewelry even though I got it back.So how do I reconcile these two traits? I don’t know, but I wonder if I’ve discovered a reason for my schizophrenia?
What’s New?
Speaking of family traits, don’t forget to check out our newly reformatted site, The Family Album, to see whether those big ears of yours came from Uncle Eddie Sullivan, or perhaps Roy Buchanan. I want to thank all of the contributors who so generously shared their photographs. We’re a pretty good looking bunch, if I do say so myself. When you visit The Family Album you’ll see that I’ve added a search engine and also made the site much easier to update. So keep sending in your photographs to me and I’ll try to get them posted in a much more timely manner. Also check out the site to make sure there aren’t any errors. (Let me know if you find any.)
We have some new files to be added to the Share the Wealth section of the Game of Lifes including the applications filed by Rubin H. Bryant and others for the Guion Miller Cherokee Indian Fund. These files have been contributed by cousin Jena Bryant and I want to thank her personally for her valuable contribution. The extractions of these documents are also available. Contact me for information.
Also, Wanda Talbot has sent in her extractions of the Dickson County, Tennessee Turnbull Creek Primitive Baptist Church records. She, with the assistance of Char Sullivan, has spent a considerable amount of time extracting these difficult to read records. We are all indebted to her for these incredibly informative records. She has extracted half of the files and is busy working on the remainder. In the meantime, we can look up your surnames up to 1854. Contact Wanda Talbot or me and we will do lookups for you. I should also mention that a few of the pages are available in the Share the Wealth section including the baptism of Joseph Lampley and a letter to the church from Nancy Tidwell.
Also revisit The Past Lane and read the recent submission by Robert Bryant, “Memories of Growing Up on Mill Creek.” It was so inspiring to me that I sat down and wrote of my own childhood search with my Dad and siblings for “The Perfect Fishing Hole.” I also finally located the lost files of Thoughts and Memories of My Father Gilbert Russell Sullivan contributed by Dan Sullivan. When our previous server dropped us, these files had been lost. I enjoy re-reading it as it makes me feel closer somehow to my Sullivan ancestors.
I’ve also added a search engine to make your experience on our website a little more fruitful. To use it go to the first page of the web site and type in the First and Last name of the individual you would like to find.
Also note that we have added a lot of new individuals to the Family Tree so check out the Who’s New? index to see if you have any new cousins.
And, til we talk again, “May the Road Rise to Meet You….

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