Monthly Archives: October 2004

Inherit the Wind

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….

      • Love,
  • April

Old Man Davis

I mentioned a while back that one time when we were kids we were shot at. Though I said I’d tell you about it later, I thought I should share it while it was fresh in my mind. Chances are getting increasingly strong that I’d forget it.
Anyway, Old Man Davis had the coolest lot in the neighborhood. The house has since been torn down, but it was heaven to me and all the kids who met there every day after school in the late 60s.

The house was made of stone, and set back far from the street in a jungle of apple, apricot, lemon and avocado trees. Behind the house there was a pond that was full of life, mostly gorgeous, gushy tadpoles. Once we delivered bags of them to the kids getting out of Sunday School and were disappointed to learn that the parents didn’t think it was such a great gift to give children dressed in their Sunday best. Imagine that?
Old Man Davis was the grumpiest man you’ve ever met. But we knew he loved us. On Halloween, he would make his homemade peanut brittle and never seemed to notice that we came back to his house three or four times to get this delectable treat. His wife, Anna, was soft spoken and the perfect adopted grandmother. We lived too far away to visit our grandmother so she became the neighborhood grandmom.
There was one special tree on Old Man Davis’s lot with branches that formed a great big tent. We had converted it into a clubhouse. You had to be “in” to get in and rarely did my older brother Curtis consider me “in” enough to get in. Inside the tree there were old tires used for seats, an old chest used to hold drinks, and a old Hillsboro Bros Coffee can, to hide the stash collected from pop bottles in case money was needed. Usually we could also get money, for movies drinks and candy, by picking the fruit off Mr. Davis’s trees and selling them down at certified market. They’d give us a quarter a bag. Anna wanted us to pick the fruit before it fell to the ground and rotted, so she never minded that we did this.
Anway, on one day I was allowed inside the clubhouse with my best friend Cathy. Her brother George and Curtis said they had a neat game they wanted to play, “spin the bottle.” We were playing that game even though I was totally grossed out, when Curtis kept spinning the bottle and kissing Cathy. Anyway, on George’s turn the bottle came to me. “No way!” I yelled and started to stand up. Then, outside we heard a yell, “Who’s there?”
“Get out of there before I blow your head off” we heard old man Davis yell.
Suddenly a gun went off and I nearly pe’ed my pants. Curtis grabbed Cathy and said run this way. And took off.
George grabbed hold of my hand and said “no we gotta go this way.” Before I knew it he’s pulling me in the direction of Old Man Davis. I let go and ran down the stone wall that lined the other yards of houses that bordered Old Man Davis’s lot. When I discovered I was cornered, I turned around. George was no where in sight. I looked and about 15 feet away, Old Man Davis, had a shotgun pointed straight at me.
He was squinting to get a look at me, so I squeaked, “It’s me. April!” Unfortunately, in addition to poor eyesite, he was quite deaf and didn’t hear me. Fortunately, what felt like the hand of God grabbed me by the hair and the back of my shirt and lifted me over the stone wall and into safety. Curtis had jumped one of the neighbors fences, climbed onto their big black dog’s house, and yanked me over the wall. Curtis never let me forget that he saved my life, risking the rath of blackie’s teeth to do it.
It was quite a while before I had the guts to play at Old Man Davis’s house again. Actually I only went back once or twice after that, at Anna’s request. The last time I remember going there, Anna had asked me to take out some old papers to the trash. When I did, I saw Old Man Davis crawling around looking for something. So, I started to help him. Not really knowing what it was I was looking for I kinda just turned things over then turned them back again. When I didn’t come back for my pay, Anna came out to see what was keeping me.
“What are you doing?” she asked me.
“Old Dan lost something,” I replied. “I’m helping him look but I don’t know what he lost”
“His mind,” she muttered, as she shook her head. She turned and went back in the house.

A Family Legacy

By now, you’ve probably already received your copy of the long-awaited family history by G. Wayne Bradford, Descendants of William M. and Artemese E. Green Sullivan.” I received it several weeks ago but my family’s busy schedule wouldn’t let me give it an adequate study. In our busy world, we are losing the opportunity to share not only the histories of our parents and grandparents but our own personal stories. Kids rush off to computer games after dinner while we attend a meeting, so there’s no lingering over the table to share family experiences. We send e-mails instead of writing letters. If someone in front of us at the grocery store lingers to tell us something funny that happened to him, we get irritated for the delay. Wait. Stop. Slow down—A book of gigantic proportions (1,040+ pages) and gigantic impact is whispering—well actually yelling—to me to spend some time with it. This book is not a simple family tree with names and dates, rather it is a collection of so much more. It is not just a simple history of the struggles the families faced, but a endearing tribute to those who have made our histories. It brings a level of intimacy to a family that was already close. Wayne Bradford took the time, three years in fact, to track down the descendants of William Sullivan and Artemese Green and he didn’t stop there. Wayne not only provides the names and dates of their descendants but he sought out and collected these marvelous stories and photographs that will live on as a legacy to our family. I wasn’t surprised when he told me that people are ordering three and four copies at a time. It’s a project that’s been sorely needed for a long, long time. Not only does it provide a wonderful tribute to our ancestors but it provides a legacy to our children and grandchildren.
I don’t know how he did it, but Wayne managed to track down and include so many wonderful photographs too. All but one of William and Artemese’s children are featured. In addition to the photos included in the family history, there are two photo albums (over 180 pages!) to include every branch of the Sullivan family.
Being very modest, Wayne did not insert his own biography, which I really missed. He did give credit to all of the researchers who had contributed to the book. I am a little embarrassed to see my name quoted in there so much, but I am pleased that Wayne was so adamant in documenting the sources of the information included. I am also pleased that when faced with a disputed fact, Wayne made every effort to include sides of the argument.
I am extremely grateful to Wayne for this lovely and humongous book that will hold a place in our home forever.