I started this site as a place where I made family history available for my son to have at his finger tips. The intent was to have the site serve as the Family Bible once did in previous centuries, a Scrapbook or collection of photographs and news clippings: “Here’s Your Family.” The site grew and relatives began showing an interest. I got enthralled with my wife Nancy’s family history and found myself buried in details that needed to be organized further.
My side of the family, what I will call the Smith Side, was brief up until 2014. My Grandmother Mary Hughes was all Irish and her ancestors have only been known on this side of the ocean. I had several generations and then nothing. Breaking through the ‘brick wall’ in Ireland has been difficult. Parish records are about all one can find and there are any number of folks with the name Ed Hughes or ‘Jack’ Byrne. My father’s side was equally brief and lost. Our Smith history went back no further than the father of James Monroe Smith, one Peter Smith. He would be my grampa Leb’s grandfather. And Peter’s origin was as lost as my Grandmother Mary’s family history and her recipe for Irish ‘tea.’ That all changed when a genealogist contacted me seeking information about Lebanon Ferris Smith, Edward Hughes and ‘Jack’ Byrne. She notified me that I fit into a tree that went back another two hundred years in Virginia and North Carolina and shared some leads that allowed me to dig for the truth.
SO! What you have in these “pages” is my son’s family tree, revealing both Nancy and my ancestors. If a site is labeled ‘Smith’ and you are my cousin, then you want to locate those ‘Smith History’ pages. Nancy’s side of the tree is usually identified with either her mother’s maiden name ‘Whittington’ or her father’s surname, ‘Slaymaker.’ Realizing, as I worked, that Nancy’s family and mine, were in the same places at the same time in history I began to explore their common history. I found that our ancestors were killing each other, robbing from each other and careening off to many of the same hideouts on the face of the earth. So I started a compilation 1638 that remains a work in progress.
On this home page there are four immediate square buttons. If you are a Smith, the two to the far left carry our name. The first takes you to our tree as it goes back in time. The second reveals a narrative on our history beginning with an introduction that drops the reader into the 1600’s. We will be trying to locate the Immigrant Smith who got the whole thing started on the shores of the Potomoc River. I have written this in a manner that may seem confusing at first. That is because it is confusing. The derivation of our immigrant parent is subject to debate and I have no idea as to how to make it easy for you! I have provided clues and a trail of research that others are welcome to pick up and carry forward long after my demise!
The Smith surname is not the only name I have been interested in tracking. Women marry into the Smith line and bring their own fascinating family history. In our Smith tree alone there are families who were the first to settle on Manhattan Island (Dutch von Couwenhovens) who married into the first family of Swedes (1638) in New Sweden (Stilles). There are Irish and Welsh families who fled persecution in Britain (Kincheloes, Simpsons and Montgomerys). These families hunkered down on the Virginia shoreline with Smiths and their combined efforts led to the rest of us. What was compelling to me was the realization that Virginia was at first a small population and that it is not unusual to find my ancestors attending church and town meetings with Nancy’s side of the family tree. It is not unusual to find my grandfathers as neighbors to my cousin’s ‘other’ side of the family, the Robinsons, in Westmoreland 1660.
If you are Nancy’s relation then you want to find your way through the links to the Whittingtons and Slaymakers. You will find yourself among the Kings and Queens of England, France, Spain and a few other arranged marriages among the nations of Europe. You will also find your ancestors heavily invested in the Protestant Reformation as preachers in Prussia and England and finally as major players in both Plimouth and Massachusetts Bay Colony.
Names I covered in history lectures appear in our trees. Cool stuff.