16 May 2009

Happy Birthday Genealogy Style!

On 16 MAY 1939 a woman named Annie Ansley gave birth to a healthy good sized bouncing baby boy. This healthy bouncing baby boy would grow up to someday be my dad.

Clarence Cullie Ansley was the son of David Ansley and his wife, Annie Nix Ansley. David & Annie had three children, My dad, Clarence was their first child, several years later along came a beautiful daughter, Margaret Inez (did I mention they say I look like her?), and finally another handsome son, Lynwood.

Living in Thomas County, Georgia or probably anywhere in Georgia in the 1930's was tough, and job opportunities were few & far between. Eventually David took his family, left behind most of his family & migrated to south Florida, eventually settling down in Ellenton, Manatee County, Florida. That's pretty much where they stayed until their deaths, with David dying in June of 2008.

When I started my family history research over 20 years ago, I thought I would take on the Ansley's. After all, they were my family, my maiden name is Ansley, surely I would do my family proud and figure out all the mysteries of the family right? NOT! After much frustration I opted to put the Ansley family research on hold. That hold lasted for more than 10 years.

Fast forward to 2002, people are talking about this new stuff called DNA and how it can be used to help determine paternal lineage. What a concept!

From census work and discussions with my grandparents, I was able to ascertain that my grandfather's parents were William Ansley (aka lil grandpa) and his wife, Margaret Johnson. William (1876-1963)and Margaret (1879-1951) were the parents of 6 children, all but one living to maturity. Their youngest, Jim (aka Uncle Jim) still lives in down in South Georgia. But who were William's parents?

Despite tons of census work and research, I still could not prove beyond a shadow of doubt who Williams parents were. I did find a William Ansley with his younger brother, Andrew on the 1880 census with a lady named Mary E. Ansley. Gee that was helpful, now how many Mary Ansley's do you think there are out there? After much work and lots of frustration I finally had a line that I believed was my father's lineage. But the state of Georgia could not (and still CAN NOT) find a death certificate for William Ansley even though he dies in 1963, well within the boundaries for death certificates. I have all of his obits - he was so well known in town that his illness and failing health were reported in the newspapers almost daily.

But none of those newspaper clippings nor his obituaries mention his parents. But by tracking William on the census I do finally come to the conclusion that Mary E. is actually Marietta Waddell. Marietta married Joseph Ansley in Jackson County, Georgia 17 NOV 1875. Sounds like I am on my way right? NOT! Joseph Ansley has to be the most elusive man on this planet. He is on NO census, not with his family or alone. Anyway, I track Mary/Marietta and everytime I find her she has William somewhere in the vicinity. She remarries shortly after the 1880 census when she claims that Joseph is still alive. She dies in Nov of 1927 in Crisp County, Georgia. Her obituary does NOT name her children. She has no headstone.

Fast forward, to 2002/2003 - this new stuff DNA has to be done on a male descendant of the ancestor in question. Hmmmmm I knew for a fact that my grandfather, David Ansley would NEVER in a zillion years go for this. So who else is there? I decide to get my brother, Johnny to take the DNA test. Johnny is in a nursing home so I have to get my mom's permission to do the DNA. She consents, Johnny doesn't question us, and the DNA is gotten. Now the fun part - WAITING!

DNA works best when your results can be compared with a DNA party who has a paper trail, someone who has the certificates and such to link it all together. Luckily for us, the ANSLEY DNA list had several of those! After a few weeks wait, the DNA came back! I was right, my dad's line matched the paper trail line that I had hoped, proving that the line I had formulated as the correct one was indeed correct! I was right! I'm sure that the neighbors and anyone within a mile or two heard me that day - what a wonderful day for us! Our entire family had waited years to find out exactly what the lineage was and at last we had our answers! What a great feeling! There are still more mysteries in the line, but the biggest has been solved for now. My Ansley research is an ongoing research journey for me, with lots of roadblocks. My memories of my Ansley ancestors, are memories of a fun childhood with cousins, good southern cooking, lots of hugs and a grandmother who loved to pinch cheeks. She loved to do that so much my kids would each run the opposite direction when they saw her coming so that she couldn't get their cheeks!

My dad is gone now, he died tragically in a construction accident in Dec 1967, falling to his death while on a construction job. My memories of him are in my database - and pictures of him are in my house. I want my kids & my grandkids to know him too! I'm sure they are having a party in heaven for him today - I'm sure they have all the guitars out and probably some fish frying up as well. There will be lots of pickin' and singing - fried fish & hush puppies.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD! Love Karen, Mark, Eric, Nick, Carter, Mandi, Dave and Jonathon - I'm sure Mom's thinking about you as are John & Sheila. We miss you as much now as we did the day you left us!

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