As long as I can remember, my mother Ruth Washington, told me that our family was originally from Mississippi. Mom and Uncle Thomas were born in Tennessee and my Aunt Lillian was born in Kentucky. According to Mom, both maternal grandparents and my grandfather’s first set of children were all born in Mississippi.
With this information in hand, I scoured census documents on Ancestry.com looking for my grandparents in Mississippi. As a genealogy newbie, it didn’t occur to me that this information passed down by recent generations was not true. Unfortunately, this type of misinformation is common in many families, especially when the family history is oral and not documented.
Of course, I believed that we were from Mississippi because my mother said so. There was no reason for me to believe otherwise. Another reason I thought our family was from Mississippi was my childhood memory of my cousin’s death. When I was 12 years old, my cousin Lula Mae died of a brain aneurysm. After the funeral, I traveled with my family to Iuka, Mississippi where my cousin was buried in a family cemetery plot. For me, that confirmed that our family was originally from Mississippi.
I found out that at some point my great-grandfather, Thomas Harris, moved his wife and children from Alabama to Mississippi. He and his wife stayed in Mississippi where they died; hence the burial plots. His children and grandchildren eventually moved to Tennessee.
From several types of records found on Ancestry.com and Family Search I found ancestors as far back as 1823 who were born in Alabama. Most of them were born in Clarke County, Alabama; a few ancestors were born in Choctaw County and the Choctaw Nation.
It took some time to solve this mystery, but I finally got it done and was ready to move on to other family mysteries.