THE FAMILY TREE
I began working on the family tree when I was a teenager. My mother had researched her family line and knew many branches on her tree and now wanted to research my father’s line. He was not much interested in this project as he said there were too many skeletons hanging on his tree but my mother and brother were filling in names and people and I became very interested in joining in on the search.
Over the next 60 years I followed this endeavor and then included my husbands tree. My mother never did find the skeletons my father had spoken of. She found one distant branch that contained souls that were not as smart or as brilliant shall we say but this was nothing to be ashamed of and no one tried to hide them and since they were not a direct line they were left alone and welcomed on the tree. Later when I moved to Northern New Hampshire I found the skeleton the family had hidden and like so many others on other trees it was not something that should be hidden then or now. It came about like this:
One day in the teacher’s room I was talking with Mr Heath about family stories and remembrances. At that time I had not connected the name Heath to my family tree but I had heard of it before. There were three abandoned houses on the Keene road in my home town of Harrisiville and I had often asked about them and was told they belonged to a distant relative of ours but nothing more was said. Later these were sold to a friend of mine and he built a house on one of the foundations for his family. I still had no idea we were related to the “Heath house owners”.
On this day Larry Heath was telling how his grand father used to wake up the boys in the morning to do their chores on the farm before school. He and his mother were living with her father at that time. His grand father would come into the room quietly, stand by their bed, raise his arm over his head and bring it down with a crash across their legs. He said just once being hit was all they needed to automatically pulling their legs up before the blow hit. They were not aware of waking up when he walked into the room but knew they must because just once receiving that crushing blow was all it took to wake them up without a word ever being spoken. I laughed at the story and said it sounded just like the stories I had heard as a child of my grand father and his family. Larry asked me what my maiden name was and found it was the same as his mother’s. She was a Thayer and had married a Heath, they came from Haverhill, NH as did my grand father Thayer. It turned out his grandfather was a brother of my grandfathers ‘ father and Larry was always told his grandfather died when Larry was very young. They moved away and he never thought any more about his grandfather until he was a grown man and his mother told him his grandfather had just died. He was shocked to find his grandfather had been alive all these years and was in the state mental institution in Concord New Hampshire and Larry had never been allowed to visit him or even know he was alive. This was the skeleton my father had tried to hid. At that time in history it was a family shame that people hid and feared instead of knowing it was an illness that was not inherited or caught. People were not helped at that time just hidden.
I now have tons of pages of research on all branches of the tree and many stories brought out into the light that should never have been hidden but should have been helped. These stories will remain hidden as they do nothing to help to strengthen the tree. I have so much information it has become a burden rather than a blessing and now I must condense it down to something everyone can read and understand. No one on the tree wishes to know or even hear all that has gone before them. Just a few generations back is all they can sit still for so I will take this back just a short way and give it to you in a bare bone fashion. No family gossip or stories except for a few that have become part of the fabric of the family tree.
I have traced the Thayer family and the Whitney family back to Adam and Eve but as my husband would say, you can’t be sure any of it is true. Even things that happen in your own life time is so changed from the truth in the reporting of the event it is no longer dependable. I have found this to be true in my search for the family. One such example is the death of my grandmother. It was recorded in the family history as being in 1803 because this is the date on her grave stone. There is a picture of the stone showing the date of her death as 1803 and what could be more accurate than that.
Well I received the daily diaries of my Great Great uncle Web and one of the first things I wanted to look at was the year of 1803 and see what was recorded there of her death. She and her husband and children all lived with Uncle Web since her teen age years. She had gone to live with him and Aunt Lydia to help care for Lydia when she was ill and stayed on with Web after Lydia’s death. I read all of his diary for 1803 and Hattie, my grandmother was very much alive for the whole year in fact she had a baby that year. A little girl that I knew as Aunt Angie. Web loved his niece very much and had recorded everything she did. I then looked at 1804 and the same was true there. In 1805 Hattie was again pregnant and gave birth to a premature baby that did not live more than a day and this was very hard on Hattie who had TB and she never recovered her health and died in 1805. Looking back at the rubbing from the grave stone it is easy to see why the mixup. The stone had aged with the weather and it was had to see if that last number was a 3 or a 5 but now we know the true date was 1805. So take all of these events as the best guess of dates and events.
Also it is impossible to include in this document all the generations I have found and there is no need to try. The mind can absorb only as much as the seat can endure. After a few generation back your mind will wander and I will lose you attention any way so I will not even try to convey all I have learned.
The family tree grows exponentially and the best way I can explain this to you is with the old story of offering you a job. You will be hired for a promise of 10 years and you can either elect to be paid one million dollars a month for the the ten years or be paid exponentially at a rate started at one penny for the first month. Which would you pick? At one million dollars every month on the 33rd month you would still be getting one million dollars a month for a total of 33 million dollors so far and the other way on the 33rd month you would be getting $85, 983, 345. 92 cents for that month plus every months pay before that. If you doubt this start at 1 cent and double it each month until you get to 33 months and see for you self. Everything in nature grows exponentially and that is hard for us poor mortals to comprehend. Therefore since a family tree starts out with only two people each of which have two parents at the end of ten generations there are 512 parents and that is too many to comprehend.
Without further ado let’s begin the journey