Have you ever wondered where your family came from? Did your folks come over on the Mayflower? Did they fight at Valley Forge? Perhaps some ancestor signed the Declaration of Independence. Maybe they were royals of some ancient monarchy.
Genealogy is a wonderful way to learn more about the people your family today represents. Just imagine the hundreds of ancestors who had to live, toil and succeed in life just for you to be here today. Each and every generation brought its own way of thinking, its own hopes and dreams for their offspring. Each working to make a better ways for those who came after them.
I would not be where am today had my seventh great grandmother Rosannah Stuart not climbed aboard a ship in Scotland and set sail for the new world with her husband John McIlhaney and then carved out a new life in America.
As family legend in my moms family has it, she and her husband were among those that supported the return of the heir of the House of Stuart as ruler of Great Britain. The last military attempts being those made on behalf of Charles Edward Stuart or Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1746. Following the military defeat, many of the supporters and several members of the House of Stuart fled to other countries including Rosannah. Some 20 years later five Scotch-Irish Kilgores descending from the Clan Douglas as well as some point descendants of Robert the Bruce all left their homelands for America.
Once in America many from the group or their offspring made their way to Appalachia where they found a place to call home and there the clans intermingled and from them thousands of Americans now could claim kinship through these early pioneers. Among them descendants of kings, lords and other titles of royal distinction.
Other family members drew distinction upon themselves serving their new country in war; some became noted explorers, governors, congressmen, sheriffs, presidential candidates, and one ancestor, Micajah Bunch, carried the title king or chief of his people now called the Melungeons. Many consider this group a still unrecognized American Indian tribe. I understand that family line also includes a Nobel Prize winner.
While these distant connections to people of note are wonderful pieces of our past, we also must remember that we have many people of note that are right around us within our families trying to make a difference with their own lives in the way they raise their children, care for their elderly family members and give back to their communities. We need to remember to celebrate their achievements because it is our extended family of uncles, aunts, and cousins who also carry on the hopes and dreams of all those who came before.
Our Franks family reunion is coming up Aug. 27 at 1 p.m. at Whitfield Countys Poplar Springs Baptist Church fellowship hall located near Dalton at 897 Poplar Springs Road. Many may not realize re-establishing the long dormant event was the brainchild of my late father Floyd. After his passing in 1987 without seeing an event come to pass my late Uncle Harvey took up the cause and his widow Aunt Lois and my Uncle Burl have carried the torch with a little help from several cousins.
My father and Uncle Harvey envisioned it as an event that could bring together all the families within our lineage welcoming all the descendants of A.J. Harve (1872-1956) and Emily Jane Bandy Franks (1878-1945) (children: Griff, Tom, Lester, Charlie, Ethel Sanford, Jesse, Henry and Glenn; grandchildren: Reece; Bud; Johnny, Ellis; Luther Jesse; Ruby Lee; Robert; Clyde; Cloude; Ruth; Ralph; Myrtle; Susie Bell; Chester; Virgil; Cristine; Erlene; Charlotte; Gail; Oscar; Marshall; Duard Sanford; Grady Sanford; Doc Sanford; Hazel Sanford; Panzy Sanford; Blanche Sanford; Troy; Edith; Louis; Elwood; Gladys; Freddy; J.D., Ott, Floyd, Burl, Junior, Harvey, Charlene, Thelma); William L. (1852-1916) and Sarah Elizabeth Williams Bandy (1850-1931) (surviving children: Magie; Emily Jane; Mary; other known grandchildren William Hargis, James Hargis and Nora Hargis); William (1856-1939) and Estella Shields Caylor (1868-1942) (children: Albert; Lucy; Levi; Wincy; Matty; Lily; Neocia; Mary; Ruth; Belle; Emma Ann; grandchildren: Sidney; William; Tommie Broome; Mae Belle; Dolly; Clifford; Clode; Bessie Byrd; Dorothy Byrd; Ralph Byrd; Rosey Byrd; Evelyn Byrd; Clarence Byrd; Stella Hullender;
James Hullender; Wilbur Hullender; Luke Hullender; George Hullender Jr.; Robert Hullender; Leslie Cranmore; Grace Cranmore; John Cranmore; Joe Cranmore; Paul Cranmore; Carrie Cranmore; Margaret Cranmore; Tommie Ruth Cranmore; Virginia Cranmore; Bertha Cranmore; Mary Sue Cranmore; Madge Cranmore; Donald Lynn; Gary Lynn; Anthony Lynn; Bunch grandchildren below) and Lambert (1873-1945) and Emma Ann Caylor Bunch (1889-1952) (children: Mary Bunch; Allie Bunch; William Bill Bunch; John Bunch; Charlie Bunch; W. L. Bunch; Velva Lou Bunch; Dorothy Bunch; Martha Bunch; Dollie Bunch; other grandchildren: Billie Jo; E.J.; Ricky; Clifford; Frankie; Alice; J.W; Joe Bill; Nancy; Lida; Lynda; Doris; Sandra; Hazel; Michael; David; Jewelldean; Freda Bailey; Phyllis Black; Calvin; Margaret; Agnes; Farrell; Allden; Martha; Stella; Johnny; Jerry; Charles; Paul; Charlotte; Julia; Donna; Shirley Roach; Earnest Roach; James Roach; and Jackie Roach) (Columnist note: Spelling of names reflect those provided by various family members for genealogical research in the 1970s and may be incorrect or some names may not be included simply by lack of information. Maiden names included only)
As I have prepared for this years event it brought me to the realization that my generation which follows those listed above needs to do more than just gather and eat, at the event we need to find ways of learning more about our families. Otherwise once those final generational connectors from the past are gone, why will we wish to gather?
Now our family members are scattered from coast to coast. Many of those listed above have passed away. I hope that we see their children and grandchildren gather as we try to build on the traditions of our ancestors, honoring one another and all those who came before. If your family does not share an annual reunion, I encourage you to build a tradition and find ways that you can share the important milestones of today and yesterday with the generations to come.
Cousins, if you can attend the reunion please bring some covered dishes. Musicians may bring acoustic instruments; a jam session will follow dinner. If youd like, bring family photos to show and stories to share. From I-75 north exit at Rocky Face turn right on U.S. 41 (North Dalton Bypass), travel 2.7 miles. Turn left at traffic light at Reed Road, travel 2.5 miles, and turn left at caution light onto Poplar Springs Road. The church is on the left. For more information, call (706) 673-2701.
Randall Franks is an award-winning musician, singer and actor. He is best known for his role as Officer Randy Goode on TVs In the Heat of the Night, now on Turner South. His latest CD release, Gods Children, is by etrecordshop.com. He is a member of the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame. He is a columnist and staff writer for The Catoosa County News and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.