Black Sheep

The black sheep of the family is someone who makes bad decisions or has a bad reputation within a family unit.” The Idiom Dictionary

Black Sheep

By Betsy Cross Thorpe

I had misgivings about using this week’s writing prompt as soon as I saw it. The prompt is Black Sheep.   My objections are based on the premise that the black sheep of a family is a person who is excluded or disapproved of by the rest of the family.  People are considered black sheep for many different reasons. Changing religions, dropping out of school, marrying without parental consent, or engaging in other forms of conduct outside the norm of accepted behavior can cause some people to be shunned by members of their own family.

Are there any black sheep lurking on the branches of my family tree?  I really can’t say. I’m just now getting acquainted with my ancestors.  There are a few that I have come to know quite well, but my family tree is crowded with the names of many that I don’t know anything about and I don’t know if any of them fit into that category. And even if I did know, I wouldn’t write about them.  Family dynamics are complicated. They are seldom understood by people outside the immediate circle of relatives.  So how could a distant descendent like me undrestand?  Who am I   to publicly speculate on the nature of relationships between people who lived and died long before I was born?

This raises some questions. Do genealogists and family historians have an ethical duty to record and report everything they learn about their ancestors? Should secrets remain secret even when there is no one alive to be harmed by the telling? Ancestors are shared by many. Who gets to say what should or shouldn’t be published about a shared ancestor?  

As a writer of history, I have thought long and hard about how to write about people from the past. From the mundane to the shocking, there are many kinds of stories, but out of consideration for the privacy of others who can no longer tell their side of the story I recognize that all of them are not for me to tell.

#52ancstorsin52weeks #52ancestorsin52weeksblacksheep


“This old barbaric bagpipe music has magic in it. It transforms the Scot. It reawakens in the depths of their being, even in this century, impressions, moods, feelings inherited from a wild untamed ancestry for thousands of years.”
Michael MacDonagh ~ 1916


By Betsy Cross Thorpe

England, Germany, Ireland and Scotland; Afternoon Tea and Boxing Day, Stout Beer and Lederhosen, Step-dance and Mutton, Tartan Plaids and Bagpipes.

Those are the old countries of my maternal ancestors listed with some of the cultural traditions my ancestors presumably held when they arrived on the shores of this country.  My ancestors did well in the New World. They thrived. Their descendants are many.  However, their old country traditions didn’t fare as well. As far as I know, in my direct line of ancestry, none of the customs, from any of those countries, were passed to future generations.

Take my middle granddaughter and three of my cousins. All four are English afternoon tea enthusiasts, sippers and nibblers, they know an authentic English style tea-room when they see one. Not because afternoon tea is a long-held family tradition, but because it’s something they like to do. And Boxing Day?  All I know about that old English custom is that it has something to do with the 12 days of Christmas and I’m not sure if I’m right about that.

Then there is German beer. I have relatives who enjoy a foamy draft, not as a result of our German heritage, they just like the taste of beer.  Lederhosen? All the boys in my family should thank our far-back grandfather for leaving that piece of traditional old country wear behind when he arrived in Louisiana. However, I can’t help but think how fun it would be to see my brothers decked out German style, in Lederhosen.

 Now for my Irish ancestors and the art of step-dancing.  My only experience with Irish dance was attending an afternoon matinee of River Dance at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center in Nashville.  And regarding a meal of mutton, I have never prepared it, tasted it or seen it served.

England, Ireland, Germany, memories of my ancestors and the traditions of those countries are lost to me, they are not part of my cultural DNA.

Not so with Scotland. While the Highland traditions of my ancestors disappeared with some unknown generation, the culture of Scotland is familiar to me and my kinship with those long-lost relatives is real.

Perhaps I’ve watched too many episodes of Outlander on Netflix but of all of the old countries in my genealogy it’s Scotland that inhabits my dreams. The touch of a plaid piece of cloth conjures visions of an unknown grandmother, tartan shawl draped across her shoulders, at home in the Highlands. She is a stranger, yet her blood flows through my veins, her name is a mystery, but I know her well. The sight of plaid reminds me of her existence.

That leaves the bagpipe. A powerful symbol of Scotland, it moves me like no other instrument. It speaks to me, its sounds through the ages. It stirs my soul. The familiar cry of the bagpipe awakens in me a longing to know my ancestors, to call on them in a place and time that is lost forever in the mists of history.

#52ancestorsin52weeks #52ancestorsin52weeksoldcountry


“Every language has a grammar, a set of rules that govern usage and meaning, and literary language is no different. It’s all more or less arbitrary of course, just like language itself.”   Thomas C. Foster


By Betsy Cross Thorpe

I’m a writer. I’ve been writing for quite a long time. One thing my years of experience has taught me is that the quality of my work relies heavily on my consistently following the rules of grammar and style. Consistency is so important to me that before I made my first post, when earlier this year I started contributing to Tales of Our Family, The Roe family genealogy history blog, I looked in on multiple blogs to learn how others wrote about their ancestors. While most of the posts were very good, I was surprised to find that in the field of genealogical writings it is perfectly acceptable to break that universal rule of writing, which is maintain consistency.

From post to post, and sometimes even within the same piece, I found inconsistencies in terms, style, and usage. Titles, terms, and phrases were abbreviated, hyphenated, italicized, and capitalized at will. But it was the multiple ways that writers designated their long-gone great-ancestors that really made my head spin.

Great-great-great-great-great-great grandmother, 6 great-grandmother, 6x great-grandmother 6gg-grandmother, sixth-great-grandmother.

I had one overriding question. What is the multi-great writing rule?

I turned to an editor friend for help. She consulted that venerable guide to grammar, style, and usage, The Chicago Manual of Style. Although the manual is the go-to resource for most writers, editors and publishers it doesn’t always provide rules for the specialized terms used in specific fields of study. Unfortunately for the purposes of this blog post genealogy is one of those unregulated fields.

Without a rule to follow I decided that I was free to pick which style to use. I chose from the terms listed above. My only criterion was readability. I eliminated all the options with numeric ordinals, which according to The Chicago Manual of Style could not be used at the beginning of sentences. That left only two other terms to choose from. The first one was awkward to read; the reader would be distracted trying to count all the greats. That left the final example, my sixth-great-grandmother.

In my genealogical writings multi-great-ancestors and relatives will be designated with their generational number spelled out followed by a hyphen, followed by the word great, followed by a hyphen, which will be followed by their familial relationship to me. All in lower case. Unless of course the term is used at the beginning of a sentence in which the first letter of the spelled out number shall be capitalized.

That’s the Betsy Cross Thorpe rule of Multi-Greats in Genealogical Writing and I will consistently stick to it until someone with more genealogical authority points me in the direction of an already-established rule.

#52Ancestorsin52Weeks #52ancestorsin52weeksmultiple



“Any disaster you can survive is an improvement in your character, your stature, and your life.”   Joseph Campbell


By Betsy Cross Thorpe

This post is about one year in the life of Lucas Dawson. He was my grandfather’s grandfather. You can find his name near the middle of my maternal family tree.

The year in question is 1856.

My maternal family tree spans more than three centuries. There are roughly 119,424 days between the birth of the first and the last direct line relative on my mother’s branch of the tree.  At the top is Matthew Rhea who was born in 1693. At the other end is Sawyer Siegrist, born in 2019.

The year 1856 falls in the middle of those two years.

Lucas was the youngest child of Thomas and Mary Ann Kirkland Dawson, farmers who owned a smallholding in the piney wood section of East Feliciana Parish, Louisiana. Valued at $1,000, it was one of the smallest parcels of land in the area. They raised dairy cows for milk, chickens for eggs, hogs for meat, grain crops and corn to feed their livestock and family, and cotton to sell.

Lucas turned 12 on April 25.  A Friday. On Sunday it started to rain. It rained for more than a week.  A local publication reported that it was the heaviest rain from all accounts which have been visited on this part of the South for years. Farms, both great and small, were devastated by the immense damage done to young crops. Especially corn and cotton.

This turn of events caused hardship. The damaged fields failed to produce enough cotton to sell or food to last through winter. Countrywomen conserved food. They did so in part by serving smaller portions. Some meals were skipped altogether.  It is likely that Lucas often went to bed hungry.

At this time, newspapers in the South covered outbreaks of Yellow Fever. They printed weekly reports issued by health officials on the islands of Bermuda and Cuba and in the cities of New York, Baltimore, Charleston and New Orleans.

People in Louisiana lived in constant fear of a Yellow Fever outbreak. On August 12, an article in one regional newspaper addressed that fear. Our towns were destroyed and more than decimated by the Yellow Fever in 1853, 1854 and then again in 1855 in the fearful scourges. So now, in the face of three annual epidemics that peopled our graveyards and clothed our houses as with the mantle of sorrow we wait. 

During the epidemic of 1853, in Clinton, the town nearest the Dawson farm the population dropped from close to 2,000 people to 250. Some of those people died, others escaped to the countryside. One person who stayed wrote a letter describing conditions in the town. He wrote that one disadvantage of staying was a lack of food, that farmers who had chickens, eggs and vegetables to sell would neither come nor send anyone to town because they feared contagion. They knew to keep their distance. In spite of taking precautions many country people got sick and died from the fever.

The state of Louisiana had the highest death rate due to Yellow Fever than any other place in the country.

Fear of a fourth epidemic must have worried young Lucas. But fortunately for the people of Louisiana only a comparatively few numbers of cases were reported that year and only a small number of people died.

But 1856 wasn’t over yet.

 On  October 11 Lucas suffered what was probably the biggest tragedy of his early life.  His father Thomas Dawson died 10 days after his 61 birthday. We now know that grief is both real and measurable and that it changes the psyche of a child forever.

 Hopefully his grief made him mentally stronger. He endured hunger, fear of disease and grief the year his father died, but what lay in the future was much worse.  A big war was coming and he would be part of it. Lucas Dawson would soon encounter hardships that his 12 year old self couldn’t possibly  imagine. My hope is that he had some good  years in between and that for a season life was kinder to him.

#52ancestorsin52weeks #52ancestorsin52weeksMiddle


“In all of us there is a hunger, marrow deep, to know our heritage.”–Alex Haley

Ruby Elizabeth Isaacs Roe and Henry David Roe sometime in the 1920’s Yazoo County Mississippi


By Betsy Cross Thorpe

On Saturday, August 20, 1927, in Yazoo County Mississippi, Miss Ruby Elizabeth Isaacs age sixteen, wed Mr. Henry David Roe age twenty. Those six facts are the sum of what I know about my grandparents wedding day. As far as I know neither one of them ever talked about their wedding. Not with me, not with my mother, not with my aunt.

At the time of their marriage Yazoo County was recovering from the Mississippi River Flood of April 1927.  The Mississippi River Flood was the most destructive river flood in US history. It claimed the lives of more than one thousand people in Yazoo County alone.

For tenant farmers like my grandparents the aftermath of the flood was devastating. Tens of thousands were left homeless and jobless. Close to a million people were left without food and water.  Times were harder than usual in the Mississippi Delta.  Finally, toward the end of August the last of the floodwaters flowed into the Gulf , and the time for rebuilding the Delta arrived.

Was it by design that my grandparents chose to marry at that time? I choose to imagine that they did.

On that day the Isaacs and Roe lines joined . A new line was formed. Starting with seven children the Isaacs/Roe line now extends down through five generations.

#52AncestorsIn52Weeks #52Ancestorsin52WeeksWedding


“I think it is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong.” Richard P. Feynman


By Betsy Cross Thorpe

There are many ways to express uncertainty. Some of the most common ways are:

 I’m not sure. I doubt it. I don’t know for sure. It’s very unlikely. I have my own doubts. I don’t think so. I don’t believe this is true. There’s some doubt in my mind about that. I’m not a hundred percent sure.

Then, there is my personal favorite, I don’t know—yet.

For the purpose of this post I am going to use a piece from Tales of Our Family to show how I address an uncertainty when I write about my ancestors. The piece is titled So Far Away.

My Question : What was the name of the young man from my grandmothers past who died in a plane crash when she was a young woman? She spoke of him often but to my knowledge she never said his name.

That was my question.  I hoped to answer it with certainty.

To find the name of the young man who died in the airplane crash I looked on I searched newspapers in Mississippi, from 1920 through 1946. I used the search terms “airplane killed Mississippi.” My grandmother lived in Mississippi from the 1920’s through 1946. The plane crash that her friend died in happened while she was living there.

I found evidence of only one plane crash taking place in Mississippi during that time.   Articles in the Yazoo Herald, circa August 1929 pointed to a tragic plane crash that claimed the life of a young pilot. The pilot was nineteen-year-old Albert Firth.

Was he the boy that my grandmother knew?

I examined my data.

Did Albert Firth live in the right place to have known my grandmother?

Yes. He was born and raised in the town of Holly Bluff Mississippi, the same place that my grandmother moved to when she was a schoolgirl.   The plane crash that he died in happened in 1929. My grandmother was still living there in 1929.

Was Albert Firth the right age to have been friends with my grandmother? Is it possible that he and my grandmother would have known each other?  Is it reasonable to believe they were friends?  

 Yes. He was born in 1910. He was one year older than my grandmother. Holly Bluff was a small town.  In 1920 it had a population of eight hundred and ninety. They were the same age living in a small town. Yes it is quite possible that Albert Firth and my grandmother knew each other. I couldn’t say for sure, but I was almost certain that I had found the name of the person I was looking for.

My aunt, Gerry Roe, then provided additional information.  My grandmother sometimes talked another person that she knew when she lived in Holly Bluff. But this person she mentioned by name. Miss Lurlene Screws. My aunt located Miss Screws on the 1920 census. She found one Miss Lurlene Screws, a person my grandmother remembered well, residing in the home of ten-year-old Albert Firth and his parents.

Her discovery answered the final part of my question, was it reasonable to believe they were friends?

Yes it was. Bearing in mind that Albert Firth and Miss Lurlene lived in the same house, and with all other facts considered I found it reasonable to believe that my grandmother and Albert Firth were childhood friends.

OUTCOME: Although I couldn’t prove that Albert Firth was the boy my grandmother once knew, I could, with the above facts in mind, speculate and write with confidence that he was.

#52Ancestorsin52Weeks #52Ancestorsin52WeeksUncertain


“The greatest history book ever written is the one hidden in our DNA.”  Spencer Wells.


By Betsy Cross Thorpe

Disclosure: Although my full DNA story is available to me on, I am using my Mother’s DNA story for the purpose of this blog post. Tales of our Family is a blog that is dedicated to preserving a record of the genealogy of my maternal lineage. My Mother’s DNA story presents the most accurate account of my maternal DNA story and of where our shared ancestors traveled over time.

 When I use the phrase my DNA in the post below, I am referring only to DNA from the Isaacs/Roe family line.  

My DNA has been on the move for ages. I can track its early  travels  back to the beginning of  the  Viking Age in 793 when my Norse and Viking ancestors rowed away from what is now Norway and Sweden and then later from Iceland and Greenland to  sail across the North Sea. They set sail from their homelands in longships, They sailed all the way to the continent we now call Europe.

For a period of two hundred and seventy-three years my Norsemen and Viking forebears voyaged out of Scandinavia to Europe where they settled. They settled in places we know as England, Wales, Germany, and France and in the regions known now as Ireland and Scotland.

While Vikings were warriors who raided and plundered the countries they sailed to they also traded with the people who lived there. Some Vikings were settlers who chose to stay behind. They claimed land, married into local families, converted to Christianity, and adopted the customs and attitudes of the communities they joined. They assimilated into the existing societies of the different countries they settled in.  

The age of the Vikings ended in 1066. Then came the Plantagenets, a line of Norman rulers from France who consolidated and modernized the Kingdom of England. They ruled for almost five hundred years. After that, wars, and more wars. The houses of Lancaster, York, and Richard II battled for the throne.

My British ancestors survived the wars.

 Then arrived the reign of Henry the VII. Tudor rule, Henry VIII, King Edward, Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth I. My long-gone relatives endured them all.

One result of Tudor rule was The English Reformation. Catholicism was banned, Protestantism was on the rise.

After staying in place for more than five centuries my ancestors went back on the move.

In 1586, during the rule of Queen Elizabeth I the Crown established Protestant plantations in Northern Ireland. For years the Catholics living there had resisted the Reformation.  Their land was confiscated, turned over to the thousands of Protestant colonists who arrived there from England and Scotland.

Some of my ancestors were among those colonists. They brought their Protestant belief system to an unwelcoming land. The Irish people refused to accept them. Within the span of a few short years many of them turned their eyes toward the distant shores of the New World. For the next hundred years my relatives arrived in the Colony of Virginia. It was at this time that some of the surnames on my family tree began to emerge.   Dawson, Elkins, Manus, Booker and Fowler. English names one and all. They share branches on the tree with the names of my Scottish forebears like Rhea, McKibben and McCormick.

Some of those colonists arrived in the New World with elements of their Viking heritage preserved within the structure their DNA—traces of which have been passed down through the generations to me.


After arriving in Virginia my ancestors and relatives refused to stay put, North Carolina, Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, Texas, Missouri, Mississippi, Oregon, California, Nevada and Alaska. They forever move westward.

The DNA in my direct family line continues to travel. One example is my brother Randy and his direct family line. Starting with our grandparents, Ruby Isaacs Roe and Henry David Roe. They were born, respectively, in Kentucky and Louisiana, our Mother, Nannie Elizabeth Roe Cross, was born in Mississippi, my brother Randy Cross was born in Oregon, his daughters Roxie Leigh Cross and Jodi Cross Calnan was born in Wyoming, and his grandchildren Roxie Ann Calnan and Dean Hudson Calnan were born in Colorado.

Sometime in the 1980’s one cousin, Debbie Russell Warner, returned to where it all began. She married an Englishman and moved to England. She now lives in the area of Bedfordshire, about thirty miles northwest of London.

All these years later, our DNA is still on the move. One cannot help but wonder where it will land next.

#52Ancestorsin52Weeks #52Ancestorsin52WeeksTravel

Where There’s a Will

“If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” —Benjamin Franklin

Where There’s a Will

By Betsy Cross Thorpe

When I first saw the words Where There’s a Will on the 52 Ancestors in 52 Week’s list of prompts my initial impulse was to alter the prompt and write a piece titled Where There’s a Will There’s a William.

 My thoughts were that it would be fun to give a nod to all the Williams who populate the various branches of the Roe and Isaacs family tree.  My maternal family tree.

I also found it a topic that most can relate to.  For whom among us does not have a Uncle Billy or Cousin Bill to love? 

With that thought in mind I looked at the tree. I searched the name William. Perched near the top sat the name of my four times great grandfather—William Dawson. He was born in 1772.

 I privately dubbed him William the First.

Starting with him I followed the name William all the way down to my generation.  I searched both my grandfather and grandmother’s sides of the tree.  From the first William Dawson down to my own first cousin William Gregory Roe who was born in 1964, I found nine direct line relatives with the given name William. All born over a span of one hundred and ninety-two years.

Another twenty-six males named William are scattered among different branches of the tree.

As far as I can tell William R Fowler lived longer than any other William that I am related to.  He died in 1936 at the age of ninety-two.  Sadly, baby William Gordon Combs was the youngest of the Williams to die. He passed away in 1930. He was only fourteen months old.

 I lost my nerve for the project.  Grandparents, uncles, cousins, and in-laws.  Past and present. There are just too many Williams on this side of my family to write about in one weekly blog post.

I realized it would be much easier for me if I simply conformed with the prompt and wrote a piece based on how it was originally written.

The following passageis my belated attempt at conformity. It is my anlysis of a Last Will that one of my ancestors made and signed one hundred and thirty-six years ago—almost to this day.

On May 13, 1884, at a time when  the estimated life span for a man living  in the American South was forty-one years, at the age of sixty-four, my third-great grandfather, Daniel Franklin Manus, of the County of Lyon, of the state of Kentucky, made and signed a will.

 It was the only will ever made by him.

There is really nothing unusual about Daniel Manus making a will.  People have been making wills to dictate what happens to their estate after they die since the time of the Ancient Greeks. However, while most of his instructions are just what one would expect to find in a simple will, I did find some of his statements and instructions to be somewhat out of the ordinary.

His first request was that his funeral expenses and any just debts that he may owe be paid out of any money he might leave.

That is a standard instruction, nothing unusual there.

The will then went on to say that if Daniel Manus left no money, then those expenses were to be paid out of his interest in a crop of tobacco that he stated was now being grown on land he owned. A woman named Mrs. Beck was growing the tobacco.

I snapped to attention. The words now being grown jumped off the page.

This will was signed on May 13.   Tobacco grown in Western Kentucky is usually cut and harvested sometime in August. Did he expect to be dead before then? Did he have reason to believe that he would die before Mrs. Beck harvested the tobacco she was growing on his land? Did my third great grandfather dictate this will from his deathbed?

The will did not say.

It  simply stated that after his just debts were  paid out of the proceeds from the tobacco being grown on  his land, that his small amount of  personal property and  his eighty acres of land was to  be held and kept in the possession of  his widow  until her death. It also contained a directive stating that considering the smallness of his effects that his funeral expenses ought to be very moderate.

At this time Daniel Manus was married to a woman named Elizabeth Terrell Manus.  She was his second wife, thirteen years his junior.   He married her on December 31, 1876 shortly after the death of his first wife Susannah Elkins Manus. Susannah is my third great grandmother. Daniel and Susannah had several children together, five of which were still living in 1884 when he made this will. All five were daughters, all married. The youngest, Emily Manus Isaacs is my second great grandmother.

The will stated that after the death of his widow, he desired that his second eldest surviving daughter Susan C.T. Hall receive one bed and fifty dollars before any division of property. That the rest of the estate be divided equally between his five daughters.

How unusual. To show preference to one child over all the others seems odd. Why Susan? Why one bed? Was she a favorite? Did she have a special need? Was she more impoverished than her sisters, or did she simply just ask that he leave her a bed?

 Once again—the will did not say.

While the motives for his unusual bequest will continue to fuel my imagination, I must accept that the truth of why he favored the one daughter over four others in his Last Will shall forever remain hidden in the past.  

#52AncestorsIn52Weeks 52AncestorsIn52WeeksWhereTheresAWill



By Betsy Thorpe

“Ultimately, the great truths of family history don’t live in any book. They live in the hearts and minds of the living descendants.”  Laurence Overmire

Two months ago, when I saw the word Water on the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks list of weekly writing prompts it reminded me of a story my grandmother Ruby Isaacs Roe, liked to tell about the day she was born. She was born on February 9, 1911, in western Kentucky, near the banks of the Cumberland River.

As the story goes, winter was colder than usual that year. It was so cold on the day she was born that the river froze. It froze solid. The ice was so thick that one man drove a heavy mule drawn wagon all the way across the river, from one bank to the other.

Two months in advance of when the Water prompt was due, I knew that was the story to tell. I would write of that cold icy day when my grandmother first arrived in this world. It was the perfect story for Water

Or so it seemed.

My plan started to change after last week rolled around. That’s when I wrote a blog post about my sixth great grandmother Elizabeth McKibben Rhea.  I wrote about her for the 52 Ancestors weekly prompt, Nearly Forgotten.  After I wrote the piece, I just couldn’t get her off my mind.

Every time I sat down at my desk to write about the day my grandmother was born, I was distracted by thoughts of Elizabeth McKibben Rhea. I couldn’t stop thinking about how in her young years she traveled 3,346 nautical miles across the Atlantic Ocean from Ireland to reach the Virginia Colony in the New World.

 That’s a lot of water to cross over.

Young Elizabeth McKibben was among the first immigranst from Ireland to arrive in Virginia. The Scotch Irish Presbyterians began to arrive in the colony sometime around 1730.  They mostly arrived from the city of Londonderry and other parts of Northern Ireland.  

According to Eyewitness to The passage to America was treacherous by any standard. Many of the immigrants were too poor to pay for the journey and therefore indentured themselves to wealthier colonialists – selling their services for a period of years in return for the price of the passage. Crammed into a small wooden ship, rolling and rocking at the mercy of the sea, the voyagers – men, women and children – endured hardships unimaginable to us today. Misery was the most common description of a journey that typically lasted seven weeks.

I can’t fathom all the unimaginable hardships she suffered. But, unless she was a small child when she made the voyage, she probably knew how miserable it would be long before she booked passage.  I also don’t know if she was indentured when she arrived in Virginia. I truly hope not.  I can’t imagine any way that she could have prepared herself for the horrors of that system. No matter her age.

I am on a mission to learn more about Elizabeth McKibben Rhea. Water played a role in her early story.

 I am excited to uncover more about her and I am curious to see where my future writing prompts lead me.

#52AncestorsIn52Weeks #52AncestorsIn52WeeksWater


By Betsy Cross Thorpe

“The Scots-Irish were the first to proclaim for freedom in these United States.” President William McKinley

The McKibben family was part of the Campbell Clan, one of the most powerful clans in the Highlands.


This post you are about to read is titled Nearly Forgotten. In this post you will read about Elizabeth McKibben Rhea. Her name tops the branches of the Roe side of my maternal family tree. Yet on the pages of Roe family history she is a Nearly Forgotten figure.

 But first, before I tell you about Elizabeth McKibben Rhea, I  want to take a moment to explain how me and my aunt Gerry Roe come up with the titles and topics for the blog pieces that we post here on Tales of Our Family.

 We follow a genealogy blog called 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.  It features a list of weekly writing prompts aimed at genealogists who are interested in writing about the people who populate their respective family trees. The prompts are designed to help people like me, and my aunt think about our ancestors in new and creative ways.

As you have probably already surmised, the prompt for this week is Nearly Forgotten.

You may have read the previous post titled Nearly Forgotten: a collection of memories that my aunt posted on Tales of our Family yesterday. In the post, she shares a small sampling of the many nearly forgotten family memories and stories that she has gathered over the years.

The substance of my post is quite different from the one my aunt posted yesterday. Hers records some of the nearly forgotten memories shared by family members from two generations.   Mine draws attention to a nearly forgotten deceased person on our shared family tree.

 I merely take the time to point out the differences between our same titled posts to give you an example of the genius behind the prompts offered on the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks blog.

 Each weekly prompt inspires an assortment of ideas from the hundreds of genealogists and writers who follow the blog. They almost always find an unusual, unique and entertaining way to share their family stories.


 Elizabeth McKibben Rhea.

Elizabeth McKibben Rhea is my 6th great grandmother.

She was of Scots-Irish descent. She was born in 1725 in either Scotland or Ireland. She landed on the shores of Virginia at least thirty -one years before the beginning of the Revolutionary War. She was married to Daniel Rhea. She gave birth to Grisella Rhea in 1745.

I don’t know when and where she died.

The esteem of being a Virginia Colonist is not yet associated with her name. I plan to correct that oversight by uncovering revealing information about that period of her life.

 My goal is to assure that from this time forward the name of, Elizabeth McKibben Rhea, my nearly forgotten ancestor is mentioned often in the chronicles of Roe family history


I am going to start my research by trying to learn Elizabeth’s country of origin.

If you know what the term Scots -Irish means, please leave a comment in the comment section of this post.

It would make me happy to hear from you.

#52AncestorsIn52Weeks #52Ancestorsin52WeeksNearlyForgotten