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Shaking leads from the family tree

Have you ever wondered where you descendants came from?

     Most of us only know who are grandparents are or maybe who our great-grandparents were. Beyond that a lot of us have no clue.

     I started asking my grandmother on my mother’s side of the family about our ancestry several years ago, and I got some information from the family Bible. I looked at everything that I had accumulated, and with good intentions thought I’d start doing some research. That was as far as I got at the time.

     For Christmas this past year, I gave myself the gift of Family Tree Maker for my computer. The computer program helps you keep track of your research, and with an additional subscription to ancestry.com, you gain access to most of the records that they have on file.

     Being a novice at genealogy, I also thought I would benefit from a class being taught by the Lincoln County Historical and Genealogical Society in February and early March.

     Board member and genealogist Cathy Bridge taught the class, and all I can say is, wow. I learned so much about how to research my ancestors and how to document my findings.

     I can honestly say that Cathy has awakened a sleeping giant of eagerness in me. Just about every spare moment I have is spent at the computer researching my extended family members.

     A big help is ancestry.com. When it finds matches to your ancestors it will pop up a small green leaf. I’ve been following those green leaves furiously, each one giving me just a little bit more information to search with.

     When doing family research, you’re bound to find all sorts of information … some good and some not.

     I had heard that on my grandmother’s side of the family there is quite a mystery on the Summers side of her family.

     My grandmother’s maiden name was Summers. As best as I can tell, most of the Summerses in our community are descendants of one Ruth Summers (1786-1860) from the Fair River community, who was born in North Carolina .

     Ruth married William Pepper at some point and lived in Tennessee. Sometime after her two sons, Zephaniah and Hezekiah, were born, she moved to what was then the Fair River community in Lawrence County. She and her two sons abandoned the Pepper surname and they all took her maiden name of Summers.

     I still haven’t found what happened to William Pepper or why Ruth decided to take back the Summers name. I’m hoping to unearth that information.

     Another interesting fact I uncovered was about another descendant named George Rials, who would have been my fifth great-grandfather on my maternal grandmother’s side of the family. He was born in 1770 in North Carolina. I found that the town Georgetown in Copiah County was most likely named for him.

     Probably the most interesting fact I uncovered was a connection to a former first lady, Julia Dent Grant, the wife of Ulysses S. Grant, who was the 18th president of the United States. One of Julia’s Dent ancestors married into the Summers line.

     I guess deep down we all want to find a little celebrity or someone royal in our family lineage … it’s only natural … even if it’s a couple of hundred years ago.

     If you’re interested in doing genealogy, it’s a great hobby and something you can leave to your children. A good place to start is your local genealogical society. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to have a good computer and a computer program to assist with your research.

     Right now, I’m still knee-deep in research tracking down my next lead.

     And how was your week?

     Lifestyles Editor Tammie Brewer can be reached at The DAILY LEADER at (601) 833-6961 ext. 134, by e-mail at tbrewer@dailyleader.com or you can write to her at P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven MS 39602.