Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Following My Ancestor's Steps

So, I'm going to over look the awkward fact that it's been awhile. If it means anything, I feel bad that it took me this long to write about a fantastic journey I recently took with my Mother. We cool? Hope so.

Now that we've got that out of the way, if you're an avid reader than you already know I've been working on my family ancestry for years. I'll get a few breaks then things that "matter" get in the way. Then something kicks me back into it and there I am fully immersed again.

Well, this time I cam blame it on my Mother.

During Memorial Day weekend, my Mom visited us like she often does during the holidays. This time, we decided that we could try something new and take a small drive to the area where her mother (my grandmother) was born and raised. Surprisingly we're closer to it now then when I was a kid.

We packed up the car and headed into Illinois. Needless to say Southern Illinois is quite different than the Central Illinois that I know.

Central Illinois: Windfarms = 5 Point Bonus

Southern Illinois. It's amazing that both are in the same state!
Instead of driving to a smooth horizon that appears to never end you get to travel up and down beautiful rolling hills. Instead of endless soy bean and corn fields, you witness heavily forest areas and even some wetlands. The beauty of our trip to White County, Illinois, is that we enjoyed both. See, you travel through the Shawnee National Forest before you get to the southern tip of Illinois' heartland. This is mostly thanks to a series of glaciers, but that's for another time.

The point is you drive through some hills, get lost, then drive through those same hills, before turning into some farmland and you get to a little town called Enfield, Illinois.
Yep, Enfield. Home of Mule Day. At one point of time, my fourth great Grandfather lived here. Had his his children here. Died here. His death was almost 40 years before the American Civil War. I'm astonished to find how deep my family's roots run in America much less Illinois.
My oldest ancestor of Enfield
The one thing that crossed my mind as I drove through these hill and farmland is how Joshua Fields got to Enfield. And his children. There's also the families his children married into. Take the Adams and Marlins who also settled in White County, Illinois.
Rachel Graham Marlin, my fourth great Grandmother
It is believed that the Marlins & Adams (like several American pioneer families) traveled from the East Coast "out west" together with several other families. It appears both families were very close since three Adams married three Marlins, including my ancestors. Several members from both sides decided to leave Chester County, South Carolina sometime after 1847 to the "western frontier." One can imagine the tough journey in the mid 1800's to get through the smokey mountains, across Tennessee and Kentucky before getting into Southern Illinois. One family story states that White County isn't where the Marlins & Admas intended to stay, but that's where "they hit rock bottom. They didn't much like the cold climate and might have settled elsewhere had they possessed the means, instead they made the most of the hand they were dealt, worked hard, and soon prospered on the Illinois frontier." Not only did they prosper, but their descendants stayed in White County for three generations until my Grandmother Dorothy Fields "left the farm" to go to college, became a teacher, and fell in love with my Grandfather. They got married, had children and settled in Shelbyville, Illinois. The rest, my friends, is history.
My Grandmother with her daughter (my Mom) in Shelbyville, IL
I don't mean to sound egotistical, but this is only three families who made my existence possible. There are so many others including the Moses, Griffiths, and Scovills (which appear to be in America the longest) along with Swansons, Wingates, and many more! So many people unknowingly fought all odds not only to live, but have children who led to a brighter future. That's our history as human civilization.

The beauty is that it's not over yet. We are only in the middle of the greatest story ever told. There are so many more generations to go. The real question is how will our decedents remember us? Will then travel through mountains and plains to visit our graves? Attempting to comprehend what kind of life we lived? Only time will tell.

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