A New Leaf

Reese William b&w

This is the newest member of the family tree.  My first grandchild, born just three days ago.  He’s one-day old in this picture. I meant to post this earlier, but I was occupied with work and taking pictures of this beautiful boy. A big part of why I’m documenting my family history is so that this little one will have a better understanding of where he came from and who his ancestors were and how they were special in their own way. He may not really care. But then again, he might.  And the history will be there waiting.

From a genealogical point of view, his birth would confuse me a bit if it turned up in a record from a hundred years ago. He’s the fourth ‘Reese’ in the family, but the previous two were born to the eldest son. This one was born to the second son.  What could have happened?  If it happened 100 years ago, the average family researcher of today could spin any number of theories about this occurrence in the family record. 100 years from now, I have no doubt that vital records and archived Facebook posts would leave little question.  The truth is, the youngest got the blessing of the eldest before the naming.

My other passion is photography.  From a photographic point of view, I tried to figure out what sort of photograph would have been taken of a newborn by a fine art photographer in the 1920’s.  I imagine it might be something like this.

Nanticoke River Roots

This is the first in a series of four articles introducing the families and surnames I’m investigating, starting with my father’s family in Sussex County, Delaware.

The picture below is my father and his grandparents, John Robinson and Ella (Ryan) Robinson. It was taken around 1918 on a farm in Little Creek Hundred, Sussex County, Delaware. The farm was just outside of Delmar, Delaware. Click on it for a larger image and notice the bare feet and the straw boater on the porch.

Reese, John and Ella

The Nanticoke River connection was found a few years ago as I began the work of unravelling several mysteries surrounding the history of my father’s family in Sussex County Delaware. This led to the construction of a family tree that goes back ten generations so far, without leaving Sussex County! The majority of the families I’m researching had their beginnings in what is roughly the watershed of the Nanticoke River. In Delaware, this includes seven of the Sussex County ‘Hundreds’ (Little Creek, Broad Creek, Nanticoke, Northwest Fork, Cedar Creek, Georgetown and Dagsborough). In Maryland, this includes the the Fork and Vienna Districts of Dorchester County, Maryland and the Sharptown, Barren Creek and Salisbury Districts of Wicomico County.

Most of the people in this family were farmers (or ‘planters’ if you go back far enough). The alphabetic list of surnames in this branch of the family includes Bryan, Carpenter, Clifton, Conoway, Isaacs, Lecatte, Lingo, Neal, Outten, and Ryan (or Rion).

This is the most difficult line that I’m researching. My father’s family didn’t talk much about those who came before. There was no written history and very little documentation handed down. Because of this, most of work work involves this branch of the family tree.