Barbara Breedlove Rollins' Family Files
The Genealogy Home Page
Why indeed! I am the most unlikely family historian you can imagine. I once suggested a genealogy-cousin call my sister Carol to ask some questions. Carol was dumbstruck. As I understand it, the conversation went something like this:
Paula: "I'm a great granddaughter of Jefferson Davis Breedlove and researching family history. Your sister Barbara suggested I call you. Do you have time to talk?"
Carol: "Sure, I have time to talk but who's Jefferson Davis Breedlove?"
Paula: "Your grandfather's father, your great grandfather."
Carol: "Let me get this straight. You want to talk about family history and BARBARA said for you to call ME?"
Paula: "Yes. She said you knew lots more about the live people in the family."
Carol: "Oh. Of course, if you want to know about kinfolk that makes perfect sense."
I am the least likely of all to know who people are -- or at least that was true until that fateful day in January of 1988 when this madness began. I struggle to call by name the people I've worked with for years, and I'm likely faking it when I talk to people who recognize me on the street. Yet I can stand there and name most of the people on my chart in order without much hesitation. So why? Let me see...
How I Got Started In This Madness
There's an old joke that says if you want your family history researched, all you have to do is run for office and your opponent will do it for you. That was halfway true for me. It all started when I ran for office. I filed in December, 1987, for the office of Judge of County Court at Law Number 2 in Taylor County, Texas. When on January 3 the smoke cleared and I could see what the situation was, I looked up what I could about my two opponents. One was born in Kalamazoo, the other in Chicago. I wanted to tell the Texas voters I was home-grown, native Texan. At the same time I didn't want to offend those voters connected to the Air Force Base on the west edge of town, most of whom were not Texans by birth. So what's the most diplomatic way to make that point?
I knew Mother and Daddy were born in Texas, too, and I couldn't remember any of my grandparents talking about living elsewhere. I called, and my parents said their folks were native. And Mother had a genealogy of the Kerley family prepared by a cousin of hers from Oregon.
That started the whole mess. Vernon Kerley had stated Elizabeth Jane Dunn, wife of John Jackson Kerley, was born in Texas in 1823. Wow! To anyone with Texas history instilled since childhood, that meant Austin Colony. That meant my great great great grandmother was one of the first born to the hardy souls who ventured from the young United States into the Mexican area that became Texas. I quickly prepared campaign literature claiming to be a sixth-generation Texan - on the assumption that her mother at least was in Texas.
Probably for reasons other than my sixth-generation Texan status, I won the election. I faced another, though, in two years. It would be cleaner, more efficient to be a member of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, and that should be easy with my ancestry.
Wrong. Elizabeth (Ellen) Dunn Kerley told the census taker in 1850 she was born in North Carolina. There were no Dunns in early Texas history who fit with the line. Certainly she was here when her oldest child was born in June 18, 1848, but there wasn't a scintilla of evidence she was there in February, 1847, the magic date. Eventually I proved that all my living ancestors were in Texas by 1890 and that by 1850 I had ancestors then bearing surnames of Anderson, McFerron, Spence, Lewellen, and Barrett in Texas besides my Kerleys, but none of them could meet the ultimate February 1847 test.
In desperation, I wrote Mother's cousin in Oregon asking where he found that information. (You may have quite correctly gotten them impression I don't stop and ask for directions until I've wandered at least an hour!) He said he assumed since she was married in Texas she must have been born here! After the world quits shaking from genealogists shuddering, I'll finish the story.
My Jarman line wasn't in Texas until the 1870 census, but Berryman Jarman and wife Mary Wrenn Jarman were old when they got there. They're my fourth great grandparents, making me a Seventh-generation Texan. Truth in advertising prevailed, and genealogy won't let go of my mind.
P.S. Elizabeth Dunn and John Jackson Kerley both lived or had relatives in Lauderdale County, Mississippi. I'm guessing they weren't married in Texas anyway!