“Just the facts, ma’am”

By Linda Stewart, 8 September 2018

Hopefully the John T. and Mary Cook Paschall book will be printed within the month.  We have had one proof text that has been edited and another proof text has been ordered for the final inspection.  I have always enjoyed books, but now after spending over two years on this project with the writing and editing I have a new appreciation for authors.

I have been told by some people who have read parts of the book that people may not like what is written about their ancestor.  As an author and a researcher, I do not sugar coat my findings.  I only have one exception to my rule, and that is adoption.  If the child does not know they are adopted I do not include that information.  If they do know then the information is included.

In the book, there is a Paschall gentlemen who was a butcher.  He had been in this profession for a number of years.  He owned his own butcher shop, and also sold liquor out of the shop.  Today, we would think nothing of this.  There is a liquor section in every grocery store.  But in the time period he sold the liquor he went to prison for a year, because it was during prohibition.

One of John T. and Mary’s son’s abandoned his young wife and four children.  He moved on and a couple of years later had a new family with children.  The facts say that the son and his first wife were married two years when he went off to war leaving her, now 18 years old, with a one year old baby to raise and a farm to run.  The regiment he was in remained fairly local to the area they lived in.  He received furloughs and came home long enough for her to get pregnant and he returned to his regiment.  In 1865, she was 22 years old, had been married for five years, had four children, and a husband who had been basically absent for three years due to the war.

He came home from the war, but two years later they were separated.  He abandoned her and the children and moved 200 miles away.   Of course we will never know the cause of their separation, but  I can only imagine what emotions this young woman felt … anger, abandonment, grief for a dying marriage, frightened for the well being of her children.  I found documents where she told people she was widowed.  I am sure in her heart he was completely dead to her.  Her parents were both deceased so where was she to go.  She did have siblings, but I did not find any records that she lived with any of them.   I did find records of her living with two different local families in the county where her brothers lived.  The records were sparse for a two year period, then I found birth information for a fifth child.  I am sure people will gasp at the thought of an illegitimate child, but don’t we all want love and compassion even if that decision is not a wise one?  Her story does not have a happy ending as she was killed a year later.

As family researchers, we are to tell the stories of our ancestors.  The facts tell that story.  Family folklore which is the traditional beliefs, customs, and stories of a community, passed through the generations by word of mouth, can be included in your research.  But always make it understood that the story is family folklore and may not be factual.

So in the words of Joe Friday, Dragnet’s 1950’s TV series, “Just the facts, ma’am”.

Happy Hunting!

2 thoughts on ““Just the facts, ma’am””

  1. I love the facts. I’ve found criminal records, bootlegging charges, and uncles with more than one wife at the same time. I recently got a DNA match from a person that was adopted and according to the DNA findings, she has got to belong to one of my uncles. Facts are fascinating. Sheds a whole new light on how your ancesters really lived. I would love to read this book when it is printed.

    1. Thank you so much Dianne. The book is at the printers and hopefully will be shipped in a few weeks. I will announce it on the site.

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