Sunday, November 9, 2014

Do You Know Where You Came From?

I once read an op-ed piece about the great state of Oklahoma. Oklahoma is one of those states in the middle that seems to not clearly belong to one of the cultural regions of the country. Is it midwest? South? Western? North? Ask any one person from Oklahoma (or outside for that matter) and you will get wildly different answers. I believe the answer depends on how your feel and maybe a little on where your people originated. My ancestors were largely displaced Cherokees and farmers from the deep south. There is also a generous number of Yankees and some up from Texas. Growing up I identified more with the Cherokee and then my southern roots. As I discover more about my ancestors, I am finding joy in some of these other aspects of my heritage. It is kind of fun to be a mix.

This is my grandmother, Amy Ellene Davis. This picture was taken when she was a senior in high school. I know a lot about my family because of her. She was a fantastic storyteller. She would tell stories about growing up in rural Oklahoma during the Great Depression. The drought was so bad they could stick broom handles all the way down into cracks in the ground. She was a bit of  a tomboy. She had a pet skunk named Jiggs. Her first daughter, Beverly, had a remarkable singing voice. I wish that I had recorded even half of the stories she would tell.

This is Jake Maggard. He married Ellene. I remember how all us grandkids adored him. My sister and I would play and play with him. He would try to get us to behave, but we never quite took him seriously.

This is their second daughter. She is my mother. From my grandmother, I know that Omicka Maggard got into a fair amount of trouble. I also know that she was a delight to my grandparents. Gramma Ellene in particular.

I learned a lot from family stories. Most importantly I learned a love of family and a desire to know them. I have an ancestor that was a essentially kicked out of Scotland for backing the wrong king. I have another ancestor that came over on the Mayflower as an indentured servant. Some walked the Trail of Tears. Some migrated before they were forced to leave their lands in Georgia. Soldiers in just about every war that the United States has been involved. During the Civil War, family fought on both sides. Farmers. Lots and lots of farmers. I love my family. I love finding out about them. Not just their names, but their lives.

I am very, very grateful for my ancestors.

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