Happy Birthday Granddad!

4/16/2011 7 comment(s)

James Brown 1900 - 1988
Yesterday, April 15th marked my Granddad’s Birthday. James Brown, my father’s father was born on this day in 1900.

Because he was an older Grandfather, I never really got a chance to build a close relationship with him. However, there are many warm memories that I still share. Our family would visit he and my Grandmother every summer. He would always make sure that me and my sisters left with Silver Dollars and sometimes “quiet money” in our pockets. In fact, I still have several coins which have appreciated in sentimental and monetary value over time. Also, my Granddad always had a generous supply of Coca-Cola on hand. And it wasn’t just any old knock off Coke drink. It was real Coca-Cola brand in glass bottles, which as a child tasted so much better than the aluminum cans I was used to. Keep in mind, Flavor-Aid was the drink of choice back home, since it was much less expensive than soda, so it was a real treat when we vacationed in sunny Florida to have sodas available, let alone in the glass bottle with the souvenir bottle cap!

Granddad loved his dogs and it seems as if that family trait has been passed down to my own father and sister. Likewise, his dogs loved him. They seemed to appreciate his gentle and kind spirit, as did I.

All things in life happen the way they do for a reason, but if I could go back in time, knowing the things I know now, I would have sat down with Granddad and found out who HE was. I know who he was as my father’s father, but I mean what his life was like and what made him tick. I wish I could have heard some of his stories of the memories of his life. His branch of my family tree is the one with the most roadblocks. At that time, as inquisitive as I was, I never dared to ask elders any personal questions. You just didn’t do that, if you valued your chops. But looking back now, I don’t think he would have gone for my chops. I think he may have talked to me. (Mom would have knocked my block off later, for such inquiries)

So, for now, Granddad, I hope you are pleased at the untold pieces of your life I have put together so far. And when I am finished, I will write all about it on this blog or perhaps a bigger platform. But for now, I wish you a Happy 111th Birthday. Know that we miss and love you very much.

Until Next Time,



Shack Leonard - To search or not to search?

4/2/2011 6 comment(s)
I have been on the fence for some time about this post, and whether I even wanted to broach the subject. Living descendants can be quite sensitive about things that are generations old. However, there is an undeniable desire for knowledge about one Shack Leonard, my maternal Gr-Gr-Grandfather. So why the hesitation to trace him, you ask? Well, it’s complicated.

Shack Leonard was born in 1862 in rural Jefferson County, Florida. He married a woman named Katie, with whom he had a large brood. I’d like to imagine that Shack and Katie had this beautiful, amorous marriage and lived happily ever after. But then... there was Eliza. Eliza Bell lived down the street from the Leonards. She was 23 years his junior. I imagine Eliza was limited in her experiences with men. She was just a tender 18 year old when she became pregnant with her first child and Shack’s 13th; my Great Grandfather - Mamon Leonard. Shack was older, experienced and charming, I’m sure. Eliza did not stand a chance against his pursuit. Or perhaps it was she who used her youth to pursue him. I don’t know. Nor at this juncture do the technicalities really matter.

What I do know is that Eliza went on to have a string of relationships, changing surnames to match. She had two other children, whose paternity I have yet to verify with official records. I think she may have been in pursuit of love and unfortunately sought it through tumultuous relationships with men.

My hesitation about researching Shack Leonard was that although he is indeed my Gr-Gr-Grandfather, I felt some sort of regret to Katie about how I, Eliza, and the whole lot of us got into their family tree. Ever feel like you crashed a party? Or as if you have intruded on someone else’s life? That is how I felt on Eliza’s behalf, originally.

However, after much thought, I have come to realize that Eliza’s path was her own. With apologies to Katie and the other Leonards, Shack is a part of my family line. I never had the pleasure of knowing him, but I am confident I would have loved him. So, I am proudly adding him to our tree and will continue to trace his lineage.

There are numerous Leonards still residing in Tallahassee, Florida. Someone out there has a photo of my Gr-Gr-Grandfather, Shack. I would love to know what he looked like. Perhaps, he and I share a pensive gaze or some other interesting characteristic. My mind races with unanswered questions. How did Shack walk? Was he tall? What was his favorite saying? How was his temperament? If you are a Leonard or you know Leonards from that area, drop me a line. Or leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you. Until then I will continue to piece together his life and will update when I find out more information.

Until Next Time,



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