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,


Kristin Wednesday, January 25, 2012 - 4:18:11 AM
Awww, that is a very nice story. I mean not the part about playing around on his wife, but how you included Shack in your tree. I hope somebody sends you a photograph of him.
Wilie DC Wednesday, January 25, 2012 - 4:18:40 AM
I love real life history like this and if this was my family, I would pursue this to the end of the earth to get the truth. I for one one would like to peruse additional facts on Shack and Eliza. More factfinding groundwork may lead to some very treasured data. Got get it Amy!
Charles R. Hale Wednesday, January 25, 2012 - 4:19:14 AM
Family history is not a straight line narrative is it, Amy. I suppose all of us descend from numerous instances of human foible and misstep.
Very beautifully written.
Charles R. Hale
Clarence Haggins Wednesday, January 25, 2012 - 4:20:04 AM
I have many times wondered where on earth did my cousin Chuck get his first name. You have put my mind to rest on that subject. I pray someone that is able to provide more information will read this and respond.

Love It
Clarence Haggins
Amy (Admin) Wednesday, January 25, 2012 - 4:20:43 AM
Kristin, Thanks for the comments. Yes, I am hoping someone will share that dusty box of keepsake treasures in their attic! (-:

Willie D., Thanks for stopping by ReconnectedRoots. Your support is much appreciated.

Charles, No my friend...this family history is hardly straight line, but quite reassuring in terms of my own quirks and shortcomings. Thanks for the kind words.

Cousin "Uncle" Clarence, Yes! Uncle Chuckie got his name from Grandmother's Father. Your commentary on my posts are much appreciated. I think you are overdue for a guest post of your own! *smile* We'll talk later!
Chelle Wednesday, January 25, 2012 - 4:21:13 AM
Very interesting! Family history IS full of twists and turns, but I'm sure that with your determination and continued sensitivity, there will be plenty more fun facts, discoveries and secrets revealed. Keep up the great work!

Leave a reply

Name (Required)
E-mail (Not published)