Sunday was Father's Day, a good day to consider more family genealogy. "Dad" is a good place to start when you begin working on your family tree. I am fortunate - I know who my biological father is: John R. James. Not everyone does, you know. Makes putting your family tree together a little bit on the difficult side. And, as an extra added bonus, I had my dad for 44 years. Again, not everyone else is so lucky.
My dad was the next to youngest. He was the youngest for 10 years, then my Uncle Mike came along and usurped that position. His older siblings were a LOT older than him. His oldest brother, my Uncle Bill, was 12 years older than him, and was almost like a second father.
I have several letters that Bill wrote to Dad during WWII and later, and it is clear that there was a close relationship between them. So close that Mom and Dad honeymooned in Washington DC, Bill's home.
My dad's dad was Melvin Chester James. For obvious reasons, he didn't go by "Melvin", but "Mike". And my dad's mom was Mary May McConahy. Growing up (I have mentioned this before), we heard stories of the James side of the family, and I honestly think that if I hadn't sat down and grilled Grandma on her siblings and parents' names, that information would be almost completely forgotten.
But back to Melvin Chester for now. Apparently he was quite the story teller, and, like my son, he never let the truth get in the way of a good, or potentially better, story. So my task as the family historian has been full of big and little disappointments: we are NOT descended from an Indian chief; our James relatives seemed to have an uncanny ability to make and lose fortunes left and right; and Grandpa was a rather self-absorbed jerk.
One thing I have discovered is that my family, the James branch, was full of scoundrels. The lovable kind, but scoundrels nevertheless. The first one to come to America appears to have been on the wanted list of the British authorities when he boarded the ship with a large group of Jameses. We know his first name was James, and that he was single when he boarded, but when he landed his LAST name was also James, and he was married to one of Mr. James' daughters. Our ancestor was able to disembark with the clan - all the sons, daughters, and in-laws - right under the unsuspecting British noses.
We don't know how the marriage worked, but James and his wife, Sarah, stayed together for their entire lives. And produced a number of children.
I have also enjoyed discovering that my James family has ALWAYS been boring when it came to naming the children. There are two James Jameses, and two Thomas Jameses. Children all seemed to be named either James, Thomas, Robert, or William. Only middle initials distinguish one from another.
I mention this because my father's sisters all seemed to marry men named "John" One aunt even married two different men with the first name of "John". And on an unrelated note, another aunt married Earl who goes by "Bud". His son, a behemoth of a man, large and wide, goes by "Little Bud" I guess the James family has a certain sense of humor, too.
So happy belated Father's Day to you dads. And to my dad, I still miss you. But thanks for giving me such an odd, unique, and lovable family!