Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Message from Aunt Minerva

I will always remember yesterday as one of the golden days of my family research. I had decided to begin to look at one of my families who came through Kentucky as it was being settled. After learning the names of my 3rd great-grandparents, Harvey Werley Carr (1800-1870) and Elizabeth Wilson Walker (1798-1857), I had been able to find little else. I knew Grandfather Harvey’s father was a William Carr, who served in the Revolutionary War, but, since there was more than one, I couldn’t find anything else. And I knew nothing about Grandmother Elizabeth.

So, not having checked Google books yet, I crossed my fingers and entered “Harvey Werley Carr” + “Elizabeth Wilson Walker” (this rarely ever works). Lo, and behold! Top of the list is a free, full view, pdf book titled History of Walker Family, 1775-1916, by Minerva A. Carr Muir, published in 1916. Well, what have we here? The link takes me to an early page of the book that is largely blank, except, centered in the middle, is the following:

NO WAY!! THESE ARE MY PEOPLE!!!

Quickly, I downloaded the file before it disappeared, and settled down to read. Who is this Minerva? She is the youngest child of Grandfather Harvey and Grandmother Elizabeth, baby sister to my Grandfather Hueston. The first thing she taught me is that I have been spelling Grandfather’s name wrong! It isn’t Houston, like the city, it is Hueston, his grandmother’s maiden name. The book was “Began in December, 1892, finished in March, 1899, in her 60th year”.

What followed was a chronicle written by a woman intensely proud of her family. Her narrative gave me a view of the kind of people I can claim as ancestors.

Amelia (Forsythe) Walker: “After Mr. Walker died, in Ireland, his widow, Amelia Forsythe, with her three sons and two daughters, emigrated from the north of Dublin, Ireland, bordering on Scotland, to America, in 1775…Being of enterprising Protestant parentage, she purchased a farm on the Juniatta River, in Mifflin County, Pa….They were accompanied thither by their cousins, Henry Buchanan … Henry and his wife became the grandparents of President James Buchanan.”

William Walker and Margaret Elliott: “This good old grandmother, Margaret Elliott Walker, was known as the ‘Lady Bountiful’…She was a loving friend to the poor and needy…Every corner expected to break bread at her board and she never questioned whether he had come from palace or prison….It is no fiction to say they lived happily together, and are now treading the golden streets hand in hand.”

Harvey Werley Carr and Elizabeth Wilson Walker: “The names of Uncle Harvey and Aunt Betsey Carr…were widely known … Possessed of simple and frugal habits, coupled with a long life of industry, they acquired, solely by their own exertions, a large amount of this world’s goods. What others wasted in luxury and pride they husbanded and with sound and discriminating judgment invested in property. The world knew much of their public career and generous hearts.”

Minerva Carr Muir: “Minerva Muir was known to her nieces and nephews by the name of Aunt Ninnie. Every one of them knew they would always find a warm welcome when they came to see Aunt Ninnie, and there was scarcely a meal she did not set an extra plate at the table so that if one of them came the place (w)ould be ready.” (I wonder who wrote this?)


The pages are full of the children of each generation. There are stories of the good and the bad. Grandfather Harvey suffered beatings at the hands of his aunt and uncle after his mother died and he went to live with them. Uncle John Madison Carr was a brave Civil War soldier.

It is almost as if I can hear Aunt Minerva’s voice telling the pages, an intimate sharing of our history across time on a rainy Wednesday afternoon. I know it all needs research, but she has left quite a trail for me to follow. I’ve read about “miracles” in genealogy—help from beyond the veil, as the book says. I think this was one of them.




Thank you, Aunt Ninnie!


And thank you, Google books,

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4 comments:

  1. We have great-great-great grandparents in common. Mine is Hugh, brother oto Elizabeth. I can't seem to be able to leave a comment any other way than ananymous, so I'll check back.

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  2. Would like to exchange info...email to marylbeaulieu@gmail.com.

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  3. Did you receive my email?

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  4. Sorry, haven't gotten one...and I've been watching. Try again!

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