This Week's Columns:
"Who's Your Kin, and Where Are You From?"
On Genealogy and Good Ole W.Va. Curiosity
By Melissa Toothman / Editor
Maybe its just the West Virginian in me, but I've taken an interest in the old adage: "Who's your kin?"
Have you ever noticed that in other states, when people greet one another, they often don't ask if the person is related to someone with the same last name? However, when we introduce ourselves to other West Virginians, we're often asked questions like, "Oh, are you related to John, Bill or James?" I must admit, when I hear a familiar surname, I often do the asking.
Lineage seems to be the subject of small talk for West Virginia, with many of us proud of where we came from.
So maybe it's just the West Virginian in me, but I've taken a deeper interest in my own roots and family history. I've dabbled with genealogy in the past, mostly out of a simple curiosity to know where the early branches of my family come from, but I think for the first time, I'm getting serious about researching it.
In the past couple of weeks, I've been mulling through Internet databases, searching through record books and trying to
link my family lines with the people immortalized on those pages.
It's such a sad thing that after living such a rich history, often the only personal details we have about these individuals we call our ancestors are the black and white of the ink and pages
that contain their names, birthdays, death days, census records, and sometimes details about the local history of the time period in which they lived.
Throughout my childhood, I've heard peers in school, especially around St. Patrick's Day, talk about their family lineage in a broad sense. Some would say Native American, whether Cherokee (the most common), Osage, Apache or others. Some would tell me their family is Irish, German, or an assortment of multiple other heritages. When asked, I would stand dumbfounded.
It just wasn't something my family talked about.
When these conversations came up in college, I'd often tell friends that I wish I could answer, but we didn't have family relics past our immediate generations, and no one seemed to really tell stories.
When asked, sometimes they'd just brush off the opportunity to stroll down memory lane, or make a short answer of it. Although I was curious, in the times that these stories were told (usually when visiting family or having extended family over) I just didn't seem to pay attention, ran around with my cousins instead, or I've lost the knowledge to the passage of time for not writing it down.
Today, I find myself doing more than just wondering. I've traced back a few generations on both my parents' paternal sides of the family. Although I haven't linked my findings up with an area of origin outside of this nation, I have learned quite a bit and want to keep going.
I found it very interesting, especially with Lewis County's Bicentennial coming up, to learn that my dad's side of the family has been primarily rooted right here in Lewis County since before it ever became a county. One of my great-grandfathers started a tradition of naming their first-born son after a president of the United States. One of my great-grandfathers is a "George Washington".
This tradition branches off of my direct line, but I still find it fascinating to think that if it keeps going, in several generations there will be another "Barack Obama" and another "Donald Trump" with our family surname.
In time, I'll eventually discover more about where my family came from, but for now, I at least can say "I'm a multi-generational Lewis Countian."
We know very little on my mother's side of the family, and it's been quite a bit more difficult to research. While a majority of her family has been rooted in Pocahontas, Highland and Bath counties between West Virginia and Virginia, on her paternal side, her father died when she was almost two. She's only met his siblings and her grandparents a time or two since then.
There is a book that I need access to for clues on this side of the family. Even though it has details about my grandfather's death and some of his children's names wrong (from the five pages I've been able to get my hands on) it is a good starting point to draw from.
If anyone out there has ever heard of "Rider-Ryder Family From Virginia" by Gordon James Ryder, published in 1993, or knows where I can see a copy, either digital or physical,
please write to me at The Weston Democrat (the address is in the publisher's box on the
bottom left of this page), or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
We are very lucky here in Lewis County to have the genealogical resources that we have with the Hacker's Creek Pioneer Descendants, the family books at the Louis Bennett Public Library, and neighboring county resources and opportunities to add to our online research.
Furthermore, the Missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is interested in starting a weekly gathering on Fridays at the library to help aspiring genealogists get started and make breakthroughs with their research.
Communication is Key
Whether It's Humans or Animals
By Rebecca Young / Reporter
Last week was a crazy week around my house and I realized again how important communication is. It started at about 6:45 a.m., last Tuesday, when my son let my dog out and she ran to my neighbor's property and decided to bark at a 500-plus pound cow. I feared the worst, with all sorts of horrid images flashing in my brain. My neighbors and I talked, as they were aware my dog got out. Without communicating, though, this issue could have been far more serious for the cow, the dog, my neighbor and me.
The very next day, I stopped to get my mail. Four geese were crossing the road in front of my car, and as I got out one of them hissed at me. Well I hissed back, which the goose did not appreciate and then she charged me. If you have never seen an angry goose, trust me, it is not pretty. Needless to say, I got back in my car and waited until the geese were in the creek. Again, communication was the key here. The goose clearly wanted me to know I was in her space, so I retreated. Had she not hissed and charged me, I would probably have gotten beaten up by a goose.
On a more serious note, I am well aware of communication breakdowns, as are most of you. We rely heavily on social media and texting to communicate and so much gets lost in those forms of conversation. I'm not innocent, and I use social media more for my job as a writer than I do for personal reasons sometimes. I do not doubt its validity in the world today. What is getting lost in this technological age, however, is verbal communication.
While interviewing newly appointed LC Schools Superintendent Steve Casto, I asked him about communication. He is aware of its importance and assured me, and our readers through my article about Casto in this week's edition, that he plans to have transparency and open communication. Wonderful!
It's so important that we express ourselves honestly and openly without being cruel. Otherwise, social media is our sounding board and social breakdown occurs. Why is it so easy to resort to petty ways of communicating instead of just addressing issues head-on?
The only way to facilitate change and foster stronger working and personal relationships is to get information "straight from the horse's mouth." As Casto is quoted as saying, "We all have to work together." How right he is. Our society right now has knee jerk reactions to just about everything, without gathering all the facts first. I realize, we here at the newspaper sometimes make mistakes, but I can assure you it's not for lack of trying to get all our facts straight. We are in the business of communicating, and we rely on you, our public, to help us. You do a good job, by the way.
We have excellent working relationships here at the paper, which is a rarity and a blessing. What we do to nurture this positive atmosphere is communicate.
This is truly a nice place to be. I'm not trying to tell anyone how to behave, but after last week and having to speak English, cow, dog and goose I absolutely understand how important verbal communication is. We need to put our phones down, turn away from social media sometimes
and learn to talk to each other again.