You can learn from your past, but it takes effort sometimes to trace the history of unknown ancestors. Rose Eddington of St. George, tells us about the difficulties she had trying to gather information about her father’s side of the family because he never talked about his parents. Rose was able to find out later that her dad had mixed feelings about his father who deserted his family when they were traveling cross country leaving his wife with three children to support. Later, the mother and her daughter died in the influenza epidemic in 1919 leaving the two sons alone. Rose’s father the oldest son married, and helped his younger brother enlisted in the Navy. A sad story and easy to understand why Rose’s dad didn’t want to talk about his past.
It wasn’t until years later that she learned more of her father’s ancestry from a step brother who shared the history of her 2nd great grandfather Reuben Phillips: Born of Welsh descent, he was born in Tennessee. Well educated, he taught school for one year, married and started a family. He moved his family to Little Rock, Arkansas then to California where they settled first at Clements near Stockton and built a home. Eventually they moved to Oregon and bought a farm. After a few years they returned to Cambria then moved to Los Angeles.
His grand daughter Stella Phillips describes him thus: He had what is called wanderlust––never living too many years in one place. As they were pioneers, in a wilderness, they had to begin at the beginning, which was a necessity––building a house. When a girl married in those days, she took upon herself an almost impossible job. Besides the needful housework and cooking, there was also the spinning and weaving, supplying the whole household with clothing. There were no sewing machines, so everything must be done by hand. A mother was busy from dawn until the wee small hours, then up again at dawn. Reuben Phillips and his wife were Christians in the Baptist faith. I have seen Father Phillips so full of the love of Christ and his teachings that he would laugh happily to himself. I loved to hear him talk. His wife was more quiet.
The first step in gathering your ancestor’s stories is to check home sources. Contact relatives that might have information or old photos to share. NEXT TIME: Share Your Past. I’m looking for stories about your parents to publish in my column. How did their lives effect you? What important principles did they teach you? Leave your family history in a comment.