I don’t know about you, but I struggle with blogging. I want to for various reasons like staying accountable to myself and my research and to share what I find, but the actual habit of writing is one that I fail on time and time again.
This year, I’ve decided to go about things a bit differently. I’ve joined Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge (you can find out more about it here). Each week she’ll give challengers a prompt to use to write a blog. I like the idea of having someone else choose what I’m going to write about – for me it seems to take some of the pressure off. The big benefit, however, is that hopefully, it will help me get into a habit of writing by knowing that I have a time limit to get one week done before the next one starts.
I’m starting out a little behind the times. The holidays stretched into last week and on top of that, my real job was a monster. I spent this past weekend getting myself reorganized and got my laptop back out of cubby I had stuck it in and got back to the task at hand.
This week, the prompt was First. Very timely considering it’s the first of a new year. Amy doesn’t tell us how to interpret the simple word; just that it should spawn some writing. For me, what came to mind was the first ancestor that I remember sparking an interest back when I was a kid and my mom spread out her ancestor chart, written on parchment paper, and taped it to the wall in our living room. His name was Benjamin Franklin Montgomery Trim. As a kid, I thought that was the coolest name imaginable. It was SO long, and I knew that he had been named after somebody famous.
Gum, as he was known to friends and family, is my great-great-grandfather on my mom’s side. He was born and raised in Mississippi and I feel a special kind of kindred with him, even though he died forty years before I was born. As a kid, my grandma, who married into the family and wasn’t a Trim by birth, made it a priority to go to the family reunion in Port Gibson, Mississippi, every summer. It was there that I met Uncle George – the last remaining child of Gum. Uncle George was born in 1916 – about four years before my grandpa (Gum’s grandson) was born. I remember thinking how funny it was that “Uncle” George was only 4 years older than his nephew.
Over the years I haven’t done a lot of research on the Trim side of the family, even though that is my maiden name. My mom had done quite a bit of research and had tied the family back to the 1400s at one point. I just didn’t feel the need to dig into that side. Since I’ve started trying to work toward accreditation as a genealogist, however, I’ve realized that her research was largely undocumented and taken from word-of-mouth. I’ve started to dig into the Trim’s and Gum is becoming even more fascinating.
Gum was the son of Andrew Jackson Trim. If I believe other people’s work (I really don’t) then he is one of nine children. I have confirmed five of them on just one census, but it wouldn’t surprise me to find all nine identified in previous years that I haven’t researched yet. In 1860, Andrew was a farmer, which explains the nine kids. That was also the same year that Abraham Lincoln was nominated for President. Southern Mississippi was steeped in slavery at this time, and although Andrew’s value of personal estate in 1860 was only $500, I’m still interested in seeing if there are any ties to slavery in his family (it could explain the 1% Benin/Togo in my DNA). Gum grew up during this time – the repeating rifle had just been perfected, which gave the Union army an advantage during the impending Civil War.
I haven’t been able to find Gum in the 1870 census, but he was still living in Copiah County, Mississippi, in 1880. He was now married and to Delilah Parrish and had two kids under 6 years old. Between 1880 and then when I can pinpoint him again in the 1910 census, Delilah had died and he’d remarried. His new wife, Margaret “Maggie” Humphrey, was thirty years his junior. She went on to bare him even more children ( between both wives, it’s rumored that he had thirteen kids).
I try to imagine what it must’ve been like for him. He had at least two small kids when his first wife died; possibly more. What would a man know about raising children back in those days? And for Maggie to come into a pre-made family, that much younger than her husband – there must’ve either been some sort of connection to her family prior to their marriage, or Gum was just very charming and could offer her a secure life.
I’m still digging into his life, and that of his family, but I feel like I’ve lost a lot of time during my early years by not researching Gum. He was always special to me and now that I’m finding more about his life, he’s truly become the family patriarch in my mind.
If you’re still reading this, thanks for following along. I realize that I’m rather scattered, but I am still passionate about the science and the stories that go along with family history. If even a tiny bit of that has rubbed off on you, my reader, I feel victorious!