Notes from the past…


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A dilemma

The previous post presents a dilemma: How does one handle an adoption when researching one’s ancestry?
As I have said previously, my great-grandfather John Thomas Stanley and his brother Henry Thomas Fair were abandoned as small children and found by my great-great grandfather Miles Francis Stanley. Miles and his wife Maryland adopted John and Maryland’s sister Martha and her husband John Fair adopted brother Henry. Of note here is that both of the boy’s middle names was Thomas. Apparently when questioned at the time they were found, older brother Henry, then about 6 years old, stated their last name was Thomas, hence their middle names became Thomas.
So, now I have a great-grandfather who was adopted. No one seems to know who his real parents were. The question is: do I research his adoptive family as if it were my own bloodline, or do I stop at John Thomas Stanley?
Obviously, I have already made my decision.
But I have also been reading a lot on the subject of adoption & genealogy. Some folks are quite rigid and refuse to consider an adopted person as a true member of their family. In a nutshell: “if it ain’t blood, it ain’t mine!” My question to those folks is this: If you believe your adopted ancestor does not belong on your family tree, if you believe that person is basically a non-ancestor, where does that leave you? You, in turn, as a descendant of said non-ancestor, are also a non-ancestor, are you not? There’s no leap-frogging in genealogy!
My own belief is this: While my great-grandfather was not a blood descent of my great-great grandfather, he was reared as his own son, in every way possible. Miles Stanley’s belief and values system, his love of family and community, even a few physical characteristics, these all became John Thomas Stanley. When a child is brought into a family and nurtured as if he were actually born into that family, the result is the same. Therefore, I consider all the ancestors of Miles Francis Stanley I and Trilla Maryland Davis, including the Chappells, the Applings, the Wheelers, all of them, THEY’RE ALL MY FAMILY!


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It's getting a bit clearer now…

I have been researching the Stanley Family, and they are actually a pretty interesting group. Even though my mother was a Stanley, and I actually knew several of my Stanley ancestors, I have already learned quite a bit. For instance: My great-grandfather, John Thomas Stanley, was very active in the banking industry in Fort Worth, Texas. His 1917 WWI Draft Card indicates he was a bank clerk at The Exchange State Bank in Fort Worth. When he died in 1955, he was the building manager for the Fort Worth National Bank. I have several newspaper clippings from GenealogyBank discussing his banking career. He was also a member of the City of Fort Worth Zoning Commission and the Planning Commission. Although he never served in the military, “Daddy” Stanley, as he was known to my mother and aunts, did serve on the Selective Service Board for Tarrant County, Texas prior to and during WWII. Quite a busy gentleman!
John Stanley acquired his sense of community service from his adoptive father, Miles Francis Stanley. My great-great grandfather was also very active in his community of Hill County, Texas. Having arrived in Texas from Alabama in January 0f 1875, Miles immediately went to farming and over time became quite prosperous, owning several hundred acres. He even became the target of blackmail in 1903!


Elected as a County Commissioner for Precinct 4 in Hill County for 6 years, Miles was a leader in modernizing the roads in this rural area south of Fort Worth. Although he and wife Maryland never had any biological children of their own, they did adopt son John and it is said “they reared several”. This concern for the welfare of the children also led Miles Stanley to play a role in the education system in Hill County, serving as a Trustee for the Hodges School District.
Perhaps most fascinating is a batch of letters written in the 1880′s between various Stanley family members in Alabama and Texas. These letters have been transcribed exactly as they were written by a descendant of Miles Chappell, who was Miles Stanley’s grandfather. This lady, Anne Chappell, has posted these transcriptions on her RootsWeb site, and they are truly amazing! Sometimes difficult to read, as the spelling and grammar are not always perfect, they paint life in the 1880′s as if one were watching from a nearby hilltop! Not only are Miles and Maryland Stanley mentioned, but also his parents, brothers and sisters and their families, and many other “cousins”. The collection is entitled, quite appropriately, “Gone to Texas”.


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Flatter than a flitter!

Well, it seems Ancestry.com has finally figured out that it stepped on a few toes (smashed, squished, squushed, mangled!) with its “Internet Biographical Collection”, and on Wednesday removed the database from its site entirely! It’s nice to know that we in the genealogical community have a voice!
I realize that today is not Saturday, but since I was a little swamped yesterday, this afternoon I profiled the first website for Free Genealogy Site Saturday. This inaugural selection was pretty easy, too.