The topic for the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy is: “Orphans and Orphans”
The first type of orphan refers to those ancestors or relatives who lost their parents when they were young.
The second type of orphan would be those siblings or cousins of our ancestors whom we think of as “reverse orphans.” They are the relatives who, for whatever reason – death at a young age, never having married or had children, or having children who did not survive to provide descendants. They have no direct descendants of their own, so it falls to us,
their collateral relatives, to learn and write their story.
I can’t imagine losing both of my parents and having to grow up without them. How difficult that would be! Who would take their places and teach me how to ride a bike or drive a car, or how to make that perfect Pineapple Upside Down Cake or how to deal with the death of a beloved pet. How could I grow into a loving, responsible adult without my parents to guide me?
Two members of my family tree especially stand out for their transition from orphaned child to trustworthy, mature and loving adult.
My great-grandfather John Thomas Stanley entered my family as an abandoned 2-year-old, grew up in a loving adoptive home, created his own happy home consisting of a wife and 4 children, and became a respected member of the early 20th-century Fort Worth banking community.
My great-grandmother Mary Tennessee Turner Rogers lost first her father when she was only 9 years old and then her mother when she was 18. Mary entered her adult years without her parents to guide her. But due to the love and security provided by her older brother John Joseph Turner, who became head of the family and father to not only his own children, but to their younger brother James Bowie Turner and orphaned nieces Mattie and Lizzie Turner, Mary also grew up to be a warm, caring and much-beloved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.
And what of the “reverse orphan”? What would the future have brought? What might have been?
As the only son born to my grandparents, my uncle Miles Francis “Mike” Stanley III should have carried on the Stanley name. But it was not to be. Mike was killed in a tragic gun accident at age 14. By all reports, Mike was a bright and inquisitive boy, active in the Boy Scouts and interested in his community. When he died only 3 days before Christmas, he had been planning to join his father in delivering Goodfellow bundles to area children whose families were suffering financial difficulties at Christmas time. My branch of the Stanley surname died along with him. My 93-year-old grandmother is the last surviving Stanley.
What might Mike have become? Would he follow his grandfather into the banking industry or perhaps become a draftsman and engineer like his dad? Or travel a different path, that of a physician maybe, like his second great-grandfather Dr Nathan Blunt Kennedy?
“If you save one life, it is as if you saved the world!”
What might have been?