Sunday, March 4, 2012

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy: Week 10 Road Trips

This is Week 10 of Amy Coffin's Abundant Genealogy Series.

Genealogy Road Trips:  No two genealogy road trips are the same but they’re always fun and meaningful.  Describe a memorable trip in your past.  Where did you go?   What did you find (or not find)?  Did you meet any new cousins?  What did the trip mean to you and your family?

I first met cousin Olen Morris when he responded to my Rootsweb query.  We exchanged information for several months.  At some point he offered to show me around Greene County if I ever made the trip, about a 3.5 hour drive from my home.  Heck yeah!  In 2002, my sister Mary Jollette and I took him up on it and planned a weekend to see where our great-great grandfather James Franklin Jollett grew up.  
The directions to Olen’s house from beautiful downtown Stanardsville were easy to follow.  House after house held small family burial plots from many years ago, and not necessarily the family of the current residents.  We knew the area held a lot of history.

As we drove up, Olen was in the yard waiting for us.  He and Sherry were exactly the kind of people you hope to find in your family, so warm and welcoming. 

Olen and Sherry Morris

We exchanged some family tree information and calculated our relationship – 5th cousins through one line and 4th through another.  Olen pulled out lots of old photos.  It was so exciting to see ancestors for the first time.  Indeed, it was almost surreal though when he showed pictures that we already recognized because we have them too, like this one taken at a family reunion some time before 1928:
Susan Clementine Shiflett Morris, Austin Morris,
James Franklin Jollett, Ambrose Vernon
(Ambrose was husband to Aunt Clem's sister Victoria)

I wonder who took that photo and made sure everyone got a copy. 

Then we hit the mountain roads with Olen as tour guide.  First stop was the Bingham Church where many of our oldest known ancestors married.

Our drive into Shiflett Hollow was interesting, to say the least.  Olen made himself FULLY visible, smiling and waving, because my sister and I were strangers in a strange land in a vehicle no resident would have recognized.  Olen wanted to be sure we didn’t arouse suspicion and get shot.  (See, I told you he’s the kind of person you want in your family!) 

The vista views of Shiflett Hollow were beautiful.  Just ignore that rusty car graveyard at the curve in the road.  We saw Olen’s grandmother on the porch of her little blue shack house.  Olen said the house was VERY old, an original home place of SOMEBODY in the family. 
We stopped along a road next to a cow pasture.  The draw was that this pasture had been a family burial plot at one time.  To get to it, we had to jump a ditch, side step our way up a short but steep incline, and then go either over or under a wire fence.  Some of the tombstones were clearly visible, even if toppled.  I took a picture of this one although I don’t know why because the name is not in my database.  Maybe I took it simply because it was easy to read:

The excitement of the day was finding a marker for Rhoda SOMEBODY (was it Morris? Douglas?), one of Olen’s ancestors.  He had been searching for it a long time.  It was barely readable, but it clearly said Rhoda.  I’m terrible at recognizing momentous occasions and failed to capture it on film.  No surprise there on my part!
For Mary Jollette and Moi, the excitement of this trip was finding Burton Lewis Jollett’s place.  He’s James Franklin and Lucy Ann Jollett’s oldest son, our great grand uncle.  I love the wooden hand pointing the way.

Our last stop of the day was visiting the Austin Morris home place.  Austin was married to Susan Clementine Shiflett, sister to our great-great grandmother Lucy Ann Shiflett Jollett.  The house today is occupied by a Morris descendant and is the site of the annual Morris Reunion. 

We actually attended the Morris Reunion the following June.  Everyone seemed rather excited to meet some Jollett descendants.  Unfortunately my research on some of the collateral lines was too scant to make useful connections.  Nevertheless, it was inspiring to be among people who were fully immersed in their own family history and cared so much to keep that history alive. 

©2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.


  1. Sounds like a fun day! I love your description of driving into Shifflett hollow with the worry of being shot. Mama and I used to ride around on Saturday mornings in her pickup truck going into a few places where we thought the same thing. We were are few counties over from Greene!

  2. That was a fun trip. They were some wonderful people to meet! Olen was a sweetie pie.