Thursday, April 16, 2015

A to Z April Challenge: N is for Nair

“We need to get together more often and not at a funeral.” How many times have you and a cousin said that? Funerals are much like a family reunion. You can learn a lot about a family just by looking at who showed up. Using my grandparents’ guest books and sympathy cards, I’ll be exploring “Who came to the funeral?

is for Rev. Robert Luverne Nair. Of all the signatures in my grandparents’ funeral Guest Registers, this one made my jaw drop and my eyes pop out of my head. The good reverend is actually family, but he’s so distant that I must wonder if my grandfather and his sisters actually knew Robert Nair as a cousin or if it was just coincidence that he was somehow a friend of the family. I know he did not deliver the eulogy, but possibly he served in some way.

But how he was family is interesting to me. Robert was the great-grandson of Margaret Jollett Nair, half-sister of my 2X great-grandfather James Franklin Jollett (making Robert my half third cousin once removed). In the mid-1860s Margaret and her husband Peter Nair and family left Page County for Highland County and then Rockingham County. They raised 14 children.

Their son Robert Franklin and his wife Susannah Hess lived in Rockingham County. They along with several children are buried in the Linville Creek Church of the Brethren Cemetery. However, their son Benjamin Harrison Nair followed two older brothers to Iowa. Why they moved is not known.

Nevertheless, by 1910 Ben had met and married his wife Edith Faye Thomas. They raised five children, including Robert, in Greene County, Iowa. Whether they ever returned to Virginia for one of those Jollett Reunions I always heard about is the question. Somehow I doubt it. According to an account written by a Nair descendant, Margaret Jollett Nair never saw her family again once they left. If SHE did not return, I find it difficult to believe her children or grandchildren would have made the trip.

I have found little else about Robert beyond the 1940 census. Apparently he finished school and must have received some education to become a minister in the United Brethren Church. His obituary provides this information about his career:

During his 45 years as an active pastor, Nair often served multi-church charges. Beginning in 1951, he served Evangelical United Brethren churches in the Cumberland area, including Antioch, Calvary-Bethel, Mt. Clinton and Hardy charges. In 1960 he was appointed to Shenandoah Station, and after the Methodist-EUB merger to Potomac Park-Ridgely in 1969. He served Mt. Airy-Poplar Springs Charge from 1975-1979 when he moved to Dawson. In 1985 he moved to Emmanuel in Cumberland, then to Emmanuel-Bethel in 1992, from which he retired in 1995.

There it is!  If “Shenandoah Station” was the wording the Brethren church used to mean “charge” or “district,” two terms I’m more familiar with, then Robert may indeed have been pastor at the EUB Church in Shenandoah, the church where my grandparents once were members.    

I have met so many fifth cousins that I’ve concluded it’s possible and probable to be pals with people you don’t know are cousins. Maybe that’s how it was with Robert Nair.

Rev. Robert Nair 1968
photo courtesy Jane Rosson

Lest I neglect the niceties, all neophytes, newcomers and novices are welcome to navigate the numerous news, narratives, novels and notes at the A to Z April Challenge.

© 2015, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.


  1. Great post Wendy.

    You've chosen such a wonderful way to participate in the A to Z Challenge. Hopefully descendants of the people you're writing about will find your blog and learn more about their ancestors.

    1. I did make an interesting connection just last night.

  2. It is wonderful how you can trace your lines back and back and back.

  3. Haha I thought your post was going to be about the hair removal cream. Your story is much better! I have a cousin who is obsessed with learning our family history! It's so cool to hear him talk about it. :)
    ~AJ Lauer
    an A-Z Cohost
    @ayjaylauer on Twitter

    1. Now that would have been a hairy topic to tackle. Thanks for the visit and comment.

  4. I'm trying to figure out exactly who a 5th cousin would be :) How neat that Robert had a 45 year career as an active minister!


    1. Fifth cousins have the same 4X great-grandparents. It would be safe to marry a 5th cousin. LOL

  5. I can't stop laughing at the thought of your jaw dropping and your eyes popping out of your head!