By Ann Minnett
A black hole blocks me from the real story of my paternal third great grandmother (ggggrandma). Every other line in my family tree can be traced further back, mostly thanks to fastidious recordkeeping by Quaker ancestors.
But not ggggrandma Merritt or Merrett or Merett or Marat as it was sometimes spelled. I am obsessed with what little we know about her and who my ggggrandfather might have been. If you have plotted your own family tree, you know how difficult it can be to locate and follow the women who came before.
Here’s what we know about her:
· Born in SC in 1810
· Two sons born in north GA, 1832 & 1835
· Listed as head of household 1840 – north GA
· Married a Mr. Lankton in 1844 – north GA
· Widowed in 1868 and moved to Missouri to live with her son
· She was a Merritt and had two boys out of wedlock
· She had two illegitimate sons by a man named Merritt but they never married
· She married a Merritt, had two sons, was soon widowed, and remarried
I would like to settle on one of the above and just let ggggrandma be, but I also feel honor-bound to get her story right. So, guess who is not writing or marketing her novels? Who has conducted endless Google searches and purchased reference books on daily life and customs in Antebellum Georgia? Who has lost days reading about The Indian Wars between Georgia pioneer militias and tribes that resulted in forced westward migrations of native populations?
I’ve learned a lot. Perhaps what’s keeping me from writing domestic suspense will lead to my first novel of historical fiction.