Faces of our ancestors Pathway:  A Family History
Illustrated family stories from Ireland, Germany, Bohemia, England, Massachusetts, West Virginia, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas, including Edmund McGinnis, Polly Hoagland, Christopher O'Bryan, Thomas Berwick, Robert Perry, Rebecca Nurse, Hiram Langdon Nourse, Christoph Ashorn, Carl Findeisen, James Harvey Kidd and a hundred others.

"Tales of martyrs and tricksters; stowaways, castaways, runaways; barons and bookkeepers; Puritans and poets; Bohemians and Bostonians; warriors and lawyers; immigrants and rebels..."
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Search   Highlights    Quotes    Index    Conclusion and References   Autographs   Music   Maps   Paperback
Preface     1: Rulers of Ireland   2: Publicans to Preachers    3: Gone to Texas    4: West Virginia Home    5: The Swedish Connection    6: Next Stop: Katy, Texas    7: Ruth and Rex    8: Sinners in Salem   9: Yankees Go South    10: Wandering Irish   11: Among the Cajuns   12: Pennsylvania Scotch   13: End of Plantations   14: From Dukes to Doctors    15: Lutherans on the Farm   16: Elva Meets Alpheus

Preface: In Pleasant Places

Michael David McGinnis Fourteen generations and four hundred years: that's the span from my earliest American immigrants to our latest infant offspring. Between those two generations, more than 8,000 direct ancestors were born and married, have given birth and died: martyrs and tricksters; stowaways, castaways, runaways; men who trusted in their fists, men who trusted in their God. Must these people mean anything to us, or are they merely illegible names on forgotten slabs? I believe that the study of family history, like the study of any history, should take us out of ourselves to show us the limits of our own lifestyles and beliefs. Nothing is new under the sun. In a very real sense, every person must walk the same pathway. The problems we face have been faced before, the excuses we make have been made before, the boasts we make have been boasted before - and by people like us, whose blood flows in our veins, who share our names, and often, our personality quirks. To know that others in our family have battled their passions and faults, have faced death (8,000 times), have served God (or run away from Him) -- this can help us as we walk the same path. We may even discover that some of our forebears, though living in a simpler time, were more than our equals.

New features in this fourth biennial edition include more about the courtship of Elva and Alpheus, who was really on the Ashorn rooftop that Christmas, what Franzeska did when she got her Confederate widow's pension, a photo essay on the "New Years Twins", the scandalous 17th century story of Cecely Reynolds Baley Jordan Farrar, and additional sketches of the Texas descendants of Edmund and Polly McGinnis. Special thanks for new Pritchard and Meredith stories to Emily Pritchard Cary, author of The Pritchard Family History (Bowie, MD: Heritage Books, 2001), who as a writer is both fastidious and interesting.

With the 1999 third edition came the amazing tales of faith of Polly Hoagland and the ancient legends of the days when the McGinnis clan ruled northern Ireland, as recorded in John F. Meginniss' 1891 McGinnis family history, published while Polly McGinnis's sons were still living. Much golden material about Louisiana branches came from the late Virginia O'Bryan, who bequeathed her life's work of family research to the Wallisville Heritage Park. Descended from both the Nourses and the O'Bryans, Virginia shared all of Ruth O'Bryan McGinnis's ancestral lines. The Ashorn section was greatly enhanced by a rich eight-hour interview with Riley Ashorn, a boyhood neighbor of his grandparents Edward and Rosalia Ashorn. Cousins, including Mack Kidd, Yancey Watkins and Peg Gordon, emailed me 19th century letters written by Southern ancestors.

The second edition in 1997 owed much to old letters from distant but much-appreciated cousins who sent me information via email and "snail mail," or animated conversations over barbecue with great-aunts and uncles, or relaxed interviews with Gloria Garrett, or from on-the-scene conversation at 40 miles an hour in Lesta Lovejoy King's Toyota Camry as she tried to find the old house in Freeport where she had spent her summers 70 years before. Les King sent me some pages from her memoirs, from which I lifted the unattributed quotes in the sections on the Enoch and Rex McGinnis families. Some of it came from stacks of letters preserved mostly by Addie Sylvania Lawson beginning in the 1880's, to and from West Virginia and Texas. The 200-year-old Hoagland family stories were told by Samantha Beuhring McGinnis Coplin Young, a daughter of David Allen McGinnis.

Each chapter is symbolized by the small illustration found in the corner of the first page of the chapter. Clicking on that symbol at the bottom of any page will bring you back to the chapter.

Since I am a better storyteller than I am a source-tracker, I have left detailed documentation to those who are more skilled at it than I. For your convenience, this book is heavily hyperlinked, often to letters and other original sources. Four-generation pedigree chartYou can reach any chapter from the beginning or end of any other chapter. Each of my direct ancestors has a standard reference number next to their name. A father's number is twice his son's, and in-laws are numbered consecutively. Click on their name to go to the main source of information about a person. This feature also makes it easier to connect different branches. The index at the conclusion lists several generations of my ancestors, with their reference number linked to the chapter where they appear, if any. Click on a person's name to see how they fit into the family tree. Whenever you see a tree icon, it will take you to a concise four-generation pedigree chart. The links below, mostly to linked pedigrees, allow you to explore branches far beyond what is detailed here. This book includes autographs for some of the people whose stories are told here.

MIDI theme music If you click on the musical symbol (an eighth note) at the top of each page, you can hear theme music for that chapter. Where allowed, I adapted or reinstrumented most of it myself. Musical links elsewhere are indicated with the same symbol. Or sample a complete list of all the music on this site, with links to the sources.

At the end of most chapters, you can view related maps, courtesy of TopoZone.com. Click on the town or location you want to view. The map will appear in a new browser window, highlighted by my great-great-grandmother Franziska's hand-stitched blue cross. Most maps are 1:100,000 scale. You can zoom in to 1:25,000, or reposition the map.

This book was originally online at the now-defunct address http://homepages.go.com/~mdmcginn/ and can also be found at http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~pleasantplaces/. To limit spam, I'm changed my email address several times over the years (every time the spammers began to outnumber my relatives). Previous email addresses I've used, (these no longer work, so do NOT use them to contact me), include [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], and [email protected]. Why do I even bother to say to say it? Because it just occurred to me that even though homepages.go.com has closed its doors, mentioning that fact on this page might help someone who was searching for my old website to find my new website.

So many times as I've done my research, I've been able to say with the Psalmist, "Surely my lines (my boundaries) have fallen in pleasant places." I myself have found these pleasant places in a new way this year, for "Pleasant Places" is now the name of the farm where we live. My hope remains that this book, in a small but personal way, will help you to rediscover the boundary stones which helped our ancestors discern the pathway laid out for them. May you enjoying reading this book as I have enjoyed writing it.

Michael David

Michael D. McGinnis
Waring, Texas
November 2001 AD

Next... Chapter 1: Rulers of Ireland


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  • My family tree since 1500 AD (Download the entire file)
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  • The 1690 Census Project
  • GenForum Message Boards @ Genealogy.com

  •   Preface  Chapter   1   2   3  4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   Conclusion

    Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 4 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 14 ;Chapter 15  Chapter 16

    Narratives are taken from Pathway: A Family History, and may be freely distributed for non-commercial purposes. © 1996-2004, Michael McGinnis, Bryan, TX Web design & web hosting by webimize.com