Friday, May 29, 2009

The Darby Connection

I debated when I started this project as to whether or not I should go straight down the descendant lines (Alexander Jones to Charles Henry Jones, Charles Henry to Charles Fred, Charles Fred to John Thomas, John Thomas to me) or should I also include information on the collateral lines. I went with the latter. I'm a firm believer in not ignoring the contributions of the women that the Jones men married. So let me tell you about Mary Elizabeth Darby who was the mother of Rachel Wainright Jones (Pop's mother).

Mary Elizabeth Darby emigrated with her family from Selby, Yorkshire County, England. She was 13 years old at the time. They sailed from Liverpool and arrived in New York on March 20, 1841.

When I first started researching my family, I was really fascinated by Rachel Wainright and her father Britton -- more about him later. When you have a last name like Jones, researching can be incredibly challenging -- but then there was a unique name like Britton Wainright. I decided to "google" his name on the computer and he immediately came up in a family tree married to Mary Elizabeth Darby who came from England. In addition, there were several other previous generations listed. The family tree had been submitted by Martha Darby Rutter of Oklahoma.

I googled Martha and was able to find a phone number and called her up. What a conversation that was! When I told her who I was she went and got the family history record written by her g-grandfather, Edwin Cyrus Darby. She quoted this paragraph to me:

Father's oldest sister married a man named Wainwright. They had three children, two daughters named Ruth and Rachel and a son Thomas. He was killed in a railroad accident. Ruth married a Dr. Hutchison, had a son and daughter, then he died. The daughter was a nurse in the World War and went to France. Ruth died several years ago. Rachel married Harry Jones. They had two or three children. She died young, then he died and the children were put out in private homes. I lost track of them.

When Martha read this to me the hairs on my arms stood up. I told her that I was part of the family that her g-grandfather had lost track of. He wrote his family history about 1937, the year Alwilda died.

Her next statement was the biggest shock of the conversation. Martha said, "You know where they are buried, right?" I replied that I couldn't possibly know that, because until this conversation I didn't even know they existed. She then proceeded to tell me that many members of the Darby family were buried in the Pleasant Ridge Presbyterian Church Cemetery. Imagine my shock because I've lived in Pleasant Ridge the majority of my life and even went to kindergarten at Pleasant Ridge School, directly across the street from the cemetery. Martha told me she had come to Cincinnati and found the graves and found the church office to be very helpful. Based on her information, I was able to retrieve copies of their cemetery records. Tim and I made a visit and you can see the picture below.

I plugged the information into my Family Tree Maker program and it said that Martha and I are fourth cousins. We are related through Jonathon Darby, father of Mary Elizabeth. Martha and I have stayed in touch. She has pursued her family's genealogy for more than three decades and provided me with a lot of information. I have a copy of the Darby passenger list when they emigrated from England. I know the family was very musical and brought their instruments with them to the states. There are several members of the family who fought in the Civil War. Martha also sent me a picture of Mary Elizabeth, mother of Rachel and my gg-grandmother. She was one of many strong women from whom we are descended.

For more than eight years, Martha and I have emailed back and forth. When I became frustrated with my genealogical "brick walls", Martha was always there to suggest another approach to solving the problem. I attribute to her my love of this hobby and much of what I've learned. We always promise to meet, but so far we haven't done so. Like me, Martha is a retired teacher. We've both had our fair share of health issues -- but you can't keep a Jones/Wainright/Darby woman down.

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