I spent some time with my Daddy's sister and brother-in-law last week in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, affectionately called "Hoptown". They live in the house where my grandmother lived, built by her brother Billy. My Daddy was named after him. It was so nice to have memories flood my mind as I walked around the house where I'd spent so much time during my childhood visits. Pictures of relatives I'd never known hung on the walls. I stared into their eyes and wondered what stories they would've told. I looked at the face of the man my oldest son was named after. Aunt Brenda and Uncle Charlie shared stories that filled in many gaps. I listened, took notes, and reconnected with my roots. It was blissful.
As I get older, sitting around talking about family is not as boring as I thought it was in my youth. My sis, cousin Michelle and I had to endure hours of those conversations as children. We thought it was horrendous! Last week, Hub and I spent one night with Michelle before traveling to Hopkinsville. We laughed and cried as we reminisced about our childhood visits. Our poor hubs didn't get many words in as we chatted and caught each other up on our lives. Our grandmother Katherine was a strong lady. She worked hard to keep the family and farm going when Grandaddy fell ill. My sister and Michelle's daughter are named for her. During our visits, Grandmother would make us perform concerts in her living room with Daddy at the piano. It was excruciating. We stood in a row, many times in matching dresses, and would reluctantly sing her favorite hymns. That piano now sits in my living room and it's one of my most valued treasures. We whined and moaned about the hours (actually '30ish' minutes one way) it took to travel when we went to see all the family in the country. Last week, I spent hours driving those same roads with glee. Isn't it funny how time changes us?
I've been on a quest to learn more about my Dad's side of the family. A distant relative has done quite a bit of work on the 'Major' strand, which goes back to Charles from Culpepper County, Virginia. I traced that line deeper to John Major from England, 1490. I discovered there were iron makers deep in the lineage, so that explained my strange affection for the metal. Their name was Ironmonger. I do not wish that name to be bestowed on any of my future grandchildren, but it's interesting nonetheless. Unfortunately, there was no connection to royalty, so I won't be moving into Buckingham Palace anytime soon.
The Katherine Fleming line connected me to something truly remarkable. Col John Fleming married Mary Bolling in the 1700s. If you trace Mary's line a bit more, it leads to Jane Rolfe. She was the daughter of Thomas Powhatan Rolfe, the son of Pocahontas and John Rolfe. Get outta town! I'm related to Pocahontas! My future grandchildren will have the best book reports in their class. I'm going to have to watch the movie again, because it will be more meaningful now. I hope my future granddaughter will dress up as our ancestor for Halloween one year!
I come from a long line of farmers, carpenters, teachers, and even writers. My dad's Aunt Myrtle (Nanny) wrote articles for the Pennyrile Chronicle which were later made into a book. I will be reading that very soon. I joyfully reunited with my cousin Tim and his wife, and found out he still farms acres of land in Kentucky along with his full-time job. I'm no farmer, but I do like to garden (I know, it's a stretch). I taught school like Grandmother, and am now writing like Nanny. As for carpentry? Well, that skipped over me. A glue gun is about the extent of my skill set. You can't have it all.
The more I learn about my Roper Roots, the more connected I become. I've been assembling phone numbers to keep in touch with the current clan. Praise God for the internet, it's made it much easier. My family is made up of many shapes, sizes, cultures, lifestyles, personalities and career paths, and I love them all. No matter how long it's been or how far apart we are, we can always resume where we left off. There will be laughter, acceptance, and love. We are forever bonded by one thing. We are family. ( go ahead and sing it, you know you want to)
I've shared a few Roper/Fleming photos below. If I get any of the descriptions wrong, please correct it Aunt Brenda. My aging brain can only remember so much information! I also appreciate you taking the time to send me copies of our family photos. They will hang on my walls, and I will share the stories with future generations.