Over the past 30 years, I have researched my ancestors, and verified and compiled the research of others, into a patchwork quilt of Middle-Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, and Arkansas genealogy. Researching family history is not a solitary pursuit, and this family history is no exception to that rule. It was a joint effort of many people.
The information was originally collected without any thought of publication, but many people have requested that I publish this collection. At the time I started this collection of data, I knew nothing about citing sources, verifying information, or “real research.” As a consequence, not all my sources can be found again, and some contributors are credited, but not all. In editing it for publication, I have made every effort to credit the sources. As I now know, real genealogical research into original records is the best way to collect data, citing sources from all references, so that the “trail” may be replicated and verified. My collection does not always meet these criteria. I would caution anyone doing genealogy who reads this or any other book, or takes excerpts from it, to verify all data from original sources if possible.
Some of the data have been previously published; some have never been published. Many of the lines have others actively researching them, others have been “mined out,” and there is little likelihood of finding new data to add to the line or clarify dead ends. I have tried to find all published data about the lines I have traced, to make contact with other researchers for the same lines and to compare notes to determine whether there are documents I have missed in my own search.
The Internet has been a great tool for contacting other researchers on-line to compare notes. The USGenWeb, a countrywide network of county “web pages,” is also a great tool for finding on-line data and make connections with other researchers. Sumner County, Tennessee, has probably one of the best on-line sites in the entire United States. Diane Payne and Danene Vincent, who share some of the lines of descent in this volume, are the coordinators.
Several lines have had copious previous publications. However, I disagree with some of the conclusions drawn in the published data. Genealogy is not an exact science and, unfortunately, records can be interpreted in various ways. I have tried to give “both sides” of the arguments when I am aware of conflicting opinions. However, I have an open mind and will be glad to receive additional data and all opinions. I have no doubt that some of the information and my own conclusions published here are in error. New information is coming to light daily, almost at the speed of light, as the Internet increases interaction between researchers. The access to information contained in family Bibles and other non-public sources as well as oral history is a genealogical boon of heretofore unknown proportions.
This volume focuses, primarily, on my ancestors, but contains data on siblings and connections of my ancestors, some that may not be found published anywhere else. It also contains information about the eras and areas in which they lived that might be beneficial to those who, though unrelated, are searching in the times and places where my ancestors also lived.
Since a mere list of ancestors without anything written about them is not interesting to me, I researched the times and places in which my ancestors lived in order to try to put some “meat on their bones.”
Mark Twain wrote: “What wee little part of a person’s life are his acts and his words! His real life is led in his head and is known to none but himself…Biographies are but the clothes and buttons of the man, the biography of the man himself cannot be written.”
Anthony Quayle wrote: “To understand a man you must know his memories, the same is true of a nation.”
Almost any amateur attempt at writing leaves a great deal to be desired, and this volume is no exception to that rule, but I hope that people who are interested in these lines will enjoy what I have written and compiled. This research was primarily done for my sons, Clay and Patrick Alexander. My mother, Gladys Gray Sams, has done the bulk of the editing, for which I am very grateful. My wonderful publisher and friend, Desmond Walls Allen, has given me advice and encouragement. Mostly, she hasn’t laughed at me.