My brothers and I
(Me - Robert Neale - Larry Dean)
How I began and continue my research
My interest in
history began in 1969 when I discovered that
Mother had the family Bible that had belonged to her maternal
grandparents, James Thomas and Laura Providence (Saye) Damron. The
family register pages were captivating because I had so little
knowledge of these relatives. A few items were found between the pages:
a newspaper clipping of an obituary of a great-great-grandfather (the
father of Laura), a lock of hair tied with a ribbon, a dried flower,
etc. The significance of these items had been lost. Whose lock of hair
was it? What was the story of the dried flower? But the family registry
pages and the obituary held “concrete” information about some of my
Mother often talked of her childhood. Her mother had died when
was thirteen years old and she became the eldest girl at home.
father could evidently be rather stern at time. Mother especially
respected his farming capabilities. Of course, she talked of her
siblings and some relatives. This was always very casually done
little since of it being that interesting to me. However, that
Bible changed all that.
This triggered my genealogical interest and I was soon going to
libraries to pour through microfilms of census records. In the process,
I spread my search to include all branches of the family. I knew
something of my maternal line but not a lot about my paternal line. I
knew something about my mother’s family but very little about the
I was “kicking myself” for not having talked with Big Ma, Dad’s mother,
about family background before she died. Dad had spoken little
family and steadfastly refused to talk about his life before he
married. When I asked Aunt Inez, Dad’s eldest sister, she told me
she had no memory of such things. However, in 1976, for nation’s
bicentennial year celebration, a small book of stories was locally
published. One of the accounts was by Inez telling about the fire
destroyed the family home when she was a child. Her account was vague
with names and did not date the event. The family Bible had been
in the fire.
I knew that Chaney aunts, uncles and cousins were buried in the Moody
Cemetery. But, I had not realized that so many of my paternal
relatives were also there. Chaneys, Reeds and other related
families. I was an adult before I learned that not only
were there but also both sets of his grandparents and one
Also, I learned that a large number of Reed relatives living nearby
that I knew next to nothing about. My grandmother Chaney, Cora, had a
falling out with her family back in the 1930’s, resulting in her being
essentially snubbed by them for the rest of her life.
In 1986, I taped an interview with Aunt Irene, another of Dad’s
sisters, in which she gave an excellent account of when her eldest
brother Tommy was killed. About this time there was a gathering
Dad’s house in Belton. Dad’s younger brother, Jane and his sisters
Irene and Dook (Beatrice) chatted some about the past. It was
interesting but nothing related to family history as such.
Also in 1986, I taped an interview with Mother. After initially
telling me that she didn’t rmember all that much, I encouraged her to
tell me about what she did remember. Once she begain more
seemed to surface. She was able to tell me about her life as a
in Milam County on through her going to nursing training in Temple up
until she married. This interview became memorable for me!
Research was more difficult at the time. Microfilmed census
were available at some libraries, usually in larger cities.
Interaction with others doing research was primarily by mail.
Today, the Internet provides relatively easy access to many records
that, in the past, required a lot of travel and visits to depositories
of vital records. I have never been one at ease with getting out and
dealing with people so my initial progress was quite slow Early
research, I had to limit the lines I worked with simply because it was
simply more than I could handle. The Internet and genealogical
software has changed all that. I can delve into any of my
relatively ease compared to those early years.