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Family snapshots. Cross Plains, Texas.  1945-1948

The Four Chaney Brothers of Carroll Co., AR                       The "other" Chaneys of Carroll Co., AR

My brothers and I
(Me - Robert Neale -  Larry Dean)

How I began and continue my research

My interest in family 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 maternal ancestors.

Mother often talked of her childhood.  Her mother had died when Mother was thirteen years old and she became the eldest girl at home.  Her 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 with little since of it being that interesting to me.  However, that Damron 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 Chaneys.

I was “kicking myself” for not having talked with Big Ma, Dad’s mother, about family background before she died.  Dad had spoken little about family and steadfastly refused to talk about his life before he married.  When I asked Aunt Inez, Dad’s eldest sister, she told me that 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 that 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 lost 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 Dad’s parents were there but also both sets of his grandparents and one great-grandmother.

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 at 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 memories seemed to surface.  She was able to tell me about her life as a child 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 records 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 in my 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 lines with relatively ease compared to those early years.

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Updated 15 January 2015

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