So yesterday I tweeted this;
And believe me, that is a true statement. I have been chasing my Campbell line (and other family lines – but mostly Campbell) since the late 90’s. I have had and canceled, renewed and canceled again my Ancestry account ad nauseum. I’ve had accounts at least three email addresses ago.
In the beginning, finding family members from long ago wasn’t all that hard. My paternal grandmother (Nanny – I’ve written about her before), told me many stories of my dad’s early time and his father. His father, my paternal grandfather died in the Spanish flu epidemic of 1919. Although my siblings tell me that they believe Nanny had some men friends, she never remarried leaving my father as an only child. Because of this, finding cousins and other distant relatives isn’t easy.
I remember one day at my mom’s house in South Carolina (she moved back near where she grew up after dad died) and Wifey® and I going through boxes of old stuff in her garage. Everybody said we wouldn’t find anything but what did they know! We found sister-the-eldest’s baby book with birth records. So sweating our asses off and drinking cheap ass beer (this was before the wonderful Craft Beer revolution), paid off greatly. I found my paternal great-grandfather’s name along with his wife! So let’s renew that Ancestry account and go searching the census records.
While it still took about ten more years to add another generation, I kept going. I finally found my great-great-grandfather and his family along with all my great-grandfather’s siblings.
In those ten years or so, I managed to fill out a lot of the missing data on my family. Birth, marriage, and death dates were located and added to my family tree.
But I still have two stumbling blocks. One, my father had a marriage prior to marrying my mother. He has always told us that “Trudie” had died within the first year of their being married. I have pictures of her (quite the beauty too). But that is all he would tell us. No dates, places, or even her real name. So that is a minor hurdle.
And mom was no slouch in the look department either..
The second hurdle is finding the next generation. What I have so far;
- My father – Donald Sherwood Campbell 1912 – 1985
- My grandfather – Herbert J. Campbell 1884 – 1919 (No idea what the “J” is for but guessing James as that name is all over the place)
- His father – Samuel W. Campbell 1861 – 1924 (This was the one I found in the baby book)
- His father – James Harris Campbell 1825 – 1902
There the train falls off the tracks. I do have a lead on his father, a possible James Richard Campbell. The problem in the 1880 US census James Harris lists his father’s birthplace as Pennsylvania (my paternal line is very heavy in Centre County, PA), but in the same census, James Richard lists his birthplace as Maryland. No this is not a show stopper. From what I’ve read, back then the census was done by hand. After all, they didn’t have all the technology we have today to screw everything up. Instead, they screwed it up by hand, you know, the old-fashioned way!
It would not be unheard of for the census taker to ask questions about neighbors instead of the individual in question. If the person that the census taker need information from was not at home, or maybe the next home was far away (this was rather rural country then), or just plain lazy, they would ask neighbors. And many times the neighbors guessed at the answers, or the worker just made it up. Let’s face, it still happens today.
Enter the DNA tests. I have done DNA at both Ancestry and Family Tree DNA. They both are quite similar in results. The problem lies in that I cannot find any close matches from the Campbell side. Nanny’s side, Bodle, is all over the place. I have more cousins on that line that I could list! But, Campbell’s? Not so much.
Then about five minutes after tweeting the tweet above, I found a new line! It had all the correct sibling names and dates, but a different set of parents for James Harris. Naturally, this peaked my interest. A whole different set of parents could very well fix my birthplace problem. So I jumped right in with both feet.
One of the main goals I have right now is to find the “immigrant ancestor”. The first person to come over the Atlantic from somewhere in Europe, most likely either Ireland or Scotland. This family tree had exactly that and so much more!
As I went generation by generation back I became more and more suspicious. The names that were appearing were the BIG names in Campbell history. This tree placed me directly in the same tree as the Duke of Argyll (the current Chief of Clan Campbell, The 28th Mac Cailein Mòr, the thirty-fifth Chief of Clan Campbell, His Grace, the 13th Duke of Argyll (S), and the 6th Duke of Argyll (UK) Torquhil Ian Campbell. See here for more information on His Grace.
This “tree” listed the 1st Mac Cailein Mòr, Sir Colin Campbell or “Colin The Great” (wiki here). But (and there’s always a “but” and this one is big) it didn’t stop there. Many generations after Mac Cailein Mòr was (wait for it…) the one, the only, King Arthur. Yes, that King Arthur. With a birth date and place none the less! I just about punched my laptop screen when I read that. I mean come on. There is no proof of a real Arthur, King or not. There is no consensus of a date, place or even a name for this legend. A great resource for King Arthur can be found at The Great Courses, King Arthur: History And Legend. This 24 lecture series is presented by Professor Dorsey Armstrong, Ph.D. I highly recommend it.
And, of course, the “tree” continued another five generations or so. I was so pissed, so frustrated. Who would post a tree to a reputable genealogy site, with “myth and legends”.
So now I’m stuck back in 1825 Pennsylvania. No Campbell DNA matches, no hints other than one with questionable parentage.
If you have any hints on other research areas for Pennsylvania genealogy, and onwards to Scotland, please, PLEASE let me know. I did contact a professional genealogist but was basically told: “go find someone else”.
And yes, I renewed my Ancestry membership (but only for a month). With any luck, this link will take to Ancestry to view my current tree.