I’m using DNA results to help in my genealogy research. It’s a frustrating process because mostly what I find I’m doing is working on other people’s trees to find the connection to mine. DNA has been helpful; I’ve found many of my mother’s side of the family, those who hid from me for so long, but I am beginning to understand why my mother’s family didn’t have many stories to tell about where their people came from. Oh, they had stories, all right, but they didn’t tell them. I remember asking my mom’s mom about family history and being told, “I think they changed their name because there was a horse thief in the family”, then she changed the subject. I was young, only asking because my father’s side of the family had many stories and talked about them frequently, mostly my grandma Lemon’s Herr side of the family. What I remember about my mother’s father’s side of the family, the Barnards, is that they lived in a huge house on a large, busy road, and it was always dark in there. I can remember my great-grandmother sitting in a darkened room in a rocking chair. I remember the smell of the house, clean and with an odor I associated with the houses of some of my other Barnard family, I called it the “church smell.” Most all of my mother’s people were church-going, God-fearing people. They didn’t smoke, they didn’t drink, they read their Bibles. Most of them. There was a wild streak though that ran deep; two of my mother’s brothers (and my mother herself) were alcoholics and smoked so much it made our eyes tear when we were children and they would get together. My mother’s father, James Barnard, was a minister in the Church of God. It didn’t keep him from sinning in some really horrible ways; he beat his children, my mother said, he had an affair with a woman at the church and had a baby with her, which was given up for adoption. Her grandfather, James’ father, “did things” to his daughters. I had heard about the beatings, my mother was a tortured soul and when she drank, she let those demons loose. The stories about my great-grandfather I learned when I got older and started connecting with other cousins doing genealogy.
I’ve written about the Belt family of Hardin County, Illinois, how some of my mother’s people married into that family, but until today, trying to connect DNA matches family to my own, I hadn’t realized how many of them married into the Belts. Hester Ann Lavender DeWeese, Eleanor Nesbitt, the daughter of Jemima Lyons, and now today I’m discovering other Lyons family marrying into the Belts.
John Lyons, the son of Robert Lyons and Martha Baynes, Jemima’s brother, married Nancy Ann Belt, the daughter of Hiram Belt Sr. and his wife, Averilla Medford, while his cousin, Eleanor Nesbitt, married Hiram Belt Jr. I am directly related to the very people who are causing me so much frustration in my genealogy research: The Belts were said to have set the Hardin County, Illinois courthouse on fire more than one time to hide or delay the justice due the victims of their wrong-doings. Yeah.
When I die, I like to think that all my genealogy brick walls will come crashing down when I meet all the people I’m researching. Those that aren’t going to be where I am sure I am going will have their stories told to me by the ones who were God-fearing, church-going people who traveled that narrow road to Glory, forsaking that smooth, wide, paved road to hell. And I will have a few things to say about the burning of the courthouse, believe me.