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This week's family-tree birthdays include my Papaw, a man with many tricks up his sleeves — and

Birthdays from my family tree for the week of May 25:

My grandfather, Oliver Wilson, bounces me on his knee, not long after my parents adopted me.

May 25

Oliver Wilson (my maternal grandfather), b. 1918 in Morehead, Rowan County, Ky.; d. Nov. 19, 1988, in Bath County, Ky. My papaw was never famous, never earned a college degree (or a high school diploma, for that matter), and couldn't bankroll a library or hospital. But he worked hard, loved his family and helped take care of his neighbors. I could fill a dozen blogs with daily stories about the time he shot himself in the leg on his way to watch election returns, when a mule team dragged him over a cliff, or his ability to kill a snake in one fell swoop by snatching it up and whipping it in a circle.

But there's a story my cousin Kelli Caudill Shaver told me about Papaw that I think sums him up better than any I could tell.

He liked to take his grandchildren fishing and had been promising a trip for Kelli. That meant catching nightcrawlers first.

"Well, no one explained to me that this meant getting a shovel and digging them up," Kelli recalled. "So, in my mind, catching them meant trapping them. So I got me a box and some construction paper and a couple of pencils and built me a 'nightcrawler trap.' "

She set it out one night before bed — when else would nightcrawlers come crawling — but ... nothing. She did it again the next night. Again, nothing.

"I told Papaw about this and he said he would show me where to set it. So one night shortly there after, he did, and we went out together that night and set the trap again. Sure enough, not two minutes later, even as I was walking back toward the house, I had caught some nightcrawlers! I was so proud of myself that my trap had worked.

"Many years later, Granny informed me that the reason my trap worked was because he'd gone out earlier and dug some up and had been walking around for a half hour with a pocket full of worms to toss in there when I wasn't looking."

Papaw and my cousin, Kelli Caudill Shaver, during a family picnic — I think at Cave Run Lake near Morehead, Ky.

Mary Elizabeth Brinson (paternal first cousin twice removed of Deborah Renee Ray Kidd, my wife), b. 1926 in Charleston, Charleston County, S.C.; d. Jan. 28, 1988, in Beaufort, SC. If my wife ever met her cousin, she doesn't recall it, even though they lived in the same small town for a few years — Debi moved to Beaufort in 1985, about three years before Mary Elizabeth's death. It's odd to have lived in such close proximity to a relative you never knew, and Mary's life has aroused my wife's interest.

Here are some pieces I've patched together.

Mary was the oldest of at least three children of David Lee Brinson Sr. and Aline Hoats Brinson, born when her father was 19 and her mother was 17. David Lee was owned a cafe in Charleston when he was shot to death in 1938, two days before his 31st birthday. I'm not sure if his killer was ever discovered.

By 1940, Aline and her children were boarding at a home in Colleton County, according to census records. It's possible the family was living in Colleton county before David Lee's death — Mary Elizabeth's brother Donald Allen was born there in 1935.

In 1945, Mary Elizabeth married Albert Gervais Laliberte, a U.S. Marine who was born in Rhode Island. I'm not sure how or where they met; an unsourced family tree on indicates they were married in Utica, N.Y. Various military records indicate Albert enlisted in the U.S. Marines in May 1940, and retired Dec. 31, 1967. He was a gunnery sergeant and served during (in?) World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Muster rolls indicate he was stationed on Parris Island in 1942 until at least 1943, serving as a chief cook, mess sergeant and staff sergent.

But that was before he and Mary Elizabeth were married.

By 1944, Albert was stationed in San Francisco and was a master technical sergeant. In July 1945, more than six months after his marriage to Mary Elizabeth, he was stationed in Cherry Point, N.C., attached to a Marine fighter squadron. In 1950, he was in Camp Lejeune.

I'm not sure at what point the couple came to live in Beaufort. Perhaps like so many Marines who fall in love with Beaufort, he simply remembered his time here fondly and decided to retire near Mary Elizabeth's hometown. Whatever the case, Mary is buried in Beaufort National Cemetery. Albert remarried after her death before passing away himself in 2004.

May 26

Benjamin W. Lewis (my 2G grandfather on my father's side and 3G uncle on my mother's side), b. 1844 in Morgan County, Ky.; d. Sept. 29, 1909, in Morgan County, Ky. Benjamin was the maternal grandfather of my grandfather, Elmer Kidd. His sister, Miriam F. Lewis Kendall, was the mother of one of my maternal great-grandmothers, Nora Ellen Kendall Williams.

John C. Lambert (my first cousin once removed on my father's side), b. 1938; d. May 28, 1978, in Clark County, Ohio. Johnny was the son of my great-uncle Clyde Tracy Lambert. Clyde, who went by "Trace," was my grandmother's brother. Johnny was murdered, but I don't know the circumstances.

Bessie Audrey Dewitt (paternal aunt-in-law of Ronnie Jackson Brooks, my half-uncle on my mother's side), b. 1909 in Waterloo, Lawrence County, Ohio; d. March 26, 1982, in Sarasota, Fla. Bessie married Wardie Taylor Brooks, making her the sister-in-law of Otis Brooks, my maternal grandmother's first husband and the aunt-in-law of my mother's half-brother, Ronnie Jackson Brooks. I don't know much about Bessie's life. Otis, died of complications from a brain tumor in his mid-20s, and my grandmother got remarried to Oliver Wilson, whose birthday begins this blog entry.

May 27

Richard Huey Ray (2G paternal grandfather of Deborah Renee Ray Kidd, my wife), b. 1849, d. March 8, 1908. I don' thave birth or death records for Richard, but the census indicates he was living in Kershaw County, S.C., at age 11. He was buried in the Quaker Cemetery in Camden, Kershaw County, S.C. He married Alice Branham Ray in 1873, and they had at least four children, according to census records. Among them was James Huey Ray, my wife's great-grandfather.

William Cecil Dickerson (husband of Elenora Irene Williams Dickerson, my first cousin once removed), b. 1940. William married the daughter of Allie Wilburn Williams -- my mother's Uncle Bill -- and Geneva Trent Williams.

May 28

Jasper N. Wilson (my second cousin four times removed on my mother's side), b. 1850 in Bath Township, Greene County, Ohio; d. 1917 in Ohio. Jasper in the great-grandson of Jacob Wilson, my 5G grandfather. Jacob Wilson hailed from Berkeley County, Va., but died in Green County, Ohio. I'm not sure how the family came to move to Ohio, but it must have been between 1786, when Jasper's grandfather, William Wilson, was born in Berkeley, and 1812, when Jasper's father, also named William Wilson, was born in Bath Township in Greene County.

Marvin D. Kidd (my first cousin once removed on my mother's side), b. 1944 in Morgan County, Ky.; d. Dec. 28, 1954, in Morgan or Fayette County, Ky. Marvin was the son of Albert Kidd and Ludy Atlas Barker Kidd. Albert was one of eight siblings of my paternal grandfather, Elmer Kidd.

May 29

The Rev. James Henry Hall (my 3G uncle on my mother's side), b. 1866 in Rowan County, Ky.; d. Nov. 3, 1952, in Clearfield, Rowan County, Ky. One of 14 children of George Martin Hall and Susannah Downing Hall. He married Clara Johnson Hall in 1886. She was a school teacher. I'm not sure when or by what church Hall was ordained. The Rowan County News' 1956 centennial edition makes reference to Clara and her husband, "Uncle Henry Hall, one of Rowan County's best-known early citizens."

Lillian Wilson Cleaver (my second cousin twice removed on my mother's side), b. 1916 in Montgomery County, Ky.; d. May 16, 1998, in Burlington, Hartford County, Conn. Lillian is the great-granddaughter of Isaiah Wilson, my 3G grandfather.

Kiera Shaver (my first cousin once removed), b. 2002. Happy birthday, Kiera. Hope you have a great day.

May 30

Rebecca Caudill Williams, is shown in this photograph with her husband, William Washington Williams.

Rebecca Caudill Williams (my 2G grandmother), b. 1854 in Kentucky; d. Sept. 14, 1941, in Rowan County, Ky. Rebecca was a daughter of the Rev. Henry C. Caudill and Elizabeth Jane Short Caudill, two prominent citizens of Rowan and Elliott counties, Ky. Rebecca had 14 siblings. She married William Washington Williams April 5, 1873, and set up housekeeping in a log house a short distance from Elliottville. The couple purchased the property, which came to be called Williams Branch, in 1871 from an Indian, Mr. Jackson. They continued to live here until their deaths in 1940 and 1941, respectively.

May 31

Mary Medlin Dingus Carey (mother-in-law of Homer Lee Wilson, DDS, my first cousin three times removed), b. 1863; d. Feb. 7, 1948, in Morehead, Rowan County, Ky. Homer Lee was one of 13 children of Dr. Jeremiah Wilson and Anna Eliza Halley Wilson. (After Anna's death, Jeremiah remarried and had two more children by his second wife.) One of Homer's brothers was Morehead, Ky.'s first mayor, an office Homer later held himself. His sister was a world-renowned adult-literacy advocate. Homer married Lena Blaine Carey in 1906, at age 26. Her parents are also prominent Morehead residents, James Madison Carey and Mary Medlin Dingus Carey.

Allie Howard Parker (my 2G half-uncle on my mother's side and my first cousin three times removed on my father's side), b. 1896. I have no details about his death. Allie was the half-brother of my great-grandmother, Nora Ellen Kendall Williams. As a young girl, Nora lost her father, David Kendall, to a well-digging accident. Her mother, Miriam F. Lewis Kendall, remarried John Fleming Parker a few years later. They had Allie before Miriam, too, passed away a year later. I'm told Nora and her half brother remained close throughout their lives. They were seven years apart, and she died in 1973.

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