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Happy birthday to the best mom a little orphan boy could have asked for

Birthdays from my family tree for the week of Oct. 26:

Oct. 26

Nancy Frances Wilson Williamson, (my first cousin three times removed on my mother's side), b. 1840 in Somerford, Madison County, Ohio; d. Nov. 30, 1912. I've expounded at some length upon Valentine Wilson, who seems to come up in each week's report because, well, he had 19 children by three wives, and even more land and money. Nancy was one of them. The children, that is. She was the youngest of the nine children the prolific Valentine Wilson had with his third wife, the saintly Nancy Donnels Roberts Wilson. Mother Nancy married into a family of 10 children, the youngest of which was 19 and most of whom were younger than 10. The younger Nancy married John F. Williamson (1834-1862) in 1856. John died six years later, but I do not know the cause. Though he died during the Civil War years, it does not seem likely his death was related to the war as he died in Madison County.

Ervin Davis Quesenberry, (my first cousin three times removed on my mother's side), b. 1899 in Hoggtown Township, Rowan County, Ky.; d. July 29, 1943, in Rowan County, Ky. Ervin was the son of Isaac Quesenberry and Lyda Alice Hall Quesenberry. Lyda was the sister of my 2G grandfather, George Washington Hall. Isaac was the brother of my 2G grandmother, Nancy Abigail Quesenberry Hall. George and Nancy were man and wife.

Ervin then married a Hall, as well — Emma A. Hall, his first cousin.

Though Ervin was born and died in Rowan County, apparently he did a bit of moving around in between. I have census records indicating he lived in Oklahoma in the 1920s and in Indiana in the 1930s.

Dad, Mom, me and my sister Jennifer. (Guess where Jen is hiding in this photo.)

Linda Ivorene Wilson, (my mother). It is considered bad genealogical form — an invasion of privacy, actually — to include information about living individuals without their consent when sharing family trees. I hedge a bit in these birthday listings because it just doesn't seem right to leave a relative's birthday unacknowledged, even if I haven't been in touch for years to get their consent. So I usually provide a name, the relationship to me and omit all other information, like the date of birth.

This week I'm going to have to throw all caution to the wind, though. Don't worry, Mom — I won't tell the world all of your secrets. Like your first experience buying candy on credit. Or the unfortunate form of toilet tissue you plucked from the woods during a hike as a youngster. Or the trick you'd pull to get out of carrying your pail of fresh milk up the hill from the barn to the house.

Suffice it to say, I love hearing all of your stories, even the ones you've repeated to me over and over, as though you were telling them to me for the first time.

Indeed, my favorite story is one you repeated to me quite often, and from my earliest memories. I've had 46 years to meet other people who are adopted, like me. Quite a few have told me of listlessness that burgeoned in their teens and lingered into adulthood. Of identities that seemed yet written. Of a longing to locate birth parents that tugged at them as the moon draws high tide.

I can symphathize, but I cannot empathize.

At some point, the bedtime story you used to tell me expanded to include a little about my biological parents, particularly the 16-year-old who entered a home for unwed mothers until she was ready to give birth to me. If she were ever to introduce herself, I'd tell her how sorry I am that she had to endure an experience that probably left her scared and lonely. I'd ask her to take a look at me, at my family, at my life and what I've done with it. Then, I'd tell her I hope she concludes that she made all the right choices.

That's what I'd tell her if she found me. But I've never felt compelled to go looking for her.

Because unlike a few of those untethered adoptees I've encountered, I've never felt out of place, unwanted or uncertain. That's no signal of my strength, no proof of my character. I am who I am because I was raised by the best parents a little orphan boy could have hoped for.

That bedtime story you used to tell me began with a couple who didn't think they could have children of their own, though they desperately wanted one. You told me how you visited the adoption home and how you knew from the first time I was placed in your arms that I would be your son.

For all I know, you had your eye on the black-haired kid in the cradle next to me. But you sold the story. I believed it then, and I believe it now. Before I drifted off to sleep, swaddled in the blanket you brought me home in, you'd tell me I was selected, not expected. And in no waking hour did you ever let me feel differently.

That's why I've never been anything but your son.

Oct. 27

Flora Wilson Peers, (my first cousin three times removed on my mother's side), b. 1886 in Farmers, Rowan County, Ky.; d. Jan. 7, 1947, in Pine Bluff, Jefferson County, Ark. Flora was the daughter of Dr. Jeremiah Wilson, a well-known country doctor who practiced all over Rowan County, including Farmers and Morehead. "Doc Jerry" was the brother of my 2G grandfather, Abijiah Wilson.

Flora was among 13 children Jeremiah had with his first wife, Anna Eliza Halley Wilson. (He had two more by his second wife, Virginia Lee Crawford Wilson, whom he married after Anna's death in 1900.) Flora's siblings included Bunyan Spratt Wilson, the first mayor of Morehead; and Cora Wilson Stewart, a renowned adult-literacy advocate.

Flora married a prominent southern lumber man, according to "Family of Dr. Jeremiah Wilson Practiced Many Professions." The Rowan County News centennial edition. His name was Jesse Bowles Peers, and he was a business partner of Edgar Boone McGlone, who was married to one of Flora's older sisters, Stella.

It is possible I have her date of birth incorrect — I have recorded her brother Glenmore Combs Wilson's birthday as June 27, 1886, a separation of just four months.

Lee Truby Petitt, (my 2G uncle-in-law on my mother's side), b. 1903 in Elliottville, Rowan County, Ky.; d. April 16, 1973, in California. Lee married Florence Hall Petitt, sister of my great-grandmother Mahala Susan Hall Wilson, on July 25, 1923.

Virga B. Kidd, (my first cousin twice removed on my father's side), b. 1921 in Morgan County, Ky.; d. Feb. 24, 1977, in West Liberty, Morgan County, Ky. Virga was one of nine children of John Booth Kidd and Ada Lykins Kidd. John was a first cousin of my paternal grandfather, Elmer Kidd.

David Lee Brinson Jr., (my wife Deborah Renee Ray's first cousin twice removed on her father's side), b. 1927 in Walterboro, Colleton County, S.C.

Oct. 29

Dennis Wilburn Williams, (my first cousin once removed). Happy birthday, Denny. Hope you have a great day.

Oct. 30

Catherine C. Wilson Wilson, (my 4G aunt on my mother's side and my 4G aunt-in-law on my mother's side), b. 1833 in Morgan County, Ky.; d. Nov. 21, 1922, in Bath County, Ky. Catherine was the sister of my 3G grandmother Sarah Jane Wilson Wilson.

Sarah Jane married Isaiah Wilson, her sixth cousin. Catherine C. did the same, marrying Isaiah's brother, Abijiah Brooks Wilson, who was born in 1827 and shares a name with my 2G great grandfather.

Nov. 1

Laura Jane Hall, (my first cousin three times removed), b. 1889 in Rowan County, Ky.; d. March 13, 1983, in Rowan County, Ky. Laura was the daughter of William Thomas Hall and Sarah R. Riddle, and the niece of my 2G grandfather George Washington Hall.

Mary Lou Owen Wilson, (wife of John Everette Wilson, my first cousin three times removed on my mother's side), b. 1899 in Clark County, Ky.; d. Aug. 23, 1979, in Dayton, Montgomery County, Ohio. Mary Lou's husband, John Everette, was the son of Michael Clay Wilson and Mattie Keith Wilson. Michael was the brother of my 2G grandfather Abijiah Wilson.

Leslie Everett Richardson, (my third cousin once removed on my mother's side), b. 1902; d. Sept. 26, 1950. Leslie was the son of Newton Pierce Richardson and Ollie Wilson Richardson. Ollie was a granddaughter of the aforementioned Sarah Jane Wilson Wilson.

Recall that Sarah's sister married her husband's brother, making them sisters and sisters-in-law. The intermarrige didn't stop there: Leslie's maternal grandfather, Isaac Wilson was the son of Sarah Jane and Isiaiah Wilson; he married his niece, Mary Pink Schubert, who was a daughter of Sarah's sister Lucinda.

OK, we need to stop now.

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