Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Visiting the Family Tree

We left Pittsburgh early Tuesday morning to head to Clarksburg, West Virginia. Why? Well the above photo should give you some indication why. There was no baseball game yesterday, so we had two days to get from Pittsburgh to Philly. We realized our ancestral home, visited some 33 years ago by my parents and grandparents, was just two hours from Pittsburgh.

In addition to an assortment of plaques around town, there is a Davisson Family Cemetery on a farm that used to belong to the family and now belongs to some distant relatives belonging to a branch of the family who long ago ceased to be Davisson and now are the Stouts. My parents met the current owners of the farm when they were back there, and suggested we call ahead to make sure it was OK to see the cemetery. It was sad timing that Mr. Stout passed away last week and his funeral was on Sunday. But his widow was lovely and his grandson (my fourth cousin, we determined), in town for the funeral, was a big family history buff and insisted we come by and gave us the tour.

We first went into town and were directed to a house next to the library where the resident local history and geneaology expert lived. We'll call him Sir Talks-a-Lot. He did give us listings of everyone buried in the Davisson and Faris (more relations) family cemeteries, an old map, and showed us the vast quantities of information available on our family. Our grandfather was listed in one of his books, but our great-grandfather didn't even exist in one of the others. Strange. We finally made our escape (this was after listening to him ramble on for an hour-- also, he needed to trim his fingernails), and then made our escape. The town of Clarksburg is half charming, half depressing. It has the feel of an old fashioned town, and has the county courthouse and some other charming buildings. But there were a lot of empty storefronts and the people walking around did not look like they were having easy lives. It made me wonder what my life would have been like if the family had stayed there (moot, since Roger never would've met Marji in WVa, not to mention the few generations prior).

The farm was lovely and our distant relations were so sweet, especially considering what they had just been through. Our cousin showed us around, and he knew a ton about what was up there which was really neat. We got a lot of photos of the cemetery, and got a tour of the house which is beautiful. They raise cows and have a wholesale meat business. They also own a ton of land in the county, as do a few other branches of the family. Strangely, there aren't really Davissons left that he knew of, but the existence of the Davisson Brothers Band indicates that we are still be found elsewhere in West Virginia.

We then found the Faris family cemetery, and toured Bridgeport, the town directly next to Clarksburg (and where our relatives went to school, etc.). Bridgeport lacked the charm of Clarksburg, but is clearly a successful little town. So there you are.

More pictures and an account of our visit to Falling Water, complete with the world's most annoying tour guide (since Acoma)!


Anonymous popster said...

Actually, in the '70's there were more Davissons in the Clarksburg phone book (at least a dozen) than in the New York (or LA or Chicago) phone books. I suspect it's still true. None are closer than 3rd cousins to you, though.

2:02 PM  
Anonymous Katherine Brown said...

OK, this is a stupid way to get in touch, but I can't find your email address. Did I totally miss you in NYC?

4:24 PM  

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