Rel­a­tives can live in the same town and not even know each other.

Reminisce - - Contents - BY IRIS SUM­MERS • FORT WORTH, TX

Friends first, they didn’t know they were cousins.

Sev­eral years ago, my Un­cle Ken in­formed me that a man in Ten­nessee had com­piled a vol­ume on the Hart­sell fam­ily. My great-grand­mother’s maiden name was Hart­sell.

So I wrote the man, Larry Fox, and he sent me a copy of the Hart­sell vol­ume. He also asked ad­di­tional ques­tions about my im­me­di­ate fam­ily that he wanted to in­clude in a sub­se­quent ge­neal­ogy re­port.

As I looked through the names in Larry’s vol­ume, I fo­cused on those de­scended from my im­me­di­ate an­ces­tors. I found one name I in­stantly rec­og­nized: Fran Du­mas.

Fran was the sec­re­tary at my church, and I knew her well.

As it turned out, she and I were first cousins once re­moved. Her mother was my grand­mother’s first cousin.

I told her of my dis­cov­ery, and we mar­veled that we were cousins. We would never have known any of this if I hadn’t read Larry’s pub­li­ca­tion.

Later, my hus­band, James, daugh­ter Amy and I vis­ited Larry and his wife, Mag­gie, when we passed through Ten­nessee on va­ca­tion. Mag­gie was the Hart­sell de­scen­dant, and Larry the ge­neal­ogy sleuth.

I also got to know Maude, Fran’s mother, who lived in Kyle, a lit­tle town a few miles south of us. She re­mem­bered my grand­mother and great­grand­mother and thrilled me with fam­ily sto­ries, one about a ta­ble that was brought in a wagon from Ok­la­homa to Austin. Two leaves of the ta­ble cracked when the wagon got stuck in the mud. Maude is now de­ceased and I have moved away, but Fran and I stay in touch through Christ­mas cards.

IRIS DIS­COV­ERED that the Strawn sis­ters, June, Jodie and Fran, were her first cousins once re­moved.

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