As a child growing up in Logan County , West Virginia, I always had more than a normal curiosity about my ancestors. My favorite pastime was to sit in front of an open fire and listen to my grandmother and others telling stories about the “old days.”
It was not until I was a graduate student at the University Of Michigan many years later, that I began to systematically do research on my family from a psycho-social perspective. It was in my Family Therapy classes that I first learned about genetic coding, as well as behavior patterns that are passed from generation to generation. It was here that I learned the significance of genealogical research to my chosen profession as a Clinical Social Worker -Family Therapist- and to learn about my own behavior patterns and coping skills that have been passed from generation to generation .On every paper that I wrote in Graduate School, I had a cover page that stated: "FOR NOW WE SEE THROUGH A GLASS, DARKLY; BUT THEN FACE TO FACE: NOW I KNOW IN PART; BUT THEN SHALL I KNOW, EVEN AS ALSO I AM KNOWN." (I Corinthians 13: 12) Religion was not taught in any of my Graduate classes, but for the first time, I understood all of those “begats” in the Old Testament!
In each ancestor, I have found a small piece of myself and a piece of the puzzle that answers the innate question that we all have; “Who am I? From whence did I come?”
My first "hunting" trip solely for the purpose of genealogical research was not until October, 1983. Even though I grew up in the hills of West Virginia, I had never visited southwestern Virginia as an adult. Living in Michigan at the time, I had forgotten how beautiful the mountains are in autumn. I had never seen more breath taking scenery.
When my husband, Ron and I arrived in Tazewell, Virginia, we went directly to the court house, where I promptly found the marriage record for my great grand parents and my great great grand parents. I had no idea who the preceding generations might be.
The records found that day provided my first official documentation for my ancestors based on actual court records, rather than just family “tradition” (which sometimes gets repeated incorrectly based on faulty memory, and sometimes becomes little more than "gossip." The origin of the word gossip is gospel or being what each of us sees as truth.) The pages on this web site are my truths:
It was on that day in Tazewell that I found a few surprises. The following years produced many surprises. Each new piece of information presents a new puzzle, but eventually with work and dedication, the pieces do come together to present a total picture.
It was in the spring of 1984 that I finally documented my great great great grand parents, George and Rosannah (Fannin) Steele. It was also at this time that I found my other Logan County West Virginia ancestors, Workman, Marrs, Maxwell, Farley and Hensley.
The trip to Tazewell in the spring, proved to be even more meaningful than the previous trips. There had been several trips between fall 1983 and spring, 1984. The beauty of the mountains in Virginia in spring is comparable only to the beauty of autumn.
Just off Route 19, up a winding drive, Southwest Virginia Community College sits high on a hill. Just south of the drive way is where I found later that my great grand mother, Ann Eliza Steele was born. From this hill top that was probably once a part of the George and Rosannh Steele “plantation” we could finally appreciate the beauty of the surrounding country side. From here, we observed the panoramic view of mountains, rolling hills and lush green valleys. This is a land where blue grass, red bud and forsythia abound. This is the land where George and Rosannah (Fannin) Steele chose to live out their lives.
I don’t recall a time when I have been more overcome with emotion. Seeing the land with their home place still standing after nearly two hundred years, was when my ancestors became real to me. It was the first time that they became more than just dry statistics on a piece of paper. They were real people with the same dreams and feelings that I had! It was on this day that the past and the future merged with the present. Even though I had been a stranger to the area, I had finally come "home." From high on the mountain, over looking the home place, I could see the cemetery where George and Rosannah are buried.
Here in this land of lush green mountains, azure skies, blue grass, red bud and forsythia, I found my roots. I found where my great grand mother Ann Eliza Steele and her father before her were born. Tom Smith and his wife, Ann Eliza were the ancestors that started me on over a twenty year search.
It was on this day that I decided to find out everything possible about my great great grand parents and their ancestors. The family history will probably not be completed in my life time, but it is my desire to set forth as much factual information as possible about my family.
Hopefully, others will expand on this work, which is sure to contain errors. There are inconsistencies in court records, census records and family “tradition.” I have attempted to document where possible. My research is based on a premise that was described beautifully by a descendant of my Mullins family line. In the book One Mullins Family, Marie Justice stated: "Where I have found proof, I have presented it; where it is supposition, I have said so. We do ourselves and our posterity a great disservice when we set down for fact things not thoroughly researched and not proven." (Quoted with the author’s permission.)
This work consists of a series of sketches on each family in the author’s direct line of descent, with brief histories of siblings and their issue.
It is my belief that the more we know about our ancestors, the more we can know and understand ourselves and our own families.
Statistics are very important in documenting family lineage, but is the personal information and a study of their culture and the personal information that makes each person “come alive” in our minds.
I have attempted to present a realistic picture of each person as a human being. As human beings, we all have strengths and weaknesses. Our ancestors were no different. Their strengths by far out weigh any weakness of character. They were truly pioneers, the core of what we as individuals and as a nation have become. They were the beginning of who we are and what we are capable of becoming.
Our ancestors left us a legacy and a foundation upon which to build. What we do with that foundation is up to each of us.
Parts of this introduction were used in a previous publication by this writer: FAMILIES OF FANNIN(G), published in 1987.
With extra special thanks to my wonderful husband Ron, whose patience, love and understanding made this work possible. Ron died March 2, 1991.
Also extra special thanks to my little dog Munchkin (aka Punky Doodle) who has been with me since 1984. He has remained by my side when all others were gone. He has not always been patient nor understanding about my work, but he is very forgiving. He has taught me the true meaning of UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. That is the purpose of this website. I love you all. in Christian love- AGAPE.
"Jesus said unto him; Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments, hang all the law and the prophets." (Matthew 23: 37-40)