Living History

Serendipity has meaning for me. It seems like unlikely occurrences happen in my family around the time of birthdays. Today, the 12th, is my father’s birthday. He left this planet 11 years ago, and he did not leave behind much information about his early years in the Missouri Ozarks and his ancestors. Since then I have taken up a layman’s interest in genealogy, if only to preserve some family history so that it doesn’t easily become forgotten. Yesterday I received a large package of information that I had not asked for, from a person I have never known, concerning my father’s ancestry, on my father’s birthday.

The sender emailed me a couple of days earlier, asked me a question or two via email, and decided that I must have this genealogical material that he has been working on faithfully for many years. So now I have much more of the story of my father’s background than I could ever imagine. I don’t know the mechanism for how such things happen at such exacting and particular times, other than to say that it is one of those mysterious forces in operation that causes me to always keep an ear close to the ground.

The first McCubbin to land in America from Scotland was Sir John the Colonist. American genealogists tend to think all of us McCubbins in America are related to him. He came to Anne Arundel, on the Chesapeake Bay, near modern day Baltimore, Maryland, in the year 1643, at the age of 13, to escape a war in Scotland. The records show him coming as an indentured servant, and he later became a Quaker and a successful tobacco farmer.

Several generations of McCubbins prospered in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. One of them, a great grandfather, fought in the Revolutionary War, and then moved in 1807 to Green County, Kentucky with his wife and kids, where they lived the rest of their lives. From out of this McCubbin bunch, my next generation of grandparents had moved to Benton County, Missouri, by 1850. Three more generations would live in the area before my father was born there in 1925. My father fought in World War Two and settled briefly in northeastern Oregon, where his older brothers were then living. None of them wanted to return to Missouri Ozark living.

My parents met and married in eastern Oregon, moved to eastern Washington, where I was born in 1948, and moved on to California in 1960, where I have lived ever since. So, without going into much more detail than that, it’s easy to see how far back in time this voice has come to me from yesterday, this descendant of McCubbins from Kentucky who never moved on to Missouri. Without the internet, of course, much of this history would have become broken and forgotten, perhaps forever.

I had a telephone conversation yesterday on my father’s birthday with this long-forgotten and certainly unknown Kentucky cousin. We immediately felt a sense of kinship and have begun to lay out some areas for further genealogical exploration. I have an open invitation from him to come back and get the grand tour of my Kentucky roots. Maybe when the weather is fair. I don’t consider myself much of a genealogist nut, but I feel like family histories need to be preserved. If for no other reason than because people in the distant past have made the effort to bring the records this far forward in time. But then when events like what happened to me yesterday occur, I feel like my history has not really been left behind, but continues to live, and wishes to speak.

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