HE’S NOT EVEN MY ANCESTOR
In 1976 I worked in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I had a coworker who was studying her genealogy and needed to do some research in Saginaw. I was born in Saginaw, and I have several generations of Germans who immigrated, lived and died there. And so, I went with her to the court house and did some research in the paper records there. I caught the bug!
I interviewed my relatives who were still living, visited cemeteries, found old obituaries, wrote letters, and it was fun. It gave me a sense of history as more than just abstract stuff in books. These were the days when computers were big clunky things you read about in sci-fi, and the internet was just a glimmer in the mind of Bob Dole. But my ancestry in America was easy to trace and only went back five generations because they all came from Germany after 1840. There wasn’t much more I could glean about them without learning German.
What was I to do, I was still interested? I started looking into my husband’s ancestry, the Mosby family and many others. We had a couple of kids, the internet age dawned, he divorced me and I continued my quest. For a couple of lineages the information was handed to me on a sliver platter. He had three grandparents who had already been traced, with varying degrees of accuracy, to the immigrant ancestors in the 1600 and 1700s. I made copies of their stuff and put it into my binders. I went to the local LDS genealogical library and copied histories that had already been written. One fanciful genealogy went back to Tia Tephi and then to Adam, but there were some significant gaps and suppositions.
And then there were the Mosbys. My husband’s father was a mean drunkard and not worth talking to. His Grandma Lois who married Temple Houston Mosby told me stories, but didn’t have much on the Mosby family. She said she had heard that the Mosbys had Indian ancestry. She didn’t know the origin of Temple Houston Mosby’s name except that Houston was after Sam Houston. They contacted the famous John Singleton Mosby to say ‘Howdy Cousin’ and he said he didn’t have any relatives in Texas. Temple Houston’s father, John Edward Mosby, was the owner of a saloon in Anadarko, OK, and her father Russell Miller Denny was the sheriff.
It wasn’t a dead end, but was on life support. Then, in a stroke of good fortune, we received a solicitation for Mosby information from a man named James H. Mosby who was writing the “Mosby Family History.” Lois dutifully sent off the information and we waited for the book that would provide all the answers.
What a disappointment! This was still before the Age of computers, and I think the guy was overwhelmed with the information that people sent him. He basically compiled all the histories people sent, and the research he did and threw it into the book. There wasn’t much organization and lots of repetition. We found our page, and he had included what Lois sent him, but didn’t tie that info into the rest of the Mosby family. Not only that, but he wrote his book to track down his ancestor Robert Claiborne Mosby (1780-1831) who married Sarah West (1787-1864) in 1812 in Kentucky and then moved north to Tell City, IN, just across the Ohio River from Kentucky.
Using the resources available to him he discovered Robert Mosby, son of Nicholas in Woodford, KY. Robert lived and died in Woodford County, married Hannah Hancock, and had a large family. But James H. Mosby latched on to Robert as his ancestor. This resulted in him creating one man, Robert, with two wives, and two large families living 100 miles apart. What he wrote confused and misled me.
That lack of connection, knowing lots about Mosbys, but not how my kids were related bugged me. I dropped it for many years as the kids grew and especially after the divorce. That cooled my interest for a while.
About 10 years ago I picked it up again. I joined ancestry.com and honed my computer skills. I took that darn book and diagramed all of the genealogies in it. Then I created a family tree – “Mosbys before 1850” on Ancestry. I searched the 1850 census for every Mosby listed and tried to tie them into the tree. I made a magnificent (If I do say so myself) Numbers spreadsheet with all the Mosbys in it, and the spouses of the male Mosbys. Eventually I got my answer, or one that I am 99% sure is correct. I also learned that Thomas F. Mosby, a great great grandfather was a Scoundrel, and that’s being polite. I’ve learned so much interesting history that I’ve created this web site to share it with you.
If you have comments or more info, send me a message on Ancestry.com – “Mosby Family Tree” my account is cls1644.
A NOTE ABOUT WOMEN
I’ve included their names and sometimes bits about their families. Many of the Virginia families involved in the Revolutionary War and the settlement of the “west” are interconnected by marriages. As far as I can tell very few women made a ripple on recorded history, except as wives and mothers. Without contraception, married women were often pregnant. Mortality was high for both mothers and the babies. The maintenance of a household was also very taxing. Cooking involved getting water from the well and filling the stove with firewood. Cleaning involved more water and firewood. Animals were raised and gardens were grown. Even if they didn’t have to spin thread and weave cloth, the clothes were hand sewn or knitted. Women had very little time for activities outside the home.
A NOTE ABOUT NAMES
Many people named their children after a parent or grand parent. Since the Mosbys are English, there are lots of people named James, John, Robert, William, Edward etc. After a few generations it becomes hard to sort them out. Sometimes the mother’s surname was used as the person’s middle name and that helps sort them out. Also every once in a while they would chose an uncommon name such as Littleberry, Hezekiah or even Nicholas, that makes them easier to track down, but after a few generations those names become crowded too. By 1850, there had been 40 Roberts, 58 Johns, 70 Williams etc. Then you need to look at the information about each person to see where they lived, who the neighbors were, who their children married and other clues to sort them out.