Genealogy

It’s somewhat rare…being double cousins, but it does happen. I suppose it is rare enough that many people don’t even know what it is exactly. It might not even be a exact term, but it is the only one that describes this situation.

When two brothers marry two sisters, their children become double cousins…and that is exactly what happened. My grandfather, George Byer married my grandmother Harriet “Hattie” Pattan on December 24, 1927. Then my uncle, Theodore “Ted” Byer married my aunt, Gladys Pattan on November 2, 1928. Hattie and George would go on to have 9 children, Evelyn, Virginia, Delores, Larry, Collene, who is my mother, Wayne, Bonnie, Dixie, and Sandy. My Aunt Gladys and my Uncle Ted would have one daughter, Margaret. From the moment Margaret arrived, the children of the sisters and brothers were double cousins. And later there would be double second cousins, double third cousins, double second cousins once removed, double third cousins once removed, and so on.

Now as often happens, the children of the double cousins weren’t as close as the double cousins themselves. As the years go by many of the cousins don’t know each other well, or at all. I have been blessed in that for me things would turn out differently. When my girls were little they began bowling with two girls who were also sisters. Little did we know, until my mom heard their dad’s name, that these girls were the grandchildren of Margaret Byer, the very Margaret whose birth began the double cousins in the first place. So, every Monday night, during the winter bowling league season, I get the privilege of spending the evening with my double second cousins twice removed, and their daughters, my double second cousins thrice removed. Margaret’s son Ted and his wife Donna, and their daughters, Jaime and her husband Willie, who also have three children, Kaleb, Kielei, and Haley, and Ted and Donna’s other daughter Jackie. I am very thankful that I have had the chance to know them all these years. They are awesome people. Love you guys bunches.

Grandma's gardenDuring the years of the Great Depression, people had to do whatever was necessary to make ends meet. The backyard garden became a necessity, not a hobby. Hunting and fishing really became a vital part of life, not just a pastime. People had to make their own repairs around the house, rather than hiring it done. People put blankets up for curtains, and made their own clothes. I suppose it was like a move back in time…to the time when their ancestors didn’t have a store to go to, or a repairman to call, so they did what they had to do, on their own. I would imagine that there were a lot of repairs that the repairman would have scratched his head at…just trying to figure out how it ran at all.

While the things the people of the Great Depression era did were a bit unusual, and were an essential part of making ends meet, they were also a part of their independence. They didn’t want a government handout…even when they had to take it, they didn’t want it. They were used to taking care of themselves. Nevertheless, jobs were scarce, and often required the men to travel for work, leaving their wives and young children to run the farm. School became a luxury, because the kids were needed at home to plow, weed, and harvest the crops to put food on the table. Nothing was wasted either. They cooked the feet, tongue, and even brains of an animal for food. They didn’t necessarily kill an animal, if all they needed was the feathers for a mattress. Can you Grandpa by the Gardenimagine plucking the feathers from a goose while it is alive?? I would be afraid it would come after me, but it was well known then, that the feathers would grow back, just like our hair, of course, cutting our hair doesn’t hurt.

Tough times can make or break a nation and it’s people I guess, but if we are a people, determined to make it on our own, and help this nation be great at the same time, then we can be a nation who can handle difficult times with grace and dignity. If we become a nation of people who are willing to sit back and let the government take care of us, then we will be a truly poor nation indeed.

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