Week 31: Cousins. One of the best experiences in family history is meeting with new cousins found through your research. Tell us about your favorite cousin meet-up. How did you discover each other? Where did you meet? What type of information was exchanged and how did it benefit your research?
In the early 1990's when I really had begun to research in depth, I found a second cousin via the Internet that I had never met: Lucy Jane Hays. [I won't identify her married name here for the sake of privacy] We share great-grandparents, John Jefferson Hays and Philena Josephine "Josie" Allen. Her family had remained in Arkansas for much longer than mine had so I had so we had never crossed paths. I had posted queries about the Hays family, particularly John Jefferson's parents, in several places, and Jane, as she preferred to be called, emailed me.
The Internet was a new place in those days and we both had quirky dial-up connections. But with persistence we were able to start a correspondence and combine our efforts in trying to unlock the mysteries of the parentage of John Jefferson's parents. His father was Elias B. Hays [born in four different states according to various documents] and his mother Martha Frances Crutcher. Elias's mother was the widowed Delitha Hays when we find the earliest records of the family and that's as far back as the story goes. We believe Delitha was born in North Carolina and her son Elias most likely born in Tennessee, but they were in Tippah County, Mississippi by 1840. Twenty years later we still don't know anymore about Delitha's husband or Martha Frances's parents beyond the fact that her father might have been a Martin/Mastin Crutcher living in Tippah County at the same time..
I had lots of information about the Allen side of the family and Jane had all the data on her aunts and uncles and many cousins, as her Hays father had been one of a family of fifteen children. We had great fun with the exchange of material as well as proceeding with the Hays family quest. Jane and her husband traveled to some of the locations involved as they lived nearer than I did; I was better at finding and dealing with the microfilmed records. We managed to uncover lots of data about the descendants of Elias and Martha Hays. Jane's paternal grandmother's West family had come from Logan County, Kentucky where my husband's Hadens had lived and I was able to help Jane with that research some, too. I can remember when we could hardly wait to open each other's email to see what had been found. We did get to meet in person, but only once.
Unfortunately Jane now suffers from Alzheimer's. Her husband and loving caretaker, who has also been an avid researcher has attempted to continue the quest, but there have been no new leads for several years now. The county in Mississippi where the Hays family was living by 1840, has had a major loss of records due to the Civil War and we just seem to be stuck there. We did have a near Y-DNA match, but unfortunately that gentleman cannot go back in research as far as we can and we have been unable to get the respective families in the same state - so even technology isn't helping yet.
If you look at the labels on this Blog, you will seen the Hays Family link. You are welcome to read more about our Hays research there.