Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Never Disregard What They Have to Say...I learned from a Pilgrim of Laurens Co., SC

If I had a $dollar$ for every time I have heard, “they do not know anything about the family”, I would be rich, or at least close to it!

We assume that our family members cannot help us in our efforts to piece together our tree.  We assume that since our relatives have not talked about the family, they know nothing.   Back in 2008, the year my beautiful mother passed on, I started out with one sheet of paper with a few names.  It was my grandfather Westmoreland’s family.  Later, relatives gave me obituaries, photographs, and I took notes from conversations, no matter how small the detail.  I came by this info because I asked questions, lots of them!

Before I go on, I want to look at how useful obituaries are.  I use to collect them whenever I would go to a funeral; I saw them as souvenirs; something you tuck away and pull out when you are sorting through old papers.  One day it struck me, I had gold nuggets in my possession.  Obituaries tell us where our relatives were born, lived and where their parents are from.  I took those obits and began my search on Ancestry.com.
It was scary at times when I would find, yes find, what I was looking for.  The information that is so readily available overwhelmed me!
As I mentioned, my mom died in 2008.  I got wind from an eighty something year old Westmoreland cousin that I had a great aunt, sister to my grandfather Westmoreland, who was still alive.  She was the last child living of fifteen.  She was from the first marriage of my great grandfather.  She was ninety-two or so at that time.  I got her daughter’s phone number, called her up and told her what I was doing.  Keep in mind that I had never met this relative.  As our conversation began to wind down, she said, “Delores, if you ever want to come for a visit let me know.”  I immediately asked if I could come down the next weekend.   She gladly said yes to my request.  My mother never knew about her and looking at her age, I did not want to chance that she would pass on me; I trekked down to Norfolk, Virginia.
Armed with my brand new camera (with video capabilities) from a good friend who had no clue that she was going to be a vital part of my research ventures, I headed to Virginia to pick my great aunt’s brain.  Oh yeah, I was dying to meet her, but she was a link to my Westmoreland past and future!   She told stories of my grandfather’s life in Laurens, South Carolina.  She talked about her cousin Drusilla Pilgrim.  Pilgrim was the maiden name of my great grandmother.  I did not discover this until I got home and started reviewing the video and researching.
Today, I have an information book for each grandparent!  This all happened because I asked questions.  SO, get to asking.



  1. Already posting regularly, teaching & documenting your SURNAMES online?! You are a BORN genealogy blogger! You just earned yourself a student (or 2) for the BLOGEST!:)

  2. This is the second time someone said this to me today and I agree totally - they won't tell you if you don't ask.

  3. WOW! Absolutely love your blog! You are so right. We must ASK questions. Great job Delores. :)

  4. This is so true. Im always asking questions and documenting what i learned and from whom. Sometimes i find it may be uncomfortable asking some things but it benefits everyone in end. Congratulations and happy hunting:-)

  5. I agree we shouldn't assume our family can't help us with the research. I have discovered that a couple of my relatives who aren't talkative, are good family historians. They just need a little more prompting and patience.

  6. It is fortunate that your family sense that you are one of the designated family griots and passed along the obituaries with vast information to you.

  7. Delores, I once stumbled upon a relativeo f my husband's in Kansas. She offered to send me information and when the packet arrived I found that she had photographed her obituary collection for me. It was filled with wonderful things that we didn't know. About a year or so later, this lady died. A few months later I recieved another package from her daughter of a whole album she had on side of our family. She had it labelled with my name. I was so touched. She was so thankful for someone to pass on the info she spent her life collecting. She was 90. I love how aggressively you grabbed those moments with your relative!

    1. Hi Cheryl...sorry I missed your comment, but WHAT a GOLD MINE! I hope one day I can find a relative like that! So have you found anything useful in the discovery of your husband's AA side?