I never knew how my father, Henry Carroll, knew generations of his family names and places, yet had little contact with them during our time together.
He was named after his father, Henry, who went by his middle name "Howard". My father was a Henry Junior and my mother mentioned he may have been the third with that name. All Dad's records, military and otherwise had Jr. listed.
His parents married in Pennsylvania, then moved to Alabama. After their divorce, my grandmother moved back to Pennsylvania. My father visited his father in Alabama in the summer until he was fourteen.
As a child, my curiosity sometimes was good and other times caused issues. Genealogy became natural to me, suited my personality, and has been a passion for more than twenty years.
So in 1986, the "Family Search" began! I wrote down everything learned from conversations with my Dad about the Carroll family.
One of the only members of the Carrolls we had contact with was a great-great Uncle that we visited with weekly. He died in 1963 and I had to search the archives of my mind to remember things he mentioned or told us during the visits.
For example, once he received a telegram from a family member in Alabama. I believe it was in 1959 when one of his brothers died. That telegram was signed Howard CAL. When I asked him about the last name, he said they were from the South, and didn't know how to spell our last name, CARROLL.
Finally, after many many years of research, I made contact with a Carroll/Cal cousin that I hadn't seen in fifty years. This led to a trip to Town Creek, Alabama.
What an amazing experience to visit areas that my ancestors made their home! Henry, my great-greatgrandfather was born 1858 in Georgia to a young slave girl. They left Georgia after freedom and traveled to Alabama, based on what he told his granddaughter, whom I visited. The young slave girl, my 3x greatgrandmother, wanted to see if they could find her family members in Alabama.
She ended marrying Joe Austin, having more children, and settling in Town Creek. Her son Henry worked hard, and ended up owning 1,000 acres of land where he farmed, growing cotton, soy beans, vegetables, etc.
To actually see where the land was, and how the area is call "Cal Bottom" where he designated part of the land for the "Cal Family Cemetery", was more than I ever could have wished. It felt like I had come home!