Family mystery

My great-grandfather Ramey had a fierce personality. Even in his 90’s, he had no time for nonsense, epically from unruly children such as me.

My grandmother ascribed her father’s fierceness to his harsh childhood. Orphaned early, his adopted family treated him as little more than a servant. One day, my grandmother’s oft-repeated story went, her father’s adopted-mother beat him so viscously that a woman passing the farm in a buggy intervened and took the child.

For several years this Good Samaritan raised him as her own. Life was wonderful for my great-grandfather until his angel died forcing him, at the age of 12, to fend for himself.

My grandmother said that her father’s parents were French-speaking immigrants. Of course, my grandmother never met her immigrant grandparents but her story seemed reasonable. After all, the family name, Ramey, is well known in France.

My recent forays with Ancestery.com appeared to confirm my grandmother’s story. Ancestry is really good at suggesting connections and I was quickly able to find photos of some of my distant relatives, such as my great-grandfather Hudson and his wife Lucindy Bowen Hudson. But when it came to Ramey, Ancestry didn’t have any suggestions. Exactly as you might expect for an orphan of immigrant parents.

Great-grandfather Hudson
John Hudson, Great-grandfather, picture taken for Tenn. state assembly
Great-grandmother Hudson

I am sharing these photographs because I have confidence in my connection to them.

I decided to take my researches a step further and have Ancestry test my DNA. The results are back and there are no big surprises. I’m mostly English, Scottish, and Northern European including northern France. My mother also said we had Native American relatives and that turns out to be true.

When Ancestry has your DNA, it can find many more connections for you, connections that might otherwise be hard to identify. This is where the Ramey mystery starts. According to Ancestry, a woman named Sarah Ann Pack is probably my 2nd-great-grandmother. Sarah Ann and her husband William Ramey had 13 children including George Washington Ramey–my great-grandfather. Sarah Ann lived until the 1920s when my great-grandfather was in his 40’s! Wait! I thought my great-grandfather was orphaned before 12?

I’m not sharing any of the many photographs Ancestry has of Sarah because I do not have confidence in my connection to her.

Ancestry connections are based on the trees its users establish. Of course, this means a lot of user error. As I dig into the Ramey mystery, I’m discovering many problems. Sarah Ann Pack is also in someone named Rainey’s family tree. Ramey or Rainey? Some of the supporting documents show Ramey, others Rainey. Solving the Ramey mystery will take more work than simply surfing Ancestry’s user connections.

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