Today's tale involves my Great Great Grandfather-Sherman Watkins. Sherman was the son of Emily Watkins and ? He was born December 5, 1866. He married Mildred Herrald and had 12 children with her-including my Great Grandfather. He actually married 4 times so far-who knows, there may be more. Had a few more children; total I have is 15-there is one set of twins. But who was his father?
In researching Sherman, I was not having much luck finding his father. Fortunately, my Grandma was still alive when I was doing this research-plus this was prior to the computer age we have now. So, to Grandma I went. Now, you must understand that Grandma Spencer was the epitome of a sweet, Christian Woman. She did not cuss-well, let me clarify this a bit. Out of the blue, I would hear 'Sht' come out of her mouth. Now, my first thought was, "God Bless you Grandma"- because she sneezed. Or so I thought.....as I later learned, I do believe that was her curse word......but she 'daintified' it by leaving out the 'i'. Anyway, when I asked her about Sherman, she got this little self-conscious, ashamed-yet excited look. So, I knew something was up! You have to understand that gossip was big during this time. I blame it on the phones-8 to 10 party lines provides entertainment when televisions only provide two to three channels-on a good day. So, Grandma was kind of excited to have something to share, yet her Christianity caused some guilt, but the gossip won-after all we were talking family, and so she spilled the beans .
My Great Great Grandfather was illegitimate! Once that sunk in, I asked who the father was. The answer was, that no one was really sure but the story went like this. Emily Watkins, Sherman's mother, worked for the Crawford Family, a well to do family (-to whom I am also related-legitimately:) Well, somehow or other, she got pregnant, (not sure how that happened as folks just didn't do those kind of things back then. HA!) Apparently, marriage was not an option because the story is that the Crawfords gave her $300 and put her on a train to Magoffin county. Believe she had some kinfolk there. She had Sherman there and, then at some point, came back to Breathitt County.
So, where does the Angel come in? Well, when Emily and Sherman came back to Breathitt County, she soon married and raised Sherman with her new husband-Levi Angel. So, you see, Sherman, while illegitimate, was raised by an Angel:)
Now, is there anything to support this? The Crawford Family were prominent in Breathitt County and did live close to the Watkins. In the 1880 Census, when Sherman was 14, he was living with Calloway Crawford. Sherman named his son, Breck and living close was Breck Crawford. Determining which Crawford may be a bit challenging as I am also related legitimately to the Crawfords as well. DNA may help-and does indicate Crawford connections....but haven't found the specific Daddy yet. Either way, he was raised by an Angel:)
To date, I am still looking for Sherman's Death Certificate. And, until recently I was not sure of his death date. But then, my ADGD kicked in! (There are some advantages to having ADGD:) I was at the Kentucky History Center one day and was skimming through the Breathitt County Genealogical Society's publications, The Record. These publications have been out for several years now. Since I'm related to a significant percentage of the Breathitt County population, I will skim through them to check on different family names. So, one day I was just flipping through the pages when something caught my eye. I was looking at 'Extracts from diary of Sam B. Watts, Baptist Minister, Breathitt County Kentucky' and there it was! He had noted that Sherman Watkins passed away on Monday, 27 April 1936. Nearly fell out of my chair! Now I have a date! Still looking for the elusive Death Certificate-but I do have a date!
See how much fun researching can be?