52 Ancestors: Week 1

Getting Started

I credit two people who are technically not my ancestors for my getting started in genealogy. The definition of “ancestor” is one through whom a person descends. I am not descended through either of these people, but we share common family members.

The first is my aunt Angelina Bell Damato Duncan. She was the first person on my daddy’s side of the family to start the genealogy quest. I have inherited her genealogy notes, notebooks, and family group sheets via my daddy. Aunt Ann wrote many letters to courthouse clerks and cousins as well as traveled to courthouses, libraries, and cemeteries in search of our family history. I’m so grateful to her for all the work she did which was a launching pad for my own research. I have a cassette tape (yes, I know that sounds ancient, but I have a cassette player so I can still listen to it!) of her, her sister, and my daddy discussing the family history and lore.  What a treasure for me. Another interesting tidbit about Aunt Ann (also known as Annabell) is that she is named for both of her grandmothers and my great-grandmothers – Angelina Previti Damato and Viola Bell Bennett Dow.

The second person I have to thank is my husband’s uncle, Earl Spencer Chatraw, who at the age of eighty bought a computer and started writing the Chatraw and Jones family histories. He emailed me a “chapter” at a time and then answered all the questions I asked him after reading each email. My husband’s father passed away when my husband was three years old, and both of his grandparents died when his father was about sixteen. So, there was only the uncle and his younger sister to tell the story of this family.

These two people did a lot of ground work for me, and I’ll be forever grateful that I did not have to start my research from scratch as they must have done.

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