Tattered Past

Tattered Past: My ongoing journey through genealogy, history, writing, self-exploration and art. ~~~ Rita Ackerman

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Distant Cousins . . . Remember When

I've been corresponding with a distant cousin on my McFerran line for many years. A couple of weeks ago he put me in touch with another cousin who he thought knew something about my Wilburn line (Samuel Wilburn married Mary McFerran in 1866.)

Ken called me one evening and we talked for at least an hour. He once lived in "Old Man Wilburn's" house in Franklin County, Arkansas. He remembered his father sending rent checks to him in Kansas. I'm pretty sure that was my great grandfather, Thomas W. Wilburn. Thomas was born to Sam and Mary in 1868. He married Nancie Jane Reed in 1890 and they were in southwestern Kansas by 1930. Here's a photo of him and his wife. He died in 1944 and Nancie in 1946. In 1930 he was living on a farm in Meade County, Kansas with one of their sons.

Ken told me about the area where our ancestors settled and even knew where the old homesteads were. He said that if I ever made it to Arkansas he would take me out there. I would love to do that, but I kind of gave up on going there many years ago. 

I tried to ascertain exactly how we are related and it turns out he is descended from Mary McFerran Wilburn's brother, Thomas. 

That is Mary on the far right. Thomas is next to her and his wife is standing behind. The other two women are Mary and Tom's sisters. 

I didn't realize while we were talking I had a photo of his ancestor. Ken doesn't own a computer so I dug through the files and today I went and had copies made of the photos so I can mail them to him. 

I don't know if he will recognize the photo when he sees it, but I felt so excited that maybe I can share with him something from his past. 

Ken was once in law enforcement and while at a conference in Colorado met a man named McFerran from Ireland. He was told that if it was MacFerran it would be Scottish but our McFerrans are Irish. (My DNA test did show I am 96% from the British Isles.) He didn't get any specific information about where the man was from. Our earliest, probable, ancestor is John McFerran who died before 1776 in Virginia. Looks like I need to work on this line a bit. 

It was wonderful hearing Ken tell how no matter how the family went from town they had to cross a creek (no bridges) to get home. They lost a huge number of acres after the Civil War and there's just a small amount left in the family. 

He also confirmed a story I was told: After Samuel McFerran's first wife, Esther Kennedy, died he married Catherine Dunn. When the bushwackers went through Arkansas they were at the house and shoved her towards the fireplace. My family said she was shoved into the fire but he didn't know that, so I don't know if that might have been a bit of exaggeration. She was attacked and survived

An added bit of information is Sam Wilburn and Mary were supposed to be married when he joined the Confederate Army. She had the slave woman wrap her wedding dress in a piece of oilcloth and hide it in a hole in the tree so the bushwackers wouldn't get it. When he returned they were married. 

I can't wait to hear from Ken when he receives these pictures. What a joy to hear from very distant cousins.