Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Meeting a Maness cousin

If you've read this blog you know I've been working off-and-on on a book about my great-great-grandfather, Thomas Maness. (Click on the keyword Maness below if you'd like to catch up.) I never did meet Ms. Lessie, a descendant of Thomas' fifth wife who helped solve his identity through DNA. I suspected I might never meet her since she had severe health problems and complicated family, but I'd still like to meet her son and maybe other members of the family. We put these things off, and then it's too late. I read Ms. Lessie's obituary online last spring.

But soon after that, I received an e-mail from Gail, a descendant of Thomas' first wife! I'd seen a photograph she shared on Ancestry of Thomas' second son, Robert "Bob" Maynor (he changed his last name sometime in adulthood). He was a tall man, standing next to his diminutive little wife, Lula. I'd commented that my grandfather, Frank V. Maness, was also tall, and married a 5-foot tall woman.

Gail and I e-mailed a few times and then talked on the phone. We arranged to meet at a public library in the middle of the state (a little bit of caution, there, when meeting strangers).

"Maness" cousins, Gail and Beth
We had a wonderful visit, sharing documents and talking about our relatives. Gail didn't know about Thomas, but she told stories about Bob and Lula's children. Lula lived to be 102. Her obituary lists 38 grandchildren, 85 great-grandchildren and 88 great-great-grandchildren — all descendants of Thomas Maness!

I've been busy all summer with multiple jobs, including some genealogy freelance work, but we hope to get together again, soon. Gail has offered to show me around the cemeteries where her side of the family is buried. We are both the lone genealogy buffs in our families, so it's extra nice to make that connection.

By the way, I look like a crazy person in the photo because I'm so used to being behind the camera, encouraging other people to smile. Maybe I'll figure out this selfie thing someday.