By Kay Lynn Means-Darling
At the beginning of my sixth decade on this earth, I found myself pretty much all alone. Both parents were gone, I was a widow and had no children, and my two half-sisters, half-brother, and their children were somewhat at a distance living their own lives. Being retired, my next journey began.
Knowing my father was orphaned shortly after his 2nd birthday and not knowing a lot about the paternal side of the family, I embarked upon a search for my ancestors which has since become an absolutely fascinating quest resulting in farmers, soldiers, ladies, lords, and a local sheriff or two.
My DNA test results:
Great Britain 24%
Europe West 13%
Europe South 9%
I began my research with facts that I was personally aware of on both the maternal and paternal sides of my family and let the family tree expand from there. As of this writing, I have been able to locate at least 1200 relatives. On my maternal side, I have traced back to my 18th great-grandfather and on the paternal side as far back as my 15th great-grandfather.
I have been able to see actual documents from yesteryear such as a ship’s manifest where my maternal great-great-great grandparents arrived from Germany through Ellis Island in New York. I have also found actual wills from the early 1800’s, and death certificates (causes) from many, many years ago.
Also, years ago on my maternal side, a female relative began to compile information and in 1973 the family was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as having the largest documented family tree dating back to 100 years after Columbus arrived! The relative also found a little church in England where ancestors’ names were noted in a Bible. I still have this book, and believe I have now surpassed the findings of above.
I am certain of my findings that go as far back as the 14th-15th great-grandparent’s generations, but the journey would have been a little less bumpy if I had just asked questions while family members were around.
As the caption for the picture says…PLEASE SPEND TIME WITH YOUR ELDERS BECAUSE EVERYTHING CANNOT BE FOUND ON GOOGLE!
Kay Lynn Means Darling was born in a small town in southeast Texas where the townsfolk pretty much all knew one another. Kay Lynn’s most outstanding memories from childhood were: (1) the huge family get-togethers each Easter when relatives from all over the country would drive down for a huge barbecue that began after church services where all were wearing their “Easter best,” (for Kay Lynn that was a fancy dress, Easter bonnet, straw purse, and shoes to match). (2) being a participant in the live nativity scene each Christmas at church. It was always cold outside and each position (Wise Man, Joseph, Mary) required being completely still for 15 minutes, and when that segment was up the kids would run to the Reception Hall to get a cup of hot chocolate that would scald their tongues, but was so good. Good fellowship and good times.
Kay Lynn was on the quiet side, but still loved to joke and smile and laugh. She recalls a pleasant childhood with good friends that remain in her life to this day. From first through eighth grade, her schooling was on a standard level, but in high school, her counselor put her in the “advanced” classes. Mid-way through high school, Kay Lynn joined a group that would go to school half a day and work half a day. Ultimately, she became bored with school and left a few months shy of graduation in order to marry her sweetheart. That marriage last 1 1/2 years and the need for work led her to a secretarial position at the local police department.
Though not all with the same department, Kay Lynn worked approximately 30 years in law enforcement. She held many positions throughout her career, but was so happy to become the first female patrolman in her hometown which opened the door for many more women to follow as the years passed. Kay Lynn also became the department’s first and only Evidence Technician and set that office up for many to follow also. She worked the last 12 years in that position (as well as Telecommunications) and said this is where she found her heart. The work wasn’t easy, required seeing things most people would never encounter in their lifetime, but the teamwork it took to make a case was so unbelievably awesome.
At the time of her retirement, Kay Lynn married again and moved to the mountains of up-State New York where she and her husband remained for three or so years before they came back to Texas to settle in a small town in Deep East Texas where as a widow she lives to this day.