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President's Message


Have you had any “break-throughs” recently in your family-history research?  What significant facts have you learned this past year that opened new avenues for further study? 

I believe that the answers to such questions make good stories for people interested in genealogy or family history.  The part of the story that is of general interest is not necessarily the names and places but the mechanics of discovery, the types of activity and sources where important clues are hidden.  I hope we can include such information exchanges in our future Society Meeting Programs, provided by our own members.

When I became interested in my family history, much information on the male lines of descent were already available to me.  However, there was one great-grandfather, Willie Worrell, that was a mystery that no one had been concerned to solve.  He died at the age of 33 years leaving behind a wife and three daughters, the eldest being four years old.  His widow remarried and his children had a new father.  To my knowledge there was no contact between my family and the Worrells.  When I asked for information about Willie Worrell, I was told that he was a sailor.  This left the impression that he just came ashore and married my great-grandmother. 

My research on Willie Worrel was indirect.  As I studied the family members that I knew in more depth, I discovered some additional information about him.  First, his marriage record in Gloucester County revealed the name of his parents.  At first, I was suspicious about the accuracy of this information because the surname was grossly misspelled as “Worlds.” 

Second, as I was checking the Roane family in the 1870 census for King and Queen County, I found Willie with his mother living in the household of Major Hall.  They were listed close to the Charles Roane family on a farm that Willie was share-cropping when he died.  My search for the Willie Worrell family in later censuses failed to uncover any clues.

Third, the most curious “shot-in-the-dark” idea was to follow-up on the queer spelling of “Worlds.”  I did some searches on Worlds and did find a Joel World living in Saluda in Middlesex County in 1850.  He was the right age to be Joseph Worrell, father of Willie.  Later, as I was visiting Pat Perkinson, one of this year’s program speakers, she showed me the newly published book of Middlesex marriages.  Included in this book was the marriage of Joseph Worrell to Mary C. Lewis, with their parents.  Further search of Middlesex records revealed a transfer of land inherited by Mary. 

Fourth, I was browsing through tax books and surveys of Gloucester County that date back before the Civil War when most of the county records were destroyed, and I stumbled upon some of the new family names connected to Willie Worrell.  There was a survey dated June 18, 1834, that was pursuant to a court decree with “John Lewis and Lucy his wife who was Lucy Hall.”  John and Lucy Lewis were parents of Mary Lewis.  The survey showed a division of estate of John B. Hall to layoff the house and plot for his widow, Nancy Hall.  Included in the list of Hall children was Major Hall, mentioned above, with whom Willie Worrell and his mother were living in 1870 in King and Queen County.

Well, for the new millennium, I have some new surnames to search.  These families were located along the Dragon Swamp which is the Gloucester-Middlesex border.  So far these “swamp people” do not appear consistently in the official records.

Roane Hunt


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Last Updated  Friday, 30 January 2004 06:20 PM