I’ve chosen the subject of my talk on September 17, 2011 for the African American Special Interest Group of the Dallas Genealogical Society. I will be speaking about John Lacy Hill and how to delicately handle family secrets.
Our family tradition holds that my grandfather’s father was John Lacy Hill. My grandfather’s SS-5 letter, delayed birth certificate and death certificate affirm this. I also have the death certificates of Granddaddy’s sister and two brothers listing the same set of parents – John Lacy Hill and Rosie Sampson.
Sounds pretty cut and dry, right? Well here’s the thing. John Lacy Hill was married to Ellen Edgar at the time. He and Ellen had several children of their own. And another thing, our family’s surname was recorded as Sampson in the census records and the Educable Children’s Listing.
Breaking the news – I originally shared this information with my dad and my aunts and uncles. They told me that I had to be wrong. They always knew the names of their grandparents. But they admitted that they had never met their grandparents or knew anything about them except their names. They also admitted that they had never met any cousins with the surname – Hill.
Reaching out – Eventually, my dad and aunts and uncles came to believe my version of the two families of John Lacy Hill. Armed with confidence, I went in search of the Hill family. I was looking for the parents of John Lacy and met a researcher who was related to John Lacy. Again, I was told that I was wrong and that I must be looking for another Hill family. I thought, really? It’s been a hundred years, can’t we just look at the evidence?
Going it alone – At this point, I have moved past the “outside” family stigma and am researching my Hill roots. It’s hard to show in a database, but I continue on. I am still searching for other Hill researchers to share information. If you know any with ties to Oktibbeha County in Mississippi, feel free to share with them.