Right after my mother’s death half a decade ago, I had this renewed interest in my family genealogy. For one thing, the family Bible had lots of information, some going back a century and a half. The matriarch of the clan was my maternal grandmother’s mother, Lillian Yates Holland.
This picture was reportedly taken when she was still Lillian Archer, and was sixteen, though she looks older to me.
She had five children, four of whom survived childhood: Gertrude, Edward, Ernest, and Adenia Yates. Gert, who married Clarence Williams, was my grandma and lived with Deana in the house I went to every day for lunch growing up. Ed lived up the hill from Gert and Deana. Ernie, the father of my mom’s four first cousins, died when I was an infant; apparently, I was afraid of him, because he reminded me of my pediatrician, Dr. Israel Rosefsky.
Lillian was married to Edward Yates, Sr., before he passed away circa 1910. She married again, to a man named Holland, who, according to various Census records, was from Texas. Or Mexico. There’s a lot of that contrary information in the minimal digging my sisters and I have done.
It’s clear that Lillian had a not-distant ancestor who was part Irish. Or English. I’ve not dug far enough back to ascertain this. I suppose I assume it was Irish because of the real-life story of a black man and Irish woman in the book The Sweeter The Juice.
Some people fret about what they would do when they retire. Surely one of my tasks would be to fill out the family tree more fully. It’s not that I don’t currently have the resources; I’ve had a membership with ancestry.com for at least a couple of years.
The problem is time. It’s always time.
The other thing my sisters and have vowed to do, sooner than later, is to get a headstone for Gert and Deana. Deana died in the mid-1960s, and Gert in 1983, but my parents, for whatever reason, never got a marker. They’re buried very near where Lillian was laid to rest, in Spring Forest Cemetery in Binghamton, NY, not two blocks from where Lillian, and Gert and her sibs, and my mother all grew up.