My great-grandmother, Frances Barber Linton, is one of the most important people in the world to me – even though I have never met her – she died long before I was born! But it was her love of genealogy that sifted down through the generations and was planted in my genes! As far as I know she is the only person – on either side of my family – truly interested in genealogy.
How I would love to have a conversation with this woman! There are so many things I would ask her! Many of my questions would be about her great-grandparents, Captain John Linton and Ann Nancy Mason. Why did he make the journey from Loudoun County, Virginia, to Washington County, Kentucky, in 1816, when he was 66 years old?! That sounds a bit old for a 580 mile trip – in that day and age. Today we can drive that distance in about 10 hours – but on horseback and with wagons, women and young children and almost non-existent roads, it must have been quite an undertaking. And the Captain was not a young man. When he, his children and grandchildren arrived they had to build homes, clear land for crops. The youngest children were sent to live with relatives in neighboring Nelson County, for many of Ann Linton’s brothers and sisters had already moved to Kentucky.
I want to know what John was like – was he gruff and demanding, or did he like to smile and enjoy his time with his family? Did he enjoy music? His father, Moses, who died when John was two, played the violin. At least I assume he did – a violin is listed in his inventory. That would seem a frivolous purchase unless it was used.
And what about his experiences during the Revolutionary War? Did he meet George Washington? Did he serve with him? Did he enjoy being captain of the Loudoun County Militia? Did Ann and the children stay in their home during the war, or did they move in with family during that time. And, most interesting of all, during the War of 1812, when the White House and other buildings in Washington were burned, were they close enough to the action, at 25 miles away, to know what was going on, or even worry that the British would march in that direction?
I would like to ask Frances about her mother – Catherine Elizabeth Taylor – who’s mother died when she was six. I believe she lived with the maiden Edwards’ aunts most of the time until her marriage to Edward Linton. How did she feel when her father, stepmother, young stepsisters, two brothers and her sister and a sister-in-law – all the closest relatives she knew and loved, left Kentucky for Cape Girardeau, Missouri, about 1859. And more importantly, how much did she weep when none but one brother, his two small children, her sister Margaret and her stepmother, made the return trip? I get teary just thinking about it.
Frances taught school before her marriage to Robert E. Lee Montgomery in 1893. Did the dashing young man that was my great-grandfather sweep her off her feet? Were they desperately in love? I have my mother’s memories of her – and they are beautiful – I’ve written about them many times. But I still have questions! How did she become interested in genealogy? Definitely that one! Were other members of her family interested, or was she the only one, just like me? She did have cousins that were interested, and wrote to them often, especially Hugh Linton. He is the Hugh from the above picture.
The bottom part of the picture is Hugh’s copy of a letter he received in reply to a query about the Linton family from a gentleman who wrote articles about families in the Louisville Courier-Journal in the 30’s. Evidently Hugh asked about what the name Linton meant:
- “he who lives at the flax-enclosure”
- “he who lives at the lime-tree enclosure”
- “he who lives at the torrent enclosure”
The first source given is the most common. At the top is a little bundle of flax, tied with a faded yellow ribbon. The following is what my grandmother wrote:
This is part of the original flax that was brought to Virginia from England in 1635 by the Lintons and handed down through the generations, and is still cherished by two of the Linton families, Frances Linton Montgomery and her cousin, Susie Mock Crouch. It was raised, spun and woven into clothes, towels and table linens to be used by the entire family.
There is a Moses Linton who was in the colony around 1640-1650. I don’t have a direct line from him yet. Perhaps he is the Linton Frances speaks of as coming from England in 1635 – perhaps not. But, as much as my great-grandmother loved genealogy, she didn’t have everything correct – but then, do any of us? There’s always s person or even an entire line we have to take out here and there. But I want to follow in Grandmother Frances’ footsteps and keep that love of genealogy – and the quest for family knowledge – alive throughout my entire life – just as she did!