Family Stories

One Piece of the Puzzle

Pap and me – about 1958!

My grandfather, Jessie Delbert Hill, and I had one of the strongest bonds there could be between grandfather and granddaughter!  I love the man so dearly, and even though he passed away 38 years ago he is still just as fresh and vibrant in my mind as when I was a little girl.  This is the man who loved for us to visit – took us to the strawberry patch above the barn in the spring to gather the luscious red berries, who showed me every vegetable growing in his garden, brought his chair out in the yard to just watch us play!  Pap, as we all called him, gave us a quarter and took us across the road to the little country store for a sack of candy – yes, in that day you COULD buy a sackful for a quarter!  Every visit started with a big hug and sitting on the arm of his chair to listen to his stories – many about how pretty Nannie Bell, my grandmother, was the first time he saw her!  How he told her he would marry her one day – which he did!  They were married at the age of 16 on June 27, 1911 – and lived to celebrate 62 years of marriage together.  There were stories of his days as a school bus driver.  And there were stories from his father, Isaiah, who fought for the Union during the Civil War.  I never tired of them.

Jessie Delbert Hill and Nannie Bell Coulter Hill on their 50th wedding anniversary – June 27, 1961.

Pap called me Tilly – he had a special name for everyone, and I loved mine!  No one else used that name – only Pap!  Probably because no one else could remember two names for the roughly 50 people in the family!  But Pap remembered them all!

Recently I found the draft registration card for World War I for my grandfather.  Even though he was of the age to be involved in that war, I had never heard him speak about it.  He was listed as 23 years old, living in Marion County, near Lebanon, a farmer.  His birthdate was August 8, 1894, born in Washington County, Kentucky.

Question #9.  Have you a father, mother, wife, child under 12, or a sister or brother under 12, solely dependent on you for support?  Answer.  Wife, 3 children under 12.  I suppose that was answering the question directly since the 3 children were ages 2, 1 and a newborn – William, Mary L. and Cleaver Hill.

Pap was listed as medium height and build, with brown eyes and red hair.  I’ve always heard about this famous red hair – but, of course, it was snow white by the time I came along.  Whenever a grandchild was born that was the first question asked – what color is its hair?

The card was filled out June 5, 1917, signed by Charles C. Boldrick.  My grandfather couldn’t write – his “X” was attested to by Mr. Boldrick.  Pap was not drafted – he saw no service  during the war.  I suppose taking care of a wife and three babies kept him at home.  How different could it have been otherwise?  If something had happened to him during the war I would never have existed.  My dad was born in 1935, next to the last child of Jessie Delbert and Nannie Bell Coulter Hill.  It seems like a small thing to have one soldier’s life taken during a war – but think of those many descendants who would not be alive today if that had been the case.  There are so many pieces to the puzzle of our genealogical ancestry – lose one piece and the whole picture falls apart.

I hope many of you have wonderful memories of a beloved grandfather or grandmother, aunt or uncle.  Adding documents to the memories rounds out a complete picture of our ancestors – and perhaps teaches us something we don’t know!  What have you found about an ancestor that was surprising?

2 replies »

  1. What a wonderful story about your Grandfather and Grandmother! I feel the same way about my Grandfather, Fred J Smith, and my Grandmother, Esther Linnea Henriksson, who was fondly named Nannie too.
    Thank you for sharing!

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