Saturday, June 20, 2009

Researching This Clan

First, you will notice, I left off midstream, in a discussion about the children of Frances and Nicholas Thacker. Mary Francis, their daughter, was the chief culprit. I suddenly realized that I didn’t know if I had her death record, or possibly the death record of her sister-in-law. So, while pausing to decide how best to resolve this little quandary, I continued my research of the Thacker clan – off line.

I still haven’t solved the Mary/Mary riddle yet, but I missed writing about the Thacker clan, so I’ve decided to drop into this blog, and update some of my discoveries, and my thoughts.

I have been struggling to decide whether to make this into a private blog, so that I can use it to reflect my thoughts on my search. When the subject of mixed race comes up, and you have the audacity to write about it, there are going to be some people who are unhappy about what you write. Some of those people you don’t want to offend. Some of those people you don’t want to make unhappy, and let’s face it, if you are a people pleaser like me, you don’t like ANY people not liking you because of something you have written.

In the past, I tried to pull my punches, for all of those people mentioned above. It made me sound like some kind of wishy-washy nut, which for all I know, I may very well be – a wishy-washy nut. It also made me sound like I was obsessed with the whole racial aspects of this branch of the family. Which I am – guilty, guilty, guilty.

There are a number of reasons why, the race of this family fascinates me.

1. First, it came as a complete surprise that I do not descend solely from good ole white European stock. What if you suddenly found out that you were, I don’t know, adopted. Wouldn’t you suddenly be obsessed with finding out more? That is what this revelation has been like for me.

2. For the Thacker’s and their clan, their mixed race identity played a significant role in their lives – it shaped them in ways that I cannot fathom - who they were, who they became and how they saw themselves. I am an unforeseen consequence of all these machinations. How could this not matter to me?

3. Separate from my own personal stake, I think they were a cultural oddity that deserves to be studied. If race shaped the lives of the 19th century man, what of a group of individuals who traipsed back and forth across the color line? Sometimes listed as white, sometimes listed as free colored – with the letters “w,” “b” and “m” changing beside their name. Did they ever feel like they belonged?

4. Finally, perhaps the most potent reason of all, this is a mystery. Their racial background is an unresolved question. Tantalizing tales exist to explain how, after several centuries of prohibited miscegenation, these people managed to exist.

I am hopelessly attracted to this puzzle of a family in much the same way an errant piece of steel is attracted to a large magnet. Having come too close, I am irresistibly drawn to its core. '

For now, I will continue to keep this public. My hope is that I, along with other family researchers, can put together the pieces of this family puzzle, so that we may better understand how each of us came to be.

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