The photograph on the cover.
The grim-looking bunch of people in the photo above, a hard-bitten bunch of Yankees posing in 1866 don’t tell the right story. The right story is that they were dirt poor when born and by middle age they look fairly prosperous. It was a typical American story.
It was a modest 102 years ago that my great-great grandmother finished compiling a small book called A Genealogical History of the Descendants of Benoni Grover. The 1904 edition was dedicated to her husband’s family. He was Asa Porter Grover, a wealthy farmer, banker, politician and lawyer in central Kentucky.
Benoni Grover was Asa’s father, a poor Connecticut Yankee who had pulled up stakes and moved to Western New York. She also included Asa’s mother, a woman named Elizabeth Stowe and some of her family. Asa decided to become a Presbyterian minister, so he left New York about 1837 and went to Centre College in Kentucky for his education. He stayed there and became a true Southerner, naming his first son, Jefferson Davis Grover in 1861 in honor of the president of the Confederacy.
The small book was rich in collected memories of earlier generations. But what fascinated me, a small boy at the time, was succeeding generations. My mother, born in 1902, was one of the last entries. And Mother, bought a copy of the book for each of her children—three sons. I am the only one with a copy. The other two are all gone, now.
Well, I got a bug about 1996 and decided to reissue the book. But first I had to update it with succeeding generations. Little did I know that by 2006, when I finished, I would have a great-grandchild. And I followed up on the families my ancestor mentioned to see what had become of them.
The Stow(e)s, the Grovers, the Andersons, the Armstrongs, the Blakeleys, the Chapins, the Crutchlows, Frosts, the Goddards, The Holmeses, the Kunis, the McClellans, the Oversons, the Southworths, the Stuarts, and the Welches are only a few of the names I followed across the Great Plains to the West Coast. On top of those folks I added the four main lines of the original author: Vallandingham, Drake, Bruce, and Bainbridge families.
And then I made an index for everybody in the book. That was a real task. But it is over and I feel that I have done my duty to my family in that regard.