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- A Genealogical Sojourn -

How My Interest Was Rekindled

Intro: As I mentioned previously, I lost interest when I hit a brick wall trying to find where Jeptha Middleton was born in SC. Without that information, I had no hope of going any further with my search. I packed away my research materials and put it out of my mind. I finished school and started working (2nd career after 10 years in the US. Army). I was very fortunate to make a move from Accounting to Computers. I accepted a position with a large computer company to take a Tech Support position in Atlanta. About two years after arriving in Atlanta I got a letter from my 1st cousin, William "Bill" Carter, asking for copies of my research. Well, I dug out the folder and replied. It seems that Bill was about to retire and he and his wife, Carol, were going to spend a little time working on family research. That was the last contact I had with any of the family until recently.

Enter The Internet: Being into computers and networking, I tend to keep on top of emerging technologies. I was using the Internet long before the Web clogged its pipes :-) I even ran a BBS at 300 baud that served over 10,000 calls in one year. In the past year I noticed a lot of genealogy activity as I surfed the Web. I even noticed a few Middleton home pages. Hmmm....it was starting to rekindle my interest. Then, one day last August I was checking out the latest software products on the shelves at a Sam's Club when I spotted a newly released genealogy program. It claimed to be the best program in the world for creating a family tree or something like that. They touted the 300+ million names on the included CD-ROMs that would greatly ease my search. Well, who could resist? I did for about two weeks.

Excitement turns to: Around the first of September 97, I bought Broderbund's Family Tree Maker Deluxe Edition III, version 4.0 (that's what the box says). I was very impressed with the program. It has a very nice presentation, sort of like a notebook with divider tabs. As you type in information it learns, and then is able to complete entries for you. After getting a feel for the program I inserted one the two index CDs. I asked the search engine for any information on Jeptha Middleton. It returned at least 10 entries. My pulse quickened, was I about to solve the mystery after 22 years of wondering? I clicked on an entry that was from a submitted family tree...instead of getting the requested information I was asked to send $39.95 plus shipping for Disk # 8, which included a Jeptha Middleton in a tree with x thousand other names. SO, I hadn't bought the answer to my problems, I had purchased a marketing scheme! I was upset, mad, etc.

After I calmed down: I must have put off the inevitable for 2 months. I figured that I might spend the money only to find that this was a different Jeptha Middleton. I search some more and found that the same tree contained an entry for a Rebecca Holloway, a Henry Holloway Middleton and a Martha Jane Holloway. Gosh, if it has their names and none newer, then it could be the JACKPOT! Heck, It might go all the way back to England! I made the call and ordered the disk.

FedEx had my disk: When I returned from work the next Friday afternoon, I noticed a FedEx delivery notice on my corporate apartment door. The next morning I got up early, for a Saturday, and drove down to the FedEx office to picked up my package. I rushed back to the apartment, within the posted speed limit of course, and slapped the disk into my 16x CD-ROM reader. I executed the search and voila Jeptha and Rebecca's family sheet was there for the viewing. OK, let's click on the tab marked "Jeptha's Parents." The suspense builds..., but you already know the answer because you know why this site is in existence. It was empty; Jeptha was the dead-end of a tree my Castillo cousins had submitted. Did I waste $40+? Well, it did have Jeptha's birth place, which was listed as Marion Co., SC.

Off to the library: I wasted no time getting to the Genesee County Library, where they have a small genealogy section. I was able to find books on the 1790 through the 1830 SC Federal census. The first book published all of the census information, while the other books only contained index information. The 1790 book had information about county realignments over the years. I learned that Marion Co. was previously known as Liberty Co. and Georgetown District. I noticed a few names like Willis, John and William Middleton that were also in AL census records. Willis Middleton was the name that gave me the most hope as it was not a common name.

Back to the Internet: Armed with this new information I dialed my local ISP and searched for Marion Co., SC. I found that the SC WebGen Project has a Marion County site. I surfed the site and found a query from a DABF (Deborah), looking for anyone with information about Willis and Jeptha Middleton. I did not get excited, as I had learned my lesson. I wrote Deborah an introductory message requesting assistance. The message was returned as "undeliverable." I checked the AL WebGen site and found another query that she had left with the same id. I responded to a query that a gentleman had left for information on a Millie Middleton. When he found that I was a descendant of Jeptha Middleton he suggested that I contact "Debbie" and gave me her ID. I responded that I had tried to contact her, and that my message was returned. He replied that he had no problem getting messages to her and that the ID was valid. So, I tried again. On, Monday she responded. We sent a number of messaged back and forth that first week. In one message she said that I might want to contact Don Middleton of Tampa. She said that Don had a lot of information on Jeptha's line. I called Don and found that we were cousins (2nd once removed, or 3rd, or ?)! He asked if I knew of a Bill Carter. I said yes, he is my 1st cousin and that I had lost contact with Bill and Carol.

Contact made: Don gave me Bill's number and Bill put me in touch with Aunt Nelia's two daughters. So, was the CD worth $40+? You bet it was! My father was one of the younger children of a large family, and was almost 40 when I was born. Consequently I am at least a generation younger than my 1st cousins. When I would go to Frisco City, AL to visit "Papa Fate", they were already grown and gone.

To be continued: I wrote this and the beginning part in Jan. 1998. It is now Jan 2012. It is hard to believe that 14 years have passed. A lot has happened in that time and I'll pick up the story in the last part entitled Lessons Learned.

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