Gene Notes

Some random and some not-so-random thoughts on family history.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Blast from the Past or Is That a Family Trait?

I am transcribing a letter from my grandfather, John Percival to his fiancee, Mary Percival, and this sentence caught my eye:

     "I know you enjoyed having Frances with you, I know how it is when the Percival family gets together."

It both makes me laugh and puzzles me. The laugh part is because when my branch of the Percival family gets together we are out of control. We laugh, we tease, we tell stories on each other.

The puzzle part is that at this time in his life, my grandfather had his mother, father, and sister. His father's only brother had disappeared in the mid 1890's in Los Angeles, never to be heard from or seen again. His name was Herbert Percival and he was a doctor. His "widow" married Herbert's cousin William Percival, also a doctor. My grandfather's grandparents were long gone. His grandfather, John Percival, died during the civil war in Arkansas. His grandmother, Susan Percival Holt, nee Davidson died in 1886 before my great-grandparents got married. Unless by "Percivals" grandpa meant his father's extended family - the Holts, his grandmother's step-children from her second marriage to Thomas Holt. Or maybe he meant when the Percivals and the Maitlands got together, because the Maitland family was huge!

I had hoped to glean some genealogical information and the only thing my grandfather mentioned was the death of his Uncle Ralph Oliphant, who died in 1919 while grandpa was overseas. He mentions by name his fiancee's sisters and brother in-laws and children as Mr. Jamie (Rankin), Miss Bess (Bowman-Rankin) and James (Rankin, son of Bess & Jamie); Frances (Bowman-Rogers) and Hugh (Rogers).

I can so identify with that line "I know how it is when the Percival family gets together."

Copyright 2010, ACK for Gene Notes


  1. Wasn't she Mary Bowman at the time? Maybe he meant her family (Frances Bowman) was as wacky as his family?

  2. Well yeah, but you don't remember grandpa at all and I can't imagine him being wacky. He may have been, but he didn't show that side to us kids.

  3. Grandpa lived with us for a couple of years. Believe me, I never saw a wacky side although as you mentioned before, he did love the Beverly Hillbillies.