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Normalizing by doing what is normal

Left: Lora Swafford Faulkner. Photo not dated. Back of photo reads: Ernie’s mother.
Right: Charles Fountain Faulkner and Abe. Back of photo reads: Dad and Abe.
Faulkner-Hull Family Papers, privately held by Kimberli Faulkner Hull, Plymouth, Massachusetts.

The last week flew by primarily because I got back to doing what I did the majority of the time before the pandemic started. Sure, we didn’t go to any restaurants, movies, or take the train into Boston, but it was actually an enjoyable week, even though we never left the apartment building once.

In the first few weeks of the pandemic, I found it difficult to work on long term projects but, as time began to drag on, it’s become a sanity necessity. I’ve spent years researching our family’s history and have found getting back into the routine has helped me find my normal.

Genealogy: the early years

I spent a vast amount of my childhood with my aunt and my grandmother. My aunt, Eleanor, and her cousin, Harold, were my maternal family’s historians. Eleanor and my mother were actually double cousins with Harold, as their parents were also siblings – i.e., brothers married sisters.

A few years back, I connected with my 2nd cousin, Harold’s granddaughter, who is close to my age, shares my given name and its spelling, and is also a genealogist. Last year, she sent me a photo of them sleuthing in the 1970s…

Eleanor and Harold at the cemetery in Independence, Kansas.
Photo from my second cousin, Kimberli

Eleanor worked nights and my grandmother didn’t watch much television, so each night my Grandma would tell me stories of her childhood. Her mother, Cirrilda, died in 1904 at the age of 38. My grandmother and Harold’s mother were the oldest daughters, in their teens at the time, and raised their younger siblings on the family farm.

My great-grandmother, Cirrilda Ann Clifford Hooper (1865-1904)
Faulkner-Hull Family Papers, privately held by Kimberli Faulkner Hull, Plymouth, Massachusetts.

While I knew a great deal about my mother’s family, my father rarely spoke of his. He told me countless stories of growing up during the depression on the south side of Chicago, and even more of his antics as a pilot, but little about his family except that they were poor. I used to think he was just being evasive; now, I think he actually didn’t know much about his parents’ families.

My father joined the Army Air Corp and left home at the age of 17. The only paternal family member I met was my uncle Phil and his wife, Hazel. I adored them both. On occasion, my father would say something about his younger brother, Abe, and he also told me that he and his brothers would deliver advertising circulars for his father’s business. He once told me that one of his brothers was a jockey. But, that was all.

Discovering my father’s family

My paternal grandfather died before I was born and my paternal grandmother passed away when I was one.

After my father’s death in 2015, I began exploring the Faulkners. At that point, what I knew about my father’s life before he met my mother, was from his birth certificate, a few newspaper articles about my father’s early military career, his diplomas, and a few photos.

The header photos are my father’s mother, Lora Swafford, and my grandfather, Charles Fountain Faulkner with Abe. The photo to the right is my father at age 3.

Ernest L. Faulkner, age 3, Chicago, Illinois;
Faulkner-Hull Family Papers, privately held by
Kimberli Faulkner Hull, Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Since 2015, I have amassed thousands of records and pieced together the Faulkner family history back seven generations proven, and further back probable. I decided a couple of years ago that I wanted to compile it into a book for our family, and that I wanted to do it correctly, so I spent a large portion of last year in the Boston University genealogy research certification program. I can’t say it was a good experience or one I would do again, but I did gain the certification and a good understanding of the principles and processes of properly sourced genealogy.

I didn’t touch genealogy for a few months after the program – I had grown to hate it. Then, we were traveling, and then we moved. So, it may have taken a pandemic, but I’ve decided this is the time to get started again. I have an outline for the book developed and I’m currently creating my resource notes and source information. We’ll see which comes first – the book getting finished or the pandemic ends. **groan**

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