New Genealogy Story ~ It is Truly a Small World by Natonne Elaine Kemp

I’m grateful to Natonne Elaine Kemp today for sharing a genealogy research miracle she experienced a few years ago.

It is Truly a Small World – Genealogy Miracle

by Natonne Elaine Kemp

In January 2005, I purchased my house in Michigan Park, a middle class neighborhood in the District of Columbia. One of the first neighbors I met was an individual directly across the street, Mr. Everett Moody, Jr. When I first met Mr. Moody, my mother, Phyllis Robinson Kemp, was with me. My mother told Mr. Moody there were Moodys on her father’s side. I was unfamiliar with the Moody surname, but Mother was eager to have an extended conversation with Everett to determine if there was a connection.

Thirteen sharply dressed men and women

Thirteen Sharply Dressed Men and Women

The Ever Ready Club

On one occasion while visiting Everett Moody, he showed my mother a photograph of thirteen sharply dressed men and women, ten ladies and three gentlemen. I subsequently obtained a copy of the photograph and was excited to see that four of the thirteen individuals were my relatives — Hughel McDonald Robinson (my great-grandfather); Marie Louise Vest Robinson (my great grandmother); Gwendolyn Robinson James (a great-aunt); and Marcia Elaine Robinson Stewart (another great-aunt). My mother informed me three other relatives are in the photograph, sisters of my great grandmother Marie Vest Robinson:  Irene Vest Baker, Mamie Vest Moody and Marian Vest Crouch.

Lived in same community

This photograph inspired me to continue researching my mother’s paternal line. In 2009 my mother and I made several trips to Richmond, Virginia (to visit the Archives Division of the Library of Virginia) and to Louisa County (to visit the Louisa Circuit Courthouse). Periodically I would share my findings with my neighbor Everett Moody. It turned out that Everett Moody’s relatives and mine lived in the same community, were members of St. Thomas Baptist Church, and likely shared common experiences.

Louisa Ann Gordon Vest

Louisa Ann Gordon Vest

Charlie E. and Rosa Pearl Vest

Charlie E. and Rosa Pearl Vest

During multiple visits to the Louisa Circuit Courthouse, I found records of land transactions involving some of my ancestors including Isaac Vest, Charlie Vest, Rosa Pearl Vest and Louisa Ann Vest. The land transaction which most piqued my interest occurred on March 4, 1919 between James W. Foy and Martha A. Foy, grantors, and Mary Fountain, Louisa Ann Vest and Rosa Pearl Vest, grantees. Two of the grantees were my ancestors, Louisa Ann Vest (my great-great-great grandmother) and Rosa Pearl Vest (my great-great grandmother).

Although I had compiled genealogy records of multiple land transactions involving my Vest ancestors, I was unfamiliar with Louisa County. During a telephone conversation with Everett Moody I mentioned our discoveries at the Louisa Circuit Courthouse, including the land transaction of March 1919 where three ladies purchased land from James W. Foy and Martha A. Foy. Everett Moody responded, “I am a Foy.”

Yet another genealogy connection

He recognized those names. Everett Moody revealed that his mother’s maiden name was Foy and that her parents were James and Martha Foy. Another connection with my neighbor?

Everett shared what he knew about his maternal grandparents. James and Martha Foy had ten children, seven girls and three boys. James was an undertaker in Louisa County. He also owned a general store right at the railroad tracks by Beaver Dam, Hanover County. According to my neighbor, his maternal grandfather’s general store burned down three times, after which he relocated to the District of Columbia. Like James Foy, two of my relatives (Hughel Robinson and Marie Vest Robinson) died in the District of Columbia but were all buried at St. Thomas Baptist Church Cemetery. The Foys and the Vests were apparently dedicated members of St. Thomas Baptist Church and never severed those ties despite relocations.

My neighbor’s maternal grandfather, James W. Foy

James W. Foy

Everett Moody showed me photographs of his maternal grandfather James Foy and his maternal grandmother Martha Foy. When he saw the photograph of the thirteen sharply dressed men and women, he identified four of his relatives: his grandmother, Martha Foy; an uncle, James Foy; an aunt, Myrtle Foy; and another aunt, Mattie Foy.

Everett Moody also had Martha Foy’s funeral program, and many other funeral programs and death notices. One of those items caught my attention, the funeral program of my great aunt, Gwendolyn Robinson James. She was one of the individuals in the photograph of the thirteen sharply dressed men and women. Her obituary states in pertinent part:

She was born in Covington, Kentucky, on March 8, 1928, the second of three children from the union of the late Hug[h]el M. and Marie L. Robinson. Her early years were spent in Louisa County, Virginia, where she attended Primary School and accepted Christ at the St. Thomas Baptist Church, from which she never severed her ties. She leaves to mourn their loss a devoted husband, Gilbert R. James, Sr., two loving sons, Gilbert R., Jr. and Edward M. (Donnie); a devoted sister, Marcia Elaine R. Stewart . . . three aunts, Mamie C. [Vest] Moody, Marian V. [Vest] Crouch . . . four nieces, Cheryl and Gail Stewart, Phyllis Kemp and Joyce Coleman.

Amazing! My neighbor has Gwendolyn James’ funeral program listing the family she left behind, including my mother, Phyllis Kemp. My mother and I were fascinated to know that seven of the thirteen individuals in a photograph we had never seen before I moved into the neighborhood were our relatives.

The Ever Ready Club

In late December 2009 I received the Fall 2009 volume of the Louisa County Historical Magazine published by the Louisa County Historical Society. An article I wrote, Double Count: An Ancestor Listed Twice in the 1880 Census, is part of this publication. My mother took a copy of this article, together with the photograph of the thirteen sharply dressed men and women to Great-Aunt Elaine, who recognized the group and said they were known as “The Ever Ready Club.” She identified everyone in the photograph including another unknown relative, Ernestine Vest Johnson, a sister of my great-great grandfather Charlie Vest. Unbelievable! Eight of the thirteen individuals in the photograph were my relatives.

A few days later I personally visited Great Aunt Elaine, and while discussing “The Ever Ready Club” she disclosed that the Foys were cousins. I asked if they were cousins by marriage, like the Moodys. She replied, “No, they were cousins.” If Great Aunt Elaine was correct, then twelve of the thirteen members of “The Ever Ready Club” were my relatives.

Never could have imagined

I never could have imagined when I moved to Michigan Park in 2005 that I would learn so much about my mother’s paternal side, and that my neighbor across the street would be a relative by marriage (Moody) and apparently a blood relative (Foy). I now have a new genealogy puzzle to solve — the blood connection between the Vests and the Foys. It is truly a small world.

6 Responses to “New Genealogy Story ~ It is Truly a Small World by Natonne Elaine Kemp”

  • What a neat story, and an awesome set of pictures! And isn’t it amazing how those puzzles always pop up? So happy you had such a revealing experience, and with a neighbor, no less! Awesome! Thanks for sharing.

  • patricia lowther:

    Loved your story and the pictures, especially the photo of Louisa Gordon Vest. Do you know more about her. Where her parents were from. I’m looking for Gordons.

    Pat L.

  • K Leach:

    I bet a lot of us would find great connections like that if we took the time to look–but most of us don’t, alas. I applaud your research skills and determination to find your ancestors (and present-day relatives). What an amazing story about the way all your effort has paid off! Enjoy getting to know your new family members!

  • Natonne Kemp:

    This one “fell into my lap” because I wasn’t even looking. But one must be ready when an opportunity presents itself.

  • Natonne Kemp:

    Hey Patricia.

    Thanks for your kind words.

    Louisa Ann Gordon’s mother, as far as I know, was born in Louisa County. I don’t know the name of her father [not identified on her marriage license] but I’ve identified a possible candidate.

    What can you tell me about your Gordons? Did they live in Goochland County?

  • Natonne Kemp:

    Thanks Jen. If my mother had not been with me, I would not have known the significance of the Moody surname.

    And there’s another “true miracle with genealogy” with the Vest family (early generation) that I hope to submit at a later time.

    I think my ancestors are helping us to “connect.”

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