A few days ago Joyce Spencer and her two daughters, Joy & Roberta, stopped by the house for a visit. You may remember Joyce from my February 11 post (http://villagecraftsmen.blogspot.com/2011/02/tilmon-elizabeth-oneal.html) about the new grave marker for our great-grandparents.
In the course of our conversation Joyce mentioned "Aunt Dark," a relative she had heard about, but whom she couldn't remember.
Here is what I discovered: "Aunt Dark" was Dorcas Williams Spencer Gaskins (b. 1858), Joyce's husband's great aunt. But she was also Joyce's second cousin, twice removed. There was another "Dark," (Dorcas Scarborough Williams, 1833-1921), who was Joyce's first cousin, three times removed. To further complicate matters, there was another Dorcas ("Dart"), 1893-1915 , Joyce's fifth cousin, twice removed. And that doesn't count Dorcas Williams Spencer (1805-1877), Joyce's great, great, great aunt, and her husband's great-great grandmother. There were other Dorcases on Ocracoke...but my head is spinning.
In the course of making elaborate genealogical charts on multiple sheets of paper taped together I was struck again by how entangled the old Ocracoke families are. Joyce is my secound cousin (through our O'Neal grandmothers)...but she is also my fourth cousin (through our Williams great grandfathers). Her children are my second cousins, once removed...but also my fourth cousins, twice removed through our common Howard ancestor.
I was reminded that my direct Ocracoke ancestors were also intermarried. I am my own sixth cousin through the Williams line...and my own sixth cousin, once removed, through the Howard line!
Thank goodness for the US Coast Guard (which, during WWII, brought off-island men to the island who married local girls), and work for island men in Philadelphia (where, in the early twentieth century, they married women of immigrant descent)!
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a history of the Ocracoke Preservation Society. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news042111.htm.