Janice Williams Loves Austin And sometimes I write about it.

December 4, 2013

Back to the Hallfords

Filed under: Family,Genealogy — Janice @ 10:46 pm

I wrote before about finding my Hallford great-great-great-grandmother’s grave in Corpus Christi and what that meant to me. (What? You didn’t read it? You’ll find it here and here.)

There are so few people that really understand what that discovery meant to me. When I was addressing my Christmas cards before Thanksgiving, I sent one to a Hallford cousin and scribbled on the back, “Remind me to tell you about finding Sarah Hallford’s grave!” She got the card today and emailed and was just as excited as I was.

I don’t exactly remember when I got in contact with Joan or if she got in contact with me. I was doing a lot of work on the Hallford family and she is married to a Hallford. At one time she had put a request in a newspaper for information about Hallfords. Somehow my mother saw it and, bless her, sent everything she knew about family history to Joan. Years and years go by, but somehow I find Joan again or she finds me. Remember, this is all before the days of the internet. She lived ALL the way on the other side of DFW back then. I lived in Carrollton and she was in the far north suburbs of Fort Worth.

But we got together. I think we had had some phone calls and exchanged some letters and information. We knew that her husband’s grandfather and my great-grandfather were first cousin (I think). Not super distant, but we certainly had never been at any family reunions together. Eventually, I got to meet her. It seems weird now… having been friends for 20 years or so now, that we have only met twice, as far as I can remember. Mark had a gig in Fort Worth so I went over early and stopped by their house first for a visit.

Joe and Joan were LOVELY people. The kind of people you yearn to be related to. They were educators. Smart, good looking, a beautiful home, a great life. I was so happy to meet them. Joan had lemon bars waiting and we talked nonstop forever, it seemed. She pulled out a slide projector to show me pictures of my great-great-great-grandfather’s grave in Hays County. She, like me, knew how to climb a fence or shimmy under it to get where she wanted to go, even if it was on private property. She also gave me the greatest gift—the picture I put on that first previous post of my ancestors. I don’t know where she had discovered it, but if you are old enough to remember the days before scanning and instant gratification with photos, this was a fabulous, amazing thing. She gave me a “real” photo. She also showed me one of coolest pictures I’ve ever seen. It was a picture related to relatives of theirs I wasn’t related to. It was a picture of an old African-American man with two little tow-headed blond toddlers beside his knees and a dog laying at his feet. The picture just gave you such a sense of comfort… he was a calming presence and it was obvious the boys were as comfortable with him as they would have been with their mother. I don’t know the story of the photos or even the era. I can make assumptions about him being a slave or a servant of the family. Whatever it was, it seems to be SO unusual to have a real posed portrait photo of a black man and white children all together. Maybe there are lots, but I’ve never seen them.

But back to Joe and Joan. They had a teenage son, too, that I have still never met, but I have heard about him growing up and going into the service and he is now married. Joe and Joan have retired from their jobs. When email came along we began emailing one another with neat bits of information. She was one of my greatest sources of Hallford info and a big supporter of all that I did to put together a book back in the early 90s of family history.

Today she sent me some grave pictures of my great-great-grandmother. I have seen pictures and sort of know where she is buried, but I have not found her grave. She sent me better pictures and got me hot on that trail again.

Joan was thrilled to know the final resting place of Sarah Hallford. Sarah and James the ancestors that Joan’s husband and I have in common. It was one of those loose ends that she needed to tie up to be happy about her Hallford research.

For 20 years we have sent Christmas cards and met twice (the other time was at an historic church anniversary that our family started), and we have been emailing for a lot of those years, too. I think it is time for another visit to the Fort Worth suburbs.

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