Welcome to my World

Welcome to the domain different--to paraphrase from New Mexico's capital city of Santa Fe which bills itself "The City Different." Perhaps this space is not completely unique but my world shapes what I write as well as many other facets of my life. The four Ds figure prominently but there are many other things as well. Here you will learn what makes me tick, what thrills and inspires me, experiences that impact my life and many other antidotes, vignettes and journal notes that set the paradigm for Dierdre O'Dare and her alter ego Gwynn Morgan and the fiction and poetry they write. I sell nothing here--just share with friends and others who may wander in. There will be pictures, poems, observations, rants on occasion and sometimes even jokes. Welcome to our world!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Memoir Monday--Family Tree II

Now for the other side of the family! I was blessed to get to know my maternal grandparents quite well. Although we were in Arizona and they were in Kentucky, they did come to visit several times and I wrote letters almost weekly for many years—and got letters, too!  Not to mention birthday cards and many, many parcels of gifts and goodies.

Robert Witt was the son of James Weedin Witt and Millie King Witt. One of the younger children of the large family he was born June 13, 1897 in Estill County, KY. He always said he was not large and strong like his older brothers so he was more studious and got a high school education which was not really common at that time in the rural area. He even taught school for a short while before he went to work for the Louisville and Nashville Railroad in the clerical or administrative side. He ended up working there for a long career, mostly in the local area (Irvine, Ky. which the locals pronounce “Irvin”). He usually went by Bob and was very well liked and respected in his community, a quiet but ethical and kind, Christian man.

Lula Belle Wilcox was the next-to youngest child of Alan Wilcox and Ann Eliza Stacy Wilcox. She Estill County. Her father died when she was young, --in 1905-- from blood poisoning due to a wound, probably a farm accident. I am sure she received schooling at least through grade school but probably not beyond that.  She was far from illiterate but her spelling was original at times and she used a lot of “Kentuckyisms” in her speech and writing. I found that charming but my mom was always embarrassed when she slipped and said one! Of course dad would tease her for them; his joking could be quite sharp, too.
Grandma with her
two kids-c: 1925
was born on March 13, 1897, also in

I am not sure how long their courtship was, but Bob and Lula were married December 13, 1918. For awhile they lived on the Wilcox family farm but built a house on “The Pike” as everyone called it when mom was perhaps four or so. She was born on February 19, 1920 and was followed sixteen months later by her only sibling, Robert Jr. who joined the family in June of 1921.

This grandma was also a life-long homemaker and excelled in cooking and sewing. I still have and cherish several fine quilts she made and have fond memories of all the pretty clothes she made for me so I could go to school well dressed. If not for her, I am not sure what I would have worn since blue jeans were not allowed for girls once I was in the middle school age. After I started sewing, pieces of fabric began to come my way as the clothes tapered off.  I also recall her wonderful made-from scratch desserts and fabulous midday Sunday dinners when I finally started to visit once I was grown.  That I did not as a child was mostly due to my dad; long story I shall not go into here!

Witts--summer 1955
My Mom very much favored her dad in looks and in personality. Mama Witt had dark hair and very dark eyes that snapped, almost black, when she was angry or upset. I do not think she was but she could have had Native American blood from her coloring and her strong features.  I suppose she would have been called handsome rather than pretty by most people’s standards but I just loved the warm, kind, giving woman she was and that shown out for me bright a day.

“Papa” Witt, as I always called him, was a slender man of medium height with brown hair and pale blue-gray eyes which Mom inherited and it seems I did as well. He was always neat and almost dapper, not untidy even in chore clothes.  Uncle Bob Jr grew to be quite tall (6’2” or so) and had his mother’s coloring, darker hair and eyes. I sadly did not get to know him well nor his two daughters with whom I am now in touch through Facebook. (Bless and curse the wonders of modern social media!)

Both the older Witts lived long, full lives. Grandma fell on the stairs to the basement and broke a hip when she was about ninety. She never fully recovered from the accident and always used a walker, gradually declining with loss of hearing and sight until I think she just lost the will to go on. She passed away on July 9, 1990. Grandpa lived on and even survived both of his children who were stricken by cancer. I am sure that was hard and sad for him but he had a goal to live to be a hundred and he did so. My husband and I attended his hundredth birthday celebration in June 1997. At that time one would have thought he was seventy five, still very sharp mentally and reasonably active. However, he went downhill quickly after that and went to join his family on April 17, 1998 at a hundred years and ten months of age. He was a very remarkable man and I feel so honored to claim
Robert Witt--100
him as an ancestor.

Well, the Morgan grandparents were fine folks also. Although they never met, Grandpa Witt and Grandpa Morgan knew of each other by reputation through the railroads where both were deeply respected and admired by all who worked with them. The two grandmas were not without some flaws but both were admirable women, totally loyal to and supportive of their men and did their best to raise their children to be good citizens and decent folks.

The Witts were said to have come to the Colonies well before the establishment of the nation, Huguenots fleeing persecution in France. Likely the name had been DeWitt. Anyway, two brothers Peter and John settled first in Virginia and later their descendants moved on to Kentucky. They both had sons named Peter and John. Coupled with a fire that destroyed many of the records in the area where they initially lived, it is hard to follow the lineage exactly but a Silas Witt, probably a grandson of one of them, was granted land near Boonesborough for his role in the Revolutionary War.  From there the family tree is fairly clear.


The Wilcoxes apparently came from Wales where they were called Willcockson and associated with the lord of Powys Castle. They intermarried with some Irish settlers and had been in Kentucky for a very long time. All the female lines are much harder to trace. Like most northern Europeans who settled in America, the old Celtic matrilineal customs were long gone and women were just the “brood mares” to help men perpetuate their lines! This offends modern me but I know the history and accept that what was, is and cannot be changed.  I do know I am a good bit Irish and some Welsh on both sides with a bit of English, Scots and perhaps French scattered through the mix. Not a bad stew but it doesn’t matter greatly to me. I am more concerned with the closer part of my family tree and respect those ancestors and appreciate the gifts they passed to me. 

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