Connections: The Pettyjohn Family and Me

I love studying genelaogy–and not just the genealogy of my direct ancestors. I love looking at all the different branches of my tree, discovering unique and interesting connections all over the place. Sometimes you can map out distant relationships to famous individauls and other times you discover you’re kin to people you’ve known for years… but never knew you were related. Either way about it, unexpecteced connections are always a lot of fun.

I made one of those unexpected connections recently. I found a relationship between my family and the family of my best friend, Tammy. A fellow writer and artist, Tammy and I have always shared an intense creative spark. We love to work on creative ideas together and I’ve photographed her a number of times over the years. Above is the most recent of those portraits (taken in Anderson Cemetery in Subligna, click to see the full portrait).

The connection to Tammy comes through my great aunt, Battie Lee Smith Pope. A descendant of the Brock/Kinsey families of the Armuchee Valley, Battie lived only two doors down from me when I was growing up. I stayed with her occasionaly when I was a little boy. Her mother was Margie Smith. I remember Margie well from East Armuchee Baptist Church when I was growing up. I even remember a community dinner at Margie’s home one summer. We all gathered on the grounds–her house stood on top of a hill not too far south of the church–and had a good old-fashioned southern potluck picnic. I remember playing hide and seek inside the house. The place seemed ancient and mysterious. Indeed, it was an old house and so far gone that it was torn down after she died. But in my mind it was a grand house, glorious and dignified. It is one of many very old Armuchee Valley homes that has faded into the past over the years. I wish I had a photo of it. I’m sure that house has a story to tell if only I could uncover it.

The important detail here, though, is that Margie Smith’s maiden name was Pettyjohn. So, too, is the maiden name of Tammy’s mother. I certainly couldn’t accept it as blind coincidence and eventually traced the lines. Both are descendants of John Perry Pettyjohn (1847-1927). Amazing!

It’s not a blood connection, as my great aunt Battie is my aunt by marriage. So I can’t call Tammy “cousin.” But that’s probably for the best anyway… Tammy’s much closer than that. We’ve always had a soul connection, the kind of bond that goes beyond strands of shared DNA. Nonetheless,¬†discovering¬†a new way in which we are bound together was thrilling and is furthermore evidence that, yes, we are all connected. We are one.

And one is all we are.

Coming up next week, watch out for the first of a new series of blog posts about a significant Armuchee Valley woman. Receive new posts in your email inbox or subscribe via RSS.

4 Responses to “Connections: The Pettyjohn Family and Me”

  1. Tammy says:

    It was so much fun reading this! I showed it to Mom and Christy. Mother remembers hearing her relatives tell her she was related to Margie but she doesn’t know anything else about her. I was hoping maybe this post would jog some memories. She is going to ask some of her cousins if they have any stories about Margie, Battie or that old house.

    Do you suppose this is John Perry Pettyjohn’s grave?

    http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=pv&GRid=43147278

  2. David Smith says:

    Jordan, just started reading your blog and enjoyed it immensely. I am connected to the Pettyjohn’s via Margie, she was my grandmother. I should have some old photos of the house you were talking about. I will try to find them and let you know.

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