This challenge is set forth by No Story Too Small, and this week’s theme is “Plowing through.”
There are a few ways to interpret this week’s theme, Plowing Through, and the first thing that comes to mind is a farmer, but I’ve decided to take a different perspective. Here is an ancestor that was so hard to trace, I had to Plow Through for a long time to find answers.
My great grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Howington Burke.
Granny Burke was a million years old when I was a child, so I never paid her much mind. But as I grew older and began researching my ancestors, I thought back on those days and wished I would have sat down and talked to her about her family.
She came from poor roots, born in 1893 to John Thomas Howington and Florence Smith. She was followed by seven siblings, including a brother named Milton Howington whom we called “Uncle Sug”(as in sugar) while I was growing up. In 1914, she married John Patrick “Pat” Burke and had seven children, including my grandmother Ina Burke. Pat died in 1958 and Mary died in 1977. They are buried at Liberty Baptist Church Cemetery in Duffee, Mississippi. That’s all the information I had for years. She lived a quiet life in the country and did not leave a paper trail.
One day, I read an obituary for my other great grandmother, Annie Culpepper, one that I had read many, many times before, but something stuck out this time. It said Annie was survived by her children, including my grandfather, Earl Culpepper, and a daughter named Mae Howington. First of all, I was sure “Mae” was referring my grandfather’s little sister Zeffie Mae. Second of all, who was this Howington my great aunt Zeffie was married to? Could this Howington be related to Mary Howington? (Note: my grandfather Earl Culpepper was married to Mary Howington’s daughter, Ina Burke.)
As I plowed through documents, made phone calls to elderly family members, and lived inside the time-sucking monster we call Ancestry.com for a whole week, I found the answers about Mary Howington’s ancestry.
Zeffie Mae Culpepper Howington was married to Milton “Uncle Sug” Howington. My grandpa’s little sister was married to grandma’s uncle. By tracing Milton Howington, who left tons of records, I uncovered the whole Howington clan.
The hardest part was explaining to my aunt that her “Uncle Sug” was also her mother’s “Uncle Sug.”
Welcome to the South.