Surprise! You’re … American?

I had always thought that my mother’s vaguely Scottish (Scroggins) and Irish (O’Daniel) ancestors were Johnny Come Lately’s. Nineteenth-century immigrants turned farmers. Then I learned through an aunt that our Scroggins line was some sort of lost tribe of the American South, complete with brothers separated by their Confederate and Union uniforms while fighting the Civil War. And there was more.

How wrong could I have been?

I was about to find out. This is the story of my journey to uncover a surprising family history of migration, fortitude and farming. Well, at least I was right about the farming.

Little Wagon on the Prairie


Little House on the Prairie  – original cover. Image in the public domain.

My son and I have just finished reading Little House on the Prairie together. He was swept up by the tales of frontier life. I adored Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books as a child too, plowing through one book after another until there were no more left to read. What my son knows now,  and I didn’t then, is that my own family lived this life too.

My Mom recently shared a family memory
of her grandma, Bess Cisco O’Daniel. So the family tale goes,  Continue reading

The Widow’s Tale

Poor, hungry and homeless. Was this life for my great great-grandmother Nancy Etna Richardson Scroggins?

While I don’t know the particulars of her daily existence, I do know this. By 1880 — 15 years after war had ravaged the American south — she had lost her husband, her mother and her father. She had four young children in her care, and had Continue reading