Monday, September 2, 2019

Wrapping up the Cullins

Is a genealogy ever finished, well no – there is always more to discover. I’ve had the feeling, though at this point in my life it is good to do some ‘wrapping-up’ of the family lines. It wasn’t difficult to decide which line was first as these people (in a ‘6th Sense’ way) have tugged at me and called to me for years. And, in a more down to earth way – be it an email from a distant cousin, or a little tidbit in an old faded newspaper the Cullins have been persistent.

It hasn’t been an easy journey. It has been 64 years since I first learned of my Great Grandmother Hannah Cullins Shaffer. No one talked about her after she died of cancer at the age of 55 in 1921. My grandfather wouldn’t mention his mother. My grandmother tried to get him to open up but he stayed as closed as a threatened clam – which makes one think that there were unhappy memories. Grandma hinted at that, but I can only speculate. Then Hannah’s mother, Amanda Cordray Cullins, I was told came from a tragic family living under a dark cloud, including a house fire where everything was lost. 

Dorcas Cullins, Hannah's sister
The Cullins and Cordray families were from Ohio, but Amanda was a puzzle. I was pretty sure Amanda came from Muskingum County, which was her husband’s birthplace, but to which Cordray family did she belong? She fell through the cracks of the 1850 census where she should have been named. She wasn’t yet married to William C. Cullins and she wasn’t listed with any Cordray family. She was about 16 and my guess is that she hired out to another farm as a mother’s helper and wasn’t counted with them.

To move on with the line I had two possibilities – either Amanda was the daughter of George Washington Cordray or his brother Andrew. At first I thought it was George and put that option on my tree, however that was a mistake and misleading to others who might have copied my work as I still had no proof that Amanda was George’s daughter. I kept looking and years down the road I found that ‘one little thing’ that confirmed her father to be Andrew and not George.

That one little thing? It was one of those little gossipy news items in a Fayette County, Iowanewspaper that told us that ‘Amanda Cullins had a visit from her sister Charlotte.’ It was Andrew who had a daughter named Charlotte. For a time Charlotte and her family lived in Fayette County but they’d moved on to South Dakota. Mystery solved.
William C Cullins, Hannah's father

Hannah’s Cullins family goes back to a Revolutionary War Soldier, John Cullins b 1705, originally from Ireland and with whom our families’ members can join the DAR or SAR if they wish. This is an established DAR line. Recently has added ‘Thrulines’ to our trees that show our DNA matches for each person back to our 5th great grandfathers. That would be to Edward Cullins b 1727, the son of the Revolutionary John.

I’m very near to compiling and printing this information for my family with the help of’s ‘Life Story’ feature that adds significant events that occurred during their lifetimes.

Where from here with the Cullins? Last week I found the feature on ancestry’s DNA pages that helps me color code cousin groups. Wow, the group for Cullins, Cordray and a couple other allied families has 93 cousins of varying degrees. Those are just the ones with public trees who share information. There are so many more with private trees, or who have disconnected their trees, or haven’t built their trees yet. What to do with that cousins group?! I’m thinking about contacting the 93 to see if they would like to have a cousin’s Facebook page for sharing, friendship, and family reunions.

As for my Cullins family I have a choice, I can develop each allied family, as I have for the Cullins – filling out our information on our Muskingum County Ohio lines – or, I can pick a different family entirely. The thing is I recently fell into another Cullins rabbit hole when I received an email about their Delaware roots. Delaware? What! 

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