Eight North Carolina Families is the title because eight is the number of our great-grandparents. My eight families–Alexander, Richardson, McDonald, Stilwell, Oakley, Johnson, Willey, and White–lived primarily in the counties of Mecklenburg, Chatham, Moore, Surry, Stokes, and Wilkes in North Carolina.

I have been reconstructing my family history for about thirty years. I became curious about the story of my own origins when I was a child, visiting my great-uncle Oswald Alexander, who knew the history of the Alexander family. He was born in 1878. I was astonished to think that I knew people who were born in a previous century. The elders in my family had a different vocabulary, even a different accent. They knew things, like how to start a grapevine or make a quilt or cut a five-pointed star out of paper or raise animals. They knew stories and songs. They described things that I would never see, like the Aurora Borealis in the night sky of North Carolina. I dedicate this blog to them.

I wanted to know something about each of my great-grandparents, and I soon realized that each of them also had eight great-grandparents, and so did they, etc. The numbers soon become overwhelming and easily illustrate that we are all connected and related in one human race, in spite of what we construct in our imaginations.