My Aunt Clara was the first person I knew who was passionate about family history. In 1976, when I decided to start researching our family, I didn’t know where to start. Somewhere I read that you should start by talking with your oldest relative. At that point, it was my maternal great Aunt Clara who was 81 years old.
Born Clarissa Mae Weaver on December 1, 1894 in Cleveland, Ohio, Aunt Clara grew into a strong, feisty woman with an opinion on everything and anything – whether you wanted to hear it or not. My childhood memory is that Aunt Clara was tall and imposing, the kind of person who commands attention when she walked in a room. And she sure got our attention.
In her later years, Aunt Clara had a little touch of dementia but that didn’t dull her memory of the old days. When she got us kids sitting still for long enough, that was her opportunity to share a family tale. Aunt Clara absolutely never missed those opportunities. I’m sorry to say, I don’t think I soaked up enough of the family history in those early days.
But I made up for lost time when I started doing genealogy in 1976. Aunt Clara was right there ready and willing to share all she knew. As I look back, her amazing enthusiasm about genealogy was infectious. And I caught it!
Over the next 8 months, Aunt Clara and I bridged the distance between my home in Detroit and hers in Cleveland with phone calls and letters – sharing and discovering more about our Weaver, Coover, Hood and Scribner family lines. But in September of that year, Aunt Clara fell and broke her hip. In a week she was gone.
Aunt Clara was my genealogy muse. I am so grateful for the time we had to share our mutual passion for Black family history and, more importantly, for me to get to appreciate Aunt Clara as the strong, endearingly eccentric and amazingly inspirational woman she was.
Who inspired you to start doing genealogy?