June 25, 2012, we finished filling a trailer and packed our suburban to drive 2300 miles in the heat–destination Middle Tennessee.
It’s been three years.
For three years I’ve asked Paul periodically, “Does this feel like home to you?”
“Yep.” He says every time with a smile.
His confidence has been annoying.
It’s been harder for me to say that.
Sure, I know all the cliche’s: Home is where your heart is. Having someone to love is home.
Blah, blah, blah.
I believe we all want to know that we know that we know we belong somewhere–we want to drive a stake in the ground and know without a doubt “this is home”.
For me, home means roots. Roots are lacking here. Roots mean a place where generations scratched the soil and grew babies.
In California, I had roots. Four generations of roots buried deep created my history, my home. I’ve struggled with how my kids won’t know this connection with their ancients.
I’ve been intentional in Tennessee to remind my children they have west-coast roots. A needlepoint runner made by their Great-Great-Grandma Perlando hangs above my bed. Their grandfather’s military sword hangs in my oldest son’s room. Their Great-Grandma Cusumano’s hope chest and their grandfather’s worn Bible are waiting to be handed down.
In Middle Tennessee – roots deep in southern soil are missing.
It’s why I’ve wrestled with calling this part of the country “home”.
God knew my heart and my struggle and an email arrived this week and changed all that.
My father in law passed along some information about a distant aunt, Edwina Ewing, who moved to Holland after the Civil War and opened a museum that stands today. While that was a fun tidbit, the part that spoke to me was that she was from Tennessee.
It was Edwina’s sister, Lillian Ewing, (Paul’s Great-Grandmother) that piqued my interest.
I spent the past few days digging around and was thrilled to discover my husband’s family can be traced back six generations–here.
Deep roots in southern soil.
Once I confirmed the family line through Paul’s father, I excitedly created a field trip for all of us. We spent much of yesterday at the Nashville library and cemetery.
Here’s a little bit I discovered:
- My husband’s great-grandfather (X6) Andrew Ewing, was a Revolutionary War veteran and one of the first colonists to arrive in Tennessee.
- He was one of 256 signers of the Cumberland Compact–the prelude to the State of Tennessee Constitution.
- Andrew Ewing was also the first court clerk in Davidson County (Nashville) and patriarch of one of a handful of founding families here in this great state. He also played a big part in the building of the first court house in Nashville.
- Four generations of my children’s Ewing grandfather’s are buried within miles of our new home in Middle Tennessee.
- We discovered there’s a book written on Paul’s Great-Great Grandfather, Henry Ewing, a Major in the Confederate Army who was a journalist and went on to be owner of a newspaper in St. Louis. (As an author, I LOVE this.) We went to the Nashville Library and were able to look at the book. (We couldn’t check it out because it was in their historical collection.) Paul’s family tree was included in the back of the book, written in 1978. His grandmother’s name was one of the last children added.
But, wait, there’s more…
We went into the Nashville Library’s historical archive room and shared our story with the librarian. She was excited to pull out files on the Ewing family. In one of these files we held a jewel that brought tears to my eyes.
From there we went to the Nashville Cemetery. Let me stop you here for a minute…
Our family LOVES cemeteries.
We’ve drug our kids through cemeteries all their lives. We find them fascinating. The history, the stories, the legacies and the older the better. I reminded our two youngest on the drive over, “We’ve taken you to hundreds of ancient cemeteries. This is the first time we will walk through in search of family.”
I snapped a picture of Grace and Samuel with their Great Grandma Milbrey (Williams) and Great Grandpa Orville Ewing (X5). Orville and his brothers Edwin and Andrew married three Williams sisters all from the Nashville and Franklin area.
And guess what? In my digging this week, I found sketches of their family homes online from the early 1800s. I plan on framing these home sketches and hanging them in my home.
Deep roots in southern soil.
The family history here is staggering. Paul’s grandfathers and uncles were doctors and attorneys. Which makes Paul’s Law degrees and love of the U.S. Constitution even more poignant.
- Edwin Ewing was an ancient uncle and State Representative. When Daniel Webster died, it was Paul’s Uncle Edwin Ewing who gave the eulogy. This man was a founder of the Peabody College here in Nashville. Now, a part of the Vanderbilt University system.
For those of you not from around here, we live in an area rich in U.S. history. Our home is a few miles from the Carnton Plantation. It’s one of the historical homes we bring all our guests to. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve shared the story of the McGavock family and walked through their private Civil War Cemetery.
Grace & Samuel at the gravesite of their Great Grandparents. (Orville & Milbrey (Williams) Ewing).
The Ewing’s? They were close friends of the McGavock’s. Their families intermarried and knew one another from Virginia–even before moving to Franklin, Tennessee. I called The Carnton and spoke with the historian yesterday. They are well aware of the Ewing family. They’re gathering Ewing family documents for us and we’ll be visiting them next week.
For the first time in three years our family has deep roots. There are six generations of my children’s heritage in Tennessee – more than any other state in America.
Just thinking about all of this makes my eyes well with tears. God knew how important a legacy is to this mama. He heard and answered. My children have a history they can hold on to here.
It brings to mind a conversation I had when we first moved. We were having breakfast at church and we sat with an old southern gentleman and his wife. Apparently, this stranger knew something three years ago that I didn’t.
He asked, “What brought ya’ll to Tennessee? Was it a job? Do ya’ll have family here?”
“No sir, we don’t have a job or family here.”
He thought for a minute, making eye contact, he asked a serious question. “Well, do you love it here?”
I thought for a moment and answered honestly, “Yes sir, I do love it here.”
He smiled, “Then welcome home.”
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21