Sunday, May 5, 2013

Long Road Home

I just returned from a trip to Dayton to visit the kids. Actually, the trip was a three-fer. Visiting the kids was my top priority, but to get to Dayton from here, I had to drive northish and then eastish. Likewise, the return trip meant driving southish then westish and so I thought I'd swing by Richmond, Missouri on the way there and do a little research at the Ray County Museum and Louisville, Kentucky on the way back to meet some distant cousins.
Road Trip
There's no easy way to get to Richmond and once you arrive, there's no easy way to find the Museum. So I asked for directions.

"Well, it's just off the square." Okay, where's the square. "You see that hill? Just follow the school bus and turn left." Luckily, there were signs posted with arrows pointing to the fair grounds and the museum or I'd still be driving in circles.

The museum was once the Ray County poor house and contained artifacts donated by the area's first families: civil war uniforms, china, furniture and cases full of books, scrapbooks, handwritten notes, newspapers, photos and decades of ghosts ready to tell their stories. After the first 10 minutes I realized that I'd planned poorly; I'd need a week just to get started.

Lisa, the director of the genealogy library was very nice and pointed me at family history files for the Dudgeon and Pigg families. I opened the first file folder to find photos donated by my 2nd cousin 1x removed, Eleanor. Eleanor and I have been writing and sharing information for about 3 years now and so I felt a bit like a prospector who'd turned up the same yellow rock three times.

I opened the second folder to find more files donated by Eleanor. "Who are you looking for?" Charlie had grown up in Camden, Missouri, just south of Orrick. "Hicks, Dudgeon, Pigg, Dennis..." I replied. "Oh, I knew Arnie Hicks..." And so the stories started.

Stories are the real gold.

The genealogy library closes at 4:30, but the museum's director, Linda Emley, stayed to give me a tour of the museum and the county's history. As she walked me to the car, she mentioned that she had Elliott ancestors from Ray County, but hadn't researched them. "You don't mean Millie Elliott do you?" I asked. "Yes!" she smiled. Another cousin.

On the trip home, I met my third cousin Vickie from the Dennis side of the family. Her husband Jim met me at the door. "You look familiar!" we both called, recognizing smiles from Facebook photos. Again, I time-planned poorly and started the introductory meeting speed talking about my family interlaced with questions about hers and casual conversation about travels, their new home and landscaping plans over a wonderful lunch on the patio. We never really got around to looking at one another's research, sufficing to swap invitations and a promise to write, but touched on stories of shared family in Cocke County Tennessee and another 3rd cousin I've not yet met and plans for another road trip.

I'm going to close with a couple quick links to the Ray County Museum and Genealogical Society. Call before you go. Ask for Linda or Lisa...and if Charlie's there, tell him Arnie Hicks's great niece says thanks for the roadmap (it was a lifesaver!) and the stories.

Ray County Museum:
...and their Facebook page:

Ray County Genealogical Society:


  1. Donna, you were in my stomping grounds! As you know, my parents and family live in Richmond. I've been to the museum several times. There are some dresses there donated by my 3rd great grandmother (Frances McGuire) and a painting of my great aunt Bruna McGuire with her Model A. Linda, that you mentioned, writes a great column for the Richmond Daily News about the history of the county. I have always had such a great experience at that museum/library. So glad you got an opportunity to visit!

    1. Hi Heather! I should have stayed the night...very much like a kid in a candy store. There was so much to see and I really loved talking to everyone...Linda in particular. I'll let you know the next time I go; may be an opportunity to meet my 2/3rd cousins in person!

    2. If you had stayed you would have stayed at my home away from home...the Super 8! I still haven't had a chance to really drive through Orrick and check out where the Dudgeons lived. We'll be up there the first half of June if you are in the area! ;)