A Picture Out Of Time

Until last week I had no idea who my ancestors were, nor a clue where they came from (although I heard Scotland mentioned once).

Growing up, I don’t recall my father saying much about his father. Somehow I knew he’d been a butcher, and that his name was Fred. That was it, until my mother, years later, told me his name was Wilfred—not Fredrick, or Alfred, my initial assumptions. I’d never have guessed.

He died in 1944, six years before my birth, and as I’ve learned recently his father (my great-grandfather Andrew) had also passed on prior to my father’s birth. Maybe it was because he’d not met his grandfather that my dad didn’t think it important to mention mine.

So when I Googled Stormont the other day I wasn’t expecting much. It’s not a common surname, yet barely an hour later I had a precise ancestral path leading to the late 1700s. The emigration began with Samuel (and his wife, Martha) in 1772, when they left Ireland for a new start in America, in South Carolina.

I hadn’t been Irish for an hour when further online research revealed that Samuel, with other members of his church, had migrated from Scotland to northern Ireland—so I was a descendant of Scotsmen. I kept at it for a couple of days, running down any leads I discovered, and in the end the information petered out with grandfather Fred.

.While Samuel Stormont remained in South Carolina, other members of his family moved to Indiana in the mid-1800s. Eventually some—like Andrew—went on to Nebraska. Wilfred took his family to South Dakota, too, as I was surprised to learn—Dad hadn’t said anything about living there. But he was a small child then, and probably didn’t remember. Finally, for reasons I’ll never know, the family arrived in Oregon, probably in the 1930s. And here I am.

I haven’t found any photographs (or paintings) of my new-found ancestors, except for Wilfred’s later years (cameras were a luxury item when he was young). But I did stumble upon a Web page showing headstones in Archer Cemetery, in Patoka Township, Gibson County, Indiana, where there’s no shortage of Stormonts, including great-grandfather Andrew. It’s kind of strange, seeing your name in all that eternally crumbling stone, even when it’s misspelled. As I’ve told people for years, “No A, no E, no U.”

I’m content with what I’ve learned about our family origins—I’ve no desire to track down other descendants who came after Samuel. It’s enough to know where the name originated, and this, from The Internet Surname Database: The name means the hill (mond or mont), covered by brushwood (storres), and this place was first recorded in the 12th century.

That would have been a picture.



2 thoughts on “A Picture Out Of Time”

  1. There is an important story about David Stormont from Gibson County Indiana and his work in the Underground Railroad in the 1850s. The story made national news and is included in Fergus Bordewich’s recent book on the Underground Railroad. My wife, Roxanne, and I have recently published an article in Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History about the event as well. Roxanne is relate to the Gibson County Stormonts.

    1. Randy, thank you for passing along the Stormont information. I said in my old post that I wasn’t keenly interested in family ties…but that’s not entirely true. I have to remember, most (all) of my side of the family weren’t interested…it was a Depression-era group, everyone looking out for themselves after a while, and unfortunately, that carried forward. So, if you and Roxanne want to share anything further, I’m quite happy to learn about that history. I do know that there was a split before the Civil War, where members of the family who supported the Southern states settled in South Carolina, while others went to Ohio and Indiana; at least, that’s what I’ve read. Sketchy, perhaps. And if I recall, David was a son of Samuel?

      I’m leaving for a month-long trip on Sept 12; I’ll look forward to hearing what you might share when I return. Leave a message for me through my contact page, if you will.

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