Where I came from

Posted 7/29/18

Daddy spoke softly to Thomas as we approached the thicket, "whoa now, steady." Thomas trembled with excitement but held the point. The quail exploded from the old house spot at our approach and rocketed down the edge of the field. Daddy fired and …

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Where I came from


Daddy spoke softly to Thomas as we approached the thicket, "whoa now, steady." Thomas trembled with excitement but held the point. The quail exploded from the old house spot at our approach and rocketed down the edge of the field. Daddy fired and dropped a single bird from the big covey, just as they veered into the woodline.

There were two or three old tenant houses, or sharecropper shacks, along the edge of the field. They were abandoned, and the grounds were overgrown with plum thickets, briars and brush. Wild quail lived in the thickets around the old unpainted, weathered houses. I wondered about the people who had lived there.

Across the field and the paved highway was another house. It was a large, white, two-story structure, with big porches. There were many outbuildings and large trees on the grounds.

An avenue extended back to the paved road flanked by giant pecan trees. The alley of pecan trees extended across the paved road to the woodline nearby. I realized years later that the original road had followed the edge of the woods, and the modern highway had cut across the middle of the field.

I asked my Dad, "Who lived there?"

"Friendly Geddings" was the simple reply. Even as a youngster less than 10 years old I was intrigued by that name, and I knew that we were probably related.

My father, Delaney Geddings, knew everybody, and back in the old days we hunted everywhere by permission. All we had to do was to ask. There were no timber company lands and no leased properties. We hunted the Friendly Geddings place just by asking permission. The old home place was eventually abandoned and fell into disrepair. At one time it was used as a haunted house at Halloween.

My Dad's mother, Grandma Mattie, was a Bryant. We knew all the Bryants, went to all the family reunions and visited with many in the large extended family. His father, Arthur Geddings, was killed in a car wreck during the war, and my brothers and sisters and I never knew him.

We didn't know very many in the Geddings family, beyond Daddy's brothers and sisters and our cousins. I did grow up knowing Ray and Billy Geddings, but they were older than I. Their parents Cecil and Helen lived just down the road from the old abandoned house. I assumed we were related.

My mother was a Barwick, and her side of the family was related to the Hodges and the Packs. We knew that they had first settled the area that was to become Packsville. The Postal Service eventually changed the name to Paxville.

Over the years I've met many people that asked me about others with the Geddings last name. I've had to answer that I don't know very many. We were closer to the Bryant family growing up. My sister Cherry did some research several years ago, before there were computers, and found that there was a Geddings family crest.

A few years back I was doing some research online and stumbled into the Ancestry website, where I found that my father was a junior, a fact that I never knew. We think of grandparents as older people, but I was shocked to find that his father, my grandfather, lost his life in that car accident at 38 years old. I also learned that his father, my great-grandfather, was John Henry Geddings.

Now, if you think this is getting tedious, just bear with me. There is more to the story. I learned these things on Ancestry, but I didn't know anything about where the Geddings family came from. The crest that Cherry found hinted at Old England, but I wondered - how did we get here? Where did I come from?

Recently, at lunch, I ran into my wife, Ginger's, co-worker, Joe Durant, and his parents Annie and Robbie Durant.

Annie told me that she was from Paxville and was a Geddings. Her parents were Cecil and Helen, who I had known. When I mentioned the name Friendly Geddings, she told me that there was a book about the Geddings family.

Annie offered to send me a copy of the book by her son Joe, and sure enough Ginger brought the book home a few days later. It was the answer to my questions about the origin of the Geddings family, and I was delighted!

The book revealed that our ancestors came here from England and settled in the High Hills. Friendly Geddings was born in the town of Manchester, a place that no longer exists. He moved to the Paxville area and bought a farm, where he raised his family. His half brother was John Henry Geddings - my great-grandfather.

The book traces the origins of the Geddings family to modern times. Now I feel like I know all the Geddingses, and I will tell anyone who asks now that "yes, I know them." I feel like I know them all.

Reach Dan Geddings at cdgeddings@gmail.com.