Saturday, August 18, 2012

It Isn't All Going To Be Good Folks

Nancy Athena Porter
There are skeletons in every families history. We are likely to be descendants of parents or grandparents with flaws. Many of us hope that won't be the case in our family tree, but perhaps there is a lesson for us in accepting the fact that our grandparents weren't perfect.

This bright beautiful girl is my grandmother, Nancy Athena Porter. Although little is written by or about her I have come to know her well.

Grandma Nancy was a daughter of the local Bishop. She grew up in Porterville, Utah, named after her pioneer ancestors.

Nancy messed up and had my mother out of wedlock. After years of being persued, she gave in to the persuasion of her employer, Edward Rich South. They either didn't marry, or had an illegal marriage in Mexico. You see, he was married at the time and had to use polygamy to persuade her.

I've spoken with cousins who's fathers alcholism had a huge effect on their family life.

The message I want to share about this is that we all have weaknesses and our grandparents did too. I've learned that Nancy suffered many hardships over her mistakes. She was shunned from Porterville. She died young, likely brought on by what she went through emotionally. Her life wasn't great.

Not so positive facts we discover about our ancestors might discourage us. But they may not tell us the complete story. My mother lived her life feeling shame for her mothers errors. We children  probably sensed that and embraced that same attitude. But as I have pondered and studied my grandmothers life I have learned to love her and understand her better.

I have decided that what my dad often said is true, "there is always two sides to a story". In researching grandmother Nancy I have been able to find out much about her that is virtuous. Knowing her has caused me to love her. In all cases, rather than condmening my ancestors errors I hope to seek to understand them. I suggest that for all of us, and hope that my descendants seek that in me.


  1. For me, there are three sides. "your side, my side and the facts".

    In many ways we were not introduced to - too many Nancys, I like to call her - Athena, because of shame. I think over plural marriage. Fact is, it existed. I don't see it as something we that are descendants should have continued to hide from. We won't be arrested for her choice. "They" were probably very afraid they would.

    How surprised I was to find out the grandma I knew and the one I never knew we're nearly the same age. Sad to me we didn't get to know her. How happy it makes me that genealogy opened that secret a little bit.