Great-Grandparents & Fourth Cousins

It came as a big surprise when Aunt Glor revealed that her parents, my great-grandparents, were fourth cousins. Bleh, thought I, because one does not choose a potential spouse from people they meet at a family reunion. I got over it eventually and enjoyed the story of how the two met. He, Homer McGrew, worked on the boats (maybe just the docks) and she, I believe was a cook somewhere in the vicinity of where the boats landed/docked near Hometown, WV. I admit that I should have written this story down when Aunt Glor told me. Funny how, when you’re young, you think you’ll always remember something.

Grandma Nora Belle Jacobs (McGrew) was the daughter of John William Jacobs and Eliza (possibly Elizabeth) Catherine or “Cate” Colwell. Nora Belle’s father, John William Jacobs, was one of only two children born to Mary E. McGraw and William H. Jacobs, married in Fayette County, WV. Mary E. McGraw was the daughter of Martin McGraw and his second wife, Sarah J. Johnson.

Grandpa Homer McGrew was the son of John Davis McGrew, the son of John O. McGrew, the son of Thomas McGraw and Catherine “Caty” Withrow.

I don’t know if my great-grandparents knew they were cousins or if Aunt Glor had to figure it out on her own. Aunt Glor always shared her genealogical findings with me and was finally able to urge me to visit the Fayette County Courthouse – I drove past it five days a week on my way to and from work, why shouldn’t I? But I was an idiot when it came to researching old records. I first needed a crash course.

So we started together at the Putnam County Courthouse, with her showing me the ropes. She found Thomas McGraw’s death record on the books and what should appear but the names of his parents: Martin & Margaret McGraw. *Bless her heart, Glor confused that & for a V and I find “Martin V McGraw” in a lot of trees belonging to people who copied her work. If you’re one of them, please have a look at Thomas’ death record so you understand why that V doesn’t belong in his name.*

Whoa, whoa, whoa. That specific document threw us for a loop. The Martin McGraw of  the1850 Putnam County Census was only 63, placing his birth at around 1787, give or take. Thomas’ birth year was 1799. The math didn’t work between supposed father and son. The 12-year difference in ages gave us pause but not for long: We finally established that Thomas McGraw and Martin McGraw in the 1850 Putnam County Census were brothers.

And that is how I am descended from both brothers, Thomas and Martin, through my dad’s paternal grandparents.

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