Once upon a time in September 1967, there were two young, 18 year-old girls who met and became fast friends as freshmen at the same small Southern college. Greensboro College in Greensboro, North Carolina was a small Methodist college with about 500 students. Carol Emerson Winters, PhD, was one of these girls, a serious student, a religion major who went on to study nursing, earning her Master’s degree at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and her PhD in Higher Education (curriculum instruction and student services) at the University of Pittsburgh. Then there was her friend–me–Helen Youngblood Holshouser, a psychology major who was feeling rebellious, and wanted to play and not answer to anyone! LOL Amazingly we became friends!
Eventually, Carol and I became roommates. Carol taught me to play guitar and I taught her to cram for tests! We protested for civil rights and against the Vietnam War together. The very first weekend of our senior year in college, Carol introduced me to a friend of hers, Max Holshouser, a friend of her boyfriend, and someone I’d heard her speak well of for a year or two. Max has now been my husband for 42 years, and Carol has been my friend for 47 years! Carol and I married within months of each other, serving in each other’s weddings of course. We had our first children one week apart! We buried our mothers when we were both young married women. Life’s ups and downs drew us closer together We celebrated and cried together many times!
Carol went on to become the Dean of the School of Nursing at Hawaii Pacific University for 16 years! However, when her grandchildren were born and growing up in North Carolina, Carol decided to come back home, accepting a professorship at East Carolina University in graduate nursing education. Her family and I were thrilled! I had been busy growing up also, had gone to graduate school and earned a master’s in clinical psychology. Before Carol returned to her hometown of New Bern,NC, my husband and I had relocated there for my job in public mental health. Just before Carol returned however, I became disabled with heart disease and had to be hospitalized so often at Duke University Medical Center that we decided to move back to the Raleigh area. It didn’t hurt that our own daughters and grandchildren were here. at least Carol and I were now just a couple hours away from each other instead of half a world apart!
In my 60’s, I became interested in genealogy. I worked on my family tree and enjoyed it immensely! I knew that Carol was much too busy at this time in her life to develop her own family tree, so I thought I’d work on one for her, as a birthday gift. I knew she was of Scottish descent, after all, her name is Emerson! She often talked of her Grandmother Winters being a McKee of Scottish origin. I had known her mother and father , brother and some other relatives, so it was easy to start her tree! Unfortunately, when I gave her the gift, I had only completed five generations, with lots of interesting discoveries, but nothing startling–little did I dream what would be found in her sixth generation of McKees!
I continued to work on my own family tree and my own Scottish branch of my family, the Hogues. I discovered that my first immigrant in that line was one Robert Hogg, b. 1725, who died two weeks after arriving in Philadelphia in 1747. He left a 3 year old son to grow up and found a large line of Hogues in America. There was very little information about my Robert Hogg, so I left his line alone for awhile, until I had my DNA tested last Fall, 2013. That didn’t solve the issues of who Robert Hogg’s family in Scotland had been, but it connected me with a lot of Hogue cousins all over the country and the world, none of whom had been able to trace our ancestral line! So we formed a research group and went to work to solve this mystery. We even found a Scottish Genenalogist to work with us. You may have read some of our adventures in searching for this line in two of my past blog entries which you can read at these links.
One day when I was checking my DNA matches on ancestry.com, I had also been working on Carol’s tree, and serendipitously, I decided to enter “Winters” in my DNA search feature, and wow–I was kin to a lot of Winters and McKees! I was surprised! But even more so, I was shocked to discover that Carol’s McKees–in one more generation from where I had stopped working on her tree, married into a Hogue family! She even had a 5th great-grandfather Robert Hogg born in 1721, like my own 5th great-grandfather, Robert Hogg born in 1725! Could the dates be wrong…could they be the same person? I was shocked! No, her grandfather lived until 1798 and we could follow his lifetime, while mine died in 1747. Because I couldn’t prove my Hogg line ancestry, we weren’t sure we were kin to each other, still it was amazing. Then , in March, 2014, a male Hogue cousin of mine took a Y-DNA test, which gave us the names of other Hogues/Hoggs who had that same testing done, and their ancestors. Lo and behold, when the results came back, there was Carol’s Robert Hogg, 1721, an exact DNA match to mine! We were cousins! We had been strangers from different states, then college and adult friends for almost 50 years, lived together, grew up together, but never knew we were related! It was so amazing and exciting to me! Learning we are cousins has only drawn us closer and given us another reason to celebrate together! Family, it’s what it is all about! You know I am always wishing you your own marvelous adventures as you explore your own family trees! Helen