Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Tennessee Twins

Occasionally I feel like I am just so "over"  I'll toy with the idea of cancelling my subscription.  I'll go weeks without logging on.  Then something like this happens....

As I've no doubt mentioned previously, my mother's side of the family is pretty much a blank wall for me.  At the beginning of my genealogy journey one of the few stories I knew about Mom's extended family had to do with her maternal grandmother Jennie Kyle Harrison.  Jennie died in the "spanish" flu epidemic after World War I as did her teen daughter Ruth.  Losing both her mother and her sister in this way devastated my grandmother.  In fact, when I learned their real full names (Virginia and Ruth) the meaning of my mother's name, Virginia Ruth, became clear.  My grandmother gave my mother,  her only daughter,  their names as a way of honoring their loss.
The other tidbit I knew about my grandmother was that there were twins in her family.  Exactly where in the family I didn't know.  My younger sisters are twins so this trait apparently runs in the family.  When I started researching I found out that the twin I was searching for was actually my great grandmother Jennie!  Identical or fraternal I had no idea but according to the 1870 census they were born in 1866, just after the Civil War and that Jennie's twin was named Tennessee or "Tennie"!  Virginia and Tennessee. Jennie and Tennie.  Hmmm....  Given the timing of their birth and their names, if Daddy wasn't a Confederate soldier I'll eat my hat.

Anyway, back to Ancestry. I was poking around on the site one day when I found some information about Tennie and her descendants on another tree.   I emailed the tree owner Pat and not only did she reply but she sent me pictures....the only picture I've ever seen of my great grandmother.

Jennie (left) and Tennie Kyle
about age 13

 The originals were tintypes taken about 1880.  There is some damage, especially to Tennie's, but it is obvious that the girls are identical.
Pat also shared some family stories with me. 
 Tennie gave birth to 2 sets of twins, one set identical and one fraternal. She also died young... in another flu epidemic 10 years before her twin Jennie died of the "Spanish" flu.  Ironically, just like her twin, Tennie also lost a daughter in that same 1908 epidemic.   
After Jennie and Tennie, there were no more twin births in our branch of the tree until my mother gave birth to my twin sisters.  But obviously this tendency to twins runs in the family. If the old wive's tale about twins skipping generations hold true I may be knitting a lot of grandbaby booties in the future!


  1. What a great story! I also tend to lose interest when I'm not finding anything new. Isn't it amazing what information can come from Ancestry and the new family we seem to find?

  2. Amen and God bless the Internet!

  3. I read this and had to laugh... isn't the internet just great! I have "Tennessee twins," in my family, too, AND also found a great photo of them via the web. I'd give you the link, but this comment would then go to spam, so if you are interested, go to my blog and search on "Lynch." I just love all the ways we can share online!

  4. Small world huh? What part of TN were your twins from? Mine were in Hardin County in west TN. My father's family is from the opposite end of the state in Jefferson County.


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