Posted on June 15th, 2008
When I was about ten years old, my grandmother, Hersa Mae [Dodson] Hoyle, decided to go through some of her old photos and keepsakes. As she showed me her collection of old sepia toned photographs, she came across a rather battered old piece of parchment document that listed in very fancy German BlackLetter text a listing of my family’s history in America from “German Peter Hoyle” down to a “John Hoyle” who died just before the American Civil War in 1857.
She explained to me that those were my ancestors – people who had lived, as she put it, “In the olden days.” She coudn’t tell me much because it wasn’t her side of the family, but she pointed out that the names “Peter” and “John” seemed to be repeated each generation.
To say I was fascinated by this document would be a gross understatement. Although it was already quite battered, and so fragile that I was unsure if I should even hold it in my hands, Grandma Hoyle assured me that it was OK if I touched it. As far as she knew it had no particular monetary value. When she asked me if I would like to have it to take home and keep, I was overjoyed and excited to get it. Grandma gave it to my mother and asked her to keep it for me until I got older. ”Maybe he could bring it up-to-date someday,” Grandma suggested. I assured her that I would and have worked hard to keep that promise since then.
Perhaps this website will be the payoff to that promise because, believe it or not, I simply can not remember any thing else that my grandmother ever gave me.
Remnants of that old document may still exist somewhere. Maybe someone from another descendant branch of the family might have a pristine copy of the document. Over the years it was kept by my mother until she finally turned it over to me in the 1970s. By then, time had really taken its toll and the original document was well beyond any stage of restoral. In the early 1990s I was able to make a reasonable copy of that document and kept it on a computer file. The original scanned photo file was unfortunately lost (along with dozens of scanned-in historic family photos) when my hard drive was stolen in 1998.
Perhaps someone in another branch of the Hoyle family that lived in Tennessee during the mid-1800s will have a copy. If so, I hope that their copy is still in reasonably good shape and can be photographed or scanned to share with the readers of this website.
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