Photographs and Memories, part 12

Col. George K. Roberts

Department of the Army

August 2, 1921

Col. Roberts:

As you can imagine, the murder of Sid Hatfield in Matewan yesterday has eclipsed all other concerns. Yes, it was murder, regardless of what anyone else might tell you.

Violence is now a near-certainty.


E.R. Jarrell


Wednesday, June 22

Tyler and Blair didn’t have anything scheduled for Wednesday. After spending a chunk of yesterday vertical, my ankle had swollen again and I figured I’d better stay home. After confirming that I was okay on my own, the rest of the family scattered, most of them headed for Mount Vernon. I had the house to myself. I settled into my nest and got online.

I’d used the free Familysearch website for most of my Brodie research, but hadn’t found any information about my Jarrells other than the confirmation of Caroline’s parents’ names. Now that I had Emory’s first name, however, I could search elsewhere. I Googled his name and found a World War I draft registration card with that name, date of birth May 17, 1890, address in Racine, West Virginia, and next of kin listed as Eula M. Jarrell.

He and I had the same birthday.

I searched through all of the sites that I could access for free – independent Jarrell genealogy sites and family trees, West Virginia historical societies, census records. I found Emory listed in the 1900 Boone County census, age 10, but the file wouldn’t open for me to see his parents’ names.

By lunchtime I’d exhausted all but one of my possibilities. I made myself a sandwich then went back to the sofa and got my credit card from my wallet.

I’d been avoiding the Ancestors website, the big genealogy site that required a membership to see any of its documents. But I’d run out of options.

The site came with a two-week free trial. I’d get as much information as I could about Jarrells, Colemans and Brodies over the next two weeks, then cancel before the fee kicked in. It wasn’t the money. It was the principle. Why should I have to pay to find out about my own family?

I created my account then began to search for Emory. Due to the lack of information about him elsewhere, I didn’t expect to find much. Fortunately, I was wrong.

Emory’s name was there, with a date of birth that matched the one on the draft registration card. He was in an abbreviated family tree with no parents or siblings, just Eula listed as his wife and Caroline as his daughter – as Caroline Mae Jarrell, not as Coleman. Whoever had put this record together hadn’t gathered Caroline’s life story.

My mom had believed that her grandfather died when Caroline was a child. The first surprise was that Emory had lived far longer than Mom had known.

Emory was born in 1890 and died in 1981.

He’d still been alive when I was born. He’d lived longer than Mom.

I took a moment to absorb that, then moved on.

The second odd discovery was that Emory had two spouses listed. The first, Eula Mae Ball Jarrell, was of course listed as Caroline’s mother. As with Emory, there was no other family information attached. As for Emory’s second spouse, she was listed by initials only – W.K. Morgan, born 1891, died 1983.

Divorce in the 1920s, especially in Appalachia, was likely considered to be disgraceful. Maybe Eula had told Caroline that Emory had died rather than have her bear the stigma of having divorced parents. Or, maybe Caroline had known that her father was alive and remarried, and she and Eula had chosen to tell the tale that he had died.

I might never know.

Anyway, who was Emory’s second wife? I clicked on the family tree for W.K. Morgan – and stopped cold.

W.K. Morgan was Wesley Kenneth Morgan.

That couldn’t be right.

The family tree for the Morgans was enormous, extending back many generations. Wesley Kenneth Morgan’s wife was listed as Louisa Jane Brandt Morgan. There were no children listed.

Emory Jarrell didn’t appear anywhere on the tree. But when I clicked on Wesley Kenneth Morgan’s name to access his personal record, I saw that he had a second spouse listed.


1890. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

E.R. Jarrell.

No. Fucking. Way.

I went to the descriptors for the family tree; it was public. The owner’s name was chankins, and it was a hyperlink. I clicked on it, and an empty email page opened.

I composed a quick message.


My name is Jeremy Brodie, and I am the great-grandson of Emory Richard Jarrell. Caroline Jarrell Coleman was my grandmother, and her daughter Julie was my mother.

I just discovered your family tree on Ancestors and noted the connection between E.R. Jarrell and W.K. Morgan, and I’m confused. My mother believed that her grandfather died when Caroline was a child, but that seems not to be the case. Now that I’ve seen your family tree I’m formulating a theory as to why she might have been misled – but if you have more information about this, I’d love to know it.

If you need authentication of my identity, I understand. My mother’s full name was Julie Marie Coleman, born August 12, 1949 in Huntington WV; married David Edward Brodie September 2, 1972 in Beaufort, SC; died November 17, 1980 in San Diego, CA; buried in Arlington National Cemetery. I’m a librarian at UCLA; go to the UCLA Libraries website and you can see my information.

Please don’t be concerned about what I might think of any relationship between Emory Jarrell and Wesley Morgan. My husband and I are about to celebrate our first wedding anniversary.

My cell phone number is 323-555-1212.

Thank you,

Jeremy “Jamie” Brodie

I sent the email then went back to the family tree. Wesley Morgan had a sister, Violet, who’d married a man named Hankins. The person who’d constructed the family tree must be a descendant of Violet. Violet and her husband had three children, all of whom were deceased, but only one of them had children listed.

There were probably others – as with many family tree sites, living persons weren’t shown to anyone but the owner of the tree. If chankins was Violet’s grandchild, then Wesley would have been his or her great-uncle.

If chankins knew Great-Uncle Wesley well, chances are he or she also knew Emory.

I crossed my fingers that chankins would call me.


About a half hour later Dad, Doug, Dennis and Sarge got home. They’d taken Sarge to Arlington National and to the WWII memorial. I said, “Good day?”

Sarge said, “Yep. Tiring, though. I need a nap before dinner.” He headed for his room.

Dad said, “How are you?”

“I’m fine. I found some information on Emory Jarrell. Wait until the others are back, then I only have to tell it once.”

Once everyone else had returned, I rounded up Dad, Pete, Kevin, Kristen, Jeff and Val and herded them into a corner of the family room. “I found our great-grandfather.” I told them what I’d discovered. “And not only might he have been gay, he lived to be 91. He was still alive when we were born.”

Jeff said sadly, “And Mom didn’t even know.”

Val said, “So now what?”

I said, “Now we hope for a response from chankins.”


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