Monday, September 17, 2012

Returning "Home" to Paintsville

This past weekend turned out to be a special treat as a colleague and I attended the Eastern Kentucky Genealogy and History Conference in Paintsville Kentucky! We not only manned the Kentucky Historical Society information table, but were doubly honored with invitations to speak. This event was already special in a personal way as my Grandmother's roots are very strong in this part of Kentucky. Since I had not been to the area since I was about 13, the excitement of going back was exhilarating. Within my presentation I had already planned on including a couple of slides outlining my family connections to the area in the hopes of finding some Pace, Connelly, Salyers, Musick, Caudill cousins. What I had not planned on was the cousin encounters that took place!

As I have explored previously in older posts, our family left the Magoffin, Floyd and Johnson County areas of Kentucky to re-settle in the Portsmouth Ohio area during the 1920s. The patriarch of the family, Albert Pace, had just died and our family seriously had a lot of mouths to feed. This,of course,would require more opportunities for work,which were just not available at the time. So, my great Grandmother, Fannie Connelly Pace took the family up north to create a new life. The group embraced Ohio and settled there permanently, but we never forgot our Kentucky connections.
Many of the Pace/Connelly descendants still reside in the Portsmouth Ohio area and to my surprise, I had some dear cousin connections beginning Saturday morning! As my colleague and I were setting up our KHS table on Friday evening, I noticed a table that was reserved for the Scioto County Genealogical Society. This piqued my interest immediately, and was eagerly anticipating the arrival of the folks who would be manning this table for the weekend. Ironically, the sweet ladies who arrived to perform this task on Saturday were none other than my close Pace cousins! Carolyn and her daughter Jodi are also descendants of Albert Pace and Fannie and have been our champions for the Pace/Connelly family reunions over the past several decades! In fact, if it was not for Carlolyn's dedication over the years, I'm sure this reunion would have faded away many years ago. These two also continue their faithful work in regards to the family by making several trips to the Paintsville area each year to help with cemetery maintenance and fostering family connections.
After our lovely surprise of being able to see each other and catch up with family gossip, we had the honor of meeting another Connelly cousin for the first time! Edward Hazelett was in attendance and related that he too was a descendant of our mutual ancestor, Captain Henry Connelly! At 86, he is quite the charmer and a wealth of information!

For anyone with Eastern Kentucky roots, you should really put this event on your yearly calendars! The folks responsible for this event are wonderful to work with and the attendees are so welcoming.....always hoping to make new cousin connections. Probably the most rewarding aspect of this conference: listening to the stories passed down through the varied generations. Kentucky is known for its strong oral traditions, and this conference is one of those places that allows you to bask in that tradition - transporting you back in time and celebrating our proud heritage!

BTW, as promised to my audience, here is the snap I took of your lovely faces!

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