Sunday, August 5, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Black Sheep

This post is part of Amy Johnson Crow's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks for 2018. The prompt for the week of June 25, 2018, is Black Sheep.

I hate to call anyone in my family a black sheep. We’ve all made mistakes and have our own failings. But if I were to pick a person, I suppose it’d be my paternal great uncle Hoyt Henry Brown. Actually, I don’t think of him as a black sheep (unless I find out otherwise). I think of him as a rouge for leaving behind a wife and daughter in England. My dad mentions this in his memoirs, and that Hoyt's wife had written to Hoyt's mother Hattie looking for him. Then I found out recently from Hoyt's grandson that he also had son with his English wife. (This grandson is the son of Hoyt's son.)

Hoyt was my grandmother Helen’s twin brother. He was a merchant marine, which says to me that he was adventurous, while his whole family stayed close to home in north Florida and south Georgia. I get the impression from my dad’s memoirs that my great uncle was fun-loving, loud, physically strong, a drinker, and life of the party, and I think he was probably very charming. My dad wrote that Hoyt "always seemed a rebel" and was "always the topic of hushed conversation." I’ve wondered if there were other women and children elsewhere in the world, near the ports where he stopped. 

My paternal great uncle Hoyt Henry Brown.
I don't know where or when this photo was taken.
And I don't remember which cousin sent it to me!
 I apologize to that cousin for my faulty memory.

I've wondered if Hoyt and Helen and their siblings (Lucy Belle, Lavada, and Elliot) had a very stable home life growing up in Pensacola, Florida. Traveling as a merchant marine may have been Hoyt's method of getting away from whatever was going on. Although, he did end up settling in Pensacola.

I’ve written about the death of Hoyt's mother (my great grandmother): Fearless Females: The Tragic Death of Hattie Finney Brown, and about their father: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - #23 Henry Washington Brown

All families have their issues and dysfunctions. I don't care how "perfect" they appear on the outside. I believe that how we’re nurtured (as well as our nature) shapes our lives. And sometimes in families there's at least one child who has trouble finding their way (to put it nicely). Out of Hoyt and his siblings, he seems to be the one.  


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