The Foursome

by Mike Peters

Sometime back, before I became totally frustrated with my inability to place the little white ball in the hole and before I started playing this adult game of hide n' seek, someone asked a golfing question.

"If you could play in any foursome, who would your playing partners be?"

Athletes, movie stars and world leaders were the most popular choices given by the four friends engaged in their weekly game of "skins."  I don't recall my three picks. I think one of them was President Kennedy.   But, if I were asked the same question now, my choices would be different.  Three years post-genealogy, the criteria for inclusion in this group has changed from
fame to family.  I am now possessed by a burning "need to know" and there are many lingering questions, questions that those being considered could answer.

I'd like to walk the fairways with William Peters, my ggg uncle and brother to my gg grandfather Jonathan Peters.  I'd ask him about the walk he took on 3 July 1863, his last walk.  It was about a mile, an uphill journey in the humid heat of a summer afternoon, a march out in the open, a trip toward a deeply entrenched and better supplied enemy.  Did he feel like a duck in a shooting gallery?  William Peters followed General Lewis Armistead up Gettysburg's Cemetery Ridge, during what history has called "Pickett's Charge."

I'd like to stand on the tee with Elijah Coleman, my gg grandfather.  I'd ask him about his parents.  Did he know them?  He never did live with them. Elijah, who wore the moniker of "half breed," was moved around from family to family as a youngster.  I've been told that at least one of those families mistreated the boy, worked him like a slave because of his Cherokee heritage.  Oral legend tells us that he lived with a family of Withrows.  There is documented evidence that he also lived with the Greenes and Fishers.  While with the Fishers, he trained to be a blacksmith.  How did he come to acquire the Coleman surname?

I'd like to watch Margaret Pritt, my gg grandmother, drive the ball from the ladies' tee.  She never married and had at least three sons out-of-wedlock.   Did the children have the same Dad or were they by different men?  They all went by Pritt, her maiden name, as is often customary in this situation.  Why has the family, for so long, kept this secret?  Somebody knows!  There is oral and circumstantial evidence leaning toward a Cantrell man being a father of at least one of the boys.

I'd like to watch Nancy McMillian hit from the rough.  She was my ggg grandmother and wife of George Milam.  Dudley Milam, her son, was my gg granddad.  I used to be pretty confident that Dudley was the son of George Milam.  Sure, I realized that he was born shortly before Nancy's marriage to George.   Since Dudley carried the Milam name and not the McMillian name, I believed that he was George's.  George just got cold feet and was late getting to the altar.   But he did eventually get there.   That was my take on things, until I read an article by Dennis Gene Milam.  The article raised doubt about George Milam being Dudley's father.  Without any evidence to back his claim, Dennis Gene Milam wrote that Dudley may be the son of a Cozart man and not George Milam.  Sure George raised him and was very much his father.  But in genealogy an absent possibly deadbeat father overrides a kind, caring and giving stepfather every time.  Genealogy is not about being there.  It's all about the DNA.   And while the article did not offer any real evidence, it did cast a shadow of a doubt over things.  Is Dennis Gene Milam's information accurate?   Do I now need to start researching the Cozart family?

I'd proudly play alongside grandfathers Captain Ralph Stewart and Private Reuben Huffman, men who fought for the 13 colonies' independence in our Revolutionary War.  Did the officer and the enlisted man know George Washington?  Reuben's name is among those listed on the muster rolls of men who served at Valley Forge. Ralph was one of the men chosen by the "Father of our Country" to guard Lord Cornwallis after the British surrendered at Yorktown.  That duty would surely fall to someone who had the General's ear, to a confidant, to someone the General trusted, respected and knew personally.  Wouldn't it?  Letters to and from a Robert Stewart are found among the papers of George Washington.  Was this Robert the uncle of Captain Ralph as some have theorized?

The three playing partners I pick may not have the answers or may not want to divulge them to their inquisitive descendant.  But it sure would be fun asking those questions.  Golf would be enjoyable again, like it was when I was a kid.  Three putting greens, slicing into the woods and hitting into bunkers would be encouraged.  More shots equate to a longer round and more opportunities to ask questions.  More shots mean more time enjoying the outdoors.  More shots mean more time spent with family.  An in-law of mine calls that "quality time."  Whatever you make of it, it's definitely a brand of golf, that even this hacker can play.

Thanks for listening and as my Grandma Coleman used to say, "Ya'll come!"


Mike Peters

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