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“Hang in there.”

I’ve said this to myself a lot lately, and have heard it from others. Familial bad behavior. Embarrassing, and intolerable. Almost to the point of bailing.

In my research of my great-grandfather, Ras Boulds, I discovered some things that gave me pause. The illegitimate child, and later marriage of the child’s mother. The second out-of-wedlock child. No wonder he married the way-too-young Mary Stewart: Even in the small city of Hempstead, Texas, she wouldn’t have known.


Boulds is a common name in Hempstead now, but it wasn’t at the turn of the 20th century. So if your son is named Ras Boulds Jr. and you somehow run across another Ras Boulds Jr., just a few years older, it’s not hard to do the math. Even if you only completed third grade.

Perhaps this is why my family moved to Houston.

Knowing how my grandmother described her mother, perhaps someone told her, too, to hang in there. Perhaps someone advised her that a move would benefit them all, much more than kicking him out or staying in Hempstead, with all the reminders of his randy youth.

Hang in there.

More than a century later, it’s uncomfortable reading of Ras Boulds’ past. His second son, Robert, married and had several children; I believe their descendants — and perhaps those of his first son, the elder Ras Jr. — live in Hempstead to this day. Very distant cousins.

But these are facts, and verifiable ones at that. I need them, because so much of what I knew of his past was myth or conjecture. No known date of birth; supposed biracial son of a servant (slave?) and possibly Jewish head of household, taken in and raised by that family; railroad surveyor in an era where, if his supposed heritage was known, he couldn’t have ridden a train in the car of his choice. I don’t know if he passed for white when convenient, or passed for mulatto for love (or sex).

So, now that my own circumstances are a wee bit more settled, I turn back to those of Ras Boulds. He may not have regretted walking away from the first 30, 40 years of his life, but his descendants deserve better. It often feels like digging a hole with a spoon. But I will hang in there.

My AAGSAR partners in discovery have helped set me on some promising paths of discovery. Also, I have reviewed Ras Boulds’ death certificate — while it has almost as many question marks as his life, it does offer one fat, juicy tidbit: years worked for SP and H&TC railroads. I’m hoping Aunt Eva (my great-aunt) was right on this one. So I offer this bit of advice: Periodically review documents, even if you have reason to dismiss them. Things can be overlooked. Another example of same: It wasn’t until I learned of his first marriage that I noticed the “M2” designation by his name in the 1910 U.S. census.

5 responses »

  1. Excellent post Terri and so appropriately titled too!

    Perseverance is exactly what it takes for us to be successful in our ancestry. Our ancestors make us work hard sometimes to find out what is true about them! And yet, what we often find out about them can throw us for a loop . . . can cause us to question everything we’ve heard about them, as well as, what we “thought” we knew about them.

    But as you’ve so aptly stated in this post, we hang on in there because we know in the end that only “truth” gives us clarity and a sense of peace!

    You are not alone on this journey. . . so YOU hang on in there!

  2. Keeping with the Ancestors you have to have Perseverance! We have to go on the little Gems we get at times which seem few and far in between.

  3. wow…hang in there, indeed! you’ve certainly got a mystery to be solved! good luck to you!

  4. Very happy to see you taking to the blog T & finding your way back to Ras Boulds. I remember how he fought to have a home in our Community & believe he’s leading the way, providing the answers — not AAGSAR. I think both Ras & his descendants deserve grace. Our folks were not angels, just flawed humans like us. They got some things right & others not so right. I’m glad we don’t have to figure that part out. Find your Ancestor & make sure his name is not lost. Let him know he can find rest. Peace & ease. And yes… hang in there.

  5. Vicky Daviss Mitchell

    Excellent post! Mabe its time for me to revisit Hempstead


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