Small Town Family Trees by Pepper Phillips

Family Tree

I grew up as a Navy Brat. That means we moved a lot. Before mother married her sailor, we traveled a lot, so I was always ‘the new kid’ in school.

So when I married, we moved around a bit as I was now a Marine’s wife. Then I was the student’s wife, then the Army officer’s wife.

Can I say I moved a lot!

But we finally settled down in the hometown of the retired hubby. A small town with a population of about five thousand. The whole parish holds a little over forty thousand souls.

The names were unusual. Since this is a French speaking parish, the early morning news is still spoken in French on the radio. The names generally have a French basis.

Gremillion, Lemoine, Gagnard, Couvillion, St. Romain, Coco…the list goes on. I use these names in my books set in Boggy Bayou because they give reality to the series. The names are rooted in the soil here.

What I didn’t realize about small towns is that if you go back far enough that most of the residents are related. OH, HELLO…that means unless you know the person you are talking to, you better not talk bad/gossip about ANYONE as they might be related to them!

That concept was beyond my thought process. My grandparents lived in Washington State, but the state history didn’t go back to the early 1700’s like Louisiana does.

I found all of this out by doing my husband’s family tree. He is descended from the earliest settlers of Louisiana. I was impressed, because my family swam over during Ireland’s potato famine in the 1850’s. I told him once that he must be related to everyone in our town, either directly, indirectly or by marriage.

My kids were moved around for awhile until we settled down here, and I’m amazed that since they went to school here, schools with small enrollments, that they knew the other kids, their brothers and sisters, their parent’s names and where they lived and what they did!

Years later they can recall small details about the people who live here.

I imagine that the neighborhoods in large cities might be like a ‘small town’ but in other parts of the city, you don’t know who your neighbors are, where they come from, what they do.

I’m thinking I prefer the small town essence. Of finally belonging to a place where your ancestors lived, loved and grew their families.

What about you? What are your feelings about where you live?


Picture Copyright: kudryashka / 123RF Stock Photo


About Pepper Phillips

Writer of Sassy Southern Romance Novels
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9 Responses to Small Town Family Trees by Pepper Phillips

  1. E. Ayers says:

    I live in the heart of a small town, which is a city that incorporated many years ago with the county. And I live within a metropolis. So I have the advantages of city living while enjoying the small town atmosphere. I’m a small town kinda gal who is used to living in the country. So where I am now is the compromise. It doesn’t take me a half hour to get to town, I’m here. But in a half hour I can be walking between skyscrapers and seeing a live performance. Or I can be at the beach. But when I go into the grocery store, I know the clerks and they know me. Small towns are great!


  2. susanrhughes says:

    I like Ottawa. It’s a cosmopolitan city with everything you could need, plus a beautiful river, lots of parks, and plenty of culture. I lived in Toronto (much larger city) for a year and it was exciting, but it was just too big and glossy and hectic. The only thing I really hate here is winter!


  3. Carol says:

    We live in a small town, or was when we first moved here. When my son was young, we knew many in the neighborhood. Now, things are changed. As people move away, the kids grow up, marry and also move away, the area is so different. I don’t even know the neighbor three doors down. Most of the homes that surround us are now rental and it’s hard to keep up with everyone. We know more people in the church than anywhere else now. It’s a small, old church and most of them are related.


  4. I was a construction brat so I know about being the new kid. The first few years of our marriage we moved a lot too as is typical of Texas coaches. We finally found the lovely small town of Eagle Lake, Texas where were we were pretty much welcomed as family. After 16 years the job pushed us on and we finally retired in a snowbird town of Rockport. During the winter months it really is like a small town with all us seniors but during the summer it is a little crushed. We are stepsister to Corpus Christi, not so much fun in that. Thanks for sharing.


  5. leighmorgan1 says:

    I grew up in a small town, moved to another where I lived until under graduate school, then moved to the largest city in Wisconsin then back to the first small town, where my children have been raised. Funny how life seems cyclical sometimes. It’s so cool that you can trace your husband’s family tree back to the 1700’s. That’s quite a gift of history to pass on.


  6. stephaniequeen says:

    I love that sense of belonging a small town can give you, Pepper! I didn’t move as much as you, but you were lucky to get around before you settled in to really appreciate that small town essence!


  7. I live in a small town. The sign when you amble in, at 35mph, from the busy highway says population 1585. Now that just counts those in the city proper of course. Why the rest of us in the sticks don’t count I’m not sure, lol.

    I have always lived in the suburbs and moving to a one stoplight town was harsh, at first. Now, when I go visit family and friends in large cities and their suburbs I complain about traffic, all of the people, and the fast pace. 😀

    It seems I have been transformed. Small town life suits me. Great post, thanks for sharing!


  8. LOL,,,yes, small towns have their own pace. They built an Indian Casino just outside of ours and it’s been twenty years and we still complain about the extra traffic. But you can get across the entire town in about five minutes if you know the route to travel. I thoroughly enjoy ‘my home’…though the old timer’s still figure me for a ‘newbie.’


  9. monarisk says:

    Interesting post, Pepper. I live in a big building with 360 apartments and hardly know ten percent of my neighbors.


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