A fun way to share a quick DNA lesson with your family is to give them a Father’s Day Y line gift. This is a pictorial history of the paternal surname in my family, which is also how the Y chromosome is passed. Easy and fun to see the generations together, with a smattering of history. Make one yourself and enjoy! Makes a great, quick, Father’s Day remembrance that’s easy to share with lots of family members.
My father, William Sterling Estes, known as Bill as an adult and Sterl as a child was born sometime around 1902 and died in 1963, gone but not forgotten. He was my Daddy and I loved him. He was good to me and died in a car accident when I was too young to understand the rest. But oh did he ever earn a place in the rogues gallery. And no, I really don’t know what year he was born. There are several variants depending on what he was trying to accomplish at the time. We know for sure he made himself “older” to join the Army in WWI, so all of his “variants” weren’t necessarily self-serving. He served in WWI and WWII and was injured. When he was in his early 40s, he made himself “younger” by more than a decade to marry a 17 year old girl in Georgia. Quite the ladies man, he was convicted of bigamy at least once, and committed it at least twice. He had several wives and partners during his lifetime, and I keep waiting for a new half-sibling to appear through one of the autosomal testing companies.
My grandfather, William George Estes (1873-1971), photographer, moonshiner, ladies man, always just outside the law. Twice he had affairs with his wife’s younger cousin, twice he got divorced, and twice he married those cousins. Family lore says he was married to two of those women at once. Gives new meaning to words “repeat offender” in a tongue in cheek sort of way. Maybe my father came by his questionable behavior genetically. William George, known as Bill or Will, is one of my most colorful ancestors who lived in the roughest part of Harlan County, Kentucky, known as “Bloody Harlan.”
Lazarus Estes (1848-1918) was known as “Laze,” but was anything but Lazy. He was a huckster, a gravestone carver and the man who took care of things within the family and made them right for whoever needed something. Every family has one…he is ours. He helped care for his mentally ill father-in-law, transported him to the institute for the insane and then took care of his mother-in-law. He was very unhappy with the behavior of his son, William George, relative to his wives and their cousins, and at one point, threw him out of “Estes Holler” in Claiborne County, Tennessee. Still, when he died, he left Will a little something, so while Will may have been prodigal, he wasn’t entirely disowned.
John Y. Estes (1818-1895), Confederate Civil War veteran and Prisoner of War. John was wounded in battle, hospitalized and then captured. The details are sketchy, but he forever walked with a limp from his injury and used a walking stick as a cane. That didn’t stop him or even slow him down much. After his release as a Prisoner of War, at the end of the war, north of the Ohio River, he walked home to Claiborne County, Tennessee, on his injured leg. Then a few years later, he left his wife and walked with his limp and his stick to Texas, twice, which means he walked back once, 1000 miles each way. He lived in a dugout house along the Oklahoma border when he got to Texas and sold his “cancer elixir” along the Chism Trail. There are rumors of another family there in Indian Territory with a possibly Native wife where he lived on Choctaw land. John was one extremely tough man.
John R. Estes (1787-1885), War of 1812 veteran, pioneer, homesteader, man of the shadows. After the War of 1812, John packed up his family in a wagon and made the journey from Halifax County, Virginia to Claiborne County, Tennessee. John spent most of his life just under the radar. Never owning land, or better stated, selling his land grant the day he got it, he was a very difficult ancestor to track. He lived to be quite elderly and in addition to fighting in the War of 1812, he had a front row seat to the Civil War in Claiborne County, Tennessee, just south of the Cumberland Gap. Would I ever love to sit down and chat with him.
This is the end of the line in photos. We’re fortunate to have as many photos as we do, given that John R. Estes was born about 1787. I wonder what he thought of photography and having his picture taken.
Two of these men, my grandfather and John R. Estes lived to be just shy of 100 years old. John R. Estes’s father, George, died just as the camera was coming into use, in 1859. He too lived to be almost 100, or by a different account, just over 100. Longevity seems to run in this line. Two daughters of William George Estes lived to be just shy of 100 years as well.
Happy Father’s Day to each and every generation that contributed to me being here today! Y’all may have been “colorful,” but you’re still mine!
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