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A History of the Myers Overstreet and Gray Families — Preface

It is not Abraham—It is Abram


Jourdan George Myers

This entire study is a direct result of a distant relative, Ruth Allen Davis, writing to me about fifteen years ago asking what I knew about the Myers Family. I wrote here a couple of pages in which I related what I remembered my father telling me about the family. At the same time I promised myself that I would try to find out if what I remembered was true and to see what additional information I could find. After I retired I discovered I had the time and interest to do the research.

I started by the obvious method of asking an older relative what she remembered. Between us what we remembered was far from accurate. We could list six children of our great great grandparents. When I checked the 1850 U.S. Census, I found twelve children listed with my great grandparents. This was the first of a number of monumental problems I faced. One has to be part detective, part bloodhound and part crazy to undertake such tasks. The most pleasant surprise was when Alan Telkes Myers of Dallas sent me a copy of a set of memoirs written by Thomas Rawlings Myers in 1918/1919. In time this information led to locating the descendants of four of the siblings of my great grandparent, David Myers.

I started spending hours studying passenger lists and other related documents of the 17th century. I was trying to start at the back end and work forward. The turning point in my research came when I listened to Arthur Haley when he said:

"When a story-teller dies in Africa, it is as if you had burned a room in one of our libraries in America…"

So I started with all the elderly people in the family and went in a forward and backward direction at the same time. This was a wise decision as I was able to locate a number of people who were in their eighties and they were able to remember so much.

I used any method I could to get leads on various parts of the family. I had several instances of dumb luck. For instance, I found that one of my great great uncles had moved to Newton County, Missouri back before the Civil War. I checked various censuses of Newton County and came up with the names of some of his children. I then called telephone information in Newton County and got a list of all the Myers listed in the area. I started calling and asking until I found names that matched as far as grandparents were concerned. This led me to Knowles Myers who was able to give me clues and help in locating the rest of that particular family.

I used the postal system as much as possible but if I did not get an answer in a reasonable time, I called the person involved. I have written and called several hundred people in the last few years. I only had one person who was not willing to answer questions and was impolite to me. Fortunately she turned out not to be a relative, a fact which I pointed out to her in a rather graphic letter.

I have advertised in newspapers, written letters to the editor, and asked friends to check on items for me. I have had perfect strangers answer my questions and be kind to the point of going to a cemetery to copy information for me. In a number of instances strangers wrote me and advised me to contact so and so for information. A number of them did not put a return address on their letter so that I could write them and thank them. I was glad to find out that there are some kind strangers left in the world.

In addition to the people mentioned above I need to thank a few people. Mary Land Stain of Bothell, Washington was most kind in sharing information that she has been gathering for a number of years. Tami Myers of Florence, Colorado was very helpful in getting information for me concerning the Myers/Raybourn contingent who moved to Colorado. Julia Searight Oakley of Old Hickory, Tennessee was very generous with her time and information about her branch of the family. Agnes Cleveland Stackhouse of Spartenburg, South Carolina not only furnished me with facts and dates on the Cleveland descendants but also furnished me with names and addresses of other people I could contact. Dr. Edgar Richardson supplied me with data concerning the Richardson family and their lives in China.

The information on the Mayfield family came primarily from Major Dan Bagby of the US Army and Bernice Mayfield of Jacksonville, Illinois. I was fortunate to have located Willard Myers of Tulsa Oklahoma. His memory is very accurate and he helped solve many problems I had concerning parts of the Jonas Myers family in Missouri and Oklahoma. The information on the Overstreet family is based on many pages of material furnished to me by Pixie Overstreet Morgan. She is a very careful researcher to whom I am very grateful. Nancy Sevier Madden also granted me verbal permission to use material on the Overstreet descendants which is included in her book, The Sevier Family History, Washington D.C., 1961.

The staff of the St. Helena Public Library have been understanding and helpful even when I asked for the same census for the third or fourth time. They made all possible effort to secure books, articles and films for me. I am really indebted to them for their time and patience.

My wife, Ruby B. Myers, has proofed, listened, proofed, helped with problems and proofed. She has been most helpful during the long project. In no way can I list all the people who have answered letters, telephone calls and personal visits. Such a list would read like the index of the book. I do thank each of you for your help.

My good friend, Ralph Putzker, has done the many photographs that were necessary to get the ones that are reproduced here. He has taken the dimmest of ‘tintypes’ and brought them up to the point that they could be recognized. Of the many that are not included, at least he tried.

Notes relative to the physical setup of the book: I have written a short general history of the family and there are a few personal items scattered through the text; but the special value of the book lies in the fact that I have tried to trace each member of the family down to the present. So much of the information in the book is the result of personal contact that it is virtually impossible to cite sources. It would be too much to hope that I have not made errors in names and dates since so many of them are involved. We have made every effort to proof names and dates each time they have been transcribed but that does not mean that errors have not been made.

I have inserted a descent sheet before each major section of the text. If you become confused as to who belongs to whom in the text, then refer back to the descent sheets until you are straight as to relationship.

In the Myers family, it is the fourth generation before we start to know more than one name per generation. According to Thomas Rawlings Myers the original immigrant was Pieter Myers. Then we have a record of David Myers owning property on Indian River near Philadelphia. This fits time wise into the second generation. The next David Myers must have been born around 1730 and died around 1790. We know that he was the father of five sons and two daughters. We do not know the names of the daughters. We know the names of the five sons and we know of two of the wives of the five sons. Of the five males we are most concerned with the descendants of Abram Myers I who was married to Mary Charity Schell.

I have taken the six descendants of Abram Myers I in chronological order and brought those descendants all the way to the present. That is, when I start on David Myers (1790-1872) I came all the way forward before I went back and picked up the next child of Abram Myers I.

I have tried to follow the same pattern in the Overstreet and Gray sections of the book.

Jourdan G. Myers
Deer Park, California

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