A Feature Story
We all come to genealogy from different paths and starting places, whether to create a family tree, or perhaps from a story passed down of days gone by. Richard (Rick) Norwood was introduced to family history in the late1960’s by his maternal grandmother (Ruth Edwards). She was a visionary who saw and understood the importance of family relationships. She and a cousin worked on portions of lineage connections from memory. She spoke to Rick of stories and lists of family members going as far back as the 1700’s. Originating from New England with 11 siblings, including half-brothers and sisters, Ruth provided a broad genealogical path for Rick to research, with many twists and turns.
Although he found the family lineage of interest, Rick did not immediately pursue the research any further. While attending college he began studies in geology. During his junior year it was fortuitous that he was invited on an archaeological dig. He discovered his first arrowhead that day, and prompted him to change his college major to archaeology. Despite the change in his educational path, his interest in rocks remains today, and he continues to collect and enjoy gem cutting for jewelry. After all, according to Rick, “every rock is special”.
Many years later, in about 2000 Rick renewed his interest in family history and actively began researching. He became a member of the New England Genealogical Society, and utilized the Master Genealogist program (now obsolete) for his research data. However, in 2003, with the demands of a successful career in archaeology, his genealogy pursuits were set aside. By 2019, things began to settle down, and Rick resumed his family history research. He found his geology interest and archaeology experience to be closely aligned with genealogy and historical research.
He currently uses Ancestry.com as his primary research application, and maintains hard copy records in cabinet file drawers. His DNA test results are from both Ancestry and Family Tree Y-DNA.
Through his research, Rick discovered a family branch in the Philippines, allowing him to establish a connection with family members there. He learned that in 1903, his grandmother’s brother (Irving Edwards), was a member of the Philippine Constabulary (U.S. armed police force distinct from the regular Army and predecessor to today’s Philippine National Police). As was with all Americans there, Irving was captured by the Japanese in 1943 during WWII. He was held in a prison camp despite being married to an indigenous Tiruray tribal Philippine woman and raising their family there. He was detained for 2 years, and survived by food sneaked in to him by his son. In 1945 when the war ended, Irving was liberated and continued to live in the Philippines with his family for the remainder of his life.
Rick attributes learning a great deal of history through his family research, particularly with respect to past wars. He became aware of the 14-month King Phillip’s war (1675-1676), in which many of his ancestors had participated in, but tragically did not survive. Rick’s goal is to trace his ancestors back to the 1400’s and estimates he is currently about 75% closer to reaching that target. His research focuses on 4 family lines – Edwards, Norwood, Cook, and Cornwall. He has established his Cornwall lineage was from Wales and dates back to the1600’s. Additionally, he has learned his ancestor William Cornwall had been involved in the Pequot tribal war with the colonists in 1637.
For a number of years, Rick had been unable to determine why his grandmother (Taylor) had not relocated to Ohio with the rest of the Taylor family. With much persistence, determination and a bit of luck, he came upon the History of Middletown CT, a late 19th century history of the town. The breakthrough was with the discovery of a reference to the Taylor family in Gilford, Connecticut. He was able to verify when the family moved to Ohio, Rick’s grandmother remained in Gilford with a relative. Years later, she married and continued to live in Gilford.
Current Brick Wall
A current brick wall for Rick is within his maternal Clark line, which he states “just disappears”. He continues to ‘chase down’ information on a female family member from Middleboro, MA who passed away in 1875.
Rick Norwood is the current President of the Siuslaw Genealogy Society and lives in Florence, OR with his wife Darlene.
As in Rick Norwood’s experience, family research is a project which can be put aside, picked up again, and with persistence and sometimes luck, can bring rich and fulfilling rewards. There are many family stories we all have yet to discover.