Other Parts of Me - Family History

A couple years before re-focusing my personal blog on diabetes, and at a time when the Diabetes Online Community was not yet a prevalent force in my life, the history buff in me bubbled to the surface.

Family history, specifically.

It started with some holiday conversations with my in-laws in 2007, and a fascinating discussion (over coffee, of course!) about their lines beginning in northern Michigan and how my mother-in-law found some historic Civil War papers on an ancestor.

That got me hooked. I soon began my own examination into the Hoskins family tree. A subscription to Ancestry and some travels between Indiana, Michigan, and Kentucky took me to parts of my world that I'd never known before. I got a look at where I truly come from, and it was pretty exciting.

A visit to Kentucky was probably the most exciting, where my dad and I stumbled around cemeteries search for grave markers but found an actual Hoskins Road on land once owned by our ancestors back in the mid-1800s(!)

Since then, I've set up a small antique table in our living room with small family heirlooms - photos stretching back five generations, trinkets from both sides of the family, a stopwatch from my paternal grandfather, a WWII bullet and military knife from my maternal grandfather, a tube radio belonging to my great-great grandmother that I listen to baseball games and the Indy 500 on now. All in the name of recognizing where I'm from.

In an effort to rekindle that passion that I've let sit for a while, and also to share the stories that I'd already discovered but haven't really shared with my friends in the diabetes online community, I thought I'd start writing about them here, in my free time. Let's call this: The Other Parts of Me, since diabetes is a part of my life but certainly doesn't define everything about me. We'll see where we go from here...

This is an intro I wrote in a 50-page booklet created for my grandfather's 80th birthday a few years ago - called The Hoskins Family: A Living History.

This book is dedicated to my grandfather, whose name I am blessed to have as my own middle name. This man has had and continues to always have a profound impact on my life and our family, and we are all better people for having him in our lives.  I can only hope to live as he has, being able to inspire and nurture those special people in my life as he's done throughout the years.
- Michael William Hoskins

"Pay attention to the experience of our ancestors. For we were born but yesterday and know nothing. But those who come before us will teach you. They will teach you the wisdom of old."
- Job 8: 8-11

Most of us know our parents and grandparents, and some of us have had the chance to meet great grandparents and hear stories of their ancestors. We have looked into their eyes, talked to them, shared meals, laughed and cried, and experienced life together. We’ve heard their voices reflect their personalities and moods, and after they are gone we can fondly recall those memories and say that we knew them. But beyond them, our relatives and ancestors enter the realm of myth and family lore, and if stories aren’t shared and passed through  generations then we can eventually end up in a city surrounded by strangers we happen, unknowingly, to be related to. We become forgotten pieces of history, our faces and lives losing identity and no longer connecting to those around us or the world we once spent our lives living in. Our lifetime may not be the end of the larger spiritual journey that continues, but it’s a chance to give our time in a meaningful way while we’re here, and it's important to reflect on our ancestors' lives and make sure their stories and our own can be passed on. This is an attempt to put into writing a glimpse of how some of those past generations lived, how they may have shaped the world then and beyond, and how they may have influenced who we’ve become. One day, we’ll be ancestors and it’s important that future generations appreciate and understand their own history, our past and how we’re all connected.

It is now more than 400 years since the birth of our American immigrant ancestor Bartholomew Hoskins, in about 1600. This historical account of our family is long overdue, but even as I publish it now, I realize it will be out of date almost instantly. A family history is a living thing, with births, marriages, divorces and deaths constantly changing the family's dynamic. I know there will be errors, mostly of omission, but some that are just inevitably forgotten clouded by the cloak of time. Records aren't always accurate, and piecing together a family history can be like a large jigsaw puzzle. Some pieces don't fit, and you have to rearrange what you have and know and find where those pieces fit into the overall puzzle. In researching, it's been an honor hearing stories of family and finding new connections, as well as seeing glimmers in family members' eyes as they reflect on long-forgotten memories. Hopefully this writing will be of great use to relatives and fellow researchers. I hope that everyone will have something to add to it even as they read through the pages. By doing this, the history within these pages can be preserved for future generations to look upon and get a glimpse of how their ancestors lived their lives and made a mark in this world.

My genealogical journey "officially" began in January 2008, after sputtering to start periodically throughout my life. It’s now clear that this is something I’m destined to do, as the so-called family writer for this modern generation. I take great pride in the history I’ve uncovered through my own research, investigation, and reporting skills, but also those contributions of so many others both within and outside our family lines.

A moment must be taken to thank those who've contributed to this project, sharing their efforts or knowledge with me. Most importantly, thanks must be given to my wife for everything she has done to put up with me during the course of my project. Late nights have continued on long past the time I've promised to come to bed, as my research has pushed me to neglect sleep in order to feed that genealogical addiction and ponder the mysteries of time. She's been a staple: whether it was brewing a pot of coffee, tagging along on visits to various states to glimpse where our ancestors had lived, walking with me through cemeteries and digging up buried grave markers to see the long-faded markings, or peering at and deciphering century-old documents to help piece the puzzle together. This is all great fun and quite the intriguing adventure, but I can't do any of this without her. So thanks, Suzi.

Every journalist should take on the research, reporting, and writing of his or her own history. A genealogical adventure is right up a reporter’s alley, since we are by nature historians who chronicle moments in history and share those stories through our writing. So, here's a glimpse of my historical ride into the roots of our family tree. Just like any story, our family has a beginning and our storyline continues with this project.

This remains an ongoing effort, a living history, but what has been compiled so far I offer as a tribute to each and every generation that came before me, and a way to pass on this history to those future generations who will someday have their own chapter of this history.

Family Roots
Surnames became necessary after the crusades in the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries when there was a need for a family name to replace the one that had been given at birth. When governments introduced personal taxation such as the Poll Tax in England, surnames have grown since. Our Hoskins surname is the patronymic form of Hoskin, which the Oxford University Press’s Dictionary of American Family Names says is a variant of the Dutch surname of Hosekin that was an occupational name for a maker or seller of hose garments for the legs. However, genealogy research shows the surname is a derivation of the ancient given name of Osekin, from the pre-7th Century element “os” meaning God and the later “kin” meaning a very close relative. The surname is generally popular through the British Isles and can be traced back to Robert Osekin in 1274 during the rein of King Edward I and the “Hammer of the Scots.”

Historical documents, Bible records, family lore, and memory take our roots back to long before our family settled in Kentucky in the 1800s and eventually migrated to Detroit in the late 1940s. A combination of sources and investigations by fellow researchers show our lines go back to the surname of Hoskyns, specifically a John Hoskyns of 1505 in Herefordshire, England, and it appears the surname was intentionally or inadvertently switched to Hoskins after a descendent came to the new country.

Author Eliza A. Herring, in her book entitled “The Hoskins of Kentucky” that outlines a branch of the family we may be distantly connected to, writes: “The Hoskins, in their generations, must ever have been sanguine in their enterprises, adventurous, challengers of a new day, for the Hoskins crest was a cock’s head with wings expanded.” England's heraldic records show variations of this crest between the different English lines of Hoskyns, and it's not documented exactly which line American immigrant Bartholomew Hoskins descends from, but the crest shown above contains elements included in each version and our motto translates to "Consider the End." Another possible motto is: "Truth is great, and shall prevail."

Historical writings state the surname genealogy dates back to the 10th Century, with two Normans – believed to be the first of the Hoskyns line – joining William the Conqueror in 1066 when he took England during the Norman Conquest. One of these invaders received 13 manors in Suffolk; the other Norman received seven lordships in Lincolnshire. Descendents of these lines included a branch later referred to as the Hoskins of Virginia, which included a number progenitors named John, Thomas, William, and Samuel - who eventually ended up in Kentucky during the early 1800s by riding with a number of slaves on the first race horses ever brought to the new state. Our family shares those ancestors.

Through verified research that meant tapping into multiple states' databases and local archives, I was proud to be able to track our family's history to at least 1600. Most of it's documented going back to the early 1800s, and a single Bible page uncovered in a Kentucky historical museum connects the dots to the family line dating back to before the start of the United States of America.

1. Bartholomew Hoskins (1600-1663) & Dorcas Mira Isham (1587-1670)
    2.  John Hoskins (1625-1680) & Unknown Wife
        3. Thomas Hoskins (1650-1710) & Phoebe Hodgkins (1652 - ?)
            4. Samuel Hoskins I (1680-1738) & Mary Brereton (1682 - ?)
                5. William Hoskins (1729-1781) & Dorothy "Dolly" Coleman (1732-1809)
                    6. William Hoskins (1755-1840) & Frances George (1760-1840)
                        7. Samuel Hoskins (1791-1861) & Ann Donaldson (1795-1878)
                           8. Andrew D. Hoskins (1820-1873) & Amanda Doley Vincent (1829-1918)
                               9. William Oliver Hoskins (1870-1956) & Ella Mae Byassee (1876-1951)
                                   - Ola Ray Hoskins (1894-1968) & Charlie Hoskins
                                   - Willie Mae Hoskins (1897-1980) & Fred Paul Kemp
                                   - Mattie Irene Hoskins (1901-1903)
                                   - Mary Louise Hoskins (1905 - 1981) & George Copeland
                                   - Thelma May Hoskins (1914-1965)
                                  10. Raymond Oliver Hoskins (1899-1962) & Hadie McReynolds (1902-1978)
                                       - Jewell Edward Hoskins (1925-2004) & Margaret Louise King (1927)
                                               + Gary Lee Hoskins (1947)
                                               + Steven Edward Hoskins (1949)
                                                     - Lacey Ann Hoskins (1978); Steven Grant Hoskins (1985)
                                       - Raymond Harold Hoskins (1927) & Emily Ruth Griffin (1930-1984)
                                                + Richard H. Hoskins (51); Linda R. Hoskins (70); Robert H. Hoskins (74)
                                        - Dorothy S. Hoskins (1931-2000) & Robert Gaddie (1928)
                                                + Jeffrey, Pamela, Robert, & David Gaddie                                    
                                      11. William Lee Hoskins (1929) & Irma Jean Hall (1932)
                                            - Glenn R. Hoskins (1954) & Diane Moore (1959)
                                                 + Jesse Hogan Hoskins  (1994)
                                            - Deborah Lynn Hoskins (1958) & Jim Keeter
                                                 + Justin Keeter (1980); Eric William Keeter (1986-2002)
                                            12. Larry William Hoskins (1952) & Judith A. Tucker (1953)
                                               13. Michael William Hoskins (1979) & Susanne Renee Hitchens (1979)

And with that, I'll leave the family history until the next round where we get into the man they called Barth Hoskins, back in the 1600s...

Oh, and since we're talking family here, let me also do a quick shout-out to my own mom, @jath622, who is celebrating her birthday today! Happy Birthday, mom!! Love you.


Jackie said…
Super awesome that you've been able to do that. The road sign's particularly cool - I have a picture of myself and my brother at Pope and Ivanhoe in Virginia (Pope is my mom's maiden name, and he dad grew up there). I love genealogy but don't really have the time for it...
Random question: I don't know if you've delved far enough in yet, but do you know if any of your ancestors were ever on Mackinac Island? (1812 or Civil war probably)
Lilly said…
Good for you, Michael! I have been working on my family genealogy off and on for over 30 years, and it is amazing stuff. You are right that it is like a (gigantic!) jigsaw puzzle. Have fun with it, as each new discovery is a priceless gem.

Thanks for sharing,

David Harrison said…
Hello Mike,

I was reading about Bartholomew Hoskins this morning and discovered your site. I'm delighted to meet a relative. I have a Hoskins family geneology prepared by Glenister Hoskins that also takes the history back to the battle at Hastings. He printed 50 copies before his death in 1978.

David Harrison

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