Tree of Life

The time I actually was connected to the global family tree

This story starts with the Pegues family. I’ve been working on adding the ancestors, descendants, and extended family of Paris Boyd Pegues to WikiTree ever since I ran across him while researching the descendants of a half great-granduncle of mine. I wrote about what I’d been able to glean about his life (and the lives of his wife and children) from records in “Paris Boyd Pegues (1898-1927)“. Paris married Flossie Avant who later married my half 1st cousin 2x removed McEwan Farmer after Paris’s death. During my research, I discovered that Paris’s grand-nephew, Ivy Lee Edwards, had married a woman (Muriel Keys) who might have previously had a son with LeRoy Pryor, the father of entertainer Richard Pryor. Richard Pryor is connected to the global tree which means that if I could prove that LeRoy Pryor was also Lawrence Dean Keys’s father, then all of the Pegueses I’d added to WikiTree would also become connected to the global tree.

Lawrence’s FindAGrave page has a copy of his obituary on it that states the relationship, but I was told that wasn’t enough evidence. So, I went looking for the actual obituary. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a digital copy of the Peoria Journal Star online from before about 2000 (he died in 1983). Next, I tried to find digitized versions of his birth and death certificates. That failed as well. I was discouraged and ready to give up when I decided to go to the Peoria County, Illinois website to see if there was an alternate way to obtain the records and discovered it was possible for anyone to request genealogical copies of a person’s birth or death certificate as long as they were born at least 75 years ago (birth and marriage records) and were currently deceased or had died at least 20 years ago for death records. I requested a copy of both his birth and death certificates just in case.

When I finally got a letter in the mail from Peoria County I was too nervous to open the envelope. What if they couldn’t find the records? What if neither document provided the evidence I was looking for? I let it sit for two weeks before I finally opened it. I examined Lawrence’s birth certificate first. There wasn’t a father recorded on it. I held my breath and took a look at his death certificate. There was a father recorded on it, but the name wasn’t what I expected. It said “LeRoy Carter”. I was immediately completely disappointed. It took a few minutes before I realized that Carter sounded familiar in relation to LeRoy. I returned to LeRoy Pryor’s WikiTree profile. His mother’s maiden name was Carter and he’d had the nickname “Buck Carter”. As much as I wanted to go ahead and say this was enough evidence, I wanted to be absolutely sure.

I consulted someone who has many more years of genealogical research experience than I do. She said that since Lawrence’s family recognizes LeRoy Pryor as his father (as per the transcribed obituary excerpt on his FindAGrave profile), I was allowed to connect them on WikiTree as father and son unless it was proven otherwise. It took a few hours for the website to update after I made the connection, but Lawrence was officially connected to the global tree. You can tell by the fact that his profiled displayed how many degrees he was from famous people at the bottom of the page.

By now you’re probably wondering what any of this has to do with me finally being connected to the WikiTree global tree. Remember when I said that Flossie Avant married McEwan Farmer after Paris Pegues’s death? That connection was enough to also add me (and everyone connected to me) to the global tree (600+ people). Flossie acted as a bridge. I looked at my profile page on a whim the day after I connected Lawrence and was completely surprised to see the degrees of separation info on the page. For some reason I didn’t think that particular marriage was important despite wanting to use the marriage between Ivy Lee Edwards and Muriel Keys to add the Pegueses. I’m still in shock about this. I didn’t expect to be connected this soon (I’ve only been doing genealogical research for about a year), if ever. I also would have preferred my link to the global tree to be less than 10 degrees from me.

Addendum: I obtained a copy of Lawrence’s newspaper obituary. It’s on his WikiTree profile. The large white gap is where I removed the names of his relatives who had been still alive upon his death. It clearly states that Lawrence was the son of LeRoy Pryor and brother of Richard Pryor.

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