"Our Loose Ends" Genealogy Column
by Lynna Kay Shuffield
Houston, Texas

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Printed in the Taylor Daily Press - 26 Oct 2000

“Musicians in the Family?”

Recently, I attended a Shuffield/Sheffield Family Reunion and one of the main topics of interest when I interviewed older family members were the musicians in our family. Some families have traditions of doctors, lawyers, judges, bakers, et cetera; however, it seems our family is abounding with musicians.

The year 2000 is not only a Millennium year, it is also the 300th Anniversary of the piano when in 1700, Bartolomeo Cristofori's "new invention" of the piano e forte was recorded in Florence, Italy. While I cannot claim my family has been playing the piano for 300 years, I do know that we have had a family history of musicians and singers for over 125 years.

Why is documenting musical talent and musicians important? While attending our reunion, an older family member Charlie Shuffield remembered that as a teenager he’d seen my grandfather, Noel Shuffield, who died of tuberculosis in 1947. He said, “I came home from school one day and my Cousin Noel was sitting on the front porch pick’n an old guitar and singing.”

That was the first time I’d ever heard that story and it made me wonder. You see, my brother and I essentially taught ourselves how to play our band instruments, my brother the trombone and I play the flute. Now, I know it was a natural tendency, and not just a fluke because my father has always claimed the only thing he could ever play was the radio!

There are others in our family who can pick and sing. My Cousin A. T. Shuffield of the Georgetown, Texas area has written and recorded a song about our family’s history called, “Milam County.” At the dedication ceremony of one of our ancestor’s gravemarker, Donald “Duck” Shuffield of Rockdale played his fiddle and guitar. What a rich family history of musicians!

Take time to ask about the musical history of your family members. Research the history of the musical instruments or folk/country music they played. And don’t just limit yourself to musicians; remember artists, writers, woodcrafters, and others with unique hobbies or talents in your family history. Encourage your younger family members to continue the music and artistic traditions of your family.

To find information on the internet about the History of Musical Instruments visit a website by Dr. Gordon J. Callon, Associate Professor at Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada at: http://plato.acadiau.ca/courses/musi/callon/2273/instr.htm. This remarkable website contains links for “Museums & Collections,” “Historical Guides,” Historical Sources,” “Societies,” “Individual Instruments,” and “World Instruments.” This is a good resource website to bookmark not only for your genealogy research but also for school projects and homework.

“Jewish Cemetery in Milam County”

Currently, I am working on the application to have the Jewish Cemetery in Rockdale, Milam County, Texas designated as a “Texas Historic Cemetery” by the Texas Historical Commission. Towards that goal, I am researching the families of the approximately 20 individuals who are buried in the Jewish Cemetery that was established by the Hebrew Benevolent Society in 1878. The last grave was placed in the cemetery in 1939.


If you can provide any information about these families or the history of the cemetery, please contact me at P. O. Box 16604, Houston, Texas 77222-6604 or e-mail: lksfriday@sbcglobal.net. Please be sure and announce this project to your genealogical or historical society for their membership and/or newsletter.

In this column, I will be glad to highlight and review any family history, genealogy, county history, or similar book, free of charge, if you donate a copy of the book or item. After it has been highlighted and reviewed, on a space available basis, it will be donated to the genealogy section of a library. You will receive an acknowledgment of the donation from the library. Mail item or book to me at the below address.

Lynna Kay Shuffield has written several books related to Texas genealogy and military history. She has spoken before numerous genealogy and veterans groups. Also, is a County Coordinator for the Texas GenWeb Project. Regretfully, she cannot help with individual genealogical research. Please visit the website for this column at: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Academy/2670/ COLUMN-001.htm or if you have any questions, comments, suggestions for column topics, genealogy or historical society announcements, please contact her at: P. O. Box 16604, Houston, Texas 77222-6604 or e-mail: lksfriday@sbcglobal.net

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This webpage was last created on 23 Oct 2000 and was last revised on ________ 2000

Copyright © 1999, 2000 Lynna Kay Shuffield - All rights reserved.
P. O. Box 16604
Houston, Texas 77222-6604