Happy 95th Birthday to Carol Collins!

Happy 95th Birthday to Carol Collins!

Those who study the Wathen family will inevitably discover the research of Carolyn Huebner Collins, whose landmark book Wathen Anthology compiled decades of genealogical research from across the country. Carol, whose grandmother was a Wathen, has been a pioneer in researching the Wathen name.

I called Carol yesterday to give her an update on my own research and initially discovered that she was unavailable to come to the phone: Her family and friends had planned a 95th birthday party for her, which was beginning in just fifteen minutes! Carol's daughter told me how much she would love to chat, but encouraged me to call back in a few hours.

When I was able to speak to her in the early evening, we had a lovely conversation! I shared an update on my work and she reminisced about her years of research. She gave some advice, for example, about her favorite places to research in both Indiana and Kentucky. Although Carol warned me that her memory is not as sharp after 4 PM, she seemed remarkably clearheaded for someone who had just left her 95th birthday party. Despite her surprisingly reliable memory, I suspect that she's forgotten more about Wathen genealogy than most of us will ever know! As she recalled in our phone conversation, Carol studied the Wathen family for about sixty years before entering an unofficial retirement from genealogy.

Since writing The Wathens of Southern Maryland: Their Genelogy and History, I've regretted that I wasn't able to spend more time studying Carol's branch of the Wathen family. On page 47 of my book, I explained that there were two Barton Wathens: The first Barton (Leonard3, Ignatius2, John1) was born about 1760 in Charles County, and the second, who is Carol's ancestor, was born in the same county in the same year with the same exact name! Carol presents evidence that this second Barton was a son of John Baptist Wathen (Henry3, Ignatius2, John1), but says that "definitive proof is missing."

I only mentioned this second Barton in passing in my book. If I could do it over again, I would have devoted more time and space to unpacking Carol's extensive research on his family.

Here's the exciting news that I called to share with Carol Collins: Last week I was able to recruit a descendant of Carol's ancestor Barton to take a Big Y-700 test from Family Tree DNA, which may shed some light on her branch of the family tree! It will be several months before the results of the test are in, but I'm so excited to see what new information about the Wathen family tree this test may reveal!

We're a little more than a week into this new year, and I've made some big plans for genealogical research. Christmas break always seems to give me more time to branstorm and make progress. Stay tuned for some big announcements in the coming weeks.

I pray that Carol Collins has a blessed birthday!

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