Whitesburg KY
Mostly clear
Mostly clear

Searching for my ancestors

In my first couple of weeks in Europe, while waiting for my car to come over from the States and for my family to arrive from Payne Gap where they were staying with my parents, one of my printers asked if I would like to take a trip with him to Amsterdam, the Netherlands, for a weekend. He wanted to visit his girlfriend.

I thought this would be a good time for me to look in the phone books for my Dutch ancestors. We left early Saturday morning and got there in the late evening. I never saw so many bikes in my life. Everybody had a bike, and they had the right-of-way on the roads. You could hardly walk the streets or drive on the highway because of all the bikes.

Most homes and buildings were built up, not out, as we do in the States, because of water everywhere. The hotel I stayed in was like no other place I’ve ever been. Space was limited, and to get to your room, the stairs were only about three feet wide. You almost had to do a U-turn at each floor.

While I was there, they were moving some heavy items into the hotel by taking them up, outside the building to the floor they wanted to go, and then through a large window. Your meal came with the room, and everyone would sit at a large table and eat.

The lady who ran the hotel spoke some English and let me take her phone books to my room to look for the Vanover name. I spent most of the day going through all phone books, and no Vanovers were listed.

In 1972 when I retired from the Air Force and started my family tree, I found out why there were no Vanover names in the Netherlands. My earliest proven ancestor of the Vanover family turned out to be Cornelius Van Hoogen, born in Flanders, Holland in 1640, and came to America in 1684. He was a cooper by trade, and the people he worked for thought he said his name was Vanover. His English was very bad.

All first-born sons were named Cornelius, as my grandfather, Cornelius Jay Vanover, and my dad, Cornelius Randolf Vanover were so named. That’s how the Vanover name was started in the year 1684. Everyone wrote his name down as Vanover.

The Vanovers first moved to North Carolina in 1780, one of my ancestors married Abby Easterd, a fullblooded Cherokee Indian, and their children moved westward into Virginia and Kentucky.

My great-great-grandfather, Cornelius, born in 1797, married Sarah Hill and moved to the old Vanover homestead in Pound, Va., in the 1840s. He was a farmer, an herb doctor, and operated a gristmill in Pound.

He deeded an acre of land to the trustees of the Primitive Baptist Church on the south side of Pound, where he was a deacon.

My great- grandfather, Wesley Vanover, born in 1832 in Ashe County, N.C., married Martha Fleming, and both are buried in the family cemetery on the old Vanover farm near the mouth of George’s Fork in Pound River.

My grandfather, Cornelius Jay Vanover, born 1875, married Florence Fleming, his mother’s niece, and Mattie Hunsucker, my mom’s half-sister.

My father, Cornelius Randolf ‘Ron’ Vanover, born 1896, married my mother, Julia Lucinda ‘Cinda’ Short. My dad, my mom, and my two brothers are buried in Payne Gap Cemetery.

All of this information was compiled by me after 1972 while I was working in Napa, Calif., at the job I worked at until I was 81 years old, as the manager of the printing for one of the largest construction companies in northern California.

Leave a Reply