To give some background to my response, I will need to outline my maternal and paternal families.
On my mother’s side; she was the only child of my grandmother, who was in turn the eldest of six children. One of my great-uncles (my grandmother’s brother) was very interested in geneology and his ancestors. He verbally passed some information to my grandmother and to my mother, but until recently I had no real hard facts or names.
My father was born and raised in a very poor household in Mississippi, he and his siblings had worked in fields as very young children just to be able to survive. His family had no interest in their origins, so I can only name my own grandfather and possibly my father’s biological mother.
So the scanty information I had on my mother’s family was that my great grandmother was in part Cherokee, and that the other origins were Irish and Scottish. My maternal grandfather was not married to my grandmother so all I knew about him was that he was French-Canadian.
When my mother passed away in late 2021, my sister in law forwarded me some photos of my mom and dad as children and several studio portraits of my great aunt and uncles as well as some of their children, all dating from the 1940’s and 1950’s, as well as my mother’s death certificate which named her biological father. The photos had the names written on the back. My sister in law also scanned several photos of my great grandmothers on both sides, with their names as well.
At the time I had already had an Ancestry account for several years, and with the new information I was able to start tracking down several branches of the family. I also used Find a Grave to locate several of them as well. I was actually able to contact my first cousin once removed (my mom’s first cousin) through this site, where he had posted a photo from the same set of studio portraits that I had of him as a child. My cousin very kindly shared a copy of the geneological information that had been passed to him by one of my great-uncle’s children.
I have been able to trace my maternal grandfather back a few extra generations, but on my maternal grandmother’s side, I found the first mother, Granny Hopper McDaniel, who was born a Cherokee (possibly) around 1730. Citing from Wikitree: Her partner/husband is believed to be named McDaniel. “David” McDaniel/McDonald appears repeatedly in South Carolina records as a trader to the Cherokee from 1751 through 1764 (as both David McDaniel and David McDonald). (cit. McDowell, William. Colonial Records of South Carolina: Documents Relating to Indian Affairs, 1750-1765. South Carolina Department of Archives and History. Columbia, S.C. 1958. numerous entries).
Granny Hopper lived until about 1800 to the estimated age of around 70 years old and had three confirmed children.
The dyi geneology is such a facinating rabbit hole for finding names and dates, but I’m really wishing that I knew more about who these people actually were and what they were like.