Story:How I got started in genealogy

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How I got started in genealogy
Narrator Susan Chambless
Narrator's page CHAMBLESS, Susan Devore (1950 - )
Approximate year written 2016
Family(s) Gauss,Johns,Fawcett,Durfee
Description I plan to post these to Facebook, and on the front page, but wanted to have them in a permanent form.



I got started on this genealogical journey about 1995, but some of the roots go further back. People have asked me how and when I found out about my connection to Carl Friedrich Gauss[1]. The answer is that I never didn't know about it. My grandmother, Lois Gauss Simmons[2], like many Gauss descendants in the 1950s, contributed genealogical information for G. Waldo Dunnington's[3] iconic Gauss biography, Carl Friedrich Gauss: Titan of Science, published in 1955. We had a copy. Gauss is my mother's great great grandfather, but it was my father[4] who was inordinately proud of the connection. He told many academics about it. We also had a copy of John Jay Johns' journal, which was typed up by a couple of Johns cousins in the 60s, xeroxed by my Uncle Cliff[5], among others. Copies were passed around the family.

Then about 1982, my mother's uncle, Fred Reeves[6], died. His wife, Minna Gauss Reeves[7], was the youngest child of Charles Henry Gauss[8] and Charlotte Elizabeth "Lizzie" Johns[9]. She was blind and could not live alone. My parents[10][11], my aunt Betty[12] and David Warren Gauss[13] went down to Eudora, Arkansas to break up the household. It was quite a chore. There was stuff that was to go to various family members, including a large cherry chest of drawers that had been promised to my Aunt.

Then my father had a heart attack and my mother thought that she would just miss out on the stuff promised to her. I told her I thought she and I could manage it, so we started out in an old Ford Falcon that had belonged to my father's mother.

Eudora is in the very southeast corner of Arkansas, only a few miles from both Louisiana and Mississippi. Going down there was like going back to the plantation. We drove down, rented a trailer, and packed it inexpertly. Then we got help, unpacked the trailer and packed it up again in a more balanced manner. On the way home to St. Louis, about Memphis, my mother said, "I think we're going to be able to do this." Apparently she had faith in me.

When we got home again, we discovered all manner of things in the chest of drawers, including more than 200 old letters that had been collected by Charles Henry Gauss and his daughters, Ann Durfee Gauss[14] and Minna. There was also a little notebook, which I have called the "Black Book", which contained carbon copies of various things that Minna, Ann, and their cousin Florence Johns[15] had shared back and forth. Much of the typing was done by Florence.

In the 1990s, I got increasing interested in the letters and finally my mother gave them to me, which started the present saga of the web page. My first efforts can be found on RootsWeb.





  1. GAUSS, Carl Friedrich (1777 - 1855)
  2. GAUSS, Lois E. (1888 - 1966)
  3. DUNNINGTON, Guy Waldo (1906 - 1974)
  4. CHAMBLESS, Robert Devore (1922 - 2007)
  5. BURCHSTED, Clifford Arnold (1921 - 1983)
  6. REEVES, Fred Lorimer (1898 - 1982)
  7. GAUSS, Minna Waldeck (1892 - 1984)
  8. GAUSS, Charles Henry (1845 - 1913)
  9. Person:JOHNS, Charlotte Elizabeth (1850 - 1938)
  10. CHAMBLESS, Robert Devore (1922 - 2007)
  11. SIMMONS, Lois Winston (1924 - 2012)
  12. SIMMONS, Elizabeth Johns (1922 - 2007)
  13. GAUSS, David Warren (1936 - 1986)
  14. GAUSS, Anne Durfee (1876 - 1932)
  15. JOHNS, Florence (1891 - 1977)
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