Monday, December 31, 2012

Frank Lee

Frank Lee is a name that appears several times in the history of my Lee family.  My father, grandfather, and great-great grandfather were all known as Frank Lee.  To my knowledge, the first Frank Lee in our family was my great-great grandfather, Jefferson Francis Marion Lee (1835-1912),who was a farmer, a father of five, and a Union supporter in Trimble County, Kentucky.  Known as Frank, he and his first wife, Margaret Shaw Anderson, raised their four daughters and one son (my great grandfather) on their farm on the Ohio river.  Their house, which g-g-granddad named Freedom Home, is rumored to have been part of the Underground Railroad.  I definitely plan to do more research about this tidbit of family history!

Jefferson Francis Marion  (Frank) Lee, far right, with his wife and children, circa 1870

The second Frank Lee in my family was my grandfather, Frank Lewis Lee (1881-1962).  Though my granddad died when I was just about a year and a half old, I have always felt very connected to him.  In fact, I think it's mainly because of him that I'm so interested in researching and preserving our family history.  My grandfather's desk, chair, and file cabinet remained in our house for years while I was growing up, and I loved to sit in the brown leather swivel chair at his big desk and write and draw.  My dad eventually sold the desk and chair, and the file cabinet was moved to a closet where it gathered dust for years.  While preparing my parents' house for sale after my dad's death in 2004, I rediscovered the old file cabinet.  In addition to being a pharmacist, business owner, and banker in Middlesboro, Kentucky, Granddad Lee, it seems, was also a collector of family history.  The contents of his old file cabinet, all saved by my grandfather, have become my treasures.  Numerous letters, receipts, and documents, some old photos, and a few belongings will be studied and preserved by me and then hopefully passed along to the Lee family's next "historian."

Frank Lewis Lee at work in his drug store, circa 1955

There is also my dad, Frank Welch Lee (1912-2004).  Following in his father's footsteps, Dad was also a pharmacist, business owner, and banker in Middlesboro, Kentucky.  A rather quiet and very private man, my dad once told me that he didn't like to think a lot about the past and preferred to "look forward."  I'm so very thankful, though, for what he did share with me about himself and the Lee family--and I'm so glad he kept Granddad Lee's old file cabinet!

Frank Welch Lee at work in his pharmacy, circa 1978

Finally, I was ALMOST another Frank Lee.  Well, my dad wanted to name me Frances, but my mom put her foot down.  They compromised, and I became Elizabeth--a name that was part of both of my parents' family histories.  A fourth Frank, however, did appear only thirteen months after I was born.  My brother, Frank Lewis Lee II, was born on February 22, 1962, in Middlesboro, Kentucky, but he died only two days later on February 24.  The older I get, the more I miss my little brother, and I wonder if he would enjoy discovering our family roots as much as I do.

Unlike my Dad, I find a certain comfort and excitement when venturing into the past.  So with this first blog post, let the adventure continue!  I so hope there are some genealogy buffs and especially other members of the Lee family that will follow along with me.  I'd love to hear from you all.