Maybe I have too much time on my hands. One of the projects I was working on this week involved finding the ancestry of my dad’s best friend, Cleve Henry.

One of my middle names — Cleve — is after this guy. He and my dad were cowboys together in the glory days of their youth. Then they married sisters. Then they divorced the sisters. By the time I was born Cleve counted still as my uncle but purists would snarl.

The way I heard the story, Uncle Cleve was named after a plantation his family had before the Civil War. And somehow he was a distant, very distant, cousin. So it was the name coming back to our branch of the family.

When I was doing genealogy in my teens this was one of the stories I wanted to know about.

It was easy to find the plantation. It’s famous. Cleve Plantation in Virginia belonged to Charles Carter, of Cleve (1707-1764). A very famous family.

But as it turned out, it would be very generous to say my family is related to those Carters. Charles Bowen Howry (1844-1928), an ancestral 2nd cousin, was married to a Carter descendant, but that’s as close as it gets.

Then I found out that there is a Henry family that uses the given name Cleve. They’re descended from Oliver Cleveland Henry (1805-1863). I couldn’t find Uncle Cleve’s father among them but his full name was Oliver Cleve Henry, so I was pretty sure he would turn out to be a descendant. So, that’s it, I figured. There’s no connection on that other side either.

This weekend I did another push to find Uncle Cleve’s missing father. As I often do. But this time I found him. Here in Denver.

And, now I know the end of that story. Uncle Cleve was not descended from the Carters of Cleve, probably wasn’t named after Cleve Plantation, and is not descended from Oliver Cleveland Henry.

He’s just some guy whose parents like the name Cleve. And that pleases me greatly.

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