Days Gone By - stories from the pastGenealogy Information

Who do you think you are? Here’s who I think I am




There is a TV series, “Who Do You Think You Are?” Several years ago, a cousin of mine became interested in genealogy. She devoted a lot of time to researching our family tree. She gave me a neatly organized stack of her findings which she had placed in a loose leaf notebook. I quickly made a copy for each of my sons so that they would know about the Hamrick part of our family tree.genealogy tree

In preparation for this article, I reached for the Hamrick Family folder. In checking through the information which I had put very little time into, I came up with a lot of unanswered questions. My cousin, the recorder of family history, has since gone on to a better place. Not only that, most of my family members who could answer those questions are now deceased.

As in the TV series, I did learn from my perusal that much of the information I thought I knew was true. I have always maintained that my family was not involved in the Revolutionary War nor the Civil War. We were too poor to even have slaves. I found all of these assumptions are untrue. There apparently was some money in part of the family way back when!

“Hamrick” is a German name which has had many ways of spelling and pronunciation. Some of those have been Hambrick, Hambrook, Hambrugg and Hamerich. The first Hamrick to come to the United States was Patrick, who came to Virginia as a teenager in 1699 or 1700. Patrick did not have the funds for the voyage from England, so entered into an agreement to work in the tobacco fields in Virginia as an indentured servant.virginia map

Through the years, Hamricks are recorded in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Georgia. My ancestors came from Georgia into Alabama in late summer or early fall of 1850. They were on their way West. Maybe they were hoping to join the “49ers.” When they got into what is now Cleburne County, my place of birth, the axle of one of their oxcarts broke. Since they had no spare parts, and knowing it would require a lot of time for curing trees to make an axle, they built temporary housing to make it through the winter.

Mars Hill Cemetery sign by James Garner at Find a

Mars Hill Cemetery sign by James Garner at Find a grave

While working on those makeshift cabins, the chimney of one fell on a leg of Robert Signer Hamrick. Robert Signer’s leg was so badly crushed it had to be amputated. The leg was the first burial in what became Mars Hill Cemetery. Robert Signer has another grave in that cemetery where his body was later interred. Mars Hill Primitive Baptist church was founded nearby November 5, 1853.

Robert S. Hamrick

robert S. Hamrick

Those ancestors didn’t make it to the gold rush. A number of them remained in Cleburne County, Alabama. My father, James Walter Hamrick, who was born in 1913, later became a deacon of the little church. During World War II, he was employed by Republic Steel in Gadsden, AL and moved us to that area. I grew up in Attalla about five miles from Gadsden. After my marriage to Mack McCollum, we moved to Birmingham and into Hoover in 1966.


As family historian, do you have friends and family ask you how to get started in family research? This is a hard question to answer in a few minutes. Refer them to the book below to help them get started in this fun hobby. Purchase several – Books make great gifts!

WHERE DO I START? Hints and Tips for Beginning Genealogists with On-line resources

Click here for all historic books by Donna R. Causey

About Inez McCollum

Inez McCollum grew up in Etowah County.  Married Mack McCollum, a BI-vocational minister.  Moved to Birmingham to work while he worked and went to Howard College/Samford University.  Inez and Mack had three sons, Jay, Joe and John.  They bought their first home in what is now Hoover.  Inez continues to be active in Shades Mountain Baptist Church and some of the civic organizations in Hoover.  Inez also enjoys reading, travel and spending time with friends.

Liked it? Take a second to support Alabama Pioneers on Patreon!


  1. Your story sounds very similar to mine and I think many other Southerners story. We’ve been here quite awhile.

  2. Greetings, fellow descendant of Patrick! I too come from the Georgia line of Hamricks and still have relatives over there. Thanks for sharing some of your Hamrick history!

    1. My great grandmother was Bessie lenore Hamrick William’s I too am a descendant.

  3. I’ve been doing our family history for quite some time now and I can truly say it is addictive ! Watching your family history fall into place like the pieces of a puzzle is soul satisfying !

  4. I have Hamricks in my ancestry too! Perhaps we are cousins!

  5. Another collection of wonderful stories of alabama. How I love them and look forward to receiving them. Thank you for your hard work and sharing them with us.

  6. The majority of people who lived in the South in the antebellum era were “too poor to own slaves” or else just didn’t choose to buy any.

  7. I am also a descendant of Patrick Hamrick. My line breaks from your in South Carolina. The Hamrick and Bridges (the family that married into Hamrick) families moved to South Carolina together.

  8. You can blame the Civil War for the lost of wealth. In researching my Southern ancestors (AL, GA, SC, NC, VA), I discovered that many of them were very well-to-do before the Civil War.

  9. We could be cousins. I can only go back to my 2x great-grandfather, William Henry Hamrick, born in TN or GA (depending on what census you believe) on 11 JUL 1836. The first record I can find him in is his marriage to Margarete Elizabeth Nabors on 7 NOV 1865 Shelby Co., AL (just after the Civil War ended). His first born son he named John H. Hamrick.

  10. My second grade teacher at Bayview,Alabama grade school in 1947-48 was named Mrs. Hamrick. She was one of my favorite teachers. I haven’t seen that name since then until now.

  11. If the slavery in the ‘south’ is researched you will learn a small percentage of farmer-families had slaves. Only the rich and/or titles holding families and leaders, such as the President of the United States, etc owned slaves. I’m not saying that makes it right, but I am tired of being blamed for slavery just because I am Southern. Also the ‘North’ and many other states had a fancy name for their ‘slaves’ and called them “indentured servants” same deceitful and not so nice treatment of those less financially in high standing. Most southern farm-owners lived with their share-cropper helpers mostly in harmony. Just saying.!!!

  12. Hamrick isn’t German. Germany did not exist at the time Patrick came over. There was not a unification of the German states until 1871. Patrick came over before 1710.
    (sorry, it is a pet peeve. the paper trail points to an Irish immigration)
    Benjamin Hamrick (a GA Hamrick) served in the Revolution, but, his service has to be proved if you are seeking DAR membership thru him.
    Robert Signor Hamrick is my 3rd great uncle.
    On the Hamrick side, I am a 2nd generation Alabama Hamrick. My grand, ggrand and gggrands were all from Carroll Co., GA.
    Patrick Hamrick is my 7th great grandfather.
    I would love to talk Hamrick with you!
    Pam Hamrick

  13. Charlotte Waldrop-Chambers

  14. Thank you for this post. Robert S Hamrick is my 4th great grandfather.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.