The Tolliver family has lost our Matriarch. Eleanor Tolliver Waters, a descendant of John Tolliver b. 1760, left us Friday, October 26, 2012. She was a dear friend of mine. I will really miss her.
When I retired from teaching in 1999, I started my genealogy venture. While researching the Tolliver family on the Internet started working on the Tolliver family. On the Internet I quickly met Velma Tolliver Parmerton, who along with her brother, John Cooper Tolliver, had worked on Tolliver family genealogy for many years. Velma encouraged me to contact her friend and fellow researcher, Eleanor Waters. On our yearly return trip from Florida to our home in Ohio, my husband, Bill, and I stopped at a motel near Woodstock, Georgia and decided to call Eleanor. She invited us to come over. We got to her home about 7 p.m. At 1:30 a.m. Eleanor was still going strong. Being on oxygen did not dampen her spirits or slow her down. She was so excited to share her research.
This first contact was the first of many visits and hundreds of phone calls, many lasting more than a couple hours. She taught me so much about how and where to research. She did not use a computer so she would call me and tell me about something she had found and want me to search on the Internet. I would find the information and mail it to her. She told me many times, “Now don’t you print this until we can prove it.” Her genealogy information was well researched and documented. This is what makes her work so special. She wanted it to be correct and she wanted it available for others to see.
Even the last few weeks as she became weaker she was still interested in the Tollivers. The last time I spoke with her about a week ago she asked as always, “Do you know anything new?” I was able to tell her about a young man who had contacted me that week requesting Tolliver information. I was able to give him his family information dating back to about 1800. Eleanor was very gratified that her research helped families find their ancestors. It gave her a sense of fulfillment to help others. I like to think she is walking around heaven searching for John Tolliver to ask him who his parents were. That was our genealogical brick wall.
Eleanor started her genealogy search before the Internet. She dug through the old, dusty records in Courthouses located in Virginia, North Carolina, and Kentucky. She meticulously copied marriage, birth, death, and land records by hand . She also went to the Archives in Washington, D.C. and many libraries seeking accurate information. Over the years she corresponded with many persons connecting them with their ancestors. Most of the “old” Tolliver information that we have from the 1700 and 1800’s came from Eleanor’s research. She did not want all of the information lost. She wanted it available for others. Eleanor’s desire to provide a single source of Tolliver information led me to create a website called Tolliverfamily.com where I have posted several family lines. Together, we created genealogy books that I have dedicated to our Tolliver Matriarch, Eleanor Tolliver Waters.
Eleanor was a very intelligent, kind, and generous person. Some may not know she also had a real sense of humor. One evening we were visiting. Eleanor and I were at her kitchen table going over genealogy. Bill was watching TV in the living room. She looked at me, smiled, and said, “I am going to get Bill.” She took the remote and turned the sound off on the TV. Bill said, “The sound went off on the TV.” Eleanor looked at me and winked and said, “You had it so loud we couldn’t hear each other.” She had a big smile. She had gotten Bill. There were many times that we were able to laugh together. We will miss Eleanor’s sense of humor.
This past February when we visited Eleanor, her physical condition was making her sleep most of the night in her recliner, but her attitude remained cheerful. Unless you were aware of her physical ailments, you would not know how ill she was. This was in large part because of her belief that God was with her and that when this life would be over that God would continue to be with her. She had a sense of appreciation for all that God had given to her. Her faith in God helped her to face her physical condition with calmness, an attitude of acceptance, and joyfulness.
In closing, I will always be indebted to Eleanor for her friendship, generosity, kindness, and love. Now and in the future, Tolliver descendants will continue to look to Eleanor’s work to learn about their ancestors. Future generations will come to appreciate all that she has done. If we could elect a Queen of Tolliver Genealogy, Eleanor would win by a landslide. Eleanor was my friend and everyone who was blessed to know her, including Bill and me, will miss her.
Emma Lee Tolliver