Becoming LaChaumette. A Journal. Trying To Find The Good In My Grandfather. 10-11-15

I have learned the name of my grandfather, James Earl Shumate, and yet the search really isn’t over. No, I still have to search, investigate, and try to learn WHO he was. Try to find out what about him, is part of me.

This has been hard, because, at least those  whom I have been in contact with, haven’t had many nice things to say. this is a hard realization. Not an unexpected one, but difficult all the same.

It seems, he was abusive, both to women, and his children. Apparently, he was an alcoholic too. He was an absentee dad as well, both on purpose, and by accident.

He had two children he was never aware that he had, My father, and a daughter, Janice, that I have yet to find.  In addition, his youngest son Joe’s Mom, left James Earl when Joe was a year or two old, out of fear for the safety of her child, and her own safety. He seems to have been quite abusive to her.

Similarly, his first wife, ran away from him because of the abuse as well. She was actually pregnant with Janice when she left, but never told him. She ran away, had the child, and gave her to her Maternal aunt to raise.

So two wives left because of his violence.  His first wife was in such fear, she actually left the two older children, Lavoid and Rebecca, with him!! Given the times, I am sure she felt she had no choice. Hell, he might have flat told her she could go, but she couldn’t take his children. Both of these children left as soon as they were able, in their teen age years.

So Dad of the year he aint. Still, I hope to find something good, something redemptive, about him. He can’t have been all bad, I just have to dig deep, I guess.

Having spoken to his younger brother Troy, who is 90, I think I may know now where dad and I got our voices. Dad and I sounded almost identical over the phone, and talking to Troy on the phone, I was struck by the familiarity of his voice. So I have a good idea where our booming voices come from.

With that voice, I can imagine he must have been a pretty smooth talker. Rumors were that it wasn’t only my grandmother that fell for his charms, back there in that cotton camp in 1940. Story went that at least one, maybe two of her cousins fell under his spell as well.  So that sexxy DJ voice that I have? I can probably attribute that to Grampa.

He was a hard worker, and apparently a good man when not drinking. 

He also is probably a good candidate for the source of my wanderlust. I had always given my Townsend side credit for that, but now, knowing who my Paternal Grandfather was, I gotta give him at least equal credit. 

I mean, my Townsend ancestors were incessant in their desire to get further West than Texas, but they gotto the West Coast, and settled down. Not my Grampa Shumate. he never stoped moving, apparently traveling the migrant circuit harvesting crops up into his 60’s. I could be wrong there, he may indeed have settled down in Washington State at some point. I know that is where he died.

I know he is the source of my Dad’s brown eyes, and his olive skin. I got both of these as well. I also know, based on my Dad’s, and my I.Q.’s, that he wasn’t a dummy either. I guess that is why i am still scratching my ahead about him staying a migrant. why didn’t he ever settle in somewhere, with a real job?

Perhaps, he didn’t want to. Maybe, he didn’t have to. Maybe, he had an angle, a revenue stream I am unaware of, because of his work in Migrant Agriculture. Maybe he was a Straw boss, a Labor Contractor. Maybe, he was involved in some of the more unsavory businesses that come with influxes of migratory populations. I just don’t know yet.

So i have alot more to learn. I have my name finally, now it is time to unearth mopre about those, with whom I have family ties.


  1. YOU GAVE ME THE TRUE… how about some Historic Fiction!!!!

    …so … Alan Hamilton Shumate-Rose, I never tire of your stories. I haven’t had much time in the last few months to read them. I just got done reading all of your Shumate tales and was sad as I finished the last one finding it was the last one.

    In between finding more info, you should right some about what you imagine some of these characters were. Embellish the the affair in 1941. Give them different names if you need to. Don’t think about them as your Grand Parents. If I can start to picture life in Eloy in 1941 and the love affair of two, maybe not so happy married-with-children adults hooking up, I can’t even imagine what you could picture. Could you word me a picture? I want to taste the dust of Main Street Eloy and hear the creak of the door of the corner company store as I walk in. What about the after picking time excitement? What about their other lovers?


    • yeah, I think lust in the dust does need to be written, and maybe changing the true story up a little, will make it more true, not less, at least metaphorically, for the masses


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