I grew up a Navy brat, so I can’t quite grasp what it would be like to live your whole life in one place. I do remember my mother always proudly identifying herself as a Florida native. It is a special distinction in a state where so many people come from someplace else. In Pensacola – my parents were born here, and I consider it my hometown – we have people brought here by the military, Yankees and midwesterners attracted by warmer climes, and retirees who decided to make it home.
Growing up, I knew my parents were born in Pensacola, her parents were born in Escambia County, and her father’s parents came from Georgia not long before he was born. I vaguely knew my dad’s mother was born in Alabama, and I’d been told his father’s father or grandfather (I could never remember which) came from Germany when he was 3 years old.
Researching my genealogy, I learned that it was my grandfather’s grandfather, William F. Hahn, who was born in Germany, and I found one naturalization document that suggests he arrived when he was about 13. And yes, my mother’s grandparents moved to Florida from Georgia after 1900.
Everyone else is pretty much from around here – here being Northwest Florida/South Alabama – for generations.
Malzie Silcox HahnMy maternal grandmother, Malzie Silcox, was born in Baldwin County, Alabama, right next door to Escambia County, Florida. Her Silcox grandfather, William H. Silcox, was born in the Florida territory in 1844. Her mother’s parents, John David Silcox and Ellen E. Parker, were both born in Baldwin County.
William F. Hahn’s wife was born in Montgomery in 1857; her family moved to Santa Rosa County, Florida – just east of Escambia County – by 1860. Their son Theodore married Maggie Cooper, whose great-grandparents Lewis Jordan Cooper and Frances Jane Cumbaa relocated to Baldwin County by 1860.
My mother’s mother’s people were in the Florida territory by at least 1850.
I always considered Pensacola my hometown. Knowing that so many generations of my ancestors lived here helps me feel more deeply rooted, or maybe it explains why I have such a connection to a place I only saw intermittently growing up.