In 1740 Edward and Ann Snead Crosland moved from Yorkshire, England to South Carolina. The pair had 14 children. I am a descendant of their 14th child. A man named John Crosland, who was one of Charlotte’s most prominent 20th-century builders, was a descendant of their first child. And thus began the story of me in the perpetual shadow of Mr. Crosland.
To be fair, it’s a pretty great shadow in which to stand. If you’re going to share an uncommon last name with a locally semi-famous person, he’s a good one. People often tell me how much they liked and respected him. He was charitable and kind, and a great businessman who literally built much of the city where I live.
For me, it’s uncommon for a week to go by without someone asking if we’re related. (In case you’re wondering, I just say “no”—not the whole Edward and Ann story.) A lot of people just assume we’re related. The place where I get my nails done frequently said they’d give me free manicures if I could “get my dad to lower their rent.” One woman once told me she assumed I’d gotten my (former) job at the Charlotte Observer because of my family’s connections with the publisher. I just laughed—because slapping people is considered inappropriate.
Last week though, I had a first. I was checking out at a hardware store here in town and they asked for my phone number for their rewards program. When my name popped up on the screen the woman smiled. “I love reading your articles and books,” she said. Very flattered (this never happens), I responded, “Thank you so much.”
Then she continued, “And I used to live in one of your dad’s neighborhoods. I always really respected him.” And for some reason I just didn’t have the heart to tell her that her version of me wasn’t correct. So I nodded and just said, “Thank you.”
I told my actual father this story and he said that was fine—then he said he would be changing his will to disown me as well. So, the point is that I probably won’t do that again. Or, if I do, it’s definitely going to be for something way more useful—like those free manicures.