Discovering a Long-Lost Atwood Family

13 Jul

My husband’s mother, Bonnie Lois Atwood Setliff Curbow, died from a brain tumor at the young age of only 25 years old.  Her sudden, unexpected and tragic death changed the lives of her family forever.  Her four children were very small at the time of her death – the oldest not yet six years old.  The family pulled together each doing their part to raise the children the best that they could.  Life – as it has a tendency to do – however sad – went on.  For many years Bonnie was not discussed in the household – the memories – being too painful. 

The identity of Bonnie’s mother, Vira Lorene Grantham, father and brothers were always known to the Curbow family; however, the families had drifted apart over the many ensuing years.  Consequently, little was known about the parents and family of Bonnie.  In fact, it was some years later that I first learned that Bonnie and her brothers had been adopted by her mother’s second husband and that her biological father’s name was actually Atwood. 

Based on a few census records that were glanced at over the years – it was thought that Bonnie’s father’s name might be Winson Atwood.  And that’s all we knew!  Once contact was made with Winson’s sister, Aunt W., Mary was informed that Winson contracted Parkinson’s disease in his early years and was left paralyzed on half of his body.  He lived with his parents until going to a nursing home.  You can imagine her shock when she was told that “someone was looking for a long, lost grandfather,” and thought it might be Winson! 

Fast forward to about 2007.  My mother-in-law, Mary, is the one who started us out on this crazy genealogy journey.  Because of her tenacious “stick to it” attitude we now know the identity of Bonnie’s father AND we have gained a precious new set of west Texas relatives – cousins, and first cousins, and second cousins – and more!  I will let Mary tell you, in her own words, how she unraveled the mystery of who Bonnie’s father was:

“I am indebted to B.A., the young man I happened across on the internet late one night, who helped me get this all started; his Aunt W.A.K., and her sister-in-law, T.A., who immediately responded with information, stories, phone calls, photos, and old letters; and Beverly A.B., your mother’s cousin, who has fond memories of your mother and has kept her in her heart all these years.  Without her and her daughter D., we would not have all the valuable information we now have; and to Winson Bailey Atwood.  He was our one and only piece of the puzzle in the beginning.  Although he is long gone, I am told he would have loved this story!!  Many thanks to these wonderful people who have shared so much and in doing so, have given you a heart warming history of a part of your family you never got to know.”  Written by Mary Curbow, 2007.

When I re-read the little blurb written by Mary – I got a lump in my throat.  This was, and continues to be, truly a labor of love.  This research not only brought the Atwood family to light – it spurred on my own interest in genealogy and encouraged me to start researching my family roots.  So THANK YOU Mary for all your hard work and dedication. 

In conclusion, Bonnie’s father – was Thomas Orvil Atwood.  He was one of the boys of William Riley Atwood and Hattie Frances Havins – born in Cross Plains, Callahan County, Texas on 29 Sept. 1910.  He married Vira Lorene Grantham 11 Sept 1935.  Thomas and Vira raised their family in Callahan County, until the early 1940s when the moved to south Texas.  He was an oil field worker all his life.  The couple divorced in 1952.  Once month after the finalization of the divorce, Thomas suffered a stroke and died – tragically young – at only 42 years old.  Thomas is laid to rest in the Oplin Cemetery in Callahan County,Texas. 

Please feel free to click on any link above.  You will be redirected to our genalogy database where you can read more detail on each individual mentioned here. 


Posted by on July 13, 2011 in Atwood


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6 responses to “Discovering a Long-Lost Atwood Family

  1. Kentucky Kindred Genealogical Research

    July 13, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    Very interesting story – genealogy tends to have lots of those! So glad you made the connection!

    • Judy Curbow

      July 13, 2011 at 2:44 pm

      I know….you just never really know WHAT you’re going to find!

  2. Mary Curbow

    July 19, 2011 at 9:25 am

    You sure know how to make a grown woman cry!!!! It has indeed been a crazy journey and without you it wouldn’t have been so much fun!! Nor would we have gone so far!!!

    • Judy Curbow

      July 19, 2011 at 10:07 am

      It’s always more fun to have a research partner. Together – we are unstopable !!

  3. Brian Atwood

    April 9, 2019 at 2:56 pm

    I remember when Mary reached out to me with this mystery It was exciting to solve.


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