A Tribute to Buncombe Co., NC, and a Man Named Benjamin Kimsey

            What the heck were Lewis and Clark’s first names? “Those are first names,” I said to no one in particular. Being at the end of my book, “Kimsey Rise: A Family of Farmers”, an historical novel taking place around 1805 at the time of Benjamin’s death in Buncombe County and James, his brother’s death, this was top of mind.

            James Jr., his wife, Hannah McCracken, and their growing family were moving in 1820 from the known of Madison Co., Alabama to step foot into the unknown of the Missouri Territory…so I decided I must mention something about the Lewis and Clark expedition in my book, thus the lapse of memory.

            My savior of that lapse, my trusty computer, led to a plethora of helpful hints, but one stood out like walking through an apple orchard and running into a giant redwood – Gary Kimsey! What? Who? Reading his blog brought the correct answers – Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, of course, but I wondered who was Gary Kimsey?

            His extensive blogs and knowledge of the Lewis and Clark expedition led me to a wonderful fulfillment of a dream I have had for a long while. After fourteen years in Hawaii, I moved back to my home state of California to be closer to my family in the Bay Area. I had confessed to my brother, Michael Smith, that, even though we were Kimseys through our father, I still wanted to know someone named Kimsey. Silly, I know, but things have a way of coming true if you wish hard enough, and after we traded a number of emails back and forth, Gary and I discovered we were definitely related. 

            Well, this is not all to the story, and it just gets better. Christmas 2019 – my very first with my family (Mike and I had different mothers and grew up at different ends of the state). What could I get them for the holiday? I again turned to my trusty computer thinking that wine would be a nice thing to celebrate the occasion. I do not know exactly what I put on the search line, but suddenly I was looking at…Kimsey Vineyard! What? Who? Where? It was a Vineyard owned by William and Nancy Kimsey in Santa Barbara, California. Being so totally blown away, I bought six bottles and wrote a quick email in their comment section asking if Bill was from Oregon. He had lived there but grew up in Missouri, he said. My family, some friends and I drank five of those six bottles toasting the holiday, each other’s company, and our new-found cousins. A couple of months later my brother and sister-in-law’s fifty-ninth wedding anniversary was fast approaching, so I turned again to my favorite vineyard in March of 2020 and bought three bottles of Grenache Rosé to celebrate. They arrived on March 17 – well, you know what happened then, so over the next nine months I drank almost all three bottles!

            Please look at the linked short generational chart Kimsey Family Tree  to see our relationship – fifth cousins one time removed. What a way to celebrate with my last glass of Kimsey Rosé!

By Cecilia (Smith) Johansen

February 19, 2021

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