Ava’s ‘Kissing Kin’ to meet in Smithfield

From News ReleaseApril 4, 2014 

Ava Gardner, shown here at age 15, grew up in the rural Brogden community, seven miles east of Smithfield.


The Ava Gardner Museum and the Johnston County Genealogical and Historical Society will hold a genealogy seminar, “Ava Gardner’s Kissing Kin,” April 12 in downtown Smithfield.

“This event is for those who claim kin with our hometown Hollywood star and also for anyone who wants to learn more about the revolutionary use of DNA in genealogical research,” said Todd Johnson, director of the Ava Gardner Museum.

The seminar, taking place from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., will begin with registration and a tour of the Ava Gardner Museum and will continue at the Public Library of Johnston County and Smithfield.

Cynthia Wells of Cabarrus County will present “Exploring the Mysteries, Exploding the Myths: Expanding Your Family History Using DNA,” a lecture she delivered during the 2013 annual meeting of the International Society of Genetic Genealogists in Dublin, Ireland. Information about DNA projects involving the Gardner and related families will be included.

Presentations on Ava Gardner’s ancestry will follow, including a show-and-tell segment. “We suspect many of Ava’s relatives across Eastern North Carolina have lots of information, family stories, heirlooms, and photographs, and we would love to have some of them share with our audience,” Johnson said.

Research to date indicates Gardner’s ancestors carried the following surnames: Baker, Barnes, Batts, Cherry, Cobb, Dilday, Duke, Ellis, Forbes, Gardner, Gray, Harrell, Jordan, Vickers and Webb. Most of her family lines can be traced to pioneer settlers of the Virginia and Carolina Tidewater region in the 17th and 18th centuries.

The cost for the event is $10 per person, and advance registration is recommended. For more information visit the museum website, avagardner.org.

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