John Richard Stepp, a cousin of my father, was born Aug 15 1899. And Kenneth Bailey Waller, a cousin of my mother, was born Sept 2, 1945. A genealogical “tree” shows about 150 cousins and siblings of my parents at the same “level”, but the individuals are separated by as much as 45 years. Thus I have contacted living relatives in several “generations” asking for information and photos. It has been fun and work.
Many family members provided me with the results of their efforts. One researcher, Margie Waller Walton, told me that she enjoys every minute that she is able to spend doing family research. I don’t doubt that they all feel the same way. There must be a feeling of discovery when the name of an ancestor is found in an old record.
I have not, yet, personally, added any names to the tree of ancestors. But I did pay to have some research done which has added a few names to the ancestor tree. I was amazed at the knowledge of my researcher, Mrs. Jeanne D Mead. She seems to know the name of every little creek that became the dividing line of newly formed counties from their parent counties in Virginia. And she knows what records were destroyed by fire or during the Civil War. This kind of expertise saved me many hours of research fees. And she knows, too, that men like to look at maps.
My personal effort has been to find family pictures. I started by wanting to find a picture of every aunt, uncle, and cousin of my parents. As I found out, that would be about 50 aunts and uncles and about 150 cousins. I did find about half of those pictures and many more interesting pictures besides. Several dozen family members let me take their pictures in hand. I returned them all promptly; but I was surprised that they let me take them away in the first place. Did they trust me because they remembered my dad?
A little history is helpful. The original settlers came to America between 1650 and 1750. The War of the American Revolution ended about 1781. The War Between the States started barely eighty years later, in 1861. Thus soldiers of the Revolutionary Army had grandsons in the Confederate States Army.
A little technical history helps. Photography began to be common in the US about 1850. Many “Tintypes” of the Civil War era are available, including participants. The “picture postcard” became common about the turn of the century and continued until mid-century. “Instant” photographs were made in the early twentieth century.
I have had to pick and choose. I could not reproduce all the pictures, stories, information, and documentation that have come into my hands. The generosity and endeavors of many has provided more than can be put in one book. I guess that this book contains no more that ten percent of what I have. I hope that what I have chosen provides the interesting and useful part of what should to be passed on.
“…for part of my plan has been to pleasantly remind adults of what they once were themselves…” Mark Twain in his preface to “Tom Sawyer”, 1876.