What is it about the birth of a child, the death of a parent or grandparent, that starts one thinking about those who came before?
For me, it was my maternal grandfather. Not his death, devastating as that was, but rather the legacy he left behind. I’ll never know what kicked his genealogy bug into high gear but he diligently researched his ancestors. Back in the 1960s and early 1970s when there was no Internet :gasp: and everything was tracked down through correspondence and good ol’ legwork. He had five children and he presented each of them a hand-drawn family tree (four 16×20 sheets worth) and a 40+ page hand-written summary. Five copies folks! By hand!
While I had known about the family tree prior to his passing, I didn’t appreciate it in time to ask him ALL the questions that have since developed. Yes, the genealogy bug had bit me. But I was a kid, still in high school…there would be PLENTY of time.
It took the passing of Grandpa Watson. The fact he only met one of his great-grandchildren, Ryan Beckham (who is now married himself). Knowing exactly what opportunities I’d lost. I bought myself a software program, started entering all the info I had, mailed letters to everyone I could for more info, and researched what I could online.
But my research took a back seat to raising my own family. Until Aunt Linda contacted me…and this site was born.
I attribute the closeness of my dad’s side of the family to Grandpa Watson. Back before the Internet and emails — these days family emails quickly turn to spam with dozens of people replying to any given email (heaven help the poor fool who uses their work address) — everyone would call or write to Grandpa, he in turn would send out lengthy letters every few months, thus keeping everyone up-to-date on everyone else in the family. It was dedication, too. He typed it up on an old manual typewriter, hitting each key hard enough to go through six sheets of rice paper with carbon in between more important than speed. It was a celebration of sorts when those letters would arrive. Those letters remain a treasured piece of Melville Alexander Watson.
And here we are, working to preserve that legacy for the generations to follow.