My son is a history major in college and is about to graduate. He is doing his history dissertation on what he was spoon fed as a child born on the Gulf Coast who carries one of the original settlers surname. When he came home for Spring Break he said to me, "Mom I need to borrow some of your books, and I also need to get you to answer some question for my oral history portion." Well, I was so proud I was bouncing. Not because he was using me, but because he was using what I had handed down to him. The promise I made my 94 year old Grandfather before he died had come to fruition. I had not let them be forgotten, my son did hear what I had been saying all those years to him. It mattered enough to him to pass it on and to use it in his paper. This meant he would also pass it on to his children.
As a child, I can not remember a time when I did not hear the story of my family coming to the Coast in 1699 with D'Iberville. (They celebrate the landing each year, this was the 313th year this past weekend) When you have a town named after your surname, and another after your ancestor's forename that alone makes you feel special enough to want to know why.
I was an odd child anyway, but when most were outside playing, I was indoors pestering the adults for stories. I wanted to know about back then. How, who, and why we were here. This delighted many of the older people and they obliged me. These people were born at the turn of the century and some before that. So, I loved to hear about how they had to put great great Uncle Jules on a spring (mattress) in the back of the wagon as not to jar him because he had a busted appendix, and there was only one doctor between, Ocean Springs and Waveland, Mississippi, and he was in Gulfport. Or, how they had to bury their money and silver in old iron pots to keep it safe from Jean Laffite and his band and some of it is still buried there today, forgotten. About how in the 1913 Hurricane, which was my grandfather's 9th birthday, came up while his father and his crew were out hauling oyster shells from Louisiana and their schooner sunk and they all had to swim to St. Joe's lighthouse and wait until it blew out. How my grandfather begged his mother to leave their beachfront home and go inland to his Aunt's and finally they did, wading in waist deep water and high winds with a baby. How the next morning they went to the beach and their home was destroyed, but seeing the memory in his eye, and the catch in his voice as he said, "We stood on that beach all morning and waited to see if Papa and them had made it. After awhile I saw a speck on the horizon and it was a skiff, I saw a shirt waving and I hollered it's them it's them. It sure was them too. Papa said, I was sure worried bout y'all, and here we were worried bout them." This I can remember word for word today, I heard it so many times.
So, with stories like this who couldn't get into genealogy? I remember my first notebook. I was about 8 years old and we had gone to visit my paternal grandfather's sister who lived in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She had a huge booklet she had done on our Saucier family. I wanted it! I asked every time we visited about it, so this time I was taking names. A few yeas later she let my father take it home and copy it for me. I still have it today. From that moment on I was writing stuff down, and tape recording anyone who would let me.
My great great grandfather, Luke Ward Conerly was the author of a book written in the early 1900's and is in reprint today. Called the History of Pike County Mississippi. It contains the lineage of several families in central Mississippi as well as a great deal of information regarding soldiers who fought in the Civil War. So I guess, I got the History bug honestly. :)
As an adult I married my 5th cousin, (that is another blog) so, we both had the same family names of Ladner in common. So, when you are married into a family that says, "Oh I knew your great grandfather, that was a good man." you know you hit the jackpot in regards to more family stories. From here I continued to write everything down, then one day came a little thing called the world wide web. The first thing I did was search for my family. Sure enough there were others out there like me looking for their family. I soon found out how to use a gedcom and off I went. Next came the ancestrydotcom site and well, I haven't stopped since.