Tuesday, February 23, 2010

In the beginning......

It is only appropriate that I begin my genealogical blog with an introduction to the man who was responsible for piquing my interest in my ancestry; the man who was my paternal great grandfather, Oliver Morton Wallen.

Oliver was born in 1870 in Wabd, Rockcastle county, Kentucky. He was a Farmer, a School Teacher and a Preacher. He started writing a diary before he was 30 years old. At the beginning he simply wrote from memory those things from his birth to the time he started keeping a daily log in the last months of 1899. For the next 7 years he rarely missed a day in writing some small excerpt about his daily activities. Oliver died in 1905 from the same disease that killed his mother and eventually, all eight of his siblings, Tuberculosis. So Oliver died young, only 37 years old, but he left an incredible story for us in his diary. The "saga" of the original diary is a story in itself and I will talk of that later.

Sometime around 1982 my great Aunt Sula, also a genealogist, gave to various relatives copies of her condensed translation of her father's (Oliver's) diary. About 1995 my Father gave me his copy of this diary and with that and an early computer, I started on my journey. It was slow to start as I had no one to teach me the proper methods. I bought the popular Family Tree Maker (FTM) program and installed it on my computer and picked away at it...starting with myself and working backwards.

In 1997 my husband Mike and I sold our home of 19 years in Seminole Heights (Tampa, Florida) and moved our family to Lutz, a semi-rural community (or used to be!) just a few miles north. Our new place was small and we had two teenagers at home so I set up my research area in the somewhat spacious laundry room. It was a great spot, very compact and everything in reach. Still, my research was very amateur and one day when I had added 200 people to my FTM program a note popped up on my computer asking if I wanted to add my little Tree to a FTM CD. Without thinking, I impulsively hit "Yes". I only did that once in all the years since but that impulsive decision spawned one of those small miracles that some often call "serendipity". Of course, I know that every one of those small miracles are acts of God. After all, it is obvious God places a great importance on genealogy because He put all those "begats" in the Bible!

On January 1, 1998 I received a phone call from my Dad's first cousin, Charlie. I had never met Charlie but it turned out that he had purchased the FTM CD with my Tree on it and upon discovering I was Family, he immediately started a search to track me down. Some might not think that his finding me was a miracle, but I know it was. From that moment, on that afternoon of the first day of 1998, Charlie and I became close cohorts in our family research until his death on October 14, 2009. In those 11 years we corresponded nearly every day and often many, many times a day. I will write more about Charlie at another time. SHARE