My newspaper column this week is about the history of an early family (the Blackerbys) to our area, and a book about them. Yesterday, I visited the home of a Blackerby couple whom I had not seen to talk to in years.
That's one of the great things about writing this weekly community column for the paper. I get to not only meet a lot of new people who have moved into the area, but see a lot of people I have known for years, but not seen for a long time. Since my children are all out of school, Little League, music lessons, etc. I don't get out to the places where I used to to see a lot of these old friends and acquaintances. But writing about people and events in the community gives me opportunity to.
Sometimes Ken goes with me to do interviews and make pictures, especially when I'm seeing people he once knew. But yesterday, he was exhausted, stiff and sore from crawling around under the house the prior evening working on a plumbing problem. The couple I'm writing about urged me to come back to visit and bring Ken, so hopefully, I can do that when I return books they loaned me.
One book was written by a lady in Texas who is descended from the same family as these Central Alabama Blackerbys. When she was researching for it some twenty years ago, she came out and spent a week with them while they helped her with information.
Hearing about the research brought back a lot of memories from years ago when I was doing research for my local history book. We didn't have the internet or the tidy records at our county's historical society office to use in our search. I, like the Blackerbys, tramped through old cemeteries, copying inscriptions on tombstones; searched early census records in books and on microfilm; dug through boxes of old, dusty, unorganized records in the attic and cubbyholes of our county courthouse.
It was an exhausting and sometimes hot--or cold--and dirty job. But it was interesting--and exciting when discovering a new piece to the puzzle we were working on.
As was the story I just finished writing about an early family to our community. Trying to fit together pieces of the story from notes I made at yesterday's visit and info scattered throughout the borrowed tome, it was interesting and fun to see the whole story emerge.
I hope it pleases the story's subjects and the readers of the newspaper.