And where? Those are questions many studying their family history are trying to answer. Finding the answers can be fun and exciting, like putting together the pieces of a puzzle.
But how did it all begin for me? It all started with a cemetery and a school project, family stories, family mysteries, vacations with my Gran, and family reunions. My Gran took me “back home” to see her mama and other family in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina every spring or summer. Each time, she would take me on a journey “over the mountain,” that seemed to take hours as a kid but I now know is only 45 minutes, to the little cemetery at Macedonia Baptist Church on Vein Mountain outside Marion. Her daddy, Augustus Samuel Watkins, was buried there at the time along with his parents, John Merido and Margaret Roxana Radford Watkins. Even as a child, I remember being fascinated by history, especially family stories, and even by those old tombstones. I wondered about the stories of their lives, and I was fascinated when my great aunts told me I was related to many people buried there. Little did I know then exactly how many until I made the connections years later. I’m not even sure they did!
Along the way, Granny would tell me stories about how her grandfather gave the land there for the church to be built and for the cemetery, a fact I found in writing in the 1987 “Macedonia Baptist Church History.” They actually sold the two acres for $1.00.
In 1983, my Gran’s cousin Leon put together the first Watkins reunion in Marion which we have had every 3 years since. By fourth grade, when I was assigned a months’ long project to work on, learning how to do genealogy and actually doing it was an exciting thought. I dug in calling and mailing great aunts and visiting some in person, looking through their old pictures and hearing all the stories. I did some research at the library as well.
The more questions I answered, the more questions I had. Every time one mystery was solved, another popped up. I have learned that’s how genealogy is. Through the years, I have laid aside my family history numerous times but I have always picked it back up anxious to put more pieces to the puzzle together. I’ve never been disappointed.
After reading some genealogy blogs, I decided to record some of my research and findings in one of my own. If nothing else, maybe a few in my family will enjoy tagging along with me if they feel the same deep connections to our roots.