Monday, May 22, 2006

A Visit to the Other Neck

Have I mentioned that I am writing a book? Well, I am. It is a family & regional history with cosmic overtones. I am past 30,000 words now and just getting started. Collecting and tidying up over 300 years of Edwards and Virginia history takes some effort.

It also takes research, since information about Pamunkey Neck and my family is well scattered. And since I am separated from my topic by space as well as time I have decided to enlist help from those living in the area. That is why the Sunday following the funeral (which by the way was a gorgeous day) my sister and I set off to visit another distant relative on the other side of the family, a Pamunkey Neck native who, as a local forester, knows the county as well as anyone.King William Historic Features copy

My hook to involve him in my project was an out of print map published in 1976 - while I was actually living there - that located old county historic sites, mainly homes. Of course he is living in one. I wanted to update and expand this map (my draft shown) using modern computer technology. He said he would be happy to help.

After arriving we were warmly greeted and I laid out my maps and the other research documents I had brought along. If he and his family thought I was nuts they were polite enough not to show it. I outlined my map project and a little of how it fit into my larger book project. He answered my questions, corrected a few errors on my map, and made some suggestions. We agreed to stay in touch by email and that we would see each other at the family reunion in the summer.

After leaving my sister and I decided to take a detour on some back roads to the area of the county where my family has lived for hundreds of years. Driving past the church my great-great grandfather had built and preached in we noticed a small group of cars, people, and an open door. Although my sister had once been inside, I never had. So we pulled in.

The church had recently been sold to a local businessman along with the adjacent farm. The new owner had done a wonderful job renovated the long unused church and this Sunday afternoon he and his family were walking about. As we walked up introducing ourselves I noticed another distant cousin standing to the side. The new owner invited us to look around and he and his family left in their mini-van, stopping a few yards down the road to talk with our cousin's brother, the seller of the farm and church. We could quickly tell by the look on her face and the tone of the conversation on the side of the road that things were not well.

For the next 90 minutes, after the new owners had driven off, my sister and I were reminded of the deep passions land can inspire. Inside the church our cousins talked almost non-stop, generally about matters we little understood and people we did not know. Pride, money, land, time, and family were the themes with the both of them feeling that they had come out on the short end. The sun lowered, we made our way back to the car and said our good-byes.

Have I mentioned what an interesting family I have?


sue said...

Ah, yes. It's about time you wrote a new blog or three. I've missed seeing new ones for quite some time. Glad you decided to play "ketchup"!

Gregg said...

Sounds like someplace (and someone) I know well . . . Speaking of old homes in the area, have you seen Elsing Green's web site?

Bibb said...

Thanks for the link to the Elsing Green website. Maybe I'll stop by one Sunday this summer.

And yes, you do know the place and folks.