Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Weekend Research

I spent most of Saturday and Sunday in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama doing some genealogy research and meeting long-lost family members. I drove down to Columbiana very late Friday night, stopping along the way in Cullman to have coffee and an omelet with my old friend David Chappell, who is moving to Arkansas sometime in the next few weeks. I didn't get to my brother's house until about 4am, so I slept a little late until around 10am.

After a quick shower, I drove to my uncle Eugene's house and picked him up and we headed for Tuscaloosa. Our first stop was Bucksville Cemetery, where we found the gravestone of my 2nd Great Grandmother Sarah Ann Hatcher nee Bircheat. This is an old cemetery for that area, and some of the tombstones are very intricate, especially for those who were members of the Woodmen of the World.

After we walked around this cemetery for a while, we headed down to the Brookwood exit and met up with my Second Cousin, Once Removed, Tommy Hatcher and his wife and daughter. I recently made contact with Tommy while I was doing some online family research. I called a number I found online for a Thomas Hatcher, and a black woman answered. I asked for Thomas Hatcher and she gave the phone to her husband. After a few minutes of discussion about former slaves from Dallas County, Alabama he told me that he gets phone calls for another Thomas Hatcher all the time, and he looked up the number in the phone book for me. My wife thinks I'm insane for just calling strangers out of the blue, but I've been doing it most of my life and very rarely get bad reactions from people once I explain why I'm calling.

So Tommy takes us to his nephews house, where we meet Tommy's mother, sister, nephew and his wife, niece, great niece, step-father and others. Eugene had met a couple of them many years ago, but it was nice to get acquainted with cousins that aren't very distant on the family tree. I pulled out the laptop and got all of their information entered, so I've filled in another branch of the Hatcher's now.

After feeding us burgers and hot dogs, Tommy led us around to about four cemeteries in Tuscaloosa County, showing us the graves of several of his family members. I had done some research beforehand, so I was able to show him a few graves in these cemeteries that he and his mother didn't know about. We finished the day around 7pm and I drove Eugene back to Westover. Then I visited my Aunt Patricia and stopped by Heff's for a bit then went back and crashed pretty early at my brother's house.

The next morning I woke up and drove back to Tuscaloosa County, this time to Hepzibah Baptist Church off Exit 100 on I20/59. My great-grandparents and one 2nd Great Grandmother are buried there along with lots of cousins. We used to go there quite often with my grandfather Luther Hatcher, and my uncle Eugene still goes every year. This was their homecoming weekend, and after the church service they had a incredible potluck dinner spread out.

My cousins Casey Wortham, Shawn Hatcher, Lisa Wills and her Brett and daughter Adelyn made it to the homecoming as well. My dad's first cousins Vernon and David Hatcher and their sister Betty were there also with their mother, and Vernon's daughter Vicky was there as well. Once again I pulled out the laptop and made everyone give me names and dates and locations to go into the genealogy files.

After that, Eugene, Shawn, Casey, and I drove down to Exit 97 and found the old Shamblin Cemetery. I'm likely related to everyone in this small cemetery, but I haven't made all of the connections yet. I do know I have 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Great Grandparents buried here. I had never been to the cemetery before, but Eugene and Shawn had at different times in the past. It's very well maintained and apparently some of the modern day Shamblins still own the property.

I called some random Shamblins in Tuscaloosa last night and ended up finding a cousin named Robert Shamblin who is a vet in Northport. He told me about a reunion that they're going to have there on June 10 for the Shamblin family, so it looks like I may be headed back down there with the laptop in tow. I also made contact via Robert with another cousin in Illinois that does a lot of genealogy research, so hopefully I'll be adding a lot more information to the family tree soon.

Left to Right: Shawn Hatcher, Alan Hatcher, Eugene Hatcher, Casey Wortham


Anonymous said...

Why in heavens name would you have a family photo made by the church dumpster???

Anonymous said...

It's the Hatcher Family pastime - TAKING A DUMP !!!

- Heff