I read my great grandma Katie’s research notes about my Virginia ancestors; things she wrote before I was born. Katie wrote about her mother Fannie Gray being born in Mecklenburg, VA and raised with her Dortch aunts and uncles in Kankakee, IL. (near Chicago) She also wrote that Fannie’s father was named Alginon Gray but always wrote his name “A.N. Gray”. That he had lots of siblings including Nannie, Charles, Tommy, and Frank Gray. She wrote that Nannie married Jimmy Kidd. She was trying to find the church Nannie Gray attended in LaCrosse because when Alginon died in a railroad bridge construction accident, his body was sent home to be buried at the church the family attended in LaCrosse. I wanted to find this too! I wanted to continue where my grandma Katie’s research had stopped.
My first visit to Mecklenburg, VA was in January 2003. Someone offered to show me churches my family might have attended. I found what grandma Katie was looking for! I saw Nannie Gray Kidd’s tombstone, at Rehoboth Methodist Church (Blackridge). I was just going to take a few pictures of tombstones I knew were Nannie’s family. But my new friend suggested I might want to consider the whole cemetery. He knew how 75% of the cemetery were related, and give him bit of time and he could figure out the rest. He told me the more he researches, the more he sees how connected everyone there is. (He’s so right!)
That first visit, my mother and grandmother came with me. My mother still had young children at home and my grandma was living in Puerto Rico. So I took pictures and tried to write about my visits, to try and share my adventures with my mom and grandma. Other people started telling me they’d like to see my pictures too. I asked lots of questions on my visits, wanting to know where people lived a long time ago, and what it was like growing up in Mecklenburg. I kept being told the people who could best answer my questions weren’t living anymore. All their stories and knowledge sadly went with them, it wasn’t written down. I didn’t want any more stories lost! So, I started trying to record stories, and talk to as many people as I could find. I visit as I often as I can, looking for family cemeteries, pictures, older buildings (or houses), records and stories.
I launched this website in Jan 2020 to try to preserve and share my discoveries about Mecklenburg, and to learn from you! I grew up military and in cities. Mecklenburg is so different, and I love everything about my visits. Meeting new people, and hearing stories that give me a better feel for how my ancestors lived. When I visit I’m greeted with hugs and “Hi cousin!” No counting how far back, or if a “cousin removed”. We’re just simply family. My heart feels connected to Mecklenburg. When I visit, I feel like I’ve been welcomed back home. I want to hear everyone’s stories and pictures, not just my family. Even if it’s just one picture with a name and estimated year taken. Even if it’s just one memory of someone, it’s more than I know, so I’d love to hear it. Lets preserve it, before that memory gets lost too. This site will remain ad-free, I receive no monetary benefit. Family history is my passion. I thought about stories I’ve heard the last few years during interviews, as well as stories and pictures I’m receiving right now. This website’s purpose is to work with the community to preserve and share stories, pictures and history. Do you have any stories or pictures you’d like to share? (contact Julie)