I know these “about pages” are supposed to be brief and to the point. But if you are like me, you like to know who it is you’re doing business with. If you think this part is dull, wait until we get to your ancestors’ deeds, probate records, tax lists and chancery suits. (OK, those are not always dull, but the journey does have its monotonous dolldrums.)
Part I: How Did You Get Started In This?
This is what I get asked all the time. It’s a fair question, and one which all of us can answer. We all have our own story, so here is mine:
I was bitten by the bug very early on in life. I was 13 years old. My father had grown up with his grandfather, who was a Civil War Veteran “from Culpeper County, Virginia.” But this was St. Louis, Missouri. How on earth did this happen? Where was Culpeper County, Virginia? For that matter, where and what was Virginia? To add to this mystery, he had two elderly aunts who would frequently visit our farm just outside of St. Louis, Missouri. But they lived in some far-off “plantation” in some far-away galaxy.
I just had to know more! I did two things (with, I am sure, the help of my parents.)Â I wrote to the National Archives for my great-grandfather’s Civil War service record, and to the only two people in the St. Louis telephone directory with the surname Kilby. Talk about beginner’s luck!
First, back in the days (this was 1972) when NARA would answer silly letters from children, I received my great-grandfather’s compiled military record during the Civil War. Oh boy! More to learn!
Second, both of the two people in the St. Louis phone directory took kindness to this young chap and answered my letter. The first said he was not related to me (turns out later he was) but the second respondant was a real-life blood relative who had wondered what had ever happened to my father (she was a first cousin to my grandfather.)Â My father’s first reaction to this letter was, “My God! Is she still alive?”
Not only was she still alive, but she invited me down to her flat “in the City” to come and visit her. My mother drove me there one day. “Cousin Robbie” was a retired beautician and it was a somewhat formal affair, but boy oh boy, did she have one present for me which I value to this day. It was a huge hand-made chart of the Kilby family going all the way back to John Kilby of Culpeper County, who died there in 1772. Gee, Miss Landers! For a 13 year old kid, that’s like Bible Days!
That was my first and addicting bug bite. But life intercedes and it was not until many years later that I picked this all back up, which brings us to where we are today and what you might be more interested in.
Part II: Fast Forward To Now
In the meantime, I grew up, graduated from Wentzville High School in St. Charles County, and graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a BS degree in Public Administration. This landed me four-squre into politics and real estate, which is my professional background. (This includes a three year stint as a state legislator from St. Charles County from 1987 to 1991.)
I moved to Richmond, Virginia in 1997. I had been to the Rivah City many times before that, and it was love at first site. We’ll skip the moth-to-a-flame part of this story and move on to 2005, when I moved to the beautiful Northern Neck, that long strip of land between the Rappahannock and Potamac Rivers. So rich in history, so rich in natural beauty. And so full of people from all walks of life and from all parts of the United States.
Moving to the Northern Neck has allowed me to combine a passionate interest in genealogy, history and politics into a rewarding and new occupation. Whether a project is focused on a single family group or a project of larger scope, I enjoy the work all the same. Every project has its own personality. I cannot think of a single case in which both the client and myself did not come away learning something new and valuable for future research. In fact, that is probably what I enjoy most about this line of work: learning and teaching all at the same time.
Please let me know how I can help either you or your organization with any genealogical or historic research project. Regardless of the outcome, I am certain we will both come away much the better and wiser for it.