Believe it or not, nearly fifteen years ago, genealogy wasn't as easy as it is now on the internet. There was no Ancestry.com, Rootsweb.com was in it's infancy, and there was definitely no GenWeb. I know this because I was there when GenWeb was born.
*cue the cane and the hearing trumpet* Back in my day...no, I'm not going to say that. Wait! I am!!
There were a few mailing lists out there, mainly ones for states only. I was subscribed to the Kentucky mailing list and we began to talk. There had to be a better way to compile genealogy information. There had to be a central place with information on specific counties. There would have to be people who were willing to gather, compile or oversee that information. What came out of that conversation was the Kentucky Comprehensive Genealogy Database Project in the spring of 1996. The people involved each volunteered to host counties and develop websites for all the information.
By this time, other states were seeing what we were doing in Kentucky and copied us. The projects began joining and evolved. What became known as KYGenWeb evolved into USGenWeb. Shortly after, it became WorldGenWeb as other countries saw the progress we'd made.
Today, there are pages for every county in the United States as well as provinces, shires, etc world-wide. Some are more detailed than others, but each is great in it's own way.
I hosted Rockcastle, Madison, Estill and Jackson Counties in Kentucky. I also hosted a few others, but as time became dear, I had to whittle them down to just Estill County. One of the things I'm most proud of is that we initiated the Estill County Homecoming. It was an opportunity for online researchers to gather in Irvine, KY. They could meet with locals and learn where old homesites and cemeteries were. They were able to go to the Courthouse and get copies of documents.
Am I tooting my own horn? Just a bit, but there are so many others that gave their time and information to make this project become what it has. To every one of you, I give my thanks.
Written 13 Feb 2008, the day after my mother died.
Sometime over the past year, my mother and I talked about dying. Being a former nurse and having been there at that moment for so many others, she wanted to know how I felt about that. I told her that it was a blessing. My answer confused her. How, she asked, could sitting next to someone dying be a blessing.
I told her that, regardless of religious views, the moment of death, just like birth, is special and I was blessed to be allowed to share that. I was able to help someone, if by nothing more than holding a hand, at the time they needed someone most.
These thoughts came to me again tonight. I spent the last 48 hours at my sister's house. At the bedside of my mother while she was making that last journey.
Her breathing had been unsteady since Friday. We thought Saturday would be it...then Sunday...then Monday. My sister and I sat at her bedside until it was more than either of us could take. We tried to eat. We watched some tv, all the while, we could hear the "death rattle" of my mother coming through the baby monitor we carried with us.
We tried to sleep some Monday night, my sister in the bed next to her, I was on the couch across the hall. About every two hours, we woke and talked. And laughed. And cried.
I went home briefly and was back for the hospice nurse's visit. She stayed and talked with us much longer than her usual visit. When she left, we realized it was because she was waiting for mother to die. Day turned into evening. Again, her breathing became erratic. We called the hospice nurse and she came within 30 minutes. The three of us sat around my mother. The nurse and I were in chairs, my sister in the bed with her. We held her hands and, at 10:40 in the evening, my mother took her last breath. I looked at that hand in mine. It was the hand that spanked me when I ran into the street and it was the hand that comforted me when the latest cute boy didn't show up at our house. It was the hand that held mine when I was in labor with my daughter and after my son was born.
I held my mother's hand as she took her last breath. Through the tears, yes, I was blessed.
Taken the morning of her funeral. Flowers were picked that morning at the old home place
I've been working on getting this site up to speed with everything uploaded. I've been going through the boring motion of uploading and linking. Just making sure that the database is the way i want it. No joy, but just mechanical actions.
I took a break yesterday and was browsing the Kentucky Explorer magazine. It laid open to a picture that intrigued me. It was a family portrait that was taken about 1901 or so. The woman looked at me through the decades. She "spoke" to me. She and I looked at each other and I tried to place her. so familiar.
Suddenly, the names in the caption tore my gaze away. Sparks. Cox. Brinegar. There was a location, Station Camp.
My attention was pulled from whatever else was occupying my mind and given to the magazine.
Cynthia Sparks Cox. Coleman Cox. five of their children, but they were unidentified. The submitter was asking for help. A grin spread across my face. I knew them. Cynthia was a younger sister to my great-great-grandfather, John Graddison Sparks.
I looked to find the contact information for the submitter and grabbed the phone. She and I spoke for about thirty minutes and agreed that we'd talk next week when we both could gather our information. We exchanged contact information and then said good-bye.
I stood up with a huge grin and turned to my family. I did my trademark "happy genealogy dance." Don't laugh, you know you've done it too.