Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Heading out......

It's that time of year again....time for our annual trip to South Carolina for the McLeod Family Reunion. Used to be that David and I would pack Hunter off to the YMCA Camp for the week with Dallas and Nikki (who were counselors) and head up to Sumter and Camden for three days of courthouse research and cemetery crawling; but this year, it's me and Nikki heading out.

David's used up a lot of his leave time this year already what with my trip to South Carolina for Daddy Mac's heart surgery, Dallas's senior recital, moving Nikki back home etc., etc.,! And, somehow, the calendar has changed to where the reunion, held the last Saturday of June each year, is on his working weekend! I'm sad that he won't be with me as this had become "our" time....a mini vacation and research trip in one.

We used to hold our reunion in Sumter or Camden where our family lived since about 1812....but as our reunion attendance grew from year to year, finding an appropriate venue got a bit difficult. The 2006 gathering was so crowded that the poor old a/c unit in the building couldn't keep up with us.....everyone knew it was time for a change of venue. And up stepped our Barfield cousins to provide the solution.

The Barfield's are the children of Kitty Rose McLeod and Joseph Pinckney Barfield; Kitty is Daddy Mac's sister.....! They all (but one) showed up at our 2006 gathering of the clan and immediately offered to host the reunions in North Charleston where Cousin Edwin is the Parks and Recreation Guy......last year was our first reunion held in the new and much larger (and cooler!) venue. The cousins even smoked roasts galore for all of us McLeods.....southern hospitality and southern barbecue and home made sides prepared by the attendees plus an air-conditioned room made for a really good time!

The only drawback to the move from Sumter/Camden to Charleston is that it's harder for me to get in research time.....! As I said, David and I would cram in two to three days of research on each trip up for the reunion; we'd spend the days driving from courthouses to churches to genealogy centers gathering up records. And in between the records searches, we'd find the burial sites of McLeods and sidelines in abandoned graveyards in the woods, roadside burial sites, and in church yards. Steel-toed boots, machetes and other tools, along with maps and books and binders filled with years of research took up a place in the car beside our suitcases. I miss those days......

Last year, we made our trip to Charleston a real vacation; we stayed in a fancy hotel with my brother Kevin, Sister Amy, Cousin Trish and her family, and Mom, Daddy Mac and Jan. We took Hunter with us along with his friend Dillon and we went to a water park on James Island, toured Magnolia Plantation and Fort Sumter. Not a bit of research was done....and as we headed back home to Florida, I felt just a tad saddened by the lack.

You see, more than anything else that I may call myself, I am a genealogist. I tell folks that I walk with the ghosts of my family. I can tell you just about anything about our McLeod ancestors back to about 1790 but I have a hard time remembering things about the living. I am a "face" person....I know the face of a living being but sometimes can't remember the name that goes with the face. I remember who fought at what battle in the war between the states, but can't remember where cousin so and so lives today.

And the part I loved most about my annual trips to South Carolina was my visit to Antioch Baptist Church in Kershaw County where generations of my family are buried. Some may think I am a bit loony, but walking there is a soothing experience. I feel at home there, as if I belong. As I walk past the graves of my great, great grandparents and their siblings, as I stand next to the graves of their children who didn't survive past infancy, or the children that had children who had children and are buried there, I am a part of a much larger reality then I normally am. I am connected.... I am home. To an Air Force Brat without a hometown, that is something, let me tell you.

So this year, I'm heading out to South Carolina to the reunion in North Charleston, but I'm also heading up to Sumter and Camden as well. I'm hitting at least one courthouse and I'm going to Antioch......I'm heading home!

1 comment:

  1. Always enjoy your blogs, Lori, regardless what it's about. Who knows, the more I read yours, the closer I hope to get bit by the blogging bug! Safe travels and hope you find a golden nugget in your research trip!


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