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John Hilyard Family ca. 1909

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Back in the Saddle Again, Via My Genealogy Road Trip

It's been over a year since I blogged about genealogy. At least, that's how it looks. I've been actively researching all this past year and have written at least 50 my mind.

Last fall, I attended a family reunion and connected with a cousin who shares my love of our family's history. I showed her what photos I had of the family on Google drive. She inherited her grandmother's (my uncle's wife) collection of photos, which she promised to share with me in the future.

A few months ago, I decided to take a trip over spring break to do some research, something I hadn't done in over a decade.  On a whim, I invited my cousin to join me, and was delighted when she said she could.

Now, this trip created enough material for a year or two of posts, which I will get to eventually. We traveled six days, over 1200 miles, through seven states. We visited cemeteries, courthouses, libraries and geocaches. We photographed and photocopied hundreds of documents which will take months to go through.

But the most amazing find of all? It was only 30 minutes from my house the whole time. I'd even seen it before but didn't know what I was looking at.

Vaughn Hilyard age 4
This is my grandfather and namesake, Vaughn Hilyard. He's four years old. I've got dozens of wonderful pictures of him. This one is nice because it's probably one of him at his youngest. He's the little boy in the banner picture for this blog.

But look on the wall behind him. Wonder who that could be? Let's flip the picture over.
Vaughn Hilyard age 4 reverse
I know it's hard to see. Let me help you. The bottom reads "Vaughn Hilyard 4 years old." Now what's that at the top? Tilt it a little...there it is: "Grandpa Hilyards picture."

Friends and family, I want to introduce you to Vaughn's grandfather, and my great-great grandfather, Thomas Hilyard. I wrote about his time in the Civil War,  He died in 1882 from tuberculosis he contracted while serving in the war. I had abandoned all hope of ever seeing a picture of him, but there it is, the size of a postage stamp and clearly labeled by my wonderful great grandmother. Here's a better look:
Thomas Hilyard  1840+1882
Grandfather of Vaughn Hilyard
My cousin had this picture in her box of photos she inherited from her grandmother. I'd even seen it on her Ancestry page. But on the last night of our journey, at a hotel in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, the county where Thomas's great-grandfather settled, I realized what I was looking at. It might have been the best find of all.

I hope to share more from our trip soon.

1 comment:

  1. Eureka! A truly magnificent find, Vonda! This is amazing, truly. The testimonies about Thomas's disability are poignant, even heart-breaking. A man cut down in the prime of his life by a lingering disease after service in the worst war in our history. I heard my grandfather talk many times about his great uncles who served in the Union Army -- the only name he could recall was "Tom" (the other two were David and John) -- and now there is a picture to go with the stories. Congratulations, and great to finally meet you, great great Uncle Thomas!