Rita Ownby Holcomb Author

Bringing my ancestors to life.

Since before I was old enough to know the word “genealogist” I have wanted to be one. Always an avid reader and fascinated by history, I wanted to know how my family and ancestors might have fit into the various scenarios I read about.

A true southern girl is taught to be polite and not ask too many questions, but to my grandparent’s dismay, I was always asking the tough questions, “What was your Mama’s name?” and “Where did they come from?”

As an adult I met one of my father’s first (in the south that’s called “own”) cousins who had researched extensively and I knew immediately that I had met a kindred spirit.

Among the dozen notebooks of handwritten letters and notes were two newspaper clippings from 1903; the year my great-grandfather turned 88 years old.

I knew the events he described about his life and family during and after the Civil War were meant to be shared, but the research, to verify and flesh out the brief stories, took time and led me in a different direction from where I started. The one thing that remained consistent was his faith in and dedication to God.

Taking several research trips to Tennessee, at different times of the year, gave me insight to the land and atmosphere where my ancestors were born, lived, fought and died. The battlefields were inspiring; the landscape was comforting but visiting the graves of those relatives who stayed and died was spiritual.

My goal became introducing the world to these common folks who became caught up in a conflict, not of their choosing, that effected not only their lives but the lives of their descendants.

I quickly began to realize that this wasn’t the story of one man’s struggle but the story of two families whose lives intertwined for more than a century.

Here’s a slide show I created a few years ago for my sweet hubby on our anniversary. Ignore the final credit which says 33 years. It’s been more than that now.

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