Tuesday, February 28, 2012

"Footprints Of Four Centuries"

I thought I would start out by explaining the title of this blog:

My interest in genealogy started in earnest in the summer of 2000.  I had been poking around the web for a couple of months, when I got an e-mail from my grandfather's cousin William T. Bobb (the little guy in the above photograph.)  When I began corresponding with Bill, he was no longer a little boy, but rather a gentleman of 82 years - and importantly for my project, he was eager to help with my research.

I can never give adequate thanks for all the help he has given me over the years - lending me dozens of old photographs, crawling around his brother Bruce's attic looking for the 1848 Runyan Bible (they found it!), and the gift of an old American history textbook, published in 1895, entitled, as you may have guessed - "Footprints Of Four Centuries."

This wasn't just an old book - no, there was something special about this copy - inside the front cover was a handwritten message - "To William Bobb, From Grandma Runyan, October 25, 1921."

Bill looked at me and wondered, "why would my grandmother give me a big book like this when I was only 4 years old?"

The instant I saw it, I knew why - she wanted him to have her husband's personal copy of the book.  You see, Bill was his grandfather's namesake, and the inscribed date, October 25, 1921, was the day that William Runyan died.

William Runyan had been, among other things, a schoolteacher.  But most of all, he was a family man - and I'm sure he was pleased and proud as can be to have a little namesake grandson.

The thought-filled, almost pensive look on Bill's face when I explained the significance of that simple notation, in a book that he had in his possession for almost eight decades; to see in his expression a connection from the present to the past, his past - a look I've been blessed to see over and over with many different relatives since that day - is really what got me hooked on the wonderful, interesting (and sometimes maddening) hobby of genealogy, and particularly, sharing what I've "discovered" in my search.

You can see the two Williams in the photo above, and with them is 
"Grandma Runyan", Icydora (Seidel) Runyan.

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