Finding more about grandpa

Published 7:30 pm Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Last week, I got to spend some time with Debbie Chappell.

I have worked with Debbie before, usually on stories for the Daughters of the American Revolution or Garden Clubs of Suffolk, both of which she is a member.

And I do remember each time we spoke I left impressed by her passion for history.

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That said, I could never have imagined just how deep that passion ran.

As we walked through her home, she pointed out collectible after collectible she had come across and its historical significance.

For example, the banister going up her stairs was the same banister used in the 1700s in a home that Lord Cornwallis stayed while in America.

She’s just as much a welcoming host as an informational tour guide.

But the real reason for my visit with Debbie was to hear about a completely different history – her family history.

Debbie said she always liked learning more about her family’s history and where she came from.

About 15 years ago, Debbie began asking the elder members of her family if they knew where the gravesite of her great-great-great-grandfather, Dr. Anthony Person, was located.

Over the years, she read through her family’s history books and talked to other cousins to look for clues. Finally, this year, she found the gravesite in a farm in Windsor after she was given a Civil War-era map that showed where Person’s property was.

It was a really cool story and a true testament to the power of persistence.

A couple of days later, Debbie called to say she had friends and family reading the article and a cool thing was happening: they were looking forward to learning more about their family lines.

She said she had even one person tell her they were going to start a journey of their own to find out where their great-grandparents were buried.

How cool is that? A fun story for one has turned into a catalyst for others.

We all have passions or pet projects that we keep to ourselves, and we may even think the smallest of victories we see in these fields are pointless to others. But Debbie is a wonderful example of how sharing your story can help motivate and encourage others into following a similar path.

So good luck to those who may be following Debbie’s path, and maybe now I’ll be inundated with phone calls of people who have found their great-great aunt’s tomb in Surry or a great-great-great-grandfather’s former home in Carrolton.