Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sentimental Sunday: Dear Grandpa (Or the Power of Networking)

Let me tell you a story...

Roy Everett Atchley was born 29th January 1903 in Matthews, New Madrid, Missouri, USA to Noah Ellston Atchley and Carrie Fredonia Parthenia Ellen (Gipson) Atchley. He married Bessie Evans on the 15th September 1924 at Benton, Scott County, Missouri. Their children were Rosella, Lorella, Barbara, Betty, Daniel 'Bud', Jimmy, and Jantha. Bessie Evans Atchley passed away 26 Jan 1943 and is buried in Taylor Cemetery, Essex, Stoddard County, Missouri.

Roy Atchley then married Mary Edith Rodgers on 6th March 1946 in Clay, Arkansas, USA. Their union produced Sandra, my father Roger, and Sherry. Roy Everett Atchley died 14th February 1958, twenty-seven years before I was born. He is buried beside Mary Edith (Rodgers) Atchley in Bernie Cemetery, Bernie, Stoddard, Missouri, USA. My father wasn't yet seven at the time.

His obituary in the Sikeston Herald (27 February 1958) said he attended the Matthews School and left New Madrid County twenty years previous. He owned and operated the Atchley Store in Parma, Missouri, and five of his brothers survived him.

By the time I came to ask what my grandfather looked like, we had a box of unlabeled photographs and with the passage of time, less certainty on my Dad's part to identify any of the men in the pictures as his dad.

It felt weird, being so into genealogy and finding family connections yet I couldn't even produce a photo of my own grandfather. Mom had been told Dad looked a little like him.

I've visited his grave in Bernie, Missouri, where he is buried next to my grandmother Mary, who died when I was five. As much as I didn't remember much about her, I at least had a photograph to point to when I talked about my grandmother.

Fast-forward to this past March, when I gave a presentation on English and Welsh Records to the Jefferson County Genealogical Society. I was nervous, as this was my first non-academic presentation, and truth be told I wouldn't have put myself forward for it if my friend Ladonna Garner hadn't asked me.

Now, a couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by a member that hadn't made it to that meeting but recognized my surname. Atchley is after all not very common at all. In fact, I'd wager a good majority of us all descend from the Atchleys of Middlesex County, New Jersey.

As it turns out, the woman who contacted me for information my family is my father's cousin. Her grandfather was the same as mine. I then asked if she had any pictures of Grandpa Roy and she replied in the affirmative.

Yesterday, just in time for my birthday today, I received in the mail two photographs:

Roy Everett Atchley (about 23), Bessie (Evans) Atchley (about 19) [His 1st Wife], and Rosella Atchley (infant).
(Note: This was taken sometime between 31 May 1926 and 1 Nov 1927 when Rosella died of bronchial pneumonia.)

Roy Everett Atchley (in his 50s) and Lorella Atchley, his daughter.

Needless to say, this has made my birthday today one of the better ones now that I finally know what he looked like, and I'm even more of a convert to the necessity of networking in every area of one's life!

I never got to know you, Grandpa. I hope you would have liked me and maybe even would have been proud of me, even if I'm still looking for a job. I like to think I would have liked you a lot. Finally getting to know what you looked like has been the best part of my birthday this year. 


  1. Awww...what an awesome birthday present!

    Happy Birthday!!

  2. Welcome to the Geneabloggers family. Hope you find the association fruitful; I sure do. I have found it most stimulating, especially some of the Daily Themes.

    May you keep sharing your ancestor stories!

    Dr. Bill ;-)
    Author of "Back to the Homeplace"
    and "13 Ways to Tell Your Ancestor Stories"

  3. Happy Birthday! (That's the kind of birthday present I like, too.)

  4. I'm starting to think there's genealogical karma. Glad you were able to get these pictures of your grandfather. I was blogging last week about how little I know of the grandmother I'm named after. I just have a picture of her when she was about seven, half hidden behind her dad.

    Happy Birthday.

  5. What a absolutly wonderful birthday present! I am sure you will treasure those always. (Better than a new vacuum) :-)
    Theresa (Tangled Trees)