I know the most genealogical information on my mother’s paternal side. That side of the family has been having family reunions since the 1970s. Because of these reunions the family has been able to compile 10 generations of Hatchett descendants dating back to 1796. This information includes the name of the family that owned our family during slavery, and the family’s migration from Virginia to Limestone, Alabama in 1829 to Northeast Arkansas in 1860. And it explains how during the Civil War General Samuel R Curtis freed my 3X great-grandfather, Robert Hatchett and his family.
All of this information was gathered and compiled by other family members and I was given this information a few years ago. So I really didn’t have to do any research to find out about this side of my family. When I first received what I refer to as the ‘Hatchett Book’, I was overjoyed to have this information on my family. I thought how many people are given a book of information about their family that goes back 10 generations to the 1700s. But the genealogist in me wanted to continue to research. Then I thought how can I add to this information? What can I research that hasn’t been researched before? Is there any additional documents that I can find?
I printed out the 79 page ‘Hatchett Book’ and read it from beginning to end several times. I flagged the pages that were directly about me, my mom, and my grandfather. I read and reread it for the next few months trying to figure out to incorporate this information in my genealogy journey. Then a light bulb went off when I was reading the first page of the ‘Hatchett Book’. I was reading the first page about how General Curtis freed my 3X great-grandfather and it was published in the Arkansas True Democrat. I decided to start looking for that newspaper. The first place I searched for it was the University of Arkansas Library. I was happy to find the newspaper on microfilm located there. So I went in search for this newspaper article. I had the date it was published, so I figure it would be an easy find. I found the date I was looking for fairly easily. But I read and reread that day’s news at least four times without finding the article about my relative. Just when frustration was about to set in I took a deep breath and got up to walk around and let my eyes rest for a moment. Sometimes that what it takes to find something, just taking a moment to regroup because once I sat back down and starting reading the article all but jumped out at me.
That moment I saw my 3X great-grandfather’s name, I screamed in the library. I was so excited to see this information from the actual newspaper that I just stared at it for what seemed like forever. Once I stopped staring at the computer screen, I knew I had to print a copy. So I went to the reference desk and asked about printing. The young guy said that the microfilm readers aren’t connected to the printer. I remember saying but I need a copy of this newspaper. I must have a copy of this newspaper. Although I was trying to stay calm, I don’t think I was doing a very good job. But he went back to what he was doing and left me just standing there. I called my husband in a panic wanting to know what my options are for getting this information for my family history binder. I told him that the microfilm was connected to a computer and wasn’t an original microfilm reader. Phillip then told me to ask the young man at the reference desk about saving an image on my USB. The young man had never done it before and neither had I, but we fumbled our way through it and I was able to get a screenshot of the newspaper article saved and printed it later when I got home. Once it was printed I felt like I was able to add something to our ‘Hatchett Book’.
When I was at the state archives last month, I was able to find my 3X great grandfather, Robert Hatchett’s, minister credentials in the Jackson County records. I also discovered that Robert’s son Peter Hatchett was also a minister and performed marriage ceremonies throughout Jackson and Woodruff county. And I was able to find that Peter performed the marriage ceremony for his sister Margaret ‘Peggie’ Hatchett in 1873. I’m always looking for new information or something that I can add to our family’s history. So when I was asked earlier this year to present at our family reunion next week, I was glad I have some information and documents to present that might be new to some. And this is why my journey continues…