Cooper-Young author plans to spin family’s tale into book
Like most of you, I never really knew much about my family’s history — certainly nothing beyond vague childhood memories of a few great grandparents. Then 20 years ago, while living in Boston, I began to fish around for any genealogical tidbits related to my birth surname Hollingsworth.
When I discovered that a man named Valentine helped found the state of Pennsylvania with William Penn, I was hooked. I decided right then and there that I would one day write a book about the history of America using my paternal lineage as the backbone for the story. Little did I know then that modern technology would eventually not only prove that I am a direct descendent of this historic figure about whom much has already been written, but that nearly every branch of my family tree — on both my mother’s and father’s side — can be traced back to the earliest chapters of American history and beyond.
Now the desire to write their story — in tandem with a first-hand account of the development of America herself — has become more compelling than anything I have ever experienced.
The project has evolved from something I may get around to someday, to something that eclipses everything else. It’s as if all those ancestors (570 so far) are chanting from on high, “Write our story! Write our story! We lived it you lazy so-n-so, all you have to do is write it!”
I have spent the last month laying the groundwork on Ancestry.com, and have gone far beyond discovering all 16 great-great grandparents. It turns out that my people pioneered just about everywhere they went, whether it was being among the first Europeans to settle in Pennsylvania, Virginia, western Mississippi, and southwest Shelby County, or among the first to build in Cooper-Young — the neighborhood we’ve called home the last 100 years.
How incredible is it that ancestors on both my mother’s and father’s side started out from Isle of Wight, Va. (the immediate offshoot of Jamestown), then, over the course of 350 years (1613-1953), found their way separately across a burgeoning new nation, only to wind up living two blocks from one another in Midtown Memphis?
But now the real work begins. I have given myself one year to write “America: A Family Perspective.” If all goes as planned, the next article I write will be to announce the book signing in early 2014. If you would like to follow along with juicy discoveries and progress reports, please “Like” my Facebook page by the same name.
If you would like to pre-purchase a copy of Aaron’s book or otherwise contribute financially, visit www.gofundme.com/1rv6fo.
By Aaron James