Sep 2, 2012

Taking a Vacation from Writing

by Marsha Ward

In August, I had the immense pleasure to provide a trip for my sister-in-law so that she could get back east to visit elderly aunts and contemporary cousins and to search out local cemetery and library records for ancestral lines of my husband's side. It was a two-week road trip of epic proportions, including five hours stuck in a parking-lot-on-the-highway situation in the Shenandoah Valley, due to a haz-mat accident earlier in the day.

I had been feeling the same urgency my SIL had, that we needed to take this trip now. My only conditions were to be able to visit a couple of places in Virginia for my own research needs for the next novel in the Owen Family Saga.

Cannon at Gettysburg

Due to time constraints, we weren't able to see as much as I had wanted, but we got to enough places, and I now have a real sense of the locations and conditions to suit my purposes.

Our record gathering on the genealogy side was quite successful, and we met people who were willing to help us in any way we needed. We also met a couple who were researching one of the same ancestral lines, and who are willing to obtain necessary courthouse records for us.

We found a cemetery that long-time residents of the town didn't know a location for. There we found the grave marker of the first ancestor on the Ward line to come to America. What a thrill that was! We still wonder what his middle initial "M" stands for, but we know we'll find out some day.

After an exhausting walk over a large cemetery in the Pittsburgh area trying to find Su's grandparents, she made a few phone calls to several of the aunts. Then, with new information in hand, she told the driver-cousin to stop the van so she could search a new portion of the cemetery, opened the door, and stepped out onto the very grave markers we had been seeking for two or three hours.

A day trip to another town turned into a two-day stay, where we met the aforementioned couple and gleaned vast numbers of records that can't be found online.

Due to many things I had to accomplish before I left, I felt I wasn't as prepared for this trip as I could have been. I didn't take my own copy of genealogical records that would have primed me better for the searches we made. I took the wrong computer for Internet communications on the road. However, I did take the right one for recording the records and information we gathered, since I actually had a genealogy program loaded on it, and found a file with some of the records I needed to tie in with the new information. I also happened to grab a keypad add-on that I'd bought a while ago but never used, and it really helped with inputting all the dates.

Did I get to work on editing my novel while I was gone? No. Will it put my publication schedule behind? Maybe. What was more important was that I got to see relatives I hadn't seen in fifteen years, and gathered vital information on family members I'll meet someday on the Other Side. That makes my Vacation from Writing worth it to me.


  1. Sounds like a great trip Marsha. Although you weren't writing more on the Owen's family saga, you did some great research -just as important.

  2. Fabulous, Marsha! I suspect you will be aided from the other side as you finish your writing projects. What a great trip you had! I am excited for you! hugs~

  3. It's amazing how spirits from beyond the veil help in enormous ways, like stepping right out at their grave sites. This has happened to me more than once--and in Virginia, too, where so many of my ancestors dwelt. Your post reminded me of so many incidences in Virginia and West Virginia and Pennsylvania where my ancestors haunted me until I got it right. I know I will see them on the other side and we will have a great reunion. Thanks for sharing!


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