Martinsville, Virginia


From Genetics To Genealogy

In the summer of 1987, my younger son was attending summer school at VT, taking a class in genetics. He was assigned to complete a genetic chart of his family going back three generations to note particularly physical characteristics as well as health conditions and age at death. He asked me to find out what I could, especially the age of death of his grandparents and great-grandparents. I thought, "This is simple enough, since I already have some of the information. I can knock this out in one day."

I selected a Tuesday to do this work, since the Mormon Center in Bassett was open for genealogy on Tuesday morning. I told my husband that I would first go to the Mormon Center, then the Bassett Public Library which had one room devoted to genealogy material and then on to Stuart to check records there as my family roots were in Patrick County, or so I thought. I went to the Mormon Center and on microfilm found information upon information on my paternal grandparents and, lo, they were in Henry County. I then proceeded to the Bassett Public Library to see what I could find there.

I spent the afternoon there finding much information and going back further generations. I was hooked!! Nothing to me was more exciting than finding ones roots. Then, of course, I needed to find out more about my son's paternal side. Luckily, one of his grandparents was still living. She could give me some information, but I needed proof and it was mostly in Franklin County. At Bassett, there was extensive information on Henry, Patrick, Franklin, and Rockingham and Stokes Counties in North Carolina. 

I went back to the Bassett Library the next day and everyday that week to complete the information that my son needed for his genetic chart. However, I wanted to go back further and find out where our ancestors came from before coming to the Americas. I went every day I could that summer, before I had to go back to school for 1987-1988, vowing to continue my research in the summer of 1988. I went to the library every day possible in the summer of 1988.

I am still doing research at Bassett Public Library, but it has gone through extensive growth. I find something new each time I go there, to the now Bassett Historical Center. Instead of one room with information, the Bassett Historical Center now has over 8000 square feet with much more information, and with computer subscriptions instead of just microfilm.

We are so fortunate to have this facility so close. I have visited many places including Fairfax County Genealogical Center and Loudoun County's Welch Library. Only the Archives in Richmond has comparatively more information on genealogy than the Bassett Historical Center.