I’ve been a member of the Goff-Gough Family Association since its beginning. The founders were Herb Evans, Mary Barnard and Pam Pressney. While not a founder, I was in frequent contact with Herb during the organization of the Association and I suggested the name for the newsletter which was adopted as well as contributing to issues since then.
My genealogical journey began in 1957 following the death of my great grandmother whose stories of her ancestors back to her great grandfather got me interested in my ancestry. In the early days of my research, the genealogy field wasn’t crowded but the Bicentennial, the Roots mini-series and personal computers changed all that.
By getting an early start in researching my various family lines, I was fortunate that relatives born in the late 1860’s and 1870’s were still living to provide information but as a new researcher I didn’t always ask the right questions. Eventually, I concentrated on my two Goff lines only as I descend from two of the four Goff brothers of western Virginia and for many years I was the unofficial historian of the West Virginia Goffs. In 1974 I self-published The Goff Family and in 2003 Phillip Goff and I co-wrote The Four Goff Brothers of Western Virginia. The latter book won a national award in 2005 for excellence in genealogy.
I’m an old-school genealogist and don’t agree 100% with the format used on Ancestry.com, WikiTree.com and other genealogical sites. My early research was hands on in courthouses, cemeteries, libraries, funeral homes, by personal contact and by writing hundreds of letters with a SASE enclosed. Almost all of my vacations were research trips. I spent days at a time in front of a microfilm reader at the National Archives searching unindexed census records and was there on 9/11/2001 and the pandemonium that followed. Most research can now be done online in the comfort and safety of home.
During the course of my research, I purchased an SLR camera with a macro lens and taught myself how to copy old family pictures. I visited hundreds of Goff relatives scattered over most of the eastern United States and photographed several thousand old family pictures, some of which no longer exist due to fire, flood and destruction by disinterested family members. I posted the best of these pictures on WikiTree. I’ve always been generous in sharing my information and pictures with others and can find that many of the pictures I photographed are now on Ancesry.com family trees and Find A Grave memorials with no credit given.
In spite of serious, life-threatening health issues, I was able to complete my goal of creating WikiTree profiles through the great grandchildren of the four Goff brothers of western Virginia, their spouses (if married) and the spouses’ parents (if known), as well as pictures from my collection. This was to be my legacy but, sad to say, many of the profiles have since been corrupted by well-meaning, but misinformed WikiTree members. C’est la vie.
Editor’s Note: This is a first in a series of posts by GGFA member and master researcher, Roy Lockhart. Watch for additional posts from Roy. If you are a GGFA member and would like to share a story about your research, you are welcome to share here as well. Contact mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org.