So, who is Alice Marie Beard?
Or, who was Alice Marie Beard?
This genealogy site has been set up to survive Alice Beard's death. There will come a time when any email sent to Alice will forever go unanswered and when the reader may be asking, "Who was that woman?"
I write this in 2013. I was born in 1950 to Elizabeth Ann Doyle (1921-2007) and her second husband, Miles Griffith Beard (1918-2006). I grew up in Mishawaka, Indiana, went to Indiana University, worked for a while as a newspaper reporter, then went to graduate school at University of Maryland's College of Journalism. I paid for graduate school doing editing for various university publications. Then in 1979, my son was born, and I moved into my "mommy years." My daughter was born in 1984. I was an at-home mom for 20 years. It was during that time when I began my genealogical research.
I began my heavy-duty genealogical research in 1986, and it became an obsession. Since I lived close to Washington, D.C., I could spend days at the National Archives. My young daughter learned to sit quietly next to Momma Beard while I cranked through rolls of microfilm. She would read or make her own little books. And if things were really crowded and there was no seat next to me, on occasion she would sit at my feet under the reading carrel. I would drive hours to read stones in graveyards, and my children would come along and play near me among the grave stones. (I know that it sounds freaky, but my kids thought that was normal and that all children played in graveyards.)
Back when I started my research, if you wanted to check court house records, you went to the court house, or you wrote to the court house. There was no "on line" anything. We had various ways of connecting with distant cousins and researchers to share information and photocopied records, and we would write real letters, which the postman would deliver.
We might find a phone number for a distant relative who also was researching, but the phone calls were short because no one had "all you can call" long distance phone service. We paid by the minute. Therefore, we wrote.
In the early 1990s, I spent a couple of years working at an LDS Family History Center, a genealogy library. I would work when my kids were in school. I learned about the resources available through Family History Centers, and I would teach patrons how to use the library and how to do their own genealogical research. And I would soak up genealogy sleuthing tricks and tips from some extraordinary genealogists.
The biggest prize for working at the library was that I got a key so that I could go to the library at any time, day or night. I would drag my kids along after the library had closed and would research late into the night.
In 1994, I got my first computer. At the time, not many of the old genealogists were online, but things were quickly moving in that direction. Genealogists whom I'd corresponded with by postal mail soon became part of the email world. We moved from paper family group sheets and paper pedigree charts and stacks of manilla folders to computer software. It was like a miracle! Using our computer software, we would make gedcom files and share them.
In 1997, I began my personal genealogy web site with two simple pages. One page was the story of my great-grandfather Thomas Doyle (aka Francis Reed), and the other page was the story of my great-great-grandfather George Hooker. Both men had served in the Union Army during the Civil War. Two pages, and I interlinked them. I was thrilled! For each man, in order to produce his little life story, I had spent several hundred hours researching. I would spend days at the National Archives going over their military records and census records. For George Hooker, I had traveled to Carroll County, Indiana, and tracked down photos of him, gone to the local court house for records, and visited his grave. For Thomas Doyle, I had traveled to Vermilion County, Illinois, gone over old newspapers at the county genealogical society, tracked down his unmarked grave, and even arranged to have a granite marker put on his grave. Those two pages represented lots of research, and I was mighty proud of that web site -- even if it had only two pages.
When I was 50, I went to law school. My J.D. is from George Mason University School of Law (Arlington, Virginia), and I am admitted to practice in the D.C. Courts, the U.S. District Court for D.C., and the U.S. Supreme Court.
However, becoming a lawyer did not cure my obsession with genealogical research.
In 2010, I was sworn in as a member of the Supreme Court Bar. There were just a handful of us sworn in on that day. The Justices were Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, Ginsburg, and Kagan. I remember that Chief Justice Roberts looked down directly at me and spoke the words to welcome me to the Supreme Court Bar. His eyes were beautiful and kind. And I remember Justice Kagan looking as if she had just gotten out of the shower; her hair looked wet.
But getting into the Supreme Court Bar in 2010 was easy compared to the paper work I filed in 2011 to become a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. I came in under my ancestor Christian Hoffart, a man who was born in 1716 in Schwaigern, Germany, and who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1729. Christian is my ancestor through my father's father's mother's mother.
All lives come to an end. I am a Catholic and have no particular fear of death. However, I want to do what I can to preserve the research that I've done. And I want to do what I can to communicate to future researchers once I am gone and can speak no more. Thus, I have uploaded these pages at RootsWeb. Thank you to the RootsWeb community for hosting Alice's Interesting Dead Folks.
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