I'm Patricia Bryant Hartley, and I'm so very proud to be the new County Coordinator for the Lauderdale County, Alabama RootsWeb/GenWeb site! Although I'm new to the Coordinator position, I've treasured this website for decades. My passion for genealogy kicked in around 1991 when I turned 21, got married and became a stepmom (it was a big year!). As with most people who start researching their family history, I wanted to know where I came from. My father died when I was four, his parents died decades before I was born, and I knew that I had a half-brother (from my father's first marriage) somewhere out there whom I had never met. I needed to know more, so I started searching.
Now, these were the good old days of genealogy where there was no internet. If you wanted a census record, obituary or death certificate, you requested it through the mail. At the library, you turned to the card catalog, file cabinet or fellow researcher to locate the right resource. I have to admit that I enjoyed my hours upon hours in the old Florence-Lauderdale Public Library building, and you can't beat that feeling of opening your mailbox and finding a letter from someone who was also researching one of your family lines.
This beauty of a website like this one, though, is that it doesn't--and shouldn't--take away any of those fun elements of family history research. Instead, the GenWeb site should enhance your experience. In my own research, I not only turned to the Lauderdale County site, but also to sites across the United States in the USGenWeb network. If I couldn't go there, these sites were my next best option.
I hope that this site will be just as helpful to you--whether you live in St. Louis or St. Florian. Speaking of St. Florian, I guess I should get back to introducing myself. I'm a seventh-generation resident of Lauderdale County; I live in the Bailey Springs area of St. Florian, but I've also lived in Petersville, Underwood and Florence proper. My Lauderdale surnames include Threet, Waldrop, Stutts, Danley, Peck, Gray, Darby and Davis, and I have just as many in neighboring Wayne County, Tennessee.
My "day job" is Communications Officer at Bank Independent, a wonderful community bank (which I highly recommend!). I graduated from Coffee High School, and earned a BS (Professional Writing and English) and MA (English) from the University of North Alabama. I just completed a second MA (Communications/PR) at Kent State (online). I'm married to Doug, a Captain at the Florence Fire Rescue department, and in addition to my 26-year-old stepdaughter Jessica, I have a 22-year-old son Jamie (both UNA grads as well).
I love to read, write and research, and I hope to use these passions to add to and enhance the incredible amount of work that Pat Mahan did on this website since it was established. Simply transferring her data into this new platform has been a monumental task, so I can truly only imagine how much blood, sweat and tears she poured into this (volunteer!) effort for over a decade. I applaud her for making this site possible for me and everyone else who wanted to learn more about Lauderdale County.
So that's about all I can tell you about me. Now, I'd like to hear from YOU. Submit your comments, your feedback, and your surnames. Send me your suggestions, family photos, and community information. Like the front page of the site says, if you've traced your roots to Lauderdale County, we're family, and I can't wait to meet you.