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Friday, January 11, 2013

Bedford County man gets family lines on paper

Glenn Stevens recently released

Photo by Karen Dillon

Glenn Stevens recently released "The Saunders Families around the Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia.

What's in a name? Google "genealogy," and there are millions of resources dedicated to helping people find their lineage. Locally, one Bedford County resident has spent numerous hours researching and compiling a who's who of the Saunders family.

Glenn Stevens recently released a family genealogy, "The Saunders Families around the Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia." While he's been researching his family for about 40 years, it took him about seven months to put everything into book form.

"I always had an interest in history," said Stevens. "I used to listen to my grandfather's stories, and my great-great-aunts were walking encyclopedias."

Stevens researched his family's history from a variety of different sources. That included surfing the Internet, visiting the county courthouse, checking out the U.S. Census records at the Roanoke Public Library and reading "The Douglas Register," which is a compilation of records that were kept by the Rev. William Douglas, a minister, who, in the mid-1700s, kept details about area births, deaths and marriages.

One thing that Stevens, who also is a part-time pastor, learned was that census records aren't always reliable.

"They're only as accurate as the person who took the information," said Stevens. "You also have to be careful when you're on the Internet, because the information is not always accurate, and you can't take it as the gospel."

Stevens takes the information he finds and uses it as a "road map," he said. "I try to prove it or disprove it."

Through his research, Stevens discovered that within the Saunders family there are four lines with no relation between them.

"It took me years to realize that. I haven't been able to prove they are connected," said Stevens.

Those who settled in Bedford County and carried the Saunders name were industrious and hardworking, said Stevens. Many had signed up for the military to earn a living and for land grants.

"There were quite a lot of them who served in the military," added Stevens. "They migrated this way (from the east); the land was valuable to them, and they needed it for their livelihood."

The cover of the book is a full-color picture of the lake and mountains, which was taken by Stevens from Smith Mountain Lake State Park. Beneath the lake in that spot, said Stevens, are where two Saunders properties once were. The book includes other historical photos, sources of Stevens' research and an index.

"The only help I had was my wife, Patricia, helping me index that thing," said Stevens with a laugh.

So far, Stevens has only promoted his book through word-of-mouth. Copies are $35 apiece, and Stevens said he'd consider delivering locally, or, for an additional $5, he'd ship copies by mail.

"I'm not trying to make any money off this," said Stevens. "I'm just trying to cover the costs of the printing."

Now that Stevens' book on the Saunders family lines is complete, he is helping his wife and a friend trace their family lines.