Thursday, February 14, 2019
Asking and Receiving
So, now I have it: the book about King Stockton. Well, make that a booklet. According to the entry at the only library in the world which has it, the item I've been seeking is actually only seven pages in length. Seven unnumbered pages, according to the official entry.
For whatever reason the Rose Library—keeper of manuscripts and rare books at Atlanta's Emory University—deemed it important to include King Stockton's life story among their holdings, I'm not sure. I am, however, unspeakably grateful. Those mere seven pages hold the power of connection—that intangible sense of awe at reconnecting with one's ancestral past.
Receiving an answer to my request was much easier than I had expected. Some special collections archives are quite restrictive as to whom they allow to access their holdings. Closed stacks, advance appointments, waiting periods, and even researcher credentials requirements serve to keep the hoi polloi at bay. I may have a master's degree, but I certainly hold no Ph.D.; all I could do was hope for the best. And wait.
The wait, it turned out, was no more than a few hours. I entered my request into their online form right after the library's closing on Tuesday evening. Through the wonders of three time zones' difference—and the diligence of professional staff—by the time I awoke on Wednesday morning, I not only had a response from the reference coordinator, but a digitized file containing the full contents of the booklet, itself.
The file contained several items I had hoped for. Of course, the main thing I was looking for was any indication that this King Stockton was the same man as the one I was seeking. There were enough details—including some Aunt Fanny-esque stories—to assure me I was on the right track. The bonus was the names of King's children, plus his parents' names, his date and location of birth, and—best of all—a photograph of both King and his wife, Louvenia.
There were, however, enough additional names and details to make me realize that, like many research ventures, the more I learned, the more I needed to research. With every eyewitness account, we see a different perspective; now, I need to chase after these newer names and stories to verify them, as well.
One other thing, though, came with this discovery of the booklet: it wasn't written by King Stockton, himself. It was a story about him. Though I now know the author was listed as A. L. Lewis, I have no clue just who that person was. Family member? Ministerial associate? Community member? Even that question leads to a new research task, as more information generates more questions. We'll start exploring those details tomorrow.