Although it isn't common, there are quite a few Americans who have traced their genealogy back to the Civil War. Some even have gone back to the American Colonists. But one Thomson man didn't stop there.
"It was a family understanding that we went back to England. It's just that I wanted a more extensive survey done," Jim Usry said. "So, I simply got the books together and started going in depth until I got a straight line 111 generations back to King David of Israel."
Mr. Usry said he matched records back to King John in 1215 and the Magna Carta, where he found "nine direct descendents from those barons, until I was able to go back and fill in every generation. ... I am not a person who can just sit still. I researched so far back that people don't believe it when I tell them. They just laugh."
Searching his family's roots seems only natural for the gentleman who lives in the same house his family has lived in for over 200 years on Milledge Street in Thomson. The Usry house is on the National Registry of Historic Places. Although it began as a small cottage in 1795 on property provided through a Revolutionary War Service Grant, the family built on a two-story addition with columns in 1822.
Last October, Mr. Usry decided he could use more space and added a room onto the back of the house, which he decorated in a London 1780s drawing room style. Seated in the sunny drawing room overlooking the back garden, Mr. Usry proudly pulled out rolls of papered documents; thick, contemporary books and old books with yellowed pages to show off his findings.
"There are a lot of books on the magna carter, and they are thousands of pages thick," he explained. "But they don't do a whole lot of good because they only go back five or six generations."
With a sharp memory for dates and details, Mr. Usry went on to explain how church records only had names of property owners, taking some of his searches to maps.
"Genealogy just grabs you. Then you never turn loose, and you find yourself going to bed at four in the morning because you just keep researching and reading," he said.
And the persistence paid off. While drinking coffee and reading a Scotland Magazine at Borders bookstore in Augusta, Mr. Usry read an article about the College of Heraldry in London telling of charts of royal lineage. Mr. Usry said he "took a chance and wrote the College of Heraldry," requesting a copy of the charts. The College of Heraldry responded that the charts were too brittle to copy and were written in ancient Latin. However, they recommended two books that may help. As luck would have it, Borders was able to find one of those books in Canada - The Royal House of Britain and Enduring Dynasty by Rev. William H. Milner. Because it was published in 1901 and cost $50, Borders told Mr. Usry he may not wish to purchase the book.
"It was a little ragged copy, and I said 'If it has what I want, it's worth any amount of money,'" he said.
In a manner that normally is portrayed in movies, Mr. Usry got the book and opened its covers and discovered a small pocket in the back with a folded, yellowed paper.
"It showed the vital link that binds the commonwealth with the illustrious lineage of the Royal House of Britain with Charlemagne on one side and the early Czars of Russia. It made everything come together," he said.
Since then, Mr. Usry has stayed busy making his own charts showing his family's lineage. As his story spreads, he's been able to share the charts with other members of his family. "I knew no one would be thoroughly convinced, so I wrote down all the resources," he said. "I used manuscripts in the British museum. No one has ever done that, as far as I know, that far back. The manuscripts are quoted from the Windsor Palace Library, where they have to ascertain their family blood and show Queen Margaret back to King David. So, that's how I was able to do that."