Barnett driven by his roots

Published 7:03 am Monday, August 6, 2007

By By Adam Prestridge
New York social worker Calvin Barnett recalled the small things in life last week when he visited Atmore.
The 27-year-old New York resident made a stop in his hometown while traveling through Alabama on his two-week vacation studying genealogy. Barnett said not only was learning his family history a huge highlight of his trip, but being able to drive through the countryside on his long journey was as well.
"I enjoying driving," Barnett said. "I exercise my lungs and practice my bad singing, so it keeps me awake. I take the subway in New York, so I like to drive any chance I can get."
Barnett said he has always enjoyed researching family history and believes his findings will be used as the basis of the book he has always dreamed of writing.
"It's just my personality," Barnett said. "Since I can remember, I've always wanted to know who is this and who is that? As a kid, I would hear 'that's your cousin' or 'that's your grandfather.'"
When he was a young child, Barnett always asked questions, a lot of questions. He did not want to be unaware of any of his family's past. As family members grew older, Barnett decided it was time for him to get the facts before it was too late.
"Now I can find out how they are kin to me," he said. "I have no excuse, I can really find out. Now I don't have to rely on older people not knowing and not being interested. I'm interested in family history, but not everybody is. Me, I want to know. It's part of my inquisitiveness."
Barnett's travels have led him from New York, down the East Coast to his home state of Alabama. His research led him to Auburn, Opelika and Camden.
"I met six cousins in Auburn that I have never met or ever heard of," Barnett said. "That was exciting."
Barnett said he decided to visit 'home' after learning his great, great, great grandfather moved to Atmore from Possum Bend and also worked at a sawmill in Rosebud. He decided to visit Atmore because he could kill two birds with one stone – visit family members still living in Atmore and learn more about his grandfather.
"I found out that he actually helped found a Lutheran Church in Possum Bend, which is still there," Barnett said. "That was too exciting for me."
Alexander Etheridge, Barnett's great, great, great grandfather, passed away in 1922 according to Rosa Young, who wrote a book about starting missions in Alabama, Barnett said.
"There is a passage about Possum Bend that mentions Alexander Etheridge," he said. "After he died his wife, Charlotte Durgin Etheridge, went to Auburn where she solicited for building funds to build her own church, which was Bell Missionary Baptist Church. I went there and saw the church."
While in Atmore, Barnett, who works as a family advisor at SKIP (Sick Kids need Involved People) of New York, he visited several of his aunts and uncles including Charlie Etheridge, Pearl Brown, Sheila Walker and Shirley Boggan.
"I enjoyed visiting with my family," Barnett
After leaving Atmore, Barnett traveled to Louisiana where he visited New Orleans, Lake Charles Ferriday and Shreveport. He then set out on a long drive to Detroit to visit more family before returning to New York City.

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