in 52 Weeks
I’d Like to Meet…
Richard E. Byrd, 1888–1957
I’d like to meet nearly all the ancestors on my family tree, what genealogist wouldn’t? But, if I must pick, I will go with a person who is not a direct ancestor, but a distant cousin. Meet Richard E. Byrd, my sixth cousin, 3 times removed. Byrd’s direct, paternal fifth great grandfather is our common ancestor. William Byrd (1652-1704), the immigrant, of Westover, VA is my eighth great grandfather on my maternal grandfather’s maternal branch.
Richard E. Byrd was a famous aviator, in 1929 he flew to the South Pole and back in a small plane. This was just one of his aviation feats, but it is the one that touched me. When I was in the third grade at Indianapolis Public School #53 we read from Byrd’s book, “Little America”. The book primarily covered his first expedition in the Antarctic when he prepared for and flew to the South Pole and back from his base camp, Little America. The story really caught my imagination and all I wanted to do was go to Antarctica, Byrd’s description was transporting. Beyond wanting to go to Antarctica, the story inspired a desire for travel and adventure. It may be one of the few reading assignments from grade school that I still remember. Imagine the thrill I felt when I discovered I am related to one of my childhood heroes! This is why I would like to meet Admiral Byrd, to tell him his words and actions influenced a 9 year old for the rest of her life.
Did I eventually go to Antarctica? Yes! I wrote a travelogue about my trip at the time, it’s still online. http://www.lafara.com/antarctica/
I will never be the adventurer that Admiral Byrd was, but I do like to travel, visit historical sites and, of course, see the places my ancestors lived.