A Rookie and The Veteran

by Mike Peters

I was a rookie coming to bat for the first time in a strange ballpark.  William Harrold was a seasoned veteran of the genealogy game and a respected researcher of the McMillian/McMillion surname.  I was nervous.  Yet, William had a manner about him that calmed me down.

My direct ancestor was Nancy McMillian, daughter of Dudley McMillian and Mary Allen.  I wrote to him asking for information on her ancestry.  He was unaware that Dudley and Mary even had a child named Nancy.  His reply was, "As you can see, Dudley and Mary Ann McMillian were married in 1821, and the first child Ann, which I have listed, was born in 1826.  So there is certainly room for your Nancy McMillian Milam's birth between 1821 and 1826."

I took that statement to also mean that there was room for me at the discussion table.  He pulled out a chair annd asked a novice to sit down.  There I became privy to some wonderful debate on the McMillian/McMillion family. He treated me like a gentleman amd listened to what I had to say.   It was important that everybody's voice be heard.  He explained in one of his E-mails, "I have always believed that all of us together can progress much faster on solving the McMillian/McMillion mysteries."

When I first started, to play this game, I was a little impatient.  I always wanted to hit the "big fly," drive the ball deep out of the park and learn about all my relatives at once. William's ease let me know it was OK to hit singles.  Take the oral legend and slowly mix in census, birth, marriage, death, will and deed records.  That's how you play this game son. One documented base at a time.

Many of us were saddened deeply this weekend when we learned that William Harrold was found dead on 29 May 2001 in his Milwaukee apartment.

This weekend four new players took their place beside those already enshrined in  Baseball's Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, NY.  There is no such institution for those that play this adult game of hide 'n seek known as genealogy.  If there were and if I were allowed to vote, I would cast one for William Benton Harrold, Jr.  Here was a man I never met, but still knew as a mentor.  Here was a role model for how this game of ours should be played.


Mike Peters

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