Leslie Castle
Castle Leslie in Abedeenshire, Scotland where my ancestors lived.
Statue of Vulcan in Birmingham, Alabama, where my father was born.
And who’s this guy writing it?

Hi, I’m Neil Leslie (aka Niall Mor, or “Big Neil” in Scottish Gaelic) and welcome to the blog chronicling my adventures in pursuit of my ancestors: the Leslie and Leatherwood families of south central Alabama; the Moffatt family of northern Florida; and the Roberts and Allen families of central South Carolina–along with whoever else might show up. The title reflects my preliminary or working assumption (perhaps I should call it a theory or hypothesis) that my family originated in Aberdeenshire in northeastern Scotland, immigrated to the United States, and somehow, over several generations, worked its way to south central Alabama, where my paternal grandfather was born. That mysterious “somehow” is the subject of my search.

I also blog over at “It’s All Straw” on everything from Catholicism to comic books, but I’m starting this blog because I’ve become interested in family history and genealogy again and have decided to see what I can find out about the Leslie family. My ultimate goal with the Leslie family is to find out who came over on the boat. Who came over on the boat to America presumably from  Scotland? How did the family wind up in Alabama where my father was born, and where from what I can tell, the family had lived for several generations?

 As a more short-term but related goal (which may evolve into a separate project), I’d like to know more about my father’s military service in World War II. One of my great regrets is that I never asked him more about the specifics of what he did. I’ve made inquiries a couple of times and tried to obtain a copy of his service record but come up empty. It’s possible that I don’t have enough specific information to locate his specific records, or it may be possible that his records were lost. Just as I’m going to try again to find information about my father’s military service, I’m going to try again to find out more about my family.

 I say “again” because I’ve been interested in family history for years but never did any systematic or thorough research. My interest in family history probably started when I was a boy and I learned that Leslie was a Scottish surname and there was a Leslie family tartan. My older brothers received Leslie tartan ties from my parents, but I didn’t. Jealousy can be a very powerful motivator! Each tie came with a little placard summarizing the history of the Scottish Leslies. I must have read that card a hundred times, but without any context for the people and place names, I lost interest and forgot the details. In 1985, I was fortunate enough to go to Scotland (and get my own Leslie tie) but I wasn’t able to do any family history research.

My latent interest in family history revived in the 1990s when I got a computer with internet access and I found out about the vast quantity of genealogical and family history information that was gradually becoming available in cyberspace. Back then, however, most of the stuff that was available was posted by government agencies, individuals, or networks of genealogists working on their own. If I remember correctly, sites such as Rootsweb were still privately maintained, and aggregate sites for genealogical information such as Ancestry.com were just taking off. (“You young people have it so easy nowadays,” he says in best grumpy old man voice).

The next goad for me to do family history research was my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary in 1999. I met relatives I’d never met before and heard stories I’d never heard before. I started collecting scraps of information here and there, but nothing complete. I wish I had started collecting and compiling more vigorously because my parents were with us only a few more years after that – my Dad, William Stewart Leslie, passed away in 2005, and my Mom, Cecelia Roberts Leslie, passed away in 2006. (*See my policy on names over there to the right*). I lost access to their memories and recollections.

In the years since then, it’s bothered me that I don’t have a more complete picture of our family history. I’ve tried to construct a genealogy, but my knowledge is fragmentary, incomplete, and  unreliable. My older brothers and sisters have become aware of my interest in genealogy and recently my brother Bill offered to pay for a year’s access to the Ancestry.com website as a birthday present. I’ve accepted that offer. I’ve also started watching the TV series “Who Do You Think You Are?” in which celebrities find out about their family histories. I finally decided that if celebrities can do it, I can do it. I’ll have more to say about the show later.

I started this blog because I wanted a place to write down anecdotes, tidbits, questions, and scraps of information that might suggest directions for further research. I would welcome comments, queries, tips, tricks, and gentle corrections. For now, I’ve decided to focus my attention on the Leslie family because I honestly don’t know much about them. My Dad’s sister, my aunt Elizabeth Leslie LeCroy, was something of a family historian, but she passed away in 1984. She passed on some of what she knew to her daughters (and my cousins) Jeanne and Marie Ann. They have added to what Elizabeth knew and shared it with me, but I need to review what I have. We know a bit more about my mother’s family, the Roberts, because my uncle Eddie has become something of a family historian and has a good bit of information about the Roberts and related families.

Thank you so much for visiting my new blog today. If you like what you’ve read (or even if you don’t), please leave a comment. A blogroll and an RSS feed will be added soon, so be sure to check back with us often. Haste ye back!