My Uncle Is Famous!

I've been working on this multi-generation scrapbooking project (not the smartest idea to do during the holiday season...but no one ever said I was brilliant) and since my mom has like every photo in existence of our family I asked her to email some pictures to me. As my inbox flooded I called my mom and we discussed some of the photos. She mentioned that she found one of the McTeer Bridge in Beaufort, S.C. It happens to be a photo I have as well since I had visited there just last summer.

Anyway, it got us talking about the man the bridge is named after - James Edwin McTeer .

James was my grandmother's uncle, which makes him my great, great uncle.

While I was chatting with my mom, I did an internet search to see what kind of information I could find about Uncle James. What I found out was pretty amazing!

1. James McTeer was the youngest Sherrif in the history of the nation - not South Carolina - THE NATION!

2. He practiced Voodoo. Actually it was technically called Hoodoo (folk magic) There is a difference between the two - Voodoo is a religion while Hoodoo is simply magic (though it has a strong tie to the Bible). So it's not quite the same as the pin-cusion dolls and shrunken heads that we think of when someone mentions Voodoo. Hoodoo is a use of herbology and charms.

3. James purchased, and lived in, the home of "Tillie" Maude Odell Doremus (a famous actress from Beaufort).

And last but not least.....

4. Uncle James was an AUTHOR! He wrote four books all primarily about the Low Country (South Carolina). While his non-fiction works probably never reached much beyond his immediate area, I have a feeling that they were received enthusiastically since he was the local expert. Since these books are long out of print, I won't know anything about them or the publisher until I visit the Beaufort Public Library next spring. But I'm excited to dig into them while I'm there!

I envy Uncle James for a few reasons. He didn't have to worry about finding an agent. He probably didn't fret over finding a publisher. This also means that more than likely he didn't have to face the fear and pain of rejection. And his knowledge was shared with others because it was worth while. No one debated over whether his books would be New York Times Bestsellers. No one worried if he'd get a great review. And no one worried if the books would return the intial investment of an advance.

Uncle James wrote a book. It was published. The end.

It makes me rethink my writing goals.

Is it really that important to be a NYTimes Bestseller or to have a fantastic Booklist or Kirkus review? Is it really that important to make a gazillion dollars?

Or, quite simply, is it important to write a book that will bring joy to others?

Sure, I'd love to be on the NYTimes Bestseller list, or have a great review. Of course I'd love to have loads of money.

But what's most important to me is that someday there will be someone out there reading a story I wrote and it will touch their life in a way that nothing else could. Because really, that's what matters most.

So I think I'll take a lesson from Uncle James.

What about you?


That's so cool about your great great uncle.

I didn't know that about hoodoo. Actually, I don't think I've even heard of the term before now.
KarenG said…
I like your Uncle James, amazingly his character just seemed to pop off the page as you wrote about him. And three cheers for all that you said!! Because those things really don't matter, truthfully. Let's all take a lesson from Uncle James! Great post, Amie.
Rezden said…
Wow, very cool. That sounds like a better goal too. :) That's what I go for, just making someone feel an emotion through my writing. Best compliment you can get.

My fiance is actually working on a scrapbook for her parents for Christmas. It does seem to be causing her some stress as well, lol.
Anonymous said…
That is so cool. Wow, I'd love to find something like that about my family. My family has an exciting and tormented past. Oh, like you wouldn't believe. :) Don't worry. I won't share here. You'll have to post after you find his book!!
Lydia Kang said…
How neat to find out more about your heritage, and in such a way! Awesome!
Colene Murphy said…
Wow! That is so neat!
Vicki Rocho said…
My husband had a great grandfather (or maybe it was an uncle) waaaay back who was in publishing. That would be a really nice connection to have right now.

Now you should go look on ebay and see if you can find any of his books!
Amie Kaufman said…
That is so, so cool! I love family history stories. Also, the youngest sherrif ever? How old was he? Details, details!
Judy said…
I totally agree with your new thoughts about the importance of writing. If my stories entertain, or even better, help, just a few people, then I have accomplished my goal.
Elana Johnson said…
Very cool! And yes, lesson well taken.
Sara B. Larson said…
That is really neat. What a great lesson. Thank you.

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