Wednesday, December 10, 2008

MEET "The Central Florida Graveyard Rabbit"

William Morgan

the Central Florida Graveyard Rabbit

The sixth in a series featuring the members of

The Graveyard Rabbit Association

presented in order of their membership.

I have been interested in genealogy and graveyards from a very early age, and I suppose the reason is that I was born into a military family. We were only able to come "home" to Central Florida about twice a year, at Christmas and during the summer. So, when we were here, my parents tried to immerse both me and my younger sister in our family lore. We visited not only graveyards, but also old neighborhoods and homes, musty courthouses, and big outdoor reunions.

Our family has lived in the Orlando area since 1842. That's the year Congress passed the Armed Occupation Act. Basically, if you were crazy enough to live in the "no man's land" abutting the Seminole reservation, the government would give you 160 acres. 10 generations later, and we're still down here!

My dad was the first to leave this neck of the woods for any length of time. He joined the Air Force right out of college. They told him he would "see the world," but he really just saw a lot of Texas. I was basically raised in the The Lone Star State, and it will always occupy a very special place in my heart.

After earning an AA from Texas Tech University, I took a job in Washington, DC, for a short time. But, as anyone who knows me well will tell you, I do not like to wear a coat and tie. And, that's what the job required. So, when my uncle in Orlando offered me a job managing the family construction company, I jumped at the chance to throw out the uncomfortable clothes and move back to my ancestral stomping grounds.

In 1992, I enrolled in some accounting courses at the University of Central Florida, and later completed my studies in Growth Management Studies at nearby Rollins College. All of this really proved valuable as the family business expanded during the housing boom down here.

Of course, I have also found time to pursue my genealogical passions over the years. I have participated in several projects that indexed and/or abstracted local vital records, and have had articles published in our local society journal and The Orlando Sentinel. I am a proud member of the National Genealogical Society, the Florida State Genealogical Society, the New England Historic Genealogical Society, and various lineage societies. One of my proudest achievements has been compiling the records that earned my family a Florida Pioneer Descendant Certificate.

In 2006, I compiled all the information my dad and I had collected on our family's involvement in the Civil War and got it published shortly before he passed away. The title is LIKE THE CATS OF KILKENNY and--like our association's name--is derived from an old poem. (Actually, a limerick.)

This year has been a busy one for me. In addition to becoming a GYR, I also purchased an old family home in the College Park section of Orlando that has required a lot of renovations. At this point, it looks like it will be blessing me with a weekend project for the rest of my life!

I am very excited about our new association, and salute Terry for putting it together! I look forward to getting to know all you other rabbits and learning things thru the posts on your blogs. Please feel hop over to mine when you get a chance:


Terry Thornton said...


Thanks for taking an early spot at Meet A Rabbit --- Jessica is in the midst of semester exams and I'm sure she also appreciates your swapping dates with her.

For those of you who haven't been reading CENTRAL FLORIDA GYRABBIT on a daily basis, you are missing a treat. I always find sometime there to read that is interesting, thought-provoking and usually something to make me smile. After reading Billy's introduction I have a better understanding of his approach --- and recommend his work to you all.

And I recommend that you check the phrase "Kilkenny Cat" at Wikipedia to get an understanding of his book's title as well as to read the poem "There Once Were Two Cats of Kilkenny."

Cats and Rabbits --- it just doesn't get any better! [Unless you are a HOGS Blogger --- and that is a completely different story altogether!]

Merry Christmas,
Terry Thornton

wsmv said...

My pleasure!

In reading my great-uncle William Morgan's account of First Manassas (Bull Run), he wrote how the eerie quiet at the end of the day made him wonder if the two clashing armies had ended up "like the cats of Kilkenny."

I first read that in the days before Google, and had no idea what he meant by it. So, I had to do some good old-fashioned researching. And, that wound up being the inspiration for collecting all the info that ended up in the book!

Don't let anyone tell you that poetry doesn't inspire, even if it comes in the form of a limerick!

Anonymous said...

I came to this site via Google because of a weird realization: I have lived here for three years, and have not once noticed a graveyard.
Is there some law that requires the sequestering of the dead? Do they get turned into slurry? Does the nature of the city somehow damage the stones?
I enjoy the tangible history, beauty, and solitude of some graveyards, especially in a State so occupied by dense foliage and scrub land. But I wonder, where to look?

Anonymous said...

As to your question "Where are the graveyards?" Look in the scrub and the foliage, it eventually takes back the land cleared previously. I have seen markers and mounds all over wooded areas and scrub here in Florida.