SALTVILLE, Va. - Many of us know more about the history of the Civil War than we do about our own family history. But there's one history class at Northwood High School in Saltville that can tell you all about theirs.
They've been compiling it all in books as part of a special class. They now have a whole new respect for their ancestors.
A map adorns the wall of a dual-credit history class at Northwood High School. It pinpoints all of the grave sites in the surrounding area.
It, along with family histories, have been put together by a dual-credit history class. It's dual-credit because they get three hours credit at Virginia Highlands Community College and three hours of high school credit.
"I was hoping that they would get back to the ancestor who would have originally came to the United States. Several of them were able to go that far," says history teacher Anna Leigh DeBord.
All of the surprising results were put into books that the students discovered about their own history, and the results were remarkable. "One of my family members, the first that came over were named Royal. I found that kind of weird, because thats a name that you don't hear much in this area. So I actually traced it back, they were the first royal family of Denmark," Austin Widner said.
"I found out that some of my ancestors came from France. They came over here about 1670 and his name was John Briquet. He was a refugee," adds Kyla Brickey.
Interviews were also part of the project which led to more family history. "We had to do interviews for our book. I interviewed my Granddad and I learned so much about his background and about the people that fought in World War I. I had an ancestor, Harry Thomas Farris, and he got shot by a sniper in World War I," Madison Sidle discovered.
Historical facts that had been all but forgotten about a four-time great grandfather. "He was actually one of the founders of some place in Kentucky. He was in battle of Kings Mountain in the American Revolution, him and his brother," Asley Frye said.
Another part of the project was finding gravesites, and while they were at it, cleaning them up again with some surprises. "The stone was just laying on the side of the fence. We pulled it out and it happened to be my fourth or fifth grandfather, great grandfather," Payton Stephenson told us.
They're not learning about history, but writing about it as well.