Profile 2011: Bullard weaves legacies

Published 9:53 pm Friday, February 25, 2011

Karen Bullard says she is leaving a legacy for her daughter and grandchildren: their family history. And Bullard knows her legacy is much more than just a list of names, dates and activities. It’s a tangible link to generations past: the 40 –plus members of the family who fought in the Civil War, the ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary War, and the hundreds of others whose names and life milestones she has charted through her genealogical research. It is roots, a sense of belonging, and an understanding of a place in history tied to their family and their relatives.

It’s that legacy which is celebrated in the pages of the Profile 2011 edition, inside today. Celebrating “Our People, Our Places, Our Story,” the edition tells the story of more than dozen Pike Countians from all walks of life – teachers and volunteers, medical professionals and athletes, all of whom are building a legacy and history through their everyday lives.

Those types of stories are part of the tapestry that Bullard helps weave, for others and for her family, with genealogical research.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

And researching her family’s legacy began some 30 years ago for Bullard, with her mother, Annette Connor, who brought Bullard along as she began researching the family’s history.

Continued on page 3A

“My mom kept telling me wonderful stories about my family,” Bullard said. “I followed her around and the record-keeper. I had just gotten into it when I lost my mom to cancer.”

But the desire to continue the genealogical work continued, in part as a tribute to her mother and in part as a curiosity to learn more. “You never find everything you want,” Bullard said. “There’s always that other ancestor you want to learn about.”

One of the first projects Bullard encountered was the Beulah Baptist Church Cemetery. “My mom’s grandfather was the sexton of Beulah Baptist Church,” Bullard said. “And she remembered going to their house as a child and she remembered the cemetery as a very beautiful place.”

The cemetery had fallen into disrepair: It was unkempt, unruly and overrun. Bullard helped spearhead the creation of a board to oversee repairs and preservation of the cemetery. It would become the first of many projects and volunteer efforts. As her interest in genealogy grew, she became active in the Daughters of the American Revolution, the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Pike County Historical and Genealogical Society. She help coordinate efforts between the groups to develop a genealogical section at the Troy Public Library, remembering when they worked together to raise funds to purchase the first research books to the library.

Today, the genealogical section of the library boasts hundreds of volumes, microfilm, databases and historical maps and documents for research. “We have between 50 and 60 visitors a month” as well as dozens of email and phone requests for information.

And the love of history also led to her career. Bullard began working with the library more than 20 years ago as a volunteer in the genealogical section. Soon, she was working part-time and, over the years, the part-time work grew into a full-time career. She know is assistant librarian and oversees the research and genealogical departments.

“I didn’t go looking for this,” she said. “It found me.”

Today, Bullard is respected throughout the county for her genealogical work and her leadership within the DAR and UDC, as well as other organizations. An active member of Park Memorial Methodist Church, she is a humble servant – always willing to lend a hand, care for a sick relative or friend, offer prayers and words of support. When she speaks of her daughter – Amanda Challancin – and her two grandchildren, her voice breaks and her eyes fill with tears. “God blessed me with that child,” Bullard said, humbly. “She’s my greatest claim to fame.”

So sharing that legacy, that sense of family and history, is simply a gift she can give.