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Autumn 1953. 14 years old. Ninth grade. Two events happened that shaped my life to come.

My grandfather died on October 8th, 1953. At his funeral, probably the 11th, I was shown the grave of my great-great grandfather David Hartzell. Very little was known about him. This launched my lifelong quest to reconstruct his life and discover my ancestry. The results of this effort eventually launched this website to document and share the information.

Even though I grew up in a fundamentalist Christian environment, I had an irrepressible interest in science, beginning in the 6th grade. In 1953 I was taking biology. Seeing that evolution was overwhelmingly obvious, I had entered The Forbidden Land, never to return. This launched my lifelong quest for the scientific origin of EVERYTHING - the universe, earth, life - even time. It also led to majoring in physics in college, in spite of the fundamentalist belief that the laws of physics are wrong.

Ironically, I was in biology class when I got the word that my grandfather had died.

- Jim