It was the great statesman Edmund Burke who said: "He only deserves to be remembered by posterity who gathers up and preserves the history of his ancestors."
For years it has been my pleasure to gather every scrap that I could find about my people. Since it comes from so many sources some of it is, of course, embroidered by tradition. I have held very closely to facts which have documented proof. However, occasionally something is so entrenched in family tradition that I have ventured to use it. My story is not nearly as complete as I had hoped-but the years are flying by much too fast and I feel that I must record some of the bits and pieces that I have spent many years collecting. Even so, I will never stop searching for one never knows what some moldy old book, mossy tombstone or dusty record may turn up.
The history of the PETTY family is surprisingly rich and varied. Digging it out has been one of the most fascinating things I have ever done. I only wish I had the time and space to give in full some of the more interesting sources- the old wills, marriage records etc. They are priceless, yet they are there for any interested person to read. I have met so many fine people- some only through their letters- all of them wonderfully interesting. I wouldn't have missed them for anything and without them this story would not have been possible. I am so much indebted to so many people, some who have shared the results of their own searchin' and others who never thought to find ancestor hunting at all interesting but were willing to tell me everything they could remember or find out that would help. I think Miss Katharine Reynolds of Houston, Texas, who I know only through our letters but to whom I feel very close, has perhaps contributed as much as anyone to this work. She has gathered data on the PETTY family (that being one of her own ancestral lines) for years and has been most generous in sharing it. There are many others- my father, Balaam PETTY, when he was still with us, my brothers Cordell and Lester PETTY, cousins Mary PETTY BRINDLEY and Alma PETTY MATTHEWS, Mrs. Fite PETTYand Miss Opal GIBBS all have cheerfully put up with my questions, written letters, visited cemeteries, hunted books, people and old records and badgered numbers of people with questions in order to help. Mrs. R. M. PETTY of Clovis, New Mexico gave me a great deal of material on her line. Leland S. HARRIS of Old Hickory, Tenn. got into his car and drove many miles gathering material on his branch of the family. Almost every member of this big family has given me some sort of help in this undertaking and to every one of you (1) my most sincere thanks.
My one wish is that the finished work will not dissapoint you. There is one other person I would like to mention- my husband, Donald Watt, who patiently puts up with me, encourages me, buys me stamps and reams of paper and doesn't fuss (much!) when I let the potatoes burn while I read some old paper.
I know that you will find many mistakes in these pages, especially concerning the younger members of the family and not nearly all are named here. Records are sadly incomplete and some dates are not accurate. Strange, I have found it much easier to collect data about people long dead than to obtain accurate records of people still living. Partly, I suppose, because the family is scattered all over the United States and Canada and partly because some did not quite understand what I wanted and did not give all names and dates that I needed. I hope all of you will forgive the shortcomings and think as I do that we have a fair begining to our Family Chronicles! We can hope that our mistakes will show our next historian how to write a better one.
To all the clan with love,