|About this web site.
Creating this web site is something I've thought about doing for a long time. I just
wanted a way to let the Ridgdill family know there is someone researching and
documenting our family history. What better way than the World Wide Web. I've been
researching our family for almost thirty years. I thought I was the only Ridgdill
researcher, but over the years I've discovered there are a few others. All, thankfully,
have been more than willing to share their research with me. I also wanted a means
for Ridgdill descendants, relatives, and others interested, to be able to contact me. I
hope to hear from Ridgdill's all over the world. Thank you.
About my research.
When I began researching my family history many years ago, my only intention was to
trace my lineage back as far as I could, and to find out from where my family
originated. I had no idea at the time where this would lead. In the beginning,
information was very hard to find. I began with what I knew; myself, my father, and
grandfather. My father, who has absolutely no interest whatsoever in our ancestry,
didn't even know his grandfather's name. So, I thought this was as far as I would be
able to go.
Eventually, however, I found out that one of my father's sisters knew who their
grandfather was, and I was able to find out my great-grandfather's name, and that he
was a Confederate soldier. My aunt also knew of a cousin, who many years ago
wanted to join the Daughters of the American Revolution, and got the information
from my great-grandfather's bible, in the possession of another branch of the family,
needed to prove her direct lineage to a Revolutionary soldier. So, I was able to get
the names of my great-great-grandfather, great-great-great-grandfather, and my
great-great-great-great-grandfather, who was the Revolutionary soldier. I have to tell
you right here that luck plays a big part in family history research.
After being lucky enough to find all the information I'd found to that point, the well ran
dry. Our local county courthouse had burned six times, our small-town county library
was years away from having a genealogy section, and back then the Internet was only
in it's infancy, and wouldn't be available for public use for another fifteen years.
Information had become as scarce as hen's teeth. This is where my research took a
turn. To make up for the lack of information, I began expanding my research to aunts,
uncles, cousins, etc. After talking to all the relatives I knew, and getting all the
information they had, the well ran dry, again.
So, I thought that was the end of my journey. Wrong, again. After becoming totally
discouraged at not being able to find more information, I began doing what every
other researcher did back then, leg work. I began visiting relatives in other areas,
cemeteries, cemeteries in other counties and states, courthouses in other counties
and states, libraries in other counties and states, newspapers, etc.; all while working
a full-time job. I've traveled thousands of miles, and spent thousands of hours doing
research through the years.
In the late 80's and into the 90's, my job kept my research to a minimum. I didn't have
a lot of time to travel all over the countryside looking for information. In the mid 90's,
with a little more time for research, I heard about a genealogy library in another
county. It was there that I got my first taste of the U.S. Census Records on microfilm.
I thought this was the greatest thing since sliced bread. It was also at this time that I
realized all the information I'd found to that point wasn't even the tip of the iceberg.
Anyway, I dived in head first. I began writing down everything I could find. Then, I
realized it would go much faster if I'd make copies, instead. I began to accumulate
stacks of papers. I began to feel a bit overwhelmed by the amount of paper. Not to
mention the additional expense. I then started sorting all the paper I'd accumulated
and placed it in notebooks. After awhile, I had too many notebooks. There had to be
a better way to keep up with all this information.
A friend told me about a genealogy program which would store all the information. I
purchased the software, and spent many weeks entering all the information I'd found
into the program. What a difference this made in my research. While entering the
information, I discovered I had many duplicate copies. That's the biggest drawback
of keeping everything on paper. I quickly found out a good genealogy program is an
absolute must. Not only does it eliminate paperwork, but you can backup all your
information to disc. Then, if your computer ever crashes, or your hard drive has to be
replaced, you won't lose your information. Believe me, I know. You can also make a
duplicate copy of your disc.
I spent many of my days off from work at the genealogy library. While researching
there, a peculiar thing happened. My last name and my mother's maiden name both
begin with the letter r. So, while researching one surname, I'd invariably find
information on the other. After awhile, I found myself researching both surnames.
Before I realized it, I had as much information on one family as I did on the other.
Finally, one day I realized I'd found all the information available at the library. Surely I
was at the end of my journey. Wrong, again.
Along came the late 90's, and with it the Internet. Not wanting to incur more expense
than necessary, I conducted my initial Internet research utilizing the free genealogy
sites. There's not as much information available on the free sites as there is on the
subscription sites, but during this time it wasn't much of a problem. My job by this
time required me to work permanent rotating shifts. There wasn't much research
getting done. I prayed that one day I'd be able to retire, and really get serious about
my research. Be very careful what you pray for.
On the morning of May 15, 2003, my life was changed forever. I took a fall when I
slipped on a wet tiled floor just after arriving for work. I fell awkwardly, landing onto
my back. It was determined I'd injured my cervical and lumbar spine. After several
months of treatment by an orthopedist, I was told I'd never again be able to perform
my job duties. My world came crashing down. How was I going to break this news to
I was approved for long term disability by my insurance company. My last day at work
was November 11, 2003. Eventually, a neurologist determined there was damage to
the nerves in my lumbar spine, and there was no surgery which could repair the
damage. At least I could still walk, although not for very long at a time. As it turned
out, my disability insurance benefits only lasted for two years. So, I received a very
nice letter from my employer giving me the choice of retiring, or being terminated. In
order to keep my families health insurance coverage, retirement was my only choice.
Effective November 1, 2005, I became a member of the retirement community.
Since then, I've been able to research my family history anytime I want to. I just never
thought it would be under these circumstances. Remember what I said about being
careful what you pray for? I guess I should have been a bit more specific about the
I truly believe that God has a plan for us all. Therefore, I believe everything happens
for a reason. I know my prayer didn't have anything to do with my accident. God
doesn't do things according to our will, but His. At this point in my life, I know I am
exactly where I'm supposed to be, doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing.
Because of my situation, my mother, who can't stay by herself, can sit with me during
the day, my son has someone to keep him company each day, and my grand kids
can stay with me while school's out for the summer. I'm able to take my grand kids to
the dentist, to their health checkups, to practice, or for ballgames. I'm also able to run
those little annoying errands that always seem to pop up. In other words, I'm able to
do all the things that my wife and daughter used to have to take time off from work to
And, I get to research my family history anytime I want to. I told you God has a plan for
My name is John Michael "Mike" Ridgdill, Sr. I was born in Swainsboro, Emanuel
County, Georgia, to John Louis and Gloria Ann Rountree Ridgdill. I graduated from
Washington County High School in Sandersville, Georgia. I attended Swainsboro
Technical College. I met my wife Nancy through a family member. We were married
six months later, and have been married for over 35 years.
I served in the U.S. Air Force. Upon my discharge, we returned home to raise our
family. We have a daughter Stephanie Ann, a son John Michael, Jr., and two
grandchildren, James Clayton and Anna Morgan.
I was employed by a local company for six years until 1983. I resigned my position
there to accept a position with one of Georgia's two nuclear power plants, where I
was employed for 22 years. I retired in 2005.
I am a member of Baptist Rest Primitive Baptist Church in Twin City, Georgia. I am a
32nd Degree Master Mason, Past Master of Ridgeway Lodge #104 F&AM, Garfield,
Georgia, and a member of the Scottish Rite. I am a member of the Emanuel County
Historic Preservation Society in Swainsboro, and the Adam Brinson Historical
Society in Twin City. I am also a proud member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
I was an avid hunter and fisherman for many years. Upon becoming physically
disabled, however, I had to give up those hobbies. Nowadays, my time is spent
mostly at home watching television, surfing the Internet, emailing old friends, and
conducting my research. My wife works, but I'm kept company by our son, who is a
special needs young man due to Autism, and really fun to be around. I also spend
time with my family going to watch our grandkids play sports, which I really enjoy. I
love spending time with my family. Remember, family is everything.
Updated October 2012.
I started this website in 2007. Since then, Nancy has retired, Stephanie is remarried
to a great guy named Tim, and I have another beautiful granddaughter named Ava
Elizabeth. I have published three books, "Confederate Graves of Emanuel County,
Georgia", in 2009, a color version of the same in 2010, and "The Ridgdill
Genealogy", in 2011, all of which I am very proud. All are available at www.lulu.com,
by the way. I'm just sayin'! :-)
On a sadder note, I lost both my mother and father six months apart in 2010. Losing
Momma, well, she's not suffering anymore. Losing Daddy was totally unexpected. I
loved them both dearly. And, that's all I've got to say about that.
Otherwise, life goes on. I haven't won the lottery, yet. But, I did get an email from
Publishers Clearing House letting me know I could be the next ten million dollar
winner! I'm expecting their blue minivan to come pulling into the drive most anytime,
now. Honey, was that a knock at the door?