By Barbara Roberts
Barbara Roberts, a free lance writer and a part-time faculty member at Samford University in Birmingham, holds three degrees in English-B.A., the University of Montevallo; M.A., Samford University; Ph.D., the University of Alabama.
Long interested in local history, Roberts has written a history of her home town, Calera, Alabama, served as president of the Shelby County Historical Society (1975-76), and headed that group's Confederate Cemetery Restoration Committee.
The major breakthrough in that project, Roberts
says, was acquiring the cemetery property.
"Once we owned the property we moved ahead, and many people, not just society members, volunteered their help.
Clearing the land was also a monumental task.
"Admittedly," says Roberts
, "it was harder for the early pioneers, who didn't have chain saws andWeedeaters, but our task still wasn't easy.
The results, she
says, were worth it.
"When you have the participation of a community, as we did, a project like ours can be a source of pride for everybody."
, the cemetery restoration was only the beginning.
Increasingly interested in the hospital that had cared for the Confederate soldiers, Roberts
found an obscure footnote mentioning the Catholic presence at the site.
From that beginning, she
searched archives in New Orleans, Jackson, and Vicksburg, eventually locating Sister Ignatius' memoirs, entitled "Journey of Discovery.
"For me," says Roberts
, "retracing the nuns' steps was a 'journey of discovery' into the past."