Margarita Martinez's family is searching for their roots.
They found some of them right here in Columbia County.
I was intrigued when Martinez called the other day from Miami. She and her brother, Frank, a Nashville, Tenn., resident, have begun retracing the branches of their family tree, and the trip led them here.
The connections were a little blurred. Martinez and her family fled Cuba in 1960, just ahead of the Communist revolution. Genealogy at that point was less important than freedom.
She was only 4 years old. Now, at 52, she's reached the age where family trees take on more interest.
There had been stories: Her great-grandfather, she'd always heard, was a wealthy man, a Cuban planter who moved to Georgia where he had three daughters and two sons.
He eventually left Georgia for Florida, and the family made its way back to Cuba. Then, as Fidel Castro came to power, the family returned to America.
Those moves left the family history a little disjointed, but eventually the pieces started to fit together - mostly thanks to Frank's historical research.
What they've found is that Margarita's and Frank's father, Mario, was the son of Antonio, whose father also was Antonio.
As in Antonio Martinez y Saldivar, for whom our own Martinez, Ga., is named.
Some accounts say Martinez originally was called Lulaville, after one of Martinez's daughters. But newspapers at the time record both names; I found references to Martinez as early as 1890, and to Lulaville as late as 1903.
In any event, Martinez is the name that stuck, though after the family moved away, the pronunciation took an odd turn - martinEZ, rather than marTEENez. And when Frank quietly visited Martinez last summer, he was puzzled to find only an undefined community often hyphenated with "Evans."
Now, having found where part of her roots are planted, Margarita says other family members are talking about visiting the area again to reconnect.
Who knows; maybe they'll even convince us to pronounce their great-granddad's name correctly.
Speaking of getting things right, an Evans reader sent along a funny note the other day at the expense of U.S. Rep. Paul Broun.
Broun has been getting beaten up lately for the number of taxpayer-funded mailings he's sent to constituents. Lewis Rich, of Evans, received one of those a couple of weeks ago - and right away noticed something was wrong.
The letter was printed upside-down on Broun's congressional letterhead stationery.
"Guess it doesn't take long in Congress to forget which end is up!" Rich jokes.
Incidentally, despite the lampooning Broun's mailings have received, along with a few editorial jabs from The Chronicle, it turns out his office has sent just eight such letters to constituents.
But the late Charlie Norwood, during his final re-election year in 2006? He sent out 26.
A packed sanctuary at Kiokee Baptist Church on Friday provided an appropriate sendoff to Ann Brown.
As the pastor noted, much of her work had been done right there in the church's kitchen, pitching in for Wednesday night suppers and other events.
But many in Columbia County might better know Mrs. Brown for her long tenure in the county tax assessor's office, where she worked alongside her husband: former tax assessor George Brown.
Mrs. Brown died last week at 66 after enduring post-retirement battles with cancer.
May her wonderful family find comfort in happy memories of their lives together, and may she rest in peace - and without pain.
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.
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