For Tom Holley, it started out a few years ago as a search for information about his great-great-great-grandfather, William Jasper Holley, a Columbia County resident who fought in the Civil War.
That inquiry led to more research about the Columbia County men who served next to his distant relative in Company K.
Soon his work escalated into a book published in 1995.
Now, the 44-year-old Evans High graduate, who lives in Warren County, is working on his second book about Company F, the Thomson Guard, also based out of Columbia County.
"My goal is that I write about all three companies that mustered out of Columbia County," he said, adding he will begin a third tome on the Hamilton Rangers once the second is completed.
The driving force behind his writing is to tell what happened and to remember the soldiers from the county who served.
Using government documents such as field reports taken just days after battles and letters written by the soldiers, Mr. Holley aims to tell an accurate story of what happened.
"We have an urge to rewrite history, and I don't want to see that happen," he said.
The letters and pictures Mr. Holley has collected bring the soldiers to life and show the horrors of war, he said.
For instance, he has a copy of an emotional letter written over a five-day period by a fatally wounded soldier to his wife.
"Things like that do bring the book to life," he said.
As in his first book, Mr. Holley will do a genealogy on the 122 members of Company F.
"I feel like I know these men as well as I know my brothers and sister," he said. "My emphasis has always been on the men - getting to know the men."
However, he said his work sometimes doesn't do the men justice.
"Their lives boiled down to a paragraph on one page," he said. "That's sad."
Because original documentation is hard to come by, Mr. Holley is seeking the help from anyone with information about a distant ancestor.
Mr. Holley, a national salesman for the Louisville, Ky.-based Gentec Equipment Co., said it's often difficult to balance and schedule writing and research with his professional obligations - but it's worth it.
"It's a great hobby," he said about his writing. "Everyone needs a legacy. This is what I've got to offer."
Coupled with his writing interests, Mr. Holley also is an avid collector of Civil War relics.
His impressive Confederate collection includes rifles, guns, hand grenades, cannonballs, a sabre and a fake cannon, used to trick the Union troops into thinking the Confederates had more ammunition.
He has long dealt away his first collectible, a Yankee Springfield 1861 rifle.
"I have nothing Yankee anymore," he gladly admits.
Anyone with information on soldiers from Company F out of Columbia County can call Mr. Holley at (706) 595-5262.
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