LAMBERTVILLE -- In 1620, members of the Talley family arrived in this country from Wales. Bob Talley traces the origin of his branch to 1686 in what is today Wilmington, Del.
"They became well-to-do farmers there and owned a lot of property," Mr. Talley, 85, explained.
The Dana Corp. retiree and Lambertville resident wanted to learn more about his ancestors, some of whose descendants migrated westward, and was delighted to find a genealogical history written by George Talley, a forebear, in the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Ind. But this history only took the branch to 1899. He resolved to bring it through the 20th century, and last year he finished and published his findings, nine years after he began.
Mr. Talley described his researches as a satisfying project that produced at least one startling revelation: His paternal grandfather had divorced his grandmother.
"Nobody in the family knew anything about this," he said.
Once, he said, an eerie feeling overcame him as he walked around Georgetown, Ill. He described it as "a sort of presence." Later, going through birth and property records, he learned that his grandfather and great-grandfather had lived there.
Mr. Talley had copies of the public documents he used bound chronologically under the title History of the Talley Family 1686-2003. He sent copies to the Fort Wayne library that had been so helpful to him and the public library in Auburn, Ind., where he grew up and Talleys still live.
The Fort Wayne library sent a letter of thanks that described the volume as "a welcome addition to our collection of family and local history materials. …"
Mr. Talley and his wife, Phyllis, moved to Bedford Township from West Toledo in 2006. Mrs. Talley died in September, 2010, after 62 years of marriage. In 1986, Mr. Talley retired from Dana, where he had went to work in 1951. He started as an accountant and became the firm's corporate manager of telecommunications.
In 1999, he was diagnosed with stage 3.5 throat cancer. The radiation therapy left him without a sense of taste or hunger and unable to produce saliva. He cannot eat solid food, so his diet consists of Boost Plus nutritional drink, which may help explain his good physical fitness and steady, 150-pound body weight. His activities include volunteer work at Flower Hospital's oncology department, baking cookies that he gives away, and growing roses.
"There is nothing in this world that I want or need," he said. "I have been so blessed. I got a second chance at life 13 years ago. My concern is, what can I do for you, for others?"