CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Alice Click has a passion for history and an ever-growing collection of photos, books, letters, and documents to show for it.
The accumulation outgrew her office, closets and eventually the garage.
"My husband has been very nice about all of this," Click said, "except when he couldn't get his car or truck in the garage - that's when he ordered me a building that was brought in by a big truck from Kentucky."
The 12-by-30-foot building placed next to their home in Mason County close to the Jackson County line is still a work in progress. But row after row of books, yet-to-be-labeled three-ring notebooks and folders line most of the 230 feet of shelves her husband, Karl, built.
Click has dedicated what she calls a history library to her grandmother, Mary Combs Williamson, who started collecting family history about 1907 when she was a young mother. Click has Williamson's collection, the manual typewriter on which her grandmother typed letters seeking genealogical information and the box of postcards and letters that started it all.
The postcards came from Williamson's brother, a railroad employee who sent them home until he was killed in a train accident.
"I inherited her library and have added many volumes since I retired seven years ago," said Click, 68, who was secretary to the Mason County schools superintendent at the time of her retirement.
Before that, the inheritance sat ignored.
"I had my grandmother's three trunks of family history for 30 years before we opened them," she confessed.
Carbon paper was a blessing for her grandmother.
"She made a copy of each letter that she wrote and kept great records of those who answered her letters. She was a Daughters of the American Revolution historian - I have followed her lead," said Click, who is a member of both the Kanawha and Mason county chapters.
Click, who was born a short distance north of Kanawha County on the U.S. 35 side of the Kanawha River, was hooked once she discovered the scope of her grandmother's collection.
"I would go to older relatives and sit at their knees and look through their pictures," she recalled. "I'd ask, 'Who's that?' They wouldn't have names written on the back but they would know."
A sister and cousins have contributed documents, and Click regularly checks out auctions, estate and yard sales.
"I don't buy pretty things. I buy their family's history," she said.
She and her husband have hunted and photographed a few hundred family and pioneer cemeteries in West Virginia but also have traveled as far as Illinois and Indiana. They have visited courthouses, gathering hundreds of death certificates, obituaries and other records.