Thursday, November 11, 2010


Several years ago the Marietta Daily Journal ran a story about the Sons of the Confederacy wanting to honor a Confederate Soldier who had saved the lives of his fellow soldiers during the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain. The event happened near what is today the intersection of Burnt Hickory Road and Old Mountain Road. When I read the story, I realized that the hero was my great-great grandfather, Isaac Petersen Collier. He was a part of the regiment from his home county of Upson, down in middle Georgia.

I had heard versions of this story during my childhood. But it was the work of my uncle, Joel Shattles, who brought the story to life for the family. This was not the only story that he brought to life and shared with our family members.

My Uncle Joel died recently at the age of 86. He was an amazing person. After his wife of 55 years died, he found a way to work through his grief, filling his days with writing stories for his grandchildren and great grand children. He also discovered a talent and passion for family history. After moving in with his son and his family the two of them teamed up to research our family tree.

At an age when many would not want to learn something new, he went online, connecting with relatives throughout the country. Through emails and phone calls he began connecting our various family lines. As my cousin Dick wrote in Uncle Joel’s obituary, “for 12 years he worked tirelessly trying to discover Shattles family members around the country, increasing the known family count from 75 to over 4000.”

Military service is a proud tradition in our family, going back in this country to the Revolutionary War. On Monday, November 8, my Uncle Joel was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, an honor he well deserves. During WWII, he was a part of the 15th Cavalry Division and earned the Purple Heart and many other medals. Joel Richard Shattles was the ninth of 13 children, 12 of whom grew to adulthood. Of the six adult sons, including my father, five served in the military during WWII, representing all the major branches of the armed services. The youngest son, not of age for WWII, served during the Korean War. Thankfully, all returned safely.

We are all missing Uncle Joel; but his legacy will be a vital part of our family for generations to come.