History, genealogy passions

Published Caption 7/26/2010: Marguerite Bishop is the local host chairwoman for the National Genealogical Society 2011 Family History Conference.

With all the seriousness of an evangelist who asks whether you know your savior, Marguerite Bishop would walk up to a couple at the Charleston Rifle Club and pose a very serious question.

“Do you know who your great-grandmother is?” Doris Tylee recalls Bishop asking her and husband Walter more than once 15 years ago. “We'd say we know their names, but that's about all.”

They also knew that Bishop, who had been heard describing visits to her ancestors' gravesites as visiting her ?“originals,” did not think that their answer was good enough.

Mary Marguerite McLaughlin Scott Bishop was born Oct. 1, 1932, and died March 23. Bishop, who was president of the South Carolina Genealogical Society when she died, knew her ancestors and wanted other people to become more familiar with theirs, too, Tylee says.

She held leadership positions in, or was strongly associated with, the rifle club and Coast Guard auxiliaries, Marguerite's School of Dance and gardening. Some would say she was most passionate about genealogy and history, constant threads running through her life.

When reading stories referencing history, she sometimes compared the contemporary telling with her ancestors' version. Then she would comment on whether the current storyteller had the same impression of events as her forebears.

She paid particular attention to any news on the Hunley and ensured that a presentation on it by then-Sen. Glenn McConnell was a centerpiece of the 2011 National Genealogical Society Family History Conference program, which was held in Charleston.

Jackie Hughes of Sumter persuaded by Bishop to accept the role of first vice president of the state genealogical organization in January, says she will miss having Bishop as her role model.

“I'm going to miss her leadership and her friendship, giving me advice, moral support and all of her knowledge,” Hughes says. “She promised me that she would be there for me.”

Still, there are those, including Paul Thomas, who would say dedication to other interests, such as that exhibited by her position as Flotilla Commander in the Coast Guard Auxiliary, shows it was just as important to her.

Thomas referred to Bishop as a shipmate.

“When we lose our shipmate, we pipe them away,” says Thomas. Members of the Coast Guard “piped her away,” adds Thomas, referring to pipers performing at her grave. “She deserved to have the proper respect.”

Reach Wevonneda Minis at 937-5705 or wminis@postandcourier.com.