TWO decades of researching one of Tullibody’s most famous sons has now taken a local historian into the Deep South of the USA.

Tullibody History Group’s Chris Calder was in Montgomery at Alabama State University, where the pioneering work of Dr William Burns Paterson, a Wee County native, is still remembered around a 140 years on.

As previously highlighted in the Advertiser, Paterson was born in Tullibody in February 1850 and wished to see the world, having grown up with David Livingstone as his hero.

He travelled to America, visiting all but five states and eventually became a champion for African-American education after the abolition of slavery, twice seeing off threats from the Ku Klux Klan.

Chris, who had previously established connections with the university which in the past sent students to Scotland as part of a summer school scheme, was invited to The Cotton State to deliver a speech at the Founder’s Day Convocation.

The event has been celebrated annually since 1901 on or around February 9, the birthday of Tullibody native Paterson.

The Blue Bells of Scotland, Paterson’s favourite, was performed as usual by the university choir and wind ensemble while the man’s favourite poem What I Live For was also recited.

The university even runs a Spirit of Tullibody Award, showing that the man and what he stood for is still held in high regard.

Chris had always wondered if descendants of William Paterson still lived in the Wee County and last month revealed local David and Cecilia Brown were his great-grandchildren.

She was investigating more fresh leads at the time of writing and also caught up with some surviving relatives when she flew overseas.

The whole trip to Montgomery was “an amazing experience” for Chris, who came home to the Wee County with many tales.

Delivering special greetings at the Founder’s Day ceremony, visiting Paterson’s grave, discovering Old Tullibody Hall on the university grounds and being given a warm welcome in general were just some of the highlights.

Chris also came home with some fresh material for the research, which was started by Janette Archibald.

Judie Paterson, great-granddaughter of the famous Tullibody man, met Chris during her visit and shared 10 letters written by William Burns Paterson between 1870-75 – one original in his hand writing, the others typed up over the years.

Chris said: “They are very interesting because it tells about his life starting in America, how he visited every state except five, how he ended up in the Deep South.

“These were all written for his brother John in Glasgow.”

She added: “He also mentions people in Tullibody that resonate with me because I have done the history of Tullibody.

“They were an absolute steal to find.”