Excerpts from the Writings
John R. Mayer
From Extraneus, Volume I-A, Le Strange of Britain and Aquitaine , "Preface to the First Edition":
I wish to express special gratitude to my grandmother the late Floy Belle Cannon Strange and her sister the late Myrtle Cannon Smith, who together gave me the initial inspiration to study ancestry, and who transmitted to me the notes and dreams of my great-grandfather Alexander Taylor Strange
Lastly, I wish to acknowledge, in all piety, the love and encouragement of my aunt and uncle, Geraldine Strange and Harry Byron Landholt, and of my parents, Charles John Mayer, Jr., and Floy Marie Strange, without whom the historical adventure called Extraneus would not have been possible.
John R. Mayer (Christmas, 1988):
My grandmother, Floy Belle Cannon Strange, is 102 years old this year. When I was 14 or 15 years old, she gave me a book authored by my great-grandfather, Alexander Taylor Strange, and thus introduced me to a lifetime of work. After visiting Europe in 1985 to see Hunstanton Hall, one of the ancestral homes of the family, I determined to revise and expand my great-grandfather's book. . . . The process of expanding an essay of some 136 pages to one of some 1,642 pages culminated with an additional surprise: I now feel more intimately acquainted with my great-grandfather than with any other relative or friend, living or deceased. Furthermore, my perception of history has been entirely transformed. Prior to authoring these works, I had viewed history as a rather impersonal succession of events; but today I see it as an exceedingly intricate and interconnected fabric of loves and hates, or the final recordings of myriad souls, who all individually strived, as we today strive, to impress upon the world their own views and interpretations of existence.
From Extraneus, Book XII, Strange of the Carolinas, "Strange of Oconee":
Attempting to link two families by conjecture is perhaps a common practice, but deliberate genealogists should always temper their imaginations with a judgment of circumstance.
From Extraneus, Book XII, Strange of the Carolinas, "Epilogue to the Narratives":
Before concluding our history of the Strange families, it seems only proper that we pause and reflect upon this collection of private histories, relating these sundry backgrounds to our own, present experience. In the wake of so many human acts, both noble and ignoble, we must feel humble, and wondrously compelled to compare our individual achievements against those of so many others antecedent to ourselves. Mirth and misery are old companions of humanity, and notable events of happiness and misfortune never seem to happen without evoking some story or remembrance of things past.
Too frequently we are drawn to genealogy merely for self-edifying, egocentric, and ethnocentric reasons. I hope that this history has departed from this limited and narrow rationale. My purpose has encompassed larger goals and broader aims, for I have endeavored to understand the macrocosm of social evolution from the microcosm of family history. Lack of knowledge alone has too often divorced family history from national and world history, such that individuals are commonly described in family histories as if they had lived and acted in a vacuum, as if worldly events had little or no effect on our ancestors. The essays, indices, and glossaries that accompany this work were designed to equip the reader with views of the world much wider than the customary and simplistic 'Abraham begat Issac' genealogy.
The simpleton might view the archivist as an eccentric, but the historian sees him as the priest of his craft, for he holds the materials for making things matter, he has the clue or the trail of records that will surely embody some new biographical creation, another human life resurrected from dusty chronicles of the past.
From Extraneus, Book V, Strange of Eastern America:
What better way do we have to define the traditional family than to write the personal histories of our kinsfolk, our affines, and our friends? Taking care to note the spaces and times that once enveloped these brief lives, the biographer, genealogist, or historian should attempt to outline for the next generation, his own view of the world, and interpretation of the family. The isolation and delineation of one individual life often leads to an understanding of several successive and connected lives, painting for us an intimate portrait of historical times. As our studies expand, so too our vicarious experiences will increase, giving us a tangible grasp on the course of human events, and an earthy, pragmatic wisdom by which to guide our own affairs during our own brief lives. Lives and loves may be brief, but philosophies and arts are long enduring.