Do you have ancestors that worked in the coal mines of Appalachia? I recently had the opportunity to write a piece for the Kentucky Genealogical Society about the coal miners of Harlan County, Kentucky. The link to read it is below. Enjoy!
Welcome to week five of the series “Why Genealogy”. I’m sharing the voices of my fellow genealogists and family history enthusiast who were all were bit by the genealogy bug at a young age. Genealogy isn’t something you have to wait to do! There is no age limit to who can learn about their family’s past.
This week, meet Kathryn!
It was a rainy Sunday afternoon and my father decided to get the old family cinefilms out for us to all watch. He dusted off the projector and put up the big white screen and drew the curtains and suddenly all of his yesteryears were being shown. People that had come long before me, were suddenly animated once again and that’s where my fascination with family history started. As a child, I’ve always been interested in history so naturally, a progression to family history was perhaps a given!
By the late 2000s with the use of the internet and home computers becoming more commonplace, I joined Ancestry in 2006 aged 13, and started to build my family tree. 15 years later I’m still building that tree!
I think what puts people off researching their family history is they believe their family isn’t that interesting, but it’s the stories of the ordinary folk that keep me hooked. The stories of bigamous marriages, murders, accidental poisonings, industrial accidents, and more are what I consider the most fascinating. I love sharing these stories and discoveries with my family whether they want to hear them or not! Joining the social media side of genealogy and sharing my knowledge and stories was something I had always wanted to do so I threw myself into it this year and was so pleased to discover a growing group of young genealogists already present.
Kathryn Archer is a 28-year-old genealogist based in Yorkshire. With familial links to Yorkshire, Warwickshire, and Cheshire. When she is not researching family trees or going through DNA matches you can find her digitising old cinefilm or scanning family photos. Her other hobbies include stamp collecting and coin collecting. You can follow her on Instagram, Twitter and TikTok @that90sgenealogist.
Make sure to check out the other voices featured in the “Why Genealogy” series!
Welcome to week four of the series “Why Genealogy”. I’m sharing the voices of my fellow genealogists and family history enthusiast who were all were bit by the genealogy bug at a young age. Genealogy isn’t something you have to wait to do! There is no age limit to who can learn about their family’s past.
This week, meet Sophie!
A seed of curiosity is where my genealogy interest originates. My paternal grandmother is a many-cousined woman, and she would return from the funerals of her numerous aunts and uncles naming reams of people I was related to but didn’t know. She kept their names up her sleeve like a Magician’s never-ending hanky. The fact that my Nan held all the knowledge about these people and their relation to us began to worry me. One day she wouldn’t be here, and then who will remember their names, or how we’re related? I decided I needed to take on the job myself to preserve the information. So in 2012, at the age of 16, I began building out my known family tree online, pulling out the never-ending handkerchief from Nan’s sleeve, and laying out each square to untangle the list of cousins she’d preserved. Soon I was able to document everything we knew about her side of the family.
Moving on to my paternal grandfather, I asked about his extended family but he didn’t really know anything. How can my Nan know so much about her family, but my Grandad know so little about his? My nosey nature sent me digging to find out more. This led to me uncovering that his parents had moved to Derbyshire from Gloucestershire after they married. My Grandad’s mother, Dorothy, was from Somerset and hadn’t always lived with her parents and siblings, instead living with a different family nearby. Perhaps this was why my Grandad never met his maternal grandparents, despite the fact that his grandmother lived until he was 15. Then on my Grandad’s father’s side – James was his name – he’d been born in Leicestershire, then moved to Lincolnshire, to Gloucestershire before finally settling in Derbyshire. Both James’ parents died before my Grandad was born, and his three siblings lived in Yorkshire and the Isle of Wight, which is likely why my grandad never knew a cousin on that side.
As to why I love genealogy is a layered answer. I’ve mostly grown up with one side of the family, and have never known my aunt, uncles, and cousins on the other side. It’s a shame, but it’s hard to navigate a mountainous landscape of relationships without a guide. I find genealogy is a great way to feel more connected to these people, even though we don’t have contact in daily life. If we ever do get the chance to meet, I’ll have plenty to tell them about our shared history.
A lot has happened in my life since that seed of curiosity first sprouted in 2012. Genealogy has grown roots deep into the foundations of my identity. Having struggled with mental health issues, the process of researching is a logical and organised task that’s been a great distraction at times. Each time I’ve found stories about my ancestors has felt like lighting a candle in a dark room, over and over until the whole room’s illuminated and you can finally see what’s around you. Having a clearer picture of my family history has helped me understand more about my living family. Knowing I come from generations of working-class families and who sometimes worked and worked in difficult and dangerous conditions has helped me understand my family’s background and attitudes more. The process of learning more about the hardships and events that my ancestors lived through in order for me to be here has given my life a renewed sense of meaning, and has made me feel happier and more appreciative for the life that I have.
It’s been empowering to learn where I come from, after feeling so lost and disconnected from myself. I feel emotionally and spiritually closer to family, and connected to some of the places they’ve lived, especially Derby. It’s the city where I grew into myself as a person; where I lived and worked, studied and struggled. Knowing that for multiple generations, this city shared the same importance and was home to similar life experiences for my ancestors, which makes it feel like such a special place. Being able to walk through the city reminiscing my own memories, whilst envisioning their lives among the same street names, buildings, and monuments is a magical feeling that I am so fortunate to experience.
Sophie Haire is a 25-year-old genealogist based in the UK. Her research interests are in the East Midlands, Somerset, and Aberdeenshire, and in the use of DNA. She is a member of The Hidden Branch and enjoys encouraging genealogy among younger generations. Alongside genealogy, she enjoys writing and psychology. In 2020 Sophie graduated with an MSc in Psychology, and also holds a BA in Creative Writing. Sophie is passionate about researching the intersection of these three areas. You can find her on social media @DerbyGenes.
Check out the previous voices featured in the “Why Genealogy” series!
Welcome to week three of the series “Why Genealogy”. I’m sharing the voices of my fellow genealogists and family history enthusiast who were all were bit by the genealogy bug at a young age. Genealogy isn’t something you have to wait to do! There is no age limit to who can learn about their family’s past.
This week, meet Jennifer!
What is genealogy if not the search for something missing? It is the search for a missing piece of us, or of our identity. Even if the researcher is not cognizant of what they’re looking for, genealogy is, at its very core, the act of searching for those who came before. My path to genealogy was driven by such a search, and since establishing genealogy as a hobby, my search has at times taken on seemingly mythical proportions, like one of Hercules’ labors or Perseus’ quest.
In my earliest years, until I was 7, I lived upstairs from my great-aunts, my grandmother’s two spinster sisters, lovingly referred to by everyone as “The Aunts.” My grandmother and her siblings were first-generation Americans, with both of their parents having come to the United States from the south of Italy around the turn of the 20th century. Well, though I didn’t know it then, The Aunts were a genealogical goldmine, and their love of family history was passed to me.
Edie, the older of the two sisters, and Clara, the youngest of the family, spent many hours with me as a child. They had a small chalkboard, and would dictate words for me to spell, or math problems for me to figure out. They also talked, and talked, about their parents, and the towns – villages, really – where they came from in Italy. Beautiful placenames like Montefusco and Montemiletto and Montefredane, places I have not yet seen with my own eyes, but which I hope to see one day. Neither of The Aunts ever made it to Italy themselves, a fact that will always make me sad for them, but based on what filtered down to me, their knowledge of family connections throughout the mountains and countryside of Campania and Benevento was quite extensive.
When I was 21, Aunt Clara passed away, and I moved in with Aunt Edie to help her out. She wasn’t in good health, and with some knowledge of actual world history at that point in my life, and desperately wanting to figure out who I was as a person, I talked to her in the evenings about her own youth, her education, trips, vacations and jobs and suitors… her history. She remembered a lot. Place names, names of cousins (were her parents actually distant cousins?!), how old were they when they came here? Did they ever get to see their parents again? I kept a notebook of answers to these questions, now long since lost, but it remains indelibly inscribed on my heart.
This was right around the time that the internet was really experiencing explosive growth, and Ancestry.com was new on the market. I signed up, plugged in what I could, and began to build my tree. Sounds pretty simple, right? Wrong.
I didn’t remotely comprehend how a website like Ancestry worked, only knew that I could build a family tree on it. I would get frustrated when I couldn’t find what I was looking for, only to realize years later as I studied actual historical records what actually goes into building such databases And let’s not discuss how many “hints” I accepted that were for completely different people and families! I can laugh now at my own foolishness, but it was tough at the time, and in those early days, I did a lot of revising on that tree!
As I mentioned, I was at a point in my young adulthood where I was trying to figure out who I was, other than the typical elder-millennial/late gen-x mess! I wanted to know why we didn’t know my mother’s family well, why we weren’t raised with her extended family in the same way we knew my dad’s myriad cousins. The reasons for that are not mine to share, but suffice to say, I thought that if I could build Mom’s tree and trace the family patterns, I might find where I fit into it, and that might help my search for identity.
It’s been 25 years since then. I’ve taken trips to the archives, have spent countless hours searching databases online, I’ve looked up things for others, and have had others find records for me. Genealogy goes in fits and starts for me, but when I’m on a hot streak, whew, look out! Even the advent of genetic genealogy has been amazing, enlightening, and a quagmire of questions and discoveries. Have I found who I am? Well….
I have found facts about my grandparents (who I knew) and my great-grandparents (who I didn’t know), and even my great-great-grandparents. I spent years tracing names and dates and newspaper clippings and church bulletins and military records… and I’ve put together some pretty comprehensive pictures of these people who formed the people who formed me. Through genetic testing, I have found “family” in unexpected places, with people I never knew I was related to, but who are so similar to me it’s as if we grew up in the same family unit, and that has been an incredible gift!
After decades, genealogy remains one of my favorite habits. I don’t do it every day anymore, because life, amiright? But at least once a week I give a once-over on everything and sometimes do a little digging. Thus far, nobody in the next generation of my family is interested in carrying the mantle, but they all call me when they have a question about the tree, our history, and our collective past. That’s become a large part of the identity I worked so hard to find!
About the Author: Jennifer wears many hats including wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend. She has a Master’s Degree in History with a specialization in modern Irish history. She is also in training to become a Licensed Professional Counselor. When not studying or running the house or raising her sons, Jennifer volunteers with JDRF, mentoring local families who are newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, as well as raising awareness and encouraging radical acceptance of those living with autism and ADHD.
Check out previous stories by clicking below!
Welcome to week two of the series “Why Genealogy”. I’ll be sharing the voices of my fellow genealogists and family history enthusiast who were all were bit by the genealogy bug at a young age. Genealogy isn’t something you have to wait to do! There is no age limit to who can learn about their family’s past.
This week, meet Katty!
I sat my Dad down. The burden of my news weighed heavily on my five year old shoulders.
“Daddy, did you know that you are not my real Daddy?”
No-one knows who told me. My biological father had left before I was born and the divorce finalized before my first birthday. I was almost two when my mother married my Dad. I grew up with parents who loved me and loved each other. It wasn’t a family secret, there had just been no reason to talk about it.
“But you still love me don’t you?”
“Of course! You will always be my daughter!”
Content with that answer I merrily trotted off and carried on doing the things five year olds do. Dad says I did not mention it again for years.
I don’t look like my Mum, Dad or younger brother. They are tanned and dark, products of generations of English agricultural labourers on both sides. I am fair skinned and blonde, like my Irish biological father. Ireland was a place I owed half my heritage and clearly a lot of my genetics to, but had no link. This missing piece of my history laid the foundations for my interest in genealogy.
At eleven years old, I sat at the family computer listening to the whirs, beeps and whistles of the dial up modem. The birth of the internet had opened up the possibility of researching from your own home. I Asked Jeeves how to find my family, and then posted in all the family history forums and genealogy message boards I could find to try and locate my biological family. Alas the internet was too young, and there were not enough people to connect with to get any real answers.
Three years later my biological father made contact, and my parents welcomed him into our lives. He has now been in my life for longer than he was absent. My children have a huge loving family and no idea that 3 sets of grandparents is not the norm.
The way I was raised has given me the strong belief that family and genealogy are not the same. It is why I am interested in the stories and relationships behind the names. I look at next door neighbours on census records and trace the lives of the witnesses on marriage certificates. A third of my family are no blood relation to me at all, yet I research my Dad’s family as thoroughly as my other branches. I may not share their blood, but I am part of their story. I share their name.
I was pregnant with my daughter when I started researching my family history seriously. There was something about preparing for a descendant that made me feel linked to my ancestors.
I signed up for a free 2 week trial with Ancestry, and bothered all my relatives for names of great aunts and uncles and any other tidbits that could help me in the right direction. After 2 weeks I wasn’t finished, so I bought a month, then a year. I learned that a family tree is never finished. That is the addiction. As my tree grew, so did my fascination. Finding more sources, and documents. WWI records with my Great Grandfather’s height and eye colour. Newspaper articles of unpaid bastardy payments. Plans of an avenue of tree’s planted by a landscape gardener 5 generations back that can still be visited today. People who lived and loved, drank and fought, won and lost. People who raised children, who raised children, who raised children, who raised me. Forgotten people, remembered.
I recently discovered that my beloved Grandad had an illegitimate Aunt that no-one knew about. Census records show that she was raised by her grandparents. I wonder if she ever knew her biological father? Or if she was able to find that sense of belonging and family that I am so fortunate to have. That sense of family that is nothing to do with bloodlines. I hope so.
You can find Katty on Twitter at @gene_alogy
Katty is a performer and director from South London. Since Covid she has been at home raising her two young children by day, and researching family history by night.
In case you missed week one, go check out Daniel’s story by clicking below!
Welcome to week one of my new series “Why Genealogy”. I’ll be sharing the voices of my fellow genealogists and family history enthusiast who were all were bit by the genealogy bug at a young age. Genealogy isn’t something you have to wait to do! There is no age limit to who can learn about their family’s past.
This week, meet Daniel Loftus of Daniel’s Genealogy.
My Genealogy Journey
Now, while it seems that the question “What’s the best way of getting young people interested in genealogy?” seems like it should have a definitive answer – it doesn’t! There are a number of ways that the Next Gen of genealogists can pick up the genealogy bug. They could be curious about the story behind an old family heirloom that’s been passed down for generations. Some might even want to find more out about themselves to be able to see where they come from. Or you could even be like me, someone who had a long car journey back home and you had 2-3 hours to kill so you decided to quiz your parents on what they knew about their family. Guilty as charged! So while I’ve listed at least three different scenarios, that doesn’t mean that these are the only three ways to engage and even inspire young people to look into their past and those that walked the Earth before us.
So before I give some tips, I figure I may as well continue my story – so after I drove my parents nuts (no parents were irritated in this story!) asking them about their family history, I was just processing what I was hearing and I couldn’t believe some of the stories (good and bad, truth or rumour) that I was hearing. So nothing really happened for a few days until fast forward to January 7th 2017 [5 days later after the funeral] and I’m sitting flicking through Google on free family tree builders until I discovered Family Echo (I was not aware of Ancestry, FindMyPast or MyHeritage like I am now) and I thought brilliant, I can start adding my family to it and I did. Although it was just me filling it in to start and it only showed me how little about my own family, my own personal history. I showed my mother and asked if we could start filling more in but we left it until tomorrow and the following evening my mother dug out a dark green book with a gold ornate frame on the cover with the words “The History of our Family”. I asked her about the book and she said for my father’s side of the family, she sat down with my grandmother who was alive at the time and wrote down all the info that my nana was telling her about her family and a bit about my grandad’s family. Now for my mother’s side of the family – we were not so lucky when it came to info. Her mother’s side, she had no living aunts or uncles still alive (last one died in 1995) so she only had limited info. Her father’s side we didn’t have a clue about. I would sadly lose my grandfather that year as well but he was able to tell me his parents’ names and I’m grateful for just that piece of info (as small as it may seem it helped me to push back a number of generations.) and spent that evening inputting all of the info in that book and working back! I had a bit of help from cousins who knew bits that corroborated with what I was hearing. And from then on there isn’t much more to tell from then on – I just kept building my tree more and more.
I think the main thing to keep in mind with all of this is it’s not going to be a quick task – I’ve been doing this for 4 years now (at time of writing) and while I may not have gotten any new leads or bits and pieces from family, who’s to say tomorrow won’t be the day that a brick wall could be broken? But what I’ll finish with is the answer to this question “What made me want to delve into my own history?” Well it was a combination of things, I love history as a subject in school (am better in that compared to some subjects!) I also wanted to know more about my family and where I came from and I’m so happy at the amount I’ve been able to discover about my past. And most importantly, I thought it’d be fun to try (and can happily say it was one of my best decisions!) And trust me, if you don’t think genealogy is for young people, then stick around with me on Twitter, [am on Facebook and Instagram if you’re not a Twitter user] I might be able to change that opinion. And most importantly – if any young genealogist does see this and is on the fence about doing this – it’s so much fun and a great hobby and if you’re a young genealogist reading this, please get in contact with me, I’d love to hear from you.
[Editor’s note: Thank you Amanda for the opportunity!]
Are you ready to get started on your genealogy journey? Check out my post on getting back to the basics!
Imagine living on the land that had been in your family for generations. Your great grandfather had immigrated to America and settled in the area that is now your home. Close family and extended family are buried in your backyard. You know everyone who lives in a 10 mile radius since you see them every Sunday at church. To say you have deep roots in this land would be an understatement. Life can be hard, but it is what you know and you love it.
Now imagine a corporation comes in and tells you that you have to move. They explain that this is for your benefit and not theirs. This is the foundation of the Loyston relocation process.
When the Tennessee Valle Authority came in the area for the Loyston relocation, they knew they needed to interview the families who they needed to relocate. In order to do so, they reached out to local teachers and others who they considered “educated”. The thought was, if those who were being relocated were interviewed by others in the community, it may lead to a better outcome. This was true with some of the residents, but others did not trust the TVA no matter who they talked to.
As part of the interview process, Loyston residents were asked about themselves, their family, and how the supported/were supported by the community. Questions ranged from their religious affiliation and where they went to church to what newspapers they subscribed to. It interviewer also asked how far each parent went in school and if anyone in the family had a “physical defect”. No question was off the table in order to help the TVA collection information.
In order for the TVA to give residents a dollar amount for their property, they needed to evaluate three things; the property, the resident’s income, and their expenditures. The majority of the families that were part of the Loyston relocation were farmers. Therefore, much of what was being evaluated had to do with farm land, livestock, and other farming needs.
When looking at the property, the TVA made note of any livestock on the property. This included all animals from horses to bee stands. It was noted how many of each were located on the farm and then assigned a monetary value. Machinery used on the farm was also assigned a value. The last items listed as property was that of a personal nature. This included if the resident owned a car, a radio, a stove, a sewing machine, etc.. Just like the farm equipment, each of these items were given a price as to the value.
To get a full picture of the family’s income, the TVA looked at both expenditures and receipts. Expenditures included everything from food to feed the livestock to taxes on the property. It also included cost of insuring the property which most farmers did not have. On the receipt side, the TVA looked at if the family when to market and how much they received for selling goods such as fruits, vegetables, milk, and other homemade goods.
The TVA also took into account the cost of running the household. They broke down each food item and evaluated how much the family used and what the cost would be. On some of the documents, you can see the actual receipt tape where the interviewer added up all of this information.
The TVA also wanted to know if the resident was receiving what they considered “outside income”. This included income from savings account, pensions, insurance policies, and investments. This is also where if there were any kids living at home and working elsewhere would list their income. As you can see on the example below, the interviewer made a note that Lewis was “very curious about these questions.”
The Final Report
After all the questions and evaluations, the interviewer was responsible for writing up a report of their findings. This report was basically an opinion of the interviewer of the likelihood of the resident willing relocating. You can see below in Lewis’ report, that the interviewer said he “gladly cooperated” with the interview, but that his attitude towards the TVA was “antagonistic”. The interviewer goes on to say that Lewis needs “further study” and that Lewis is only willing to give up the land that floods.
The last question which asks for the “gist of conversation” is always interesting to read. On Lewis’ form, it states that he is very clever but vows to not leave. This is usually where the interviewer gets brutally honest with how they feel about the family. I read one where the interviewer stated that the family desperately needed help or else their daughter would end up “working on a street corner”. I have also read several that call the family uneducated and, for that reason, easy to convince that relocating is for the best.
The Final Evaluation
The TVA took all of this information to form their opinion on where the displaced families of Loyston would go. While the majority of the residents finally gave in to the idea of moving, most agree that they were not given fair market value for their land. Farmers felt that they should have somehow been compensated for the fact that this property had been in their families for generations. The TVA did not pay for the emotional attachments that these families had.
Loyston and the TVA series
Make sure to also check out the other posts in this series…
Celebrating your 40th birthday during a global pandimic is not the ideal situation. To make up for it, my family decided to get everyone involved in the celebration by buying me a book for my birthday. The goal was for me to receive 40 books on my 40th birthday. I have never felt so much love in my life!
You’re probably wondering what that has to do with this book and my book review. In that collection of 40 books was a book by the name of “TVA and the Dispossessed” by Michael J. McDonald and John Muldowny. I’ve made no secret of my slight obsession with the Tennessee Valley Authority and their construction of Norris Dam. I had no idea that this book existed, but my mom found a random bookstore in England (of all places!) that had a copy and she was determined to get it for me for my birthday. I devoured this book in no time.
TVA and the Dispossessed starts at the very beginning of the Norris Dam project. The book does a good job at explaining why the Tennessee Valley Authority even took on this project. It introduces all of the players and the roll(s) they played in the process. The book explains how the TVA looked at the Norris Basin as not just a way to bring jobs and electricity to the area, but also as a social experiment. They looked at those who lived in the Norris Basin area as people from a different era.
This books does take a deep dive into the data collected by the Tennessee Valley Authority. While some charts seem to get repetitive, they do a good job of really showing important information.
This book includes interviews from those who lived in the area at the time of the TVA request for relocation. The words they share paint a clear picture of what life was like. It also clearly shows just what was at risk for families being forced to relocate. For example, the chart below shows the living conditions/personal possessions of those who were being relocated. It clearly shows what the families were at risk of losing. While some may not believe they were losing much, this chart shows how they were accustomed to living.
The authors of this book also took the time to interview some of the residents who were living in the Norris Basin at the time. These were families who were being forced to relocate. By reading their words, it really gives you a sense of what life was like for them. It also gives you a better understanding of what their feelings were about the TVA.
But…most people…didn’t want to leave, and they thought they should have been…given something for having to move or being driven out of their homes where they’d lived for generations, their forefathers lived there before them, and I think they should have been allowed some consideration for that.Hubert Stooksbury “TVA and the Dispossessed”
This books ended up being eye-opening for me. While I thought I knew a bit about the TVA and the Norris Basin project, I had never looked at it from the other side. I will admit, it did not change how I feel about the situation, but I did come out of it with a better understanding. The book was fairly easy to read only because I had a vast interest in the subject. It does go into the data of the project quite a bit and I did get a little confused with all the names.
If you had ancestors in this area in the 1930s, I highly recommend reading this book. It will allow you to walk in their shoes and experience the uncertainty of relocating and losing the community you had known. Researching documents will only get you so far. This book does an excellent job at filling in the blanks and giving the complete story.
With that said, I would give it an 8 out of 10. The technicalities of dam building and relocating got a little old, but I understand why it was included. Read this book for the words of those who were there. Read this book to feel more connected to your ancestors.
Previously…in book reviews…
Make sure you check out my other book reviews!
A few weeks ago, I was a guest on Heather Murphy’s podcast, Stories In Our Roots. I talked with Heather about how I originally hated genealogy, but thanks to the stories, I fell in love. We also chat about why I feel it is important to know where you came from and how it effects our future.
I had so much fun on this genealogy podcast! I hope you will take from this talk how that no matter the connection, we are all family!
When the Tennessee Valley Authority came to Loyston, they knew they had to do two things. They had to relocate families and relocate graves. To do so, the TVA developed two departments. One group was responsible for interviewing families and taking inventory. (I’ll talk about that later this week.) The other group was responsible for documenting graves and contacting family members to ask permission to move their loved ones. Needless to say, the business of moving graves was not an enviable task.
Finding the Families
The first step to moving the graves in Loyston, was to find the heirs of those who were buried. Remember, it was the 1930s and some of the graves were marked with years from the 1800s. Finding the next of kin was no easy matter. The best course of action was to reach out the community to find family members. For that reason, it worked to the TVA’s advantage that Loyston, and the surrounding communities, were close-knit. Usually someone knew someone who was related to the person the TVA was looking for.
Once found, each heir had to sign off on the grave removal contract to give the TVA permission to dig up the remains and relocate them to a different cemetery. The TVA had a few cemeteries established for this reason. For example, New Loyston Cemetery would become home to a vast majority of the graves. Other remains were moved to the cemeteries requested by the family members.
As you can see in the above example, Rachel Loy Irwin’s son gave permission for the grave to be relocated. While these documents do not deal with the most pleasant information, a genealogist can find some important information. We know that Rachel had a son named Harvey Irwin. She learn when she died and her cause of death. The original cemetery, and where she is being moved to, is also listed. In this case, Rachel was buried at Anna Irwin Cemetery and is being relocated to Sinking Springs Cemetery.
Moving the Graves
After the TVA located the next of kin, the next step was to actually move the graves. To do so, either the named family member in the contract (or a family appointed representative) had to accompany the TVA to the original grave. Each excavation required a witness. At each disinterment, the TVA was required to fill out a Grave Removal Record. This was an accurate report of where exactly the original grave was and what was found in the grave. It also stated who the remains were transported to the new site. Once at the new cemetery, a “foreman of reinternment” reviewed the document and signed off that everything was handled accordingly. I don’t envy anyone who had to deal with the disinterment and reinternment of the graves.
By looking at Rachel Loy Irwin’s Grave Removal Record, you discover just how specific the disinterment team had to be. The form asks for the condition of the container and the condition of the body. They were also required to state what was found in the casket (or box in many cases). In Rachel’s the only items listed were skeletal bones. Notice in the inventory line, it states that shoes were found with the remains. In other reports, you may find pieces of cloth or hair barrettes mentioned. The inventory items makes this feel a bit more personal then just the movement of bones from one place to another.
How to Find the Records
The TVA documents also included a follow up sheet that restated where the remains were reinterred. This document also includes the inscription found on the tombstone (if any). In some cases, pictures of the tombstones were included.
I have found the easiest way to locate the TVA Grave Removal documents is on Ancestry.com. To find these specific records, you will need to go under “card catalog” under the search category. Once there, type in “Tennessee Valley” in the keyword(s) box. This will pull up several results but you should see “U.S., Tennessee Valley Cemetery Relocation Files”. This will allow you to specifically search for your ancestor.
If you missed the first part of this series, “The History of Loyston”, make sure to go check it out!
To understand the impact that the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Norris Lake Project had on this area of East Tennessee, you have to go back to the very beginning. Now, I’m not talking about the beginning of time, but more like the beginning of this area being settled. One of the very first communities in this area was Loyston.
The first inhabitants of what would become the town of Loyston, was Hendrich Honus Sharp (my maternal 6th Great Grandfather) and his family. Hendrich was the son of John George Sharp and Anna Maria Loy. Hendrich’s father was a German immigrant who had settled and married in North Carolina. Hendrich was born in the North Carolina back country, but made his way to Tennessee thanks to Revolutionary War land grants. He settled on a slope of Big Ridge which overlooked the Clinch River. Due to the threat of Native American attacks, Hendrich built what would be called Sharp’s Station. The Station was essentially a fort for the settlers in the area and a place of protection.
Loy’s Cross Roads
A bit to the east of where Hendrich Sharp settled, another family was making their home in East Tennessee. John William “Fisher” Loy (my maternal 5th Great Grandfather) found a place to raise his family at the base of Big Ridge. Like Hendrich, John was born in North Carolina and came to Tennessee after the Revolutionary War. He soon discovered that the area was rich in iron ore deposits. Thanks to this discovery, John established a foundry and soon found himself in the middle of a new settlement. It did not take long for Loy’s Cross Roads to become just that. A crossroad and a gathering place for those who lived nearby.
After a post office was established in Loy’s Cross Roads in 1866, the name of the town was changed to Loy’s Crossroads. In 1894, the name was changed once again to Loyston. When the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) came to survey Loyston in the 1930s, the town contained approximately 70 residents. The town itself included a post office, two general stores, a filling station, a café, a mill, and a barbershop. The majority of the residents considered themselves Methodist and attended church at the Sharp’s Station Methodist Church. Loyston had become an important community that serviced many of the smaller communities in the area. Therefore, when the TVA began talking to the town’s people about possible relocation, the residents became a bit apprehensive.
The Flooding of Loyston
While I’ll go more in depth in future posts about the TVA and the relocation of graves and families, it’s important to understand what happened to the town itself. Loyston was flooded to make what is now Norris Lake. The town was not destroyed. After those who lived in the area were relocated and Norris Dam was finished, the town of Loyston was flooded. Rumor has it that when the lake levels are at the lowest, you can still see the top of the church steeple peaking out of the water. Divers have also taken equipment down to video what Loyston looks like. However, since the water is so murky, it is difficult to make anything out. If you ever find yourself at Big Ridge State Park, there is a trail that you can take that allows you to look out over the water where Loyston once stood.
It is a new month which means an opportunity to reset my genealogy goals and make plans for new content. As I was doing so, I realized that during the month of July I had unknowingly put all my genealogy work on the back burner. It wasn’t something that I had done intentionally. When I looked back at my weekends, I realized that most of them were spent just looking at my computer and making up excuses of why I couldn’t research or write. That’s when I realized that I was deep in genealogy burnout.
Just like anything else you are passionate about, at some point you have spent all the energy you have. The things you loved to do, like chasing down a DNA match, seem more like a chore than an adventure. Genealogy is such a time consuming and emotionally investing hobby, that sometimes we need to take a break. The question then becomes, how do we get back to this journey that we love so much?
Go Back to Where You Started
When I say go back to where you started, I don’t mean that you should start over. Just go back to the basics. Find that family line that you researched when you first started and see if maybe you can extend/expand that part of your tree. Sometimes going back to the line that first hooked you into doing genealogy will be the cure for your burnout.
For me, this means going back to my Miller line. If you’re familiar with my story, you know that John “Raccoon” Miller is my gateway ancestor. He is the one that helped me find my genealogy passion and is now the cure for my genealogy burnout. Luckily for me, he had a bunch of kids who had a bunch of kids. Whenever I’m struggling with finding my groove, I go back to this line and start searching for cousins. It usually does that trick!
Talk to Other Genealogist
You may be surprised how many of us find ourselves in some kind of genealogy burnout. The upside is, we don’t all experience it at the same time. This means that while you’re in a funk, your genealogist friends may not be. Talk to them about what they are researching. Find out what they are excited about. Sometimes when you talk to someone who is passionate about what they are doing, their passion is contagious.
Get Out of Your Head
Get out and experience genealogy. If you’re like me, you have a designated area in your house, or maybe at the library, where you always go to do research. That is great when you are focused and able to concentrate on researching. On the other hand, the routine can feed your genealogy burnout. When that happens, get out of there! That could look like going to visit a cemetery or going to a new research facility. One of my favorite things to do is to visit a local historic site. Even if it doesn’t relate to my ancestors, something about walking in history gets my genealogy soul moving!
Be Kind to Yourself
The most important thing you can do when you find yourself with genealogy burnout, is to be kind. Don’t force the research. Don’t force the connections. I guarantee when you do, you will find yourself dreading doing any kind of genealogy activities. You and I both don’t want that! It is okay to take a break. Life is happening now and sometimes we have to set the past aside and deal with the present. Your ancestors understand that better than anyone else. Give yourself grace. The passion and desire for genealogy will come back…I promise you.
We all have what I like to call a “gateway ancestor”. You know the one ancestor that as you were researching you realized that you actually like genealogy. For me, that ancestor was John “Raccoon” Miller. I’m sure you’ve heard me talk about how my mom got me started in genealogy, but it wasn’t until I started researching John Miller and reading his stories that I became truly hooked. Let me tell you a bit about this revolutionary man.
Who was John “Raccoon” Miller?
John Miller was born in 1747 with the exact location still up for discussion. Some say he was born in South Carolina. Others state that he was born in Holland. Nobody has any proof to back up those claims. I tend to lean to the third opinion. That he was born in Scotland. If you know the history of the Scottish coming to American, you know that North Carolina was a hotbed for Scots to settle. Also, I have found a document placing a John Miller being born in 1747 in Scotland. The only problem is, with such a common name, it is hard to say with 100% confidence that this is him.
Documents for John Miller are a bit scarce until he shows up in Haywood County, North Carolina in 1776. At this point, the American Revolution is in full force and he is serving with the North Carolina militia. However, he does find time in his busy schedule to marry Eve Weidner. Together they have seven children; John, Nancy, Isaac, Lewis, Rachel, Elizabeth, and Jacob. The family will eventually make their way across the mountains and settle in the State of Franklin (modern day East Tennessee).
It’s War Time
When the American Revolution made it’s way to the North Carolina back country, John Miller did not hesitate to join. Enlisting in the North Carolina militia, John was able to encourage others to join the cause due to his standing in the community. He fought bravely in many battles, the most notable being the Battle of Kings Mountain.
John not only served his county proudly, but he made some useful connections along the way. One of his new friends was future Tennessee governor, John Sevier. John soon found himself as one of Sevier’s trusted companions. So much so, that Sevier made John a Captain in the militia. The two would remain friends after the American Revolution. The would both be instrumental in what would be known as the State of Franklin.
It’s Peace Time
After the war, John would find himself with significant land holdings in both North Carolina and Tennessee, thanks to military land grants. John would hold onto most of the land, allowing it to pass down the generations. However, always being one up for a good story, there is a rumor regarding John and the land he owned in what is now Middlesboro, Kentucky. Supposedly, John was given an offer he just couldn’t refuse and “sold” the town for a bottle of moonshine. I have yet to find any documentation that this actually happened, but I feel like if moonshine is involved it may have been an “under the table” transaction.
John was also quite the entrepreneur, not just with land but with some unique items. He took it upon himself to buy some silkworms and set them up in his barn. John then proceeded to sell the silk to local merchants to make some extra money. Nobody in the area had ever grown silkworms or even knew what to do with them. But, in true John Miller fashion, he figured it out and turned that silk into gold.
The Legend of John “Raccoon” Miller
Nobody really knows how John Miller was given the name “Raccoon”. The most logical story that has been handed down is that since there was another John Miller in the area, he was given a nickname in order to distinguish between the two. Whatever the reason, the memory of “Raccoon” Miller still lives on in East Tennessee. If you ever find yourself in Maynardville, Tennessee, you will see Raccoon Valley Road which runs though that acreage that belong to John. You will also find a highway maker that shows the location of Miller’s blockhouse.
John Miller passed away on August 25, 1832 in Maynardville, Union County, Tennessee. He is buried along side his wife, Eve, in Ousley Cemetery in Maynardville.
I think it is safe to say why John Miller caught my attention. He was the first ancestor that I really got to know. Researching John is the reason I joined the Daughter’s of the American Revolution. I guess you could say that even in death, John “Raccoon” Miller is still making his presence known.
Make sure to read the stories of my other revolutionary ancestors.
In case you couldn’t tell, the Revolutionary War is my jam! I mean, if I could find some magical stones and travel though time, this is without a doubt the era that I would want to land in. I love hearing the different stories of my ancestors who were alive during this time. It makes me wonder what part I would have played in this part of history. Today, I’m digging into my ancestor, John Hanna.
Who was John Hanna?
John is my 6th Great-Grandfather on my paternal side. This line, according to records I have so far, originated in Ulster, Ireland. John was actually born on a ship in 1756 as his family made their way to America from Ireland. His parents, James A. Hanna and Anne Johnson had six other children; Elizabeth, James W, William, David, Joseph, and Martha. The first three children were born in Ireland while the last three were born in Virginia. I suppose John being born at sea was in true middle child fashion. The family arrived in Pennsylvania and made their way south where they settled in the Virginia colony.
John’s Revolutionary Experience
John enlisted in the Continental Army in Greenbrier County, Virginia in 1777. He joined as a private under Captains Samuel Lapsley and Alexander Breckenridge. He saw quite a bit of action during his time in the army. He fought at the Battle of Monmouth, the Battle of Point Pleasant, and the Siege of Charleston (South Carolina). If you’re a Hamilton fan, I’m sure you’re familiar with the Battle of Monmouth. I’m looking at you, Charles Lee.
At the Siege of Charleston, John was taken by the British Army as a prisoner of war. He was held captive for about eighteen months. Unfortunately, there are no records of where John was held or what the conditions were. It seems that after his release, John was honorably discharged from the Army by Captain Breckenridge.
After the war, John settled in Augusta County, West Virginia. While living there, he met and married Jane Graham. Jane and her family were also from Ireland. If history teaches us anything, it seems more than likely that their families were from the same area of Ireland. They married in 1787 and together had seven children; John, Robert Graham, Jane, Christopher, Joseph, Elizabeth, and Martha.
In 1825, John applied for his Revolutionary War pension. According to the documents, John considered himself poor and desperate needed the money to support his family. Both of his daughters, Elizabeth and Martha, were living with him as well as four grandchildren. John also states that while his occupation is that of a farmer, he is physically unable to do the work. He lists all of his assets, as well as items that he has sold, to prove to the court that he needs this money. His pension is approved on July 6, 1825.
John and Jane eventually moved their family to Jackson County, Ohio. The children would scatter to different states after that. You have to think that John was proud of this fact. He had fought for this country and the right for his children to explore it. John Hanna passed away on April 11, 1845 at the age of 89. I think it’s safe to say that John lived a long and eventful life!
Read about more of my revolutionary ancestors…
The big moments in history are often the only moments we talk about. The Sons of Liberty, George Washingon, and The Battle of Yorktown seem to get the most press when talking about the Revolutionary War. What about all of the moments that happened before the war even started? What about the story of the North Carolina Regulators? Here is the story of my 7thgreat grandfather and North Carolina Regulator, Captain Robert Messer.
Who was Robert Messer?
Captain Robert Messer was born in New Bern, Craven, North Carolina in 1734. History tells us that New Bern was named after the town, Bern, in Switzerland. While I have yet to prove that the Messers came from Switzerland, it is safe to say that they did come from the Germany/Switzerland area. Not much is known about Robert’s family. I have yet to find any information on his parents or if he had any siblings. We do know that Robert married Mary Ann Basket. There are rumors that say Mary was at least part Indian and that her Indian name was “Little Flower”. Now I’m not sure how true this is. Maybe Mary was part Indian or maybe somewhere down the line somebody thought “Little Flower” and Basket went good together.
Robert and Mary Messer had 6 children; Christian Sargent, Joseph E, Tipton, Jarred, Mary Ann, and Solomon. Christian is my 6th great grandfather, and along with Robert plays an important roll in some pre-Revolutionary folklore.
The Regulator Movement
In the early 1770s, the colonists were beginning to become dissatisfied with the British Crown. In North Carolina, this led to the formation of the Regulators. While the Regulators are usually ignored in Revolutionary War history, it is safe to say that the battles involving the Regulators are basically the beginning of the Revolution.
If you are an Outlander fan, who may recognize the story of the Regulators, after all Murtagh was one. You also know that the series covers the Battle of Alamance and even mentions the notorious Herman Husband. Husband was one of the most well known Regulator leaders and is often credited for the documents produced by the movement. Governor Tryon had his sights set on Herman Huband even before the Battle of Alamance occurred. For the record, I kept waiting for them to mention Robert Messer in one of the Outlander episodes. Sadly, he didn’t make the cut.
In May of 1771, the Battle of Alamance took place in Orange County, North Carolina. Captain Robert Messer fought along other Regulators against Governor William Tryon and his militia. While the Regulators lacked the supplies and organization that Tryon’s militia had, they were able to hold their own during the early part of the battle. Unfortunately, the battle turned and ended in the favor of Governor Tryon. In the end, Tryon took 13 Regulators prisoner…one of those being Robert Messer.
In the days after the battle, Tryon killed one of the prisoners to make an “example” of what would happen to someone taking a stand against the Crown. The other 12 were told to take an oath in order to show their allegiance to the Crown. Only six of the Regulators took the oath while the others were on their way to stand trail for treason.
It didn’t take Tryon long to decided that the six remaining Regulators were guilty of treason against the Crown. Judge Richard Henderson handed down the judgment of violating the Riot Act to Robert Messer and the five others. Messer and the other captured Regulators were to be hung for their crime. Like many of Tryon’s acts, this was to be a public hanging with hopes of putting a stop to the Regulator uprising.
Let’s Make a Deal
The most gut-wrenching part of the story would happen next. In hopes of a last minute pardon, Robert Messer’s wife, Mary, and son, Christian (who was around 11 years old at the time), made their was to Orange County. In the minutes before the hanging was to occur, Christian Messer, threw himself at the mercy of Governor Tryon. It is said that Christian begged Tryon to take him instead and allow his father to go home and continue to provide for his family. Legend says that Christian told Tryon he was worried about what would become of his mother Mary if Robert was to be killed.
Tryon’s assistant, Colonel Fanning, stepped in and convinced Tryon to momentarily pardon Messer. Fanning came up with the deal that if Messer could find Herman Husband and bring him back to Tryon, then Messer could have his freedom. (Sidenote: while Herman Husband was at the Battle of Alamance, he did not actually participate in the fighting. He was a Quaker.). Messer took the deal and set off to find Husband. To keep Messer honest, Tryon held Robert’s wife and son as hostage until he returned.
Messer was able to track Husband down just across the border in Virginia. The only problem was that Messer was one man and had no way of actually bringing Husband back to North Carolina. Realizing that he had run out of options, Messer made his was back to Tryon empty handed. Tryon then proceeded to arrest Messer and release his wife and son. Tryon took no pity on the Messers, and along with the 5 other “traitors” Robert was killed.
If you ever find your way to Hillsborough, North Carolina, there is a marker in a field where the hanging took place. This is the one place where I can go and actually feel a connection to my ancestors. It’s strange to stand there and think what was going through Robert’s, Mary’s, and young Christian’s mind. I’m very proud of my ancestors for standing up for what they believed in, regardless of if all the stories are in fact true. Stories like this make spending countless hours in a library well worth it.
Check out some of my other revolutionary ancestors.
Often, when we think about the Revolutionary War, we only think of the men who fought. We focus on the battles and who won or lost. We talk about the men who were Generals, the men who enlisted, and all the men in between. We tend not to talk about the women and how important their role was in winning America’s freedom.
Who was Eve Weidner?
Eve (or Eva) Weidner was born to Ludwig (Lewis) Weidner and Barbary Boyer on January 31st, 1751 in Lincoln County, North Carolina. While little is known about her mother, Ludwig was of German descent and held his German traditions close to his heart. Growing up, the Weidner’s were known revolutionaries living in a county full of loyalists. This more than likely made growing up challenging for Eve. This is why the Weidner family started moving towards western North Carolina and the Tennessee border.
Like Father, Like Son-In-Law
Records for Eve become a bit scarce until she marries John “Raccoon” Miller on March 1st, 1776 in Haywood County, North Carolina. The Millers would move on to Hawkins County, Tennessee and eventually settle in Union County, Tennessee. Once settled, Eve and John would have seven children: John, Nancy, Isaac, Lewis, Jacob, Elizabeth, and Rachel.
If legend is true, John Miller seems to be a lot like Eve’s father, Ludwig. They were both revolutionaries and participated in battles with local militia. One of the most notorious stories of Eve is when she was left at home with the children while John was off on one of his excursions. The story says that the family dogs started barking and going crazy while Eve and the children were inside. Living in known Indian Territory, Eve immediately had the children hide while she grabbed a shotgun. Eve then went outside to defend her home against the said Indians. While not much is known about the actual encounter, I think it’s safe to say that the Indians probably thought twice before messing with Eve again.
Show Me the Money
John passed away in 1832 and had never applied for his Revolutionary War pension. Well, Eve decided that she would go for it, twenty years after John died. It seems that Eve was not a woman who would ever take no for an answer. I will tell you that people thought that a woman her age attempting to get her dead husband’s pension was crazy! According to the pension documents, Eve was 100 years and 6 days old when she started the application process. While there is no documentation if Eve ever received John’s pension, I think it is safe to say that whatever Eve put her mind to she succeed.
Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story
Eve passed away on August 12th, 1853 in Union County, Tennessee. She was 102 years old. Just a few years ago, a local Daughter’s of the American Revolutionary chapter in Knoxville, Tennessee, recognized Eve for her efforts and support during the Revolutionary War by giving her a new headstone. It is always nice when women recognize other women!
I feel that it is important that we continue to share the stories of our female revolutionaries. The Revolutionary War was not just fought on the battle field, but all across the colonies. These hidden stories need to written to preserve the memories of colonial women.
I knew when I first heard about Libby Copeland’s book, “The Lost Family”, I had to read it. It has been on my must read list since last year. I finally got around to buying, and reading it, this month. What can I say, the list of books that I want to read is at least a mile long!
The Lost Family takes a look at genetic DNA testing and the many different outcomes that may come from it. The book covers from the time DNA test first hit the genealogy scene to what the future holds. Even while diving into the scientific aspects of DNA, Copeland continues to weave the emotional, real-life stories throughout. The Lost Family really makes you pause and think about all the possible outcomes and effects of DNA testing.
I thought that I was an early tester when it came to DNA. However, Copeland goes into such a detailed history that even the most seasoned genealogist will learn something. This book does a wonderful job at taking the reader step-by-step through DNA testing. It never gets boring. For a book that detoured into scientific jargon from time to time, I found it relatively easy to follow.
I really picked up this book to read in order to recommend it to others. I really did not expect to get anything new out of it. I am happy to say that I was wrong. Seeing the fallout of DNA results from real people and real experiences was eye-opening. One story in particular (don’t worry, no spoilers) kept me hanging on the edge of my seat. I think as genealogist, we get so wrapped up in DNA and our matches that we sometimes lose the mystery aspect of the process. Copeland does a great job of taking us on a DNA journey.
Aside from the personal DNA stories, I was really surprised at how the section regarding DNA and race/ethnicity hit me. Whenever I discuss DNA testing, this subject is usually my soapbox. I think DNA is a great way to open our world, and our minds, to other ethnicities and how we connect. Copeland wrote about, and gave facts about, aspects of ethnic identity that I had never thought about.
To attempt to read the past through the genes, you need more than knowledge of science, statistics, and algorithms. You need to understand history, and history is profoundly messy.Libby Copeland “The Lost Family”
If you have ever taken a DNA test, or have considered taking a DNA test, you should read this book. To say it is eye-opening would be an understatement. My only issue (and for me, it wasn’t that big of an issue) is when Copeland takes a deep dive into the science of DNA. I love science and even for me it became a bit dense. It also seemed to get a bit repetitive when talking about the technical side of DNA. It is not so big of an issue that it would cause me not to recommend the book. I just want you to be aware of that part of the book.
All in all, I would give this book an 8 out of 10. You should read for the DNA history, learn the DNA technicalities, and stay for the DNA stories. For the conclusion alone, you will not be disappointed.
Previously…in book reviews…
In case you missed my last book review…got check it out!
This week, I’m taking you to my happy place. No matter how many times I have been, whenever I’m in the area, I have to stop by the Museum of Appalachia. Many of my maternal ancestors are from this area of Tennessee, which makes visiting the museum even more special. Let me try to put into words why I love this place so much!
The Museum of Appalachia was founded in 1969 with the intentions of showcasing an authentic mountain farm and pioneer village. John Rice Irwin, who was instrumental in the founding of the museum, helped to collect over 250,000 artifacts ranging from folk art, musical instruments, baskets, quilts, and so much more. Side note: John Rice Irwin is my 4th cousin 2x removed on my maternal. I had no idea of this connection when I started going to the museum, but now it just adds something special!
The main focus of the Museum of Appalachia these days is to preserve its massive collection and to develop educational programs. The goal of the educations programs is to encourage others to preserve the past for the future. This is something I can very much get behind! The museum is also a Smithsonian Affiliate museum.
Things To Do
The Museum of Appalachia covers about 65 acres that are absolutely beautiful. The land boasts 35 log cabins, barns, farm animals (my favorite are the goats), churches, schools, and gardens. Speaking of farm animals, watch out for the peacocks. The last time I was there, two peacocks were ruling the roost. They just wander the grounds from the gift shop to the outer cabins. They are beautiful to look at, but don’t get too close!
The gift shop is a must visit and hard to miss. Literally, it’s hard to miss since that is where you buy your tickets. Everything you could possibly want to shop for is in the gift shop. Of course, the majority of it is geared to Appalachia. They have everything from books to candles to toys to apparel. I mean, I could almost guarantee that you will not walk out empty handed.
If you want to make a day of it, make sure to visit the museum’s restaurant. If you are looking for some yummy, authentic Appalachian cuisine, look no further! They do only serve lunch (from 11am-2pm), but serve lighter dishes, such as soups, sandwiches, and desserts until 3pm. They do have a daily menu, so check out their website to see what they are serving on the day you are visiting. An example of their daily menu would include Herb Roasted Pork Loin, Chicken Noodle Casserole, Turnip Greens, Broccoli Casserole, Sweet Potato Casserole, Buttered Corn, Deviled Eggs, and Mac & Cheese. I’m full just thinking about it!
Ticket prices range from $18.00 (adults) to $6.00 (children). There are group rates and senior discounts, so make sure to check the website for more information. Their summer hours are 9am-5pm (monday-friday) and 9am-6pm (saturday & sunday). They are closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. They also have special events and special days throughout the year.
All this information and more can be found on their website https://www.museumofappalachia.org/
I can’t recommended enough the Museum of Appalachia. When I’m there, I just feel closer to my ancestors that lived much in the same way that they are preserving at the museum. If you have Appalachian ancestors, or just wonder how folks lived there in the past, you will not be disappointed!
When I first started researching my family’s history, death records were not high on my priority list. While I knew it was important to know when my ancestors died, it just seemed a bit depressing to spend my days reading obituaries and causes of death. It wasn’t until I came across an obituary that vividly painted my ancestor’s life, that I realized this subject wasn’t all doom and gloom. I changed my way of thinking from this is an ending to this is something I can use to celebrate my family member. Now, I love finding obituaries and walking though cemeteries. My friends still think I’m a bit strange, but they just don’t know what they are missing.
Death is inevitable. All of our ancestors have done it, so why can it be so hard to find death records? Also, when we find them, what other information can we gather? I hope the following tid-bits can help you on your journey.
The most obvious place to find your ancestor’s death information is on a death certificate. Even the most basic certificate will give you a name, date of death, place of death, and cause of death. While that is all great information, it’s the other gems that may really help you break through a brick wall.
Let’s take a look at Anderson Carpenter’s death certificate. Anderson is my paternal 2x Great Grandfather. On his death certificate, we are able to gain basic information such as his birth and death date and location of death (including the hospital). Now, look at all the genealogy information that is included. We learn that he is a widower and that his wife was Lillie Lacy (actually, her name is Lizzie Lacy). The death certificate lists his parents as John Carpenter and Linda Tanner, who were both born in Ohio. If we look at the informant, it gives the name Marvin Carpenter. It’s easy to assume that Marvin is related in some way, which he is. Marvin is Anderson’s son. We are also given the name of the funeral home who handled the arrangements and the name/location of the cemetery. With just this one death certificate, we are able to go back another generation and fill in some holes such as Anderson’s wife’s name.
Funeral cards, also known as memorial cards or prayer cards, are an excellent source of information. The cards are designed as an easy keepsake to remember the deceased. At the very least, a funeral card will include your ancestor’s birth and death date. Some cards are a bit more detailed and may include a short memory of the deceased. Also, there a good chance that the funeral card may include a picture of your ancestor. These cards are not to be missed when you are collecting death records.
Below is my maternal Great Grandfather’s (William Howard Taft Price) funeral card. This card tells me that he obviously went by the name Taft, which could help me find him on other documents. It also states his birth and death date. While it doesn’t give me the locations of those events, the dates alone will help me to narrow down my search. Lastly, it gives me where the funeral was held, where he was buried, and the funeral home in charge of the arrangements. If nothing else, this information points me in the direction of finding more sources that I can use to find out more information.
Probably everyone’s favorite death record is an obituary. After all, no two obituaries are the same and they can sometimes be full of all kinds of genealogy information. Websites like Newspapers.com https://www.newspapers.com/ and Genealogy Bank https://www.genealogybank.com/ have made finding an obituary a little easier.
More recent obituaries tend to give a clearer genealogy picture. When looking at obits from the mid-1900s back leave a bit more puzzle pieces to be solved. Remember the time period and the fact that women were known more as someone’s husband than an individual. Take the obituary below as an example. This belongs to my paternal 4th Great Uncle, Hiram Goodwin. Hiram passed away in 1936 in Kanawha County, West Virginia. If you notice, his daughters are listed as Mrs. “insert husband’s name”. While this can be frustrating, it does as least give you names of spouses. All you have to do is play the match game and figure out who goes with who!
Find-A-Grave and Headstones
When all else fails, there is always (well…almost always) a headstone to be found. Families tended to be buried in the same area, so if you can find one, you may be able to find more. If you’re not able to get out to the actual cemetery, check out Find-A-Grave https://www.findagrave.com/
Find-A-Grave is a great resource for information. By searching your ancestor’s name, you may find their birth/death dates, their obituary, and if you’re lucky, a picture! The Find-A-Grave community is pretty awesome too in the fact that you can put in a request for a particular cemetery. The only issue is that because the information is entered by volunteer individuals, you should also double check the dates, locations, ect. I’m not saying that the information is always wrong or anything like that. It just like when you’re looking at someone else’s family tree. It’s a great starting point, but you should always verify the information.
Now that we’ve covered all the actual vital records, birth, marriage, and death, it’s time to dig into census records! The new series will cover all the basics of how to search for census records and what you should be looking for!
If you need a refresher, check out the marriage records post!
At some point, if you have Jewish ancestors, you are going to have to take a look into Holocaust records. History is full of horrible moments, and when we realize that our ancestors were victims of such events, it just hits you different. Researching isn’t easy, especially when you are tackling a subject like the Holocaust. Give yourself time and grace. Remember, genealogy isn’t a race. We should take our time and give our ancestors the moments they deserve.
Just like any other area of genealogy research, start with what you know. If you only have names of potential ancestors, that is okay. There are several databases (which I’ll go into later) that will allow you to search with only that information. It will take patience, but don’t be discouraged if you feel like you don’t have a lot of information to go on.
If you are able to locate the town they may have lived in during this time period that can help you narrow down your search range. By knowing the town, or even the area where they lived, will help you in following the path they may have taken. Gary Mokotoff’s book, How to Document Victims and Locate Survivors of the Holocaust is a wealth of information that can help you trace your ancestors’ steps. (For the record, Amazon only had one copy available. However, check with your library as this is a popular book for Jewish research).
Yizkor books, or memorial books, were written after the Holocaust in order to memorialize Jewish communities that were destroyed during the Holocaust. Many Jewish genealogy specific organizations, such as JewishGen, are working to translate Yizkor books. Since they were written with a specific community in mind, the majority of them are not in English. However, the books that have been translated have also been digitized and are available online.
When looking at Yizkor books, remember to look not just for your ancestor, but also for general information about the community. This will help you to get a sense of what life was like for those who lived there. Also, each book includes a section called “Remembrance of Souls”. This section may include photographs and other specific information of those who lived in the community.
If you know the particular Yizkor book that you are looking for, it may be available for purchase. Both Amazon and JewishGen have Yizkor books that you may purchase.
If, unfortunately, you have an ancestor that was a victim of the Holocaust, they may be listed in one of the online databases. The most extensive database is Yad Vashem’s Central Database of Shoah Victims. https://www.yadvashem In the database, you may search by surname, first name, or place. Even if your ancestor’s name is not in the database, try searching for the place that they lived. If you can find other victims information, it may give you a nugget to use for your own ancestor.
For the most extensive survivor database, look no futher than JewishGen https://www.jewishgen.org/ This website contains a search engine that covers over 190 databases and 2.5 million records. While JewishGen can point you in the right direction to find your Holocaust victim, this particular database only deals with survivors.
When searching on JewishGen, make sure to look at all the Holocaust collections. There are so many areas that may have your ancestor’s information. Again, be patient and remember that persistence pays off!
More Holocaust Research
There are many different libraries and archives that have dedicated Holocaust sources. So many, in fact, that it is not possible to include them in this one post. If you are looking for more ways to search, I suggest using this guide that was assembled by The Ackman and Ziff Family Genealogy Institute. This 10 page “cheat sheet” is a great resource to have on hand whenever doing Holocaust research.
If you need a refresher, make sure to check out last week’s Intro to Jewish Genealogy post!
Never underestimate the power of an oat. Especially if that oat is in an Irish Oat Cookie! While these cookies are not what you traditionally think of when you think of Irish cuisine, they do have a very Irish history.
Thanks to the Celts who immigrated from Mainland Europe, oats have a very long history in Ireland. Oats were a staple crop in the country from pre-historic time until the 17th century. While potatoes replaced oats as the main staple, oats made their comeback during the Great Potato Famine. Oats were cheap to grow and leant itself to many different recipes.
Oatmeal was the most obvious way to enjoy oats. So much so, that oatmeal was used as a way to pay rent. Butter and salt was eventually added and the Irish discovered a way to make oat bread. However, when honey and sugar were added to the mix, the Irish soon realized that they could use oats to enjoy the sweeter things in life. Both scones and biscuits (cookies) were soon being baked in Irish kitchens across the country.
The Cookie Ingredients
- 1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (55 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1 tsp (3 grams) firmly packed orange zest
- 1 tsp (6 grams) vanilla bean paste
- 2 1/4 cups (212 grams) old-fashioned oats
- 1 3/4 cups (219 grams) unbleached self-rising flour
- 1/4 cup (44 grams) steel-cut oats
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
The Making of Cookies
- Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, sugars, orange zest, and vanilla bean paste at medium speed until creamy, 2 to 3 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl.
- In a medium bowl, stir together old-fashioned oats, flour, steel-cut oats, and salt. Add oats mixture to butter mixture all at once; beat at medium-low speed just until combined, stopping to scrape sides of bowl.
- Using a 2-tablespoon spring-loaded scoop, scoop dough, and roll into balls. Place at least 2 inches apart on prepared pans; press to about 3/4-inch thickness, pinching closed any cracks and smoothing edges, if needed.
- Bake in batches until edges are golden, 12 to 16 minutes. Let cool on pans for 2 minutes. Remove from pans, and let cool completely on a wire rack placed over a parchment-lined baking sheet.
The Glaze Ingredients
- 1 1/2 cups (180 grams) confectioners’ sugar
- 3 tablespoons (45 grams) crème fraiche
- 1 1/2 tablespoons (22.5 grams) fresh orange juice
The Making of the Glaze
- In a small bowl, stir together all ingredients until smooth and well combined. Use immediately.
- Place the glaze in a small pastry bag or plastic bag; cut a 1/4-inch opening in tip or corner. Drizzle glaze onto cooled cookies as desired; let stand until set, about 15 minutes.
Full disclosure; these have become my favorite cookies. It’s nearly impossible to eat only one Irish Oat Cookie!
First comes love, then comes marriage, and then comes someone years later looking for proof! Marriage is such a hot topic when it comes to genealogy research. Figuring out if your ancestors were married, and when they were married, can be a challenge. Luckily, there are a few options for finding this much needed information.
Types of Marriage Records
When trying to find an ancestor’s marriage, keep in mind the different records. If you’re looking for an actual marriage record, you will be looking for either a marriage register or a marriage license. If you can’t find either one of those, there is always the 1900 U.S. Census that may point you in the right direction. Last, but certainly not least, you should dig around in newspapers.
You can usually find marriage registers in county books. Many of these have been digitized and are easily accessible online. A basic marriage register gives limited information. At the very least, it will give you the date/place of the marriage, the names of the couple, and who performed the ceremony. Other marriage registers, like the one below, actually gives significant genealogy information. This marriage register belongs to my paternal Great Grandparents, James Anderson Hanna and Inez March Carpenter.
In the first line, we find the date of the marriage, their names, and their ages. We also see that they are both listed as single which means, unless one is fibbing, neither have been married before. In the second line, the marriage registers shows where they both live (Chapmanville, West Virginia). Next, it states James’ parents and then Inez’s parents. Yay! That’s another generation back! In the last two sections, it shows that James is a farmer and the name of the minister who performed the ceremony.
A basic marriage license usually has more information than a marriage register. A license tends to go into more detail, including the date it was applied for and the date of the actual marriage. When looking at the information included in a marriage license, make sure to pay attention to the details. You will often find potential family members, or at the very least family friends, listed as witnesses or even the person performing the ceremony.
For example, take the marriage license below for my maternal 2nd Great Uncle and Aunt, Royal Augustus Martin and Geneva Louise Hensley. If you look at the name of the minister who performed the ceremony, you will see the name J. W. Baker. I know that Royal’s mother was Stella Alice Baker. That leads me to believe that J. W. Baker must be related in some way. Spoiler alert, J. W. Baker is John William Baker who is Stella’s father. This means that Royal’s grandfather is the person who presided over the marriage ceremony!
1900 Census Records
An often overlooked source for marriage information is the 1900 U.S. Census. This census asks the head of household the number of years they have been married. While this gives you the number of years, keep in mind that people tended to lose track of time. Just like how ages fluctuate from census to census, the amount of years married is not always accurate. However, even if the number of years do not add up to the exact year, it will give you at least a ballpark.
The example below is from my paternal 2x Great Grandfather, James Benjamin Arthur. He actually nailed the number of years married. He states that he has been married 13 years which would put his marriage year in 1887. I have a marriage record for James and he was indeed married on July 21, 1887!
For more recent marriages, newspaper are the way to go. With the combination of engagement announcements and wedding articles, you can get a pretty accurate picture of what life was like for your betrothed ancestors.
The engagement announcement below is for my maternal Great Uncle and Aunt, Carl Edward Price and Alice Dianne Flannigan. Look at how much information is included!
Next is an example of a wedding announcement. While not as detailed as the above engagement announcement, there is still valuable information included. This article is in reference to the marriage of my paternal 2nd cousin 3x removed, Anna Riley.
Also, don’t discount articles regarding anniversaries! Like engagement and wedding announcements, these articles contain all kinds of good information. In a perfect genealogy world, these articles contain at least one picture of the couple and usually a list of family members who attended. Look for anniversary articles around milestone dates such as a 50th anniversary.
Marriage Records Tips
When researching marriage records, there are a few things to keep in mind. Watch out if dates fit. This means that if you known when your ancestor was born, do the math and see if the ages are appropriate for being married. Yes, marriages tended to happen to those younger in previous centuries, but unless we are in medieval times, a six year old did not get married. Also, pay attention to the place where the marriage occurred. If your ancestor did not get married in their hometown, did it make sense for them to travel to the marriage location? On occasion, couples had to travel to a minister or a town where the marriage ceremony could be held, but did it make sense to travel to a place days away?
Many marriage records are on the major research sites. If you happen to be doing research in West Virginia, I highly recommend the West Virginia Archives and History Vital Records search. Their database includes birth, marriage, and death records.
Birth Records Review
If you need a refresher on birth records, check out my previous post!
What if I told you that the saying isn’t “easy as pie” but “easy as 1-2-3-4 cake”? You don’t believe me? Well, maybe that isn’t the saying, but baking this cake is as easy as pie. Oh, and for the record, I don’t believe at all that making a pie is easy, but that’s another post for another day.
If you’ve never heard of a 1-2-3-4 cake, that’s okay. It’s really just a basic yellow cake with chocolate frosting. The cake was given its name thanks to the number of ingredients that it required; 1 cup butter, 2 cups sugar, 3 cups flour, and 4 eggs. The recipe is believed to have written down somewhere in the mid-1850s and really took off in the 1870s. Over the years, there have been some tweaks, including the addition of leavening agents. The recipe that I am sharing today is about as basic as they come. It is courtesy of the “American Cake” cookbook by Anne Byrn.
The Cake Ingredients
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 3 cups cake flour (make sure to use cake flour…it makes a difference!)
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
The Baking of the Cake
- Place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350F. Grease two 9″ round cake pans with butter and dust with flour. Shake out the excess flour, and set pans aside.
- Place the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl, and blend with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is well incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Set aside.
- Stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium-size bowl. Add a third of the flour mixture to the butter and sugar, beating on low speed until incorporated. Add half of the milk, and blend, then another third of the flour mixture, then the rest of the milk, and finally the remaining flour mixture and vanilla and blend until combined and smooth, 30 seconds.
- Divide the batter between the 2 prepared pans, and smooth the tops. Place the pans in the oven, and bake until they are lightly browned on top and the cake springs back when lightly pressed in the center, 25 to 30 minutes.
- Place the pans on wire racks to cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pans and give the pans a gentle shake to release the cake. Invert the layers once and then again so they rest right side up on the racks to cool completely, 30 minutes.
The Frosting Ingredients
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) lightly salted butter
- 4 heaping tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/3 cup whole milk
- 3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
The Making of the Frosting
- Place the butter in a medium-size saucepan (I actually used one a bit larger) over low heat. When the butter melts, stir in the cocoa and milk. Let the mixture come just to a boil, stirring, and then remove the pan from heat. (If the mixture starts to separate, take it off the heat and proceed to the next step.)
- Stir in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla until the frosting is thickened and smooth.
*Frosting note – I found that one batch was not enough to frost the entire cake. The frosting is best used still warm. I suggest making one back to frost the bottom layer and sides, then another batch for the top layer and sides.
Assembling the Cake
Place 1 layer on a cake plate or platter. Spoon frosting over the top. Place the second later on top, and frost the top and sides of the cake. Slice and serve!
If you have been following along with the Intro to Jewish Genealogy series, you should now have a good idea of how to figure out your ancestors’ name and how to find their immigration records. Now, it’s time to dig deeper into their life. There is nothing better than connecting to your ancestor though one of their stories. It is much easier to find a piece of yourself if you have a better understanding of who they were.
Today’s blog post is going to go deeper into Jewish life and how the documents generated can be valuable to your family history research. Not just in Jewish life, but think about all the documents you touch every day. We are leaving a trail for our descends to find out without even realizing it! Your Jewish ancestors did the same thing.
If you know the synagogue that your ancestor attended, you are in luck! Synagogues are full of documents with vital genealogy information. The most relevant documents include naming ceremony records, Bar/Bat Mitzvah records, marriage records, and burial records. If you are researching a synagogue in a small town/city, then ask for their member lists. This will give you a time frame of when your ancestor lived in the area. If they stayed in that particular town for a while, you may be able to trace the growth of their family. One of the lesser known, but no less important, is synagogue newsletters. They are full of Jewish life stories! You may find a personal story of one of your ancestors. At the very least, you will get an idea of the area they lived in and they people they knew.
If you not so lucky to know the synagogue that your ancestors attended, don’t give up just yet. Ask the older members of your family if they remember where relatives attended. If that doesn’t work, do not be afraid to reach out to a synagogue directly. This is especially true if you know the general vicinity of where your ancestor lived.
If you need a little extra help, The Center for Jewish History has a quick guide for finding synagogue records.
Researching Hebrew Schools
The obvious place to look for your ancestors when researching Hebrew schools is the yearbook. Especially during your ancestors’ senior year, a yearbook gives a perfect snapshot of what their school life was like. Much like researching synagogues, Hebrew schools tended to have their own newsletters. Both yearbooks and newsletters are a great place to find a more personal side of you ancestor.
If you are having trouble locating the school your ancestor may have attended there are a few options. Ancestry has a yearbooks database for all schools, not just Hebrew schools. If you select “card catalog” in the search menu, then search “yearbooks” in the title box, you should see “U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-1999”. Click there and then you have multiple ways to search. You can type in your ancestors name and any additional information you have. If that doesn’t work, on the right side of the page, you can browse by state, city, school name, and year.
In case Ancestry doesn’t have what you are looking for, and you know the school that your ancestor attended, reach out to the school directly. Some schools have their own archives and will be more than happy to help you. For schools that don’t have an archive, many will be able to point you in the direction that you will need to go in order to find more about your ancestor. Either way, there is always someone to help you discover more about your ancestor’s school days.
Researching Jewish Newspapers
Newspapers are one of my favorite places to discover the lives of my ancestors. When researching, and I’ve hit a dead end, I turn to newspapers. All aspects of life are represented from birth to death and the same is true for Jewish life.
There are two websites that have an extensive collections of newspapers. I use both Newspapers.com and Genealogybank.com to search for stories. Both are subscription based search engines that you can search either a name, location, or a specific newspaper.
In my research, I was not able to find a Jewish specific database for newspapers. Like other aspects of research, Google seems to be your friend on this one. However, I did come across a project by the German-language newspaper, Aufbau. It’s not very user friendly, and the paper itself is in German, but you are able to search names and see where they appear in the paper. The paper did publish lists of Jewish holocaust survivors from September 1944 to September 27, 1946.
Researching Jewish Societies
If all else fails, reach out to Jewish Societies. These organization are a wealth of information regarding Jewish life. If they don’t have what you are looking for, I can almost guarantee that they will know someone who does! There are several genealogical/historical societies that may be of help, including;
- Federation of East European Family History Societies
- Jewish Genealogical Society of New York
- International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies
- American Jewish Historical Society
- Landsmannschaften (Societies of Fellow Immigrants)
When looking for a society, you should also look local. Many small town and counties have their own genealogical/historical societies. If you know where your ancestor lived, and especially if they lived in a predominantly Jewish area, it’s a good chance that they will have something to help you on your journey.
Happy June, everyone! Okay, I know it is really mid-June at this point, but the way this year is flying by, I’m still at the beginning of the month! Haha! This weekend, I have sprinkled in watching some football, Euros 2020 to be exact, with my genealogy. Who says you can’t multi-task?! It’s been a while since I updated you on what I’m working on. There is a lot going on and some super fun stuff coming to the blog!
What’s Happening Now
If you following any of my social media accounts, you probably already know that I was asked to be a guest on The Kilted American podcast. That episode “Heritage to Adventure” is out today! To say I’m excited would be an understatement. I can’t think of anything else I would rather do than talk about my two favorite things…genealogy and Scotland. Give it a listen and I hope you have as much fun listening as I did recording!
Part One (Jewish Names) and Part Two (Jewish Immigration) of the Into to Jewish Genealogy series are both on the blog. Part Three, Jewish Life, will be up this week. I’ll be talking about some of the genealogy gems that can be found in every day documents. Also, the series Genealogy 101, will take on marriage records this week. I’ll share some of my research tips and how newspapers may be where the marriages are hiding.
Also, coming to the blog this week, I’ll have another “Baking With My Ancestors” and “Places To Visit” pieces. As always, if you have a suggestion on something to bake or something to see, send me an email! I’d love to hear from you!
What Is Coming Soon?
I have a lot, and I mean a lot, of fun topics that I want to bring to the blog. This month, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite ancestor stories regarding the darker side of genealogy. I’m talking about crime and deceit. Who ever said that genealogy was boring was seriously mistaken!
I am also in the planning stages of doing a live bake-a-long next month. I’m going to take one of my upcoming “Baking With My Ancestors” recipes and do it live. Even better, you can bake along with me! I’m still working out the details of where to host it (FB live, Zoom, etc) and when to host it (day/time). Make sure you are following on social media so you won’t miss out!
If you caught this weekend’s post, then you know my new love affair with Clubhouse. This week, I’ll be hosting my first room, “Genealogy Power Hour”. It will be this Thursday, June 17, at 7pm (Central). Come talk about all things genealogy and maybe find some help with that brick wall!
What Am I Working On?
I have found myself in a rabbit hole of Royal Scottish genealogy. As you know, I am planning a trip to Scotland next year and I’ve been on a mission to find my Scottish ancestors. Like many of us with Scottish ancestry, I have made my way to Robert the Bruce and his descendants. This weekend I have been engrossed in medieval Scotland looking for my ancestors. You can expect a full blog post on my endeavor!
I would love to hear what you have been working on this weekend. Have you found yourself falling down some rabbit holes?
If you’re like me, when you think of genealogy you totally think of going clubbing. No? That’s just me? Well, let me change your mind. The social media platform, Clubhouse, is changing how we interact with other genealogist and bringing the love of history to a younger generation. If you are not familiar with Clubhouse, let me explain a few things.
What is Clubhouse?
According to the Clubhouse website, it is
a new type of social network based on voice—where people around the world come together to talk, listen and learn from each other in real-time.
For me, I like to think of it as a live podcast without having to physically go somewhere and sit in an audience. Clubhouse has different “rooms” that each have their own topic. The topics come in a wide range and you can find just about anything that you’re looking for. Each room has at least one moderator, or host. It is their job to keep the conversation moving and somewhat focused. Let’s be real, when you have several people in a conversation, sometimes it hard to stay on topic.
Joining the Club
At the moment, Clubhouse is invitation only. That means you have to know someone who is already in Clubhouse to allow you in. Invitations are pretty easy to come by once you are in Clubhouse. You receive invites to give as soon as you join. Then, you accumulate invitations along the way. If anyone is ready to join, let me know. I have seven to pass out!
Getting On Stage
After joining a room on Clubhouse, you have two options. You can stay in the audience and just listen or you can join in conversation. To join a conversation, all you have to do is hit the “raise hand” button. This will alert the moderator that you wish to join in. The moderator will let you up onto the stage. You may have to wait a bit to actually begin speaking (make sure to unmute yourself!) because moderators can bring you up on stage at any time. The members of Clubhouse appreciate manners, so try not to interrupt and always be polite.
Within Clubhouse, there are individuals for you to follow, as well as clubs to join. By joining a club, it puts you in contact with others who are interested in the same topic as you. It’s a great way to connect and networks. Also, on the club pages, it will give you some of the upcoming rooms. Keep an eye out for the “bell” button. You can find this on both individual and club pages. By selecting the “bell” button, you will then receive notifications on when that particular individual/club is in a room. Don’t be afraid to join all the clubs that you are interested in. That way, you won’t miss anything!
Genealogy and Clubhouse
I really believe that Clubhouse can be the future of genealogy. The genealogy rooms that I have attended are genre specific and hosted by moderators who know what they are talking about. Clubhouse is a great way to learn tips and tricks that others use in their research. It also allows you to pick the brains of other genealogists who may be able to help you break down a brick wall. I have found Clubhouse a great way to network with other genealogists and those who are in careers that use genealogists.
If you’re on Clubhouse, or decide to join, look for my club “The Cool Genealogy Club”. I want it to be a place where we can hang out, talk all things genealogy, and maybe help each other break down a brick wall…or two!
Now that the world is starting to open back up, I thought it would be the perfect time to highlight some of my favorite places to travel. These places include archives/libraries, historical places, cemeteries, and some of my favorite ancestor related places. Basically, no place, be it big or small, local or international, is off limits. Also, if you know of a place that I should talk about, let me know!
In today’s post, we’re visiting Glendalough, County Wicklow, Ireland. This is by far my favorite place in all of Ireland. The scenery, the atmosphere, and the history were all amazing! While I have no genealogical connection to this area of Ireland, visiting still hit me right in my history loving heart.
For those who are not familiar with Glendalough, let me explain it’s significance. Located in the Wicklow Mountains, Glendalough is home to one of the most important monastic sites in Ireland. Founded in the 6th Century by St. Kevin, this area was a “monastic city” where many came to live and learn. The city itself flourished until 1214 when it was destroyed by Norman invaders. Many of the original buildings from the 10th and 12th centuries survived and visitors are able to walk in the footsteps of the monks who lived there.
The Personal Connection
For me, Glendalough and the Wicklow Mountains were more than just home to a medieval city. While driving to Glendalough from Dublin, I began to realize with my ancestors settled where they did when they came to America. You see, the majority of my ancestors came to America in the early to mid 1600s. While they started their journey on the shores of Virginia and North Carolina, many ended up in the Appalachian Mountains. Specifically, they settled in the Smoky Mountains of western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee.
The day I visited Glendalough, the weather was foggy with a light drizzle. I felt very much that I was back “home” in the East Tennessee mountains. It was an unexpected ancestral connection. I came to Glendalough because it was one of the top places to visit in Ireland. I left feeling like I had a better understanding of who my ancestors were. While not specifically from County Wicklow, I have Irish ancestors and while standing on the banks of the Upper Lake (at Glendalough), I felt like I had come home.
Things To See
There are so many things to see at Glendalough besides the 10th Century ruins. I highly recommend going though the heritage center before visiting the ruins. It gives you a better understanding of who St. Kevin was, why people followed him, and how they lived. When you know the stories, it makes walking though the ruins all the more impactful.
Don’t miss St. Kevin’s Cross! The cross’ arms are over 3 Feet across while the cross itself is over 8 Feet tall. There is also a legend that surrounds the cross. The story goes that whoever can wrap their arms around the body of the cross and touch their fingertips, will have all their dreams come true. I tried it…and I wasn’t even close!
After walking the ruins, take your time going through the cemetery. Even though I didn’t have any ancestors buried there, it was very interesting to read the names and inscriptions on the headstones. Take your time and soak it all in.
Lastly, do not miss walking the short trail to the Upper Lake. Even with dreary weather, it was an amazing view. I literally could have stood there all day! Also, if you’ve ever seen the movie “Leap Year”, the wedding scenes take place at Glendalough.
For More Information
If you would like more information about Glendalough, visit their website at https://www.glendalough.ie/
I’ll be the first to admit that lately I’ve been slightly obsessed with my Scottish heritage. I’ve always been proud of my 32% Scotland on my AncestryDNA results. When I deciding where I wanted to travel in 2022, Scotland was at the top of my list for that reason. So, to prepare, why not dive right in to my Scottish-ness (that’s a word, right?). Therefore, today I’m baking Scottish Shortbread with my Scottish ancestors.
Scottish Shortbread got its start under the name “biscuit bread”. This “bread” was a result of leftover dough from bread making. It was dried out in a low oven which resulted in it being called a biscuit, which means “twice cooked”. Eventually the cooks realized they were onto something and replaced the yeast in the bread dough with butter and shortbread was born. Scottish historians attribute the popularity of Scottish Shortbread to Mary, Queen of Scots who was very fond of Petticoat Tails. These biscuits were a thin, crisp, buttery shortbread originally flavored with caraway seeds.
When looking for a recipe for Scottish Shortbread, I hit all the predictable cookbooks. You know the ones by Mary Berry, Paul Hollywood, and of course, my extensive collection of Great British Baking Show cookbooks, but none of those recipes felt right. I didn’t have an actual recipe that had been passed down, so I did what any good baker/genealogist would do. I googled Scottish Shortbread recipes. The recipe I found is from the website https://www.recipetineats.com/
8oz unsalted butter (2 sticks or 1 cup)
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup powdered sugar (or icing sugar)
2 cups plain/all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 325F (standard) or 300F (convection)
Butter and line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper with overhang
Beat butter until smooth (or use very soft butter and a wooden spoon)
Add powdered sugar and beat until combined
Add half the flour and beat until mostly combined. It should resemble wet sand.
Beat in the remainder of the flour. Use your hands to bring it together into a smooth ball of dough. Knead lightly if needed.
Roughly press down into a rectangle shape, then transfer into the pan. Press into the pan, but don’t press too hard! (It will make the cookies firmer)
Bake for 20 minutes until the edges are a very light golden and most of the surface is still pale gold.
Remove from oven. Working quickly, cut into desired shape and prick all over with a fork.
Return to the oven for 8 minutes or until the surface is light golden – not browned.
Turn the oven off, crack it open and leave to cool for at least one hour in the oven.
Remove from oven, use the paper overhang to remove the biscuits, and enjoy your Scottish Shortbread!
In my first Jewish genealogy post, I talked about how to figure out your ancestor’s name. Now that you have a potential name, let’s find where in the world they are! Understanding Jewish immigration is key in researching your ancestor. If you know Jewish history, you know that past generations tended to move all over the place. While this post focuses mainly on immigration to America, some of these tools can be used in other parts of the world.
Know Your History
If your Jewish ancestor is one of the millions that came to America, the first step is narrowing down where in America they may have landed. To do this, you have to know the history of Jewish immigration. The first Jewish settlement in America was by a group of Sephardic Jews who made their home in New Amsterdam (or modern day New York) in September 1654. This group of 23 were fleeing persecution by the Portuguese Inquisition after the conquest of Dutch Brazil.
From 1654 to 1820, Jewish immigrants found their way to American shore through several different ports. The most popular were New York, Newport, Philadelphia, Savannah, and Charleston. Most of these ports had records of those who were allowed into the country. In 1820, a law was passed that required certain information to be included on passenger lists. Some of the information you can find on these lists include: names, age, gender, occupation, country of origin, and country/place of intended destination.
In 1855, Castle Garden in New York City opened. This was America’s first official immigration center. Castle Garden operated, officially, from August 3, 1855 to April 18, 1890. It was closed when the federal government decided to control all ports of entry and process all immigrants to America.
The most well-known port of entry, Ellis Island, opened in 1892. This port processed more immigrants, not just Jewish, than all the North American ports combined. The Ellis Island Foundation has a website where you can search their database for ancestors who would have arrived between 1820 (pulling from other ports) to 1957. According to their site, they have over 65 million passenger records and ship manifests. You can find more information at https://www.statueofliberty.org/ellis-island/
If you are having a difficult time finding your ancestor when they arrived, there is a chance that at some point they went back to the homeland. Many immigrants ventured back home either to pick up additional family members to bring to America or they were just homesick. Whatever the reason, they would have needed a passport.
An example of a passport application is below. This belongs to my 4th cousin 4x removed, Elmer Murphy. While Elmer himself wasn’t an immigrant, he traveled extensively thought the world. In his application, we are able to learn where he was born, the date of his birth, where he currently lives, and his occupation. Since he is traveling with his wife, we learn her birth date and place of birth (although it doesn’t actually state her name). Some passport applications include a picture of the applicant. Even though Elmer’s application doesn’t, he is required to give a description of himself. We learn that he is currently 32 years old, 5’10”, with blue eyes, dark hair, and a dark complexion. Just those few details, allows you to be able to start picturing what your ancestor may look like.
When looking for your ancestor’s passport applications, Ancestry has an extensive collection. Also, keep in mind that the National Archives holds applications from October 1795 to March 1925. For applications from April 1925 to present, you will need to contact the State Department.
With Elmer, I was able to go one step further when looking at immigration records. It seems that he had business in Mexico and a card that allowed him to travel between the two countries. This card was different than a passport as it was for people other than tourists and visitors. The bonus, there is a picture with this one!
Just like researching any other documents, you will need to keep in mind spelling variations. This is especially true when looking at ship manifests. Names at ports tended to be spelled phonetically. With immigrants from different countries and different languages, most of those working at the port didn’t take the time to make sure names were spelled correctly. Also, names were sometimes translated into what they would be in English. For example, Schmidt became Smith. While it can be frustrating, spelling of names sometimes requires you to play around with the spelling before you find what you are looking for.
Naturalization papers are a great source of information. Before 1906, the information contained in the papers varied depending on what court was handling the file. A three step process was adopted which helped to correct the problem. With the new process, the applicant was required to file a Declaration of Intent, then a Petition for Citizenship, and lastly a Certificate of Naturalization. All three documents contain valuable genealogy information.
Below is an example of a Declaration of Intent. This belongs to Richard Edward Burns who immigrated from Ireland. In this document, we learn when Richard was born, where he was born, which port he arrived at, and when he arrived to America. We also see where Richard is renouncing his “allegiance and fidelity” to Queen Victoria.
When looking for your ancestor’s immigration documents, there are a few key things to keep in mind. Remember, immigration documents could be filed in any court. There was not one specific government agency that handled immigration documents. If you’re having a difficult time finding your ancestor in America, take a look at Canadian records. America capped immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe which forced some immigrants to come in at Canadian ports. The two countries did develop a program where if the immigrants intent was to continue to America, they were given a card to present at the border that stated that information. Also, if you know they entered at an American port, but cannot figure out when, take a look at census records. In the years 1870, 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930, the census asked questions regarding immigration status. This sometimes included the year they immigrated. I have found that the year given to the census taker isn’t always accurate, but it at least will give you a time frame start with.
Sometimes you come across a book accidentally. That is how I stumbled upon Clanlands. If you’re familiar with the show Men In Kilts, then you know where the book comes from. Like one of the blurbs said, this book is a love letter to Scotland. I couldn’t agree more, but to understand why I love this book, let me start at the beginning.
I began planning my Ireland and Scotland trip in March. That’s when I started noticing the advertisements for Men In Kilts on my Facebook feed. I had no idea who Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish were. I had heard of the show Outlander, but I had never watched an episode. All I knew is that these “men in kilts” were in Scotland and I needed to binge watch.
After devouring the show (seriously, if you’re planning a trip to Scotland you need to watch it) I found out that the show was actually based on a book. Luckily, I live super close to a book store and they had one copy of the book. Clanlands was now in my hands! I started reading it immediately. It did help that I had watched Men In Kilts already. I had a mental image of the people and places mentioned in the book.
Clanlands was able to go so much deeper than the TV show. While I expected to learn more about Sam and Graham as individuals, I also received a crash course in Scottish history. They did an excellent job of balancing personal stories with historical Scotland stories. I learned about the Jacobites and the Bonnie Prince. I learned about different Clans and their tartans. I met all kinds of interesting characters along the way, both from the past and present. This book is what I wish all history books would be. To say that Clanlands took me on an adventurous journey would be an understatement.
Just by reading the book’s jacket, I knew that I would get to know Sam and Graham on a more personal level. What surprised me the most, was going on the journey with them of discovering each of their deeper personal connection with Scotland. While I expected my connection to Scotland to grow by reading this book, I very much enjoyed witnessing each of their experiences. For me, there is nothing better than watching someone fall in love with history. Especially when they have a personal connection to it.
Oh, and if you’re able to listen to the audiobook, do it! I have never listened to an audiobook before, but I thought it might be interesting to listen to this one. Boy, was I right! Yes, reading the words of Sam and Graham was entertaining, but you get something from hearing them say the words that just makes it hit deeper.
I would absolutely, in a heartbeat, recommend Clanlands to anyone and everyone. If you have a trip planned to Scotland or you have Scottish ancestors, go read it now! As a genealogist, I loved when both Sam and Graham made connections to their own personal family histories. My favorite quote from the book was from Sam…
It’s lead me to discover my own extensive family tree, having always believed I’d come from a small family.
I am an advocate for anything that encourages us to look back to those who came before us and how our ancestors influence who we are today. Like Sam, I used to say that I come from a small family. Thanks to history and genealogy, I know that’s not true. Go read Clanlands, then let another family member (maybe someone in a younger generation) borrow it. I can almost guarantee it will start you on a path of discovering your history.
If we’re going to talk about vital records, let’s start at the very beginning with birth certificates. This piece of paper is literally the first documentation of you, your ancestor, or whoever else you’re looking for. (There is the exception of delayed birth certificates, but I’ll talk about those in a bit.) In a perfect genealogy world, birth certificates would be where you start.
A birth certificate is considered a primary source of genealogy information. This means that the information contained in the document was given by someone at the event or an eye witness to the event. Primary sources are the best documents to use in research. There usually isn’t that question of who gave the information whether they are just relaying secondhand information.
What Information is Included?
Let’s look at an example. The birth certificate below belongs to my great grandmother, Vera Martin. On this certificate we see she was born in Kentucky, county of Harlan, on November 17, 1912. Her father is Frank Martin. He lives in Harlan, turned 38 years old on his last birthday, was born in Baily’s Switch and works as a miner. Her mother is Stelley (actually Stella) Baker. She lives in Harlan, is white, turned 18 on her last birthday, was born in Kevy, Laurel County, and is a housewife. We also learn that Stella has given birth to two children, but only one is living.
Also noted on the certificate is that this is a legitimate birth. Don’t get too hung up on this “fact” if it is on the birth certificate. I’ve found numerous births that were marked as legitimate which in fact were not. This is one of those facts that sometimes take a little more investigation.
In this one document, we are starting to get a clearer picture of who Vera’s parents are. If we are working our ancestor line back, we now know a significant amount to go back another generation. When we start digging into her parents, we have an approximate year that they were born and where they were born. Keep in mind, though, that county names changed over the years, so the county listed on the certificate (for the parents) may not be the name of the county when they were born.
Delayed Birth Certificates
Delayed birth certificates are birth records that were recorded usually years after the birth event. These certificates were generated for various reasons. Two of the main reasons for obtaining a delayed certificate include enlisting in the armed services and applying for Social Security benefits.
Below is an example of a delayed birth certificate. This belongs to another of my great grandmothers, Hattie Elizabeth Hopkins. While a delayed certificate may not give as much information as a regular birth certificate, it does give you some things to go on. This certificate shows that Hattie was born on January 15, 1891 in Raymond City, Putnam County, West Virginia. Her father is Fred M. Hopkins who was born in Kanawha County, West Virginia. Her mother is Nancy Dickerson who was born in Putnam County, West Virginia.
What makes a delayed birth certificate a primary source is the fact that supporting evidence has to be submitted to verify that the information is correct. On this certificate, we see that a family friend, Cecil Britton, made a affidavit stating when Hattie was born and the names of her parents. Hattie’s insurance policy from 1930 verified her age at that time. Lastly, we get even more genealogical information with the fact that Hattie’s marriage record is used. While it doesn’t give the name of her husband, it tells us exactly where the marriage was recorded and the date it was recorded.
When looking at birth certificates, it is best practice to write down all the information that could possibly be used in research. Even if you think it doesn’t matter, it just might when you are trying to pinpoint an ancestor. Like any record, keep in mind that names may be misspelled or a nickname may have been used. Birth records are a great place to start, especially with more recent generations. We tend to remember birth dates over death dates.
In the next Genealogy 101 post, I’ll be taking a look at marriage records and how to use them to further your research!
If you’re looking how to get started on your genealogy journey, check out my previous post “Taking It Way Back”!
Starting your journey into researching your Jewish ancestors is just like searching any ancestor…you start with what you know. The only problem is that sometimes you have only a name. Maybe that name is in its original form, but more than likely it has changed a few times over the years. How in the world do you figure out what a name should (or shouldn’t) be?!
Let’s go back with starting with what you already know. Maybe you have a name of some siblings, but have no idea what their parents and/or grandparents names might be. The good news is that like other ethnic naming patterns, Jewish names usually followed the same sequence. When naming their sons, parents usually named the first son after the father’s father, the second son after the mother’s father, and so on. The same pattern was used when naming daughters; the first daughter was named after the father’s mother, the second after the mother’s mother, and so on. While not always a perfect system, it may give you something to go on when trying to find the names of grandparents.
When looking at naming patterns there is an important pattern to keep in mind. Ashkenazi Jews would name their children after a recently deceased ancestor. Sephardic Jews did just the opposite. They would name their children after a living ancestor.
Another stumbling block when it comes to Jewish names, is the fact that surnames were not used until the 1800s! This makes things a bit tricky. Before the 1800s, Jewish names usually consisted of their given name and their father’s name. While this may help you to figure out what someone’s father’s name is, it’s not very useful when trying to decided if one person is your ancestor over another. When surnames were adopted, there was usually a reason for the choice. Some surnames were assigned by the government. Other surnames represented a particular person’s occupation or the town where they originated. One thing to keep in mind, is that as Jews moved around to different countries, the spelling and pronunciation tended to match their new home. It was one way of acclimating to their new surroundings.
The D-M Soundex
If all else fails, there is one more trick you can use. The Daitch-Mokotoff (D-M) Soundex was developed to help in this situation. Jewish genealogists developed algorithms to address the unique letter/language combination there were common to Jewish naming patterns. Most Jewish specific genealogy website, such as https://www.jewishgen.org/ have this Soundex on their site. The Soundex will give you examples of whatever the current name you have might have been.
Now that you have some names, its time to starting find some people! Check back next Monday for tips on researching Jewish immigration records!
I’ve been tossing around the idea of writing this piece for a few months. You don’t always know how something is going to be accepted. For the most part, people don’t like to confront uncomfortable things. There are people who don’t want to learn and prefer to stay in their only bubble. I am not one of those people. As a genealogist and an avid fan of history, I’m confronted almost daily with the ugly side of humanity. History is not pretty, but it’s what we can do with the knowledge of the past that helps us move forward in towards the future.
I know the answer that people expect me to give when they ask me why they should take a DNA test. They are wanting me to say how fun it is to find out your ethnicity and meet new cousins. That is all anyone wants really. A quick glimpse into their past where they don’t have to deal with any of the after effects. A graph that says you are 32% Scottish, which you had a feeling that you were already.
I don’t say any of this to say that DNA testing can’t be fun and exciting. I say this to remind us all that the results of our DNA ethnicity can be so much more!
As someone with the majority of her ancestors immigrating to the American south in the 1700 & 1800s, I knew that my DNA may not be all European. I wasn’t surprised at all when my DNA showed that have a 1% Cameroon, Congo, & Western Bantu DNA. What did surprise me is how this made me feel. I now had confirmation that I have DNA in common with someone who doesn’t look like me. My DNA also lead me to meeting cousins who don’t look like me and have totally different life experiences than I do. My cousin, Sonya, and I actually talked about this on her podcast.
I took my DNA test one step further and uploaded it to GEDMatch. If you’re familiar with GEDMatch, you know that there are several different Admixture programs that you can run to dive even deeper into your ethnicity estimates. I decided to run the Eurogenes Jtest to see if I had any Jewish ancestry. I clicked the results button with zero expectations. I was totally surprised when it showed that I have 4.18% Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry. I had no idea! This knowledge led me down a path of trying to find my Jewish ancestors. I have been digging into Jewish history and what is means to be Jewish. I have met so many amazing people only because I decided to dig deeper into my DNA.
I say all this in order for you to remember one thing…we are not that different. I am a firm believer that if we all really knew more ancestors and their ethnic backgrounds that we may show more kindness to other humans. I’ve realized that I now look at everyone around me as someone who could be related to me. I believe that our ethnic and genetic makeup is really the core of who we are. So why are we not doing more to understand ourselves and the world around us?
I know there are some people out there that either refuse to believe their ethnic makeup or use it as something to divide us even further. That makes me incredibly sad. My hope is that with every DNA test that is taken, we are perhaps a bit closer to a world with more kindness.
Happy April, everyone!
You know I like to keep y’all in the loop of what is going on (thus the reason for the Weekend Update posts). Let me first apologize for being a little absent lately. As many of you know, for the past four years I have been helping to take care of my grandmother who had dementia. She sadly passed away in February and it’s been a bit of an adjustment getting back into the swing of things. I’m here now….and lots of things are coming up genealogy-wise in the next few months!
This morning I had the opportunity to be a guest on the podcast “Threads and Truth” hosted by my dear friend Sonja. We had such amazing talk about connections and the importance of encouraging younger generations to get interested in genealogy and family history. The podcast will be available soon for you to listen. Make sure you’re following me on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/coolgirlgenealogy/) where I’ll post the link as soon as it’s up. Also, while you’re there, follow the “Threads and Truth” page (https://www.instagram.com/threadsandtruth/)
If you’ve seen my last few IG posts, you know that I’m knee deep in researching my Scottish ancestors. I always knew that the majority of my DNA was Scottish, but I never really took the time to dig in and research my Scottish ancestors. Then, a random conversation turned into planning a trip to Scotland (is it 2022 yet?!). I figured if I’m going to go to Scotland, I should at least figure out the area that my Scottish ancestors lived.
This lead me to digging into my Arthur surname. After flipping though my “Surnames of Scotland” book, I realized that my Arthur line is more than likely Scottish. I knew they lived in Ulster for a bit so I was not surprised that the name may have deep roots in Scotland. I found Clan Arthur and decided I really wanted to connect back of the MacArthur line that supposedly descends from King Arthur. To be fair, I wanted to prove my connection more because when I was in elementary school I used to tell other kids that King Arthur was my grandpa. Maybe, deep down, I already knew this connection to be true!
I decided to start with my Arthur lines that I knew. I say lines because, spoiler alert, both my paternal and maternal line directly descend from my 9th Great Grandfather, Thomas Barnabus Arthur. As I started up the line, I soon discovered that another direct (maternal) line descended from Thomas. Yes, I have three direct Arthur descended lines. I guess that solidifies that I was meant to be an Arthur and I wear the name proudly! Oh…and I guess that makes me even more Scottish!
So, this weekend, I am spending my days deep in Scottish history and hanging out with my Scottish ancestors. I’d love to hear what you’re working on! Drop a comment below and let me know!
Since there are a few new followers to the blog, I thought it would be the perfect time for us to get back to the basics. Not just the nuts and bolts of genealogy, but how in the heck to get started. Most of the questions I receive are not about specific research issues, but how in the world to take the first step. So here it is…a refresher for all of us!
The thought of jumping into your family history can be a bit intimidating. With so many people and so much information to find, how in the world do you even get started?! Well, let me help you out a bit.
1. Start with what you know
You may only know your grandparents’ names, or you may be lucky enough to go all the way back to your 2x Great Grandparents. Either way, you are at a great jumping off point. If you only know your parents information, that’s okay too! The best way to get your feet wet in genealogy is to start with what you know. My suggestion is to start by filling out an ancestral chart. This sheet will help you to see the information you already have, and will help direct you in the direction of where to take your research.
I suggest starting with either your maternal or paternal side. I find that usually a person knows more about one side than the other. Do not ask me why this is the case! Haha! Do not try to do both at the same time. You will get confused on who goes with who and who was where. (That sentence alone sounds confusing!) This isn’t just something for beginners to remember, but a good reminder for those of us who have been doing it for years!
2. Keep it simple
Okay, this kind of goes with what I said under number one, but let me go into a little more detail. When I say simple what I mean is do not go in looking for every story about your ancestor. Those will come with time. To start, look for the basic vital records (birth, marriage, and death) and use these basics to grow your tree. Birth certificates will usually tell you both parents’ names. Marriage certificates will sometimes tell you who the couple’s parents are, and death certificates may tell you the spouse’s name as well as the parents’ names.
There is a lot more information you can gain from vital records, but I’ll go into more specifics in a later post. Right now, you just want to get used to looking at the records. One thing I failed to mention above is to pay attention to where these events occurred. Be aware that of how people moved during the time you are researching. If you’re in the early 1800s and a couple was married on the east coast and had a child nine months later on the west coast, you may need to do a little more digging. That’s not to say that the scenario is impossible, but travel back then, especially across the country, was treacherous. Could a couple, with a pregnant woman, really have made it across the county in that amount of time?
3. Don’t be afraid to ask the dumb questions
I am a firm believer that there is no such thing as a dumb question, especially in genealogy. While research may be done as a solo project, most genealogy is a collaborative effort. That means, that someone out there may have the information that you need and vice versa. If you are on Ancestry, and have completed the DNA testing, do not be afraid of reaching out to a new “cousin” that is researching the same family members that you are. Ask them what information they have. It’s always a smart idea to compare notes. Sometimes you’ll hit a gold mine of information while other times you’ll come up with nothing. You never know until you ask!
4. Manage your expectations
I would love nothing more than to tell you that you will find what you’re looking for in exactly one week, but genealogy doesn’t work that way. The best way to avoid getting frustrated is just to take it a bit at a time. Celebrate when you find a new ancestor. When you hit a brick wall, take a break. It’s okay to step away for a moment. Got get some wine…or a cupcake…believe me, I do it!
When doing genealogy, always remember the saying that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Genealogy is addicting, frustrating, but most importantly fun!
If you have any specific questions, feel free to email me firstname.lastname@example.org
Keep an eye out for my next Genealogy 101 post talking more specifically about vital records!
When deciding what to write about for Week One’s 52 Ancestor challenge, I thought it would be best to start at the beginning. If you’ve been a follower of the blog for a while, you know that I got my love of genealogy from my mother. What you probably don’t know is how she found her way into the genealogy world and became the official family historian. So, here is her story..
Pamela Sue Burkhart was born in 1957 in Detroit, Michigan to Dorothy Jean Price and Vernon Burkhart. Her parents were both from Harlan County, Kentucky. They had moved to Detroit for work by way of the “Hillbilly Highway”. My mom says that when she was growing up, it was just like being in the south. All of her neighbors were either from Kentucky or other southern states. Families in their neighborhood held tight to their Southern traditions. So, while they were living, and working, in the north, most families never really embraced the Michigan way of living.
My mom married my dad, Christopher Franklin Arthur, in 1975. His family came from a similar background. They made their way from West Virginia to Michigan for work also. To say that my childhood had mostly southern influences and traditions would be an understatement. In 1991, my dad’s job moved us back to the south. This time, though, we were heading to Tennessee.
About this time, my mom began to hear stories about her 2x Great Grandfather. There was a family discussion on what his name was and which side he fought for during the Civil War. At the time of the war he lived in East Tennessee (Union County to be exact). If you know your Tennessee history, you know that the state was split on who fought for which side. While rumors were that he fought for the Union, nobody knew for sure.
Now that we were living in Tennessee, about 4 hours away from the Knoxville/Union County area, my mom decided to put this “discussion” to rest. She now had easy access to the Tennessee State Archives and, with a little drive, access to the cemetery where her 2x Great Grandfather was buried. Needless to say, she solved the mystery and figured out the Elias S. Carroll was a Lieutenant in the Union Army during the Civil War.
She now had a taste for the research and how if felt to solve a family argument. Now she was eager to see what else she could find. Family history had always been important to her, but now it was at another level! This was long before internet research was a thing. I love reading over some of the notes from phone calls and the emails that went back and forth between newly discovered relatives. If she had not laid such a great foundation, I would not be the genealogist I am today.
I asked my mom what advice she would give to someone beginning their family history/genealogy journey. Here is what she told me:
Let’s just say July was my month of “vacation” if vacation looks like a Covid scare and life pretty much up in the air! I suppose that is just the time we live in now. Making plans, even for genealogy, is almost impossible!
This weekend is the first in a while that I have been able to dedicate to genealogy. Yesterday, I attended the Tennessee Genealogy Society’s Virtual Summer Seminar. It was so good! The classes gave me new “tricks” to try and reminded me of the close connection that my Tennessee ancestors have with the state of North Carolina. I may, or may not, have made a list of websites and books to check out to help me in my research endeavors.
Today, I am knee deep in my Loy ancestors. While I’m not sure where they originated from across the pond, I pick up the line in North Carolina. They then made their way thoughout the county including everywhere from Alabama to California!
I’ve been particularly intrigued by the family of George Albright, who married his cousin Martha Albright. They lived in Greensboro, North Carolina and became a fixture in the town. George ran the Mansion House (hotel), and from what I read in newspaper articles, made sure everyone felt at home. His sons also had occupations that supported the town including physician, lawyer, and newspaper publisher. To say this family has deep roots in Greensboro is an understatement!
Coming up this week, I will be starting the new series “Gen School”. I figure with everyone going back to school in their own way, we should too! I’ll be starting from the basics and going through the different steps of what it means to research your family’s history. From how to get started to how to keep track of it all, I will do my best to cover it all! If you have any particular questions, feel free to send me an email to email@example.com
Also, make sure you’re following over on Instagram where I’ll be continuing the Genealogy Photo-A-Day challenge!
If I’m being honest, I have never been a fan of Blondies. So, when I came across this recipe I didn’t immediately feel the need to bake them. I kept searching for a different recipe to try. As I continued to search, this recipe kept coming back to my mind. Maybe it was time that I finally time to give Blondies another try.
The history of Blondies started during World War II. Women were looking for an alternative to Brownies since chocolate and white sugar were being rationed. It was time to get creative. Originally called “Light Colored Brownies” by Mrs. Alexander George (a home economics teacher turned newspaper columnist), these so-called Brownies replaced white sugar with brown sugar and left out the chocolate completely. As Blondies evolved, bakers included butterscotch chips, pecans, and many other ingredients to make them their own.
Needless to say, after trying these Blondies, I am now a big fan!
- 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 1 1/3 cups light brown sugar
- 1/3 cups granulated sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs, beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup chopped pecans, if desired
- Place a rack in the center of the over, and preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly grease and flour a 13×9 baking pan and set it aside.
- Place the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat and stir until melted. Add the brown sugar and stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar dissolves and the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add the granulated sugar and stir until well combined, 1 minute. Let cool sightly.
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium-size bowl. Add a third of the flour mixture to the saucepan and stir to combine and bring down the temperature of the butter and sugar mixture, 30 seconds. Add half the beaten eggs and the vanilla. Stir to combine, 30 seconds. Add another third of the flour mixture, stir to combine, then add the rest of the eggs, then the last of the flour, and stir until smooth. Turn the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the top with pecans, if desired. Place the pan in the oven.
- Bake the Blondies until nut brown around the edges and just firm in the center, 20 to 25 minutes. You do not want to overbake.
- Remove the pan from the oven, and place it on a wire rack to cool. Score the Blondies into pieces with a sharp knife. When completely cool, slice into pieces and serve. These Blondies keep covered at room temperature for up to 4 days and in the freezer for up to 4 months.
(recipe c/o American Cookies by Anne Byrn)
I love connecting with other genealogist and family history fans through social media. That is how I met Annika. She is a Swedish genealogist and the owner of Find a Swede. Annika lives a stone’s throw from the harbor where one million Swedes emigrated between 1850 and 1910.
While I haven’t found my Swedish ancestor just that, I love learning about Swedish history and how to do Swedish genealogy. That is why I was so excited when Annika offered to do a guest post all about Swedish Genealogy! Below, she explains just how to get started. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did and make sure to go follow her on Instagram: @FindASwede
How to trace your lineage in Sweden
It’s easy to access historical records in Sweden. The earliest resident registrations are from the 17th century. There are even taxation registers from the 16th century. But, you may have to change your approach when you trace your lineage in Sweden. You are not likely to find a Facebook group for your Johansson family. In fact, your ancestor’s surname may not help you much at all. Before the 20th century most Swedes did not have regular surnames. They existed mainly among some professionals like priests, soldiers, or craftsmen. But these last names could just as well be personal names and not family names. Most Swedes went by a patronymic. The son of Johan had the last name Johan’s son – Johansson. The female version was Johan’s daughter – Johansdotter. This way you will find different last names in the same family. You will also have people who are not related sharing a last name. So it’s not meaningful to search for the Johansson lineage.
The use of patronymics ended in 1901. The naming becomes less confusing after that. But the names are still not useful for tracing your family history in the 19th century.
So what do you do?
Think like a real estate agent. Location, location, location. Instead of searching for your Johansson lineage, think of them as your ancestors from Sandvik Parish, Jönköping County. It will make everything easier. The name of the parish is usually the most important thing to know. Most of the records are organized that way. Some parish
names exist in more than one county. So to know the parish, you may also have to know the county. As family historians we often share our work with other genealogist or online. Be careful to include the birth and death parishes in your family tree. Only listing the names of your ancestors is not going to be useful for anyone else. If you add the
location, the chances of making a meaningful connection will multiply. There are many local history groups for different regions on Facebook. Some of them are specifically for local family history. The groups are often based on the province (landskap) or the nearest city. Some of the groups even have English names. But it’s usually fine to write in English in the Swedish speaking groups as well. If you don’t know the birth location of your ancestor, I have a blog post with useful statistics. Where Did My Swedish Ancestor Come From? Other great tools are
So to reiterate, when you trace your Swedish ancestors you want to focus on the home parish. Location, location, location. That’s the Swedish approach to genealogy.
If you want to start researching your Swedish ancestors, I have a free guide on how to take the first steps.
Have fun tracing your Swedish ancestors! There’s so much information out there. You may even feel like you get to know them.
If you would like to be a guest blogger on my site, send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
My grandmother was not the type of woman to pass down recipes. It isn’t because she didn’t want to. It’s more because she never really followed a recipe. Whenever any would ask how to make a particular dish, her instructions were basically “a pinch of this, and a dash of that until it looks good”. She made some amazing dishes, but my favorite (and, luckily the one she actually wrote down) was Coca-Cola Cake!
Nobody knows exactly where Coca Cola cake originated. Some say it was by a housewife looking for a new spin on a chocolate cake. Others say it was created by Coca Cola themselves as a clever way to market their drink in other ways. The only thing everyone can agree on is that it was invented in the South. The Coca Cola Company’s headquarters are, after all, located in Atlanta, Georgia.
Coca Cola cake it not made like a traditional cake. If you find it a bit lumpy at moments, that’s okay! Also, when you are finished with the batter, it may appear a bit runny. That’s okay too! While this cake may have some unusual steps, it’s tough to mess it up. That’s the best thing about this recipe…even the mistakes taste yummy!
A note before you get started, the frosting will be applied to the cake while both the cake and frosting are still warm!
- 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 3 tablespoons cocoa
- 1 cup Coca Cola
- 1 cup Butter (2 sticks)
- 1 1/2 cups Marshmallows (I use mini marshmallows)
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup Buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla
How to make the Batter
- Grease and flour 9×13 inch cake pan and set aside
- Preheat oven to 350F
- In a large bowl, combine flour and sugar. Stir to combine.
- In a saucepan, combine cocoa, Coca Cola, butter, and marshmallows and bring to a boil.
- Combine the boiled mixture with the flour/sugar mixture and set aside.
- In a separate bowl, mix eggs, buttermilk, baking soda, and vanilla. Add to the mixture in the large bowl.
- Pour mix into the prepared pan and bake for about 35 to 40 minutes.
- Cake will be ready when a toothpick comes out clean.
- 1/2 cup Butter (1 stick)
- 3 tablespoons Cocoa
- 6 tablespoons Coca Cola
- 1 box Confectioner’s Sugar
- Optional: 1/2 to 1 cup Nuts (use your preference for type of nuts and how much)
How to make the Frosting
- In a saucepan, bring butter, cocoa, and Coca Cola to a boil.
- Stir in the sugar and mix well.
- Remove from heat and stir in the nuts.
- Spread over the cake while both are still warm.
You’ll want the Frosting to set before you serve it. Once it does, dig in and enjoy!
Sometimes the messages you find in your Ancestry inbox can bring about the best connections. That is how I met my cousin Sonja. We matched each other through AncestryDNA and after a few back and forth messages, we figured out our connection. Sonja is my 7th cousin, 1x removed. While that might not seem like a close connection, it doesn’t matter. We are still family and hopefully someday soon we will move from Facebook family to hanging out in real life family!
As I’ve got to know Sonja better, she told me about the AMMD Pine Grove Project. I fully support any project that seeks to save historical areas/buildings, but this was family! This project is working to save the Pine Grove School. The school was established by free African Americans who wanted to give their children the gift of education. Founded in a rural, segregated, farming community, it is a very important piece of history that needs to survive for future generations.
The Project recently received recognition as one of 2020 Virginia’s Most Endangered Historic Places by Preservation Virginia. Preservation Virginia is the premier preservation organization in Virginia. It warms my heart to see all the hardwork paying off! Below you’ll find the press release talking about the designation, and details about the project, written my Sonja’s mother (and another one of my wonderful cousins), Muriel Miller Branch. Also, make sure to check out the bottom of the release to see where you can find more about the AMMD Pine Grove Project and how you can support this wonderful project!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Pine Grove School Community on the
2020 Virginia’s Most Endangered Historic Places
May 19, 2020
The cause for today’s celebration (May19th) is to announce the Pine Grove School Community’s selection as one of the 2020 Virginia’s Most Endangered Historic Places by Preservation Virginia, the premier preservation organization in Virginia. This recognition coincides with AMMD Pine Grove Project’s vision of “Preserving History, Expanding Community.”
Pine Grove School’s origin is as humble as the former enslaved and free African Americans who established the school to educate their children in this rural, segregated, farming community. In 1916, Black residents of the community seized the opportunity afforded them through the Rosenwald Fund and building project, to build a school. They contributed the land, a sizable amount of money, and the labor to build it, and the school opened to students in the Fall of 1917.
Pine Grove School is one of the few remaining Rosenwald Schools established in rural communities throughout the South for the purpose of educating colored children. The brainchild of Dr. Booker T. Washington of the Tuskegee Institute and Julius Rosenwald, President of Sears Roebuck Company, both visionaries, devised a plan to build state-of-the art schools for children who would not otherwise have received an education due to Jim Crow laws imposing racial segregation. The two-room schoolhouse served Pre-K to Sixth grade students, who walked up to five miles to attend their cherished school.
In 1964, after the school closed its doors, a groups of concerned residents of the community, led by Mr. Robert L. Scales, rescued Pine Grove from auction by Cumberland County, and later repurposed the building to serve as the Pine Grove Community Center for over a decade. However, with the death of many of its members, the School became neglected. Pine Grove School was on the verge of demise until, in 2018, members of the Agee-Miller-Mayo-Dungy families created a grassroots organization to save the school. The newly formed group paid the back taxes and began to visualize a new life for Pine Grove. Shortly after organizing, AMMD learned about the proposed installation of a Mega Landfill adjacent to Pine Grove which would adversely effect both the historical integrity and the environmental integrity of the school and community, and a two-fold fight ensued. Muriel Miller Branch, an alumna, spearheaded the effort to save the school that she, her father, and numerous relatives and neighbors had attended.
The efforts of the AMMD’s Pine Grove Project have been rewarded many times over by attracting family, alumni, community, scholars, legislators, environmental justice organizations, and historical and cultural institutions. It has become a beehive of inspired, willing workers.
The Mission of AMMD Pine Grove Project is to work cooperatively with a broad coalition of individuals and organizations “to protect, restore, and repurpose the historic Pine Grove Elementary School as an African American Museum and Cultural Center to showcase the contributions of the community that built and sustained it.
For more information, about the AMMD Pine Grove Project, email: email@example.com.
You can also follow the organization on Social Media:
Happy Saturday, everyone!
I don’t know about you, but all this quarantine and stay-at-home business has thrown me all off. I’ve been working at home (my day job is as a Title Agent) since mid-March. While my commute to the office is not far at all, I embraced the extra time I was given. I made list after list of things I wanted to get caught up on, as well as new things to try. I just knew that I was going to come out of the other side of this quarantine with so many amazing projects done!
Fast forward to today and I’ll be heading back to the office in the coming week. As I look back, I feel like I accomplished nothing. I actually did little to no genealogy work in the month of April. I realize now, that while I had my long list of things I really wanted to do, what I really needed was a break. I think I had just got so wrapped up in my “there’s something to do every minute” life, that when I had the extra time I felt like I needed to fill it with something. Now I’m sitting here not sure how to feel about my quarantine experience.
I’m giving myself grace. Not everybody is going to come out of this quarantine having accomplished everything that they set out to. While I may not have done much genealogy research, I was able to put in motion a couple of genealogy projects that I’m really excited about (detail to come!). Also, I’ve made plans to keep the website consistently updated and I’ll be bringing back the newsletter! I’m refreshed and so excited to continue on this genealogy journey with you!
In case you missed it, last night was episode one of my new series, Genealogy 101 Live. I talked about how I got started in genealogy and what it looks like to do this professionally. I also touched on what you should do if you are wanting to get started on your family history journey.
I announced the topic for my next episode which will be all about Census records. While I’ll mainly be focusing on United States census records, I’ll touch briefly on other census records from other countries (i.e. Ireland). Make sure you’re following me on Instagram where I’ll announce when the next episode will go live! I’d love to have you join me!
Another reason to follow me on Instagram is that I will be doing a giveaway when I hit 1,000 followers! If you’re already following me, thank you! It means the world to me! If not, give me a follow. All who are following me when I hit the 1,000 mark will be entered to win a genealogy surprise!
Here are a few links to things that I talked about last night:
I don’t know about you, but I have been doing a lot of baking during this stay at home time. I love to bake anyway, but having to stay home on the weekends is making me more creative in the kitchen. Last week, I decided to take my baking skills to Facebook Live and share some recipes. When deciding what to bake, I wanted to include my love of genealogy and history. If you know me, then you know that baking and history are my two biggest passions. Any time I can combine the two make me a very happy girl!
I stumbled across this recipe and read the history behind it. It seems that peanut butter cookies (and this recipe in particular) became very popular during the Great Depression. A time I feel that we can all relate to at the moment. Peanut Butter became a star because it was a great source for protein and B vitamins. Vegetable shortening was used because it was much less expensive than butter.
Peanut Butter cookies can thank lunch room ladies for their new-found popularity during the Great Depression and the years following. Women were going to work and many of them found employment in the lunch room of schools. The lunch ladies wanted an inexpensive, but nutritional, way to give the kids a treat. Enter the peanut butter cookies. Cookies were made in bulk on Monday and stored to be used through out the week. The cookies had a longer shelf life than the average cookie, which lended itself to the penny-pinching mindset of the time.
Below, you’ll find a recipe for the School Lunch Peanut Butter cookie. Give it a try and let me know what you think! I’d love to see your finished product too! Post a picture in the comments or on Social Media! Make sure to tag @coolgirlgenealogy
- 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
- 1/2 cup brown sugar (can be light or dark)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar plus 2 tablespoons for pressing into the top of the cookies
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Place rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 375F. Set aside 2 ungreased baking sheets.
- Place the peanut butter, shortening, brown sugar, and 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium-low speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the vanilla and egg, and beat on medium-low until the mixture is smooth, about 45 seconds. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
- Whisk together the sifted flour, soda, and salt in a medium-size bowl and turn this into the peanut butter mixture. Beat with the mixer on low speed until the dry ingredients are just incorporated, 45 seconds to 1 minute.
- Drop the dough in 1″ pieces spaced about 3″ apart on the pans. Press the top of each ball twice with a fork dipped in the remaining granulated sugar, creating a crosshatch pattern. Place one pan at a time in the oven.
- Bake the cookies until lightly browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Let the cookies rest on the pan for 1 minute, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool.
(recipe c/o American Cookie cookbook)
New Live series starts tonight over on my Instagram page! Tonight (May 2nd) at 7pm (central) I’ll start off the series by talking about how I got started in genealogy and why you should care about your family history. I’ll share with you some tips that I used when first getting started! This will be a regular event and tonight I’ll share with you what the next topic will be! I will try my best to answer any questions that you have. If you have one now, share it in the comments or send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I hope to see y’all there!
When I was in the sixth grade, I moved from Michigan to Tennessee. My dad had been transferred to an area just south of Nashville. I knew it was going to be a change, moving from the north to the south, but I wasn’t too worried about it. After all, most of my extended family lived in Kentucky and Tennessee.
I remember being thrown into Tennessee history as soon as I started school. I liked history, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to learn all about my new home. I was now living in small town where most of my classmates had lived all their life. I was the outsider, so I was eager to use this class to somehow make a connection. Instead, I found myself defending where I was born and why I was now living in Tennessee. It was not a good feeling. I felt like I didn’t belong because I wasn’t a native.
Fast forward about 10 years, add in my new post-high school appreciation for family history and you’ll find a girl who realized that she was as native of a Tennessean as the rest of them. Come to find out, my ancestors were one of the first families to settle the state of Tennessee. If only I had that information back in junior high!
As I went through the Turning Little Hearts book, I found how much my younger self would have benefited from a book like this. In the introduction of the book, it talks about how children who know where they come from, and have a sense of ownership of their ancestors’ stories, are better equipped for school and the world around them. Now, I’m not saying that because I didn’t know the detailed account of my family’s history that I was a bad kid, but that information would have come in handy when I was trying to make friends at a new school.
The book does an excellent job of highlighting a variety of ways to make family history relevant to children. It is broken into four sections; do an activity, discover your ancestors, play a game, and make a craft. The activities also vary by who can participate. Some are designed as a solo project while others can be done with their friends. All the activities can be done as a family since most of the information is going to have to come from the parents.
A surprising thing that I found, was what a great asset this book could be for home school families. How much more of an impact would a history lesson have if you could incorporate family history? I know from my own personal perspective that I really became interested in my own family’s history when I could emotionally connect to the stories!
Below are some examples of the activities that you will find in the book!
To order a copy of the book, head over to Cedar Fort Publishing
Right now, the paperback copy of the book is $12.99, while the digital version is $8.99.
Want to know how you can win a copy of the book? Head over to my Instagram page Cool Girl Genealogy and check out my latest post! Contest will be open to US residents only until January 31, 2020 at midnight.
This week I’ve been trying to gather more pictures. I love the Genealogy Photo-A-Day challenge (shout out to Genealogy Girl Talks!) and I try my best to cover all sides, and lines, of my family. I’m always looking for that one picture that will hopefully spark a family history conversation.
As I was looking and searching for pictures, I found myself on the edge of a rabbit hole. You know what I mean….when you’re trying to focus on one research item and then find something that takes you off on a whole other tangent. That’s what happened with me and the Callaghan family.
I found the Callaghan family when researching my paternal Hanna line. My 6th great aunt, Martha Hanna, married a man named William O. H. Callaghan. I have done some research on them, but basically just names, dates, and locations. I found a picture of one of their daughters, Jane, and the fall into the rabbit hole began. I found more pictures and more stories than I knew what to do with! I’m so excited to share these with you down the road.
I would love to say that I’m sitting here, watching the Kentucky basketball game and no longer living in the rabbit hole, but that would be a lie. I’m really enjoying getting to know my Callaghan family!
What are you working on this weekend?
I realized this morning that is has been way too long since I gave a weekend update. So, I thought I change that! Here’s an update of what I am currently working on.
Earlier this week, I received a message from a very distant cousin. My grandmother matched her on DNA and she was writing to find our connection. She gave me the surname of Boling/Bowling. I quickly did a search through my tree and only found one ancestor by that last name, Mary Molly Bowling.
Molly, as she was called, married my 8th Great Grandfather, Andrew Baker. I was hesitant to say this was the correct connection, however the places where her ancestor lived and mine did match. The only problem with proving this connection was that her connection was born in the mid 1800s where my only Bowling ancestor lived in the 1600s. That was quite the time gap!
So, what do I do now? How do I ever make this connection? My plan is to work back to come forward. To start, I expanded Molly’s family. I only had her parents and no siblings listed in my tree. If I was ever going to find the connection, I had to first find her siblings. While there is no guarantee that the connection doesn’t start further back, this was the best place for me to start.
Today, I am working on moving this line forward. This connection issue is just another reason why it is important to include siblings in your research. It is so easy to get wrapped up in only following your direct line, but many questions/connections can be answered when you expand your tree! I’ll keep everyone update on the details of when I finally figure all this out!
As I was making the list of all the baked goods I wanted to make for this new series, Irish Brown Bread was at the top. It’s sooo good and sooo easy to make! While I was in Ireland a few years ago, I ate Irish Brown Bread for breakfast every day. It’s tasty with butter and jam, but even on it’s own, it’s yummy!
When people think of Ireland and bread, the mostly think of soda bread. I’ll admit, I did too…until I tried the brown bread. Irish Brown Bread became popular in 1840s when refined baking soda was introduced to the country. The bread became ingrained in the every day lives of the people in Ireland and very important to the Irish culture!
After I got home from Ireland, the first thing on my list was to figure out how to make authentic Irish Brown Bread. I found a few examples online, but I felt like they weren’t just right. I found a bakery on Instagram, Kelly Lou Cakes (@kellyloucakes) and just happened to find her making the bread in her Insta-stories. I went out on a limb and sent her a message asking her to share the recipe. I wasn’t expecting anything in return, but to my surprise, she shared it! So…below is Kelly Lou’s recipe for Irish Brown Bread…straight from Ireland!
Irish Brown Bread Recipe
(note the measurements are in weight/European)
- 700g Coarse Wholemeal Flour
- 2 teaspoons Wheat Germ
- 2 teaspoons Bran
- 1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
- 1 1/2 tsp Salt
- 800mL Buttermilk
- 2 eggs
- 3 tsp Oil
- Line 2 loaf pans with parchment paper.
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Mix the Flour, Germ, Bran, Baking Soda and Salt together.
- Add the Buttermilk and Eggs. Stir to combine.
- Add the Oil and still until just combined.
- Pour the bread mixture into the two loaf pans
- Bake for 50 minutes or until bread is a golden brown.
That’s it! When cooled, slice and enjoy it! If you have any questions about the recipe, feel free to send me an email!