Posted in Ancestor Stories

My Favorite Picture

Choosing my favorite picture is like choosing my favorite dessert.  There are just way too many choices!  Instead of trying to pick just one photograph, I decided to instead think about what I wanted to write.  I figured that would guide me to the perfect picture.

I decided on this one, which is of me and my papa (Richard Burns).  We are in the basement of my grandparent’s condo, putting together our annual talent show.  The talent show was just me and him doing a variety of random things.  There was usually a little singing and dancing, maybe a fashion show, but it was always guaranteed to be full of laughter.  We would set up shop in the living room and put on a full production for the rest of the family.

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Some of my best memories growing up were with my papa.  He was the best playmate and the one always getting me into a little bit of trouble with my grandmother.  We had a special bond that nobody could really explain.  The amazing part is that my papa and I share no DNA.  That’s right, my papa and grandmother were married just two years before I was born.  It was a second marriage for both of them.

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I am always fascinated by the nature versus nurture debate.  My relationship with my papa proves that nurture has a big impact on how someone grows up.  I never looked at my papa as someone I didn’t share DNA with.  He was, and still is, as much of a part of me as anyone who shares my DNA.

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I think it’s important to remember these connections when we talk about our personal family history.  As genealogist, we become so focused on DNA matches and our direct lines, that we forget the importance of those who are related to us in a different way.  Sure, these connections may not help us break brick walls or get us into a lineage society, but to say they don’t make us who we are would be a mistake.

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Posted in Reviews

Review – Turning Little Hearts Activity Book

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!

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Do an Activity

 

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Discover Your Ancestors
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Play a Game
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Make a Craft

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.

Posted in Weekend Update

Weekend Updated – January 11

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.

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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?

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Posted in Ancestor Stories

Fresh Start

I debated a bit on what to write when I saw the topic of “fresh start” as part of the #52Ancestor Challenge.  Was it too on the nose to write about the new year?  Should I find an ancestor who had a great story about starting new?  There were so many directions I could go and so much overthinking on which one to choose.

I decided to go in a bit of a different direction.  I mean, isn’t that what a fresh start is all about?  In my opinion, a fresh start is all about finally doing those things that you’ve been putting on the back burner.  It’s about finally tackling those things that you’ve wanted to do, but just haven’t found the time to actually do them.  It’s about working towards accomplishing what has been sitting on your wish list.

So, that’s what I’m doing.  I’m taking a fresh start on my genealogy wish list.  More specifically, I am going after what I have wanted “The Cool Girl’s Guide to Genealogy” to be over the past couple of years.  I’ve had big dreams for this blog and for my genealogy services, but there’s this pesky thing called life that keeps getting in the way.

I talk about some of this in my January newsletter, but I wanted to write more in depth about it here.  I want this place to be a genealogy community.  I don’t want it to be a “I talk and you listen” place.  I want to take you on my journey of finding my ancestors, hitting frustrating brick walls, and (hopefully) finally finishing my certification.

I want to help you along your genealogy path.  If you have questions, I want to be able to either give you an answer or find the answer together.  I want to talk about the things that you want to know.  If you’re a beginner, I want to be able to help you with direction.  If you’ve been doing this for years, I want to share in your stories of triumph and failure.

I also want to celebrate the voices of other genealogist and those in this field.  If you have an area of expertise, I want to give you a platform. Yes, we may be competitors as far as our genealogy services, but I feel like there is enough room for all of us.  We all have different areas that we research and different experiences in our genealogy endeavors.  It would be a shame not to share all that information!

I would love to hear more about your genealogy goals for 2020.  Post in the comments below and let’s all cheer each other on as we make a fresh start!

Posted in Weekend Update

Weekend Update

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.

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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!

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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!

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Posted in Baking With My Ancestors

Baking With My Ancestors – Irish Brown Bread

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!

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Irish Brown Bread Recipe

Ingredients

(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

Steps

  1. Line 2 loaf pans with parchment paper.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F
  3. Mix the Flour, Germ, Bran, Baking Soda and Salt together.
  4. Add the Buttermilk and Eggs.  Stir to combine.
  5. Add the Oil and still until just combined.
  6. Pour the bread mixture into the two loaf pans
  7. 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!

 

Posted in Revolutionary

Revolutionary – John Hanna

This is the first post in my Revolutionary series.  Each month, I’ll be highlighting different ancestors who either fought in the war or helped the cause.  It’s amazing when you start hearing all the different stories.  There are men, women, and even young adults who helped to make the United States exactly that, united.

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Today’s profile is John Hanna.  John is my 6th Great-Grandfather on my paternal side.  He was born in 1756 on his way to America from Ireland.  His parents, James A and Anne Johnson Hanna had six other children; Elizabeth, James W, William, David, Joseph, and Martha.  Once the family arrived, the settled in the Virginia colony.

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 few battles including the Siege of Charleston (South Carolina) and the Battle of Monmouth.  If you’re a Hamilton fan, I’m sure you’re familiar with the Battle of Monmouth.  I’m looking at you, Charles Lee.

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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 discharged from the Army.

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.

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!

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Posted in Weekend Update

Weekend Update (Weekday Version)

Hello Everybody!

I just wanted to give everyone an update on some exciting things coming this month in case you haven’t already heard!

Baking With My Ancestors

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This new monthly series will feature recipes from around the world as well as their significance to their particular culture. I’ll actually be baking these goodies and sharing the “how-to” so you can enjoy it at home!

The Unknown Heroes of the Revolutionary War

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This monthly series will feature some of the lesser-known folks who either fought in or supported the cause of the Patriots during the Revolutionary War.  I’ll be featuring both men and women (because women were awesome during this time in history!) and how they helped to shape the world we live in!

Summer DNA Basics Class

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In July, I’ll be teaching a class via IGTV or YouTube all about the basics of DNA testing.  I’ll be going over the why you should do it, the science behind it, and how DNA testing can make the world a better place!  Also, there will be a super special giveaway!

New Monthly Newsletter

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Make sure to sign up for the new monthly newsletter!  In the newsletter, you’ll get a sneak peak on upcoming blog features as well as tips & tricks for your own genealogy research.  I’ll also give you an update on what I’m currently researching and the tools I’m using to do so!

Posted in Ancestor Stories

Love – Alice Disney

Who doesn’t love a good love story?  While I seem to be destined for a life of single-hood, that does not mean that I don’t love stories about how people met their forever person.  I especially love the stories that are unusual.  Either they met by random circumstance or maybe they had whirlwind romance.  Whatever the case may be, I love to hear them!

I especially loved learning the story of my 1st cousin, 5x removed, Alice Disney.  Alice was born on Jun 25, 1869 in Knox County, Kentucky to Thomas Balton and Rebecca Donaldson Disney.  She was one of eight children born to Thomas and Rebecca.  Alice was considered one of the more popular girls in Knox County, however this didn’t translate to finding herself a husband.  She watched many of her friends and family become married and still did not have that special someone.

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At the age of 21, Alice decided to take things into her own hand when it came to marriage and took a bit of a risk.  She wrote an advertisement for a gentleman correspondent and placed it in a matrimonial newspaper based out of Chicago.  She did it for fun more than anything else, but if something were to come of it, even better!  Alice received numerous responses, but the one that stood out the most was from a gentleman who lived in Texas, Clarence Van Ness.

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Alice and Clarence began writing each other and continued to do so for about six years.  Through the years they developed a friendship which blossomed into a romantic relationship.  Not long after reaching the six-year mark, Clarence wrote Alice a letter proposing marriage.  Alice was now creeping closer to her 30th birthday (she was about 28 years old at this point) and was eager to settle down.  She happily accepted Clarence’s proposal.

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For some reason, Alice decided to keep this proposal a secret from her parents.  It’s unknown the reason why, but she came up with a plan to marry Clarence without her parents knowing.  How exactly does a single lady in the late 1800s get herself to Texas to marry a stranger?  Alice called upon the assistance of her brother, George Madison Disney, who at the time lived in Oklahoma.  Now, if George really knew what was going on, nobody knows.  What we do know is that Alice contacted her him to arrange for her to come visit him.

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Alice made her way to Oklahoma to her brother, and then made her way down to Texas to marry Clarence.  Alice and Clarence were married in Canadian, Texas in May 1897. This was the first time they had ever met! Clarence owned 600 acres of land and had numerous herds of cattle.  Not too shabby of a pick!  After they married, Alice and Clarence moved to Tecumseh, Oklahoma where they had three children.  Alice passed away on April 17, 1944 in Tecumseh.

I’m sure at some point, Alice’s parents found out about her secret marriage.  It’s unknown how they reacted.  It can be assumed that once Alice made her way out west that she never returned, at least to live, to Kentucky.  I think it’s safe to say that Alice knew, without a doubt, that Clarence was the one for her!

Alice Dizney and Clarence Vanness marriage announcement
Hopkinsville Kentuckian, Tuesday, June 1, 1897 Volume 19 Page 11

 

Posted in Ancestor Stories

The Baker/Arthur connection

Genealogy is full of surprises.  It could be finding out that you are related to someone famous.  I have also seen where two friends ended up being distantly related!  There are all kinds of fun surprises and for the most part, that is what keeps a genealogist going.

What happens, though, when those surprises seem a little off-putting?  What if you’re related to the biggest traitor in American history?  (Yeah, let’s not talk about that one).  What do you do if you find out your parents are related?  Yep, this was my big surprise moment.  What in the world do I do now?  Does this explain why some of my joints a double-jointed?!  Genealogy is just like life, you have to take the good with the bad.

*Cue the Facts of Life theme song here*

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First of all, let me start by explaining that where my parents are connected is far enough down the line that it really doesn’t matter.  They are somewhere in the arena of 8th cousins and many, many, many times removed.

I began this discovery by researching my maternal Baker line.  My 2nd Great Grandmother was a Baker (Stella Alice Baker) and her line had me researching in the Eastern Kentucky area.  I was curious to see where exactly this line would take me. I found Stella’s father John William Baker who lead me to his father John Baker and then to George Thompson Baker and on to Brice Baker.  It was my discovery of Brice Baker that gave me a little pause.

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It seems that Brice, my maternal 6x Great Grandfather, married a woman by the name of Mary Arthur.  Wait a second, I thought, I’m an Arthur.  Is it possible that I’m just related to Arthur surname on both sides of my family?!  This wouldn’t be the first time.  I have several surnames that appear on both my maternal and paternal side of may family.  As I’m sure most who are doing their family research have discovered.  So, just out of curiosity, I hopped over to Mary’s family to see what I could find out about her Arthur line.

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I didn’t find a connection anywhere until I found Mary’s 2x Great Grandfather, Thomas Barnabus Arthur (1680-1715).  When I attempted to enter Thomas’ information into my tree, it showed that he was already there.  That was strange!  When I looked at his children, it seemed that I was already related to his one son, John Arthur.  After connecting the dots, John was my 8th Great Grandfather on my paternal side.  That meant that Thomas Barnabus Arthur was the bridge that connected my maternal and paternal sides!  Talk about mind being blown!

After sharing this information with my family, a new joke started.  They like to tease me and say that if I keep researching, I’m going to be my own Grandma!

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