Category Archives: Brick Walls

The Importance of Family Interviews

We moved to our new house a little over 3 months ago. I have been slow to get some things unpacked so I thankfulmade the decision a month ago that I would get my stored Genealogy research out of the shed and put it away. Of course, you know how that went. Once I got it all in the house I HAD to take a look at it and I spent hours browsing. Lo and behold, I found something a cousin gave me almost 10 years ago when I visited her on a trip to Missouri.

Rosie and baby

Rosie Hayes

One of our cousins, John Duane Willard had the foresight to interview the last living child of my Great Grandparents Hamilton Hayes and Elvira Register, Rosa “Rosie” Lucille Hayes (1901-1988). The interview took place shortly before her death so she was about 87 years old. She gave information on the family and told some great stories. Because of her age, some of the facts were off a bit but it inspired me to take a closer look.

                                                                                                                         

Elisia Jane White Register pic

Eliza White

Since she provided information on both my Hayes and Register lines I have had fun with the research. Reading through the two paged typed transcript I noticed a few things I didn’t see the first time I read it. One discovery was that Elvira’s mother Eliza Jane White had lived to be 99 years and 9 months old! It also listed her two siblings which I never knew of. Eliza has been one of my brick walls, so because of this interview, I now have vital information to work with. I have found her Grandparents information and I am working on finding more. I was also able to add two more generations to the Hayes side.

Matthew Arvin Register pic THIS ONE

Mathew Register

The stories are insightful as well. From what she said Mathew Register, Elvira’s father was quite a character. He transported horses, cattle, and supplies from St. Joseph Missouri to the Cherokee Strip in eastern Kansas. After years of doing this, he established a career as a vocal music teacher. He was supposed to have had an exceptional singing voice. He grew tobacco and Hemp on his farm. As an old man, he owned an apple orchard near Hodge Missouri. He raised Golden Seal apples and ginseng root. Rosie helped him wash the root so they could be sold to the public.

All this (and the other information given) would have been lost to ours and future generations if John hadn’t taken the time to sit with Rosie and write down her stories. I believe so much of our history is gone forever because we didn’t listen to the stories or information told to us as we grew up or that we have neglected to ask someone what they remember about the family while there was still time. I interviewed my in law’s a few years ago while working on my husbands’ Genealogy. I taped it so I could hear it, again and again, to make sure I got it right. Almost 3years ago my father-in-law was killed in an auto accident and I am thankful that I have his stories recorded for future generations.

I have decided that I am going to be more diligent with my seeking out the older generation that is left in my family to see what they may have been told or what they remember about our Ancestors. As we all know, tomorrow is not guaranteed so we need to do it while there is still time.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Filed under Ancestry, Brick Walls, Cousins, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Hayes Family, Hughes, Interviewing, Memories, Missouri, Register Family, Story telling, Uncategorized

In My Wildest Dreams

Ok, this title sounds kind of strange coming from a Genealogist. It does make you wonder what kind of dreams do people in this profession have and why would they write a blog about it?

bg-dreamcloudActually, this blog is about a dream that I would love to have come true! A couple of weeks ago I was walking through the cemetery where my grandson is buried. We live close by, so quite often I walk over, and I spend time looking at the headstones and the flowers left by loved ones. I find it peaceful and it gives me a chance to just think. This cemetery was built-in 1883, a youngster compared to other parts of the country. There are many types of headstones of various shapes and sizes. I sometimes contemplate as to why the family chose this particular one. I may be odd, but these things fascinate me.

I came across a headstone and thought “If only I could find one like this in my family!”. IElla McGowan Smith headstone have been cross-country, visiting the cemeteries of my ancestors and taking photos. They usually look like the one I posted here. This is my Grandma Smiths stone. It is very plain and has just the basic information on it. Name, Date of Birth and Death and the word “Mother” on it. Don’t get me wrong I was thrilled to find it in a little graveyard in Buckner Missouri. But it was nothing like the one I just found.

Digital CameraLet me introduce you to Rosalie Nichols Woods. In this one headstone, I was able to garner quite a bit about her and her family. First, her maiden name was Nichols. Second. Her husbands’ name was Murray Edwin. Third, since there is no death date on Murray’s’ side, I assume he is still alive. Fourth, the date they got married, June 6, 1947, is included on the front as well as the normal dates of birth and death. This gave me a small look into their lives.

I walked on by and I happened to look behind me and there it was….my dream. On the Digital Camerabackside of the stone was listed the names of their 6 children and their spouses! 3 boys and 3 girls. What a nice, big family they had. I then started thinking of all my deceased ancestors where I have had problems verifying a family connection because I don’t have some of the children/sibling’s names or marriage date. With this headstone, there would be no doubt of the connection. I wonder if Rosalie loved Genealogy.

What is your “wildest dream” when it comes to Genealogy?

 

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

 

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Filed under Ancestry, Arizona, Blogging, Brick Walls, Cemetery, Death, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Headstones, Smith, Uncategorized

The Broader Technique

My Maternal Great Grandfather, Pleasant Smith has always been a mystery. When I first broaderstarted my research over 20 years ago, I only had his name, date of birth and the name of my Great Grandmother Sarah Jane Page. I had a few stories that my mother had told me about him when I was younger, but I couldn’t find anything that would validate them. So, I continued to search in hopes of a breakthrough.

I would love to report that the solid cement wall that blocked me from finding any shred of information had fallen down and the life of Pleasant had been revealed. But I can’t. What I can say is I do know a little more about his life thanks to the broader technique.

Sarah Jane Page ML James Newhouse 2It all started when I was trying to break through my Great Grandmothers brick wall a few years back. She was 22 years old when she married Pleasant. Back in the mid-1800s, that was a little late for a woman to get married. I decided to take a second look at the “hints” that came up when I entered her information. I discovered she had gotten married and had a daughter when she was 16.  Her husband died when she was 21 and she then married Pleasant who was 29 years old. Once I had her previous marriage info, I was able to find her parents, her grandparents, etc. I also found her siblings names. As a result, I found that one of her younger sisters had also married a Pleasant Smith! As a matter of fact, after Sarah became a widow she got married again and, on her marriage license, I found that the ceremony had taken place at the home of  Pleasant Smith.

I began to broaden my search into this “new Pleasant Smith”. That is when I found that he was the son of my Great Grandfather and his first wife Charity. I still felt like I did not have sufficient proof that the two Pleasants’ were father and son. I continued my search and found the younger one’s death certificate. His parents were listed, and they matched. However, it was solidly confirmed when I saw that my Uncle was listed as the informant on the certificate.

I am still looking for more records on the elusive Pleasant Sr. I know someday I will find what I am searching for. Because of this experience I have applied this “Broader Technique” to some of my other brick walls with great success. When I find any name that is listed on marriage licenses, wills, deeds etc. I make a note of them along with any dates or where they lived. Then I take the time to research that person. You never know who your ancestor may have crossed paths with. You can also use the U.S. Federal Census as a guide. Research your ancestors’ closest neighbors. Sometimes they have had interactions that have been documented and it may lead you to new discoveries. Sometimes we need to broaden our search field to find the hidden treasures!

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

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Filed under Ancestry, Brick Walls, Broader Technique, Documentation, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Hints, Missouri, Page Family, Pleasant Smith, Research, Sarah Jane Page, Smith, Uncategorized

You Are Descended From Who?

click

How many of you have been searching for an ancestor on Ancestry.com and you get a match in someone else’s family tree? You then click on their “Matching Person (from Family Trees)” link and up comes their “facts” page. Here you can see what information they have on your shared ancestor. I have been able to garner a lot of useful data from these. I have even on occasion found family photos and documentation in the Gallery section. I then, usually, click on the members’ name and go to their profile page to see if we have any more relatives in common.

This is where it can get interesting. As long as they do not have their trees set on private you can browse through page after page of their “recently added findings”. The further back in time that your common ancestor lived, the more unrelated info you have to go through. But sometimes, in all that digging you find a gem! Some crucial document that can help you fill in some of those empty spots in your tree.

Yesterday I found one of those gems. I was so excited I decided it was worth looking

knights templar

more closely at this person’s “findings”. I soon came across some things that made me a little concerned. According to her tree, the woman was related to Lady Godiva, King James (all of them), Doretha Queen of Sweden, Denmark and Norway, 4 of the Knights Templars, Mary Queen of Scots, Robin Hood, King Francois of France, and the list goes on. I am not saying that she couldn’t have been related to one or more of them but there was no documentation or references at all. The one that really threw me though was her claim to be a descendant of King David (from the Bible) through his son Jonathan.

The reason I wanted to write about this incident was to take the opportunity to discuss the topic of credibility. Every person who is trying to construct a legitimate family history should strive for accuracy and provide as much documentation or sources as possible. I have a couple of ancestors who are my “brick walls”. When I find possible leads, I sometimes add that name to my tree so I can find it and continue researching. However, I make notes that this person has not been verified as part of my lineage and should not be added to anyone’s tree until it has been.

cred

Although I did find one good document in this woman’s common ancestor file, it made me concerned about the accuracy of it because of her listing her other “Ancestors”. Her credibility had been called into question.

The moral of this story is: “Always verify any information that you obtain from anyone else’s tree and always make sure your own data is correct when you add your findings to your own trees”. No tree is 100% perfect, but we should make every attempt to not add anything that can’t be proven.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Filed under Ancestry, Brick Walls, Credibility, Documentation, Family History, Family Search, Famous, Genealogy, Hints, History, Research, Source Citations, Uncategorized

Racing to the Finish Line

Lets be honestIf we are to be honest it is hard to resist rushing through our research in the effort to go back one more generation. Especially when we find that next ancestor while doing the research. It is exciting to see how far back we can go and what interesting facts or stories we may find. Sometimes we abandon a “brick wall” ancestor to pursue an easier line.

I must confess, I have been guilty of this. One of these ancestors, my 4 times Great Grandparents on my Dad’s maternal side has been patiently waiting for me to return and try to find any information on them. I have had them in my tree for over 8 years and I have tried filling in the blanks, but I always got impatient in the searching.

A cousin I met for the first time gave me their information. I had taken a research trip to State Historical SocietyMissouri and when I walked in her house I was both impressed and jealous. She had been researching our mutual family for over 40 years. She had worked for the State Historical Society in Jefferson City for over 30 years and she had been able to search to her heart’s content. She had dozens of file cabinets and binders full of documentation. I took her word without hesitation.

A couple of days ago I decided to scan through my trees to find the dead-end lines and see if I could find anything pertaining to them. I had my 4 x G-Grandfather as Augusta White who was born in Virginia and lived in Alexandria, Kansas in 1835 when my 3 x G-Grandmother was born. That was it. My 4 x G-Grandmother had even less information. I had her name as Margaret “?”. Nothing else. I also had their children as Elisa Jane and Greenbury/Greenberry White and I at least had their birthdates and place of birth.

Elisha Jane WhiteI decided to take a different approach this time. I would start with the son and see what came up. I use more than Ancestry.com to do research so I pulled up all the sites. I found a Civil War Union Army document that had Greenbury’s name and place of birth that matched mine. It also listed his parents name as Augustine White born in Virginia and Margaret McClain born in Kentucky. With a little more research I found their marriage information and census records that listed the names of their children which matched mine. In no time I had the dates for their marriage, their places of birth, additional children’s names and the places they had lived. This opened even more doors of info which gave me possible names for their parents. My cousin had Augustine’s first name wrong, but once I discovered his correct name it busted through that brick wall.

The moral of this story is: It pays to revisit those “brick walls” ancestors often and exhaust every possible lead. Who knows what you may find?

 

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available  on Amazon.com:     http://tinyurl.com/Your-Family History and http://tinyurl.com/Genealogy-Research-Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter

 

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Filed under Ancestry, Brick Walls, Civil War, Cousins, Documentation, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Hayes Family, How-to, Missouri, Research, Uncategorized, Union Soldiers, Virginia

Lineage Societies or Family Groups – A Great Resource

our family historyAnyone who has been researching their Family History for many years knows and understands the importance of Lineage Societies or Family Groups. However, I have come across many Genealogists who never heard of them. To be honest, I just discovered them about 8 years ago when I made a research trip to Missouri. I met a cousin I had just contacted while planning my trip. She had tons of information on a line I hadn’t done much research on. She also introduced me to the concept of Lineage Societies and Family Groups.

My 6 times Great Grandfather Edward Coffey came over from Ireland in 1690. His line here is long and expansive. As a result, the family put together the “Coffey Cousins Clearinghouse” Group started by Leonard Coffey in 1981. Over the years, Coffey Cousins from all over the globe have joined this Clearinghouse and shared their research, stories and photos. Now because of their efforts if you find the name Coffey/Coffee in your line you may be able to discover new information about your ancestor and meet some cousins!

One of my 7 times Great Grandfathers is Peter Rucker. He came over from Bavaria we are familyGermany in 1661. He became a naturalized citizen in the State of Virginia on April 24, 1704.  The Rucker Family has participated in every war since the Revolutionary War. Since the early 90’s this society has been having reunions every two years, publishing their newsletter and sharing information and photos! What a resource for anyone who has a Rucker in their family line.

Some Societies or Family Groups have dues but they are usually minimal. They help you to find distant relatives and connect us to information we may never have any other way of finding. Spend some time Googling Societies or Groups associated with your Ancestors names and see what you may discover.

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: http://tinyurl.com/Your-Family-History and http://tinyurl.com/Genealogy-Research-Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

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Filed under Ancestry, Brick Walls, Cousins, Edward Coffey, Family Groups, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Hints, History, Lineage Societies, Personal Stories, Peter Rucker, Research, Uncategorized

Including Family Traditions

In Genealogy circles the term “traditions” means oral accounts of usually unsubstantiated stories of our family history. An example of this is my Great Grandfather Pleasant Smith. According to the information written in my baby book he was born on February 14, 1853 in Hazel Hill, Johnson County, Missouri. I have not been able to find any documentation to prove this other than this entry. He married Sarah Jane Page on April 13, 1882 in Lafayette County, Missouri. I have found this record. My Grandfather, John Pleasant Smith was born September 8, 1882. I have records for this.  My Great Grandmother Sarah married James Newhouse on February 27, 1894. I have this record. What happened to Pleasant Smith? There is no record of him after the birth of his son. Sometime between this and Sarah’s new marriage he disappeared.

The Tradition in our family is that he was a Creek Indian in a high position in the tribe. He deserted the tribe and lived in hiding from them. Sometime after my Grandfather was born members of that tribe found him, murdered him, cut him into pieces and placed his remains on the railroad track. They did this shortly before the train was to come by. Someone found his body before the train came. Supposedly a few years after this occurred Sarah received a letter addressed to Pleasant which included the name of the position he held among the tribe. She never opened the letter and sent it back to the sender.

I have no proof that this Tradition ever happened. So, the question is, do I include this in my Family History or just pass it on orally like it was given to me? I have decided that, although I love genealogy and enjoy the research it entails, I need to be honest with myself that no one else in my immediate family has any interest (yet) in it. I often wonder if this tradition may pass away with me.

As a result, I am now including all the family traditions I have heard of. I write out the story as completely as I can and then include all documentation I have on this particular person. I make sure that anyone reading it will understand that further research needs to be done to make it a “fact”. Who knows, many years from now one of my Grandchildren may discover proof of this and my recording the story helped them find it!

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: http://tinyurl.com/Your-Family-History and http://tinyurl.com/Genealogy-Research-Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Filed under Ancestry, Brick Walls, Creek Indian, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Hints, Memories, Missouri, Personal Stories, Pleasant Smith, Research, Sarah Jane Page, Story telling, Uncategorized