Tag Archives: History

I Can Use A Little “Wisdom”

wisdomI have been doing Genealogy research for over 20 years. When I first discovered Ancestry.com about 10 years ago I knew that it was a Godsend. I knew it was going to make research so much easier. I transferred all of my written Family Tree to the website and I spent a lot of time finding my Ancestors.

 

Fast forward to present day. On July 1st it was the 153rd Anniversary of the start of the 3 day battle at Robert E. LeeGettysburg, Pennsylvania. The Confederate Army was lead by General Robert E. Lee. When I read this I remembered that I had some Lee’s in my Hughes line and I thought “wouldn’t that be weird if my line and General Lee’s line were related?” I went searching the tree and sure enough Lee was my 4th cousin 7x removed. My 10th Great Grandfather was Lee’s 4th Great Grandfather. I got excited and announced it via Facebook to all of my Hughes/Hayes family. I posted a photo of Lee with just a quick explanation and a promise to post the linage link later.

clickA couple of days ago I started to do just that. Imagine my surprise and great distress to find that when I first joined Ancestry I had entered this online Genealogy world as a “clickophile”! As I was becoming a professional Genealogist I had gone through most of my trees and corrected a tremendous amount mistakes that I had loaded that I had gotten from other peoples trees. So much of what I had originally linked to was undocumented and not researched. I spent a year and a half going through both my maternal and     paternal lines. I thought I had done a complete job…WRONG!

I started with the linage of Robert E. Lee and traced him back to Col. Richard Henry Lee, our common denominator ancestor. Then I started going back down the tree towards me. The problem is I got stuck about half way down to my 6th Great Grandfather John Wisdom. The only documentation I had on him was his marriage information. Everything else was garnered from someone elses’ tree! AND that isn’t the worst of it. John was born in 1738 and I had his daughter being born in 1746…he was only 8 years old. Now I am having to do some intense research trying to put the correct pieces together. Here I had announced to the family this new finding and now I can’t say positively that it is true. I am totally embarrassed that here I am, a professional, yet I had this glaring mistake in my own tree. I realize that as we go farther back we have multiplied the number of “Grandparents” and it can be easy to overlook one or two, but that doesn’t make this less disturbing to me.

The moral of this story is these few points: 1) If you are new to Ancestry.com or Genealogy do not justmistakes click on those little leaves, blindly trusting that what comes up belongs to your ancestor. 2) If at anytime you were a “clickophile” you should go back and make sure the information you added was not erroneous and if it is fix it and 3) I am ashamed to admit that I should have used better “Wisdom” when I was adding ancestors to my Wisdom line.

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, Civil War, Corrections, Cousins, Family History, Genealogy, Hints, Hughes, John Wisdom, Research, Robert E. Lee, Uncategorized

“I Can’t Correct That!”

treeI recently reconnected with a cousin, “Alice” that I haven’t seen in about 28 years. She was so excited to hear about all of the Family History I written about and the Genealogy research I have done. During our conversation she told me that she really didn’t know much about her maternal Grandfathers side of the family. I told her I would see what I could find.

I started researching and within 3 days I received an email from a cousin of Alice’s. “Jessie” told me that her maternal Grandmother was Alice’s Grandfathers sister. We exchanged photos and information. I was able to get the two cousins in touch with each other. It was a great feeling.

That is until about 2 weeks later when I went to look at Jessie’s family tree. She had not Leola Belle Hugheschanged any of the erroneous information she had posted. You see, Alices Grandfather “Sam” was married to my Aunt Leola, my Dads sister. They were married in 1924 and they had two children, Charles in 1925 and Irene in 1930, Leola died in 1932 from Typhoid Fever. Sam then married Lea in about 1935 and they had two sons. In Jessies tree she only had Sam married to Lea and they had 4 children, those of Leola as well as Leas.

errorsWhen I contacted her about it I was told that “I can’t correct that! No one in the family knows that Uncle Sam had been married more than once. It would be a big scandal!” So she was leaving her tree as it was. I can only hope that she changes her mind about this in the future.

Pondering

I guess I have a hard time with anyone wanting to purposely keep wrong information in their tree. No matter what the reason. To me Truth is Truth whether you like it or not. I also don’t understand how this situation could be a scandal. I think it is a great dis-service to future generations to not know the whole truth.

I might be a little strange but I believe the unexpected in a Family Tree is what makes it more interesting. All the twists and turns, the surprises, the rebels and the saints give my tree character.

 

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, Corrections, Cousins, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, History, Memories, Personal Stories, Research, Uncategorized

“Hot Topic” Genealogy

HottopicsIt is always amazing to see how much society has changed in the last few hundred years. What is the “norm” for today was taboo a century ago and what was accepted 200 years ago seems unimaginable today. Throughout history there has always been a “Hot Topic” in each generation. Topics such as the Suffrage Movement, Religious Freedoms, Slavery, Prohibition, Wars etc. Today we are hard pressed to find out how our ancestors felt about these issues or if any of them actively supported or opposed them. Unless our ancestor was “famous” for their stand we may never know.

We can make assumptions on some of their beliefs by how they lived. Take for instance civil war battlesthe Civil War. If your ancestor fought for the North, you can assume they were anti-slavery and if they fought for the South they were pro-slavery. Also if they owned slaves you can assume that they believed in it and if they didn’t they were opposed. Some of the “topics” were not so obvious.

If we are lucky we can find membership information, letters, affiliations or other documents that can provide a glimpse into our ancestors’ stance on the issues of their day. However, most of us will never find these gems. We are left wondering if they had any opinion at all. This brings us to our own time in the genealogical timeline.  We have so many “Hot Topics” today that in a hundred years our future generations will wonder where we stood and why.

New scans15I am of the belief that I want to leave as much information for our future generations as possible. Not only about our ancestral line but also of the times in which we live. I have started writing about some of my beliefs, my stands on social issues and any participation’s I have had for or against those issues. To be quite honest I have picketed for one issue and I have picketed against another. I have participated in rallies and marches. I have appeared on local and National television, radio programs, been a Conference Speaker and featured in magazines and newspapers as an expert on one issue. I want my Great Grand-kids to know their Great Grandma held strong opinions on certain subjects and she wasn’t afraid to let others know how she felt. I am trying to be fair and explain both sides of the issues and express why I chose the side I did.

 

What “Hot Topics” do you have an opinion or belief on? Have you gotten involved fighting for or against that Topic? Think about leaving your experiences behind for those coming after you.

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, Civil War, Family History, Family Search, Famous, Genealogy, Hints, History, Hot Topic, How-to, Memories, Next Generation, Personal Stories, Story telling, Uncategorized, Write Your Story

Explaining Why I Refused To Be Like Them

Over the last 50 years so much of our culture has changed that it is almost impossible to remember how things used to be. If this is so for us, how much more will things change in the next 50 years? I am not just a Genealogist, I am also a Historian of sorts. I believe that I have a responsibility to my descendants to tell them how things were when I was growing up and how it impacted my life and the decisions I have made.

wpaMO320I was born in Missouri but my parents moved our family to Arizona when I was 11 months old. They bought a house outside the Tucson City limits in a new sub-division just north of the Papago (Tohono O’odam) Indian Reservation. I attended the newly built Mary Lynn Elementary School that was about 3 blocks from our home. It was a very diverse school, as a matter of fact Anglo kids were the minority. I grew up with friends of Native American, Hispanic, African American, Chinese and Anglo ancestry. We all seemed to get along very well.

At least that was at school. At home I experienced a totally different atmosphere. Both of brownie troopmy parents were born and raised in Missouri. I do not know what may have happened in their lives to make them this way, but they both were the most racist people I ever knew! Every joke told at home was racist. Remarks were made about people in the grocery store or at the gas station who were “different” from us. I was so confused. According to my parents ¾ of my friends were sub-human, but according to my experiences 100% of them were MY friends! It was very frustrating.

When I was 12 years old our family moved back to Missouri. I was in shock! I had never seen a school with all white kids before. I felt so out of place. I listened to my older relatives talk and I realized they all felt like my parents! At that point I determined it must have just been the way they were raised. I can remember one incident where an Hispanic boy started school and he ended up in my class. I was so happy! I spent his whole first day talking to him. At the end of the day I was given a note to take home to my parents. It was a warning that if I continued to fraternize with this young man I would be suspended from school! My parents laid down the law and I begrudgingly submitted.

Over the course of the next 7 years we moved first to California, then after the death of my Dad we moved back to Tucson. During our time in California I guess you could say I became a “rebel”. I once again had friends of diverse races and to my parents horror I even dated some!

me & George 1987

Me & George 1987

The reason I want to share these experiences with the future generations is I believe I learned a valuable lesson in having to make a decision to not accept my parents racists views. I understand that try as we might, we can not legislate tolerance or acceptance. It has to be a change of the heart and a love for our fellow man, no matter what their ancestry is. This stance has not always gone over well, especially with my mother. 30 years ago, after I became a widow with 3 children, she disowned me because I married an Hispanic man. We are still married and I do not regret the decision I made. I now have 9 beautiful Grandchildren, 3 of them are white, 2 are half-black and 4 are half gypsy. We are one big, very happy, loving family!

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, Family History, Genealogy, History, Memories, Personal Stories

The “Jealous” Genealogist

jealousyI am very thankful for all of the Ancestors that I have been blessed to come to know because of Genealogy. 90% of them were unknown to me a mere 15 years ago. The other 10% were just distant acquaintances. I have spent untold hours researching their lives, writing their stories and bringing them back to life.

Now it is confession time. Hello, my name is Valerie and I am a “Jealous Genealogist”. I don’t want to be, I hate that I feel that way and I sometimes question why I am like this. I honestly am excited when others find that Ancestor they have been looking for over many years. I have even cried tears of joy when a friend broke through a solid brick wall and added dozens of Ancestors to her tree. But, in the back of my heart the jealousy creeps in.

Today I was absolutely shocked that not only did that old “Green eyed” monster present itself once again, but it did so in a ella barnett picvery inconvenient place. In Church! I know …I am ashamed; it just snuck up on me. Let me explain. During the service a woman named Ella sang a song. She and I had talked a few weeks before and I discovered that she was a Creek Indian. I was so thrilled to meet another Creek because the tradition in my family is that my maternal great Grandfather was a Creek Indian. Before she began Ella gave a little background about the song she was going to perform in her Native Creek language. It was one that her 5 times great Grandmother had sung while walking the Trail of Tears from Georgia to Oklahoma back in 1836. She explained that the dress she was wearing was one her 5x great Grandmother would have worn and she showed us her bare feet and told us that when the soldiers came to force them to begin the long walk her 5x great Grandmother had Trail of Tearsbeen without shoes and the soldiers would not let her go get them. Ella spoke with such love and respect for her Ancestors that when she started to sing I began to cry. Although I was trying to fight back the tears I lost that battle and soon my entire face was wet from wiping away the flood of water coming from my eyes. Although I did not understand one word she sang it was extremely moving.

Then it happened, the envy that Ella knew all of this about her Ancestors, not from countless hours of research but from her family passing down their stories, and it began to grip my heart. She had heard these accounts directly from her great Grandmother who had heard them directly from her own great Grandmother. I felt like the lowest of the low because I was so jealous.

We all have those brick walls that we are desperate to break through. Some of us have spent years and tremendous amounts of money on documents and research trips trying to find that one little nugget that will remove the first brick of the wall. I think, no I know that jealousy is a natural, normal human emotion that we all feel at one time or another. So I am going to stop being jealous over others success in finding their “nuggets”. Oh who am I kidding? I know I will probably continue to get jealous when someone acquires that old family diary, or when they discover the photo of their 3x great Grandparents.

I will however continue to be happy for them as well and I will be thankful for each and every discovery that I make on my hope 2own tree. Hearing about other people’s successes in their research gives me hope that one day, hopefully sooner than later, I will finally break through all of my unmovable walls. Until then just remember, when you share the great news of your fantastic discoveries there is at least one “Jealous Genealogist” out there who is turning green with envy!

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, Creek Indian, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, History, Jealousy, Trail of Tears

Charles “Boy” Combs Jr – Died of his wounds 4 years after the Civil War

Charles "Boy" Combs

Charles “Boy” Combs

The youngest of 8 boys born to Charles and Abigail (Reavis Brassfield), Charles “Boy” Combs Jr. came into this world on the 28th of August in 1843. His family lived in Indian Creek, Monroe County, Indiana. Since he was the last child and because he was named for his father he was given the nickname “Boy” and he was called that his entire life. His family was what could be considered well to do for that time period. In the 1850 Census the farm the family owned was worth 3000 dollars. Most of the land Charles Sr. had received was for his service in the War of 1812.

“Boy” grew up on the farm along with his older brothers and they learned all there was to know about planting, harvesting and taking care of all the animals. His parents were both educated and could read and write and they made sure their sons received the same kind of education.

In May 1858, Abigail passed away leaving Charles Sr. alone to raise his 8 boys. By October of that same year Charles Sr. married Anna McLaughlin who herself was a widow. Within a year there was one more son born to this family.

The Civil War started on the 12th of April 1861 and most of “Boys” older brothers enlisted quickly. “Boy” had always admired his father for his service during the War of 1812 and he too wanted to serve his country. On the 12th of March 1862 at the age of 19, “Boy” enlisted in Company B, Indiana 27th Infantry Regiment and marched off to War proudly wearing the blue uniform of the Union Army. Shortly after enlisting, “Boy” and his Regiment saw action in 3 battles. One was in the Shenandoah Valley (Virginia) Campaign, and then they fought in the engagements of Front Royal and Winchester. The 27th saw action at Cedar Mountain in Virginia in August 1862.

Colonel Silas Colgrove

Colonel Silas Colgrove

On September 16, 1862, the Regiment Commander Colonel Silas Colgrove joined forces with General George B. McClellanand his “Union Army of the Potomac” and confronted General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia at Sharpsburg, Virginia. The next day the Regiment joined forces with Major General Joseph Hookers Union Corps and mounted a powerful assault on Lee’s left flank that began the Battle of Antietam, and the single bloodiest day in American military history. “Boy” was injured during this battle along with 9539 other soldiers. Over 2000 Union soldiers were killed.

“Boy” was taken to the Fredericks Hospital to recuperate. There were so many injured soldiers from both sides of this battle that nearly the entire town was turned into Hospital Wards. After a few weeks “Boy” was able to return to his Regiment and thankfully they did not see any more action for the remainder of the War. On the 4th of November 1864 after the fall of Atlanta, reorganization took place and the veterans of the 27th were transferred to the 70th Indiana under Colonel Benjamin Harrison. On the 9th of September 1865 the War ended and “Boy” returned home to his family.

On the 8th of March 1864, while still serving in the Infantry, “Boy” married his childhood sweetheart Mary Carmichael. “Boy” never completely recovered from his wounds that he received in the Battle of Antietam. He spent the next 4 years fighting a reoccurring infection. He and Mary went on to have 3 boys of their own. William Thomas “Billy” Combs was born 17th of August 1866. Twin boys were born on 19th of December 1867. One was never named and he died on the 22nd of December 1867. The second boy was named Robert and he died on the 21st of January 1868.

Charles Boy Combs hs

“Boys” father Charles Sr. died on the 28th of February in 1866 and “Boy” was willed 40 acres of land. He began to do his own farming and raised his own animals. Finally at the age of 25 “Boys” infection got so bad he could no longer work. On the 2nd of January 1869 Charles “Boy” Combs Jr died of his wounds. He is buried along with his parents and two sons at the Combs Family Cemetery in Buena Vista, Monroe County, Indiana.

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, Civil War, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, History, Union Soldiers

9 Interesting Facts About Cemeteries and Headstones

Tucson  South Lawn CemeteryI have always loved Cemeteries, especially old ones with all the ancient stones that seemed to have character to them. Growing up my family would visit the local Cemetery at least once a month, taking flowers or potted plants for the people we knew. My Mom would even pack a picnic lunch and we would sit on wooden benches in one section of the grounds and eat our sandwiches. I thought this is what everyone did and as a result I never developed a “fear” of Cemeteries.

Obviously taking pictures of Headstones for “Find-a-Grave” came natural for me. I have taken over 1000 photos in the last year alone. My daughter and two Grandsons’ often accompany me and the boys tend to ask a lot of questions. “Why does that one have a tree on it?” “Do all Cemeteries have grass like this?” “How come that one is completely covered with cement?”

To be honest they have asked some questions that I didn’t have an answer for, so I had to spend some time researching. As I was looking for answers to their questions I even came up with some I had often wondered about myself.  Here are some of the interesting facts that I discovered:

  1. Before the 19th Century there were no actual Graveyards. Most people were buried on their family property or just Church cemeteryoutside the town limits. Later they began to bury people in the Church yard which were usually fenced in and they felt very desolate. By the mid 19th Century most Church yards were getting full and more people were living in larger towns. As a result they began setting aside land specifically for Cemeteries. These were well maintained and had grass, trees and flowers giving it a “park like” feel. It was then that people began the tradition of picnicking in the Cemetery.

 mortsafes

  1. 2.Up until the 18th Century a lot of graves were covered by iron cages called “mortsafes” or were totally covered with stones. There are 4 reasons given for this tradition 1) to keep animals from digging up the corpse 2)to keep people from walking or sitting on the graves 3) to keep the deceased from becoming a vampire or zombie 4) to keep the grave from being ravaged by grave robbers.
  1. Headstone engravers faced their own “Year 2000 problem” when still-living people, as many as 500,000 in the United States alone, pre-purchased headstones with pre-carved death dates beginning 19–.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  wooden headstone

  1. During the Civil War the headstones were made of wood and cost about $1.73 a piece. After discovering that the wood deteriorated over a 5 year period and realizing how much it would cost to replace them so often they decided that they should be replaced with a more permanent marble or galvanized iron marker.
  1. Arlington Cemetery began as a Cemetery for Union Soldiers only. In 1898, President William McKinley, a former Union soldier, spoke in Atlanta, Georgia and said, “In the spirit of Fraternity it is time for the North to share in the care of the graves of former Confederate soldiers.” In consequence to his speech, by act of the United States Congress, a portion of Arlington National Cemetery was set aside for the burial of Confederate soldiers. At this time 267 Confederate remains from and near Washington, D.C. were removed and re-interred at this new site at Arlington.
  1. There are several reasons that there are unmarked grave. 1) If the deceased was a bad person. 2) If the deceased was an executed criminal.  3) If the deceased was a pauper.   4) If the deceased wanted anonymity. 

 Memento Mori PIC. with hourglass

  1. 7. Puritans who were known for their tremendous piety, often had that Skull and Crossbones put on their Headstones. It was a reminder that they had gone to Heaven but if you did not believe as they did you would go to hell. It was called a “Memento Mori” which is Latin for ‘Remember that you will die’.

                                                                                                                                                                                               mozart

  1. Many famous people made the decision to be buried in unmarked graves for a variety of reasons. Among those who chose no markings are John Wayne, George C. Scott, Frank Zappa, Roy Orbison, Mozart, Bessie Smith and John Belushi.
  1. You can learn a lot about the deceased by the symbols displayed on their Headstone. During Colonial times the person’s occupation was depicted by symbols. A gardener may have a shovel or rake, a carpenter may have a saw and a sheriff may have a star. There were also symbols for those who died young, mothers, lost their life in a battle or who were martyred. Here is a link to the Symbols and their meanings: http://tinyurl.com/47zsjfp

Regardless of how a person feels about Cemeteries and burial plots, it would be impossible to work on your Family History without having to deal with them. 

OH, BY THE WAY…..I haven’t “picnicked” in a Cemetery since I was 12 years old!

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, Cemetery, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, History, Mortsafe, Personal Stories, U.S. President