Mar 04 2010

It’s All Beginning To Sound The Same

Tag: genealogy,music,nostalgiaDonna B. @ 5:36 pm

My Momma used to say that all the music I listened to sounded like just noise. Now I say to my kids that the music they listen to all sounds alike… which makes it similar to just noise.

What will my grandchildren hear? Chances are it will pretty close to the same thing I heard and their parents heard. Both the complaints and the music will likely have this sameness in common.

Though the video below is fairly constrained on an historical time scale, there’s bait in there for several decades. I have to admit, I’m not familiar with a lot of the artists… but doesn’t all the music sound familiar and familial?

Feb 17 2010

There’s Always Room For One More

Tag: friends,genealogy,my familyDonna B. @ 1:12 pm

I really like the sentiments expressed in this post at Casaubon’s Book:

Father and Mother and Uncle John…: Tribalism and a Place at the Table

Mar 27 2009

Who Is Your Cousin?

Tag: genealogy,grandchildrenDonna B. @ 2:31 pm

And how? I got the following info from a 1998 posting to a DuBose Forum:

First cousins share a common Grandparent.
Second cousins share a common Great Grandparent.
Third cousins share a common Great Great Grandparent.
Fourth cousins share a common three times Great Grandparent.
Fifth cousins share a common four times Great Grandparent.
Etc., etc.

1st cousins share a common Grandparent.
1st cousins once removed are children of your 1st cousins.
1st cousins 2 times removed are children of your 1st cousins once removed.
1st cousins 3 times removed are children of your 1st cousins 2 times removed.
1st cousins 4 times removed are children of your 1st cousins 3 times removed.
Etc., etc.

2nd cousins share a common Great Grandparent.
2nd cousins once removed are children of your 2nd cousins.
2nd cousins 2 times removed are children of your 2nd cousins once removed.
2nd cousins 3 times removed are children of your 2nd cousins 2 times removed.
2nd cousins 4 times removed are children of your 2nd cousins 3 times removed.
Etc., etc.

This Cousin Tree from Wikipedia is a nice graphic version that helps a lot. If those don’t help you, this is even less likely to: Cousin Chart from the State Library of North Carolina.  

I certainly hope that one of these can settle the argument of how my husband’s brother’s grandchild is related to my husband’s daughter and her children.  

UPDATE: Here’s an even better family relationship chart.

Also, it should be noted that my husband remains unconvinced that any of this is factual and currently considers me and all other genealogists to be out of our minds.

Mar 10 2009

I’ve Been Living In The Real World

Since Saturday, I haven’t been online more than an hour total, and most of that was looking at proofs of my daughter’s latest family photo session. Realizing that I cannot afford 32 11 x14 prints is causing some stress!

Saturday, we had a family reunion on my mother’s side for the first time since 1994. My cousins have children and grandchildren I’d never met before. We realized we’d only been getting together for funerals for the last 15 years, and that we needed more. We had so much fun we’re planning another for next year.

All of my mother’s siblings have died. My father is the only one left of that generation in the family. We are fortunate that my oldest aunt started gathering genealogical information about the family when she was a teenager and kept at it until she was no longer able to travel. Her daughter went through one box (there are more) of her mother’s photos and distributed them to the oldest child of each sibling. What a wonderful gift that was!

My sister and I have taken the information my aunt gathered and put it into genealogy software and have continued the research. Everyone enjoyed looking at the wall chart my sister printed.

Little Sister is in the states for another week and a half, so I won’t be online much until after she goes home. I could be, but I have found that I really do not like using a laptop. My wrists are spoiled to my split keyboard and my eyes to my big monitors.

Family-wise, there’s a lot going on that’s not bloggable so I may be a bit distracted. Um, I mean more distracted. Possibly less intelligible too, if that’s possible.

Jan 19 2009

Family History Confusion

Tag: genealogy,my familyDonna B. @ 9:25 pm

Confusion coupled with a poor memory is not a pretty sight. I’ve blogged about addictive nature of genealogy and about trying to define what I want from the research. When I started this, I could keep track of people in my head to a much greater extent than I can now. I can still remember most of my straight-line ancestors, but you don’t learn a lot about their lives unless their brothers and sisters are included.

What I’d really like to have is a huge wall-chart that would show where the various ancestor’s families have married into the same group of families, for example two sisters of one family marrying two brothers of another. There’s ample evidence that these families moved together from Virginia and South Carolina westward together. So many of them ended up within a 100 miles of each other either in Texas or Arkansas.

This is a small house. I don’t have a wall that big!

But, I’ve got to get organized and soon. I’m starting here, but I realize no one “system” is going to fit my idea of what I want. I’ve got to find (or design) one that integrates my paper files with my digital ones.

If anyone reading this has suggestions, let me know!

P.S. I would be willing to trade a week of babysitting for a week of organizing! hint… hint.

Nov 16 2008

Religion, Ancestry, and Gays

Tag: computers & internet,genealogy,legalities,religionDonna B. @ 2:19 am

One of the internet sites I actually pay to use is I haven’t looked into the ownership, but I suspect it is supported, if not owned by the Mormon church.

Census records are public domain, but indexes and databases derived from them are not. It takes an incredible amount of work to digitize and index the census records. I am grateful that it has been done and is accessible in a format that allows me to track my family’s history easily.

I said easily, not perfectly. There are a lot of areas where can improve; their search engine is #1.

Keep that in mind while I’m telling you that I’ve never been a fan of the Mormon church and actually got kicked out of their education classes when I was 14 because I asked ‘uncomfortable’ questions.

Forgive me, I’d just read Jonathan Livingston Seagull. I was also a bit of a jerk. It hit home when my good friend was no longer allowed to associate with me and that damped a lot of fire in my protest. I wondered if I’d inadvertantly done harm where none was intended.

In some ways, it would be fine with me if all organized religion were to disappear. Much human blood has been shed for what I see as minute theological differences. But I’d be a bit of a hypocrite for taking advantage of the work of an organized religion for my personal needs (and paying them for the privilege) wouldn’t I?

One of the few persons that I have shared the deepest, darkest, and brightest moments of my life with was a gay man who shared the same with me. Our friendship was short because he could not flourish in a small town environment in the early 1970s. I miss him because it’s not easy to find that kind of friendship regardless of gender. He’s the girlfriend I have never quite had since.

So… I am left wondering if I am betraying his friendship by financially supporting a church whose theology I have never accepted and which uses those finances to support an agenda that might hurt my friend.

At the same time, I wonder why any gay or lesbian person would want to participate in a religious sacrament that specifically excludes them, or to subscribe to a theology that classifies their desire and love for another human being as a sin.  

Marriage and committment are a state of mind. Frankly, one does not need a paper or a ring to love and commit. That these symbols are relevant is a desire to proclaim such, not a requirement for their existence. These symbols are not meaningless, far from it. But they do not have to be issued by the state.

The real sticking point for me is that without some changes in laws, homosexual partners do not have protection from spousal abuse. That is where I think the state needs to intervene. Homosexuality does not confer one with sainthood, and there are those, both male and female, who are abused by their partners, but not welcome at domestic abuse shelters because of their gender and/or sexual orientation.

For a rambling essay with random thoughts, this is a pretty good one, eh?

I’m not ready to boycott because of the Mormon church’s stand on marriage. I may disagree, but I’m willing to to pay for a service I consider valuable. (Don’t raise the price, I could change my mind.)

I am ready to say that if you do not agree with a particular religion, do not join that church. We hear so often that this country was founded because people wanted to have freedom of religion. That includes not joining any religion. So don’t join. Establish your own. I won’t join if I disagree. But we can still be friends, can’t we?

UPDATE: a commenter corrects me:

Donna, you are completely incorrect about being owned by the LDS Church. I know because I am an employee of Ancestry’s parent corporation, The Generations Network ( which is in turn owned by Spectrum Equity Investors.

Oct 19 2008

Defining What I Want From Genealogy Research

Tag: genealogy,grandchildren,my familyDonna B. @ 8:29 pm

A comment from Don Michel on this post about the rewarding, but frustrating, hobby of genealogy:

It sounds as though you have not defined what you want from genealogy, that is what is your real objective. Is it to gather lots of names and dates, or is it to know you ancestors as real people, how and where they lived, did they have unusual hobbies or personalities? Doing this will help you develop a reasearch plan and strategy and keep you from frenetic activity and then the periods of burnout that you seem to be experiencing.

I admit, he’s right. I don’t have a plan and even when I have an immediate goal I am far too easily distracted. I do, however, have an ultimate goal and it’s time I made a plan to accomplish it.

My ultimate goal is a book for my grandchildren. I envision it as a way for them to know their great-grandparents – only two are still living and some of my grandchildren haven’t even been born yet!

I also envision it as way for them (and me) to learn how their family before them fit into this nation and the world — I want them to know where they came from. I want them know the history that was the present when their gggg-grandmother was alive and how she might have spent her days.

What better way to illustrate the Civil War than with stories of their ancestors’ battles? In my family tree, there are Union and Confederate soldiers, as well as one poor man who fought for both sides, was imprisoned by both sides and died in Andersonville.

I want a history of the migrations. Maps. The groups of families that traveled together and intermarried. And photos.

I want it all, which is quite a lot. And if I’m going to accomplish it, I certainly do need a plan.

Thus I need HELP! Planning is not my forte. Or even my pianissimo.

But here’s what I’m thinking:

  1. Capture now what might disappear. We have recordings of my father, my mother, my grandmother, my aunt. There are three other aunts and a great-aunt I need to interview soon. You’d think I would have learned by now to not put this stuff off.
  2. (actually, no. 1, part a., but I’m not that good with html) Scan photos belonging to my aunts, cousins, etc. Decide on a way to label and organize them. Back them up in more than one place. UPDATE: Include old recordings, voice and movies in the preservation.
  3. Get documents for the generation before me. It did not occur to me until considering joining DAR that I needed documentation for people I knew. Like my mother. My grandmothers. I knew them, why would I need any documentation!

HELP! I am open to any… all suggestions.

Oct 12 2008

Genealogy Is Tedious And Addictive

Tag: genealogy,my familyDonna B. @ 1:56 am

Most hobbies are likely addictive and many of them are tedious, and genealogy is both for me. I do it in spurts of frantic activity, then I find myself so confused and braindead, I have to take a break.

My daughters and I have been working on our family history ever since it was an assignment in the oldest’s junior year of high school. The goal was to teach students how to do research involving original documents and how to gather ‘living’ history by interviewing their oldest ancestors.

Two amazing things happened quickly. First, I found my daughters excited about going to family gatherings. They finally knew where they fit in. Second, they (and I) learned that “the elders” have a lot to tell us if we will only ask. There have been instructional stories (some with drawings) on how to wring a chicken’s neck, how to make soap, and most importantly, how to cook beans and cornbread.

We were lucky that my mother’s older sister had started collecting information about her lineage when she was 15 years old. She left us a goldmine of information on my mother’s side. My grandmother had given my brother a genealogy book filled out with information about my father’s side. With this information, a lot of the work that had to be done was documentation.

Either together or separately, we’ve visited several courthouses and even with the massive databases online through, the only way (or at least the best way) to get copies of original birth, marriage, and death certificates, or land records is through county or state agencies. Since each copy is going to cost you something (from $1 to $20) it’s best to have a really good idea of what you need. Ancestry is a big help in finding those details. Of course, there’s the membership fee for Ancestry too.

Now one of my daughters has decided she would like to join the Daughters of the American Revolution. Not only must the service of the Revolutionary ancestor be documented and verified, but each generation must be documented, the first three with birth, death, marriage certificates etc. After that, census records are accepted.

Census records before 1850 listed only the name of the head of the household, and counted the rest. That makes documenting parentage a little difficult using that method, so one goes to wills, land records, church records, and cemeteries.

For now, we have identified two Revolutionary veterans and possibly a third. It would definitely be a third, if the Battle of Alamance were considered a part of the Revolutionary War. Our ancestor was one of the six pardoned, so we’re especially thankful to Governor Tryon for that.

To finish the DAR application (which must be submitted on 24 lb. acid free paper) somebody is going to have to do some traveling in Alabama, Arkansas, and South Carolina. I nominate myself, but may have to take up a collection to go.

It’s actually been quite a lot of fun doing this. My sister is now involved, though she primarily concentrates on my father’s side of the family and has made tremendous progress there.

May 15 2008

Grandchildren Are Angels!

Tag: genealogy,my familyDonna B. @ 7:23 pm


Jan 22 2008

I’d love to see the job description

Tag: genealogy,humorDonna B. @ 12:16 am

This is from an 1880 census of Little River County Arkansas, Jackson Township. The column heading reads:

Profession, Occupation, or
Trade of each person,
male and female.
Not surprisingly, in this mostly rural area, the men were usually farmers and almost all the women were keeping house. For the males in this snippet, machinist was the odd occupation. For the females, the non-keeping house occupation is:
Hmm… now let me think, other than schoolmarm, just about any occupation other than keeping house was very rare for a female in those days, especially in a rural area, though I have seen several listed as farmers. Around 1890, there were two postmistresses in a neighboring county.But objectionable? Could it possibly be… could she have possibly been… a politician?