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Caring for Photographs in Family History

Today I attended a meeting of the Middle Tennessee Genealogical Society and what a wonderful presentation we had! Our guest speaker was Carol Roberts of the Tennessee State Library and Archives (TSLA). Carol heads up the Conservation Lab at TSLA and has many years of experience in preservation of many different material types.

Carol begins her presentation

Today, Carol led us through a history of photography, including descriptions of several different types of photos, when they were predominantly used, and how to tell the differences between them.  We learned about daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes, carte de vistas, cabinet cards, crayon print portraits and more.  She even shared examples from the TSLA collection such as this tin type picture shown below in a frame (as we learned today – daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and tintypes are called “case images” because they often come encased)

an example of an ambrotype (these were made on glass)

Carol also took the time to outline best practices for storing your family photos – from what kind of materials to look out for (e.g. not falling for the “acid-free” designation that is all too commonplace – for example, even duct tape says acid-free!). There are several criteria for understanding what is archival quality and what is not so it was helpful to have that understanding. I especially appreciated the information Carol shared on what supplies to purchase for printing pictures at home (such as Permalife Archival Bond printer paper and archival printer ink).

Throughout her presentation, Carol also shared some great stories about photos in her own family history. and how clues in the photos led to discoveries. We had a great turnout and her talk was so interesting we ended up going over by an hour!

Here are some resources Carol shared:

Additionally, several books were mentioned:

After the talk, some attendees brought their materials up to Carol for her input. For example, one of the gentlemen who attended the January “Show and Tell” meeting with a photo of his ancestors learned that the picture he has was a crayon print and it was a charcoal reproduction from an original photo. Additionally, one pair of guests brought family documents they have from one of the oldest family lines in Brentwood for tips on how to best care for them.

Carol looks over some Sneed family documents from meeting attendees

This was such a great meeting! Even as I continue to work on my photo project I’ve learned some tips I can put into practice. It is so nice to be able to attend in-perosn meetings such as this. Thanks Carol for the great information you shared today!

DNA Connections & A Newspaper Story

Oh what fun to be able to write this blog post! Back during the first season of Genealogy Roadshow, my husband and I interviewed with producers as we were hopeful one of the stories I submitted would be used. Unfortunately, it was not, but every now and then I revisit the research that prompted me to enter.

One of the mysteries I’d presented was to further investigate if my husband has biological connections to Meriwether Lewis of Lewis & Clark.  One of Kalonji’s 2nd great-grandmothers was named Margaret Meriwether and it is through her that this connection may lie. Margaret was from Clarksville, Montgomery County, Tennessee.

At the end of January, as I looked at Kalonji’s gedmatch matches, I saw a close result from another Meriwether and it turned out, this new DNA match also had family from Clarskville! Since then, we’ve been comparing family trees, doing research, and though we have not yet found the exact relationship between the two, we know we are close 🙂  With only approximately 4 generations back to their most common ancestor, we remain hopeful we can find the connection.

Kalonji’s Meriwether DNA match

Then, in sharing on Facebook that I was searching through an index of newspaper obituaries one day last month at the Tennessee State Library & Archives, I learned that one of my Facebook friends not only also had family from Clarksville, but he was a cousin of Kalonji’s DNA match. Exciting!

set of obituary indexes for the Clarksville, TN area – at the Tennessee State Library & Archives

Given this recent research, how cool then it was to find in the Tennessean this morning an article about a Meriwether Cemetery that is now owned by Google – in which, the reporter mentions both Kalonji’s DNA match and my Facebook friend! The story describes the cemetery, those interred there, and gives information about the background of Meriwether’s in Clarksville. In the article, there is mention of a white slave owner who had children with two of his slaves – one a Hillman, and the other a Meriwether.  Well, the Meriwether slave of mention is Kalonji’s 2nd great-grandmother- Margaret.  Margaret had children of this slaveowner – Buck Harris, but then she also had kids with another man, Dick Wisdom.  It is through one of Margaret & Dick’s children from whom Kalonji is descended. My discovery of Margaret’s Meriwether family came as a result of the 1940 census release.

Kaloniji’s Meriwether Family Descendancy Tree (what I have documented so far)

The news story can be seen online and it is definitely worth the read. I am pleased to know that Google is committed to maintaining the cemetery and has no plans to move it. Kudos to them! I would love to visit the cemetery one day – but not sure how that would work given that it is Google’s property. I must find out.  Meanwhile, the research into this DNA connection will definitely continue.

Let Me Tell You A Story About a Runaway Slave

Over a year ago, with the help of an Ancestry green shaky leaf, I was overwhelmed to make a connection to part of my family history that has been extremely heartwarming for me. It made such an impact, that I wanted to find a way to tell the story with more than just a regular blog post.

So, I invite you to watch this video I made describing a connection in the family of my mother’s maternal grandmother, Martha Jane “Mattie” Walker McNair – particularly with the family of, Mattie’s grandfather, Prince Walker. This part of my family is from Plymouth, Washington County, North Carolina.

 

A New Family Branch Genetically Tested

Yesterday brought great news from my cousin SL! She did a 23andMe test a few weeks ago and her test results have come in. I am particularly happy she did the test as I can now map parts of my father’s DNA sample specifically to his mother as cousin SL is a 1st cousin on his mom’s side.

I have another cousin (MS) who is related to me via my father’s mother – but – that cousin is also related to me through my father’s father. So, as a double cousin, I’ve not been able to pinpoint any of her DNA share with my father to one particular side of his family as no one else on my grandmother’s side of the family had tested.

The first thing I did with cousin SL’s DNA results is map out the segments we share. Using Kitty Cooper’s Chromosome Mapping Tool, I updated my father’s map. So now, my father’s chromosome map now has a “maternal” side reflected. Prior to yesterday, all the red parts were not there  🙂

my father’s chromosome map as of Jan 15, 2017

My cousin MS is also a cousin to SL. However, the two of them are not double cousins (to the best of my knowledge), so I next compared their DNA against my father and against each other. In doing this triangulation, I found that of the 11 segments my father shares with his double cousin MS, 5 of them triangulate to his cousin SL. This means I can mark these 5 segments my father and MS share as having come from my great-grandparents  William Lawhorn & Pearlie Mae Kilpatrick – common ancestors to all 3 (to my father, MS, and SL).

On top of this, I found that cousin SL shares several segments of DNA with my father’s nephew that she does not share with my father. These segments represent DNA that my uncle inherited from his parents and my father did not; my uncle then passed that DNA down to his son.

I am glad to have this updated chromosome map for my father, for as I get more matches in the future, if they have a segment that triangulates to my father and one of these cousins, I will able to pinpoint which part of my family tree to focus on as we seek connections.

So many intricacies to figure out for sure!

 

A Family Heirloom

You know what makes for a great start to the new year? Being contacted by a distant cousin who found me via Google searching -yay! My newly-found cousin is a great-granddaughter of Richard Wimberly (1860-1921) & Lina Petway (1870-1963) of Tarboro, Edgecombe County, NC.  Richard is a brother to my 3rd-great-grandmother Mariah Wimberly McNair (1843-1903).

As I spoke to my cousin on the phone this evening, she shared with me that she remembered her grandmother telling stories about the family’s departure from the Battle Plantation in Tarboro. The family story is that that when the family left the plantation, they piled their belongings up on wagons – with two rocking chairs on top.  One rocking chair fell off the wagon and broke, but the other was passed down through the generations and my cousin has it!

This is the rocking chair (it has since be refinished) of Richard & Lina’s. How fortunate that my cousin has this as a way to cherish her family history.

And Yes, They Were Sold

Today I give a hat tip to my cousin Marissa who followed up on a blog post of mine from last year.  Back in November 2015 I blogged about a petition from Jones County, NC in 1847 that may have included slaves associated with my own family ancestry.  In the petition, six white slaveholders, John S. Koonce and wife Susan, Isiah Wood and wife Elizabeth, Benjamin Brown, Asa Brown, Zachius Brown, Mary Brown, Orne Brown, and Isaac Brown requested division of ownership of six slaves – likely, selling them and splitting the proceeds. The six slaves were named as James, Jonas, Mariah, Allen, Hannah, & Susan (sometimes called Harriett).

The names in bold are names that belong to former slaves in my own family history with the surname Koonce, so that led to my interest in this record. Well, thanks to Marissa, I now know that they were indeed sold at public auction.

On January 1, 1848 they were sold as follows:

  • Jonas, Mariah, and a slave named Chaney were all sold to Joseph Brock (total $1250.25)
  • Allen and Sarah were sold to Benjamin Brock for $300 and $297 respectively
  • Susan (or Harriet) was sold to Franklin Thompson for $180
  • James was sold to Stephanie Humphrey for $718

The documentation for this sale appears in the estate file records of William Brown (Elizabeth Wood’s 1st husband).

public auction of slaves – see file at FamilySearch.org

The documentation notes that the sale was advertised first, so an interesting follow-up would be to search for newspaper announcements.

 

My Ancestor on the NY Voter Registration List

It’s Election Day and I just had to do this post. This past weekend, the Reclaim the Records initiative announced their success in releasing the New York List of Registered Voters in 1924 – all of them now available online through the Internet Archive.  And, it is absolutely wonderful to have!

My own family has New York roots, so I was eager to look for them.  My maternal grandfather, Herman Robinson, was born in New York in 1926. His parents, Lewis (or Louis depending on the record) and Lucinda Robinson moved to New York sometime between 1918-1920. From the 1920 census record, I knew they lived on 63rd Street in Manhattan Assembly District 5.

1920 US Census - Louis & Lucinda Robinson and family. Manhattan, NY.

1920 US Census – Louis & Lucinda Robinson and family. Manhattan, NY. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MJYN-RYB)

Since the list of registered voters is organized by Assembly district within each of the 5 boroughs, getting to the Manhattan Assembly District Records was a snap. There are 24 districts in Manhattan, so I quickly navigated to the set for Assembly District 5. The document has optical character recognition, so I searched for the name Robinson and found my family on the very last page, on 63rd street, just where they should be.

Louis Robinson is listed at 230 W. 63rd street – along with others who share the same address, including neighbor Frank Seabrook (who also appears near him in the 1920 census).

1924 Manhattan Assembly District 5 Voters

1924 Manhattan Assembly District 5 Voters

Thank you Reclaimed Records for making these records freely available! I hope my great-grandfather voted. My great-grandmother is not on the registration list, so she probably didn’t, but I am glad my family recognized the importance.

I voted early for this year’s election and I hope everyone else has voted or is voting today!

 

 

 

 

Until I Get to NMAAHC

A visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture is high on my priority list for my next trip to DC.  But, since I can’t yet get therein person, I have spent some time exploring their website and staying up-to-date via social media.

I’m so proud to share with you my first blog post for the In Depth Genealogist to give you a closer look at their collections and how they may be of benefit as we do our genealogy & family history research.  Take a read at http://bit.ly/2fsbcSk.

 

 

Related to President Harry Truman?

Hat tip to DearMyrtle who shared news of Ancestry’s new app – We’re Related. The announcement stated that the app tells you what famous people you are related to – currently there are about 2,000 famous people in the database. Well, a very quick download later, the app told me I am related to President Harry Truman — what!!! 

So, I look to see why they are suggesting him and the connection comes up my Koonce lineage through one of my 3rd great-grandmothers, Isariah Wood. We know from family oral history that her father may have been a white man. Her death certificate says her father’s name was Lewis Waters. One of my cousins has been actively researching this line and if the “Lewis Waters” named on Isariah’s death certificate is the same white Lewis Waters that is related to President Truman then I just may be related to President Truman after all. 

This warrants further investigation because of course, because this is all based on user family tree data – and the records people attach – but how interesting! I must do some research and if this bears out the potential. If so, I may have to plan some targeted DNA studies. Stay tuned!

My Genealogy Dance Card is Full

a dance card. photo credit: wikipedia

This summer has been one that has brought multiple opportunities for me to further engage within the genealogy community and I’m so delighted!  It has been a busy one for sure, but through these upcoming activities I will learn more and contribute at an even higher level to the genealogy community. I am pleased to share some of my more recent involvements!

  • Going In-Depth Magazine – I was honored to accept an invitation join the contributing authorship team of the digital genealogy magazine, Going In-Depth, published by the In-Depth Genealogist team. My column is called “African American Research Adventures” and my first article, Searching for Osburn: A Case Study in Seeking the Enslaved, was published in the September 15th issue. I will be contributing articles and blog posts on a regular basis, and have an author profile now posted on the site. Subscribe to the magazine and follow the blog if you are interested.
  • Middle Tennessee Genealogical Society – I presented to the society on July 16th about how to maximize the use of online collaborative family trees (e.g. WikiTree, Geni, FamilySearch Family Tree) for genealogy research. They also invited me to become one of the Society’s Board of Directors! My 2-year term started August 1st and I attended my first board meeting a week ago. We have an upcoming seminar this November, so if you are in the Nashville area, I’d love to see you there!
  • BlackProGen –  I’m now also a panel member for this “group of professional genealogists who research and document African American families” to quote organizer Nicka Smith’s site.  BlackProGen members host regular online sessions to share research strategies. Check the website for details of the upcoming online shows and the different ways you can connect with us.

This is all on top of my regular volunteer commitment to the USGenWeb Project for which I serve as State Coordinator for TNGenWeb, an Assistant State Coordinator for NCGenWeb & FLGenWeb, and coordinate counties for KYGenWeb, ILGenWeb, and UTGenWeb.  I also volunteer for the Nashville Chapter of the Afro-American Historical Genealogical Society.

Much to do! I believe I’m going to be busy dancing all year  🙂