Am I Allowed to Curse?

Holy [EXPLETIVE DELTED]! :-)

Why am I four days late to seeing that Ancestry has added this database – NC Death Certificates 1909-1975! Original death certificates! The Ancestry blog says this is an update, so I wonder how long it’s been there?? Apparently long enough for Joe to have it added on his page. Oh, where have I been?

Oh my. We are taking Kaleya to go see Kung Fu Panda tonight, but guess who will be up half the night playing around with this one? A majority of my family research is in NC.

Ancestry Profiles

Last week Ancestry made changes to their member profiles pages – see announcement on their blog.  I’ve taken a few minutes to update my profile and after doing so, I think this is a good move. The comments on that blog post are filled with a lot of negative comments, but I’m pleased by what I see. Do I think it’s ideal? No. But I like!

The profile now has

  • the ability to add you surnames of interest and the counties they are linked to. Though, it seems you can only have one county per surname and I’d appreciate being able to attach multiple counties to one surname
  • links to all of your posts on the Ancestry message boards
  • can add you picture! Though, the picture box is way to big
  • shows the images and docs you’ve recently added
  • shows all of your public family trees and how many people, photos, and sources are attached to them
  • links to your favorite message boards
  • profile shows date of last login – i like that – lets me know if someone is active or not
  • you can also state how you can help others (looking up items at local repositories, take pictures at cemeteries, offer research assistance, etc.)

Here’s a screenshot of my profile page.

Ancestry states that by beefing up the profiles they will be better able to offer connection suggestions – to do so, you have to go to their Main Community Page once you are logged in.  I did so and based on the names and locations I put in, it showed me how many Ancestry members lived in that area, how many Ancestry members were also researching my surnames, and even of those, how many were researching that surname in the area that I am also researching. Very cool.

I did notice a discrepancy though in the connections.  The location field is not restricted to the county, state, country format I’m used to seeing. You can enter either a city or you can enter either a county.  Therefore, this can create issues when matching connections. A few of the surnames I entered are for Washington County, NC, but the connections page shows me people living in Washington City, North Carolina which is in a different county.  Methinks they should standardize this field better.

I wonder if Ancestry will continue to add to the profiles – like having “friends” and being able to send out messages to all either in your city, or all your friends, etc; in short – become more like Facebook.  You can find my profile here.

I have also explored FamilyLink in the past and while I was initially excited, everytime I go there I get frustrated because I don’t quite fill it lives up to my expectations. Hmm.. I’ll keep exploring though.  For now, you can find my Ancestry profile here.  I also have my Footnote profile here about which I’ve blogged about before.

Genealogy Social Networking – i love it!

Wordless Wednesday June 4, 2008 Follow-Up

This picture is one my mother recently sent me of her uncle Fred and Curtis – both brothers of my grandmother. This was taken in the 1940s-early 50s most likely. The reason I posted this picture is because of the tanks in the background. My mother was always telling me how close their building in Cooper Park Projects in Brooklyn, New York was to these tanks and this picture really shows that. Here is another picture that shows it too – my mother’s brother Calvin behind their building.

These tanks were a very vital part of my mother’s childhood landscape. She told me that the first time she ever experienced the feeling of nostalgia was when these tanks were destroyed. They were demolished in July 2001. They were the largest gas holders in the world at 400ft high and an ever-present part of the landscape for decades. They were apparently visible from all 5 boroughs.

Here is an article from the New York Times about them.

Ancestry Boards RSS Feeds

For the past several months, I’d noticed that all the boards on Ancestry.com offered RSS feeds, but I have just recently started using them. It is way cool!

So far, I have subscribed to about 10 feeds for various counties and surnames and I am finding it to be a very convenient way to keep track of new posts. I much prefer to get them through my blog reader rather than having to visit each board. Honestly, RSS feeds are like the blessing of my internet life!

I think I’m the only one using them though :-) – well, at least for the boards I subscribe too. According to Bloglines & Google Reader, there is only 1 subscriber! I really do hope others take advantage of these feeds as it is a cool feature. Now, if only GenForum would do this…

In other news, this weekend I had a chance to do some cemetery walking. I went to one of the black cemeteries here in town to search for a particular grave site. Doing so was quite an experience. As I have been working on my Black Nashville Blog, I have been learning about the history of blacks in Nashville. So, as I was walking through the cemetery it was like a who’s who of Nashville! I’ll post more about it later, but it was quite a fulfilling experience for me at a very personal level.

Then, I also came up with a blogging schedule for myself too. With so many blogs, I want to make sure they get regular attention from me, so I started a schedule. As I begin to implement that schedule, I will share that here as well.

Wordless Wednesday – May 28th, 2008 Follow-up

Back in early April, the topic of the Carnival of Genealogy was http://creativegene.blogspot.com/2008/04/carnival-of-genealogy-45th-edition.html”>Cars as the Stars of Our Family History. At the time it was going, I was not able to get a post together in order to participate, but I did find the topic interesting and it prompted me to ask my parents about their first car. It was a very entertaining process!

So, this is a picture of what my father’s first car looked like – he had a Volvo 164 that was from the 1960s. The color was as shown in the picture and my mother informs me that her friend and my father used to argue about it – he used to say that it was silver and she used to say that it was funeral grey. :-)

My father got the car from his father and had it when he lived in NY. My father tells me that people were interested in the car because it was foreign and they never could remember what kind of car it was as there were not many foreign cars. The car was decked out too – had a cassette player (which at the time, 8 tracks were most common), had air conditioning, leather seats. With a 6 cylinder engine, it was very good on gas too – also, apparently not so common at the time when everyone had big cars. Then came the gas crisis in the 70s and people started downsizing. Sound familiar?

My father would eventually sell this car to his cousin who took it back to North Carolina. Before talking to my father about it, you know what I knew about this car? That he used it as a pick-up line on my mother when they met. He told her, “I have a car.” She said – “So what. In NYC you don’t need a car.” Well, the pick-up line worked anyway. :-)

Mommy’s First Car


My mother would get her first car after my parents moved us all to North Carolina. Hers was a blue Pontiac Lemans. Not sure what year, but perhaps it looked something like the above. She remembers that she paid less than $100 for it and when she was looking, her co-workers at Ciba-Geigy where she worked would joke with her about what to look for in the car – like a steering wheel, tires, etc.! The car had been in an accident so the front bumper was turned to the side. After keeping the car for a few weeks, they sold it and bought another big car that they called “Big Blue Marble.”

Moses Wright (1889 – 1966)

In my last post about my uncle’s wedding, towards the end I mentioned that his wife’s uncle, Moses Wright was part of a very tragic event. That event was the abduction of Emmett Till.

Emmett Till, which if you are not aware of the history you can read the details on Wikipedia, was taken from the home of Moses and his family. Moses was Emmett’s great-uncle and from what I have been able to tell so far in my research, most likely the nephew of Moses’ wife. I will need to go back to my family to clarify exactly how.

I first learned of this a couple of years ago as I began to get more into the family genealogy. My great-uncle’s daughter shared this with me. A few months ago, Kalonji & I watched the documentary, The Untold Story of Emmett Till, which was an extremely heartwrenching story to watch. The strength that Emmett’s mother had to persevere through such a hardship is amazing to me.

Moses died in 1966, just four years after giving my great-aunt away at the wedding. This picture was one I took of a picture she had of him when I was in Chicago last weekend. A couple of Moses’ sons were at my great-uncle’s funeral last weekend – including those that had been in the room with Emmett when Bryant & Milam came to take him away. Moses faced a tough situation as a black man testifying against two white men in deep south Mississippi in 1955 and for it he had to leave Mississippi for Chicago. I cannot imagine what life must have been like for the whole family during this horrific ordeal. My familial connection with Moses, with Emmett, certainly makes history a living, breathing entity.

Back From Chicago

I’m back from my very quick trip to Chicago, but it was a very worthwhile trip. On my last post, I blogged about the death of my great-uncle. Fred was my maternal grandmother’s youngest and last surviving brother. On Saturday, I was able to spend some time with the family whom I’d never met. It was great. I learned more about his life things he had accomplished. For example, I did not know that he was an electrician by trade and the reason he moved to Chicago in the first place was b/c of a trade school he attended there. It was in Chicago that he met his wife and they have lived there ever since – some 46 years.

His wife, Priscilla, is my kind of person – she had tons of pictures! It was cool going through them and really getting to know some of the history of the family through the pictures. I took pictures of some of them, namely, their wedding pictures. What struck me most about looking through the family pictures is how different Fred looked at different stages in his life – really looking like a completely different person!

Here they are from one of the wedding pictures.

And, here is Priscilla going down the aisle. She was given away by her uncle, Moses Wright.

It was a very enjoyable experience. I really look forward to visiting with them again.

Now, Priscilla’s uncle, Moses, is affiliated with a very tragic event in the past. More on that in the next post.

Fred Louis McNair 1934-2008

On Monday, May 12th, my maternal grandmother’s youngest brother, Fred Louis McNair passed away. This is a picture of him from the 70s I believe, though it could be from the 80s.
Fred was born in January 1934 to Abraham Lincoln McNair Sr. and Martha “Mattie” Jane Walker.

Just like my grandmother, there is some discrepancy of his birth day. According to his daughter, he used to celebrate his birthday on January 18th, but changed it to the celebrating it on January 22nd like his birth certificate said. He has two birthdays! :-)

I never knew Fred, but in the course of doing the family tree, have corresponded regularly with his daughter. Fred was a preacher at a church in Chicago and my mother has all kinds of stories about him. He was very much like my grandmother in approach to living – very straightforward and proper :-)

His funeral is being held tomorrow in Chicago. Coincidentally enough, I am flying into Chicago tomorrow for a business trip, so while I will not be able to attend the funeral, I will get to spend some time with the family tomorrow evening.
My grandmother is now the last of the set of kids. She grew up with four brothers, Curtis who died in 1997, Lorenza who died in 2005, Abraham Jr. who died in 2006 and now Fred. Her parents did have five other children that all died as infants/toddlers. My grandmother has Alzheimer’s and does not know that she has no more siblings alive. She knows of Curtis’ death since that happened before the Alzheimer’s, but not of the others. We are hoping to keep it that way.

Rest in peace uncle Fred.