Genealogy & Web 2.0

Dick Eastman has a WONDERFUL post about the changes we are witnessing in the Internet and how it can apply to genealogy – the web 2.0 revolution. I personally have adopted a philosophy of transforming as much as possible to web-based platforms for the past couple of years and his post resonated deeply with me. On my main blog, I have previously posted my bias towards web 2.0, and on my genealogy blog, I’ve posted how I can see it having such a tremendous impact in this realm. Eastman’s post is much more in-depth now and I’m glad to read that it is being reflected in national venues. Wonderful post! Go read it!

Results from my State Archives Visit

Okay – here is a summary of what I retrieved today at the TN State Archives. Today I focused on Edgecombe County, NC where I am most heavily researching my McNair, Wimberly and Tannahill surnames as I look for possible slave owners.

1. I have a few counties photocopied from Somebody Knows My Name, but went today to look for the records of cohabitation for Jones County, North Carolina. I need to order the CD so that I can have my own copy. Unfortunately, Jones County is not included. However, I did go ahead and photocopy Nash County. I learned yesterday that Rocky Mount,NC is split in the middle of town, between Edgecombe County and Nash County. I have had family in Rocky Mount, and so I decided I should have this county as well. Good thing too – I found another Wimberly!

2. From the book, Heritage of Lenoir County, I photocopied the entry for Richard H. Koonce & Eliza King. Richard is the son of Wiley Benjamen Koonce. I still am not sure how Wiley fits into the family tree for the white Koonce family I am specifically tracking, but I figure I will get there eventually. Good to have it for later reference.

3. Abstracts 0f Wills, Edgecombe County by David B. Gammon – This was wonderful! It is a four-volume set that covers wills from 1732-1910. I photocopied almost every will that had a mention of any McNair, Wimberly, or Tannahill person. I see now that there were two I missed, so I’m making a note to get those when I go back. I also photocopied the indexes of volumes 3 & 4. I plan to make them PDFs and put them online so that others will know if the person of interest is at least mentioned. I’ll go back another time to get the indexes for Volumes 1-2.

4. Marriages of Early Edgecombe County 1733-1868 – Another great book. The authors have compiled early marriage bans, marriages as proved by county wills, as published in newspapers, and other various sources. I photocopied every page that had a reference to a Wimberly, McNair or Tannahill. I also copied the indexes from this book as well.

5. Tombstone & Census Records of Early Edgecombe County - This is a compilation of cemeteries throughout Edgecombe County. Again – I photocopied every reference to a McNair, Tannahill or Wimberly that I could find. I do see that I skipped one, so I’ll have to go back to get it.

Overall, a wonderful morning. I think however, that I am going to now have to create formal trees to track everyone I want!

Another Trip to the State Archives

Putting theory into practice, last night, I sat down and wrote a Research Plan for tracking possible slave-owners for my 3rd great-grandmother, Mariah Wimberly McNair. I have suspicions, but I’m now trying to follow-up on those suspicions. It starts with listing all the Wimberly’s that I could locate in 1870 in Edgecombe County (and I have found one so far in the neighboring Nash County). In that list, I have only three white Wimberly families and fortunately, they are the only ones in the area and held between them, close to 100 slaves.

After documenting several aspects, I then selected a few books that I wanted to look at more closely at the State Archives. While the TN archives does not have nearly as much NC info as I’d like, they do have a substantial collection and I am home this afternoon with a whole stack of photocopies to go through more extensively! I’ll post specifics later.

And, while I was there, I met a lady (and her mother) who had emailed me just two days ago in response to some information she found about an ancestor that I had posted in my Nashville Globe Blog. Must have been predestined for us to meet!

Roots TV

Roots TV is just awesome! Today, after reading Megan’s post of the changes to the site, I decided to take a look again and see what new videos have been posted. There are several videos that I had not yet had the opportunity to view, including lectures from the AAHGS Conference this past October in Salt Lake City. Last month I saw notice of the 2007 conference that will be in Boston and I am going to try and attend, so this is neat to be able to see some of the lectures online.

The lecture that I watched was Beth Wilson’s talk on “Trails Back, Tracing Ancestors in Slavery through Census, Probate and Land Records”and it was very enjoyable. I have to say though, the librarian in me is well suited to genealogy, b/c throughout the lecture she was giving hips/tips/advice for proper methods of genealogy research, the importance of documentation, etc, which all come very natural to me. I was happy to see that I at least knew a little bit of what I was doing.

What I found most helpful about her presentation were her techniques for tracking slaves in records. As I am about to get into original county records for my own slave owner searching, I know have ideas for helping me trace people. One comment she made also had to do with the importance of sharing information with other genealogists. In her case, she had occasion to go through the records of Howard County, Missouri and realized she could help in providing access to others, so she’s transcribed and made databases of the information she’s gathered. This is exactly what I aim to do in my own genealogy research, hence the focus I have right now on newspapers. It is SO important to share.

I hope to be able to watch more videos throughout the rest of the weekend.

My Digitized Microfilm

My digitized microfilm arrived today and I am ecstatic! This is going to be so much more convenient than making trips to the public library to scan the microfilm. My first batch that I had digitized were issues of newspapers from Kinston, NC and from Plymouth, NC. In fact, in the issue I just finished, I found my first reference to Ft. Barnwell (where my father is from). And, I also found a reference to the Koonce family I mentioned in a previous post.

Georgia Roots?

Today I had a chance to speak to one of my great-uncles and he shared a piece of family information that was new to me. He informs me that he’d heard that his grandfather, Samuel Lawhorn, came to NC from Georgia. Ancestry seems to be down right now, so I’m not able to do any searches, but perhaps this would explain why I’ve not been able to find any other Lawhorn families in NC in the 1870 census where he and his family reside.

The 1870 census record indicates they were born in NC, but perhaps that is inaccurate? Something new to explore!

Martha Jane "Mattie" Walker

Martha Jane “Mattie” Walker McNair
March 15, 1897 – September 24, 1991

Today is the birthday of my great-grandmother, Martha Walker McNair. She was born in North Carolina and lived most of her life in the Plymouth/Tarboro areas of Washington and Edgecombe County. Martha was the next to the youngest of 10 children that I know of, born to Anthony Walker and Martha Jane Baker.

Martha married Abraham Lincoln McNair and together they would have 10 children, 5 of whom died as young kids. Her only daughter to live to adulthood, Alice, is my grandmother.

I don’t know very much about Martha. I only have one memory of her, and that was when I was quite young and I remember her being in bed. My mother describes her as being quite stern and tough. I recently asked my mother is she could choose one word to describe her, what would it be – her answer, “Bossy.” Kalonji says that’s who I get it after :-)

Happy Birthday to my great-grandmother!

The USS Boxer

In looking at my grandfather Herman’s Report of Separation again over the weekend, I started to do some research on his service. He was enlisted in the US Navy from May 1944 to approximately June 1946. During this time, his records indicate he only served on one ship – the USS Boxer. He was a Stewards Mate 1st Class and I understand from my mother, that he had cooking responsibilities on the ship.

The USS Boxer was launched in December of 1944. It was the fifth ship to be named Boxer (CV-21) and it was an aircraft carrier. I found this wonderful picture of it’s launch on the US Naval Historical Center website of it being launched.


The ship’s first deployment was in September of 1945 and I don’t have any more specific details of my grandfather’s attachment date to the ship, but I would imagine he would have been on it by the time it went out to sea for the first time. Now, interestingly enough, I had always heard growing up that my grandfather had served in the Korean War, but now that I have his papers, I see that was not the case – he got out before the Korean War started (it started in 1950). I do know from the Dictionary of American Fighting Ships that from September 1945 – August 1946 the ship operated out of Guam and during this time went to Japan, Okinawa, the Phillipines and China. The ship returned home to the states to San Francisco in September 1946 and stayed there until deployed again in January of 1950.

We have this picture of Herman that was supposedly taken in Korea, however, I am trying to verify that the ship actually went to Korea during his service time.


Though my grandfather was off the ship by now, I love this 1950 picture of it in the bay of San Francisco with the crew members spelling out the ship’s name.


More information on the USS Boxer can be found at Wikipedia. My grandfather’s Report of Separation also indicates that he had four medals. I need to do some research on those – that will be a post for another day.

Obtaining Old Newspapers

In my last post, I had a comment that inquired how I obtained old newspapers. Thus far, I have ordered them from the North Carolina State Archives and State Library. They have a whole bunch of North Carolina Newspapers on microfilm as a result of the United States Newspaper Program. While they do offer interlibrary loan for the newspapers, I decided to take advantage of their microfilm duplication service – they charge $12 a reel. This is a much better option for me than interlibrary loan b/c I don’t have the time to go to the library and spend large chunks of time to look through them within a specific time frame and then return them, so it’s been easier for me to just own them and then I don’t have to return anything.

Even better, while I feel lucky to have the Nashville Public Library to be able to go to and do digital scans of the microfilm, I have recently found a service that will convert my microfilm to digital images for me. I plan to send them two reels this week and their turn around time is two days, so by the weekend, I should have enough digital newspaper images to keep me busy indexing for a couple of months. They are not cheap, but for the money I pay to the drop-in daycare that I use for Kaleya when I do go to the library, a reel costs me equivalent to two trips to the library. So, it will be WELL worth it!

Now that I know the library does microfilm duplication, they also do the same for all the county records they have on microfilm. So, next month, I plan to purchase some county records on microfim, namely, some from Jones County (see previous post).

Didn’t Take Long

Last month, I ordered microfilm of the newspaper from Kinston, NC (my father is from outside of Kinston). I ordered the microfilm b/c I have many, many relatives from the outskirts of Kinston, that while technically in a different county, still seem to be missing (well, obits anyway) from that county’s newspapers. So, I figured I’d look more closely at Kinston (Lenoir County).

Today, I went to the public library to scan some issues. Wouldn’t you know, the very first issue I scan has an obituary for a Koonce? (my name!). However, it is a white Koonce (of course, there are many white Koonce’s in the area) and to be honest, I have not really researched the white Koonce families in order to ascertain a connection to my Koonce family.

The lady in mention here is Carrie Heritage Koonce. She was 68 and her funeral was held on October 9, 1928. It does not mention when she died. She was the daughter of Dr. Heritage Blount. I did a search in Ancestry and find what appears to be her information – if it is correct, her husband was Bryan Koonce and her first name was Caroline. Unfortunately, there is no contact information for the person who submitted the gedcom. Hmm.. another search reveals a gedcom for Carrie’s father, but they do not have Carrie – but a brother listed. I think I’ll email them. I love the internet!

Here is Carrie and her family in the 1920 census. Her husband was still alive and it seems his first name started with an M, Bryan may have been his middle name? But they are listed with kids M.B., Lucille and John. Seems the family worked in a grocery store. The family also had two lodgers living with them.

I also see from searching the New Bern Obituary Index, that her obit also appeared in the Morning New Bernian newspaper as well. Cool.

UPDATE: It’s about 8 hours later and I think and am hopeful that I have some good leads. As a result of that email to the person I indicate above, I now know a lot more about Carrie’s family. Her husband appears to be from the Koonce’s of Jones’ County, NC. A search of the 1860 Slave Schedules shows that these Koonce’s owned a TON of slaves. And, they are clustered primarily in Jones County (one group in Onslow County).

Besides, I do know that there are also Black Koonce’s in Jones County today that we are supposedly related to somehow? So, I am hopeful. Over the next couple of months, I am making this my primary genealogy research goal. I plan to order Estate Records, Wills, etc and any original documents that I can get my hands on of the Koonce family of Jones county. Of note, (not that these names are uncommon), but the Carrie’s husband, Marrion – his father’s name was James and he had a sister named Caroline. My great-grandfather’s mother’s name was Caroline and her father’s name was James. Like I said – they are common names – but it gives me a little hope :-) I’m going to bed now – this search could keep me awake all night!