Genealogy Activities

Recording the Church History

My father’s family is from Craven County, North Carolina, and one of the churches his family worships in is Alum Springs Church. Today, the church held a celebration and my great-aunt, who is a member there and heavily involved in church activities, asked if I could contribute to the program and research the history of the church graveyard. I was also interested in finding out if I might be able to uncover more information about the history of the church than what they knew.

Alum Springs Church

I was pleased to work on it and during my research, I learned that the Alum Springs Church had been given to local African American families after the civil war.

Robert Cox headstone

Originally a meeting house that belonged to Lane’s Chapel Methodist Church. Originally called Cox’s Meeting House, their church was burned during the Civil War and they built a structure to replace it but gave it to the local African American families once they decided to rebuild again.

As I researched the burials, the oldest one I could find documented was that of my 5th great-grandfather, Robert Cox. His headstone still stands and is still legible, showing he was born in 1823 and died in 1908. Robert’s daughter Cora, was the grandmother of my grandmother Cora. My cousin Cora is also named after the same daughter Cora, and many Cox descendants still worship in the church.

I was so delighted to have a chance to put together a short historical overview for the church! I contributed the write-up to the Craven County NCGenWeb site, so if you are interested, you can read it there.

 

Adopting Jefferson County KYGenWeb

My volunteer activities with the national USGenWeb Project brings me great satisfaction as, through it, I am able to help others in their genealogy research.  If you are not familiar with the project, through the generous time donations of hundreds of volunteers, we have websites with free genealogy resources for all 3,000+ counties in the country.

I am most involved with the Tennessee and North Carolina groups (TNGenWeb and NCGenWeb respectively), but do have a few counties in other states. Last week, I was ecstatic to be able to adopt two more counties in Kentucky – including the site or Jefferson County, where Louisville is located.

I was so tickled to then find this shirt at the store the very next day so I had to get it to give my props to Muhammad Ali who was from Louisville.

Me in my Muhammad Ali shirt

I don’t have family roots to Louisville (though Kalonji did live in the area for several years), but I am excited about learning more about the city’s rich history.  I have started the process of redesigning the website, so here’s a sneak peek. If you have any roots in the area, let me know!

New design for Jefferson County KYGenWeb

An Indexing Project Comes to Fruition

Between 2013-2015, one of the side projects I started was to create a master index of names that appeared in Loose Estate Files of North Carolina. The North Carolina Genealogical Society partnered with FamilySearch to help index the names that appeared in the files so that they could then become searchable on the FamilySearch website.

Well, I then started my own project – I created an index of names by county as a way to make it easier to identify people based on a geographic location. I also did it to make it easier to locate names with alternate spelling variations. I thought doing so would make great additions to the NCGenWeb county websites; another way for me to contribute as an NCGenWeb volunteer. I worked on the project over the course of two years and donated it to the NC Genealogical Society, who agreed it had value and they posted it on their website. I indexed 48 counties.

Back in 2015, I had to stop given a roadblock with FamilySearch, but today I am pleased to share that the NC Genealogical Society has updated what I started! They indexed another 45 counties and updated the index now that all the counties are posted to FamilySearch. If you have research interests in NC, you absolutely MUST check this out!  Hat tip to Katherine Benbow, a fellow volunteer in the NCGenWeb Project, for alerting me to the update!

 

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  🙂

I’m A Guest Blogger!

Just a quick post to tell you all to go check my guest post over on Lisa Lisson’s blog – Are You My Cousin?.  My post talks about the use of the Slave Narratives for genealogy research.  Go check out your girl at http://lisalisson.com/2016/02/19/using-the-slave-narratives-for-african-american-research/.  🙂

Incorporating Genealogy in College Coursework

These past few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to engage in a rather interesting experiment. The hubby teaches at a local HBCU and in his course, Introduction to Africana Studies, we had the students do a family tree assignment.  It was so interesting!

Specifically, it was the first time I’ve ever put together an “official” instruction on completing your family tree and getting started in genealogy research.  My goals for the classes were to keep it simple though. My outline was as follows:

  • Each student registered for a FamilySearch account (perfect platform b/c it’s free!)
  • I asked them to complete a basic 4-generation pedigree on paper first
  • then, document their family in FamilySearch Family Tree & submit a screenshot of the portrait view of their tree
  • and an important component of the process was for them to interview family members

One slide from my PPT presentation; shows where to go to build your tree on FamilySearch

Overall, many of the students reported the assignment was a rewarding experience. I can’t tell you how heartwarming it was to read their reports about the exercise and how it helped them appreciate their families more.  Many students reported how excited their parents, grandparents, etc. were that they were asking. It made me smile on the inside each time. 🙂

Of course, there were students who had more difficult experiences, such as not being close enough on one side of their family to be privy to any information and that was heartbreaking at times. But, all in all, even they did what the could and chose to focus on the part of their tree where they could do more.

Now that we are at the end of this exercise, there are more families now documented in Family Tree now ready for others to find and build upon. And, most importantly, perhaps one of them will truly be inspired to continue what they started.  Just trying to do my part!

Come Listen to Me on AAGSAR You Got Roots?

African-American Genealogy + Technology — a formula after my own heart! Over the past several months, fellow geneablogger Luckie Daniels, has been engaged in helping others really push forward with their slave-based genealogical research through the group African-American Genealogy and Slave Ancestor Research.  One very important aspect of the groups efforts are to fully engage technology in the process — thus, participants are either blogging already, or become bloggers as a way to communicate their processes and document their family stories.  You may know by now that I am very much into using technology and I just LOVE the groups’ goals!

One more recent initiatives of the group is the creation of a new BlogTalkRadio show. Called “You Got Roots?” the radio show will help inspire and move forward the conversations around this very important work. I am so pleased to share that this Sunday, March 16th, at 6pm EST, yours truly will be a guest on the show, along with Cornell University Historian Edward E. Baptist.

Won’t you listen in and check us out? More details at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/aagsaryougotroots/2014/03/16/genealogy-people-of-color-where-are-we-on-the-journey.

 

 

AAHGS 2013 National Conference – Day 2

Had another great day at the Annual Conference of the African-American Historical and Genealogical Society today! This morning I did my 2nd presentation – one that discusses the potential of using WordPress for genealogy.  If you know me, you know I love WordPress, so I was more than pleased to spend the time sharing it with attendees and answering many questions.  I have uploaded my slides and my handout for your reference if interested.

After my presentation the family and I attended the lunch session and had the opportunity to hear Ms. Ashley Bouknight speak. She is the Assistant Curator at the Hermitage, the home of President Andrew Jackson, and gave a presentation about the former enslaved persons of the estate and what is known about them.  Some very interesting information. I visited the Hermitage in January with the kids and learned a lot then. I still have some follow-up I want to do about one of the former enslaved in particular, so I’ll need to reach out to Ashley!

Ashely discusses the Hermitage

Lunch was a serving of crusted salmon, chicken, broccoli and sweet potatoes. Quite tasty.

yummy lunch

meeting Marsha – she too has family connections to Craven County NC!

The conference planning was done in large part by our Nashville AAHGS Chapter officers Chajuan and Pamela. They did a wonderful job and were acknowledged for their efforts by AAHGS President Tamela Tenpenny-Lewis.  They definitely deserved it!

Chajuan and Pamela receive much deserved acknowledgement

And, look who had her picture taken with Mrs. Carrie Gentry!  Mrs. Gentry is celebrating a birthday tomorrow and Kaleya’s is Wednesday.  Everyone sang happy birthday to Mrs. Gentry and Tamela asked everyone to also wish Kaleya a happy birthday – how kind!

I had such a great time overall. As my first genealogy conference I really enjoyed getting to meet everyone. Perhaps next year I will actually be able to go and attend sessions!  Thanks everyone. 🙂

What’s in Store for 2013?

Well, that I don’t know! But, I do know that 2012 was full of great genealogy activities for me and I look forward to what this next year will bring.  I have not blogged as much as I’d like because I have been busy, yet, I hope that changes in 2013. Check out my wordle for my 2012 blog posts – I do find it particularly telling what I talked about 🙂

What are some of my genealogy highlights from  2012?

What’s in store (that I know of) for 2013?

  • We are planning some great database additions for the TNGenWeb and have had a great group of volunteers helping out
  • I’ll be doing a webinar as part of the Southern California Genealogical Society’s Jamboree Extension Series
  • I am helping with Nashville’s chapter of the Afro-American Historical & Genealogical Society by building their new website, special projects and helping with the hosting of the national conference this year in Nashville

Along with these things, I continue to be very proud of my involvement with the USGenWeb project and our mission to bring free genealogy online for researchers.  I am State Coordinator for TNGenWeb,  Asst. State Coordinator and Webmaster for NCGenWeb, and Assistant State Coordinator for FLGenWeb, so when I’m not working on my own stuff, you can find me sharing happily for these groups.  🙂  

Bring it on 2013!

 

Come Browse My Genealogy Digital Bookshelf

Approximately two years ago, I created an online site to help me organize all the great books and resources I was finding on the Internet Archive’s website. I call it my Genealogy Digital Bookshelf. I have been posting to it sporadically, but have been using it pretty regularly as my genealogy research takes me from state to state. 

Recently, I decided to freshen-up the site and will start posting to it more regularly.   I updated the theme, and added several pictures of libraries – just to make it feel more “authentic.”    🙂

I encourage you to follow along – you never know what may turn out to be of interest.  There is an RSS Feed, a Facebook page, and a Twitter account.  Visit the site – look on the right sidebar and choose.