Update on NCGenWeb

Thanks everyone who commented on the NCGenWeb redesign and all of my other crazy activities.  Over the past couple of days I’ve continued to work on NCGenWeb “stuff” and am quite excited by all that is developing.   As I take the time to futher explore more of the county sites, I am finding information & connections that I did not even know was avaialable.

For example, I was speaking with the State Coordinator, Diane, who is also the County Coordinator for Craven County – that is the county my father is from.  In reviewing the cemetery photos she has posted to the site, I saw that she had my father’s family cemetery there, Mitchell Cemetery.  My father’s parents, along with many of his aunts & uncles and cousins are all buried there and I was ecstatic to see it.  I last visited the cemetery in 2006 when my grandmother died and while I’d taken pictures, I did not get everyone.  A couple of years ago, a FindAGrave volunteer posted photos in the cemetery, but it was nice to see Mitchell represented on the Craven site as well.

I was also corresponding with the County Coordinator for Henderson county on some technical matters and as I was reviewing that site, I noticed in the surname list the name Kirkpatrick/Kilpatrick.   One of my ancestors, Silas Kilpatrick, is said by family tradition to have come from Black Mountain, NC, which is in a county next to Henderson.  We know that Silas was a slave within the white Kilpatrick family, but I had not yet had time to investigate any Kilpatrick associations on that side of the state, and since I was told Black Mountain, I would have likely focused on it’s county instead of the neighbor county.  Well, Kathy informed me that there is a white Silas Kirkpatrick  listed in the 1835 Poll Book, residing in Crabtree precinct of Haywood County NC which is not too far from Black Mountain! This is great and gives me another lead for my family research.

In addition, I posted on the NCGenWeb News blog about the Randolph County Coordinator setting up an RSS feed for the county site.  He already Twitters on behalf of the project so this is yet another avenue for further promoting the information available.   Also, I am helping two county coordinators better understand WordPress as an option for redesigning their county sites.

Exciting time in NC indeed!

Using Ancestry Trees

With the recent news of Ancestry updating their Online Member Trees I have been thinking over this for a few days now.  Randy’s excellent post describing his experiences with the new interface prompted me to go ahead and explore it for myself and I was quite pleased.  While the changes they have currently implemented are an improvement from my own personal use experience, I am eagerly looking forward to the additional enhancements that are planned that will create an online environment more like Footnote’s that really helps promote social networking.

One of my projects I’ve been working on for the past three years is indexing old issues of the Roanoke Beacon Newspaper of Plymouth, Washington County, North Carolina.  I have a web database of information extracted from the paper and a corresponding blog.  I use these as avenues for sharing the information that I find.  I also will post items to the mailing listservs on Ancestry in order to further get the word out there.  I know that those related to the people mentioned in the newspapers would welcome the chance to read more about their ancestors.  In my experience so far, I’ve received feedback from other genealogists on how an obituary or wedding announcement has helped lead to knew areas of research, or make connections they were previously unable to prove.  That is why I love doing this! However, I’m always seeking ways to further spread some of the information I find.  With the changes at Ancestry, I thought this might be the time to give it another try.  I have an outdated version of my own family tree up, as well as a few other trees, but did not pursue fully linking individuals in them to Ancestry records, etc.

Over the weekend, I uploaded my GEDCOM of individuals from Washington & Martin counties, NC.  I’d initially started doing this file on my own website using TNG: the Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding software.  I had an idea in the past to do a broad community-based approach, so as I collected information about individuals, I would add them.   It had been awhile since I actively added anything of significance to this GEDCOM, so I uploaded it to the Ancestry Online Member Trees.

The upload was very fast, and it was then I discovered that my file was larger than I thought, with more than 700 people.  Those Ancestry shaky leafs immediately started to appear and I started linking people to Ancestry records.  So far, I have enjoyed using the site.  Navigation is easy, pages load quickly, and I am able to quickly see what other Ancestry users have these individuals as part of their tree.  For each newspaper item that I put online, I am linking it to the appropriate people and building up their family trees.

Here is an example of an article I found about an Easter recital of young Emily Harney. The description of the church’s reaction to her recital is precious – could you imagine this being your own ancestor and learning about this? Emily  was only 4 years old at the time too and I wonder if this was ever known to her or passed down to other family members?

There are five names mentioned in the article, and I’ve connected each person to it.  This is especially helpful since often in this time period (late 1800s, early 1900s) , women were identified as Mrs. (insert husband name here).  I n this example, Mrs. P.W. Brinkley is Addie May (Latham) Brinkley,  Mrs. W.C. Hassell is Martha (Ward) Hassell, Emily’s mom was named Hope (Hunter) Harney.  Lossie was the last person I linked up and guess what I discovered?  She married a man name Amos KOONCE! (gotta love it! – now that gives me a new person for my Koonce Genealogy Surname project — more details on that later).

I was able to trace little Emily’s  line forward very quickly in about 30 minutes and found a couple of possible current descendants of hers, one on Facebook. But, at the least, having it online at Ancestry may help anyone actively seeking for her or her family.  So now, as I have time and continue to transcribe these newspaper issues, I’ll begin to do more of this online tree work.   Despite all the advantages I can see with this, the major disadvantage is that you have to be a subscriber to see it.  However, I think Ancestry’s membership is going to continue to rapidly expand, and I always have the option of downloading my GEDCOM and creating reports that I can subseqently share with others in free venues and sites.

Based on my experiences the last few days, even though I do like it tremendously, of course I have suggestions for improvements:

1. Bio excerpt – I would appreciate having a part of the screen where we could put a 2-3 bio of a person so that at a glance I know a bit about them without having to look through the timeline.  This may not be an issue for one’s own personal tree, but I know many of us work on trees of others and individuals to whom we are not related.  There is some blank space currently at the top underneath the birth/death details where this could sit.

2. Know when your photo is used – Since photos & documents posted to someone else’s tree, it would be great to receive notification when this happens. For example, another Ancestry user had a picture of the headstone for Addie May Latham, so I linked that picture to my tree. Did the original submitter receive any notification that I’d done this? I don’t have a lot of pictures on Ancestry, but I’ve never received notifications such as this. It is helpful to see where it is linked when I go to the actual item, but alerts can speed up the process of being informed.

3. Uploading a photo — speaking of photos, currently, when an image is uploaded, the default “type” is set to Photo.  However, Ancestry recognizes several different types – Photo, Site, Headstone, Document & Other.  If you upload an image and it is not a photo, it takes several more clicks to get back to the “Edit Information” screen to change the type.   I would like the option to set the Type on the same screen when I upload the photo.

4.  Photo permanency –  If I attach someone else’s photo to my tree and they delete that photo -does it get deleted from my tree too?  If so, I would like to see this change.  Of course the photo would “belong” to the submitter, but i would like to see copyright options added (such as Creative Commons), that would help facilitate more permanent access — sort of like submitting the photo to Wikipedia/Flickr/Picasa Commons to let others know that it can be reused with appropriate attributions.

5. Ancestry Hints — after I read through all the comments on Ancestry’s post announcing the changes with the online trees, I see that they separated out Ancestry Tree hints from Historical Document hints on a person’s profile page.   That is quite helpful! I would however like to suggest this be extended a bit further. When you are on the “Pedigree View” or the “People with Hints” pages, there is an indication of how many Ancestry Hints you have, but only the number is given. I would like to see these pages offer a visual distinction of if the hint was a Tree vs. Historical hint.

6.  More generations in Descendant View — the current Pedigree view options for descendants only lets you see 2 generations below the selected individual. I would like to see this expanded to 4 or 5 generations.  I think their zoom in/zoom out bar can handle that!  On a related note, last night Randy posted his 2nd post about using the online trees and he comments that moving from generation to generation is still cumbersome and there is a lack of useful reports that can be printed. Agreed! I am sure they will, in time, get around to fixing this.

7. Better customer service — as I’ve been exploring the trees and getting used to them again, I’ve had several questions.  I’ve sent three questions to Ancestry.com – two through their formal help on their website and one through Twitter.  I’ve had no response to any of them.  I could have posted to their blog I guess, but I felt it would be out of place then.

So, I’ll continue to use the online trees to build up this community, and will add more newspaper information but am definitely interested in the next phase and seeing if any of my suggestions make it into the update!

Saturday Night Fun This Week

I’m feeling all inspired again with my genealogy blogging! I’ve gotten some great thoughts from reading others’ blogs. For this post, I’m taking Randy up on his last Saturday Night Fun quest, Where Were They in 1909?

The task was as follows:

1) Which of your ancestors were alive in 1909?

2) Tell us where your ancestral families were living in 1909. What country, state, county, city/town, etc. Who was in the family at the time? Use the 1910 census as “close enough.”

3) Have you found each of these families in the 1910 census?

Here is a brief synopsis of my ancesestral families and what they were up to in1909. To keep it simple, I’m going to go three generations back to my great-grandparents.

Barfield & Josephine (Holloway) Koonce - my father’s paternal grandparents were both alive and living in Craven County, North Carolina.  The family was from this area.  In 1909 they had been married for about six years and had two children, son Hampton and daughter Minnie.  The third child that appears in their 1910 census record would not be born until early in 1910.

William Lawhorn Jr. - In 1909, my father’s maternal grandfather was not yet born! He was born August of 1910, so his parents, Sam & Cora (Cox) Lawhorn were close to his arrival as their 3rd child.  His parents were also living in Craven County, NC and I have located them in the 1910 census. His future wife, Pearlie Kilpatrick, was not born until 1912.  I’ve found her too in 1910.

Lewis “Christopher Columbus” Robinson & Lucinda (Lennon) Robinson – my mother’s paternal grandparents have thus far eluded me in the 1910 census.  I periodically search for them, but I’m not sure where to look for them! They were both from the Columbus County area of North Carolina, but by 1920 they’d moved to New York.  I do not know for certain when they were married, but their oldest child, Ethel,  was born in 1908 in Wilmington, New Hanover County, North Carolina.   Their next child was not born for another 5 years. I have located a man that fits his description (age, race, state of birth) in the 1910 census living in Trenton, NY as a hired man, but I’m not sure if this is really him or not.  If it is him, I suspect perhaps Lucinda may have been living with family with their young daughter? In any case, I’ve still got some searching to do.

Abraham Lincoln McNair- In 1909, my mother’s maternal grandfather was a 13 year-old boy living  in Plymouth, Washington County, North Carolina with his father and five siblings.  His mom, Gracy (Bullock) McNair seems to have passed by 1909 and soon after, his father would remarry.  His future wife, Martha Jane Walker, was 12 years old, living in the same town, with her own parents, Anthony Walker and Martha Jane Baker and 4 other siblings.  I have located both of them in the 1910 census.

So, of my 8 great-grandparents, only two were not yet born in 1909.  I obviously have work to do tracking Lewis & Lucinda down in 1910.  Very interesting to reflect on this.  Thanks Randy!

Happy Birthday Rashid

Sunday, June 7th, 2009 is my brother’s birthday.  Happy Birthday Rashid!  I’m posting this slightly early becuase he is overseas, so for him, it’s already his birthday.

In order to mark the occasion, here’s a flashback from the past – a picture from when he was just a itty bitty baby. Awww……

A Koonce & Koonce Expedition

Today I took my first “real” genealogy field trip! I met fellow Koonce researcher John & his wife Nancy today and we ventured down to Lincoln County, TN to do some cemetery searching and hopping.  I am absolutely exhausted this evening, but it was a great day.

John has been doing Koonce research for many years now and I contacted him a few months ago after learning about the Koonce to Koonce newsletter – he and some other Koonce researchers published it for about 4 years in the 90s.  He happened to be in town this weekend and it worked out that I could go with them down to Fayetteville, TN where John had helped secure a new headstone for Revolutionary War Soldier, Phillip Koonce.   We spent in all about 6 hours in town and thought it was raining off and on, we still were able to do quite a bit.  John was able to share with me information that he’d learned from previous discussions and time spent with a Fayetteville native, Robert Allen Gray.  The Koonce families of this county are not related to me.  They do descend from the same ancestors as the Koonce families I have as candidate slaveholders of my families, but since I’ve developed an interest in Koonces all over, it almost makes no difference to me :-)

Stewarts Cemetery —  When we arrived, the first cemetery we went to was Stewart’s Cemetery.  This is a pretty large cemetery and we saw several Koonce’s buried there.  There was one corner of the cemetery that Robert Allen had told John had slaves and we saw a few headstones. Unfortunately, I did not remember to put my camera card in the camera so the pictures I took are on my camera’s internal memory and I don’ t know where my transfer cord is.  I took a picture of a couple of Koonce family members and saw the headstones of a few others.

Kelso-Koonce-McCartney-McGee. Cemetery - We then went over to the Kelso-Koonce-McCartney-McGee Cemetery where Phillip Koonce is buried. John described how about 7 years ago, Robert Allen took him here and showed him a piece of a wall.  They knew there must be a cemetery there, but it was completey overgrown.  John and Robert started searching through the brush and found headstones and from there, the work was begun to clear it. There is now an open space where you can see about 50 markers and the area is kept up by a local resident.  John ordered a govt headstone for Phillip and a nearby church had a refuneralization of sorts when it was placed.   Though they don’t know for sure Phillip is there, his wife and daughter’s headstones are there and there was an empty spot in between – likely spot for him to be.

From Fayetteville Trip
From Fayetteville Trip

Koonce Lane — then, we went down the road to Koonce Lane in search of the Grills-Koonce cemetery.

From Fayetteville Trip

This was a gravel road for the most part and along the way we passed this big pink house.  This used to the the home of Robert Manley Koonce, a descendant of Phillip and the home and land remained in the Koonce family until the 1950s.

From Fayetteville Trip

We kept driving a ways, but never found the cemetery; though from a map John had, we knew it was pretty far off the road.  The rain kept us from really investigating further.

Lunch @ Marvin’s Family Restaurant – Then, we went back to town to have lunch with another Koonce descendant, a Mr. Frank Kelso and his wife Landess. Turns out that Mr. Kelso had quite a distinguished Naval career before retiring ; he is the former Chief of Naval Operations, the highest-ranking office in the Navy, and a 4-star Naval Admiral.  He and his wife bought us all lunch and we spent some time talking about the Koonce family history.  Frank’s grandmother was the daughter of Robert Manley Koonce.  Frank then told us that the Lincoln County Genealogical Society, which we’d passed on the way into town, was open on Sunday afternoons, so we planned to stop there before we left.

Rose Hill Cemetery – after lunch, Frank and Landess took us over to Rose Hill Cemetery and showed us where his great-grandfather was buried.   The rain began to pick-up again, so we didn’t take too many photos, but I got a few of the headstones.  It was at this point that we said our goodbyes to Frank and Landess – they were so nice!

From Fayetteville Trip

Lincoln County Genealogical Society — I couldn’t believe our luck that the Society held regular hours on Sunday afternoon. We stopped in and the staff helped us locate a burial list for the Grilles-Koonce cemetery we never found; as well as a list of people buried at Stewart’s Cemetery and the cemetery where Phillip Koonce is at.  They also had a research binder that used to belong to another Koonce researcher, Alice Koonce of Refugio, TX and in the front of the binder was John’s old business card w/ his own handwriting on it. That was a coincidence.  They also had a family file folder with obituaries and other notes on various Koonce family members.  We made a few photocopies and then headed back out.  The society has an online prescence, so I’ll be sure to be making future contact with them again.

After lunch we went back to Phillip Koonce’s grave and that is when I actually took some of the pictures of that plot. Then, we headed back to Nashville. It takes about an 90 minutes to make the drive so it was not a bad trip.  I had a great time getting to speak with John & Nancy and talk shop about the Koonce families. Being on the actual land where these people lived and being at their gravesites makes them so much more real to me now.   I hope to have a chance to make a trip back; I’d love to learn more in the future.

From Fayetteville Trip

Thanks John, Nancy, Frank & Landess – I had a great day! However, I am now thoroughly exhausted, I’m not sure I’m completely over my cold :-)

Happy Anniversary to My Parents and Step-Parents

The month of March brings wedding anniversaries for all of my parents. :-)

March 17th is the anniversary date for my mother and step-father.  This year marks their 14th wedding anniversary.  

March 25th marked the anniversary date for my father and stepmother.  This year marks their 20th wedding anniversary. 

Happy Anniversary!

I was not present at my mother’s wedding, but for my father’s wedding me, my aunt and my grandmother were all dressed alike for the wedding.  We wore pink dresses with ruffles, pearls, had white handbags and white shoes.  I still rememer going shopping for my dress and a few years later, my aunt even wore my dress to an event she attended.  I was 13 years old.  I rediscovered the picture in my email files earlier this month and originally planned to post it yesterday, the actual anniversary date of daddy’s wedding but I was busy studying.  

From My Digital Scrapbook Layouts

Credits: Quick page template designed by Mandy

Wordless Wednesday: E.B. Koonce Mortuary

Postcard image sent to me by John P. Koonce of E.B. Koonce Morturary in St. Louis, Missouri.   The mortuary was owned by Ernest Benjamin Koonce and his wife Virginia from what I have been able to determine via some quick research.  This African-American Koonce family is not related to me, but as I’m now on a mission to collect Koonce families,  they will be added to my database. 

koonce_mortuary

Search Enhancements At GenealogyBank

I really need to go to bed, but I just had to post this!

I was sneaking a peek in GenealogyBank.com tonight and noticed that they have made some enhancements to their search interface for the Historical Newspapers Collection.   When you go to the search screen, you are shown several new search options that were not there last time I searched about a month ago.  I don’t see an announcement on the GenealogyBank blog though. (update 2/18/09 — today, they made a blog post about it)

The first new item on the search screen is the option to search the *updated content* that is added to the database.  GB often adds new pages and I’d written to them several months ago that it would be nice to be able to search the new additions only.  I was told that it was coming, and now it’s here.  At the time of this post, the options for searching just the updated content allow you to select things added since Feb 2009, since Jan 2009, or since Dec 2008.

genealogybank

They have also added a graphic map of the United States with blue dots to represent locations where they have newspaper content.   While it’s not my dream vision of seeing a Google Maps ultra-mashup of all the online digitized newspapers online, it is a nice view to get a sense for where they have coverage and where they don’t.  I wish all providers of historical newspapers would do something similar.   Beneath the graphic is a list of all the states and you can select which states to limit your search to.  Previously, you could only select one state at at time; now you can select multiple states.

If you haven’t searched GenealogyBank in awhile, you should revisit it.  If you are not a subscriber,  try out the one-month trial.  (No affiliation, just a very happy customer).

To add to my excitement about the new search options, I also found something of great interest to me.  In my last post, I shared how this week has been all about my Koonce research.   A lot has happened this past week with that.  Well, as I often do, I did a keyword search for a city of interest for blog fodder, and one of my results was a slave runaway advertisement that I’d seen before and blogged about previously.  I’d selected to search new content only, so even though this was something I’d seen before, I knew that often ads were run in multiple issues.  I decided to take a look at this particular issue of  the New Bern Sentinel and as I was browsing the pages, I came across this marriage announcement

kooncedavid_marriage

Source: “Marriage: David Nunn & Alice Koonce.” New Bern Sentinel 6 Sept. 1823. GenealogyBank. 16 Feb. 2009 <http://www.genealogybank.com>.

This is the marriage notice of David Nunn and Alice Koonce who married in Jones County, North Carolina in 1823.  I am quite happy to see this! I have Alice Koonce & David Nunn in my “other” Koonce gedcom collection.  I added David & Alice after *meeting* Jennifer, another African-American Koonce researcher who is descended from a slave David sold to his brother-in-law Isaac, named Solomon.   Isaac, as part of some of the pioneer families migrating from North Carolina, moved to Tennessee, bringing Solomon with him and that is where Jennifer’s family is from.  She’s got a wonderful website and blog with more details.  In any case, I just happened to browse the pages and I see a notice of David & Alice’s wedding.   Up until now, I’d only had secondary sources for their marriage.   I can’t believe I have yet another Koonce-related discovery and I wasn’t even searching for it!

I Proclaim This My Koonce Week

This past week or so has been especially rewarding for me – asI’ve had a cluster of activity around my Koonce surname.

In these past several days I’ve spoken to the daughter of my great-aunt that recently passed away, spoken to two Koonce descendants who also have ties to Lenoir & Craven counties in NC; and gotten permission from a third Koonce researcher to post the issues of the Koonce to Koonce newsletter online.

To top it off, today after doing some searching at Newspaper Archive.com, my mother found mention of my grandfather’s (William Koonce Sr.)  fatal car accident in a story that was picked up by the Associated Press on New Year’s fatalities from the new year of 1976.  I’ve blogged before about my experience reading court records involving his accident, and to read his name in the newspaper brought those same feelings back again- it truly feels like going back in time.  It is just one sentence, but it is a powerful sentence for me.  I’ve not yet found a newspaper obituary for my grandfather, so this is the closest I’ve come yet.

In the Syracuse Herald-Journal newspaper of Syracuse, New York, there is an article that was published January 2, 1976 titled “Hoodlums, Accidents, Fire Mar Holiday Spirit” and here is my grandfather listed among the fatalities

kooncewilliam_apstory