Today my genealogy blog is 5 years old.
Wow! My first post on the blog was not lengthy, but in it, I hypothesized that I’d use this blog to “document what I learn as I research my family’s genealogy.” That has certainly turned out to be the case too. While I initially was not sure I needed to start another blog, since I’d already maintained a personal website for 6 years, it was a wise decision. Not everyone shares my obsession
After that initial post, a few weeks went by before I posted again, but those early weeks had me absolutely hooked into genealogy. I ordered many certificates, joined Ancestry, connected with family members, and also started reading other genealogy blogs. One of the first bloggers I interacted with, Nita, is no longer blogging about her family genealogy it seems, but we shared the Koonce surname among our family trees.
In the past 5 years I have continued to blog about my family tree, but have expanded to trees of my friends and postings on various aspects in the geneasphere that capture my interest – namely, genealogy 2.0, technology, and in accordance with my information science background – information resources.
Here’s to many more years of geneablogging!
Last night while browsing through my RSS feeds I happened across a blog post on the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society News website requesting help in finding a photo of David Hillis Wilson. David Hillis Wilson (1909-1962), a native of Raleigh, NC , was a former archivist at Fisk University (here in my city of Nashville, Tennessee), a professor at Morris Brown College in Atlanta, and also worked as an archivist at the Allied Force Records Administration.
The librarian and genealogist that I am, I quickly started looking to see what information I could find. Mr. Wilson’s obituary provides further details of his life, including that he attended Shaw University in Raleigh. Noting this, I thought to perhaps look for Shaw University yearbooks. I sent a couple of emails out, but then again, it was late Saturday night — I knew I’d not hear anything until Monday at the earliest. My next thought then was to look for family members; that’s what genealogists do right?
15 minutes later I had a telephone number for Mr. Wilson’s son! I called him today and he says that he can indeed provide a photo of his father to the group! Is that not excellent or what! I am looking forward to seeing how this develops!
Last night, my husband and I were watching Roots: The Next Generations. We watch this periodically and each time I watch it, I do some online searching to add to the tree I’m building for Alex Haley’s family. It’s just a curiosity I have.
One storyline that fascinates my husband is that of the interracial couple portrayed in the mini-series. In the show, Jim Warner, the son of an established Henning County, TN citizen, Colonel Warner, becomes interested in a black school teacher, Carrie. Carrie is said to have been a member of the 2nd graduating class of Fisk University (here in my home city of Nashville) and Jim and she eventually marry. Jim is subsequently outcast by his father, who declares him to be treated as a black man by all white citizens of the county. Jim and Carrie have a child, who grows up to be a doctor. My husband is particularly interested in knowing more about this doctor.
In my quest to learn more about Jim and Carrie and try to find them in the records, I was not sure where to start. In the mini-series, many of the last names of the people were changed from the book, and the events in this follow-up mini-series were not even completely covered in the book Roots. I consulted our hard copy of Roots and also saw that Carrie is described as having graduated from Lane College, not Fisk. With these type of alterations to the facts, I was unsure how to really search. As I tried several strategies in vain, my husband said, “what about searching for mulatto children? Does the database let you do that?”
At first, I didn’t think that would work. Surely there would be many mulatto children right? But I did search the 1880 census using that criteria and sure enough, there were only 5 results for Lauderdale County, TN. The first three I quickly discounted given the age. The fourth one I did go ahead and look at the original census record, but it was an indexing mistake; the person in question while indexed as mulatto was enumerated as black. The 5th one was more interesting however.
Jas could be short for James; and Jim, the name used in the miniseries is also short for James. The wife here is named Carrie. The surname Turner is also not too far off from Warner. Is this the family? I go to look at the census record. I open the page and before I get to the Turner family I see someone familiar. Alex Haley’s 2nd-great grandfather, Chicken George! (George Lea was his name).
And soon after him on the page is the Turner couple. Jas. B. is enumerated as Mulatto, Carrie is black and is a Schoolteacher by occupation. They have two children, a son and a daughter, also enumerated as black. Now, I am pretty sure this is the family in the mini-series! Perhaps the Mulatto enumeration for Jas. stems from how his family outcast him? I’ll be continuing my search to see if I can further verify if this is indeed the couple and to see if I can find out more information about this James’ parents. I do know that there was a prominent white Hardin Turner in the county and James has named his son Hardin.
I am pretty sure it is them though. I located Jim & Carrie in the 1900 and 1910 census records of Lauderdale County. In 1910, their son Hardin is listed as Hardin A. In 1910, I found Hardin Alexander Turner, born about the right time in Tennessee, living in Ouachita County, Arkansas and is a doctor! A check of the 1912 Catalog of Meharry Medical College (also here in Nashville) and I find he graduated from there in 1906.
I’m trying to locate more about this family and the search continues. Just think, all this due to a search suggestion from the hubby. He rocks
Over the past few months I have been contributing to FamilySearch’s Research Wiki. In August I did a post describing my overall & positive impressions of the site. Essentially, it could become the Wikipedia for Genealogy if enough of us contribute to it. FamilySearch already has an impressive number of volunteers contributing to the Indexing initiative and it would be nice to see momentum gather around the Wiki.
The Wiki team has pursued collaborations with genealogy projects and societies as one method to increase contributions. It is in these efforts that I’ve been involved, for all three of the state USGenWeb projects in which I participate have “adopted” the corresponding wiki sites. The TNGenWeb, NCGenWeb and FLGenWeb have all signed on to help add resources and information.
The Wiki is easy to add to – very much “what you see is what you get” with the option to add using wiki code if you’re comfortable with that syntax. Tonight, I focused on adding links to the North Carolina counties I either host or am temporarily taking care of – Craven, Jones, Lenoir, Martin, Onslow, Wake, and Washington. A friend of mine sent me a template she uses for county sites and after viewing it, I created an outline for myself. Though not as easy to use as a “template,” with my outline I can get a bare bones page up in less than 30 minutes. The pages can always be enhanced, but at least if someone lands on them it won’t be blank :-).
If you have knowledge to share about any genealogy resources, consider adding to the Wiki. Registration is easy and you’ll be going in no time at all. I am trying to condition myself to use it as my own personal research tool – adding links to resources as I come across them from the appropriate page. So far, there’s only one drawback — I can’t seem to login with Google Chrome and need to use Firefox instead. Hopefully they’ll fix that issue soon!
Today is the 25th anniversary of the Challenger Explosion, and upon that shuttle was astronaut Ronald Erwin McNair.
Family lore has that he is related to us — my maternal grandmother is a McNair from Washington County, North Carolina. As yet I’ve not further explored this potential connection. On my ever-increasing to-do list is to further explore and find out if this is true. R.I.P. Ronald.
I love newspapers. I truly do. Anything I can do to promote their accessibility is one of my passions. I am pleased now to learn that an African-American newspaper of Evansville, Indiana (where my husband’s family is from), is now available in it’s online!
The Evansville Argus was published from June 25, 1938 – October 22, 1943. The University of Southern Indiana’s David Rice library is one of the few places that holds the entire run of the paper. I have been interested in the paper for awhile now because of the fact that my husband’s family is from there and from time to time I have visited Willard Library in Evansville and perused a few of them. I contribute from time to time to the blog of the genealogy society in Evansville and for one post I transcribed a marriage I found in the paper.
The David Rice Library received grant funds to digitize this collection, and in doing so, provides us all with access to this treasure trove. You may browse the issues online at the library’s website or choose “Advanced Search” at the top of the screen to search specific information. For any specific issue, the archive team has implemented a feature that allows you to view the entire issue in PDF format — quite handy indeed! I especially like that feature since I find contentDM’s page navigation absolutely horrid and nowhere as easy to use as that used by Google for their newspapers and the Library of Congress for the Chronicling America website.
(Update: I thought ALL the issues were available, but it looks like currently they have up through April 1942 online).
Here is news that I like to hear! The Internet Archive (IA) posted recently that the Montana State Library has made the decision to use IA as their institutional repository in lieu of the contentDM platform. I’m a fan of the Internet Archive; the variety of their offerings is incredible. ContentDM is a popular choice among libraries for hosting digital content, but I find their system much less user-friendly – particularly in the display & navigation options. I could do a whole separate blog post on that!
The Montana State Library has placed 3,000 digital items there so far, and ultimately expects to have about 55,000 items. I have no genealogical interests whatsover in Montana, but this type of news excites me since I believe there is a lot of potential yet untapped for IA. And just as a note — Brewster Kahle, the founder of the Internet Archive, will be a keynote speaker at the RootsTech conference. I’ll have my ears open for any other news that may come from them.
Happy New Year everyone! If you read this in a feed reader – click through – my blog has a new look.
For my 1st post of the 2011, I am sharing my new blog design. In January 2010 I also updated the look of my blog. At the time, I was aiming for a more structured & clean-cut look along a 3-column template so I could share more on the sidelines of the blog. At that time I chose to use the WordPress theme “Parchment Theme” by wpthemedesigner.com. My genealogy blog used to look more or less like this:
However, as the year went on, I realized that the middle column was a bit too narrow for my tastes — I tended to write longer blog posts and I felt as they went down the page forever. Also, I like to change so a few days ago I looked around for a new theme and found my current one. This time, I’ve chosen OneRoom 1.0 by Jeremie Tisseau.
I particularly liked the colors in this theme and that I still have 3 columns but the middle column is a little wider. Also, I feel like I didn’t really need as much info in the sidebars as I had so I reduced that as well. Within 30 minutes of choosing the theme I had it up and running. This is due to the flexibility of WordPress. I couldn’t be happier.
I also updated a couple of aspects of the blog:
- I expanded my ABOUT page — wanted it to look more *professional* and give a better picture of the scope of my genealogy activities.
- Added a SURNAMES page – still need to add to it, but it should be helpful to anyone who visits
- I kept my “Connect w/ Me” icons and my cartoon avatar. I love those so much.
- I also kept the feed of my posts from all the other blogs I have – all so you can enjoy more of me
I still need to make a few tweaks here and there but overall, I hope you like the new look! Now, if I could update my home as quickly as I can update the blog…..