A Humbling Experience

I make this post as a public apology to a certain researcher who has offered great insight into the research I’ve been doing on my Lennon line of Columbus County, NC.  Back in April,  I posted about how I’d cold called some possible Lennon relatives as I was trying to find more conclusive evidence/information that my great-great grandmother, Etta Lennon may be connected to that particular family tree.  In my post, I blogged about the experience of trying to put these clues together, but I did not post that the reason I even decided to make these cold calls was due to some information the researcher sent me.  She contacted me the other evening saying she’d read the post and felt I should have given her credit for her help.

And, she is correct. I should have mentioned her contributions towards the work in putting the details of this line together.  My oversight was due to the fact that the way the information was provided to me was of a rather sensitive nature, and me trying to be politically correct one, felt it best not to mention certain details. But, I could have mentioned her as part of the precipitating chain of events – so to her I do apologize.  It was certainly not intentional.

So, if you are doing research in tandem with others (as many of us are), please remember to give credit where credit is due.  This was particularly a hurtful experience for me because as a librarian, I do firmly belive in providing proper source and credit to where information comes from.  I have even criticized my husband in his blog posts for not linking back to original sources!

I am truly sorry to have made another feel slighted.

WorldCat.org adds “Lists”

Being a librarian, I have been using a resource called WorldCat for about 10 years now, since I was in library school.  In the past few years, the company that provides WorldCat has made it more open and available online for anyone to search and find out which libraries hold a book of particular interest.

Since getting into genealogy, I’ve realized how useful WorldCat can be for other genealogists and I try to promote it as much as possible and I use it myself quite extensively for this reason too.  I was using it last week and noticed they added a new feature, called “Lists.”  I was excited about this feature – it can be of great help for tracking collections.  I currently use DabbleDB  to keep track of some of the books I want to keep my eye on, but I am also experimenting with this.

To use WorldCat Lists, you must register for the site.  After you do a search for a book and bring up its record, there is an option to Save It.  You then have a drop down box to create a name for the list, or to add it to  pre-exisitng list. Pretty neat!

You could create a list to keep track of resources at

  • a specific library
  • a specific family surname
  • a specific library
  • a specific state

I use DabbleDB to do each of these options.  Currently, you can only add a book to a list one at a time, but you can add a book to multiple lists. It would be nice if you could add a book to more than one list at once and if there was some type of indication when looking at a WorldCat record if that item is already on one of your lists.

As an example of the feature, the book in the screenshot below was written by a descendant of Commodore Vanderbilt that I found while working on my Vanderbilt genealogy research.  In addition to adding this to my list of books for the Vanderbilt surname and I also added it to my list of books available here at Vanderbilt’s main library.

Once part of your list, you can go to that list and do quite a bit –

You can

  • get the URL to share the list with others
  • an RSS feed is available so others can keep track of what you are adding to your list
  • lists can be made public or private
  • can export to a spreadsheet
  • can print in a printer-friendly format
  • choose from multiple views to look at the items in your list, whether it be by the Worldcat record display, by book covers, or by citation view
  • can export reference list in one of five formats — as HTML, RSS, or in three different formats recognized by bibliographic management software
  • the format of the citation can be changed via a drop-down box to one of four formats – APA, MLA, Turabian, Chicago, or Harvard

As part of your “lists,”  WorldCat provides 3 already established ones – Things to Check Out, Things I Recommend, and Things I Own.  If there a way as I mentioned above to look at a record and see who put it on their “Things I Own” list, this would be a great way for genealogists to see what others have and possibly help with Look-ups.  Methinks I will be writing to WorldCat about that! :-)

WorldCat has a number of other social features that are worth checking out too. They also have profiles, so I think I will go in and update mine.  You can also add a WorldCat app to your Facebook profile or to the Firefox browser. As a registered user of WorldCat, you can also add reviews to any book.

If you are interested in keeping up with all that WorldCat is doing, you can subscribe to their blog.

Princeville, NC – Wordless Wednesday Follow-up

Yesterday in my Wordless Wednesday post, I put up a picture of the historical marker of Freedom Hill, North Carolina.  Freedom Hill was an all African-American community established in Edgecombe County, North Carolina in 1865 by freed slaves. It is the oldest incorporated black town in the US, getting incorporated in 1885 as Princeville.  The community was named after Turner Richard Prince (1843-1912) who was a carpenter in the community.  In 1999, Princeville received nationwide attention after Hurricane Floyd hit the coast of NC as many of the town’s residents were displaced and there was extensive flood damage.

I first learned of Princeville when I purchased an Arcadia Publishing book on Edgecombe County last year.  At that time, I had no one in my family tree that I knew of that had any connections to Princeville, though my maternal grandmother’s McNair line started (as we know of) in Edgecombe County. When the Ancestry database of NC death certificates came out, one of the many discoveries I made was that there is indeed a connection.

My earliest known McNair ancestor, Rufus McNair (1823-1910) and his wife Mariah Wimberly (abt. 1843-1903) had at least 15 kids (in one census record, it is reported she had 22) that lived to adulthood. Two of their youngest, Susan & Sophia, both married a gentleman name Arthur Wooten.  Arthur married Susan first and together they had at least 8 children. Then, I believe Susan must have died and he then married her sister Sophia. With Sophia, he had at least 3 children.  Arthur Wooten Jr’s (son of Sophia) daughter Violet married George Mays and they for several years lived in Princeville.  Arthur & Susie were in Princeville in the 1910 census.

I discovered this after my mother, in going through some of her mother’s papers, found a double obituary for Violet and her husband George.  Since Princeville at that time was only a community of several hundred, I wonder if they knew Turner Prince? Possibly! Again, more flavor to add to the background context should I ever decide to do a formal write-up of my McNair ancestry.

Why I Love My Genealogy Software

Randy has posted about his desire to have the ability to generate date-specific lists in genealogy software. So far, he’d been unsuccessful in locating a software program that gave him the ability to generate a list of people who had events on a certain day. For example, generate a list of people in his database that all had birthdays on July 10th. After writing the post, he received a number of replies and learned of a few applications that can do what he desired.

But, then it occurred to me that the program I use seems to be an “underdog” among genealogists. I however, LOVE it and it is my preferred choice so far – I use a program called The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding that is developed by Darrin Lythgoe. My own family tree site using TNG is at http://www.taneya-kalonji.com/family/.

It was this program that got me really started in working on my genealogy as I was on a mission – I wanted to use a genealogy program that I could administrate SOLELY over the internet. TNG allows me to use the internet to manage my genealogy data. I do not need nor do I use a desktop application as my software, instead, I rely solely on TNG. This was important to me two years ago when I started and it remains important to me today. I do not like to be desktop dependent when I can help it. Believe me, I’m still looking for the perfect online hard-drive application so I no longer have to save all my files to my computer. One day… but, I digress.

So, being a database driven site, I can do just about anything. Fortunately, many things are built-in to the interface. When they are not enough however, I can create a custom report or even a custom database SQL query to get the info I need.

Need a list of people all born on July 9th (my birthday :-0) – I simply click on my “Dates & Anniversaries” tab, select the date I want, the tree I want to search, and hit “Enter”. Up comes not only those who were born on my birthday, but also who married, died and was buried on my birthday. That’s cool. I do wish though there was a way to sync this with Google Calendar. I’ve seen some solutions for that, but I’m not a programmer – need someone to make that process easier!

Here is my July 9th list.

TNG has so many other neat features and perhaps I’ll start a little blog series about it – help raise awareness! I think the largest barrier to using it is that it does have to be hosted online, but TNG makes recommendations on who to use if you don’t have your own domain as I already did. And, once it’s online, you really don’t need to know much more because the administration side is a set of well-done form-based web pages for entering data.

The TNG website has a lot of detail about the features that it offers at http://www.lythgoes.net/genealogy/software.php and there is also a link of some of the sites that use the application at http://www.lythgoes.net/genealogy/usersites.php. There are so many things I still have left to learn about this program, but Darrin makes updates often, so I’m sure I don’t have long to wait before things on my wish list show up in the program!

Even with all the upcoming online family tree programs, I still have yet to see anything that matches the flexibility and power of TNG. Go check out some of those User Sites. Prepared to be blown away!

A Brick Wall Shattered!

In my last post, I expressed overjoyed delight at having learned that Ancestry had a new database of original death certificates from North Carolina that covers 1909-1975; a huge deal for me because I guesstimate that at least 70% of my personal family tree research is NC based.  True to form for me, I spent hours last night playing around in the database and found all kinds of information – not only for my own tree, but some others I’m working on as well.

As I was getting ready to retire for the evening, I remembered that I also needed to do search that has proven elusive for me. However, I was too tired to pursue it, so put it off for today. Good thing! My excitement at what I found would have probably kept me from going to sleep!

In February last year, I posted about my experience in trying to determine who the parents are of my great-grandfather, Barfield Koonce.  I had a chain of information that led me to believe a Caroline Koonce was his mother.  So, since that time, I’ve had her as his mother in my gedcom, but I’ve never felt 100% certain I had it right.  Well, tonight I know that it is right and it is because of the new database of death certificates.

To recap what I knew about Barfield:

  • In census records, I never find him with parents. Only with grandparents James & Isariah Koonce (sp?) in 1880 when he was a teenager.
  • In search of more about Barfield, I spoke to my great-aunt, one of his daughters about him.  She did not know who his parents were, but knew that he had a brother named Richard. I also spoke to the wife of one of Barfield’s sons as far as names and details go, she was able to tell me that Barfield had a sister named Agnes. Who were this Richard & Agnes? They were not with Barfield in the 1900 census and by 1910 Barfield had started his own family.
  • I was then able to locate a death certificate for a Richard Koonce that was about the right age to be a brother to Barfield and I knew from hand-searching the census was the only black Richard Koonce in the two counties most likely (Craven & Lenoir counties). His death certificate said his mother’s name was Caroline Koonce and his father’s name was Mike Davis.
  • Because I knew from the 1880 census that James Koonce, Barfield’s grandfather, had a daughter named Caroline, I connected the dots and “placed” Barfield as her son in my gedcom. This would have to do for now until I had more information.

Every now and then, I’d try looking for Barfield’s sister Agnes, but did not get any results.  As I look back over things now, with more preserverance (like looking at the households of EVERY black Caroline or Agnes in the counties) I may have found it, but I just had not gotten around to doing that. With the death certificates,  I got excited b/c it turns out that searching the database also searches maiden names and parent names and includes them by default in your search results. So, if i were to type in Caroline Koonce, I would get her record and then the records of any death certificates she was named on. Sweet.

What I did today:

  1. I began by searching the death certificates for “carol* koonce” and no other limits.  I got 8 results. A couple of them were white Koonce’s that I know of as I’ve been tracking the white Koonce families as well.  The last result was for a black man named Solomon West (1906-1960).  I decided to take a look.
  2. Solomon’s death certificate lists his mother as Caroline Koonce and father as George West. The excitement begins..
  3. Since Solomon was born in 1906, I look for him in 1910.  I find him with parents George C. & Caroline West along with three siblings — an older sister named AGNES, an older sister named Luvenia and a younger sister named Jannie. The excitement continues — here is an Agnes who had a mother named Caroline Koonce, same as I’d suspected for Barfield!  Also, from census mortality schedules, I knew that James Koonce had a daughter named Jane that died at 8 years of age. So, it would make sense for Caroline to name a daughter after her deceased sister.
  4. I tracked George & Caroline through the 1920 and 1930 census and see that by 1930 George is a widow; Caroline was there in 1920, so she died between 1920 and 1930.
  5. Now that I was looking for a Caroline West, I decided to check my staple NC death database first – the database that Ancestry has based on an index of death records only.  Found a Caroline West that died in 1928, but according to the index, she was born in 1890.  This does not match what I knew of Solomon’s mother from the census records, which place her closer to the birth year of when James’ daughter Caroline was born.  It is worth noting that Craven County, NC, where Caroline West died, has their index of births, deaths & marriages online going back to the early 1900s, but Caroline West was not present in that index.
  6. Back to the death certificates database I go. Two seconds later, I found her – Caroline West died August 12, 1928.  Her husband is listed as George West. Her age is listed as 38. But, this obviously is not right given census records so I can discount the age. Parents of Caroline are – JAMES & ISARIAH KOONCE! The same couple where Barfield in enumerated as grandson in 1900.

I tell you, I could hardly be any happier than to finally know that I’ve documented Barfield’s mother.  Think this meets the genealogy proof standard?

I’m still not sure about his father – whether or not Mike Davis (Richard’s father) is his or not. This opens all kind of new research avenues for me now — Caroline had several other children so there are many more people to research.  If I’m lucky enough, maybe I’ll find someone who remembers more.

Thank you Ancestry for this database! Now, you need to get to work on Tennessee’s :-)

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.