Shotgun Genealogy

It is amazing how life can change in an instant. I have been a Professional Genealogist for over 12 years now and I thoroughly enjoyed working with and for my various clients. Of course, this did not allow me much time to work on my own genealogy endeavors. Then, about a year and a half ago, a doctors’ negligent actions caused my husband to become disabled. For about the first 7 months I still had time to help clients, but then my husbands condition began to worsen every day, so I gave up working with others as I found myself becoming his full time caregiver.

I suddenly found that I had more time to work on my own trees on a more regular basis. I always had a disciplined method when I worked for others, but I found myself just diving in and following too many rabbit holes. It wasn’t long before I realized, it was more like a shotgun blast. I aimed my focus on one specific ancestor, then metaphorically I pulled the trigger. Next thing I knew, just like a shotgun shell, the pellets from the cartridge exploded and shot pellets everywhere.

So, here I would sit for hours, chasing each pellet, trying to place them back in the casing. I wasted so many hours using this method that I finally decided to just “hire” myself. I knew I had to stop this wasteful behavior quickly before it became ingrained in me. Yes, I should have been more disciplined from the beginning since I had already developed this form of research. It was just harder to maintain because of the times I would have to stop in the middle of something to go take care of my husband.

I finally sat down and wrote out a checklist to help me stay on tract. This method has helped me tremendously. Sometimes I fail to check off something I did, but it makes it so much easier to figure out where I left off. It has helped me be able to stay focused, and I am once again enjoying the search!

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Saturday’s Dilemma ~ A Quick Vent!

cousin1Last week I wrote a blog about my mistake of posting that I discovered that Barack Obama is my 10th cousin. I had posted it on my Facebook page, which is only for family. Some of my cousins were thrilled while some were not. The response to the blog was phenomenal. Most of the comments were great! However, I was surprised at some opinions some of the people gave.

One woman chastised me for posting anything about a living person. She stated that by Woman-Pointing-Her-Finger-006doing so I could damage the persons’ reputation or possibly cause harm to them. What? First, all I did was mention his name and say we are cousins. My blog was about my family and their reactions to the news. I gave no other information about him. Even if I did, his entire life is on the internet for all to read!

I was informed by another lady that I was a horrible person for disparaging a former President! She accused me of writing hateful comments about him. I went back and reread the blog and I don’t know which blog she read but I am 100% positive it wasn’t mine.

Agenda-692-800-800Last but not least, was a remark from a man who stated that political commentaries and agenda were not appropriate for Genealogy blogs. OK, once again I don’t know whose blog he read. Even on my Facebook page, I don’t do any commentary for or against any issue or person and my only agenda is to promote and encourage Genealogy!

I just felt I needed to vent a little. 90% of the people who read the blog and left a comment were wonderful and encouraging….Thank you! If you are part of the 10% may I suggest you read the blog through, thoroughly next time before commenting!

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Saturday’s Dilemma ~ My Big Mistake ~ Assuming Civility

facebook-logoFor over 10 years I have been using Facebook to keep my relatives informed about my Genealogical finds. I have posted some of my blogs and made inquires of those who may know more than me about family relationships. My personal Facebook page is basically for family only. Of the 140+ “friends” I have only met 6 in person. I wasn’t raised around family so most of these people are relatives who have found me over the years through other relatives. Most have expressed appreciation for all the history and stories I post.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog about my 9x Great Uncle Jonathan Singletary who changed his last name to his mother’s maiden name of Dunham after he had gotten in Zachary Taylor 2some trouble. While researching I discovered that President Barack Obama and I share my 10x Great Grandfather Richard Singletary. I thought this was a find worth sharing with my family. I had previously shared that Daniel Boone is my 1st cousin 8x removed and that President George Washington is my 3rd cousin 8x removed, and also President Zachary Taylor is my 1 cousin 6x removed. Everyone had been so excited over this news.

Again, I reiterate that I do not personally know most of my family personally. I have my own very strong political beliefs which I have never shared on Facebook. I do not put up memes supporting or disparaging any candidate as this has never been my purpose for my page. I do have several cousins who regularly post their views, some very vigorously, but I do not respond to their posts.

HereticThat brings me to Monday evening when I naively put up the post about my discovery. I did make mention that regardless of your political views this was an exciting find and to please remember this is a genealogy post not a political endorsement of any kind. After putting the post up I had an errand to run so when I returned home about 1 hour later I was shocked to see what had happened. Immediately after I posted, I had gotten a barrage of “worst President, best President” responses, then the fighting began! I do not use curse words, ever! I was shocked by the cursing, swearing, name-calling, and yes, even the threats that went on. Some of the cousins even “blocked” each other. I felt so defeated as all I wanted to do was share my discovery. I took the post down!

I felt bad because I know some of my civil minded relatives would have liked finding out who they are related too! However, I am now hesitant to inform them of it as some of the ones who reverted to name-calling, etc were ones I also thought were this way! This was definitely a lesson learned. I think from now on I will only post about ancestors who were not famous or controversial!

How do you or would you handle such a situation?

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

 

Saturday’s Dilemma ~ Just Stating The Facts

dilemmaI wrote a blog a few weeks ago concerning how much detail should be included in a personal story for future generations. I know I would love to have more information like this, good or bad, on the personal lives of my ancestors. The consensus of the replies to the blog reinforced my belief that we should include some of the “hard” stories in our genealogy writings. Now I have a new dilemma kind of along the same line.

A few years ago, I asked some of my cousins if they knew any stories about anyone in our family. I specifically asked for those of my Grandparents or ancestors further back in the line. I did state that if the person were deceased I would also like stories of those in our generation. I got a few short stories about my paternal Grandfather, a couple of Aunts, one Great Uncle, and one of my deceased 1st cousins. They are all great stories, but I have reservations about writing the one about my cousin.

Society has changed a lot in the last 50 years. What was accepted or tolerated then, is stop-racism-1taboo today. People are easily offended, and, in most cases, they have every right to be. However, we can’t change history nor whitewash things that happened back in the 60’s that we would find abhorrent today. The story about my cousin would be considered racist, and it is! However, it did happen, the world was in a different place than it is today, and it is a fact that it happened.

My dilemma is do I just write it as a fact, or should I include some historical detail and explanation of the times in which the event happened? Perhaps I could go into a little detail of how my cousin grew up and his family’s outlook on the situation that was happening?

 

Any input or suggestions would be appreciated.

 

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Saturday’s Dilemma ~ What Was She Thinking?

question markAbout 6 months ago I completed an 8-generation chart for a client. She was thrilled with the results. Several times since then she has emailed me to tell me how pleased she was. Do not get me wrong, I was glad she was satisfied with the work and was excited over some of the documents I had found. I have just never had anyone contact me about the chart this many months out. Then this happened….

Yesterday I received an email from a gentleman who said he was referred to me by this Surprise_Surprise_2015woman. He shared her 3x Great Grandfather and he wanted to know more about him. Apparently, this client would not share the information she paid for, so she told him to contact me. Then he wrote, “______ mentioned that since she owned the chart that you were to provide me with the information at no charge”. No, you read that right!

Ok, I have to admit I felt like hitting my head against the wall. Never in all my years of working with clients, I have never come across something like this. I am interested in how you would handle this situation. Have you ever encountered any situation like this?

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Saturday’s Dilemma ~ What about My Own Story?

My-Story-This-is-my-storyObviously from the title, my dilemma is concerning how much I should disclose about my own life. I have been writing stories about my life to leave for my Grandchildren and my new Great Grandson, but they have mostly been funny stories. However, I like many others of my generation, have endured a lot of hardships in my life. Some of the things I have gone through I think #1, may teach a lesson and #2, be like one of those stories we get excited about finding when researching an ancestor! I would like them to know everyone goes through problems, it is a part of life.

I have two main stories I would like to write about, but I am unsure how much to disclose. I would really like some opinions concerning them. I will keep the stories short. Just consider how much you would want to know about something an ancestor went through and how they handled it.

Story #1. My mother had a severe mental illness. It got worse the older she got. She onlyMom 1966 loved two people in her life, my sister and my oldest son. Everyone else was treated badly. Everyone except my dad and I, we received the worst of it. When we lived in Missouri when I was 12-14 years old, she assaulted my dad and me on numerous occasions. She believed he was in the mafia, that our house was bugged, and someone lived under our house (we didn’t have a basement), spying on us through our TV. One time we spent a week going from motel to motel hiding from my dad and his “cronies”. I could tell you things that she did that you probably wouldn’t believe. When we moved to California, she literally rode in the back seat on her knees facing backward to make sure we weren’t followed. When we made it to CA her knees were bruised and bleeding. We lived there for 5 years and she only left the house 4 times, each time we moved. She disowned all of our relatives, my brother and eventually me.

me 1988Story #2.  My previous husband committed suicide, leaving me with 3 kids to raise. I had just turned 31. He had an unshakeable addiction to pornography, and this was his way out. My children knew about the addiction and why he did what he did so it isn’t a secret. Two years after the suicide I started a ministry for women who have been affected by pornography. I have been on national talk shows, radio, newspapers, magazines, a conference speaker and I wrote a book about my life with my husband. I have counseled thousands of women on this issue. I have even spoken to junior and senior high kids about the hazard of porn.  I have always used tact, wisdom, and I don’t go into graphic details. So, how should I approach this story?

Just to make it clear, these would be for my family. I appreciate any and all input. Thanks in advance.

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Saturday’s Dilemma ~ Trying To Get It All Straight

gene check listI have started going through my trees with a checklist of documents I have or need for each ancestor. It has helped me to fill in a lot of blanks. When I am working on the tree, I usually just work on one line at a time. If it is the Hughes line. I will look at my dad, his dad, then his dad, etc. I don’t change the order by looking into their spouses as well. I do this after I finish the male line.  Everyone does their research in their own way and this is mine. It usually works well until I make a mistake.

 

A couple of days ago I was researching my 2x Great Grandpa George W. Hayes. As I was closing his page getting ready to go to the next Hayes in the line, I heard a loud thud and someone yelling! I told my husband it sounded like someone got hurt so we went outside. Our elderly neighbor had fallen so we helped her up and took her into her house and made sure she was okay. When I got back home, I was still a little frazzled by the incident so I thought I would just get back to filling in some missing pieces in the tree. I pulled up the tree and hit the button and then I pulled up the ancestor. When I looked at his wife’s name I was confused. It gave her name as Elizabeth Rucker. I could have sworn her name was supposed to be Sarah Rucker. When I took a second look at her husband’s name, I realized that I had hit Georges’ wife tree by mistake. When I looked at Georges’ parents his mom was listed as Sarah Rucker. If this was correct that made George and his wife, Elizabeth Coffey first cousins. So, the search was on!

 

 

 

The farther back I went the more confusing it got. It was confirmed that Sarah and Elizabeth’s father was Colby Rucker.  Sarah married John Coffey, the son of Benjamin cousin blocksCoffey. Elizabeth married Thomas Hayes whose mother was Mary “Polly” Hayes. Mary Hayes was married to Benjamin Coffey. If this isn’t confusing enough Benjamin Coffey’s brother Thomas married Elizabeth Smith. They had a daughter named Mary Coffey, who married William Coffey, who was the son of Benjamin Coffey!

headspin

OK, my head hurts from all this inter-marrying.  I am going to spend some time looking through the many, many children of the Hayes, Rucker and Coffey lines to see how many other cousins have married. I know this isn’t really that unusual, there are probably some like this in most trees. I know I have cousins in my mothers’ line who have married. However, not this many within 3 generations!

 

So, here is my dilemma. Actually 2 of them. First, what is the best way to make a chart linking all of these cousins together to get a better view of them and their relationships with each other? Second, what do you think about me putting the “extra” relationship in my trees so future generations don’t have to do what I have done?

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

 

Saturday’s Dilemma ~ Secrets Kept

mom & bro 1943One of the best parts about Genealogy is finding the truth about your ancestors. This includes the family that is close to you. Growing up my parents were very tight-lipped about their pasts. My sister and I weren’t raised around family so, we didn’t have anyone we could talk to in order to find out information on them. When we did live near family I was aged 12 to 14 and the last thing I was thinking about was my parents’ past.

Mom & Dad ML 1948

My dad, Douglas Hughes was born on August 18, 1915, and my mother, Emmajane Smith, was born on April 25, 1919. They didn’t get married until December 13, 1948. So, a lot of living happened before they tied the knot. My dad died on June 24, 1974, when I was 19 years old. The only information I knew for a fact was that my brother, who was 18 years older than I, was not my dad’s son. This, of course, means my mother had been married before.

Dad, Mildred 2 and LolaAfter my dad died my mother told us that my dad had been married once before and he had two daughters. These girls and their mom died of scarlet fever. She then confessed that she had been married twice before. Her first husband had died of a heart attack in 1937. The second one was killed in a house explosion in 1948. She had been left a widow twice. She said she had wished them dead and they died! She refused to answer any more questions so we finally gave up asking. My mother died on June 16, 1999. This is when I started my Genealogy journey.

Over the next few years, I was able to piece together some of the missing pieces. I found a photo of my dad and his wife Mildred and their daughter Lola. My mother had written their names on the back of the photo. I found some very interesting things about my dad and his life, all of which were nothing like my mother had told us. These stories I will keep till another time.

Mom & Earl ML aged 17 1936

I found my mother’s marriage license to her first husband online. She and Earl Wilson got married on September 4, 1936. My brother, Gordon arrived 8 months later. I searched the newspapers for obits for Earl but I couldn’t find one. I searched for a death certificate but none was to be found. I got desperate and looked for divorce papers, no luck there either. I did find Earl in the 1940 Census along with a new wife, 2 more kids, and my brother! I then traced him down and found he died in 1980.

 

Mom & lierman ml

Next, she married George Lierman on July 19, 1940. Again I tried to find information about him and the house explosion. Believe it or not, I found a newspaper article about it dated May 17, 1948. Apparently, he tried to light a stove and it started a fire. So there was some truth in her story. What was left out was that in May 1947 George had married a woman named Georgia and she had 2 boys. So sometime before then my mother and he had to have gotten a divorce.

Nellie 1 obit 2

 

Now to my dilemma. Have you ever had a newspaper clipping or document that you believe you had read all there was written in it? Well, that happened to me. I found an obituary for my mother’s stepmother who died on February 4, 1948. I had read through it several times however, a couple of years ago I discovered something I had overlooked. As was the custom of the day the surviving stepchildren for Nellie Smith were listed. The two stepsons were listed as Raymond Eugene Smith and John Pleasant Smith Jr. Then came the two stepdaughters listed as Mrs. Otto Claxton and Mrs. Ike Cook. It had never dawned on me that Mrs. Cook was my mother. I can’t find any marriage documents for them. I even searched the surrounding states because my parents had gotten married in Arkansas. I also tried all the variations of the “nickname” Ike.

So it appears that my mother was married 4 times not 3. She was also never a widow until my dad passed away. All of my mothers’ family who may have known about her and her life have passed away. I have run out of ideas as to how I can find more information about the married to Ike. Any suggestions?

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Saturday’s Dilemma ~ Down The Rabbit Hole

dilemma pic

One thing I have realized is there is never a shortage of dilemmas when you are working on Genealogy. Sometimes a person doesn’t quite fit into your tree, but you are sure they do. Other times, no matter how hard you search you can’t find a birth or death certificate. I am amazed that I still have hair!

downrabbithole

I believe part of my problem with finding the information I need is I am a shotgun researcher. I decide to work on one Ancestor, then I start searching for the documents I am missing. I do good for a while, going to as many different sites to find or verify documentation. My downfall is when a name comes up from one of my other Ancestors. “Oh look, there may be some information I can use on them too!” Down the rabbit hole, I plunge! The next thing I know is I have strayed far from my original goal and more often than not, I have forgotten what I started researching. It is like I shot the gun and the pellets go in all directions. It gets so frustrating.

helping-parents-keep-their-child-organized_0

Believe it or not, I am a very organized person. I can sit in my recliner and tell someone where anything is in the house. Not just the general area but the cupboard and shelf and which side it is on. My husband is always amazed because he is the disorganized one. So why, why, why, can’t I figure out a doable way of organizing my research approach? I have tried many methods but nothing clicks with me.

So, maybe one of you can help me? What works best for you when it comes to keeping track of your research? How do you organize it so you can go back to the original Ancestor you began with? I am open to all suggestions. Thanks in advance.

 

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I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Saturday’s Dilemma ~ John Pleasant Smith’s Death

shockedThis dilemma is a little different from the previous ones I have written about. With this one, I would really appreciate your advice or input into what to do. Let me start at the beginning.

 

John Pleasant Smith was born on September 8, 1882, in Hazel Hill, Missouri. He first married my Grandmother Ella McGowan on September 17, 1904. They had 6 children, 2 of them died at a young age. My mother was their youngest child. Ella died 2 years after my mother was born from heart disease.  He then married a widow named Nellie Jane Barrett on May 26, 1926. They never had children and Nellie raised his children. She passed away on February 4, 1948. Grandpa then married another widow, Nellie Robinson on February 15, 1949.

Dad and Grandpa colorized
1962

My parents moved us from Missouri to Arizona when I was 11 months old. My mother and sister had asthma and was told we should move to a drier climate. John was the only Grandparent that I ever met. All the rest had died long before I was born. He came to visit us in Arizona once in about 1962. In 1967 my family moved back to Missouri and we first lived in the same small town that Grandpa did. I was able to get to spend time with him and got to know him pretty well. After a few months, we moved into Independence, Missouri.

About a year later my Grandpa died at the age of 85. Now here is where my dilemma begins. The day he died he was out in his large yard with a push mower, mowing the lawn. This was nothing new. Although he was older, he still stood straight and tall. He dug graves at the local cemetery, and he managed a small farm on his own. He was in exceptional health for his age. He had gone to the doctor a couple of months earlier and he was given a prescription. I don’t know what it was for, but he hated the way the medicine made him feel. On this day, Nellie brought his pill out to him as he was mowing, insisting that he take it. He stumbled and fell backward over the mower. He broke his neck but lived for 6 days before dying.

Grandpas HSAfter the funeral, my Aunt Mae who was married to my mother’s brother Gene told us this story. Nellie and Grandpa had been having marital problems for years. On the day of the accident, she was at the house helping Nellie with some baking. When she went out to give Grandpa the pill she was irritated because she knew he wouldn’t want to take it. Aunt Mae heard loud voices, so she went to the back door and saw Nellie trying to force Grandpa to take the medicine. When he refused Nellie pushed him, HARD, and that caused him to stumble back over the push mower. Nellie told Aunt Mae if she tells what she saw the same could happen to her.

As far as I know, Aunt Mae never told anyone except my mother, dad, sister, and I. By the next year we moved away and never saw Nellie again. Because I wasn’t raised around family it has been easy to keep this secret. Over the last 10 plus years, I have “found” a lot of my mother’s family online. So, here is my dilemma.  The cousins have enjoyed reading my blogs about the Smith family and I have told them how I like to be as factual as possible, etc. What I am wondering is should I ask them what they have heard about Grandpas’ death? If they don’t know what really happened should I mention it to them? I do know that once Grandpa died no one in the family saw Nellie again as she sold the farm and left. What would you do?

 

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I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.