My search as my family's historian & genealogy researcher is to find the missing links, and remember my family and their story.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Tree Surgeon

I have spent hours of days in surgery.  I realize how tiring a surgeon gets dissecting and stitching back together a human body, removing the cancer that has invaded the body.
The cancer, in my tree, began when I was a "newbie" to genealogy and didn't realize that when I added a person to the tree, that I needed to make sure that person wasn't already in the tree.
Of course, in our family, a lot of the generations before us had married relatives from other parts of the tree.   By adding them as new persons, I was making duplicate entries of the same person. These"doppelgangers" are the cancer that has invaded my tree, that is taking me years to remove.
If I had any advice to give to someone that is starting to  take up  genealogy, it would be to make sure the person is not already in your tree. Check and double check so that you don't get "doppleganger cancer" that takes forever to remove.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Vacation Time is Family Time

We took a month vacation at home in Mississippi. I spent the entire month collecting data and pictures for my genealogy projects. We spent quality time with my parents and my husband's parents. Getting to visit and learning more about our family roots. We visited extended family members and borrowed and scanned pictures from past generations of our families and even visited members of the Jordan side of the family that I had never met. We visited the cemeteries of members of our families and got photos of headstones and paid our respects to our ancestors and family members that have passed on since our last visit home.

(My father-in-law and mother-in-law, several years ago, when they were visiting cemeteries, collecting information and photos on family members.
Here, they are at the headstone of my father-in-laws' great-grandfather of his mother's family.)

My father-in-law has Parkinson's and has lost most of his memory. It was a thrill to see him remember who the old photos were and tell some of the family history. The last two days of collecting and scanning the pictures, my heart was broken because he had lapsed back to barely no memory of anyone and total confusion.
He and my mother-in-law had spent years collecting information on their sides of the family, visiting cemeteries, courthouses, and family members to get the info that he had compiled.  Now all the information and pics are handed down to me as I take up the reins and began to add the info that he had, that I didn't have to our family tree.
We found out throughout this visit that all family skeletons come out of the closets, too.  Even if you are dead and gone, those secrets (family secrets) live on and eventually come to light. One member of my family said those facts weren't important to which I replied that facts are more important than protecting the reputation of someone that has long passed from this world. So, if you have secrets that you think are hidden they will come to light one day.
A month of collecting has given me over 1500 pictures and a couple of years of work for which I am thankful.  It has given me faces to people that were just names and relationships in our families. It has given me the drive I needed to pursue this to my finality and to pass it on to the one that takes up my reins.

I am so looking forward to the next vacation that can be family time...and the photos waiting for me on my next visit home.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

"Google" It !

"When you encounter a new location, a new time period, a new religion, or a new military

conflict in your family history, where do you go to learn about it so you can do better

genealogy research? What are your favorite resources for genealogy education?"

These are questions that have been asked on how I do my research for genealogy.

I must admit that most of my research is done on It is my favorite source for

the information that I need. When I can't find the answer I am looking for on,

I look at Find-A-Grave.

When I encounter a new location, a new time period, a new religion, or a new military

 conflict in my family history, I always ask "Google". Google is like the encyclopedias that I

used to read as a child. The encyclopedias answered so many of my questions growing up.

When others curled up with a good book to read, I curled up with an encyclopedia and

learned all about the world; about different places, different cultures, and all the history in

these locations.

I have always looked at Google as being my internet encyclopedias. I have enjoyed many an

hour just going from one site to another learning about all kinds of things.

I always tell everyone, when looking for answers to just "Google it!" Google will give you a

selection of sites that you may find your answer in. In a recent conversation with a friend,

she told me that she was the "Queen of Google". I have to agree that there has to be a club

or group of us that are "Queens of Google."

So when searching for an answer, and you run out of options, try and "Google it!"

Thursday, May 31, 2012

What I Wish I'd Known When I Got Started In Genealogy

A Trip Down Memory Lane

The major things I wish I had know when I got started in genealogy is:

1. To write everything down or record conversations with family members.  And when you write it down make sure to include every tidbit of information, the "Who", "What", "When", and " Where" answers to questions help a lot. And, to remember that any little hint about a person's life may come in handy at sometime or the other.
Now, the memories of riding down the road and visiting cemeteries with family members and listening to their stories of their family have faded with time and would help so much in putting the pieces of the puzzle together.

2. To realize that older family members do not live forever and their memories are invaluable and precious. They remember things that other members of the family may not recall.
I wish I had known my father-in-law's memory would decline so fast from Parkinson's and that my older family members would not be here to share their memories. I wish we had taken more time to spend just on the subject of our family roots and the generations that came before us.

3. That asking questions and getting to know family members would bring us closer.  And that along the way I would find other family members; "cousins" with a common interest and that we would become great friends because of this common interest in genealogy. Friends, kin by blood, that would help each other fill in the blanks in areas that we didn't know about our family...and, helping them to do the same.

4. That when you become the family genealogist that it is for the rest of your life.  This is your baby, to nurture, to care for and to insure that future generations know their family.  That this is your legacy to your children and grandchildren and all family members to remember the ones that came before them.

5. That all these memories of trips down memory lane are for a greater purpose.  That in some way or the other our ancestors' lives have touched our own. And that their memory would make them real, so real that tears have been shed for the lives that they lived.  That we had a lesson to learn from their lives, the trials and tribulations they went through to raise a family, and their children went on to raise a family, that eventually we became a part of that family.   That we would not be here if not for them.

Come along with me...I have stories to tell...let's take a trip down memory lane.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Memories of the Bogue Chitto River: A Fish Story

The Bogue Chitto River begins at Brookhaven, Mississippi and flows into the Pearl River below Bogalusa, Louisiana. The Choctaw Indians called the river,"bok chito", which roughly translated means “big creek.” To pronounce the river's name correctly, it would sound like " bow-guh chit-uh". 

When we were growing up, hot summer days were spent swimming in the cool waters of the Bogue Chitto River.  Fishing, tubing or canoeing down the river were, and still are, favorite recreational events for anyone living in the area.

As a child, some of my favorite stories were of happenings on the Bogue Chitto. My grandparents lived in a sharecroppers house, beside the Bogue Chitto at Walker's Bridge, during the years after the Great Depression.  I heard the stories of having relief vouchers for sugar, coffee, and gasoline because these items were rationed. Living next to the river, they didn't go hungry because they always had fish to eat. 

My Grandpa talked about going fishing in a boat, in the middle of the river, and how a monster in the water had tried to turn their boat over.  Maybe it was an alligator, but the thought that a giant fish could be in the water was beyond my young mind's wildest imagination. 

Now, I know that the monster was probably a giant catfish.  The bigger the water that they are in, the bigger they grow.  I learned this a few years ago when a son-in-law caught "a monster" of a catfish in a local pond in the area. When he held the fish up to his chin, it still touched the ground.

My Uncle Sherman loved to fish and I, always, loved the story of him and his sons going fishing in the Bogue Chitto River.  It seems that Uncle Sherman liked fish, but didn't like the idea of sitting on a river bank all day waiting to catch them.  He preferred to "call"  them all up to the top of the water and pick them up.  In other words, Uncle Sherman was "telephoning"  the fish.

Before the dial telephones came along, they had the crank telephones.  The crank phones, when cranked in water, produced enough of an electric charge to stun the fish. The fish would float to the top of the water, and they would pick them up out of the water.  This is illegal and if caught you pay a hefty fine for "telephoning."

I don't know if getting caught would have stopped Uncle Sherman or not, but I do know what did.  I don't know if he was drinking that day, or just poor judgement on his part made him decide that he would go out in the Bogue Chitto in a galvanized wash tub and "telephone" the fish. But, I imagine he got the shock of his life along with the fish when he cranked up on that old telephone.  I, also, imagine that he wished he could call for help after he came around and realized what had taken place.

These are the stories that take me back to childhood and I wish I was on the bank of the Bogue Chitto watching the bobber dancing while I reminisce of fish stories and childhood memories.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Grandma's Handkerchief

For Tears, Sneezes, Colds, and Small Treasures

When I was growing up, my Grandma and all the older ladies carried a small cloth handkerchief usually embroidered in some fashion, sometimes with a lace edging. These southern ladies would always have a handkerchief  handy, either in a pocket, pocketbook, or tucked in their bosom.
You never knew when someone might need to sneeze, their nose wiped, a hand or brow wiped or dried, a tear dried or a handy place to keep money.

When a southern lady got dressed to go somewhere: church, town, a wedding, a funeral, the birth of a baby, and any other emotional event, a handkerchief was a necessity.
 I remember vividly the first time I received some change as a gift. Little girls didn't carry pocketbooks, or have pockets all the time, so I needed somewhere to keep my money. My Grandma took the change and placed it in the corner of the handkerchief and folded it, then tied it in a knot. It was just right for my small hands to keep it, without it getting lost.
Now days, you don't see handkerchiefs like we did years ago. Paper tissues and towels have taken their place for sanitary reasons and no washing and ironing required as when you used a handkerchief.
 Whenever I see a handkerchief, I am transported back in time...back to childhood when such a small piece of cloth held so many memories.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Please Remember Me

Please Remember Me:
Why I Do My Genealogy Work

In 1999, Tim McGraw had a country song titled, "Please Remember Me".  Every time, I heard this song, I would shed tears. I couldn't understand why it affected me so emotionally.
Going back in memory, on 31Dec1986, my Grandfather, Ollie D Lee,  passed away of complications from heart surgery and cancer.. Five months later on 5May1987, my step father, Albert Leon Hill, passed away of complications from surgery and cancer. Then, 12 days later, on 17May1987, my first mother-in-law, Ella Mae Jenkins Skinner, passed away from cancer.  These were all influential family members that I missed in my life and so did my older three daughters.
My youngest children were very young when these family members passed away. My youngest daughter was 15 months old and my son was just two months old when my Grandfather passed away.  The older daughters had been very close to their grandparents and would share stories of them with their younger siblings.  As time passed and they grew, they ask questions about family members that we recalled often in conversation.  And so, I recalled stories and family history that each one had passed on to me, and shared them with my children as they grew up.
On 6Mar2000, my youngest brother, Alfred Keith Hill, died unexpectedly of a massive heart attack. On 2Jun2002, my oldest brother, Timothy Dewayne Owens, died in a vehicle accident. On 9Dec2003, my grandmother, Edith Louise Bowman Lee, passed away from liver disease.
This song still reflected my thoughts of each of these family members as their lives ended. How would they be remembered?  Would the stories of their lives be remembered and passed on to their grandchildren?
We had a cousin that had been the genealogist of the family that had added births and deaths to the family tree. But it wasn't complete because there was information that he didn't know that I knew on our part of the family tree.
And so began my journey to ensure that these family members would be remembered and that the stories of their lives would live on in their children, and their children's children.
When I hear this song now, I remember my family members lives and my quest to keep their memories alive.
This is why I do my genealogy work.  And in turn, my hope is that they will, "Please Remember Me."