Genealogist Journal

A journey to recover the past

Gems of Wisdom



Sifting through old papers that belonged to my mother-in-law, I came across two cards dating from the mid-1950s, gems of wisdom. They were tucked into an unexpected place; waiting to be found at the right time.  She kept them with her for fifty plus years. The Foundation is particularly potent and sound. Great advice for anyone to keep in mind.



I hope you are able to glean something useful that you can apply to your life in some way.

Thank you for reading.

J. R. Lowe

Know Your History: The Scots-Irish and The Battle of King’s Mountain

Photograph of the Week: A Day With Great Grandma


Eleanor E. Van Dusen Bowen (my great grandmother) and I (sitting in the family tree) in 1978 at her home in Phoenix, Arizona.

Thank you for reading.

J.R. Lowe

Spring Blooms: A Memory of Grandmother’s Garden


Spring blossoms remind me of my maternal grandmother. As a child visiting her home was a pleasure. Her house was situated in the middle of a horse shoe-shaped garden that boasted a variety of plants from pumpkins and grape vines to flowers and herbs.

Every year flowers sprang up from the dark earth. The effect was amazing. Colors and sweet scents brightened her little nook in the world. Roses and flowering trees that looked like giant snowballs stand out in my memory amongst all the varieties of flowers that graced her property. A giant willow tree provided a fairy playhouse carpeted by a lush carpet of green. During the summer produce of every type overflowed and the grandchildren had grazing privileges. Of course, those privileges were earned by weeding.


With each passing springtime flowers in bloom reminds me of my grandmother and her lovely garden. One day I hope to create vibrant memories for my own grandchildren that would show them how beautiful the world can be.


Thank you for reading.

J. R. Lowe

Photograph of the Week: George Wiley Lowe and Sarah Annie Blevins


George Wiley Lowe and Sarah Annie Blevins wedding day picture

1907 Washington County, Tennessee

Thank you for reading.

J. R. Lowe

The Line Between Bravery and Insanity


What kind of person packs-up their household (wife, kids, animals) and hacks their way into the wilderness to make a new home; a new life? There is a fine line between bravery and insanity my friend. Many of you may remember the movie The Adventures of the Wilderness Family that came out in 1975. It is a movie about a family that decides city life is slowing killing them. They pack up to start a new life somewhere in the Rockies. As a kid, I watched that movie with awe and dreams of my own. At the time, little did I know that my ancestors had lived through a similar tale except, their story was fraught with more dangers than we can possibly imagine.

Turn the clock back two hundred years before Hollywood débuted the Wilderness Family. Captain William Bean (my 6th great grandfather) and his family decided to trade in their relatively cushy life for carving out a new existence in the middle of nowhere, in the land that is now known as Tennessee. What possesses a person to do such a thing? Pat Alderman in his book The Overmountain Men gives a little insight:

Captain William Bean moved his family into the new country early in the year 1769. He built a cabin on a point between Boones Creek [Yes, named after Daniel Boone] and Watauga River, just above the mouth of the creek. Ramsey [I don’t know who this dude is] says that Bean had camped here while hunting with Boone [Daniel Boone and my 6th great granddaddy were buddies!] and was familiar with the country….William Bean was acquainted with military training of the time and held a Captain’s rank in the Virginia Militia [think Mel Gibson in The Patriot]. He was a born leader and a man of means [translation: rich]. His name appears frequently in the organization and affairs of the Watauga Association and with Washington County. Many relatives and friends from Virginia soon settled around Bean.


Captain William Bean was adventurous, daring, wealthy, enterprising and slightly nutty.  He buddied around with frontiersmen like Daniel Boone. Up until 1769 the Tennessean wilderness had seen its fair share of adventurers, but it took Capt. Bean and his daring to bring his entire family out into the sticks. They are known as the first permanent settlers of the greater area. Lucky for me, and the rest of his descendants, Capt. Bean’s adventurous lifestyle did not end in disaster.

If you would like to learn more about Captain William Bean (his wife Lydia Russell has her own badass story) and others like him, I would suggest picking up a copy of Alderman’s The Overmountain Men. It is a good read. You might even learn some of the crazy histories that shaped our nation.

Thank you for reading.

J.R. Lowe



Know Your History: The Seven Years War

Crash Course videos are quirky and fun. They make learning history interesting in bite-sized morsels. Having even basic knowledge of history gives dates and facts in your family tree context. Enjoy!

Thank you for reading.

J.R. Lowe

Photograph of the Week: The Pinkerton Family


The Pinkerton Family 1905

Back row left to right: Winthrop Pinkerton, Lillie Pinkerton Watson, Rev. Charles H. McCreery (Mary Elizabeth Pinkerton’s husband), Mary Elizabeth Pinkerton McCreery, Emma Pinkerton Booker, William Brown Pinkerton

Front row left to right: William Douglass Pinkerton, Sr. (son of William Brown Pinkerton), Mary Ann Hitchcock Pinkerton (mother and grandmother), Mary Louise Pinkerton (daughter of William Brown Pinkerton).

Thank you for reading.

J.R. Lowe

The Lost Treasure of Baby Leo Young


Garage sale season is almost upon us. Yes, I partake in the past time of perusing other people’s discardables. There are two things I look for as I am sifting through piles; picture frames and old family photos. Why anyone would get rid of old family photos is beyond me. I am constantly reminding myself that not everyone is interested in their heritage.

I found this baby picture at a garage sale in Yakima, Washington. When I asked why they were selling the old picture and if it was a family treasure, they just shrugged saying, “It wasn’t their family”. Trying not to show my disdain with their answer I bought the baby picture along with a handful of other old photos all for the reasonable price of $0.50. I could go on quite the rant here, however, I will restrain myself. Back to the picture.

The photograph is of baby Leo Young. How do I know this? His name is written on the back. Determined to find out more about baby Leo I started my research process. Other pictures in the bunch proved to have been taken in Washington State. So I took a chance and looked for a birth certificate for a Leo Young. The search results produced a name that seemed likely to be the baby in the photo. Yakima County has a record of a Leon Young born 20 November 1892. He is the son of Willis B. Young and Martha Thorp.


I had to pause for a moment. Not too far north of Yakima is a small town named Thorp. I have driven past Thorp many times. I even have family that lives there. Could there be a connection between Baby Leo’s mother Martha Thorp and the small town? I dug deeper. It turns out that baby Leo is the great grandson of Fielden Mortimer Thorp for whom the town of Thorp is named. The story takes a sad turn for Leo. His mother Martha died at the age of 30 in 1900. Leo was only 8 years old at the time. He was the middle child. His older brother was John Bunton Young and his younger brother was Nelson Young who died at the age of seventeen in 1908.


It is finding small treasures like these that make the small investment it takes to preserve history worthwhile. I challenge my fellow history lovers and family genealogists to get out and make a difference. One picture at a time.

Thank you for reading.

J.R. Lowe

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