A Sad Sight

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One of the many things I do as a genealogist is volunteer for Findagrave. A useful aspect of the virtual cemetery website is the ability to request photos of headstones. There are hundreds of camera-toting volunteers across the United States ready to fulfill picture requests for those who cannot trek across country on a genealogy journey.

It is a treat to bring genealogy alive for others even in a small way.

However, one of the saddest sights to see in the genealogy world is a small poorly cared for grave site.

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Recently, I took my son, who loves the headstone hunt, to full fill a picture request.

I am an advocate for getting children involved with family history. The benefits are countless. It provides a sense of belonging that is invaluable, and it keeps the memory of those who have passed alive.

Back to the cemetery.

What struck me so profoundly at this particular cemetery was the number of grave markers about the size of a brick with just a name. Many names were worn to little better than nothing.

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Grave after grave was over-shadowed by massive monuments. The pictures speak for themselves.

Many of the brick-sized grave markers were broken or faded beyond reading. It would take a trip to the cemetery office to learn information on who is interred in those spaces.

The saddest grave gets to spend eternity shoulder to shoulder with the trash.
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If you would like to get more involved in the genealogy community, consider volunteering for Findagrave. It is easy to do and costs nothing other than a little bit of gas and time.

 

Thank you for reading.

J. R. Findsen

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What’s In Your Shoebox?

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Like many in the genealogy world, I utilize Ancestry from time to time. We all know Ancestry has a sizeable database that is enticing and is expensive.

Also like many genealogists I have limited funds. Sadly, my genealogy budget is tiny.

To keep costs down, as far as Ancestry is concerned, I keep my free account only paying for premium membership on a month to month basis as needed. I spend more per month; however, I save big throughout the year.

One of the features of Ancestry I use during my paid months is the Shoebox. For those of you who don’t know about the Ancestry Shoebox, it is a place where you can send bookmarked records for another time or if you are not sure a record applies to your tree.

Lately, my shoebox seems forgotten. This morning I scrolled down to the bottom of my Ancestry home page. There was the shoebox, neglected for quite some time.

I almost cringed as I clicked to open the shoebox. How many records are waiting for my attention? The number of pages at the bottom of the screen was mindboggling.

Eighteen pages!

At about ten records a page it means there are 180 records to sift through. That is days worth of work.

The bookmarks date back to summer 2013. Slightly horrified and sheepish are the words that come to mind.

To keep my shoebox in mind, I moved it up to the top of my home screen. Yes, you can customize your Ancestry home page to fit your needs.

Now, the shoebox is eye level reminding me of the records awaiting my attention.

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New Genealogy Goal: Clean out my Ancestry Shoebox before the end of the year.

If you have an Ancestry account, ask yourself what is in your shoebox? What useful record is waiting for rediscovery?

What is your Shoebox number?

 

 

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Thank you for reading,

J. R. Findsen

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Tennessee Marriage Record

 

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Image Source: FamilySearch

 

 

Tennessee has surprisingly good resources for genealogy researchers. These include extensive marriage records. On Family Search (a free LDS site) has over a million records in their Tennessee, County Marriages, 1790-1950 database. In this database, there are images you can view and save to your computer.

Looking at an image of the original document is valuable. You may find transcribing errors or pick up a tidbit of information that can help you in your research.

This database is invaluable for anyone researching their Tennessean roots.

The marriage record above belongs to Steven Kitsmiller Lowe and his bride, Pearl Myers. Their marriage took place on 23 June 1907 in Carter County, Tennessee.

Steven Kitsmiller Lowe was born 10 February 1881 in Carter County, Tennessee. He was the son of George J. Lowe and Jemima Jane Colbaugh.

Pearl Myers Lowe was born 20 August 1889 in Tennessee. I have not researched Pearl’s family, and I do not have much background information for her.

Steven and Pearl had two daughters, Edith (b. 1908) and Ethel (b. 1910) both born in Carter County, Tennessee

Around 1912, They family pulled up stacks and moved across the country to Southern California, Kings County. Making their home around the small town of Lemoore where they stayed for the rest of their lives.

If you are researching your family tree in Tennessee, take a look at the Family Search Tennessee, County Marriages, 1790-1950 database. It is free and provides helpful information.

 

Thank you for reading.

J. R. Findsen

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Libraries as a Resource

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Today, I want to highlight the importance of libraries in genealogical research. Often, local and university libraries hold historical collections that may prove valuable in your search.

The value of libraries is not limited to historical collections. The librarians are equally if not more valuable. More often than not they know local history and can point you in directions previously unknown to you.

I urge you to get acquainted with your local library.

Libraries may have indexes online of obituaries along with many other records.

Recently while researching for a friend, I came across the Lexington Public Library. What an amazing library.

I emailed them with an inquiry about an obituary. Within two hours they responded with a digital copy of the obituary and the front page of the newspaper.

If you have research to be done in and around Lexington check out the library’s website. I was highly impressed and want to say thank you to all the workers there.

Here is a few library do’s and don’ts for beginners:

  • Do be polite. A little politeness goes a long way.
  • Do be specific. Librarians are busy people.
  • Do look at their online resources before you make a personal trip to the library.
  • Do ask questions if you are not sure.
  • Do remember to thank the librarian.
  • Don’t expect a librarian to help you with your entire tree or even a whole family. Choose one or maybe two (max) individuals to research.
  • Don’t get impatient. Again librarians are busy people.
  • Don’t treat librarians as your researcher. That is not in their job description.

 

Libraries are a tremendous genealogical resource. Are you utilizing your local library?

 

Thank you for reading.

J. R. Findsen

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American Legend – Cherokee Heritage

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When I was a little girl, my mother used to tell me that she was a 1/16 Cherokee. I thought having a bit of Native American blood was cool. It wasn’t until I started my research as a young adult that I question the validity of our said Cherokee ancestry.

I asked my mother where she got the story. It came from her mother. Then my mother showed me a picture I knew well. The lady in the photograph was my 2nd great grandmother Martha Matilda Morgan. She had beautiful long brown hair.

I remember spending long moments looking at the picture in one of the numerous albums on the carpet of my maternal grandmother’s house. My mother told me Martha looked Native American. She had to be the source of our Cherokee heritage.

However, through intensive research, I found no hints leading to a Native American ancestor. I was 95% sure that we had no Cherokee blood running through our veins. And yet, my mother was insistent we did.

Then came the DNA tests came. They held the secret to our heritage. My grandmother, my mother and I all took the Ancestry.com DNA test. All three tests came back negative for any Native American ancestry.

In my family history research, like many other genealogists, I have heard numerous stories like my own. Why is claiming Native American, in particular, Cherokee, so prevalent in the America?

The following article Why Do So Many Americans Think They Have Cherokee Blood? by Gregory D. Smithers who is an associate professor of history at Virginia Commonwealth University helped to shed light on this subject.

Hopefully, it helps you to know why many of us have the I-am-part-Cherokee family myth in our histories: Why Do So Many Americans Think They Have Cherokee Blood?

 

 

Thank you for reading,

J. R. Findsen

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A Gold Mine of Information

 

In the world of genealogy, there are many treasure troves of information. Family research is not just about birth and death records. World War I draft registration cards can be a gold mine of information for family tree work.

If you are new to the genealogy world, you may ask, “What are World War I draft registration cards?” Good question.

According to the National Archives, “On May 18, 1917, the Selective Service Act was passed authorizing the President to increase temporarily the military establishment of the United States.”

“The information included on each registration differs somewhat but the general information shown includes order and serial numbers (assigned by the Selective Service System), full name, date and place of birth, race, citizenship, occupation, personal description, and signature.”

To read more about the World War I Draft Registration Cards, click on the link.

Here is my quick list of information found on registration cards:

  1. Where they lived between the 1910 and 1920 US Federal Census years.
  2. The exact date they were born and where.
  3. Tells if they are a US Citizen, natural born or an immigrant.
  4. Their occupation.
  5. Where and whom they work for.
  6. A description of their family.
  7. Their ethnicity.
  8. Their marital status.
  9. Record of any previous military service.
  10. Any physical problems that would exempt them from service.
  11. A physical description.
  12. Their signature.

 

Now, that you can see the awesome of World War I Draft Registration Cards, you may ask where you can find this fantastic database.

Search for FREE here on FamilySearch.

Note: While FamilySearch is free they recently started requiring an account to see search results.

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J. R. Lowe

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