Monday, June 29, 2009

Memory Monday: Lordy, Lordy, Look Who’s Forty!

On September 27, 2003, I celebrated my 40th birthday with a big birthday bash at a Chinese Restaurant. I had never given myself a birthday party, but I felt that it was what I should do. Turning 40 is a major life milestone and I wanted to celebrate, rather than be sad about getting older. One of my former supervisors had died suddenly in 1998 at age 37 and after this time, I viewed turning 40 as a blessing rather than a curse. Celebrities, whose untimely deaths influenced my attitude toward turning 40 were John F. Kennedy, Jr. ( died 1999) and Princess Diana (died 1997.) Both of them died before the age of 40.

About 38 family members and friends attended my birthday bash which was held at a local Chinese Restaurant. A good time was had by all!

This photo was taken after the party. As you can see from the smile on my face, it was a wonderful day! I was glad to find this chinese styled pants suit for my chinese themed party.

I had four young hostesses which included my two youngest nieces (seen here) and daughters of two of my coworkers. I was fortunate to find beautiful chinese styled tops for each of the girls.

I went low-tech and did this poster board display with photos from various times in my life. I had planned to do a PowerPoint slide show, but the poster board display worked out better.

This lovely birthday cake with a baby photo and an adult photo was delicious!

I received numerous gifts for my 40th birthday which made this birthday celebration extra special.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

101 Best Websites – Family Tree Magazine

This is the tenth edition of 101 Best Websites by Family Tree Magazine . Websites are organized in ten categories plus one.

Best Web Sites to See Dead People

Best Web Sites for Vital Records

Best Web Sites for Storing and Sharing

Best Big Web Sites

Best Web Sites for Maps

Best Web Sites for Local Searches

Best Web Sites for International Searches

Best Cutting-edge Web Sites

Best Web Sites for Military Research

Best Virtual Library Web Sites

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Have a Cemetery Adventure

Therese Boucher narrates a cemetery adventure and gives tips about some of the things you can learn from visiting a cemetery such as family information, inspiring artwork, and tools like "Find-a-Grave".

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Biology: What is DNA?

We hear about DNA on the news often in criminal cases or even for family connections and genealogy. This video explains the concept in simple terms.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Oral History Questions

All family history researchers should take the time to conduct oral history interviews of family members as well as friends of the family. Through these interviews, researchers will learn things that will never be found in documents we gather. Knowledge gained from oral history interviews can put “flesh on the bones” of ancestors long gone.

Many interviewees may remember as far back as their grandparents or great grandparents. Their memories can take your research back several generations. For example, early in my research I interviewed four of the siblings of my paternal grandmother, Hattie Moore Pair. They were all in their eighties or nineties during the time of the interviews which took place between 1996 and 1997.

Through the interviews, I learned about their lives as well as the lives of their parents and grandparents, who were born during the 1840s. I also learned about my grandmother Hattie, whom I never knew, because she died when my father was a child.

Now, three of these siblings are deceased, but thankfully I have the interviews on tape. The last living sibling of my grandmother is Aunt Della, who will be turning 100 later this year. Her memory is still sharp and I look forward to learning more about my family history through her memories

Below are two websites with list various questions you can ask during oral history interviews. Remember not only to ask questions, but also to record them, either by audio or video, and transcribe and share the results with other family members.

  • Selected Topics and Questions for Oral Histories

  • 50 Questions for Family History Interviews
  • Friday, June 12, 2009

    The Reuniting of a Mother and Son

    On yesterday, as I was drinking my morning coffee and watching The Today Show, I saw a heart warming story about the reunion of a mother and son who had not seen each other in over 40 years. In 1966, 3 year old Ron Stewart was abducted by his father. The mother had been told that her son was killed and the son had been told that his mother was dead.

    Recently the wife of the son did genealogy research and connected with a relative of her husband’s mother who told her that she (the mother) was alive. Before telling her husband of the recent discovery, the wife took steps to verify that Rose Hinkley was who she said she was.

    I cried as I watched this mother and son holding hands and telling their story to Matt Lauer. I wish them the best as they begin a new chapter in their lives. Congratulations to Mrs. Stewart in her genealogical success in connecting her husband with his mother.

    Thursday, June 11, 2009

    A Trip to the County Clerk’s Office

    Yesterday, I traveled to my father’s hometown in Greensville County, VA for a day of research and unwinding. The hour and a half drive from my city to the small town of Emporia and the rural area of Skippers located in the county, is always relaxing for me.
    My focus was to locate missing dates from my research of the marriages of my paternal grandmother’s (Hattie Moore Pair) siblings. A second goal of the trip was to visit the Robinson Family Cemetery in Skippers to take more pictures and work on a plat to determine the location of graves of my family members. Both goals were accomplished.

    It has been a long time since I visited the clerk’s office and I forgot how heavy the record books can be. While there, I met a lady and her niece who were researching their family. I was especially delighted to see a young person engaged in family research.

    As you see from this picture, records are contained in large heavy books and it takes a lot of muscle and strength to lift some of these books. Records can be viewed from a counter, and in some clerk’s offices, also from a table. The Greensville County Clerk’s office has both a counter and table and I used both during my research time. The counter was suitable for looking up something quick in a book and the table was suitable for looking through something like an index, which required more time.

    Some clerk’s office also have a computer where fairly recent records can be accessed. One of the computers in the Greensville’s Clerk’s office is on the other side of the column in this photo and I used it to locate the marriage date of an Uncle whose second marriage occurred in 1979.

    I used one of these deed books to read a 1896 deed of my great-great grandparents Washington and Ellen Moore. Rather than have a copy made of the deed, I dictated the reading of the deed into my digital voice recorder so that I can type it up later.

    Sometimes papers are housed in drawers as seen in the top of this photo. I did not look at the papers in these drawers at the Greensville office, however, at other clerk’s offices I’ve visited, marriage licenses are housed in these drawers. The licenses are folded in thirds like a letter in a #10 business envelope.

    If you are a family researcher, and have never visited a clerk’s office which is the repository of legal documents such and marriage licenses and property records, then I encourage you to do so. Keep in mind that the name of this office varies from place to place. Hopefully, it is feasible for you to visit the clerk’s office located in the places you are researching, but if not, there’s always your local clerk’s office. This is an experience that Internet research cannot replace and there may be records in this office which are not located online of in any other research repositories.