Thursday, January 27, 2011

My New Blog

I am pleased to announce my new blog entitled "Let Freedom Ring!" As mentioned in a previous blog posting, I have developed an interest in reseaching the Civil War Era. After much contemplation, I decided to create a new blog to explore this interest.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Origins of My Civil War Research Interest

I never imagined in my all of my 16 years of doing genealogy research that I would ever become seriously interested in researching military, soldiers, and matters related to war. But since late 2009, I've been hooked on studying the Civil War. Now I’m even researching a regiment of the United States Colored Troops who organized in 1863 in Camp Hamilton in Hampton, VA in the present day area where Hampton University is now located.

James A. Fields
It all began after I became interested in researching the life of James A. Fields, a former slave who escaped from slavery during the Civil War from Hanover County, VA and became a guide for the Union Army during the war. After the war, Fields was part of the first graduating class of Hampton Normal and Agricultural School (now Hampton University) in 1871. He taught in the counties of Elizabeth City and James City for numerous years. Later, he became the first black judicial officer in Warwick County (now Newport News). In 1881, Fields graduated from the School of Law of Howard University in Washington, D.C. Beginning in the year 1897, Mr. Fields used his property at 617-27th Street as his law office and primary residence until his death in 1903.


Gregory Cherry
A few months before his death in August 2007, Gregory Cherry, owner of the historic James A. Fields House in Newport News, VA spoke to my genealogy society about the this historic house and his work in acquiring and restoring the house. I knew right then that I needed to get involved with the Fields House and even mentioned this to Greg after his presentation. I had good intentions when I met him, but did not initiate anything at that time. I did not give any serious thought to getting involved with the Fields House until I learned that Greg Cherry had passed away on August 8, 2007.


Saundra Cherry
As fate would have it, I would meet Greg's wife, Saundra, the following year and she would become a constant part of my life. During our conversations, she would mention the Fields House and the work she was continuing that had been started by her late husband. One of the projects she talked about was about creating a family tree of the descendants of the Fields Family. Eventually, I offered to type up the tree in a genealogy program. Saundra had drawn a family tree on a large roll of paper that is the length and size of a roll of gift wrapping paper.


Typing the Fields Family Tree
On a Friday evening after work in October 2009, I decided to begin typing the Fields Family Tree. This was the commitment to get involved with the Fields House that I had promised Greg Cherry more than two years earlier. I thought that it would take me longer to complete this task, but I actually finished the project that night. As I studied the names on this family tree, in particularly James A. Fields, his siblings, and parents, I longed to know more about this family. A few brief Internet searches gave me some initial info on Mr. Fields and his historic house.


The Fields House Blog
A second way of honoring the commitment I had made to get involved with the Fields House was by creating a James A. Fields House blog in November 2009.


My Research Journey
Thus began my interest in researching the Civil War era and the Fields family. It has been quite a journey and research of this family has taken me into so many different documents and resources in which I never had a reason to use in researching my own family. My research journey and findings will be discussed in future blog postings.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Genealogy Education

Hope that all of you out there have either begun various forms of genealogy educaton or are making plans to do so throughout the year.

Angela Walton-Raji did a great job in this video in her discussion about various genealogy educational opportunities.

For me, I plan to update my knowledge first by reading or rereading some of the numerous genealogy books in my personal library. Secondly, I'm looking at some of the online course opportunities which Angela mentioned in her video. Thirdly, I plan to attend some local and regional genealogy conferences. And finally, I plan to attend at least one national genealogy related conference later this year.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Free Microsoft Office Software Training

One way to update your skills in using Microsoft Office software packages is by investing time to take the Free Microsoft Office Software Training tutorials. An updating of software skills will help genealogists to more effectively process the numerous genealogy data we all have accumulated. These tutorials include various skill levels ranginb from beginning to advanced. Tutorials include reading, demos, self-paced training with audio instructions, and quick reference sheets. Tutorials are available in versions 2003, 2007, and 2010 for Microsoft Office.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Free Online Technology Courses


Hewlett-Packard offers free technology online courses. I first discovered these courses several years ago through an online genealogy friend. At that time, the courses were insructor-led for about four weeks or so and there was even a course on genealogy.

Today, Hewlett-Packard offers the following types of free online courses or short training:

  • On-demand courses (4 self-paced lessons)
  • How-to videos (most 5 minutes or less)
  • Quick lessons (approximately 20 minutes)


Courses or short training sessions are offered in six catagories:

  1. Digital Photography
  2. Home Office
  3. Microsoft Office and Adobe
  4. PC security and maintenance
  5. Business basics
  6. IT professionals

The format of the online courses or short training sessions includes readings, short quizzes, step-by-step instructions, and/or demos. There's plenty to choose from and I hope that you will find lots of online courses and short training sessions to update your technology skills.

BTW, I'm upgrading my software skills and am enrolled in the Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint 2010 courses.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Martin Luther King, III Comments on His Family's Historic DNA Reveal



I know that everyone who has had DNA testing done in order to learn more about their family origins shares in the joy with the descendants of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Listen to comments from Dr. King's son Martin, III, about his reactions to his family's DNA revelations.




Thank You Dr. King For Changing My Family History

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968)



Today, the nation celebrates the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King (1929-1968), a man most remembered for his work in fighting for equal rights of African Americans, who were called Negro or colored during his lifetime.

Just one generation ago, during the early years of the lives of my parents, my family lived in a segregated society and had to endure things such as sitting in the back of the bus on public transportation, drinking from public water fountains marked for “colored only,” or going through the back door in a restaurant and not being able to sit inside to eat their meal. Schools for my parents and grandparent's generations were segregated and had out of date books and materials and second class school facilities.

But thanks to the work of people like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and countless other unsung heroes, these things are no longer part of my family history. Today, on the 81st birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I reflect on his sacrifices and thank him for his leadership in the fight for Civil Rights so that my generation and others that follow are able to have a life of freedom and equality, thereby changing the course of our family histories.

Learn more about the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by visiting the website of The King Center. Also read other tributes to Dr. King from other genealogy bloggers, Remembering Dr. King.

Originally posted January 18, 2010

Friday, January 7, 2011

Everyday Life During the Civil War

This year marks the sesquicentennial anniversary of the beginning of the American Civil War. Numerous celebrations are being planned around the nation to commemorate the 150th year anniversary of this four-year war. I hope that bloggers and genealogists with ancestors who lived during the Civil War are using this anniversary as a time to learn more about that time period as well as to commemorate their ancestors.

One helpful book that can be used to learn more about Civil War era customs and daily life is entitled “Everyday Life During the Civil War, A Guide for Writers, Students, and Historians” by Michael J. Varhola, ISBN #1582973377. I’ve had this book in my personal library for several years. This book includes information on the following topics during the Civil War.

  • Wages
  • Currency
  • Clothing
  • Dry Goods
  • Life in City, Town, and Country
  • Food and Diet
  • Fun, Games, and Entertainment
  • Slang and Idioms
  • Technology
  • Arms, Equipment and Uniforms
  • Civil War Time Line
  • The Branches of the Armed Services During Civil War
  • The View From the Homefront – Northern, Southern, Slavery, etc.

You can also take a peek inside this book on a website such as Amazon.com.

Note: I learned yesterday that a new edition of this book will be available next month. Click here to preview.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Cemetery Transcription Using GPS Camera

Bernie Gracy gives tips in part one of this video on doing cemetery transcriptions using a GPS camera. I look forward to warmer weather at which time I can get back to cemetery transcription projects and research.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sacred Sunday: 1950s Church Photo

This is a 1950s photo of church members of Gospel Light United Holy Church, Newport News, VA. I remember some of these people during my youth in the 1970s and 1980s. My maternal grandparents, Minor Elwood Thornton (1913-1979) and Emma Johnson Thornton (1922-2011), were members of this church, but are not in this photo. The short man in the dark jacket on the front row was the pastor of the church, Elder Thomas E. Talley. By the time of my youth, he had become a Bishop.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

My Favorite Blog Postings for 2010

Happy New Year to Everyone! As I begin another new year of genealogy and blogging, I reflect on the past year. Although I did not blog as often in 2010 (76 postings) as I did in 2009 (104 postings) and 2009 (168 postings), the year was still a blogging and genealogy success. Below are my top six favorite blog posting topics for 2010.

  1. TV Appearances. My most exciting experience in 2010 was appearing as a guest in August on a local television show called Another View. Four blog postings which ranged from announcing my TV appearance, to posting a photo taken on the set, to the YouTube video of the broadcast.
  2. 2010 Atlanta Family History Expos. My most exciting genealogy conference experience was attending the 2010 Atlanta Family History Expos in November where I not only conducted a workshop, but also met numerous bloggers and genealogist whom I've met online during the past three years. It was a thrill to see each of them face-to-face. Twenty-three postings were written on the conference which were written before, during, and after the conference.
  3. Location Based Genealogy. In the summer of 2010, I discovered Mr. Bernie Gracy on Youttube and learned of his message on "location based genealogy." It was also a thrill to meet Mr. Gracy at the Atlanta Expos in November as well as to attend three of his workshops. Four postings were devoted to "location based genealogy" in 2010 and it will definitely be a topic that I will be writing more about in the future.
  4. My Who Do You Think You Are Episode Series. After viewing episodes of the television series, Who Do You Think You Are?, I decided to write my own "episode" where I analyzed research findings on my Uncle Andrew Bullock (1895-1972). I did not think that I knew much about Uncle Andrew, but after 12 blog postings in this series, I made tremendous discoveries.
  5. Happy 101st Birthday Aunt Della. Blog postings on my Aunt Della, who turned 101 this year are always a delight. I was excited to announce on my blog on December 26 that she turned 101 years old.
  6. Discrepancies in Memories and Oral History. My last favorite blog posting of the year is a video of three elderly pioneers of gospel music who are discussing the origins of the first gospel music convention. I still laugh at two ladies in this video everytime I watch it whose recollections of the origins of this convention differ. This video is a comical depiction of the countless discrepancies in oral history memories that genealogists often encounter.