Sunday, October 18, 2009

Possible Slave Owners - Hinton

O.k. So, this morning, I'm following my friend's advice and getting active on message boards.  I'm also, transcribing my horrible interview notes from my May 2009 interview with my 85 year old cousin on my Banks side of the family.  Lately, I've been so busy with work, that I haven't even had a chance to think about genealogy let alone look anything up.  But, this morning, I was feeling productive. 

So, I pulled out the notes and remembered that she (85 yr old cousin) gave me the name of possible slave owners of my Banks line.  HINTON.  She said that's what her father told her.  Her father being the brother of my 2nd great grandmother and the son of Caleb Banks.  So, she's a 1st hand source. An amazing 1st hand source I should add. 

So, here I am on remembering all the things I looked at before.  Such as on the 1870 census, living with Caleb Banks and his family, was a Matilda HINTON age 20.  She's a black woman listed as a laborer.  I saw this before, but wasn't sure what to make of it. 

Another thing that I mentally filed away, was the fact that a few of the death certificates for my family stated the Hinton Burial Ground.  Now, maybe there's an answer.  Maybe the reason why it statest he Hinton Burial Ground on death certificates is due to the Hintons were the slave owner.  Maybe these slave owners designated a portion of their property to bury slaves. 

Also, 2 houses down, there is a George W. HINTON.  Going to the 1860 Slave Schedules, George HINTON owned 10 slaves, ranging in age from 4 to 45.  However, none of these ages match Caleb Banks or anyone else in his household...exactly.  But, we all know that the age of an ancestor gets changed over time.  So, I can't exclude him as a possible slave owner for this reason.  Now, I have to research George Hinton to see what I can find. 

Two houses down from George Hinton on the 1870 census, there is an E.L. Hinton.  E.L. Hinton owned 26 slaves.  As a matter of fact, various HINTONS owned a total of 73 slaves in Pasquotank county in 1860.  So, it appears that I need to concentrate my research on the Hintons in NC.

The backtracking begins....

Another thing I have to do is find out how my ancestor, Caleb Banks, came to own the 39 acres of land above.  Upon his death, the land was divided among his children.  I wasn't able to find a record of sale to Caleb Banks in the Pasquotank Register of Deeds office.  However, I was told that there should be one howing his ownership.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Sumter County FL, Wants to Relocate Possible Historic African American Cemetery...

This cemetery is owned by the county and they want to move it so the land can be developed for other purposes.

This cemetery has relatives long forgotten. However, this doesn't mean that those relatives should be moved from their final resting place. Especially, since this may be the oldest in Busnell, FL related to runaway slaves. The cemetery is more than likely over 100 years old and the fact that people were buried there as recent as 1956 would tell me that this little known cemetery is a family cemetery. A place where black folk have been laying their family to rest.

From my own experience, we placed our dead among family. We used the same area, same cemetery, same city to place our family members. The person buried there in 1956 would indicate to me that, those placed their before them were family. Not just a random black person.

Where is the city going to be moving the cemetery? We don't know. But, according to the County Administrator, Bradley Arnold, they plan on placing it in a more appropriate location. What does that mean, and where is that exactly????

The sad part is, even if the development falls thru, Sumter County still plans on moving the cemetery.  What kind of foolishness is that?? Where is the new cemetery going to be located??? These bodies have been resting here for possibly more than 100 years and the county wants to simply move them for possible finanical gain.  That's right POSSIBLE.

I hope and pray that the family members of those buried here speak out. 

Read here

and here

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

No joint researchers

I have been crazy busy lately at work which has left me not time to blog, let alone think about genealogy. I know sad!

But, since starting my search 2 years ago, I have come across ZERO fellow researchers.  Granted, I'm researching 2 specific counties in NC (Pasquotank and Camden) and 4 surnames: Banks, McCoy, Lowry & Spence.  Still no one.  Not one descendant from these other lines are researching the tree...that I know of.  

Why is that? Why aren't more people, mainly African Americans, researching their roots? Is this not important??

Monday, October 5, 2009


I've been nominated for the Family Tree Magazine's 40 Best Genealogy Blogs.  Now I need you to VOTE FOR ME!! LOL.

I'm nominated under the 'Personal/Family Category'.

I can't even believe I've been nominated.  WOW!!!

While work has had me busy and unable to tend to genealogy, I'm happy that I'm nominated!!!!  

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tale of 2 Counties: Pasquotank & Camden County, NC

*The little red dot in the 'Newland' part of town is where my ancestors lived.  The black line is the main road going from Pasquotank to Camden County. Pretty close, huh?

The vast majority of my Spence ancestors come from Pasquotank County, NC. I can trace my Spence line to dang near the same road they currently live on today to 1870. But, my [living] family has told me that anyone with the last name of Spence in Camden and Pasquotank County is our cousins. They know this because this is what was told to them by their parents and/or grandparents.

Camden and Pasquotank County is close. Close doesn’t even describe how close they are. They lifestyle of the counties seem to overlap. My uncle works with one of the Camden County Spence’s and another relative works with a different Camden County Spence. Somewhere in this closeness is relation. But, I have yet to figure out how they’re related to the Pasquotank Spence’ Spences.

A recent contact on Facebook has me researching this side again.  She is from the Camden County Spence side and she said they go over the family tree every year.  I gave her some information and my theory on how the Pasquotank and Camden County Spence's are related.  She think that her 2nd great grand and my 2nd great grand, Aaron are brothers.  But her 2nd great grandfather, isn't old enough [in my opinion] to be his brother.  He wasn't born until 1889.  Aaron was born 1853.  Somewhere between 1880 & 1900, Aaron's father passed away and in 1900 his widow, Susan, was living with her son Aaron.

My Theory?

My theory is that one or a few of the Camden County Spence’s born prior than 1853 are the siblings of my 2nd great grandfather Aaron Edward Spence. According to the 1900 census, his mother Susan Williams Spence stated she had 6 children and 4 were living. I assumed that Aaron Edward Spence was the youngest child because parents tend to go live with the youngest child.

But, I do think that her 3rd great grandfather, Moses Spence and Aaron could possibly be siblings.  He was born 1846. Moses married Louisa Turner in 1875. I know I have the marriage certificate around here in my papers.  I remember either seeing no parents listed or N/A listed for Moses parents.  Which is odd for me.  If he is infact Aarons brother, why doesn't he list his parents when they were alive when he got married??

Then another confusing thing, on the 1880 census for Moses and Louisa (Lewissie), there are 4 children listed.  The wierd part is that their last name isn't Spence and they were all born after the marriage in 1875.  The oldest child being 4 born 1876.  Not only that, but that child is listed as illegitimate also.  The listing of illegitimate would make me think that they're her children that she had with someone else, but still came home to her husband. WHOA.

Now, I know what you're saying..why are you sharing? This is WAAAAYYYY personal, right? Well, the ancestors made me do it.  I was researching Moses, minding my own business and these children distracted me.  There's a reason. I can't stop thinking about them. Tomorrow, I will be requesting a copy of the marriage record for the oldest child.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Ancestors are you hear them?

I haven't written much since my aunt passed away last month. Trying to focus on genealogy and/or family stuff is hard. She was an inspiration. She was fiesty. She reminds me of myself. lol.

Today, I signed on to looking for an inspiration on researching an ancestor. I hadn't researched anyone in a while, nor have I had that urge too. But, today, I tried to urge myself to do it. As I sat there staring at the page, nothing came to mind. Not one single ancestor. Instead, my mind wondered to what I could be doing instead. The family newsletter.

Yes, I write a quarterly family newsletter for my entire family. For all the Spence, Lowry, Banks, & McCoy descendants. That equates to approximately 150 households and I'm late with my deadline. Very late as a matter of fact. So I decided to work on it tonight.

As I sat here editing the newsletter and trying to add captions to pictures, I realized I was missing names of people who performed at the reunion. So, I called my grand uncle. He is the husband of my aunt that recently passed. While on the phone with him for literally a minute, he tells me that his son was there. Hands him the phone and we start talking.

My cousin tells me that he found a box that contained a lot of pictures. Pictures with names on the back! (I love you Auntie, but I knew you were holding out on me. lol.) He said that he will send them to me to help me with the research. How amazing. I knew that this unfinished work of the family newsletter was what I was supposed to do. I don't know why I was avoiding it. But, I'm glad I'm working on it now.

Monday, August 31, 2009

My inspiration for Genealogy

Some years ago, my dad showed me this book that my aunt made. It was in essence, a picture book. But, it also had names of family members I never knew of or heard much of. She didn't have dates or history in the book. It was simply pictures and names. She made this book for all the children of Ed & Bessie Spence. I'm guessing, they all know the people in the book. She is the wife of my uncle, one of the children of Ed & Bessie.

The book she made bit me. That book is what started me on my path to figure out who my ancestors are and find out how I'm related to people in Elizabeth City. It hurt deeply to find out she passed away on Thursday. If it wasn't for her and the book, I wouldn't have started researching my family tree. She knew alot about our family. She remembers my father as a child and was there for the first reunion. She would quickly correct you when you were wrong about family history. But, she was also guarded when it came to it. Outside of that book, I didn't get much information from her. She never understood why a 'young person would be interested in dead people'. I would always tell her that I just want to know who my cousins are. She would just smile.

Rest in Peace Auntie. You are deeply missed and loved. I know you're better now.

What can you say..It's family...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Still Searching

So, after spending last week in a frantic search for my 80 year old cousins phone number, I finally got it. This is the man that worked with my grandfather, George Washington Bolden, on the docks in VA.

Granted it really didn’t take much searching. It was just frantic because when I wanted to talk to his sisters, they were home. So, my inability to be patient set in. So in a nutshell, I was frantic, the search was not.

Well, I got the number last week and have yet to call. I’m not exactly sure why I hadn’t called him. I know I need to call ASAP. Maybe I’m a little scared that I may get the same “I’m 80 years old, I can’t remember that far back” response that he gave me last time. It was crushing then when he told me. But, I have a new plan.

My plan is to call him and ask about his life during that time. Find out what type of work he did, but talk to him more about himself. Maybe in talking to him about this will jog his memory. Maybe he’ll remember some kind of detail that can get me to the next door.

So, tonight, I will be calling my cousin. Wish me luck.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Plan of Action from Karen

Thank you Karen SOOO much for your comment. I’m reposting the comment because this is information anyone searching for long lost military relatives can use!!!

From what little information you have about his movements in the Navy, here is a long shot for you. It might be difficult to find these sources, but you might try libraries and used book stores. Squadrons and ships and shore units often will publish yearbooks with photos and names of the personnel assigned to that unit. Maybe someone in Norfolk (I recommend RAOGK - Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness,, and look in their directory for someone in Norfolk). You might get lucky.

I just wish I could see his left arm in the photo because his rating insignia (what his duty was in the Navy) would be there. He does appear to have a lot of medals. The really unfortunate thing is that he doesn't seem to have a name tag on his uniform. If only he'd worn a name tag, that might have helped you a lot, if you could get the picture enlarged with some clarity. At that, you might try, because the name of his ship might be on the band of his cap! Something is written there, but I cannot make it out.

One thing you might think of trying is to go to the armed services website (, and on the left-hand side of that home page, click on Navy. You will have to register, but it is free. Post the photograph on the site, if you can, and see if anyone recognizes your grandfather! That, too, is a long shot, but there could be some old retirees who just might remember.

You could try to get his service record with the sketchy information you have. It would be difficult. I would recommend that you call the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, which is where his record would be kept. Their phone number is 314-801-0800. I have found NARA and NPRC personnel to be very helpful. Explain your situation to them, and how much this means to you, and see if they can find his record just with the name -- even though they'd have to sift through variations, in your case.

Much good luck, and I'm going to follow your blog to see if you have any luck with this.

Karen Packard Rhodes

Karen - I've started working on this. I did fill out a form and sent it to the National Personal Office. Since an immediate descendent had to do it, I had my dad send it to them. They replied back saying that we need a SSN in order to get information. But, I'm going to call and see if there is something else I can do.

Thanks again. This has given me some hope in finding info on my grandfather.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Not so Wordless Wednesday: I wish I knew my Grandfather

This is a repost of sorts about my grandfather, George Washington Bolden/Bowden/Baldwin.

When I think about this, my heart really breaks. Although, it doesn’t affect me as much because never having a grandfather, I don’t know what a relationship with one is like. But, for my dad, to not have a father, I can imagine the hurt he must have had growing up.

My dad joined the military to find him. All he knew was his dad was in the military. And all he had was this torn picture of a man he didn’t know. His step-father tore this picture into 4 pieces. Ripped it up out of rage. For what reason, I'm not sure. But, from that point forward, my dad was not to have that man raise him. My dad was raised by his grandparents. Raised as a sibling to his Uncles and Aunts. Cousins may be mad at me for what I have to say, but that's what it is.

I smile when I look at this picture because to be honest, my dad looks a lot like this man…in his younger years. I see the features that make up my dad's face.

I often wonder about my possible Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and what not from this side of the family. My last name would have been something other than Spence. My life may have been different with knowing who my grandfather was. I imagine cousins that I could have known and/or grown up with. I wonder if I’ve dated any of those cousins…eewww.

The fact that the story behind this man has varied over the years and the fact that I have such little information is poignant. I wish I had more to go on. I wish I had more information. Hell, I wish I knew where he was from! But, I don’t even know that. There is a paper trail for him. There is documentation. He was obviously in the Navy. He had a career. People knew him somewhere. I just want to find him. Maybe one day someone will come across the original post. Recognize some of the details. Compare notes and contact me.

Maybe The Locator will be able to locate him. I'll continue to dream my little dream and wish my little wish and hope that one day I will know who he his.

Side note - George Geder did restore this photo for me. But, I think it's more appropriate to see the picture in it's semi original form.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

To-Do List: DO IT NOW!

I’ve been so scatter-brained lately. There are so many things to do that I can’t focus on one to get started. So, I decided to write a to-do list to help me get moving.

  • 1. Update family database. I have some addresses I need to update.
  • 2. Work on September newsletter. It’s nowhere near completion and due to be mailed out by September 15th. *sigh*.
  • 3. Make phone calls to a new cousin in TX to get his family info.
  • 4. Export database to get the birthdays for the coming quarter (September –November). I add this to the newsletter to recognize family.
  • 5. Scan pictures and documents received on my last trip to NC.
  • 6. Send document and picture of ancestor to cousin. It’s a surprise. The family doesn’t think she’s ever seen the document and picture of her parents. They think she should have them. Don’t worry, they’re scanned.
  • 7. Upload my images to a reliable image hosting site. Especially for times like these where my laptop is out of commission due to my cat eating the charger. Still waiting for my new one to be delivered. I was thinking of using Google for my images…
  • 8. Learn WP. I really want to move this blog to a WP blog and incorporate my family tree online for the family to view. I understand that WP is more customizable than Blogger. But, I’m just so comfy on my Blogger’s hard to leave.
  • 9. I know I’m forgetting something.
  • 10. Now I know, plan the 2010 family reunion in Orlando. I need to decide on where in Orlando we’re going to have it.
  • 11. My genealogy friend, Our Georgia Roots, reminded me that I need to be posting to all the online boards. I hadn't been doing that. So, when I get my charger, I'll make more of an effort.

So, right now, I’m working 1, 2 & 4 items on my to-do list since they go hand in hand.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I Genealogy People.

I know what you’re thinking, what does “I Genealogy People” mean. The order of words is confusing. But let me explain.

I recently started watching True Blood. All my co-workers, friends, facebookers, twitterers, etc. is in love with this show. So, I decided to start seeing what the hubbub is all about. Well, I instantly fell in love with the grandmother on the show. Why? Because, she isn’t at all shocked that Bill is a Vampire or worried that her granddaughter is fascinated with him. Her main concern is, his knowledge on Civil War facts. SHE WANTS TO PICK HIS BRAIN. I love that!!! She is interested in him for his genealogy facts. When he comes over for dinner, she starts asking him about ancestors and people that lived in the area WAY before her time. Lol. I would love to do that!!!

Second – The day my ancestors spoke to me.

On lunch the other day, I decided to kill some time by going to the health food store. Not really wanting anything, but really had nothing else to do. While wondering the store, I passed by a FINE man…and I mean FINE! Well, I didn’t break, stop or slow. But I did make eye contact, smile and say hello. Ladies, you know that feeling you get when you KNOW someone is watching you walk away. I had that feeling.

Sure enough, I rounded the corner and started looking at essential oils and he came sortly after. Mind you have a have a Mr. Man, so there was no entertaining this one. But it was flattering when he asked me my name and if I was single. Once I gave him my status, we chatted for a quick minute and then he said “Nice to meet you”. I don’t know why I asked, but I thought about it ‘He didn’t even give me his I technically didn’t meet him like he says’. I asked him his name. ENOCH. At that moment, I genealogy’d him. I repeated it back to him “Enoch, really? E-N-O-C-H? Wow, that’s a family name.” See that?? I have a I have never met a Enoch. Not even the Enoch’s in my family. There are only a few. I was shocked that I ran into one.

Enoch Spence is my great grandfather’s brother. He is also the other half of the 2 brothers that married 2 sisters in my family lore. I think the ancestors were speaking to me with this one… What do you think? Were they speaking to me? lol

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sad News...

My family reunion is in a few weeks and I was looking forward to attending. This year’s reunion is in NC and only for 2 days (Saturday & Sunday) instead of the usual 3 days (Friday-Sunday). I live in Florida and it’s a pretty long drive for me. My plan was to go up Friday night, stay for the activities on Saturday and leave early Sunday morning.

Well, recent required home & car repairs are cancelling my plans to attend this year’s reunion. It really bothers me that I won’t be able to go. But, I have to keep my priorities in order. My house and transportation take precedence over the reunion.

So, while the rest of the family will be having fun fellowshipping, I will be home tending to a roof leak and idling issue. I miss those days when my parents handled getting to and from the reunions. :P

Monday, July 27, 2009

Genealogy & Education

I remember reading an article a while ago about Henry Louis Gates wanting to bring genealogy and DNA research to school curriculum.

Many African American students know little about their ancestors. Given the chance to examine their own DNA and family histories, Gates argues, they are likely to become more engaged in their history and science classes. As they rescue their forebears from the anonymity imposed by slavery, students begin to understand their own place in the American story.
Could you imagine how much you would have learned in school if they would have introduced genealogy as a part of history and science? By making history and science personal and showing students how they can use this in real life, will open so many doors for the children. Not just African-American children, but all children.

How can Genealogy help?

Well, let me ask you this. How is your memory now that you’ve been doing genealogy? Mine is excellent. Remembering the facts of my ancestors come easily. However, if there is something I can’t quite remember, I know exactly where to look.

How is your knowledge of history? Mine is better than it was when I was in high school. Facts regarding the Emancipation Proclamation and Civil War are things I can now say I understand. Why? Because I have an ancestor to tie to this information. When you know an ancestor was involved in something major in American history, you tend to remember that more.
I think it would be a great service to add this to a school program. I hope I will see this added in my lifetime.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - Oak Grove Cemetery

These are pictures of headstones in Oak Grove Cemetery in Elizabeth City, NC. Oak Grove is one of the black cemeteries in Pasquotank County and appears to be the oldest.

When I went this past may, I made sure to go by one of black cemetery's to see my ancestors. Although the cemetery is kept in pretty good condition, I couldn't help but be heart broken when I saw many tombstones deep in the woods surrounding the cemetery. I wouldn't dare attempt to go that deep in the woods as I was already warned by family that there are snakes...rattlesnakes. However, I did try to get as close as possible!

Many of my ancestors are buried here as this cemetery was started in the 1800's. One of my grand aunts is buried out there, but her grave does not have a marker. My grand uncle showed me the general location of where his sister was buried, but he was certain.

It broke my heart to walk thru the cemetery and see these headstones looking like this. I just wondered who they may be? and who's looking for them...

Losing momentum

I’m having a moment where I just can’t seem to find the motivation to get into my research. Usually I feel a nudge from my ancestors to ‘look here’, ‘research him’, etc. (more like a full blown shove!). However, lately I hadn’t felt a thing. I still maintain my family website regularly and work on the family newsletter. But, when it comes to researching my ancestors, it’s becoming increasingly difficult. I think I’m going thru a phase.

My family reunion is coming up in August and I’m hoping that it will give me a boost in researching the family tree. I think having a lack of internet (at home) has me depressed!!! Lol. Granted, I have been able to access the internet thru Tetherberry and my Crackberry, but the connecting isn’t fast enough to do uploads and such. So, I’m pretty limited with what I can do online at the moment.

I know I have a lot of work to get finished especially before the family reunion. But, I’m not too sure if it will get done. Maybe I need to stick my finger in a Genealogical Light Shock!
There are some things that I'm interested in doing. I want to transfer this blog to a WP blog and incorporate my research using either The Next Generation or PHPGedView. But, more research and time will be needed before I can get started with that.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Michelle Obama's slave roots.

It has always been said that the easiest way to get your tree researched is run for politics or in this case, be married to the politician.

Another plus about having Michelle Obama as 1st Lady is the light this shines on slavery. Sure, slavery hasn’t been talked about over time. Black History is the focus in February. But, I think with Michelle being a descendent from slaves, the issue of slavery (life, discrimination, family separation) will be looked at more closely in the media.

Nothing upsets me more than slavery. To think, that the ties of my family is lost because they were treated less than human. They had no personal rights, nor rights to maintain their culture. When I really think about it, it makes me want to cry. My ancestors had to go thru hell to take care of their family. To wonder if I can even find my true ancestors; knowing that many were separated and sold. African-Americans have such a hard time connecting to their past. I just hope that this opens up more records for us to get further in our history.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Family Reunion

As we're half way thru the summer, most of us have to remember this is the season for interviews. Don't forget your tape records as you plan on going to your family reunions this year.

Family reunion season is in full swing. If you're a genealogist also trying to connect the living, a website could be helpful. I started my website after my Blog friend, Mechie, showed me the site.

Our family has our own social networking site for free. Thru our site we can connect, share and plan to stay in contact. I've been able to meet cousins I didn't even know about.

It's a useful tool and is LOW maintenance.....

Friday, July 10, 2009

Childless Ancestors

I think one of the most frustrating things with my research is coming across my ancestors that do not have children (or evidence of legitimate children). To think, that their story will end at the point of death. It will be harder to know the stories of their life. Finding relatives that remembers these ancestors, or remembers what was told to them about these ancestors, is always difficult. Sure, we’ll have little clues and indications of their life.

Yes, there were ancestors that ‘couldn’t’ have children for whatever reason. But, I’m not talking about them. I’m talking about the ones that just didn’t. I have a group of ancestors (my great grandmothers nephews) who didn’t have children. I believe there were 4 of them. All of them married. Only 1 of the nephews had children. The other 3 did not.

When I read and article on CNN about being childless, I couldn’t help read it from a genealogist perspective. Somewhere down the road, someone will research your family tree, and to not leave a legacy is to carry on your traditions, characteristics and stories is upsetting.
I’m sure our ancestors had their reasons for not having children. I’m also sure, they didn’t have us in mind when they made their decision. However, I still can’t help but say that I wish they did leave a legacy for us.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Ancestors Lost!!!

Four people face felony charges after authorities discovered that hundreds of graves were dug up and allegedly resold at a historic African-American cemetery near Chicago, Illinois, authorities said Thursday.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Afrigeneas has new blogger!

David Paterson's Journal will now be blogging for

As most African American researchers know, Afrigeneas is the #1 resource for African American Ancestry. The introduction of a blog by Afrigeneas is a wonderful thing.

A lil about David.

David E. Paterson, AfriGeneas Slave Research Forum Manager, was born in Scotland, UK, grew up in Seattle, WA, and earned a BA in History from University of Oregon before joining the U.S. Navy in 1975. Although an avid reader as a child, David became so busy with his seagoing career that he did not read a complete book for fifteen years. His passion for history reawakened in 1988 while he explored the antebellum records in the basement of the Upson County courthouse. Now David’s idea of fun and relaxation is reading a book or spending 12-hour days researching at the National Archives.
Thru the blog, more doors will be opened for many of the African-Americans still trying to connect the dots in their tree with straight lines.

Friday, July 3, 2009

I have no shame.

Besides my bad interviewing skills that is. But I have no shame in cold calling or e-mailing possible family members. We have a large family that branch out to the east coast (even a few in the west).

The way I was brought up, you are our cousin. There is not just 3rd cousin 4 times removed. It was passed down from my great grandmother who is and who isn’t family. She pointed out to all of her children cousins and aunts. However, she left out the little detail of exactly how they were related. So, growing up, they just knew that this person and that person were cousin. Come to find out, they were all distant cousins. Either way, they are our cousin and loved no less.

Every year at our family reunion, we have the most recent and most distant of cousins that come. We’re that type of family. Heck, we even have friends in the neighborhood that show up because they know we’re going to have food.

However, as I’ve begun the search thru my family tree, I’ve noticed a lot of branches missing. Missing because the information that my great grandmother passed on to her children didn’t trickle down like it should have. When the elders passed away, their children missed the information also. I’m trying to reconnect those branches of my tree.

Plus you never know, they may hold the missing link to go even further back. So, if you’re a distant cousin that got the Cousin Connections newsletter, it’s because you’re family. Now it’s time you figure out how.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

I wish I knew

I wish people would just write on the back of pictures. Don't they know that people will come looking and wonder who they are.

In my Wordless Wednesday picture, you can barely see the faces. It's obviously a picture of some people at a military camp. There are 4 people sitting in this care and I can't make them out for anything!!!

So, if you have pictures at home, take time out and write who's who on the back of them!!! Please.

Thank you,

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

NC Archives - Wrong Link!!

Well, I just received my copy of Carolina Trees & Branches and it had an article in there about accessing Wills on the NC Archives MARS SYSTEM. While the information was correctly printed, I found error with the NC Archives website that will cause issue unless fixed soon!!!!

I followed the instructions. Here they are:

  1. Go to the MARS search Page.
  2. Scroll Down to "Records of Probate: Wills.."
  3. click on the "+" sign at the left.
  4. Find the alphabetical range of the last name of the testator.
  5. Scroll to the name you need and click on 'View Description' at the right.
  6. to see images of the pages, click on "view documents" at the right side of the page.
Now this is where I take issue. Unless you have the DjVu Plugin installed, you're going to run into a problem. When I initially clicked on the link to install the plugin, it too me to this page. Well, apparently the company, Celartem, granted the rights of the DjVu Plugin to another company.

However, in order to download the plugin to view documents, you'll have to go here. I was able to download the plugin and now I'm able to view documents on the NC Archives MARS System.

I hope this helps someone. I sent an e-mail to the IT Branch of the NC Archives. Hopefully, they'll fix it soon. But, how annoying.

I should also note, if you want to use this archive, be aware...IT TIMES OUT WITHIN ABOUT 15 MINUTES OF INACTIVITY!! You'll have to redo the steps above to get to where you were at last.

My interviewing skills SUCK!

On 2 sheets of paper, is an interview with an knowledgeable family member. She is the granddaughter of my 3rd great grandfather. To me, that blows my mind. Let me say it again, she is the granddaughter of my 3rd great grandfather, Caleb Banks. This is his land that was divided after his death among his children. I had the best time talking with her during my trip. The amount of knowledge she has is amazing! She's 85 years old and you would think she's 25+ years younger. She's is sharp, vibrant and active. Compared to some of the other elders that I've talked to in the family, she is a young woman. However, she may be the oldest out of everyone!

But anywho, back to my sucky interview with her. My 2 pages of notes that I have are only legible my me. lol. The 2 pages started off professional enough. Several questions listed, space for me to write the answer and space to add more. Easy right? HA..not for me. Apparently, I write as scatterbrained as I think. I have notes every were on the paper. Sure, the questions were answered, but she gave so much more information during the interview, I didn't have time to find an appropriate place to write it. So, I have words jotted here, and names jotted there. Of course, it only makes sense to me.

For example from my notes:

Laura Mae Lowry & Hazel Lowry first cousins but brought up together
John Banks owned land on 158
Henry was William Henry Banks.
Almond Banks Jr. owns family land
This is an example of my scatterbrained interview. I'm going to try and transcribe it into a legible interview that will make sense in the future. I need a better interview strategy.

Maybe next time, I'll try a recorder instead.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Who are you?

This picture was in a box of things that belonged to my great grandparents, Ed & Bessie Spence. While I was in NC in May 2009, I asked my grand uncle to go by the house and see if there was anything left that belonged to my great grands.

My great grandparents had alot of things, but most of everything went missing after my great grandma, Bessie, passed away in 1998. One of her children took the items from the home and somehow lost them. This includes a picture of Bessie's mother that had been in the house for years. That's part of a bitter family issue that's always a murmur thru the family, but never a loud noise.

Well, apparently the ancestors were working and knew I was coming eventually. In an old decreped box of papers, there were only 2 pictures. This picture above and this one.

The picture above is the one I'm curious of. I have no idea who he is. He looks like a Spence and closely resembles my grand uncle. I thought at first it may have been my great grandfather, but when I look at the pictures, they don't seem to look much alike.

The top picture was printed on a postcard. There is nothing written on the back and the picture, as you can see, is quite old. Does anyone know how I can identify the year this picture was taken?? Maybe that will help me identify who this is a picture of.

Friday, June 26, 2009

R.I.P. Michael

It is so sad that Michael Jackson has passed away. As a genealogist, I think about it in a family history way.

Just think 100 to 150 years from now, when a descendent from the Jackson Family decides to research their family tree, they’re going to see that they were related to the King of Pop. I think that would be pretty cool.

All the fascinating & sordid details of his life will become gossip to the family member’s years from now. Just like we do when we find out an ancestor was arrested, or died under mysterious causes. It’s interesting to us because it’s our family history. It’s our gossip about people that’s related to us who are no longer with us.

Michael Jackson’s life is one for the history books.

Side Note: Am I the only one that always thought he was saying "But the chair is not my son" lol

Thursday, June 25, 2009

An Expensive Habit

Genealogy can be an expensive habit! With the subscriptions, research time, document requests, binders, paper, storage, etc. Let’s not forget travel because you’re going to have to get from in front of the computer one day and do hands on research!! It takes a lot of tools and time to make researching our family trees possible. What I’m finding out is, my family doesn’t quite get the labor of love.

Most of the comments I received are “I don’t know how you do it”, “doesn’t that cost $$$”, “My brain would explode”, etc. I guess, you have to really love what you do in order to understand why people do it. I try to explain to people, it’s just like anything else they may love to do. No one else wants to do it, but for you, it’s easy! Well, genealogy isn’t easy, but for us who love doing it, our minds are already wired to think in these complicated manners. To try to connect the dots with solid lines and figure out how people are related. Painstaking research and most of the time, you get the smallest clues from your research. However, those little clues seem to be the most satisfying.

A path to one’s past is excellent framework to one’s future. Most African-American researchers want to know where they come from. That’s why we research our trees so tirelessly. Our family is fascinated by the clues we’ve come up with. We can see leaving this legacy of information to our children. There is reward in our work. That’s why most of the time, those of us who have to spend the money to get a clue solved don’t mind so much. There is something in it for us.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Late Wordless Wednesday follow-up

I always wondered about how someone is your whatever cousin so-many-times removed. Without the chart at the bottom of my blog, I wouldn’t be able to figure out family relationships past 1st cousin.

I always thought that my great uncles children would be my second cousin and my great great uncles children would be my 3rd on and so forth. But, since researching my family tree, I’m starting to understand the connections better.

Thru research, I’ve located 20+ cousins that I have never seen or heard about before. But, when I ask my grandmother about them, she says “oh yeah, I know such-n-such”. Which makes me always wonder, why don’t we hear about them or why aren’t they included on the mailing list. So that’s been part of my mission. To find the relatives and descendents of my great grandparents and keep up the database. Regardless if they’re 4th cousin 4 times removed.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


While writing an article on my 2nd great grandfather, Aaron Edward Spence, for the family newsletter, I noticed something I didn't pay much attention to before.

While looking at his death certificate to determine the cause of death, it say 'dropsy'. I dismissed this before mostly due to amateur research and not being able to understand the chicken scratch written on the death certificate. Well, tonight I decided to do a google search for what I believed to be the word the doctor was trying to say.

I get a correction from Google saying "do you mean dropsy". Thinking..'uh..yeah'. The first link that pops up is a medical link for Dropsy.

Dropsy: An old term for the swelling of soft tissues due to the accumulation of excess water.

In years gone by, a person might have been said to have dropsy. Today one would be more descriptive and specify the cause. Thus, the person might have edema due to congestive heart failure.

Edema is often more prominent in the lower legs and feet toward the end of the day as a result of pooling of fluid from the upright position usually maintained during the day. Upon awakening from sleeping, people can have swelling around the eyes referred to as periorbital edema.

What I thought was amazing is, I see this same medical condition in many of my family living today. Many of them suffer from the same swelling in their lower legs and feet that my 2nd great grandfather suffered from. Although I know genealogy can unlock doors about yourself, it's always amazing when you see the door open.

It makes me wonder what other medical conditions runs in the family....

Friday, June 12, 2009

Vote for my AUNT!!!

This is my aunt on my mom's side, Lidia Schaefer. She is actually my mother's best friend from Ethiopia. They grew up together, but I've always known her as my aunt. She has been nominated as a CNN Hero for her work in Ethiopia. She has built a school in Ethiopia for the children of her village. She is also working on building a secondary school.

I know voting isn't open yet...but I'm so excited and proud of my aunt!!!!!

If you wish to make a donation, please visit her site.

Check out the TV schedule for the next couple of days!! All times below are EST!

FRIDAY – June 12th

  • CNN: 8 am, 11 am, 2 pm
  • HLN (formerly known as Headline News): 7:30 am, 1:30 pm, 5 pm, 8 pm
  • CNN Int’l: 2 am , 7 am, 12 pm, 8 pm

SATURDAY – June 13th

  • CNN: 10 am, 2 pm, 5 pm, 11 pm
  • HLN: 8 am
  • CNN en Español – they will broadcast an entirely Spanish version of the original English story

Monday - June 15th:

  • Premiere in Panorama Mundial 9pm EST

Tuesday June 16th:

  • Al Dia 7 am
  • Nuestro Mundo 2 pm
  • Encuentro 6 pm
  • Directo 7 pm

Thanks to Tara Copp Connolly for nominating Lidia Schaefer as a CNN Hero!!!

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