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 cousin..so 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!!!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Monday, June 8, 2009

Genealogy Muse

What inspires you to keep digging?? We all get frustrated and push the research to the side, but what brings you back. For me, it's those unanswered questions. For so many years, everyone has been my cousin. I was never one to have 'play' cousins. I always liked to know how people are family. That inspired me to start looking. The sheer aggrevation of people saying "They're your cousin, I don't know how".

The problem here is, when my Grandma Bessie was talking not many of her children were listening. She told stories of her people and how such-n-such were related. Only a few of her children can actually spread the tree out further. But, not many can help the tree go higher.

The city that my family 'originated' from (i use that term loosely because I don't know where origination is, but we've been there since 1866...so that's the best I have) is Elizabeth City, NC. Everyone knows everyone. So, if you talk to enough people, you'll find out that they know someone that married someone that is my cousin. While visiting the cemetery that my grand uncle is buried a couple of weeks ago, an older lady approached me. She was there with her family cleaning off the graves of their loved ones. Here I was, a woman wondering around a cemetery alone...with a camera. I guess I looked lost or suspicious. She asked me "Who are you looking for" and I told her I was looking for my great grandfather, Aaron Spence. She asked me who I was. I told her and her response was "Oh, you one of those Spence's". WTH??? Then she asked me again who I was looking for. Upon telling her....again. She said "Ed Spence? OOO I know Ed. O.k. nice to meet you". LOL. Thanks for the help!! Anywho..I was rambling..

I said all that to come back to, it's hard to feel grounded when you don't know where your roots lie. So what inspires you?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Three Column Modification courtesy of The Blogger Guide