A few weeks ago, I was researching information in the Indianapolis Recorder on the origins of my church. The Indianapolis Recorder is the oldest running black newspaper in the state of Indiana and one of the oldest in the United States. The Indianapolis Recorder is digitized and completely available online. This makes it very easy to search for names or other key words. Using a keyword search for “Thomas Cleveland”, my Great Grandfather, I subsequently found a picture of my Great Aunt Alma when she was 9 years old. I’m always excited when I find information on my family, even when it’s not what I’m looking for. It was so special to find a picture of my Aunt Alma. She was in her 30’s when I can first remember her. So seeing a picture of her when she was a child, was amazing. This is why It’s so important to know the names of all family members, not just direct ancestors.
The article in The Recorder gave me quite a bit of insight into my family in 1935. There were 7 children in the family at this time. My Aunt Alma being the youngest. The article also indicated my Great Grandfather had been unemployed for several years. This article was written during the Great Depression (which spanned from 1929 – 1939). It’s one thing to read about a historic event. It’s another to read about how it affected your family.
Take time to search the newspapers where your family has lived. You might be surprised with what you find. The picture online wasn’t very clear, and I couldn’t manipulate the image. Fortunately, I was able to access the newspaper on microfilm. I was able to adjust the microfilm so that the picture was clear. Looking at the picture I can see her resemblance to other family members. She’s been gone for several decades, but I still think of her often & miss her. Anna Mae’s Oldest Grandbaby Nichelle ~
Dig up ancestral burial information from millions of tombstone images here. Search by an individual or cemetery name. Users are encouraged to upload additional tombstone photos and submit biographical information for memorial pages. You can even create virtual cemeteries to connect loved ones buried in different places. I was able to find my paternal grandmother using this site. I also found the headstone of a civil war soldier. We were blessed that the Company and Regiment were marked on the grave.
Code services offered: H =how-tos, R =records; S =share your data and T =tools.
This is the last day of the review of my top 9 genealogical websites.e Thanks for hanging in there with me and reading all the posts. Please continue to share what you are learning from the reviews of the websites. Or maybe you have a website that you think SHOULD have made the list. Feel free to leave a comment.
This is one of the best free online resources available. Search millions of digitized and indexed records from around the world. Some results point to offsite sources for digitized records. Don’t ignore the Learn tab; it’s packed with keyword-searchable articles and online courses. The Catalog tab takes you to the most extensive genealogy library catalog in the world. Microfilmed holdings can be rented for use at a FamilySearch Center near you (see the FamilySearch Centers tab). Share your family tree at the bottom of the home page; learn how you can contribute to online records access under the Indexing tab.
Code services offered: H =how-tos, R =records; S =share your data and T =tools.
This is day 8. Including today’s post, we have 2 resources to go. I would love to hear what you are learning from the reviews of the websites. Or maybe you have a website that you think SHOULD have made the list. Feel free to leave a comment.
Today I wanted to take a few moments to talk about the hardest part of being a Family Griot. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary a GRIOT (gree-o) is:
: any of a class of musician-entertainers of western Africa whose performances include tribal histories and genealogies.
I consider myself a griot because I strive to document and share my family’s history. Yesterday my family and I laid to rest the mortal remains of my Uncle Clarence. He was a Master Gardener and excellent cook and most of all a beloved father and grandfather. I helped my cousin with the funeral program and updated my electronic files to show his death date. I looked for pictures of my Uncle Clarence. Which was hard because he was a quiet and solitary man. He did allow me to snap a few pictures of him down through the years. (Once, again, I need to do a better job of organizing my pictures.) I did find a good one of him with two other family members.
Although I am sad that he is no longer with us in the physical realm. I do believe that, “He does now see God.” The pastor’s eulogy were truly a balm to my spirit. Even as I grieve, I’m bolstered by the fact that no one is ever truly gone, when they continue to live on in the hearts of friends and family.
Take this time to document your family history and even more important, hug your family members, spend time with them, listen to them and tell them you love them.
God Bless ~
Anna Mae’s Oldest Grandbaby
Take time to check out this wonderful resource. Do you wish you could attend a great genealogy fair, but you lack the time and money. Well here’s your chance. This fair is as close as your nearest wifi connection.
Visit the National Archives for the 2014 Virtual Genealogy Fair on October 28, 29, & 30, starting daily at 10 a.m. eastern time. This will be a live broadcast via the Internet so you can ask our genealogy experts questions at the end of their talks. The entire event is free and open to all, so there is no registration.
Great news! The State of Indiana in partnership with Ancestry.com is going to digitize and post online 13 million birth, death and marriage records for access by Hoosiers. The records older than 75 years will be available in 2015.
Anyone who has done even a tiny bit of research in the distant past, knows how difficult it can be to learn about female ancestors. There is a frequent tendency for women to be identified as Mrs. James Curtis in public documents. This makes it very hard to find women’s first names and often impossible to find birth surnames (maiden).
I have been blessed, in that I know most of the first names and birth surnames of my female ancestors. If you are only researching male ancestors you are missing 1/2 of the puzzle.
Today I’m going to shine a light on Mary Martin Hayes Williams, one of my direct female ancestors. She was born February 1884 in Kentucky and died November 1964 at the age of 80. She married Hubert Hayes and the couple had 5 children. Four girls and 1 boy. According to one of her grandson’s she was a kind and loving woman who cared deeply for her family.
I learned Mary’s full name from one of her grandson’s. From there I was able to find her death certificate which gave the full names of her parents.
When Mary was born women didn’t have the right to vote. According to Historyorb.com on, “Mar 8th – Susan B. Anthony addresses the U.S. House Judiciary Committee arguing for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution granting women the right to vote. Anthony’s argument came 16 years after legislators had first introduced a federal women’s suffrage amendment.” And the Civil War had only been over for 19 years. I can only imagine what life was like for a woman of African descent living in Kentucky. How I wish I knew some of her thoughts and feelings.
This is just a tiny bit of the story of her life. I challenge you to document the story of the women of your family. Learn their birth names and that of their parents. I am blessed to speak her name and have her picture. For today that will be enough.
I attempted to find records for a few of my ancestors. When performing a search of an online collection, it helps to keep the search broad and then narrow it to find valuable information. The is also a good time to introduce the concept of a research log or notebook. By documenting what collections you have searched and for what individuals you can avoid duplicating your work months or years later. It can also help to illuminate areas you might have overlooked or want to review more closely.
For example according to your current research you believe that your ancestor’s name is James L. Curtis, date of birth (dob) Kentucky, 1927. If you limit your search to those parameters, the search results might miss the person you are searching altogether for or return no results at all. Utilize the option of using a range of years (if available) , ie. + or – 5 years, within the search function. It normally is better to omit middle names or initials. Middle names or initials, may or may not be mentioned in the record.
Every collection you search will not necessarily contain information on one of your ancestors. It’s good to remember that records are not always accurate, nor do they all contain the same information. The information is only as accurate as the person who provided the information. The person could be wrong, misinformed or trying mislead the person or organization collecting the information. That’s why it’s important to use more than one source to verify information. I often say that, “genealogical research is often about finding a preponderance of evidence, rather than a direct smoking gun with fingerprints and gunpowder residue.” (I watch a lot of crime shows. LOL) Just because a piece of information conflicts with what you’ve previously learned, doesn’t mean it’s false. It might be good idea to file it under “further research needed”.
Shortened Transcript of Record that I was able to find on one of my ancestors.
Marion, Indiana, USA
Apr 9 1943
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
No Branch Assignment
Term of enlistment:
Enlistment For The Duration of The War or Other Emergency, Plus Six Months, Subject To The Discretion of The President or Otherwise According To Law
Selectees (Enlisted Men)
Race and citizenship:
2 Years of High School
Semiskilled Chauffeurs and Drivers, Bus, Taxi, Truck, and Tractor
I was told previously that he served in the military, however I didn’t know what branch or when he enlisted. This gave me quite a bit of additional information. Excited!!! His birth certificate states he was born in Louisiana. However I know he lived in Texas for part of his childhood. The name, birthdate, residence and enlistment information all match. This tidbit will encourage me to request his full military records from The National Personnel Records Center. Previously, I’ve requested and received my father’s and my maternal grandfather military records.
Happy Hunting! I hope this blog has inspired you to do some research or perhaps preserve some stories from a veteran in your family.
As the holiday fast approaches many people are planning cookouts, family gatherings and enjoying time off. For a lot of people part of the holiday tradition includes visiting cemeteries and placing flowers on the grave stones of loved ones.
This is one of my families traditions. Since, I was a child, I’ve visited the cemetery with my Mom, Aunts and Grandmother to honor our loved ones. As we walked among the graves my relatives would describe ancestors who passed away many years before I was born. This helped me to get to know my ancestors beyond names and dates and black & white photographs.
Now that I am older, I realize how precious that tradition was and is. My beloved Granny (Anna Mae) used to walk the graves with us. She is no longer with us and I visit her grave now which is beside my Grandpa. My Daughter and Son walk with me and pay honor to our ancestors. I hope this is a tradition that they will maintain and pass on to their children.
This is a great time to document the location of headstones, grave and row and what cemetery they are located in. It also helps to take pictures of the headstones in relation to landmarks (fences, trees).
Taped to the wall of my cell are 47 pictures: 47 black
faces: my father, mother, grandmothers (1 dead), grand-
fathers (both dead), brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts,
cousins (1st and 2nd), nieces, and nephews.They stare
across the space at me sprawling on my bunk.I know
their dark eyes, they know mine.I know their style,
they know mine.I am all of them, they are all of me;
they are farmers, I am a thief, I am me, they are thee.
I have at one time or another been in love with my mother,
1 grandmother, 2 sisters, 2 aunts (1 went to the asylum),
and 5 cousins.I am now in love with a 7-yr-old niece
(she sends me letters in large block print, and
her picture is the only one that smiles at me).
I have the same name as 1 grandfather, 3 cousins, 3 nephews,
and 1 uncle. The uncle disappeared when he was 15, just took
off and caught a freight (they say).He’s discussed each year
when the family has a reunion, he causes uneasiness in
the clan, he is an empty space.My father’s mother, who is 93
and who keeps the Family Bible with everbody’s birth dates
(and death dates) in it, always mentions him.There is no
place in her Bible for “whereabouts unknown.”
I was fortunate enough to meet him once during an English Lit class in college. I later discovered this poem. It really shows our deep connection to each other across space and time.