Female Ancestors 1/2 of the puzzle

ImageAnyone 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.







Organization in 3 easy steps

Ok, that title is totally false. There are more than 3 steps to organization. For every researcher there is a way different way of organizing information. The method you use choose for organization is not as important as having a method and being consistent with it.I would encourage you to do some research and find the method that works best for you.

Genealogy has come a long way since people were hand writing charts and family trees. Paper is still important (I think), but digital files are used primarily for most researchers. That being said, it’s important to keep paper and digital files organized. To increase the usefulness of your organization the two systems should be complimentary.  Frequently, I’ve become so excited about a “find” that I didn’t slow down enough to keep everything organized. If finds are organized and filed properly (as well as citing sources) it’s much easier to determine what information you have and don’t have an how it connects or doesn’t connect with other members of your family.

A single document can shine a light on multiple family members simultaneously . For instance, a birth certificate will have the name and birth place of the child and names and (perhaps occupations) of the parents. Census records will record entire families and neighborhoods.

After, finding the WW II enlistment records for one of my ancestors, I realized that I haven’t scanned all of the military records that I’ve secured. It’s a good idea to update information for the individual ancestor, for example branch of military, dates of service, medals, etc.  And if possible scan the source records and attachment to whichever database you might be using for your family research.

In the next several months, I need to make sure my files are organized, up to date (with the information that I have) and that all (most) of the source records are scanned attached to the individual(s) that they are connected too.

Tomorrow, I’ll talk about pictures (please make a note of who is in the picture, when and where it was taken) and metadata.

Anna Mae’s Oldest Grand-baby

Nichelle ~


The Idea of Ancestry – Ethridge Knight

The Idea of Ancestry

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.”

Etheridge Knight
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.