Friday, 19 August 2016

Being The Bridge.

I have considered this before back in 2014, but due to circumstances of age, losing loved ones, and time, it has come to the forefront of my mind again.  My mom and her twin sister who are the last of their core family of 13 children are nearing 90 and in ill health.

My mother on the left. 
My mother had been the bridge for years in her family reaching out to her nieces and nephews as well as siblings. Now she can't communicate because of health; this caused me to look around and realize that a fractionated family would soon to lose all connection if intervention didn't happen. My first cousins, I was not so much worried about, but the future generations, yes, that concerned me.
Part of the awareness was, I had been pulling my father's family back together reaching back to descendants of my great great great grandfather because they had all lost contact up to the present generation. I started with one cousin and built upon that.
One of the ways I have taken action,was to begin by making private family groups on Facebook and adding the cousins to the family group as I found and collected them.  By sharing pictures and stories, I have been able to reach down to 3rd and 4th cousins that have felt the call to learn of their origins. Below is examples of my journey. I have shared before, but I am sharing it again in the hopes to see others find inspiration to reach out and be the bridge to hold their families together.
When I first began my genealogy blog Branching Out Through The Years, my purpose was to preserve the memories of my husband known on the blog as "The Hero"for our grandchildren.  He really wanted to know them and wanted them to know him.  His choice was taken from him by cancer.
The Hero and I with oldest daughter's first son.

After that, I decided to write the stories of my associations with my relatives, aunts, uncles, grandparents for my children and grandchildren because for the most part they never met or really knew any of them.  This grew to posts about ancestors I wanted to know about and sharing findings with those who were also interested.
Old letters scrapbooked are loved by future generation seeking to know about an individual
When I started on my mother-in-law's family, it was very exciting for her.  She shared her personal stories.  Many times I sat on the floor at her feet and wrote down as she told me.  My sister-in-law also had her write down her personal history so now we have it in her writing.  There is something special about seeing their story in their handwriting as opposed to a transcription or memory by someone else.

Every time I find a book, story, document about an ancestor, I will connect it to the FamilySearch Family Tree , which is a collaborative effort, as a source for others and myself to go back and read to learn more about that ancestor. Their stories make them real, not just a name.
I have used my blog and memes to writing some of my stories. I know, if you don't tell the stories, they are lost and if you find a story you need to share. I can't tell you how many times I look at at family name and wish I knew something of their story.  I have envy that I have to fuss at myself about, when others talk about their family journals.  My dad's family was closed mouth, and now I am recreating their stories.
A great grandfather and one of his sons belonged to the Anti Horse Thief Association. At least they weren't horse thieves. 
There has been research and studies done that shows how sharing your family history and stories shores up your family members when they have challenges, or even national trauma. It is called The Stories That Bind Us.
 I ask you to join in saving the stories for future generations, Be the catalyst in your extended families for sharing, caring, and reaching out to pull cousins together.

as a footnote: I apologize for missing a couple of months. I have an excuse, we had our first core family reunion, first time some of the family had met new members, and first time some had seen each other in 8 years. It was an awesome happening... The other excuse was my mother was sick. Hope that things are back on an even keel again and I will see you next month. Blessings wished for all ya'all from Texas, United States of America.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Hillary Rodham Clinton, DNA and Genealogical Research Show Relationship!

Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton, First woman Nominee for President of the United States of America from a major political party. Source:  Wikimedia Commons

July 26, 2016 will stand as a momentous date in the history of the United States of America!  That night, last  night (as I am writing this early on the 27th) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, Hillary Rodham Clinton was nominated to be the first woman President of the USA!  It was such an exciting moment for more than half of our country, especially women. My hope is that she and other women leaders of other countries will help shape our world for the better!

Just recently, I discovered through my genealogical research that my DNA matched the Rodham surname!  I was surprised and wondered if this might  be Hillary Rodham’s  family!  Well, lo and behold it was, and I learned that I was the seventh cousin once removed of Hillary Rodham Clinton!  That makes my children seventh cousins twice removed, and my grandchildren, seventh cousins three times  removed!  How exciting to share a kinship with the very first woman to win the nomination for President, and if she wins….the first woman President of the United States of America!  That would be awesome!

It is especially exciting to me given the fact that it took 300 years after our country was first settled for women to gain the right to vote in America. African American men were finally granted the right to vote in 1870, after the Civil War. Women of all races had to wait until 1920--fifty more years! Now we might just have our first woman President!  

I already knew that I had strong women in my family tree.  I had learned in previous research, that my maternal 1st cousin, 3x removed, was one of the strongest advocates for women’s rights in the state of Virginia (where  I was born, and grew up)!  I am so proud of this ancestor and cousin– Elizabeth Dabney Langhorne Lewis! She was the founder and President of the Equal Suffrage Club in Lynchburg, Virginia, then became the Vice President of the Equal Suffrage League of the State of Virginia!  From 1850 to 1920 many women activists worked tirelessly to lobby their lawmakers, and convince their sisters and coworkers that women should have a voice in electing those who “ruled” them, those who made their laws, those who affected their families and their very lives.  

Elizabeth Dabney Langhorne, (Mrs. John Henry Lewis) 1851-1946   source: The Virginia Langhornes by James C. Callaway, 2013

My mother herself, Margaret Steptoe Kearse Youngblood, born in 1918, was a strong advocate for voting. She worked the  polls on election day, and often took us, her four children, with  her to teach us how voting worked, and to impress upon us its importance! The whole community knew her through this work. It surely impressed me as important! She would be thrilled that her seventh cousin might be the first female President of the United States!

Margaret Steptoe Kearse Youngblood, personal collection

What a moment in history we have with the nomination of Hillary Rodham Clinton for our President. I will do the best I can to help her get elected in November, 2016--not  because she is a woman, not even because she is my cousin, but because I believe she is the best candidate to lead our country and to continue working with our allies all over the world. It is an exciting time!

Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton (1947 - )
7th cousin 1x removed
father of Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton
mother of Hugh Ellsworth Rodham
father of Mary Bynum Jarnagin
father of Milton Preston Jarnagin
mother of Preston Bynum JARNAGIN
father of Mary Lavinia "Patsy" Witt
father of Charles C Witt
father of John Witt III
daughter of John Witt II
Abner Harbour (1730 - 1778)
son of Sarah Witt
son of Abner Harbour
daughter of Moses Harbour
daughter of Joyce Harbour
son of Nancy J Houchins
daughter of Walter Thomas Houchins
daughter of Katherine Steptoe Houchins
You are the daughter of Margaret Steptoe Kerse

Wishing you the very best, Helen Y. Holshouser

Monday, 25 July 2016

Incorporating Evernote into My Research Process

I'll admit it. I'm lazy, especially when it comes to transcribing records and creating source citations. Yet, when I begin to write a blog post or a magazine article, I rue the fact I haven't transcribed the associated records. Typically, if I have not already transcribed a record I do so in preparation of writing a blog post. This is when I create the source citations as well. Thankfully, I am good about noting where I found the record.

Since Ancestry revamped its interface, I have been dissatisfied with how transcriptions of documents are displayed. I find them very hard to read. (I'll admit I wasn't thrilled with "old" Ancestry, but new is definitely a step backwards.)

This is a source citation I created from a document I found on ScotlandsPeople. When I click the source link from the Sources column on the facts tab, the text is all jumbled and difficult to read:

Citation details of Robert Orr Muir's 1917 death registration; citation created by
me; image courtesy of

If I go to the Gallery, where I used to be able to easily read the text transcription, I can no longer do so. I have to click the edit button and scroll through a small text screen.

Death Registration document in the Gallery; image courtesy of

Transcription is the bottom field. Certainly cannot see much!
Image courtesy of

So I am beginning to incorporate other tools into my research process. The first one with which I began experimenting is Evernote. Currently, I am using it only for transcriptions and I quite like it. I can also see where the Web Clipper functionality will be very useful for staying on task. If I see something I want to investigate further, I merely have to clip it and add it to my To-Do Notebook to work on later.

After transcribing the record, and attaching an image of the record, I click Share >> Copy Public Link:

Image courtesy of Evernote

Then I add the link to the transcription to Ancestry as a web link:

The link to the Evernote transcription of Robert Orr Muir's death registration
I added to his facts page

This is not the entire Evernote "note" but it should give you an idea of how much better the display of the transcription information is than the two options provides.

My Evernote public note about the death of Robert Orr Muir; image
courtesy of Evernote

I know I'm late to the Evernote party, but I would very much like to know how are you integrating Evernote with your your family tree software?

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Researching Family Stories

 Did Aunt Ruth work for the grandson of William Ewart Gladstone Prime Minister ?

Family Photograph in possession of Gary Gadsby, digital copy supplied to Hilary Gadsby

I have wanted to prove this Family Story ever since I was told about it in a letter from her nephew.

Gary Gadsby Mr ([STREET ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE]; Wantage, England) to Hilary Gadsby, letter, not dated circa 2003/2004; privately held by Gadsby, [STREET ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE]. Cit. Date: 10 Jul 2016.  

So with the launch of the 1939 Register at Find My Past I started looking for her. I had her exact date of birth from the death registration and knew she had never married., England & Wales, Death Index, 1916-2007; digital images, Operations Inc, ( Rec. Date: 10 Jul 2016.

Despite various research strategies I had been unable to find her or anyone faintly resembling her in the indexes.
Even when I was able to view the images I could find no trace so I decided to leave it and come back later.

On 9th July The Surname Society held the first of their hangouts for July and I joined in as Colin Spencer presented on the 1939 register. He pointed out that some of the redacted images had been altered and that due to poor transcribing we may have to do a wider search.
Whilst he was presenting I decided to try and find some of those that had been elusive previously and by using a wildcard I managed to find an entry which could be Aunt Ruth, I also found her missing brother, and both were counties away from their birthplace. But importantly the residence matched what I had been told by her nephew. The birth year had been transcribed as 1910 instead of 1901.

Now to prove that the Stephen (P should have been a D) Gladstone was in fact a grandson of William Ewart Gladstone.
Searching at Find My Past I was able to find several documents to prove my assertion.

He was born too late to have appeared on the 1891 census so I needed to find a birth registration and a 1901 census entry that showed him living with his parents., England & Wales births 1837-2006; digital images, FindMyPast, ( Rec. Date: 10 Jul 2016., 1901 England, Wales & Scotland Census; digital images, FindMyPast, ( Rec. Date: 10 Jul 2016. 

Find My Past also has scanned images of the registers for Hawarden, Flint and I found an entry for Stephen Deiniol Gladstone on 29th December 1891 with a birth date recorded as 9 December 1891., Flint Baptisms; digital images, FindMyPast, ( Rec. Date: 10 Jul 2016. 

His father was the Parish - Priest and was recording much more than was required. If you look in the margin he has recorded, what appears to be, the maiden name of the mother. This is great news for anyone looking for those common surnames.

So what about the 1911 census, was Stephen who would have been 19, still living with his parents?

I can find no trace of Stephen Deiniol Gladstone in 1911 census for England and Wales. I have however found other records which may add to my knowledge of his life but are not relevant to this research question.

Where was Stephen Edward Gladstone the father? 
He is shown here in 1911 living in Barrowby with numerous servants. 

Here is the 1911 census for Stephen Edward Gladstone,, 1911 Census for England & Wales; digital images, FindMyPast, ( Rec. Date: 10 Jul 2016. 

and below is his burial in Hawarden, Flint., Flint Burials; digital images, FindMyPast, ( Rec. Date: 10 Jul 2016. 

Did Ruth work for him before his death in 1920?
Barrowby and Gunby, where Ruth was born, are not far apart.

So we know who the parents were the next stage is to find a link to the parents of Stephen Edward Gladstone.
I looked at several census records and found that in 1861 he was a scholar at Eton and not with his family., 1861 England, Wales & Scotland Census; digital images, FindMyPast, ( Rec. Date: 10 Jul 2016. 

and on the 1851 census he is listed as nephew of the head of household., 1851 England, Wales & Scotland Census; digital images, FindMyPast, ( Rec. Date: 10 Jul 2016. 

Can I find anything more to help my search?
How about a marriage record., Liverpool, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1813-1921; digital images, Operations Inc, ( Rec. Date: 10 Jul 2016.

and to complete the puzzle a christening record would be great., Westminster Baptisms; digital images, FindMyPast, ( Rec. Date: 10 Jul 2016.

We can prove those stories even when they were relatively recent but I would say I am extremely lucky here.
Most, if not all, of these records were not available online when I started my research and many areas have little available on the major websites. 
Even proving a connection to the famous can be difficult.

For anyone who is interested here are a couple of Wikipedia pages about the Gladstone Family.
Gladstone Baronets
William Ewart Gladstone

Thursday, 9 June 2016

United we Stand

Unity and collaboration is an important part of what we should be doing as genealogists or community historians. There are two aspects to this - how can a united front help the cause of the historian and how can a study of history promote unity within a community or family?

Access to a world-wide audience can give today’s historical research a completely different complexion to the research of the pre-internet era. Group projects can be undertaken by those who never physically meet. Take, for example, my recent writing project Remember Then:women’s  memories of 1946-1969 and how to write your own. I engaged with women from three continents, who contributed their memories of the period 1946-1969, so I could write a social history of the period. They provided me with a range of memories that would be very difficult to collect if I had to rely on face to face contact. The scope for collaborative research is infinite. Databases can be added to by those working in distant locations. There is a recent proliferation of apps and software that allow collaborative timelines, biographies or family trees to be created. Group participation makes for more detailed and comprehensive research.
Local historians can accomplish far more as a group than one person can alone. This is not just an issue of time. Each person will bring their own specialist interests to the team and can enjoy working on the aspect of community history that they enjoy best. Someone who has a fascination for ancient earthworks may not be the right person to conduct oral history interviews. Team work brings greater and more focused results.

Family history is often likened to a jigsaw puzzle. If you work with others you may find some of your missing pieces. Sometimes we are all too keen to hang on to ‘our’ research but sharing really does have its benefits. This emphatically does not mean wholesale grafting on other people’s family trees to your own, probably as a result of a helpful ‘hint’ by the genealogy subscription website of your choice. It means having a two way discussion about the results of carefully conducted research, or about personal memories or memorabilia of common interest.

Unity of course is power. Many strange things are happening to heritage, to archives, to online genealogical data providers at the moment. If you want to campaign for the retention of an archive facility or changes to an online data provider’s system, then there may not be safety but there is certainly impact in numbers. Joining together in an organised way is far more likely to bring about change than a lone voice in the wilderness.

Finally, a study of history can bring about unity. Creating a community archive can bring a community together, as they explore their shared heritage. Family history spawns renewed contact with distant family members, it may lead to family reunions, it may help to unite the family. It can be a way of inspiring young people to take an interest in their past. All in all then, uniting in groups of like minded people can be beneficial to historical research and engaging in that research can bring disparate individuals together with a sense of common purpose.