|Me at my desk.|
I am looking forward to participating in this international genealogy blog, although I am not completely sure I know what we are going to do with it.
My name is Kristin Cleage. I live in Atlanta, Georgia, Southern United States. Our weather here right now is about 45F/7C and it's drizzling outside. I grew up in Detroit (Now in a deep freeze) where both sides of my extended family lived.
After my maternal grandparents died in 1974 and my second daughter was born, I became interested in family history. I started by gathering names and stories from relatives.
My husband, 6 children and I, lived in rural areas for many years, far from big libraries and archives. Family information and a large collection of photographs, was all I had until we went online in the 1990s and I joined Ancestry.com in 2002 and was thrilled to begin finding records to document the oral history and other information that took me back further.
My husband retired in 2007 and we moved from the North Woods of Michigan to Atlanta, GA, where 5 or our 6 children live with 6 of our 7 grandchildren. In May of 2010 I attended a local African American Genealogy Society meeting and the topic was starting a blog. I thought that sounded interesting and went home to start my blog Finding Eliza. I loved doing it and have been at it ever since.
Because my ancestors were enslaved until the 1860s, the only records I can find before emancipation in 1866 are records kept by the slave holders. That means I have to identify that owner and find his records. Last week I was very excited, and also depressed, to find my paternal line - the Cleages mentioned in the will of Alexander Cleage on FamilySearch.Org (a free site). Since then I have found more mentions in another will that I found by starting a tree on Ancestry.com for the slave holding Cleage family. It seems that daughters of well to do families were often given several slaves as a dowry and the father or husband would mention this in his will.
I found documentation for a different line, my mother's maternal line, in a newspaper article on GenealogyBank.com about one of my cousins that mentioned his mother was a slave before the war on Colonel Harrison's plantation in Montgomery, AL.
All of my lines have been taken back as far as I can go post slavery. I see my research this year being taking them back into slave times. This will be harder for other lines because I have no oral history of what plantation they came off of, just an idea based on where they lived in 1870 and their names.
I don't belong to any offline genealogy groups right now but I'm active in The African American Genealogy & Slave Ancestry Research (AAGSAR). I'm also doing Julie's "The Book Of Me, Written By You", The African American Genealogy Blogging Circle and Sepia Saturday.