Friday, 10 January 2014

Kristin Cleage, Writing From Atlanta, Georgia

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.
 

20 comments:

  1. Your work continues to inspire many people and your blog has been such a success. It will be great to hear about your very special history, and it's specific challenges, as the year progresses.

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    1. I'm really looking forward to it.

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  2. Hi, Kristin, it was good to read about your background and family history activities beyond your contributions to Sepia Saturday that I often read. . I look forward to seeing your future posts. .

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    1. It is interesting to get to know each other outside of our usual meeting. Somehow I'm usually rushing to visit everybody on Sepia Saturday in a timely fashion so that I rarely get to visit other posts.

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  3. What would we do without Those Cleages. Thanks for sharing and letting us know your Family. It's always a Treat!

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  4. Hi Kristin, thank you for sharing your story, so looking forward to reading more of your posts , and gritting to know you. Cheers Di

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  5. Thanks Di. I look forward to meeting a whole new bunch of bloggers this year.

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  6. Kristin, I am so glad you joined us here and used that photo in your post.I really liked it the first time I saw it as I realised that is where all that blogging, writing and online research takes place. A great post and I look forward to reading more, both here and at Finding Eliza.

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  7. Thanks, Julie. I'm looking forward to see what happens here.

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  8. Well I must say I'm REALLY enjoying my up close and personal reading this afternoon; was thrilled to spot your name among previous posts! I've always been glad the spark landed on you when I showed up to talk blogs! Your writing and Ancestors soothe my soul many a day Kristian Cleage!:)

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    1. Luckie, you really opened a door for me when I heard you talk about blogging. I'm so glad I decided to go to that particular meeting.

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  9. Kristin, I already enjoy Finding Eliza so am excited to be in on this project with you where I can learn more about you and your stories.

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    1. Thanks Jill. I'm looking forward to learning more about everybody this year too.

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  10. Kristin, It looks like you will be very busy blogging along. I am so glad that you are here. I always enjoy your posts and very interested on what you will be posting next.

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    1. Yvette, I think you are right, I'm going to be busy this year. Looking forward to what direction this goes in too.

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  11. Kristin, I am so looking forward to how you research slaves. I found one of my ancestor's wives' brother lived with a former slave for most of his adult life and had 10 children. I am struggling to learn more about her.

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    1. One of the hardest things in slave research is documenting. First you have to know the plantation/s your ancestors were on, which isn't easy unless someone has passed that information down or, like with Cleage, there weren't that many. Where was the ancestor's wive's brother living and do you know her name and the names of the children? Who knows, maybe someone is looking for that information!

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  12. Seeing what you are doing with Family history is so inspiring. I love to write and may just start doing more of it thanks to you!

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