Saturday, 10 January 2015

Thoughts On 2014 and Where I'm Going In 2015

At my desk - new location, same house, new view.
I noticed that I only did 4 posts here last year. This year I have committed to 6, every other month, and plan to get those done.

Looking back over 2014 to see what I've accomplished and what I want to do this year

I participated in The Book of Me, Written by You, continued my 4th year of Sepia Saturday and did my second A to Z Challenge.  How did these challenges help my research and blogging in general?

When I can't think of anything, or have nothing ready, to blog about, Sepia Saturday's prompts very often push me to find a photograph in my collection and learn more about it or to dig deep and write about my own life.  I believe I learned the most from doing these posts about Marion Lucy Pettiford, Charles Watkins and Clifton Graham's V mail from WW2.

The Book of Me, Written by You prompts also gave me the incentive to go deeper into events in my own life and a couple of them made me look into how my ancestors lives compared to my own.  Generations of Family Signatures and Everyday Things Then and Now were the two of these.

The April A - Z Challenge works well for me. This year I used letters from my paternal grandfather, Dr. Albert B. Cleage Sr and posted parts of them with historical information to go along for the whole month.  By looking closely at the letters to see what related to the letter in question, I found information I hadn't noticed or had skimmed over on first reading the letters over a decade ago.

What new information did I find this year?  I found Wills for two owners of my enslaved ancestors - Alexander Cleage and Elijah Hurst - which mentioned my people by name and confirmed family connections.  Along with other slave era documents, these enabled me to build more complete timelines for Frank and Juda Cleage and their children. 

I found an Agricultural Census for my paternal great grandfather Louis Cleage and learned that he was a share cropper and what crops and how many animals he tended.  Most of my ancestors lived in the city or town but for the two that farmed, I've found the Agricultural Census helps round out the picture of their lives.

I found and was able to trace another sister of my great grandfather, Louis Cleage, through several generations.  This information is waiting to be written up for a blog post.  Perhaps some cousins from that line will get in touch.

Several more cousins from my paternal grandmother's side of the family found me through my blog Finding Eliza this year.  They were from the Hugh Reed branch that moved to California around 1920 and passed for white.  I am thinking about writing about how passing worked, based on several ancestors and extended family members that chose that route in the past.

Last year I started to do the 52 Ancestor Challenge, but never did. This year I am going to do it with a different twist. I'm going to  write up 52 of the slaves mentioned in various documents from the Cleage plantations in McMinn County Tennessee. I find myself researching them to find if there are any links with my elusive extended Cleage family members who disappear after the 1870 census.  I will trace them through the documents and then through other records after they gained their freedom in 1865. 


  1. You've had a hugely productive and successful year Kristin, documenting ,ore about your own life and that of your ancestors. I like the idea of the 52 slaves as a project....perhaps I should use this with Clare blog.

  2. Kristin, I am delighted you are going to carry on writing here. I look forward to reading your posts, both here & your blog. Your take on the 52 slaves sounds great & I look forward to reading those.

  3. I'm looking forward to it! It just came to me when I was writing because I had been doing some research on them anyway and how could I pass up what I hope will be at least 52 stories that happened right around my family.

  4. I like your plan to write profiles on 52 slaves - a very original idea and I look forward to reading your posts.

  5. You have given me a few ideas. It's always Important to highlight them in our Personal Blogs. Somebody sooner or later is gonna look for them. They are so hidden and it's frustrating. So many Stories of the Slaves untold. At least we are part of the Solution and not the Problem. Your research room is a delight!


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