Happy Four-Year Bloggiversary to ME!

2/19/2014 1 comment(s)

Happy Four-Year Bloggiversary to ME!

Well, Genealogy Family, believe it or not, it has been four years since I launched Reconnected Roots! I am in awe of how quickly the time has passed and somewhat disappointed at how many posts did not make it from my mind to my website. Don’t get me wrong; I am pleased at many of the writings submitted over the last few years. In fact, I used last week’s winter snow storm to review all the posts I’d previously written. But there really is much more that I’d like to share. So that you guys can keep me accountable, here is my short list of goals planned for 2014:

  • An update on the mysterious life of Cora Tinsley Martin, my Great Grandmother. After all, she was one of the primary reasons I started Reconnected Roots.

  • An investigation on the ancestry of Mr. Jesse Brown, the first African American Aviator in the U.S., as well as the first African American Officer to be killed in the Korean War. It has been rumored that Brown and my family of Browns are descendants of a common ancestor. I have decided to put the rumor mill to rest and either prove or dispel via genealogical documents.

  • To help at least one new family history buff to get organized and take their data online! So many helped and encouraged me that I would be amiss if I
    didn’t do the same for someone else.

  • ROAD TRIP!! I used to relish planning an all-day excursion at the archives. It was the ultimate “spa day” for me! As with most things, when you break your routine, it is difficult to get back on track. I don’t know if my schedule now will permit me to go monthly, as before. But I can certainly start with one trip and see if I can get back in my rhythm.

  • Catch up on my blog reading. Okay, so none of us is ever really “caught up” on the blog reading, especially because there are so many well-written blogs that I enjoy. But I am going to read your posts more regularly and leave you my feedback, because I admit I love it when you guys leave me yours.

Alright, that is plenty for now. I have many posts in my head; I just need to get them on (cyber) paper. Thank You to all of you who have me on your favorite bloggers list! In 2014, I will try to live up to that!

Until Next Time,

You Don't Wanna Know?!

12/25/2013 2 comment(s)
I had a most interesting experience this year with one of my good friends, whom I will not name, in fear that he will scalp me! For the sake of my story, we’ll just use his initials TLR or T for short. Knowing I am a self-admitted genealogy crack-head, T told me that he knew very little about his paternal side. He knew somewhat of his maternal side. Now admittedly, he told me from the onset that he was not interested in genealogy, family history or his paternal side due to issues he had with his Father. Understood. That’s his family line. Who am I to pry?? But then, he tells me that his adult children, his son in particular, had an interest in their little known family history. T’s son had actually tried to research his family line, but due to time restraints and lack of experience and resources came up with little to nothing. Okay, so T’s family history is on my “genealogy radar.” I am itching to get my researcher’s hands on his ancestors. But first, I need his consent. So, I ask my good friend...for the sake of his adult children and teenaged grandchildren if he’d mind if I shook his tree, just a little too see if I could help fill in the historical blanks that T’s son was unable to find. He told me that HE really wasn’t interested, but that if I thought I could help, I was welcome to do “whatever it was I do.” He agreed that whatever information I discovered, he would gladly pass that onto his son. More excited than a kid locked in cotton candy factory, I started my research! I had several brief interviews with T to gather what information he had, to help me in my quest. He complied. It took me no time to “travel” from Chicago, Illinois to Lexington, Kentucky, following his relatives in reverse order of their lives. I periodically would share my information with him to ensure I was on the right track and to fact-check, as I knew he had not shared all of the initial information with me. I became resolved in the fact that he did not rejoice at the unearthing of fascinating data. For example, I discovered a relative that lived less than 10 minutes away from his childhood home. He says he never knew the relative was local. That was an exciting find for me, especially since it appears that the relative’s home is still, to this day, inhabited by family. I tried to present my findings in a calm and sensitive way, since I was unsure of exactly what family hurts and fractures had occurred in the past. The culmination of his uncomfortableness came one day when I updated him with new data. It had been two weeks since I last spoke to him concerning his family tree. He told me in a surprised tone, “I thought you were finished with that?” I knew then that he was permitting me to research his family, but cringed at every mention of new records found and ancestors unknown. Out of respect for his feelings, I stopped tracing his paternal and maternal lines altogether. I felt sad for his children and grandchildren, because I know they are curious. And I felt disappointed because, as you researchers know, once you begin to trace ancestors you build a rapport and bond with them. They seek you out in the middle of the night with helpful ideas. They cheer you on at the discovery of their birth certificate. They pat you on your back when you neatly organize their life in prose or in charts. And in this case they pouted, with folded arms, as their descendant blocked the discovery of their lives. They encouraged me to continue documenting and validating them, in secret, as one day T would change his mind. However, I opted to respect his privacy and assured them that when T was ready, I would continue their story. 


So, how do you deal with those who have no interest in knowing their history? 

Until Next Time, 

My 23andMe Results are In!

12/6/2011 2 comment(s)
I have to preface this post by saying that it is mainly for my non-genealogy friends and family. So, if you are already a fan of 23andme, this post is going to sound like I’m preaching to the choir. If you are not familiar with 23andme then read on...

I gotta go on record and say that I am not affiliated with 23andMe, nor am I being compensated in anyway for this post. I’m just really that pleased with them. 23andMe.com is a research company that specializes in ancestry and genetics.

About a month ago, 23andMe had a promotion, where they were offering their normally $99 DNA kit for FREE. Yes, I said free. They even paid for the shipping and handling. What was the catch, you ask? The catch, if you want to call it that, is that 23andMe uses your data for anonymous research. And what do you get?

So glad you asked. For starters, you get your “Ancestry Painting” which is a map of your 22 biparental chromosomes. Don’t worry. 23andMe will walk you through what all of this technical mumbo jumbo means. And I, for one, needed that help. Below, I’m sharing my DNA markers, so you can see what is included.

Now, I was expecting that part. But here is the added bonus. 23andMe also sends you a comprehensive list of reports concerning your health and the genetic likelihood of developing certain medical issues. This information could prove to be extremely useful, especially for those who may not know the medical history for their parents. Of course I chose to pick a flattering report, but let me share an example with you. In the report entitled Muscle Performance, I learned all about a gene called ACTN3. Although there are lots of different genes that affect physicality, ACTN3 is one of the genes common among sprinters. My genotype, CC, revealed “two working copies of alpha-actinin-3 in fast-twitch muscle fiber. Many world-class sprinters and some endurance athletes have this type of genotype.” For the record, I’m far from a sprinter, unless we’re talking about sprinting to the fridge. But for the ancestrally curious, you will find great satisfaction in knowing what illnesses to which you may be genetically prone, to include heart disease, breast cancer and parkinson’s disease, among many others.

The final genea-nugget 23andMe offers is the “Sharing & Community” Section that allows you to share your reports with family members, compare genes and even see (limited information) about other people in the 23andMe community, with an option to contact them. The part I like best, is you choose your comfort level. If you don’t care to know your Health results, you don’t have to see them. If you choose not to interact with those who share genetic markers, you don’t have to. And I like that.

So, consider submitting a DNA sample to 23andMe. Family and friends, I will be sending you all emails, when and if the free promo returns. In the mean time, I find it well worth the $99 investment. Alright, so what say you?

Until Next Time,

Your Comments Count!

10/17/2011 6 comment(s)
You’d have to know my melancholy temperament to fully understand the twisted logic of my head, but I’ll give it a shot at interpretation. I absolutely love researching family history. Mine as well as other people’s. In fact, few things make me happier, than the careful dissection of family history. My struggle has always been in sharing that research. Somehow I convinced myself that with the infinite amount of genea-bloggers, as well as the recent influx in sport-genealogists, my research was important and valuable-- only to me.

In walks Mr. Charles Johnson. Who is he, you ask? Mr. Johnson stumbled into my humble abode, Reconnected Roots and provided me with the swift motivational kick in the britches that I apparently needed. What did he do? He commented on a post I wrote almost 18 months ago about Major Charity Adams Earley. The comment caused me to reflect, and the reflecting brought me to a few conclusions.

Family historians, researchers and genealogists alike: You will never be able to predict how your writings and findings will affect others. You’ll never be able to know when something you wrote or researched and posted will help, motivate or encourage someone else, or even how many years or generations down the road it may be. It is not our job. If you are the family historian, it is your job to research and to share. Share openly with anyone who cares to read. You may get a comment, you may get no comments. You may...ok, you will...get some criticisms but in the end, the reward for accurate and careful genealogy is priceless.

To Mr. Johnson, thank you for taking the time to read my blog and to comment. For my other faithful readers, remind me from time to time to share some of the niblets I’ve uncovered. And to my fellow researchers, let’s all get back to the grindstone.

Until Next Time,

Happy Birthday Granddad!

4/16/2011 7 comment(s)

James Brown 1900 - 1988
Yesterday, April 15th marked my Granddad’s Birthday. James Brown, my father’s father was born on this day in 1900.

Because he was an older Grandfather, I never really got a chance to build a close relationship with him. However, there are many warm memories that I still share. Our family would visit he and my Grandmother every summer. He would always make sure that me and my sisters left with Silver Dollars and sometimes “quiet money” in our pockets. In fact, I still have several coins which have appreciated in sentimental and monetary value over time. Also, my Granddad always had a generous supply of Coca-Cola on hand. And it wasn’t just any old knock off Coke drink. It was real Coca-Cola brand in glass bottles, which as a child tasted so much better than the aluminum cans I was used to. Keep in mind, Flavor-Aid was the drink of choice back home, since it was much less expensive than soda, so it was a real treat when we vacationed in sunny Florida to have sodas available, let alone in the glass bottle with the souvenir bottle cap!

Granddad loved his dogs and it seems as if that family trait has been passed down to my own father and sister. Likewise, his dogs loved him. They seemed to appreciate his gentle and kind spirit, as did I.

All things in life happen the way they do for a reason, but if I could go back in time, knowing the things I know now, I would have sat down with Granddad and found out who HE was. I know who he was as my father’s father, but I mean what his life was like and what made him tick. I wish I could have heard some of his stories of the memories of his life. His branch of my family tree is the one with the most roadblocks. At that time, as inquisitive as I was, I never dared to ask elders any personal questions. You just didn’t do that, if you valued your chops. But looking back now, I don’t think he would have gone for my chops. I think he may have talked to me. (Mom would have knocked my block off later, for such inquiries)

So, for now, Granddad, I hope you are pleased at the untold pieces of your life I have put together so far. And when I am finished, I will write all about it on this blog or perhaps a bigger platform. But for now, I wish you a Happy 111th Birthday. Know that we miss and love you very much.

Until Next Time,

Shack Leonard - To search or not to search?

4/2/2011 6 comment(s)
I have been on the fence for some time about this post, and whether I even wanted to broach the subject. Living descendants can be quite sensitive about things that are generations old. However, there is an undeniable desire for knowledge about one Shack Leonard, my maternal Gr-Gr-Grandfather. So why the hesitation to trace him, you ask? Well, it’s complicated.

Shack Leonard was born in 1862 in rural Jefferson County, Florida. He married a woman named Katie, with whom he had a large brood. I’d like to imagine that Shack and Katie had this beautiful, amorous marriage and lived happily ever after. But then... there was Eliza. Eliza Bell lived down the street from the Leonards. She was 23 years his junior. I imagine Eliza was limited in her experiences with men. She was just a tender 18 year old when she became pregnant with her first child and Shack’s 13th; my Great Grandfather - Mamon Leonard. Shack was older, experienced and charming, I’m sure. Eliza did not stand a chance against his pursuit. Or perhaps it was she who used her youth to pursue him. I don’t know. Nor at this juncture do the technicalities really matter.

What I do know is that Eliza went on to have a string of relationships, changing surnames to match. She had two other children, whose paternity I have yet to verify with official records. I think she may have been in pursuit of love and unfortunately sought it through tumultuous relationships with men.

My hesitation about researching Shack Leonard was that although he is indeed my Gr-Gr-Grandfather, I felt some sort of regret to Katie about how I, Eliza, and the whole lot of us got into their family tree. Ever feel like you crashed a party? Or as if you have intruded on someone else’s life? That is how I felt on Eliza’s behalf, originally.

However, after much thought, I have come to realize that Eliza’s path was her own. With apologies to Katie and the other Leonards, Shack is a part of my family line. I never had the pleasure of knowing him, but I am confident I would have loved him. So, I am proudly adding him to our tree and will continue to trace his lineage.

There are numerous Leonards still residing in Tallahassee, Florida. Someone out there has a photo of my Gr-Gr-Grandfather, Shack. I would love to know what he looked like. Perhaps, he and I share a pensive gaze or some other interesting characteristic. My mind races with unanswered questions. How did Shack walk? Was he tall? What was his favorite saying? How was his temperament? If you are a Leonard or you know Leonards from that area, drop me a line. Or leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you. Until then I will continue to piece together his life and will update when I find out more information.

Until Next Time,

Ive Been Hiding From My People...

3/23/2011 8 comment(s)
Yes! I’ve been hiding from my people. What people, you ask? I’ve been hiding from the 1200+ people rattling around my family tree. The unknowns, the dead ends, the well knowns, the add-ins...the whole lot of them. And guess what? It felt good...for a while. Sometime late last year, I sat this ongoing genealogy “habit” down, in hopes using that time to add some organization to my life.

What I found during my AWOL status, was that genealogy actually adds structure, organization and fulfillment to my life. It forces me to be disciplined. The research keeps my mind sharp. And like any good puzzle, every piece contributes to the overall picture.

There. I admitted it. I miss my quirky ancestors. I miss reading their names, imagining their lives, scanning seemingly microscopic documents for their existence, looking for their spouses, counting their children and finding their resting place. I miss waking up in the middle of the night, with an idea of where to search next. I miss trying to explain to my husband how I can stay at the archives for an entire day, without coming up for air. (He almost had me committed behind that one.)

So, I say all that to say I am going to re-commit to my genealogy. Did any of you just hear that roar of cheers and applause in the background? Yes, I am certain that my ancestors approve and appreciate my efforts. They send me constant subtle and not-so-subtle reminders.

Alright, so what can you expected from Reconnected Roots during the remaining three (3) quarters of 2011?

  • Introduction and background of newly discovered ancestors
  • Updates on some of your favorite ancestors (I still get regular emails inquiring about Cora or offering suggestions. Thank You!)
  • A face lift for this website (Help!!!!)
  • New Photos (Or should I call them Old Photos)
  • More from “Spotlight On...” (There are so many researchers who I want to introduce to each other. I do have a talented historian on deck. I just have to see if he is still speaking to me!! *smile*)
  • Informative posts with tips that may help you progress faster with your research

I think that’s plenty for now. Thanks to all of you who send me emails inquiring about my website. I am returning to one of my first loves. And now that I’ve put it out there, I am sure all of you will help me keep to my word.

Until Next Time,

Father Divine Article - Part II

10/22/2010 No comments
The rest of the story is out! If you missed Part One of the Father Divine Article, then read my previous post here and find out what it was all about. Writer, J.F. Pirro wrote a two-part series about the controversial International Peace Mission Leader Father Divine. And guess who has a one-liner mention in the article? My great-grandmother, Cora! Missed her story? Read about it here.

There are still many unanswered questions in my quest to fill in the pieces of Cora’s life. To my fellow researchers, and those who may have stumbled onto this blog, how about leaving me a few suggestions for places I may not have considered in terms of breaking down this brick wall? No ideas are bad ideas. Where would you search for clues if Cora were YOUR ancestor?

Father Divine Article

9/7/2010 1 comment(s)
For those of you who do not know, I have an overwhelming, personal interest in the story of Father Divine and the International Peace Mission. If you missed the post on my Great Grandmother, Cora, you can catch up here on how this fits in with genealogy and my family history.

In my quest to find out more about her life and ultimately her death, I became acquainted Father Divine’s adopted son, Tommy Garcia. Tommy’s quest, much like my own started out of a need for truth, answers and resolution.

In fact, as fate would have it, Tommy was the catalyst for my friendship with Tom McKnight. Yes, I know. Reconnected Roots has not been the same since Tom McKnight was here! His presence is sorely missed. But for those of you who enjoyed his 3-part series, know that he still follows this blog and reads all the comments. Additionally, I plan to ask him to write a post chronicling his ancestor’s life with Father Divine and the International Peace Mission.

Earlier this year, the three of us, myself, Tommy and Tom participated in a series of interviews with a nationally recognized writer J.F. Pirro out of Quakertown, Pennsylvania. Part I of the story is out! See Prodigal Son (Part I) By the way, Part II will be out in October, and rumor has it, that there is a mention of Cora in Part II, so stay tuned!

Here's the Story: Prodigal Son by J. F. Pirro

Until Next Time,

Treasure Chest Thursday

7/8/2010 4 comment(s)

My Aunt Dorris shares her Mother's Bible
Many of you know I recently spent some time with my Great Aunt, who by the way is 97 years young! She is alert, independent, gracious and sharp. I had not seen her since I was a little girl, but we visited as if we had seen each other last week.

During my stay, she shared with me her Mother’s Bible. Her mother, Cora Tinsley Martin, was born in 1893 and is the focus of my ongoing inquiry into Father Divine and the International Peace Mission. Who's that, you say? Read here if you puzzled.

Aunt Dorris keeps meticulous records and when the subject of her Mother’s handwriting came up, she retrieved this invaluable heirloom, which in the margin has notes written by her mother. Aware of its value she keeps this bible, secured in plastic, away from the sun, dust or other perils. The pages are torn and tattered, the spine detached from its binding, but all I could think about was that this Bible belonged to my Great-Grandmother. She clearly studied it, noted it, prayed with it and then saw fit to send it back home to her daughter.

Aunt Dorris doesn’t need anyone to tell her the value of this heirloom, as although she shared this beauty with me, she made sure I did not handle it! And that was just fine with me. I was honored and grateful that she shared her most prized family antique with me and all of the stories that went along with it.


Lessons Learned From Dad

6/20/2010 4 comment(s)
As it is the Fathers who set the tone in the home, it seems appropriate that we honor Father’s Day with Stephanie Mills’ rendition of Home, courtesy of youtube.

Happy Father’s Day! It seems like real Fathers are far and few between. I am grateful and glad that mine is part of that dying breed. Nevertheless, I want to wish all of the Fathers reading a happy and joyous day today. Enjoy your families.

There are many lessons I can attribute to my Father, who for the sake of family peace, shall remain nameless in this blog. However I want to focus on one today. That lesson is in pride.

The details of the situation involved escape me at the time of this writing. But what I can tell you is that I was always a headstrong, precocious child who would rather “die” than to cry uncle. Whatever was going on at the time, prompted my Dad to tell me, “You don’t want to cut your nose off just to spite your face.”

Now at the time, this graphic illustration sounded more like a warning against body mutilation! However, I later understood its full meaning, which is not to stand on your pride, when it is you, in the long run, that you are hurting. I am so glad these are figurative examples, because I would indeed be noseless, as it took some time to learn that lesson.

Great advice, Dad. Thanks.

On this week of Father’s Day what lessons did you learn from YOUR Dad?

Please share it in the comments!

Until Next Time,

That's What Friends Are For...

6/17/2010 2 comment(s)
I am overdue with a hearty Thank You for my friend, Tom McKnight. As you all know I took a week to myself, away from the PC. I called Tom and asked him to venture into uncharted territory and man the blog while I was away. Needless to say, Tom is an outstanding, eloquent writer. So, he seemed like the perfect fit. Fearlessly, he took the baton and wrote a –not one—not two – but three part article! (If you missed it, start here, to catch up) I was pleased beyond reason. I’ve said it privately, and now I just want to thank him publicly. Tom, you did an amazing job here, at Reconnected Roots. Thank you for sharing your family history with us. You are part of the blogging family here and welcome to return at any time!

One more thing, Tom welcomes feedback and communication, especially in reference to any of his family lines mentioned in his posts. To contact him directly, drop him a line here. Or send me a note and I’ll put you in contact.

Speaking of family, I have wonderful cousin, in Florida who faithfully reads my blog. To my wonderful cousin, you know who you are, your turn in “the driver’s seat” is coming up. You are an eloquent, well-versed writer and it is time to share a couple of your memories of our family history with our audience! There! You’ve been called out! *smile*

Until Next Time,

A Genealogy Journey of 14,496 Miles in 86 Days ~ Part III

6/12/2010 1 comment(s)
Missed Part I or Part II? You can catch Part I here and Part II here. Then mosey on back to the conclusion.

The effort to venerate Great Grandmother’s presence continues; while there was a tacit agreement to place her picture on the kitchen door (the shack behind the Keller home), inclusion of her picture in the main house at present was suggested to be no larger than 5x7. One can draw one’s own conclusion and possibly be right.

An 8x10 for the kitchen door is also tacitly "reasonable" or acceptable, however a larger presentation whereby Great Grandmother, Great Grandfather and a pictorial organization chart to convey her role not only as cook, but as a mother, with a family is a more apt resurrection of history. She was one of many who were part of, and influenced the Keller household in so many different ways.

Viny Murphy, the other person depicted in the movies, plays and books was not the cook as most are led to believe. Her name is at least correct. Viny was nursemaid to Helen Keller's siblings; Phillip Brooks Keller and Mildred Keller. Now, as I have been advised, in the Southern context, the title nursemaid had a specific function and meaning back in the day, but I'll leave that for those more knowledgeable of such cultural and geographic settings to contemplate; thus, we were a vital element in people’s households and their lives more than what wants to be recognized.

Great Grandmother died in Tuscumbia, Alabama in August 1917. She has a headstone. Great Grandfather however remains in an unmarked and unknown grave. Through research - Great Grandmother and Viny Murphy were work mates; worshipped and fellowshipped together and shared roles as Committee members of Trenholm School, an African American school in Tuscumbia. Viny, who became a lead officer of an African American fraternal organization known as the Mosaic Templars of America (MTA) aka Order of Moses, ensured Sophie received her death benefit, and MTA headstone; thus, having been close to the Watkins family, she would have known where Rev. Fred Watkins was buried (though the MTA burial insurance fund did not exist at the time of his death in 1911). So, have the ancestors led me to find another unmarked grave? Was Great Grandmother buried next to kin (Rev. Fred) by Viny? I believe the evidence and logic points to his burial spot having also been identified in what was the segregated part of Oakwood Cemetery where no records are known to exist. Another cold case mystery solved, I believe.

Viny died October 1919. She also has a headstone. I'm thankful for not only resurrecting the knowledge of the MTA's existence in northwest Alabama, but to have been blessed to put the pieces together that has brought this mission to this point thus far.

In closing, "Aluta continua," translated from Portuguese means, "the struggle continues" but this is the journey that those involved in history and genealogy must pursue. Vigilance, research, Divine Intervention (definitely) and ancestors tap-tap-tapping upon one's shoulder whispering "make sure we're not long gone and forgotten" is what this journey, my personal journey is, and continues to be about.

I would like to thank Amy for this opportunity to "pinch hit" during her absence and for the opportunity to have contributed to this wonderful blog site. I'm particularly more grateful that y'all don't bite but just nibble. Thank you for that. To all reading this blog and engaged in keeping the ancestor's existence alive,

Peace, Love and Strength,

Tom McKnight

A Genealogy Journey of 14,496 Miles in 86 Days ~ Part II

6/9/2010 7 comment(s)
If you missed Part I of this exciting voyage for the truth in family history, you can read Part I here. Then come back for Part II. We’ll wait...

Rev. Fred W. Watkins
After completing the nearly 15,000 mile drive, my research continued. I subsequently discovered that Great Grandmother's husband was Reverend Fred (Lafayeth) W. Watkins, an awesome, old-school Baptist Minister of the day who died in 1911 and had one of the largest funerals seen in northwest Alabama. I was blessed enough to have found two pictures of him; one - during my marathon drive. The other was proudly displayed in a church member’s bedroom in Alabama with its owner having little knowledge of the origins or history of the photo. All the same, this picture was another blessing.

Guided by His grace and His grace only, I found a cousin in Ohio about five years ago. He forwarded a picture of Great Grandmother that he had boxed up in his garage. I gladly accepted. Persistence and prayer pays off.

Sopia Napier Watkins
Sophia Napier Watkins is a name unknown to the world because her existence as a nameless entity is only conveyed through the interactions between "Martha Washington," and Helen Keller. “Martha Washington” was Helen Keller’s playmate in movies of Helen Keller's life, beginning with "Deliverance" (1919); a black and white silent film; followed by more current "The Miracle Worker" versions. Notwithstanding, the plays and books of Helen Keller's life where "Martha Washington, whose mother was the cook" is the only reference to the cook's existence.

Further research and Divine Intervention has revealed that "Martha Washington" is really a fictitious name and that it was a name assigned by Helen Keller because as an adult, she couldn't remember her childhood friend’s name. Additionally, it was a characteristic name for an “African American,” during that period. Why an erroneous identity would be written and prevail as a "historic fact" and repeated as such for more than a century is left to anyone's imagination or speculation.

The truth is what it is, no more and no less. Thus no one has the right to misrepresent one's family tree. The so-called "daughter of the cook" is actually Mariah Watkins, the daughter of Uncle Rush Watkins. That would technically make Mariah - "Martha" -- the cook's niece and not her daughter. History must be seen as a dynamic and should not be viewed as a static. The fact that others have controlled the lens of how history is viewed, society must also realize that there are more than two sides to a coin, actually, there are three. In addition to heads or tails, the coin is capable of landing on its edge - straight up.

The efforts of a Great Grandson to bring honor, recognition and justice where history is placed into proper perspective as a shared environment that encompasses European American, Native American and African American history so that it is not His(story) but a collective Our(story) is what research and perseverance is all about and the Ancestors will accept nothing less.

The effort has been considerable to have Great Grandmother, Sophia Napier Watkins' picture installed in the Helen Keller Museum in Tuscumbia, Alabama. Click here to see the October 2008 Times Daily newspaper article write up. The Keller Estate stated it would be wonderful to receive memorabilia of such significance. But is that just all political correctness at its best?

Stay Tuned For The Conclusion of “A Genealogy Journey of 14,496 Miles in 86 Days”

Peace, Love and Strength,
Tom McKnight

A Genealogy Journey of 14,496 Miles in 86 Days ~ Part I

6/6/2010 5 comment(s)

Tom McKnight
I had served with the United Nations for some 25 years, when Mom passed away in 2004. I came home from an overseas U.N. mission for the funeral. Knowing that Mom always wondered "what happened to the family" whose, family origins were in northwest Alabama and were separated during the Depression, I decided to make a tribute to her memory. After returning to complete my U.N. assignment I came back to the States in 2005 and dedicated the next 2 years in her honor to connect the family dots as best as I could.

Though family tree history was rarely discussed during my formative years, the little bit gleaned from Mom in my youth and adult life and especially from my Uncle in my effort to heal from her loss resulted in bits of pieces of information. Led by what I refer to as Divine Intervention and guidance from the 'Ancestors' who I believe will tap someone on the shoulder to make sure they're not long gone and forgotten, I settled in Russellville, Alabama in the Spring of 2005. It was then I decided to find family that I did not know existed and never met before. Armed only with a couple of family stories, one address of a cousin I heard about and a GPS, I set out on an 86 day drive covering 14,496 miles to find unknown and unmet relatives. To find the living, one had to research the dead as I soon found out. The 'Ancestors' make you work for their success.

I began, by resuming a task leftover from the previous year's bereavement leave, based on parcels of information conveyed by my Uncle about the life of my Grandmother; Hattie Missouri Watkins Snyder. I never had the pleasure of her acquaintance, as she died in 1937, eight years before I was born. I set out to continue the search of her unmarked grave in Massillon Cemetery, Ohio. "Nonexistent," inaccurate records were at the source fueled by cemetery staff supposition of where Grandmother "might be buried." The final analysis resulted in a cold case resurrection bingo! 68 years after her death, her grandson researched, rattled cages and placed a headstone at her grave honoring her presence on this earth. As every civilized society has always honored their dead, neither time, distance nor circumstance should ever result in our treasured elders receiving anything less.

Little did I realize that the 'Ancestors' were only grooming me for bigger, better and harder tasks. They make you work. The 14,496 miles drive in 86 days kept me on the road, eating fast foods on the way and gaining weight even faster but the mission to connect the dots, for Mom, prevailed. This journey comprises a lot of details of how bits and pieces of information and research of libraries for obituary data, churches where family member attended, Departments of Vital Statistics, Census records, probate court records all played a part in this ongoing story, which may be better suited for film or a novel.

Given the web site space limitation to tell all, as each family member I found beginning with the dead, led me to the living, the real mind blowing discovery during the marathon drive revealed that my Great Grandmother, Sophia Napier Watkins was the cook at the Helen Keller home at Ivy Green, Tuscumbia, Alabama when Helen Keller was a child. Excitedly calling my Uncle, long distance no less, to convey this news, I discovered it was not news at all to him as he commented "Yes, I knew". Well, I replied "Why didn't anyone ever tell me?" "Because no one asked" was his answer. OK, I consented, though my mind was boggled.

Why hadn’t I ever heard this information? Wasn’t this a noteworthy bit of family history? And why didn’t Uncle mention it to me, in our previous conversations?

Stay tuned to Part II of “A Genealogy Journey of 14,496 miles in 86 days.”

Peace, Love and Strength

Tom McKnight

Who's Got the Wheel?

6/2/2010 14 comment(s)
Well guys, summer is almost here and I need a break! Am I just going to leave Reconnected Roots in limbo? Absolutely not! My good friend/historian/family researcher/humanitarian Tom McKnight will be in the big seat all next week! Lord only knows what he will be posting, so you will have to check back to see what he is up to. But I can guarantee you it will be hot! I don’t want to let all of his story out of the bag, but I will tell you that right now, that he’s in a fight to have his Great-Grandmother’s name venerated. Okay, I promise I won’t steal his thunder! But do me a favor. Everyone who reads this post, send Tom a big welcome via the comments section, so he knows this audience doesn’t bite!

Until Then,
Happy Researching!

The Troops Salute You!

5/21/2010 No comments
The Troops are saluting you, genea-family, for all of your write ups and posts in their honor. On a personal note, I have learned so much in the way of African American History regarding the men and women who served during 1914 - 1953. And that is because each of you Bloggers took the time to write a post sharing someone’s story with us all. So, I thank you for making the 3rd Edition of the Carnival of African American Genealogy a success. The ancestors thank you. The genealogy community thanks you.

See you at the 4th Edition...Freedom-bound!

Host, 3rd Editon, CoAAG

CoAAG 3rd Edition ~ They Served With Honor ~ In Memoriam, African-Americans In The Military 1914-1953

5/19/2010 4 comment(s)
We’ve talked about it, tweeted about it, posted about it and now the Carnival is finally here! For this edition of the Carnival of African American Genealogy, {CoAAG} we are focusing on African Americans who served in the military 1914 - 1953. This is the only warning I will give you; prepare to be taken off your feet. You will feel proud, emotional, happy, dismayed and amazed all at once. We knew their contributions were many. We knew they often did not receive their due credit. We just did not anticipate the power of their stories. Alright, enough from me. Let me announce those who Served With Honor.

Carol, from Reflections From the Fence, wrote an excellent piece on Sapper Percy Fenton, who served in Canada's only all-black battalion, the 2nd Construction Battalion, based in Pictou, Nova Scotia. Read more about him in her post, entitled Sapper Percy Fenton, CoAAG 3rd Edition.

Angela Y. Walton-Raji, of My Ancestor’s Name, started the carnival off with a heartfelt tribute to her Grandfather Samuel Walton and them men of the 809th Pioneer Infantry -- “Quiet Heroes of the Brawny Arm.”

Craig Manson, of GeneaBlogie, tells us about a tragic incident that accounted for 15% of African American casualties in WWII. See Port Chicago: Tragedy and Travesty.

Dionne Ford, of Finding Josephine, told about her Great-Grandfather, Lifford Emerson Coleman, who was one of four generations in that family who served in the military. Read about him in her post; Carnival of African American Genealogy: Honoring my Great-Grandfather’s World War I Service.

Terrence A. Garnett of, tgarnett’s posterous, proudly salutes his PawPaw, Tharnar James Pipkins, who served in the Navy during WWI. They Served With Honor: Tharnar J. Pipkins (Navy and U.S. Air Force)

Renate Sanders, of Into The Light, wrote an inspiring post about her father, Retired Major Arthur Person Yarborough, who proudly served during WWII. Her post, CoAAG: Major Arthur P Yarborough - He Served With Honor chronicles his accomplishments.

Dorene Paul of Graveyard Rabbit of Sandusky Bay wrote about her family friend, Clarence W. Seavers. Not only was he a WWII Veteran, he was also the first African American clerk at the Sandusky Post Office. Read his tribute, entitled Clarence W. Seavers

Sandra Taliaferro, host of the 2nd edition of CoAAG, begins to unravel the story of her father, John Lawrence Taliaferro’s service in the Navy. See her post, CoAAG 3rd Edition, They Served with Honor: African-Americans in the Military (1914-1953) ~ John Lawrence Taliaferro, Gunner’s Mate Third Class, USNR at I Never Knew My Father.

Angela Y. Walton-Raji is back with a second post Remembering the Triple Nickle - the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion. Angela recalls her Father retelling the stories of the famed Battalion at My Ancestor’s Name.

Kathleen Brandt, of a3Genealogy posted an outstanding tribute to The Morris Brothers, specifically David Crockett Morris and his WWI contributions. See “WWI and The Morris Brothers.”

Amy Cain, of Reconnected Roots and your host for this edition of CoAAG, submitted a post entitled She Served With Honor: Major Charity Adams Earley, the first African American woman commissioned as an officer in the Women’s Army Corps.

Mavis Jones, of Conversations with my Ancestors, submitted a touching post about three of the Jones men, including her Father, who honorably served during wartime. Read more on The Jones Men Who Served.

Vicky Daviss-Mitchell, of Mariah’s Zepher shared with us a post about six of her immediate relatives, The Daviss men of Navasota, Texas. What an awesome family legacy!

Felicia Mathis, of Our Family as a Whole: Mathis/Mathews-Smith & Beyond shares the story of her Grandfather, Robert L. Smith and his service in WWII, to include his final military pay record! Here is the link to her post; Carnival of African American Genealogy: He Served with Honor.

Kathleen Brandt, of a3Genealogy followed up with a second post entitled The Kansas Colored Troops. Included is an amazing photo roster of “Company D” as well as Corporal George Strader.

Luckie Daniels, of Our Georgia Roots, and Project Manager for the CoAAG closes out the Carnival with a personal interview with Mr. LeRoy E. Eley, Sr., one of the Original Tuskegee Airmen! They Served With Honor: Tuskegee Airman LeRoy Eley Sr. Offers Lessons For A Lifetime!

Call For Submissions


CoAAG 4th Edition: FreedomTweet 2010 ~ What Does FREEDOM Mean to You?

Host: Luckie Daniels

In 140 characters or less, tell us what FREEDOM means to you!

As we join the nation in celebrating historic Juneteenth, the Carnival of African-American Genealogy 4th Edition: FreedomTweet 2010 ~ What Does FREEDOM Mean To You? will pose that question to our community in an ALL DAY Tweet-a-Thon!

On June 19th for the 145th observance of Juneteenth, CoAAG will invite the community to tag Twitter.com like never before, *tweeting* their sentiments around the theme of FREEDOM!

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.

From its Galveston, Texas origin in 1865, the observance of June 19th as the African-American Emancipation Day has spread across the United States and beyond. Read more...

To learn more about CoAAG's FreedomTweet Tweet-a-Thon check the FreedomTweet Blog for updates and follow us at Twitter.com/Juneteenth2010!

Starting today through June 12th genea-bloggers can write about the history of Juneteenth and promote other celebrations happening across the country! If you write a post about FreedomTweet and/or Juneteenth, please email us at CoAAG2010@gmail.com and provide the URL!

Please spread the word about FreedomTweet 2010 with your employers, churches, schools and community organizations -- everyone is invited to join in the celebration!

This CoAAG train is on the move! Choo-choo!

Or should that be *tweet-tweet*?!:-)

I can’t believe we have come to the end of this edition. Seems like we just got started! In closing, I want to send out a heartfelt thank-you to bloggers who posted for this 3rd Edition of CoAAG. You are the reason for the success of this edition. You’ve made my job easy and allowed me to learn about some folks and events I previously knew nothing about. It was an honor to work with all of you.

As for the CoAAG Coordinator, Luckie Daniels, and the 2nd Edition host of CoAAG, Sandra Taliaferro, I wholeheartedly appreciate all of your help and guidance in hosting this edition. For those of you who don’t know I am a brand new blogger, so this was an unfamiliar task for me. I know there were a few occasions where you two wanted to “pull the plug” on the host, but as we conclude, I am so glad you didn’t. You two are both consummate professionals!

See you all at the 4th Edition!


She Served With Honor: Major Charity Adams Earley 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion (1918 - 2002)

5/7/2010 9 comment(s)
It is with great pleasure and pride that I prepare this post. Although Charity Adams Earley is not a member of my personal family tree, that won’t stop me from bragging on her accomplishments all the same.

Crowned with the honor of being the first African-American woman commissioned as an officer in the Women’s Army Corps, Major Adams hailed from Columbia, SC. Born unto a Southern Minister and a School Teacher, Adams was the eldest of four children.

Already an established school teacher, Adams enlisted in the military in 1942, optimistic and eager to make a difference in a bitter war, as an ally for a country that chose not to acknowledge her rights as a person.

By the spring of 1945, nearing the end of WWII, incoming mail for the soldiers had all but come to a standstill. With the troops in constant movement, daily casualties coupled with lots of care packages from home, the military’s mail problem was insurmountable. Thus, grew the need for the 6888th Central Postal Battalion. Adams was chosen to head up this unit. Skilled in the art of organization, Adams had her troops processing mail round the clock in 8 hour shifts, 24 hours per day.

The 6888th Central Postal Battalion, which was the Army’s only African-American unit was the only unit to serve overseas during World War II. Being Commander of this unit was a very distinguished honor, considering the limits on positions held by minorities in the military.

Adams’ career was laced with adversity and hardship. She yet prevailed. In 1989, thirteen years before her death, she penned her memories of the military, adding author to her list of accomplishments.

After gaining the rank of lieutenant colonel, Adams left the military in 1946. As a civilian, she went on to earn multiple post-secondary degrees, lived abroad, and volunteered tirelessly in many philanthropic community projects. She passed away in 2002, leaving behind a legacy of courage, tenacity and perseverance, not easily rivaled. Hats off to you, Major Charity Adams Earley. Thank you for your service. You are a true inspiration to all.

WAAC Capt. Charity Adams of Columbia, SC, who was commissioned from the first officer candidate class, and the first of her group to receive a commission, drills her company on the drill ground at the first WAAC Training Center, Fort Des Moines, Iowa.' May 1943. 111-SC-23865. Courtesy of the National Archives

3rd Edition of CoAAG...Hows the Research Going?

5/2/2010 No comments
Time waits for no one and before we know it the deadline for the 3rd Edition of the Carnival of African-American Genealogy {CoAAG} will be here. The theme this month is “They Served With Honor ~ In Memoriam, African-Americans In The Military 1914 - 1953.” If this is your first time hearing about it, take a minute to read the previous post calling for submissions.

The submissions are trickling in, but we want to help anyone who wants to contribute, but just needs a little help. Feel free to send me an email or just post here if you’re not sure what direction to go with your research. Or maybe your submission is complete. What resources did you use? Share with us what you found useful and what did not work for you. How did you start? For a few helpful hints, see “What’s New at Reconnected Roots.

The Carnival will not be the same without YOUR submission!

Happy Researching!

Call for Submissions: Carnival of African American Genealogy ~ 3rd Edition They Served With Honor ~ In Memoriam, African-Americans In The Military 1914-1953

4/19/2010 No comments
Somewhere in England, Maj. Charity E. Adams and Capt. Abbie N. Campbell inspect the first contingent of Negro members of the Women's Army Corps assigned to overseas service.' 6888th Central Postal Directory Bn. February 15, 1945. Source: The National Archives: Holt. 111-SC-20079

To serve or not serve? The choice to enlist in the Military has been a bittersweet one for many African-Americans. On one hand, the honor and distinction of fighting for one’s country is alluring. On the other hand, not receiving the respect or full benefit as a citizen of this country is disheartening. Yet in still, many African-American Ancestors willingly accepted the call to serve in the Military. The 3rd Edition of the CoAAG is centered around African-Americans who served in any capacity in the Military from 1914 - 1953. This time frame will include the following wars:

  • World War I (1914 - 1918)
  • World War II (1939 - 1945)
  • Korean War (1950 - 1953)

Is there an African-American veteran that you'd like to recognize? Or, maybe you had a family member who served. What memories do you have of your loved one who was in the service? What branch were they in? Were they awarded any metals or recognitions? Do you recall hearing war stories about them during family get togethers? Write a post in memoriam of your African-American Ancestor and their contribution to the Armed Forces. Some of you may have ancestors who have served during the above-mentioned times of war, but may need to do a little more research. So, here are a few suggestions on where to pick up on your research.

The National Archives

World War II U.S. Navy Armed Guard and World War II U.S. Merchant Marine

(*requires a paid subscription)

What’s that, you say? You don’t have any African-American ancestors who served in the Military, during these times? No problem. We still want to hear from you. Why not write your post about someone you’ve run across in your research? The goal here is just to acknowledge the contribution and sacrifices made. And don’t forget to include a photo if you have one!

How to Submit

We want this to be easy for you, so there are two different ways to submit your post, once you’ve written it.
  • Submit your post on the Submission form located here at the Blog Carnival.
  • Send an email to the CoAAG at CoAAG2010@gmail.com. Please remember to include your blog name, the post title, and the URL Permalink of your carnival submission. Make sure to put ‘They Served With Honor’ in your email subject line!

Still lost? No worries. See our list of FAQ’s here.

Can’t wait to read all about your Ancestor’s Military Service. Don’t wait until the last moment. The Deadline for Submissions is Wednesday, May 12, 2010.

Jackie Wilson (left) and Ray Robinson have fought two bitterly contested ring encounters. Now it's Sgt. Wilson and Pvt. Robinson in the same Aviation Squadron at Mitchel Field, New York, and they stand shoulder to shoulder--ready for a fight to the death on the Axis. 1943. Source: The National Archives: 208-PU-214B-5

Grandma Don't Take No Mess!

4/11/2010 11 comment(s)
I have been blown away by some of the heartfelt and touching stories coming forth from the Genealogy Community. Stories about sweet, tender, nurturing grandmothers who imparted pearls of wisdom. My post is not like that.

I had the honor of being granddaughter to Para Lee Martin. Grandmother Para Lee, as she was known, was a tough-talking, no-nonsense disciplinarian who did not pal around with her kids, grand kids, or pretty much anyone who was under her care.

Born Para Lee Leonard in Tallahassee, Florida, Grandmother Para Lee married my Grandfather, Robert Lee Martin at the tender age of 14. In my mind’s eye, she birthed each of her nine children during her lunch hour, while still keeping the house in good order and having a hot dinner on the table by 6 o’clock p.m.

Physically, she was beautiful, with flawless sable skin, a figure that rivaled a Coca-Cola bottle, and piercing brown eyes. When I say piercing, I don’t mean that figuratively. If needed, I believed she could have made them come out like appendages, as would a prehistoric Transformer, locking her sights on the object of her wrath.

Don’t be scared. She also had an amicable side. She understood charm and finesse. She was loved by many in both the community and church. She was generous with her time and gifts, sharing with those who had less than she.

Back at home, she led her brood by intimidation. Those under her roof did not challenge her. Defiance could cost you the skin off your backside. Or worse. Being a quick study, I didn’t need the Cliff Notes to learn the storyline of Grandmother Para Lee. Fortunate for me, she seemed to favor me. She told me early on that I reminded her of herself. She could see straight through my angelic facade and pegged me for the sharp-tongued, mischievous, precocious child I was. She often would wink at me, when no one else was looking. That was my secret signal that all was well, for the moment.

Family folklore says she wielded a knife. And on one hot Florida day, I got a chance to see her in action. She told me to come outside to help her clean fish, a task I had seen my own Mother gracefully do many times. But on this day, I saw my Grandmother scale, decapitate, and gut fish in what at the time seemed like a 3-second operation. As she held on to the fish tightly, its eyes, shiny and wide, began to bulge, as if the fish was pleading with me, “You’re just going to stand there?!” Yep, I’m just going to stand here, like a soldier at attention, and bring her another bucket, if she calls for one.

Some of you may not understand this type of woman. Some of you may call her mean. But I lovingly called her Grandmother. She was the Matriarch of our family...and she didn't take no mess!

Para Lee Martin
June 13, 1925 - June 12, 1994

Happy Birthday To Me!

4/10/2010 3 comment(s)

My 1-Year Birthday Party
Every year, at the beginning of April, I put on my running shoes. I begin to prepare for the upcoming game of cat and mouse I play with my Birthday. I run from it. I hide and try to escape from the Tormentor, hoping it will pass me by with as little hoopla as possible. I change the part in my hair hoping to cover a new strand of silver that has prematurely emerged. I won’t use the word hate, but previously I’ve had strong dislike for my Birthday.

On a normal year, I would fall into the habit of using my Birthday as a time to reflect on my life progress, accomplishments and goals. Eventually, this would lead to the overachiever in me becoming frustrated that I had not yet “conquered the world” and then I would spend a week feeling bad for myself that in ’89 I turned left when I should have turned right.

This year, however, I have decided to embrace (somewhat) my Birthday. I still don’t want too much hoopla. However, in the wake of changing times, I see more and more people I know from around the way, or who I went to school with, turning up dead. Some may have been sick. Some have had accidents. Others may have been the victim of a meaningless crime. Some may have had a hand in their own demise. But it instilled in me, a new gratitude to God for allowing me to make it back around for another year.

Yes, I still have not conquered the world. (And at this pace, it does not seem likely) However, I am realizing that sweet time, a gift all in its own, is passing me by. Everyday, I have the opportunity to live and that is something that everyone is not given. As much as it pains the competitor in me, I can’t measure my success against anyone else’s. I have to run my own race at my own pace. And I must say...this new pace is feeling pretty good. So, if you happen to lap me on the track, it’s okay, I’m just pacing myself and enjoying the race, with the realization that some things just can’t be rushed!

Carnival of African-American Genealogy {CoAAG}

3/13/2010 1 comment(s)
Can you hear the buzz in the air? The Carnival of African-American Genealogy is here! And the best part is that this Carnival will run all the way through September. Each month will have a different theme. But to kick it all off, this month we are sharing African-American Slave documents.

Compliments of the South Carolina Archives & History, here is an 1844 will transcript from the estate of Samuel Wright of York District, SC. In it, Wright surprisingly makes provision for his “old negroe woman Jinney”. In addition to him leaving her to have all of the domestic household items (linens, pots, pans, utensils, etc.) he instructed that she be comfortably maintained for, so long as she may live. Perhaps she had been with him for some time. In addition, he wanted Marriah, a younger negro girl to remain with and “attend to” Jinney.

S108093: South Carolina Will Transcripts (Microcopy No 9)


One of the main focuses of this blog carnival is how African-American Slavery documents are handled by the family genealogist. I want to briefly address “What if it doesn’t pertain to my family?” Early on, when I found slave records, my vision was so tunneled on my own family account, I never really thought twice about the record being of benefit to anyone else. After all, I found it, they can find it too. Right? Wrong. Slowly, I learned the value of keeping a record of documents I reviewed. Now, I see how taking that just one small step further can benefit so many other researchers.

Since most of us already keep a record of documents we have reviewed, (match or not) to prevent researching in circles, it would not really be so much trouble to list records of interest to others on our blogs. Not a synopsis of the record, itself just the relevant indexing information. (Will Transcript, Samuel Wright, York County, SC, 1844, Series: S108093 Reel: 0031 Frame: 00172, Jinney, Marriah, Ann) This was information I had already recorded in an effort to keep up with where I was going. Why not put it out and make someone else’s hunt even easier? There may be a researcher who has not yet discovered the SC Archives Online. This document, for example was one I originally discovered while searching for my family’s Wrights, however, it turned out not to be our family. In my file of “nots” it sat for several years, until searching for a document for the blog carnival.

Hopefully, Wright researcher, whoever and wherever you are, this document will be JUST the one you needed to make that connection to your ancestor.

Madness Monday!

2/22/2010 7 comment(s)
Who are you, Little Girl? This is what I ask her, as she stares back at me, with that “You should know” look on her face. My husband and I discovered her in 2008 among a stack of photos lent to us, by his mother. The photo, silver and blue with a flaky texture, as best as I can tell is glued to an old blue and white paper frame. There was no identifying information on the back. No date. No name or caption. Just the idle doodles of a child’s restless hand and some adult's mathematical computations.

As my mother in law is now in a rest home, she cannot clearly see, let alone recall the subject of the photo. This little girl is definitely in our family. She carries distinctive Wright features. But whose child is this? To help narrow it down, I’m asking my Genea-Friends to help weigh in on what you can surmise about her from the photo. Do her clothes give you any idea of the year the photo was taken? How about the background of the photo or even her hairstyle?

First Post!

2/14/2010 12 comment(s)
My first post! This is exciting, and for me, a huge step. I started researching our family history, casually, in 2001. At that time it was a a mere hobby. If only it had come with a narcotic warning: "Extremely addictive and habit-forming!"

By 2003, I was getting up in the middle of the night to write down an idea for a lead or a theory on what may have happened to whom. By 2006, I had taken my genealogy on the road and was venturing out to towns unknown, in search of records. However, until just this very moment, I had never publicly shared any of my findings.

Sure, I had given copies of death certificates to family members. But the idea of sharing with an audience unknown; the internet, no less, was frightening. My living relatives had convinced me that it would surely lead to a corporate identity theft! Then there were others who chastised me for forgetting that family business is kept indoors.

But the voices that speak the loudest are the cheers of approval from those being researched. The silent nod of appreciation and approval I get from our ancestors is permission enough to proceed. It is for them, that I write. They did not have time or means to document their story, while living. So, here I am in 2010, trying to fill in the dots and paint a picture of things that happened far before my time.

Won't you join me?


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