Monday, January 25, 2010

SNGF - My Other Life

This week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun topic is to write about other interests away from genealogy and family history research.

Besides being a wife and mother of two, I also work full-time outside the home. I am rapidly approaching my busiest time of year which will last for about two and a half months. I will be exhausted and cranky before it's over, but I do enjoy the work....just not the long hours.

I have been a lifelong lover of books. I remember the great joy I had when I could first read independently in about first grade and it is a joy that has never wavered. Some of the best gifts people can give me are books. I like a wide variety of genres but especially enjoy authors like Janet Evanovich, Lisa See, Sarah Addison Allen, and Sandra Brown to name a few.

B.C. (that would be Before Children), I used to cross-stitch. It was something I learned when I was about 8 years old and have stitched many projects and have a lot more "in progress" i.e. I lost interest and never finished them. While in college, my sister and I took tole painting lessons and I loved it. Alas, the "help" from two little ones isn't necessarily conducive to these type of crafts.

In more recent years I have taken up rubber stamping and scrapbooking. I have a couple of great friends who are much more creative than I could ever hope to be and we share a lot of good times while stamping. The scrapbooking area is more recent and I'm not really very good. I think I over-analyze the end result too much and it takes me much too long to complete a page, let alone an album. I am hoping to try digital later this spring. I think I will have better luck with producing more pages and finally getting to some of the many important photos of my children.

My one other big interest is old movies. Thank goodness for Netflix and TCM. I especially am drawn to movies from the 1940s and 1950s, decades before I was born. I think it started because my husband had taken a film class in college and kept talking about all these old "classics" that I had never seen. I am slowly whittling down the list I want to see.

There just isn't enough time in my day to do all the fun things I like so I take it in snippets of an hour here or there.

Friday, January 22, 2010

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy: #3 Assess Myself

Week #3's challenge is this:
"Assess yourself! You’re great at researching everyone else’s history, but how much of your own have you recorded? Do an assessment of your personal records and timeline events to ensure your own life is as well-documented as that of your ancestors. If you have a genealogy blog, write about the status of your own research and steps you may take to fill gaps and document your own life."

I'll be honest. It's not a pretty picture.

I really try to be an organized person. Really. However, since having children my life has gone a bit sideways, all for the better of course. But my organization skills have been tested and found lacking since giving birth.

The other problem is what I like to call "packrat-itis". I have it; I come from a long family history of it. This can be both good and bad. Sometimes there is just simply too much of a good thing.

I have many wonderful mementos of my childhood. My mother put all my greeting cards for various holidays, birthdays, etc. into a scrapbook for me. I have another scrapbook that has those wonderful art projects from preschool and early grade school years. I loved to draw pictures, mostly self-portraits, with yellow hair, stick legs and a huge wide smile; I have several of these. I have the tiny photos of many of my childhood friends and my mother still has all my class pictures from elementary school. She even has my orthodontia before and after photos; it's amazing what braces can do!

I love to take photos and I have albums of photos from our wedding, vacations we have taken, family gatherings, and some with that wonderful panoramic film that made them 12 or so inches long. That camera made Yellowstone a lot of fun. This doesn't include the 1,500+ photos I have taken since we got our first digital camera nearly six years ago.

This disorganization really hit home when I was setting my resolutions for 2010. One of them included preparing an Illinois Pioneer Prairie Certificate, which requires documentation from me back to my prairie ancestor. I have been diligently gathering my records starting with my ancestor, Walter Harmon b. 1798. As I was getting closer to me I realized I need to ask my mother for her birth and marriage certificates. Then it dawned on me that I also need those for myself. Hmmm, wonder where they are?

All is not lost, however, because I am making every effort to document some things about me and our family life. I have to look no farther than the walls of my office for my college diploma and my professional certificates and memberships. My husband's diploma hangs in our home. I have our baptism certificates. I am still working on a daily entry into a journal as I described in my resolutions post - it's week #3 and I'm still going strong. I have managed to complete an entire scrapbook about a wonderful Disney and San Diego vacation we took in 2006. My daughter was only 2 at the time, but loves to look at the pictures. I am starting a scrapbook to keep each of our annual Christmas letters and photo cards that we send to our family and friends. I have also kept preschool projects for our oldest daughter in a scrapbook and I plan to do the same for our younger daughter. While I wasn't great with their baby books, I do have some fun things like the ultrasound pictures and a piece of paper for each where we timed my contractions before heading to the hospital. I feel these few things are as much about me as they are about the children.

All in all, I have many pieces that document my past and present, but alas they are in a sad state of organization. I have a lot of work to do.

Monday, January 18, 2010

SNGF - A Season of Change

This past weekend's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, courtesy of Genea-Musings, asks us to think back to when we were 12 and to describe some of the fun activities we did.

If Randy had asked about any other age, I probably couldn't have distinguished between one year from another, but age 12 was definitely a time of transition for me. From the time my parents separated when I was age four until age 12, we either lived adjacent to or with my maternal grandparents. During sixth grade, my grandparents put their property up for sale and moved a couple hours north from where we had been living. They built a new house and bought a few acres of land, though a smaller piece of property than their original one. As a result, my mother moved us 20 miles to the east to a small community that at that time was only about 13,000 people. It was substantially closer to her job and made her drive about 10 to 15 minutes, which was much less than it had been. Considering I had been going to school in a town of only a couple of thousand, it was a rude awakening.

That summer before my sister and I started at a new school was the last time we lived with my grandparents on a full-time basis. We stayed at their new house while my mother would drive the two hours north on the weekends. The weather was a little milder so we played outside a lot, helped my grandpa seal the wood beds of some utility trailers he made, rode bikes, and climbed all over the BIG rocks that jotted their property. I remember a drive to some hot springs, and a fishing trip to some man-made pond and it started to rain shortly after we arrived.

One of the things I remember most was that my Grandpa got a satellite dish, a sort of new fangled thing at that time. In order to get any television reception at all, it was pretty much necessary. He was thrilled that he could finally watch all the baseball he wanted. The other "new" thing to us was that they got their first VCR. A video store was in town, so when Grandma had errands she'd also sometimes take us to the video store for a rental or two. I remember we rented an Indiana Jones movie and Grandpa watched part of it with us. I remember saying to him that it was a great movie. His comment was, "I'll show you a great movie." Within a few days, he rented "Gone With The Wind" and sat there with us while we watched all four hours of Scarlett O'Hara's trials and tribulations. I also can recall that we watched several Shirley Temple movies, but "Gone With The Wind" still sticks in my memory today. I think it made me appreciate reading the book in Junior English a few years later.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Happy Day - A Happy Award

Joan, from Roots'n'Leaves in my neighboring state of Oregon, was kind enough to give me my very first blog award earlier this week, the Happy 101 Sweet Friends award. I was very honored to be among the wonderful group of bloggers she selected as well as many of the other fabulous geneabloggers who have received this award. Due to real-life commitments that got the better of me this week, I am long overdue in acknowledging this award. As a result, all of the blogs I would consider for this award are already recipients.

I follow a variety of other blogs for my other interests of scrapbooking, paper crafting, and reading. However, my favorite blog is written by my dear friend Heather. We have been friends since college where first we were co-workers, then fellow classmates, and finally dearest of friends. She suffered a tragedy nearly two years ago when her fiance passed away suddenly and tragically after a heart attack. Since that time, she has been coping with her grief by writing, something that she does quite well. Because Heather's friendship makes me happy, I am very pleased to share this award with her.

Part of the award requires me to list 10 things that make me happy. In no particular order:

1. my perfect-for-me husband
2. kisses and hugs from my two beautiful children
3. warm fuzzy socks
4. reading a wonderful book
5. the joy of having a comment on one of my blog posts
6. the greater joy of a comment or an email from another researcher and/or relative, distant or not
7. a cold glass of milk
8. the cinnamon walnut coffeecake from the Boston Coffee Cake Company - OMG good!
9. making a great family history breakthrough
10. travelling - something I don't get to do often enough but I love to see new places.

I hope that you will visit both Joan and Heather's blogs. You are in for a great read either way.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Henry Grindstaff and Bedie Buchanan

Henry Grindstaff and Bedie Buchanan are my third great-grandparents. I have written previously about their son and my ancestor, Rev. Isaac Grindstaff.

Henry Grindstaff was born 12 May 1820 in Burke Co, North Carolina, likely in the area that later became Yancey and then Mitchell county, to Isaac Grindstaff and Sarah Hart. This Isaac married twice, first to Sarah Hart and second to Prudence (Prudy) Ledford, and had children from both wives. Henry is believed to be from Sarah Hart, the first wife.

Bedie Buchanan was born 25 Apr 1829 in Burke Co, North Carolina, likely in the area that later became Yancey and then Mitchell county, to Sarah (or Sally) Buchanan. Alternate spellings for her name include Beady, Biddie, or Beadie. I was told early on in my research that Bedie was illegitimate. The original pedigree chart that my great-grandfather, Charles McNeill, prepared lists Bedie with the surname of Buchanan, her mother as Sarah Buchanan and no father is listed. This also agrees to her death certificate. Additional evidence is the 1860 census where Sarah Buchanan is living in the household of Henry and Bedie. Sarah Buchanan can be found in 1850 living presumably with her parents, William and Elizabeth (Jones) Buchanan. William was born about 1765 in Maryland and Elizabeth in about 1775 in Virginia.

I have seen other online message board postings and family trees indicating that Bedie's father was either a John Davis or an Ebe Hoppes. I have contacted many of those that posted trees with little to no success. One researcher did respond to me indicating that for many years John Davis was believed to be the father but that has since been disproven. I think it was determined there were two Sarah/Sally Buchanans in the same approximate age range, one of which did marry John Davis. The other one I believe to be the mother of my Bedie Buchanan Grindstaff. However, the damage is done and the wrong data is spread far and wide across the web.

Henry and Bedie married sometime around 1848-49. They had the following 12 children:
  • Sarah born Feb 1850 and died 10 Feb 1919. She married Sam Pitman.

  • William born Nov 1851 and died 1 Sept 1918 in Grassy Creek, Mitchell Co, NC. He married 1) Matilda Thomas and 2) Nancy. He had children with both wives.

  • Isaac born 1852. This is my second great-grandfather.

  • Clarissa born abt 1856 and married J.G. Woody.

  • Eveline born abt 1857

  • Matilda born abt 1860

  • John B born Mar 1862 and married Martha. They had several children.

  • Mack born 13 Sept 1863 and died 9 Apr 1939 in Bakersville. He married Cordelia Thomas and had several children.

  • Jane born 28 Jul 1866 and died 28 Dec 1939 in Madison Co, NC. She married Ruben A. McKinney.

  • Henry Gilbert born 28 Jul 1868 and died 1 Mar 1952. He married Betty Ann Duncan. Henry is buried at Mine Creek Cemetery.

  • Ruben Malone born 19 Oct 1870, died 6 Apr 1957 and is buried at Mine Creek Cemetery. He married Esther Burleson.

  • Mary born abt 1873
The Grindstaff family, like many others in that area, used the same first names repeatedly. This has caused great confusion for me and it's evident for others based upon online tree postings. There were two Henry Grindstaffs born within a few years of each other. Apparently one of the Henrys was commonly referred to as Fighting Henry due to service in the military (the Mexican-American War, I think), but I do not know which Henry this should be attributed to. Many online trees have confused their birth dates, wives, children and death dates. I believe my Henry was the first of the two Henrys to pass away on 1 Jan 1892. The other Henry died in 1906. The Henry who died in 1892 was buried at Mine Creek Cemetery, which is where Bedie was buried after her death on 25 Jun 1919. Additionally, Mine Creek is the Baptist church where their son, Isaac (my ancestor), was a preacher. Several of Henry and Bedie's children are buried there. It seems reasonable to believe that my Henry is the one that died in 1892. Two problems make this harder to determine. Death certificates were not issued until 1910 after both Henrys were deceased. Secondly, a 1900 census entry for Bedie has not been located to see if she's widowed, but she can be found in 1910.

I would appreciate corresponding with any descendants or other researchers who could shed some light on the questions surrounding Henry and Bedie. Anything to prove, disprove or add to my data would be wonderful. Please contact me using the yellow Contact button on the left side of the page.

Monday, January 11, 2010

January Dates in my Family History

For 2010, I plan to post a monthly listing of all the important family history dates from my database.

For January:

1st - death of Henry H. Grindstaff, my 3rd great-grandfather, in 1892 in Mitchell Co, North Carolina. He is buried at Mine Creek Cemetery in Mitchell Co.

2nd - birthday of my late grandfather, Lee McNeill, born in 1912 in Mitchell Co, North Carolina

3rd - birthday of my 3rd great-grandmother, Emma Smith, born in 1831 in Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, England

6th - birthday of my 3rd-great-grandfather, Edward Arnold, born in 1828 in Stoke Golding, Buckinghamshire, England and husband of Emma Smith above

9th - birthday of Edward Joseph Harmon, my great-grandfather, in 1883 in Round Grove, Hopkins Township, Whiteside Co, Illinois

11th - birthday of Mary Jane Woody, my 2nd great-grandmother, in 1853 in formerly Yancey Co, North Carolina (now Mitchell Co.)

13th - 249th anniversary of Henry Woody and Susannah Martin in St. James Northam Parish, Goochland Co, Virginia. They are my 6th great-grandparents.

17th - birthday of Thomas Howell, my 4th great-grandfather, in 1805 in Tennessee

17th - birthday of Marginia M. Thomas, my 3rd great-grandmother in 1831 in Burke (now Mitchell Co.) North Carolina

21st - birthday of Helmer Nickolie Hiby, my great-grandfather, in 1895 in Clark Co, South Dakota

21st - death of Isaac Grindstaff, my 4th great-grandfather, in 1866 in Mitchell Co, North Carolina. He is buried at Bakersville Memorial Cemetery in Mitchell Co.

22nd - death of Thomas Howell, my 4th great-grandfather, in 1891 in Mitchell Co, North Carolina. He had just passed his 86th birthday on the 17th of January at the time of his death. He is buried in Gouge Cemetery, Bandana, Mitchell Co, North Carolina.

23rd - death of Noah Ledford, my 3rd great-grandfather, in 1895 in Mitchell Co, North Carolina.

26th - death of Mary Jane Woody in 1946 in Mitchell Co, North Carolina. She is buried at Mine Creek Cemetery, Mitchell Co, North Carolina. She had just celebrated her 93rd birthday on the 11th of January, as noted above.

27th - birthday of Jonathan Cox, my 4th great-grandfather, in 1795 in Holly Spring, Orange Co, North Carolina. This branch of the Cox line are Quakers.

29th - anniversary of Thomas Arthur, my 3rd great-grandfather, and his second wife, Zelia A. Brown in 1870. Presumably they were married in Rice Co, Minnesota.

30th - anniversary of Michael Greathouse, my 4th great-grandfather, and Peggy Snawder in 1825. I believe they married in Gibson, Indiana. Peggy was his second wife. I descend through his first wife, Debbie Snawder, sister of Peggy.

31st - death of Edward Joseph Harmon in Watertown, Codington Co, South Dakota in 1960. He celebrated his 77th birthday, as noted above, shortly before his death. He had suffered a stroke many years before his death and eventually was in a nursing home because his care became too great for my great-grandma, Kate Arthur Harmon.

Friday, January 8, 2010

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy: #1 My Local Public Library

Amy Coffin of We Tree has started a series of challenges entitled "52 Weeks to Better Genealogy".
Week #1 is: "Go to your local public library branch. Make a note of the genealogy books in the collection that may help you gain research knowledge. Don’t forget to check the shelves in both the non-fiction section and the reference section. If you do not already have a library card, take the time to get one. If you have a genealogy blog, write about what you find in your library’s genealogy collection."
I have a love-hate relationship with my city's public library. I LOVE the books contained within it's four walls. I HATE the parking to be able to get into those said four walls. I love in a city of about 80,000 people. The public library's parking lot has 17 parking spots. No that is not a typo nor a transposition. 17 parking spots for the whole library. I had time to count while I slowly cruised through looking for an empty one (no such luck). There is also some very limited street parking. I have no idea how long this library has been at it's current location but it's certainly been there for as long as I have lived in this area. That also means that the city's population was roughly half it's current size (or less) when this library came into being. We have been one of those boom locations across the country in the last two decades that is now bordering on bust!

One of the other things I LOVE about this library is their staff. They are all very helpful people including the nice lady at the information desk that directed me to the upstairs 929.1 section that contains their genealogy section. If you read Amy's post on her library's genealogy section, I can say that my library's section may be just slightly larger, but not by much. I found many "how-to" type volumes that are primarily geared towards beginners, as well as a couple of ethnic-based resources for Scottish, Italian or Spanish genealogies. Before I went down to the library, I had already reviewed their offerings online and between the other public libraries across this region, there are more options available. Unfortunately, some of their books are not the most recent edition. I found two instances of books that I own that are more recent editions than those of the library's.

I did manage to find two books to check out. The first is by Megan Smolenyak entitled, "Honoring Our Ancestors." I have long wanted to read this book as I have heard some wonderful things about it. The second was "The Family Tree Problem Solver" by Marsha Hoffman Rising. I'm hoping for some new tips or strategies to help with a couple of problem areas. I have a lot of reading to do; the books are due back on the 29th.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

SNGF - Best 2009 Genealogy Moment

This past Saturday at Genea-Musings, Randy Seaver posed the question of what was our best Genealogy Moment of 2009.

After some contemplation, I have decided my best moment of 2009 was confirmation through Y-DNA that my paternal grandfather, Lee McNeill, is without a doubt, a McNeill. In early postings on this blog, I described how my grandfather changed his name some time during the 1930s. About 25 years ago, my grandmother began to search for his ancestry based upon the scarce facts he had told her before this death in 1971. While she laid the research groundwork, Y-DNA testing proved that my father and the man we believed to be Lee's brother are indeed closely related; in this case, it is nephew and uncle.

I remember waiting for my father's results, which came first. I was worried that we would have no McNeill or similar surnames that were a match. Much to my delight, there were several similar names: Neil, Neely, McNeil and McNeal. I think I was even more worried while waiting for the uncle's test results. I was terrified that a decade of research was all for naught. It was a victory for my family research and was so very thankful that I had a close living relative willing and able to take the test.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A Checkered Past, A Better Future

This is written for the 87th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy.

I have a checkered past with New Year's Resolutions and by checkered I mostly mean unsuccessful. I always think of something I'd like to commit to during the new year and then my busiest work season of the year begins and lasts until April. By the time that slows down, I've long since forgotten my commitments made on January 1!

Therefore, I have been carefully examining what I can resolve to do in 2010 that is actually attainable. I have decided to list some 2010 resolutions as well as some resolutions for the new decade. Hopefully ten years from now I can look back at what I wanted to do in the upcoming decade and feel that I've attained those goals and then some.

For 2010, I resolve to do the following:

1. Continue to improve the sourcing in my database. During 2009, I combined four trees (one for each of my grandparents) into one new database using RootsMagic 4. I have been very slowly working my way through proper source citations for the many census, birth, marriage and death facts, among others, that I have in my tree of over 1,900 people. This is a massive undertaking but one I am very committed to keeping.

2. Complete and submit an application for the Illinois Prairie Pioneer Certificate for my Harmon lineage. My ancestors, Walter and Azubah (Hyde) Harmon, came to Whiteside Co, Illinois in the 1840s, along with three of their adult children and families. Based upon the time frame of their settlement, I am eligible for the middle level for settlers that came between 1819 to 1850.

3. Help my mother and grandmother sort the boxes of old photos, get them into an archival safe albums, label the individuals, location and approximate era. I have been asking for this for several years to no avail. This is a project that would have to be done over several months time, on a once-a-week basis. It would allow time to assemble the photos and for my grandmother to remember who the individuals are in each one.

4. To continue with my "mini bio" blog posts on each of my ancestors in my ahnentafel report. I have been doing this on my paternal grandfather's line by writing about each married couple, listing their children, subsequent spouses, and other known information. I know this is worth doing because I've had three people contact me within the last six weeks due to those posts.

5. To write in a daily journal so that my descendants will have something about me and my daily life in my own handwriting. I found a simple 8.5 x 11 inch day planner-type calendar that has a week spread over two pages. There are about 3 inches available per day with the weekend combined. I intend to write a few sentences daily (or at least I hope daily) about what is happening in our lives including things that my children are doing, saying, playing with or learning. I already have it on my nightstand with a pen so that when I set my alarm clock, I will be reminded to make some notes about the day.

For the upcoming decade, I resolve to do the following:

1. Make a trip to Mitchell Co, North Carolina. This is the birthplace of my paternal grandfather, Lee McNeill, and several generations of his family. I could probably spend a month there and never answer all my family history questions, but I do intend to give it a go. This may be a trip that could be in the works for 2010, but that hasn't been determined yet.

2. To continue to work on determining the ancestry of Hector McNeill, my fourth great-grandfather. I have previously described some of that research here and here.

3. To pursue membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution. I have a couple of options that I described here.

4. To make a trip to Boston to visit the New England Historic and Genealogical Society. I think this goal is very attainable but costly. My husband has some dear friends that live in the Boston area and we'd love to visit with them. The bigger problem is what to do with my husband and children while I spend a day or two at the NEHGS library!

5. To really dig into my husband's maternal line, which includes some Polish research that I find rather intimidating. Also related to these lines, I need to correspond with a couple of cousins to have them document what family history they know. I hope to accomplish this portion in 2010.

6. To continuing transcribing the 200 or so pages of the Civil War pension file of Archibald H. McNeill. I have gone through the first 15 to 20 or so, but the handwriting on some of the pages is so atrocious, not to mention the spelling. My ancestor suffered from "new money" fever. It took me a while to determine he had pneumonia fever and not perhaps a desire to go to the gold fields of California!

I think these goals are realistic but also challenging. I have such a busy life that it will take a while for me to accomplish what I want, but I really intend to be diligent about these. Wish me luck!