Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday Finds

  • First off this week is a fascinating article that Dick Eastman noted on his blog.  The article is from an L.A. Times reporter on the history behind his own unusual surname, Mozinga.  This just goes to prove that we are not all what we think we are.
  • Michael Hardy takes a look at a long-held myth of why Mitchell County, North Carolina was formed.  Most believe its formation in 1861 was a stance on secession and the impending war, but he discusses that the county formation didn't just happen overnight.  He does state that those counties closer to the Tennessee border (of which Mitchell was one) did tend to lean Union, but he also notes that according to an 1862 tax list there were 65 slaves in the county.  Very interesting article on an area where so much of my heritage can be traced.
  • And from the Davie County, North Carolina Genweb site is a link to the marker for Daniel Boone's parents, Squire and Sarah Boone.  My dear friend and fellow Grindstaff researcher, Anita, took those photos several years ago while on vacation.  When I first begin my research, I was told we were descendants of Daniel Boone's.  The reality is we are not and I haven't found a Boone connection at all, but it seems apparent that my ancestors were contemporaries of the Boones. 
  • Here is a very interesting post from the National Archives on finding Civil War pension files.  If I had only known some of this info a few years ago.
  • Lastly, be sure to read Miriam's article on the Mt. St. Helens explosion 30 years ago this week.  I was only five, but I do remember hearing my mom and grandparents talking about it as well as all the news reports.  At the time, we lived on the Idaho/Oregon border on the banks of the Snake River.  I distinctly remember the ash falling from the sky and landing on my mom's car.  Her windshield was covered with a fine layer of ash.  The other distinct memory I have is the gray sky for weeks afterward and the hazy, fiery orange sunsets that followed for several years.  As I progressed into later grade school years, our teachers spent a lot of time focusing on Mt. St. Helens during the volcano segments of our science classes.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy: #19 NARA Military Resources

Week 19 of Amy Coffin's 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy brings us to NARA Military records.  The instructions are as follows:
"Examine the “Genealogy and Military Records” page on the National Archives page. (Non-U.S. folks: examine the military records information from your country’s national archives.) Click the links and read everything you can. If you’ve ordered a military file before, read this page again and refresh you memory so you can help others. Authors of genealogy blogs can write about records they’ve received, comment on the National Archives page, or ask questions of their readers via their blog."
I have had great success with ordering military records from the National Archives.  I have four ancestors who served in the Civil War and I have been able to obtain their military records and/or pension files by completing the appropriate form and submitting to the NARA in Washington, D.C.  If I recall, the documents were received within the stated amount of time and I had no problems.  They are fascinating accounts of their service records and their struggles with the Federal Government to obtain their pensions.  The red tape existed back then, too!

On the other hand, I have had one less-than-positive experience concerning my grandpa Lee's military records that I wrote about here.  I still don't know what to do about this.  I had some email communication with the personnel in St. Louis but it was to no avail.  If I want to pursue this again, I have to submit a new request.  I wonder if they have the capability of searching their database for just a date of birth and first name.  I can't imagine that many men named Lee having his birthdate served in the Navy in the 1930s....I mean what are the odds of that?  If that was possible, I bet he could be found.

My most recent encounter with military records happened today as I completed the Standard Form 180 to request my grandpa Fred's WWII records and my great-grandfather, Helmer Hiby's WWI-era records.  They were both in the Army so I sent the forms to the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis (the same people who can't find Lee).  I hope to write again soon about the discoveries I made about their military careers.

The biggest piece of advice I can offer is to read the instructions carefully on the necessary forms.  If you do your part correctly, your success will be much greater!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Not-So-Wordless Wednesday: Niagara of the West

Taken at Shoshone Falls, Idaho, May 2006

This powerful waterfall provides hydroelectric power for thousands of people.
Looking across the canyon through the mist.
Downstream....looks so peaceful.
The view just as the water tumbles over.

Shoshone Falls is located outside Twin Falls, Idaho.  It is often referred to as the "Niagara of the West" coming in at 212 feet, which is actually higher than the real Niagara Falls, and it has a higher water volume.  The best times to view the falls are during the spring and early summer when runoff is still high and before irrigation water is drained from the river.

Monday, May 10, 2010


Last fall, I was contacted by the webmaster for the Neel Family organization website.  He had found my father's YDNA profile on Ysearch and found many similarities to the Neel research on their website.  For the last several months, they have been putting together a database for their Neel DNA research with particular emphasis on the Southern states.  Even though my YDNA surname is McNeill, they are looking for all Neel derivations that have Southern ancestry from prior to 1900.

For further information, please visit their website:  For more information on their published Neel research visit here.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

May Dates in My Family History

This is an all grandfather month:

10th - death of William M. Woody, my 3rd great-grandfather, in Ashland, Virginia.  He was serving in Co. E 6th Infantry North Carolina when he died of the measles.

12th - death of Thomas Arthur, my 3rd great-grandfather, in Northfield, Rice Co, Minnesota in 1903.

12th - death of Charles Lafayette McNeill, my great-grandfather, in 1970 in Concord, Cabarrus Co, North Carolina

14th - birthday of Walter Harmon, my 4th great-grandfather, in 1798 in Tyringham, Berkshire Co, Massachusetts

14th - birthday of Porter J. Harmon, my 3rd great-grandfather, in 1819 in New Marlborough, Berkshire Co, Massachusetts

19th - birthday of William Michael Greathouse, my 2nd great-grandfather, in 1853, Missouri