About Me

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I am a genealogy enthusiast with over 40 years of experience in assisting others complete their family trees. I love helping others complete their own personal ancestory. I specialize in Research and Data Entry with an emphasis on Southern Research. I am vailable for Lectures on numerous topics and am always open to creating a class on a new Subject. I am a Member of the DAR, the DUP and Acting Vice President of the SCGA


Finishing the unfinished or where to I go from here in the coming year.

It seems that setting goals in my home is like a Salmon trying to swim upstream. With 9 children, 14 grandchildren and 3 more expected this year, plus a son getting married I often feel like I am doing just that; swimming upstream. So as I set down to make goals for the coming year I am sure that there will be days when life will get in the way and not everything will get done. But like all goals during the year I will have to stop, reevaluate, change and possibly delete a few of the goals made in an optimistic moment.
I used to wonder what an out of work mother would do with her time. I had visions of all the time in the world to do genealogy, hang out with my husband and wonder around my very large very empty home. I’m glad I was wrong. Dan isn’t retired and still works out of town a lot hence no husband to wander around the house with but there are always grandchildren and activities to fill my time and house. So as I set goals for the coming year I have to not only included my goals in genealogy but my goals with my family as well.
Like most genealogists my To Do List is never ending, technology never stands still, and the work is never finished. However setting goals and making lists always helps so my list of need to do’s for the coming year needs to go something like this.,
1. Spend time with my grandchildren and family.
2. Learn how to use the new computer I got for Christmas which will make my work easier and faster.
3. Organize my work so that it can go with me whenever I travel with Dan. That way my days in the motel room while he works will be days of great accomplishment.
4. Indexing 300 names a month for family search.
5. Create at least 3 new lectures.
6. Create my own web page to share my research on.
7. Continue to organize and clean up my earliest work with clear and proper documentation.
8. Continue improving my lectures and classes and expanding my audiences.
9. Spending at least 5 hours a week helping someone else accomplish their genealogical goals.
10. Continue my own education by attending at least 3 seminars, speaking at least two others and finishing the NGS home study course.
Sounds easy enough on paper however there is a lot of work involved in these few lines. My first job will be to print these goals when I get home from Utah, put them in a prominent place on my desk and begin the work. Each week I will try to spend a few minutes evaluating my progress and make a mental note or maybe even an occasional note as to my progress.
I hope that all who read this will take the time to make their own mental to do lists. Remember that Genealogy is a never ending task. There is always something new to learn and we can all grow and develop our talents in this area.


Family Traditions and the genealogist

When I first started my research my husbands grandmother insisted that her father was a merchant from Ireland living in Oklahoma in the early 1900's. He had died shortly before she was born and so she never met him. Apparently her mother traveled back to Texas to see family in 1907 and he died in Oklahomas during her visit. The wife and the mother never got along very well so my grandmothers mother never went back to Oklahoma. He had a step brother living somewhere in Oklahoma in a rest home and his grave was somewhere on the road to Fort Smith Arkansas in a small town called Pittsburg Oklahoma. From grandma Burrow's story a tradition was born. Like all traditions there is always a bit or maybe a lot of truth. It is up to the researcher to prove and disprove the story and glean the facts from among the fiction. Turning over every stone and learning from each clue given.

Facts: According to the 1900 census Grandma's father did live in Oklahoma in the early 1900's. He is buried in a small cemetery near the highway between Texas and Fort Smith Arkansas. The city however was Wilberton and the county Latimer. He was born in Louisiana and adopted as an infant by the Aimes famil,Possible relatives of his own parents. When he was seven or eight his adopted father walked out with an other woman and left he and his mother alone on the Indian Reservation in the Choctaw nation. She remarried a pig farmer and after his death her grandfather changed his name from Ainsworth to Hollenbeck.

Did the traditions match the facts? No but the clues were there and by listening and then searching the clues the facts became apparant. So often the genealogist gets caught up in the traditions and forgets that they may not be the whole story. Or even sadder they may get caught up in the facts and not look for the stories that made their ancestors real people. Both are important and alone neither tell a complete story. Combining the facts with the traditions lead to a good history of your family.


Martha Jane Boyles

Martha Jane Boyles has become to be known to many who have researched this family line as the illusive Martha Boyles. I think to begin to tell her story we first must relate the many family traditions that have been passed down through the generations.
Many years ago my husband and I made a trip back to Texas to visit his grandparents and learn of the family that he loved so much. I can still remember the sharing of pictures and stories as Dan’s grandparents shared their ancestry with us around the kitchen table late at night.
Berlin Burrow was very proud of his heritage and could sit for hours telling stories of when he was a child and what he remembered. As he talked I took notes, Dan took photos of old pictures and we have been trying to put stories with faces and histories every since. The following stories are the stories that he related.
When Martha Jane and Andrew got married they were very young and had been childhood sweethearts. Their parents were against the marriage and so the two young people eloped and got married in a different county. Andrew liked to travel a lot and never really did settle down to live in one place for very long but he was always very devoted to his wife and his family. Martha was sick a lot and spent much of her life in a wheel chair due to illness. We were told about the Indian Blood in the family and it must have come from Martha’s side of the family. We were also told that there was a bank robber in the family and that some of the family had been friends with Jesse James.
Upon interviewing other family members over the years we were told that Aunt Martha as she was called was an Indian Princess “ Cherokee we think”. She knew how to read tea leaves, tell your fortune by looking at your hands, what the weather was going to do and had taught her daughters how to do the same. We were also told that she knew the ways of the Indians and could heal a person using the ways of the medicine men.
Over the years the tradition of Indian blood had been passed down through Martha’s children as several different researchers coming from various children’s lines have asked the same question, Have you found the Indian yet?
To add fuel to the fire there was the story of the elopement. Were they young or did the Roberts dislike the marriage of their son and an Indian Girl. Not two generations before Andrew’s great uncle Luke Roberts’ family had been massacred by Indians in the region of Red River. Surely this had left a profound effect on the family as only 2 children that we know of had survived.
Because of these stories we have spent years looking for a young Indian Girl’s family with no success. Although we had several pictures of the family on their homestead we could not place Martha with a family and she remained a colorful illusive figure with no roots on her family tree.
Finally in desperation I decided it was time to once again retrace my steps pull out old files and try anew to find Martha’s roots only this time looking at the story with a whole new angle.
Lets begin with the family in 1880. As I began looking at old notes I noticed that in 1880 the family of Andrew J Roberts can be found living next to his parents Travis and Mary. Andrew was 24, his wife Martha was 21 and they had three children Tennessee age 5, William age 4 and Rosa L. (Dan’s great grandmother) born in Sep of 1849. Martha lists her parents as have been born in Ohio while she was born in Missouri. My questions began to come quickly. If the young couple had indeed eloped and the parents had not approved why were they living next door to them in 1880? Had they resolved their differences? If both of Martha’s parents had indeed been born in Ohio could she have really been a Cherokee princess or even a Native American at all. Further investigation was definitely in order.
It had been suggested that maybe Martha’s family had come from Parker County so I went back and searched census in that area and found several Boils in that area although all of them appeared to have migrated from Tennessee to Parker County and there was no listings of anyone from Ohio. The question remained where had her family come from.
The next step was to go back to the Marriage Records of Coryell Co. Maybe Andrew and Martha had not eloped as far as was thought. In these records we found Thomas B Grimes and Miss Sarah E Boyles md 14 Apr 1872, Mr. A J Roberts and Miss M S Boil md 11 Sep 1872 and I A Lee and Mrs. E T Boyle md 30 Apr 1865. Thomas Grimes was the cousin of Andrew Jackson Roberts through his mother Mary Birtrong and he had married a Boyles too.
As you can see the spelling of the name had now come up several different ways and I found myself looking for several different variations of the name Boils. I have since found the name spelled Boyle, Boyles, Bowles and Boils.
Back to the 1880 census where I found Isaac Lee listed with his wife Elizabeth (born in Ohio) and a step son William Boyle whose father was born in Ky and whose mother (Elizabeth) was born in Ohio. This matched part of the information I had found for Martha in the same census. Further more Isaac Lee was found on page 503 4 pages down from Andrews family. In the same census I found the family of Thomas Grimes and his wife Sarah age 19 who also listed her father as having been born in Kentucky and her mother in Ohio. Upon further investigation I found one more Boil that fit this same pattern. On page 502 I found the family of Joseph Boil age 27 who was a farm laborer born in Texas with a father born in Illinois and a mother born in Ohio. I now had 3 children with the name of Boil ages 27, 21, 19 either born in Texas or Missouri all listing their mother as having been born in Ohio and living in close proximity to Mrs. Elizabeth T Boil Lee age 48 born in Ohio.
The next natural step was to take a look at the census 10 years earlier in Coryell Co and see if I could find Elizabeth Boyles Lee and children. Here I found Isaac Lee age 40 born NC with his wife Elizabeth born Ohio and children William R Lee age 19 born in Louisiana, David age 15 born Texas, Virginia age 14 born Texas and Elisabeth’s children by her 1st marriage Joseph M Boyle age 17, Sarah age 16, both born in Texas, Martha age 13 born in Arkansas, and William age 11born in Texas
I had finally found the family of Martha Boyle. They lived in Coryell County not far from Andrew Jackson Roberts family and did not appear to be Native American.
On Ancestry’s World Tree found the name Joseph McKee Boyle father William Boyles mother Elizabeth T West and the second listed Joseph McKee Boyles born Dec 1852 Sherman Grayson Texas died Portales Roosevelt New Mexico with parents Elizabeth West and James Boyles.. On Ancestry.com I also found a reference to an Elizabeth West and a William Boils in Grayson County Texas in 1849.
Sherman, Grayson Texas was not Parker County but a good place to begin looking. In the 1860 census the family of William Boyles could be found. Wm B Boyle age 34 m farmer with real estate of 1600 and personal property of 900 born in Ky. E S age 27 domestic born in Ills., Jos. Age 7 born Texas, Louisa E age 4 born Texas, Martha S age 3 born Ark., and Wm F age 3/12 born in Texas.
In 1850 Michal West age 56 farmer born in Ky. with a real estate value of 600 appears next to the family of Wm Boils age 24 farmer born in Ky. his wife Elizabeth Boils age 20 born in Ohio and Jos Boils age 64 with a real estate value of 600 born in Va.
To complete the family circle I was able to locate the marriage record referenced by Ancestry. William Boyles and Elizabeth West were married in Grayson County Texas on the 19 of May 1849 . The only questions remaining were who were Michal West age 56 and Jos Boils age 65 living with and ne t to Elizabeth and William.
In Aug of 1853 William Boils was appointed administrator of the estate of Joseph Boils deceased. John H Wilson and William C Atchison posted a surety of $3000.00 “Joseph Boils died without leaving any lawful will so far as William Boils knows. “ This was signed by William (x) Boils. William acted in the capacity of administrator selling land in Collin County Texas to settle debts against the estate. In 1855 William Boyles did not appear at court with a new bond and was removed as the administrator of the estate. B W Bradley was placed in his stead and he sold the remainder of Joseph’s land in Cook County to pay the remainder of the debts and the case was closed. This absence fit the time that Williams daughter Martha would have been born in Arkansas.
In February of 1860 children of Michael West were selling their 1/8 portion of land legally inherited from Michael West decd to their brother John West. These children were Susan Leffel, Louisa Thomas, Elizabeth Boyles, Rebecca Hanning, James West and Joseph West. John West already had a 1/8 portion as his share of the estate. A son Michael or Mitchell P had died before Dec of 1853 in Grayson County He died leaving a wife and child who had removed either to Oregon or California before his estate was settled and could not be located to receive their inheritance of $24.46. Another daughter Mary was reported as having died before the family came to Texas and was buried in Vermillion Illinois with her mother. At this time James was listed as having been from Illinois and Joseph was listed as residing in Indiana. If John were the oldest child he would have receive 2 shares as was the custom at that time which would account for the last 1/8th of his fathers estate.
Martha Jane Boyles, Boils was no longer illusive. She had been found as part of a family unit along with her husband William, her parent Michael West, and the father of her husband Joseph Boils. Upon further investigation it was found that Joseph Boils came to the Peters Colony of Texas before 1848 and that he was listed as a widower with 2 children. Michael West also came to the Colony from Illinois as a widower before 1848 with two daughters. Michael West brought with him his children Elizabeth, Martha, Michael P., and his married daughter Rebecca and her husband John Hanning . Leaving behind two of his sons James and Joseph as well as the grave of his wife and one daughter. It is not yet known when his son John migrated to the area.
At this writing I have found information that suggests that the wife of Michael West was Susanna McKee. Born abt 1794 in McKeesport, Allegheny Pa. And died abt 1843 in Champaigne Illinois. She was married to Michael on 16 Oct 1812 in Adams Co Ohio. Because I have yet to substantiate this information I put it in only as a point of more research and needs to be verified before actually being submitted as true and complete. I have also found reference that suggests that possibly Elizabeth and William had a son Samuel born in Louisiana. Because he does not appear on any census and does not fit the migration of the family I have yet to add him to any of the family group sheets and refer him to only as a point of further consideration.
Was Martha Boils a Native American. I think not. More likely she was part Irish unless of course there is some Indian Blood on her fathers side. I Suppose anything is possible. You will note that her mother Elizabeth was remarried shortly after the civil war and one can’t help but wonder if this American tragedy also created a tragedy in her own family as it did for so many other women left at home while their husbands went to war to fight for what they considered a just cause.


Bringing life to your ancestor

I often thought that the word Genealogy was a very cold word. It is a science in which a researcher brings names together through documented proof thus establishing family ties. Genealogy does not give the names characteristics or personalities. It does not create a history in which the names existed or explain the pains and reasons behind the footsteps they made for succeeding generations. Genealogy is a fact gathering science. I prefer the name Family Historian. The science of genealogy is kind of like putting together a jigsaw puzzle and I often find myself searching for that lost piece. As I go I organize like pieces together in groups always searching for the one piece that will make them all fit together. Along the way I have discovered that the facinating part of the search is not the names but the History that links the pieces together. A puzzle piece with a personality has much more meaning to me than a piece with only one color.

I have often been asked how do I move the theory of genealogy to the practice of Family Historian. A good genealogist takes the time to become more than just a name gatherer. They become historians of the times, the places, and the movements of the names they are working with. They are constantly looking at neighbors, migration trends, history of the area, epidemics, political movements, and churches that might have affected the movements of the names they are gathering. History Books become relevent parts of their research. Land Records become more than just deeds and titles but stories about real people and real needs. Wars become more than just history but an intregal part of a names life often explaining sudden deaths, migrations, and missing family members. Political movements touched the lives of many names throughout history creating stories that should be written, explained and learned from. Wills often shed light on family relations both good and bad adding detail and life to otherwise simple names.

Genealogy may be a cold name but adding depth and history to it makes it a warm and satisfying experience. I may be a genealogist but above all I strive to be a Family Historian, creating stories with facts and personalities to the names I find. Creating a legacy of hope and honor filled with Pioneer determination for my descendents to read, understand and learn from. There is so much to be learned by adding the history to the names for those who walk after us.

Take the time to look a little deeper add the history to your ancestors. Gather more than just names. Remember they were once people with personalities, hopes and dreams and they each had a story to tell if you will just take the time to find it.


Sharing your knowledge

This week my goal was to see what I could do to help someone else with their genealogy and still sit in a hotel room all week. My options were my computer, the internet and the phone. I discovered that there are lots of ways to help without being gone from home all day long. First I tried indexing records for Family Search. By working about 20 minutes a day I was able to index 200 names in 3 days from the North Carolina 1920 census records. I also discovered that I could contribute to wiki.familysearch by contributing knowledge I had about the cemeteries in Fresno County. That project took about 4 hours as I learned to link each cemetery with an online database contributed by someone else. My new project. Putting together the cemeteries in Wilson County Tennessee, their location and linking them to online databases. Rather than searching in several databases you will be able to go to the wiki, find out the names of the cemeteries in Wilson Co and link to an online database. Pretty good I think. I even found some data that would help me with my own research in the process. By use of my phone I was able to help a friend back home work on her genealogy as she called to ask questions about how to do something. I discovered that a person can contribute to the genealogical field and help someone else from the comfort of a home or even a motel room. The possibilities are endless and the time spent on the projects much more productive than many other things I could find to spend my time on. Making research a little bit easier for someone else is well worth the effort that it takes to spend a little time each day contributing to indexing or the wiki projects and its a great way to learn to use your computer a little better.
I would challenge anyone who has some knowledge about the area they live in to take a few minutes each day and share it with others. Contribute your knowledge to the field of genealogy. You never know when your contributions will be just the clue needed by someone else to break down their brick wall. Above all have fun and enjoy the work you accomplish


Document as you research. A genealogist's lifesaver.

Many beginning researchers have to learn what it means to bear the burden of proof for what you find. It is so easy to get caught up in the excitement of the find that they forget to gather the proper documentation for the facts they discover. When I first began so many years ago I would visit the Library copy a great deal of information, get excited and then leave. When I got home to put the documentation with the facts I often found my references missing the proper documentation. I knew it was my job to bear the burden of proof; but I was having so much fun that I forgot to copy the first pages with the details on the records I was working with.

Often experience is the best teacher and no matter how many times we hear a principle taught until we run up against the consequences of not listening we don't always remember the best procedures when accomplishing a task.

So from experience I have learned.
1. Always copy the first page of the book or film I am copying and attach it to my papers until I get home.
2. Document as I go not 10 days later when I don't remember all the details of the record well.
3. Create a trail that will lead other researchers to the works I found.
That includes dates, authors, repositories, microfilm numbers, ets.
4. Include all important documentaion pertaining to the original source. What type of record was it. Include Book Number Page or Record Number whenever possible.
5.Keep a reference log of what I use as I do my research. That way I know what wasn't of value and don't repeat my work next time I go.
6. Take lots of pencils and change.
7. Copy, copy, copy. It's faster and I would rather waste a few coins then not have enough time to accomplish my task.
8. Have fun, don't rush.
9. Do my homework before I get to the repository I am visiting. I always take a list of what I want to look at and who I am trying to research on.
10. Always take an alternate research list when I run out of leads on the one I am working on.

When you get home don't forget the 2nd important step in a research trip the evaluation. Once again experience has taught me the following lessons.
1. Document all facts
2. Evaluate each and every record
3. Was the information primary or secondary, original or a copy
4. Why was the record generated
5. What do you know about the author.
7. Attack the Credibility of the Witness. Did they make inconsistent statements. Was the witness biased, was there a defect in the capacity of witness to observe or did another witness have a conflicting story.
8. Ask yourself could the record be wrong
9. Question the custody of Record and where has it been

Many researchers would tell you that any fact is worthless until its source is proven correct. A necessary step in research is proving true the sources you use however all facts gathered whether proven or not can lead to new trails and should be examined closely for possible clues and hints about your ancestors.


Using timelines to bring new life to your research.

A time line can be an effective step in the genealogy research process and can help you to plan new areas of research as you track your ancestor through his life and that of his family.

Successful Research requires the following items:
1. A knowledge of the Research Process
2. A knowledge of the sources of information available, their time period, and their availability.
3. A knowledge of the reference works common to your area of research. These can help guide you through the historical and geographical background of the areas you are working in.
4. A knowledge of the history of your area of research. What was happening on a local, state and national level that might have affected the life of your ancestor?
5. The different jurisdictions that might have affected your ancestor and a knowledge of where to access the records for that area.

A time line can help you put each of these basic research techniques into proper perspective and better help you evaluate you next step by doing the following:

1. Helps place the ancestor in a historical setting by identifing the events of the local, state, or national events which might have been relevant to your ancestor and by helping you to evaluate the possibility of an event happening in the life of your ancestor.
2. As you plot your ancestor’s family you will find ideas for new areas to search.
3. A time line can help to evaluate the possibility of a family tradition and will help to identify international events that could have directly affected your life.
4. A time line can help to figure out Discrepancies.
5. A time line can help to put your ancestor in the right place at the right time.

When considering local, state, national, or international events consider:
Wars, immigration patterns, epidemics, statehood, migration patterns, Indian actions
Building of railroads, Indian displacement patterns, battles in the Civil War, Religious Patterns, military bounty lands, and any other event that might have affected your ancestor and his family.
Consider Encyclopedias, History Books, Source Books, Family History Center Research Outlines and other resource books when considering the events that might have affected you ancestor’s life.
Items you might want to include could be:
Name Place Event Date Historical Event Comments

Remember a time line can be done whatever form which will best suit your needs. It is helpful to leave room at the bottom to site your sources to help with later evaluations. Many genealogical databases now help you create a timeline for your ancestors but sitting down and plotting it your self the old fashioned way helps you understand the movements of your ancestor much better and will lead to the breaking down of those brick walls in your research.


Computers, Genealogy Databases, and organization

A computer is only as helpful as you allow it to be. Remember a computer after all is only a machine and will only work with what you put on it and tell it to do. It is a myth that most home computers really do have minds of their own. I have found they can be either a friend or a foe.
Don’t feel that you need to load your computer with every new program that comes along. Find one that you feel comfortable with,that accommodates the things you want to accomplish and learn to use that program well before incorporating another program into your genealogy system of useable programs.
You will find that there are many programs and online databases that will work take care of your genealogy needs. I would recommend that you always think first and act second (unless of course you are at a genealogy seminar and there are so many good features on that new program being discussed). Before purchasing any program to fill your genealogy needs make a list or your goals, what you want to accomplish and for what purpose am I saving my records.
I have found a few helpful hints over the years that have helped with my genealogy computing and so I would make the following suggestions:
A good word program
A good word program can be used to create research logs, documentation note on both connected family members but also on families who may be related but don’t yet into your family tree. Such programs can cut down on the amount of paper in your family file and be more interesting to future generations. However be aware of proper documentation techniques and the use of scanning so that everything is typed or will exactly as it was on the original document. These programs can also be used to create to do lists, stories, and for journal writing. The usefulness of a good word program is only as useful as your creative thoughts will allow it to be.
Genealogy database:
A good genealogy database can easily store your family in an organized manner. Be sure to put documentation and scanned images either with your notes or with your documentation. With these programs you can print family group sheets, pedigrees, lists, family stories, web pages, and family books. I have found it useful to keep two data bases on my various family lines. 1 database which has documentated information in it and a second which I call the x-files. These databases are a holding ground for names and indivuals which need to still be given a standard of proof or an I’m just not sure how this name fits in but it in the same area with the same name and the right ages to be somehow connected with my people.
Many databases now allow you to add pictures of original documents, or family photographs. Remember that scanned in images take up a lot of memory and time to organize but the ultimate outcome is well worth the work.
A great deal of research can now be done on the internet. However remember that what you find on the internet is usually some type of transcription. It has been said that only 5% of all information is on the computer when it comes to the field of genealogy so you should still verify with the original document whenever possible and understand the value of visiting a library.
Family Data Based Programs
There are many family data based programs available and we all have our favorite so I am only going to list a few of the many programs available.
Family Tree Maker: Advantages: Compiled databases on CD’s, internet browser, good printing capabilities, the ability to add pictures, User Friendly, internet browser, prints many different reports. Imports and exports well. Prints many different reports. Imports and exports well. It has had some problems with accepting gedcoms from other programs. Not my favorite.
Legacy: Advantages: internet browser, good printing capabilities, the ability to add pictures and maps User Friendly, internet browser, prints many different reports. Imports and exports well. Prints many different reports. Imports and exports. The newer versions work well with Family search and is a good program to meet the needs of the average genealogist.
Personal Ancestral File: Free download, offered by familyserach.org. It is a good program for the genealogist who isn’t interested in doing much more than storing their database. The program is very user friendly and has the ability to add pictures, imports and exports well. Disadvantage: Very short on line manual. Although it still has technical support available it is no longer being upgraded. I have used this program for years but I am also learning to switch all my data over to a new database. PAF no longer offers the features I need and use.
Family Insight: A great program to add if you are sticking to PAF. Family Insight allows you to use your paf files with new.familysearch. It also is great for editing name places and tracking your LDS ordinance submittals.
Roots magic: Has all the bells and whistles offered by Legacy and family tree maker. It also was awarded the best program to sync with new.familysearch data in 2009. Converts your data from other programs into a useable readable database with very little work. Very user friendly and a great program to work with.
To be honest I have Legacy, Family Insight, PAF, and Roots magic on my computer. Partly because I give instruction on how to use the various programs but also like many I am not quite sure I am ready to convert all my documents over to another program yet. Hands down my favorite is Roots magic. It accomplishes the goals that I have set for myself in my genealogy world. I know others who swear by Legacy and still others who won’t do anything outside of PAF and Family Insight. The decision as to which database and word program to use is up to you. The excitement is trying them all on a free trial basis and then determining which one best fits your needs.
Remember when it comes to genealogy no answer is correct only different.



Using the Internet to do your genealogical research has become a very real factor in today’s world of technology. Going on line can lead you to online database records, card catalogs for various libraries throughout the world, how to articles, genealogical supplies and records for purchasing, historical articles, maps and the list goes on and on. One of greatest blessing that has come to many genealogists who use the Internet is the ability to make quick contact with other people who are working on your family.
It has long been an important part of good genealogical research to keep and research log of where you have looked and what you have found. It is a common practice whenever you go to a new repository to make a list of what you have looked at and your results. Then the Internet came along. I often see people in Family History Centers researching the same places for the same names time and time again because they didn’t stop and take the time to keep a research log of where they had surfed and what they had found. Not only is this step important for keeping a record of where you have looked but it also gives you a reference point for where to start again. It doesn’t hurt to go back periodically and do a repeat search because something new may have been added.
How often do you find yourself up until late hours of the night finding all kinds of information and then the next time you set down to work not remembering where it was you found that really cool web site. I have found it helpful to have a plan when I go on line. Not only does it save time while I am working but it also keeps me from making constant research do overs. For this reason I have decided that a research log for the Internet is a must. Whether you use your own or the one found at the end of this article doesn’t really matter but that you do learn to use one is.
On my personalized sheet I have tried to list the more popular sources including; Census research which can be done through Ancestry. . I have also listed several sites that can be used for a subscription fee. Many of these are worth looking at and depending on the area you are working in you might want to consider a few of them. Because I believe that genealogy is not only a science but also a quest for the history of my ancestors I have also included a couple of websites just for fun.
Whenever I sit down to do research on the Internet I now try to narrow my search down to no more than 4 families at a time. With each hit I either copy and past information into a computer log and data base or I make copies and attach it to my sheet for further examination later. Researching on the Internet is not only fun but also a very useful tool that should not be overlooked. So next time you set down to surf the net with your family names try using a research log.

Names Approximate Years
1930 ,1920,1910,1900,1880,1870,1860, 1850

Family Search .org

Special Interest

My favorites



The Genealogy Enthusiast

I have set through many genealogy seminars and listened to those who are considered the Professionals in the field of Genealogy refer to their audience as the Genealogy Enthusiast. For a long time I was somewhat offended to be considered just an enthusiast. After all hadn’t I been a Family History Center director, did I not teach adult genealogy classes? I had taken numerous classes through independent courses to become the very good at what I did. I cared about my work striving hard to make it correct, well documented and professional. And yet no matter how hard I worked I was still just an enthusiast.

I had not gone to college but chose the career of mother and wife. After raising 9 children and being the grandmother of 14 grandchildren spending much of my spare time perusing libraries, and helping others do their genealogy I was ready to accept the fact that I would always be considered a genealogy enthusiast. I recently decided that I needed to define the genealogy enthusiast. The definition I came up with:

A genealogy enthusiast:

1. Spends a great deal of their spare time searching dead relatives
2. Loves history, cemeteries, libraries, and online databases
3. Loves to write and receive letters, queries, and old pictures
4. Never stops learning
5. Spends hours poring over old records and searching out little known facts
6. Are officers in Genealogical Societies and fights to preserve old records.
7. Spends hours gathering records to share with others
8. Shares their knowledge and experiences with others
9. Teaches Genealogy Classes for free
10. Gives lectures on numerous subjects requiring very little compensation
11. Becomes Family Search support missionaries
12. Spends hours and money collecting records for other people to use
13. Buys all those products that keep Professional Researchers in jobs
14. Loves their ancestors
15. Is often the keeper of their family memorabilia
16. Loves family history and talking about it
17. Helps school children on special Family History Projects
18. Will work on their records at all times of the day and night
19. Gets bleary eyed from hours of Computer work
20. Writes family history books for their families.

I have come to the conclusion that it’s ok to be among that dedicated group of people known as genealogy enthusiasts. If I can help another do their family history work then I have completed the circle my mother started years ago when she taught me how to gather my husband’s family history.

If I can help a child become proud of their heritage by helping them understand those who have gone ahead then I have saved a small part of American history. If I can learn something new to make my work better than I have expanded my mind and kept growing old at bay a little longer. I have decided that I am a true genealogy enthusiast and happy to be so.


The Learning Curve and Genealogy Seminars

Over the years I have heard various friends state that they really didn't need to go to any more seminars or classes because they had already learned everything they needed to know to complete their research. How sad, there is always something new you can learn no matter what area you research in. This past week I took the opportunity to go to the Family History Exposition in Redding California and today I redid my igoogle pages so that I could accomplish more in a shorter time. Not only did I learn something new about using my computer but I also learned about the best genealogy blogs, the newest data programs, and new resources for the state of Virginia. All in all it was a good weekend. Not only did I learn something new but my non genealogist husband is very excited about scanning and repairing our old photos. He may not have caught the genealogy bug but he did catch the picture bug and is excited to use a program I have had sitting around for a couple of years called Heritage Collector Suite by LifeStory Productions. He attended all of their classes and this evening we will sit down install the program and add sound to some of our older photos. It is always a challenge to try new things but my research is now organized on my genealogy tab of my Igoogle page. My photo's are going to get organized and we had fun together. What more could I ask for. I don't think we stop learning unless of course we want to. It may take me a little longer to figure things out then when I was younger but there is always something new to learn. So go to those seminars, take the classes offered by your local society and continue to learn. Your research will improve and your mind will continue to be taxed. After all isn't life a learning experience and none of us will ever learn everything we need to know.


Rootsweb: It's good and It's bad

As beginners to the field of Genealogy there is always a learning curve period. It is easy to get frustrated and quit when a program seems to large, has to many options, or maybe just seems to be more difficult to work with than we feel capable of handling. Sometimes the nicest thing about many internet programs is the time you have to work with it. One such program is Rootsweb.com So much is offered in this search engine and it can be a gold mine if you take the time to work with it and learn the peramiters it works under. The primary purpose and function of RootsWeb.com is to connect people so that they can help each other and share genealogical research. Most resources on RootsWeb.com are designed to facilitate such connections. New users often ask the question "But where do I begin?" when faced with all the options available at RootsWeb.com. The best way for you to connect to others on RootsWeb.com is to make it easy for others to find you, ask for help, and give others help. Like all programs there is always some good and some bad, I have tried to list a few problems and good points I have encountered over the years as I have helped people research their ancestors in Rootsweb.

The Bad:
1. Rootsweb often refers you back to Ancestry.com which is a fee based program. Remember Rootsweb is owned and sponsored by ancestry and the actual link is: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com so don't be discouraged and keep on hunting.
2. A lot of what you find on the internet is transcribed so watch out for misinformation. Don’t take everything you read as gospel.
3. When you share on the internet many people will take your years of work and information add it to the little they have and call it their own.
4. It takes time and patience to play with a program enough to really learn how to use it. So be patient and don’t be afraid to try new hotspots.
5. It’s very easy to get distracted from your primary target when you start fishing for names on the net.
6. It’s real easy to get caught up and loose track of time. Night creeps by quickly and you may get Computer blurred eyes and your family members may wonder what ever happened to you.
7. Email address may be out of date or the person who posts the information may never respond.

The Good:
1.Gold mines of information are just a click away
2.You can connect with other people doing research on your same lines who may have been closer connected to that long lost ancestor of yours and have all the information you have been searching for at the click of a button.
3.You have the opportunity to share your knowledge, your talents, and your resources with others.
4.You can find people willing to go to a courthouse or take a picture at a cemetery for you with out even having to leave your house.
5.If you wanted to know how to research a particular locality, subject, surname, or just want to learn a new technique. It’s all available in the help sections.
6.Rootsweb helps to connect you to resources not available in any other way.

The Secrets: Find out for yourself. The only way to become familiar with this program is to take the time to set down and explore each tab and subject. Take the time to Share a publication you have at home for Volunteer lookups. Join a message board. Add a Family File. Volunteer to be a message administrator or a locality webmaster. The opportunities are endless if you truly want to learn. It always helps to use a research log or fishing log when you start a project on Rootsweb. For a copy of the log I designed to help with my late night fishing projects on the internet please feel free to contact me.


Lessons in Life

When I was younger the phrase “Love Means you never have to say your sorry.” became very popular. It was used constantly between people as an excuse to not have to apologize. After all if you love me than I don’t have to say I’m sorry. Life has taught me that the phrase should read “Love means forgiving even when they don’t say their sorry”.
We all experience difficult times and difficult people in our life at one time or another. Sometimes those we love the most are the ones that will hurt us the most. Often they walk away leaving the hurt and the wounds but still appearing in our lives on a regular basis. Maybe it’s a spouse who chooses a different mate or a different lifestyle. Maybe it’s a good friend who makes a choice that inadvertently affects your life in a damaging way. Maybe it’s a stranger who leaves a path of destruction behind him. It may even be a child who is trying to figure out their own life and hurts yours in the process. The point is to do we hate forever or do we forgive and move on.
The Bible teaches that we should do unto others as they would do unto us. Or better still do good to those who would persecute you. How about Pray for your enemies or love your neighbor as yourself. Christ gave the ultimate example. When he went into the Garden of Gethsemane to atone for our sins he didn’t say now I will do this for you if you say you are sorry. He said I will do this for you and then hope that someday you will say you are sorry. He gave us unconditional love. The kind that says “I’ll love you even if you don’t say you’re sorry.”
Sometimes we forget that love and trust are two different things. The Bible also teaches restitution, being accountable for our actions, and a judgment according to our works. Faith with out works is dead. So does that mean that loving a person even though they don’t sincerely apologize mean allowing them to hurt you again? I have been told by more than one therapist that loving and forgiving does not mean putting myself in a position to be hurt again. Should we be expected to pick up a snake that bit us once a second time or are we allowed to be careful?
So the question comes; how can I forgive the hurt when I have to see or deal with them on a regular basis? In my case it would have been easier to just move away. Not deal with the person again and not have to be reminded of the pain they caused in my life. In other cases it was a family member who chose paths that weren’t in accordance to my beliefs and ideals and occasionally it was even a child who hadn’t figured out the politeness of life which caused the pain. Life has taught me that walking away isn’t always the answer. I have learned that to Love as Christ would love means forgiving constantly. When the Bible tells us to forgive 7 times 70 that must mean that since I am human and do not have the ultimate compassion of Christ I may have to forgive the same sin 7 times 70. Each time something comes up that brings to mind the memory of past hurts I must once again say your forgiven; Not out loud for the world to hear but very quietly to myself and then go on. I have learned that the hurt may never totally go away and one of the lessons in life will be learning to love those who have hurt you without ever receiving an I’m sorry. It may mean learning to be nice when it is difficult or holding your tongue when it would be easier to lash out. It may mean crying silent tears of grief while the world gives acclaim to one who hurt you. It means putting the better foot forward in all circumstances. It means walking as Christ would walk. Loving as Christ would love. Not expecting but always willing to hope for a change of heart. It means being grateful for the good and overlooking the bad. It means walking daily a little taller and a lot more humble. Forgiving doesn’t mean putting yourself in a position to be hurt again but it does mean saying each time the hurt crosses your mind I forgive you even if it takes 7 times 70.
Life has taught me that things happen. Friendships come and friendships go. People change and make mistakes. But can I be the better person, not judging but always loving? Life has taught me to learn to say each day what would Christ have me do? Life has taught me that to be happy and find peace in the world I must follow his example in Gethsemane. I must learn to say I will forgive whether you apologize or not. I must look at my own conscience and make sure that I have done all that I can do to right the wrongs I have caused. And when I have completed my own work then maybe I can learn to forgive, forget, and move on.


Cleaning out the Files from a Researchers Point of View

For years the thought of all my work being cast aside when I am gone has haunted me. What about all those original copies of old deeds, pension records, wills and the personal research notes that I so pain- staking gathered while putting together the family histories that I value. Will anyone want them or even take the time to read through them before throwing those years of work away in the nearest dumpster?
My solution: Simple convert them to documents on my computer that can then be shared with everyone via CD, email, flash drive or what ever form the future holds. Then my work can be preserved in a form the kids will want to keep and it is easy to share with other researchers.

The Task: Very time consuming.
The problems: Guess what. I didn’t do such a good job 40 years ago as a novice researcher. The documentation is very poor. I find myself looking at those old folders and little pieces of paper wondering where did I find that piece of information and why is it recorded this way. Shall I keep the original copy of that will that is now faded because the ink used to copy it way back when has faded over the years, or shall I just transcribe it and record where I got it. Then the next generation will know where to look for the original copy is they really want it. I even found poorly copied pictures of an old oak tree that the family dearly loved 75 years ago. No wonder our children tend to throw away moms old files. The only person they are of value to is me.
The reward: My genealogy was done. I had solved many of the mysteries, added history to the names. I was done. Or so I thought. Over the last 40 years a lot has changed in the genealogy world. Today I can sit at home use my internet, contact relatives I didn’t even know existed, Check out libraries catalogs before making visits, Contact genealogy societies and other researchers via email and share my work with others with out even leaving the comfort of my office. And when I do make those trips to the Libraries, Societies, Cemeteries, Court Houses and Relatives I can go prepared.
I am so grateful for researchers who have gone before me. Who worked to diligently to gather and preserve records for us to use today. I have often heard people complain about the quality of the work done in the past or question why didn’t this get added to the research. Or even those statements well they got it all wrong, didn’t they know better. We look at today’s technology and forget how hard it was to do research way back when.
Much of my mother’s work was done on site or in the homes of relatives who still knew and remembered the ancestors I now only read and write about. How grateful I am that she sacrificed her time and travels to do the leg part of the project. Thank you mom for visiting and talking with those ancestors and gleaning their stories for posterity so that my work would be easier. She started out with a typewriter and notebooks. Today I use the computer, cell phones, email, scanners and other electronic equipment to make my job easier.
As I began the project of cleaning up my folders I also discovered that my job wasn’t done as a matter of fact it was far from it. While cleaning out the folder of The Parr family I discovered that I have two separate fathers listed for Richard Parr. Apparently I gathered the information, stuck it in the folder and never really investigated it properly. A new job to tackle. More films to order. (Only 7% of the information can be found on the internet). More libraries to visit and maybe even a trip back to Mississippi to visit another court house.
As I continue to clean out the folders, I am recording and documenting those old pictures and little scraps of paper in new folders on my computer and then discarding them. As for the old wills and original documents. I have transcribed and or scanned them into my family documentation. But my kids will have to decide what to do with them. Some things I just can’t discard at this point in time. But at least I know that they are saved in two forms and can be easily shared with others who might want them.
Words of Wisdom gleaned:
1. Your genealogy is never done only at a brick wall to be moved later.
2. Keep a good Research Log so you know where to look next time.
3. Decide on a filing system, adapt it to your needs and be consistent.
4. Understand that someday it will be passed on.
5. Remember not all research can be done on the internet.
6. Revisit your files occassionally to look at those brick walls. Some new information may be just around the corner.
7. Find a database you like and use it.
8. Record as you go, doesn’t let it pile up.
9. Be grateful to those who have researched the family before you. Remember that they did the best they could with the information that was available at that time.
10. Be grateful for the tools we have today and learn to use them.
11. Understand that the field is constantly changing and there is always something knew you can learn.
12. Enjoy the trip and learn to love your research.


The Guitars in my Life

After helping my parents and elderly friend downsize their houses I have had to take a serious look at my own home and wonder what will be important to my children some day when it comes time to either keep or discard the things so important to me. They say the only thing you can take with you when you leave this life is the knowledge you gained here and I have to believe the memories of those who have left footprints on your lives. As I looked around my home I wondered which pictures would be important to my children. Who would want the things that were so precious to me and have I left enough memories behind to make them important to my children. There are the two poetry books that my sister and I have fought over for years. Loved not because they were old but because of the many hours we sat and listened to our mother read them to us. There are the polyester hand sewn quilts that will never wear out in outlandish colors from our childhood dresses. Memories of playing under quilting frames as my mother and her friends quilted them. Then there are more current memories. The bears all over my house collected as children traveled and sent them home or from shopping trips with Dan when they just happened to jump into his arms or my cart. And I mustn’t forget the garage full of Snow Village houses lovingly displayed and taken down each year at Christmas. A true Burrow Christmas Tradition. I think I have already picked out which child will earn the right to my genealogical collection as she diligently raises her family and calls often enough to ask a question to let me know her interests. A lifetime of memories wrapped up in a house full of stuff.
As I helped 1st my parents and then my good friend move it struck me how little these things really mean to anyone but us. As my mother and I sat and cried over her office and her years of work as she discarded one drawer after another I had to wonder what will happen when it is my turn. Will the things I brought home from moms go any further than here or will the day come when I will once again cry buckets of tears as I discard my life’s work keeping only the memories of days gone by.
And so here I set (not that I am old mind you) finding that at least once a day my eyes are drawn to one such item in my home. Not something I gleaned from my moms house or even my friends but an old guitar that once belonged to a cousin who passed away at the age of 26 over 35 years ago. I remember the day my aunt gave me his guitar asking if I would like to have it as a reminder of him. It was missing strings, had a cracked neck, an old brown bandana for a sling and was covered with dust. But it was Craig’s and each time I looked at it I remembered my cousin. Little did I know that this particular guitar would play such a vital role in the memories of my life.
There is a poem called the Touch of the Master’s hand that tells about an old violin broken and discarded lying on the auction block. No one wants it until it picked up by a master violinist and beautiful songs come out of it. Then it is worth so much more than anyone can count. And so went the guitar of my life. The day came when my son who in many ways is as wild and carefree as Craig picked up the old guitar, fixed the handle, restrung it and with beauty and grace made the old guitar sing again. As he played he reminded me of those who had gone before and who still touch my life. Of my grandfather who would wile away the evenings on his porch playing his guitar. Grandpa never read a note of music but could listen to any song and then play it with ease and beauty. Each time I look at the guitar in my room I can see him sitting on that porch one leg over the other smoking his cigarette and playing his guitar. Of my cousin who died at such a young age, who had always been my best friend growing up. We had played together, drifted apart, and then became friends again as he and my husband who must have been bosom buddies somewhere in the eternities before time began, became acquainted and found a bond that would last a lifetime. Of my daughter who took guitar classes in college so that she could play by the campfire at night when working at camps. Of my red haired beauty who sings with her children and in the preschools she has taught playing the guitar she learned to use. Of my son the East Coast Teacher who went on a mission to Canada and brought home a guitar that he now plays while his wife sings. Of my son the drifter who walks his life to the beat of his own guitar far removed from my values and teachings but with a song in his heart and guitar always in his hand.
. And so there it sits in a prominent place close to my bed bringing back memories each day of my life. Last week I decided that it was time to share that guitar with my son and so I packed it in my car to take down for him to enjoy only to bring it back again. You see I discovered that I wasn’t ready to give up that particular piece of my life. And so the day will come that my children will have to decide what to do with the guitar that I hold so precious. It may not be worth a lot but to me because of the touch of so many masters hands it will always be worth more than money can buy.
I have to wonder what are the guitars in each of our lives. Have we taught our children to love them as much as we have. It was interesting that when I told my children that I was going to share the guitar each of them said no and told me to keep it at home, that it wasn’t time to send it away yet. So maybe somehow it has made its way into their lives as well. Just a little reminder of mom and what she held so dear.
We each have somewhere in our homes a place where the memories of our ancestors dwell. Maybe in an old trunk or two. Maybe in a box hidden away in the closet. Or just maybe you have been brave enough to put those memories on a shelf to be shared with all. My mother was kind enough to put all those memories into a series of books that we each have a copy of. Maybe we don’t pull it down often enough but the stories are there. Do our children know those stories. Sure they know that mom loves genealogy. But do they truly understand why. Have we taught them that to us those ancestors are more than just objects in our home or names on a piece of paper; to those of us who have learned to read old manuscript, and spent hours in cemeteries and libraries they are just more than a name. To us they have become very real people with personalities, families and stories to share. They have become memories in the guitars of our lives. People we are anxious to meet and love once again.


What do the Records really show?

A few years ago my children were given an assignment in their History Class. Now I am not one to be intimidated by School assignments but this one caught me especially off guard. The assignment: Talk to a veteran of the Viet Nam War. Now I had never really considered myself old and definitely not ready to be considered History but here I was sitting beside my husband a Veteran of the Viet Nam War telling my children about a piece of World History from a the viewpoint of one who had been there. How did we feel about the War? What branch of Service had he served in? How did we feel about the separation caused by that war? How did we feel about those protesting the very war their father was serving in?
Now they could have looked through records and found that Dan had served in the Air Force during that time. But did the records explain how he had lost his school deferment, received a lottery number of 27 and decided to join the Air Force rather than be drafted into the army. Did the records explain the feelings of loss as a small family left Fresno for the first time to start on an adventure that would last 3 ½ years? Did they tell about the decision to leave a beloved racecar behind and opt to take his wife and daughter with him instead. Do the records tell the story of the letter received from Boot Camp explaining how we could quietly move to Canada and never be heard from again and join the ranks of many other young draft dodgers. Do the records show that instead of running to Canada we ended up at a small Radar Base 5 miles off the Canadian Border.
What would the records show? The records would show a story of two young people who married in Fresno, appearing on both the 1970 and 1980 census of Fresno County. The census would not show the birth and death of their first daughter born in 1969. In 1990 the census would show that the family had moved from Fresno to Oakhurst a mere 50 miles away. The records would show that Dan had served honorably in the Air force. The birth records of 10 children would show that they had lived in the Fresno area much of their marriage. However it will not show that the second child was born while Dan was away from home serving his country or that she was nearly 4 months old before he was able to meet her for the first time. Land Deeds would show a home purchased in Fresno and property bought in Bass Lake. Records would show years of public service on a school board. But do the records tell the whole story. Do the records tell of the 3 years away from home while in the military? Records don't always tell the reasons for a move only that the family moved.
Not being a writer, and having enough trouble just putting my family pictures in albums. the history assignment made me wonder what other pieces of history was I apart of? Would my posterity care? Obviously their history teacher did.
Recently my father in law died and once again I was faced with the question of what do the records show. I came to the conclusion that although the records give facts and place people in a time period and a place they do little to tell the real story of a person’s life. Did the records of his life tell of his experiences in the Navy during World War II? Did the records show why he left his family and his wife and later remarry? Did the records show why he closed a Business that he loved and retire at an early age?
The records show a man who moved to Fresno about 1957. The records will record the purchase of at least 3 homes in Fresno. The records recorded his divorce to his first wife and his subsequent remarriage. The records recorded his death in August of 2005. They will even record his cremation and the spreading of his ashes. The records will record his will and his direct beneficiaries. But do the records give his life meaning and purpose?
After doing research for over 35 years I have found the most important facts I have are the stories of my ancestors. The ancestor whose land was surveyed by George Washington. The ancestor who went to the same church George Washington went to. The ancestor who as a young boy was stolen by the Indians in Virginia. Whose name was changed by those same Indians to fit his height? The ancestor who kept that Indian Name as his last for the rest of his life; the named passed down through the rest of his generations. I especially appreciate the stories about the ancestors who left everything to move west with a group of pioneers to a new land because of religious persecution and how they felt about that move. I appreciate that they took the time to write down their feelings and thoughts. Their views of history and the world around them.
These reflections brought me to a new level of understanding. The records may tell about me but do they explain me as a person. Do they explain my feelings and thoughts as I experience the history that will someday belong to my descendants? So with those thoughts in mind I have decided that I must take the time to write down my own feelings and thoughts. I want my descendants to know what happened to us as a family while Dan was in the military. I want my descendants to know of my struggles, hopes, and dreams. I want my descendants to know me the Person and not just a name on the page.
What has happened in my life that is of historical value and more importantly what has happened in your life that is of historical value? Are you willing to take the time to reflect, and then record your history for your family?
What type of questions came to mind as I tried this remembering process?
Where was I the day John F Kennedy was shot? I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing.
Where was I the day Man walked on the Moon?
When did my family receive our first television?
What was it like to have a phonograph player and 8 track tapes?
Where was my favorite place to hang out with my friends when I was a teenager?
When was the first time my family had McDonalds and the hamburgers were only 19 cents.
What is the cheapest I remember Gas being?
How did I feel the day we bombed Baghdad and the war with Iraq began.
Where was I on 9/11 and better yet what year was that?
Where was I when Katrina hit New Orleans and what did I do to help the thousands of homeless victims.
The more I find myself remembering the more I find myself wanting my descendants to know about me. Maybe it will be no more than a short notebook. Maybe I will be inspired to start a journal or write my life’s history. Maybe I will decide to put it all on the computer or on a video. I don’t know. But I do know this. I want my life to be remembered not just as facts on a piece of paper but also as a contributing human being in the fabric of the human race.