About Me

My photo
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


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.