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Are You My Cousin?: October 2011

Are You My Cousin?

Discovering My Ancestors -- One Cousin at a Time

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Location: Raleigh, North Carolina

I tell the stories of my ancestors’ lives. Whether they lived 20 years ago or 200 years ago, they each have a story to tell. Some ancestors tell their stories willingly. Others must have their stories carefully teased from the records. Sometimes the stories are sad. Sometimes the stories are happy. Sometimes the stories are just funny. Regardless, my ancestors’ stories shaped their lives and the lives of those that followed. Come and share in the tales!

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Matter of Focus

I missed an anniversary date recently.  (Fortunately, my husband remembered and got the card out in a timely manner.)

As the family historian one would think I would remember birthdays, anniversaries, etc. After all, a day rarely goes by when I don't work with dates of some sort.

My daughter quipped that maybe I should just focus on important dates for the living family members!  Ouch!
(I'm sure I'll convert her to the genealogical way of thinking one day!)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Advice From The Expert

I was fortunate to spend the day at the North Carolina Genealogical Society's fall workshop today.  Barbara Vines Little spent the day speaking on colonial research.  I have heard Barbara speak on other occasions and was eagerly looking forward to hearing her speak again.  Her specialty is colonial research in Virginia.

Colonial Virginia. 1760's.  King and Queen County.  That's precisely where my Howard (or is it Harward?) line is stuck.

As far as Virginia research goes, King and Queen County is not a good place to be stuck.  It is a burned county.  Twice.  There are no records for the time period I am researching.

At the first break I approached Barbara to inquire if there were possibly any ways to research this time and place in history that I had not thought of.  When I explained the county and time period I was interested, she smiled and said, "You have my sympathy."  (I get that a lot in my colonial VA research!)

But all is not lost.  Barbara went on to give me some ideas and areas for research that could possibly lead to clues about the Howards (Harwards).  These areas of further research may be long shots, but I'll never know until I look.

If this next phase of my research doesn't find any results..... DNA anyone?

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Friday, October 21, 2011

Follow Friday

I love blogs!  I read many during the week and think "I need to share that!".

But then I get busy and forget to write it down.  Forget to share it. (Does anyone else do this? Please tell me I am not the only one.)

I'm trying to be more organized about keeping up with the Follow Friday theme.  This week I have succeeded. Yeah!

So, here goes....

What I have seen in the blog world this week!

Enjoy the weekend!


Christmas Ornaments at Esther's Place

The holidays are coming!  I know many of us are still wearing shorts, but the calendar does confirm the holidays ware coming.

I am not singing Jingle Bells yet, but I have developed new Christmas ornaments that can be personalized with your ancestors' photographs.  You will find them over at Esther's Place. (Click here or the button on my sidebar.)

Memory Frame Christmas ornaments have a photograph on each side.  You could have an ornament with a husband on one side and the wife on the other.  You never have to worry about the ornament facing the right way! Another suggestion is using two photographs of the same person at different ages.

These look great on the Christmas tree and can be conversation starters as you celebrate the holidays.

Scrabble Tile Christmas Ornaments look great on a miniature Christmas tree!  These small ornaments create a fun "family tree".  These ornaments come in sets of six.  You can also order a Miniature Christmas tree already decorated with 12 scrabble tile ornaments.

Stop by Esther's Place today!  (Just click the button on the top right of the sidebar.)

Looking for something a little different?  Check out the Heritage Coasters and Decorative Tiles.  They make great gifts!


Thursday, October 20, 2011

New! Wine Glass Charms At Esther's Place

Have you ever set your wine glass down only to discover later you cannot remember which glass is yours?  Wine glass charms to the rescue!

These cute wine glass charms are made from scrabble tile and personalized with your photographs. Coming in a set of six (6), you will be ready for hosting your next get together.  No more forgetting which wine glass is whose!  These little charms are great conversation starters as well.

Want a set for a gift?  For yourself? (Don't forget the holidays are coming!)

Here's how:
  • Go to Esther's Place.
  • Complete the order and checkout process. 
  • E-mail the photographs you wish to use to .
That's it!  Pretty easy, right?

Looking for something a little different?  Be sure and check out the Heritage Coasters and Decorative Tiles.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Unidentified Photograph - Can You Help?

It has been a while since I have posted a photograph of unidentified individuals.  The above photograph was among the belongings of my great grandmother Esther Lee Richardson.  I am not sure if these young men are ancestors of mine or just friends of Esther's.  (She had a lot of friends and a lot of beaus!)  I suspect this photograph was taken in the Danville, VA area or in the South Boston,VA area.  

If you recognize any of these young men, let me know!


Monday, October 17, 2011

Reunion Tip Updates

Last week I asked for tips on how to plan a family reunion. (You can see that post here.)  I received great tips both in the comments and in my e-mail.  In fact the tips were so great I wanted to share some of them with all of you.  If you are also looking at organizing a family reunion, you might find these helpful.

  1. Be prepared to work longer than you think.
  2. Plan, Plan, Plan!
  3. Covered dished works well for the food.  Everyone is guaranteed to have something they like.
  4. Divide the guest alphabetically by first name.  A-H brings a meat dish, I-S brings a vegetable of side dish, and T-Z brings a dessert. 
  5. Ask people to bring photographs or other family heirlooms to share.
  6. Take lots of pictures.
  7. Have a good database of names and addresses.  Send out invitations 6-8 weeks ahead of time.
  8. Announce the reunion on-line in surname lists (such as found on Rootsweb).
  9. June can be a good time to hold a reunion - when the children are get out of school.
  10. Have activities for the little ones.

   11. Enjoy the day!


Friday, October 14, 2011

A Forgotten Source?

I had the experience of talking with a woman at a local nursing home recently.  She was hard of hearing and difficult to understand at times.  What she said did not always make sense in the conversation. 


She started talking about her grandmother.

Her face lit up.  Her eyes became brighter.  And the stories began to flow.

She told me:
·         What her grandmother was best known for cooking. 
·         How many children she had. (A lot!)
·         Twins ran in the family (and who had the twins).
·         Where her great grandmother was from.

 While oral history is often subject to the errors of one’s memories, truth and/or clues to the truth are often embedded within these histories. 

 What this gentle woman taught me was despite her cognitive deficits associated with her old age, she was still a valuable resource to the family historian or genealogist.  Do we sometimes overlook the opportunity to interview a relative simply because her memory is slipping?

 If we do, I think we may be missing out on a lot.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

SLIG is Having A Blog Contest

The Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (that’s SLIG for short) will be holding their annual genealogical institute on January 23-27, 2012.  Five day courses are offered in tracks and taught by some of the best educators in the field of genealogy.  (Oh, I wish I were planning to go!) It is definitely on my list of genealogical institutes to attend “sometime”.  Samford’s IGHR is another institute I hope to attend.
While I have no current plans to go, I put together my top three choices for course tracks for if I did go. I would put Course 8: Beyond the Library: Using Original Source Repositories being taught by John Colletta.  Over the past few months I have researched in rural county courthouses and discovered this has become one of my favorite ways to research. I would like to learn more about using other original source repositories.  (I have also never taken a class by John Colletta that wasn’t great!)

Course 10: Advanced Evidence Analysis Practicum taught by Angela McGhie would be a wonderful course to take.  As a genealogist, one can never get enough “hands on” analysis practice.  Being able to talk it through with other genealogists can prove to be very helpful.

A few years ago I attended the NCGS (North Carolina Genealogical Society) Fall workshop on using land records.  I was fortunate to hear Rick Sayre present several lectures on this subject.  I was just starting out and learned so much those two days.   He and his wife Barbara Sayre will be teaching Course 11: Advanced Research Tools: Land Records.  This is an area I would like to strengthen my skills.

Those would be my top three choices if I were actually going to SLIG 2012.  (A girl can dream, can’t she?)  Actually all of the course tracks look fantastic.  To pick three favorites, much less just one to actually attend would prove difficult.

To find out more information about SLIG, check out their website at . If you are a blogger and would like to participate in SLIG's blog contest you can find the rules here.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Reunion - Is It Time?

Ever since I started tracing family lines, I have dreamed of organizing a family reunion.  I confess the thought excites me, but also has me a little anxious!  (Okay, maybe a lot anxious.)  Other than hosting children's birthday parties and the occasional family Christmas, hosting large events has not been high on my priority list.

But it's time.

I thought I would start with the Howard (or Harward) family.  There are a number of cousins (on the direct and collateral lines) who still live in the area where the Howards settled in North Carolina.  Organizing a reunion in North Carolina seems a little less daunting for my first one than trying to organize one out of state.

Here's where I ask for help/suggestions from those of you who have done this! 
(Thanks to those cousins who have already given me some great ideas!)

What is the best time of year to have a reunion?  Summers are usually more flexible for families, but it sure is hot that time of year.

What are some fun ways to share the family history?

What are your tips and tricks to a successful reunion?

Haley Cousins -- Don't feel left out!  You're next on my list, so be thinking!


Sunday, October 9, 2011

For Shakespeare Lovers

Charles Johnstone MacBeth

Someone in my house is a Shakespeare fan, so I could not resist taking a photograph of this tombstone in the First Presbyterian Church in Charleston, SC.


Eldest Son of 
Hon. Chas MacBeth
and Henrietta G. Ramenel
his wife.
Born Dec. 22nd 1835.
Died April 30th 1880.
A devoted son and fond husband
An esteemed and valued citizen
and friend

Thursday, October 6, 2011

I'm Published!

Two years ago I attended a Cousins' Weekend where I presented the Howard (Harward) and the Maddox genealogies. When I had the opportunity to attend Cousins' Weekend again this year, I wanted to share more of our family history.

About who? And how?

The "who" question was obvious - Mattie Maddox Howard.  Mattie is my great grandmother and my cousins' grandmother.  Sadly none of us knew her.

The "how" question proved a little more daunting.  I wanted to write a book.  Never mind I had never done this  and didn't know where to start. I did the only thing I knew to do. I just started writing.

And now I've completed it.

My goal has been accomplished.  I am a published author! (My children were impressed at least!)

Excerpt from Mattie's Story:

As a child, I frequently visited my grandfather's attic.  It was always lots of fun to see the Christmas decorations stored away or the knick knacks my grandmother put away for another day.  But always, I studied the portrait of my great grandmother Mattie Howard that was stored up there.  I wondered about her.  Perhaps I thought if I stared at her portrait long enough and concentrated hard enough, she would tell me her secrets.....

Mattie didn't tell me her secrets in that attic, but her portrait did spark a curiosity that years later started my pursuit to discover who my great grandmother really was.

Mattie's Story can be ordered from

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Worship At Moore Union

I had an opportunity this weekend to worship at Moore Union Christian Church in Lee County, NC.

Moore Union is the church where my maternal grandfather Lester Howard attended as a child. Multiple generations of Howards, Letts, and Womacks have worshipped here over the years. Many in the small cemetery beside the church are my ancestors. It was a treat to worship in the same church where four generations before me did the same.

The Moore Union congregation welcomed my cousins and myself warmly and graciously into their midst. We appreciate their hospitality.

(I even met a cousin.)
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Monday, October 3, 2011

October Is Family History Month

It is hard to believe that September has come to a close and October is here.  I know that fall officially started at the end of September, but it never feels like fall to me until October.  (Maybe that's because I am still wearing shorts in September!)

October also begins Family History month.  In looking at family history month resources on the internet, I came across the Family History site for the State Library of NC.

Their site has an incredible number of resources available.  If your ancestors have North Carolina roots, be sure to visit their site.  Links to many of NC's resources including historical maps and newspapers of the state.  Links to family Bibles as well as funeral home records/obituaries are there, too.

Lots of fun facts are included as well. For example,  did you know that Elvis Presley's ancestors came to NC in the 1740's?

As you celebrate Family History Month, don't forget to interview the relatives that you do know!  Oral histories provide a such a rich background to our research.