27 February 2010


Over time I've met a lot of people who want to find out if rumors that they are (their genetics that is) makes them part African-American, part Native American, part Jewish, or part Gypsy otherwise "not really White" or a person of "Color."

The reason they don't know for sure is that either their family members did not know, or they knew and kept it secret because these ethnic or racial aspects of their genetics were or are considered undesirable, even shameful. Now they look in the mirror and wonder.

I'm not trying to judge people who feel that they must keep it a secret that they are "part" of a group they can't relate to or maybe never even met. It may have been that by not telling the whole truth to children, the parents felt they were saving their children the hardships of prejudice which they themselves had experienced. It's no longer OK to call people names based on their ethnicity or race but many of us have memories of being around people who did call names, and thought nothing of it. Some people just thought that ethnic stereotypes were true.

For this reason, prejudice, ignorance, or covering truth, the reportage on census and other documents, birth, marriage, and death certificates may not be accurate.

I remember researching a family that came from North Carolina right near a Cherokee reservation and reading census page by page (which people who use databases tend not to bother with but which was standard operating procedure using microfilm) which really gave a sense of the neighborhood where a lot of families clearly stated off reservation that they were Cherokee, while others had children in categories of both White and Black rather that - it was later proven - just say they were Cherokee or of Native American descent. In some cases the genetic link to a Person of Color went back a couple generations. By this point the entire family was Baptist and socialized White. And various members of this family tree had stayed behind when the Trail of Tears happened while others helped round up the Indians to march.

It all reminds me of a Norman Rockwell painting of the red haired boy who has Cowboys and Indians in his heritage.

24 February 2010


There were hundreds of children who were adopted in Argentina during a dirty war... This breaking story will break your heart!

By MICHAEL WARREN, Associated Press Writer

"The Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo rights group believes about 400 children were stolen at birth from women who were kidnapped and killed as part of the 1976-1983 dictatorship's "dirty war" against political dissidents, which killed as many as 30,000 people.

Madariaga and his wife, Silvia Quintela, were members of the Montoneros, a leftist group targeted for elimination by government death squads. He last saw his wife — a 28-year-old surgeon who treated the poor in a Buenos Aires suburb — being pushed into a Ford Falcon by army officers dressed as civilians as she walked to a train on Jan. 17, 1977...

22 February 2010

New Television Genealogy Series FACES OF AMERICA

Starting last week, on PBS there Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. has a new genealogy TV series on public television called "Faces of America." We reviewed his book. Link now to the article from Good Morning America and the video of Gates talking about the series.

20 February 2010


This month has been designated "African-American" (or "Black") History month, so let's talk a bit about the Freedman Bank records - the database. This is the banking system (locations in very many places) where people who could for the first time own personal property went to bank. These banks did not last long - a couple years.

The original handwritten records were submitted to a database that is offered as a resource in many libraries. Using the records is as easy as submitting the surname and going from there. So far most of the names I've researched did not offer much information that I could use.

Please know that after the slaves were freed, they were allowed to choose their own name. First and Last. In some families the various members chose different surnames. Also some people tried on a surname and then changed it, just because they felt more comfortable about another name, because siblings had gotten together and decided on a name, or because they changed their mind about keeping the name of a plantation or master.

WHAT THIS MEANS IS that as your research progresses and your knowledge of family names progresses, you may wish to check the records again and again. I use the census and other records to try and establish a location with a name.

Also, some White people did put their money into a Freedman's Bank! I don't know why, maybe just the convenience of a location. Maybe because they were living with African-Americans.

(See my previous blogs on Henry Louis Gates!)

16 February 2010


Donald Yates link here! I still find reading around the Melungeon's (also called the Black Dutch) fascinating. This researcher along with Elizabeth Taylor Caldwell have some interesting ideas that may be proved by the latest in DNA!

15 February 2010

New Television Series "Who Do You Think You Are?”

A genealogy television series starting this week is "Who Do You Think You Are?" will air on NBC Friday nights... The series will feature the genealogy of Family histories of 12 famous Americans including Susan Sarandon and Spike Lee.

Link now to the NewsOK (Oklahoman on line) article about the show.

11 February 2010

From TRUE LOVE an anthology ROBERT FULGHUM editor and author

Robert Fulghum : "Have you noticed the part incredible coincidence and dumb luck play in these stories? ... We figure that we had a window of opportunity of about thirty seconds and would never ever have crossed paths again. ... She wishes she could rewind the film of her life and take a closer look at who was in some of the scenes with her. ... What one person might describe as the near-miss of a great love another person might call a close escape from a fate worse than death...

Christine of Ancestry Worship Genealogy here:

The best story in my opinion was sent in by Patrick Godfrey, His is a story of a man who was "physically, emotionally, and financially bankrupt years ago after a divorce and becoming the single parent of two sons aged nine and ten. He decided he had to find the first love of his life, "Margery," who he had spent his teenage years with.

Patrick Godfrey: "I reached for the South Bay telephone directory and began looking up people by Margery's maiden name... I felt very, very strongly about this - compelled to act. The next morning I left Rolling Hills at 7:30 a.m. to cross the Los Angeles basin for Hollywood, where I worked. For no apparent reason I decided to go a different way. I took a left, I headed for the San Diego Freeway, a direction I seldom went since it was a long way to get to work... As I approached the freeway along with millions of other commuters, I was stopped by the red light... While I was waiting a tan van pulled up alongside me and began honking... She raised her dark glasses up over her forehead and it was her! ... Margery!... I was stunned. I put my forehead on the steering wheel and began to cry..."

8 months later they were married.

The book is C 1997 the author published by HarperCollins

09 February 2010


Depreciation Lands? You may have seen this on old Platt Maps or a reference in a Land Grant, Will, or Historical text. (Link now to the Pittsburgh Pennsylvania historical library!)

Back during the Revolutionary War, many soldiers were solicited with a promise. If the war was won against Britain, and the land became the property of the fledgling government, the soldiers who could not be paid while active would be paid by being given a tract of land. These lands were granted and are DEPRECIATION LANDS... You see DEPRECIATION LANDS in THE ORIGINAL COLONIES, particularly in "frontier" places like Western Pennsylvania.

Now what I wonder is why they weren't called APPRECIATION LANDS!

07 February 2010


Don't you just envy those people who have their parent's love letters as part of their family history collection?