Smoky Mountain Family Historian

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Visiting West Point

Today I went in search of some of my deceased Thornton relatives in the West Point area.  I made stops at the circuit & chancery offices where I gathered marriage records and obituaries from the old newspapers, the library where I verified the cemetery plot info on a map and browsed some local history items, and Greenwood Cemetery where I photographed some markers.  Then I went and met a "live" cousin I'd never met before!  All in all - it was a successful day!

Monday, July 26, 2004

Miscellaneous Ramblings

Last week I attended the Itawamba Historical Society's Meeting where Roy Turner did a presentation on preserving documents and photographs on Tuesday night.  Then on Thursday, I met with a group of members of Monroe County Historical Society and then with the entire society in the evening at a "reorganizational meeting."  I spoke to them on things that historical societies were doing in various locations.  The good news is that the society is collecting dues again and the 1997 issue of their publication is now at press.  I hope a lot of people get behind it and help get it back on track so that researchers of history and genealogy in the county will be assisted.

While I was over in Aberdeen, I visited the Evans Memorial Library and stumbled across a resource that gave me a much needed clue on a Thornton collateral line.  Earlier this summer I had found a book of transcriptions of Clay County cemeteries in the Amory library and had found my great grandfather's half-brother's burial location in McPherson Cemetery.  Upon a visit to this cemetery, I discovered that there was an empty grave next to his.  I assumed that his wife Ida was buried in the unmarked grave although I could find no indication there was a footmarker such as the one Jim had.  I knew that one of his sons was buried in Memorial Gardens in West Point but when I visited that site there did not appear to be any family markers there except that one family plot with 3 graves.  I knew that the Greenwood Cemetery was not included in the cemetery book, but I didn't realize that it had been previously surveyed and published.  In that book, I looked in the index thinking that perhaps some of Jim's children or grandchildren might be buried there.  I discovered that his son Cliff and Cliff's second wife were buried there, daughter (or more likely step-daughter) Alice was there also in a grave next to Jim's wife Ida!  I'm not really sure why Ida was not buried next to Jim but now I need to make a trip to West Point to get obituaries (now that I have dates) and to photograph these additional markers.  You just never know what you'll find!  I would have probably never noticed this book if the tables of books that had accumulated had been shelved.  I guess this is one of those serendipitous finds!

Friday, July 16, 2004

Mississippi History & Genealogy Notes

I've been kind of neglecting this blog because I started a new one specifically for folks researching historical and genealogical stuff in Mississippi.  It is called Mississippi History & Genealogy Notes.  I think it will serve a great need for Mississippi researchers.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Everton's Bites the Dust

Everton's has gone out of business. They are the publishers of the Handy Book for Genealogists which has gone through numerous revisions over the years as well as Everton's Family History Magazine, formerly known as Genealogical Helper. It's kind of sad to see such an old standby cease to exist. I read the alert on Genealogy Blog today. I wonder how subscriptions will be filled or refunded. I hope news is forthcoming soon! I should have known when they were selling the latest edition of Handy Book dirt cheap from their web site recently that something was amiss!

Very Nicely Documented Web Site

I was surfing the web last night and came across a very nicely documented web site which contained information on my Ward family from New England. It was created by Robert Roy and is called The Roy Genealogical File. It is nice to stumble across a site such as this one. I came to be surfing for my Ward family because I had been cataloging a book entitled "The Life, Ministry, and Journals of Hezekiah Smith: Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Haverhill, Massachusetts, 1765 to 1805 and Chaplain in the American Revolution 1775 to 1780." The book was written by John David Broome (with the exception of the actual journals which were written by Smith himself and transcribed by Broome). It has been published by Particular Baptist Press in Springfield, Missouri this year (2004). In the journals, Smith writes about having attended the second ordination of my ancestor Rev. Nathan Ward, a Congregational minister who later became affiliated with the Separatists, most of whom later merged with the Baptists. I was delighted to find this first-hand account of contact with my ancestor and was quite motivated to find new information on this line that I really had not worked on. I really enjoy working on my New England lines even though many of them are more distantly related because of the plethora of records available for the researcher. With my Southern lines I frequently run up against brick walls because of the paucity of records because of a combination of poorer record keeping and the "burned county syndrome." Sometimes I think some of my ancestors are the ones who set fire to those courthouses so that I couldn't find them. Ever feel that way? Every once in awhile you'll find one more evidence of their existence and pursue that lead until the well runs dry there and you have to find a new one to get another burst to the research, all the while hoping that you are chipping away at that wall.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

South Carolina Genealogical Society Summer Workshop

I was reading the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (Tupelo, Miss.)online edition and read about a workshop being held this next weekend in Columbia, SC hosted by the South Carolina Genealogical Society. This annual summer workshop will be held July 9 and 10, 2004 at the South Carolina Archives and History Center. Several of the sessions look very good. Persons doing African-American research in South Carolina should pay special attention to this event as the keynote address and several of the sessions are devoted to topics of interest for those doing so.

4th of July

On holidays, I often wonder how some of our ancestors celebrated these in the past. This past week, I was typing up some pages from a book published in 1881 that described the first 4th of July celebration in the town of Ashland, Wisconsin. One of the highlights of the day was the reading of the Declaration of Independence. It made me wonder when the last time most Americans have heard the words to this important document of our history. I knew I had not read it in years -- probably since I had to read it for a history class in undergraduate days -- or possibly even high school. I decided that I'd better read it again myself to truly appreciate the freedoms we as Americans enjoy. I invite you to also read the Declaration of Independence of the United States. It gave me a renewed sense of what my ancestors lived through during the Colonial Period of the U. S.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Queries

As a USGenWeb county coordinator, I see a lot of queries written by people who are new to genealogy and who make all sorts of errors when they are asking for assistance. I had one the other day where the person had erased the county name from the message line. On the hyperlinks on my pages, I always add the county name so that when a person sends an email I have an idea in which county they are asking for help since I have several counties in multiple states. On this particular one, the person was asking me for assistance in a place that I knew was not connected with any of my counties, and I had no idea which site the person had visited. It turns out - the person was researching in counties further south in that particular state and appeared to have no connection with any of my counties. The person also asked me if anyone was researching her ancestor. There were surname registries available on the site (of course, she was in the wrong county) and links to message boards and mailing lists (and their archives), but even the absence of a name in one of these online sources doesn't mean no one is researching that person. It just means that no one has registered the surname or written a query regarding him. Oh well, enough on the subject of bad queries. A good query will identify the person on which one is seeking information, dates or approximate dates, location, and other helpful facts which might produce a lead.