Saturday, August 29, 2009

SNGF: Ancestors I Met

Randy has challenged us to name the ancestors we had an opportunity to meet in tonight's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun.

Since I don't want to name living ancestors, I will omit my parents, but that is 2.

The only others I met were my 4 grandparents. That's what I get for being born so long after my brothers!

Paternal Grandparents:

James Thomas "Tom" Thornton (1893-1977). He lived in Monroe County, Mississippi his entire life.

Nona Josiah "Jodie" Fowlkes (1894-1974). She lived in Monroe County, Mississippi her entire life as well. Interesting story of how she got her middle name. Her father died the night before she was born so she was named for him.

Maternal Grandparents:

Irving Lee Lantz (1885-1971). He was born in McLean County, Illinois and moved to Monroe County, Mississippi in late 1896. He actually did not have a "real name" but the family just called him "Mose" or "Moses." Before he moved to Mississippi, he named himself after a traveling salesman who came by his father's dry goods store in Carlock.

Gillie Mae Hester (1893-1993). She lived in Monroe County, Mississippi her entire life. She was a twin, but her twin Lillie Faye died at nine months of age. "Nanny" as all of us grandkids called her had been kicked in the eye by a horse as a child, and there was noticeable damage around her eye area from that childhood injury. She lived a long life, but she didn't quite make it long enough for Willard Scott to recognize her.

So - I met a total of 6 of my ancestors. That's fewer than Randy. My older brothers only met one of their great grandparents, but both were probably too young to remember the encounter as they would have been aged 2 years 5 months and aged 5 months respectively.

I'm glad Randy's genealogy fun was quick and easy tonight because I've got to finish the laundry and get started packing. My presentations for FGS are all finalized. I hope to meet some of you. I'll be the one running around most of the time.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Discovering a New Web Site Today

First of all, let me say that this is my 1000th blog post! I never dreamed that my 1000th blog post would be about a Web site and how I discovered it, but here it is!

As I was driving home from church today, I got behind a SUV (or it may have been a mini-van -- I honestly don't remember) that had a most unusual back window. Sprawled across the back of it was a URL, a huge tree, and 4 gravestones. The gravestones are enough to catch the attention of almost any genealogist. [The four markers on the back of the window contained 3 men who are dead and whose bones remain interred and One who only needed a borrowed tomb for a short period of time before He rose again! He wasn't there long enough to have a marker.]

Naturally, I had to check out the Web site when I got home. It is called and is a cemetery photographing project. It presently offers photographs of 205 cemeteries in six states -- California, Georgia, Idaho, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah. From the FAQ, it appears that they are charging for the site but will be providing free access at Family History Centers and to persons who submit headstone photos. What they call "core information" will be free even though there would be a charge for viewing the photos. I'm really not sure that a fee-charging cemetery photo site will be around for long when there are other places online where persons may view photos for free. I did look at one photo, and the quality of the image did not appear to be high enough for me to want to pay to access others.

I really don't know much about the site or the persons operating it other than the fact that they were driving down Highway 11E in front of me today. The site really appears to have been neglected recently as the most up-to-date note on the progress blog is over a year old.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

On Heritage Festivals

As I was reading through some news feeds that came into my blog reader today, I noticed a story about a Heritage Fest. I will not name the location or the newspaper in which the story appeared because this is not a post about that locality or that paper's coverage of that event at all, but more of a reflection on what a Heritage Festival should be. However, it appeared to me that the festival had very little to do with heritage. As presented in the story, all of the events seemed to have more to do with the present than with the past or with American culture rather than ethnic heritage. There were a few accompanying pictures which seemed to collaborate the conclusion I had drawn.

I began to think about things that I might expect in a Heritage Festival. I will start with what I perceive to be the purpose of such a festival. A heritage festival should either connect one with the early settlers of an area or celebrate the ethnic heritage of the settlers of an area.

How can one achieve the purpose? Let's look at a few ideas.

Live demonstrations - I've seen people demonstrate the various jobs that people might have had in settlement periods. Someone might show how a blacksmith made horseshoes or other items. Another person might demonstrate how a grist mill operated. (This, of course, is assuming that there is a preserved and operational mill in the area.) Someone could demonstrate older methods of farming and planting. Someone might show spinning. Another might demonstrate making lye soap. Quilting, needlework, etc. could also be demonstrated. A demonstration of a one room schoolhouse could also be included. There are many other methods to achieve this.

Speakers - Speakers could provide talks on various subjects related to everyday life, to the history and settlement of the area, to the ethnicity of the area, etc. Of course as a genealogist, I'd like to see one of the speakers address the subject of finding one's own family history. Speakers could also include storytellers who can relate the heritage of the area in an entertaining manner.

Drama - A play based on the settlement of the area or about one of immigration to the area could certainly be a huge hit with the crowds.

Rides or Transportation Exhibits - Wagon rides, train rides, stagecoach rides, or horseback rides would be appropriate for many areas. Places near bodies of water might want to offer a few more options involving old ships and boats, rafts, ferries, etc. If making the ride available will not work out, at least make some exhibits available.

Exhibits - Exhibits of farm implements, old needlework, quilts, old artwork, medical implements (and maybe even leeches), spinning wheels, early laundry items, old cookstoves, animal hides, historic hunting equipment, historic portraits and photographs, things people might have brought from the "old country," etc.

Food - No festival is complete without food! Have foods that the settlers of an area or the ethnic immigrants to the area might have eaten.

While this is certainly not a comprehensive list, it does provide a few options that might have truly made the festival into one which truly celebrated heritage.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

StoryCorps is coming to the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference: Make your reservation today!

StoryCorps, an independent nonprofit project whose mission is to honor and celebrate one another’s lives through listening, is coming to 2009 Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference in Little Rock, Arkansas on September 2-4.

By recording the stories of our lives with the people we care about, we experience our history, hopes, and humanity. Since 2003, tens of thousands of everyday people have interviewed family and friends through StoryCorps. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to take home and share, and is archived for generations to come at the Library of Congress. Millions listen to our award-winning broadcasts on public radio and the Internet. StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind, creating a growing portrait of who we really are as Americans.

To learn more about StoryCorps visit their website. <>

Visit the FGS Conference Blog for full details on making a reservation.

One important reminder -- Wednesday, August 26th is the last day to register online for the conference. You may still register at the door beginning at 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 1st. Visit FGS' website at to register.

Genealogical Spam?

Lately I've been receiving some "newsletters" from a company called [I am not going to make the link active for reasons which can be deduced from reading the remainder of this post.] I've been to a number of national conferences and never recall seeing them at one of these conferences. (That doesn't mean that my memory is not failing me, but I really don't recall seeing this company present.) According to their newsletter which offers mostly publications which one are available from, they are headquartered in Dover, Arkansas. Since they are located in the same state as this year's FGS conference, I would expect to find a legitimate company listed among the exhibitors for the Little Rock conference. Were they on the list? No. The "slight" discount they are offering (for one title it is about 3%) is not worth the risk of doing business with what appears to be a company of questionable reputation. I've located comments on this company dating back about 5 years calling into question their "spamming." The general consensus seems to be that this company harvests e-mail addresses of persons interested in family history and "spams" them with their newsletters. I think I'd prefer to do business with a company that I trust. I'm more likely to trust a company which exhibits at a national conference. Spamming me with unsolicited e-mails advertising products (even products in which I may have an interest in purchasing) is not going to cause me to purchase them from a company about which I know nothing.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Has My Personality Changed?

Several of my Facebook friends had taken a quiz that was based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. I've taken the real MBTI probably at least a half-dozen times (usually in a group setting), and my result has always been ENTP. Just for fun, I decided to take the Facebook quiz which is shorter than the actual MBTI questionnaire. To my surprise, I got a different result this time. I tested as an ENFP. That's only one marker difference, but when I'd actually taken the real questionnaire the last time (about 10 years ago), I had been a fairly strong "T." Needless to say, my result caught me by surprise. I remembered from some of my counseling classes that persons do sometimes differently, but it's usually on the markers that are borderline and not on one which tested fairly strong. I decided to take the quiz again just to make sure that I was really marking the way I would really react/feel. Once again I tested as ENFP. I began to question whether the quiz makers had omitted some of the questions that would affect my result. I had seen other people commenting that they usually tested as a T but had tested as an F this time. I went to the Myers-Briggs web site and read the T vs. F description. I saw myself more in the T than the F description there, but I could certainly see some F there. I contemplated taking the full version of the test online, but being the frugal person that I am, I decided it wasn't worth about $60 to determine if the Facebook quiz was flawed. I did, however, have one last recourse. I remembered that I still had an MBTI book from the late 1980s upstairs that discussed each personality profile in depth. I read through their description of T vs. F and decided that I really probably matched slightly better with an F than a T now. I read through their descriptions of both ENTP and ENFP and decided that I more closely resemble an ENFP than an ENTP nowadays. I guess people do change! In my case, I suppose that I've "softened" a little bit. I guess that having more empathy never hurt anyone, so I'll just go ahead and be happy with my result. Now (with my most recent MBTI results in mind) - which new genealogy project should I tackle before completing the others I have started?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

East Tennessee Regional Preservation Conference

In today's mail, I got a brochure for a local conference that looks quite interesting. It's called "East Tennessee Regional Preservation Conference 2009." This year's theme is "The Peaceful Side of Preservation." For those of you who don't know it, this is a play on an advertising campaign that the region around Townsend in Blount County and Wears Valley in Sevierville have. In that campaign, they advertise that they are the "Peaceful Side of the Smokies." It appears that Knox Heritage is the main sponsor for the conference. Registration for the two day event which will be held September 18-19, 2009 at the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center in Townsend is only $30 and includes a full year's membership in the East Tennessee Preservation Association. I'm quite excited about Friday's presentation on the town of Jonesborough. This is Tennessee's oldest town, and they've done a good job there in making that area come alive through preservation of both buildings and traditions such as storytelling. Saturday afternoon there is a workshop called "An Archaeological Perspective on Historic Cemetery Studies" which should be very interesting as well. These are just a couple of the sessions offered. The $30 for the conference and membership seems like a real bargain! (By the way, the student rate is $20.)

Saturday, August 08, 2009

SNGF: 16 Great-Great-Grandparents

Randy has posted our Saturday night genealogy fun question(s):

1) List your 16 great-grandparents in pedigree chart order. List their birth and death years and places.

2) Figure out the dominant ethnicity or nationality of each of them.

3) Calculate your ancestral ethnicity or nationality by adding them up for the 16 - 6.25% for each (obviously, this is approximate).

4) If you don't know all 16 of your great-grandparents, then do it for the last full generation you have.

5) Write your own blog post, or make a comment on Facebook or in this post.

Here are my 16 greats:
  1. James M. Thornton (b. 16 Mar 1825, Jefferson Co., Ala.; d. 27 Aug 1913, Monroe Co., Miss.)
  2. Lucinda Aldridge (b. abt. 1826-27, Alabama; d. 4 Sept 1855, Fayette Co., Ala.)
  3. Thomas Duke (b. abt. 1828-29, Virginia; d. 1894, Monroe Co., Miss.)
  4. Nancy/Nora Malinda Allred (b. 3 May 1843, prob. Shelby Co., Tenn.; d. 27 Nov 1926, Monroe Co., Miss.)
  5. John E. Fowlkes (b. 3 Nov 1818, prob. Monroe Co., Miss.; d. 21 Aug 1862, Monroe Co., Miss.)
  6. Elizabeth Parish (b. 17 Sept 1823, Virginia; d. 25 Oct 1896, Monroe Co., Miss.)
  7. William David Phillips (b. abt. 1835-36, Alabama; d. Unknown)
  8. Mary Elizabeth Fowlkes (b. 29 Mar 1843, Monroe Co., Miss.; d. Unknown)
  9. Levi Lantz (b. 21 Jan 1811, Mifflin Co., Penn.; d. 23 Apr 1887, McPherson Co., Kans.)
  10. Barbara Yoder (b. abt. 1817, Centre Co., Penn.; d. 14 Feb 1870, Howard Twp., Howard Co., Ind.)
  11. Stephen Taylor (b. 28 Feb 1814, Marietta, Washington Co., Ohio; d. 20 Jun 1881, Hudson, McLean Co., Ill.)
  12. Betsey Dearborn (b. 4 Sept 1818, Malta, Morgan Co., Ohio; d. 12 Mar 1899, Oklahoma Territory (buried in what is now Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Co., Okla.))
  13. John H. Hester (b. 28 Dec 1812, South Carolina; d. 14 Nov 1879, Monroe Co., Miss
  14. Nancy Cockrell (b. 1 Feb 1825, Greene Co., Ala.; d. 11 Feb 1907, Monroe Co., Miss.)
  15. Walton A. Harris (b. 12 Nov 1812, prob. Wayne Co., Ky.; d. 24 Aug 1897, Itawamba Co., Miss.)
  16. Margaret Mosely/Mosley/Mozley (b. 15 May 1822, Bedford Co., Tenn.; d. 14 Feb 1902, Itawamba Co., Miss.)

Of these sixteen, two are Amish and of Swiss origin. All others that I have "back across the pond" are British. It appears that the Hesters are of British Isles origin, but I cannot rule out German. Most people claim that the immigrant Fowlkes was born in Denbighshire, Wales, but it appears that they may have been in London before coming to America and no records supporting the Welsh origin have been found. It is possible that some of the brickwalled lines are of Scots-Irish origin, but nothing has been proven, and an English origin is also possible. It is, therefore, impossible to do a percentage of ethnicity calculation because of the difficulty of researching Southern lines. I can say that I'm 1/8 (or 12.5%) Swiss based on my 16 great-grandparents. I can also say that I'm more than 50% English. I will make no claims on the remainder. Maybe I should just say that I'm 100% American as all of my lines were in the United States before we became a nation and because all of my great-grandparents were "born in the U.S.A." (Someone should write a song!)

Choosing a Y-DNA Testing Company

Many of you know that I've recently assumed the role as administrator of the Thornton Y-DNA Project. In the short time in which I've been administrator, I've already encountered several people who have regretted their choice of DNA testing companies. Why? Because they chose what they thought was a good deal on a DNA test.

I'm going to let you in on a little secret. You need to consider what your goals are when selecting a Y-DNA testing company. If your goal is to find matches with others having your same surname, then you need to find out which company that project is using.

The Thornton Y-DNA project uses FamilyTreeDNA. This decision was made years ago. Since that time, many other companies have come onto the scene. It's tempting to test with one of those when the price looks better. The problem is that by testing with another company, you have missed out on joining the surname DNA project and having your results in a common database for comparison. There are some options out there like Y-Search which allow persons who have tested with other companies to compare results and upload GEDCOMS, but it still does not make one a member of a surname project. FamilyTreeDNA will not put the results from other testing companies in the surname project databases for quality assurance reasons. (They, of course, have provided Y-Search as a comparison tool, but they still encourage persons who tested with other companies to have tests redone at a discounted rate. The link is available at Y-Search.) I would be remiss if I did not point out that FamilyTreeDNA does offer a Genographic Project conversion option which allows one to join a surname project in the process of transferring data.

Most of the DNA testing companies run specials from time to time. Be on the lookout for one of these great deals. Many of the project administrators will post this information to their project web sites (so keep checking those sites). Some will also post to messages boards or mailing lists if they are allowed to do so. (It's probably a little difficult to promote a FamilyTreeDNA test on a message board or mailing list hosted at competitor Ancestry, so you might want to check GenForum for those notifications.)

If you plan to join a surname project, get your Y-DNA testing done by the company they have selected. Don't make the mistake others have made by going with what outwardly appears to be a good deal but might not provide the desired outcome of your testing.

Friday, August 07, 2009

2009 East Tennessee History Fair

At the East Tennessee History Center , Krutch Park , and various downtown sites

August 22, 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

The East Tennessee Historical Society will celebrate our region’s history in a big way in Downtown Knoxville. On August 22 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., bring your friends and family to join in the excitement. Activities will include a living history timeline, historical and genealogical groups from our 35 counties, live traditional music, historical craft demonstrations, storytelling, children’s activities including Davy Crockett’s birthday party, trolley tours to downtown’s historic homes, old movies at the Bijou Theatre, Market Square Farmers Market, tours of the new exhibitions Voices of the Land: the People of Tennessee and Mountain Splendor: Art and Artists of the Great Smoky Mountains, 1850-1950, and much, much more. The event is free to the public.

The East Tennessee History Fair is sponsored by the Knoxville Central Business Improvement District (CBID) and Clayton Bank and Trust. The East Tennessee History Center is located at 601 S. Gay Street , Knoxville 37902 . For more information call 865.215.8824 or visit Look for more to come on this event in Newsline and future emails.