I’m Back – Vacation was Great.

   After a couple weeks vacation, I am back home.  The vacations was wonderful.  The highlight for me was a presentation to the “Aunties” about the Darling Family.  I’ve been working on their tree for quite some time and developed a “life book” ala Henry Louis Gates’ “Finding your Roots.”  It went over extremely well.  They have the life book and a biography of each of their ancestors on their Father’s side that I could find as well as a CD containing copies of the images of all the documents used to do the book.  I also did a slide show out of key highlights of their family tree.

   Also, while there I took photos of many photos, letters, and documents that I hadn’t seen before as well as recorded conversations with many of the Aunties.  I will have hours and hours of work to incorporate the information into my records, but it will be fun.

   We did some shopping at Reny’s – A Maine Adventure. I usually hate shopping, but Reny’s t is always a pleasure. They carry a lot of “manly stuff,” Carhartt, Pendleton, and Woolrich — In sizes that fit me.  I picked up a new fedora and suspenders.  I love Reny’s.

   My wife and I then attended the wedding of her niece, SH.  It was a beautiful event out on Casco Bay (Portland, ME).  Another event for my records with photos.

   My wife then visited with her best friend since the 8th grade, EB.  It was a great to see her again.  We laughed long enough and hard enough to cause my side to hurt. We were able to turn on EB and her husband to TED Talks. There is one we call “Amy the Unicorn” that my wife and I find amazing.  Fun to watch, extremely interesting, and even enlightening. It has nothing to do with genealogy, but is  well worth watching See it on TED.

   We then followed my wife’s passion and went stalking the wild tormaline, appetite, and other stones at various quarries in Maine through Poland Mining Camps.  The food was excellent, the beds comfortable, and my wife was extremely happy with the rocks she collected.

   I’ve still got a lot of followup to do after the vacation, catch up on email, incorporate photos into iPhoto and categorize them. But soon it will be back to my normal life and I’ll be able to support the Smyrna Historical and Genealogical Society, work on my genealogy, and, of course, blog here.

Lives and Times – July-Aug 2012

I recently joined the Smyrna Historical and Genealogical Society (SHaGS) and received my first issue of their official publication, Lives and Times. The issue, Vol. 27, No. 4 – July/August 2012 was very informative and interesting.
The cover, and three-page, article is about the dedication of the Taylor/Brawner House and Brawner Hospital – Smyrna’s first National Register of Historic Places. The article has many pictures and “call-outs” of people who attended. There were descendants of the Taylor family (I’m not a relation), lots of elected officials, many SHaGS members and lots other people. I was unable to attend, due to another commitment, but it sure looks like they had a great time. 
The next article regards the SHaGS meeting of June 28, 2012. Professor Tom Scott, of Kennesaw University, talked about the impact of the Bell Bomber Plant coming to Smyrna in the 1940’s. Lockheed took it over in the 1950’s. It fueled the economy of Smyrna and Cobb County for decades.
Next was a New Member section. I forgot that they had taken a photo of me in the museum research room. It is an okay photo. They got some of my history a little incorrect, all of the elements are correct, it is just some of the timings of them are a bit off. Overall, I was very pleased to receive a full column of recognition. There is also a welcome to another new member, Cheryl Emmett Bennett. I really appreciate her membership, as she is who relieves me when my volunteer period is done. Thank you Cheryl both for your membership and for volunteering.
Next are mentions of individuals who have renewed or upgraded their membership in SHaGS.
The next section relates to donations. One was a 1954 postcard with a poem about Smyrna, Georgia. “The finest pace on this old Earth….” It is a lovely little 20-line poem. Also of interest are 18 scrapbooks of the Smyrna American Legion Auxiliary, Post 160. They go back to 1948. I definitely want to look at them during my next museum visit.
Next is a feature article, “From Kennesaw Mountain to the Chattahoochee River: General Johnston’s Lost Opportunity to Save Atlanta.” The five-page article, by William P. Marchione, is quite excellent. Thorough and insightful he discusses Johnston’s flawed strategy, and Francis Shoup’s development of Shoupades, sort of a small mini-fort unique to the Smyrna and Chattahoochee River area. This wonderful article series will be continued in the next issue of Lives and Times.  I’m not much of a civil war enthusiast but his article made me want to learn more. 
Finally, is a long, eleven-page section on “Visiting the Past” which can be an invaluable asset to genealogical researchers. This regular series, researched by Norma McHann, provides notes, obits, occurrences, and interesting historical and genealogical bits throughout Smyrna history taken from various newspapers and other documents at the museum. She stays focused on the two months of the particular issue but go back historically forty, fifty, sixty, seventy, eighty, ninety, 110, 120, 130, and 148 years ago. Some of the items are genealogically important, others are just interesting to read and can put life to a story. For example, [July 6, 1882] “Mr. Hester Haynes, of Atlanta, was buried that Smyrna Saturday afternoon.” to [Aug. 3, 1882] “The Methodists are preparing to build a new church in Smyrna.” The article finishes with a graduation program, and class roll, from the 1952 Senior Class of Campbell High School, which was the school’s first graduating class.
I was very impressed with Lives and Times. It is a great asset for anyone researching individuals from or background information regarding Smyrna, Georgia and a fun read.
For more information regarding SHaGS, please see www.SmyrnaHistory.org.

The Darling Family Story Project

I have been working on a “Darling Family Story” for the past several months and more intensely the past few weeks. I know it has been a while since I’ve done any serious blogging but this project has been a massive undertaking. I’ve done several hundred hours of work to put together information. All because of the “Aunties.” My mother-in-law comes from a fairly dysfunctional family. Her father had at least seven children with four different mothers, some of whom he married as well as a couple more wives with whom he didn’t have children. Anyway, most of his children never communicated with the children of his other wives/girlfriends. That is until recently. One of my mother-in-law’s half sisters is visiting her next month. They haven’t seen each other since 1943 or so. Another sister is visiting as well but they’ve been in contact much more frequently. They actually saw each other about 12 years ago or so. There is another half-sister that my mother-in-law hasn’t seen since the half-sister was a babe-in-arms. In addition, nobody knows anything about a fourth half-sister. The family only has a first name, not the last name. 

So, why all this background information? Well none of these sisters learned much about their father’s family. He pretty much ignored them while they were growing up and their mother’s didn’t speak of him either. Although his life has many interesting events, I thought it would be great to investigate his ancestors, something of which the Aunties know virtually nothing about. I’ve been doing that research for the past several months. I’ve come up with a lot of interesting information, photos, and stories that the Aunties and my mother-in-law will know nothing about.
I’ve printed out 25 photos or so and am mounting them in a “Life Book,” similar to what Louis Gates does in the “Finding Your Roots” TV Show, for each of them. I’ve written about 15 pages of prose about each of the ancestors going back to one of their eighth Great-Grandfathers. I’ve tried to make the writing come to life with bits of history tied to the time and place of the individual. To find the information I have I’ve done many Internet searches. I’ve ordered books on Interlibrary loan, I’ve read history books about the area they lived in order to hopefully glean a tiny bit of information. I even found a museum that has an interpretive display of one of the businesses owned by the Auntie’s great-grandfather. I’ve had reference libraries copy references to the family from their books and ordered documents from England. Overall, it has been a daunting task but I have really enjoyed it and have really honed my genealogical skills through the activities. I’ve become something of an armchair historian for a place I’ve never been (Kalamazoo, Michigan) and have learned a lot about the early colonial days that was never taught in school – some very ugly history. I’ve found the passport photo of a great-grandfather and connected with a second cousin, once removed of my wife.
Certainly, the way has had its brick walls. These Darlings came from near Rome New York about 1840. I can’t figure out which of several families were their ancestors. On the other hand, when I found one of the ancestors was a DAR registered patriot, a completely new set of ancestry information opened itself up. However, that requires me to do a lot more research to independently confirm all of the information that I have found. Anyway, the hard work is done for now. I only need to put together a CD of the source documents I’ve used to put together the story and paste the photos into albums for each of them. I expect I’ll add many of my findings to this blog after I present it to the Aunties and my mother-in-law, but we’ll see. I hope my research will trigger memories for these women that I should be able to capture for future work. Maybe they have a memory that hasn’t been remembered in decades that can be added to the story. 
I am excited about their visit. I have little doubt that they will appreciate the work I have done and I’m sure their grand children will really appreciate the work in the future.

Perseus Hopper – Richmond Times Dispatch 1860-1865

Sometimes you come across great sites for research while doing something entirely different. I went to the Perseus site at Tufts University to research some Greek Mythology.  I was amazed.  Besides the Primary and secondary sources for studying ancient Greece and Rome they have Issues of the Richmond Times Dispatch from Nov 1, 1860 through Dec 30, 1865. It is searchable in a number of different ways, including by name.  Of course, those issues of the Richmond Times Dispatch include lots of articles regarding the Civil War.  Taking a few moments away from my Greek mythology research, I dropped in my wife’s paternal great grandfather’s name.  Poof, it came back with a hit.  He was credited with capturing one of the Union’s regimental flags at the “The Crater” during the Siege of Petersburg. 

Wikipedia indicates that “The Crater” was a particularly horrific battle. The article indicates, 

“The prisoners taken will reach at least eleven hundred, including the wounded, who are at the Poplar Lawn Hospital, and being well cared for. The Yankee loss, all told, cannot fall short of five thousand men. Their officers, under flag of truce yesterday, acknowledged that they had about three thousand wounded in their hospitals. This, with eleven hundred prisoners and the seven hundred dead of the army, will very nearly approximate five thousand.”
Of course, as is often the case of war correspondence, the numbers appear bloated. Wikipedia indicates that Grant wrote,  

“Union casualties were 3,798 (504 killed, 1,881 wounded, 1,413 missing or captured), Confederate casualties were approximately 1,500 (200 killed, 900 wounded, 400 missing or captured).


In just a couple minutes the Richmond Times Dispatch through the Perseus Hopper added to my knowledge of the family history.
The Perseus Digital Library is definitely a site to add to your Civil War and Virginia searches. Check it out at: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/search 

Y-DNA – Post 1: Why I started down this path.

I have always wondered who my natural father was. Being the
illegitimate child of an illegitimate child has always made my perception of
father figures somewhat misty. My mother did not know her father during her
childhood. Her father child-napped her when she was three because he did not
care for how his former girlfriend was raising his daughter. His former
girlfriend (they were never married) sic’d the police on him. After he was
arrested for child-napping and spent prison time for the offense, he did not
try any longer to have a relationship with his daughter. It wasn’t until his
daughter became an adult and pursued a relationship with him that she grew to
know anything about him. They became close in a distant sort of way. Today, he
has passed and she would like to be interned next to him and near his mother
and father.

I wasn’t so lucky. My mother has no memory of who my father
was. I was the result of a date rape while she was visiting North Carolina
& South Carolina from Michigan. Certainly there was too much alcohol and
probably some other drug that night. In any event, she has no memory of who was
there that evening. I never had a name, not a first name, nor a last name; just
a pair of question marks. Of course growing up is tough when you don’t know
your father’s name. Even tougher is trying to figure out how to enter
information in forms to get a security clearance.

About five or six years ago, I began seeing ads for Y-DNA. Ways
to find cousins or others that are close genetic matches. I thought, “Well,
maybe the test could tell me some things and give me a starting point to figure
out who my natural father might be. The test started coming down in price and I
decided to go for it.

Being a member of Ancestry.Com I received the most
advertising from them. I did a comparison between them and other services
available at the time and decided to order the Ancestry.Com test. As I recall
there wasn’t much of a price difference between the 33 and the 46-marker test
so I ordered the 46. (Today’s prices at Ancestry.com are $149 for the 33 marker
and $179 for the 46 marker.) Therefore, back in the fall of 2008 I ordered the
test and waited with anticipation about what this journey might bring.