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.
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
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
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.
It seems that I left the best for last of the RootsTech videos (of those I intend to watch).
YouTube Your Family History
By Devin Ashby was extremely good. He spent a short time with background information about You Tube and then gave three ideas for ways to use You Tube. First was an Ancestor Video. Creating a life story for an individual can be wonderful. He does a great job of showing that a video might be much more interesting to family members than the boring trees and charts I love so much. He suggests some possible software applications that can be used to produce your video. He has great ideas, some of which will may the “Aunties Project” I’m working on much better. I think I can also use some of his ideas on some church videos. So his material was very useful.
He talks some about creating a website tour, where you provide sort of a guide to your website. I don’t think that is useful to me right now, but I’ll keep the idea in the back of my mind in the event it does become necessary.
Finally, he talked about creating a channel. He mentioned that having a channel can provide a way to make money from your videos. Of course, he mentions his channel, The Google Genealogist
which looks very good. I’ve subscribed and am looking forward to seeing more of his materials.
As a side note, in the background portion of his talk he mentions the YouTube Symphony
. I had vaguely heard of it but had never seen it. His mention spurred me to looking it up. It is really good. I’m playing it as background as I work and am enjoying it immensely.
In keeping with my goal to watch all of the presentations from this past RootsTech conference I decided to watch GeneTech: YDNA Solutions to Common Genealogical Problems by Nathan Murphy. The presentation was originally given at RootsTech but was re-recorded somewhere else (presumably at Family Search).
Because of my genetic history, I have a substancial interest in YDNA and using it as a tool for research.
Overall, the presentation had good material and was worth watching. He provided good information about various tests and potential reasons to select between Family Tree, Ancestry DNA, and GeneTree.
He also talked about places that allow for free uploads of your data, YSearch, GeneTree and Ancestry.
Nathan’s presentation style was quite stiff. He failed to engage the audience, and was quite apparently reading his material.
That said, most importantly his talk and discussion really made me want to document my DNA experiences. I think they are interesting, so, I plan to document my findings and experiences with both my Y-DNA and my autosomal DNA tests and their results. You will see the story of My DNA interspersed with my other posts.