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Taking Back What Was Once Lost

Posts in category Records, Resources and Tools

U.S. Colored Troops

U.S. Colored Troops

For many years now, I’ve been interested in researching U.S. Colored Troops who served in Union forces from the communities where my family lived. Most people know by now that almost 200,000 black people, slaves and free blacks, served in the Union Army and Navy. The Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863 finally began the process of […]

Are You Using Your Genealogical and H...

Are You Using Your Genealogical and Historical Society?

Your local Genealogical and Historical Society could be holding the key to important pieces of your research. Although the web has certainly enabled me to find things I’m not sure I would have found otherwise, I’m clear that the bulk of records I need are not online and likely never will be. This blog’s title […]

Tips on Using World War Draft Registr...

Tips on Using World War Draft Registrations

World War Draft Registrations (World War I and World War II) are some of the most valuable tools in genealogy research. The World War I draft registration is one of the earliest records I used in my research. Their easy access on today, along with part of the draft registration for World War II, […]

Freedmens Bureau Jewels: “They ...

Freedmens Bureau Jewels: “They are a rather worthless couple.”

Familysearch quietly released three more sets of Freedmens Bureau Field Office records: Kentucky, Georgia, and this month Louisiana. Now, the Bureau field office records for all southern states  are online, free for viewing! That is : Alabama, Arkansas, Washington, D.C., Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Delaware, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. Sign […]

The Application for a Marriage Licens...

The Application for a Marriage License

This summer I discussed the little known records usually called Petition for Letters. I discussed how this record, when found, often names all known heirs of a deceased individual. A similarly useful record is the Application for a Marriage License. We all seek out marriage records for our ancestors, and I have previously talked about the […]

Slave Distributions

Slave Distributions

One of the most important pieces of information those of us researching enslaved ancestors need to know is how the slaves are distributed after the owner’s death. If we’re lucky, there’s a will that tells us to whom each slave is bequeathed. Most of the time, there’s not. There are many wills that simply say […]

Slave Research in Tennessee Bibles

Slave Research in Tennessee Bibles

Slave research is a little easier in Tennessee. The Tennessee State Archives and Library (TSLA) is one of the country’s best, and the service I have received over the years from its dedicated employees has been magnificent. They just finished digitizing and uploading hundred of bibles in their collection. I spent some time perusing through the […]

Freedmens Bureau Labor Contracts

Freedmens Bureau Labor Contracts

Familysearch is rolling with Freedmens Bureau Records. They now have Field Office Records digitized for Alabama, Arkansas, District of Columbia, Maryland, Delaware, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia! I have been looking at Alabama, which is one of my research states, and I am struck by several things. Labor Contracts are one […]

Documenting the Slaveowner in Your Ge...

Documenting the Slaveowner in Your Genealogy Software

How do you document the slaveowner in your research? Here are two ideas from my own toolbox: Create separate family trees for each slaveowning family within your genealogy software. Most people never use the feature available in most software to do this. I use Rootsmagic, but this capability is available in most all the recent software. Just […]

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About Me

I blog, teach, write and lecture about family history research and it's just as rewarding today as it was when I began 18 years ago. This lifelong quest has helped me to better know my past and I've taken back--reclaimed- my kin and some of that lost memory.  

Post History

What I Talk About

Locations and Surnames

Hardin, Chester and Lawrence Counties, TN
Holt, Barnes, Harbour, Bradley Springer and Fendricks
Lawrence County, AL
Springer and Fendricks
Montgomery County, MD
Prather, Simpson
Somerset County, MD
Waters, Fountain, Curtis
Duval and Madison County, FL
Smith, Harris, Garner

Favorite Family History Quotes

"The past is not dead. In fact, it's not even past."
-William Faulkner

"Call it a clan, call it a network, all it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one"
- Jane Howard

"Friends are God's apologies for relations."
-Hugh Kingsmill

"No matter what you've done for yourself or for humanity, if you can't look back on having given love and attention to your own family, what have you really accomplished?"
-Elbert Hubbard

"Families are like fudge; mostly sweet with a few nuts."

"If you can't get rid of the skeleton in your closet, you might as well make it dance!"

"Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city;)"
-George Burns

"Where does the family start? It starts with a young man falling in love with a girl. No superior alternative has yet been found."
-Winston Churchill

"The great gift of family life is to be intimately acquainted with people you might never ever introduce yourself to had life not done it for you."
-Kendall Hailey

"If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all the generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people."
-Thich Nhat Hanh