joining daughters of the american revolution

Standing in front of the Sara De Soto Chapter sign

Standing in front of the Sara De Soto Chapter sign

Sound the horns and throw the confetti for I am pleased to announce that I have been accepted into the Daughters of the American Revolution. For those who are unfamiliar, Daughters of the American Revolution or DAR for short is a lineage society open to any woman over the age of 18 who can prove direct lineage to a patriot who either fought or provided aid during the Revolutionary War. It is one of the oldest women’s organizations that has its core focus in three main areas: Preservation of our national history; Patriotism and love of country; Education because knowledge is key. After such a lengthy application process and exercise of the spirit of my genealogical endeavors it is such a privilege to finally be apart of this organization.

In this blog I want to share with you my reflections prior to seeking membership, my reasons for deciding to pursue membership, the application process plus how DNA assisted in my application and a word about my Revolutionary War patriot ancestor. Buckle up, because you are in for an adventure.
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genealogy activities for children

Playdough Pedigree Activity (1)
There have been a good many things happening in my life these days that would be worthy of blogging about on this blog and I hope to get caught up soon. I make no promises. Rearing the little ones takes up more time than anything, but it is a joy. In fact, I’ve decided to take on homeschooling them. They are only four and two years old and after much contemplation I’m pretty confident I can swing this home school thing during the early years. The beauty of it all is that I can have as much flexibility in their curriculum as I’d like. When I consider my personal strengths genealogy is pretty high on that list. Once I started brainstorming and imagining age-appropriate ways I may get my children (and others) energized about genealogy I came up with a pretty full list of ideas for older children, but was still in need of some hands-on-activities for the Pre-School crowd.

Now here is the part where I share with you a little secret gem on the internet that I’ve discovered and have fallen madly in love with: Growing Little Leaves. This website is chock full of resources for any parent, teacher or caregiver that would like to introduce children to the world of genealogy. I’ve only scratched the surface of some of the ideas found in the activities area and can tell you this much: my four year old daughter loves the activities as well. We’ve had the opportunity to do two of the activities here in our home and I’d like to highlight how they went for us.

Playdough Pedigree Activity (4)My daughter had the most fun with this activity. She keeps asking when we will make her Play-Doh family again and again, so I know this was a real hit. I mean… Play-Doh! I had actually found and viewed this activity master-mined by Emily Kowalski Schroeder a few weeks prior to trying it out. I didn’t have the site up at the time I decided to try it for myself, so I attempted to wing it from memory. The first step, I thought would be to create a simple pedigree on a long white sheet of paper for my daughter to have as a guide in building her Play-Doh family. (We did this activity close to bedtime, so it was a little rushed on my part.) After we went over all her grandparents and briefly discussed how each of them also has their own mother and father we broke out the Play-Doh.

I gave may daughter some basic guidelines about each generation being Playdough Pedigree Activity (3)a different color of Play-Doh, showed her how to roll her Play-Doh self into a nice round ball and then attach it to the stick. She took the lead from there. We talked about which color was whom while she rolled them in her hands and I explained what a generation was as she advanced backwards. My daughter has a better understanding of her maternal ancestry and grandparents since they are here stateside. She has not yet met her paternal grandparents (something we need to remedy soon) and despite being shown photos of them, their names don’t stick as much for her. We stopped making Play-Doh balls at her grandparents because great-grands would have been a bit overwhelming in explaining. I did draw them on her white paper though.

Playdough Pedigree Activity (2)

The next time I approach this activity I’d like to have more colors of Play-Doh. We had five this go-round, but I’d like to take it back one more generation to see how that goes. I may be underestimating her ability to soak it all in.

Family Tree Fractions:

This was the second activity from the site I wanted to explore. I loved the concept of introducing children to fractions and math through genealogy. As someone who never developed a real interest in math as a child I’d like that experience to be different for my children. Time will tell what they latch on to anyhow.

Family Tree Fractions Activity (3)

Family Tree Fractions Activity (6)So the fractions. I had loads of scrapbook paper already available and I let my 4 year old start by selecting papers she wanted to represent herself, mom, dad, etc. Then I moved on to showing her how to trace circles using a plastic plate and pencil or marker. Lastly, I allowed her to cut her own circles, because using scissors is one of the highlights of her day and it would have bored her to tears to watch me cut out all the pieces on my own. Yes, this was labor intensive for a 4 year old and I thought she was going to get tired after the third circle, yet she happily completed 10 circles on her own. I was doing one of my own while she did hers and ended up making 8 whole sets should I decide to lead this activity with a larger group in the future.

Next I had her to cut one circle in half, folding it first like a taco and then cutting down the center. I had her repeat a second time with a different color circle and explained that one half of the taco from the first circle would be Daddy and the other half from the second taco would be Mommy. We repeated folding and cutting the circles using a combination of food examples in conjunction with all the family tree parts. So for the grandparents she folded four different circles into four equal parts kind of like a pizza with four slices. This was so silly and fun to her.

Finally! Once all the folding and cutting was complete it was time to put her family tree fractions into practice. I told her what she had just created was a puzzle of herself. Starting with the big round circle as her whole self, we moved onto the half circle pieces. I explained she is made up of half of Mommy’s DNA and half of Daddy’s DNA. I continued explaining using food as examples in regards to what DNA was. I asked her to think about what was inside of a taco and to think to two different tacos, basically creating the DNA of a taco. Then I transitioned taco talk back to the DNA of people talk. I’m sure you all get where I’m going with this and she literally ate all of this information up. Family Tree Fractions

Overall I’d say she enjoyed the Play-Doh activity a bit more than the fractions, but now that I’ve laminated my 8 sets of family tree fractions and hers we’ll be going back over this activity more times to come. It’s funny to see how much she is processing just from these two activities alone. Now she’ll exclaim while giggling, “Mommy, it is crazy that my Grandma and Grandpa are your Mommy and Daddy!”

I agree. I totally agree.

finding your roots: in search of our fathers

Finding Your RootsTuesday night’s season premiere of the hit PBS series “Finding Your Roots” with Henry Louis Gates Jr. kicked the season off by profiling celebrities Stephen King, Gloria Reuben and Courtney Vance, all of whom knew virtually nothing about their fathers and/or their father’s family. The first part of the program revealed to viewers a variety of circumstances that took the fathers out of the lives of each celebrity along with the hope of uncovering their family lineage. For Stephen King, he was just a young boy when his dad left the house for a pack cigarettes – never returning. Gloria Reuben was one of her father’s children from a second marriage. Her father was 73 years of age when Gloria was born and he passed away when she was quite young. For Courtney Vance, his father had been given away as a child and had always been in Courtney’s life until he committed suicide when Courtney was 30 years of age.

I suspected I would be able to relate to the many emotions everyone in this particular episode encountered based off of my own experience with my natural father and my step-father. And boy could I relate.
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yazoo + warren county maps, DNA connections and more (part 1)

1900_CENSUS_MAP

Psst… Want to hear a secret? I guarantee this is going to rock your socks off when I reveal it you. Ready? Wait, no. Okay, here it goes. Way back when – a very long time ago our ancestors lived in very close proximity to their family. Say what?! YES! Now most of you already knew that or suspected as much for immediate family members and I know this isn’t true for everyone, but for the most part families stayed within arms reach more times than not. This little secret even applies for extended family members who could often be found nearby as well. This is something I myself continue to rediscover as I return to old census records I’d sworn I reviewed with a fine tooth comb. However, it is actually my ongoing efforts and waiting for new DNA matches (who are very slowly appearing) that is causing to re-review the records once more.

Because I enjoy sketching (it helps me to retain information better) I decided to draw out a map of the areas my 2x great grandparents, Stark King and Jeannie Gilliam King were residing in 1900 and 1910 to reflect this phenomenon of families living close by one another. These map sketches of mine are strictly based off of my imagination and are not drawn to scale or with any land surveys, so entertain me if you will.

Let me begin with the 1900 Census. Stark and Jeannie were living in the Enola area of Beat 1. I’m told Enola was once a plantation and in imagining a plantation I drew rows of houses to reflect data from four consecutive pages. In this case that would be pages 49-52 out of 67 pages from this enumeration district. Anyhow, back to Stark and Jeannie. At the time of enumeration they had in their household four children; Brucie, John, Riley and Miranda King. My great grandmother, Louise King, would be born a few months later that year. For the past decade all of the other names on the page they are listed and even a few pages forward and backwards were quite insignificant. The only exception being the Darwin Gilliam fellow who I suspect a sibling relationship to my Jeannie Gilliam, but have nothing to prove such.

Now behold the power behind DNA testing for the purposes of Ancestry or genetic genealogy. On my 1900 map I sketched all the households listed in pencil and then I went back on made bold the households where a DNA tested descendant or living representative has appeared within my list of matches. All of these particular matches have appeared within my matches at Ancestry.com. Since I’m dealing with a number of families this may become a little messy, so I will do my best to keep it tidy by assigning a letter to house in bold with a their DNA match. Here goes:

Match A: Represents a descendant(s) from the line of Sonny Hawkins
Match B: Represents a descendant(s) from the lines of Lewis & Delia Bell Miller
Match C: Represents a descendant(s) from the lines of Stark and Jeannie Gilliam King
Match D: Represents a descendant from the lines of both Rena Crockett Johnson and Albert and Cassie Ann Morris Lewis
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hello and farewell to MyCanvas

MyCanvas screen shot

MyCanvas screen shot

The loss of a good book building software / online program is like the loss of a dear family member. When Ancestry.com released the news on June 4th about terminating MyCanvas in September of this year I was devastated. Huh? What? Wait – I was just getting started. I’ve used several online book publishing services to make a wide variety of books, but somehow losing MyCanvas feels like a real blow. Last year I spent every extra hour I could after getting my daughter to bed working on a heirloom quality five generation family tree and history book that I could pass down to my children. I chose MyCanvas because it made sense. The ease of uploading timelines, pedigrees and adding backgrounds related to the time frames when my ancestors were living was one selling point. Others included the various binding and paper options. I chose a premium book (tan leather cover, hinge binding and semi white-glove treatment).

The good news for me is that I completed my book last year and was able to order two copies before Ancestry.com completely did away with the premium publishing services. The bad news and there is far more bad news, is that they are providing no way possible for users to save the work they created with their online software. This means it will not be possible to make edits for future editions and all final purchases have to be made by September 30th. Since I was really hoping to create similar books for my maternal aunts, uncles and cousins much later on, I’ve since been working OT to make sure I get solid 3-4 variations of my book done for my family. This was not something originally on my schedule yet I have no choice, but to slave away the night creating these books. Creating something from scratch will be far more time consuming and is the avenue I’ll have to take for any future work. So if you’re wondering where I’ve been… There you have it.

UPDATED 8/19/2014: Ancestry.com has announced that it will keep MyCanvas around for another six months before transitioning it to Alexander’s. According to their blog with the announcement:

Founded 35 years ago, Alexander’s is a Utah-based printing production company that has been the long-term printer of MyCanvas products including its genealogy books, calendars, and other printed products. This makes the transition of MyCanvas to Alexander’s a natural fit.

And this is the best news I have heard all day. Over the last couple of weeks and up until today I was stressing not so much about completing my projects, but keeping the quality top notch. Creating a family history book is something not to be rushed in this manner as mistakes are very likely occur to occur. Now I can take my time again and keep the quality on the up and up! Thank you Ancestry.com and Alexander’s!