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Shakin' the Family Tree on Facebook

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dee_burris: (Default)
Monday, November 12th, 2012 07:57 pm
See what my sweet cousin got me for my birthday?

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Truer words were never spoken...
dee_burris: (Default)
Sunday, June 19th, 2011 10:52 am
I have several Dads in my life, even though only one of them is my own.

For all the Dads out there, I hope this day is one you enjoy.
My Dad is nearly 75. He was 22 years old, when I, his firstborn, arrived.

I like to think we've done some growing up together. I know the last 20 years is probably where we've made the most progress.

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Although Dad's story is uniquely his own, the older I get, the more I marvel at watching the cycles play out in my family, largely due to Dad.

He was the only son in his family of four kids, and third in birth order. His parents instilled in him a solid work ethic, and he was also gifted with something that's become quite rare these days - common sense.

He knew you had to work hard to get what you wanted and needed in life.

This was one of the first things he worked hard for, and he probably considered it a need at the time.

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My Dad made his living with his hands. He was a mason, who created things with his hands out of block and brick. He had his own business. He worked long hours when I was a child, but I remember the times we spent together when he wasn't working.

Quite a bit of it was very close to the place where he lives now - the land of the Burris homeplace in Pope County, Arkansas...the place where his great grandfather carved out both home and business, and where his father was born. It was there that he showed me how to dig earthworms beside his Aunt Emma's chicken coop to use for bait when we fished. He was the one who showed me the low stacked stone walls our ancestors built when clearing the fields for planting.

Dad was nearly 43 years old when he married the love of his life. Together, they have made homes in three places - starting on that land, then moving to Michigan for several years, and coming full circle back to the land.

My folks and I compare notes on our family history. Dad has very matter-of-factly accepted some of the revelations I've made about our family history in the last few years.

He and I both enjoy finding the truth of our history, and recording it so it never has to be secret again.

On this Father's Day, I want Dad to know how much I appreciate the gifts of the love of family and pride of hard work he has given me.

I hope I am honoring him by passing those down.
One of the other Dads in my life is my son.

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In the last few years, my son has added two daughters to his family. He is the custodial parent of his oldest daughter.

That blows me away.

My boy has become a man.

I am in awe of how he does it...

And am struck by the similarities in the two Dads - both hard-working fathers, and acutely aware of the importance of family.

My son's own dad died in 2005. They were very close, and my son was devastated. He figured out that it truly does take a village to raise a child, and has embraced his village, which includes his own cousins and their children. All the kids will grow up with rich family connections - a new generation of Burrises with strong family ties.

I'm so proud of him I could bust.
For these very special Dads, I wish for you peace and contentment today.

You've both earned it.

Love y'all...
dee_burris: (Default)
Saturday, May 21st, 2011 09:37 am
I love this photo.

It's my dad with his grand Uncle Jeff and grand Aunt Margaret.



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William Jefferson "Jeff" Burris, my dad, Margaret Jane Burris Moore



I figure that photo was taken when Dad was about 4, so it was probably very shortly before Uncle Jeff died in January 1941.

Margaret lived until 1944.

George and Louise Burris must have made a trip from Arkadelphia back to Russellville with my aunts and my dad.

Like my grandparents, we had generational Burris photos in our scrapbooks for many years, too. Photos of me and my sisters at our grand Aunt Emma's house when our family camped not far from the original James Littleton and Adeline Burris homestead in Pope County.

A lot of those photos were lost in a 100 year flood in December 1982, when a freak tornado ripped through Arkansas and dumped a deluge of water across my ancestral homeplace.


We camped on the homestead over 100 years after James and Adeline must have camped on the homestead while they were building their home.

As a kid, I couldn't appreciate that full circle of family history. I enjoyed fishing off the spillway for perch that Dad used to bait his yo-yos and trotlines, and I loved digging for worms beside Aunt Emma's chicken coop. Dad took me through fields that our ancestors had cleared long ago for planting and I was enthralled by the low stacked stone walls they built as they removed the rocks and loosened the soil for planting.


A new cousin found me this week. We aren't sure yet exactly how close our kinship is, but as we compare notes and sources from our family trees, she is prompting memories.

Thank you, Shirley. I need to remember, and pass it on.


The journey is good.

This is a Sepia Saturday post.
dee_burris: (Default)
Sunday, March 13th, 2011 08:32 pm
It was probably what I deserved for saving a pile of stuff to go through at night.

At the end of a work day.

The photo album and loose papers I inherited when my grandmother died stayed well-packed in a climate controlled closet in my home for probably a year after her death in 1998 - maybe a little more.

After I saw how the massive stacks of family group sheets, three rings binders and spiral notebooks in which I was keeping typewritten pages documenting my ever-growing ancestral lines were threatening my living space, I figured there had to be another way.

So I found and downloaded family tree software to my computer and off I went.

But I knew the boxes in the closet held the keys to more complete knowledge about Williamses, Meeks, Baldings, and Parrishes, so I went in and pulled them out.

I spent about two weeks categorizing things into piles, and extracting the information from them to input into the database. The Williams family photo album was (and still is) a monstrous undertaking.

I set the yellowed newspaper clippings aside, because they were undated and unattributed. They had been (mostly) very neatly snipped out of the newspapers in which they appeared, and I knew I'd probably have to study each one to match it up with a person, place, or event.

So that pile was last.


The *very* last clipping.

He had to be related. His surname was Williams.

But I had never heard anyone talk about him.

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Frankfort KY is in Franklin County, where my Williamses lived for several generations after emigrating there from Virginia, and prior to the move to Arkansas around 1885.

But that name... U V Williams?

Ulysses? Surely I'd have heard if we had a Ulysses...

And the V...all I could think of was Victor, but the Victors in the family were Baldings.

I set it aside.

But I didn't put it away.


It was weeks before my Eureka! moment.

I was looking for Jacob Williams, father of Mildred Carleton Williams after his wife died in 1876. I was having a devil of a time.

But wait...could it be Jacob? He was not the head of the household. What's up with this?

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Urban? A doctor and - apparently - a younger brother of Jacob.

What kind of name is Urban?

One that starts with a U...now where have I seen that before?

And that was how I met Urban Valentine Williams, M.D. Google turns up tons of information on him.

I think I'd have gone by "U V" too...
dee_burris: (Default)
Monday, February 28th, 2011 07:28 pm
I have images of the divine feminine scattered all around my home.

This one is my favorite. For me, she is Every Woman.




March is Women's History Month. I'll be in my element.

Many historians now acknowledge that the role women played in history has been largely unsung for far too many years.

In March, my blog will be top heavy with information about the women in my family tree, as well as some of those from the other trees I manage.

I'm also going to spend some time "graduating" some of my MNUs to women with complete identities - after all, her history didn't start with her marriage.

And I'm going to try and stop acting surprised when I find women who didn't marry at all - I usually run back over my source information to make sure I didn't miss the husband.

Or the kids. A few of the women in my tree married, but did not have children. I expect some of those chose not to.


The theme for the 2011 Women's History Month from The Women's National History Project is Our History is Our Strength.

Now, how cool is that?
dee_burris: (Default)
Monday, February 28th, 2011 06:24 pm
The annual Callaway/Holder (or Holder/Callaway, depending on who your granddaddy was) reunion will be in late June again this year.

Like every year, so I hear. Last year was my first.

I bet I get pegged as an upstart.

'Cause I just sent an email to the reunion organizer - a many times removed cousin - suggesting that anyone who wanted to could swap digitized family information this year.

I'll bring the laptop, portable Flip-pal scanner and digital cameras, and a stack of blank CDs...

I'm curious as to how she will respond.
dee_burris: (Default)
Monday, January 31st, 2011 03:13 pm
We all have famuggles. (Defined by Margel in her blog entry (in the singular) as Non family historian/genealogist who can be identified by the rolling eyes and loud sighs as family relationships are attemped to be explained by the more enlightened. Famuggles often co-exist in family units alongside family genealogists.)

And if you are lucky and hold your mouth right, you have a small cheering section - family members who are interested in your research, and really want the answer to, however in the world did you find THAT out?

In my small cheering section is one relative who is enlightened, but always disappointed, that the research shows that the old family lore about our being related to someone famous just isn't true.

She wants us to be part of a dynasty.

And we are. Several of them. Most of them had descendants who frittered away the wealth or did something to get themselves cut out of the will.

Just not a *famous* one...
dee_burris: (Default)
Saturday, January 15th, 2011 02:25 pm
One of the shining lights in an otherwise fairly miserable week...one of my cats suddenly and unexpectedly left us. The animals with whom I live are my family, too.


She emailed me because she found her great grandmother in my family tree - Hattie Irene Keeton.

I don't think she and I are related by blood. My Burrises and Ashmores married Keetons - the older half-siblings of her great grandmother.

But still...definitely a genealogy cousin.

Another partner in crime, as it were...


So ya know what I'm doing, don't you?

I'm looking for all the Keetons...

I'll tell you what I turn up.
dee_burris: (Default)
Sunday, January 9th, 2011 04:53 pm
I was talking to my cousin this morning to see if she remembered us having anything like The Pan.

She didn't, but she thought on it for a while.

Here's what she just emailed to me...

I was thinking about your suggestion this morning of something that might outlive us. Right now I can't think of anything we actually have now that we are still using we could pass along to one another.

However, I did think of something - a part of the landscape of the house - that is in a lot of photographs from early life at the Burris home on Crittenden Street to the end in 1980 when grandmother died. I look at this thing every time I drive by the house. It has been the setting for many a photograph and it has held up many a great man, woman and child.

The ledge.

I have attached a photograph from 1978 of Grandmother Burris sitting there - as she must have done numerous times since 1938 when the house was built. I know I sat on it many times, just not sure I was photographed there. No matter how many people were on that porch over the years, there was always someone sitting on the ledge. And only that one ledge - to the right of the front door as you were looking at it from your camera's lens in the front yard. Don't remember seeing anyone on the other - just that one..

In any case, both of those ledges seem to have been a perfect place for potted flowers or plants and I'm sure Grandmother must have thought of that, but they were always kept bare - maybe waiting for the next family member to sit for their photograph on the ledge - or maybe just for sitting as she knew her kids and grandkids did so much.

So this is my contribution. That ledge. Where so many of my loved ones had once been seated for their photograph in front of that beautiful house on Crittenden.


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I think you're on to something, cuz...
dee_burris: (Default)
Friday, December 31st, 2010 11:31 am
This time of year, I am considering the cycles...the seasons of life around and within me.

The year past - what did I accomplish? What of it was really necessary? What might have worked better from another perspective?

I ponder those things, and then...

I let it go. I still cannot "unring" the bell. No one can.

So regret is not part of my paradigm. Particularly not in the autumn of my life.

Because I have learned some things my green spring self did not know, and things my growing summer self had not fully assimilated.

One of the most important things I learned to do was say no, and if I say yes, to stay in a thing until the goal is accomplished.

As far as shakin' my family tree goes, I am in it for the long haul.

I've been reading other geneaology blogs this morning.

People are making lists. They are excellent lists.

I need a list like that. I'll probably make one.

But my list has to easily fit into one of the other important things I've learned.

Life has to be fun. Not necessarily the fun of my youth. But still...

Interspersed with all the woulda/coulda/shoulda has to be an element that has the possibility of making me grin real big, and laugh out loud.

It's very cool that genealogy has some *very* fun things in it.

Like road trips - to a cemetery, old homeplace, courthouse, family history lecture...


Here's hoping your New Year is happy, healthy, and generously laced with fun.
dee_burris: (Default)
Tuesday, December 14th, 2010 05:22 pm
Some of the members of my family are incredibly supportive of my many years long foray into the past.

Some, like my sisters and my 26 year-old son, couldn't care less. Their eyes glaze over when I start talking about genealogy. They are prone, as are many other people who are not into genealogy to ask...hey - you've been working on that family tree for years...aren't you about finished?

I always try to keep the snark out of my voice when I respond to that particular one. I mean, if you aren't into genealogy, maybe you are into math, and if you just go back to our paternal grandparents on both sides, with twelve and seventeen kids in the family, well...just do the math.

One of my first cousins follows this blog. Her mother (my dad's older sister) does not, because she doesn't have a computer, and doesn't want one. My cousin prints entries my aunt wants to have, and takes them to her.

My step-mother got a computer and got on the internet last summer, so she follows the blog also. My dad doesn't like reading anything on a computer, so he has my step-mom print blog entries for him to read upstairs at the kitchen table, where he does all his reading. On paper, thankyouverymuch.

My cousin printed the entry about my paternal grandparents and took them to my aunt. She emailed me last night with her mother's comments about Granddaddy Burris.

One thing she wanted me to pass along about Granddaddy's recuperation from his illness. He told her that his family had him stay with an old man in town who was immune from the diseases. He stayed at his house and at one point they thought they could starve the disease out so he didn't get any food for days. He said one time he asked someone to bring him an apple - and they did. He said he was so hungry that he put the apple under the covers and dug his fingers into the apple and ate it little by little so no one would see him eating it. That is what mom said he told her. His family also had a little bit of money for the time. Grandmother's family didn't but his did.

Also, when he was in Panama, he sent his mother a dozen beautiful white roses for her birthday one year. His mother rooted the roses and grew a beautiful white rose bush...Wouldn't you love to have a cutting from that bush? I really wish I had.

Just thought I'd pass along those stories.


(Supposedly, one of our aunts got a cutting from that rose bush. Neither my cousin or I have ever seen it.)

Both of us are going to work on the folks to get them writing down these memories and stories...
dee_burris: (Default)
Thursday, November 25th, 2010 04:57 pm
Boomerang kids...

Read that one a couple of months ago. It refers to grown children (or children who *look* grown) returning to the parental home for one reason or another.

Sometimes with kids of their own.

The article gave all sorts of tips and tricks about how to prevent the phenomenon, and "tough love" was mentioned.

At the time, I remember smiling and shaking my head as I read it.

Because boomerang kids is as 21st century as empty nest syndrome was 20th century.

Before about 1940, you didn't hear either one. Our collective history has been built on multi-generational families living under one roof, or very close in geographic proximity in a family compound of sorts.

And it worked.

Grandma and/or Grandpa stayed in their own home, as did each generation after them. You left feet first in a pine box.

So I don't think anyone needs to go beating up on themselves, or their boomerang kids, too awfully much.

Funny how the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Kind of like that butter/margarine argument. I believe we've come full circle on that one, too, haven't we?