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Shakin' the Family Tree on Facebook

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dee_burris: (Default)
Monday, January 24th, 2011 07:53 pm
One of my co-workers, whose family tree I am currently researching, asked me today how much my "hobby" costs me on an annual basis.

I hadn't really thought about it. So I ticked off the subscription services...

Thirty bucks a month for Ancestry (I have the international membership, so I can track my German ancestors, my son's Canadian ancestors, and now, my co-worker's Serbian ancestors - and I pay monthly just in case I need to stop...).

Eighty bucks a year for Footnote.

Fifty-six bucks a year for Genealogy Bank.

So, what? Five hundred dollars a year for subscription services.

Throw in the cemetery transcription books now and then, usually between twenty and fifty dollars a piece. But you only buy them once, and then you list yourself on Books We Own and do look-ups for other folks.

Add in some gasoline for the inevitable road trips. The cost of CDs on which I burn all sorts of stuff to send to cousins, known and just discovered.

What if all of that came up to $1,000 a year?

You gotta look at the pay-off...


I was "discovered" by three new cousins last week.

One I've already blogged about, here.

Another has been emailing me about her Gotts. Her Gotts (female) married into my Williamses (male) back in 1774 in Maryland. Then my Williamses went to Kentucky and the rest of her Gotts trekked on over to Tennessee.

I found some of her Tennessee Gotts for her on Find a Grave - she had never heard of it.

And I told her I had subscriptions where I could do some searching for her.

While I was searching tonight for any of her Tennessee Gotts who might have served in the Civil War, I found something on Footnote I have never seen before.

An amnesty document. Apparently, her direct ancestral Gotts were "all loyal to the Government of the United States, and have been so during the late rebellion..."

And their signatures are on the document.

Photobucket


I may never find one of those again. My own Southern direct ancestral families were often divided in their loyalties during that "rebellion," and brother sometimes fought against brother.

And I would never have gone looking for it, much less found it, if she hadn't emailed me one day last week, and said, hey, I think we may be related...


My newly-found Chapin cousin sent me an email this past weekend that had eleventy million exclamation points in the subject line, so I knew the attachment was gonna be a good one.

And it was...three pages of genealogical treasure, handwritten by his grandfather, who was born in 1891. As a result of that, we have busted down a brick wall on the woman who is my cousin's second great grandmother, and my third.

How do you put a price on that?


Hobby? I guess you could call it that...

Obsession? Most likely.

What about a calling?

I don't really care what anyone labels it.

They *all* have stories.

And I am a storyteller.
dee_burris: (Default)
Tuesday, November 30th, 2010 05:46 pm
Since I have been reading other genealogy blogs, I've noticed a pattern.

If you go very far through the archives, you nearly always find an entry where the blogger talks about someone contacting them about a blog entry or an entry in an online family tree. Or, that they fear it will happen if they publish the information.

You know, one of those entries that shows that the parents weren't married when the child was conceived, or that the grand aunt died in an insane asylum after spending the last 30 years of her life there, or the upstanding patriarch of a specific branch of the tree was getting horizontal with someone else's wife, sister, or daughter...

The purpose of the contact is to clean the poster's clock, and shame them into hiding, changing or deleting accurate historic information.

I don't get those kind of contacts often - maybe three or four times a year - but when I do, they are doozies - all full of righteous indignation.

They make me shake my head and laugh out loud.

And I reply to all of them.

What I tell them is this...

If you are serious about genealogy, you naturally become an historian. Even amateur genealogists have to do historic research to understand the context of what we are seeing.

But we are more than historians and genealogists.

We are storytellers.

Every single person we document in our family trees has a story, down to the very youngest who may not even have drawn breath at their birth.

And the stories are their stories - not ours to spin to make them more palatable to someone else, not even ourselves.

I refuse to become part of writing revisionist history.

I am a storyteller.
dee_burris: (Default)
Sunday, November 28th, 2010 09:16 am
Last spring, my dad called me and said there was going to be a tour of the old McCarley family cemetery on Saturday, March 27. The cemetery is abandoned now - I think the last grave dug in there was before 1900. The first one I know of was in 1847, when Moses McCarley's wife, Elizabeth P Griffin, died. As the crow flies, the cemetery is less than 3 miles from Dad's house.

There are at least 50 (mostly unmarked) graves. Some of our ancestors who came to Arkansas from Lawrence County, TN in 1838 are buried there, including my g-g-g-grandfather. I've been bugging Dad for years to tell me how to get down there, but it would have meant getting mixed up in a family feud.

The land where the cemetery is located now belongs to a third cousin-in-law of mine, and he has most of it fenced. We have a healthy respect for the symbolism of fences in the south, and honorable people ask if they can cross to the other side.

In my cousin-in-law's case, that means asking to open (and close behind you) a lot of gates.

And then, there was that matter of the feud...they are serious stuff down here.  )

Because they have stories. And we are the story-tellers.