dee_burris: (WDYTYA)
2011-02-13 09:15 am
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Who Do You Think You Are?

I haven't blogged yet about my thoughts about Who Do You Think You Are? because they make me feel a bit unpatriotic.

Don't get me wrong. I watched every single episode of the first season and have seen both the first and second episodes this season. My phone alerts me 10 minutes before viewing so I can get comfy.

And I too am glad the producers heard the masses crying out in unison that we *don't* all have ADD and forget where we left off after coming back from the bathroom during the commercial break...

I also agree that the show may skew the impressions of newbie family historians and genealogists about how easy/difficult it is to find your roots.

But this is show business, and what we have here is about 48 minutes (sans commercial breaks) to find the family history of the celebrity of the evening. WDYTYA is to genealogy as CSI is to forensic law.

So this entry is a little late in coming, because my all time favorite WDYTYA hasn't ever aired on NBC. And it won't.

Because it aired on the BBC...

The Brits had it going on with this one...Stephen Fry was just wonderful - genuine and very down to earth.

And he did a lot of his own research.
dee_burris: (Default)
2011-01-31 03:13 pm
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Anyone get this?

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)
2011-01-24 07:53 pm

One of the ways the "hobby" pays off...

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.


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)
2011-01-20 02:00 pm

Follow Friday

The woman who defined "famuggles" for genealogists

Ever since I read that entry on Margel's blog, I have been a disciple. (Note: even though Google simultaneously asks, Do you mean muggles? the first two results are hits on her blog...)

If she says it's good reading, I read it.

I think the famuggles in my family are really quite hopeless. In addition to getting all glassy eyed when I explain to the curious among them about the 140 year old Burris secret, mine start edging toward the nearest exit.

But it's comforting to know I am not alone.

The woman making us all ponder whether our blogs are commenter friendly.

Amy's asking some questions in this post.

I replied and then came back and made a couple of changes to the internal workings of my own blog.

And yeah, she's made it easy to comment on her entry...

Also this week, someone else was giving thought to blog comments...

Nancy gave us the results of the survey she posted in the sidebar of her blog on January 9.

One of the most detailed (and comprehensive) compilations of internet research resources I have *ever* seen

Look at Thomas MacEntee's research toolbox and see if you don't agree.

I think it's pretty neat that he and I both have bookmarks for money conversion and historic weather events, even if we don't have the same ones...

A totally cool photo post of successive generations of sisters

Susan has an outstanding blog, and I especially love her photo posts. But this one from yesterday, just really leapt off the page at me.

Maybe because I have two sisters...
dee_burris: (Default)
2011-01-19 01:34 pm

The Domino Effect...

I'm just loving it...

As I read the genealogy blogs I follow, I glance over to the links to other blogs.

Inevitably, I find one or more that sound interesting, and I right click and open in a new tab.

And wind up adding them to my reading list and my own list of links.

How the (very enjoyable) time flies...
dee_burris: (Default)
2011-01-15 02:25 pm

I found a new cousin this week...

One of the shining lights in an otherwise fairly miserable 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)
2011-01-09 10:16 am


I am so jealous.

Margel gets to be part of a family legend in the making.

She received THE PAN back from her brother this year.

It will hold a place of honor on her desk.

But I bet she doesn't soak her feet in it. Not now...

Seriously, go take a look.

And spend some time reading about the goings-on at 2338 W Washington Blvd.
dee_burris: (Default)
2010-12-31 11:31 am

Introspection in the New Year...

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)
2010-12-24 01:32 pm

From the bully pulpit...there's always a spoilsport

I've been blogging for the past four years. Even though there were regular commenters to my genealogy entries in my regular blog, for the last year or so, I toyed with the idea of creating a blog just for genealogy.

On Halloween, I had a Nike moment, and decided to "just do it." A few days later, I posted an entry in [ profile] genealogy, asking if others had created genealogy blogs. One of those commenters replied in the affirmative, and urged me to check out Geneabloggers.

Boy, am I glad I did.

I have "met" some of the most fantastic people by searching the blogs. My first searches were for other Arkansas bloggers, then among them, for women. (Gentlemen, that is not a slam to you - I just have a thing about reading other women bloggers...)

The depth of the posts, and obvious commitment to telling the stories of the ancestors, combined with generous doses of wit and humor, makes reading these other blogs a joy. I have stumbled on some wonderful tips for breaking down the dreaded brick walls. From the comfort of my little cottage, I have been on trips to faraway lands through wonderful old photos and well-written stories about the people who lived there.

So thank you, Thomas MacEntee, for coming up with a really great way to provide a real feeling of community.

After all, community is good thing, right? And on our beloved topic of genealogy, didn't it make you feel all warm and fuzzy (and not a little relieved) to learn that there were literally hundreds of other people who did the happy dance at the mailbox when the postman delivered death certificates? Or who got misty-eyed at being able to calendar an entire weekend for tramping through the countryside looking for graves? Other people who enjoy sitting in dusty courthouse vaults, gingerly turning the pages of huge ledgers of property records, looking for the pot of gold...

Fairly early on while searching the blogs, I ran into the spoilsport. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, that's someone who gets joy out of spoiling joy for others.

In a departure from my usual practice, I'm not going to identify him by name. And I am not linking to his blog from mine.

In my view, he's already getting way too much traffic from links from other genealogy bloggers. I'm not saying they are wrong to do that - I just think they are playing into his hand.

On the day I found his blog, his post was about how he had a revelation and discovered he is not a genealogist, and couldn't care less about who his ancestors were.

After briefly wondering why, if that were the case, his blog was listed on Geneabloggers, I closed the browser. Even for my "other" blog reading, his doesn't cut the mustard.

Since then, as I have read the blogs of other genealogists, I see he's getting quite a bit of press. I think he's a drama king.

Of the last dozen entries, seven (58%) have been snubs at genealogy bloggers, and of those seven, three (42%) have been direct slams at Geneabloggers or bloggers who are listed there. In one of those entries, he thanks people who read his blog prior to November 1.

Dude, if you can't capture my interest in the first dozen entries, I haven't got the time to plow through page after page of cyber temper tantrums looking for a nugget of useful or edifying information.

And for the record, sir, you got it wrong in your December 20 entry. I am a southerner, born and bred, so you will just have to take my word for it. I doubt that a native New Yorker would be able to put the proper inflection on either phrase.

When a southerner says how nice, what she means is fuck you.
dee_burris: (Default)
2010-12-24 08:43 am

Follow Friday

A very thought-provoking post over at West in New England, entitled, What is the Worth of a Genealogy Blog?

The blog owner has asked that discussion be kept civil...
dee_burris: (Default)
2010-12-16 03:47 pm
Entry tags:


Sometimes I get some contacts that just slay me...

In my email today:

Hi - Do you know if Henry C Boshears had any children and if so can I have there names?

I am the grand daughter of Henry Boshears and I'm trying to see if Henry C Boshears is my Great grandfather.


The surname sounds familiar. So I check the family tree database.

Nope, I have Brashears. No Henry C.

Maybe I created an entry on FindaGrave?


Maybe I blogged about Henry.

<----- Check blog tags. Nope, I posted a photo of C C Boshears' homemade gravestone. No Henry C.

Why does this person think I know the answer to that question?

I replied and said I had no idea who Henry C Boshears was...

I've gotten other strange contacts about family tree stuff.

Like the one I got a couple of months ago from a former sister-in-law.

She was always such a sweetheart.

She emailed me because she found my online tree, and saw that I had gone back about three generations on her parents' side of the family. She thought that was so neat.

She showed it to her brother, one of my former husbands (there have been five, if any of you are curious).

He did not think it was neat. He was pissed. She wanted me to know that even though he was irate, she was very touched.

I replied to her and told her to tell the old fart that if he wants to get his shorts in a twist, to wait until I separate out all the exes and place them in an online tree by themselves called The X Files...
dee_burris: (Default)
2010-12-14 05:34 pm

Do not like Facebook...

I used to be on Facebook. One of my sisters ragged me about it for so long, I caved.

I almost instantly regretted it.

I am a writer. I do not write in sound bites that fit on the wall.

So I always ran out of characters before I ran out of something to say.

Then, the little wet-behind-the-ears Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, declared that privacy was no longer a "social norm," and that was all I needed to deep-six Facebook.

And yet, many of the bloggers I follow are on Facebook. Even when they post that they don't really like it.

So I want to there an advantage from a genealogical perspective to being on Facebook?

I frankly do not have any desire to re-connect with people with whom I attended grade school. I don't play games, or send cyber-gifts to people.

But, for those who have done it, is there a benefit to creating a surname or family page on Facebook? Have you made connections that helped with your research?
dee_burris: (Default)
2010-12-14 05:22 pm
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Feedback from the family...

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)
2010-11-30 05:46 pm

We are storytellers...

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)
2010-11-19 08:26 pm

Season 2 of Who Do You Think You Are?

Premieres Friday, January 21, 2011 at 8/7 central on NBC.

You can now watch all of season 1 online at NBC's website.
dee_burris: (Default)
2010-11-17 05:23 pm
Entry tags:

News Flash! 1852 New Year's Resolutions Solve Genealogical Mysteries!

[It's not a news flash, and you likely have seen it before, but this is a good one to come back to when are you at the brink of insanity chasing elusive ancestors...]

It is New Year's Eve 1852 and Henry Hydenwell sits at his desk by candlelight. He dips his quill pen into ink and begins to writes his New Year's Resolutions:

1. No man is truly well-educated unless he learns to spell his name at least three different ways within the same document. I resolve to give the appearance of being extremely well-educated in the coming year.

2. I resolve to see to it that all of my children will have the same names that my ancestors have used for six generations in a row.*

3. My age is no one's business but my own. I hereby resolve to never list the same age or birth year twice on any document.

4. I resolve to have each of my children baptized in a different church-either in a different faith or in a different parish. Every third child will not be baptized at all, or will be baptized by an itinerant minister who keeps no records.

5. I resolve to move to a new town, new county or new state at least once every 10 years-just before those pesky enumerators come around asking silly questions.

6. I will make every attempt to reside in counties and towns where no vital records are maintained or where the courthouse burns down every few years.

7. I resolve to join an obscure religious cult that does not believe in record-keeping or in participating in military service.

8. When the tax collector comes to my door, I'll lend him my pen, which has been dipped in rapidly fading blue ink.

9. I resolve that if my beloved wife Mary should die, I will marry another Mary.

10. I resolve not to make a will. Who needs to spend money on a lawyer?

11. I resolve to not clutter up the good farm pastures with headstones that will just get broken or fade with time anyway.

12. I resolve to protect my family and friends' privacy by giving false names and places for events.

13. I resolve to never give the correct accounts of misdeeds in the family, so although Uncle Lem shot that guy and was tried for murder, my kids will be told he stole a cow.

14. I resolve to never trim the family cemetery of brush and tangleweed to keep out anyone doing that silly genealogical work.

15. I resolve to always alternate my children's and wife's first and middle names when the census taker comes around just to give him practice with his spelling.

16. I resolve to come from Ireland, where there are no records, or, if there are, they can only be examined by visiting the exact village and pleading with the local clergy, who is hostile to anyone not of his belief, which, of course, you are, and/or handing over a fee equal to or exceeding your yearly income for one hour's research, which may not find anything.

17. I resolve that not only shall I NOT die in my country of birth, but that nor shall my children (yea, verily) unto the sixth generation.

18. I resolve that I shall call my children by odd names, which the enumerator shall spell incorrectly.

19. I resolve that I shall be absent on the night of the census.

20. I resolve that if unable to be absent on census night, I shall endeavor to be enumerated twice.

21. I resolve that when I die my children/wife is instructed to give the wrong details for my death certificate.

22. I resolve that I and most of my family shall die suddenly just before death certifications started to be used in a parish where easy access to the records ceased the previous year.

*Addendum to No. 2: My brothers promise to do likewise, thereby ensuring that each of our children has the same name as the cousins of the approximate same age.