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Have done quite a bit of work on the family tree. Not my direct ancestors, but some of the families that married into mine, as well as my grand aunts, uncles, and their children.

And just got an email from one [apparently] budding family historian, asking why one of my many times removed cousins committed suicide at the asylum where she had been committed three years prior to her death. My correspondent read one of my blog entries. One of her aunts died at the same asylum.

Only my cousin didn't commit suicide. She died of hardening of the arteries, and I posted the death certificate on the blog entry.

I have plenty of other relatives who DID commit suicide, so for me, it's both a cause of death and a cause to try and look deeper into their lives. I blog about that, too.

However, we family historians have to READ EVERYTHING FULLY. We are the story-tellers. Failing to fully read all the historic stuff we find means we are telling a story AND putting our spin on it, as if it was truth.

That's just wrong, and leads to other, more accurate family historians spending years trying to correct a construct of someone else's imagination...
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Wikipedia calls it the 1918 flu pandemic and the National Archives calls it The Influenza Epidemic.

No matter which descriptor you choose, I had never heard that, especially among young adults, aspirin could have contributed to their deaths by causing hyperventilation and pulmonary edema at the high doses prescribed.

Thanks to [personal profile] rainbow for finding that interesting tidbit of information.
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I started this blog to share - photos, memories, documents, places and people - with other people.

Freely sharing was important to me because of the sharing of information I experienced in the early years of this journey when I asked for information.

On surname message boards. Hard to believe, but I still find posts of my own from 1999 on some of those boards.

Distant cousins found the blog in Google searches. I correspond with several of them still. All the other bloggers were right.

If you build it, they will come.
In the last few months, I've started getting emails that go something like this:
I am making sure that this e-mail doesn't bounce. I am researching a possible family connection in Arkansas. (That's the actual text of a message I found in my inbox this morning.)

I always reply to those, to let them know the email address is still good. Sometimes, there is a distant family connection.

Sometimes, people have seen how Arkansas-intensive my tracks are on the internet, and they just need help with their own trees.

What can I say? I'm a Scorpio, and always intrigued by a mystery.

Even when it doesn't have one of my own surnames on it.
You know how people say that they hope they don't find out they unwittingly married their own cousin?

I've always figured that somewhere downline - closer to my generation - I'd find out someone was a cousin of their spouse.

I decided last week to start looking at my nephews' and niece's families on the *other* sides of their families.

I started with my niece. Her father's surname is Rankin.

Started with her dad and went backward.

After about 3 hours, I sat here grinning like a fool.

Her dad is my 4th cousin, twice removed. The connection starts in 1877, when John James Rankin married Margaret Ann Lemley in Pope County.

Margaret Ann was the daughter of Ephraim Lemley, Jr. and Cynthia Elvira Burris.

So my niece is also my 4th cousin, three times removed.
Of course, I didn't stop with the pedigree.

I'm looking for bits and pieces of information that give the third dimension to the names, dates and places.

Turns out the Rankins (and their allied families) were quite the movers and shakers in Perry County, AR.

And some of its earliest settlers.

The Rankin family will have blog posts of its own.
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The second anniversary of Shakin' the Family Tree was October 31.

Yep, I sat there on the couch on Halloween while waiting for some little ghosts and goblins, and started documenting this exhilarating, frustrating, never ending journey.

It's been a blast, and I have "met" so many wonderful people.
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She's telling stories from her mom and dad's families.

Click here to go take a look.
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Oh, goodie gumdrops...

I think.

I guess.

Ancestry seems to be pretty excited about it.

From Genealogy Insider blog, the news that Ancestry finally found a private buyer.

There are no anticipated changes in’s operating structure. will remain headquartered in Provo, Utah, with a continued large presence in San Francisco, Dublin, London and other international markets.
Except maybe a price hike on subscriptions?

Maybe not immediately.

But you hide and watch...
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Nancy, who publishes My Ancestors and Me, has a post up about The Photos Not Taken for her Wishful Wednesday post.

In it, she said she wished that folks had taken photos of the way their kitchens were set up back in the day. She also opined that our ancestors probably felt film was too dear to waste on a shot of something so mundane as the old Frigidaire.
That got me to thinking about one of the only photos I can recall having of a kitchen. My Burris aunts taking a moment to goof off on KP duty on Mother's Day, 1967 at my grandparents' house.


They are standing in front of the enameled double cast iron sink that was the only "dishwasher" my grandma ever had - aside from my granddad, of course.

And there are the old Venetian blinds covering the window that looked out into the side yard and detached, one-car garage...

Sadly, I cannot remember the color of the countertop, or the pattern and color of the lineoleum floor. But I do still remember the bacon cooking fork.

Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Nancy.
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Got a book recommendation from Nancy at My Ancestors and Me in a comment to my blog post on Thomas Jefferson Wharton's Civil War pension a few days ago.

The book she recommended was My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira.

Historic fiction is harder to write than a lot of people realize. An author must do tons of research to keep things real, because it just won't do to have an historian coming behind you, pointing out things that just couldn't have happened during the time of your novel.

Ms. Oliveira nailed it. This one was a page turner for me.

And like Nancy, I'd suggest reading the intro first before diving into the novel, because it's there that you get the feel of the incredible amount of research necessary to make the difference between so-so and omigosh...
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Over at 2338 W Washington Blvd., Margel wrote about the struggle of a widow to get financial support from her deceased husband's estate, finally having to sue.

It's a very interesting post, and according to my own family research, not an uncommon event. There are widows in my family tree who, having been given the family home and land, had no financial means to pay the taxes, hire the farmhands, or whatever was needed. In some cases, after debts had been paid, there was only a pittance in cash left over. Some of those widows applied for their husband's military pensions (as their widows), and then had to fight to get more than a few dollars a year.

Margel listed some of the expenses of the estate, with scans of receipts. One of the expenses she mentioned was for the burial of Thomas Gilshannon - $35 for a shroud, coffin and box.

I noted in a comment that the funeral expenses for Hetty Hill were included the 1897 accounting of the guardian of her brothers as an expense against their deceased mother's estate. (And Margel, I was wrong - $7.50 was half the cost of her coffin. My great granddad - the boys' guardian - paid the other half.)
The psychological specter of Hetty Hill continues to flit in and out of my thoughts.

She was the only daughter of 5 - or perhaps 6 - children my g-g-grandfather, James Littleton Burris had with Martha J F (Vick) Hill between 8 Apr 1869 and 10 Mar 1883.

While he was still married to my g-g-grandmother, Elizabeth Adeline Ashmore.

I wrote about my discovery of granddaddy's other family, our 150 year old Burris family secret, in the fall of 2010.

The whole thing still bugs me.

But Hetty is one of the parts of it that bug me the most.
According to a cemetery book painstakingly researched and published by Lina and CL Boyd, Martha J F Vick Hill is buried beside her youngest son, Charley L Hill, in St Joe Cemetery. Not far from where my dad lives.

The book says there are no dates of birth or death for her from the records of her burial.

And there is no marker. There is a rock deliberately placed in the ground next to Charley's grave.

So in records of the cemetery, Martha's burial is simply noted. That's all.

And I don't care what century it was, or how anyone might have felt about Martha and James screwing around...if you can call evidence of a relationship that lasted at least 14 years (and probably all the way up to her death in 1893) screwing around.

That's just wrong.
But what about Hetty?

Where is she buried?

The 1897 annual estate accounting lists Richard and Charley Hill's half share of Hetty's coffin as $7.50. George W Burris, Sr., the guardian, paid the other half.

That accounting was filed with the Clerk of Court on 28 Jan 1897. So Hetty died before that date.

I don't know if she was married or not at the time of her death. The itemization for the expense simply says, "Coffin for sister (1500) 1/2 of which is $7.50."

According to the 1880 census, Hetty was 5 at the time the census was enumerated. So if she were born in 1875, and died before 28 Jan 1897, she would have been 21 or 22 at the time of her death.

And there is no record that I can find of her burial.

But there are a few more "deliberately placed" rocks in the area of Charley, James (and wives) and Martha Hill's graves.

And all over the cemetery. Every time I walk through there, taking photographs, I have to pause by one and another of a few those rocks that are just out on their own - not close to any family plot.

And I wonder. Is Hetty buried under one of those?
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Another cousin found me.

She's my fourth cousin, twice removed.

Like all of us, she has a big honking brick wall in her family tree. The surname is Baird.

And I'm trying to get her to do a guest post...
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I hope this post doesn't wind up sounding like a rant. I would only be adding to the negative energy I found this morning.
I found a genealogy blog solely devoted to making fun of people who have errors in their published family trees.

Who among us has not found a published family tree containing our own ancestors?

And maybe contacted the owner, providing correct information, and offering to untangle some limbs?

And maybe getting no reply at all, or perhaps one that hotly defends the errors?

And maybe we blog about it. That, I get.

What I do not get is the significant investment of time and energy expended in searching out family trees unrelated to my own, looking for obvious errors and broadcasting it in a blog solely devoted to sarcastic fingerpointing.

AND failing at the same time to provide the correct information.

Because we all know that some folks just seize on a string of search results and re-publish them, compounding the error.

So what's accomplished by that?
Of course, I have to consider where I found the link to the referenced blog.

At the Find-a-Grave forums. Where more often than not, all that's going on is negative.

I had gone there to see how far behind the cemetery fix-it thread was.

And ran across one of those discussion threads where someone with way too much time on their hands was asking...

Look at this photo and see if you think it's a post-mortem can't see a casket, but I'm just sure it's a post-mortem photo...

Because Find-a-Grave does not permit post-mortem photos on its grave records, and someone just might need to be cyber-whipped.

One commenter pointed out that the subject's eyes could have been closed when the photo was taken.

A couple of commenters tried valiantly to talk about the differences in burial and mourning rituals in other cultures, and in western US culture over history.

Then, words like creepy, jarring, physically repulsed, SCARY (caps in original), and disturbing started creeping into the comments.

And all I could think about was the wonderful work of the volunteer photographers at Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, who give modern day grieving parents a tastefully photographed portrait of their deceased child - the only one they will ever have.

I understand the rules at Find-a-Grave. But where is all the judgement coming from?

If you don't want to see a post-mortem photo, don't look.

But don't judge the family for having it.
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I was antsy for a few days because I could not post comments to Blogger blogs. (You'd have to know me in real life to understand just how chatty I am.)

The people I talked to about the problem had all sorts of suggestions and questions - even some where I'd part with some cash for diagnostics.

As an aside, now I ask you...why is one of the first suggestions *always* clear your cache? I mean seriously, how many times that you've done that has it really *fixed* anything? You just lose your history and bookmarks most of the time...

I don't think so - not until I exhaust all the free resources.

Like um...changing my browser.
Yep, Google Chrome and Firefox get 'er done. (Twelve percent of you get to my blog on Chrome,and 18% using Firefox.)

I'm back in the saddle.

There's almost always a work-around.
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In any identity - Google, Dreamwidth or anonymous...

And I had so much to say to several of you...
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All kinds of wonderful posts out there this week - some of them will make you say awww... and at least one may make you say ewww...
Susan at Nolichucky Roots, shared a two-parter written by a researcher of a surname they have in common. The story of James W McAdams, one of Susan's reverse orphan kinfolk is told here and here.

Mel Wolfgang has a wonderful post about family history researchers as storytellers in And Still I Write on his blog, Mnemosyne's Magic Mirror.

When the young 'uns roll their eyes about the dotty genealogist in the family, just have them read Laura's post, Why Old People Should Do Genealogy.

Greta made it through the clean-up of the flood in her basement that resulted from a rainstorm and put things in wonderful perspective in her entry, A Proper Place for Sentiment. Would that I have that kind of grace under pressure...

Okay, not really knowing what to expect, I cruised on over to a Thriller Thursday post at Debbie's blog, Mascot Manor Genealogy, and read about the Naked Turkeys that spelled the demise of her great-grandfather's turkey farm.

Looking for another source of online newspaper archives? Who knew Wikipedia had a list? I didn't until I read this entry at Tangled Trees...

Borrowing a phrase my from son, who isn't into genealogy at all...I say, other bloggers rock.
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Love. This.

You will too. You gotta read Greta's post, Things I don't Care About in Genealogy.

Take a look at Barbara's photo of the house where Bette Davis was born.

Nancy examines the laborious process of canning before those wonderful Mason jars were created.

No doubt inspired by last week's Hurricane Irene, Maureen Taylor posted some sobering before and after photos of the "granddaddy of all New England hurricanes:the Hurricane of 1938."

Bill West checked out an Ancestry shaking leaf, and found a family connection between his brother-in-law and an old school chum...
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Quite a few very neat photos in other blogs this week...

Take a look at Jen's Great Grandma, dressed to the nines, and wading in the surf on Jen's blog, Climbing my Family Tree One Branch at a Time.

Leave it to Southwest Arkie to discover and tell us about another blogging prompt for interesting photography with her Shadow Shot Sunday post.

Susan D not only acquired a neat family photo, she also has a scan of an ad for her second cousin's business in her post, Bobbing, Shingling & Marcel Waves - Workaday Wednesday.

Sounds like Barbara Poole finally got the pic she'd been wanting when she photographed the table where JFK proposed to Jacqueline Bouvier, in her blog, Life from the Roots.

On Wednesday, Nancy celebrated the birthday of her great-grandmother Elizabeth, and included her photo, in a post at Nancy's Family History. (Check out her other posts on Elizabeth while you're there.)

Bill West has a series of recent posts where he is working through identification of old family photos at his blog, West in New England.
For tips on identification of all those un-labeled photos in your collection (and to see a lot of really cool old photos), check out Photo Detective just about any day of the week.
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First, the good...

For a lesson in looking at all the value of "found" cousins, read Jessica's post, When You Least Expect It: Long Lost Cousins, at her blog, Desperado Penguin.

Susan at Nolichucky Roots may never know when a descendant of Margaret Lee finds her post transcribing Margaret's 1795 petition for freedom in a Google search, but she took the time to put it out there, and that counts for so much.

More lessons for the storyteller in Suz's post, The Story of Ruth...(Well, sort of) Part II at her blog, The Hunt for Henrietta. The lesson here is that sometimes the story you thought you were going to find can be eclipsed by the one that reveals itself.

I love me some old handmade quilts. If you do too, you can satisfy your craving for them in Grammy's Daughter's post, Treasure Chest Thursday: Perryman Quilts, at her blog, Channeling Grammy.
Now for the bad and the very ugly.

Clicked over to Clue Wagon to see what was on Kerry Scott's mind, and saw her post, In Which I Say “Geni” And “Crap,” But Not In The Way You Think.

Holy crap. What was Geni thinking? That the people they had enticed with a free service would just capitulate when they made their unannounced change in the Terms of Service (TOS)?

And I love how Chris Whitten from WikiTree popped up in the comments, usually responding to people like me who, while intellectually understanding that we all are part of the Tree of Humankind, don't necessary want to fight with each other about sourcing the gazillion records...

I thought this was particularly choice...snip..."...Edit wars develop. Your cousin might insist on tracing your lineage one way and won’t listen to reason. On WikiTree this is where your lineage would fork. The ancestry can go one way for him and another way for you. The ideal is always that you guys work out your differences, eventually, but we know that’s just an ideal."

Sounds even more fun than poking myself in the eye with my mascara wand. Where do I sign up?

A bit later, it was on to find that Footnote is no more. I had to find their blog post to find out that, unannounced, they have rechristened themselves Fold3 and will now be about adding military records only.

My browser has issues with the new bookmark, and the commenters to the blog post aren't any happier about this than I am.

I didn't use Footnote for only military records. I was hoping from their email hype to me that they would expand their death record images, and I use the City Directories all the time.

The non-military records on Footnote Fold3 will stay, but they won't add any more.

They've made budgeting for me quite a bit easier, as I won't renew.

Wonder if Ancestry has promised to compensate them for their lost revenue?
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Omigosh...have you seen Jen's gravestone photos on her blog, Climbing My Family Tree, One Branch at a Time? If you haven't, you need to cruise over there now...

Margel brings it home again in A Gift From My Ancestors. She talks about the thing that gets to a lot of us...the deaths of children in our families, and other hardships our ancestors went through that we will never have to deal with at her blog, 2338 W Washington Blvd.

And I have just discovered footnote Maven's photography blog, Shades of the Departed. I just love her four part series on one photo she found at eBay, called I Think She's Dead.
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This post by Nancy at My Ancestors and Me.

She seems to do the same thing I do...wonder about all the considerations of the event she's writing about.

Since I couldn't comment, here's what I wondered...

How did the women deal with the July heat while wearing those dadgummed corsets?
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Just about everyone has blogged about last week's launch of a new genealogy search site called Mocavo, whose creator calls it The Largest Free Genealogy and Family Tree Search Engine.

But Cliff Shaw does not seem to like much of the feedback he's getting on those blogs from veteran researchers who are used to having to dig in some fairly obscure places for family history information and who take exception to Shaw's definition of sources of "non-genealogy results" from that *other* search engine.

Kerry Scott over at Clue Wagon gave her review of Mocavo and went, as she said, "Debbie Downer" on it, and gave specific examples of where it missed the mark.

Other commenters, including I, have added to those.

Shaw keeps coming back with a challenge to commenters to add to his database for him, and consistently fails to answer one of Kerry's questions...what's his business model and does he have a sponsor?

Huh? Not what I would expect from a dot com.

I haven't dug through musty vaults and dodged snakes in cemeteries, or spent hours and hours online, chasing internet leads to give it away to someone to line their pockets.

He needs better answers than he's giving.


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Dee Burris Blakley

August 2017

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