Friday, November 10, 2017

A Providence Family Connection Through DNA

I am excited to report that I recently discovered a DNA match who is likely kin to me on my PROVIDENCE family line. My PROVIDENCE ancestry comes through a great-great grandmother, Ersie Jane PROVIDENCE ROBINSON (abt. 1850-bef. 1910) on my father's side. Grandma Ersie Jane lived in Greensville County, Virginia. She married my great-great grandfather Joshua ROBINSON in Greensville County, Virginia on June 9, 1867. Discovering more about my PROVIDENCE ancestry has been achieved by a combination of oral history, document research, and now DNA. 

I initially learned of Grandma Ersie Jane through oral history in 1995 and 1996 which came from conversations with four siblings of my paternal grandmother Hattie MOORE PAIR (1902-1956): Samuel "Channie" MOORE, Charlie "Jack" MOORE, Washington MOORE, and Della MOORE RICHARDSON. During my initial conversations with my great aunt and three great uncles, who were born between 1900 and 1917, they gave me names of both sets of grandparents and other family members. They did not know Grandma Ersie, but heard about her from their parents and others. Later,I also had conversations with other grandchildren of Grandma Ersie Jane and Grandpa Joshua and gathered and wrote their memories of their grandparents. 

I don't remember if any of the grandchildren recalled that Grandma Ersie Jane's maiden name was PROVIDENCE. I think that the first time I learned her maiden name was when I discovered her 1867 marriage license to Joshua Robinson. After learning Grandma Ersie Jane's maiden name, I began asking if any of the grandchildren remembered her kinfolks. It was probably my great aunt Della and her first cousin Rozella, who told me that Grandma Ersie Jane had a sister named "Lucretia" who was married to Grandpa Joshua's brother Aaron GREENAWAY. None of the grandchildren remembered any other kinfolks of their grandmother. Research of Lucretia provided invaluable information on Grandma Ersie Jane's family and will be discussed further in a separate blog posting.


After gathering oral history from my great aunt, great uncles, and other grandchildren of Joshua and Ersie Jane PROVIDENCE ROBINSON, I began searching documents such as marriage licenses, death certificates, and the census on the people they named. 

Research of documents can verify or dispute oral history as well provide new ancestral information. Much of this research was done in the late 1990s when there were not many resources on the Internet. I spent many hours gathering family history documents the old school way at libraries and courthouses. As I gathered documents on my family, I shared my findings with Grandma Ersie Jane's grandchildren and other family members through conversations as well as in the writing of letters, newsletters, and family reunion books.


My recently discovered PROVIDENCE DNA match and I both took autosomal DNA tests through Ancestry DNA.  This test analyzed the 22 pairs of chromosomes we inherited from each of our our parents. The results according to Ancestry DNA indicate that we share 27.5 centimorgans across two DNA segments and that we are fourth cousins. It helps to possibly make some type of definite family connection if both parties know names of their ancestors. Since my PROVIDENCE DNA match has a family tree on the the Ancestry DNA website, it enabled me to see that the PROVIDENCE surname is common in both our our ancestral lines. 

Ancestry DNA results for my PROVIDENCE DNA match and I

The DNA kit of this new match is being managed by her son and I sent him a message via Ancestry's site earlier this week. Thankfully he responded and I look forward to our journey together to piece together our family history. 

Genealogy is a continual process of working from the known to the unknown. The known for me through oral history and document research is that I had a great-great grandmother named Ersie Jane PROVIDENCE ROBINSON of Greensville County, Virginia, the daughter of John and Eliza PROVIDENCE. John and Eliza had at least two other children: Lucretia and Matthew. Matthew PROVIDENCE had least two sons: John and William. Matthew's son John was born around 1897 in North Carolina and died in 1952 in Portsmouth, Virginia. 

The known of the family tree of my PROVIDENCE DNA match indicates that the maiden name of her maternal grandmother Gentelia was PROVIDENCE and that Gentelia's father was named John PROVIDENCE who was born around 1904 and lived in Southampton County, Virginia in 1930.

It does not appear that John, the son of Matthew and the John PROVIDENCE ancestor of my DNA match were the same person. However, there are numerous other men named "John PROVIDENCE" living in Virginia and North Carolina during the same time as the other two Johns mentioned above.

Genealogy is a continual process of working from the known to the unknown and I look forward to discovering more about my PROVIDENCE ancestry and making family connections with living descendants through oral history, document research, and DNA.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

I'm looking forward to participating as a panelist at this event, along with Ressie Luck, Renate Yarborough-Sanders, and Char McCargo Bah today in Alexandria, Virginia.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Travel Tuesday: Plans to Visit the Library of Congress

Library of Congress Reading Room

Travel Tuesday is a daily blogging prompt listed on the site of Thomas MacEntee of GeneabloggersThis blog topic was suggested by Susan Donaldson of Family History FunThe “Travel Tuesday” daily blog prompt is described as follows:
Do you have images, quotes or stories about trips your ancestors or family took during their lives? Or have to ventured out on travels to your ancestral homeland as part of your genealogy research?

This blog prompt has given me quite a few ideas about genealogy travel. In addition to the ideas mentioned above, I plan to write Travel Tuesday blog postings about "plans for future trips and reports on activities of the actual trip to research repositories and historic sites, both local and distant." I am fortunate to live within driving distance from numerous research repositories and historical sites which I believe will be of interest to the genealogy community. I also hope that writing about my future genealogy travel plans will keep me more focused when I get the opportunity to visit these places.

I will begin my first Travel Tuesday blog posting with writing up plans to visit the Library of Congress in Washington, DC sometime in the near future. I can either drive or take the train. 

In preparation for this visit, I decided to research this library via YouTube and the Library of Congress website. As a result of this research, I would like to do the following during my visit:

  1. Take the hour long tour.
  2. Obtain a LOC library card.
  3. Browse the subscription databases which are only available for use at the library.
  4. Spend time in the Reading room. I am interested in looking at books on “Rush County, Indiana history”, “Leavenworth, Kansas history”, and “United States Color Troops.”
I plan to blog about my visit and hope that this will help other genealogists who visit the Library of Congress in the future.

For additional information about the Library of Congress, see links and videos below:

How to Find Stuff at the Largest Library in the World

The Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress Is Your Library

Inside the Library of Congress

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Sacred Sunday: Easter Fashions of the Past

(Left to right) Sister Odell Hayes and my Grandmother, Emma Johnson Thornton
Newport News, Virginia, Photo taken during 1950s
Today, I'm making a commitment to begin blogging again. One of the series I began in 2008 was called "Sacred Sunday" which highlights religious and church history and traditions.

This is one of my favorite photos of my maternal grandmother, Emma Johnson Thornton (1922-2011) because it represents Easter fashions of the past when women wore hats and gloves to church.  The lady on the left was Sister Odell Hayes (1926-1994) who was a member of my family's church,  The photo was taken sometime during the 1950s in front of our family's church, Gospel Light United Holy Church, Inc., located in Newport News, Virginia, when my mother was a child.

The women of Gospel Light not only wore hats on Easter, but on every Sunday because they believed the scriptures in the Bible written by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 11: 4-5, which states: "Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.  But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven." I’m not sure where the tradition of wearing white gloves originated.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Pearls of Wisdom From the Ancestors

I am pleased to report that I have been invited by a local church to speak at their Women's Breakfast on the topic "Pearls of Wisdom From the Ancestors."  A pearl of wisdom is "an important piece of advice or something people have learned from adversity over time, and often hang onto and pass to others." This talk will be based on the scripture below where Moses reminded the Children of Israel to remember to tell their descendants about how God delivered them from the many challenges they faced.

"And ye shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine houses,  and when thou walkest by the way,  and when thou liest down,  and when thou risest up."Deuteronomy 11:19.

Preparing for this talk has broadened my perspective about my family history and I have chosen ancestors from both sides of my family whom I have learned "pearls of wisdom" through things they said in general conversation or oral history interviews, and things I learned about them about some of them from other people or by researching their lives.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Finding My Folks Through New Online Databases, Part 1

I am pleased to report of my great success in “finding my folks” through numerous newly added Virginia databases on such as the Virginia Death Certificates (1912-2014).  Search of this database has allowed me to make numerous family connections. However, on Wednesday evening (October 21, 2015), I stumbled upon two death certificates which provided an ancestor's maiden name and also information that took me back another generation on my James Family of Greensville County, Virginia.
County, Virginia.  The James family is the birth family of my great grandmother, Mary Lula James Pair (1880-1944).  I traced my great grandmother through her death in 1944, however, I was only able to locate her parents and siblings up through the 1900 census.  I searched later censuses for her parents and siblings, but did not find anyone in this family living in Greensville County, Virginia.
My gold mine finding on Wednesday, October 21st resulted in discovering the following two death certificates.  This finding gave me great genealogy joy!


Document #1Death Certificate of Addie James Banks (sister of my great grandmother Mary Lula)

death certificate - addie james banks

I did a surname search first for “Cyfax James” and then for “Syfax James” of Greensville County, Virginia. He was a 2X Grandfather and father to my great grandmother Mary Lula James Pair (1872-1944). A death certificate for one of his daughters and a sister to my great grandmother came up in the search. Through this certificate, I learned several new things:
  1. That I had family members migrate from the rural area of Greensville County, Virginia to the cities of Newport News and Hampton, Virginia earlier than I previously thought. I only knew that some of them migrated to this area during the 1940s and 1950s which included my father's move to the area when he was a boy after the death of his mother in 1956. Some of his older sisters had migrated to the area during the 1940s for better job opportunities when they were teenagers and/or young women.  Only two of these sisters are still living and I need to ask them details about their migration.
  2. I also learned from this death certificate of my Aunt Addie that her mother’s maiden name was “Mitchell.” Louise (also named as Louisa in many records) and Cyfax (Syfax) James were married by the time of the 1870 census and I have not found a marriage record yet.
  3. Aunt Addie's address at 132 Wine Street in Hampton, Virginia is of interest because a local family whose history I have been researching, had members of their family also living on Wine Street at that time. It will be interesting to see if I find any connections between my family and this local family whom I’m researching. I informed a descendant of this local family of my new finding and we laughed at the possibility that our ancestors may have known each other long ago.

Document #2: Death Certificate of Louise (Louisa) James, my 2X great grandmother and mother of Mary Lula James Pair and Addie James Banks

death certificate - louise mitchell james

Next, I did a surname search for "Wyche" because I recalled seeing persons with this surname living with my 2x grandparents “Cyfax and Louisa James” on the 1870 and 1880 censuses. My search resulted in finding the death certificate of my 2X great-grandmother Louise (Louisa) James.  This finding added the following new information to my genealogy collection.
  1. Name of her father (Matthew Wyche). Yay! This finding puts me back another generation on this line. However, Grandma Louise’s (Louisa) maiden name was given as “Mitchell” on the death certificate of one of her daughters (Addie James Banks).
  2. Occupation: Midwife. How exciting to learn this because now I have two ancestors who were Midwives.  The other midwife in the family was a 2X great grandmother on my mother’s side.
  3. Date of Death (January 12, 1927). In previous research, I was only able to trace this family up through the 1900 census living in Greensville County, Virginia. I assumed that they moved out of the county since I couldn’t find them. However, I need to look again at the 1910 and 1920 censuses. Perhaps I was only looking for them in a certain part of the county. 

Locating these two new death certificates has changed the course of my genealogy research of my James family.  This weekend, I found additional documents through on this family and these findings make this quest even more interesting.

Stay tuned…..

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Thrill is in the Hunt!

thrill in the hunt

The Thrill is in The Hunt!  Like most genealogist, I get a kind of “high” on finding documents and facts about my ancestors.  This explains why my house and computer are overflowing with genealogy and family related things.  Shortly after beginning Thomas MacEntee’s Genealogy Do-Over in January 2015, I realized that in my over 20 years of researching my ancestry, I had never taken the time to sit down and to establish genealogy base practices and guidelines or to develop a genealogy research process.

genealogy do-over reset button
The Genealogy Do-Over Movement.  In case you haven't heard, genealogist and blogger Thomas MacEntee began the Genealogy Do-Over in January 2015.   Most genealogist start out as name and fact collectors giving little attention to tracking research findings, citing sources, and evaluating and analyzing the evidence.  This is the premise of the Genealogy Do-Over movement which seeks to help genealogist to improve their “processing of genealogical research.” 

After Thomas decided to embark on a genealogy do-over journey, he invited the genealogy community to join him.  The Do-Over has been repeated in four cycles in 13-week increments this year.  The fourth cycle began on Friday, October 2, 2015.  Click here to read more about the genealogy do-over movement.

For 2016, Thomas MacEntee is planning to convert the genealogy Do-Over methods from four cycles to a year long endeavor.  He also plans to compile the do-over in a book (both paper and digital) which he expects to publish in November 2015.  Click here for more about the upcoming book and plans for the 2016 Do-Over.  

Establishing Base Practices and Guidelines. In week one of the Genealogy Do-Over, one of the topics is:  Establishing Base Practices and Guidelines.  As mentioned earlier in this blog posting, one of my self discoveries through participating in the Do-Over is the realization that I had never taken the time to sit down and to establish genealogy base practices and guidelines.  Through self analysis, I have concluded that lack of these guidelines has vastly inhibited my research progress since I began this quest in November 1994.

Because of the failure to establish baselines and guidelines for any area of our lives, we often experience emotions of frustration and being overwhelmed.  This ultimately results in wasting time and resources such as money.  Lack of baselines and guidelines in the genealogy research process is no exception!

Self-Assessment and a Call to Action.  I encourage all genealogist to take some time for self analysis regarding your research processes and practices.  A great model of a genealogy self analysis was written by genealogist and blogger Melanie J. Rice of the Grandma’s Genes blog in her posting entitled “Genealogy Do-Over Week 1 TakeAway.”  

I also encourage all genealogist to participate in the Genealogy Do-Over in some way, whether you participate fully in all activities, do your own do-over, or just follow along in the discussions.

Whatever you decide, JUST DO SOMETHING!

Happy Hunting!

Drusilla Pair aka “Professor Dru”