Saturday, February 23, 2019

Utilizing Online Databases

Links for genealogy databases,

ü Newport News Public Library, Virginiana Collection at Main Street branch, (Access to available to library card holders at all Newport News library locations,
ü Hampton Public Library, Virgininia Collection at Main branch on Victoria Blvd,
ü Norfolk Public Library, Sargeant Memorial Room, downtown Norfolk branch,
ü York County Public Library, Virginiana Collection
ü The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia,
ü LDS Family History Center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Morman), 902 Denbigh Blvd., Newport News, VA  23608,  (757) 874-2335.  Can view digitized genealogy records only available for viewing at Family History Centers.

Black History Month Genealogy Conference

I am pleased to announce that I am one of the speakers for the African American Cultural and Genealogy Conference which will be held today, Saturday February 23, 2019, at the Newport News, Virginia Main Street Library. I will conduct a workshop entitled "Utilizing Online Databases" and will also be one of the panelist on the "Breaking Through the Wall" panel discussion.

Genealogy 102: Utilizing Online Databases
Drusilla Pair, Afro-American Historical & Genealogical Society
Once you have your ancestors organized, explore and learn to use vital and historical records available online. At the end of this session, participants will have an understanding of how to search census, military, and vital records on various Internet databases such as and  

Breaking through the Wall- Panel discussion w/ Researchers Stephanie Thomas, Selma Stewart, Deborah Cuffy, and Drusilla Pair
If you are stuck or having trouble finding your ancestors who lived before 1870, join this in-depth discussion. Learn techniques from a panel of experienced genealogy researchers about how to break through the difficulties that limit your search for ancestors in the pre-Civil War era. This session is intended for intermediate and advanced researchers.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Sacred Sunday: When the Church Rocks

Editor's Note: Blog originally posted Sunday, October 24, 2010; revised Sunday, January 6, 2019.

This video of Queen Esther White Young singing the song “If Jesus Goes With Me, I Can Go Anywhere” at the Tabernacle Echoes Grand Reunion Concert stirs up so many images and stories of the rich tradition of African American gospel music and choirs.

Uncle Willie Johnson (1917-2000)
Uncle Willie's Stories. Although the speed of this song is not extremely fast, but rather a slow-medium speed, it  reminds me of stories I heard from my Uncle Willie Johnson (1917-2000), a brother of my maternal grandmother Emma Johnson Thornton (1922-2011). In describing the church services of his youth during the 1920s and 1930s in Warren County, North Carolina, Uncle Willie enthusiastically recalled the days of his family’s church when there was no piano or musical instruments. “As we walked through the woods towards the church, you could hear the church rocking and the Saints of God singing and clapping and praising God!” he recalled. “Then we would walk or run a little faster to get to church.” These were also the days when rural churches typically had wood floors, so I’m sure Uncle Willie also heard foot tapping along with the singing and hand clapping.

The Choir Rock. One thing I noticed in this video which stirs up memories is the choir rocking from side to side in unison to the beat of the music. Sometimes a Choir Director gestures to the choir which direction to begin moving. At other times, some choir members may just begin moving to the music on their own. This takes me back to my days singing in the church and college gospel choirs during the 1970s and 1980s.

The Choir’s Attire. I knew this had to be a special occasion concert just by looking at the attire of the choir members with the ladies all dressed beautifully in various styles of  black dresses accessorized with a red flower, white beaded necklace and earrings, and the men dressed in black suits with white shirts and red ties. The red flowers and red ties are the accessories which make these various styles of dresses and suits look uniform.

The Soloist. Sister Queen works this song and I love it when she comes down into the church aisle. You can hear and feel the electricity in the audience as she walks down the aisle bellowing this great tune. As the music gets faster and the hand clapping gets louder, members of the congregation feel compelled to stand, which is a tradition in the black church when the music gets good. Oh, the church is ROCKING now! This is the point where my mind drifts back to Uncle Willie’s recollections of the church rocking during his youth as I sit in front of my computer singing, clapping and swaying from side to side in my chair enjoying this music and letting my mind travel down memory lane.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Happy 10th Blogiversary to Me!

I can't believe that ten years ago today, I created my "Find Your Folks" blog. In my first post, I defined the purpose of this blog. [click here to read first posting]. I don't blog as often as I used to, however this ten year milestone is a good time for me to re-evaluate my genealogy blog and to set new blogging goals.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Color Genealogy Filing System

Editor's Note:  This posting was originally posted on my blog on Sunday, February 15, 2009. Links to this blog posting were updated March 10, 2014, January 23, 2018, and February 2, 2018.

Genealogy is a hobby full of papers, electronic files, and heirlooms. The more documents we find on our family, the more the paper piles up. As a result, the excitement of finding information on our ancestors is overshadowed by the weight of piles of papers.

Since beginning this hobby in 1994, I have tried various filing methods such as notebooks and an ancestral number filing system. However, none of these methods have worked effectively for me. Many new genealogist use a notebook to organize their paper documents. I used a notebook also when I began this hobby in 1994. However, after accumulating many documents, a notebook did not work for me. A few years ago, I discovered the Family Roots Organizer Video in my local public library. Later, I purchased my own copy of the video which I watch periodically.

The foundation of this filing system for genealogy papers is based on a color-coding system for the pedigree line. This method recommends using one of four colors for each of your four grandparents.

  • BLUE: Paternal Grandfather
  • GREEN: Paternal Grandmother
  • RED: Maternal Grandfather
  • YELLOW: Maternal Grandmother

  • I modified this filing system to suit my needs. I’m not sure why I didn’t use the exact colors for each grandparent that were suggested, however, the four-color method still works no matter what colors are used for each grandparent. I also choose to use color file folders for both ancestors and collateral family and green hanging folders for all families. I use highlighters on the hanging file folder tabs for each surname. I choose the following colors for each of my grandparents.

  • Minor: Maternal Grandfather (green)
  • Emma: Maternal Grandmother (red)
  • Mack: Paternal Grandfather (blue)
  • Hattie: Paternal Grandmother (yellow)

  • Red, Green, Yellow, and Blue colored file folders are included in the spring colors of an assorted box of folders. Orange is also included in the spring colors and I adopted this color for my growing collection of DNA related files. The fall colors of an assorted box of file folders includes Grey, Maroon, Royal, Teal, and Purple. From this box, I have chosen Purple folder for my files related to white families in my research who are either slave owners, suspected slave owners, or some other relations to my family such as employer, landlord, or neighbor. I use the remaining colors for personal files such as bills and other financial related files.

    Since using this color system for my ancestral files, I can now immediately indentify from a distance the category or grandparent to which each file belongs. By the way, this color filing system can also be used with notebooks, instead of file folders. Some genealogists use white notebooks and place a specific color cover and strip in spine for easy identification.

    For more information, visit the websites below:

    Wednesday, January 10, 2018

    Memory Monday: School House Rock Songs

    Originally posted Monday, September 6, 2010

    Happy 45th Anniversary to School House Rock!

    Recently, I began humming my favorite school house rock song “Conjunction Junction, What’s Your Function? This was a song from a series of school house rock songs which played in between Saturday morning television cartoons during my childhood in the 1970s. I think that the Conjunction tune was my favorite because of the jazzy styled music and lyrics.

    Conjunction, Junction, What's Your Function?

    In addition to being entertained by various cartoons during my childhood, the school house rock songs would help children learn new things or reinforce things already learned in school. Many of the catchy songs were about the parts of speech such as “Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, get your adverbs here,” or “Interjections show excitement or emotions! . . . ” There was also a song about how a bill becomes a law which opened up with a personified bill character (piece of paper rolled up) sitting on steps of the nation’s Capitol singing, “I’m just a bill, yes, I’m only a bill, and I’m sitting here on Capitol Hill . . .” The character then proceeds to explain the process of a bill becoming a law.

    Thanks to YouTube, I am able to revisit my childhood memories and view and listen to these school house rock tunes from days gone by.

    If you also remember these school house rock tunes, which one was your favorite?
    Lolly Lolly Lolly, Get Your Adverbs Here


    How a Bill Becomes a Law

    Sunday, January 7, 2018

    Month 1-Genealogy Do-Over Setting Previous Research Aside-Paper Files

    Mission Statement:  During the 2018 Genealogy Do-Over, I would like to accomplish the following: To improve in organizing and managing my genealogy data, digital and paper files on my pedigree line so that I can pass this information on to my three sisters and nieces and nephews.

    In order to set previous research aside, you have to be able to find the documents. My paper files are scattered throughout my house. Most are housed in boxes upstairs in several rooms; some are organized in colored folders and others are not. However, some are scattered in various locations downstairs where I last worked with them because I did not return the papers to the permanent filing location. Last year, I began putting orphan genealogy papers found downstairs into a banker's boxes.

    Notes to Self
    1. One of my goals this month is to continue this process of gathering genealogy related documents located downstairs into one place into banker's boxes. 
    2. Next, I want to begin sorting and purging the contents of these boxes before placing them in their permanent location. 
    3. My long term goal is to move all of my genealogy related papers and resources to one room upstairs.

    I will report on my progress with this task at a later time.

    Happy Hunting!

    “Professor Dru” aka Drusilla Pair

    Friday, January 5, 2018

    Genealogy Do-Over 2018

    genealogy do-over button
    Most genealogist fall into the craft without any formal training and get caught up in the excitement of “finding their folks.” This excitement leads to the mass accumulation of digital and/or paper documents and other resources which usually become overwhelming. 

    I have been researching my family history for over 23 years and am one of the countless genealogists who finds themselves drowning in tons of genealogy data, documents, and other related resources. The Genealogy Do-Over has been a solution for me and many other genealogists to “learn new research approaches in order to improve and change our genealogy research habits.” The Genealogy Do-Over was started in January 2015 by Thomas MacEntee of Abundant Genealogy. It has returned for 2018 with the added bonus this year of the new DNA Do-Over group---click here to learn more.  

    Although I have participated in the Genealogy Do-Over on several occasions since its inception in 2015, I have never completed the entire process. However, I have decided to begin the process once again. During the 2018 Genealogy Do-Over, I would like to accomplish the following: To improve in organizing and managing my genealogy data, digital and paper files on my pedigree line so that I can pass this information on to my three sisters and nieces and nephews.

    I’m looking forward to much more success this time around! If you have not done so already, sign up now!

    Happy Hunting!

    “Professor Dru” aka Drusilla Pair

    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.