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…..

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

2016 Midwest African American Genealogy Institute (MAAGI)

Midwest African American Genealogy Institute (MAAGI)
Tuesday, July 12 to Thursday, July 14, 2016
Hosted by the Allen County Public Library (ACPL) in Fort Wayne, Indiana

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Call for Papers: International Black Genealogy Summit


Presents the
“Oral History Reflections-What Does the Story Mean to Me?”
Crystal Gateway Marriott
Arlington, VA – SEPTEMBER 1-3, 2016

The International Black Genealogy Summit (IBGS) is pleased to announce an invitation to submit lecture proposals for the 2016 IBGS Conference and Resource Expo.  The three-day conference is expected to draw over 400 participants, speakers and exhibitors.
A wide variety of presentations will be considered including children’s genealogy, web sites, Black research in the U.S. and internationally (presentations about researching African records to give  a more global focus), use of records and repositories either digital or brick-and-mortar, methodology, skill building, cultural and ethnic research in other countries, medical history, writing, publishing your family history, computers and technology,  genetics and DNA research, migration, immigration and naturalization records.   The committee would like to encourage if anyone has Original topic submissions are encouraged.  The IBGS Program Committee will consider proposals, workshops and other ground-breaking presentations.   Digital projector presentations are strongly encouraged.  Presentation time slots are a total of 60 minutes in length, including a 10-minute question-and-answer period.  Speakers may submit multiple proposals.  The IBGS Program Committee may select none, some, or all of a speaker’s proposals.  Speaker will provide his or her own laptop computer for digital presentations.

Speakers participating in the Conference will receive the following compensation package:
  • Complimentary registration for both days, with conference syllabus in print or CD format
  • $100 per lecture honorarium
  • 2 night hotel stay at Crystal Gateway Marriott  –  if speaker chooses to stay at another hotel, the hotel allowance does not apply.  Room nights are not part of the compensation package for local speakers.
  • Ticket to luncheon and banquet
  • Presentations with more than one speaker  will share the compensation package equally
  • Promotion – links from the IBGS web site to the speaker’s web site
Interested speakers should submit proposals electronically in PDF or Word format.
 The proposal(s) will be limited to two pages using the following format:
  • Your name, address, telephone, fax and e-mail address
  • Presentation title
  • Brief (25 word) topic summary for the IBGS program
  • Detailed description or outline of the presentation (for IBGS’ web site, press releases and other materials)
  • Audience level (beginner, intermediate or advanced)
  • Format of audio-visual material (PowerPoint, multimedia, etc.) 
  • A summary of recent speaking experience
  • Brief (50 word) speaker biography for IBGS program
  • Sponsorship (if applicable)
All submittals considered for the 2016 IBGS conference shall only be used by the committee for review.
Key Dates
30 September 2015                          Call for Papers issued
1 February 2016                               Call for Papers deadline for submission
1 March 2016                                    Invitations to selected speakers
Questions, inquiries, or submissions can be emailed to with the subject line Call for Papers Submission.
For more information, please go to our Web site click on Call for Papers Information.
Thank you for all you do to promote genealogy.

Bernard Wilson, Dr. Shelley Murphy

IBGS Program Co-Chairs

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”