Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Genetic Genealogist

Blaine Bettinger, author of The Genetic Genealogist was interviewed by Dick Eastman at the 2008 conference of the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS).

In addition to his blog on genetic genealogy, Mr. Bettinger has written as free eBook, "I Have The Results of My Genetic Genealogy Test, Now What?" The free book can be downloaded in .pdf format from The Genetic Genealogist blog and contained four chapters.

          • Chapter 1: What Is (And Isn't) Genetic Genealogy?

          • Chapter 2: How Do I Interpret My Y-DNA Results?

          • Chapter 3: How Do I Interpret My mtDNA Results?

          • Chapter 4: Monitoring the Field of Genetic Genealogy

          Video - Dick Eastman interviews Blaine Bettinger at 2008 FGS Conference

          Monday, January 26, 2009

          Inauguration Day 2009

          U.S. President Barack Obama is sworn in as the 44th President of the United States during the inauguration ceremony in Washington, January 20, 2009. The Bible Michelle Obama (2nd L) was holding is the same one that President Abraham Lincoln used at his inauguration in 1861. Daughters Malia and Sasha (R) watch the swearing in of their father.


          There are some days that you will forever remember where you were and what you were doing. Tuesday, January 20, 2009 is one of those days.

          Even though I only live a little less than four hours from our nation's capitol, I was not about to go there on Inauguration Day and deal with the large crowds and the cold weather. On a normal day with tourism and all, Washington, D.C. is crowded and congested. I even have relatives and friends who live in the Washington, D.C. area, but that still didn't convince me to try to make the trip.

          I was satisfied with watching the inauguration of our 44th president on television and online. My 86-year-old maternal grandmother Emma and I were glued to the television all day. Neither of us had ever watched an inauguration, but this one was quite special because of Barack Obama, the first African American President. Both of us were very excited and amazed at all the ceremony and pageantry of the festivities.

          When I saw the crowd cheering and waving flags, I felt like I needed to wave something. I didn't buy an American flag as I had planned, but I waved a small towel to show my excitement for this inauguration.

          How thrilling it was to watch as our new American President and First Lady walked down the street. Even though Michelle's dress was lined and padded, she still had to be cold. I thought about her later in the week when I wore a dress to work. As I got into the car to warm it up, I thought about my freezing legs and Michelle's freezing legs. Pantyhose and the cold weather just don't mix.

          I stayed up a little past 8 p.m. to see Michelle Obama's dress. Didn't she look lovely in this ivory gown?

          Sunday, January 25, 2009

          Conference Recordings

          Were you unable to attend a genealogy conference? Then, you can still obtain some of the information missed through ordering conference audiotapes or CDs. I ordered several audio tapes a few years ago in order to advance my knowledge in certain areas. These tapes have been invaluable to my learning of new genealogy techniques. The best thing about it, is that I can listen to them repeatedly. Audiotapes cost $8.50 and CDs cost $10.

 - Genealogy offers CDs from the following conferences:

          • 2007 and 2008 National Genealogy Conferences
          • 2008 Ohio State Genealogy Conference
          • 2008 Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) Conferences
          • Mesa Arizona Family History Expo 2008

          Various genealogy conferences held between 1980 through 2004 are also available on audiotape.

          Friday, January 23, 2009

          Creating a Podcast

          As an instructor of online courses, I began using voice in my courses for lectures and announcements. Prior to using voice, everything was text and reading. However, adding voice to the course has enhanced student learning and course interaction. Students are also able to record verbal responses to questions.

          Now that I see the value of adding voice in an online environment for learning, I’d like to try podcasting or adding voice to my blog. I already have the needed computer microphone and I understand that software needed for podcasting is free. I hope that that my fellow bloggers will join me in learning how to use this tool. Here are some video tutorials which explain the podcasting process.

          Creating a Podcast

          Podcasting in Plain English

          Thursday, January 22, 2009

          Aretha Franklin – Queen of Soul

          Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, did an outstanding job (as usual) in singing at the inauguration of our new president, Barack Obama. I loved Aretha’s grey outfit, especially the hat with the large bow. Although I don’t wear “church hats” on a regular basis, I admire women who wear attractive hats. I have a maternal family history of hat wearing and this probably contributes to my admiration for “church hats.” It’s just something about a woman in a hat that completes an outfit.

          Video - Singing “My County ‘Tis of Thee” at Inauguration of Barack Obama

          Saturday, January 17, 2009

          White House Video Tour (Part 1) - Oval Office

          This tour of the layout of the White House Oval Office conducted by President George W. Bush is quite interesting. I have seen many photos of this office, but having a tour is much more interesting. In just a few days, President-Elect Barack Obama will move into this office. Wonder what types of portraits, carpet, or busts will he choose?


          Wednesday, January 14, 2009

          Movin' on Up – The Obamas

          In less than a week, the world will witness history as the Obama’s move into the White House. This funny video, Obama’s Movin’ on Up captures the Obama’s rise to the White House.

          Tuesday, January 13, 2009

          Backyard Snow Photos

          The back yard must have been a favorite spot for picture taking for my mother and her brother and sister. I have several backyard photos of my mother and her siblings standing in front of a piece of our family history—a tool shed built by their paternal grandfather, Minor Thornton (1893-1966). The photos below are the winter wonderland ones, however, there are also some springtime photos taken in the same spot in front of the tool shed.

          I am told that Grandpa Minor was a carpenter by trade from Enfield, NC. When my mother and her siblings were growing up, their grandfather and grandmother would come to stay with their family for long periods of time. At some point, Grandpa Minor built this tool shed for his oldest son (Minor Elwood), who was my mother’s father.

          My mother’s sister, Emma Belle, with a nice big snowball. I wonder if she threw it at some one after this photo was taken?

          My mother’s brother John kneels in the snow for the photo.

          Uncle John plays with one of the numerous family dogs.

          This guy is probably my uncle’s friend Joseph. (I’ll have to ask either one of them to give me a positive identification.)

          Monday, January 12, 2009

          Memory Monday - I Pledge Allegiance to the Flag

          On a hot sunny day during the summer of 1969, I sat alone on my front porch. It’s strange that I would be sitting outside on the porch because I always preferred staying in the house when I was a child. Since my street was always busy with cars driving by, I probably sat on the front porch to watch.

          School was about to start, and I remember sitting on the porch that day excited about entering first grade. I always loved books and learning, so I can understand why I would be excited about school. Earlier that summer I attended a summer Head Start program which probably ignited my excitement for learning.
          On that hot summer day, as I sat on the porch alone, I thought about the Pledge of the Allegiance to the United States. I probably was taught this oath during my summer in Head Start. As I began reciting the oath, I wanted to do it perfectly. My dilemma was which hand to put over my heart—the left or right. I’m not sure if I recited the oath correctly or even used the correct hand, but I can still envision myself on the front porch trying to prepare for school by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag.

          Although I may have not gotten it right that hot summer day, I would have plenty of opportunity during my 12 years in public school to recite this oath and learn that I needed to place my right hand over my heart. During those years, we stood and recited this oath every morning in school.

          "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America,
          and to the Republic for which it stands:
          one Nation under God, indivisible,
          With Liberty and Justice for all."

          I was wondering if the pledge of allegiance is still done in public schools today so I asked my 7-year-old nephew. He said ‘yes, they did,” so I asked him to recite the pledge. He recited the pledge with his right hand over his heart. Without prompting, his 3-year-old sister mimicked her brother and put her right hand over her heart as her big brother recited the pledge.

          For information on the history of the Pledge of Allegiance, visit the following websites.

        • The Flag of the United States of America

        • Pledge of Allegiance
        • Sunday, January 11, 2009

          Aunt Della’s 99th Birthday Party

          On December 26, 2007, our family celebrated Aunt Della’s 97th birthday. The next year we celebrated her 99th birthday. Why the two-year jump in a year?

          Aunt Della’s youngest daughter and I found evidence through the 1910 census that she was born in 1909 instead of 1910 as she originally thought. I presented the evidence to Aunt Della in July 2008. (Read more)

          Birthday Party Invitation
          I received a birthday invitation from Aunt Della’s daughters and was thrilled to see an acknowledgement of her correct age. I’m sure that family members were puzzled as to why the invitation said 98th/99th birthday.

          Birthday Party Program
          Aunt Della’s daughters included a statement on the back of the party program explaining the age discrepancy at her birthday party held on December 26, 2008. I was very pleased to see this acknowledgment.

          Vital Statistics Office
          At the birthday party, Aunt Della’s oldest daughter informed me that she had taken her mother to the Vital Statistics office in our state capitol and showed them the copies of the 1910 and 1920 censuses that I gave her mother. My cousin was given an official document validating Aunt Della’s birth date as December 26, 1909 instead of December 26, 1910. My cousin did not remember what type of document she received, but she was told that it could be used to provide proof of her mother’s date of birth. She plans to send me a copy of the document.

          Lord, I want to Make one hundred, ninety-nine and a half won’t do
          By the time of the Aund Della’s party, the decorations, program, and cake all contained 99th birthday instead of 98th. When Aunt Della was asked to have words, she sang the following words to the tune of an old song entitled “Lord, I’m striving to make 100.

          Lord, I want to Make one hundred,
          Ninety-nine and a half won’t do.
          Lord, I want to Make one hundred,
          Ninety-nine and a half won’t do.

          Help me Jesus,
          To make one hundred,
          Ninety-nine and a half won’t do.
          Help me Jesus,
          To make one hundred,
          Ninety-nine and a half won’t do.

          The old song, “Lord, I’m Striving to make 100,” is not about striving to turn 100 years old, but rather striving to live a perfect and pleasing life unto God. Nevertheless, Aunt Della changed the words to this familiar song and her party guest joined her in singing.

          Birthday Tributes
          Aunt Della was presented with tributes by her three daughters, grandchildren, great-grands, other family members, and friends. Her great-grands presented her with a large picture of President-Elect Barack Obama.

          Save the Date - 100th Birthday Party
          Aunt Della’s youngest daughter asked everyone who attended the party to SAVE THE DATE December 26, 2009 to celebrate her mother’s 100th birthday party.

          Wednesday, January 7, 2009

          Blogs in Plain English

          If you are wondering what a blog is, then this is video explains it in plain English.

          Tuesday, January 6, 2009

          Granddaddy’s People

          Who are these people? I really want to know!

          This picture has been in the photo album of my maternal grandparents every since I can remember. My grandmother Emma says that these are some of my granddaddy's kinfolks, but she doesn't remember who they were. My maternal Granddaddy was Minor Elwood Thornton (1913-1979), and he lived in the Enfield area of Halifax County, NC until around 1940. From there he moved to Newport News, VA, where he remained the remainder of his life. I believe that this photo was taken somewhere in North Carolina and that these individuals were likely family or friends.

          One of Granddaddy’s cousins, who is in her mid 80s, has looked at the photo, but she does not know the names of the people in it. Hopefully I can find some other older family members who may be able to identify the individuals in this photo.

          Monday, January 5, 2009

          Memory Monday - Penny Candy

          Today, I will begin a series entitled “Memory Monday.” I got this idea from Greta Koehl of Greta’s Genealogy Bog . In her posting about her 2009 New Years resolutions, she made the following statement:

          "I usually refrain from making overly ambitious resolutions, so I am not going to make one of the big genealogy resolutions – writing down the story of my life for my own descendants. That’s just too large an undertaking. However, I can cut that resolution down to size: I resolve to do the job in small bites, a memory at a time. To that end I am going to aim at committing one memory a week to paper and if I succeed in doing that, it will show up on the blog for “Memory Monday.”

          Writing our own memories is something that we genealogist tend to forget to do. I encourage all genealogy bloggers to join Greta and I in writing our own memories in small bites for Memory Monday.

          I’ll start with a childhood memory about penny candy.


          Gone are the days when penny candy actually cost one brown penny. Now it costs five cents or more for one piece of candy such as a Mary Jane. Real penny candy existed when I was a child during the 1970s. During these days, a child could be given pennies, nickels, or dimes, and they could march to the corner store and buy a bag full of sweet treats. The corner store closest to my house was around the corner and was owned by a retired mail carrier who lived on my street.

          I salivated as I stared into the glass case of the candy counter staring at all the candy choices and telling the store clerk which candies I wanted and how many of each. The clerk would fill up a tiny brown paper bag full of my candy selections with treats like Mary Janes, Squirrel Nuts, bubble gum, or Twists that came in various sweet and sour flavors such as grape or watermelon.
          After paying for my candy with pennies or other small coins, I would march home happily with my bag full of treats, while eating some on the way.

          Sunday, January 4, 2009

          Elizabeth Shown Mills

          Elizabeth Shown Mills is well known in the genealogy world for her books on genealogy methodology, citing and evaluating sources, and documentation.

          On the 2008 Genealogy Conference and Cruise, Ms. Mills was interviewed by Dick Eastman.

          Through this interview, we can learn more about this author whom every serious genealogist should want to know.


        • Interview – Elizabeth Shown Mills

        • Books by Elizabeth Shown Mills
        • Saturday, January 3, 2009

          How to Create a Blog with Blogger

          I began blogging in February 2008 and have thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Blogging has helped me to increase my amount of genealogy and technical writing. Through it, I also have learned to use new web technologies and have made many new online friends. It only takes a few minutes to set up a blog. Here is a video tutorial to teach you how to get started.


          Video - How to Create a Blog with Blogger

          Thursday, January 1, 2009

          2009 Genealogy Goals

          New Years Day is here again and it’s that magical time of the year to refocus and set new goals. Not only is it a time that people traditionally make resolutions, but it also is a time of reflection about the previous year.

          I set four genealogy goals during the year 2008 and shared them with the Family Tree Maker genealogy buffs on our website at

          1. Finish organizing my paper files into folders and notebooks.
          2. Declutter and get rid of unnecessary genealogy related papers (printouts, pamphlets, etc.)
          3. Write and publish articles for genealogy newsletters and journals.
          4. Organize computerized genealogy files and update and document all findings in FTM.
          I did not fully complete all of these goals, however, I did make significant progress on fulfilling goals 1, 2, and 4 Although I did not get around to submitting genealogy articles for publication to fulfill goal #3, my amount of writing increased significantly during 2008 through my discovering of blogging during the earlier part of the year.

          Much of the year was spent on organizing my family related genealogy paper files. I am organizing my family files in color file folders; one color for each grandparent (red-maternal grandmother, green-maternal grandfather, yellow-paternal grandmother, and blue-paternal grandfather. I also adopted orange colored folders for my DNA related files.) This color coding file system will be further explained in other blog postings this month. The beauty of this filing method is that I can readily identify which of my four grandparents a file belongs. For some grandparents, I have a lot of paper files, such as for both of my grandmothers. The color coding filing system also allows easy expansion on any of the four lines.

          I discovered blogging in February 2008 and began with a PowerPointers Blog. In March, I began the Find Your Folks genealogy blog, and this is where I poured my writing efforts in 2008. At the end of 2008, I had 106 postings on my genealogy blog, as opposed to only seven on the PowerPointer's blog.

          For the year 2009, my goal is to continue working on completing the 2008 goals, and to pursue bigger and better genealogy endeavors. Last year was my first time writing down my genealogical goals, and these goals mainly focused on writing, documentation, and organizing genealogy files and data. However, this year’s list is a bit more comprehensive and categorized and I have tried to think of all the multiple components of my genealogy career.

          2009 Genealogy Goals


          • Write, Write, Write!

          • Write and publish articles for genealogy newsletters and journals.

          • Write a book on my family history.

          • Write articles for Find Your Folks blog

          Update, Organize, and Document

          • Finish organizing my paper files into color folders

          • Declutter and get rid of unnecessary genealogy related papers (printouts, pamphlets, etc.)

          • Organize computerized genealogy files

          • Update and document all sources in Family Tree Maker Software.

          Attend Conferences and Classes

          • Attend the National Genealogy Society conference in Raleigh, NC in May

          • Attend the Black Genealogy Summit in Indiana in October

          Fellowship with Living Descendants

          • Attend at least two family reunions

          • Continue to contact living descendants of ancestors in order to find additional family information

          DNA Testing

          • Have additional family lines tested to determine their African connection, or relatedness to other families with the same surname

          Genealogy Presentations

          • Conduct at least two genealogy workshops

          Blogging and Technology

          • Continue genealogy blogging and strive to post daily

          • Learn how to use new blog tools to add to blog

          • Learn how to podcast and post to blog

          • Continue using Facebook for genealogy social networking sites

          • Explore other new Internet resources that will aid in further advancing genealogy