Monday, November 14, 2011

Wonderful resources in unexpected places

I attended the final services at Friendship Methodist Church in Lyon County Kentucky yesterday. The land for the church was supposedly given by my great great grandfather, Noah H Cummins, in the 1850's. Attending that service were two other people descended from two other sons of Noah Cummins. One of them brought a bible which looks to have been owned by another son of Noah Cummins. Listed in the bible were the birth and death dates of several children, of Noah, who were born and died before the 1850 census records. I already had these names and dates, but they had come from a wonderful person working in the Princeton library who had found them "written on an envelope", so I had been looking for proof of the data for years. I promptly accosted this poor bible carrying newly found relative after the service to ask if we could please take pictures. He kindly agreed. I enjoyed meeting my new relatives yesterday and am overjoyed at the genealogical find. It's sad that the Friendship Methodist Church building is now up for sale, along with the lands surrounding it, which includes the graves of so many of my Cummins (and other) relatives (including my parents). A couple of my first cousins, along with my daughter, were at the service yesterday. Here's to you Noah!

Keep searching and make sure info is correct

The marriage records of a woman listed her as a Smith. A later census record showed she had 9 children with 6 still living. The children with the current husband did not seem to add up to the 9 children. The span in years for her pre-marriage to current marriage was across the 1890 void of census records, and we know the birth records are spotty for that period in the local court houses. I found a later census record with this woman living with an adult daughter after my "Smith" became a widow and living with them was a "brother-in-law" of the head of household son-in-law. The brother-in-law's last name was different from what I would have expected. I started looking for another marriage for that original "Smith" woman. I found one but couldn't prove it was her either. I finally found a death certificate for her and then went to look on find-a-grave and some kind hearted soul had posted a photo of this woman's tombstone. Boldly printed on that tombstone was the maiden name that I had thought I'd found, but been unable to prove, along with the final married name. Thank goodness for all the genealogy community doing the wonderful work that you do.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Keep reading those probate records

Keep reading through those probate records. Usually the reports from guardians just say how much money was received, from whom and the name of their ward. This guardian report listed in the probate records book actually gave a relationship for which I had been uncertain. It lists the ward, Wm W Jones as the GRANDSON of Peleg Rogers. I've been trying to find hard evidence of the relationship of my Elizabeth Jones (married to Willard C Town) to Wiley and Olive Rogers Jones and trying to connect Wiley Jones to other Jones' in the county and Olive to other Ro(d)gers in the county. Little pieces like this give me a few other clues. You never know where you might find something - read everything.

Kentucky, Probate Records, 1792-1977 Collection on
Lyon County Appraisals, Inventories, Sales, 1854-1870, Vol. 1
Page 645 (Image 376 of 379)
State of Kentucky County of Lyon
W J Rogers guardian of Wm W Jones a minor states that on this day he received a note against W H Harris dated the 15th day of January 1867 and due one day after date thereof for the sum of $23.18 for money due the said Wm W Jones from the estate of Peleg Rogers deceased the Grand Father of the said ward. No other estate due the said ward has been received by this affiant since his last report. That there will be a small amount coming to ward from the estate of Polly Rogers deceased, which when obtained will be duly reported. W J Rogers.
Sworn to and subscribed by W J Rogers before me this 19th day of June 1868
J W Clark Clerk

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Teaching - No longer a respected profession

I graduated from college a long time ago. I received a BS in Math with enough hours to obtain a teaching certificate since we were moving overseas right after graduation and I knew I would need that certificate to find a job. I taught with the Department of Defense for a couple of years and then taught for a year in Georgia upon our return to the states. At that point I decided to go into the computer industry. I was a software engineer for 14 years. At that point we had 2 children and the travel in that industry became a burden for them, so I decided to stick my toe in the waters of the educational system again.

On a personal level, teaching would let me work the hours that my children attended school and have the same summer schedule for the convenience of the family. On a professional level, I had learned a LOT over those years that would be advantageous to my students. I was older; I was smarter; and I could tell them about the relationship between the real world applications and the math they were having to take. I taught for one year at a private school and then taught for 10 years at the local high school until our youngest (child number 3) graduated. For the next 5 years I played around with genealogy and taught at our local genealogical society, taking one job for 3 years (during that time) to assist an office in converting paper medical records to a digital system.

I then received a call to help out a city middle school for the second semester as they'd had a teacher retire at Christmas. I agreed. Realize, that our local school system is divided between a county system and a city system. My previous local teaching (10 years) had been in the county system. This new 5 month stint was in the city system.

The school in the city was an "optional" school, meaning that there is usually a waiting list of parents to get into the school. Half of the kids are part of the optional program and half are from the surrounding neighborhood. When I taught for the county, I thought I was a good teacher. My students tested well, participated in class and most went on to college.

When I taught at the city system, all my Honors Algebra kids passed the appropriate standardized tests but then there were the other things I couldn't "teach" for most of the other classes.

I had a student fall asleep in my class. It was near the end of the class, so when the bell rang, I had the rest of the class leave quietly, with the intention that I would confront and talk with the sleeping student privately. Another teacher and I woke him and found out that the reason he was sleeping was that he had been in the emergency room all night with his brother who had been shot in the face. How does a teacher fix that problem? How can teaching math even matter to a student with a problem like that?

In yesterday's newspaper, the city system is saying that they will pay teachers based on test scores, and the teacher's salary could vary from year to year and oh by the way, they may have to take away all health insurance too. A teacher cannot MAKE a child study for a test at home; a teacher cannot MAKE a child bring a pencil, book or paper to class. There may be no parent at home to reinforce what the student has been learning in class and there may be no money for pencils or paper. A teacher is usually in the profession because they want to help children and have a love for a particular subject area (in the case of high school teachers). We go through many years of education to learn to teach. Anyone in any profession should ask themselves how THEY would like to be paid based on the feedback of their patients or customers. What if police officers were paid based on the effectiveness of the prosecution of those they arrested? What if a fire fighter was paid based on the portion of a house that was saved from a fire? Notice how those things are based on things over which the worker has no control - just like the issues swirling around teaching.

My daughter is about to graduate with a masters degree. She had hoped to teach middle school social studies, but sees these things being discussed, along with good, experienced teachers being replaced with young, non-certified Teach For America kids (saves the district $$).

Teachers cannot fix the social issues surrounding the education system. A math teacher cannot teach Algebra to a student who has not taken the responsibility to learn the times tables in third grade, but WHY did that child not learn the times tables? It COULD have been that they had a "bad" teacher, but I would think that the child did not practice those tables at home (MY children did) because no one was home to make them do it. WHY did the school pass the child on to the next grade if they didn't achieve what was needed? There are too many questions and issues and not treating teachers with the respect they deserve is part of the problem.

One of my honors students received a B on a report card. Her mother was at the school the next day wanting her child removed from my class. Luckily they didn't let her move and that child worked harder in the next terms, coming in for help after school and was very pleased with herself when she scored well on the standardized test. The good thing was that she had a parent who cared, but the bad thing was that the parent immediately decided that it was a teacher problem and NOT her child that wasn't doing "A" work that caused the "B". My responsibility was to teach the subject and give the student the grade they had EARNED.

I have no answers. Teaching in the city system opened my eyes to problems faced by those students. I had not seen those problems in all my years of teaching with the county system. Those two systems are being combined within the next two years. I think it is the best thing for the students but I don't know how the needed changes can happen that will actually help these students. Academic achievement is SO intertwined with the social ills of their environment. The lack of respect for teachers in the community appears in the classroom every day as lack of respect from the students for the teacher. THERE is a good place to start.

Thursday, October 27, 2011 - I'm impressed

I've been perusing the Kentucky Probate records the last few days, following one of my families. I was branching out into counties surrounding Lyon, Caldwell, Livingston and Christian. I went to look for Trigg and noticed that Trigg county probate records had been overlooked/dropped.....? I took a minute to send an email to let the folks know that they had left out Trigg county. I want you to know how pleasantly surprised I was to receive an actual response within a couple of days, not only telling me that they had replicated my problem/statement and they would let their engineering group know, but they also took the time to find Trigg on their wiki - AND send me the link - AND to find Trigg in their catalog - AND send me the link with the suggestion that I could order those probate records from the family history center. I've never received such a thorough and pleasant response from a support group - ever. Thank you familysearch.

I hope all of you take the time to let posters of data know if something is wrong - I'm one of those that sends corrections to when Wilson has been indexed as Hilson (or whatever the error) so that the next person will be able to find these folks too.

Just my thought for the day.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Emancipation of Cyrus White

I was reading through the Caldwell County Probate records (around 1848) trying to see if there was more enlightening information to help with one of my brick walls (Crittenden Armstrong) and I found this gem that I know would be wonderful for someone to find in their genealogical research:

Monday Sept 18, 1848; Caldwell County KY; Kentucky probate records 1792-1977; Order books, 1846-1850 Vol II; on family site. [ note from Debbie: image #130 of 217 in this series]

[note from Debbie: in amongst all the guardian notices and road surveys, I found this entry]:
Monday Sept 18th, 1848
This day a deed of emancipation was produced in open court and acknowlel'd by Peggy Smith liberating her husband Cyrus White, of yellow complexion about 5 feet 10 inches high, rather spare made & about 46 years of age.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Response to Geneameme

My response to the Geneameme from Jill Ball at:

The list should be annotated in the following manner:
Things you have already done or found: bold face type
Things you would like to do or find: italicize (colour optional)
Things you haven’t done or found and don’t care to: plain type
You are encouraged to add extra comments in brackets after each item

Which of these apply to you?

1. Can name my 16 great-great-grandparents [yes, and then the brickwalls start after that]

2. Can name over 50 direct ancestors [yes]

3. Have photographs or portraits of my 8 great-grandparents

4. Have an ancestor who was married more than three times

5. Have an ancestor who was a bigamist

6. Met all four of my grandparents [yes, but met one at age one, so no memory of it.]

7. Met one or more of my great-grandparents

8. Named a child after an ancestor [game him my maiden name as middle name – does that count?]

9. Bear an ancestor's given name/s

10. Have an ancestor from Great Britain or Ireland [both]

11. Have an ancestor from Asia

12. Have an ancestor from Continental Europe [yes]

13. Have an ancestor from Africa [don’t we all? not in recent genealogical history though – mtDNA]

14. Have an ancestor who was an agricultural labourer [Virginia & Kentucky tobacco farmers]

15. Have an ancestor who had large land holdings [Kentucky & Virginia]

16. Have an ancestor who was a holy man – minister, priest, rabbi [preacher]

17. Have an ancestor who was a midwife

18. Have an ancestor who was an author

19. Have an ancestor with the surname Smith, Murphy or Jones [ oh yes]

20. Have an ancestor with the surname Wong, Kim, Suzuki or Ng

21. Have an ancestor with a surname beginning with X

22. Have an ancestor with a forename beginning with Z [Zachariah & on with middle name Zara]

23. Have an ancestor born on 25th December

24. Have an ancestor born on New Year's Day

25. Have blue blood in your family lines

26. Have a parent who was born in a country different from my country of birth

27. Have a grandparent who was born in a country different from my country of birth

28. Can trace a direct family line back to the eighteenth century [ yes]

29. Can trace a direct family line back to the seventeenth century or earlier [ yes, my Salem witch family]

30. Have seen copies of the signatures of some of my great-grandparents [yes]

31. Have ancestors who signed their marriage certificate with an X

32. Have a grandparent or earlier ancestor who went to university

33. Have an ancestor who was convicted of a criminal offence [Salem witches gggggg aunts; not direct]

34. Have an ancestor who was a victim of crime [ again, Salem witches – this was actually crime against THEM]

35. Have shared an ancestor's story online or in a magazine (Tell us where) [blog & website: and

36. Have published a family history online or in print (Details please)

37. Have visited an ancestor's home from the 19th or earlier centuries

38. Still have an ancestor's home from the 19th or earlier centuries in the family

39. Have a family bible from the 19th Century

40. Have a pre-19th century family bible

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Heritage and Family Get-Togethers

Families are interesting. You have his relatives, her relatives, his kids, her kids, their kids, assorted spouses, partners, grandkids, step kids, all with different backgrounds and expectations. My family, from five, six or maybe more generations has been in Kentucky (arrived between 1797 – 1835). Kentucky was not “technically” a southern state, but my relatives in western Kentucky considered themselves that. They were sharecroppers, coopers, bricklayers, farmers, shopkeepers, preachers, keepers of the poor house, soldiers, tobacco growers, prison guards, and politicians. They came to Kentucky from South Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Vermont, New Jersey, Maryland, and Tennessee. My husband’s family has been in the south just as long. They were in Tennessee before 1800. His family ended up in Tennessee, Arkansas and Texas. They came from Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, New Jersey, West Virginia, Missouri, and Mississippi. His family members were farmers, mechanics, ministers, millers, soldiers and railroad engineers. My family was more rural. His family held more “city dwellers”.

What you call your parents or grandparents might be a regional thing or it might just be something that started because of what the first grandkid called the grandparents. My niece’s sons differentiate between their grandmother and great grandmother by calling one “cat mawmaw” and the other “dog mawmaw” because one has cats and the other dogs. My cousin was called “Dolly” (real name Mary Francis) all her life because her sister thought she was a doll the first time she saw her. One aunt has always been Aunt Shorty (real name Mary Agnes). I’ve never asked why on that one, but she IS fairly short. With blended families it can get interesting too. His kids call him Dad. Her kids call him Dave. Their baby calls him Dave instead of Dad (usually) because that’s what she hears her sisters, living in the same house, calling him most often. The first grandkids called me Mawmaw and the step grandkids are torn between calling me the same thing and adapting to a more non-southern name. I’ll still be Mawmaw on cards and in speaking about myself, since that’s how the “first” grandkids named me. I called my grandmother Mamma and grandfather was Papa. Other cousins called them Mamma Gray and Papa Gray. My kids called their grandparents Mawmaw and Pawpaw (they still do). I hear others calling grandparents Nanna, Nonnie, Grandma, Grandmother. I hear parents called Mom, Mother, Dad, Daddy, Papa. Where you live plays a part in these things too.

I’m proud of our heritage and our family. We smile and speak to strangers on the street. We take cookies to new neighbors. We say ya’ll. It’s our way of life. Folks should learn there’s a difference between southern and redneck; a difference between slow and laid back; between humor and sarcasm; between taking yourself too seriously and laughing with the crowd. Our family is very well represented with intelligence, education and opinions. There aren’t many afraid to express their opinions, but they all respect the others by listening to those opinions and then by expressing their own. We have very lively conversations. It’s so much fun to watch the younger generations find their place in those discussions. I like to think that those same discussions were going on around an oil lamp in Kentucky (or Texas) farm houses one hundred and fifty years ago as they debated the issues over the civil war or crops, just as we debate wars, economy, education and every other topic now.

Everything is always changing. We incorporate all these new visions and heritages into our family, and they bend and change as they blend in to the existing family structure. It makes everything very interesting.

Monday, July 25, 2011

1935 Buggy Picture

R.C. Gray and Ernestine Davis Gray. Not sure what year this was taken. They were married May 4, 1935, so I would guess it was around that time.

1955 Homemaker Training

Practicing to be the ideal little homemaker I am - NOT. February 1955

Thursday, June 2, 2011

I've made it to the playroom

VHS tapes galore. All those old Disney VHS movies from when my kids were small. I guess I'll call Goodwill and see if people are even interested in those. All those happy meal toys. How many cute little butterfly hair clips could one girl own? A box of wallets and makeup holder bags. Old cassette players. More stuffed bears and stuffed bunnies. They're so cute. I hope someone will enjoy those. We got rid of all the teenage mutant ninja turtles, transformers, GI Joe's and Star War things a few years ago. Now it's mostly girl stuff from the last one to leave home - Barbies (which she wants); Polly Pockets (which she wants); all the pretend play food and dishes; old jewelry; ribbons; clothes; shoes.... eventually I'll dig my way out of this room... sigggggghhhhhhhh.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Cleaning out that closet is hard

Things I found in that closet:
- 10 years of teacher planning books. Why did I keep those?
- Christmas mailing lists going back to 1969 (when we were married). Everyone sure moved often. Many old friends are no longer around. Some names I can't even place?
- Letters to (and from) the Vice President and to legislative representatives concerning the 1981 air traffic control strike; the 2003 foray into the Middle East; the nomination of a supreme court justice (Clarence Thomas); a letter my dad wrote in the 1950's to a legislative representative on things important to him (guess I kept up the tradition).
- Notation of cute things my kids said: pudmuddle (for mudpuddle); flippin' (jogging); In response to my question "Who made this mess?" - the 3 year old's response was: "Probably not me. It was probably David." (blaming it, as usual, on her brother); a tornado was a "big tomato"; yestertime was the term for anytime before today....
- Report cards of my children; test results for my children; notes from my children's teachers; notes from my students to me.
- Magazines from September 1981, following the firing of the PATCO air traffic controllers.
- Calendar books starting with 1980. Wow, we were very busy with work, kids, scouts, school, family, church, and many, many other activities. I wonder if I'd do it that way again?
- My parent's 1949 income tax return. He made less than $2,000 a year as a prison guard at a state prison in Kentucky.
- Military records for my dad and for my husband.
- Paperwork for the purchase of various homes and cars. Long ago, long gone. Out they go.
- a History notebook put together by my daughter in middle school. It showed various battles and coincidentally it shows the Battle of Saratoga which is what she's working on, this very week, to prepare a sample lesson plan for a possible fall teaching job...... (the circle of life?)
- a receipt for the deposit at the electric company in Incirlik Turkey in 1973. Finding things like that in my ancestor's papers would give me a clue as to where they'd been and what they'd been doing, but I don't think I want to keep all that stuff around, taking up space, and MY kids having to get rid of it later. A dilemma.
- a bunch of stuff with important numbers that will need to be shredded (darn!) before it can be tossed.
Now it's on to the next shelf where I need to figure out which computers I'm still using and which books and CD's I need to keep to support those computers.... sigh. Oh well, at least I haven't hit the playroom yet - that will be several weeks of work I'm afraid.

Oh, I did start a forum for our genealogy "Let's Discuss It" group. Right now, anyone can join. The address is here: We'll see how this works out. We were looking for a quick way to ask questions and post interesting things for the group during the month. Right now we only get together once a month (except for 2 months in the summer) and only I email them or give a handout at the meeting. This will let everyone stay in touch with everyone. I hope it's used.


Friday, May 27, 2011

What the first "summer thing" a teacher does

I don't understand it, but it seems that teachers have an uncontrollable NEED to clean or organize something the first week after school is out for the summer. I'm no exception as I sit here in the chaos of my office as I pull all the old computers, cables, cell phones, boxes with instructions out of my office closet. Also in this closet are office supplies (some I haven't touched in years), hobby supplies (paints, brushes, canvases, frames, beads); 3.5" floppy disks (haven't needed THOSE for several years); disks that came with old computers and on and on. Now I have to figure out where to take old computers and old batteries for recycling and what can go into the city trash. There are VHS tapes which I've already converted to CD; math books; arggggggh. This was the first thing on my "to do" list for the summer. The second thing is to clean out the upstairs play room. I kept all the toys the three kids ever had (how did I buy SO MANY stuffed animals) because I just knew they would want them for THEIR kids..... not. Oh well. I'm sure a lot of these things can be donated to some groups who will appreciate them. I just have to get rid of the "junk" first. See you when I dig out.....

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Posts should resume in about ONE MONTH

I've not posted on my blog in a year and a half. I had returned to work and for that first year away from my blog, was working to convert 60,000 patient records and a doctor's office to a digital system. It was extremely time consuming, but successful. Last January, after declaring the conversion project complete, I left to return to teaching. I've been an interim teacher in a Memphis City School, teaching 8th graders Algebra and PreAlgebra. The school year will be over the end of May 2011, and I'm not planning to return for the fall. This SHOULD mean I will again have time to devote to the blog. All along, I've stayed active in the Tennessee Genealogical Society by teaching classes and holding the once a month Let's Discuss It sessions; held three regional Towne Family Association meetings/get-togethers and worked with my husband on an ongoing class action he's handling. I look forward to being able to have more genealogy time. See you in a month!!