Category Archives: Genealogy

Meeting Cousins and Jersey Shore

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My plane arrived last night in Baltimore and Leslie picked me up at the airport. We drove to somewhere in Maryland to have dinner with Leslie’s friend Dan. I wish I could remember where, but that has left me. Anywho, the food was good and so was the company.
We sat and chatted for a while and had a great meal then we drove to Arlington, Virginia to Leslie’s apartment. She lives on the 12th floor, which makes me woozy.20130803-000924.jpg
By this time, it was getting late and we went to bed. We got up this morning and drove to New Jersey to meet Bonnie Ball Harkness Marsh, my 2nd cousin 1x removed, and her son Jim Marsh, who is my 3rd cousin. We got there just in time to eat lunch together and visit for a while.

Then we drove to Jersey Shore, at Asbury Park Boardwalk. This was a really cool place. We had a great time walking the boardwalk with Bonnie and Jim.
This is Bonnie and Jim.
We did a little taking in of the sights.
Then we decided we would walk down the beach to the water and stick our feet in the water. Bonnie stayed on the Boardwalk and waited for us to get back.




When we got back to the boardwalk, Bonnie was still waiting on us.
After this we drove back to Bonnie’s house, and had a great afternoon and evening. We traded family stories and genealogies and then we went to dinner.

Now it’s time to crash and rest up for tomorrow!

Who Do You Think You Are? – Kookie’s Review

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For months I have anticipated the return of one of my favorite shows, “Who Do You Think You Are”.  Even if I don’t know much about the featured celebrity, I hopefully will discover a new source for searching or find a hint that will lead me in a new direction.  Last night “Who Do You Think You Are?” made its 2013 season debut and left me with mixed reviews. 

For starters, searching for ancestors just doesn’t fall into place as it is portrayed on the show.  As someone who has done research in libraries, cemeteries and personal interviews over a period of more than thirty years, I can tell you that you may search months, years or decades to locate one document much less the entire life story of your ancestor. Sometimes you come up totally empty handed.

Personally I love Ancestry, the sponsor of the show.  In fact I have three family trees on their site and praise it as my “go to sight” for research.  However, I believe the illusion of how easy it is to discover your past, who you are, and your family’s place in history on “Who Do You Think You Are?” is just that…… an illusion.  The average beginning genealogist, I’m afraid, will get a false sense of tracing one’s tree.  And when disappointment sets in, some will lose interest and their tree will never branch with limbs and twigs.

Sure, if you are a celebrity and have money to travel, it would make the process easier.  If you are one of the fortunate ones that can hire a professional genealogist to do the research for you, oh well, you have just missed the personal satisfaction of a history lesson in places, events and your heritage.  To me, documents from a professional would merely become a piece of paper with names on it.  I wouldn’t have the pleasure of that “ah ha” moment!  There is no greater reward in genealogy than to discover a document or photo and have the feeling of accomplishment in your pursuit.

Kelly and Rachel  Brown, Kookie Stanley Hemperley and Mamie Stanley-4 generations

        Kelly and Rachel Brown, Kookie Stanley Hemperley and Mamie Stanley                     4 generations

Through the generations: Mother, Mamie Martin Stanley and I located cemeteries, interviewed family members, gathered photos and old documents.  My daughter Kelly Hemperley Brown and her husband Scott and I enjoy locating cemeteries off the beaten path documenting headstones as we go.  Rachel, who is about a year old in this photo, is all grown up now and currently is a Deputy Clerk in Caddo Parish Clerk’s Office. She has researched local court records for me and often accompanies me to different libraries searching old newspapers, microfilms and military histories.  In short, my research has included four generations sharing our family’s history and having that “ah ha” moment together.

While I find the celebrities heritage enjoyable at times, if I had my druthers, every once in a while I would prefer Ancestry send in a John Doe…… you know; ordinary researchers like you and me; the people who have brick walls and do not have the luxury of hiring the pros to do the work for us or to travel extensively.  Every person who has walked the face of this earth is deserving of having their story told regardless of their social status.

Another suggestion I would make to the producers of the show is that they allow the person with the most gathered information on the ancestor be allowed to travel on the discovery journey regardless of whether the featured person is a celebrity or a descendant of John Doe. Had it not been for the encouragement of and the companionship of my mother pointing me in the right direction when I began we would have not had the benefit of sharing what we discovered.  She didn’t have to wait until I arrived home with new information; she experienced it right along with me.

In conclusion when the celebrity located the grave-site of her relative of generations past and greeted it with “what’s up”, I thought how irreverent!  The first words from her mouth should have been that she would have loved to have known him and thank him for his contribution to the war, politics and her family.


Who Do You Think You Are – is back! Tonight!

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I’m so excited about “Who Do You Think You Are” coming on tonight.  You can catch it on TLC, and here is a clip of what can be expected this season.

I think it’s really cool that they take the celebrities and help them with their family tree. However, you know what I think would be cooler? Doing a non-celebrity person, such as myself, *cough *cough.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I totally enjoy the show and seeing what unfolds for these people. But I want them to help out people that can’t afford to follow the trail of the brickwall.  Let’s face it.  They can totally afford that journey without a TV show helping them.  Us Non-Celeb folks can’t just pick up and go to the place that holds the next clue, with a team of genealogist sitting in the library waiting to tell us what they have found.

Anywho, I can quit dreaming of that.

I’ll just keep plugging away at little by little and maybe before I die I will find out what my 2nd great-grandfather Francis Hereford Williams’ real name is and who the father of my 2nd great-grandfather John D. Parks is.

Maybe I’ll find out how us Higginbotham’s really descend from the Barbados Higginbotham’s.

Maybe I’ll find out how my 3rd great-grandfather Rev. John J. Triggs came from England sailing his own ship at the age of 17 and became a Methodist Circuit Rider and delivered the word all through the Indian Territories, and who were his parents back in England?

Maybe I could follow the trail of my German ancestors, the Roleke’s, back to Germany and find out what their role was during WWII.  Ok, maybe I don’t want to know that, but wait, I think I have to know!

Maybe I could find out about my Ball ancestors, and was the one born on the boat on the way to America from Ireland, really my 4th great-grandfather and what was his first name?

I could go on, but I’ll stop.  I know you all have the same list like I do, just different names and locations.

I am blessed enough to be able to go to Washington, DC on Aug 1st.  It will be my first trip and guess what I’m going to do?  I’m going to the National Archives, of course!  I’m going to see if I can find a clue to any of the above on my wish list!

I do have to admit, it would be great to have a team of genealogists waiting to help me, because realistically, I’m a little nervous about my first trip to the Archives.  Any of you ever been?  Got any tips?  I’m so afraid I’m going to get there and spin my wheels and come home empty handed.  I can’t afford to waste this opportunity.  I have to come home with the goods on at least one of my ancestors!

So, what about it?  If you showed up to the archives and the team from “Who Do You Think You Are” was there, and said “What do you want help with?  Where do we start?”  Which of your ancestors would you pick? Could you pick just one, or would you beg them to help with your whole wish list.

For the Genealogist in all of us

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Guest post by Colter Brian.

Colter Brian is a former private investigator/photographer and now a freelance writer. When he writes, he contributes to sites such as Online Searches. Some of Colter’s hobbies include spending time in the outdoors and perfecting his pasta recipes for his toughest critics; namely his two children.

It’s true, despite our very busy lives and careers, we still long to connect with one another, especially among extended family members. Often times due to our extremely mobile society, family ties can be severed due to job opportunities as well as lifestyle choices, creating a missing piece of the family puzzle. If you are one who values family connections, history and relationships, then perhaps by heeding a few of these tips can help you grow your research and quest for missing branches from your own family tree:

Let’s look at four tips below to get those bare branches filled and on your way to success:

Libraries: One of the best places you can go to start your research is your local library, not only do they have access to thousands of records and archives, but their staff is specially trained to help out with research. Be careful though, often times at historical and university libraries, there may be a fee associated with your research request. Always ask one of the associates there how much time they can devote to your question before they may have to start billing. Just getting started in the right direction, may be all that you need to get help on locating missing ancestors.

Venture into the creepy attic or the spooky basement: No doubt, there was probably someone in your own family who was a bit of a historian. If you’ve got those cardboard boxes full of old family memorabilia, then get them out and start researching the materials that you already have. Chances are there may be items like birth announcements, newspaper articles, personal letters and other odd pieces of history that you, the genealogist extraordinaire will have to uncover.

National ArchivesGovernment Archive sites: Often times you can start your family search right in the comfort and convenience of your own home. If you have a couple of key pieces of information (i.e. first, last name and year they immigrated) you can start plugging in the names to get your search started. A site like can be that great stepping stone. Imagine finding your great-grandfather’s immigration papers and actually seeing his unique signature on your computer screen. Imagine what a day it must have been for him, one that changed the course of your family history, forever.

Background searches: Let’s say that your great-aunt was the family historian, but when you spoke with her she relayed that she gave all her research to one of her cousins, someone she has lost touch with and not spoken to for years. What to do? Not to fret. Log on and do a quick and easy background check. Chances are for a nominal fee you can locate this person in a matter of moments. A place like Online Searches will get the ball rolling.

We all come from somewhere and if you’ve always wondered about your past then there’s no time like to present to start your research. Who knows what amazing things you’ll discover about your very own family? By following these easy steps you can be on your way to discovering a richer and more fulfilling history, the one of your story.

Good luck on your family search!

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Changes to the Website

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Good morning family and friends!

I just wanted to make you aware of a couple of changes to the website.  I have removed the “Genealogy” section, and if you had a link to a person in this section, I apologize.  This was giving me a headache, and it was causing behind the scenes problems with other areas of my website.  It was just too hard of a program to keep up with for me, and I had to keep contacting the guy that wrote the program to help me with it. 

Therefore, I went back to the original tree that I had on the website, and it’s a much, cleaner way for me to display my family tree.  Not to mention how much more simpler it is.

Now, you can search for your relative, or ancestor in the person index, or in the search bar on my home page.   This will also allow you to view anything posted in my website, related to that person when you search for his/her name, whether it is in the tree, or an article, picture or post I have made about them.

Thank you for  your patience with me, as I have tried to work around and find the easiest, most accurate way to showcase my information to you.

As always, if you find a person of interest to you, please contact me and I will share any information, photos, or documents that I might have.


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