Category Archives: Genealogy

MILITARY MONDAY: RAY HOUSTON MARTIN, U. S. ARMY # 38173067

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In a span of 27 years my Martin hero, Ray Houston Martin, lived in a time of hardships most of us have never known.   This is his story:

Ray Martin

Ray Houston was born September 27, 1916 in Ida, Louisiana to Walter Houston Martin and Emma Pearl Bain. President Woodrow Wilson was elected to his second term of office in the fall of that year. The following year the United States declared war on Germany and became a participant in WW I. Ray’s father’s draft registration is dated September 1918 however, he never served. WW I lasted until the Treaty of Versailles was signed in 1919 when Ray was three years old.

By 1929 the stock market had crashed and Ray’s father, Walter, who had worked for Gulf Oil, now had diabetes and lost one of his legs. Unable to provide for his family, Walter became despondent and by the 1930 U. S. Census he was listed as a patient at the Central Louisiana State Hospital in Pineville, Louisiana. His wife, Pearl and their four unmarried children lived with her father. Walter remained at the mental hospital until his death in 1937.

Ray, being the eldest son in the family, worked, wherever he could trying to support his mother and siblings. He worked in the timber industry, the petroleum industry as well as for the CCC.

The United States declared war on Japan with the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Times were difficult for all American families and sacrifices had to be made. Gas was rationed, auto makers stopped making autos for private use, scrap metal and rubber were collected for the war effort and jobs were almost impossible to find. However Ray managed to find happiness with his fiancée Mary Craft of Leesville, Louisiana.

Ray Martin and fiance Mary Craft_1

On June 4, 1942 Ray enlisted in the Army. His records show he was single with dependents, namely his mother and siblings. In a letter to his mother on July 19, 1942, he speaks of money for her and saving good tires.

 

Ray Martin letter to Pearl Martin dated July 19,1942 pg. 1

 

Ray Martin Letter to Pearl Martin, dated July 19, 1942 pg. 2_1

Ray Martin letter to Pearl Martin dated July 19, 1942 pg. 3_1

In this letter he says that he’s “fit as a fiddle” but that it is hot there. Apparently he received a check from his mother that he says he returned to her by air mail. He encourages her to get out more and possibly go to Leesville for a visit. Then he tells her that she should start getting $22.00 about the first. He had applied for her as a dependent of his; however the government denied it, so he was having that amount withheld from his check and sent to her monthly. He states that he has had more money since he had been in service because he doesn’t go any place to spend it.

Then he goes into receiving a letter from the finance company regarding car past due car payments. He needs to make payments or they will repossess it. He says will tell them that he is but he isn’t. Then he suggests they take the tires off and put on some old “rags” if she doesn’t use it. He signs off by telling her to tell all hello; to take care of herself and that he will write more next time.

In a later letter he again wants the tires changed out (remember rubber/tires were difficult to come by during the war) and to sell them for $10.00 each and keep the money.

On March 29, 1943 Ray was killed while serving in North Africa.

Ray Martin's Notice of Death

I have tried to obtain his war records from the National Personnel Records only to be told the repository they were stored in had burned and that I should write again requesting a Final Pay Voucher. I did and the final payment voucher stated he was in Tunisia, North Africa.

In Ray’s short life he had lived through some historic events that occurred in our country that had had five Presidents: namely Woodrow Wilson, Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt. It was not until May 10, 1948, when Harry Truman was President, that his body was being shipped home by rail to Vivian, Louisiana for burial on July 9, 1948 at Bethsaida Cemetery in Ida, Louisiana. His body was accompanied by S/Sgt. William H. Nance.

Ray H Martin tombstone

Thanks for Ray and so many other young men who have served, who gave their lives or are presently serving in order that you and I may live in a free America.

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Throw Back Thursday: Stanley Girls

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Judy Bobbie Ann and Kitty Stanley

 

Judy Stanley, Bobbie Ann Stanley Mumford and Linda “Kitty” Stanley LeBlanc

The two cute little girls are my sisters, Judy and Kitty, and cousin, Bobbie Ann, was made about 1956 when we lived in Jefferson, Texas.  Judy and Kitty’s dresses were red and white polka dots.  The umbrella Bobbie Ann is holding actually belonged to my sisters and was red and white as well.

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THROW BACK THURSDAY: WESLEY BIRDWELL STANLEY

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Wes Stanley (in hat) baling hay

I am not sure of the date of this photo which shows my grandfather, Wesley Birdwell Stanley in the pith helmet, overseeing the bailing of hay. Please note it took seven (7) workers to run the hay bailer.

WEDNESDAY’S WOMAN: ANNA PEARL MARTIN DODD DODD

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Anna Pearl Martin, the second daughter of Walter Houston and Emma Pearl Bain Martin, was born September 10, 1910 in Ida, Louisiana.  Anna was named for her grandmother Anna Lyle Mangham Martin and her mother.  She was blonde with brown eyes and attended school in Ida.

 

Anna Martin Dodd

On March 10, 1928 Anna married Clell Dodd in Miller County, Arkansas and that same year their daughter Margaret Janice Dodd was born. The 1930 census for Madison Parish, Louisiana dated April 16, 1930 states that she was seventeen years of age when she married. According to a newspaper article from the Madison Journal dated July 4, 1930, Clell was killed by a freight train. The story states that he had been employed by Sondheimer Lumber Company however the saw mill had recently shut down. It is believed he was trying to board an Illinois Central train bound for Monroe, Louisiana where he was to look for a job. According to by-standers at the depot, he slipped and fell beneath the train and was badly mangled. Apparently the train crew did not realize the accident had happened as the train never stopped.

Anna Martin Dodd and daughter Margaret Dood Gray
Anna Pearl Martin Dodd Dodd and Margaret Dodd Gray

On March23, 1936 Anna married Clisto Dodd, a cousin to her first husband. Of this marriage she had a son, Bobby Ray Dodd. Bobby and Margaret were cousins and half brother and sister.
By the 1940 Census for Caddo Parish she is once again back in Ida, divorced and with two children to rear and educate. In need of an income, she worked for her grandfather, Benjamin Noel Bain after her grandmother, Margaret Price Bain died. She was his housekeeper and cook.

During the 1940s she moved to Doyline, Louisiana and became one of America’s Rosie the Riveters at the Army Ammunition Plant.

Daughter Margaret married very young and by the time Anna was 32, she was a grandmother. Margaret and her husband, Harry Gray and children, Harry Lynn, Janet and Clella Anna moved to California. Anna did not get to see them often however she did ride the bus to Vacaville a few times to visit.

In 1946 she is listed in the Shreveport City Directory as living at 1516 Jordan Street and was employed by Shreveport Garment Manufactures. Sometime thereafter she moved back to Ida where she worked as a cook in the local café. Bobby attended school there and was constantly into mischief however he and some other boys from Ida formed a band and thus began his love for music. Bobby served in both the Army and Air Force and later was a studio recording musician in Nashville, Tennessee.

1957 found “Aunt Nan” (as my siblings and I called her) back in Shreveport working at St. Vincent Convent where she cooked. The nuns loved her and were very kind and supportive.

Aunt Nan made it on her own through all the hardships life had dealt her. She never complained nor said an unkind word against anyone. For years she either rode the city bus or walked to work. She never owned a car until she was about sixty-five years old when she bought a little black Ford. Bobby taught her how to drive and she was off and running!

Anna Pearl Martin Dodd

This photo was made at the 1984 Martin Reunion held on Caddo Lake when we honored her as the oldest surviving child of Walter and Pearl with our version of This Is Your Life! She was humbled and embarrassed but enjoyed each person recanting their memories of her and what she had meant to them through the years.

She had the best hugs and always had time for all her nieces and nephews. She was a wonderful cook and in the kitchen something delicious was always ready for whoever might drop in. She had a large collection of frogs of all kinds; in what-not shelves, on the porch and other places around the house. She had a warming smile, a big heart and loved her family dearly.

With aging came failing health and Bobby moved her to his home in Conroe, Texas where she lived with him, his wife Jean and their children Michael, Tammy and Matthew. Anna passed away on July 20, 1992. She is buried at Bethsaida Baptist Church Cemetery in Ida, Louisiana.

Anna Martin Dodd

MONDAY’S MAN: BENJAMIN NOEL BAIN

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B N Bain

Benjamin Noel Bain, my maternal great grandfather, was born in 1856 in Alabama, the child of James Calvin Bain and Sarah Ann Tucker.  His parents moved the family from Georgia with an ox drawn wagon.   He is listed in the 1860 Census in Magnolia, Columbia County, Arkansas as four years of age.  On August 18, 1881 he married Margaret Price in Columbia County, although the license states he was a resident of Ida, Louisiana.   They lived in the southern part of the Arkansas near the Ida, Louisiana and Arkansas state line.  The community‘s mailing address was to Bain, Arkansas.

 

Benjamin Noel Bain and Margaret Price Marriage License

They moved about a half a mile south, into what is currently Ida. Benjamin Noel wanted to name the town for his daughter, my grandmother, Emma Pearl Bain Martin. However, Louisiana already had a post office named Bain as well as one named Pearl hence Ida was named for the daughter of J. R. Chandler, another Ida resident. At the time the town was wooded with wild animals all around.

Noel, as he was known, was a hard-working man, a bee keeper, a veterinarian (not degreed) land buyer and horse trader. According to Ludie Bain Stroud, a granddaughter, he once traded two mules and some syrup for a tract of land. Another time he traded a horse and saddle for several tracts that had been  homesteaded. The only documentation I have is a deed dated August 18, 1895 for one hundred seven four acres.

Benjamin Noel Bain

Noel served as a Caddo Parish Deputy from 1905 through 1923. His grandson, Roy was first a constable and then served as a Caddo Parish Deputy for thirty years. During that time Roy received many awards for his work including the most prestigious American Legion Award by then Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards.

Having being widowed twice, his mother, Sarah Ann Tucker Bain Gardner, helped Noel with burials in Ida. He would take his wagon to pick up bodies and build their coffins. Sarah, who was also a mid-wife, would lay out the bodies and line the caskets with silk.

Noel and his family, which consisted of daughters Ella Carl, Emma Pearl and son John Henry, were Baptist and attended Line Creek Baptist before joining Bethsaida Baptist in Ida. There were also two sons, George and David who did not live to adulthood. He was a charter member of the Ida Masonic Lodge #324 which was established in 1907. Both he and his wife, along with most of his children are buried at Bethsaida.

Benjamin Noel and Margaret Price Bain
Benjamin Noel Bain
October 28, 1856-April 6, 1941

MONDAY’S MAN: CLYDE HENRY STANLEY

My dad, Hector Clyde Stanley was born November 18, 1911 in Mira, Louisiana, the second of six children born to Wesley Birdwell and Beulah Thompson Stanley.  Granny and Pop Paw had some unusual given names for their children and so at an early age, Daddy changed his to Henry.  Later in his life when a bank in the small town in which we lived confused his bank account with another H. C. Stanley, he changed it again to Clyde Henry.  Imagine the night mare of researching his name in genealogy!  Luckily on most documents he is listed as Clyde.

I’m not sure how old he was in this photo but I’m thinking less than two years old.

Clyde Stanley's baby photo

When Daddy was very small, Pop Paw was a farmer in North Caddo Parish but at about four years of age, Pop Paw began making a living in the timber industry. They first moved to Fostoria, Texas, and they, along with other families working in the timber industry, lived in railroad cars. When logging was complete in a particular area, the train and its inhabitants would move to another location. Daddy told me they moved thirty four (34) times within an eighteen month period.

My grandparents were both musically talented and could play almost any instrument. Luckily they passed this on to their children. Daddy played the mandolin, however in the photo below with his brother, Audrion, he is shown with a fiddle.

Clyde and Audrion Stanley

In 1919 they moved to Ida, Louisiana where my grandfather farmed on shares. Apparently they did well as by 1924 they bought a brand new Ford Car. Daddy drove a tractor and worked on equipment on the farm. In fact, he told me he was the first person to hook up electric lights on a tractor. This would enable farmers to work at night when the weather was cooler. He wanted to patent his idea, which would cost $75.00, however Granny wouldn’t give him the fees.

Clyde with Farmall Tractor

Although I did not find out until I was eighteen years old, my Dad had been married prior to his marriage to my Mother. That marriage which was never spoken of in our family by any one at any time, lasted less than three years and there were no children. In 1933 my dad married my mother, Mamie Louise Martin and of this union, there were six children.

Tommy, Jim, Clyde and Mamie Martin Stanley
Tommy, Jim, Clyde and Mamie Martin Stanley

My grandfather left farming and went to work for several different sawmills in East Texas. Dad soon followed, although he had owned and operated a service station in Ida. At sawmills in Bivins and Atlanta, Texas he worked as a mechanic. I remember when we lived in Bivins bathing on Saturday nights in a washtub. It was not until the early 1950s that we got indoor plumbing.

In the mid 1950s we moved to Jefferson, Texas where he ran an ice plant and by my freshman year, we could be found in Ganado, Texas. Daddy worked for an oilfield service company as a mechanic. By midterm of my sophomore year we had left Ganado, went to Dayton and Liberty, Texas and finally back to North Caddo Parish where he worked for a tractor dealership and Mother owned a small café in Belcher. Mother had a new red and white Ford Falcon and Daddy drove one of those God awful green Studebaker cars that looked the same coming or going! After I married they returned to South Texas where he worked in Pearland, Humble and finally retired in Conroe, Texas. I think Daddy’s vagabond ways began as a child when his father followed the job regardless of where it took them.

My daddy was a superstitious man. He didn’t like gardenias because they reminded him of cemeteries. He wouldn’t have a cedar tree on the place because if they grew large enough to shade a grave you would die. He wouldn’t start a job on Friday that he couldn’t finish on Friday.

It was bad luck to sweep after dark or under someone’s feet. If we left home and something was left behind (mostly Mother’s purse) he would not go back for it. Bad luck!!

But the one superstition he branded me with was that of the black cat. Of course that one has been around for ages, but his obsession involved seeing one crossing the road in front of you. We either had to turn around, find another route so as not to cross the cat’s tracks or roll down your window and spit to wash out the tracks! Many years after his death I had my sophisticated Uptown New Orleans grandchildren in the car with me and a black cat crossed the road in front of us. My mouth began to salivate! Then I screamed, “Roll down your window and SPIT!” Of course they thought I had totally lost my mind, but soon realized when I pulled over and would not move until everyone in the car had hacked up enough saliva to wash out the cat’s tracks, that they had better SPIT! And for you information, I still do it today.

Daddy and I had a special relationship and he taught me much, such as one wrench from another, how to read a road map and much more. We loved to watch baseball games on TV together, sometimes rooting for the same team, sometimes not, but our cheers (or rants) were always as loud as if we were in the stands. When I was in my teens I made the comment that I wish we could see a Major League game in person. At that time it seemed only an impossible dream however it did come to pass when my brother Jim took the family to see the Astros play at the Astro Dome in Houston. I looked at him and said, “Did you ever think we’d do this in person?” only to be interrupted with wild cheering from the “Clyde Section”.

My dad was an intelligent man and a hard worker. He believed you gave a full day’s work for a full day’s pay. He was honest and never lied and stressed honesty at all costs. Perhaps I get my outspoken ways from him for in his words, “Say what you mean and mean what you say” or my favorite Clyde-ism, “Keep two things clean that are uniquely yours; your word and your name.”

The last time Mother and Daddy moved to South Texas he told me he would return to North Louisiana one day but he when never say when that day would be. Many times I asked and he never gave an answer so I turned to Mother as to when she thought that day would come. She told me Daddy thought you only go home to die. Weird I thought.

During the last year of his life Daddy was in and out of the hospital many times. It was then they decided to purchase a small house in Vivian and return to Louisiana. Don and I moved them back and two weeks later he passed away on January 1, 1980. Maybe there was something to his superstitions.

Clyde  Stanley 1976
Clyde Stanley, 1976

MONDAY’S MAN: REV. JAMES H. HANSON

My how the twigs of a tree do tangle and such is the case of James H. Hanson’s family which winds itself through my Hemperley, Stanley and Martin trees.    James H. Hanson was born in Georgia on October 22, 1853 to Jesse and Matilda Wade Hanson.  On October 10, 1867 he married Mary Jane Leonard in Cherokee County, Georgia.

James H Hanson and Mary Jane Leonard Marriage
In the 1880 Census he lived in Little River, Cherokee, Georgia and listed his profession as a furniture maker. By 1900 he and his family had moved to Cass County, Texas where he was listed as a manufacturer. During the next ten years, he had become a Baptist preacher and in the 1920 Census he was listed as an evangelist.

During an interview in the late 1960s with Beatrice Hemperley Tollison Crane Eason (granddaughter of James H. Hanson), she recanted the following story. “By 1901 James H. Hanson and wanted to be a preacher and so he went into the woods near his home and lived six months by himself. His family would bring food to him and during this time he learned to read, write and studied the Bible. Soon thereafter he became a circuit preacher and would ride his horse from church to church on the weekends where he would preach. He preached at Mt. Gilead Baptist near Vivian, Louisiana, Bethsaida in Ida, Louisiana and was also at Salem Baptist in Bloomburg, Texas.”

She also told me Rev. Hanson attended a Baptist convention with a Rev. Oliver in Washington, D. C. While he was strictly self-taught and had no formal education, he was chosen to be a speaker. He came home with a blue ribbon for the sermon he delivered.

Rev. James Hanson

James and Mary Jane raised twelve children in Cass County, Texas namely: Victoria, Dora, John R., Jim, Laura, Alice, Alfred, Robert Benjamin, Minnie Belle, Henry, Willie and Beulah.

Laura married John Daniel Luther Hemperley, the grandfather of my late husband.

Dora first married Basil Tollison; Beatrice Hemperley, daughter of Laura and John D. L. Hemperley, married Basil Tollison, her mother’s sister’s ex- husband!

Robert Benjamin married Roxie Lee Stanley, my grandfather Wesley Birdwell Stanley’s sister.

Jim Hanson, grandson of James and Mary Jane, married my mother’s sister, Gladys Martin.

Whew! I’m beginning to feel like there’s a monkey’s uncle in the tangled twigs of these trees. James and Mary Jane both lived to eighty-seven years of age and are buried in the Salem Baptist Church Cemetery, Bloomburg, Texas.

Genealogy: Edward Thomas Hemperley and Letitia Ann Maranda Dodd

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Edward Thomas Hemperley

Dr. Edward Thomas Hemperley

Edward Thomas Hemperley was born into the family of nine children of Edward Martin Hemperley and Rachel Powell on March 20, 1841 in Campbell County, Georgia. His childhood was spent in Georgia where he attended school and upon graduation began his life as a farmer. Edward didn’t particularly like this occupation and in 1860-1861 he attended lectures at Macon, Georgia to become a physician.

On March 3, 1861 in Fayette, Georgia he married Miss Letitia (Lettie) Ann Maranda Dodd, daughter of John Sample Dodd and Elizabeth Harriet Word.

Letitia Dodd Hemperley

Letitia Ann Maranda “Lettie” Dodd

John Sample Dodd was a prominent Baptist Minister in Georgia and has been written about in The Biographical Sketches of Prominent Baptists, The Preaching Dodds of Old Campbell County as well as The Sun newspaper published on April 2, 1881.

On September 9, 1861 Edward Thomas enlisted in the 27th Regiment of the Georgia Volunteer Infantry, Company E as a private. In November 1861 he was serving in Manassas, Virginia and listed as having chronic rheumatism. December 7, 1861 in Richmond, Virginia he was discharged for the disability.

Edward T Hemperley, Discharge 1861

The discharge states that he is 6 feet tall, dark complexioned, grey eyes, black hair and a twenty year old farmer. Physician M. Darnall, surgeon, further states that he has chronic rheumatism of the right knew preventing extension of the limb and that he believes that he will not get well as long as he remains in camp.

On August 1, 1863 Edward re-enlisted in the same Regiment at Fairburn, Georgia and served as a hospital nurse in Lake City, Florida in February 1864. March 11, 1864 he was suffering from neuralgia and was on inactive duty until October 25, 1864. His active duty included the battle at Lake City, and in the last battle fought at Bentonville, North Carolina.

Edward Hemperley parole of 1865

On May 1, 1865 he was paroled at Greensboro, North Carolina. He returned to Georgia where he and Lettie lived and he practiced medicine until 1869 when they moved to Miller County, Arkansas.

Moving from Georgia to Miller County was an arduous task. Four of their thirteen children had been born in Georgia and they, along with Edward and Lettie, road the train from Atlanta, Georgia to New Orleans. In New Orleans they boarded a steamboat going up the Mississippi River until they came to the Red River in Shreveport. Here they took another steamboat through Caddo Lake to Jefferson, Texas. In Jefferson they had to buy a wagon and an ox team for the final leg to Era, Arkansas. The final leg, which is about 50 miles, took two days.

They were greeted by family members who had already moved from Georgia. Edward’s brother, Andrew Simpson Hemperley and his wife Louise Catherine Dodd (aunt to Lettie) had come to Arkansas in 1856. Although Andrew Simpson had been killed at Baker’s Hill in the Battle of Vicksburg, his family was still there. Lettie’s uncle, Willis Henderson Dodd and his wife, Rachel Hemperley (sister of Edward) were in Miller County also.

In this area, Dr. Hemperley’s practice encompassed the states of Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas. According to Myrtle Hemperley Lloyd, Dr. Hemperley’s granddaughter whom I interviewed in the late 1960s, they had 760 acres of land, a saw mill, a shingle mill, a grist mill, and two cotton gins.

Dr. Edward Thomas Hemperley passed away in 1913 in Miller County. Stories are that following his passing, Lettie was often called upon to administer to the sick because of her medical knowledge. She is described as having an outspoken personality, personal magnetism, and high energy. Lettie died in 1926. They attended Evergreen Baptist Church and are both buried there.

Dr. Edward Thomas Hemperley and wife Letitia Ann Maranda Dodd Hemperley

Dr. Edward Thomas and Lettie Hemperley

IM000583.JPG

Evergreen Baptist Church, April 2013

Evergreen Church

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Who Do You Think You Are? – My 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.

Kookie

Where’s Old Henry?

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Genealogy is defined as the record, or account, of ancestry and descent of a person, family group and family histories.

I think Webster was wrong when he dreamed up that description! I have found, through my years of wanting to know more of my lineage, that it is much more than that. I’ve decided genealogy research is: 1) Like being a detective working on a “cold case”. A lot of the evidence has been destroyed, tampered with, and most of the eye witnesses are long gone. Yet you know a person existed or you wouldn’t be here. You also know that person’s life deserves to be remembered and recorded with the truth and dignity it deserves. 2) What Grandma Jones may have told you, may not indeed be fact, but stories passed down, gossip, or hearsay. The original story has often changed. So you set out to locate and record every Jones that may have lived near Grandma and determine if they are related to your “Jones Clan” and if the accounts handed down or fact or fiction.

It’s a jigsaw puzzle, crossword puzzle and a Rubik’s cube all rolled into one long search where you attempt to fill in the blanks, find the perfect fit and match all the squares. It is stomping through overgrown lots seeking hints of habitation of your ancestor one hundred or more years ago. It is countless hours of research, interviews, pouring over old records, photos and the internet hoping to find one small clue. It is visiting graveyards with maps, chalk, and camera in hand. And all the while you think there’s got to be a clue just around the corner, at the next courthouse, library, or museum. You are energized with the thought that, “Today’s the day I’ll find Grandpa Henry!”

Probably the most recent and exciting discovery I have made is, that while I may never have the Eureka! moment on Old Henry, I have found wonderful cousins along the way that I never knew existed. Such was the case when I recently connected with Susie Reynolds and Gary and Bessie Higginbotham. We have the same thirst to know more and share our discoveries. It was a fun day just to be in their company looking over photos, letters, and sharing stories of family members past and present. Had it not been for genealogy, I would never have made this connection.

My advice for anyone seeking to know more about their ancestors is to never quit on your search; never disregard any clue before proving it; never overlook those of the present while searching for your past! They may just be the jackpot you have been searching for.

~Kookie~

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