Tag Archives: genealogy

Day Five of My DC Trip

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Up early again, on this, the 5th day of my trip, Tuesday, Aug 6th.  Leslie dropped me back off at the DAR headquarters on her way to work.

Same scenario, I milled around outside until they opened.

I got my pass for the day.

DAR Pass

The dot means, I’m a member, and the green means it’s Tuesday.  There were still a few things on my ancestors I wanted to print, and I had promised my friends David and Diane that I would look in their Ancestor files, and print the documentation for them as well.

So I headed back to the computer room and printed, printed, printed.  Then I took a brief lunch break to eat, and then came back and printed, printed, printed.  When I got done, this is what I had printed.  This does not include the prints from the day before.

Copies from DAR

Wowza, right!?!

That combined with what I printed yesterday, was 35.5 lbs, and $215 worth of copies.

Want to know how I know?

I weighed those suckers, and 25 cents a copy add’s up, y’all!

I’m also glad to report that a lot of that cost was David and Diane’s.  I’m not so sure they were glad though.  OK, they were. They were thrilled when I gave them the copies. You guys know, it’s always exciting to get stuff on your ancestors.

Oh, and I could only check two bags on the way home, each had to weigh less than 50 lbs, and after carrying all this paper around for the rest of the day, let’s just say I was concerned about getting all this home.  I had to borrow a suitcase from Leslie to do it.  Both suitcases combined, weighed 90 lbs when they weighed them at the airport.

Whew!

OK, back to the recap.

Then I bought a few things in the DAR gift shop and waited on Leslie.  She got off work early and picked me up and we drove out to Arlington Cemetery.

This was amazing!

We paid for the shuttle, and just let me tell you, “Thank Goodness!”  I would have never made those hills.  It just goes on and on and on.  Plus, it rained on us.  I had an umbrella though, so that was all good.

Arlington Cemetery

If you have visited here and this doesn’t move you, and make you understand or at least see the magnitude of the sacrifice that our soldiers and their families make for us every single day, then I’d be really worried about you.

Seriously.

Arlington Cemetery

Some of these have multiple family members in them.  Buried one on top of the other.

Arlington Cemetery

Then we headed to the Kennedy Memorial.  I’ve seen this on TV, but it’s a whole other ball game to stand here and see first hand the final resting place of John F. Kennedy, and think about the sacrifice he made on behalf of our country.

Arlington Cemetery

The final resting place of John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline B. Kennedy Onassis., with two of their infant children.

Arlington Cemetery

Then we saw Robert Kennedy’s final resting place.

Arlington Cemetery

Just up at the top of the hill, above Edward Kennedy’s final resting place, is Robert E. Lee’s house.  There was one point when Leslie and I were driving through D.C. and I could see Robert E. Lee’s house way up on top of the hill, all the way across the city.  It looked as if it was looking down on everything.

Arlington Cemetery

And boy, was I right.  Here is the view from Robert E. Lee’s front yard.

Arlington Cemetery

Amazing!

This is a map of what Arlington Estate looked like back in 1860.

Arlington Cemetery

This is what it looks like now.  This is walking up the path toward the front of the house. You can see the garden, which is on the back side of the house.

Arlington Estate

This is the side of the house.

Arlington Estate

This is the front of the house.

Arlington House

This is a garden out to the side of the house.

Arlington Estate

And another one.  I’m not really even sure what this was used for.

Arlington Estate

This monument is near the Arlington Estate, and it is the Civil War Unknowns Monument. It was placed here in 1866, and is the first monument at Arlington dedicated to unknown solider’s.  This was the move by Quartermaster General Montgomery Meigs that prevented Robert E. Lee and his family from inhabiting the house again.  He knew when he ordered the graves to be moved here, that would be the outcome.

Arlington Cemetery

The inscription reads:

BENEATH THIS STONE
REPOSE THE BONES OF TWO THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED AND ELEVEN UNKNOWN SOLDIERS
GATHERED AFTER THE WAR
FROM THE FIELDS OF BULL RUN, AND THE ROUTE TO THE RAPPAHANOCK,
THEIR REMAINS COULD NOT BE IDENTIFIED. BUT THEIR NAMES AND DEATHS ARE
RECORDED IN THE ARCHIVES OF THEIR COUNTRY, AND ITS GRATEFUL CITIZENS
HONOR THEM AS OF THEIR NOBLE ARMY OF MARTYRS. MAY THEY REST IN PEACE.
SEPTEMBER. A. D. 1866

Then we decided to go see the changing of the guards and on our way to do so, we saw the grave of Audie L. Murphy.  Movie star, and most decorated WWII Soldier.  He received 28 medals during the war.

Arlington Cemetery Audie Murphy

Audie’s final resting place is across from the Arlington Memorial Amphitheater.

Arlington Memorial Amphitheater

This is where we saw the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Changing of the Guards.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Changing of the Guard

Changing of the Guard

Changing of the Guard

Changing of the Guard

Changing of the Guard

Then after we watched this, we went over to where the Memorials were for the Challenger Space Shuttle, the Space Shuttle Columbia, and the Iran Rescue Mission Monument.

Arlington Cemetery

The Challenger Space Shuttle Memorial.

Arlington Cemetery

The Iran Rescue Mission Monument.

Arlington Cemetery

The Space Shuttle Columbia Memorial.

Arlington Cemetery

Then we took our obligatory selfie.

Arlington Cemetery

Then, we went back to Leslie’s apartment, had a little supper and then we went to see the movie “White House Down”.

Totally appropriate for me to be in D.C. and watch this movie.  The best part of it was the movie theater that we went to, has recliners.

Yep, recliners baybeeeee!

I’m so surprised I stayed awake throughout the whole movie, because let me tell you, recliners in a movie theater is the way to go!  I was comfy!

Anyway, the movie was good, and we went back to the apartment and crashed.

End of this day.

Day Four of My DC Trip

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This was a day I have dreamed of for a long time.

OK, just for about four long years, but Hey!  That’s a long time.

On this day, August 5th, the fourth day of my trip, I went to the Daughter’s of the American Revolution headquarters.

DC -DAR

I became a member this past year.  It took me four years to prove my line of descendancy from my 5th great-grandfather, Thomas Bullard down to me.  Since the first moment I found out that I had an Ancestor that was part of the American Revolution, I have wanted to find out more about him and his role during the American Revolution and I wanted to actively participate in keeping his memory alive for the sacrifice he made in order to secure our freedom, so I decided to become a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Little did I know then, I had four other ancestors that also played parts during the American Revolution, but I didn’t find them until just this year when I started working on my mother’s side of the family.

If you don’t know this, when you apply to become a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, you have to prove who your parents are, who their parents are, and so on and so on, all the way up to the Ancestor that participated in some way in the American Revolution.  To do this, you have to submit birth certificates, death certificates, marriage licenses, etc., anything that proves your tie to your Ancestor.  This is NOT easy when you get back to the years before states started keeping public records.

What a trip to the DAR headquarters means for either a non-member, or a member of the DAR is that you can search for your Ancestor and if you find them, you can look in their file.  Anyone, who has become a member under your Ancestor, has submitted all the documentation listed above, and then some, to prove their relationship to the Ancestor, and if it’s in the file you can make a copy of it!

So, what did I do? I made as many copies as I could, but you’ll learn about that in a minute.

First, Leslie dropped me off on her way to work, and since I was a little early, they had not opened  yet.

DAR Headquarters

I decided I would walk around a bit and see what all was outside the building.

Here, in the photo below this, I am trying to get a selfie with the building behind me, but it is so huge, just like my head, that I couldn’t get the whole building in the picture.  Probably, I should have gotten more building and less head, but then it wouldn’t be a selfie right?  And don’t even ask what’s up with that hairdo of mine, cause I thought it looked great when I left Leslie’s but this selfie proves I was sadly mistaken!  I’m pretty sure I walked around all day like this too!  I guess that’s what I get for not getting up early enough to do more to my hair.  You will actually see that throughout the whole rest of the trip.  It seems I could never get going enough in the mornings to do much with this mop I call hair.

Me at DAR

Righto!

Next, I walked around to where Memorial Continental Hall was.  I never actually went into Memorial Continental Hall, because Hey! I was here to look up Ancestors and I just wanted to spend as much time on that as possible.

DAR Headquarters

Then on around the building there was this lovely statue.

DAR Statue

Then I looked at my watch, 8:30 am!  Whooo Hoooooo!  Who cares what’s on the other side of the building!

So, I got a move on to the inside of the building.

On my to the research entrance, this was on the ground, so I did pause briefly to get this. Briefly though, I was on a mission!

DAR

Next, I secured my pass for the day.  The dot means I’m a member, and the red means I visited on a Monday.

Visitor DAR

I headed straight to the room where you can get on the computer and look at your ancestor files.  When you find a page you want a copy of, you hit the print button, and 25 cents later, that copy is in your hand!  I was able to find bible records, the burial locations of some of my ancestors, read obituaries and see some pictures of relatives, all these things that I would have probably never been able to find anywhere else because some of these were personal records submitted by a cousin, that are not public records.

Boosh!!

So, on my first day, this is how much I was able to print off from my Ancestor files.  I got information from the files of John Smith, John Roberts, Abraham Neighbours, William Hooks, and Thomas Bullard.

DAR Papers

Boosh Boosh!!!  Whoop Whoop!!

Oh, did I mention save your money??

Yeah, that’s 25 cents a copy there folks.

Do I regret it?  NO WAY!

Would I spend that much on copies again?  OH YEAH!  ABSOLUTELY!

I printed every single thing I could.  But guess what?  I wasn’t even done!  I had to stop because I wanted time to go in the library.  Plus, I was hungry.  I thought I heard a dinner bell, but my imagination was running wild, it was actually the phone of the girl sitting at the computer next to me.  When I realized it wasn’t, my stomach didn’t care it was growling and I realized it was already after noon!  I texted Leslie, and she brought BBQ (she only works a couple of blocks from the DAR), and we sat in the break area they have and had lunch together.

Then I went into the Library after Leslie went back to work, and Oh my!  I wish I had taken a picture, but I’m pretty sure since they have a strict, and I mean strict, rule about cell phones in the library, I shouldn’t push my luck.  It was amazing though.  Two stories, and I mean an upper and lower level in the library, of information just waiting to be looked at!

I found several things in the library in books that actually cleared up a few things in my genealogy!  Yay!!  First, I found a book called Dennard Heritage by Norris Dennard.  There was quite a bit of information in there about my 3rd great-grandfather John F. Ball and his wife Hellen Dennard Ball.  I also discovered that Hellen’s father Kenady Dennard was in the war of 1812, and his father Jacob Dennard served in the American Revolution.

Wait, what?

Another Patriot!

And guess what, I forgot to look in Jacob Dennard’s file while I was there!  Can you believe that??  I’m still kicking myself in the rear right now.  It’s totally bruised.

Anyway, I copied a few pages of that book, and then I looked through some books about Texas.  Then I looked in some Methodist Books hoping to find something on my 3rd great-grandfather, Rev. John J. Triggs but I just didn’t have enough time.

I soon realized it was almost 4 p.m. and I knew this was when they closed, so I wrapped it up and headed over to their museum to mosey on through it for a minute.  They had an exhibit on the timeline of women’s clothing and had many, many beautiful dresses on display.

Sometimes, I wish ladies still dressed like this.  Then I think about feeding my chickens in a dress and not NO, but you know what NO!

Clothes DAR

I found the Red Cross uniforms to be really interesting.

Red Cross Uniforms at DAR

Did you know the founder of the Red Cross, Clara Barton was a Daughter of the American Revolution?

Did you know the Red Cross is located right next to the DAR?  They have a beautiful campus!

Another interesting piece I saw in the museum was this Life Mask of Gen. George Washington, the first President of The United States.  This was made by Signor Auguste Lenci of Philadelphia and he made it from a mold that was taken by French Sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon at Mt. Vernon in 1785.   Emmanuel Leutze used it as a model for his historical paintings of Gen. Washington.  He’s the one that painted Gen. Washington crossing the Delaware.  Did you know that?

Life Mask of George Washington DAR

Amazing, right?

It’s almost like looking right at him.  How in the world did he sit still for that?

Then, I got kicked out.

Well, not really, but they politely informed me it was closing time so I went outside and hung out for a while until Leslie got off work and picked me up.  We went back to her apartment and she cooked steaks for dinner and we watched Netflix.

It was a great day, and have I mentioned how much fun I had just hanging out with Leslie? It’s the best!

Day Two of my DC Trip

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This is my recap of what we did on Saturday, August 3rd. As you can see, this is August 14th, and I am way behind.  I had every intention of updating each night, but then my laptop went capoot, and I just didn’t have it in me, to do it from my iPad.

This day of my trip, was so tiring, that I just get tired all over again thinking about it.   My poor feet haven’t seen this much action since I was a teenager probably.

Speaking of which, the couch to 5k was put on hold during this trip because I was so busy there, and I was already doing so much walking, but there’s no worries.  I swear I have walked more this trip than I have in the last year.

Yay, me!

Ok, here comes the recap:

Leslie and I got up and drove back over to Bonnie’s house. We had a great stay in the local Holiday Inn Express thanks to Bonnie. Then we set to work visiting with Bonnie. She tells wonderful stories which I recorded and will be shared here with you in the future.  I can’t wait to get these recaps over with so I can share all the great genealogical stuff I found!

This is me and Bonnie.
20130806-071625.jpg

Here is Jim working on some files we were sharing back and forth and Bonnie was telling stories.

20130806-071908.jpg

Look at all that stuff on the table, what you can’t see is boxes, and stuff spread out on the floor that we went through.

I can’t even begin to tell you how wonderful it was to sit and listen to Bonnie talk about my grandmother’s family. I was so close to my grandmother my whole life up until her passing, and this just made me feel closer to her again.  When I look in Bonnie’s eyes, I swear it’s like looking in my grandmother’s.

We had a sad goodbye and departed. Leslie and I then headed to Camden, New Jersey where the U.S.S. New Jersey was docked.

USS New JerseyYou see these ships on TV in documentaries, but no one can prepare you for the sheer magnitude of them.

USS New JerseyLeslie and I tried throughout this whole trip to get a selfie at each stop.  Sometimes it became quite comical.
20130806-072210.jpg

Visiting the USS New Jersey was really special for Leslie and I because our cousin Mr. Carl Hurt served on the ship during WWII. This is Mr. Carl during that time.

20130806-072400.jpg

And this is my sweet Mr. Carl back in April when I last visited him.  He lives three hours from me, and I sure wish we lived closer together.

Carl Hurt - 2013
He’s fallen and hurt his hips and is not doing so good, so I was happy to call him from the ship. He was able to tell me what his job was, and what part of the ship he was on. I had him on speaker phone and one of the men working on the ship listened in, and asked Mr. Carl a few questions, and then he took us to the part of the ship that Mr. Carl worked on. This section was closed off to the public, so this was a very nice gesture.

USS New Jersey

Mr. Carl was a gunner loader, and he put these shells into the gun behind this man.  You can see the tip of one of the shells sticking up inside the gun, and he’s holding an empty shell that would eject out of the side of the gun.  He was explaining that when the shell would pop out, it would leave dings in the deck.

USS New Jersey

All those dings represent shells fired.

I had to beg this nice gentlemen to let me take his picture, he finally agreed and I’m so glad.  He went out of his way to show us where Mr. Carl worked and to explain Mr. Carl’s job to us.  He did not have to do this.  I wanted to be able to show Mr. Carl his picture.

John DiBlasio

I will give more details on Mr. Carl’s job and experience later, as this was just part of the process of the interview I have planned with him. He wants to tell his story from WWII and since Leslie and I were so close to the ship, I had to go and get some pictures for him and to see the ship myself.  Now, when he tells his story, I will be able to understand the ship.

I can see why these ships were made for young men (and women), because going up and down these stairs is no easy feat.  We weaved our way up and down and in out of the ship.

USS New Jersey

We tried out the beds, and I’m telling you, they should get an award for just sleeping on these things.  I’m inserting Leslie’s picture here cause she just looks way better than I did laying on this bed!  LOL

USS New JerseyBack up on deck and I can imagine that when these guns were fired, you would want to be below deck.

USS New JerseyTo show you the sheer magnitude of this deck, there’s a helicopter on here and there is still plenty of room for lots more stuff.  The helicopter is small in comparison.

USS New JerseyThe U.S.S. New Jersey is one of the most decorated ships in Naval history.

USS New JerseyAs we left the ship, I had to take one last look back, and think about my Mr. Carl and what he must have seen and done on this ship.  It blows my mind that we got to stand where he stood.  I can’t wait to share my experience with him.

One last look back, before we left.

USS New JerseyIt was getting really late in the evening by the time we left, and we decided to go to Philadelphia and find something to eat.

This was my first trip to Philadelphia, and I was in awe of all the history you can see just from passing by in a car.

Philadelphia

Philadelphia - Congress Hall

Philadelphia

Philadelphia

 

We parked and ate at Chili’s and then got back on the road.

Philadelphia

 

Then as we headed back over the Ben Franklin Bridge, what do I see but a beautiful rainbow!!

Philadelphia Rainbow

 

And an even more beautiful sunset!

Philadelphia Sunset

Guess what?

It’s not over.

Ha!  When we got back to D.C., Leslie wanted me to see how beautiful everything is when lit up at night, and boy was she right.

DC

 

IMG_4882

 

DC - Red Cross

 

DC -DAR

Now, it’s over.  Thank goodness.  I’m worn out just going back over the whole day.

I’ll be doing a catch up of the other days, and don’t forget, my two-year blog anniversary is coming up in just two days, and I have a huge give-away, so stay tuned folks!

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.

Kookie

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 http://aad.archives.gov 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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