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Friday, June 29, 2012

A Sea Venture in the latest Family Tree Firsts Post

The next post is up at Family Tree Firsts. You can read all about my adventure here.

Replica of the Susan Constant at the Jamestown SettlementI have done more reading and would like to correct a statement. In an article I read on line, it stated that he came with his son Giles to Virginia. Further study has me wondering where they found that information as I can only find records of Stephen coming over alone on that ship.

The more I read, the more fascinated I am by this man. He was a real character to put it mildly.  While I was in the Williamsburg area I picked up a pick to read on the shipwreck.  I hope it will tell me about the ship, about him, and about the circumstances that led to the mutiny and why he left so quickly from the Virginia Colony.  The book is titled The Shipwreck That Saved Jamestown:The Sea Venture Castaways and the Fate of America by Lorri Glover and Daniel Blake Smith. 

I have already bookmarked the pages that talk about Stephen, and in those few pages I am beginning to get a clearer picture of who he was.  He led a mutiny against Captain Christopher Newport in Bermuda because it was his feelings that Newport no longer had power over them.  After all, they were no longer on the ship, and Captains are only in command on ships.  They were not in Virginia so the new governor was not in charge of them.  On this Island their only master was god.  He was eventually pardoned of his death sentence for mutiny, and spent only two years in Jamestown.

Eleven years later he took his entire family on the Mayflower and he once again became the leader of the discontented.  Even giving a speech where he stated “when they came ashore they would use their own liberty, for none had power to command them.” 

Week 26 of Abundant Genealogy

Week 26: Genealogy Apps: Which genealogy app has made your family history experience easier? Who makes the app and what does it do? Share with others the details so they can learn about the app, too.

Oh goodness... this is a tough question. Which one of my babies do I love the most? Rip my heart out with the choices!

How about the one I use the most? That would be GoodReader. I love it! But don't take my word for it, read this review too, or this one, or even this one. This little app is one of the best tools for reading, editing, note taking, and modifying PDF's. Even better, you can take a website and make it a PDF from your iPad and then read it where ever as a PDF.

I have used it to carry articles, notes, files, and other documents to the library with me.  That way I didn’t have to lug my laptop or files of paper.  Everything I needed was one swipe away on my tablet.  Then if I needed to make a note I could write or type it directly onto the document and save it.  Even highlight the text and draw on the document. 

Check it out, for $5 it is well worth it.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Productive week climbing the tree

After extending the vacation a few days after summer camp, we are back home. Unpacking occurred and the laundry is in the machine. Whew, good to be home.

However, I did some family history research while I was down there. Just couldn't help myself. I mean heck, I was in Jamestown where Stephen Hopkins was. How could I not do some poking around for myself and learn what happened with the Sea Venture and its crew. I have to say there is a lot of conflicting information out there, but I think I have come to some conclusions on what type of man he was as well as the story of what happened.

I was also pointed, by a good friend, in the direction of a very good genealogy and local history library in Norfolk, Virginia. It is the Sargeant Memorial Collection located at the Mary D Pretlow Anchor Branch of the Norfolk Public Library. The staff was very helpful, kind, and they were very patient with all my questions. I thought I was just going to go in there and do some more research on Mr. Hopkins. However, much to my surprise and delight there was so much more!

They had county indexes and histories for all of Virginia as well as portions of North Carolina.

Yep, that included Surry County. I had only three hours there but I photocopied nearly 100 pages of records on several family lines.  There is a bit of reading ahead of me, and then entering it all into the computer.

As I uncover details I will be posting the findings here.  Keep an eye out!

*Image by me taken from the bow of the Susan Constant replica overlooking the replicas of the Discovery and the Godspeed. Jamestown Settlement, Jamestown, Virginia.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Week 25 of Abundant Genealogy

Week 25: Genealogy Database Software: Database programs have revolutionized the way we store and record our genealogy. Which one is your favorite? What are some of the tools and perks of the program that enhance your family history research? Share a link to the company website or vendor so others may learn more about this product.

I use Family Tree Maker from  This was the first place I got my genealogy toes wet and it seemed like a good idea to stick with what I was familiar with.  They update it frequently and have several features I really enjoy. 

* Ability to search the Internet from the program and attach information directly from the pages
* iPad app for on the go research (or sitting on the couch)
* Many charts, graphs, and forms
* Auto-sync from desktop application to online tree, and vice-versa
* On the dashboard you can see if you have messages or hints

So far it has been very user friendly and my only complaint has been re-doing all the source citations.  Yes, I am very picky and it has been an on going process.

*Image from the Library of Congress

Friday, June 22, 2012

Week 24 of Abundant Genealogy

Week 24: Genealogy Events: When it comes to genealogy events, our cup runneth over lately. There are so many fabulous family history events being held across the globe. For which one are you most grateful? Is it an annual event or a one-time thrill? Who runs the event? Why is it special?

I have to admit that I love the Virtual Conference that is run by Family Tree University.  As a busy stay at home mom, with no family in the area, it is near impossible to go anywhere.  Well, not without a lot of advanced planning and a really understanding babysitter.  (I lost our last one after the NARA Genealogy Fair due to late trains and commuting issues.)

This is a conference I can attend in my jammies.  If I have a birthday party that I need to take a child to, I can get a way for a bit.  Need to tend to a family emergency, not a problem.  All the classes are pre-recorded so I can attend them, and download them, when I make the time.  Chats are scheduled and you can meet the most amazing people!  It was such an amazing experience!

Perhaps I will "see" you at the next conference!

photo credit: ~Aphrodite via photo pin cc

Tetering on the edge: next FTF post is up

My next post for Family Tree Firsts up.  You can read it here.

I am sure everyone out there can relate to this feeling.  It may not have happened during a genealogy related experience, but perhaps because of a new job, starting school, or even moving to a new area.  Few people can admit to never getting nervous knots or having that what-have-I-got-myself-into feeling.  You are truly lucky, or blissfully unaware, if you haven't.

In the past month or so I can say that I have begun to get my feet truly under me in the genealogy community.  I can now read articles and understand the jargon without reaching for a dictionary.  The next step, whatever that may be, is looming around the corner.  For me I think it may be deciding if I want to dedicate my next career to this. 

My boys will both be in school this year.  For the first time in 12 years I will not have a child under foot during the day.  When will there be a better time to explore my options in taking this project to another level.  Whether that be doing more research, write a book, volunteer, or become a professional. 

Lots to ponder.  Do you have any advice for me?  Have you ever felt like you were perched on the edge of the pool?  If so, how did you overcome it?

See you in the water!

*Image from the Library of Congress

Monday, June 18, 2012

Sumer vacation strikes again

I will be in and out for the next several months.  The boys last day of school was last Friday.  This week we are at Summer camp.  In July we have a family vacation.  August is full of appointments already.  September school starts back up.  Whew... that made me tired. 

Needless to say I will apologize right now for sporadic postings.  I will be taking advantage of the the timed posting option for blogger.  Maybe I can crank out several posts on the weekend and spread them out.  Fingers crossed everyone!

If you have anything you think I should talk more about let me know.  Do you have any questions about the information I have posted, things I have found, or stuff I have done?  I'd love to hear from you!

photo credit: Brandon Christopher Warren via photo pin cc

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Part three is up at FTF

File:Consanguinitet.jpgThe last in the series on genetic testing is up at Family Tree Firsts.  You can read it here.

Still pretty bummed about the results, it was very promising.  However, like I said in the article, the results are out there we just have to wait for someone in a branch of our line to take the tests themselves.  My parents were gone for the last 2 weeks so I just told them yesterday about the results.  Dad was disappointed too, and told me that this seems like a lot of headache for me... why did I want to go through all the anyway?  Well, you see, now it is a challenge.  Sometimes, I just can't back away from a challenge!

At this point I have to go back to research the old fashioned way.  Keep plodding along trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together and find out who Charles's parents were and where in Virginia he came from.  There are many Combs families in Virginia, I just have to figure out which one he fits into.  Sometimes I wish a Combs cousin would fall out of the ether and give me that little piece of information that I need.  Hey, I can wish!  It has happened with a couple other lines...

*Image from wikicommons: L'arbre de consanguinité, Somme rurale de Jean Boutillier

Friday, June 8, 2012

Week 23 of Abundant Genealogy

Week 23: Family Traditions: For which family tradition are you most thankful? How did the tradition start? Which family members have been responsible for keeping the tradition alive and how has it shaped your own family history?

This has been a real stumper for me.  I can't think of any long lasting, multi generational, traditions.  Neither could my husband.  We have been together almost 20 years and we can't think of anything that we do that could be called a tradition.  Unless you count our annual pilgrimage to the grandparents for the winter holidays. 

The few memories I have of anything vaguely resembling a tradition revolves around food.  For example: at Christmas my Grandma Arvin would make a homemade cranberry relish.  My dad makes it on occasion now and then, and so do I.  It always reminds me of her, and many of the funnier moments growing up when you can laugh at someone blowing up a blender full of food all over themselves and the kitchen.

To be honest it is an easy recipe, but the key is letting it stew in its juices.  If you don't it is really bitter.  The longer it sits in the fridge the sweeter it gets.  I am guilty of one too many times not letting it sit long enough.  The pursed lips of my family from across the table and the look from my husband is the first clue that while I like it not everyone does.

Bag whole cranberries frozen (helps with chopping)
1 large naval orange
1 large green apple
1 quirt lemon juice

In a food processor (or blender) add the cranberries, and 1/4 of the orange peel.  Chop finely.  Separately slice the oranges and apples (with skin on) into thin pieces.  Add the cranberries, oranges, and apples to a bowl.  Squirt some lemon juice in it and sugar to taste (at least 1/2 a cup).  Stir and let sit for 1/2 an hour in the refrigerator.  Serve cold.

Maybe it will make an appearance at a dinner table this winter... and hopefully not all over the kitchen first.

*Image: Muffet via photo pin cc

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Part 2 of Genetic Geneaolgy Post

Part 2 is up today, and you can read it here.

I wanted to go through what all the letters and numbers mean on the tests to make sure people understood what they were looking at if they ever went through this.  There are a lot more letters, numbers, and jargon that goes into the testing process, but I am not quite ready to jump into all that yet.  Particularly if I don't have to right now.  Easing into the pool one toe at a time so to speak.

The archives that I have fond online have been very helpful, but I have not broken down any walls yet.  This will end with me making a trek to Surry County eventually.  Visiting the archives where I can see the records and not just the on-line index appears to be the next course of action.

Currently I am finishing up the post for next week.  I have the rest of the data finally and I am crunching the numbers.  No give aways, but you'll want to tune in to see if I have a match or not!

*Image of precipitated DNA from wikicommons: Deutsch: DNA im Naturkundemuseum in Berlin

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Week 22 of Abundant Genealogy

Week 22: Family Recipes: Family recipes are about more than just food. They provide sights, smells and memories of family history. Which family recipe are you most thankful for? Who was the first person to make it, and how was the recipe handed down through the generations? Has the recipe stayed the same all these years?

Many of my friends talk about a traditional dish they have for such and such holiday.  Their memories over the table and how making it reminds them of those special times.  Well, I seem to have an unusual family because there has never been many of those type moments.  My grandmother Combs always had a large family Christmas dinner until I was about 10 or 11.  Then kids started moving away and doing their own things.  By the time I was in college it was a simple affair with maybe 4-5 people.  We never had the same thing on the table two years running... except we always had turkey.

Some of my other friends have regaled me with stories of how a recipe was passed down through x number of generations and how marvelous it is.  That is cool, that is not my family either.  I think the oldest recipe I have in my collection is a simple roll recipe that was my great-grandmother Arvin's.  I could be mistaken on the source however.

When I think of food, family history, and those moments that I am most thankful for they usually involve birthday cake or great dinners in fantastic restaurants (many in Europe).  Seriously.  My mother doesn't cook, she has burned water in the past.  My dad was an experimenter in the kitchen.  You know the type.  He opened the fridge looked in it and started throwing things into a pot/skillet and that was dinner.  My grandmothers cooked meat and potato style farm dinners, really filling and artery clogging all at the same time.  Gosh they were good!

A few of my favorite, once in a while, meals I could request on demand from my father where Frito Pie and Irish Stew.  I talked about Frito Pie in this blog post.  Irish stew, as my father called it, was a variation on a Shepard's Pie.  It was ground meat (usually hamburger, but I have made it with lamb) that is browned with onions.  To that you add veggies like potatoes, carrots and peas.  Put a fair amount of water on it to boil and then drop homemade (okay they were usually Bisquick) dumplings on top.  Cover and let it steam until the dumpling/biscuits are done.  It was best on day two or three.  When I get to feeling bad and need comfort food this is what I crave!

*Image Library of Congress:  Escambia Farms, Florida. Mrs. McLelland cooking fried chicken for Sunday dinner

*photo credit: Nomadic Lass via photo pin cc

Week 21 of Abundant Genealogy

Everett and Paul Combs on trip back to family farm.
Church where siblings were buried
Week 21: Ancestor Tales of Hardship: In genealogy, there are plenty of clouds in the form of sad stories and hardships faced by our ancestors. These tales should not be forgotten because descendants can learn from them. Share with us a particular ancestor’s hardship story. How did these events impact your life?

Very few sad stories were ever told to me. Sometimes it felt like if you didn't talk about it, it never happened. I have more vague ideas and hints of peoples lives than full blown stories. A few times my Grandma Arvin would talk about the childhood deaths of her siblings or growing up on a farm. Grandma Combs would talk about growing up in town and how they made ends meet some months. Few of the stories had a lesson, and they tried to focus on the positive. Except for one that still surfaces in my mind on occasion about my great-grandmother Sylvia Freeman Combs.

In the mid-1960s my grandfather took his father back to the old family farm in Orange County, Indiana.  Grandpa would tell stories to his kids about how he walked behind the wagon from Orange County to Daviess County when they moved there in the early 1930s.  My dad told me grandpa was shocked to find the graves of 4 siblings he never new he had on this trip.

The family was very poor.   From what I understand from my father, they barely had enough food to feed everyone at times.  How they came to this situation, I do not know.  I do know that once they moved off the farm and into town where there was steady work their life improved greatly.  My grandfather was the third youngest child.  He new that he had a sister named Ruth who died in 1920.  Zelma and Everett Jr were born after that and lived full lives.  He did not know about those who died within a few months of their birth: Mary in 1924, Kenneth in 1928, Pauline in 1930, and Robert in 1933.

Grandpa asked about the graves was told a heart wrenching story about his mother.  She thought that as long as she could produce milk, she did not need to eat a lot.  All the food they had went to the children while she and her husband existed on whatever crumbs were left over.  Unfortunately, that is not the way breastfeeding works.  You have to feed your body so that you can feed your child.  With her best intentions, she starved her children to death.

When I first heard this story as a child I didn't really get what it meant.  Yes it was sad, yes it was tragic, but how could this happen?  Why didn't she just eat more.  Can you tell that I never had to go hungry before?  I didn't understand what the lesson of the story was.

As I aged, and then had children of my own, the implications of the tale hit home. I struggled with breastfeeding my oldest who was a micro-preemie. My next child was a breeze compared to the first and I prepared myself by reading everything I could. Proper nutrition was a must. You had to feed yourself to feed your baby. Sometimes I would let my mind wonder during the middle of the night feedings, more than once I thought of Sylvia, and I cried for her.

*Image from the Library of Congress: Nurse the baby Your protection against trouble : Inform yourself through the Health Bureau publications and consult your doctor /

Friday, June 1, 2012

Passports are a family thing

I have had a passport since I was 18.  When I was a freshman in college my mother was stationed in Germany.  Yeah... they ship me off to college and then go to Europe for a 3 year tour of duty.  The last thing my parents did before they left was take me to the base and get me a passport so I could visit them over breaks.  The experience wasn't bad.  Took a picture, signed a piece of paper, and 3 months later it showed up in my mailbox.

Since then I have renewed my passport twice, the last time this year.  Renewals are fairly easy things to do online now, and I never had to go into an office.  Typed it up online, printed it out, and then mailed it in!  My kids on the other hand have been a whole different story.  They have to get theirs renewed for a family trip we are taking and it has been hurdle after hurdle.  Some of my own making too.  I could go on and on about it, but I can already feel my blood pressure raising.

The one thing I kept thinking about while I filled out their forms:  I have to make this look nice so when my descendants look for passport applications they can read it!  Yeah, that thought actually went through my head.  Jeesh...

Think about how excited you are when you find that handwritten document from decades ago.  I bet the person filling it out was only thinking about how they have to fill this paper out, how quickly they could get it done, and didn't really think about who may see it in the future.  Who really does? That is unless they are in a field of study that has them coming into constant contact with original documents. 

Almost makes me want to take up old fashioned letter writing again!

photo credit: Baigal via photo pin cc