Monday, October 31, 2016

What To Do What To Do, What To Do?

Grandmother's Hankies, personal photo

They can be that proverbial two-edged sword. Family heirlooms. We are delighted to have these special items that once belonged to an ancestor or relative, especially those things which provide some special insight into their lives. But then, all too frequently in my case, these items stay stored in a drawer or box. And I continue to wonder what to do with them.

Last week during a visit to our local library, I may have found a few suggestions as to what to do with some of these heirlooms. As I was walking through the craft section of the library, I spied several books dealing with crafting family history and memorabilia. I added them to my check-out pile and then spent an afternoon looking through the books and considering some new possibilities.

Memorabilia Quits by Rita Weiss had some new takes on ways to use family items in a quilt.(1) In addition to the often seen T-shirt quilt and quilts made with family photos printed onto cloth, there were photos of a lovely quilt made with squares featuring "Grandma's Hankies". This made me think of the box in an attic trunk filled with handkerchiefs passed down from my Grandmother to my mother and now to me. All are still in excellent condition, lace and printed design still there; after all, these were used primarily in the Sunday purse when those ladies when to church. A smaller project might be making several pillows using some of the handkerchiefs, together with initials or a monogram. Or ... 

Judi Kauffman had a very interesting book, Memory Crafting Beyond the Scrapbook, which featured a number of smaller projects.(2) One quick project was a "Memory Tray", just a simple wooden tray with photos or cards displayed beneath a piece of glass. That might be a possibility for using some of my mother's handwritten recipe cards or a way to display Christmas photo cards received from family members. Another small project was a "Keepsake Envelope". This was essentially an envelope sewn from satin, lined with a soft material, designed for storing a piece of jewelry, an award, a baby bonnet, etc, together with a card describing the provenance or history of the item. This would certainly be a special way to protect and commemorate the medals my mother-in-law received as a college student in the late 1920s.

I've been an avid scrapbooker for years so I added several books on the topic to my stack to checkout. I especially enjoyed looking through Scrapbooking Your Family History by Laura Best.(3) One of my first scrapbooks was a family heritage book. I know how much time was involved in completing it so I especially liked seeing a number of smaller scrapbook projects in Best's book. For starters, she had a "Family History Jar". The jar contained a number of questions, each written on a strip of paper, together with a notebook for recording the answers. It would be a great conversation starter at family gatherings. She also reminded scrapbookers to provide a key identifying all those family members in group pictures. I loved the idea of a scrapbook page picturing a child along with photos of the person(s) for whom the child was named. Another simple idea was making one scrapbook page on a specific theme or person to hang in a 12x12 inch frame. This could be a page of photos from Christmas or other family gatherings to hang at holiday times, a collection of photos of a grandparent through the years, pictures of various houses where a family had lived, so many possibilities for an easy way to display a little family history.

Lisa Bearnson and Becky Higgins coauthored an interestingh book, Our Family Scrapbooks. It deals, of course, with large, heritage scrapbooks, but the book also presents some great small scrapbook ideas.(4) One of the simplest books was a "Family Faces" scrapbook, just a single photo of a relative on one page of an small photo album with the person's name or a short sentence about him/her on the opposite page. This is a great idea for young children whose relatives may be scattered around the country. Another small scrapbook was the "One Memory at a Time" book. This was a perfect way to use some of those interesting old photos like my grandfather working on the family farm or my father in a baseball uniform. This small scrapbook called for a 4x6 inch photo album, one picture on the left and a short descriptive paragraph about the photo on the right page. Finally Lisa and Becky used a similar idea for documenting family heirlooms, again having a photo of an item on one page and brief information about the item on the opposite page. This would be a way for me to provide information about Thomas Nelson's clock, my Grandmother's metronome, or my mother-in-law's college medals.

Several years ago, I started my Pinterest board Celebrating Family as a way to keep and share other projects related to family history. Once again, a trip to my local library stirred my creativity. Now I have more ideas about things that I could do as a way to celebrate and share some of our family stories with others.

Lessons Learned:

  • Our local libraries are filled with so many interesting books and materials.
  • Think outside the box. An craft or creative idea found in one source might be tweeked or expanded a little and become a great means for sharing our family stories or history.

(1) Weiss, Rita and Linda Causee. Memorabilia Quilts: Fabulous Project With Keepsakes and Collectibles. New York: Sterling Publishing Co, Inc. 2007.
(2) Kaufman Judi. Memory Crafting Beyond the Scrapbook: 130 Projects to Sew, Stitch, and Craft. Iola WI: Krause Publications, 1999.
(3) Best, Laura, Scrapbooking Your Family History. New York: Sterling Publishing, 2005.
(4) Bearnson, Lisa and Becky Higgins. Our Family Scrapbooks. Primedia, Inc., 2005.

Friday, September 9, 2016

The Slave Name Roll Project*: The Apprenticeship Indenture Rolls of Cherokee County, Georgia

"Power of Words" by Antonio Litterio,

By 1865 America's Civil War was over. With the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution (the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863) now recognized as law in the former Confederate states, previously enslaved individuals were now free.

While searching through Georgia will and probate records for information about some of my ancestors, I came across a series of documents for Cherokee County, Georgia Apprenticeship and Indentures from 1866-1904.(1) Every indenture for 1866 pertained to a former slave in Cherokee Country, as did most of the listings for 1867. The documents listed "freed negro" boys and girls by name, age, and the individual to whom they were indentured. There is also the statement that these young people had been counseled by the County Ordinary to make this decision. Responsibilities for the young person were clearly stated in the contract as were those of the employer. At the end of the period of indenture (the child having reached his or her legal age), the young person was to have been taught to read and write the English language as well as to have been taught a trade. The now adult was also to be given money (usually $100) and often a new suit of clothing. At the age of 21 for the boys and 18 for the girls, these former slaves would finally be able to live in freedom.

Each record is listed in the following format:
minor freed Negro -- to whom indentured -- age at the time of the contract -- type of work or trade -- # of years of the indenture -- date agreement was recorded
Note: I did not include any record which only referred to the individual as an orphan, likely to come under the care of the county, only those in which the indentured individual was described as being a "freed negro" or "freed child". I have left them in the order of how they were recorded rather than placing them in alphabetical order.

Joe McAfee -- to John M McAfee -- age 12 -- farm hand  -- 9 years -- 8 Jun 1866
Laura McAfee -- to John M McAfee -- age 6 -- farm hand -- 12 years -- 8 Jun 1866
Evaline McAfee -- to John M McAfee -- age 11 -- farm hand -- 7 years -- 9 Jun 1866
Sanford McAfee -- to John M McAfee -- age 13 -- farm hand -- 8 years -- 9 Jun 1866
Ed McAfee -- to John M McAfee -- age 13 -- farm hand -- 8 years -- 9 Jun 1866
George Wheeler -- to C M Wheeler -- age 15 -- farm hand -- 6 years -- 9 Jun 1866
Albert Wheeler -- to C M Wheeler -- age 13 -- laborer -- 8 years -- 9 Jun 1866
Emily Caruthers -- to Newton J Wheeler -- age 13 - house girl and laborer -- 5 years -- 9 Jun 1866
Lucy Dean -- to William H Dean -- age 10 -- laborer -- 8 years -- 14 Jun 1866
Harriet Hawkins -- to William W Hawkins -- age 12 -- laborer -- 6 years -- 9 Jun 1866
Joe Dupree - to William G Dupree-- age 15 -- laborer -- 6 years -- 14 Jun 1866
George Foster -- to William S Foster -- age 16 -- laborer -- 5 years -- 14 Jun 1866
Joshua Foster -- to William S Foster -- age 16 -- laborer -- 5 years -- 14 Jun 1866
Thomas J Evans -- to Phillip J Evans -- age 15 -- laborer -- 6 years -- 14 Jun 1866
Jane Evans -- to Phillip J Evans -- age 12 -- laborer -- 6 years -- 14 Jun 1866
Nero Underwood -- to Thomas G Underwood -- age 15 -- laborer -- 6 years -- 14 Jun 1866
Bob Strickland -- to Andrew J Covington -- age 12 -- laborer -- 9 years -- 15 Jun 1866
Alexander McCurley -- to George R McCurley -- age 10 -- laborer - 11 years -- 15 Jun 1866
Thomas McCurley -- to George R McCurley -- age 7 -- laborer - 14 years -- 15 Jun 1866
Mariah McCurley -- to George R McCurley -- age 9 -- laborer - 9 years -- 15 Jun 1866
Mariah Sorrells -- to Solomon Fuller -- age 9 -- housekeeper -- 9 years -- 16 Jun 1866
Jacob McGraw -- to George McGraw -- age 12 - husbandry [note: does not specify if it is animal or plant husbandry] -- 9 years -- 15 Jun 1866
Samuel Riggins -- to Sarrah Riggins -- age 9 -- husbandry -- 12 years -- 15 Jun 1866
Fanny Popham -- to William G Popham -- age 7 -- husbandry -- 11 years -- 5 Oct 1866
Sallie Donaldson -- to Joseph Donaldson -- age 11 -- husbandry -- 7 years -- 16 Jun 1867
Jessie Donaldson -- to Joseph Donaldson -- age 9 -- husbandry -- 12 years -- 16 Jun 1867
Edie Donaldson -- to Joseph Donaldson -- age 7 -- husbandry -- 11 years -- 16 Jun 1867
John Fletcher Conn -- to Sammuel Conn -- age 6 -- husbandry -- 15 years -- 16 Jun 1867
John Con -- to Samuel Con -- age 11 -- husbandry -- 10 years -- 16 Jun 1867
Henry Con -- to Samuel Con -- age 10 -- husbandry -- 10 years -- 16 Jun 1867
Emma Con -- to Samuel Con -- age 3 -- husbandry -- 15 years -- 16 Jun 1867
Dian Bruce -- to Burton Bruce -- age 10 -- housekeeping -- 8 years -- 16 Jun 1867
Rachel Pitman -- to William A Trasley -- age about 10 -- housekeeping -- 8 years -- 17 Jun 1867

Although I had previously found records for indentured servants in my research, these were the first I had come across that dealt essentially with children who had formerly been enslaved. These contracts present another view of life after the end of slavery in the southern United States. For this reason, I feel they can be helpful to researchers seeking to learn more about their previously enslaved ancestors.

Blogger Schalene Dagutis, through her blog Tangled Roots and Trees, developed the Slave Name Roll Project in 2015. This project is a means for listing the names of slaves as individual names are located through our research of wills, probate records, and property records. It gives us the opportunity to provide information so that present day descendants can make a connection to their enslaved ancestors.

(1) Georgia Wills and Probate Records, 1742-1992, "Cherokee County, Apprenticeship Indentures 1866-1904"; accessed

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Slave Name Roll Project*: Estate of William Perkinson, Cherokee County, Georgia

"Power of Words" by Antonio Litterio,
via Wikimedia, org

Among the will and probate records for William Perkinson (1784-1865) of Cherokee County, Georgia, there were several indications that William had owned slaves.(1) In the appraisal of his estate, recorded 1 Mar 1866, the first four listings were of his four slaves:

  • Elias, a negro man
  • Ben, a negro man
  • Warren, a negro man
  • Daniel, a negro man

Additional records indicated that two of these slaves had been hired out at various times of the probate process and thus provided additional income which was included in the assets of William Perkinson's total estate. 
  • negro boy Elins, hired for 9 months to Stephen Terry
  • negro man Ben, hired for 9 months to Stephen Terry
  • negro man Ben, hired for 9 months to T D Perkinson
Among the sale records of Perkinson's estate, there was no indication as to what had happened to the four previously mentioned slaves. By the final return for the estate in June of 1866, the Civil War had ended and all slaves had been freed. This suggests that Elias, Ben, Warren, and Daniel may have remained in Cherokee County, Georgia.

Among the Will and Probate Records for Cherokee County was a list of Apprenticeship Indentures, 1866-1904. Virtually all of the 1866 entries were for freed negro boys and girls, indenturing them to an individual until each turned 18. During those intervening years, they were to be cared for, taught a trade, then released from their indenture. These young people where no longer slaves, but I plan to list their names, ages, and person to whom indentured in a future post.

Blogger Schalene Dagutis, through her blog Tangled Roots and Trees, developed the Slave Name Roll Project in 2015. This project is a means for listing the names of slaves as individual names are located through our research of wills, probate records, and property records. It gives us the opportunity to provide information so that present day descendants can make a connection to their enslaved ancestors.

(1) Georgia, Wills and Probate Records, 1742-1992, Cherokee County, Inventories and Appraisements, 1854-1924, p 341, William Perkinson Estate; accessed on
(2) Georgia, Wills and Probate Records, 1742-1992, Cherokee County, Sales Bills, Vol B, 1855-1929, p 214, William Perkinson; accessed on

Saturday, August 20, 2016

My Top 10 Genealogy Programs

Gold Top 10 Winner by Sam Churchill / flickr

Randy Seaver in his blog Genea-Musing recently posted about his favorite genealogy programs. It started me thinking about those programs and web sites I most frequently use in my genealogy research. After compiling my list, I realized that my research strategies would be vastly different without my Top Ten. Some are free, some fee, some are web sites, others are software that I see as essential for my research. They are listed below in alphabetical order (after all,, I was a teacher and librarian forever).

  • Ancestry - This fee site continues to provide online access to a growing database of records that would be beyond my means to physically locate on my own. Their shaky leaf hints provide suggestions of resources, events, or individuals for me to fully research myself.
  • Digital Archives of Norway - For those of us with Norwegian ancestors, this free site is a must. In addition to census records and information on Norwegian genealogy resources, the web site contains online images of church records from across the entire country. Yes, the text is written in Norwegian, but by keeping Google Translate on and some Norwegian vocabulary cheat sheets I found on Family Search, I have been able to learn so much about the Norwegian side of my family.
  • Family Search - This free web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints provides online access to genealogy records from around the world. Some are similar to those records available through Ancestry. Other records are available only on Family Search. Some records are indexed, others must be browsed to locate information. The Family Search Research Wiki is filled with helpful hints, history and geographical information, and links to external web sites on specific counties or geographical areas.
  • Family Tree Maker - Bottom line, I would be lost without a genealogy software program, and Family Tree Maker remains my choice. It is my primary place to record everything that I learn about my family through my research. I like that I can develop new trees as I research a possible family relationship, then easily merge it into my primary tree if it is clearly a branch of my family tree. And, thanks to some new practices I started after my Genealogy Do-Over, I maintain much of my research log in the software itself.
  • Find A Grave / Billion Graves - These two, free web sites are helpful for locating cemeteries, burial locations, and photos of headstones or grave markers. Although the two sites are similar, each site maintains its own unique database. There is some duplication of names between the two sites, but using both sites greatly expands the scope of my research. I also appreciate the opportunity to gain access to Billion Graves' premium ($) resources by submitting new photos of grave markers or by transcribing information from photos of markers.
  • Fold3 - I maintain a fee subscription to Fold3 and use if frequently to search for military records, pension records, and, as a real bonus for one with many Georgia ancestors, access to old issues of The Atlanta Constitution. It has also proved helpful in locating information about the military units in which various family members have served.
  • Georgia's Virtual Vault - If you have ancestors who lived in Georgia, this is a fabulous web site. The Vault is a prime example of a state providing free access to certain digitized state records, i.e. marriage records, land purchases, confederate enlistment and pension records, maps, photos, the list goes on.
  • Google Drive - The free suite of programs has turned out to have many genealogical applications for me. I've found so many uses for Google Sheets, their spreadsheet app. Sheets lets me keep lists of materials to request for interlibrary loan, newspaper articles to locate, books to browse when I visit area university or genealogical libraries, timelines. Using Google maps, I have developed maps of family residences, ancestor farms in Norway, family migration routes, etc., all saved and accessible on Google Drive. The beauty is that all this information is available to me whenever and where I have internet access, on my smartphone, my laptop, or a library computer.
  • Hathi Trust Digital Library - HathiTrust is a partnership of academic and research libraries that provides both indexing and some full-view documents on its web site. It is similar to Google Books in providing access to numerous books that are out of copyright as well as access to a wide variety of research texts. The big plus for me is being able to have a guest account. This allows me to maintain my personal collection of go-to resources. I have a Georgia collection, a military records collection, and several others.
  • Transcript freeware - This free (for personal use) software was developed by Jacob Boerema. Basically, the software allows you to open a document pdf file or a photo into the top half of a split screen for viewing then to key your transcription of the document in the bottom half of the split screen. A previous post explains more about how you can adjust the light, font size, or contrast of the image to make the image easier to view. This is no autocorrect in Transcript, so your transcription can show the grammar, spelling, and punctuation of the document's writer. I've also found that transcribing a document often helps me pay closer attention to details that I might have overlooked were I just reading the document.
That is my list, for now, Already I can think of 10 more sites that have earned favored status for me. Now, it is your turn. What are your Top 10 sites or programs?