I realized quickly that I’d have to “think outside the box” to learn about my ancestors. I LOVE to interview people, and listen to stories about "the older days" when life seemed a little slower and simpler. I study USGS maps, plats, read chanceries, look for long forgotten cemeteries and try to help preserve memories people share with me. This blog is ad free, so it's easier to focus on sharing stories. Feel free to sign the guestbook, or join the FaceBook group. Even if we aren't related by DNA, I'd still love to hear about your research efforts and family stories. I am interested in posting (to this blog) stories relevant to the Mecklenburg-Brunswick families.

12 October 2011

A note about familysearch and Virginia records

Familysearch now has 2.34 billion indexed records available, of course for free! About a million records are added to family search every month. All free, because it is all volunteers, wanting to make records accessible. This is a 3 minute video explaining how a project took place between a historical society and familysearch. I wanted to post it, because I like to see the "behind the scenes" part of how I can get access to digitized records, and this shows a little of that.The lady in the video also gives some good info on how familysearch wiki can help you in your research. The more historical societies and churches that work with familysearch, the more accessible the records become. The more volunteers indexing and digitizing, the more quickly and accessible the records will become available to everyone.

There are millions of records world wide being uploaded monthly in many languages from around the world. Here is a link to the Mecklenburg, Virginia wiki page:

Here is a screen shot of the Virginia record collections today, 12 Oct 2011, not counting any Census records. Click on image to view full screen. If you see the word "browse images", that means it is not indexed yet, it is being digitized right now, at the earlier indexing phase. If you click on each entry, you get the full description and sourcing information. I just clicked on Virginia, Winchester, Evening Star Obituaries, 1899-1909. The description said: "Obituaries from the Winchester Evening Star arranged by year then alphabetically by name. Includes the years 1899-1909." Source info also given. You can compare the number of records in the collection to the number of posted completed records to know if the collection is complete. The date is the last date records were posted for that collection.

Hope this information might give you some new ideas for places to try to look for your ancestors. If you can't find a record now, keep trying again, because new records are regularly added.

25 September 2011

SB 865 Affecting VA vital records-Public Comment Deadline Oct 6th!

Update 26 Sept 2011: I'd like to thank Mr. Peter Broadbent for permission in posting his "Memorandum to the Genealogical Community" on my blog. Blogger cannot take PDF right now, so I unfortunately had to re-save it as JPEG, meaning the links do not work inside the visible Memorandum. Please note this important citation: that Mr. Peter Broadbent's Memorandum on this blog is attached with the full memo and legislative staff report at this link address that he gave me, posted (by VGS) at:

blog posting 25 Sep 2011:
A bill is about to go before the Virginia Legislature which will restrict records even more than they already are! Some records currently being handled by the LVA (Library of Virginia) will be taken by the VDH (Virginia Department of Health) if these new changes take place. The VDH has never been trained in how care for or archive records.

 Peter E. Broadbent, Jr., was the former VGS (Virginia Genealogical Society) President. He is also a lawyer who has explained in detail how this new law will affect genealogists in a paper called "Memorandum to the Genealogical Community". In this Memorandum, Mr. Broadbent states, "It is critical for all members of the genealogical community to file comments by October 6 with the Virginia legislative commission considering this issue."
 Mr. Broadbent also explains that the Virginia Department of Health will restrict more records, for longer time periods, sealing each record collection at least 25 years longer than current. (125 years for birth records). Also VDH restricts close family members from getting records. Senator Blevins from Chesapeake started this bill with the purpose to make records held by the Virginia Department of Health more accessible to the public, but instead the committee returned with the opposite expected results. The Virginia Genealogical Society and the Library of Virginia worked with the committee created for the bill called the Joint Health Care Study, on why Virginia records needed to be more open, including support from doctors about death certificates helping with family medical histories. They also gave the committee evidence that no legitimate identity theft or privacy issues were at stake. Instead the Joint Health Care committee came back with a report on Sept 19th to restrict records even more, the opposite of what Senator Blevins and archivists had intended. 
Mr. Broadbent's Memorandum explains in detail, 8 options and how to vote on each one to support genealogists and keeping records accessible to the public.
The following is the contact info Mr. Broadbent gives of where to send comments to: 

“     Please email comments referencing SB 865 (with your name and address) to
       sreid@jchc.virginia.gov, or fax them to 804-786-5538,
       Or mail to:                                     Joint Commission on Health Care,
P.O. Box 1322,
Richmond, VA 23218,

     To arrive by close of business on Thursday, October 6, 2011. “

“     If you are out of state, you might explain that you do research in Virginia, and that closing records will discourage travel to Virginia for research.”

1) This is a link to the Virginia Legislation Bill tracking page, so you can see where this bill is. Right now, the site just shows the bill is sitting with this Joint Health Care Committee. No date of the vote listed. http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?111+sum+SB865

2) If you would like to read a PDF about Senator Blevan's bill, here is a link to that, as well as more detail about the specifics about the bill titled SB 865:  http://leg5.state.va.us/User_db/frmView.aspx?ViewId=1980

3) This is a web site called:  Records Preservation and Access Committee. Note: Their top story is also about Mr. Broadbent’s words: http://www.fgs.org/rpac/2011/09/24/access-to-virginia-vital-records-oct-6-deadline/ Also note on this site there is a publication about the case for open access to records.
In conclusion, Virginia is often an example and trendsetter regarding records. 125 years of records being closed would prevent millions of American immigrants from seeing the records of their parents and grandparents. It would prevent people from knowing their roots in “the Old Country”. Record preservation and record accessibility are very, very important things to me. I normally would not put something political on my blogs. But I am making an exception this time, because we will lose access to Virginia records if we do not speak up.
My goal with this post, is to supply you with some information, so you can learn the details and come to your own conclusions.  If you feel as I do, please speak up, in the little time we have. Help do our part keep Virginia records open, accessible, and in the hands of Library of Virginia and professional archivists!
Thank you! --Julie Cabitto

17 August 2011

John Gray married Ann Purdy in Ireland

(click to view full screen)
My ancestor John Gray immigrated from Ireland in July 1838. The immigration record stated his wife was Ann, his daughter was Elizabeth, age 3, last residence Queen's county, Ireland. John Gray's family immigrated with Nicholas Purdy's family. The two families also settled near eachother in Mecklenburg, VA. I am very thankful my friend and relative Hobson Scott Wright found this record, and sent me a copy.

A friend that visited Ireland was told that people who lived in Queens county, were often there to save up for their passage to the United States. Other Irish families (Purdy, Joyce) in the Brunswick, VA area had stated they from northern Ireland area (Armagh), so Queens county didn't really make much sense any more, as to where John Gray would be from. We now know, that John Gray married Ann Purdy in Armagh, Ireland. We do not know how or if she is related to Nicholas Purdy. John Gray and Nicholas Purdy show up in records in the Seagoe Parish, in Armagh County, Northern Ireland.  It is most likely the economic collapse of the linen industry in Armagh in 1837 that led John Gray and Nicholas Purdy to immigrate to the United States.

Elizabeth Gray, was the daughter of John Gray and Ann Purdy. She was born in Ireland, immigrated to Mecklenburg, Virginia as a toddler (age 3), and later married Washington Clary in 1857. After Ann Purdy died, John Gray married his neighbor Sarah Elizabeth Jones. John and Sarah had 9 children, one of which was my ancestor, Alginon Gray. John Gray and Ann Purdy's marriage record is attached. Click to view full screen.

16 August 2011

guestbook information and goal

My guestbook is finally up and running! I will fine tune a few visual details over the next few days, including paying the nominal fee, so there is no ads. I want my blogs to be totally free, dedicated to just thinking about genealogy and preserving records. So, if you have Mecklenburg or Brunswick roots, feel free to sign the guestbook and state who some of your ancestors are. I have used a different guestbook for over a year on my Polish blog. That blog has received comments from around the world of people stating who and what they are looking for. The Slavic records and their availability are a bit more on the frontier in some ways, so I hoped we could all try to help each other along. People have commented they thought a guestbook could also help those searching for Mecklenburg roots. So I have now added a guestbook to see what collaborative efforts may be accomplished on the blog in this way. Click on the little icon, top right column. It is one more place for your message to be heard, (and indexed and made searchable on Google). I am listed on a few genealogy links because there is no profit or money, just the goal of sharing information and collaborative efforts. So, posting on the guestbook is one more way to get your message out about your Mecklenburg roots. I do very closely moderate my guestbook, and block spam the second I see it. Hope it may help us as we try to preserve some more of our Mecklenburg heritage!

23 March 2011

Current project: Adding records into my tree on Ancestry.com

The last three weeks, I've been adding and linking in hundreds of sources, into my tree on Ancestry.com. If you are related to families that were in Bracey, Blackridge and Ebony...such as Jones, Kidd, Poythress, Gray, Clary, Lambert, Taylor, Tudor, Glover, Rottenberry, Ridout, Lynch, Dortch...if you'd like to see updates to the tree, send me an email and I'll send you an invitation to my tree. I'm currently adding in Census and military records I had already downloaded for my records, for the last several years. I'm also adding in tombstone pictures I've taken. I'm also adding in links to my tree, such as Cemeteries of Brunswick County  that give the GPS and cemetery info to go with the tombstone picture or two I posted. I will also post those pictures on findagrave.com. Also, a little at a time I'm adding in records I have found in courthouses, and at the Library of Virginia (LVA). Most of the records I've scanned, will go into my tree next the next round of posting records. I expect this project to take a good 6 months, maybe a year to get everything posted and linked in my tree. Then as I scan the last of my records, I'll post those too. You know, it's always a work in progress!! I do love that there are always things to learn and find.

I'm not so happy with a lot of my tombstone pictures I took, pre-digital days, where I didn't see my shadow over half the picture; or that I took a really crooked picture leaning around a tree to get a half way hidden tombstone, but didn't give myself enough room to rotate and crop the picture. So I'm making a list of pictures I want to re-take, and more cemeteries I want to finish taking the rest of the pictures in the cemetery. And then of course I want to find some old family cemeteries to take pictures of. For now, I'm just posting the pictures I'm not so happy with, cropped really close, with a notation posted with the picture, that I plan to re-take that picture. I have also realized a big mistake I made. I first went to cemeteries like Rehoboth Church cemetery and only took the Gray and Kidd tombstone pictures. Then I realized more and more people were related, so I had to go back and take more pictures. (or still need to for some cemeteries) Also, when I post pictures, people are telling me thanks, they've never seen the cemetery, and they live too far away to get pictures themselves. I want to avoid the mistake of needing to go back. So now I will just take pictures of the whole cemetery. I can share the ones I don't know who they are, on findagrave.com, and someone related will find the picture and know. 

So there's an update on my current work in progress, and my plan for the next 6 months.