October 2, 2015

Davis Family Reunion

My Davis family reunion is tomorrow and I'm really excited about seeing the family. Unfortunately, the weather here on the east coast is very very wet and may impact attendance. For those hardy souls who are willing to venture out in the torrential rains, we'll have the requisite BBQ and tables of food.

I like to think of family reunions as more than just an opportunity for us to eat and chat. Reunions should honor those who came before us and give us an opportunity to learn more of our family history.

Sadly, many are just not interested in those who came before us or just want to see the pictures. I love sharing the pictures, but what is a picture if you don't know anything about the person? Or the circumstances that caused the picture to be taken? 

For example, what was going on in the picture below? Was this a family reunion? A church event? Or just Sunday dinner? Wish I knew!

I think heavily each year about how I can provide info on the family history without boring people to death. I'm not sure I ever hit the mark, but every once in a while someone will email asking about family history and that makes me very happy.

Ummm....this would be me.

September 17, 2015

Wake County Genealogical Society presents JC Knowles and The Life and Times of Andrew Johnson

Please join us for the first Wake County Genealogical Society meeting since
our summer hiatus.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015
7:00 p.m.
Place: Olivia Raney Local History Library
          4016 Carya Drive
          Raleigh, NC 27610

Speaker: J. C. Knowles

Topic: The Life and Times of Andrew Johnson

J. C. Knowles is a well-known speaker and teacher with an amazing resume. He
is the official Ambassador of Apex, North Carolina, and he was the 2007 Apex
Citizen of the Year. He is a publisher, writer, auctioneer for 44 years
(retired), North Carolina Historian, a member of the Apex Rotary Club, the
Swift Creek Exchange Club, and the Kiwanis Club of Raleigh. He served on the
Raleigh/Wake County School Board 15 years, the North Carolina Historical
Commission  for six years, and the President Andrew Johnson Commission for
10 years.

J. C. and his wife were married on July 21, 1954, on national television. He
was born in Wallace, North Carolina, on June 28, 1928, and raised at the
Oxford Orphanage 1930-1943. He served in the Merchant Marines and the U. S.
Army, and he taught North Carolina History to fourth graders for six years
as a volunteer.

Meetings are free and open to the public.  Guests are welcome. Bring a
friend!  Refreshments will be served during social time after the

August 16, 2015

Louisa Davis Allen, 1917 - 2015

Louisa Davis Allen
Louisa Davis Allen passed on July 19, 2015. She was 97 years old. My 1st cousin one time removed, "Liza" was the daughter of Ernest Davis and his wife Evie Allen. She was one of 10 children born in Granville County, NC.

When she was 19, she married Richard Lee Moore, Sr. They had two boys: Vance Julian and Richard, Jr. Vance passed in 2006, and some think he may have had a twin who did not live past birth, Ernest Davis Moore.  

Lisa married Paul Parker Allen when she was 36. I'm not sure what happened to Richard Sr, though he may have been killed in WWII, although I cannot find a death certificate for him. Paul Allen died in 1974.

Liza once showed me a gold wedding band she said belonged to my great great grandmother, Lucinda Davis. Granny Lucinda (Liza's great grandmother) died in a house fire in 1922. I have a grizzly image in my head about that ring on her finger, but aside from that...it made me very happy to be able to see my great great grandmother's wedding ring.

Liza lived all her life in the Granville and Franklin County areas in central North Carolina. 

Edith Davis Gulley, Buss Davis,
Richard Moore, Jr.,
Charlie Davis, Louisa Davis Allen,
Mildred Davis Parrish
Edith, Vera, and Louisa Davis (sisters)

Liza was quite the pickle. She had the reputation for being very opinionated and didn't care who knew it or what they thought of her. 

She was one of a kind, for sure. 

July 12, 2015

Abandoned, Old and Interesting Places in North Carolina

Photos by the talented guys at Abandoned,
Old and Interesting Places
I've been wanting to give a shout out to the really talented photographers who maintain the FaceBook site "Abandoned, Old, and Interesting Places."

Scott Garlock and Cye Gray use their talents to document disappearing Americana. I'm especially pleased the Americana they are taken with is my beloved North Carolina. 

All of the pictures to the left are from their FB pages and I can't tell you (or them!) how much I enjoy following their stores and photos. 

So be sure to give the page a visit, but only when you have time to linger and really appreciate the beauty of another time in North Carolina history.

June 24, 2015

Grimes Wills

If you've done research in North Carolina for any length of time, you are probably familiar with Grime's Abstract of North Carolina Wills.

I've referenced it many times at the NC Archives or in one library or another. But did you know that it's online now??  WooHoo!

Maybe it's been online for a long time and I'm just now seeing it. But it's new to me...so it might be new to you, too!

It is on the Library of Congress site, as well as others, but the link I use most often is in the East Carolina University's Digital Collections

Just a bit of North Carolina trivia:

  • John Bryan Grimes was NC Secretary of State for 22 years.
  • His daddy was Confederate Major General Bryan Grimes.
  • His granddaddy was a Congressman.
  • Before he entered NC politics as a Democrat, he was a tobacco farmer. 
  • He grew up on his family's plantation in Pitt County.
Source: NCpedia

God bless Mr. Grimes. He sure left us researchers a true gem.

June 21, 2015

Ancestry.com: Is it time to part ways?

I love Ancestry.com. I know a lot of people gripe about them and I'm sure they have good reason. But my experience with Ancestry has always been a good one, ever since it was MyFamily.com back in the dark ages when not everyone had a home computer. Like around 1989.

Ancestry has kept me entertained and utterly entranced for many a happy hour. And I like having my public tree on Ancestry. Not only does it serve as a sort of back up to my tree on Family Tree Maker (not the only back up, of course) but I've actually made friends and met family members via Ancestry. 

HOWEVER, I'm thinking maybe - just maybe - it's time for a break. And it breaks my heart to think I could no longer log on to Ancestry any old time I need an escape from my real life. But...there are reasons:

1. Ancestry made me fat and lazy. No kidding. I spent so much time on my rump flitting around Ancestry over the years that I've totally ignored the hundreds of documents in my files that scream to be transcribed. I have a blue ton of stuff that needs to be analyzed and sorted. 

2. Ancestry sucks me in to a degree that I ignore other sites that are probably rich in nuggets and information. Like FamilySearch.com, Worldcat.com, and the digital files of the Southern Historical Collection at UNC. Ancestry has actually hampered my development as an amateur genealogist by making me not work for the information I need.

3. It's gotten SO EXPENSIVE!  There used to be a free section of Ancestry. No more. If I want access to the whole shebang, I'll need to fork over $400 a year. That's a LOT of money to me. Not to mention the amount of money I've already spent on YEARS and YEARS of ancestry subscription fees - before they got so darn expensive. 

Oh but it makes me sad to give up Ancestry. I haven't cut the cord yet, but if I find the courage, I'll let you know if it really did cure my lazy research habits and make me a better genealogist. 

June 7, 2015

The Flip Side of Genealogy: Writing About Yourself

Back in January, the Wake County Genealogical Society hosted Dr. David Kendall, author of "When Descendants Become Ancestors: The Flip Side of Genealogy." Not only was Dr. Kendall a great speaker, but I was lucky enough to have him as a house guest and got to know him a little better. How delightful!

I recently ran across some notes I took from his presentation and thought I'd share them here:

5 Reasons to Write Your Own Life Story

1. Continuity is part of your family's history. Continue the story with yourself.

2. Education of future generations. Help them understand by telling your own story and challenges.

3. Self examination. Consider it personal therapy.

4. Consider your own greatness and how you positively impacted the world.

5. Gratitude to our Creator for the opportunity to be the link between people, past and present.

What to Write About

1. Write about what you'd like to know about your ancestors.

2. What made you the person you are today?

3. What makes you similar and different from your ancestors?

4. Live events, a day in the life, your faith, regrets, achievements. 

5. What has mattered to you in your life?

Reasons We Don't Want to Write About Ourselves

1. I don't like to think about myself.

2. "Just a" syndrome. Just a wife, just a regular person, etc.

3. Time, also known as PROCRASTINATION.

4. Any other reason we can think of to NOT think about our personal past.


No one writes their story from scratch. There is already plenty of material, our personal past is our canvas. Everyone matters. Even you.