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So, I'm a sucker for free subscriptions.  Ancestry.com offered a two week free subscription for genealogical research, and I totally fell for it.  I try to avoid these whenever possible.  I always give my information, and then forget to cancel before the two weeks are up and spend money on something I don't want.  It happened again, except this time, I was pleasantly surprised.  I started to learn about both sides of my family, and really delved into some harsh history.  The experience of researching my mother and father's side of the family was a difference of night and day.  It felt special to me, since I don't know my father at all and have never met him.  I felt though, that retracing my ancestor's steps taught me something about myself.  It also taught me about the stark differences between people that existed not too long ago relative to the span of human history.

My father is White and my mother is Black. My mother raised me, and my father basically decided he didn't want me and wanted to have nothing to do with me.  I know my father's brothers (two of them).  I met them last year off of Facebook, but the consensus is that my father doesn't want to meet and my uncles are not going to push him.  I also moved past needing to meet someone that doesn't care about me, but I still wanted to know more about his side of the family.  So, I started digging.

Researching my father's side of the family was not hard.  In fact, I hardly felt like I did the research because there already was a lot of the family tree already there.  I actually met my second cousin four times removed online over a internet bulletin board and we exchanged photos and information on the tree.  She had tons of photos and marriage records going back to the village my family came from: Hardervijk, Netherlands.  They got on boats, between 1870 and 1905 and journeyed to Holland, Michigan.  I joked with my uncle that they chose Holland, not for the natural ports and fertile land, but to be sure that they settled on the right side of Eight Mile :)  Little Michigan humor there.  Without giving away too much about myself, I am part of the Hop family.  We were the party people, the guys that brewed the beer.  We lived in a walled town that was part of the Hanseatic league, until we got wind of a great deal in Michigan, and jumped ship so to speak.  

Now, let's contrast this with my mother's side of the family, who is African American.  Well, finding out this part of the tree was a nightmare.  My father's parents are still alive, but my mother's parent's both passed away before I was born.  My grandfather worked and drank himself to death (he worked in a steel mill in Detroit) and my grandmother had a brain tumor for 16 years before she finally succumbed to it two years before I was born.  My mother barely knew my grandfather when he died when she was 18.  My grandmother raised seven children by herself, many of them fathered by different husbands who either left or died.  

My aunts and uncles didn't know much either.  They just knew my grandfather's name, but not my great grandparents.  They knew our roots go back to Crawfordville, Georgia, but beyond that, no one knew.  Many of my great aunts and uncles have also passed, and I have tons of cousins, but my mother was forbidden to communicate with many of her half brothers and sisters.  Everyone on this side of the family died early.  They were educated people.  My great aunt and grandmother were taught by charitable, militant Catholic nuns who decided Black people should have educations, even if they were dirt poor.  Yet, they worked menial jobs their whole lives.  My grandmother spent most of her life as a maid.  Let's just say that my mother never watched "The Help."  It hit too close to home.  My grandparents labored for 14 hours a day on average, and their health failed.  My mother's side of the family was a black box.  It was frustrating to say the least.  I could trace the Hop's back to the 1620s, but the Evans and the Youngs?  I got just one generation back, and that's it.

Until I met the federal census.

With some detective work and the Social Security Death Index (thank you FDR), I found my grandfather's SS # and I got to find my ancestors, all the way up to my great x 3 grandfather.  It was exhilarating to say the least.  I knew their residences, and was able to go back all the way to Talofierra, Gerogia where my great great great grandfather lived.  That part of the family stayed in Georgia until around the Great Depression when they moved North.  My great grandfather died shortly after the move.  Once I got this far back, I found out that they had many children...but many didn't survive.  It was a harsh life as a "farm laborer."

Even worse, once I got to 1870 I hit a wall.  Was my grandmother's great grandfather a slave?  Was he free?  If he was a slave, was he a slave of FP Evans, who owned a ton of slaves in the area?  Did they adopt his name?  Who would he be in the slave manifest?  I could only look at ages and general descriptions in those manifests. What about the enlistment papers with his name on it, saying he fought in the Civil War on the side of the Union?  Was that Peter Evans, my great x 3 grandfather, or was that someone else? How could I tell with no photographs and no anecdotal evidence?  What about my grandfather's family?  I still hadn't found out much about them before they came to Michigan from Georgia

I am still going to persevere and figure out this side of the family.  There has to be some clue out there that will let me know my grandfather's owner.  I also still need to figure out some of my great grandmother's maiden names.  As for the Hops, I got to see what my great grandfather looked like, as well as some great aunts and uncles.  That side of the family has no idea I exist.  I am a family secret that only my two uncles know about.  To be honest, I don't know why I am so into this.  I have no reason to want to delve into past pain or to know more about the Hop family, but I just want to feel a connection to something.  I want to feel like I really know myself.  I think I will.  

Originally posted to sujigu on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 07:28 AM PST.

Also republished by Genealogy and Family History Community and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  if any of them owned land, check out the 1880 (21+ / 0-)

    Agricultural census

    http://www.hchsonline.org/...

    It can give you a snapshot of the family, the family's farm and the location of the farm.  At this level of research, you may need to contact descendents of neighbors of the family to see if any of them have any information.  (in my case I have hit a brick wall as another family has completely fabricated a local history starring their family and misattributing land ownership, kinship relations and personal anecdotes and these are posted on most sites online as gospel.  There is much rewriting of family history sadly by many families which makes the search so much more difficult)

  •  Try the Civil War Pension Files (32+ / 0-)

    If you have the veteran's name and Unit, copies of Civil War Pension files can be ordered from the national archives (and I believe they're also online at www.Fold3.com (subscription required)).  Please note that I'm talking about copies of the pension files themselves, not just the index cards that may come up in a search of military records on, say, Ancestry.com.

    These files may contain a wealth of biographical information, including details of the veteran's military service, affidavits from family members and neighbors, descriptions of medical issues, etc.  They are particularly helpful for African-Americans trying to break through the 1870 barrier.

    I discovered that my GG-Grandfather, John R. Kennedy, had served in the Union Navy as a cook.  After he died in 1890, my GG-Grandmother applied for a Widow's Pension, which was eventually granted after more than a two year delay.  In acquiring a copy of her widow's pension file, I received a treasure trove of information, including a signed affidavit from my GG-Grandmother detailing how the delay in receiving her widow's pension had contributed to her losing control of her late husband's businesses and defaulting on the mortgage of their home in Philadelphia.  Names, addresses, dates - it was all right there.

    Also be sure to check any applicable Registers of Free Negroes (usually maintained by county courts) and to check the wills of any known or suspected white slaveholders connected with your family.

    Good luck, and keep up the good work!

  •  If you get stuck you can always get (27+ / 0-)

    help at Afrigeneas.
    http://www.afrigeneas.com/

    I got a wealth of data from Civil War files

    http://www.wemba-music.org/...

    Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

    by Denise Oliver Velez on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 08:22:34 AM PST

  •  YAY !!! (20+ / 0-)

    you're "so into this" because of the stuff attached to the search, often called "history," is addictive.

    keep going !

    There is no Article II power which says the Executive can violate the Constitution.--@Hugh * Addington's Perpwalk: TRAILHEAD of Accountability for Bush-2 Crimes.

    by greenbird on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 09:12:51 AM PST

  •  Good for you (20+ / 0-)

    it's fun. it's history. it can be asbolutely fascinating to learn... and... it is you, it is me, it is us. Whether they want us or not, whether they know about us or not, whether we like them or not... we come from our families, genetics, history and all.  

    And it is addicting. :)

    "Do what you can with what you have where you are." - Teddy Roosevelt

    by Andrew C White on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 09:51:58 AM PST

  •  One person does not define your ancestors (26+ / 0-)

    My favorite: "You don't get to choose your parents".

    So we all need to look past those few dysfunctional relatives and ancestors to find out where we came from and how we got to be who we are today. My journey has been nothing short of astonishing and amazing.

    What I've learned is nothing close to anything I ever expected to learn. I've gained a whole new level of respect and honor for my many ancestors. I have fallen in love with each and every one of them. Even those who behaved badly.

    You've made some wonderful discoveries about your family history. Best of all, you've taken the often difficult step to contact long lost family members. Sometimes it's like pulling teeth. Every little scrap of information can help you knock down a brick wall some day.

    I've been at this, on and off, for a few decades. My maternal side is very well documented. My paternal side, nada. My father knew nothing beyond his grandparents and a very small number of other relatives.

    And I was the sole surviving male of the family surname as far as anyone could say. My research confirmed this 5 generations back. And that's where my brick wall sits. But I now have two sons and two grandsons taking the line to 7 generations. Although it won't identify the names of the ancestors on the other side of my brick wall, a DNA analysis might narrow things down a bit.

    I was near certain that my near exclusive New England ancestry would preclude any direct connections to slavery. For decades, I never found the slightest hint of a connection.

    Then I stumbled across a note in a family history book regarding a distant cousin who lived in Vermont. His second wife, he being her second husband, turned out to be Mrs. Sandford, of the infamous Scott vs. Sandford Supreme Court decision.

    She was the owner of Dred Scott.

    (It's still difficult to say it that way, but it's a fact of those times. Yeah, people literally owned other people.)

    You never know what you'll discover.

    I assume you've found the 1850 and 1860 Census Slave Schedules on ancestry.com. They might be helpful. You might find more detailed records on other sites, those who are dedicated to focusing on slaves and associated records. Just use the Google machine. Beyond that, visiting the repositories that hold the records is often the key to breaking through the walls. But most of thies records aren't available online. So visiting in person or locating a volunteer willing to research for you is usually helpful. Wills of slave owners and other transactions are key.

    Best of luck.

    "Never wrestle with a pig: you get dirty and the pig enjoys it"

    by GrumpyOldGeek on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 10:27:39 AM PST

  •  Possible connection (18+ / 0-)

    I cannot say whether he is any relation, but there was a Peter Evans aka Peter Smith who served in the US Colored Infantry, 11th Regiment, Company K (a Tennessee regiment). I found him on www.fold3.com.

    Mustered in 1 March 1864 in Memphis, Tennessee. He is listed as being 19 years old, 5' 4 1/2" tall, black hair and eyes, born in Georgia. Mustered out 12 Jan 1866.

    Additionally, it may be a coincidence, but there was a possibly related Henry Evans who mustered into the US Colored Infantry, 11th Regiment, Company K on 1 March 1864 in Memphis. He also mustered out 12 Jan 1866. At his mustering in, he is shown as 5' 2" tall, 18 yrs old, and born in Mississippi. He had served previously, in the precursor to the 11th.

    My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.
    --Carl Schurz, remarks in the Senate, February 29, 1872

    by leftist vegetarian patriot on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 10:48:00 AM PST

  •  Don't know if you have looked here but . . . (16+ / 0-)

    PBS(as always is great)

    History Detectives does segments on this.

    Here are their tips.

  •  Go it, Sujigu! (13+ / 0-)

    Ancestry.com helped me find my relatives in Italy.  Enjoy the journey and I hope you get to meet some interesting people along the way.  Family is what you make it.

  •  Taliaferro County Ga (17+ / 0-)

    Taliaferro County Georgia has an intact courthouse (records did not burn). Watch for a variety of spellings of Taliaferro - it sounds like Toliver.
    Evans is a big name in this area. Most white churches kept records of slave members. One church in the next county even recorded full names.
    There is a will index for Taliaferro County by Ted Brooke that is online. Check all likely wills on film (be careful of transcripts, as you know, some people stretch or ignor the records.)
    Check school records.
    Good luck!

  •  I hit a wall at 1850 (13+ / 0-)

    The 1850 census was the first that recorded the names of everyone in the household. Before that it was just the parents in the household.

      Eventually, after banging my head on the wall, I gave up.

    No one in my family had ever done a family tree before. I was the first.

    ¡Cállate o despertarás la izquierda! - protest sign in Spain

    by gjohnsit on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 12:33:41 PM PST

  •  My wall is also 1870 (9+ / 0-)

    My ggrandfather was born in VA in 1850 or 1851, and at some point moved to southern Ohio to dig iron ore. He married there in 1874 and had four sons before dying in a mining accident in 1882, three of which survived into adulthood, and the eldest of which is my grandfather. But there is nothing I've been able to find on the Internet or by the Mormon microfilms that sheds any light on where he was born in VA, or anything about his past. Our name is fairly unusual and there is a very complete genealogy by that name, mostly in VA and KY, but so far, I've not been able make the link. I've found a strong possible in the 1860 census, and of course the family is there in the 1880, but no trace in the 1870 (notorious for being one of the least useful for several reasons).

    I wrote about this a while back here:
    http://www.dailykos.com/...

    It's frustrating. Good luck.

    •  Just wondering (6+ / 0-)

      Any chance your William is the William Shinault (misindexed Theriault), age 18, in the household of Dixon Shinault in the 1870 United States Federal Census in Westville Twp, Mathews County, Virginia?

      In 1860, the same person is listed as John W Shinalt (age 7) in the household of Dickson Shinalt in District 2, Mathews County, Virginia.

      My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.
      --Carl Schurz, remarks in the Senate, February 29, 1872

      by leftist vegetarian patriot on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 01:10:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  P.S. (6+ / 0-)

        I notice that the William in the 1870 census referenced above had a younger brother named Herbert, and your referenced 1880 census shows your William had a son named Herbert. Not solid proof of anything, but it could be meaningful, as names so often are recycled in familes.

        My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.
        --Carl Schurz, remarks in the Senate, February 29, 1872

        by leftist vegetarian patriot on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 01:23:53 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Regardless of truth of above conjecture (6+ / 0-)

        A scanned copy of the Lawrence County Ohio 1873 marriage record to Elizabeth Walters can be seen here.

        My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.
        --Carl Schurz, remarks in the Senate, February 29, 1872

        by leftist vegetarian patriot on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 01:50:54 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  No, he's not it. (4+ / 0-)

        You can find that William easily in 1880 and later, but not in Ohio. He is rather an interesting fellow, by the way: his family was involved in a lighthouse operation, IIRC.

        There are quite a few William Chenault, Chinauls, Shinaults, Shenaults, whatever, all born about the right time in VA. But I (and the Chenault organization) have tracked every one of them down.

        So far, my best bet is a fellow named Joel Shinalt, born and raised near Wytheville, VA, who disappears during the Civil War. He has an older brother named William, which could account for him being called Joel instead of William. Note that my ggrandad's name is William J, but the attestation of Joseph for that J is a bit flaky (basically, from his wife on his tombstone). So, it's at least possible that my William J[oseph] Shenaut is really [William] Joel Shinalt. There is also an iron mining connection between the two locations.

        I appreciate the suggestions, by the way.

        •  Well darn, I'd hoped to be helpful (3+ / 0-)

          One thing, though. I had noticed that fellow in NC before posting and according to his marriage record, his father's name was Richard Shinault, not Dixon. That and there is an age discrepancy of 3 or 4 years.

          Of course, for all I know, Richard and Dixon are alternate versions of the same name.

          My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.
          --Carl Schurz, remarks in the Senate, February 29, 1872

          by leftist vegetarian patriot on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 05:56:12 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  As an aside, Shinault, Chenault, Dixon, Dickson... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            leftist vegetarian patriot

            It's frustrating at first. And it can be next to impossible to verify which person is which. After a while, checking alternate spellings gets to be habit. Families changed the spelling more often than I ever thought possible.

            Age discrepancies on census records are common. In some censuses, there's a circled star next to one of the names within a household. That's the secret code that identifies the person who was interviewed by the census taker. I've found this little symbol to be very helpful.

            Even if the family next door spells their name differently, it still can be the same family. Sometimes census takers think they're interviewing someone who isn't spelling it right (I can't imagine the arrogance) and will take it upon themselves to write down their idea of the correct spelling.

            In the Rockingham, VT Meeting House Cemetery, there are three cemetery markers in a row spelled Stowell, Stoel, and Stoll. It's two families, two generations, all descended from the same ancestors. And all three spellings are correct. They spelled their names differently, I presume, to differentiate all the Samuel Stowells, for example,  who lived in the area. The family history and the town history books document this spelling discrepancy.

            "Never wrestle with a pig: you get dirty and the pig enjoys it"

            by GrumpyOldGeek on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 09:22:33 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  I hit the 1870 wall too. (8+ / 0-)

    Some were free and some weren't.

    others at the very top of the tree, especially the top of the tree that's in the US and not the Bahamas, people are just named "Man, Master, Wife, Woman." It really put history into perspective for me.

  •  I Am Going Through Something Similar (12+ / 0-)

    Also using Ancestry.com, and the only reason that I have any information at all about 1/8th of my ancestry was because my paternal great-grandfather was white.  (He never married my great-grandmother, it appears, which is unsurprising since they had their 4 children between 1883 and 1890 in South Carolina and the odds of someone being willing to solemnize such a marriage was something less than zero despite it actually being legl at the time.)  His family line I've traced all the way back to England in the 1950's.  (I discovered for bonus points that I am a DAR and DoC eligible as a result, the latter of which is fuckin' hilarious.)  But because they were never married, we can't find my great grandmother, whose first name is known but whose last name was not. (She was almost certainly born into slavery, and may have been actually owned by my great-grandfather's family pre-Civil War-who knows?) Compounding matters, since the 1890 census was destroyed by fire, there is no record actually confirming even the births of their children and residence with them.

    But that's still better than on my mother's side.  Like you, I've gotten back to 1870. But no more. Not even hints.  I am already resigned, since I too am now hooked, to a future trip to both South Carolina and Alabama (where my grandparents and parents were born) to look at the slave rolls.  I doubt it will get me any further. I have this past couple of months really come to envy Alex Haley, who it still took 12 years to retrace his ancestry despite having a story of how his ancestor left Africa that allowed him, ultimately, to break through.

    Don't give up.  You do belong to a family. When I'm searching yet again or adding snippets of information hoping those little leafs will pop up, I try to think of their spirits out there and eventually catching up with me.

    Thanks for your diary.

  •  My husband is African-American, and I've found (10+ / 0-)

    a few of his ancestors in their white owners' probate records when the owners died before 1865.  The slaves were listed as part of the inventory.  It's a very sad read, but at least I was able to pin-point where they came from.  I was once able to track back through 3 different white owners'wills to find out the mother's name of one slave ancestor, and that mother's origin, who was born about 1800.  

    Here is a link to Taliaferro County, Georgia's digitized probate records on familysearch.org.  There are wills, estate records, inventories, sales, etc.  Lots and lots of material here.  Some volumes have indexes, which you will be very grateful for.

    Using the Census records you found (1850 and 1860 are best, as both have separate slave schedules), identify the names of all possible owners.  If you can using ancestry.com's family trees, try to identify death dates of owners that happened before 1865 (the closer to 1865 the better for finding your ancestor).  Then check the digitized records I linked to, to see if there is a will or an estate.

    Remember that the women who were married to the former slaves in the 1870 census possibly lived at another estate and may not have had the same surname.  That sucks.  However, if you look at the marriage and death records of as many of their offspring as you can locate for their mother's "maiden" name, you may get lucky.

    Also remember that the former slaves didn't always keep their former master's names.  In North Carolina where I research, it was strongly the usual custom to take the former owner's name, primarily because it helped with the search to get separated families back together.  But sometimes the resentment was so strong that a surname was changed, which might make your search more difficult.

    Just fyi, LDS has many historical records for  microfilmed and available for you to rent and review at one of their research centers.  You can look through what's available from  Taliaferro County
    here.

  •  Fun, isn't it? (5+ / 0-)

    And addictive, as many have commented.  I leave it alone for months or years, but then I get sucked back in.  You will find interesting and surprising things for sure.  The thing you don't usually find out is the "why". Like why did my ancestors leave Europe and sail for America with few possessions and not much money, knowing no one here (or maybe a relative or two who'd come before). That's the really interesting part, to me.

    But good luck!  I hope you find what you are looking for.

  •  What keeps me going is that (6+ / 0-)

    I guess you can call it one piece of a real people's history of the United States.

    Have you tried the Freedman's Bureau papers that might have information about Taliaferro, Georgia?

    Farm laborers generally had debt accounts at country stores.  Are there any extant country store account books for Taliaferro County that you have found?

    Sometimes post-Civil War reminiscences by white farmers' families will mention tenants or farm laborers.

    And of course, because the sheriff was the means of social control, there are court records if they exist.

    Small rural counties are often difficult for finding stuff.

    Best of luck on your search.

    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

    by TarheelDem on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 05:08:15 PM PST

  •  familysearch.com (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    edwardssl, crose, Jim H, roadbear, Deep Harm

    Also run by the Mormons; their theological attachment to baptizing non-Mormon ancestors (and others) means they invest resources into the research.

    familysearch.com is free, and I've found some records there which I did not find on ancestry.com, although ancestry.com has an amazing array of materials, damned near infinite.

    Mark Twain: It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.

    by Land of Enchantment on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 06:45:36 PM PST

  •  I tried (4+ / 0-)

    the 2-week free search on Ancestry.com. I got a whole lot over the period, all the way back to England/Scotland on the adoptive families and to Ireland/Frisia in the biological families. Ancestry starts charging money when you need to go into European records so I didn't pursue it any further. I did find and copy over 60 pages of census records that showed the families as they made their ways from the east coast into the Midwest.

    One interesting thing I found was that on my adoptive father's side, all were farmers until after the civil war, then they branched out into insurance--farm and fire. Another thing is that they all had Irish servants, until my biological father's family moved here--then they employed an African American maid. This stirred a childhood memory of a tall, thin African American woman in a typical maid's uniform whose name I can't remember. She called me "hon" and had the softest, warmest hands I had ever felt. I rummaged around in the family photos and found a picture of her in the backyard. My father's grandfather fought for the Union out of Illinois and I found his pension applications online, as well as an image of his and his wife's grave in Denver.

    The biological families were farmers as well, but came west and got involved in the oilfields in the early 1900s.

    It has been strange to integrate the histories of both the biological families and the adoptive families--I am still not sure who I am. Maybe I'll never know, but it's a fun journey anyway.

  •  Interesting. (4+ / 0-)

    I think I'll pay attention to the next free trial offer.

    Tracy B Ann - technically that is my signature.

    by ZenTrainer on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 09:09:39 PM PST

  •  Every time you hit a wall... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jim H, Land of Enchantment, Deep Harm

    even if you break through, you'll hit another wall.

    And even if you hit no walls... you find out the genealogist is a liar. Funny story: I was searching for an ancestor in Norway and a found someone (seventh cousin or whatever) who had a huge online list of ancestors. So I started copying the information. Wow! I'm related to St. Olaf and Ivan the Terrible and some other people and Ulysses and Moses (WTF?) and it went back to Adam and Eve. OK. I'm pretty sure I don't have a direct line back to Adam and Eve. This guy invented this family tree and put it online.

    “If you misspell some words, it’s not plagiarism.” – Some Writer

    by Dbug on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 10:19:12 PM PST

  •  Fascinating diary and comments. I have seen first (5+ / 0-)

    hand that desire to learn about someone who rejected you.

    My wife never met her father.  He left before she was born and refused to even talk to her, refused to acknowledge he was her father (He is - I've seen his picture and she resembles him more than anyone else in the family).  

    She has spent her life researching him and his family, which includes half-siblings whom she has never met and does not intend to, since their father would never have mentioned her and she does not want to intrude into their lives uninvited.

    I think her quest may have ended when I went down to the courthouse with her to get a copy of his death certificate.  She learned of his death long after the fact.  She hasn't mentioned him since, has not asked me to drive down strange streets in the middle of the night searching for his old residences, has not spent hours on the internet searching for the smallest reference to him or his second family.

    One day while looking through some old memorabilia of my wife's, I came across a tiny photo.  It was of a young, strapping military policeman with a strong resemblance to my wife, with the handwriting of a child in pencil on the back which read, "Daddy, please come to me."

    I broke down and cried, and am crying now as I write this.  If he only knew what a kind, intelligent and strong woman he denied a father.  I am so fortunate that she is my wife and the mother of my children, who have been blessed by their mother's unfathomable capacity for unconditional love.

    The relevance of "righteousness" to the term "self-righteous" is delusional, and in politics it is the delusion that embodies the Rovian method.

    by ZedMont on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 11:41:36 PM PST

    •  A very touching story (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ZedMont

      You wife is fortunate, too, to have a husband who treasures her so.

      My father knew very little about his father and family. He, too, showed no interest in learning more.  His father was abusive, I found out from other family members.  But, had he looked more deeply, he would have found what I did:  an amazing group of ancestors who were involved in major events of American history, and some warm and welcoming cousins.Every tree has a few sour fruits. Hopefully, that doesn't discourage us from savoring the sweetest.

  •  why does ancestry.com have this information? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Land of Enchantment

    My question is why these PUBLIC RECORDS of the census are not available to everyone, free of charge. Why do I have to subscribe to ancestry.com to find public records? I understand there is a 72 years (?) protection over release of census records, but why can't i access those from earlier years free of charge. Anyone know how ancestry.com privatized these public records?

    •  Not quite right (0+ / 0-)

      The National Archives has the census, up to 1940, available for free. The 1940 census is online, the earlier ones available at their regional centers free of charge. What ancestry.com has done is index it so it's much more easily searchable.

      In practical terms, unless you know the census district, you'll have trouble locating someone at the archives. But you can do a free search on familysearch.org, and often can locate the exact census district that way.

      You also can use ancestry.com itself for free at National Archives centers, and at many local public libraries.

      Republicans...think the American standard of living is a fine thing--so long as it doesn't spread to all the people. And they admire the Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it. Harry S. Truman

      by fenway49 on Sat Feb 23, 2013 at 09:34:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Wall (0+ / 0-)

    You're right of course. I found the same thing too. But I was lucky enough to get the death certificates for my grandmother and my great grand parents where my great great grandparents were listed. Then I went back to the census to 1870 to find my great great grandfather who was born a slave around 1840.

    If you or your ancestors has an unusual first or last name, it might help looking at the Freedman's Bureau records. Only a small percentage of freed slaves have records with the Bureau but it is worth a shot. Also, check the slave narrative index.

    Good Luck! I remember the day I found my great great grandfather, Dennis Fortson. It was truly a joyful moment.

    Keep fightin' for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't you forget to have fun doin' it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce.---Molly Ivins

    by never forget 2000 on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 07:28:03 AM PST

  •  Ancestry research is addictive (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Deep Harm

    as someone upthread mentioned.

    A cousin of my father's researched his father's family deeply yet, in possession of documents, in German, from our common ancestors, he thought that paying someone to translate them was a waste of money (he was a millionaire) so he asked the first year German teacher at his son's school to do it, and basically told the teacher what he wanted the teacher to find in those documents.

    Yes, he was a Republican.

    About 15 years ago I saw a mention in a newspaper of one of the villages noted in the genealogy. I emailed the reporter and he gave me my first lead. My father's cousin had thought that the village in Germany, Elsoff, was the German name for Alsace: Elsass -- and assumed they owned big vineyards. Wrong.

    I've since contacted distant cousins who bought the genealogy book and contacted my father's cousin to correct him and asked for copies of the documents.

    His reply?  He destroyed all of those documents.

    Right now I'm dealing with a roadblock regarding my mother's father.  He was a pitcher for Cleveland, but blew his shoulder out in 1923 and never came back.  All we knew was that he got married in Oklahoma while he was still married to my grandmother.  He died at 44 in Carlsbad, NM while married to his 3rd or 4th wife, who was significantly younger -- she didn't die until 1995. Still trying to find if I have any cousins from any of his other marriages.

    "After such a fall as this, I shall think nothing of tumbling down-stairs! How brave they'll all think me at home! Why, I wouldn't say anything about it, even if I fell off the top of the house!"

    by mapman on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 07:36:35 AM PST

  •  Ancestry.com provides fast results (0+ / 0-)

    It's like hitching a ride in a fast car to travel deep into one's family history.  But, the car can only take us as far as the paved roads go. Eventually, we have to get out on foot to go deeper into the forest of information.

    Many important resources are not on the Internet.  One has to call, write or go in person to obtain them from newspapers, historical societies, state and county government offices, churches, etc.  Online videos from series like Finding Your Roots and Who Do You Think You Are? provide some good tips on finding sources of paper records.

    Good luck in your search.  Black holes in family histories are another dark legacy of slavery in America. Only when I started researching my own family's history did I appreciate how important that loss is.

  •  Excellent post. (0+ / 0-)

    You put in just a few paragraphs the whole reason for geneaology.

    " To be honest, I don't know why I am so into this.  I have no reason to want to delve into past pain or to know more about the Hop family, but I just want to feel a connection to something.  I want to feel like I really know myself.  I think I will."

    That, right there, is it.

    My family has extensive geneaology, and I am endlessly fascinated by it. I think everyone is drawn to know themselves, and to do that, this desire to know your family is born. You have a right to your heritage, and while just a few in your family might have blocked your path to this knowledge, just think of the many ancestors that might have wanted to know you and tell you of their life, their struggles, their being torn from family and sent to a different life, and a different heritage. Would they have wanted you to be the one to bring honor to their work, forced or not to build a new country?

    If you have children, one day (not when they are 16), they will want to know of your, of their,  ancestors. Learn these things and tell them of your family.

    Of your father's side, the records are there, keep seeking more, and someway you will fall into a relationship with those relatives with insight and worthy of your interest.

    On your mother's side, there is a wonder of people trying to be connected to each other, and maybe you will be the one to do this.  Gather all the history that you have on the family and send copies of this to everyone in the family that you can.  Ask them to fill in the gaps that they might know and ask them to record a video biography of themselves and what they know of the family  around and before them. show them that you care and that their contribution is worth it.

    I don't know if you believe in the hereafter or not. But imagine many members of your family on both sides, welcoming you back amongst them.

    Your efforts are very worthwhile, and you will be proud in the long run to do it.

     

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