12 Ancestors in 12 Months, Genealogy, My Family Tree

Month 3: Females

The dynamic between mothers and daughters is one of the most intense relationships that I feel has ever been developed. I’m not sure why, exactly. I know for the past year especially I have had more issues with my daughter than I have at any other period of her life. Between skipping school, arguments about grades (apparently I’m offensive because I wanted C’s or higher? To be fair my son gives me the same amount of lip about it and as a person who got more A’s than C’s in high school, I feel I’m being generous), and the latest one seems to be about curfew (so angry at this she up and left a month ago and has yet to return, I’m quite confident she isn’t coming back, my hubby seems to hold out hope – she feels she is 18 and doesn’t need a time to be home, I feel she is living in my house and should still follow some rules, but let me add I’ve included if she just lets us know where she is she can stay out later, just let us know when you’re going to be home). But I digress.

I remember a year or so ago when I was researching my second-great-grandfather, Randall Childers, that one of his daughters knew where he was at when he up and left Pennsylvania and moved to Tennessee. Well, maybe I am overstating, I’m not sure if Jennie Childers May knew where her father had relocated, but seeing her name as the “next of kin” on his paperwork was a surprise to me.

I remember when first finding the memorial for Sara Jane Fesler on Find A Grave where in the paragraph below it stated the “issues” that Randall and Sara had in their marriage. When I saw that Randall had died in Tennessee, I just assumed he’d left his family behind for a different life. I was never approving of his marrying a second time, and I always wondered what Sara thought. Was she happy he was gone? Sad? Mad? I could see myself going back and forth between the latter two emotions.

But for some reason things changed for me when I found a document on Ancestry from the US Homes for Disabled Soldiers that noted in 1905 that Randall was a widower and that his next of kin was Mrs. A. S. May, I was somewhat blown away. I suppose there is that chance she had no idea… but what if Jennie knew? I don’t think I’d be happy if my dad told the government my mom was dead when she wasn’t.

But what if Jennie didn’t get along with Sara? What if she was a daddy’s girl? (As I myself am). Did she know of her dad’s new life in Tennessee? Did she keep such information from her mother? Did Sara even want to know? These are questions I’ll never have the answer too.

My own situation has really got me thinking about my own ancestors and how well all the mothers and daughters got along. I believe my mom got along with my grandma pretty well, at least I don’t recall her getting into any big kerfuffle with her. Now my older sister and my mom use to get into it, I didn’t as much but I watched and learned. I saw how mouthing off to my mother didn’t get my sister anywhere, so I would make my mom mad by sitting there and just letting her get her anger out. I often thought my mom wouldn’t even be that mad at my sister, she was just looking for someone to argue with and she happened to be an easy target. Well, maybe that’s being a bit too blunt, my mom knew exactly what to do to push my sister’s buttons. And frankly, my sister did the same to my mom.

I feel that females have much stronger emotions compared to men. Granted part of that could just be our ability to overthink everything. And I believe that these feelings tend to get the best of us, but this is what makes us females so wonderful.

Did you have some feisty females in your family? Feel free to share in the comments below.

12 Ancestors in 12 Months, Genealogy, My Family Tree, Paternal Side

Month #2: Branching Out

If I’ve learned anything from the countless classes, webinars, and presentations I have attended/watched over the last six years is that you need to branch out to get the full story about your ancestors. Branching out includes researching your collateral relatives and even researching the town(s) where your family lived.

Collateral Relatives

In case you are not aware of what a “collateral relative” is, it is your aunt, uncle and cousins, however distant they may be. It may seem strange to investigate these non-direct relatives, but sometimes you can learn things about your direct relative as researching their sons and daughters can find missing pieces of your own genealogical puzzle.

As I was looking up information on my Grandma Blair’s older brother, Charles Edward Morgart, referred to by my Grandma as “Eddie”, I came across both his birth certificate and a delayed birth certificate that they went and applied for on 11 January 1943. I don’t even have to look the date up, as I thought it was funny that they went and got this delayed birth certificate the same day my Grandma gave birth to my dad in Indiana. But that isn’t the only interesting thing I found out, when signing her name to the delayed birth certificate, my great-grandmother, Margaret “Maggie” Wise signed her full name, Margaret Dora Custer (she was married to her second husband, Earl Custer, at the time). Until this document I was unaware of what the “D” stood for.

Revised or delayed birth certificate for Charles Edward Morgart found on Ancestry.com

Another reason searching for information on your collateral family members is a smart thing to do, sometimes names are spelled incorrectly, and people don’t always show up in search results. By getting as many documents as possible for your extended family you may find missing relatives intermingled with others. For example, parents and grandparents can be found living with their children or grandchildren.

Cities and Towns

You can indirectly learn information about your ancestors by researching the cities and towns they lived in. If they were farmers, you can get an idea about what type of farm your relative had by researching the area where they lived, which comes in handy for someone like me whose relatives live in a state where the agricultural index for the census has been destroyed.

Sometimes you may be lucky enough that your family was important enough to be written about in a book about the history of the town. I was lucky enough to have the Morgart Tavern listed in a photographic book about Bedford County. My elation when I recognized names when I came across the book, simply trying to find out more about Bedford County, I wanted to jump up and down for joy. It’s a shame one has to be quiet in a library. (I thought I had taken photos of the book to share with others, but apparently I didn’t – presently hanging my head in shame).

The book Bedford And Its Neighbors by Arcadia Publishing

Branching out in your genealogical research is essential to finding everything you need to know in your family tree. I always research all siblings and children of my relatives. I don’t always research parents of spouses of extended people because sometimes you have to stop, but there are times when I still do, like siblings married siblings so sometimes when you can’t find where a person is the answer may be with the other set of associated parents (I have done this with George Washington Blair, son of Andrew Blair and Susannah Akers, as he is married to his younger brother, Samuel Alexander’s wife’s sister).

Have you found out any interesting facts about your direct line ancestors by researching collateral relatives or where they lived? I would love for you to share in the comments.

12 Ancestors in 12 Months

Month #1: Foundations

As you begin your family tree, one item is essential: you must have a strong foundation.

What is the foundation of your family tree, you ask? That is simple. It all begins with you. And then your parents, your grandparents, your great-grandparents, I am sure that you get my meaning. You have to have good, solid facts on yourself, your mom and dad, everything in order to have a strong tree.

Trust me, I know the lure of just adding person after person in your tree. It’s exciting as you get up higher and higher into the branches as you find a fifth-great-grandmother here, and a seventh-great-grandfather there. But if you haven’t done your due diligence down below, you know, where YOU are, and YOUR PARENTS are… you aren’t going to know for certain if your fifth-great-grandmother is really who you are related too.

I am a person who does the horrible, awful no-good type of researching because I skip around (and I have a feeling there are more people like me out there than aren’t). They say you should just work on one branch at a time. I am sure that is the smart way of doing things but there are days I want to work on my dad’s side of the family, and other days when I feel like getting my mom’s family a little more under control. It’s called variety, and I love variety (it is the spice of life, after all). Not to mention sometimes you have people on both sides of your family curious about what you are finding, and you don’t want to disappoint anyone, so I skip around and do both.

Sometimes on the same day.

But you always begin with you. And once you know about you, you can move onto your parents, and their siblings which leads to your grandparents, and their siblings, and so on. Yes, I’m the type that likes to work on the collateral people as I work my way up because you never know when you are going to find a distant aunt or cousin that may come back and help you figure out a puzzle later on (like, great-great-grandma was living with an aunt, and it wasn’t popping up in an Ancestry or FamilySearch search).

But it’s always best to find everything you can, or at least all the vital records and census records before moving up to the next direct line ancestor. This gives you a strong foundation for your genealogical research. And a strong foundation helps you build a very healthy tree.