Saturday, October 25, 2014

SNGF: Photographs Through The Generations

This week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge posted by Randy Seaver on his Genea-Musings blog asks us to document and picture one of our ancestral lines.
Unfortunately, my family photos are not very well organized.
I think the longest line I can document photographically is my mother's Swicegood/Coffey line.
1. My great-great-grandparents were Squire COFFEY (1828-1912) and Drusilla PARKER (1833-1901), pictured here:
2-3. Their daughter, Martha Elizabeth COFFEY (1867-1947) married John Hiram Richmon Sharp SWICEGOOD (1858-1936), and had 4 children, one dying in infancy. The photo at right shows John and Mattie with their three surviving children circa late 1897. From left to right are Bonnie Pearl (aka "Pearl"), Beulah Bliss (baby on lap), John Hiram, Martha Elizabeth (aka "Mattie"), and my grandfather, William Earl (aka "Earl").
4. William Earl SWICEGOOD (1893-1979) married Mollie Fay BROOKSHIRE (1894-1966) and they had six children. My mother, Nancy Leah SWICEGOOD (1917-1996) (aka "Leah" to her family) was their second child. At left is a photo of my mother on leave from the Army ca. 1943. She was the first of her siblings to serve in World War II.
5-6. Me--Virginia Leah SHARP (1948-?)..... in 1951 and 2013 (with son and husband).
So, just 6 generations. Though now that I've done this, I realize that I have photos of my third great grandmother, Susannah BARTSHE COLLINS FREEMAN CARTER (1829-1912), so I really could go 7 generations.
Either way, it's embarrassing how few family photos I have on my computer from the last two generations.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

SNGF: Exploring Your Grandfather's Birthdate

Tonight's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge posted by Randy Seaver at the GeneaMusings blog is to:
1. Find the Day of the Week one of your Grandfathers was born;
2. List five events that occurred on the day and month of your Grandfather's birth;
3. List five famous people who were born on the same day as your Grandfather;
4. Give your answers in a blog post.

My paternal grandfather, Harold Herbert SHARP, was born in Oquawka, Henderson County, Illinois on 21 May 1893. I never met the man and didn't even know his name until a number of years after my father, his second son, had died.

21 May 1893 was a Sunday (according to ). I guess that means that Harold should have been "full of grace," but he died from alcoholism, so either the date or poem is wrong.

According to, the following events occurred on May 21st:
  • 1602    Martha's Vineyard was first sighted by Captain Bartholomew Gosnold
  • 1804    Lewis and Clark expedition began
  • 1832    first Democratic National Convention was held in Baltimore
  • 1846    first steamship arrived in Hawaii
  • 1881    American Red Cross was founded by Clara Barton
Famous people who were born on 21 May include (according to
  • 1527    Phillip II, King of Spain (1556-98) & Portugal (1580-98)
  • 1780    Elizabeth Fry, Quaker minister/prison reformer/nurse
  • 1843    Charles-Albert Gobat, Tramelan, Switzerland, Swiss politician, recipient of the 1902 Nobel Peace Prize
  • 1843    Louis Renault, French lawyer  [namesake of my first car???]
  • 1917    Dennis Day, Irish tenor/comedian/Jack Benny Show guest
I have to admit that I recognized very few of the names of people born on May 21st. There were also several Civil War generals on both sides and many inventors and artists that I've never heard of.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Family History Library, Here I Come!

Actually, the title should probably be "Ready or not, here I come." 

I am heading to Salt Lake City early in the morning for 5 days of unencumbered research at the Family History Library.

I've been there many times before.
But this is the first time I've gone without a clear research plan and extensive preparation.
I just haven't had the time and don't have access to my file cabinet and boxes of materials on my primary families.
But since I desperately need a break from this summer's never-ending medical maladies, I'm going to SLC anyway.

In the early days--1980s and early 1990s--I would do flight "stopovers" in SLC on my way home from business trips. I'd use the nights of those business trips to prep for my 24 hours (or less) in SLC and be at the Family History Library every nanosecond they were open during my stay. In the olden days, that was 7:00 AM until 10:00 PM, I believe. I would not leave the building for anything, grabbing snacks from the vending machines and maybe two potty breaks in 15 hours. Ah, the good old days.

Lately I've been managing to get to SLC about once a year, though usually not for a full week. Often I have my husband in tow, which is not conducive to doing serious research. But I'm certainly not as obsessive-compulsive about spending every available waking moment in the library. I actually go out for lunch and dinner. Once I even went to a concert after dinner instead of returning to the library. What a shocking experience!

I'm hoping that the family histories are back on the shelves by now. They weren't there the last three times I checked. Very frustrating. Most aren't available on microfilm or in any other form. Why the "powers that be" felt they needed to sweep the shelves of half of the family histories and spirit them off to unknown locations for multiple years is beyond me. I was told they were being prepared for digitization, but they hadn't gotten permission to digitize them yet. So why remove them from the shelves? Very strange for a library that is usually very customer friendly.

Anyway, wish me luck with whichever family I end up researching. I'll let you know of any genealogical breakthroughs in a week or so.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

SNGF: ImageChef Creations

Randy Seaver has come up with yet another Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge on his Genea-Musings blog tonight. We are to explore the ImageChef website and create a few images.

I'm not feeling very creative tonight, but managed to come with three images to share:

I can see how playing with images on this site might get addictive!

Thanks for the challenge, Randy.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Thoughts on Grandparents' Day

Today is apparently Grandparents' Day.
It's not a day I've every celebrated.
I'm not a grandparent and never lived near my or my children's grandparents.
But as I read other people's accounts of their grandparent memories, I feel a huge whole in my heart.

I never met either of my paternal grandparents.
Never heard their names spoken.
Never knew anything about them.
My father left home to join the Army while still in his teens and never looked back. Apparently he never even wrote to his parents or siblings.

When I was in high school I had an assignment to create a family tree. I started asking my Dad questions about his family and carefully recorded his answers. Amazingly, my Mother saved that project and I found it after she died. The information my father had provided was incredibly inaccurate. Whether he really didn't know his mother's maiden name, where his parents were born, any of his grandparents' names I have no way of knowing. But he sure didn't share the correct information with me back in 1965!

My Dad died at age 60 in 1978, just two months after the birth of his first grandchild, my daughter, who he never met. Ironically, his mother died two years later. Since his mother died without a will, his siblings had an attorney track down my father. They found my mother and she signed away any interest in my grandmother's estate. One of my father's brothers made a trip from Texas to Florida to meet my mother and tell her about the family she never knew. She never told me about this visit or the scribbled family tree he left with her. I found it after she died in 1996. By that time three of my father's six siblings had died. I did manage to speak to my father's only sister, my aunt (after whom I might have been named), one time, but haven't been able to track her down since. I suspect she's in a nursing home somewhere in the Houston area. One brother is apparently also still alive (the one who visited my mother) in the greater Houston area, but he's no longer listed in any telephone directories I can find.

Will I ever meet any of my SHARP relatives? I have no idea. Someone in the family has posted a tree on Ancestry, but won't respond to my messages. Maybe someday I'll get to Houston and look up some of my cousins....if I can find them. But there's absolutely no chance I'll ever meet either of my Sharp grandparents, Harold Herbert SHARP and Virginia Corinne MELDRUM.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

SNGF: How many Sarah LNUs?

This week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge from Randy Seaver is as follows:
  • How many "Sarah" persons without a last name do you have in your genealogy database? How many of them are your ancestors?
  • If you have a "Sarah LNU" who is your direct ancestor, have you looked recently to determine if there are more records online that might help you determine her surname?
  • Tell us about your "Sarah LNU" ancestors with no surname.
In my SWICEGOOD database (my mother's lines), I have 19 Sara/Sarah first names with no last names. None of these are my direct ancestors.

My Sara/Sarah LNUs are as follows:
  • Sara, wife of Adam BECK, mother of 5 children born between 1808 and 1818 in Davidson County, NC
  • Sarah, wife of Alexander SHARPE, b. 1 May 1824; d. 20 Jun 1897 near Tyro, Davidson Co., NC
  • Sarah, wife of Joseph W. WOOLERY, b. abt 1825 in Missouri
  • Sarah, wife of Daniel GIBSON, b. abt 1848
  • Sarah, wife of Thomas H. MALLORY, b. Nov 1850 in Missouri; d. 1930 in prob. Jasper Co., Missouri
    • There's a Missouri death certificate for Thomas in 1916, but none for Sarah, so suspect she either remarried (in her 60s?) or moved to another state to live with one of her children.
  • Sarah, wife of Thomas CRABTREE, mother of 7 children born between 1806 and 1836
  • Sarah, wife of Christian HAUSSER, b. in Germany, no dates
  • Sarah, wife of Charles BROOKSHIRE (b. 1796 NC; d. 1880 IN)
  • Sarah, wife of William PITTS, mother of Addie PITTS (1907-1999)
  • Sarah, wife of Conrad DAVIS, mother of Maurice DAVIS (1769-1830)
  • Sarah E., wife of Joel BROOKSHIRE, b. abt 1833 in Tennessee; mother of 7 children born 1857-1876 in TN
  • Sarah E., wife of Mathias JACOBS, mother of 2 children born 1857-1859 in Missouri
  • Sarah E., wife of FNU QUIGG (b. 1886, Hickory Co., MO)
    • My notes indicate that this wife might be an erroneous entry. I only have a birth record for her supposed husband and attached the wrong family to him.
  • Sarah Ella, wife of William Brazil BROOKSHER, b. abt 1848 in Georgia; mother of 2 children born 1868 & 1875 in Missouri (?)
    • FindAGrave lists a Sarah Ella BROOKSHER, 1848-1898, wife of W. B. BROOKSHER, buried in Cassville Cemetery, Bartow County, Georgia. No information on parents or children.
  • Sarah J., wife of John Franklin QUIGG; b. abt. 1840 in Pennsylvania; mother of 9 children born 1858-1880 in PA, MO, and KS
  • Sarah J., wife of Alfred CRABTREE, b. abt 1825 in Tennessee; mother of 4 children born 1842-1860 in Missouri
    • No Missouri death certificate or Missouri burial found. Probably remarried, as husband died about the time last child was born.
  • Sarah J., wife of John W. JACOBS, mother of 10 children born 1850-1878, some in Missouri
    • No Missouri death certificate or Missouri burial found.
  • Sarah M., wife of James Emery MEREDITH. b. 1867 in MO, d. 1923 in MO
    • Her Missouri death certificate gives maiden name as OWEN, daughter of James B. OWEN and Lucy VICKIS?? [DICKERSON in FindAGrave memorial]; buried in Osceola cemetery. F'indAGrave indicates that James MEREDITH was her second husband and includes an obituary for her first husband, parents and sibling names.
  • Sarah S., wife of Levi BRESHEARS, b. Jul 1859 in Missouri; mother of 7 children born 1881-1898 in Missouri
    • I checked for a Death Certificate for Sarah, but did not find one. She is listed on her husband's death certificate "S. E. Breshears" in 1919, so apparently have her middle initial wrong. I checked FindAGrave for the cemetery where Levi is said to be buried on his death certificate, but neither Levi or Sarah is listed there.
To be perfectly honest, none of these "Sarah LNUs" are very close relatives, so I'm not inclined to spend much time searching for information on them. I did some quick-and-dirty lookups in two databases--Missouri Death Certificates, 1910-1963 and FindAGrave--but wasn't inclined to dive into or

Saturday, August 23, 2014

SNGF: Two Degrees of Separation

Tonight's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge from Randy Seaver's Genea-Musing blog is quite interesting:

Using your ancestral lines, how far back can you go with two degrees of separation? That means "you knew an ancestor, who knew another ancestor." When was that second ancestor born?

My results:
1. On my paternal side, I've never met anyone but him. Dad was born in 1917, so could conceivably have met his maternal great-grandfather (mother's mother's father), Herman Sonnen, who was born in 1833 in Germany and died in 1919 in Houston. His paternal great-grandparents died long before he was born and lived in Kansas.

2. On my maternal side, my grandfather's parents both died before I was born, and his paternal grandparents died before he was born. His maternal grandparents lived until he was in his teens and lived across the street, so I'm sure he saw a lot of them! They were born in 1828 (Squire Coffey) and 1833 (Drusilla Parker).

3. On my maternal side, my grandmother's father died a year before I was born, but my great-grandmother lived until two months before I graduated from high school. She was my idol and I absolutely adored her. Mammo, Nancy Jane Collins, was born in 1873. Her great-grandfather, Jacob Bartshe, died in 1874 in the same county, probably within 10 miles of where she was born. Chances are pretty good that they met. Jacob was born in 1801 in Pennsylvania.

So I can't make it to before 1800, though I was born in 1948. The span is still over 200 years, but I'm disappointed at not getting into the 1700s.