Sunday, May 25, 2014

Decoration Day - Memorial Day

This coming Monday 26 May 2014 will be Memorial Day.

When asked, most people will say that Memorial Day is the start of summer.  And you will be surprised at the number of people who do not know the origins of Memorial Day.   Most people will celebrate their 3 day weekend with camping trips, BBQ's and family get-together's.  Never stopping to think about all the military men and women that have given their lives for this country so that we may have the freedoms we have today.  Most people don't realize that there is a difference between Memorial day and Veterans Day.  Veterans Day honors men and women who have served in the Armed Forces, while Memorial Day honors those who died while serving their country in a war or military conflict.

As a way for people to honor Civil War soldiers who died while serving their country, Decoration day was born.  Why was it called Decoration Day?  It was a time for people to "decorate" the graves of their relatives who fought in the Civil War with flowers and to clean up the cemeteries.  Decoration Day originally was celebrated May 30.  Today we celebrate Memorial Day (Decoration Day) the last Monday of the month of May, by placing flags on the graves of service men and women who died while in service during a war or other military conflict.

Sometime after the end of the World War II, Decoration Day became better known as Memorial Day.  This was also the time that it started to honor all brave military service men and women who died while serving their country during a war or other military conflict, not just the Civil War.  The term Memorial Day was first used around 1882, and did not become Federal Law until 1967.  The Federal Law was part of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act; however, it really didn't take effect until 1971.

At sunrise on Memorial Day the U.S. flag is raise quickly to full staff, then lowered to half mast slowly where it will fly till noon.  After noon the flag will then be raised back up to full staff for the rest of the day.  Do you know why?  The half mast is so we will remember all the service men and women who have given their lives serving their country, and when the flag is raised back to full staff, their memory is raised by and for the living to continue the fight for liberty and justice.  Something that we all need to remember!

I come from a long line of military men and women.  My maternal side of the family (King, Wise, Neitzey, Mills) are from Washington DC.  My paternal side of the family (Sanders, Medlock, Edmonson, McGee) are from Georgia and Alabama.  I have several ancestors who fought in the Civil War.  My intentions was to honor one of them for this Memorial Day, I just have enough data to do that now.  Hopefully by this time next year I will be able to honor a couple of them.

So with having said all the above, I would like to thank all my ancestors as well as any one who has served and died either in a war or other military conflict.  By you giving of your life, I enjoy my freedoms and rights that you have allowed me to have.  It was not in vain.  Thank You!!


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Tips I have Learned along the Way

This past week has flown by so quickly.  And with still learning how this blog works and just how I want it set up, has me losing valuable family history/genealogy time.  Uggg

Since I was not prepared for a new post, I will give you some tips that I have learned along the way of my journey.

Tip # 1  Find a Way to Keep Yourself on track

I have learned to keep a 9 generation fan chart on each family tree that I am working on.  Why?  This allows me to see where I have holes in my research and where I need to concentrate my research.  This keeps me from losing my way and gathering info on the "husband of my 1st cousin 3x removed".  Which, if that is what you want, that's ok.  But, another lesson learned a long time ago is that it is best to concentrate on just your direct line.  Trust me, I made that mistake earlier in my research, and OMG, it was more than never ending.  I was so excited that I was finding information on my ancestors that I did not realize that I was not finding anything on my direct line.  Someone once said "when I am finished with my direct line, then I will go back and fill in my branches".  Good luck with that one, cause I don't ever see an end to my direct line.  I hope that when I am gone that 1 of my 3 boys will continue this journey.  I want them to know who and where they came from.

Tip # 2  Keep Photos/Images Organized

Keep all of your photos/images organized!  It makes it so much easier to access when you know where a photo/image is.  I have a CD for each surname that I am searching.  When I am working on a certain family, I keep that CD in my laptop, so if/when I come across a photo/image I can download it to the CD with that family name on it.  (See tip # 3)  Within each CD I keep a folder for each individual person, and if necessary I will add a folder to that folder for other ancestors from that branch.  example:  I have a CD name Medlock.  Within that CD I have folders with the names of each Medlock family: Leotra Medlock (my grandmother), Charles Woodson Medlock (my great grandfather), Eli Wren Medlock (my 2nd great grandfather), and John Williams Medlock (my 3rd great grandfather).  In Leotra's folder I have a folder titled Butler (for Leotra's 1st husband Thomas Butler).  In Charles Medlock folder, I will have a folder for McGee (Willie McGee, my great grandmother).  In the Eli Medlock folder I will have a folder for Edmonson/Edmondson ( Martha P Edmonson, my 2nd great grandmother).  And so on.

It's not a hard system to keep up with, and I don't have to just aimlessly dig around looking for one thing and having to go through 1000's of other things to find what I am looking for.

Tip # 3  Permission, Copyrighted Material and Plagiarism

Please, before you download a photo/image from another website, make sure to contact the owner of that website and ask for permission to use what you want.  Do not copy text, photo's, or other images without permission!!  Websites and blogs are copyrighted material.  When you just take something from a website without permission, that is stealing.  Respect others work and DO NOT DO IT!!!

Everyone works hard on their website/blogs.  I know I do.  And I do not want someone just taking what they want and using it.  I use my own personal pics on my blog and place a watermark on them.  This way no one can just use my pics without my permission.  (Or that is how it is suppose to work.  Hopefully, my work will be respected as well.)  No plagiarism!
(as From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia -
Plagiarism is the "wrongful appropriation" and "stealing and publication" of another author's "language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions" and the representation of them as one's own original work.

Tip # 4  Verify - Citations and Sources

It is so easy to get involved with research and finding information about your ancestors that we sometimes forget to verify what we find.  And don't forget to use citations and sources.  I have a method that I use when I start researching someone.  I am a member of several genealogy websites.  And I have come across (too many times to count) mistakes in information on those websites.  Once I have a name, I will go to Find-A-Grave and search for that person.  A headstone is a good validation that a person lived and died.  If there is other information on that memorial, then I go through other steps to verify it.  It seems that too many people are happy enough to find information on their ancestors to just take someone's word for it.  I don't and won't.  Make sure to use your sources.  Where did you find the information?  How valid is the information?

Tip # 5  Backup, Backup and Backup

Always backup your information. (Another lesson learned - the hard way I might add.) I use a USB stick to backup my family trees.  I have set up a schedule in my daily planner to backup everything once a month.  If you are doing research everyday and a lot of it, then I would suggest doing a backup more than once a month.  I have a program on my laptop and I use a couple sites on-line.  I sync my family tree once a month and back it up as well.  Think about all the research and hard work that you have done, now think what would happen if you should lose that?  Would you be able to sit down and re-enter all that data from memory?  I don't think so.  (Not unless it was only for 1 person - maybe.)  Don't let your hard work go to waste, back it up!


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Brick Walls

You would think that we would have enough common sense not to be running into them.  I mean after all, that hurts!  Yet, me and fellow family historians/genealogists do it all the time.  Not physically,  but we do run into brick walls.  And yes, in a way it could hurt.  I have gotten many a headache from several of mine.

Emmett and Leotra Medlock Sanders - My Family History Journey - Debbie Lowrance
 Emmett and Leotra Medlock Butler Sanders

I have been researching one of my "brick" paternal grandmother Leotra nee Medlock Butler Sanders and paternal grandfather Emmett Sanders.  Actually there are several "brick walls" in this line.  Leotra nee Medlock Sanders, (Leotra's Father) Charles Woodson Medlock, (Leotra's Mother) Willie nee McGee Medlock.  Willie died when Leotra was a little girl.  There are so many questions concerning this family.  That is something that I am still trying to figure out.

Leotra Medlock Butler Sanders - My Family History Journey - Debbie Lowrance
Grandmother Leotra Medlock Butler Sanders
Emmett Sanders - My Family History Journey - Debbie Lowrance
Grandfather Emmett Sanders
 Now back to Leotra.  All I knew when I started my family history/genealogy was that Leotra was my dad's mother, married to my grandfather Emmett Sanders and they had 5 children.  Ida (Tiny), Frederick (my father), Carlton, Betty, and Juanita (Fay).  My dad was born in Birmingham, Alabama and raised in Atlanta, Georgia.  Once starting my family history research I could find little on this family.  Ok, basically nothing!  But I would not give up.  After all these years, all the research, all the family stories, I am finally making head way.  After my Dad's death, we learned that his parents were not married until (1938) after 3 of their children were born.  (unheard of in the 30's)  Then I found out that they both had been previously married.  Digging a little I found out that they had started to live together as man and wife while both being married to someone else.  (Scandalous!! That sounds more like something that would happen today not back then!)

What do I know now?  Both paternal grandparents went by at least 1 other name in their lifetime.  Emmett was actually born John Henry Sanders.  Leotra was born Leotra Medlock but was also known as Ruby and/or Odie.  Not to mention the misspelling of her name such as Leocha, Odele, Odie Medlack just to name a few.  No wonder I had such a hard time finding anything!  How and why the name changes?  Hopefully that is something that I will find out.

Emmett  was married to Alemida Elizabeth Pittman.  Emmett and Almedia had 3 children.  Emmett Sanders Jr. is the only living child from that union.  Leotra married Thomas C. Butler and I found them on a 1920 census as Thomal Butter and wife Adie.  The 1930 census showed them as Thos C Butler and wife Odele.  They had 5 children in total.   I have found death certificates for 4 children that died at birth or in infancy.  A male in 1919, a female in 1921, a female in 1926, and a male in 1928.  Only 1 lived past infancy, Gladys Butler.  Emmett and Leotra had 7 children together, 2 died in infancy as well.  I do have copies of the death certificates on the 4 children of Leotra and Thomas Butler.  And hope to be able to find death certificates on the 2 children of Emmett and Leotra as well.

My father was in the Air Force so we moved around a lot.  I do remember visiting and meeting my father's family in/around 1969 in Atlanta.  I also remember visiting some other relatives in Alabama, tho I was not aware of who they were at the time.  I was only 8/9 years old then.  Who cares at that age.  You meet other kids who are family/kin and hey more kids to play with.  (Or go into the woods and gather blueberry and blackberries for Grandmother to make pies.  Does the term 1 for Grandma, 2 for me ring a bell?  LoL  Yes, we ate more than what we bought back, but hey the pies were made and we all won!)

Gladys and Comer Richards were the relatives I met.  I found a marriage certificate for Gladys BUTLER and a Carlton Comer Richard!!!!  Gladys' father Thomas Butler and her mother Leotra Medlock!!  I was stunned!!  I called my Mother and asked her if she remember Gladys and Comer and she said yes, Gladys is your dad's half-sister.  (actually that would be WHAT!!!  I asked her "why didn't you tell me that before." Mom KNEW I have been doing the family history/genealogy, and yet she felt the need to keep that to herself?  Especially after all the years of the "brick" wall with Leotra??  When I asked her why she never told me that she just simply said, "because no one never asked me."

(Lesson learned!)
Always, always ask other family members if they know something about a person you are trying to do research on!!  A lot of Genealogy web-sites tell you this as a means of gathering family history.  And even tho my Mother knew I have had trouble finding anything on my Grandmother Leotra for over 7 + years, it never occurred to her to give me any info.

I have heard several stories of my father's parents.  Not sure of anything and since I had already been researching our tree, I needed proof of these stories.  Not that I didn't believe them, but anyone who does family history/genealogy knows that you have to have verification and sources! With the information about both grandparents being previously married I had to get to the bottom of it all.  

I am hoping to find the 1940 census for Emmett and Leotra.  My dad would have been 5 at that time, but so far no luck.  Some of the stories that my Aunt Fay have told me about my grandparents make me wonder if I  will ever find them on any census.  But I won't give up!  That is not my way and only makes me want to dig that much deeper!!

I guess one day I will have to share some of my family stories here,  but that is for another time.

Leotra is far from being done, but that is ok, I have others that need my attention now.  At least I know more about my grandmother Leotra, and she is no longer considered a "brick wall".  

I do have more brick walls to scale and they are who I need to concentrate on now.  Here are some of my other "brick walls":

Great Grandmother - Ida Tullulah Simpson (b) 1871 GA (m) 1895 GA - nothing on parents
Great Grandmother Willie McGee (m) 1901 GA (d) 1907 - nothing on parents
Great Grandfather Alonzo Sanders - nothing on parents

Cecelia Mae McGee - My Family History Journey - Debbie Lowrance
Great Grandmother Cecelia Mae McGee (b) 1901 Wash DC - nothing on parents

I have also stumbled upon a Robert Jemison in my family tree.  It appears that every male named a son Robert, so there are a lot of Robert Jemisons', and a lot of Robert Jemison Jr's.  (I will be posting something dealing with names and naming patterns in the future.  Watch out for it.)  The last time I was going through some websites, it actually gave me a headache with all the Robert's in that branch.  I even called my sister, told her the research I was doing and then said "and to top it off, you go and name your son Robert!"  I know, I have lost my mind!  LoL

So now I have 5 brick walls to conquer, and know there are more to come!  Wish me luck!


Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Journey Begins

Debbie Lowrance - My Family History Journey
Hi my name is Debbie and I welcome you to My Family History Journey.  My Grandmother - Helen Louise King - started this journey.  I took over about 20 years ago, or so when she was not able to do it anymore.  Like others in genealogy, I have spent countless hours researching, exploring, and spending sleepless nights doing what I can to follow the trail of my ancestors.  I have learned a lot during that time, and am willing to share what I have learned with others.  Now, I am not saying that I am an expert on the subject, and I have made many mistakes.  That is why I am writing this blog.  Not only will it help keep me on track, but hopefully someone else will benefit from my mistakes.

I am a people watcher by nature.  I just can't help myself.  Everywhere I go I watch people around me.  People really do amaze me, what can I say.  I guess that is why I want to know my family history, how they lived and died.  I want to know where I came from.  I prefer the term "Family History" verses Genealogy.  There are so many more benefits to family history verses genealogy.  Genealogy is just tracing your ancestors, while family history goes way beyond that.  Family history will actually give me insight to my ancestors!  I want more than genealogy, I want the whole picture.  I want the family history!

One good thing about family history is the medical history.  Up until about 5 yrs ago or so, I never knew my family had any twins.  Then my son and his wife were pregnant and guess what, yep twins!  Apparently my daughter-in-law wasn't aware of twins running in her family either until her pregnancy.  Then she found out that her tree had twins but they were far back in her tree.  So knowing that heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure (just to name a few) runs in your family, will help you and your family doctor be aware for any future problems.  Medical issues do run in families.  (lesson learned)

Family History/Genealogy is a never ending quest.  I love it!  These days I am working on 2 different Family Trees.  Here is a list of surnames that I am researching at this time:

                                    McGee                    Vrabel                    Lowrance
                                    Simpson                   Sheppett                Millican
                                    Butler                       Hinkley                  Hussey
                                    Sanders                    Dudley                   Miller
                                    Medlock                   Krom                    Blankenship
                                    Mills                          Smith                     Deal
                                    Scott                         Wesseman             Boittnot
                                    Kettenor                    Lillie                      Crook 
                                    Knott                        Drake                    Starky
                                    Murphy                     Weeks                   Flowers
                                    Atwell                       Babcock               Woods   
                                    Ware                        Hollenbeck            Reichwein
                                    Edmonson                Gilbert                    Krapf
                                    Shepherd                  Decker                  Mingone

This is NOT the beginning, yet it is not the ending either.  Does genealogy research ever end??  I don't think so.  But that is alright with me.  I love researching, and I love family history/genealogy, yay me!!  So this is my journey.  Follow me if you like, who knows, maybe I can help you, or you might be able to help me.  I will also be sharing with you the lessons I have learned on my journey.

Let the journey begin.........