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Tedious Tasks over the Weekend

Over this weekend I have done a lot of scanning, Facebook stalking, grave hunting, and more scanning. As I have said before, the maternal side of my family has been a lot better with keeping records and stuff like that so I haven’t had to search hard for birth dates and stuff like that. Facebook has been a huge tool with helping me to find that kind of stuff with the other side of my family. I have been trying to develop the living part of my tree so I have used Facebook a lot. I just use notepad to record information I find like birthdays, schools, etc. Then I will have to put all this information on ancestry. It’s all very time consuming.

Scanning has also been time consuming, but I am just trying to get all the hard copies of pictures and other stuff on my computer to then put on ancestry. All these pictures are mostly for my maternal side. Beneath is a picture of my grandma Lorraine and grandpa Dave. Beneath that is a picture of Lorraine’s mother and father Ella and Raynard. My grandma has given me all of these great photos.



Also over the weekend, Chase and I have done some hunting in Greenlawn to help with findagrave. Instead of fulfilling photo requests, we decided to take photos in H-1. He started at one end and I started at the other. H-1 is split up in four sections, and we only covered one so far but I had a little under 300 pictures once we were done. I am about halfway done with going through them on findagrave (Also very tedious because you have to look up and make sure the grave photo doesn’t already exist and then either just upload a picture or create the “memorial”). Hopefully we’ll be able to eventually photograph all the graves in H-1 (we’ll see!!).

I called my mom this weekend too to see when my dads results for 23andme are expected to come in. Unfortunately it won’t be until after the class and mine won’t come until after either. It’s a little disappointing because I really want to see my results! I also need to be brave and call back Irene (my grandpa Farrisi’s brother’s wife) to hopefully discover more about the Farrisi side. Her daughter told me that she would call me back, but I haven’t heard anything yet. It’s hard because I don’t want to bother her or be annoying! Tomorrow I am planning to call though. Overall I have gotten a lot done this weekend, but still have lots more to do!

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Native | Issue No. 7 | January

The brothers bourbon…

“Prohibition forced Charles Nelson to shut down one of the nation’s largest whiskey distilleries in 1909. Now, his great-great-great grandsons are on a mission to bring it back to life.”
Read the full artcile in Native | Issue No. 7 | January.

Charlie and Andy Nelson turned their family history search into a successful career, and they will be sharing their story with our class on Wednesday, Febrary 23.  Charlie and Andy are also my fourth cousins – recent “finds” in my search along my Nelson line.

You can read about their business and their journey:

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Halfway There

It’s interesting to talk to my parents every so often and find out so many new things that they just haven’t told me about my family.  At first, I really just thought they were clueless, but they had valuable connections and stories to tell me about my ancestors.  My mom, for example, led me to a first cousin that I didn’t even realize was my first cousin.  I knew Jennifer McGraw Kilburne, who had friended me and my siblings on facebook relatively long ago, had to be related to me somehow, but finding out she was a cousin surprised me.  With this discovery, I decided to add all of my cousins I knew about and their spouses to my tree just to expand a little bit more.  Another exciting part about finally realizing the connection to Jennifer Kilburne, was the news that she had started her own family genealogy quest not too long ago.  She currently runs a McGraw family history page that shows a tree much like my ancestry tree, and has many of the birthdays and birth locations of younger relatives that I probably wouldn’t be able to find online yet.  And while this was good and helpful, I’m still stuck with the grandparents who were born in Ireland.  I joined an Irish genealogy site, but not surprisingly, to actually get the records you have to pay.  I’m continuing to find records of several of these family members, mainly the McGraw side, as they moved into the United States and settled their families here earlier than the Walsh half of my mother’s side.

With the help of my mom, I was able to get some pictures of my grandparents and great grandparents to add to my ancestry tree, which definitely livens up the tree and allows me to actually remember who everyone is (pretty hard with such similar names).  I really loved a picture of my Anthony Walsh’s (my great grandfather) work badge at the Philadelphia Electric Company.  Unlike work badges and identification today, this was simply a piece of thicker paper on a tiny safety pin.  I tried to see if the Philadelphia Electric Company had any archives to look through personnel records, but didn’t seem to find any online.


I find it amazing to read what jobs my ancestors had and hope to highlight these finds in stories on their ancestry pages.  Most of them typically had low paying, manual labor jobs, and I’m doubting many of them had a lot of education.  Through each new find online and in old records or photos my mom has makes me realize how far my family has come and allows me to paint a clearer picture of these people.

Like usual, I’ve still been stuck on the Gaid side (my dad’s side) of the family.  It seems like I’m halfway there in both my family tree and in our interim class.  He helped me a little bit with giving me some information about when my great grandparents died and how old they might have been.  Francis Gaidamowicz, my great grandfather, most likely died in his mid 90s, which was definitely a surprise to me because most of my grandparents died relatively young.  I’m hoping that with these few dates and possible sites of burial I’ll be able to find more information for this side of my family.  It’s so hard to work on this side when I know I’ll just hit another dead end.  But I’m still determined to find anything I can about Eugene Gaid, Helen Zielinski, and the rest of the Gaidamowicz and Zielinski families!

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With a little help from my friends… and my priest

The Episcopal Church of the Advent - Records and History

I have been hoping to find more information about Sarah Burns Roberts Williams’ family, especially since I have learned that they attended my church many, many years ago.

I didn’t think that I would find anything until we visited the church as a class and searched through old records, but my priest, Father Ned Morris, suggested that I find a copy of The Episcopal Church of the Advent: History and Records 1848-1998, by John B. Edmunds, Jr.

I went to the library this afternoon (without Will – who decided it would be more fun to play with a friend), and I found a copy of the book in the Kennedy Room along with the other church history titles.

Edmunds’ book contains all records of the church for 150 years.  I now have a complete list of all activities of the Roberts family – birth, baptism, marriage, communing members, death, and burial (no burial info for Sarah).

Of course, I’m not going to give you that list.  Instead, I hope that you will find the book in the library and do a little research on your own.  Remember that the course isn’t about who finds something “first” — it is about encouraging each of you to go through the process and learn new research skills.  So even if someone posts the information before you, please don’t let that stop you from seeking the information on your own.

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T.A. and S.B. Williams Gallery

View the collection of images we’ve gathered about our mystery couple.

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Genealogy Mystery

Genealogy Mystery: T.A. and Sarah B. Williams

I'm not telling you where I found this!

While each of us will be working on our individual family trees, I also want the class to have a common project where we can work and share our struggles and victories.

My son, Will, and I have been searching for details about T.A. and Sarah B. Williams for several months.  We started by trying to photograph their grave markers for a findagrave.com user. But even after accumulating a great deal of information about their lives, Will and I have been unsuccessful after many attempts to locate their graves.  Will suggested many weeks ago that my students should take on the task as a “challenge”.

I’d like for each of you to see what you can accomplish by piecing together information.  Post any information you find (photos, records, clues) to this site using the category “T.A. and S.B. Williams”.

See what we can learn about these two people and their families.  (Hint, my son even knows about T.A.’s cow).

This is all the information that I am going to provide:

  • Thomas A. Williams was born in 1847 and died on 7 Aug 1921.
  • Sarah B. Williams was born on 1 Sep 1852 and died on 9 May 1917.
  • Both died in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

This is “real world” research.  You don’t have to worry about “cheating” or “improper collaboration” – we just want to find answers as a class.  The only thing I ask is that you cite your sources (records, newspapers, or conversations) and always say who you worked with (you will have more fun if you work with other members of the class) in your posts.

Parting Words

In retrospect, of course I believe I could have done more in this class. But I don’t see the privilege of learning about my family history as something to be rushed. It is a never-ending process (unless I choose it to end) that I can continue for the rest of my life. Knowing how much I enjoy listening and learning from my grandparents about their lives, their relatives and their values, I can’t wait to assume the role of the storyteller. This honor that we have as human beings to pass on our history, both personal and non-personal, is not to be taking lightly. I believe that we were meant to know history further back in time than our own lives or our parents lives. The role of history is to teach us how to live by retelling and explaining the lives of others before us. I want to be the storyteller of my family. I want to be the records keeper. It’s a responsibility that I’m eager to undertake.


This interim has been great. I have learned things about my family that most of my family didn’t even know. I made closer connections with my family than i had before this class. I am hoping to continue my family tree. I have met a relative off of ancestry and i hope to get to know him better he is very interesting and i would like to know how he got all of his information that is on his tree.  

I know i have been working on my webber and bentley side the most. The webber because both of my parents have that common ancestor and i wanted to know where there ancestry met up. I did manage to find that and i was really proud i have connected them on my moms side but i haven’t found where it links in on my dads and i hope to find that soon. 

My granddaddy Joe wants me to look back in to the Jones and Norris side of my family and i hope to be able to find things on there for him. He had two older brothers one was 18 years older, Frank, the other was 10 years older, Bob. Both have passed away and i am glad i got to know my uncle frank before he died. i never got the chance to meet uncle bob but i am told that he was a character and he would have gotten along with me very well.  

Tying it All Together

I can’t believe its the end of interim already. I have found out so much about my family that I didn’t really know about when I first began. Certain things have always been said in my family, but it is really cool to see what has actually been true and what hasn’t. Recently, I was able to find my uncle’s ancestry.com account and I found that he has been able to trace one of our lines all the way back to the 1080s, which is so interesting because all the people in that line are french and they were pretty noble french as well. I want to sit down and be able to talk to him about that line though because its hard to follow when looking at it on the computer screen. I really want to be able to understand where exactly it comes from in relation to me. I also found it was really interesting that there was so much information that he found because it was all over in Europe, which has been really hard for me to find.

Along with my uncle’s account, I have also found a newsletter for my Piel side of the family, which is my mother’s father side. Reading the newsletter was so interesting because it includes little snip bits about my families life at some point in time. In the newsletter, I was also able to find a picture of my great, great grandparents which was very interesting. I love finding pictures because you can see so much by just looking at a picture. For one you can tell a lot about the time they were in by the clothes they wear and the even the way they stand.

I obviously still have so much more for me to find and discover, which is so exciting, but I am still so proud of how much I have got so far. I hope to be able to go to visit all the places my relatives have come from. Maybe that will be my interim for next year!


Wrapping it All Up

Yesterday I spent the night in Newberry going over some last minute family history with my relative, Randolph Johnson, and with my Grandma.  I finally found the picture I have been anxiously awaiting for, the picture of my nazi tank commander relative, Commander Schaar (pronounced: Shaa).  I also found out that he would have been my great granduncle, and that he ultimately died of pneumonia on a the hospital ship, Lister.  He is in the picture below.

Tank Commander    HEB Home, Weihe Germany


I also found pictures of my first Brehmer relatives that came from Germany, and that they were from Weihe (pronounced ve-hee).  I thought it was really cool seeing a picture of their house in Weihe as well, which can be seen above in the picture beside Commander Schaar.  Apparently the Brehmer family came from a lot of money before the war in Germany.  A really interesting story that I found out about my family was that when Germany was divided and part of it was under control of Russia, my family got across the Russian controlled border and tied all their silver under their car so that it wouldn’t get taken by the Russians.  The silver was also engraved with HEB, which could have been Harmon Ernest Brehmer (either my 2nd or 3rd great grandfather).

War Ration Book     Ration Stamps

I also had another interesting find, which was my great grandaunt Lazelle’s war ration stamps.  I have never seen anything like these before, and thought that they were really awesome to see in person.  I also thought it was really cool to see her handwriting on the front of the stamp booklet, and the address that she was living at, at that time.  I also had no idea that she lived in North Carolina, so seeing that address on the front of the war ration book can help explain some of the areas of residence on her ancestry.com profile.

roanoke, VA     Wanted Ad     Train Ticket 2

I also found some documents on my great, great grandfather Fellers, who was the detective in Atlanta, GA.  I found some of the wanted posters for people he was searching for, as well as punched train tickets that he kept from his travels while looking for many of these criminals.  I also found a handwritten note for a person that he was going to look for, who was suspected to have cut a persons throat and killed them in Roanoke, VA.  I thought it was really cool looking at all these old documents, as well as the original train tickets during his travels as a detective.

Overall I have found lots of really cool information on my family, and was amazed to see many of these documents that my family has been keeping for all these years.  They were all really useful in my search.  After beginning this project, I have realized that this has now developed into a never ending hobby, and I am excited to see where all my future searches take me.  I am also really excited to go back to my grandparents house and look through more trunks of old family documents, because I have much more left to discover in those as well.  I have thoroughly enjoyed this course, and highly recommend it for future interims.

The Search Continues

So I had been feeling a little hopeless with the Farrisi link to my family. I hadn’t been able to find records verifying the little bit of what I had been told and no one seems to know much. Near the beginning of the course I had contacted my Grandmother’s oldest sister because I was told that she would know the most. I called her and spoke to her and although she told me about the Brewster surname, she said she didn’t know much about Farrisi. (This past Friday she did send me a packet of information concerning the Brewster side, consisting of names and relationships of people which is good!) I have mentioned before that she told me that the only person who would know more about Farrisi would be Irene (She married Melville Farrisi, the son of Pasquale and Maria/Mary? and brother of my grandfather Anthony Farrisi).

I had called Irene right after and spoke to Irene’s daughter Christine. Christine told me that Irene would have to call me back because she was sick. I never heard back, so despite my worries of being annoying, I called back this weekend. Christine answered again and I discovered that Irene had just had surgery and all that taking place was the reason she was unable to talk to me. She is in the process of recovering and Christine told me Thursday would be a good time to call. I’m very excited to finally speak to her and learn more! Christine said she didn’t know much but this weekend we spoke for a while and she actually had a lot of useful information! Originally I had been told that it was my grandparents Pasquale and Maria/Mary Farrisi that came over from Salerno/Naples, Italy. However, Christine told me that it was actually their parents before them that came over. She said that Mary never left the U.S. after she was born in New York and that they lived in New York their whole lives. I also learned that it was an arranged marriage between Pasquale and Mary in 1916, regardless of Mary’s interest in someone else (weird once again because maybe I wouldn’t be here!). I also am very eager to find out names of Pasquale and Mary’s parents because this is what I have not been able to figure out! Christine told me that Mary’s mothers name was Christine which is so so helpful!

I was able to go on ancestry to search for records now that I knew that Pasquale Farrisi and Mary Gennadio weren’t the ones who came over from Italy (it was their parents). I am really really looking forward to talking to Irene to learn more!! Below is what I have found from ancestry so far. It’s a census record with Mary Gennadio, with the correct age/birth year and her mother as Christine/Christina from New York but originally from Italy. I think this is her! I just don’t know if the spelling that I have been told (Gennadio) is correct or if Genadyo is correct?!


At this point I am still exploring this discovery more. It’s hard because I am unsure whether these people are actually family members!

One Last Effort!

My last chance phone calls last week paid off with a lot of new information!  On Thursday I contacted my Aunt Lisa, who is related to me through my grandma on my dad’s side.  She contacted me saying she had a lot of information on the Warfel and Cunningham sides of my tree.  Late last night she sent me seven documents pertaining to to those sides. (Aunt Lisa lives in California so it  wasn’t so late to her).  I found the documents in my email this morning and use this afternoon to process them.  All of the documents are very cool!

My Aunt Lisa included a family tree of the Warfel/ Cunningham side.  She has information for some of the family all the way back to Rotterdam! This was a breakthrough I have been waiting because I have yet to find a connection over seas.Image

Also she had the original marriage certificate of Reese M. Blatt (Cunningham side) and Matilda C. Ealy.  The great thing about this certificate is the couple was married in York, Pa!!  This is where my mom’s family has been since they have came over!  Could there be a connection?Image

My Aunt Lisa also had very old photos which is great!  My mom’s side has none that we know of and my dad’s they’re isn’t any passed my great grandparents.Image

Another cool thing she had was the birthdate of all of the Warfels written done on Warfel market paper!  The phone is in the top corner and is just three numbers.  I did some research and when the phone was invented there were some numbers that were 1, 2 or 3 numbers long, so this market must have been around the late 1800’s to very early 1900’s. There is also sheets showing the deaths and marriages of the Warfel family.ImageImageImage

The last sheet that was entitled family extra had the data I have been waiting for; it shows that Hans Melchoir Warfel arrived by boat from Rotterdam, which I am guessing is the Rotterdam in the Netherlands.  When he arrived he lived in Lancaster, Pa which is an hour from my house!Image

It’s too bad I received all this information so late.  The info jump started my will to learn about my tree and will have me continue learning things throughout the semester.

Find a Grave Pay Off

I began corresponding with two find a grave volunteers out of sheer luck! I messaged one user to suggest a link between my grandfather and his father and I put in a photo request for my great grandmother who is buried in Wake County, North Carolina. Maybe a day later I got emails back from both users so happy to help and turns out i’m sortof related to one of them! I assume the man who accepted the photo request is in his 80’s ish; he was so fun to talk to. I think my great grandmother was similar to our classes’ William’s mystery so sharing information back and forth with him, in some extent, made this class worthwhile. It felt good to help. I was able to share what I knew about her husband and where he is buried (unfortunately not with Esther in NC). In return, he sent me pictures of her grave and information he collected from the funeral home and other archive sites. The coolest part is that somebody recently left flowers on her grave which means I may have a potential relative only a state over! I would love to find whoever that is and figure out the connection. A new journey ahead… Image

Road Block

While on ancestry i was researching my ancestor who was beheaded in Germany and it was because he had married a russian woman. He had his wife flee to america with his two sons.  I found this guy that was through the same son of Wolford that my family is. He had more of wolfords family that my family did and it was really cool getting to trace back my family back to the 1100’s in England. 

As of right now i have hit a road block on people i can place on my tree but i am hoping that i will be able to find more people and add them. I am going to continue to work on my tree even after this class is over. My family has been so supportive in this and glad that i am spending my time making our family tree. They all have been helping me to the best of their ability which is really nice. They have looked through closets and boxes attics and other places that this information could be in. They have taken me to family cemeteries and told me stories of my family at least what they could remember. I have gotten closer to my family through this experience and I am so glad for it. 

Tunnel after tunnel

Hi everyone, it’s Audrey. I’m very proud to announce that I’ve finally completed the excruciatingly tedious and enormous Coventry tree! It is now entirely up on Ancestry.com, which is a very rewarding feeling. I reached the end of that tunnel, but the tracks jumped straight into a second tunnel the minute I was done. I got a dozen emails from my dad with letters, certificates, and lots of pictures dealing with his mom’s side of the family. His sister had to mail them from New Zealand, so unfortunately they came just as we’re finishing up the course. As I started to look through the emails I realized that it was decidedly much more complicated than the Coventry tree – half of the family changed their name from Mackay to McKay, but many of the records don’t show the difference. The actual family lineage and emigration to New Zealand is all there, but I’ll have to go through and pick out tidbits from letters to piece everything together. To add to that, many of the pictures aren’t labeled, so I’ll have to use contexts or my Aunt’s eyes to figure out who everyone is. As it turns out, I’ve signed myself up for a huge puzzle a day and a half before my presentation. Who knows what I’ll be able to piece together by then, but at least I haven’t hit any walls!

My grandparents in France also emailed me recently. My grandpa (who has become very enthusiastic about this project) called the city hall in his hometown and found out the names and birth years of his grandparents. Now if I look at my tree on Ancestry, I’m only missing one great great grandparent, and it’s actually on the side of the family I was positive I would fill. We might even be able to find more of his ancestors when I go to France this summer, which is great not only great for genealogy’s sake, but also because I know it would make him very happy and proud.

I almost feel as though my search is picking up speed just as we’re about to end, especially since my 23andme results should come soon! I Skyped my parents today and I think they’re really starting to get into this – hopefully they can help continue this search during second semester.

I have yet to figure out who this jolly old fellow is, but I say he looks pretty spiffy in his Scottish kilt and thought it’d be fun to share:Image

Paternal Ancestors

While I normally think of my mom as the genealogy expert in the family, I have recently been working through some information that my dad put together about his side of the family. I hadn’t been able to get as far on his side as I had on my mom’s, but this information helped me out quite a bit. It is always interesting to trace a line in my tree back into the 1700s. I found that I have Confederate and Revolutionary soldiers on my paternal side in addition to my maternal side, as well a connection to one of my mom’s ancestors. Since pretty much all of my ancestors are from the same area in Georgia, I figured I would find a connection eventually if I went far enough back.

I think that pretty much wraps up the batch of extra information I got from my parents, so now I plan to keep using ancestry.com and other resources to find out more details about the many people I was able to add to my tree over the past few days. Some of this includes identifying siblings of direct ancestors in order to find out more about my ancestors themselves as well as their families. It is also more difficult for me to find information that I am willing to trust about these people that lived hundreds of years ago. With that in mind, I know that I may have to do some serious research to go back much further in my tree.