Category Archives: Personal Research

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 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 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.

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, 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 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.

New Obsession

Like many of us, over the course of the adventure that is family research I’ve come across many soldiers – from the Revolution to World War II my family has it’s share of veterans. One, in particular, stands out – my 6th great-grandfather, Colonel James Williams. Colonel Williams was born in Virginia and moved to what is now Laurens County, South Carolina (were my family still lives today) in 1773. He served in two of the first General Assemblies in South Carolina – alongside Thomas Sumter who would become his biggest rival. He joined up with Patriot forces at the outbreak of the Revolution and traveled throughout the southern colonies fighting the British. He was the highest-ranking Patriot officer killed at the Battle of King’s Mountain and his death has been the subject of some academic debate. The most widely believed account, written by Thomas Sumter’s right-hand man says that Colonel Williams was killed by members of the patriot forces who hated him (incidentally, the author of this account was not present at the battle), however, the foremost expert on Colonel Williams disputes this claim.

Nevertheless, Colonel Williams has become a new fascination of mine. I ordered the only book I could find about him a little over a week ago and just picked it up this weekend. The book is an amazing source of information not just because someone has synthesized all of the available research on him, but also because the Appendix includes several letters from James to his family, as well as several other primary sources. Needless to say, I’ve had my nose buried in the book all day and I’ve been trying to find as much as I can about him.

Full Circle

Discovering my family tree has been an eye opening experience. The late night research, numerous hour long phone calls, and slightly obsessive stalking has come with its ups and downs. However, this has only made me more interested to find more. Now that I have been researching for a little over a month I have hit those walls and learned that their are always ( for the most part ) new leads. If their is one thing that I learned from Dr. Lawton’s cousin in class Friday is that these new leads wont happen over night and even if you are lucky over the course of a month but will mostly likely happen over years and decades worth of research.

So far the most interesting part of research as i am sure for most of the others in the class is the stories that go along with each person. These stories shed light on how each person lived and make them more then just a name of a page. Most of the stories that stick out in my family tree come from my paternal grandfather. Mostly because for one he is good at telling these tales and that like I, he enjoys collected the family documents and heirlooms. The coolest thing i have seen was his fathers original inscribed boy scout book from when he was a child. This original book is about 90 years old! I hope to continue to stumble upon these items and documents and hopefully be able to relay these stories to my kinds and grand kids!

On another note, this class has allowed me to explore my maternal side. A side that until the start of interim i had known very little about because it wasn’t something we normally talked about. But after inquiring, i have found loads of info that has allowed me to link to  a 2nd cousin of my maternal grandfathers side that has shared a bunch of pictures and documents that i had never seen! These new pictures and documents have also sparked a new mission for my mother. She has begun to look and ask more to things she wasn’t so sure about. This has not only helped me but has allowed her to research on her own! Overall I am glad that i choose this interim and hope that everyone has a chance to do what i did over the month of January at some point over their lifetime!

Grandparents and Secret Cousins

So the same weekend that Lena and I visited my g-uncle Neddo, we also went and saw my maternal grandparents in Summerville. I knew that they had a lot of history stuff but I thought that it would be completely spread out between their house and our house. (Our attic has at least 4 generations of STUFF in it). Anyways, to my surprise my grandfather, Pop, actually had a lot of the history in boxes, un-sorted, un-labeled, packed to the brim boxes, but boxes none the less.

Here’s a little bit of background info:

I always heard stories that mentioned a woman named Barbara Miley. They were usually long drawn out stories that only mentioned her for a couple of sentences and it was one of those names where you knew that you were supposed to know who they were but you didn’t so you don’t ask and just listen to the story anyways… ya know?

So most of the information I found at my grandfather’s was given to him by this woman of unknown relation to me, Barbara Miley. There was some of everything. Hand written trees, letters, newspaper clippings, photos, airplane log books, I mean seriously some of EVERYTHING! A few days later my mom sent me a facebook message telling to check out..guess who.. Barbara Miley’s facebook post about one of our relatives. I searched, found her, friended her, and read her post. ONE post contained information on at least seven relatives including a link to an obituary. Let’s just say, as soon as this post is finished I am messaging her! And I still don’t know the relation! I think that she is first cousins with my grandfather.. but I am working on it!


My grandmother, Jo, also found a possible relation between me and Lena! No hard proof yet, but we will get back to you!

Exploring Old Family Photos

This week I traveled to West Columbia, SC to visit my grandparents to look at old family photos and go over some family history on their side of the family.  I found lots of really great pictures that I was able to scan into, so I was finally able to match many of the names with faces on my Amick side.

Scan012               Scan013

This was one of the oldest pictures I was able to find of my great, great, great grandparents, who were Stablers (mom’s-mom’s side).  I was also able to find some of the original death records on this side of the family as well for my great, great, great grandfather (William Franklin Stabler).  Another interesting find I was able to make was a family photo of four generations of women on my mom’s side.  I thought this was really cool because it included my mom and all the way to my great, great grandmother.

group picture


My mom is the one standing down in the front, and from left to right it includes two of my great, great grandmothers; my great grandmother, and my grandma.

Tomorrow, I will be making my way back down to Newberry to gather more pictures and stories on my dad’s side of the family (Brehmer) for the last time, so I hope to find plenty of good finds.