Genealogy Go-Over

I have decided to participate in the GeneaBloggers Do-Over 2016. But instead of doing a complete do over, I plan to go over all my research and concentrate on improving my research skills.


My assignment this month so far is to organize my files, both digital and hard copies, and to make a list of my research habits.

Luckily I have organize my hard copies earlier this year when I went through every piece of paper I owned. I still need to work on my digital files, I started but lapsed.

Oh, my research habits are so in need of improvement.

  • For one, I just start researching without a plan, and following every SBO(Shiny Bright Object) wherever it takes me.

  • In the rush of gathering info, I often neglect citing my sources

  • I often do double research, as I do not keep a research log.

I am sure there is more to add to this list and as the month progresses i will add them.



Where I have been in the United States

I have been absent from this blog so very long, but hope to get back to posting. 

To get started I thought I would participate in Saturday Night Genealogy Fun.


I made this map at 

The different color states are represented as such:

*  red for states where I have not spent much time or seen very much.
*  amber for states where I have at least slept and seen some sights.
*  blue for states where I have spent a lot of time in or seen a fair amount of.
*  green for states where I spent a great deal of time in on multiple visits.

There are few states I have not visited, so I need to get there before time runs out. 

Family Photo Friday

My grandmother. Jessie Cook Sain, had given me many of her family photos and I have been scanning them off and on over the last few years. Probably more off than on. Yesterday while cleaning I found a little pile of the last group of photos I had been scanning. And in that pile was this picture:

Cook 1911

At the bottom of the photo someone has written Cook 1911 and on the back I have written: “Joseph pitched Pittsburg Pirates. ” I do not know when I wrote this, but it is my handwriting.  I am assuming the photo is of my great uncle, Joseph Edward Cook (1888-1976). He would have been 23 in 1911. I tried to research if there was every a Joseph Edward Cook playing major league baseball. I looked up Cook in the Baseball Almanac, but there was no Joseph, Joe or J.E.  At I did find a J.E. Cook that pitched in the minor leagues in 1911. He was on the roster for two teams: Topeka Jayhawks and Omaha Rourkes. There was no personal information about him, just his batting and pitching statistics.  I do know that by 1920 my great uncle was married, living in Peoria, Illinois and had two children. His occupation was a salesman for an automotive dealership.  And in the 1930 census he owned dealership.

So my question is, why is he wearing a Cubs uniform and why on the back have  I written that he pitched for the Pirates? Were the teams he played for farm teams for these organizations? So I guess I need to read some baseball history.  It is amazing how one old photo can  open up a bunch of questions.

DNA and Genealogy

My uncle had his DNA done for our Sain line and we found that we are not linked to the Sains of Tennessee. One of the theories about Elisha Reynolds Sain”s ( my second great-grandfather ) heritage was that he and his brothers were adopted into the Sain family. The DNA now proves it. It shows that we are related to the Griffins and Strouds who lived near and intermarried with the Sains. I have not identified whom the father of Elisha was yet, but now I have a clue.

But what is interesting is that I was working on another line the other day and came across another incident where DNA disproved another relationship. My fifth great-grandfather, Thomas Smithers Hill, is the ancestor that qualified me be a member of the DAR. In a documentary history compiled by Mary Helen Haines entitled “Thomas Hill’s Ancestry, Relationships and Descendants,” she mentions that DNA evidence proves that his father was not William Hill, as mentioned in Thomas’s pension records and in his son, Abner’s “Obituary.” Thomas is descended from the Grogan famiy who lived near the Hill family.  But at this point no one know who the father was or for that fact who his mother was. But he was raised by Wiliam and Hannah and treated as one of their own. 

I find this all fascinating and it makes want to explore DNA and my ancestry even more. 


I am participating in the Rooted Technology meme.

Here are the rules

  • Technology you already use: bold face type
  • Technology you would like to use or learn more about: italicize (color optional)
  • Technology you don’t use, have no interest in using or no longer use: plain type Explain or give opinions in brackets [ ] at the end of each bullet point
  • I have a tablet computer such as an iPad that I use for genealogy [It is on my list of I wants!]
  • I have downloaded one or more apps to a Smart Phone or similar device. 
  • I belong to a genealogy society that uses social media. [I actually am the one who set up a Facebook page for out society.l].
  • I use GEDCOM files and understand the various compatibility issues involved.
  • I have added metadata to some of my files and digital photos.(Had to look up what metadata files were.)
  • I have utilized an API from a genealogy-related application or website. 
  • I have taken a DNA test related to my genealogy research.
  • I have used the FamilySearch Research Wiki. 
  • I have a Facebook account and use it regularly for genealogy. [I have a Facebook account but  BCGS is on my account.  You can find it at
  • I use tech tools to help me cite my sources in genealogy research. [I  wan to learn  Zotero.]
  • I have developed a genealogy-related app for a Smart Phone or similar device.
  • I use a genealogy database program (Family Tree Maker, Legacy Family Tree, RootsMagic etc.)
  • I use cloud computer resources to store my genealogy data. 
  • I have made one or more contributions to the FamilySearch Research Wiki.
  • I have attended a genealogy webinar.
  • I have organized and administered a DNA testing group related to my genealogy.
  • I use apps involving GPS and Geo-caching for my genealogy research.
  • I have a Google+ account and use it regularly for genealogy. [I need to learn more about my Google+ accounts!]
  • I have created and published a family history e-book.
  • I have create a wiki related to my genealogy research.
  • I have conducted a genealogy webinar as a presenter.
  • I read genealogy-related blogs to help improve my own research. 
  • I have one or more genealogy-related blogs to help improve my own research.
  • I have a Twitter account and use it regularly for genealogy.
  • I have one or more genealogy-related websites which I run and administer. 
  • I have created a screencast or video related to genealogy and posted it at a video sharing site (Vimeo, YouTube, etc.).
  • I use one or more digital tools to capture and record my family history.

Family History Expo

Last weekend I attended the Family History Expo in Duluth Georgia. In fact seven members of the Bay County Genealogical Society attended.  As I have not been doing very much genealogy this event really help restart my enthusiasm. This week I have been on the computer trying to follow up with what I learned at the Expo. Of course I got side tracked and found a wealth of information on the Elijah Merrell (1826-1904)branch of the family on Findagrave . If you follow the link there are pictures, a short bio and links to other family members. And also found some good information pictures at Elijah was my 2nd great grand uncle and the brother to my direct descendant John William Merrell (1815-1899), and was the first pastor of Greenville (Mineral Springs) Baptist Church.  John William Merrell (1815-1899). So that was fun.

I also spent the week fine tuning my presentation on for the Bay County Genealogical Society.

Where Were You?

“No matter how hard we try words simply cannot express the horror, the shock, and the revulsion we all feel over what took place in this nation on Tuesday morning. September 11 will go down in our history as a day to remember.”

Quote from Billy Graham

One thing that links us is our common remembrances. The two that stand out to me that has happened in my lifetime is the assassination of John F. Kennedy and 9/11.

Rick and I had been visiting his parents in Evans, Georgia which is a suburb of Augusta, Georgia. We had gotten an early start for our long drive home on the morning of 9/11. Rick’s dad is hard of hearing and kept the TV on loud while we were there. So we had decided to travel without the radio on and enjoy the peace and quiet.  We spent most of the day in bliss, chatting and enjoying each others company. It was not until we stopped in Bainbridge and got gas did we learn of the horrors of the day.  At first we thought maybe the employee was playing an hoax on us, but when we turned on the radio, we found that what he said was the truth. We spent the rest of the trip listening to every word on the radio with our mouths agape and our hearts full of sorrow.  When we got home a couple of hours later, we unpacked the car,  and as we were in our no TV mode , we drove over to J. Michaels, when they were still at the Marina, and sat at the bar and watched the events of the day on the TV there. Seeing the footage of the Twin Towers collapsing brought it home to us more than any radio announcement could.  My heart still goes out to the families of the innocent people who lost their lives that day and to the brave men and women who did what they could to help.

“Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand – and melting like a snow flake”
– M.B. Ray

99 Genealogy Things Meme

Wikipedia’s definition of meme is something that spreads from person to person within a culture.  In this case the culture is the internet. I got it from Tonia Kendrick of Tonia’s Roots who got it from Valerie Elkins of Family Cherished and so on…

Things you have already done or found – bold type
Things you would like to do or find – italics
Things you have not done or found /don’t care to – (or that I know hasn’t happened in my family).

99 Genealogy Things

  1. Belong to a genealogical society
  2. Joined a group on Genealogy Wise.
  3. Transcribed records.
  4. Uploaded headstone pictures to Find-A-Grave or a similar site
  5. Documented ancestors for four generations (self, parents, grandparents, great-grandparents)
  6. Joined Facebook.
  7. Cleaned up a run-down cemetery.
  8. Joined the Genea-Bloggers Group.
  9. Attended a genealogy conference.
  10. Lectured at a genealogy conference.
  11. Spoke on a genealogy topic at a local genealogy society/local library’s family history group.  
  12. Joined the National Genealogical Society.
  13. Contributed to a genealogy society publication.
  14. Served on the board or as an officer of a genealogy society.
  15. Got lost on the way to a cemetery.
  16. Talked to dead ancestors.
  17. Researched outside the state in which I live.
  18. Knocked on the door of an ancestral home and visited with the current occupants. 
  19. Cold called a distant relative.
  20. Posted messages on a surname message board.
  21. Uploaded a gedcom file to the internet.
  22. Googled my name (and those of ancestors – it turns up great info sometimes)
  23. Performed a random act of genealogical kindness.
  24. Researched a non-related family, just for the fun of it
  25. Have been paid to do genealogical research.
  26. Earn a living (majority of income) from genealogical research.
  27. Wrote a letter (or email) to a previously unknown relative.  
  28. Contributed to one of the genealogy carnivals.
  29. Responded to messages on a message board.
  30. Was injured while on a genealogy excursion.
  31. Participated in a genealogy meme.
  32. Created family history gift items.
  33. Performed a record lookup.
  34. Took a genealogy seminar cruise.
  35. Am convinced that a relative must have arrived here from outer space. 
  36. Found a disturbing family secret.
  37. Told others about a disturbing family secret (but not all of the secrets).
  38. Combined genealogy with crafts (family picture quilt, scrapbooking).
  39. Think genealogy is a passion and/or obsession not a hobby.
  40. Assisted finding next of kin for a deceased person.
  41. Taught someone else how to find their roots.
  42. Lost valuable genealogy data due to a computer crash or hard drive failure.
  43. Been overwhelmed by available genealogy technology.
  44. Know a cousin of the 4th degree or higher.
  45. Disproved a family myth through research.
  46. Got a family member to let you copy photos.
  47. Used a digital camera to “copy” photos or records.
  48. Translated a record from a foreign language.
  49. Found an immigrant ancestor’s passenger arrival record.
  50. Looked at census records on microfilm, not on the computer.  
  51. Used microfiche.
  52. Visited the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.
  53. Used Google+ for genealogy. 
  54. Visited a church or place of worship of one of your ancestors.
  55. Taught a class in genealogy. 
  56. Traced ancestors back to the 18th Century.
  57. Traced ancestors back to the 17th Century.
  58. Traced ancestors back to the 16th Century.
  59. Can name all of your great-great-grandparents.
  60. Know how to determine a soundex code without the help of a computer.  To steal Valerie’s answer, “isn’t that what the computers are for?”
  61. Have found many relevant and unexpected articles on internet to “put flesh on the bones”.  
  62. Own a copy of Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills. 
  63. Helped someone find an ancestor using records you had never used for your own research.  
  64. Visited the main National Archives building in Washington, DC.
  65. Have an ancestor who came to America as an indentured servant.
  66. Have an ancestor who fought in the Revolutionary War, War of 1812 or Civil War. Yes, yes, and yes. Multiple times.
  67. Taken a photograph of an ancestor’s tombstone.
  68. Can “read” a church record in Latin.
  69. Have an ancestor who changed his/her name, just enough to be confusing. 
  70. Joined a Rootsweb mailing list.
  71. Created a family website.
  72. Have a genealogy blog.
  73. Was overwhelmed by the amount of family information received from someone. .
  74. Have broken through at least one brick wall.
  75. Done genealogy research at a court house.
  76. Borrowed microfilm from the Family History Library through a local Family History Center(s).
  77. Found an ancestor in an online newspaper archive.
  78. Have visited a NARA branch.
  79. Have an ancestor who served in WWI or WWII.
  80. Use maps in my genealogy research.
  81. Have a blacksheep ancestor.
  82. Found a bigamist amongst my ancestors.
  83. Attended a genealogical institute.
  84. Taken online genealogy (and local history) courses.
  85. Consistently (document) and cite my sources. 
  86. Visited a foreign country (i.e. one I don’t live in) in search of ancestors.
  87. Can locate any document in my research files within a few minutes.
  88. Have an ancestor who was married four times. Several three-peaters, though.
  89. Made a rubbing of an ancestor’s gravestone.
  90. Followed genealogists on Twitter.
  91. Published a family history book. 
  92. Learned of a death of a fairly close family relative through research.
  93. Offended a family member with my research.
  94. Reunited someone with precious family photos or artifacts.
  95. Have a paid subscription to a genealogy database.
  96. Submitted articles for FamilySearch Wiki.
  97. Organized a family reunion.
  98. Used Archives in countries where my ancestors originated.
  99. Converted someone new to the love of all things genealogy.  I hope I have.
It looks like I have a few things I still want to do. 

Genealogy Roulette

Randy Seaver over at Genea-Musing always has some genealogy Saturday night fun. And this week is no exception. Tonight’s assignment, if we choose to particpate is to do the following:

1) How old is your great-grandfather now, or how old would he be if he had lived? Divide this number by 4 and round the number off to a whole number. This is your “roulette number.”

2) Use your pedigree charts or your family tree genealogy software program to find the person with that number in your ahnentafel (ancestor name list). Who is that person?

3) Tell us three facts about that person with the “roulette number.”

4) Write about it in a blog post on your own blog, in a Facebook or Google Plus note or comment, or as a comment on this blog post.

5) If you do not have a person’s name for your “roulette number” then spin the wheel again – pick a grandparent, a  parent, a favorite aunt or cousin, or even your children!
Here’s mine:

I first choose Joseph E. Cook and his age would have been 150 and that divided by 4 gave me 37.5 and I rounded it to 37.  The ancestor was Emily Johns’ mother, who I did not know. So I picked the aother great grandfather, Christopher Malachi McGraw. His age would have been 158 and the roulette number I ended up with was 39. This ancestor is Caroline Mathilda Rhudy Jenkins.

1)Caroline Matilda Rhudy Jenkins  was born about 1840 in Grayson, County, Virginia to George Washington Rhudy and Amy Comer.

2)She died on 26 Sept 1882 in Rome, Floyd, Georgia and is buried in Myrtle Hill Cemetery.

3)She married John Ballad Jenkins in Rome, Floyd, Georgia on 9 July 1856.

4) She had nine children: Charles J. (my great grandfather), Joseph, Mary, Carrie, Lelia, Sarah, Rosie, Amy, John B.

I wish I knew more.

Matrilineal Monday

In my research lately I am trying to focus on those lines where I seem to have road blocs. One of these is the Harrison line as I mentioned earlier in this blog. 

While I have been more successful in my research with them, the Cook line has been a challenge. For one, Cook is a pretty common name, and for two, when searching online articles, books, etc I end up with a lot of stories about cooks in my results. I have found out a lot of information about Joe E. Cook, my grandmother’s father and his wife, Cornelia Christopher Cook. I also know some about Joe’s father, John E. Cook, who I have not talked about in this blog.

John E. Cook (1836-1882) was born in Franklin County Alabama to Joseph Thomas Cook ( 1808-1858) and Lucinda Bates Cook (1809-1897).  According to the family history written by William Stowt Bates in 1920, Joseph Thomas Cook served as sheriff of Franklin County, Alabama in the 1840’s.  He served one term and made some money and moved the family to Hempstead County, Arkansas. He was later killed in an altercation with Colonel Gant of the same county.

John E. Cook entered Confederate States Army  the day after his son, Joe. E., was born.  He joined Ouachita Rangers at Caney, AR on June 1, 1861. On April 3, 1862, at DeVall’s Bluff, AR he was elected Lt.Colonel of Smead’s AR Volunteers. He lost an arm during the war.

John Cook moved to Texarkana in 1875 from Lewisville, AR where he practiced law after being admitted to the bar in 1865 at Camden. In 1880, he was elected Prosecuting Attorney of the 9th Judicial District (Polk, Howard, Pike,Sevier, & Little River Counties). He was describes as “a very forceful character and a vigorous and aggressive prosecutor” in the book authored by Joe E, Cook’s one time law partner, Richard Arnold.

He is buried in Stateline Cemetery in Texarkana, Miller, Arkansas. There is a blurb about him on their website.

Till next time, MK

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