Friday, June 18, 2010

Been busy!

Well, I've been pretty busy in the family history field these last few weeks (I know, it's been longer than a "few weeks" since I posted last, but for awhile I was mostly scrapbooking family history rather than doing research.) It gets addictive, which is not great for my eyeballs! (All the staring at the computer screen.)

I've been trying to clean up the info, etc., that I have on my Family Tree Maker program. I've decided it's to be the primary repository for the family history stuff, rather than That doesn't mean I won't still have my Ancestry tree, but that I'll be doing the primary research from within FTM rather than from Ancestry. This matters because, although you would think the two would be incredibly compatible, FTM being an product, they don't work together as well as one would think. I won't go into it all here, it's too complicated.

ANYway, I have also been using other resources to find "stuff" and it's been interesting. is still very useful, especially in finding military records. I joined (just with US access, adding World was a little too expensive), and have found mostly land records through them (they aren't very strong on census info, tons of which I already have, and they link to, which I think is kinda silly, since F-A-G is free). I tried GenealogyBank for a couple of weeks -- it wasn't terribly useful to me. Their big thing is newpapers and historical books, and the people in my family tree didn't live in big towns or do much that would land them in the books. I did find several articles on W. M. Green, our Texas Ranger, from the Dallas and Ft. Worth newspapers they had, so that was cool, but it wasn't worth extending my free month's membership into a paid subscription.

Using (which is free!) I found a whole bunch of Death Certificates for my Texas ancestors. It sounds morbid, but it is interesting to know what people died of, and there's other info on these records as well, including parents' names (although in one case they had it completely wrong), where the deceased was living when they died, hospital names, etc. It's not so bad to read the ones for people who lived long lives, but in one case I found the death cert for one of my grandmother's brothers who died of diphtheria when he was just a very little thing, and even though I've known the story of his and another brother's death, it was still sad to see the cert.

I think I have Confederate Service Records now for all my ancestors who fought in the Civil War (unless there's someone I'm not sure fought). I have a couple of Revolutionary War pension apps. I found a copy of the letter one of my Civil War ancestors (Elijah W. Smith) wrote to whoever was in charge when he formed a regiment to fight in that war -- the "Abbeville Tigers," of the 37th Mississippi Infantry (the group was later called "Smith's Rifles," and the 37th Mississippi became the 34th, for whatever reason). I had seen a transcription of that letter online, but it was so cool to find a copy of the original, in his handwriting! Here it is:

Although family history research is always a sleuthing job, sometimes you have to "sleuth" harder than others. I almost never found E. W.'s Confederate records. I kept finding an "Enoch" Smith listed (this was at Footnote) in the 37th Mississippi. Obviously there are a LOT of Smiths, and anyone could be named Enoch Smith, but I could not find Elijah under any name -- Elijah W., E. W., just Elijah. So I decided to look at Enoch's files just to see if maybe someone got the name wrong. What I found was that someone had combined Enoch Smith's files with E. W. Smith's files -- and that this E. W. was, indeed, my Elijah, based on what I know of his military service and his death date (he died during the war). Enoch's stuff was very, very close to Elijah's, but not exactly the same -- Enoch died on October 10, 1862, in a hospital of disease. Elijah died on October 14, 1862, in a friend's house, also of disease. Anyway, this was also the file where I found the abovementioned letter, so I knew it was my Elijah. I asked Footnote if they could separate the two files, but apparently this couldn't be done (I guess since the files came from the National Archives, and probably had to remain in the same format, shape, etc. as they came.) At least they're going to put an annotation on there and make it searchable under E. W. Smith, also.

Lots of fun stories like that (one of the death certs revealed we had the wrong death date and place for J. B. Smith, who was E. W.'s son). I'll share more later, along with more of the scrapbook pages I made. At the moment I'm kinda burned out on scrapping, so it may be awhile before I get the family history scrapbook finished!

Okay, off to do more sleuthing!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Confederates everywhere!

We've been watching Ken Burns' "The Civil War" PBS documentary lately. In doing family research, I discovered that I have at least 9 ancestors who fought in the Civil War, most, if not all, on the Confederate side. A couple were captains, most were privates. Some have a lot of documentation, some have very little, and one whose service I have not yet been able to document, it's pretty much just "family tradition" that he fought. And since he was from Missouri, he could've been on either side. Anyway, digging through all this information made me realize I didn't really know just tons about the details of the Civil War. So we've been renting the documentary from NetFlix (I will confess that I actually tracked down my own DVD set used on Amazon for just $20! It should be here any day. So, I liked it, I bought it -- I'm like that). It's an amazing documentary, very interesting. And because of it, and because I decided I liked one of the interviewees, Shelby Foote, a lot (he knew everything about the war, it seems, and I love his Mississippi accent!), I've also become the owner (via Christmas gift) of Mr. Foote's non-fiction 3-volume set about the Civil War (MASSIVE 3-volume set!), and I also got one of his fiction works, Shiloh, which is about the Battle of Shiloh as told from the perspective of six different participants. It's a very good, well-written book, I recommend it.

Anyway, back to the ancestors ... while I am deeply regretful that several of my ancestors had slaves, I still love these people, and I still find their lives interesting, especially the fact that they fought in this war. I may have written about this before in some form, but there are at least two of them who did not want the South to secede, once their state did they felt obligated to fight on their state's behalf. E. W. Smith was one of these, at the moment I can't remember who the other one was.

The whole thing is just so tragic. The South was doomed to lose from the beginning, since the North had almost all of the industry and the South was much more agrarian. This meant the North could make more munitions, weapons, etc., and in general had better access to uniforms and other comforts. So even though the South started off well and won a number of battles in the beginning (and throughout the war), they had no way of sustaining that advantage. And, honestly, the North could have won it fairly quickly if General McClellan hadn't been an idiot and waited so long to move his troops into Richmond -- he had several good chances in the first year or so.

So, anyway, I just think it's kinda cool that there are these records of my ancestors' service in the first place, and just having them there, present in one of this country's most historic events, knowing how it changed many of their lives ... for a historian like me, that's like finding gold! (Larger amounts of that "gold" would be appreciated -- like photos, letters home, etc -- but I'll take what I can get at this point!)

My ancestor Capt. John Milton McCreless (on my dad's mother's side) has quite a few records in the Civil War Confederate Service Records database (both at NARA -- the National Archives and Records Administration -- and at, including requisitions for supplies. Here's one of those:
(You can click on the image to see it larger.)

And here's one of the Muster Roll records for John Wesley Reece (on my mother's mother's side):
(This isn't the original muster roll for his regiment, which would have all the men's names on it, but rather a record put together in the post-war years for him as an individual soldier. And I must say I like the way the Confederate records were done much better than the Union ones ...)

So you get an idea what these records are like. I know from these records that some of my ancestors died during the war (E. W. Smith and W. P. Dorn, for example), and that they died of disease rather than being killed in action. I know that some of my ancestors received furloughs for business purposes as well as for illness, and a couple of them (McCreless included) ended up as prisoners of war for a time. (None of my ancestors seem to have spent very long as POWs, which was a good thing given the photos I've seen of some of those poor men after they came out of the prisons.)
It's only a very small portrait of their Civil War service, not complete by far, but I'm happy to have that much! I really, really do wish I had photos of the ones who still remain faceless to me. Maybe someday I'll find a source that will have some. There are lots of Civil War photo sites, but none have so far had photos of any of my ancestors.

Friday, October 2, 2009

A Civil War page

I had a number of ancestors in the Civil War (I think I've talked about this before?), Confederates, and found a wonderful kit especially for scrapping Civil War stuff at Heritage Scrap. So this is my first page devoted to one of them. And in reality, this page isn't really all there is to tell about J. B., so I'll be doing another page with more info about him.

Again, for credits and ingredient details, go to my craft blog, Stacy's Stamp-n-Scrap Loft.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Branching out

Okay, that was a lame title! lol -- but I have begun to make my "branch" pages for my family heritage album. This one stars my maternal great-grandparents Arthur Lee and Maggie Ophelia (Westbrook) Campbell. The larger photo at the bottom is of my grandfather, as he is my direct ancestor. I didn't have a photo of his sister who died while still an infant, so I used a silhouette, but now my mother tells me she has a photo of baby Maggie Idora -- she just doesn't know where. As she put it, "Maggie Idora is buried twice; once in Deport and also in my house!"

If you'd like details on the designers/kits I used, you can hop over to my craft blog page here. There's also a bit in that post about my plans for the branch pages. In addition to those "strictly facts" pages, I want to make separate pages for special pictures, or particular people, or whatever reason pops into my head!

You can click on the image if you'd like to see it larger.

Oh, yes -- my page about my grandmother was featured on Faith Sisters' "Made Ya Look Monday" page this week! Woooot!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

More heritage scrapbooking

I've done another layout that will eventually go in my Family Heritage album. Again, this one is digital instead of paper. (For more info about the scrapping part, you can go to my "Stacy's Stamp and Scrap Loft" blog where I've also posted this layout.)

The girls are my dad's mother Susie Richardson Smith (in the middle) and two of her sisters (Kate, on the left, and Ida to the right). I love how they had these photos taken in the same positions five years apart! The Richardsons were a very close family, and from the tales I've been told, they had a lot of fun together! "Ma" Richardson (Una Dorn Richardson) kept a journal at the family home, and whenever any of the kids were home visiting they would write in it. Often it was just facts like "Susie and Mike were here, with kids," and the date, but it was in that person's handwriting. Sometimes they commented about how stuffed they were from Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner. The last entry is quite sad and poignant, as it was written by Ida after Ma was moved to a nursing home. It talks about the great memories that home holds, also, so it's bittersweet.

I'll be back later with more heritage scrapping. I've got plans for the Family Heritage scrapbook ...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Heritage Scrapbooking

This is something I've been really wanting to do, especially since I've been collecting heritage photos of my family. So this weekend, since I needed an excuse to use some of the digital scrapbooking stuff I'd been collecting, I thought I'd make a layout using my favorite photo of my maternal grandmother and referring to the Bible passage that describes how she was so well (Proverbs 31:10-31) Now, normally I'm a "traditional" (paper) scrapper. I love to feel of the paper and embellishments in my hands as I manipulate them around to make the layout I want. Digi-scrapping layouts, when you get them printed, are, of course, completely 2-D, no matter how 3-D they may look. That bugs me. But I like a lot of things about digital scrapping (like the way you can reuse "papers" and elements over and over, and change their size or color to fit what you're doing), so I'm not averse to doing the occasional digital layout.

Here's the one I made of Granny (you can click on the image to see it larger):

I think she would have liked this page, although she would have disagreed with my assessment of her as being so wonderful (she really was!).

So this is something I really want to do more of -- scrap my family tree and also make layouts of individual people, to honor them as I think they should be honored!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Spiritual Heritage

I finally got around to finishing a digital scrapbook layout I did a few months ago when I was still a member of PaperCraft Planet social networking site and moderating a group focused on Christian crafting. I had a faithbooking project going there, and this is the last page I made for it. I didn't have as many family heritage photos scanned in then, and really didn't like the one I had to use for my dad's dad, so last night I decided to go in and change the photo. It took me 1-1/2 hours to do that simple little thing (I had altered the original color of the oval frame that I used on all the pictures, and hadn't saved it, so I had to try to match the color, then scale it, then figure out how to cut the right size oval out of the photo and get it behind the frame -- it all sounds so simple, but clearly, it wasn't!). I posted it on GenealogyWise, which is a new social network for family historians and genealogists, in the Scrapping Your Family History (or whatever it's called) group. So here it is:

If you'd like to see it larger, just click on it.

I have no recollection of the designers or whatever of any of the elements. (I always like to post the brands, etc. of the things I use in scrapping and card making, because I figure they made the stuff, they deserve the credit.)


I joined the other day. It's a website with tons of digitized original documents (like Civil War Service Records, census images from 1880 and 1930, etc.). It was $60 for a year (they had a special). I don't know yet if it will be worth the money. For some reason my ancestors are always undocumented or it's hard to find their info. Census images aren't a problem, but I already have most of those off Ancestry. I did find the actual images of one of my ancestors' Civil War records. Before joining Footnote I only had the index information on that. So that was cool. But the Civil War era is so frustrating because they often just put the soldier's first and middle initials with their last name. So instead of finding Elijah William Smith, I have to look through all the other E. W. Smiths in Mississippi (and they are legion, or so it seems) and try to decide if the info is for MY E. W. Smith. Fortunately, for most of my Civil War soldier ancestors I know the regiments they were in. This helps tremendously.

Oddly, I'm having trouble finding military documentation for my 5-greats-grandfather who served in the Revolutionary War and then was one of the original Old Three Hundred colonists who came to Texas. He's been celebrated by the DAR, has DAR medallions on his headstone, etc. But I can't find the documentation on his service with the South Carolina militia that was under Gen'l Francis Marion. I found several Alexander Hodge papers for North Carolina ... wondering if there was a mistake or if he served somehow for NC. Or if that's a different Alexander Hodge entirely. I wouldn't think that was an incredibly common name, but what do I know about common names back then?

Well, the morning is almost over, I need to go take a shower and get dressed, and then take the kid to the orthodontist. So, until next time ...