Saturday, June 30, 2012

Society Saturday -Poteau Valley Genealogical Society

Since moving back to Oklahoma I find myself in a different position with a slightly different outlook on life and people. I have had to lay down something that was so much a part of me that at times I have felt completely and utterly lost, my photography. It's hard to have something in your life that you are so completely passionate about that everything about it heightens your senses, makes you see the world in ways that only someone behind a camera, behind a brush, behind a pen, behind a keyboard, can see. Something that is so much a part of you that it is an extension of who you are, what you relate to in life, and how you see the world.

I have found another passion, it doesn't speak to the artistic side to me, one day that will awaken again, I have to believe that, but it speaks to the side of me that honestly adores people, no matter the things that have been done or said. Life can take unexpected turns, and we either fight them, or we grieve the loss of the change and we move in a new direction.

Cue Genealogy, now since I was knee high to a grasshopper (Okie Speak), although I am not much taller than that now, I was interested in our family. When I was 10,11 my mother's parents were already in their 80s, so we weren't the go to the park kind of family. We were the kids go outside and play while the parents work and grandparents watch us. Most days though you would find me in the kitchen or at my grandfather's heels, listening to stories, asking questions, soaking in his world, our family. I find searching and hunting almost natural, ideas and thoughts come to this brain fairly easy and I have a knack for finding the unfindable(I love new words).

I happened to be in our local Genealogy center at the library when one of the Genealogist, Helen, volunteers ambled in. I inquired about books on Le Flore (my county) county Cemeteries. Those of you who follow or stumble upon this blog will see that cemeteries are one of my passions. A little talking and we began to discuss that I am working a project to photograph E.V.E.R.Y headstone, E.V.E.R.Y. cemetery in our county!!! She asked me to come and speak to the Genealogists that night at their meeting and bring a sample of what I was doing. I was/am still very flattered. So, I went back to the house, tossed some pictures, from the trusty point and shooter that is now on its last legs :(  and made a video slide-show.

At 7 O'Clock I went to their meeting, I met some wonderful new people, one happened to be the mother of a very nice girl I went to school with. There was one 'elderly' man there that had random things to say, and he completely kept a smile on my face the entire evening! They were warm and welcoming, although several branches on my family tree started this community nearly 200 years ago, I was new to them yet they were so open to me and my presentation. I gave a little speech as to why I felt this so important and will see it through no matter what!

After, I was congratulated, told how wonderful my speech was, how impressed they are with what I am working on, and most importantly they invited me into their fold, into their circle! I appreciate real folks, people who want nothing in return other than to work beside you, share your passion and dreams, and help you see them through. I have been fortunate enough to recently have a few people like this in my life and it brings a little hope back that maybe, just maybe I can and will find a few more.

So, I tip my hat to my new little Genealogy family, Poteau Valley Genealogical Society, and thank you for welcoming me in!

Happy Hunting,

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Funny Friday - I am NOT lost, I was merely sightseeing, and a few other thoughts~

I hinted on yesterdays post my, as Ward would say, way of making her go nuts. That is, I had general or no directions to the places I was headed, I just drove. Now, let me explain a bit about Le Flore County, it is not only filled with quaint little small towns, fields of rolling grass and cattle, birds chirping, well you get that picture. It is also filled with dirt roads that go on for 15-20 miles, signs that say and mean, if you enter you will be shot (nothing personal).

It has various types of wildlife, like snakes that bite, mosquitoes that will suck you dry in 5 minutes flat, oh and don't forget those LOVELY black widow spiders that are waiting for you to get nosy and move a broken headstone about so they too, can have you for supper! Yes, that did happen to me, prompting me to buy and wear gloves, even with the heat index at 105F~

Now why with all that Ward would be concerned, I have no idea! I grew up here, I know the boundaries to push, I know when a closed gate means do or do not or enter at own risk. The tell tale sign for the Do Not is either a lock or a skeleton head of some poor critter, definitely not the type of gates you want to enter! HA! I never saw a lock or a skeleton head in the WHOLE time I was out!

So, my trusty side kick had to lead me around, OH, let me mention here that not only is she NOT in Oklahoma, she isn't even in the US. She is actually in the United Kingdom, like a few hours from London, not in Oklahoma! Yeah we totally are a pair and a half, but MAN OH MAN do we laugh! She mostly laughs at me and my ridiculous ways at times, I don't mind at all, at least I am amusing someone!

My journey took me to a cemetery called Greenhill, and low and behold if one of "those" people weren't buried there. You know the type, the guy who always said something was wrong and no one let on to believe him, take him seriously, you know that guy, right? Mr. Anthony must have been that guy!


Happy Hunting,

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Thankful Thursday - 4 New Cemeteries and 1 Surprise one!

Sorry that I haven't written in a few days, I have been out and about in this Oklahoma heat. The heat index was 105F yesterday and a cool 103F today! What is it I have been up to you ask? Well, let me tell you the story!

My friend, Andrea, Ward I call her, had me set out a list of old (1800-1900) cemeteries, cemeteries known to have internment's that old, and ones known to have Native American burials (MY FAVS). So, list in hand (I won't get too far into the I didn't write down directions bit HA), needless to say my trusty Side-kick Ward was on the other end of the phone messaging me directions!

Well, I set out to look for an old cemetery known to have Native American burial(s), it is/was called Knothole Cemetery. Yes, here in Oklahoma we are a simple folk and are not bothered with fancy pants names as the city slickers (I jest). I went to the general direction I believed it to be and nothing! UGH! Ward then directed me with the correct directions and I ended back in the same spot, a cemetery called Greenhill. Oh well, I say, there are graves and LOTS of them, so off I trod. Now, I do indeed find a few Native American burials, along with a few hundred from the era I was seeking. Unbeknownst to me Ward has deduced, and rightly so, that the Greenhill upon which I was now standing and photographing, was in fact formerly named Knothole! EEEEK!

She informs me of this on my drive back to the office, ha, and I am giddy! I can't explain it, but as she says, I am like a kid with a new toy with all this! So, upon much brow raising from Ward, I actually set down directions to these places and alternative names so as not to catch me unawares again!

The next day as I am looking for Royal Oak, 5 miles down a dirt road I didn't know existed, up over a hill a sign catches my eye and I hit the brakes! French Cemetery! WOOOHOO I reach what is an old cattle gate! No lock, so I unlatch it and go in to literally find a few hundred stones with white paint atop them as not to mistake them for just plain old rocks! about 50 had some type of inscription, or actual stone. What do my eyes behold when panning this amazing find? Native American Burial number 4 in 2 days! WHAT! WHAT!!!! Oh, my gracious, yep kid with a new toy about explains it!

Today found me in the first Choctaw Indian Burial site at what was once Skullyville, the check in place for the Mississippi Choctaws as they came off the Trail of Tears. (That's a WHOLE other blog post). It was absolutely fascinating, I was captivated, enamored, everything excited inside me was welling up! I think I was giving a play by play to Ward on the phone as I was taking all this in. Family names I have found researching, some of my own as well, (BONUS)!

Next to this well kept, well marked, amazing cemetery, was a fence separating it from another cemetery. There is no gate to connect them, only a fence covered in ivy. I got into my vehicle and tried to find an entrance, a dirt road, unmarked, next to a not so pleasant smelling, chicken farm. Broken stones by the dozens, many bumps and lumps we cemetery enthusiasts know to be burials, littered the ground, but not many stones. Maybe 30 stones now liter the 2-3 acres, knowing full well many, many more were laid to rest there. What is this place you ask? Well these are the early Freedmen (and women) and the more recent few burials, their children. The Freedmen were the African-American slaves to the Choctaw people before the Civil War (Another blog post). I was saddened and actually disgusted that nothing marked this place, no sign, no nothing but two dark posts in the front to keep the local chicken trucks from hitting the front few gravesites. So sad.....

My last trip of the day was to the Spiro Mounds! OH MY!!! If you don't know anything about this, read up, it is absolutely fascinating! They are from 450-1450 A.D. dwellers of this area, Native American peoples. I visited the museum, saw relics, marveled at this amazing place! I walked the two mile track around the mounds, took the interpretive book and my camera and 2 bottles of water! Again, the kid in the toy store!

So, as you can see, my few days have been FILLED with some amazing adventures! I will enclose a few pictures for your enjoyment. Thank you for stopping by!

Happy Hunting~

What I am thankful for is a few things, one is my trusty side-kick, turned map reader extraordinaire, Ward. Second is finding a passion in something that has meaning, isn't frivolous, and matters. Third, is the opportunity to share what 'gift' I have for this with others through our Genealogy work!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Thankful Thursday - Best Text Message EVER!

This has absolutely nothing to do with, ok I take that back, it has A LOT to do with Genealogy in the sense that this is the person who gave me Genealogy, who gives to me on a daily basis expecting nothing in return but honest friendship. I don't mean the fleeting kind, I mean the, as Clint Eastwood would say, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly!

I mean we have had a whole slew load of the bad and the ugly the last almost year and a half. I won't get too much into her personal story except to say that the below image will speak for itself in those regards. She is the most giving, the absolute strongest, the most loyal, fiercest friend, a person  could ever hope to have in their corner when the chips are down. When the chips are up, she is funny, feisty, mean as a rattle snake with a heart as soft as they come, witty as can be, she keeps me in stitches!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wednesday's Child - Harry and Kenneth Hathaway

Son of
F.J. & Isabel
Aug. 23, 1900
Nov. 19, 1907

Son of
F.J. & Isabel
Oct. 23, 1902
Oct. 24, 1902

These are two of the most beautiful but most sad headstones I have come across as of late. Most of the time, the stones are simple, flat, or the white tablets with the baby lamb laying at the top. These are ornate, beautiful, although Harry's is broken. I can't imagine the grief of losing one child, but to lose two and within two years of each other it just has to be unbearable. It is my hope that the Hathaway's found peace, hopefully had other living children to move into life with and enjoy.

I have mentioned it before but I feel it bears repeating, the children's stones are sad to me for a few reasons, one is the obvious any child dying is just hard to swallow. A second reason is that they have no legacy, no children, grandchildren to remember them, to tell stories of them, to come looking for them years to come. These are truly and eventually, the forgotten ones in our families. It is heartbreaking for sure and the hardest for me to photograph, and I unfortunately, have photographed many. Many during the cholera, smallpox outbreaks of the early to mid 1800s, in this area, Le Flore County, Oklahoma.

So, this post and many others to come, will help them live on, at least through my words and photos.

Give your kids a hug, enjoy your families!

Happy Hunting,

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Precarious Places

Well, I have to say that on my treks through the wild and woolly adventures of Project photograph cemeteries, I have found them in some, precarious places, as you will see below.

Those of you who have been to cemeteries as I have been, photographing, documenting each person or particular family members, you begin to be able to 'read' a cemetery. Especially the ones that house people from back in the early to mid 1800s. You begin to know when a rock is just a rock or when it, accompanied with a type of hump, is actually a marker for someones place of rest. You are quick not to assume that the edges the people say are the edges, are actually where the graves stop.

In 'reading' graves you will quickly start to catch yourself inside bushes, among the trees, searching the base of trees, the ditches, laying on your stomach to see a rock that is leaning down to the ground (9/10 there is a name or an etching on the side that is facing the ground. At least in my cases, that seems to be the case, HA).

When you are searching these places of rest and you can't seem to find who you are looking for.... go look here....

                                                   Under the tree

                                            Oh and IN the tree

                 Covered in leaves and 50 yards from the nearest headstone

Oh and Don't Forget HERE~

p.s. A little advice, carry some Benadryl or other Anti-histamine for WHEN you find out that you are allergic to whatever it is you just crawled into! Heeheee

Happy Hunting


Monday, June 18, 2012

Amanuensis Monday- Indexing Records

An Amanuensis is a person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another. (As stated on GeneaBloggers ).

I am taking a smidge of a spin off this and talk about Indexing. What is it and what is its importance? Well it is all the stated above, except the paid bit ;). I volunteer, along with thousands of others, Indexing records (right now I am working on the 1940 census records) for Family Search. Anyone can participate, it is a way that I give back to the Genealogy community as well. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Sentimental Sunday ~ Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day, Jerry Pendergraff.

You were taken far too soon!

I have wonderful memories of my dad and I can say that he was my best friend as a child. He was the most amazing, funny, practical joker I have ever known. I got my sense of humor, my sometimes too big heart, my willingness to put others needs before my own, from him.

My dad built homes from the ground up with his own two hands. He used to take me along on the weekends and during the summers to his jobs. When I was little I was a gopher, Cis go fer this wrench, go fer that hammer! As I got older he taught me things like the proper way to paint, to do plumbing, put up sheet rock, change the oil in my car on my own. He wanted me to be an independent soul in my life.

I remember one particular day we went to remove old cabinets from a job that he was doing and I had my own hammer and we were taking the cabinet tops off, the next thing I know my dad is standing over me reminding me that swinging a hammer UP at my forehead really wasn't the best idea. I shook my head and laughed. On another day we were up on a roof putting on shingles, it was a bit windy and I was known for being less than graceful. I slipped a few times and being directed to sit on my backside and scoot around, and me having yet another characteristic of his, stubbornness, I stood and attempted to walk again, resulting in yet another slip. He sternly looked at me, I sat, he walked behind me and I head a THUMP sound. Yes, he had just used his nail gun and nailed me to the roof! I would not be falling off the roof on his watch apparently!

He was taken from me when I was a teenager, it was a very traumatic experience, life changing for me and to this day, I do miss him as much as I did after he was gone. The pain is less, it is loss I feel mostly now. I can say that I was fortunate enough to have him for the 17 years that I did have him in my life.


Happy Father's Day to you all as well!

Happy Hunting,

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Sorting Saturday

Ok, this happens to me more times than I care to admit, but when I am searching my personal family tree, I have G.R.E.A.T. intentions on staying focused on a certain section, specific siblings and it never fails, 3 hours later I am COMPLETELY on the other side of the tree, captivated by stories and photos and Gosh oh Golly, I MUST read it all and save it so I don't forget! Please, tell me I am not the only one this happens to!!!!

So, what I have HAD to start doing is making a small list of very specific people, under each name a goal(s) that I want to achieve for that specific section, like civil war document, land title, birth record, you get the point. If I didn't do this, I would have my 15th cousin 45 times removed (I really loooooooooathe the removed business ha), on my family tree before I had Great-Grandma Della because I got myself side-tracked!

The other thing I have done as well is I work with two trees, one is my direct blood lines and ONLY that going back on my paternal and maternal sides. My other tree has the cousins of cousins and 5th wife with 14 kids on it, I kid you not, ok I am from Oklahoma farm and Indian lands so yeah, we grow them big out here!

It is SUPER important as a Genealogist for our clients sake, time and money, to keep goals set, expectations as well so that when the project has reached its completion, there is great reward for both parties. The same can be said in our own personal journeys through our pasts.

Have a wonderful weekend, see you tomorrow!

Happy Hunting

Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday Funny~ I Enjoy My Taphophilia

First let me start off by saying as a RN, I find it funny that e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. we do, say, don't do, do too much, do too little seems to have the philia or phobia words attached to it. I also am afflicted with biophilia, iconophilia, technophilia, and many others HA! The other reference, like taphophile or taphophilia, is Tombstone Tourist.

When walking around, photographing and reading the headstones I come across the kindest of words, loving father, devoted mother, supportive friend. Photographs, trinkets and angels left behind as a mark someone had been there. There is a local 'trash man' who died and on his birthday his family leaves him a can of coke and his favorite candy bar, during football season his favorite team, OU Sooners, will have a presence at his side by way of flag or ornament.

Then you come across people like Mr. Wise, he was a teacher at Monroe, Oklahoma school. Most of us remember our teachers with a stern, staunch face or a scowl across their brow. It seems Mr. Wise had a sense of humor and as you can see by his 'book' headstone and what you read up on the back, he was always right !!

Happy Hunting,


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Dead Men Tell No Tales

This phrase was coined by Saban pirate Hiram Beakes, it has been made into a movie, it is the title of a few songs, numerous poems, literary works, magazine articles and now this blog! Now, I can imagine the pirate saying it to someone who was about to walk the plank for any given amount of reasons. I find in Genealogy that nothing could be farther from the truth, with this particular phrase. I think they tell tales, they talk, they sing and in some instances they SCREAM at us to pay attention to them and their stories. As a someone who works with Genealogy, I feel it my duty to give them a voice, much like in my nursing career giving my patients a voice.

Are you wondering what stirred this up? Well it was a man named Copl. Melvin Flener, Company I, 52nd Regiment Kentucky Mounted Infantry. I met Melvin today, for those of you familiar with civil war history, Melvin was there, and I met Melvin today. No, I don't talk to the dead, I don't see them, at least I hope not, I do visit their resting places, and that is where I met Melvin today. Melvin was a Union man, the company he road with mustered in Franklin, Kentucky on March 3, 1864. The regiment lost 59 men during service, not our Melvin, 48 of those were due to disease. Wikipedia

A little flipping through some research I find that Melvin was born in 1864 in Kentucky, at one point he moved to Poteau, Oklahoma, where he is buried and where we 'met'. The 1910 census he is 64 years of age, and his son Orill and grandson Melvin were living with him and his wife Georgia. According to a 1860 census Melvin was born to Isaac and Annie in Kentucky, one of 6 children. That is in about 10 minutes of searching things to find just a few things out about Mr. Melvin!  Now you know a little bit about Melvin, a man you never heard of, who now has a voice living on in this blog! See, Genealogy is fascinating!

Genealogists, although versed in many areas, find niches' that they are either more interested in, have a knack for, something about an area of study, a geographic area, a people, really turn that Genealogist into a knowledge machine. We crave knowing and studying more in these areas. One of mine is headstones, that is why I met Melvin today, I am on to photographing and documenting my third cemetery in as many months. I assure you it is a labor of love of the highest order BUT, when you 'meet' people, like Melvin, it makes it so much more interesting, fascinating actually. So, tomorrow and for many more tomorrows to come, I shall look and find someone else for you all to 'meet'.

Happy Hunting,


I would like to introduce you, to Melvin as we close!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Immigration Records/Ship Arrival Records

Let's talk about our ancestors who came across on the 'boat's of yesteryear!

I have ancestors, Rev. Joseph Smedley and his family, who sailed months later, who came from England to the U.S. via the Ship Arab into Pennsylvania. His wife and 6 of their children arrived in the U.S. via the Brig Agenora in Mar 1830 into New York. It took some time and searching in order to find them, their ship, and the actual dates of their arrivals. Also, in finding the arrival of the children, we were able to see which children were actually born in England, as at that point in the searching we had not yet located each child's birth records.

What are some of the things you can get from searching these records:

1. Place of Birth
2. Place of Residence
3. Physical Characteristics (Height, Hair and Eye color)
4. Vocations
5. Ship Name and Entry Into the U.S.
6. Date/Year of Birth

As you can see, this can be valuable information in your search for your family and where your origins are. Besides having historical significance, this to me, is very fascinating and an area I can get lost in reading about.

Please be aware that, as in the title of this, sometimes the records are referred to as Immigration Records and some sites as Ship Passenger Arrival Records, so when you are doing your searches check both areas for this information. As someone who indexes records, please be aware that misspelling happens, transcription errors happen, so sometimes searching the ship can assist you in your search.

Where can you find these records? Well there are many search able sites online like Ancestry, National Archives, Castle Garden, Ellis Island , The Ships List, to name a few. Ancestry is a paid subscription site with a wealth of information, the others are free to a point, some records are still not indexed but are on microfiche.

Out of the box thinking here, lets say you find or know the ship your family arrived on, try to Google that ship name as opposed to your family name, also into Wikipedia the same with the ship. Many of the coastal arrival ports posted in the local papers when the ships arrived, so you may be able to look up the city you know in which they arrived, the local newspaper of that time and be able to further pinpoint the actual arrival date of the ship. Also, you can check the port at which they left for the local papers as well showing when the ship left port.

I hope this helps a bit in your search for your family!

Happy Hunting


Monday, June 11, 2012

Cemeteries and Their Importance

I have recently taken on the task of photographing and documenting local cemeteries in my area, of course I started with the ones I know my relatives are laid to rest. In the past two months I have documented 2 entire cemeteries and have started a 3rd.

I have found that each cemetery seems to have its own personality, quirks if you will in the trees that grow, the unevenness of the earth, the way that there is always an "old" section and a new. The way that even with so much death, there is so much life around if we just take a moment to take each piece in.

You will also find that some, not all, are actually laid out in relatively straight lines and are easier to catalog while others, you find yourself having to use landmarks as not to get lost, or miss someone.

I am personally drawn to the oldest headstones initially. I am always looking for the oldest ones, and believe it or not, some of the oldest ones seem to be in the best shape. I am not sure if that is down to the type of stone/rock that was used but I do find them fascinating.

I am saddened by the ones that are in disrepair or broken, every ounce of me wants to grab something and fix them, and it never seems to fail that they are their most fragile and the most KEY areas of information...sigh.

I think the ones that are the hardest for me are the children, because their lives were cut short, as a nurse I wonder what it was that made them so ill or took them away. Then I think on the fact that because their little lives were cut so short, one day when their parents/siblings are gone, no one will really be looking for them. So many seem to fall off family trees, so I make it a concerted effort to make sure they are remembered with at least a photo, placed on a site so that they will at least be seen. I don't think anyone deserves to be forgotten, each life is special and important no matter how long or short it is.

On of my daughters had a classmate that was taken before she graduated high school, on graduation night the kids all placed a rose in the chair she should have been in, after the ceremony they drove to her resting place, placed the flowers on the bench at her grave and placed her graduation cap and gown. I was fortunate enough to take photographs after this was done the next day. 

All this said, we Genealogists use these amazing pieces of history as a wealth of information. So much can be gleamed from a headstone, birth, death, marriage date and to whom, sometimes children's names are left as a reminder, I have seen ceramic pictures of the couples or the person, the person(s) signature. There are some interesting epitaphs and some funny ones, it almost feels strange to bust out laughing in a cemetery when reading someones stone, but I think that was their intention.

I could and do spend hour upon hour walking through, reading, photographing and even some tears and laughter at times through these amazing places. I think it is a very important part of my Genealogy and yours. So important it is a service I offer in my Genealogy business. If you need or would like this type of service in my area, Oklahoma/Arkansas, I will be happy to work with you. My website is AA Genealogy Consulting, if you have relatives in another area and would like such a service, try contacting a local Genealogist and see if they offer this very special service!

Happy Hunting


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Census (senses) overload~

Let's start this off by mentioning one of the Genealogy sites,, of which thanks to my bestie Andrea, I am a member. If you haven't seen how the site works, although it has things that are a TRUE nuisance it is great for information gathering! Go to your imaginations with me on this one, picture a tree of sorts with names branching back to your ancestors, now above the names if there is a ancestry hint, meaning information somewhere in the database about that person or someone similar, a little green leaf pops up and waves at you! Get the whole leaf and tree theme, it cracks me up~ Anyway, a lot of the times when you get a leaf it results in a record, like a census. 

Lets talk about census records, I mentioned in a previous post my annoyances with transcription errors, so much so that I volunteer transcribing them myself with Family Search, whose records end up on your screen! I enjoy it, it settles my mind at times it like to race away with itself, but I also feel like I am helping but I am getting a look into the past, into people and I find it quite fascinating. So, lets talk facts and how these can help you!~

1. A great source for place of birth and date of birth~ I would like to enter a cautionary tale here about both. First the place of birth, my not too distant relatives, early 1800s, came from England. My bestie Andrea happens to live in England. In chatting with her about the Wheres of England, as with many places, boundaries change. So the County of today, may or not be the County of yesteryear! Dates of birth, this is a bit trickier, if the census was taken in a populated city, like New York or Chicago, the area was flooded with census takers and it was a relatively smooth and quick process. Now, where my relatives were located, Indian Territory (Oklahoma/Arkansas), not so populated, so a handful of census takers traversed the area via horseback and was gone many months up to a year gathering information. How do I know this? Well in transcribing these records there is a name of the taker and the date gathered at the top of each sheet. I have come across names that are the same, months apart, in areas that I am familiar with. So, just use caution and allow, in my opinion 1-2 years variance as long as other variables are the same (siblings/parents, etc.,). 

2. Immigration history and places of paternal/maternal birth are also located on many census records. Again, with the spelling errors, just be cautious as some of these census takers could have been coming across country names they had never been exposed to, so just a cautionary tale here on that.

3. Own or Rent property, it is indicated on the census records whether they are living in a rental or owned property. How does this help? Well, if they are in an owned property this can quickly alert you to being able to do a tax and land record search as well! This will give you an exact location of the homestead or maybe if you are lucky, the actual home your family once resided in.

4. Occupations, well you might be saying what is the big deal and how does this help me in my research? Well, besides finding it personally fascinating seeing what our ancestors chose to do as a profession or a trade that was handed down generation to generation, some records such as records in England where an apprentice is taken in and shown a trade. Another source of information for your records!

There are many other types of information beyond name and family in the household at the time, but I hope these few things help you see there is more to a census than just names! There is a wealth of information for you to look at, so take time, open one and take a really good look at what information is requested and given on the form!

Happy hunting


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Family Spirit, Family Secrets

"There is an unquestionable bond among families, whether near or far. We are bound by not only a single person, or couple, but by a spirit that lives within that family.

We are its highs and lows, its fame, its misfortune, and deepest secrets. We should not hide from those truths but embrace them as we make this journey through our pasts." Alisha Pendergraff-Lopez

This is my own quote from my website,, it is what I truly believe about family and yes, about secrets. Through my own experience with my Oklahoma Smedleys, there seems to be a 'simple' spirit and by that I mean not ones to put on heirs about things, but also of those who are hard-working and driven. Although I didn't know even my great-grandparents on either side of my family, I do know that spirit that was there, and somehow that lives on in me.

How is that? How is it that I can read about my historical family and see the same types of thoughts, emotions, actions and reactions to situations that I would find myself having or doing? Is it true that a spirit lives within a family? No, I don't mean boogey men or ghosts here, I mean that 'thing' that you see among families where your grandma took in strangers to feed, you find yourself with that same type of helping or lending hand to those in need. Your great-great-great grandpa was a hardworking farmer and although you may or may not be a farmer, you have that same hardworking ethic that he had.

Does this have anything to do with a Genealogy search per se, no, but it does have to do with the human condition, with wondering what it is we really pass on to our family. What it can help you with is that when you are reading about your family of yesterday and at home with the family of today, think of those things, good things, that are in your life to pass on to them. One day when a distant relative is looking into their past, they will see you and the things you past on to your family and see that 'spirit' live on.

Happy Hunting


Wednesday, June 6, 2012


WOW, I didn't realize just HOW important and key at times, finding and photographing headstones is and would be. I have managed to photograph many of my local Smedley's, I am still working on this, but I have also managed to completely photograph 2 local cemeteries and catalogue them, for now at Mainly because it is and has been and they state they will stay, free to users.

When you have an "about birth date or year" it is great, it can give you a jumping off place to start digging for information. But have you come across this scenario, you put in your relatives name, example Joseph Smedley, and a About 1792 birth year and get 2 hints. Then you put the same name, this time you simply change it by two years to 1790 and 15 hints burst open! Then you realize there are 4-6 Joseph Smedley's not only born in the same area but 2 born on the same day, in the same area!! AHHHHHHH~

So, these headstones are KEY to our research, I shall endeavor gathering and posting pictures, one day on my own site, I do put the Smedley's up on our Flickr page, linked here on the Tree & Photos page. Remember to use all your resources!

If you have a Smedley in Le Flore County Oklahoma or Sebastian County Arkansas, I would be happy to locate and photograph the headstone for you, just message, email me and let me know the information you have about that relative(s)!

Happy Hunting


To Pay or Not To Pay? That is Quite the Question!

If you have even done this for a few days, those of you who have done this for years, have seen the changes both for the better and not better on the wallet. Technology has made finding records, from far away, much easier, but now it seems that certain sites 'monopolize' information we have access to. So, where does that leave us?

Well, for me, I get SUPER frustrated every time I type in a search engine, a family name, it shows records are available, then it happens.... For 24.99 a month/9.99 a month/30 days free but you must enter your credit card information and so on and so on....sigh. There are local historical societies one can access microfiche, but for I would say the majority of us, at some point in our histories we have a emigration situation and/or family who moved to and fro across the country. So, what do we do?

If money isn't an problem, I definitely do not fit in this category, then you can find sites that are a wealth of information and maybe a few months of subscriptions to one at a time until you exhaust, collect and move on to the next sites information. That is definitely what I am doing, as for right now, seems to be still providing information for me. I have run across some other sites that I have on 'the list' as possible later day places to use for information.

Key information, census records, marriage/birth/death certificates, military records, apprenticeship records, ship records, obituaries, family, bibles, headstone/cemetery records, newspaper articles, books, local genealogy societies, church records, magazine publications seem to be a wealth of information and good places to start when looking for information. Tomorrow I will talk about how I got started and how that has evolved over the last few months.

So, what is your past worth? One has to decide what parts of their past they are willing to 'pay' for, and then make ways to see it happen. I do WISH these sites weren't SO expensive, I get the costs of running a business, servers storage, websites, and on and on, but I also understand that they are selling MY, and your, family information, so I have very MIXED feelings about them being able to do that. As with most things in this world, it comes down to the almighty dollar, pound, yen, Euro, and we all are left debating is it really worth it. I don't think there is a right or wrong answer, but I think it is a personal journey into our pasts and right now, there are ways, but they are not easy, around the costs.

Happy hunting,



Well yesterday it happened, we had a break in someone in our family who some have been seeking for years. It was a simple thing that had been staring me right in the eyes the whole time Andrea and I have been looking. There is a common name that seems to pass down randomly through the family. It is never someones first name, always a middle, so being stuck on parents for Rev. Joseph, I just plugged that name in as his mothers last name and BINGO!!!! The flood gates opened, let me also add that a few texts had mentioned a few birth places, censuses once in the states and also this brief history written by a map maker who was traveling and journaling the changing face of Indian Territory (Arkansas/Oklahoma border). This particular map maker was doing a little history on Benjamin B. Smedley and mentioned his father, Reverend Joseph Smedley (being born in Derbyshire and having 7 brothers). Well, when we plugged in this other name as his, Joseph's, mother's last name, BINGO, PAY DIRT! We have mom, dad, 7 brothers and 2 sisters. Oh, if you hadn't noticed one common thread with Smedley's is they like having kids and a load of them!

I have learned that gathering information sources, multiple ones, tend to lead you to the one conclusion you are looking for. The art is in taking those tid bits, putting them together and getting those pesky relatives who like to hide so readily!

Happy hunting and here is to you finding your Breakthrough!


Information~ Website build day Four

FIRST of all I would like to thank all almost 100 of you wonderful people who have at least gotten to my corner of the Internet world! Andrea and I are working on growing this site everyday, adding, morphing it into a wealth of Smedley information for ALL Smedley's. I just happen to be an Oklahoma Smedley, but when I add information here, it will also be for the Nebraska ones, the Hawaii ones, Alaska, and so on and so on!.

The word for the day is...... DRUM ROLL....  Infooooormation!!! Well, today was like most others on the search for our infamous Joseph Smedley, Reverend. We did find a snippet today that 'may' have an accurate place of birth in England which is HUGE and that it is possible he is one of 7 children as well! WAY to go ANDREA!  While she was going google eyes finding information on Joseph, I was adding two new pages here, they are quick links to known burial sites for Smedley's (ALL of them, not just my relations). It took the better part of the day making links and what not but I am pleased with the outcome. Remember my earlier blog about the heavier on labor than on love days? Yeah this was one of those days!! heehee

I have decided to take and put our actual images and document images on Flickr, they are easily accessible, the storage is unlimited, or it will be soon for me, and I can more easily set links and reference information so those with the original documentations, or sites with the information, get proper credit. I have been in photography for quite some time so I do understand and respect copyright issues!

I am gathering links tonight as well to very informative, FREE, pages for searching for family information. One thing that is a great resource, if you have and use Google Chrome is under the search engine, type your search word (s), then when the link page opens look to the left about half way down and you will see the word  BOOKS. This if a great area for older articles, books that are available in not only PDF or text format but are available to read online! Some you can also choose to download to a tablet if you so choose. These older texts tend not to show up on the regular search engine as the search engines are geared to show up high volume, newer articles, websites, etc,.


Transcription Errors, Accents, Spelling

Well, yesterday and today I worked on typing out, in a hopefully less confusing, Smedley Family Tree. The ones that are apparently the traditional ways of putting them, quite honestly, are VERY confusing to me, hard to follow and don't flow well. So I wracked my brain and to the Excel spreadsheet I went. I don't even know how many hours later, we have a working tree that can EASILY be changed and switched and shared with you all!! YAY. I am uploading it to Google Documents for others to view. I am also in the throws of getting the picture page on here more suited for our needs.

Ok, so yesterday I said I wanted to talk about accents, spelling (sp.?), and transcription errors on pages like Ancestry. First lets talk about accents, since we are the Oklahoma Smedleys, this term was handed to me lovingly from my cousin Arlena, apparently the rest of the family uses this as a term for our group here and I LOVE IT! If you aren't familiar with farm, Southern Farm, Southern Oklahoma Farmers, well you are in for a treat. Let me give you an example, a name like Clarissa (pronounced CLUH-RIS-UH), to the adorable Southern Oklahoma farmer, especially back in the 1800s and early 1900s census taking times, was pronounced (CLUH-REE-SEE). The unsuspecting census taker (either highly educated or not we will discuss this in a bit), now writes down Clerecee. So you go looking for your great-great grandma Clarissa and you can't find her! Another example the name Ada (pronounced A-duh), would lovingly be pronounced Aaaa-der. The lovely census taker now has you with a great-aunt Ader, instead of Ada! Welcome to the world of accents and census takers!

Lets talk census takers, I want to study up on them one day because I do have an opinion, not proven just a notion or two about them. There are ones you can tell were well educated, based on their penmanship and their correct spelling. Then there are the ones like I mentioned above who I do believe that were asked if they could read and write and ride a horse and sent off of the year long task of Census taking. Far be it from me to be judgmental, far from it, I can imagine it was a VERY thankless job, especially in this part of the country back then, when the Indian population was dominant, the lands were uncharted. In the cities it might not have been such a bad gig!

Now, the dreaded transcription errors, I find this EXTREMELY annoying, let me say my background is a Registered Nurse so I read AWFUL handwriting as part of my job. I can clearly see it says Flynt and someone has made the family name Tylnit. UGH, and my Smedley's have been Smeeley's, Smudly's and about 10 other misinterpretations. It is hard enough to find your way around older documents but when they are not transcribed correctly, SUPER FRUSTRATING! Unless you know the siblings, parents and so on, when a incorrect name is present, you are stuck either immediately tossing it and possibly losing valuable family documentation, or scratching your head trying to sort out, Bradicock when it should be Bordicott. If you come across one I have 'corrected' on Ancestry you will see my reply IN ALL CAPS! heeehee

Just so you know, ALL the examples from above I have personally encountered, the moral of the story is don't be quick to discard due to a name or spelling being off, maybe set it to one side until you can make names and places match more readily!

Happy hunting and I will see you again in the morrow!


Oklahoma Smedley's Website Build Day Two

Whew! Ok, well my mind is going ninety miles an hour today, I went this morning to the cemetery in Poteau to grab a few snapshots of family I know to be there. I have completed cataloging Monroe, Vaughn (loads of family here), and I went to Shiloh as well a few days ago. I must say that Shiloh is an interesting place, for every standing headstone there are 5 rocks just stuck up out of the ground marking someone. In Shiloh, as well as at Vaughn, there is a "Smedley" section. Rev. Joseph and Benjamin and several others rest here. I have a call out to the keepers of Shiloh so I can get the plots scheme so I know who is where, there are about 10 Smedleys marked with rocks, no headstone. It is my goal to get them identified!

WELL, I just posted on Ancestry about this site, I know it will be a slow process but it is my hopes that in the coming weeks, months this site is swarming with Smedley's far and wide, gathering bits and bobbles. This site will always remain free for the Smedley's, it is a precious gift to me from my bestie, Andrea!

So, something I want to talk about is the information I provide here. I want to assure you, if you see someone on my family tree, they have been confirmed, reconfirmed and most likely triple confirmed. How do I do this? Well Andrea and I traverse websites, like Ancestry and others, gathering census information, birth records, death records and because I am centrally located in Oklahoma where my relatives seem to originate, it is easy for me to hop over to a cemetery to grab some pictures for further confirmation.

Rarely does my information come from word or mouth, or friends or family information I can't confirm. Although I don't see anything wrong with that type of information, for me, I need to be able to confirm it before I commit it to fact. For every fact, it seems we disprove 5-10. Family word of mouth and he said she said, is great for starting information but for me, I want to bring life to that information by gathering the aforementioned forms of 'proof'.

I won't make this post too long, tomorrow I want to discuss name spelling, transcription errors, Okie Accents, and the stumbling blocks it can place in our searches! Good stuff!

See you tomorrow, I am in the throws of creating my LARGE family tree to place on our site here so you all can take from it what you need, help me add to it, and add to yours so our family trees are flourishing with Smedleys!!!

Take time today to enjoy life, enjoy your search,


Day One of Website Oklahoma Smedleys

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh....ok, I feel better! Welcome to the world of the Smedley's, if you are one then you already have a very deep sense of what that means! This is certainly a labor of love, some days it is far more heavily weighted towards the labor than the love, but the love always seems to keep me motivated.

I am new to this journey, but as most great journeys, I am not traveling alone. My bestie, Andrea (you will hear and see her mentioned here often), travels this sometimes smooth sometimes jar shaking journey. We are embarking on both our family trees, so wow, what an adventure we are on!

I am learning as I go, but I have found a quick, I am told, knack for finding things and people. Ever family has that 'thorn" that seems to hide, our family is no exception, I WILL sort you our, Rev. Joseph Smedley!!

So, that being said, building this site, to keep information going out to our family, please remember this site is not 'free', it has been paid for lovingly, so please respect it and use it for gathering and sharing information with one another. Even if you aren't a direct Smedley related to me, if you are on a Smedley journey, you have come to the right place!