A Family Affair

Yesterday, Myron was on FB and saw something his aunt posted about one of his family members which triggered a bit of internet sleuthing and ended up with him mapping out 3 generations of his family tree on Ancestry.com. The site is pretty slick, as it lets you view copies of public records such as draft cards, census reports and marriage rolls if they are available.

We spent a good portion of yesterday evening talking about what he’d found out such as:

  •  A female ancestor of his moved to the UK shortly after being emancipated from slavery.
  • A male ancestor fought in WW1 and we were able to see his draft card.
  • A great-great grandmother was married at least 3 times and we saw the various name changes on the census records
  • A great-great grandfather apparently fought on the side of the Confederacy!!!  He applied for a Confederate pension but was denied. Here’s a picture of the application.


And we haven’t even started mapping my side of the family yet. I’m excited to see what I find out. I’m going to have to call my mama and take good notes.

Do I have any amateur genealogists out there? Any tips for us??

10 thoughts on “A Family Affair

  1. Fascinating stuff! I know that my mother’s ancestor came over on a Dutch ship. I haven’t done any digging on my own. One of my distant cousins did some research on my mom’s family. I know a lot about her side.

  2. I blessed to be working two blocks away from the National Archives in DC. My Father’s Father’s side of the family is pretty well documented so I took what I had to the Archives and was able to do a deep search. I spent hours in there several times. Once you get started that stuff is addictive!

  3. The military or a local museum may have a deposition taken from your husband’s ancestor when he applied for his pension.

    My paternal grandmother’s great grandfather was a freed slave, who fought in the civil war. He also applied for and was denied a military pension. To apply for the pension he gave a deposition to the military department that included his birth, age, service details and other interesting and historical family details.

    My ancestor was buried in CA with a confederate mark on his headstone. In 2010, the family went to a ceremony where his headstone was changed because some historian said the engravers mistakenly put confederate on his headstone only because he was born in GA. My grandmother’s great aunt, brought him out here and was alive when he died, so I don’t know how such a mistake would not have been caught by prior generations.


  4. I don’t have any tips or anything to share but I had to say the stuff you’ve found so far is super cool… Good luck with your search!

  5. Hey Tiffany,

    I too am research my family tree. I would suggest sitting down with your older relatives and videotape them telling you stories about your family and any family traditions. I plan to do that with my parents since my grandparents are deceased. You could create a private family Facebook book page where family members exchange old family photos from yearbooks, etc. The website theroot.com has a weekly column on genealogy. Here is a link to an article on Black Enterprise that offers some tips on researching your family tree: http://www.blackenterprise.com/lifestyle/genealogy-lalita-tademy/

    Good luck with your search.

  6. This is good stuff Tiffany! Wow Confederate defender huh? I’d be very interested to research my family as I was told my great+grandfather (not sure how many greats) married a French woman and took her last name. Curious to know if this is true. But I can’t do one side of my family without doing the other and time is not my friend right now.

    Hope you guys find lots more!

  7. I found it easier to navigate ancestry once I made a family tree in a different app Bd then imported the GEDCOM file onto the Ancestry website.

    Other than that, what everyone else said. Good luck!

  8. There is apparently a very good genealogical library here in Houston where there are tons of databases you can look in and get assistance from staff. Be sure to look in a range of years and names. We have traced back to the 1800’s on our family and as more census records are released we are finding more and more info like a child we never knew existed because she was counted in one sentence as a 6 month old baby and then passes away and was never recorded again no one knew this child existed but we were lucky enough to find that info. Also family name is Alexander but many records list Alerander and my great great grandfather Namon is listed as Myman on some records with different approx years of birth. So be flexible in your searches.

  9. Thank you Kenya! For reading and sharing this great info!

  10. Hi Tiffany, I’m a longtime lurker, first time commenter. Last year, I started to dig into my family history and I made much progress piecing together our story using oral histories, Ancestry.com, Freedmen’s Bureau, and state public records. After exhausting those resources, I took a long break.
    Recently, I was inspired to start the search again after I stumbled across two really great blogs authored by two black women tracing their roots: Finding Eliza (owner is Kristin Cleage, sister of writer and playwright Pearl Cleage) and Reclaiming Kin (author is Robyn). The storytelling on Finding Eliza is superbly written and Cleage also shares genealogy resources (familysearch.org is one I can remember right off). Robyn has an entire tab on her blog called Hot Posts where she outlines the methodology she uses and shares tips and resources.
    Sounds like you and your husband have scored some really great finds so far (Confederate pension application!). I hope you’ll share more. Have fun!

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