Healing Through Stories

I have ancestors on both sides of my family tree who fought against each other in the American Civil War. My Dad’s family was from the South, my mom’s family was from the North. My ancestors fought against each other in this gruesome, brutal war. Stories about wars often paint one side as heroes and…

Caroline Gile’s Scrapbook

This is my great-great grandmother, Caroline Jane Webber Gile, as a new mother with her first child, as an old widow with her grandson, and a scrapbook with poems and jokes she collected from newspapers, no doubt to help her smile and carry on in her widowhood and old age. She experienced much tragedy in…

The Cliffords, Part 2: Family Scandal

This is a continuation of my account on the Clifford family. For more information, see Part 1. In 1878, Sophia Clifford sold the land that she and Lewis had bought in Iowa. Apparently her sons (Fred was 20 and Charles was 15) wanted to seek more opportunities out west rather than stay and work the…

Can Census Records be Wrong?

Featured Image: Taking the Census. Illustration in Harper’s Weekly, 1870. Found in Library of Congress Digital Collection. A few decades ago, it was very difficult to find one’s ancestor in a census record. You had to go to an archive or library and really know what you were looking for to find the record. Today,…

The Cliffords, Part 1: Brick Wall Immigrants

Featured Image: Hamburger Hafen (Port of Hamburg) by Adolph Friedrich Vollmer, 1840. Ah, yes. Clifford. Kliefoth. The family that made me want to study German Genealogy in college. And I studied for four years and still didn’t find them. But they will be found. Someday. They originated in Germany as Kliefoth (pronounced like “klee-fote”), and…

Research Summary: Andrew

Featured image: John Wesley Andrew sitting on his porch in Geneva, Nebraska Surname summary: I have decided to devote my research time each month to one direct line surname that exists in my five-generation pedigree. My surname for the month of November was Andrew. This is one of the few lines on my grandmother’s side…

I give and bequeath to my son William J Ray my yellow boy slave Allen until my son Benjamin F arrives at the age of twenty one years, at which time my boy Allen is to be set free.

Allen Ray

My brother recently uncovered the will for my ancestor, William Calvin Ray in Murray County, Georgia. In it he mentions “my yellow boy slave Allen.” this is my first encounter with a slave owner in my family tree. I have a lot of ancestors in the South, so I figured a slave owner would turn…

Why You Should Share Your Family History Online

Martha Bryan was the one ancestor my grandmother could never find. Her great-grandmother on her direct maternal line, and she only knew her married name. After my grandmother passed away and I caught the family history bug at around twelve years old, I was determined to break down the brick walls she had left behind.…

Finding Families in Testate and Intestate Probate Records

It is relatively easy to find ancestors in the United States from 1850 on because of the availability of Census Records on multiple genealogy websites. However, before 1850, only the heads of households were listed on the census, making it hard to find all the members of a family and very difficult to trace your family back for…

Little Jonnie Lathrop, or, Life and Death on the Prairie

This is my great-great-grandmother, Caroline Jane (Webber) Gile. I love this picture. Usually in pictures this old the people don’t really smile, and old photos of babies usually have them by themselves or in mother’s lap, and half the time baby is blurred out because she is moving too much for the camera to focus.…