Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Diary of a Southern Lady: Georgina Francis Barrett Devlin, 1852-1912

Recently I had the opportunity to read excerpts from a diary written by Georgina Francis Barrett Devlin. She was born in 1852 and lived until 1912. In her diary she helps us readers to visualize what it was like to live in Mississippi during the Civil War and after its devastating effects on the South. We get glimpses of what it was like to be a woman during that time raising children and participating in the community. The diary was transcribed and edited by Katharine M. Jones and the author of the diary was her ancestor. If you’re a fan of history and have always wanted to travel back in time and see things first hand, I think this diary is the next best thing. Here’s a brief description by the publisher about the book.

“In 1852 Georgina F. Devlin was a young English immigrant with two small children when she began to keep a record of her life. She continued until 1912, when she was a great grandmother living with her widowed daughter and her family. She noted both items of historic interest and of everyday happenings within her large family. She recorded the Civil War swirling around the home in Yazoo County, Mississippi, when she and the children hid in the woods and her husband's cotton was burned. She visited her brothers in Canada and saw the famous tight-rope walker "Blondin" cross Niagara Falls. She went from traveling in a stage coach, to riding on a streetcar, to riding in her son-in-law's automobile. This well footnoted diary will be of interest to anyone with a particularly interest in Southern history, the Civil War, and the developments of rural and small town life during this period.”

The book is available on Amazon. The title of the book is “The Diary of a Southern Lady: Georgina Francis Barrett Devlin, 1852-1912.” To read more about the book I suggest the following link:

The Diary of a Southern Lady: Georgina Francis Barrett Devlin, 1852-1912

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Masonic death records!

Who knew? I have been trying for several years now to locate the death date of my great grandfather in Arkansas. He died after the 1930 census but he is not listed in any of the Arkansas Death Indexes. I feel fairly confident that his death was never officially recorded in a death certificate. In an effort to exhaust all possible sources available to me here in Utah I came across a book in the Family History Library that had death records of Masons in Arkansas. The book is:

Masonic Death Records from the Grand Lodge of Arkansas by Desmond Walls Allen.

The volume I looked at covered the years 1920 to 1940. Lo and behold there was the name of great grandfather listed as having died in 1938. I took a chance on this book because I had examined another book that covered deaths of Free Masons in Arkansas and found other family relatives listed. I never knew that the male members of this family were Masons. I have visited the George Washington Masonic Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia and loved it. I didn't know at the time that my ancestors shared a love for this order just like many of the founding fathers of this nation.

It's so much fun to learn something new about your ancestors AND find an elusive record!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Before I begin let me explain the lack of blog posts for a while. I put my house on the market and it sold really quickly and so I ended up having to move a lot sooner than I had planned. Things have now settled down somewhat so I guess I'll get back to blogging more regularly now. (I hope)

A while back I blogged about a research problem I was working on that might need DNA to solve. Just as an update, I haven't been able to get any of the male descendants to agree to be tested but I haven't given up trying.

I am now currently continuing work on this same research problem in an attempt to identify the origins of the immigrant who came to Virginia in the 1600s. Herein lies the Huguenot question. One of his known sons married a woman from a Huguenot family. The immigrant's family lived in the area near Manakintown where Huguenots began to settle in 1700. Is it possible that the immigrant was also a Huguenot?

One of the factors I looked at today was whether or not you had to be a British subject to receive headrights. Headrights was the right to free land based on the number of persons you brought into the Virginia Colony. You could receive it for yourself and for anyone else you might have brought with you. After reading this article, it would seem to me that anyone could receive headrights, British or not.

Now my problem is proving or disproving he was Huguenot and if so how much time, if any, did he spend in England or Ireland before he came to Virginia. I found several instances of others with the same surname (which I can't share here because it's a client) who were Huguenots but I am still left with my mystery.

A check of the DNA chart of the ancestors of those who have been tested doesn't show any connections to what I found today to be a known Huguenot line of the same surname. I guess more DNA test volunteers are needed. Who knows if this will get solved? We can only hope.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Ancestor or wannabe?

Often times when doing genealogical research we get so excited when we find someone in a records whose name and location matches with known information about our ancestor that we just assume it's a match! Please beware! Just because the name's the same doesn't necessarily mean it's the right person.

If the record you found your ancestor in has few clues to help confirm his identity without any lingering doubts, proceed with caution. Here are just a few tips:

Do a survey of other records. How many other people are there with that name in the county or locality you're searching?

Can you trace this person through other records to compile enough evidence to feel confident that you've got your man?

Can this person sign his own name and perhaps your ancestor used a mark?

Is his occupation the same as your ancestor?

Did he associate with other people known to associate with your family?

These are just a few things to consider when you think you have your man. Is he really an ancestor or just a "wannabe!"

Sunday, March 13, 2011

DNA Might Solve This One?

I recently worked on a client project that has been worked on by myself and others several different times. The family lived in colonial Virginia and they moved in and out of burned counties. I have gone through deeds, where available, and tracked their neighbors and associates as recommended by Elizabeth Shown Mills. I have come to the conclusion that one of two men was the father and immigrant ancestor but the problem is which one.

A will for candidate number one is non-existent. I haven't had the chance yet to search for the will of candidate number two but I'm sure I will in the future. This is a family that has been extensively researched by others. I have come to the conclusion that perhaps the only way to narrow this down might be a DNA test.

There is a DNA group for this surname and my suspects are both in the same group. So I'm thinking that they might be brothers. I don't know that DNA testing would prove which of the two brothers it was but it will help to determine if I am on the right track in my thinking that one of them is the father of the ancestor.

Have any of you had much experience or success in DNA testing? If so, I would love to hear from you.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Genealogy on television

Like many of you who are interested in genealogy I am a big fan of the television program "Who Do You Think You Are?" It is always fascinating to see people's reactions as they learn about their ancestors and the history that surrounded their lives.

For someone who loves research in the south I was thrilled to be part of the team that researched the ancestors of Tim McGraw. I spent hours going through land records in Missouri and Virginia working to help piece together Tim McGraw's ancestry. I can't tell you how thrilling it was to see some of the documents that I located initially on microfilm at the Family History Library be shown on camera.

For those of you who prefer to see everyday people highlighted in a television program similar in format to "Who Do You Think You Are" I would recommend The Generations Project produced by BYU Broadcasting. I also had the opportunity to work on several episodes of this program which will be airing soon.

Programs like these two encourage people to start thinking about their roots and what characteristics their ancestors might have had that have trickled down to them. I hope these types of programs will continue to be popular for a long time so many more will come to know and love family history as I do!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Mystery in Mississippi

I have been dealing with a tough research problem in Mississippi today. The husband came to Natchez, Mississippi between 1800 and 1810 but of course I've been asked to locate the parents of the wife. They married in 1810 and she was dead by 1820! They had two known children. Their son died at the Alamo and the name of his maternal grandfather, a Revolutionary War patriot who served at Valley Forge, is given in a short biographical sketch written about him.

So great! You have the name of her father, what's the big deal? Well it's a common name and who's to say that it's even accurate. I guess it's a starting point.

Let the hunt begin.

There were seven men of that name listed on the Muster Rolls for Valley Forge. I've already eliminated one. Six more to go!

Time to search Revolutionary War pension and service records. Wish me luck!!