Friday, November 28, 2014

Follow me on Instagram

My lovely daughter just helped me set up my own Instagram account!  Follow me as I go day by day through a genealogy WONDERLAND!!  Posts will show you what I am working on or hoping to work on!  You can find me at MYKITHNKIN.

Hope you all had a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving!  God bless and Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Cleaning Up on FamilyTree

I sat down to help my sister to begin working on genealogy this past week.  We first went to FamilySearch and opened her account.  By doing so, her Family Tree was automatically formed. 'Where is everyone?', she said.

I wish it were that easy.  Even if you have a family member who has already created a tree on FamilySearch, it doesn't automatically generate it for you.  Unfortunately at this time, I am unaware of any way in which you can upload an already existing GEDCOM file to the system, so when you begin using FamilySearch's tree application, you need to create it from scratch and you need to know some very important things. (Note:  You can upload a GEDCOM to the Genealogies section to share with others, however that will have to be another blog!)

Here is the background information.  Many years ago, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints filled out 4 generation pedigree charts and sent them into Salt Lake.  They did not have to prove their information.  These were made into a "database", for lack of a better word.  It is sometimes referred to as Ancestral File.  Read more at  At another time, not too long ago, members were able to upload GEDCOM files to the very new site.  These files were collected and are called Pedigree Resource File. Some had sources or notes, but it was not required. Read more about that at Lastly, the church has been working with volunteers to index many public records that are then added to the system.

What all this means is that your ancestors are likely already in the system that Family Tree is using. Either their names were submitted by a descendant or their names were submitted when the information was extracted from indexing.

After you have created an account on, near the top left you will see the words Family Tree.  That is where your family tree has been generated.

Then you see the following:
The "add husband" is actually adding a father for Jane.  Similarly, the "add wife" is the mother of Jane.  If Jane's parent is ALIVE, she will have to ADD them because the system will not let you find information on living individuals.  However, if Jane's parent is DEAD she should first try to FIND them in the system before she ADDS them.

In the example below, we are going to assume that Jane's father is dead and she pushed "Add Husband".  She is then taken to the following page.  Note that there is an "Add Person" tab and a "Find Person" tab.  The system will automatically take you to "Find Person" tab.
Jane will want to put in as much information about her father as she knows and then click "Find" at the bottom.

The system will then take you to a list of possible matches or it will respond that no matches are found.  If you see the right person in the match list, you can click "Select" and the information is directly attached to your tree in the proper position.  If you do not see a match, then you will be directed to ADD the individual.

But wait, there's more!  Family Tree needs some cleaning up.  It would be in your best interest to "clean up" your people and I hope that I can show you how to do that.

Let's assume that you have added or found your parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents.  Now, let's go to your first DEAD ancestor.  I say dead because you don't need to do any clean up for your live people.  I will use one of my family as an example.  Let's say my father is Milford Frazee.  I find him on my chart and click his name and a Milford Frazee box pops up.
At this point, I click on the "Person" at the bottom of the box.  That takes me to his "Details" page. This is going to be where you can edit or add information about birth, death, marriage, etc.
It looks like this:

You will notice that if you scroll down to the "Tools" section which is located to the right, it says "Possible Duplicates".  Many times, our ancestors are in the system more than once and so we need to merge them.  By merging, you are taking all the Milford Frazees, that are the same person, and putting them together so that only one now exists in the system.  Sometimes you are lucky and there are no possible duplicates!

I have cleaned up nearly all my family tree, so I am going to use another family for this example. Thanks to friend Doug Carey for giving his permission to use his family names!  This person is Thomas Martin Carey.  I find him on the family tree and click his name.

Click the "Person" in Thomas Martin Carey's box and it will take you to his details page:

Scroll down to the bottom and over to the right you will click "Possible Duplicates".  In this case, there was something to merge.  

You need to click on "Review Merge".  It takes you to a split screen with your information on one side and the information of the other person on the other side.  This allows you to see if you would like to merge them AND you can use information from the other record to "add" to your own.  Here is the picture of the 2 Thomas Careys for me to review.  My original record is on the left and the one that is referred to as the "other" is on the right.
Everything looks good.  I have added the marriage date and location for Thomas and Catherine to my record and now I will continue with the merge.  Once you hit this, it will delete the one on the right and you are left with only one Thomas Martin Carey in the system.  Before the final merge, the system will ask you to give a reason you think this is correct.  I usually write something like "This person was in the system more than once" or "Thomas was recorded as Thomas M. Carey and his full name is actually Thomas Martin Carey".

If there are more than one record that should be merged, you simply go through the process over and over until you have merged each one that is a duplicate.  If you accidentally merge something that should not have been merged, that is can be fixed.  On the details page, near the middle and over to the right, you will see a section called "Latest Changes".  By clicking on the merge you just created, the system will ask you if you wish to "unmerge".  

Continue on with each of your ancestors until you have "cleaned up" everyone.  A long process, but worth it!  Happy hunting!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Finding the Missing Children

One of my favorite parts of family history is when I am able to find all the “lost children”.  In other words; some children are never found with their parents in the census records and therefore, they are lost!

For instance, if little Susie is born in 1881 and she marries before 1900, you would likely not find her in any census with her family and she might be overlooked. (The 1890 census was destroyed in a fire in 1921)

Or if little David was born in 1853 and died before 1860, you would not find him listed with his family either.  And so, many children are “lost” in this way.

I have come up with a method that helps to find some of these lost children.  It is not fool proof, but it certainly is a start.

First, I find all the censuses for any given family.  In particular, if you can find the female (mother) listed in the 1900 or the 1910 census, then you will notice that there were 2 special questions asked to women:  How many children have you had? and How many of those children are living?

The 1900 census asks these questions in columns 11 and 12.  The 1910 census asks them in columns 10 and 11.  From these numbers, you may be able to deduce how many children you have yet to “find”.

1910 Federal Census for "Margarett Cole", Harlan, Kentucky

In my case, I was able to see that Margaret had 12 children, but only 6 were living.  At that time, I only had 6 children listed on my family group sheet.  Going back to each census, I found a daughter named Victoria that only shows up with her family in one census before she died.  I later learned that there was no birth or death record for Victoria either.  If I had not seen her on this one census, I would have never known she existed.  I did not find any of the other missing children listed on other censuses, however I had another trick up my sleeve.

Next, I like to do 2 special searches on  These work particularly well if your mother lived in only one or two areas.  In my case, Margaret lived in Harlan, Kentucky and Lee County, Virginia. By going to the Kentucky birth records directly, you can do a search for anyone with the last name of Cole, born in Harlan (county) with parents named Jacob and Margaret.  You do this by going to “Search” and clicking on the map on the right.  Then choose “Kentucky”.  

screen shot from

You will notice many available databases for Kentucky.  I then choose “Kentucky Birth and Christenings”.

I put in a last name only (Cole), a county (Harlan), and parents (Jacob and Margaret with no last names).  I have noticed that in this case, Jacob sometimes went by Jake.  After I have searched under the name of “Jacob”, I go back and search with the father’s name as “Jake”.

I did not find any children that I didn't already know about.

Next, I go back to my list of all the Kentucky databases and choose the “Kentucky Death Records” and do a search for anyone with the last name of Cole who died in Harlan, with parents named Jacob and Margaret (or use Jake in place of Jacob).

I did not find any of the missing children.

Then I will check “Kentucky Marriage Records”.  I am looking for a daughter or son that may have married, especially for those children born in the early years of 1880 and married before 1900.  Using the same search criteria, use the last name of Cole, place of Harlan, and parent’s first names.

In all my Kentucky searches, I found no "missing children".  However, when I did the exact same searches in the Virginia databases I found this:

screenshot from FamilySearch

(Note:  Upon further research, I found that the little boy John, born 1884 and died 1887, was actually the son of Jacob and first wife, Kizzie Eldridge Cole.  Kizzie died sometime after 1884 and at the time of this child's death, Jacob had remarried to Margaret.)

Another way of finding lost children can be in biographical sketches.  These can many times be found online at google books.  I find them by going to Google Books and typing in a keyword search of “Harlan County, Kentucky History” or “Lee County, Virginia History”. 

Choose a book you are interested in viewing.  Books that have “read” are available for you to see online.  Once you click on the book, you will be able to view the book virtually.  You can do a search for the surname you are interested in by typing it in the search box to the left.

I did a search for a Fred Greear from Wise County, Virginia.  Within his biographical sketch, it listed seven of his eight children by name.

Screen shot from for page 245 of "A Narrative History of Wise County, Virginia", by Charles A. Johnson

Biographical sketches can also be located in newspapers.  I was researching my Walls family line in Pike County, Ohio when I stumbled across a newspaper article in which my fourth great grandmother was being interviewed.  According to my research, she had 9 children.  Within this interview, she listed all 11 of her children by name, their spouses, and how many children they each had!  What a find!!

As we go back further in time, it may be harder to find these lost little ones, but using some of these techniques could help you root them out!  Look to see if you might be missing some children on your family tree.  Happy Hunting!!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Are you keeping up with the latest?

I try to keep up with the latest local news, important national news items, and as much as I can about the world news.  I haven't always kept up on the latest genealogy news, have you?

I decided to update you on where I go to get the latest genealogy news!

My first stop is the FamilySearch Blog at  This blog offers so much! You can search for a topic using the search feature or you can go directly to a category such as, Community Projects, Genealogy in the News, or Tech Tips.  

Last month at FamilySearch Blog, it was announced that an online publication of more Freedmen's Bureau Records would be available to honor Juneteenth. WHAT?  You don't know what the "Juneteenth Celebration" is?  It is a festival held each year on the 19th of June by African Americans (especially in the south), to celebrate and remember the emancipation from slavery in Texas on that day in 1865.

Picture taken from
This month, I read about a new app they have at FamilySearch called:  FamilySearch Mobile Memories.  It is for anyone to use to capture and preserve pictures via your mobile device.  Not only can you preserve your pictures, but your VOICE telling a story!  How neat!  You will want to learn more about this app.  The best part is that your memories are housed FOREVER in the FamilySearch vaults and always accessible.

My next visit is to Dick Eastman's blog titled Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter at  I learned about this genealogy guru many years ago from my friend and mentor, Maureen Brady. (Shout out to Maureen in Illinois!!  Hi Maureen!) Mr. Eastman writes about many topics, but he is especially knowledgeable in software, genealogy tech, and what's happening with other genealogy sites like, Fold3, and the National Archives. He seems to know the news before anyone else and his reviews of new products are greatly appreciated.

New apps for genealogists are popping up all over the place.  In particular, RootsMagic has a new app.  I love, love, love my RootsMagic software and now you can carry your genealogy with you on your Android device.  It's FREE!  The app is available right now on Google Play and the Amazon app store.  More information is available at has a blog too.  They keep us up to date on all the latest genealogy happenings. Go to and read through the many blog topics or you can search for a specific topic you are interested in.

We have 3 big genealogy workshops coming up in our local area over the next few months.  Local events can be a lifeline to outside information!  Even if the topics don't interest you, consider going to these workshops.  It is not only the material taught that you learn from, but the other people in attendance.  Just a few weeks back, I was talking to another genealogy friend who told me about all the success she has had using the Allen County website at This website is full of material, but in particular, Sharon Watson found that the digital family history books available were just what she needed!

Genealogy is a growing and you won't want to be left in the dark ages!  Keep up with the news...genealogy news!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Reviving Family Talents

I sat here today struggling over a tatting pattern.  "This is too hard", I thought.  Then, I reflected over the last 20 years or so that I have been working to revive my family talents.

Many years ago, after the death of Grandma Bowser, I received some of her crochet needles, patterns, and yarn.  I was self taught, but worked year after year to learn the skill.  "Perhaps Grandma would be proud", I imagined.  Last year, I entered my crocheting into the county fair...and won first place.  I was delighted!

My first place crocheted table cloth
About 6 years ago, I was remembering back to the 'good ole days' at Grandma Cole's house.  The Cole family would gather there for Thanksgiving and Christmas and after dinner we would gather round for some singin'.  Guitars, amplifiers, and chairs would spring up in the same corner of the family room and it was time to sing the old gospel hymns of their past.  My sisters and I did not grow up Pentecostal, (we were raised Mormon) however, we loved the 'old time religion' of the songs they sang.  I decided someone in our family should learn to play the guitar and pass on the music to the new generation of children.  My husband saw I was determined and purchased me my first guitar.  I again was self taught (this time I used you tube) and every once in awhile I would get a chance to visit with my Uncle Willard and Uncle Ray who would show me how to play.  Now, at Sunday dinner with my own parents, sisters, and our families, we bring out the guitar and have a singin'.  The kids know many of the songs.

Singing the gospel hymns at the Cole Family Reunion.  Left to right:  Uncle Willard, my mother, Willie Cole in the back, me on the right with the guitar and Aunt Mary in pink

And today, I am trying to learn how to tat.  Again, a skill that Grandma Bowser enjoyed.  I want to learn to make the pretty things she did.

While I learn these talents, I think about my ancestors who did them.  What would they think about as they sat and sewed or watched the children see them picking a guitar?  Would they pick up these things because they were stressed or had a bad day?  Was it difficult for them to learn or were they just naturals?

I have many more family talents to yet revive and I am sure that as I learn more about my ancestors, more talents will be added to the list.  It is a neat way to pass on the history.  As a side note, I have noticed my sisters have done this reviving as well...though I don't know if they have done it for the same reason!  Thank you to Mandie for trying to learn the violin like Grandpa Bowser.  Thank you to Chrissie for learning to embroider like Grandma Cole and Great Aunt Margaret used to do.

Sister Mandie learning the violin

What talents would you like to revive from your family history?  Here is my list:
1.  Violin (Grandpa Clyde "Ed" Bowser)
2.  Speaking French (Dad)
3.  Quilting (Mom)
4.  Recognizing herbs in the woods (Grandma Cole and cousins Michael, Ray, and Phillip Nimety)
5.  Painting with oils and watercolors (Great Grandma Lillie Bowser)
6.  Square dance calling (Great-great Grandpa John Bowser)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Southeastern Native American Research

Southeastern Native American researchers are pretty familiar with the term "5 Civilized Tribes".  They are the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole.  They were deemed "civilized" by the white man for the following reasons:

           "Americans, and sometimes American Indians, called the five Southeastern nations "civilized" because they seemed to be assimilating to Anglo-American norms.  The term indicated the adoption of horticulture and other European cultural patterns and institutions, including widespread Christianity, written constitutions, centralized governments, intermarriage with white Americans, market participation, literacy, animal husbandry, patrilineal descent, and even slaveholding.  None of these attributes characterized all of the nations or all of the citizens that they encompassed.  The term was also used to distinguish these five nations from other so-called "wild" Indians who continued to rely on hunting for survival."  Oklahoma Historical Society's Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, "Five Civilized Tribes",  :  accessed 11 Jun 2014.

While researching my own family lines of supposed Native Americans, I wondered if they had applied for enrollment in the Five Civilized Tribes.  In 1893, an act of Congress approved the establishment of a commission to negotiate agreements with the Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw, Seminole, and Cherokee Indian tribes.  The commission became known as the Dawes commission.  The commission was to divide tribal land into plots which were then divided among the members of the tribe.  The Commission either accepted or rejected applicants for tribal membership based on whether the tribal government had previously recognized the applicant as a member of the tribe.  Applicants were categorized as Citizens by Blood, Citizens by Marriage, Minor Citizens by Blood, New Born Citizens by Blood, Freedmen (African Americans formerly enslaved by tribal members), New Born Freedmen, and Minor Freedman.

The first step in locating whether your ancestor had applied for enrollment is to check the index.  Go to the card catalog online at  (If you are not a subscriber to, you might wish to check at your local library or family history center as many of them have subscriptions for their patrons.)

Then you will type in “five civilized tribes” in the keyword field as show below.

Click “Search” and 6 results come up.  You will first need to check the two indexes.  One index is for those applicants who were admitted into the tribes and the other index is for applications that were overturned.

I first checked the admitted applicants index for my targeted ancestor, Jacob Cole, and found no matches.  Next, I checked the overturned index.

I only fill in the name fields and leave everything else blank.  Then click "Search".

My results found Jacob Cole and several other names I recognized!

Use the "Tribe" column and the "Case number" column to find the actual application they filled out.  In this case, I will use Jacob's tribe as Cherokee and the case number 639.  Go back to the card catalog results and choose between the two application databases.

Because I found my ancestor in the overturned index, I would expect to find his application in the overturned applications.  This is the difficult part.  When you click on the database and enter in the name of the person you are searching for, the application or case number, and the tribe; the system only brings up the index page which you have already seen.

Instead you need to enter the information you have in the fields to the right. Choose which tribe in the first field.  I was looking for "Cherokee".  Then choose which roll based on the case number you found on the index.  Jacob Cole was case number 639.  Then click "ALL".

Now the database takes you to that roll of microfilm and guess have to search through image by image until you find the right application.  Don't be discouraged, it is worth it to look through hundreds if necessary!  Here are some of the "goodies" I found in Jacob's application on image number 1408.

This is the only record I have found with the two daughters, Martha age 19 and Mary J. age 1.  Martha was from Jacob's first marriage and Mary J. was from the second marriage.  I do not know what becomes of either of them, but it was a delight to find them in this record and to know of their existence.

Further research into the applications of other family members led to several previously unknown children, a name of an unknown grandfather, and a location of residence for that grandfather.  In areas where birth and death records are scarce, searching unusual databases for information can add to your genealogical data and family history.  If you suspect that you have a Southeastern Native American ancestor, I would highly suggest taking some time to review this neat resource!  Happy Hunting!

Read more about finding your Native American heritage at:

Friday, May 23, 2014

Proud to be a Coal Miner's Granddaughter

"Well, I'm proud to be a coal miner's daughter...I remember well the well where I drew water" These are the lyrics from a favorite Loretta Lynn song that my mother used to sing when I was young.  She actually was coal miner's daughter!

My grandfather, Robert Cole, was a coal miner his whole life.  He went to school for just a couple of days and decided it wasn't for him, so at the age of 9, he went to work in the mines.  Yes, that wasn't a typo...I said 9.

He was born in Rose Hill, Virginia in 1911.  He lived the remainder of his life in Lee County, Virginia and on the other side of the mountain in Harlan, Kentucky.  As a side note, have you ever heard the song "You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive"?  It is about the life of Harlan, Kentucky coal miner.

Death record for Jake Hensley found on
Coal mining was a part of his ancestry and extended family.  His uncle, Dempsey Hensley, was killed in a slate fall in 1945.  Before that, his uncle Jake Hensley, was shot in the chest and killed in the years we know as "Bloody Harlan".  Harlan was a mining town with some serious problems during the 1920's and 1930's. My grandmother was said to have begged my grandpa to never work in Harlan for fear he would be shot.  It was a rough area.

Grandpa worked in several mines, but the following are the ones I remember hearing about:  Bonny Blue, Kemmer Jim, and Benedict.

Grandpa and the family lived in the coal camps early on, but in the 1940's they moved to Stone Creek in what is now Wolf Branch Hollow in Pennington Gap, VA.

Coal camps had their own commissary, post office, and gas stations.  Miners were paid with "script" that was meant to be used at that coal camp's facilities.  Here is a picture of some scrip from a mine in West Virginia:

Grandpa's main job as a miner was to go in before the workers did and "sure up" the ceilings. These mines were not below ground, but rather far back into a mountain side.  He worked along side his 2 sons, Millard and James.  It was a dangerous job and slate falls were always a great danger.  Grandpa was certified to give first aid to the injured. Below is a certificate given to him and now in the possession of my uncle Willard Cole.

I was not raised in a coal mining area and had no idea what life would have looked like there.  I was fortunate enough to come across (thank you cousin Kathy!) a facebook site dedicated to the area of Virginia and Kentucky where my grandparents lived.  "Looking Back at Days Gone By" is the name of the page.  It is dedicated to posting pictures of the history and the families of the Cumberland Gap region and in particular, coal mines.  Here I found a photo database loaded with pictures!

Bonny Blue Coal Camp where Grandpa worked and lived

Benedict Coal Tipple, another mine he worked in.

As I looked at the many photos of the coal mines, the story of how Grandpa died made more sense to me.

It was a cold, cloudy day in November at the coal mine owned by the Kirk's.  Grandpa had gone to work that afternoon with his 2 boys, Millard and James.  Later that evening, a third son Willard and Grandma drove over to pick the men up from work.  I interviewed Willard, the only son still living who witnessed the event, about what happened next.  In his own words is the story of that evening:  [Note to the readers, I have omitted some more personal things that he said for this public setting, however in our family book it is written in full]

"Mom and I walked on across and got in Dad’s truck and went up to the tipple of the mine and as soon as I opened the truck door I could hear Millard screaming, “Daddy’s dead.  Daddy’s in there.  Daddy’s been killed.”  And I knew.  I don’t remember exactly, but I must have grabbed that railroad jack out of the back of the truck and us 3 boys ran back in the mine where Daddy was.  It was about a quarter of a mile back.  The boys said he was covered up.  That slab was 18 inches thick, 12 feet long and 12 feet wide.  People said later it had weighed 3 tons.  We jacked up the rock, but the rock started to slip and I kid you not, those 2 boys, Millard and James,  held up that rock when the jack fell and I pulled Daddy’s body out from under the rock.  Me and James got on either side of him and carried him out of the mine.  With every breath he took, blood would bubble from his eyes and nose, his mouth and everything.  He was alive, but just barely.  Mom saw us coming and was just screaming and crying.  We put him in the cab of the truck ‘cause now it was late in the evening and turned cold and raining harder.  Mom was holding him on the other side and the boys were in the back.  Dad died in my arms right there.  We got down to the bridge there and Robert  Montgomery opened the door and said, “Willard, get on out now and let me take your Daddy.”  He felt his neck and said he was gone.  And I’ll never forget, he pulled him out on the gravel of the side of the road and it was raining and put an old dirty tarp over him.  I just ran.
After a while, the boys came and got me and we went back down to where the body was.  Robert Montgomery wanted us to go on home and he’d wait for the undertaker to come get the body, but we said no, we’d stay there till Clyde [the local undertaker] come.  So we got in my car [which had been left on the other side of the bridge that was out] across the way and waited.  When we were about to leave, Robert said, 'Willard, before you go home, you need to stop at Wright Kirk’s (he was one of the owners of the mine) and tell him what happened'.  So we did and when I told Wright about Daddy, he had a heart attack right there.  They said when they told Wright’s brother, George, he’d had a heart attack too.  ‘Course they were afraid, there being an accident in their mine and the insurance and all that.

“The undertaker brought the body back the next morning and laid him out in Lewey’s room in the back there.  He told us that they couldn’t bury Dad without his teeth and someone was going to have to go back in there [the mine] and get Dad’s teeth.  That was law see, you couldn’t bury anyone without you found all their body parts.  So he looked to Ben and Harold [Willard's 2 brother's in law] who were there and they would not do it, so Mom said to me, 'Willard, you’ll have to go'.  The coroner drove me over to the mine and he wouldn’t go in with me and I went in all by myself and picked up Dad’s teeth like they were corn kernels and put ‘em  in a little brown bag I had.  Back at the house, the neighbors and family was all there for the ‘wakening’ and they stayed up all night with the body.”  End quote.

Grandpa was killed in a slate fall on 13 November 1958 when my mother was just 11 years old. He was 46 years old.  He left behind my grandma with 5 children still left at home.  Grandma moved the family to Ohio the following year to get the boys away from the mines.  I can't imagine she could have stood to lose another loved one.

Grandpa loved and raised 10 kids on a miners pay...Grandma scrubbed their clothes on a washboard everyday...the work he done was hard, at night he'd sleep 'cause he was tired...and here I've wrote the memories of a coal miner's daughter.

Grandma Goldie Cole and Grandpa Robert Cole

Monday, May 12, 2014

Pension Applications vs. Pension Application Files

For a long time, I was under the impression that a pension application index card was "all there was".  In other words, when I saw this...
War of 1812, Pension Index Card for Hawkins Bowman,
...I assumed that was all there was.  Don't get me had some great genealogical data; Nancy's maiden name, marriage date and location, death date of Hawkins, and death date of Nancy.  These dates were important because there were no death records or marriage record to be found!

But what I didn't realize was that there was SO MUCH MORE!  So where do you get it?  You can find it one of two ways.  Typically, you would use this information, along with the numbers you see on the left of the card, to order the packet from the National Archives.  The website is and you will want to fill out form number 85 if you are interested in service between the years of 1775-1903.  There is a charge of about $30.00 for this information.  It will take up to 90 days for you to receive your packet in the mail, however, if you are a member of Fold3, you might be in luck.

Fold3 is a website that is dedicated to putting military records online.  The cost is about $79.00/year for a subscription.  Many libraries and also most Family History Centers have this website available to their patrons.

I was fortunate to find my Hawkins Bowman's pension packet online at Fold3.  The packet held 26 pages.

This page gives me a calculated birth year of 1791, stating he was 64 years old when he appeared before the judge in 1855.  It further gives the location of where he enlisted as a substitute.  I had never found where in Tennessee he had lived, so when Elizabeth, Carter County, Tennessee was mentioned, I was excited!

A page from the War of 1812, Pension Application file for Hawkins Bowman,

One of the forms filled out had a reference made that Hawkins was within his community "called part Indian", five foot nine inches and dark complected.

From yet another document within the file, I read that Hawkins died on the farm of James Brittain where he and wife Nancy were living.  And lastly was this little gem, an affidavit from Moses Middleton giving the death date of Hawkins, stating where he died and that Moses himself had shaved and prepared his body for burial.

A page from War of 1812, pension application file for Hawkins Bowman
Information within a packet is not only in regards to the soldier.  Following is the page that informed the court of Nancy's death on 11 Aug 1887.

A page from War of 1812, Pension application file for Hawkins Bowman

Whether the pension application file can be found on Fold3 or you order it; I don't think you will be disappointed!  In my case, birth, marriage, and death records are almost non existent in this locale. It is likely that this pension application file is the only surviving source of information for Hawkins and Nancy's marriage, residence, and death dates and locations.

Take some time to research your own families pension application files.  I hope you are as lucky as I was!

Read more about genealogy tips you can use to break down brick walls in your research:
"Genealogy Facebook Frenzy is Breaking Down Walls"
"What is a Hashtag and How do I use it for Genealogy"
"Hidden Marriage Record: Finished Family Line Part II"

Thursday, April 3, 2014

My German Baptist Roots

My father's line, the Bowser family, is of German Baptist heritage.  Yes, you might have heard them called "Dunkards" or "The Brethren".  

The Brethren were established in 1708 at Schwarzenau, Germany and first migrated to America in 1719. The name later officially became German Baptist Brethren.  Many congregations were organized in the area in which I now live.

By about 1881, the membership of the church was estimated to be over 50,000, however there was a great divide that came among them and resulted in three separate units or factions.  They were called "Old Order" (aka Old Order German Baptist), "Conservative" (aka German Baptist Brethren), and "Progressive" (aka The Brethren Church).  The Dunkard Brethren we sometimes hear about came from the German Baptist Brethren who changed their name to the Church of the Brethren in 1908[1].

Recently, a friend of mine informed me that several German Baptist books of history have been digitized and are available online at Internet Archives.  Though the list is impressive, my favorite source of information was in the digital book I found online at the German Baptist Ministers & Congregations Site which I have sourced at the bottom of this entry.

I was also fortunate enough to be given a book a long time ago that had a few of my German Baptist ancestors stories recorded in its pages.

Here are some stories and pictures I have collected of my German Baptist ancestors from the book entitled “Descendants of Jacob & Eve (Boone) Funderburg”, by Alvin K. Funderburg.

George Funderburg b. 1813 near Donnelsville, Ohio[2]

George and Margaret Leffel Funderburg ca. 1865

     “Being wise and dedicated, he was elected to the ministry of the German Baptist Church of Donnels Creek, which met in a large, simple, frame building which George had helped to build.  The church was less than a mile from his farm.  During his active years he performed many marriages, baptisms, and anointings.  Frequently he was called on to preach at a funeral.  Early in his ministry he would preach in German, and then repeat the thought in English.”[3]

After George’s first wife, Margaret Leffel Funderburg passed away; George married a much younger woman named Mary Denlinger.  Page 212 of the Funderburg book states:

    “Because George had married such a young woman, the church elders felt his services as a minister should be terminated.  Thereafter, George was denied the full fellowship of the church, and injustice surely verified by the fact that the two sons of this marriage gave over fifty years each of dedicated service to the church.  George frequently said, ‘The church left me, I did not leave the church’.
        “In 1881, when the division in the Brethren Church took place, George sided with the branch which eventually became the “Church of the Brethren.”  He felt that higher education was important for those in the church who wanted to go on.”

John Bowser b. 1841 married Mariah Elizabeth Funderburg, d/o George and Margaret Leffel Funderburg

John Bowser and wife, Mariah Funderburg Bowser with their children

Though John and Mariah, along with their daughter Marietta were active in the church, their 4 sons struggled to stay the course.  Their son, my great-grandfather George Henry Bowser (pictured above in the back middle of the photo) had a serious drinking problem and it seems there ended the affiliation my family line had with the Brethren.

Though my parents, myself, and my children are now of the Mormon faith, I have a special place in my heart for these great people of my past and of those who are part of my present.  (My father’s best friend and neighbor is an Elder in the Church of the Brethren and our dear neighbors are of the Church as well.  We love you Filbrun and Bowman families!!)

[1] Lowell H. Beachler, “The First Years – A Beginning,” Micon Brethren Archives ( :  accessed 3 Apr 2014), digital copy online, para. 2
[2] Alvin K. Funderburg, “Descendants of Jacob & Eve (Boone) Funderburg”: Taylor Publishing Company, 1978, page 211.
[3] ibid

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Wee Bit of Information for Ye Lads and Lassies

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day and because it seems I am running into more and more people tracing their Irish ancestry, I want to share with you some of what I am learning when researching the Irish immigrant.

You can break down your Irish immigrations into 3 parts; those who came during the potato famine years, those who came before, and those who came after.  Researching is easier when you focus on which time your targeted ancestor came to America.

The potato famine started in 1845 when blight hit the area’s potato plants and lasted about 6 years.  Successive years of crop failure led to many deaths and forced people to flee. 

When we begin our search of immigrant ancestors, we often feel that the passenger list is an important document we need.

However, you need to realize that passenger lists don’t begin in the US until 1820, 1865 in Canada, and 1890 in Great Britain.  So if you are researching someone you expected came from Ireland to Canada in 1842, you may not find a passenger list at all.

Many Irish immigrants did come through Canada to the US.  It was cheaper passage to come into the port of Quebec.  Immigrants were held in quarantine at Grosse Ilse.  It is estimated that over 5,000 immigrants died on Grosse Ilse and it is known to be the largest burial ground of Irish outside of Ireland[1].

Most common ports of entry into Canada were:  Grosse Ilse, Quebec, St. John’s, and Halifax.
About 1894, steamship and railroad advertised to immigrants to immigrate to the US by sailing into Canadian ports and then gaining entry to US ports to lessen the hassles.  Searching the Port of St. Albans, Vermont ship lists are a valuable source for tracing immigrant ancestors who might have come through Canadian ports of entry in the late 1890’s.  This database can be found on

The most important thing a beginning researcher can do when tracing their Irish ancestor is to know all you can from the records here in the US.  Using census records and birth and death records are a start, but most likely you will need to cast a wider net.

Consider finding tombstones which may have the place of origin inscribed on them.  Be sure to find naturalization papers, passport applications (if they went back for a visit) and lastly, biographical sketches of other known family members.  All may include a clue to the family’s original place of origin in Ireland.  That key piece of evidence, the county in Ireland where the family is from, is vital to continue your search “across the pond”.

Here are another couple fun tidbits:  Did you know that a nickname for “Bridget” is “Biddy” and “Delia”!  How about the name “Darby” being the nickname for “Jeremiah”?  If you are familiar with these particulars about Irish research, you will be way ahead of the game.  By googling your targeted ancestors given name (i.e. Nicknames for Bridget), you can find possible names you should consider whist doing your research.

For the most valuable information on Irish immigration research strategies, I suggest watching the many videos at In the search field, type “Irish Immigration” or “Ireland Research”. 

Happy hunting and may the luck of the Irish be with ye!

[1] “Irish”, online article, Library and Archives of Canada ( :  accessed 16 Feb 2014)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Myth of the Indian Princess

Many people have a family tradition along the lines of "my third great grandma was a Cherokee princess".  I have heard it several times, but here is the bad news;  there is no such thing as a Cherokee princess.  In fact, there is no such thing as any Native American princess.

Native American tribes did not have lines of royalty.  Perhaps your ancestor was the daughter of a chief, but that didn't make her a princess.

I have many clients ask me to find the truth behind their Native American family stories.  In every case thus far, the people who think they are of Native American heritage are NOT and the ones that had no idea they were of native stock, ARE!  Isn't that funny!?

When I started researching the Cole side of my family about 10 years ago, I feel over backwards when I found the census below.

1900 Federal census, Harlan County, Kentucky
You should note that I consider myself "white" and I am blonde and blue eyed!  Wash, born May 1893 is my great grandfather.  Want to see a picture of him?

George Washington "Wash" Cole, born about 1893

So you can imagine my surprise at the census above after viewing the column for race.  That is a "B" my friends and "B" stands for Black.  I was going to need to do more research.  Take a look at other census records for Wash Cole and his ancestors.  The Jacob Cole listed in the census below is Wash's father.

1870 Federal Census for Harlan County, Kentucky
The family could not be located in the 1880 census, but above is the 1870 census and below is the 1860 census.  Note that Jacob Cole is 2 years old in the 1860 census and though it is beyond a little weird, his mother is the 18 year old Eliza and his father is the 61 year old.  I know, I know...that story is for another time!

1860 Federal Census for Lee County, Virginia

Both the 1870 and 1860 census records record some form of "Indian", though that was not a standard answer option on this form.

Lastly, the 1850 census.  Note that John Cole is the father of Jacob Cole.  He had been married before and by this time, his wife had left him with the children.  Eliza-age-15 is NOT the same Eliza listed above in the 1860 census.  This Eliza, age 15, was his eldest daughter.

1850 Federal Census for Knox County, Kentucky
As you can see, in 1850 the family is listed as "M" and that is for "mulatto".  Mulatto does not necessarily mean a mix of "black" and "white", but rather a mix of any two races.

How do I explain this?  I guess my family wasn't always "white"!  Most likely, they were of Native American descent.  My grandfather never claimed he was an "Indian" and no one in the family had any idea. Why?  I speculate that being an "Indian" in the hills of Virginia and Kentucky during this time frame was not something you would go around talking about.  After all; we know the stories of the forced move to Indian Reservations were true.  The family lived as white people for the most part and did not find themselves being forced to move.

I began to research the family ties to Native American tribes.  The Cole's had all tried to apply as "Cherokee's by Blood" in 1898 in hopes to gain land from the government.  I first checked the Dawes Roles.  This is an index.  Once you find your targeted ancestor, you then need to find the Application for Enrollment packets.  These can be found on  It was here that I found each of the application files for my family members.  These applications led to a great deal of genealogical data.  It mentioned a grandfather by name who I did not have and children that I did not know about.  The family was ultimately denied enrollment by the Cherokee Nation.  The names of our earliest know ancestors could not be located in the censuses taken in the 1830's of the Cherokee Tribes.  My family members had left the area prior to 1830 as did many people trying to escape possible removal that seemed inevitable.

But wait, there's more!  Just recently, I ran across a webpage that suggests that my "Appalachian Indians" might not be Cherokee at all, but Shawnee!  It was suggested that a break off of the Shawnee tribe happened in the late 1700's and some went south and found friendship with the Cherokees.

I am fortunate enough to have two uncles who are direct male descendants of the known "Indian" ancestor and we are having their DNA tested (stay tuned for the results!).  Though DNA can not tell me which tribe we are from, it can indicate if the targeted male ancestor was Native American, African-American, or European.

So the moral of this story is:  Don't go around saying your grandma was a Native American princess, because people are laughing at you.  And if you think you are Native American, look for something to back it up...even if it turns out your aren't, you will have fun trying and might find gems of genealogical information along the way!

Read more about finding your ancestors on the Dawes Rolls and the Applications for the 5 Civilized Tribes at: