Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2010 - Here WE Come!

As the year 2009 comes to a close, I find myself in almost continuous reflection about the state of my genealogy research. One thing that I’ve realized is that 2009 has truly been a year of transition for me with respect to my work. Though passionate from the start, it has been during this last 12 months that I’ve become truly driven in my quest to uncover the mysteries of my family history. This drive, which was once simply innate, has now become one with inherent expectations and shared support from others; my extended family members, who now receive a monthly (electronic) newsletter from me, updating them on the progress of my work, and from my blog-family, a support system of like-minded individuals that I never even dreamed was out there. I now feel accountable to both parties as I continue my quest to learn as much as I can about my family history, and to bring my findings into the light of the 21st Century.
My research journey has been filled with highs and lows. Not one, not two, but ALL of my family lines, paternal and maternal are hidden in the darkness of obscurity, and all for different reasons. Beyond my two grandmothers, I knew nothing of my ancestors before I started this work, and once I began asking questions, I quickly found that either my relatives didn’t know the answers, or if they did, they didn’t want to share them. Because of this, every discovery, for me, is truly a triumph, and is never taken lightly.

I, like many of my genea-friends, truly believe that my ancestors want me to find them, so the time I’ve spent in quiet libraries, dusty court-house basements, sterile file rooms (Register of Deeds), prowling through cemeteries, interviewing relatives, building websites, blogging, and putting in thousands of hours of online research has all been for and about those YARBOROUGHS, GREENS, DUNSTANS, HAWKINSES HILLS, BROWNS, and other individuals, yet unknown, who came before me and made me, ME.

In honor of those ancestors, I submit the following genea-goals for the year 2010.

1. To discover the parental roots of my great-great grandfather, Calvin YARBOROUGH, and his wife, Precilla SHAW. I’ve recently received less than encouraging results from the DNA testing, that lead me to believe that I may never be able to find Calvin’s actual parents, and that perhaps he never even knew them himself. It’s beginning to look more and more like ours might have been one of those unfortunate families whose children were separated from the parents, or perhaps who were parented by some “stranger”. More will come on this in 2010…
I’d also like to find out more about Calvin and Precilla’s lives as members of the Franklin County/Louisburg community, and specifically Calvin’s involvement as a trustee at Saint Paul’s Presbyterian Church.

2. To verify the actual name and origin of my gg-grandmother, Anna GREEN, and to find something – anything that corroborates the family stories about her relationship with my gg-grandfather, Nathaniel HAWKINS. I’d also like to find out when and where she died.

3. To find mention of Nathaniel HAWKINS (and hopefully his relationship with Anna) in the family papers at UNC Library. Also, to learn more about his work as a slave trader, and perhaps to find out how he and Anna ended up together. I would also like to find evidence of his cause of death in 1879 and locate his grave.

4. To secure the remaining funding from my GREEN relatives so that we can do the DNA testing that will prove us descendants of Nathaniel Hawkins.

5. To obtain the death certificate for William GREEN, who moved to New York and lived as White. I’d like to find out if he had any children, and if so, to attempt to discover and contact any descendants who may be alive today.

6. To discover the whereabouts of my maternal grandfather, Daniel Webster HILL, who abandoned his wife and family when my mother was just four years old, and was never heard from again.

7. To begin to learn more about my maternal ancestors, Walter and Minerva BROWN, who originated in Littleton, NC, but migrated to Norfolk, VA. I’ve done no more than pull census info on them and their families, since most of my work has been focused on my paternal side for the past 13 years.

8. To better organize my existing research, and to begin the tedious job of going back through it and properly sourcing everything that I already have.

9. To give back to the genealogy community by sharing more of my findings and continuing to volunteer as a keyer for various projects. I also hope to index the hundreds of funeral programs that I found at my aunt’s house in Louisburg, for the NC GenWeb, and then convince her to donate them to either the county library or the State Archives.

Yes, these are lofty goals, but it never hurts to dream big! So, 2010, here I come – and I’m bringing my ancestors with me!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Advent Calendar: Fruitcake - Friend or Foe?


This will be short, but just seeing the word, "fruitcake" dredges up memories for me that make me want to gag and barf! For some ungodly reason, my parents used to try to force my brother and me to eat this ghastly invention (lol) a couple of times each year, which I'm assuming now were probably around the holidays. Some of the memories of the struggles this instigated are too unpleasant to even recount, but as usual, Arthur and I found our way around having to sit at the table all night until we'd eaten it. All I'll say is this -- when my parents finally decided to get a new kitchen table, and turned the old one upside down to move it, I know they got a very "fruity" surprise!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Nicest Thing!

A while back we were encouraged to post about the nicest thing another blogger had done for us. At the time, I didn't submit a post - not because I haven't been the recipient of any kind gestures her in the blogosphere, because I have - but simply because at that time, I was having a hard time recalling each and every incident of kindness that had been shown me, and I didn't want to slight anyone by just posting about what I could recall. However, today another blogger has gone the extra mile for me, by reaching out to assist me in overcoming a technical difficulty that I just happened to mention in a comment I made on her blog, so I've decided to thank her, publicly!

A few days ago, I visited Before My Time. I don't remember how or why I came across this blog, but while there, I noticed that the writer, "TK", was using Blogger, and that her wonderful video tributes to her Auntie Marceline were posted directly on her blog, something I had tried every which way (except the right way...lol) to do a couple of weeks ago when I posted my Sentimental Sunday - A Musical Tribute. Well, just as a result of my mentioning that I'd tried to do that, TK went out on an limb and sent me a private email with her phone number and an offer to explain to me just how she'd done it. She even offered to make the long distance call herself, if I wanted to send her my number. Wasn't that nice?

I received this email from TK earlier today, just as I was about to go out, so I wrote back and told her I'd give it one more try later in the day, and if it didn't work, I'd call her. So, that's exactly what I did. Needless to say, my attempts to post the video still didn't work, so I called TK, and within just a few quick minutes, she'd walked me through the necessary steps, and the video was on my blog!

The solution was a simple one, but it was one of those things you just had to "know" how to do. :) So, KUDOS, to TK for being a great new blog-friend, and THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

(And just to show off my new skills, here it is again!)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - On The Farm

That's my daddy, Arthur P. Yarborough (behind the cow) and his first-cousin, George R. Greene. My dad lived with George's family during his teen years in Nash County, NC.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sentimental Sunday - Holiday Blues

Here I am with my (ex)husband and daughters on one of our holiday visits to my Aunt Sue, in NC.

I know I've been a bit quiet lately. I've had a lot of my mind, and have conjoured up several potential posts there, but none have made it to the blog because I've realized that I'm not quite ready to divulge the entirety of my holiday-time misery - yet.

All my life I wanted a FAMILY. From the earliest years that I can remember - when I was about 4 or 5 - I used to question my parents about why we didn't have cousins and why I didn't have a sister (lol). As I got older, and noticed other families sharing the holidays with their relatives and having gatherings with tons of people who were all related to them, I began to realize that something was different about my family. Yes, I did know my two grandmothers, and my parents' siblings (each had a brother and a sister), but that was it. But, except for my paternal grandmother, with whom I had a close relationship, there didn't seem to be any ties that bound our little family of six to these other people. I constantly badgered my parents about this, even having full-out tantrums a couple of times because I wanted so much to experience the fun and joy that I noticed others enjoying when they were with their families. Not only that, but it was almost like my neighborhood friends belonged to some kind of secret society or something. I mean, why was it that whenever their cousins were over, they couldn't have company, or they didn't need me to play with anymore?

Anyway, to get to the point, one of my primary goals as a mother was to make sure that my children grew up in an environment rich with family, and steeped with traditions of togetherness and sharing that would stick with them forever. I began this quest before I ever even became a mother by reaching out to my siblings, aunts, and uncles from the time I was a teenager, traveling to visit with them and trying to make them a part of my life. When I did become a mother, I made sure that my children knew them, or knew of them. Their pictures were always displayed in our home, and we made sure to visit with those who lived nearby and make phone calls to those far away, on a regular basis, especially on the holidays. I guess I was trying to at least give my children a "sense" of family, if nothing else.

I got married,and during the years with my husband, it really seemed that we were creating that family-life that I'd longed for. Although we were distanced from his family in many ways, we seemed to become closer to mine, and we also had several friends whom we'd adopted as family, so our kids did have "cousins" and "aunties" and "uncles". We created and sustained a number of holiday traditions. Our children were thriving and happy, and so was I. But, in 1993, my husband decided that this was not what he wanted anymore, and he was gone. However, this did not stop me from continuing with the most of the traditions we'd created together. My famous sweet-potato casserole still was the hit of each Thanksgiving. My girls still snapped the beans and set the table. We still took our holiday light-ride. The girls still got to open one special gift on Christmas Eve (almost always new pajamas that they would sleep in that night) and I still read, "Twas the Night Before Christmas" while we all sipped on hot chocolate. Santa still came, and he (she) still sat up all night putting toys together,while munching on fresh-baked cookies that had been left out for him and his reindeer by my daughters. (Our Santa didn't drink milk, so usually there was some juice or a Coke to go along with the cookies.) And, we still took our holiday-time ride down to my father's birthplace in Louisburg, to visit with my aunt, who still lives there in the family home. Everything went on as it had before, sans the presence of a father/husband. But, for me, the dream had been busted. This wasn't the picture I'd had in my mind, and it never has been again. For a girl who'd grown up with Ward and June Cleaver and Mike and Carol Brady as my role models, my concept of "family" had been deeply disrupted.

Now, my days are spent quietly alone. Even though my daughters come home for the holidays, the preparation and aftermath tends to scream in silence without a spouse, sibling, or parent to share it with. The girls think it's silly that I wait for them to both get here (usually a day or two before Christmas) to put up the tree, but they always did it in the past, and I'm not quite ready for that to change. They put the tree up, I put the lights on, and then we decorated it together, while listening to Christmas music. That's the way it always was, and that's the way I want it to be - at least maybe until they have spouses and/or I have grandchildren.

This is not meant to be a sad story. My girls and I have had a blessed life together. However, the holidays are a challenging time for me, especially in these years since I've had my empty nest. Families are not like light bulbs. You can't just replace them when they "blow out". For whatever the reasons, most of my relatives have disconnected themselves from us since my mother became ill, choosing to go on with their lives, rather than to be a part of her care and support. Unfortunately, the timing of this coincided with the years that my daughters were graduating and leaving home, so it's left me a bit lonely, longing for the good old days, and wondering what might have been if so much hadn't changed.