It’s the last day of 2013, so I have been reflecting on how the year has gone as it relates to my genealogy research. As I think back, my year really started when I got the Exploring Our Roots & Finding Oprah’s Roots DVDs for Christmas. That was followed by a mobile handheld scanner for my birthday on January 4th. I was really excited because I had made such progress since I started in July 2012. But this year, I was determined to learn more about the process of researching genealogy and family history.
January 2013 – I watched every episode on those DVDs and made notes of comments that might help me in my research. I watched some of the archived webinars on Ancestry.com. I also started organizing planning my first research trip to my hometown to gather documents and conduct interviews.
February 2013 – I conducted 3 phone interviews to prepare myself for the trip I was about to embark upon. Toward the end of the month, I finally decided to order Black Roots: A Beginners Guide to Tracing the African American Family Tree by Tony Burroughs. I read parts of the book at the time, because I wanted to only review the parts that I would need for my trip. Didn’t realize at the time that I really needed to read that book cover to cover before running off on a research trip! Lesson learned.
March 2013 – I went on my first week-long research trip to Mississippi to my hometown. I created a calendar and had everything planned out from visiting the cemeteries where my family was buried, the county courthouse (Clarke), the state archives (which is a 2 hour drive one-way from my parents), conducting interviews, and searching through the “family archives”. I got to interview my 94 year old cousin, who was an absolute delight! I also got to meet some people on my Dad’s side of the family who I had not previously met, even though they only lived about 15 minutes away from my parents all my life. My mom was my riding partner and she braved the cemeteries (deep in the woods of Mississippi), helped me dig in at the courthouse and the archives, sat through interviews and scanning sessions, helped me track down where funeral home records went, and contacted everyone she knew that could help me. She is still helping me now with my questions and hunting down those that are living who can answer the questions that she doesn’t have the answers to. March was an excited research month for me and I came back with lots of information for my research. To top it all off, there was the birth of my 8th grand nephew (I have 5 grand-nieces as well)!
April 2013 – I started to attend genealogy seminars that were being held here in Atlanta. My first seminar was a lecture by Tony Burroughs and he signed my book!
May – September 2013 – I attended more seminars and even got my feet wet in The National Archives at Atlanta. It was during these months that I realized that I was seriously unorganized! I begin to catalog, scan and file. I am still working on the organizing part (computer issues). Didn’t realize I had so much stuff. I did some research as well, adding to the pile! 🙂 I also started to join Facebook groups looking for guidance. It was through one of the groups that I was able to get the death certificate of my 2x great-grandfather, Henry Stokes, which included the names of his mother and father, taking me back another generation.
October 2013 – I lost my Uncle Richard. Richard Edwards, Jr., born February 19, 1940 to Richard Edwards, Sr. and Maudie L. Sterling Edwards. He passed away October 7, 2013. We were hurt, but we know he is at rest and that we were blessed to have encountered him. I cried as I recorded the date in my tree. That was the hard part of genealogy for me. I can still hear his laugh. I am thankful that my sister and I were able to sing a joyful medley at his funeral. I also got to meet his youngest son, a first cousin that I didn’t know existed. October was hard, because my mother lost her brother and 2 cousins that month. That is 4 deaths in all for my family for the year (1 on my dad’s side a few months earlier).
November 2013 – I refocused and started to research the Stokes side of my family. I conducted a couple of phone interview and tasked myself with gathering vital records again. On Thanksgiving Day, I met a cousin who added to my collection of funeral programs and even gave me a copy of a fictitious account of the lives of my Great-Granduncle Charlie Moody and Aunt Libby Stokes Moody. The book is called Paw Charlie’s Triumphs by Roy Conner. I read it a day’s time…I was that excited! I finally decided to finish reading Black Roots: A Beginners Guide to Tracing the African American Family Tree by Tony Burroughs! After I finishing that book, I also read Got Proof! by Michael Nolden Henderson in two day’s time. I love reading, can’t you tell! November was also the month that I was able to obtain the death certificate of Taylor Stokes, father of Henry Stokes. That death certificate had the name of his father, Kelly Stokes, taking me back yet another generation.
December 2013 – I started to focus on how to properly document my research. My 9th grand-nephew was born! I was connected to a cousin who is the keeper of the Stokes family tree. Lastly, I joined AAGSAR and started this blog to share my research.
I’d say that was an ok year in genealogy, wouldn’t you? I’m pretty excited to take it to the next level and see what my ancestors will show me in 2014!
Happy New Year & Happy Searching!
© 2013 Amy L. Cole and Tracing Amy: My Ancestral Journey. All rights reserved.