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Library Matters

Library Matters is a podcast by Montgomery County Public Libraries exploring the world of books, libraries, technology, and learning.
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Library Matters is a podcast of Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL) in Montgomery County, MD. Each episode we explore the world of books, libraries, technology, and learning. Library Matters is hosted by Julie Dina, Outreach Associate, Lauren Martino, Children's Librarian at our Silver Spring branch, and David Payne, Branch Manager of our Davis branch and Acting Branch Manager of our Potomac branch.  

Oct 24, 2018

Listen to the audio

David Payne:  Welcome to Library Matters; video host David Payne.

Lauren Martino:  And I'm Lauren Martino.

David:  And today we are going to be talking about trees, not the ones with leaves on, but of the family variety.  And genealogy is our subject for today’s episode, and we are delighted to welcome two of our avid MCPL staffers who are going to share their genealogical experiences with us.  I, first of all, welcome Adrienne Miles-Holderbaum.

Adrienne Miles-Holderbaum:  Thank you.

David:  Adrienne is Senior Librarian at our Germantown branch.  Also I'm very pleased to welcome to today’s episode, Carol Reddan who is Library Associate at Olney.  Welcome Carol.

Carol Reddan:  Thank you.

David:  And you are both very dedicated, passionate, and experienced genealogists and we are very pleased to have you share your experience with us.

Carol:  I’ll take it.

David:  Well compared to some of us. Anyway let’s start by asking you both basically what is genealogy.  Let me start with you, Carol.

Carol:  What is genealogy?  Well, I had to look that up and a basic good definition is the study of the ancestral lines and that’s what I'm going to go with.

David:  We’ll take it.

Carol:  Okay.  All right.

Adrienne:  Yeah.  I looked it up and Merriam-Webster says it’s an account of the descent of a person, family, or group from an ancestor or from older forms and it’s a study of family ancestral lines.  I think everyone comes from somewhere and everyone has roots.  We just didn’t appear out of nowhere and that’s why it’s fascinating.

David:  Right.  That covers everything.

Lauren:  So what got you two interested in genealogy to begin with?  Let’s start with Carol.

Carol:  Just curiosity and I like detective work and it’s the ultimate puzzle, detective puzzle.  And everybody is always, “Where am I from?  What is my line?” And when you get real philosophical, you realize we all had to start from one point and then break apart and you get in that real chicken or egg kind of a mode and you just want to keep going further.  It’s just basic downright human curiosity.

Adrienne:  So for me it’s a little personal.  My father didn’t know his biological parents.  He was a fostered child in New York City and he always wondered who his parents were and he would always talk about it with us.  So it’s a natural interest that I’ve already – always had.  It’s something I’ve always wanted to know.

So I think that also kind of guided me to become a librarian because I’ve only been doing research for so long on this topic and just wondering like how we get to where we are, in general.  So that was very influential.  And I'm interested in genealogy.  Also I really enjoy Henry Louis Gates.  He is an author and he has the show in PBS called Finding Your Roots and I watch every episode.  It’s fascinating to me to find about history and about people and I just – it’s just – I find it infinitely interesting.

Also as an African-American, I’ve always wondered about my roots because a lot of our roots are kind of missing due to the Transatlantic slave trade.  Even my last name I’ve always known it wasn’t my last name, for other reasons, my dad was a fostered kid, but also because a lot of African-Americans, our last names aren’t like blood-related.  So immigrants from other countries also have changed their last name to anglicize them.

So I think it’s not just African-Americans and I have that curiosity, but I’ve always wondered like, ‘where does my name come from, where does this come from,’ so that kind of stemmed my interest in genealogy.

David:  So the fun fact, USA today found that genealogy is the second-most popular hobby in the country after gardening, and the second-most visited category of website after pornography.  Why do you think that genealogy has become so popular?  I’ll start with you, Adrienne.

Adrienne:  I guess it goes back to familial origins.  Everyone has them, even if you don’t know them like in my father’s case we'd all have it no matter what.  Like I said earlier, no one just placed here like out of nowhere, we don’t just come here.  So I think it’s fun, it’s interesting.

David:  And rewarding.

Adrienne:  And rewarding, right, rewarding and it’s time-consuming but rewarding and it’s – I think it’s a skill that anyone can develop if you have the patience and the interest.

Carol:  Yeah, I would concur, I think everybody is curious about where they are from, but I just think the influx of DNA, DNA testing and now it’s so easy and it’s advertised and it’s publicized and it’s very easy now.  Price keeps coming down to just send in a sample and find out your DNA and start that search.  So it’s easy.  It’s more accessible now to start it sort of as a hobby.  But, yeah, you do have to be careful because it can’t be a hobby or it can really like overturn your life and I have those stories too.

David:  Presumably you talked about accessibility.  Presumably the availability of electronic resources...

Carol:  Well, that end – to just send away for a kit now, I did ancestry like four years ago and it was like $150.  Just like when you bought a toaster in 1950, it was a certain price.  And what is a toaster?  $12.99 on sale.  And the cost of these kits keeps going down.  They have specials.  So it’s making it easier for more people to do and more and more people are doing it, which is why I keep getting updates on the ancestry why my apparently ancestry keeps changing because they have more people to match it against, because more people are doing it.

Adrienne:  What’s interesting is my father did it in 2006.  He did like ancestry – I don’t remember what DNA website he used, but it was expensive, but also it wasn’t very specific.  It was like very general.  It was like 50% European, 50% Sub-Saharan African.  So he is like, okay, now it’s like super detail.  The sample size is larger.  So they have more I guess DNA to pull from.  So it’s like so different, so…

Carol:  But even still be aware because there are commercialists.  I always thought I was German.  Now I got my results back and I have to buy kilt. Keep the lederhosen because it happened to me.  It happened to me because I get updates and if you go and get a tattoo, you might be in trouble with the Viking tattoo.

Lauren:  So Adrienne, you’ve been doing genealogy research for a while now.  How is it different now than a DNA testing as so readily available from when you began?

Adrienne:  Sure.  I feel like it’s easier.  I’ve been getting – so the website I used, we entered our email addresses and then you can also be contacted.  So I’ve been contacted from like distant cousins and I’ve contacted distant cousins and we were like, “Are we really related?” How are we related?  What does it mean?” And I don’t know how accurate or what it even means or if it means anything.  But I definitely think it’s the world is smaller and we are more accessible, so the information is more accessible and you are more -- yeah.

Lauren:  You are making connections with people whereas before you just might just know them as a name in a book.

Adrienne:  Right, right, but if you have like names or last names like familial names that you are aware of, it is interesting to kind of contact those people with the last names who are matching and really figure out the common ancestor.  I’ve done that with like one person in particular.

Lauren:  I love doing that.

Adrienne:  Yeah.

Carol:  That’s the best way to do.  It is to find a match and then to try to go up the trees and it’s like a little puzzle to find the point where you connect and it is changing a lot because I’ll get updates all the time.  I’ve done 23andMe and Ancestry and I get updates on both of them all the time and Ancestry particularly it just gets easier and easier.  The more people do it, more people upload pictures like just you think you will never see a picture of your great, great, great grandfather, you might.  And that’s like when you hit pay dirt.  That’s like when you see a picture of these people.  That’s the best.  So distant cousins are uploading military records, pictures, family – all kinds of content.

Lauren:  Wow! It is exciting.  So did you find a lot of difference between like the two, you said you use like 23andMe and Ancestry?  Did they agree with each other or?

Carol:  No, of course not.

Lauren:  Not?

Carol:  The DNA part of it I don’t really want to focus on so much because you just – for me being 99.4% European, so for a European, Europe was a mess for so many years and I'm the commercial where I always thought I'm just German and Irish, German and Irish, pretty straightforward, but I did ancestry three years ago and it said 29% Scandinavian, 25% Italian-Greece, 24% Irish, Iberian Peninsula, European Jewish and I was like, oh, I'm way more exotic than I ever thought and I was getting into it and loving it.

But then the update comes and you go full circle and it’s like right back where I started from, German and Irish.  Yeah, so I take it with a grain of salt and what the DNA is telling you is who your DNA matches people where they are living today.  It doesn’t tell you, oh, this is matching people from the past.  And the thing about people is they have always moved around a lot.  So my DNA tells me what my DNA looks like to people related today.

But my ancestors, if I go up family trees, I have ancestors in Switzerland in the 1500s.  I know they were there at that point.  I don’t know where they were in the 5th century, the 6th century, the 7th century and all that’s impacting your DNA.  So I suspect in a couple of months I could have a new update saying something even yet more different, so that I take with the grain of salt.  I put more importance on the family trees and oral history and how those combined.  That’s what means more to me.  I know it’s kind of fun to say, oh, I'm this, I'm that, but, hmm, you are just a mud.

Adrienne:  Yeah, and I feel it the same way.  I think one interesting thing is my dad did his DNA and he is like 42% Iberian Peninsula which is Spain and I'm less than 2%, but I know I'm his daughter.  So what genes did I get?  So it’s just – it’s like if I really was just to go by my DNA, it wouldn’t really tell a story.

Carol:  And the other part of that is every time every person is a card deck shuffle of genes.  So I always think about Queen Elizabeth and Norman the Conqueror and he is supposed to be like 26th great grandfather, but really if you were to extract DNA from him and her DNA, I wonder if they would match on any segments because a first cousin you should match 12 to 14%.  A second cousin 6%, a third great grandparent like 12%, so it’s diluting, diluting, diluting, but yet like I saw that picture, my great, great grandfather and I swear we look like him.  It’s spooky and creepy and great.

David:  Well, you both talked a little bit about resources.  Let me ask you both, ‘what MCPL resources would you recommend for genealogy?’ Actually I should mention for our listeners that any O and O resources that we mention in today’s episode can be found in the show notes for today’s program.  So, Adrienne, let me ask you.

Adrienne:  Sure, Heritage Quest is a database that has census records, the US Freedman’s bank records from 1865 to 1871, Revolutionary War era pension and Bounty Land Warrant application files and you can search, find information on people and places describe 28,000 family and local histories via Heritage Quest.  We also have newspaper databases for arbitrary research and that’s pretty popular.

A lot of customers come in looking for a specific arbitraries of family members.  We have links to Legacy.com, the Social Security Death Index and we have vital records all on our database, on our lib guide.  So, yeah, that’s our – and then a librarian to show you these resources.  So I think those are pretty awesome resources and I know Carol has some books that she recommends.

Carol:  Yeah, I do have some books that I really, really liked.  First one is, you mentioned Henry Louis Gates Jr who does the PBS series and he wrote a book Finding Your Roots, and this book goes into several celebrities in-depth.  Robert Downey Jr, Kevin Bacon, it’s just interesting to see their -- to a certain degree, and it absolutely proves it – How to Archive Family Keepsakes: Denise May Levenick, some helpful points on keeping, archiving and keeping keepsakes.

Also Genealogy for Dummies, Matthew Helm and April Leigh Helm always your good basic guide and AARP Genealogy Online, Matthew Helm and April Leigh Helm again, was also very helpful.  But the other one I do want to mention which is fairly new, Adam Rutherford, a brief history of everyone who ever lived.  This is more like a critique.  It gives you – he is a geneticist and it gives you the real low-down on what DNA testing is good for, what it’s not good for, we over-promise, we over-expect and it’s pretty realistic and it’s very, very interesting.

Adrienne:  I think also we have a link to the Montgomery County Historical Society on our website and that’s good for local history.  If you are doing local genealogy research you could use their resources also, so.

Lauren:  In addition to MCPL’s resources, do you have any other sources of information that have been helpful to you or you think might be helpful to other people that are beginning genealogy research?

Adrienne:  The Ancestry.com which I think is the most popular website that people use for genealogical research.  I have only used it like  I haven’t really got in-depth.  I don’t know, Carol you use it.

Carol:  I have been using it.  So I did Ancestry and right now I have a subscription.  So I will pay extra for a few months while I really delve deeply into family records or whatnot.  And so it’s giving me access to just a zillion databases, military records, most importantly the family trees that other members have compiled and you can easily go up those and then the content that they’ve added on their family trees, they’ve done all the research for you basically.  Newspaper clippings, wedding photos, graves, pictures of grave sights and things like that, so the thing I found most valuable is the family tree access that Ancestry offers.

Adrienne:  I would agree.  I have a cousin doing research and he gave me access to his the family tree via his account and I was amazed, but he has found another…

Carol:  Right.  One thing about 23andMe that I like though is that when it gives you your match list, when you send in your DNA and the company comes back and they tell you your ancestry or whatnot, they will also give you DNA matches which typically can be like a thousand people who've also done that service.

So these are like your distant cousins, it will hierarchy it.  Like it will have the people who you are most closely related to on down to, you know, that you share 15% DNA within 10 segments down to 5th or greater cousins and you share like a little half segment percent of DNA.  And it's fun to go and click on these distant cousins and 23andMe lets you bring up both charts and they will overlap and show you exactly what chromosome you are related to that cousin on.

And then you can block out like I have Jewish ancestry.  So I have cousins who I can put our charts together and I can see that we are related on the 10th chromosome which is where my Jewish ancestry is.  So that tell me I'm related to, it’s a Jewish ancestor we have in common.  So then I can go on Ancestry that website and look up the family trees and I'm looking, trying to find the Jewish ancestor.

Adrienne:  That’s so cool.  The Family Tree DNA is the site that I used for my DNA, I guess, my DNA results.  But – so it’s similar for that website but there is also a site called GEDmatch.com where you can upload your raw autosomal data and then it combines different – anyone who uses it, so anyone can download their raw autosomal data from any of the other websites like Ancestry.com or Family Tree DNA or whatever and then…

Lauren:  So raw what data?

Adrienne:  Raw autosomal, I hope I'm pronouncing that right.

Lauren:  What does that mean exactly?

Adrienne:  Okay.  Let me find out.

Carol:  And while Adrienne is looking, I’ll just want to bring up a point about people when you get results from Ancestry and 23andME or private companies who just swear they are not going to share your information and I believe them, I believe them, but many people and I’ve done it, you upload your DNA to this public site which now is just billowing out with tons of DNA, but it’s awesome because this is the way they are catching a lot of – catching cold cases and…

Adrienne:  And we talked about that…

Carol:  This is a huge breakthrough for crime solving.  It’s like combining genealogy with forensics.  They go and you take the DNA from a crime scene and they’ll upload it to the public database and they’ll get a hit and you might have a person’s fourth or fifth cousin, but they’ll – but then they will give it to a genealogist or better if you can be both the genealogist and the forensic crime expert.

Lauren:  So everyone leave librarianship.

Carol:  Well, my dream job, but then they work it back and they are starting to solve a lot of cases like that.

Adrienne:  So autosomal DNA is a term used in genetic genealogy to describe DNA which is inherited from the autosomal chromosomes.  An autosome is any of the numbered chromosomes as opposed to the sex chromosomes.  So humans have 22 pairs of autosomes and one pair of sex chromosomes, X chromosome and the Y chromosome.

Lauren:  So it’s basically just the DNA data?

Adrienne:  Yeah, it’s just your raw data.

Lauren:  Okay.

Adrienne:  I'm not a geneticist, but I know I had to upload that.

Lauren:  It sounds good to me.

Adrienne:  To GEDmatch.com, which is really helpful if you are doing genealogy research because it broadens the pool.  So not just people have used Ancestry.com, other websites they’ve used.  If they’ve used GEDmatch and they’ve uploaded their data, you can like access it.  It's like open-source DNA.

Lauren:  Open-source DNA, public domain.

Adrienne:  Public domain.  There is also a website called Geni.com like Geni.com, like genealogy, not spelt that way, but Geni.com another librarian told me about it and she has done a lot of family research with that.  It’s also an open site.  It’s free, so Ancestry does cost money, but Geni.com is free.  So that’s another barrier for Ancestry.  You have to do monthly or yearly fee for it.

There is also Facebook genealogical groups that people are members of.  There is also an old school message boards for different surnames that you can join.  So people with your surname or if you are doing research for someone in your family that surname you can join the message board.  Also YouTube has videos.

Lauren:  YouTube?

Adrienne:  Yeah, so there is like videos and like how to conduct your family, like I just did a research and I found a bunch of stuff and people like it and it has a lot of views.  So you can also use YouTube to do your research to know how to do your research rather, if you don’t come to a librarian, you can go to YouTube.

Lauren:  You mentioned a while back just like the patience involved.  I think that that’s sort of preventing me from starting on any kind of journey like this, because just the scariness of the sheer amount of research all of this requires, do you have any tips for beginners like kind of where to start, what kind of resources probably the first go to?

Carol:  I would say the first is the census records and it does take tenacity and will power to stick through it.  But when you find something out that’s so gratifying, it makes it so worth it.  So census, I’ll give you a little family story and how I solved and how difficult and time-consuming it can be to solve it.  So my mother always told me when she was little, she would visit her grandmother, so my great maternal great grandmother, and in her room she had a picture of a really pretty young girl that she would look at and cry.

And it was her niece who she loved very much and she had passed away in the flu pandemic in 1918 and she would get teary-eyed every time she looked at this picture.  So I was, “What’s her name?” I just lost the history.  She doesn’t even know where the picture is.  And so I was like always curious about what her name was, and my great grandmother loved her and everything.  So I started with census records.  And it is just excruciating.

My great grandmother's name was Laura Hollenbaugh who was born in 1875 and she married a McDorman [Ph] [00:21:47].  So Laura Hollenbaugh was one of like eight kids which was really common.  In Pennsylvania you have eight or nine kids and it’s a real problem when these things come through the woman, and to follow census records through the woman because of all the name changes.

So I wanted to find out who this relative who died in the flu pandemic was, and I know that it’s my great grandmother's niece.  So I go through my great grandmother all her brothers who carry that last name and I go through all the census records, and then some of them are -- 1900 is a mess because of a fire, and da, da, da, da, da, and you just have to like stick with it.  The handwritings faint and light and messy, but it didn’t appear it could have been any of the brothers.

None of them had a daughter that would have been the right age around 1918.  So then I had to go to the women, her sisters and you start going through and – but I hit pay dirt, Mable Ployer.  She was actually 40 in 1918 and I saw her church death record, the actual death record signed by the doctor.  She reported feeling ill on October 1st, 1918, and so she died on October 9th.  All the church records for October and November influenza, influenza, influenza and it was Mable Ployer.

She was my great grandmother’s niece, but they were peers.  They were like the same age because she was the daughter of my great grandmother’s older sister who was like 18 years older than my great grandmother.  So I know her name, but I know I need the picture.  I need that picture.

Adrienne:  I would say talk to family members to get names from your oldest family members, so your grandparents or great aunt or someone that is, that might have the memory of someone that was older than them.  So like my grandmother, her grandmother, like so you can go back as far as you can and get family names.  I think that’s a good way to start.  And then I would say then I would look in the census once I have the names and like have the rough dates and locations, like places, because when you look up census, you need to know the dates, you need to know roughly the area or the state where they were from.  So I think that’s important to get oral histories from older people.

David:  So presumable assemble as much information possible…

Adrienne:  Exactly, exactly, I think that’s so important to get that first.

Lauren:  Yeah.  When you do a search in any of these databases and they have their charts to fill out; fill out as much as you possibly can, because then – otherwise you will be getting hits of just tons of non-applicable data.

Adrienne:  Right.  And you can also -- they spell things differently in the census records.  Sometimes it was like a neighbor – it looked like the person wasn’t there.  The neighbor is like, oh, that’s so and so and so like the names, the spellings can be off even the years can be off.  For me the race could be off because when I look to like some – the one year my family was Mulatto, then they were black, then they were Mulatto.

So it’s really like – it’s kind of tricky even when you have the census data.  So I would say start with oral history from your family and get the names, get the dates, get the places, and also vital records after you have the information.  The birth records, the marriage, death certificates, census, use the library.  And also be prepared for the emotional reaction because you may not have one, but someone in your family may have one about something you discover.

So just be aware of that.  Not everyone is excited.  So just be aware of that.  Not everyone will have the same excitement you have or the same curiosity.  They may say you don’t want to know that or I don’t want to know that.  So just be prepared for that too because I think that’s something I wasn’t really prepared for when I did the research.

Lauren:  Do you have any examples or any stories?

Adrienne:  Sure.

Lauren:  That you would be willing to share it or…?

Adrienne:  No, my father, so I mentioned my father not knowing his birth family.  I actually found his maternal, his mom and her family and he was kind of like curious but then said he didn’t want to know, but then he found out and it was just so much – there are so many different emotions and she actually passed right before we found the family and ironically I was able to find the family based on obituary.

So I had been doing research for a long time and just couldn’t quite connect all the dots and then I found her obituary and she passed away in 2015 and then I found like all the family names and part of her story, most of her story and then I was able to find her living relatives through Facebook.  My brother did and so we were contacting people and we got some really interesting responses from some of our family.

They were – there was one person who was barely – didn’t want to talk to us and then there was one person who was so wonderful and he is the one that connected us with everyone else.  So we got some different, some pushback, what’s your aim, why are you contacting us, so, yeah, you just have to be careful with that, but it turned out they are really lovely people.

Carol:  So my story is my rocking chair I have in my house now, my little rocking chair that I got many years ago when I just needed stuff to fill a place in my – this had been in my parent’s basement just kind of, I mean, not treated mean or anything, but it was just sitting in the basement and I was like, oh, I’ll take that and it was this little rocking chair covered in, a trillion tons of paint.

Any my father was hesitating.  He was like, “Well, yeah, okay, but…” And I think I had heard the story before.  It belonged to his great, great grandmother, my third great grandmother Sarah Bush and Sarah was – lived in Northeastern Pennsylvania like Schuylkill County, and she would rock in the rocking chair and wait and worry for her husband to come home from the Civil War.  It was her worry rocking chair and he never did.

He died at Gettysburg.  Benjamin Bush died at Gettysburg.  I was like, oh, that’s sad.  But I took the chair and we like sanded all the layers of paint off of it and refinished it, and it’s really more decorative.  I don’t really want to challenge it by sitting in it.  It’s just to look at, put a stuffed animal on.  But I would always go to Gettysburg like in the ‘80s and early ‘90s before all of this, and we tried to use the research tools they had at the time because suppose Benjamin Bush was buried at Gettysburg and we just came up and did nothing, nothing, nothing.

So I joined Ancestry.  So I start plugging in everything I know about Sarah Bush, her rough dates of birth and the family, and I start plugging it in and you start going up the family trees and I see that Sarah Bush was married to Benjamin Bush.  Sarah Bush died in 1914; she was born in 1816.  Benjamin Bush died in 1911, but they are buried together in Art Cemetery in Hegins, PA.  And I'm like, oh, I thought he was buried at Gettysburg.

Now you go up the family tree.  Sarah had a first husband Immanuel Moyer who is actually my great, great, great grandfather and he died in 1864 at the Cold Harbor Battle in New Kent County, Virginia and it makes me so sad because no one remembers him.  She was only married to him for like eight years but they had four kids together and then she married Benjamin Bush like in 1867 a couple of years after the Civil War was over and he did die.

So family history kind of had some correct things.  She was waiting for her husband.  She was rocking in the chair, but it was her first husband Immanuel.  He didn’t die at Gettysburg.  He died at Cold Harbor and he – we also didn’t know he was listed in American Civil War Jewish veterans, which was something we never knew or anything.  So I tell all this.  I think this is fascinating.  I think this is awesome.  I'm like, “Hey, it’s not Benjamin Bush.  It’s Immanuel Moyer.  And don’t you know this?”

And my dad was like no, whatever.  And I'm telling my cousins.  They are like, “So?” And I'm like, “Doesn’t this mean I figured this out?  I figured this out.  This person is who you are related to.” And they are like, “Yeah, whatever.”

Lauren:  They don’t want their family legends.

Carol:  I’ve done all of this work for them.

David:  But it was rewarding for you.

Carol:  Yeah, totally gratifying.  The picture would just be like, ‘oh my gosh!’ So now you talked about history in a way weaving history with this research.  So now I'm like all about the Cold Harbor Battle, the Overland Campaign, we went down to New Kent County.  It’s very close to Williamsburg and I went into the Resource Center there and I'm showing the man who worked there, I'm showing him the park range or whatnot, see, he died June 21, 1864.

He was like, “Well, that’s wrong.  That’s impossible.” But I'm showing him the actual military record on my phone.  He was like, “No, because this battle ended June 10th.” I'm like, “Well, this says June 21.” And also the family story was that it was kind of mean.  They said, “Oh, yeah, he was on picket duty and he stuck his head out and got himself shot like it’s his fault.” Like give him a break.  Blame the victim.

But he had just been promoted to sergeant a week before and then – so the man at the station started doing some looking into his computer.  He was like, “What do you know?  You learn something every day.” And he found out there was skirmishing.  Some people had to stay behind and there were little outbreaks of rebellion and he like even made it through Cold Harbor Battle proper, but in the skirmishing, he was shot like in little rebellions like a couple of weeks later.  It makes me really sad.

Lauren:  So are there some groups of people that’s easier to find out information about than others, because if you’ve lived in the same place forever and ever and ever and you’ve got county records that go back forever and ever and ever, that’s one thing.  But if your ancestors came from another country, there are some special challenges if your ancestors came over in a slave boat, so there are some special challenges.  Do you know any research strategies for people that are kind of running up against it, because they don’t fit the common mold of people doing genealogical research?

Adrienne:  Yeah, definitely.  As someone who is African-American, so my descendance, in any descendance, even if you are in like the Caribbean or South America descendance of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade have a lot of difficulty due to slavery and we talked about that a little bit earlier that in the US it’s specific to the year 1790 to 1860, which was right before the Civil War.  An awesome resource.  Actually there is a PowerPoint from the national archives that has a guide to doing research for African-Americans, which is awesome, I’ve used it. 

And we can link to it in the show notes because I can send it and make it available to everyone.  So it says and I'm going to quote it, it says, "Some aspects of African-Americans in the census differs from that of other groups, particularly before 1870.  This is due to the enslaved status of the majority of the black population, and the legal marginalization of those who are free prior to the 1870 census.  Even after 1870, the census often undercounted the black population."

So it talks also about after 1870, so after the Civil War, this is – it’s the first time a list of all the African-Americans by name is provided, and it’s the first official record for a lot of families and the surnames in there usually, of former slaves, from their slave owners, and that’s the case for my family.  So I was able to do research on my dad’s side back to 1870 and that census is when I first see the last name, the family last name and it’s actually mills not miles.

So it was pretty interesting.  And then problems for all groups, so there might be hard for all eight groups if you have the wrong ages, if you use Geni.com or Ancestry.com, someone else might have done research, but it was incorrect and then you are using that research to do your own research, so then it just keeps going and going.

Lauren:  So you have to take it with…

Adrienne:  Exactly and mistyped names, the wrong ancestor, so you just have to be really careful and really – some of them might not be accurate but you just keep doing your research and try to connect the dots and you would see what makes sense and what – how does the story, how is the story really told and find out.

David:  Well, you both regaled us with some great stories.  Let me ask you about all the research and all the wonderful things you’ve come up with.  What’s the most interesting thing that you found out doing genealogical research?  Let me start with you, Carol?

Carol:  I uncovered a murder February 1922.  Everyone has that – if you look long enough, the things you find, so this was – I found this through Ancestry where in certain family trees, they’ve posted these articles, so apparently in 1922 my paternal grandfather’s cousin Lloyd Smith shot his father John Smith who owned a dairy farm outside of Harrisburg.  So that was the story.  That’s what he was tried for murdering his father.

His defense was that it wasn’t him, auto bandits did it.  So Harrisburg put him on trial and it was a fairly big sensation in Harrisburg.  The newspapers talk about like 200 people being – coming to watch the courtroom trials or whatnot, and I found pictures of the grieving widow with her youngest son, and he was acquitted and the courtroom, the newspaper articles referenced the courtroom erupted in cheers; they were very happy he got off because apparently his father John Elias was some known to be like a jerk or whatnot.  And even his mother was very, very happy he got off.  They hugged and he came back to live on the family farm and he lived until 1966.

David:  We typically close each episode by asking, I guess, what they are currently reading.  So let me ask Adrienne.

Adrienne:  Sure.  What am I reading right now?  When do I have time to read?  So I'm trying to read The Wife by Alafair Burke.  I'm also reading lots of organizational books for home.  I like design books just because I like looking at interior design, but also as a new mom to two and I work full time, I'm super busy, so I'm obsessed with organization.  So there is a couple of – yeah, right, anything to hack my life, so the Modern Organic Home by Natalie Weiss, Mad about the House: How to decorate your home with style by Kate Watson-Smyth and she is a blogger, a British blogger.

Clean My Space: The Secret to Cleaning Better, Faster and Loving Your Home Every Day by Melissa Maker and she is a professional cleaner and she provides her tip and I'm like I want to know.  And then also I'm reading another kind of organizational books for work.  So I'm reading about organization like management, so The Nordstrom Way: The Story of America’s #1 Customer Service Company by Robert Spector.  It’s an older book, but it has a lot of good tenets about good customer service.

And then another book called Under New Management: How Leading Organizations Are Upending Business as Usual by David Burkus.  So I'm obsessed with home and work like making both better, so, yeah.  That’s what I'm reading.

David:  It sounds like you will be organized.

Adrienne:  Yes, hopefully.

David:  Carol?

Carol:  I'm reading Sybil Exposed by Debbie Nathan and I'm reading this.  I had read it a couple of years ago.  So technically I'm rereading it.  We are going to have a nonfiction book club at Olney on October 24.  This is the book we will be discussing.  So it’s by Debbie Nathan and it sort of dissects the whole Sybil explosion.  If you remember in the mid ‘70’s, a book came out Sybil and the woman who had 26 personalities and about her doctor and…

Lauren:  It was a movie too, right?

Carol:  It was a miniseries with Sally Field that won many awards and it was an explosive book and everyone thought they had multi-personalities and they were starting to be diagnosed with the whole little explosion.  Well, Debbie Nathan goes into it and she does the book about Sybil whose real name was Shirley Mason, her doctor, and Flora Schreiber who wrote the book and the psychiatrist was Cornelia Wilbur and how Sybil really probably never had those personalities.

She just wanted to please her psychiatrist who just wanted to be famous and Flora Schreiber just wanted to hit book.  So one thing led to another.  Basically Sybil just had a few problems, but it just exploded into some movement.

Lauren:  It’s kind of true crimey, right.

Carol:  Not true crime, but you can make this stuff up.

Lauren:  Thank you so much Carol and Adrienne for joining us today and sharing your family stories.  Please keep the conversation going by following us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.  Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on the app of podcast app Stitcher or wherever else you get your podcasts.  Also please review and rate us on Apple Podcasts; we'd love to know what you think.  Thank you for listening to our conversation today and see you next time.

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