Sharing family stories…Check out comments by Joyceann, Sarah and Monique….#jefferson county WV. Thanks Sarah for writing this up.

Originally posted on BitterSweet:

By Joyceann Gray, Sarah Brown and Monique Hopkins

Joyceann Gray, Monique Crippen-Hopkins and Sarah Brown are “linked through slavery”. Joyceann and Monique’s ancestors were enslaved by Sarah’s ancestors, the Washington family. When Sarah published her most recent post, about her connection with Monique’s family, Joyceann spoke out about her feelings about the piece. The three of them decided that the Facebook dialogue that followed was important, and would be valuable as a post of its own.

Read Joyeann’s blog for her full story:

Read Monique’s blog for her full story:

Joyceann Gray Joyceann Gray

 Joyceann Gray writes:

There are a few who are in a delicate position being a direct descendant of slaveholders and wanting to give what you can of slave history and family connection to descendants of those enslaved by your families. You are in possession of access to all your family papers which affords you a glimpse…

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Daughters of the Republic of Texas sue the Texas General Land Office


Dick Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter is a good one to read. Weekly postings are very informative. Check out this newsletter about the DAR in Texas suing the Texas General Land office.

Originally posted on Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter:

The Daughters of the Republic of Texas sued the state General Land Office, accusing the state agency of “an unlawful attempt” to take some 30,000 books and artifacts at the Alamo that the group says belong to the DRT.

The suit comes shortly after Land Commissioner George P. Bush decided to remove the Daughters as overseers of the Alamo, ending the nonprofit’s 110-year role there.

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Familytreegirl as your Genealogy Coach might be what you need!

Over the years I  have helped numerous individuals and families conduct their family research. Most of them want to do the research themselves and/or just need some help getting started, organize your research,  or dealing with a conflict or challenge. I am the  Genealogy Coach yours truly “familytreegirl”. The only one. I believe coaching continues to be my calling (along with being a teacher). This is not coaching about a business, its about the research. I love providing this service to assist folks in their genealogy research. With my background in organizational management and genealogical research skills it makes a perfect match in helping folks to enhance their research skills. They get the pleasure to experience locating a record and sharing the family history.

I truly believe it is best for anyone doing genealogy research that you must have a plan. It helps keep them focused and organized.  Well for those that have not experienced one of my workshops, you first have to understand what you know about the individual(s) and the communities they lived in. You have read my blogs on SO WHAT principles of record analysis, the importances of setting goals, and having a plan, etc.

It is really important to be able to set your plan of action keeping your goals in your mind. As a Genealogy Coach, I will coach you through your research. If you want to use my service or have questions on how all this works and the costs,  just email me or post a comment. I am professional with high standards, and affordable.

If you are a current genealogist with some dynamic skills and would like to consider the coaching realm as a business contact me. I have a few other coaches coming on board so stay tuned, there might be a Genealogy Coach near you.

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Boatmen-are you part of the escape plan?

Today is Saturday and I have attempted a little research, yeah right! I have a few call for papers to complete and design an “Understanding the Process for the DAR”. But as usual, something else pops in my mind and I have to check it out. I believe this is my ancestors whispering to me. So I need to pay attention. For some reason I was drawn to Jim Surkamp’s website about Jefferson County, West VA. I had not visited in a while and the USCT’s were on my mind. I haven’t located any of my ancestors in the database as of yet and wondered if any of the ones he had listed were connected. My Goens/Goings surnames are worst than my Murphy’s when researching. There are so many of them.

Jim’s site covers numerous histories of Jefferson County, Virginia, now known as Jefferson County, West Virginia (after June 1863). Most do not know of this area, but might have heard of some towns in the county such as Charles Town or Harper’s Ferry, John Brown’s raid, etc. I met Jim a couple of years ago and we chatted about the 1860 Slave census where the count of escaped slaves is 602 noted on the census. Now is it all accurate, who knows, but it is a start of something. My great great great grandfather was Lawson Goens/Goings/Goins, who was born in 1807 in Loudoun, Co. Virginia, and was a boatman for 30 years at the Shannondale Springs Resort.  His parents were Joseph and Nancy (assumed Windsor) Goings. Lawson’s wife is Sarah Hart, they were married about 1830 in a location I have not been able to document yet. We have this wonderful flyer from 1856 noting the resort where Lawson worked:

shannondale springs flyer

The flyer was tucked in Sarah (Hart) Goens/Goings bible. It had no meaning until I located Lawson’s Obit. Lawson passed on 12 July 1874 and the obit was a reprint in the 1944 Jefferson Spirit newspaper in Charles Town, WV. I found it on the newspaper microfilm at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, WV:

lawson goens obit reprint 1944

With the flyer and obit there are a lot of things that can be noted, such as dates, names, and locations. Using the “so what” principles I will be able to analyze the information for some good solid research. Lawson was working for the company at the time the flyer was produced.

Jim has laid out an extremely informative reference using maps. The maps show the location of the escaped slaves. On his website he also mapped the free people of color. Jim Surkamp’s maps are located at:

The value of using a map is unbelievable. You realistically cannot do genealogy research without picking up a map or two. He references my 3x grandfather Goens and wondered if they were cooperative in helping individuals escape slavery. I too wonder. The Goens/Goings were free for as long as I can document them. I am also on the hunt for more information on Joseph and Nancy, since I located a marriage record online that I believe is theirs (1801, Maryland marriage record). Yes, you saw that right, the marriage took place in Maryland, instead of Virginia. It was easier to get married quick in Maryland versus Virginia at this time. This marriage record was located on

Name: Joseph Goings
Spouse: Nancy Windsor
Marriage Date: 30 Jul 1801
County: Frederick
State: MD

Ref: Dodd, Jordan, Liahona Research, comp.. Maryland Marriages, 1667-1899 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA

The boatmen are the logical choice to help escaped slaves along the rivers. One of my mottos for research is “follow the money, the land and the water”. I am not sure how I will plan this research, but I have to have a plan! Jim said that there are only two actual accounts from slaves on the route out of Jefferson County. So there is obviously more work to do on this topic since the census is noting 602 escapees.

What are you thoughts on the research? Where would you begin to locate information on 602 escaped slaves and the “boatmen” that might of helped? As you know, I have to have a plan in order to guide my research. I am only at the stage of writing down everything I know in a timeline format and from there I go…

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DISCOVERY: Slave Name Roll Project


Do you really have a brick wall prior to 1870 when researching African American ancestry? It is good to analyze if you are the one putting up the wall or is it really the records and resources. Being able to step outside the box and view things a little differently will help. Analyzing records is key. It is important to understand the records-asking why was it created, when was it created, know the laws in place when records were created. Judy Russell, the Legal Genealogist does an excellent job providing tips and examples of how important it is to know the law. (
The blog, DISCOVERY: Slave Name Roll Project I am sharing is one to follow. Read her past blogs and gain some tips and steps on breaking down those slave research walls. Share your findings!

Originally posted on Daughter of Slave Ancestry:

The 1870 brick wall is no less surmountable in cyberspace than it is in the analog archives of today’s courthouses. Court records from times past divulge varieties of slave/slaveholder relationships. Knowing the records exist is not the same as locating and examining them for myself. I do realize this problem is not exclusive to African Americans. But the fact still remains that it is more difficult due to the fact that my enslaved ancestors were considered chattel property; and, prior to 1870, they had no surnames. And even their given names are inconsistently recorded in the census records that followed.

Brick_Wall_Refocus copy
Some have managed to scramble over their brick walls — only to find . . . yet another. Then what do we do? We dust ourselves off and rescale to the other side to devise another way.

Insurmountable? Maybe. Impenetrable? Not if Cathy Meder-Dempsey and Schalene Jennings Dagutis have anything…

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DAR in Norwalk Makes History with 1st African-American Regent Autier Allen-Craft


Wonderful article. You can see the changing face of the DAR. Congrats to all of the Daughters. I am a proud daughter of the Jack Jouett Chapter. It just goes to show you somethings just take time. We are not our grandmothers chapters. If anyone has questions about becoming a member, benefits and the research feel free to ask. You can also visit the official DAR webpage at

Originally posted on GOOD BLACK NEWS:

NORWALK, Conn. — Autier Allen-Craft, the first African-American member of the Daughters of the American Revolution in Connecticut, was inducted last week as regent of Norwalk-Village Green Chapter, according to a statement from the group.

“There are many African-American women who are not aware that they have Patriot ancestors,” Allen-Craft said. “An estimated 5,000 black soldiers fought on the patriot side during the Revolutionary War. Their female ancestors are entitled to become members of the CTDAR. My goal is to assist African-Americans, as well as any other resident of Norwalk who believes she is a descendant, become a member.”

As the new regent, Allen-Craft said she is looking forward to growing the chapter’s membership.

“Our registrar will help compile the research material and submit the required paperwork needed to become members of the Norwalk-Village Green Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. We welcome all inquiries.”


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Looking for John Albert Sewell, b. 1880 in Oklahoma.

john albert sewell ww1 reg card  I need to work a little on John Albert Sewell. I need to review my timeline and build a sound research plan. As a genealogist it is important to set your goals for your research and work through a logical process to resolve any issues. As I determined what I know about John Albert, I log everything into a simple timeline. A timeline will include everything I know about John, his family, his community, etc., in date order. Next I need to set a goal to keep me focused, if not I could go all over the place. My goal is to locate John Albert Sewell in the 1880 and 1900 census. Also, determine if he was married “before” he married Ethel “Irene” Giles, daughter of Henry and Nellie (b. 1868 Greenville County, TN, maiden name is McCorke, 1st marriage surname: Murphy) Giles. Lastly, locate a death record for John.

So let’s outline what I know first. Mr. John Albert Sewell, so far it appears you were born 28 June 1880 in Oklahoma per your WW1 registration record and census. His parents names are Fred and Jemimah Sewell. Let’s look at a draft timeline to help determine what my research plan will be:

  • 1880 born in Oklahoma
  • 1900 Fed Census-unknown at this time
  • 1903 located a marriage record between a John Sewell b. 1880, age 23, to Arinda Garrett  age 30, in Pittsburg, County, Ok.  John Sewell & Arinda Garrett
  • 1910 Fed Census I located a John Sewell living in Cameron, Le Flore, Ok with a Arch Sewell, noted as a brother.
  • 1917 WW 1 registration record
  • 1918  marriage record between John Albert Sewell and Irene Giles, IA
  • 1920 Fed Census, John and wife Irene living in Des Moines, IA
  • 1925 State of Kansas census Kansas City, Wyandotte County.
  • 1930 Fed Census Irene (Giles) now married to Clive Doty, children are in the household-based on ages, etc.
  • 1940 unknown at this time

When I review the timeline the gaps, conflicts, and questions arise. I like to break the research plan into little tasks, then review what I obtained, then reassess what the next steps will be. You always want to determine if you are researching the right individuals, so you need to analyze each record and using the “Murphy’s So what & What’s next” principles. Here is a draft of the beginning of a research plan with a few tasks to research and resolved:

  • Get an OK county map
  • Locate John Sewell in the 1880 census, with parents
  • Locate birth record for John Sewell in Ok
  • Find out if John had a brother named Arch or other siblings.
  • Review John and Irene’s marriage record to see if it says how many times he was married or if this was his first marriage.
  • What’s was going on in Kansas, they lived there in 1925
  • Locate marriage record for Ethel Irene Sewell to Clive Doty, which would of been in 1926 based on the 1930 census.
  • Locate a death record on Arinda (Garrett) Sewell
  • Locate divorce or death record for John A. Sewell between 1925-1930
  • Locate a divorce from Arinda or Irene.
  • Determine if there are any clues on the WW1 registration record

Determine the next steps-what are they?


  1. United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 22 February 2015), John Albert Sewell, 1917-1918; citing Polk County, Iowa, United States, NARA microfilm publication M1509 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,643,347.

2. United States Census, 1910,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 22 February 2015), John Sewell in household of Arch Sewell, Cameron, Le Flore, Oklahoma, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 148, sheet 6B, family 109, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,375,271.

3. United States Census, 1920,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 22 February 2015), John Sewell, Des Moines Ward 1, Polk, Iowa, United States; citing sheet 10B, family 253, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,820,507.

4. Oklahoma, County Marriages, 1890-1995″, index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 22 February 2015).

5. Kansas State Census Collection, 1855-1925 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2009.

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