It’s time for the 2017 National Genealogical Society Conference, Raleigh, NC.

 shelley photo 2017 What do you know about the National Genealogical Society, aka “NGS”? It is time to check out who they are and what they do. It is a membership organization. They have history similar to the Daughter’s of the American Revolution (DAR) and other societies/organizations in America. I am proud to be a member of both of these societies along with a few more. Some of these type of organizations/societies have the option of selecting who their members are and who won’t be members. Yep, I said it. At one time people of color were not allowed to join some of these groups. But I think there has been some efforts to change the imagine and perspective of the societies. For 2017, the annual NGS conference will be held in Raleigh with typically well over 2,000 attendees. Are you coming? If you are I would love to meet you personally. Please call me out and say hello.

Well, I think there is something that will be interesting for genealogists. Not just for the members of NGS but also of the Federal of Genealogical Socities (FGS), Association for Professional Genealogists (APG) etc. I am not including the Midwest African American Genealogy Institute (MAAGI). Their membership is open to all “genealogist/family historicans, etc.” who would like to focus on African American genealogy research. It’s open to whom ever wants to learn. (

If you are in Raleigh join us and hear the panel discussion on African American genealogists and other genealogists. What can NGS do to make sure “all” genealogists feel they are part of their society? As a member and a member who is a person of color really appreciates the opportunity to hear and be part of the discussion. It’s the first dialog that I know of. This is your invite!

The panel will be moderated by the NGS President, Ben Sprattling along with Jan Alpert Conference Chair for 2018 NGS Conference to be held in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Bernice Bennett of the Midwest African American Genealogy Institute (MAAGI) and producer of the Blogtalk Radio show, Research at the National Archives and Beyond, Judy G. Russell, The Legal Genealogists and MAAGI, Shelley Murphy (me), and with MAAGI, and Shannon Christmas of the Christmas Collective and MAAGI.

When does all this happen? It’s Thursday May 11, at 5:15pm. It is called the NGS President’s discussion in Room 306B. I hope the word gets out. I know there are competing things going on, but this is important and I hope folks will attend. It concludes at 6p. Oh, by the way Judy G. Russell will also give a talk on this topic on Friday morning for NGS. Judy’s talk is called the Helen F. M. Leary Distingushed Lecture Sponsored by the BCG Education Fund, “Rainbows and Kaleidoscopes: Inclusion as a Professional and Personal Genealogical Standard”, Ballroom C, F307 I believe at 8 or 8:30am. We just need to be there and support this effort. 

Remember, its not just about African American Genealogists, it’s all American Genealogists. I love that we come in all sizes, colors, sexual preferences, religions, national origins, and more. Come one, come all. It’s time to talk!  #NGS2017GEN


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Connections are everywhere!

I enjoy meeting people and attending fabulous events in a community, especially in the Charlottesville community. It is rich with history and it tells its own story everyday. Annually there is the Virginia Festival of the Book ( It is a huge attraction for the local community. Folks come from other states to attend this event. As a genealogist for over 30 years I have had several encounters with others with common interests. It never fails, the ancestors are alway making connections for us. I listen for the whispers and they have never failed me yet. This is a sneak peak of my day at the book fest. You never know when you are going to meet people who might share a common history or even be a distance cousin.

First, I attended a session where my newly found distance cousin, Rachel was the moderator and she did a fabulous job. How Rachel and I met will be another blog, so stay tuned to hear about our 8 hour Panera adventure!  Rachel engaged with the two authors and the audience enjoyed every minute of it. The next venue was at the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center ( It was amazing and thought provoking. I didn’t take any photos because I didn’t think I could especially after tuning in to Legacy family tree webinars and listening to Judy G. Russell, the Legal Genealogist ( educate us on photos, etc.

The photos were of areas around the country that were part of the Underground Railroad. The exhibit also included a map, so as you looked at a photo and if you were not aware of the location, say in Michigan or Indiana, you could look at the map (it was an old map, where there was no West VA or Kentucky, it still showed all of Virginia, at this time, I believe it was 1839). There were other people in the room all chatting and one lady heard me say something about Frederick, Maryland and Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. I was standing at the map. I shared that I was in Chambersburg last year presenting and also had been contacted regarding the Black Memonites  (Throckmorton’s). I wrote a blog on the Bible coming home (

Moving forward, I shared about my Davis’s (Free colored family) sold their 11 acres in PA in 1858  and moved to Medina County, Ohio. Then when the 1862 Homestead Act opened up, in 1863, they sold their 25 acres in Ohio and migrated further north to Michigan. William and Mildred (Brand) Davis were the first family of color to homestead in Benzie County, Michigan that I have found evidence of. Then another gentleman says my wife is from that area, have you heard about the lady who died or froze in Crystal Lake, I had heard of this story, but then he says it’s his wife’s family the Oliver’s were out of Frankfort. What? I know the Oliver family, in the village of Frankfort I asked? he said yes. I said I know that Joseph Oliver was the first white settler in the town of Frankfort. Now his wife has entered the conversation, they said what? I said one of my distance cousin’s father is one of my Davis’s, and he had two children by a Oliver. So now the interest has peaked all of us. We were in conversations in familiar territory. We never know where a connection or a cousin is going to show up. It can happened anywhere and anytime and I love it! As a young girl, we spent our summers on the homestead properties in Benzie and Manistee County. The husband was also familiar with Manistee County where my Marsh/Goings line was the first folks of color to homestead there as well. Manistee is a neighboring county.

The wife had not heard the story about Joseph Oliver, well I pull out my iPhone and of course pulled some information up. Since she didn’t know of Joseph Oliver, I suggested that it was maybe a generation or two back and there needs to be some more research done. I am not aware of any other Oliver’s in Frankfort and maybe there are two Oliver families. But I know this Joseph Oliver is celebrated every year. (, see the third paragraph mention Joseph Oliver). The husband said you are my wife’s cousin, LOL, well, we are somewhere distantly  related.

We chatted and exchanged names and contact information. They live with 40 minutes of where I currently live in Virginia, so I suspect and hope that we will meet again to further the conversations. I contacted my Oliver/Davis cousin on Facebook to let her know I made this connection. This is what I love about genealogy and the research we do. We know the communities we research, we know surnames and have stories to share. All of this happened while viewing a map.

A typical day in the life and time of a genealogist. What has happened to you recently?

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Witnesses-what do you do?

bullying in the workplace

I recently presented on the witness’s perspective of bullying in the workplace at a conference at Shippensburg University, PA. The National Workplace Bullying Coalition hosted the event called “#Dignity15, Restoring and Protecting Dignity at Work: Addressing Discrimination, Harassment, and Bullying in the Workplace.!2015-conference/cwmr (I am front row, sitting, first on the left)

The conference was successful, they recorded all of the presentations and they will be put up on the Workplace Bullying Coalition’s website. The presentation I presented was from my study  conducted in 2013, ( . I referenced that in some cases the witnesses impacts were worst than the actual victims and the health aspects are unreal but believeable. Some will find that hard to believe, but I truly understand and have seen this myself. People think how can you watch and not do anything when a supervisor is slamming your co-worker via humiliation, yelling, cursing, could be throwing…

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Who should we really be talking about regarding the Slave Trade?

This will be short and sweet. I am asking those of you who conduct African and African American slave research a couple of questions.

Question 1: Is there a country that did not involved themselves in the slave trade?

Question 2: Should our conversations really be about the Dutch?

On my ride home I tuned in to one of my favorite podcasts, which is Ben Franklin’s World. I knew a bit about the Dutch and their involvement, but not as much as I really should know. Check this one out:

This will probably be my next book purchase by Wim Klooster, who is a Professor at Clark University:


As usual your comments are welcome!

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rootstech: Check your Spiritual DNA

This is really special…sharing your insight and experience attending Rootstech 2017. Yes, as R Waters Calloway says, Check your Spirit DNA. We hear the whispers, now it is time for us, the descendants to share their stories. Enjoyed seeing you R Waters Calloway and proud to reblog your post. #Peace

Working My Lines

sml_workingmylines-computer reporting from #ROOTStech2017

Woke up on the 3rd Day of #ROOTStech conferencing, WHIPPED from all of the frenzy of information as the Salt Lake Palace Convention Center is huge, boasting “515,000 square feet (47,800 m2) of exhibit space, 164,000 square feet (15,200 m2) of meeting space including a 45,000-square-foot (4,200 m2) grand ballroom, and 66 meeting rooms.”* There were tens of thousands in attendance, over 200 sessions to choose from an Innovator Summit in tow and the most concise Genealogy EXPO one can attend in field knowledge, industry and education planting supple training grounds– whew Salt Lake City breeds Genealogy and Ancestor research.

My head says stay guided, so after my morning meditations, I turn on the television looking for Gospel programming and as loud as day, this message broadcasts:

“Your spiritual bloodline will always overpower your natural bloodline”

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Horses have names!

My 3rd great grandfather is Lawson Goings/Goins/Goens. He was born in Loudoun County, Virginia in 1807 to Joseph and Nancy (Windsor) Goings. Lawson died 12 July 1874 in Clarke County, Virginia. He and his wife Sarah (Hart) lived and raised their children in Jefferson County, Virginia, now West Virginia. Per the various census they lived in Kabletown and Kearneysville towns. Lawson was a farmer and worked as a boatman. The Goen’s were a free family of color with some arriving in Jefferson County, Virginia around 1810. Lawson is the grandson of Luke Goings out of Loudoun County, VA.

lawson goens obit reprint 1944                                              Lawson Goins Obit, Jefferson Spirit newspaper, 1942

Where Lawson worked for 30 years-this silky cloth flyer was stuck in the Goens/Goins bible.

shannondale springs flyer

Based on the deed shared below, Lawson was selling his farm equipment and farm animals. This makes me smile knowing the names of my 3rd great grandfather horses. I  plan to do something for my great niece and nephew in Austin so they know their 5th great grandpa’s horses and farm equipment. They are the perfect age for something like this. I feel I can visualize Grandpa Lawson talking and feeding the animals. I did a little surfing and pulled some random photos of horses and equipment from the internet and placed their names per the deed. Consider this my silly act of the day, but I really enjoyed knowing the names of these animals and attaching photos to them. If there weren’t names, I probably wouldn’t think twice of what was in the deed besides the usual names and locations. So far no photos have surfaced of Lawson. I transcribed the deed word for word. (The deed would’t show up, so I am using the transcribed version)

This Deed made the first day of September 1871 between Lawson Goins of the one part and Robert W. Baylor trustee of the other. Witnessed that the said Lawson Goins does grant, convey and assign to the said Robert W. Baylor and his fine herd of work horses: one gray horse about ten years old called Charley, one Bay horse Tom, about eleven years old, one brown mare called Gise about four years old and one dark bay mare called May, about seven years old, and one bright bay mare called Kit, and suckley colt, one four horse wagon and bed, harness for four horses, two cows and calves, farming implement viz. Two bar shear ploughs and four double and two single shovels, two large harrows, set of blacksmith tools, bellow, anvil and also his interest in a lease from John M. Coyle of a lot of about twenty acres of land adjoining the lands of Balshaugh Washington and others which is in the course of preparation for a wheat crop, the interest of said Lawson in said Lease being a half of all grown raised on same.

To have due at ten days with interest, also to secure the payment of a note of said Lawson, with said John M. Coyle as security for seventy seven dollars, given about the 31st day of August 1871, and payable twelve months after dates and the said Trustee is hereby authorizes to sell said properly hereby conveyed, where required so to do by said Coyle after the maturity of the note to him, after advertising notice thereof for three weeks in a newspaper published in said County and upon a credit of six months to rise bond and security and after paying a commission of five percent on the sales, and the debts herby conveyed said Trustee shall pay over the residue if any to the said Lawson Goins. Witness the following signatures and seals

Lawson Goins x seal September 5, 1871


West Virginia

County of Jefferson, as:

The foregoing instrument dated 1st day of September 1871, was produce in this office by Lawson Goins who acknowledge the same to be his act and dead therefore it was admitted and ordered to be recorded this 5th day September 1871. Tester

James D. Jayman, recorder

Enjoy the photos:

charley-gray-horse A Charley  suckly-colt  A Suckley Colt

brown-mare-gise  A Brown mare-Gise


dark bay May.jpg A dark bay – May

two-cows-and-calves                                                                      Cows and Calves

bright-bay-kit  A Bright Bay – Kit

two-cows-and-calvesCows and Calves

I had to look up some of the farm equipment:

four horse wagon.jpg A four horse wagon


Two bar shear plough two bar shear ploughs.jpg

You get my point. So my goal will be to come up with some form of a photo with a little story about Lawson Goens for his descendants.


familytreegirl ~

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SO WHAT Mr. Luke Goins-I have your Certificate of Freedom, now what?

It’s difficult if you don’t know the laws of the area you are researching when conducting genealogical research. At the Midwest African American Genealogy Institute (MAAGI) instructor Judy G. Russell (aka the Legal Genealogist) walks students through the public law and laws around slavery in Track 1. It doesn’t matter what race you are researching, you need to know the laws of the time you are researching. It would seem that each time a law went into place a document would be generated. The Commonwealth of Virginia has been interesting as I use the Black Laws of Virginia (June Purcell Guild) to follow one law linking to my own ancestry. Luke Goin is my 5th great grandfather and was living in Loudoun Co. Virginia.

First, let’s look at the law and figure out what we are dealing with.

The law taken from June Purcell Guild’s book the Black Laws of Virginia Chapter V “Free Persons of Color and Slaves, pg. 95 says:

 1793 Chapter 22. Free Negroes or mulattoes shall be registered and numbered in a book to be kept by the town clerk, which shall specify age, name, color, status and by whom, and in what court emancipated. Annually the Negro shall be delivered a copy for twenty-five cents. A penalty is fixed for employing a Negro without a certificate; the Negro may be committed to jail. Every free Negro shall once in every three years obtain a new certificate.

Breaking the law down so I can understand it. Here is what I see in the law and what I need to know about it:

  Questions, thoughts…
1793, Chapter 22 It’s after the revolutionary war, but need to know what was going on in Loudoun Co. Virginia during this time, what events where going on. Is there history as to why this law was put on the books? This certificate is dated 1795; two years after the law went into place, why two years later and not immediately. I will write the clerk or one of my genealogy buddies who does a lot of early Virginia research and ask if I can’t find online.
The law identified who it applied too Free Negroes and Mulattoes. Wonder if this also applied to Native Americans, did they have to register? Goins were believe to be mixed race people.
Explained specific directions Negroes and Mulattoes must be registered and numbered in a book-I need to understand “numbered” what does it mean? Were the individuals or households given a number for tracking or what?
Where the records will be located once they are completed Town Clerk, now I know where to locate the records. This is also telling me since this is a Virginia law when researching Negroes and Mulattoes in any county I will look for these documents.
What information the record should have on it Age, name, color, status, and by whom, who emancipated them. Need to find a certificate that the individual was a slave and then emancipated to compare the information and what leads I can get from them.
How often and costs. So we need to follow the money-the Negro will get a copy by paying .25 annually, so there should be a set of records for this money.
Penalty if Negroes and Mulattoes don’t have a certificate Fixed fee for the employer if their Negroes don’t have a certificate, the Negro will go to jail. Find the list of employers who got a fine, it might have more names. Locate any jail records in case any Goins didn’t have their certificate.
How often do the Negroes and Mulattoes have to have a certificate Every three years they need to get a new certificate. Need to check for a new certificate every three years, Clerk only gave me this one for 1795, is there one for 1798?
Is there anything else to add or what I might need to know? Is the law still on the books? When did it end, what is the total time span for this document to be required. What about the children, say under the age of 18 yrs. Do they have certificates of freedom too?

Now let’s look at the actual Certificate of Freedom for Luke Goin. It is critical to understand what you have when you are gathering documents. You need to analyze the information and understand why it was created. The goal is to question the information that is listed on the document and thinking “SO WHAT” – I have this information, what does it tell me and then ask yourself if it generates more questions and gaps and does it give you leads to more information? The responses will be your next steps in your research, like a “to do” list. Any of the questions or conflicts/gaps will need to be resolved.

This is part of your journey in conducting an “exhaustive search”. SO WHAT is a good tool to help you analyze, question, and break down information. Now this does not necessarily follow any order and yes I might jump around so just bare with me. You are now entering into familytreegirl’s madness of analyzing a record. You never know what you have until you “SO WHAT” a document.


Loudoun County, Virginia Certificate of Freedom for Luke Goin, 23 December 1795

SO WHAT! Questions, questions, etc. Research Plan-what I need to do to document and resolve the questions-
Luke and wife Margaret He is married, wife’s first name, and no maiden name; need to locate a marriage record. Was there a requirement for a bond to be put up for marriage? Also there is no indication as to how long they have been married? Use 30 yrs. to begin with. Also consider that they might not of married in Virginia, could of married in Maryland. Maryland had less requirements, etc. Also check PA, just in case.

Will look for Margaret’s family and more Goins in the area. Note the spelling of Goin, no S, but Jason has an S. Spelling does not count.

The witnesses say they have known them for above 30 years in the neighborhood, does “above” last frost mean more than? This takes me back to 1760s, what other records could the Goin name be on? The record was created in Dec, end of the year, winter time, which also mean to look for any delayed records, need to ask the court house staff about any delayed records. We have a look at who was in the community and who all was related. What about Church, did they attend a church, was there Black churches in the area, or did they all go to one church?

  Based on the document is says “neighborhood”, so it is giving me names of the neighbors. Oh I can document a community, I need to know what else is there.

Make a list of “every” name listed in the document. Get an old map of Loudoun County, check census and vital records and pinpoint where each person lived to located Luke’s household, will have to go forward and research each of the names, also are any of them related to Luke, any working relationships or land transactions?

Jason Goin, brother We have the name of one of Luke’s brothers, so who is his wife and children, how close did they live near Luke’s?

Who are Luke and Jason’s parents? Need to locate other siblings of Luke and Jason. Does Jason have his own Certificate of Freedom, will have to contact the Court House, I only asked for Luke Goin, so now I have more names.

What records will show relationships? -Wills, deeds, vital statistics records, etc.

Need to pull other Certificates of Freedom with Goins surnames, it might show more relationships.

“Always to be free” as well as his brothers and sisters This man, John Littlejohn knows this family…so at least 30 yrs. and above, the Goins have been free. Did they own any land, check for deeds, etc.?

How close was land to Littlejohn’s. Were they next-door neighbors? Locate Littlejohn’s land on map. Also, there are more brothers and sisters, need to locate names, check marriage and death records, etc.

Luke’s son Jason Luke named one of his sons after his brother Jason, will need to establish birthdates in order to keep them straight. There are more than one Jason Goins in the area and one went to Ohio, was it Luke’s brother or his son, or another?

How many Jason Goins are there in Loudoun Co? The son Jason is living with him, will assume Littlejohn since he signed on the document. He was living with him as an apprentice, so what did John Littlejohn do to have apprentice? Did Jason now have a trade?

How many others might of lived with Littlejohn, how close did he live near Luke and Margaret? Was this apprentice a common practice, was a there records/documents labeled as “apprentice”?

Spelling It doesn’t count in genealogy, just keep track; Goin, Goen, Goens, Goins, Goings, Gowin, Gowins, etc.

The Luke Goin certificate is basically a paragraph. But look how much and how many questions rose out of this one document. There is much more to do regarding the information listed in the documents. It seems as though I am just getting started learning about a community in Loudoun County, Virginia.

Now what is really interesting is that you can hand the document to another researcher and they probably will add to your list with additional questions or leads for you to follow. I hope this helps you along your research path. Also, please read page 95 of the Black Laws of Virginia and note the information on page 95. There is more information as to who had to file these certificates and where they are, etc. Look for another blog on how to develop a research plan and deciding which steps to do first. Enjoy!

If you can add to the list, please share by leaving me a comment or email me at


Guild, Jane Purcell. (1996) Black Laws of Virginia. A summary of the Legislative Acts of Virginia concerning Negroes from earliest time to the present. Complied by Karen Hughes White & Joan Peters, Afro-American Historical Association of Fauquier County, Virginia, page 95.

Loudoun County Virginia (12 Dec. 1795) Misc. Papers, Free Blacks, Luke Goin Certificate of Freedom.

SO WHAT! -Developed by Dr. Shelley Murphy June 2013.

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