10 Best Genealogy and History YouTube Channels

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BlackProGen LIVE! Is on Family Tree Magazine’s 10 Best Genealogy and History YouTube Channels.

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Shall Yerger (25 May 1853-22 Jan. 1884)

Learning about the students who attended the University of Virginia (UVA). Author, Jean L. Cooper, gives insight to their life and the life on the grounds of Thomas Jefferson’s university.

Students of the University of Virginia, 1825-1874

Shall Yerger was the son of William Yerger (1816–1872), a lawyer and a judge in Jackson, MS, and his wife, Malvina Hogan (Rucks) Yerger (1819–1914). He grew up in Jackson, and attended the University of Virginia in session 47 (1870-1871). There he studied Mathematics, History and Literature, and Modern Languages. In the later years of his life, Shall Yerger was appointed Deputy Sheriff of Bolivar County, Mississippi. He never married.

Yerger had suffered from “chronic gastritis” throughout his life, and that is what caused his death in Bolivar County in 1884. After his death, his remains were buried beside those of his father in Greenwood Cemetery, Jackson, MS.


  • “The Death of Shall Yerger.” The weekly Copiahan. [volume] (Hazlehurst, Copiah County, Miss.), 02 Feb. 1884. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/2018270504/1884-02-02/ed-1/seq-3/
  • “Personals.” Memphis daily appeal. (Memphis, Tenn.), 29 Jan. 1884. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers…

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“African American Genealogy Challenges” Part 1

I am challenged everyday on how I conduct my genealogical research. It doesn’t matter if I am doing African American or European ancestry  -challenges are expected and welcomed. There are so many myths that cause more challenges, such as all enslaved individuals took the slaver owner’s name. This is not true. Per Family Search only about 15% took the slave holder’s name.  Here are some common challenges that I have faced over the last 25 yrs. This is not an exhaustive list.

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If you do not understand the “slavery system”, the system will fight you all the way and you will have more challenges than you need to have. This will require you to read, listen, read more, and attend as many talks/lectures as you can.

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This is where you begin. “Ask yourself questions”. Just because you find something in a book or online, doesn’t mean it is a fact or truth that is relevant today. Some resources that are found 10 years ago, might not be valid anymore because a year ago, another record became available. This is critical to your success. It does not matter who the author is or what institution who shares the information. There could always be another source that pops up.

I researched my Davis line for over 20 years and the first born son, Joseph Brand Davis turns out is not Davis, son of William Davis. I was able to locate a record of a lawsuit that specifically says, he was illegitimate, meaning he is not William Davis’s son. You have to make serious and committed attempts to “exhaust” the records and resources available.

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Set some goals, don’t make them big or too many when you are just getting started. Make them workable goals and view them as steps, meaning one step at a time.

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Remember the tips…they will get you further than anything else. There is no magic to conducting genealogical research.

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Genealogy research cannot be done all online! If you do all your research online, you will never be done and never know what is accurate or not. Do not take others research as being the end all. Researchers are human and we can make mistakes. Conduct the research yourself. Resolve your issues and challenges.

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Don’t believe everything you have been told, even if it was from your grandmother. Oral history is a valuable tool to have and to use. But over the years a story can vary and by the time it gets down to you, it could be a totally different story from the original. It might also mean that the full story wasn’t given to grandma and she just repeated what she heard. Pay attention to the “assumptions”. Work through the questions and stories and try to resolve any challenges that you are confronted with.


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Black Family Research: Records of Post-Civil War Federal Agencies at the National Archives

See the post from Leslie Anderson sharing good information on Black Family Research. Free to download.

1st U.S. Colored Cavalry

This 32-page guide by Reginald Washington (now retired from the National Archives)
is a must. It’s free. Just click on the image and download it.

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Finding Enslaved Laborers at UVA Descendants…

Sharing information about my new job. Join me in reading the articles and feel free to share. It will take a community to build this project. The President’s Commission on Slavery at the University (University of Virginia, Charlottesville) has designed a memorial to the enslaved laborers who helped to build the University. The memorial will be viewed by only the descendants in the Fall of 2019. A public opening will be in the Spring 2020.

We are looking for descendants of the enslaved workers. If you think you had ancestors who lived near or around the University of Virginia (Charlottesville area including the counties of Albemarle, Greene, Fluvanna, Louisa, Nelson, etc.) There might be a chance you will connect. Watch for names/surnames and other information on the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Finding-the-Enslaved-Laborers-at-UVA-960038024340461/). If you have any questions, please post or contact us at enslavedlaborersuva@gmail.com

Here are some links to help you get familiar with the project:






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William C. Murphy: is it two or three wives?

I have written about my paternal grandfather a few times. But this one has my mind boggled. So let’s walk through a bit of a timeline to see what I have.  I know I have to do the SO WHAT thing of analyzing and questioning the information that gets presented to me. My goal is to determine how many times William Columbus Murphy was married.  Its seems like everytime I receive new information more conflicts and issues come with it.



First, his father is William Michael Murphy and the information came from William Columbus’s social security application:

William C. Murphy SSA

The SSA document is the first I saw what my great grandfather’s name was; William Michael Murphy.  Now this is interesting because William C’s first born son is William Jr, his first son is also William and second son is Michael. Okay I can go with that pattern. Mom told me years ago there were five Williams in the line. The application for a social security number is dated May 27, 1937 (this seems to be correct, but I also located recently a city directory for them still living in Ft. Wayne in 1942, and he is in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Is there two William’s and 2 Viola’s?  If you will note where he says he is born, well I am not sure where that comes from because there is no such place as Halifax, Iowa. I searched the state and county where William Columbus was with his mother, Nellie (McCorkle), and her second husband Henry Giles.  I even contacted the state regarding ghost towns named Halifax. No such place they tell me.  Now Nellie (great grandmother) was born in Greene County, Tennessee to Rose (Henry) and John McCorkle.  Nellie’s second marriage occurred in 1896 (to Giles) in Bell County, Kentucky.  I was able to track Nellie, Henry and her son William C.,  along with William C’s  half siblings to Fulton County, Illinois.  Henry Giles was the husband of second marriage and my grandfather, who is age 14 in the 1900 census were both listed as coal miners.  So this is after they married in Bell Co. Kentucky, had Johnny in 1896 and Ethel Irene in 1899, both born in Bell Co.  William C. always claimed on various records that he was born in Canton, Illinois.  It’s on his military documents, etc. So where Halifax Iowa came from I do not know. But he did live in Des Moines. I have not been able to validate where he was in between 1910-1920,  and then he shows up in Indiana.  Just because he said he was born in Iowa or Illinois, does not make it true.  He has Illinois on his military registrations. I have not been able to track Nellie and William Michael anywhere in the USA as a couple to be my great grandparents.  Sometimes I wonder if he was a real person and really alive to father a son named William C.  One thing to note when Nellie married Henry Giles, she married as Nellie Murphy! (geez). Listed below is his WW1 draft registration, he was living in Ft. Wayne, Indiana and single in 1917. So he is arriving around the same time the Cureton’s from Loudon Co. Tennessee.

william murphy ww1 registration

Now William Columbus and Viola (Cureton) married on 19 June 1920, in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.  The application for marriage is where he tells that he was married before and his first wife died in 1911 on the marriage record to Viola B. Cureton. He also says his father was William Michael and he was born in Indian Territory. Darn, in Indian Territory, Murphy is a common name like Smith and Johnson there.

william and viola marriage license 2018-01-25 at 5.35.50 PM

Now the information on the application connects to what my mother Verna shared via oral history.  She says “Granddad” was married before and his wife died in 1911.  She said one evening when they lived next door to my grandparents (William C & Viola) on Henry Street, she and my dad, Calvin were going out to an American Legion activity.  This was in Grand Rapids, Michigan and dad was the Commander of the American Legion.   Granddad fussed at my dad saying, “Boy get something on that girl, my first wife died like that”.  This indicated to me and Mom that the first wife might have died from pneumonia or something.  Mom recalls having a sleeveless dress on that night.  The research continues to locate the name of the first wife and where she died.  My mother also mentioned in another chat that she remembers Granddad saying he lived in Chicago and ran with a gang.  (now he did this before become a Baptist preacher in Indiana) Well, I am shocked about this, but you never know about the Murphy’s.  They didn’t talk much about their family, the children did not know their mother’s middle name and they didn’t know their father was married before. I never heard my father speak of a Murphy grandfather.  I have been researching over 30 years now and still have not found my great grandfather William Michael.

I ordered Granddad’s Certification of Military Service years ago:

william c murphy certification army

This certification provides lots of information especially his military number. A few months ago Angela Walton-Raji and I were talking about our grandfathers being in the same units,  but different companies.  We saw that it was the  809th. Here is her blog about her great grandfather:

(http://myancestorsname.blogspot.com/2010/04/ ) William Columbus served in World War 1 and they both went to France.

Angela located a Passenger Ship list and shared it with me.  As you can see William C. Murphy is listed on line #8 and with his military number, which matches his number on the Certification of Service. We did not make the writing on this document.

william c murphy Fold3_Page_680

If you read across the row towards the right where Murphy, William C. is listed it shows his rank as a Sargent and that he served in the 809th Pioneer Infantry (he probably made Sargent quick due to his time in the Illinois militia for three years. I have yet to research the militia time.  I continued to read and saw that it names a “Mary Murphy” as his wife living on Wells Street in Dayton Ohio.  Well– who the hell is this?  We have a wife who died in 1911, and we have no name.  Now we have a Mary Murphy and is his wife – could she be number two living in Ohio.  Now what Murphy’s do we connect to that lived in Ohio?  I did not see this coming and the Passenger Ship List from France was completed in July 1919.  And we have William Columbus marrying Viola Cureton in June 1920, which would be wife number three. Geez!

Now I have to begin with drafting a timeline on William C with what I know and what I question. I also have to deal with the conflicts that are raising their heads. As usual I begin with the things I know and can document. Then I will proceed with a list of what I don’t know, what I am questioning and who or what might have the information. If there are any conflicts I have to figure out how to resolve them. Sometimes when I am stressing a bit about a line, I resort to doing a board, here is the one while searching for William Michael:

william m. murphy challenge map copy

Every time I walk by this board, I write done something to research. If you have any questions or information to help resolve this, please share it. My email is shelleyviola@gmail.com

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Saving Boyd Carter Memorial Cemetery in Kearneysville, West VA

I am so sorry to my ancestors and my heart is broken. A group of folks are trying to help save the cemetery from being disturbed. I feel we are too late, money and dirty tactics will probably win. But, I am still hopeful.  They have swarmed in and around the burial grounds. We are fighting a fight that we might not win, but hoping to bring awareness to all. We are dealing with various individuals and companies that simply “do not care ” about burial grounds. This goes deep and a trail of money follows (Rockwool Inc., Danish Co.)

How I connect to Jefferson County and the cemetery: my second great grandmother is Mary Catherine Goens/Goings/Goins, she was born in 1840 in Jefferson County, Virginia, now West Virginia. Her parents were Lawson Goings (b. 1807, Loudoun Co. Virginia d. 12 July 1874 in Clarke County, Virginia) and Sarah (Hart, b. 1810, d. 1886 in Jefferson Co., WV). We know and have  researched Mary Catherine’s line, but Sarah’s, we have yet to make a true connection to her family. There are many, many Goens in the county of Jefferson. Joseph Goings, Lawson’s father and Nancy, his mother arrived before 1820. William Goens and his wife Harriet (Washington) who are buried in the cemetery, connect to Lawson’s brother, William Alexander. Here is a list of Lawson’s children:

Martha Elizabeth born June 16, 1831, died 1834.
John Francis, born August 4, 1832. He and his wife lived on Mt. Gilliam (now the Burns property in Jefferson County, WV) in a log cabin and he built caskets.
William Alexander born March 4, 1834. Married about 1857 to Martha Johnson, daughter of Kitty. Children born if any are unknown at this time.
Stephen, born Feb 28, 1838. He lived with his brother John and later moved to Pittsburg PA. He died April 4, 1890. He lived with his brother John Francis supposedly on Mt. Gilliam, now known as the Burns property in Jefferson County. He died April 4, 1890. He served in the Civil War and remarried at the age of 65.
Frances Virginia “Fannie,” born December 28, 1837, she married James Douglas Roper. Children are:  Mary Virginia b. 11/7/1860, George William b. 5/13/1864, Martha E. b. 11/10, 1875 and Nancy Clara b. about 1880. Buried in Hartstown, up top next to the St. Paul’s Church.
Mary Catherine born April 18, 1840. Married George Marsh. George Marsh was from the area as well and was found in the in the 1860s federal census with a John Mash, living with the Robinson family. Elijah and Sarah Robinson are also found in District 28, 1850 Federal census. George Marsh was believed to be a slave per oral history, but in the 1860 census there was a find of a George Mash and John W. Marsh, as laborers. Could this be the George Marsh and a brother John Wesley. George and Mary left Jefferson County after the civil war and headed to Manistee County Michigan, making a stop in Ohio. George and Mary Catherine’s children are: Nancy Ardella b. 1864, Sarah born in OH- (married Henry Davis), Cora born in Manistee Co. Mi, Frank, Warren, Jesse, Clara (married Henry Davis), Hattie, John and Matthew, George. The Marsh family arrived in Manistee Michigan about 1867 and homesteaded 160 acres.
Charles Henry born March 16, 1844, married Louisa Victoria Roper about 1867: children: James Douglas, Rosie, Fanny, Mabel, Florence, Alice Sophy, Eliza, Annie E. Charles and Neva Elrita. They left Jefferson County and relocated to the Maryland area.
Josiah (Joseph) born August 17, 1846, married Lucy Sims, 1869 daughter of Eliza Sims.

Children; Arwilda M b. 1871 (married Howard Hart, who is the son of Mascena & Sarah (Roper) Hart), Lawson 1873, Charles Austin b. 1875, and Lucy b. 1878, Cora, Charlotte birth dates are unknown. (cemetery is in the Hartstown area). Joseph passed in 1915.

Nancy Elizabeth born March 24, 1848. She married Emanuel Johnson around 1868. Children: Eugene b. 1868, Margaret b. 1870, Sophy, 1872, Mary b. 1872, Henry b. 1875, John b. 1878. Emaanuel died before 1880 census. 
Sarah Ann “Sally” born August 9, 1849, married William Henry Roper. Children: Aldridge b. 2/1870, Edwin, Rose, and Sallie. We know Aldridge relocated to Canada, changed his name to Albert Shannon and passed for white. These Ropers are still in the Charles Town area. 
Richard Peyton b. April 28, 1852.



I first saw the cemetery in 1998, a tour was given by my cousin Brian Ross. I have visited over the years and most recently visited April 13th. The Boyd Carter Cemetery -a glimpse by DC Media Group during my recent visit:


On 24 April 2019 this was released, I had no idea-no public hearing, no contact with the family, what the hell is going on?: https://www.apnews.com/482ac9eaa47f4503bf73ecc7ab2c4097

Some of the deceased cousins related to this Goens/Goings line are buried in to the burial grounds known as the Boyd Carter cemetery.  For example, A Ross married a Goens, the Ross’s mother is a McDowell, the McDowell’s connect to the Ferguson’s. Some are free people that descend from slaves, such as the Dandridge family, since they are an earlier land owner of this land. There are serious concerns that are being ignored. I am researching the Ferguson’s line, a prominent line in the cemetery. Now, I know there is a slave owner back there and I intend to find them.

There is the Rockwool, a Danish company that invades lands, even burial grounds, this burial grounds. We have some soldiers who are buried in this cemetery. who served in both world wars and Korea.  Who allows this to happen? Well the local government , some locals, and state government. Yep, just as I do in my research, I say, follow the money, the land, the community, and the faith of the people. Well, what do we have going on here? There was no public hearing for any voices to be heard. Now this is simply not right or fair and not the American way. There are so many local historians & advocates in the area, they know these families. But again, as I am fit to be tied, I have contacted the Governor and others in the state of West Virginia. Not sure what that will do, but had to inform and pray.

If you have any suggests, I am open to hear them. I do not know West Virginia law. Any help would be appreciated. Here is a supportive article on behalf of this terrorist invasion of burial grounds. We know this is not right, they know it is not right. My email is shelleyviola@gmail.com

Here is a list of the burials from the Tombstone book of 1981 by the Beeline DAR Chapter:

boyd carter cemetery wv

There is now 78 identified and another 6 or 7 unmarked only at the back end of the cemetery, Good lawd, how many others are there?

We know there is something wrong here, this is not the first cemetery under attack:


Thank you for reading and sharing a prayer or two,


we were never the problem

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