Archive for the ‘Things I find interesting’ Category

New Genealogy Search Engine for Free Genealogy Content

Friday, March 25th, 2011 will let users search more the 50 billion words, including names, dates and places, within seconds. The service searches thousands of genealogic sites including national and state archives, Ellis Island, message boards used by genealogists and family trees posted online, according to a press release from the company.
“ has the capacity to index every single piece of free genealogy content found anywhere on the Web, and will be growing by leaps and bounds in the coming months,” Shaw said.

I have tested out the claim of indexing free genealogy content, and as of right now I can report that it’s definitely missing some stuff. I run 3 genealogy sites with free content and when searching for something I knew for a fact was on there, it didn’t bring up any of them. I got results from the ancestry message boards, genforum, and findagrave

I will reserve judgment until I see what results come up when they have been around a little longer, but it cannot hurt to check it out.

Your accomplishments will not always be media worthy

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

But they are important none the less

How many times have we, as genealogists, read some abstract article like this one–1455403 on how genealogy helped to connect families?  How many of those times did we say to ourselves “I’ve done that”?

I truly doubt there will ever be an article written on the fact that I have managed to track down descendants of all 7  children born to William Redding Byers, aka Redin, and Elizabeth Banks Byers in the mid 1800’s. Or the fact that I was able to have many of those descendants attend a tombstone dedication for Redin’s CSA stone.  An article was written about THAT, but not about the years I spent finding people to attend it.

I met my husband in 2003, and being the lover of research that I am, I was thrilled to have a new family to research.  When it became apparent that we would be marrying, I began work and with the help of his great uncle Leelan Byers, I got a really good starting place.  I took what he had and started tracking stuff down, proving AND disproving information along the way.  There is no way I could possibly identify the hours that I (and my own mother) spent looking for information.  Libraries, historical societies, cemeteries, old age homes, the internet, newspapers and the telephone were all used as tools, each one invaluable in its own right.

Redin had 7 children: Matilda Jane, Richard Marion, William Redman, Mary Amanda, Reacie Caroline, Thomas Francis and Lula A.  Of those 7, Redman and Amanda moved to Oklahoma and Arkansas. The rest scattered to different parts of Georgia, where the family had moved to in 1867, from South Carolina, where they were all born.

In 2007 I finally tracked down (with help from my mama and Lynn Cunningham) where Redin was buried.  The family kept saying he was surely buried in a church cemetery where other members of the family were buried, but after extensive research, I could find no proof of that.  His death certificate stated he was buried in a cemetery 50 miles to the south.  My husband and I went over every inch of the cemetery at Tanner’s Church in Conley, Ga and couldn’t find him, which meant he was in one of the graves marked only with a rock.

Through the goodwill of the church, we were allowed to pick an area of the cemetery to have his CSA stone, supplied for free by the VA, erected.  I cannot tell you the sense of fulfillment I had the day it was installed, but I can tell you that as good as it was, it didn’t match the day we had the dedication ceremony.

When the church had given its approval for placement, I stepped up finding family in earnest.  My goal was to have at least one descendant for each of his 7 kids at the dedication.  I didn’t meet that goal because of logistics, BUT I did find at least one descendant for each child, the last one coming forth 1 week before the ceremony, so I know they were all there in spirit. I like to think Redin was looking down with joy as he saw so many members of his family there to honor him. The event was covered by the newspaper, those interested can see/read about it here

The years have brought new family ties, new friendships and new revelations. Many of the people I have found had no idea their extended family was so large, and they are more than eager to learn about their ancestors and their living kin. Will I or any of these wonderful people ever have this experience written up for the world to read in a major media outlet?  More than likely not, but you know what?  The internet is a vast expanse of connections and putting it here will probably highlight it in more ways than I can count.

Do you have a story?  Would you like to see it here?  You can contact me at shanifaye @ with what you have written and I will be glad to post it for you. You’ve worked hard for your research results, it should be recognized.

Titanic Survivor’s Death Certificates

Monday, December 13th, 2010

Last night while doing a search for something related to the sinking of the Titanic, I made an interesting discovery.

It seems a man named Phillip Gowan, who has done a lot of research and writing on the passengers of the great ship, has spent time collecting the death certificates of a lot of those that survived the disaster, which for some could be a genealogical gold mine, especially the passengers from other countries.

You can find copies of the certificates here Titanic Death Certificates

Georgia Courthouse Fires

Friday, March 5th, 2010

My mom found this in some documentation she was going thru on our Strickland branch of the family…it was originally printed in the Atlanta Journal on 2/18/1979 and 2/25/1979 by Kenneth Thomas. I had it all typed up and ready to post. I decided before I did, I would check to see if I could find anymore “details” and in doing so, I’ve found someone else has already posted it online, and I would rather direct you to their site, since each county has a link for you to go read the history of the county and details of the fire etc…

So if you’ve ever wondered if the courthouse in the Ga county you need to do research has ever been damaged or destroyed… go here, scroll down the page just a bit and find out!!

Georgia Burned Courthouses

Genealogy Forums

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

How many of you know that using genealogy forums is a great way to look for and share information? Ancestry and Genforum, for example, have thousands and thousands of posts on each of them. I’m sure if you’ve ever googled the name of the person you’re researching you’ve gotten one or two hits pointing you in the direction of a forum/message board. Lots of historical society’s have on one their websites as well.

If you’ve never used one you might consider it, either to read information others have posted, or make your own post. Google crawls these places all the time, so the more places you get your queries posted the more people will find you and possibly be able to help you.

I’ve been running a “general” message board for about 3 years at and a surname specific board (Inman) Ancestrally Challenged has loads of information posted by our users in the form of obits, cemetery transcriptions/pictures, confederate soldier service records, wills etc, and ALL of it free.

You do not have to join either of these forums to read the information posted there by hundreds of people sharing their info, but if you want to post your own query, or answer someone elses you have to register. Registration is free and all it requires you setting up a username and password using a valid email address. Whether you check out these two or find others, it is an awesome way to share and look for information.

**as a side note if you register to join Ancestrally Challenged or the Inman Compendium you will not be able to post right away, to keep out spammers I have it set up to manually approve registrations after you validate your email address so be SURE to include the surnames you are researching in the box I provide during the registration process so that I know you are a real person.

Dateline April 29, 1927 17 pound baby born with two teeth

Sunday, April 26th, 2009

A tribute to my amazing grandmother…written by my mama

Doctors at a medical convention at the University of Georgia were called to the home of Herman and Irene Bowden to meet with the woman there who had just finished and 11 month pregnancy and given birth to a 17 pound daughter with two shiny new teeth. The daughter? Helan Carle Bowden. No one knows why Adele Thrasher Bowden decided to spell the “Helan” so differently, but to the end of her life Helan would say…that’s Helan with an “a” not an “e”. The “Carle” was for her father Carl Micajah Bowden. After such a nightmare pregnancy and birth, Adele knew she would have no more children, so this one would be given the boy’s name they had chosen. READ MORE HERE

One of the most useful links you will ever bookmark

Friday, April 24th, 2009

How many times have we run across a genealogy site that we bookmark because it has interesting and/or useful information on it? Sometimes its sits in the bookmark folder for years and we forget about it until one day, in your research, you run across something that reminds you of it and you say “oh yeah! I forgot about that site, I will go back and get that info I never copied last time I visited”? You click on the link eager with anticipation and then…you get that nasty screen that tells you the website no longer exists…at best the site is still there but the the information you were wanting has been pulled for whatever reason and you sit there with your bubble burst. Well never fear…this IS a little glimmer of hope.

It always amazes me that when someone mentions the above scenario to me and I ask if they’ve check the Way Back Machine…I get dead silence…and then…”What’s that?” Such a thing happened with a cousin last week. There was a personal site that had transcriptions of letters written home by one of her ancestors during the War Between the States, she had read them, but had never gotten around to printing them out, when she DID go to do it, the website was gone. I asked if she’d tried the Way Back Machine…and as usual, “No, what’s that?”

For those of you that don’t know, the Way Back Machine is a website that has cached versions of just about every website that was ever on the internet, and they can, in some instances go back YEARS. Its one of the greatest tools I know of especially when so many “family” sites come and go and loads of genweb sites change hands and information gets lost or removed for whatever reason.

Using what my cousin needed, here is an example, this was the original URL for the website

if you click on that you will see message “Sorry. It looks like there isn’t a page on our website at the address you requested (or it may be temporarily unavailable).”

now…if you go to and enter the url and click the “take me back” button it will take you here*/

and you can see they have cached versions of the website from 2001 to 2006. You simply need to explore each cached version to see if they have what you are looking for.

I wont say this will work 100% of the time, but more often than not it will, so its most definitely worth trying and its DEFINITELY worthy of a place in your bookmark folder!!

Just because its on the internet, doesnt mean its true

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

I found this really cool site today, and after reading through it, I thought how well this applies to genealogy research. This is a site made to teach elementary school kids that just because they find it on the web, it doesnt always mean its true.

Its called All About Explorers and can be found at All About Explorers it has taken all the major explorers and written fake biographies about them, my favorites are the one for Christopher Columbus and Samuel de Champlain but actually they are all worth reading to see how these great men have been written about for the purpose of this lesson.

SO many times I have run across things in researching on line that I know for a fact are not true but still get propagated all over the place. My poor mother has been trying to dispell bad facts about one branch of her family for years, but because one person put the bad info out there online, people have taken it as gospel and posted all over the place and I’m afraid it will be a tangle that will never become unknotted…thankfully she has taken the time to document it in her files so that at least her children, grandchildren and so forth will know the bad info if and when the ever come across it.

I see this kind of thing in the family trees put up on Ancestry, there are many on there with wrong information about my husbands family, I know, I’ve done the research, I’ve disproved it, just as my mother has with her, but you’d have better luck finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow than getting people to change it, because “its on the internet”.

I bet I could go right now and grab someone’s family tree, download the gedcom file, go in and mess with a bunch of stuff and add erroneous facts (just like the explorer site) reupload it, and within 6 months you’d find a bunch of people that had just taken what I’d done and posted it every place they could find that relates to that surname. Some of you are laughing, I can hear you…and its because you know I’m right.

I’m begging you, please remember, the internet is a TOOL, it is not the repository for all that is factual. Take what you find and use it to investigate on your own, if you come to the same conclusions then great…at least you will know you have the correct information, DON’T always believe that someone else’s research is right, or you will end up being one of the many causes of aneurysms around the globe.

Now, I’m going to go and try not to perpetrate the experiment I explained above

We are now on twitter!!

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

If you have a twitter account be sure to add AncestrallyChallenged to read the newest blogs!!  We are at

Church, genealogist in tussle

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

 It can be discussed here AC Discussion
It doesn’t want him sharing photos, info from cemetery


Among the hundreds of graves in the Old Union Christian Church Cemetery on Russell Cave Road, genealogist David Shannon found those of several relatives, including his great-grandparents Julia and Lloyd Harp.

With beginner’s zeal, Shannon began to compile the names, birth and death dates on the tombstones, which date back to the early 1800s. “Once I got into it, I figured other people trying to find ancestors would find information in the cemetery helpful,” he said.

So he created an independent research Web site,, where he’s posted the information on the 475 documented burials collected and a photograph of each visible stone.

But the church board at Old Union took offense.

In February, the church’s governing board sent Shannon a letter telling him “to cease publishing pictures of stones … not part of your family because it is sharing family information without their consent.”

Old Union’s minister, the Rev. Scott Winkler, said the church’s position is that Shannon’s actions are an invasion of privacy. “If you’re going to publish other people’s private information you need to get their permission,” he said. “Any cemetery has to protect rights of people buried there.”

Winkler said he did not think the church board will pursue the issue with legal action but still felt the need to state its opinion.

The church sells a $10 book with all the tombstone information in it, but no pictures, compiled for an Eagle Scout project several years ago with the help of church historian Leslie Nash Huber, Winkler said.

The difference between the book and Shannon’s Web site is “my church board and congregation approved the book,” he said. “Since most of these folks (at Old Union) have people buried there, they approved publication of the information.”

But Shannon felt he had a right to publish the information; he also considered it a community service.

Birth and death dates are public information, recorded in county courthouses and with the Kentucky Department for Public Health’s division of vital statistics.

What is inscribed on a tombstone also is public, said Mary Davis, Stites & Harbison professor of law at the University of Kentucky College of Law. “If a fact is in the public domain, it’s not private and it can be published,” she said.

It is another matter, Davis said, if someone tries to protect private information. For instance, if you are in your house and a peeping Tom takes photographs of you through a window, that violates privacy you are trying to protect.

“But if something is in the public, and you haven’t exercised any protection over it or (indicated) any desire to keep it within your own sphere, you can’t tell others they can’t have access to it,” Davis said.

Some genealogists expressed surprise at Old Union’s prohibition on sharing family genealogy information.

Former Fayette County Attorney Margaret Kannensohn said that historically, the reason for tombstone inscriptions was “to commemorate, for the ages, the existence of that person. That’s why they went into a lot of description.”

If information about the person was intended to be kept private, “it could have been confined to the family Bible or oral tradition, but kept within the family,” said Kannensohn, also a genealogist.

A movement called Free Genealogy promotes disseminating as much information as possible, she said, “so everyone has a possibility of researching their roots.” Within that movement, she said, “Shannon is doing an incredible service.”

Ann Johnson, head of the Kentucky Historical Society’s cemetery preservation program, said she has never encountered a cemetery refusing to allow photography or requiring permission of family members.

“You can go to and pull up the same information on anybody you want to. You don’t have to be a relative,” Johnson said. If the death certificate is available, “you can even print them off.”

Lisa Sanden, president of the Fayette County Cemetery Trust, said she was “absolutely shocked” when she learned of the church’s unwillingness to share genealogy information from the cemetery.

Kentucky statutes do not address privacy of information on tombstones, Sanden said. “I went back and re-read them. The statutes speak to tombstones not being desecrated and not publishing photographs for profit.”

Shannon isn’t making a profit, she said; “he is doing this out of the goodness of his heart, sharing his information.”

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