Genetic Genealogist Makes Good

The Journal of Genetic Genealogy has a new associate editor, Genealand's own Genetic Genealogist, Blaine Bettinger, PhD! Congratulations, Dr. DNA!

In other related news, our good doctor is celebrating his upcoming one year anniversary as The Genetic Genealogist by giving his readers an opportunity to win a FREE genetic genealogy test from DNA Heritage! The entry deadline is January 18, so get yourself over there now and enter! Good luck!

Would I Seek Living People Too?

Randy's thought-provoking post, "Searching for Living People...," prompted me to ask myself, "What if?" What if I were contacted to help find a still living person? Would I be willing to accept the job? Yes? No? Maybe?

Genealogists are by nature a curious folk, I think, and I don't know any who would turn down an opportunity to solve a good mystery. But when the mystery involves the living, the outcome can be a whole lot more complicated.

I opened my internal dialogue with a series of scenarios. What if the potential client were looking for a long lost sibling, cousin, aunt, uncle or grandparent? What if they were looking for a high school sweetheart, or childhood friend? But regardless of the scenario, my first response was always no.

I would not accept the case because I am a genealogist not a people finder. There are investigators who do that job, and they, unlike me, would be abreast of the laws governing privacy and liability, should something go wrong.

On the other hand, if I were to stumble across a living relative during the course of a routine research assignment, I would share the discovery with my client, and I would offer to help connect the two--if they both agreed.

The bottom line is, I seek dead people, and leave the living to the rest. ;-)


When we are new to a path, we can't always see what's up ahead, and I want to thank Randy for helping me find my way clear on this issue. Thank you!

Five Score Years Ago

Lisa of 100 Years in America wants to know, "Where was your family in 1908?" After reading her post, I gotta admit I was pretty curious myself. So, I warmed up the ol' database, and took a look around. Turns out, between the two of us, my husband and I had 227 known relatives living in 1908. Wow!

I wonder if she wants me to list 'em all? Neh, probably not.

Of those 227, only 22*, give or take 1, were our direct ancestors.

My grandfather John Crisenbery Turner (pictured on left with wife Mattie Craddock, 1929) was 12 years old and living in Eldorado, North Carolina, with his maternal grandparents John and Susanna (Hamilton) Chandler. His father was killed in 1896, and his mother "Narie" remarried in 1902. She lived close by but it appears as though her parents raised John and his brother Eli.

About a hundred miles to the north of him, John's wife, and my grandmother, Mattie Helen Craddock was living in Stuart, Virginia, with her parents James William Christopher Columbus and Pandora Texas (Nunn) Craddock. She was only 4 years old.

Columbus' mother died when he was a child, and his father, Daniel Franklin Craddock, and stepmother later moved to Rockingham County, North Carolina, but in 1908, they were still living in the neighborhood. As a side note, Daniel and second wife Sally Stevens had a daughter born about the same time as Mattie, and they named their daughter Mattie too! Imagine that!

Pandora's mother Martha Jane (Pike) Nunn was living we know, and possibly with Pandora's brother Sam. That's where we found her in 1910. But, we don't yet know when Pandora's father William Nunn died. Either way, they would have been in Stuart. It was the only place they ever called home.

The other 12 belong to my husband. His people tend to live longer. :-P

*This number does not include my paternal line. I do not discuss my bio-father's ancestry.

Behind the Scenes of "Silver and Gold..."

In the comments of my "Silver and gold... on ev'ry Christmas Tree" post, Donna Hague Wendt wondered if I could "describe exactly how [I] made the photos and annotations of [my] Xmas ornaments," and I thought my reply to her would make a great new post for all of my 2 readers...OK, 3 readers. :-)

The project was a lot simpler than it might appear, and I was rather surprised myself with how well some of the finished photographs turned out.

Building the Makeshift Studio

Using a hole puncher, I made a small hole in a piece of smooth construction paper, like the kind pictured on the left. I first used green, but the effect wasn't quite what I had in mind. I switched colors, and I'm now convinced, for the sake of our ornaments all Christmas trees should be black. Next, I had to find a good, well-lit spot to take the pictures.

To compensate for the crappy lighting in this house, we've installed florescent light fixtures in some really odd places, including under the shelf that sits on brackets above the buffet in our dining room, and it was there, in the wall, between the light and the buffet, that I found the nail. I hung the construction paper from the nail, turned on the light and - voilĂ ! - a makeshift studio!

After that, it was only a matter of taking the photos.

The nail pulled double-duty as a place to hang the ornaments, and with my digital camera set to macro, I zoomed in as close to each as I could.

Click to enlarge

The as yet unpolished result is like the photo you see above, which features, by the way, the most recent addition to our collection from Aunt Elsie.

Creating the Finished Product

Over the years, I've invested good money in a variety of software packages, but nowadays, I find myself turning more and more to free software like Picasa 2 for simple photo projects. For this project, I chose Shutterfly Studio.

Shutterfly Studio's collage feature is one of the best in any market. It offers a number of different canvas styles, layouts and sizes, and the only limit I see to the kinds of collages a person can create is his own imagination.

Click to enlarge

Step-by-step directions for creating a collage are available at Shutterfly Studio Central, so I'll refrain from going into that much detail here. Suffice it to say that this is the software I used to make the image above and all the ornament images in the "Silver and Gold..." entry, but I would also add that similar results might be possible with any collage enabled software.

And One More Thing, or Two

With some slight adjustments to the makeshift studio (e.g., lay paper flat), I think this would also be an attractive way to document and showcase heirloom jewelry and silver, coins and just about anything else you can think of.

But whatever you create, I hope you'll share the end result with us. :-)

2007 Down and More to Come

Another year has come and gone. It's hard to believe, but I'm happy to report I survived those 365 days relatively unscathed (i.e., no bee stings or snake bites), and here it is, already 4 days into the new year, and a mere 362 left to go (it's a leap year, ya know).

The best New Year's resolution I ever made was to keep no more resolutions, and not surprisingly that's the only one I've ever kept, but it remains to be seen if any resolution can stop me from making resolutions in the first place, and on that note, here's a recap of last year's post:
Another Year Bites the Dust

Where did the year go? It seems like only yesterday I was looking forward to 2006, and already it is coming to an end. Perhaps that wouldn’t feel like such a bad thing had I reached the goals I set for myself this year. But, here we are, mere hours from a new one, and I’m still 40 lbs short of the 20 I vowed to lose. I thought my office would be well organized by now too, but when I couldn’t find the file folders I bought in 2005 that kind of put a damper on the project. So, it appears I will be starting 2007 in pretty much the same place as 2006.

I am nothing if not an optimist, however, and I believe each new year brings with it a fresh opportunity for improvement and enrichment. In that spirit, I chose “quality over quantity” as my primary goal for 2007. For instance, instead of worrying about how many pounds I can (but probably won’t) lose, I want to focus attention on my physical, mental and emotional well-being, and when I applied this new way of thinking to my family history project, I decided this is the year I want to add more meat to the bones of the ancestors I have already identified rather than fret over the still empty slots on my pedigree chart.

The good news is I have a lot of what I need to do that right here in my office. The bad news is most of it is buried underneath a hellava lot of useless clutter, and I guess that means organizing my office is, once again, number 1 on my list of New Year’s resolutions. Hey, but maybe I’ll finally find those file folders!

Geneaholic, 31 December 2006.
How did I do? Well...My ancestors are still skinnier than I am, and my office is still trapped under "a hellava lot of useless clutter," BUT I did finally find those file folders! So, all in all, I'd say 2007 was a pretty successful year.

The highlight, which is gonna seem strange to those of you who don't know the backstory, was burying my mother on October 5th, and her funeral the following day. Her cremains now rest next to her parents in China Grove, N.C.

Grave of Dora Turner Summer, 1935-2002

And with that behind me, I feel like I'm finally ready to move on, and by my own account, I've got a lot of catching up to do, but I'm raring to go.

So, without further ado, here are my resolutions goals for 2008:

1. I'm going to take down and put away my Christmas tree. Today.

2. I'm going to clean and organize my office - No, seriously, I am! - and I'm going to do it - You think that's funny? Well...HaHaHa... - by following in the footsteps of Susan A. Kitchens, who is following the words of Anthony Trollope, "A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labours of a spasmodic Hercules."

3. I'm going to join a genealogical society. Done! Joined NGS January 1st.

4. I'm going to scan, label and upload no less than 5 photographs on the last Sunday of every month that Scanfest meets. Then, I'm going to place those 5, or more, originals into some sort of archival quality photo album or box.

5. I'm going to invest in some archival quality albums and/or boxes.

6. I'm going to read the rest of those 900 and something blog posts you guys wrote while I was away, and then - OK, this ain't gonna be easy - I'm going to whittle that unwieldy list of feeds down to no more than 25. I know, I know, but...There was a time when I could read every genealogy blog in existence but I can't do it anymore, not if I want to be a blogger myself. I'm so sorry.

And there you have it, my goals for 2008. Check back in 2009 to see how I did.