Episode 424 - Legacy Tree Genealogists Celebrates 18th Anniversary / “Church Lady” Sunny Morton With A Church Record Story

podcast episode Jun 13, 2022

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. The guys begin with another family history acquisition by David. Then, in Family Histoire News, catch the story of a 101-year-old World War 2 pilot who has just be reunited with his fighter plane! Then, the ladies of the 6-Triple 8 from WW2 are being recognized by Congress… there are five survivors! Ever hear of someone finding plants in the abandoned gardens of their ancestors and growing them in their own dirt? You have now! Hear the details. Historic Jamestown is getting some protection to keep it from being washed away. Find out what is happening and why. And finally, Ireland, 100 years after the disastrous fire of 1922, is bring some of those lost records back to the world. David explains.

Fisher then visits with (sponsor) Legacy Tree Genealogists Founder and President Jessica Taylor. The research giant is now celebrating its 18th anniversary. Jessica talks about the early days of the company and how they managed actual papers, plus some meaningful experiences that have come from working with various clients. (Legacy Tree is also offering a special anniversary rate, now through June 21st.)

Then, well known genealogist Sunny Morton joins Fisher talking her award winning book “How To Find Your Family History In US Church Records,” and how she used some of those records herself to learn about a special family tie.

David then returns for another pair of listener questions on Ask Us Anything.

That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!

Transcript of Episode 424

Host: Scott Fisher with guest host David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 424

Fisher: And welcome America, to America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth on the program where we shake your family tree, and watch the nuts fall out. Well, today a couple of great guests as always. Jessica Taylor is going to be on the show. And you may know her from our sponsors over at Legacy Tree Genealogists. She is the founder, she is the CEO, she’s the president, she has put this whole thing together and they’re celebrating their 18th anniversary this year. So, she’s going to talk to us about some of the beginnings of Legacy Tree back to the days of paper, and some of the fun things that have happened along the way as they’ve helped their clients. Plus we’re going to talk to Sunny Morton today. She’s got a great story involving church records. You know she is the one who is kind of the going expert for American church records. We’ll talk to her later on in the show. Hey, sign up for our Weekly Genie Newsletter today! You can do it on our Facebook page or at ExtremeGenes.com and as a result of that, you’ll get a blog from me each week, it’s free, plus links to past and present shows and links to stories you’ll truly appreciate as a family historian. Right now, off to Boston where David Allen Lambert is standing by. He’s the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAcestors.org. Greetings David!

David: And how are you sir?

Fisher: I am grand and glorious. Anything great happen in your genealogical world this past week?

David: Yeah. Got a surprise package in the mail. Do you remember the story when I got the foot locker and the Purple Heart and the Combat Inventory Medal from my distant cousin?

Fisher: Yeah.

David: His great grandfather was my great grandfather’s brother.

Fisher: Okay.

David: And so the story continues. The gal that sent me that, the distant cousin, found the letter that he sent his mother, the last letter that mentions “Mom, I’m sending home the Combat Inventory Medal to you so I don’t get it lost.”

Fisher: Wow!

David: He died soon after in Italy in World War II.

Fisher: Wow! What a treasure. How long was the letter?

David: Four pages.

Fisher: Ooh.

David: It gave a lot of detail about being in the military. Actually, he had given up his stripes. He was a squad leader and he just couldn’t hack it. The stress was too much. He went back to being just a private. And unfortunately he was killed in a foxhole in Italy in April of ’45.

Fisher: Wow! What a great story. But isn’t it great that even though he doesn’t have any direct descendants, somebody in the family treasures those things and keeps his memory alive. Good stuff. All right, well let’s get on with our Family Histoire news today. Where do you want to begin?

David: Oh, I want to begin with a great story about 101 year World War II veteran. His name is James McCubbin and he was shot down when his P51 was hit when he was over in the German countryside in World War II. Well, this past week he was reunited at the airport with his old plane now restored.

Fisher: Wow!

David: Can you believe it?

Fisher: That is insane. So, we’re talking about almost 80 years ago. He’d have been in his early 20s. The plane goes down. How does he have his plane restored, and what airport, what are we talking about here?

David: It was at the Richard B. Russell Regional Airport in Rome, Georgia where they were reunited. He’s doing fairly well in health. He didn’t climb into the cockpit, but he went and saw Mary Al. Mary Al was the nickname he gave the plane. 

Fisher: Wow!

David: Yeah, a great story. I mean, how many of those can there be? Planes reunited with veterans.

Fisher: How did it survive?

David: I think it was restored from what the news story says.

Fisher: Okay.

David: It looks like they found it and somebody decided to repair it, and now it’s flyable.

Fisher: [Laughs] What a great story.

David: So, it’s a shame he couldn’t go up for one more last flight. Well, the next story I have is another World War II story and this one is about some ladies we spoke about before. This is a 6888, which is an all African American unit in World War II that was in charge of the postal system. Getting those letters out to the veterans meant a lot, those packages. There are five surviving members of the 6888 Central Postal Directory Battalion, and they’re all going to be getting a congressional gold medal for their service in World War II very shortly.  

Fisher: How cool. That is awesome. Great news.

David: You know, genealogy and gardening go arm-in-arm but this next story really digs into how your ancestors and gardening can combine. It makes me want to go and do what she did. Barbara Smith has gone and found thousands of different plants. Not from the local garden center, but going to the sites where her ancestors lived, and rescuing old plants in overgrown ruined gardens. It’s amazing!

Fisher: This is so fun. She calls it Floral Genealogy, and she’s basically growing the plants that her ancestors grew. What an amazing thing.

David: So, the next time that you’re at an ancestral site, don’t be looking for a brick in a cellar hole, look for a petunia, bring it home.

Fisher: [Laughs] Right.

David: I think that genealogy and bringing your family history home for others to share is amazing. Well, one piece of history you can visit now but may not be able to visit soon because of global conditions is historic James Towne. They’re that within a few years the James River might have totally flooded the site itself. So, if you have not been there, I strongly suggest learning more HistoricJamesTowne.org/SaveJamesTowne. They’re working to build sort of a levy to protect the site itself and hopefully save this historic site tied into a lot of Americans’ ancestors.    

Fisher: Oh yeah. That’s the earliest place.

David: It is. I don’t know a lot of people from Rowan Oak, do you?

Fisher: No. No. [Laughs]

David: [Laughs] The next story I want to share before we end is Beyond 2022. The Virtual Record Treasury of Ireland as many of you know, 100 years ago on June 30th 1922 a disastrous fire at the four courts burnt millions of pages of Irish history going back centuries. This website at Beyond2022.ie has virtually restored the records that still survived, fragments that had been found, places around Ireland if there’s a duplicate book, a copy of something, and they will be launching at the end of this month of June. This wonderful website and you’ll be able to tour it virtually.

Fisher: Wow! Well, it’s great because Ireland has always been such a difficult place to research because of that fire, right? 

David: Um hmm. There are so many things like the Irish censuses that were lost. I mean, there was a census for Ireland in 1841 that named everybody. That would have been right before the famine. How incredible that would have been if that survived. Well, that’s what I have from Beantown this week. Remember, this summer if you make it to Boston and you’re not a member of AmericanAncestors.org, use the coupon code EXTREME. You’ll save $20 on your membership.

Fisher: All right. Very nice Dave! Talk to you at the backend of the show for Ask Us Anything. And coming up next, we’re going to talk to the president and founder of Legacy Tree Genealogists, Jessica Taylor is coming up when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 424

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Jessica Taylor

Fisher: And we are back at it on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, and I’m so excited to be celebrating the 18th anniversary with our great clients over at Legacy Tree Genealogists. And we have the founder, the president, the CEO, the grand imperial poobah of Legacy Tree.

Jessica: Oh boy.

Fisher: [Laughs] Jessica Taylor on the line right now. And Jess, congratulations! This is a great accomplishment.

Jessica: Well, thank you Fish. Yes, absolutely. We’re so happy to still be able to do what we do and what we love, and have to be able to have so much experience doing it.

Fisher: Well, I was just thinking about the early days. I mean, you’re talking about 2004. We were still doing paper stuff back then, right?

Jessica: Yeah. Back then we had lots of paperwork we were doing. I had a lot of great, great friends, genealogist friends when I used to work over at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. And so I thought, let’s get together and put up a website and try to bring in some clients. Back then you could advertise on Google. The Family Tree keyword was only 5cents a click.

Fisher: Ooh.

Jessica: A wonderful time. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs]    

Jessica: Much cheaper than it is now. And yeah, we just put out a shingle and I really was kind of fascinated by website design. That was pretty early days still.

Fisher: Yeah. And you actually had an office back then. Everybody’s kind of remote now, right?    

Jessica: Well, we sort of had an office so we’ve always been remote, and that was on purpose.

Fisher: Um hmm.

Jessica: Because not only did I work with genealogist through like the Family History in Salt Lake, but being able to work with people all over the world is a huge advantage in genealogy obviously. 

Fisher: Sure.   

Jessica: Because we don’t hold all the records in Utah. But for those that were in Utah, yes, we were on paper and it’s kind of funny, back then we needed a way to pass paper documents that our researchers were getting out of the library, over to editors and project managers who were working with our clients, and they were local to Utah. We had to have a way to pass those papers back and forth. I ended up going door-to-door and knocking on local businesses downtown in Salt Lake. And we found a filing drawer that we could rent from somebody in the Mcintyre building over on Main Street. We paid him $35 a month. 

Fisher: [Laughs]

Jessica: And our researchers would keep our documents there. We had a little candy bowl there for our folks and we’d say, “Thanks. Take a candy.” [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs]   

Jessica: So, that was pre digital so, so glad for digital because it was much, much easier.

Fisher: No kidding. Wow, you’ve come a long way from that because you’ve got researchers all over the world who speak different languages, experts in different documents. Let’s just talk about some of the meaningful projects that you’ve done over the years because there’s so many different areas.   

Jessica: Yeah. Oh man, so many. And we have been so lucky to work with clients who live all over the world as well, many clients in the UK and Australia, and throughout Europe, and some in Asia. Some of the things that come to mind as I look back are gifts have been really meaningful. We’ve been able to help people provide gifts for family members. 

Fisher: Yeah.   

Jessica: We did one for a lady’s 90th birthday, and that was very sweet because the client was her daughter and she sent us a picture of her mum with our research binder on her lap and it was just so sweet. And I love it when clients do that. They come back to us and send us photos and tell us how it went. And yeah, she said it was really a neat experience. These stories are all shared with permission, these and things we’ve written about before.

Fisher: Sure.   

Jessica: But the mom was Flora, and she sat down with this binder and as they went through and brought out all these old documents and things that triggered her memory, this 90 year old mother. Some of the stories of her childhood that she’d actually never shared with some of her family members so it was a really neat time for just jogging her memory, being able get these things researched and secure, and all there in one place for her. And just a neat way for the family to say, “Hey mom, we love you. We appreciate our family and this legacy that you passed to us.” And having a genealogist look into that more deeply was really meaningful for them. 

Fisher: Sure. Yeah.

Jessica: Anyway, that was a cool story.

Fisher: Yeah. And then you moved into DNA of course when that all came along. It was there kind of early on, but not to the level that we enjoyed in the 20teens and up to now.    

Jessica: Oh yeah, not at all no. I think it was it was about 2007 when we just started providing DNA related research to clients if I remember right.

Fisher: It’s about right, yeah.     

Jessica: The first few years it really was not on the scene for us. Now yeah, now it definitely is. 

Fisher: [Laughs]   

Jessica: We have a couple of DNA focused research teams and that’s all they do is work with DNA. So, yeah, some of the neat things we were able to do that. Obviously, a lot of biological parent finding, helping adoptees, and things like that. We had a client come to us a few years ago who lives in Papua New Guinea. And she grew up always feeling like she was somewhat different than her siblings, but not understanding why.

Fisher: It’s funny we hear that periodically from people, “I just felt different” right?   

Jessica: Yes. Yeah, so, same story from her. And when she was 16 her grandfather – like I don’t know why he decided to tell her. This was not with permission of her mom. But then she confronted her mom about it and she confirmed that yeah, she had a different dad. So, that started her journey like so many others that we hear of. Finally, when DNA came about, you know, years later for her, she tested and she found she had a lot of British matches, which she didn’t expect. But she found us. We were able to track down her half sister who was there in Australia, and they got together and met in person. And then she met her dad, and her dad was very welcoming, one of those really awesome stories where the family’s just happy to find this new person and get to know them.

Fisher: Well, thankfully most of the stories work out that way. I mean, I know we have some rejection stories come up, but for the most part they’re usually pretty positive, maybe if not with the principle, with surrounding family members. Somebody embraces.   

Jessica: Yes. And that’s what we found too. If it’s not the dad himself, it’s an aunt or a cousin, or a half sibling; somebody is usually overjoyed to meet them.

Fisher: Yeah, yeah that’s fun.    

Jessica: Yeah. We had another one from sisters and these two are probably now 70, I think. Such a sad story - The adoptee was adopted out as a baby. Her parents came home from the hospital to her four older siblings and said that the baby had died.

Fisher: Ugh.

Jessica: But she was adopted out. I guess they just didn’t feel like they could afford to care for her. So, they are now in contact, but that was many years later.

Fisher: We hear that one too now and again, don’t we? Where moms are told that their baby died, and then they found out that maybe a corrupt doctor or something farmed it out, sold the baby.    

Jessica: Yeah.

Fisher: We see those things periodically. It’s just amazing the stories that DNA has revealed and continues to reveal. [Laughs]   

Jessica: Yeah. [Laughs] I find it kind of funny earlier generations thought that they took secrets to the grave, and they did not.

Fisher: [Laughs] No. Well, we just plucked it back out of the grave that’s all.    

Jessica: We did. [Laughs]

Fisher: Right. [Laughs] What else have you had occur over these 18 years that’s memorable to you?

Jessica: I’ve also really enjoyed helping people connect with cousins.

Fisher: Yeah.   

Jessica: I think it’s personally meaningful to me because I have experienced the same thing in my life. I had a great, great grandma who left Sweden with her husband and their kids. And so I know my American cousins obviously very well, but she left a bunch of siblings in Sweden. And a few years ago, just really serendipitously, I have a second cousin who ended up getting in contact with these people in Sweden. Not through DNA. Through…actually this is kind of a funny story but, he was at Ellis Island and happened to be right behind somebody in line with the same very strange last name.

Fisher: Wow!    

Jessica: Yeah. And it turns out they actually are not related. They were both named through the same military service their ancestors served in.

Fisher: Oh, yeah. [Laughs]   

Jessica: Yeah, but not related. But somehow she was still connected with that area, and so was able to put us in touch with our actual biological cousins. So, I was able to go there a few years ago and I took my 10 year old daughter and we met our cousins and they took us to the old home location, this was a little bit north of Stockholm. They still live there. We spent a night with them, with the cousins there.

Fisher: Wow.    

Jessica: So yeah, so neat. So, I love being able to help clients do that too. We had one send us a photo of himself with his Chinese cousins that he was able to meet over in China. That was really cool. China can be hit or miss.

Fisher: Yeah.

Jessica: If you’re lucky you can get a clan book, you can go back hundreds or thousands of years. If you’re not, you can’t. But when our clients are lucky, we love that and can get them connected to the village in China. So, that’s been neat as well.

Fisher: Absolutely. You know, it’s fun because all you’re doing is just bringing a lot of joy to a lot of people. It’s just incredible. And you’ve got an anniversary sale going on right now for a very short period of time. 

Jessica: We do, yeah, until the 21st of June. So, anybody who’s been thinking about hiring a genealogist, this would be an excellent time. We’re just so happy to celebrate our anniversary, and so happy to be here in this space and be able to and be able to contribute to genealogy in this way.

Fisher: Well, it’s LegacyTree.com. You can find out more about the sale and all the things that you do there. Congrats once again on your 18th anniversary and thanks for coming on.  

Jessica: Well, thank you very much Fisher. I’m glad to be here.

Fisher: That is Jessica Taylor, president of Legacy Tree Genealogists, one of the great supporters of our show over the years. And we’re so grateful to have them as a sponsor. Hey, coming up here in just a few moments of course Sunny Morton is going to be joining us. She is the author of How to Find Your Family History in U.S. Church Records. And she’s got a story herself to tell about that very thing. They just got an award from the National Genealogical Society for that book and you’re going to want to hear about that. And then of course later on in the show David Allen Lambert returns as we answer more of your questions with Ask Us Anything, so stick around, we’ll be back coming up in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 3 Episode 424

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Sunny Morton

Fisher: Well, you know, it was just a few years ago where I was talking to my good friend Sunny Morton about her brand new book, “How to Find Your Family History in U.S. Church Records: A Genealogist's Guide.” And the National Genealogical Society has just awarded her co-author Harold Henderson their NGS book award at their recent conference. And Sunny is on the line with me right now. Hi Sunny. It’s great to have you back, congratulations on your award!

Sunny: Thank you, Scott! It’s great to be here.

Fisher: I remember when you first came on, talking about this book and I know it’s a really important one for people getting into genealogy because so many of these church records are not online because they appear in small little batches or they appear as one big denomination, and they’re not much the same from church to church or denomination to denomination, but boy, they can reveal so much.

Sunny: Well, you just showed the entire reason I wrote the book. [Laughs]

Fisher: Yes. Do you have to have different ways of researching these different denominations and finding where these things are stashed?

Sunny: Yeah, absolutely, that’s so true.

Fisher: You’ve sold a lot of these now and obviously you’re getting a lot of attention for it. Are you getting some good response from people who are having some success as a result of using the book and finding these resources?

Sunny: Absolutely. I meet people at conferences who tell me, “Oh, I got your book and this is what I found. And here’s my next question.” And I get emails now and then from someone who says, “Guess what I found? I love those stories.

Fisher: [Laughs] Isn’t that the best?

Sunny: They inspire me. They make it all worthwhile. So, I have a story of my own to tell you.

Fisher: Okay. Fill me in.

Sunny: My own recent church record discovery.

Fisher: Okay.

Sunny: So, this one is fairly recent too, and you never really think about in the United States, our 20th century relatives being very hard to find. But, my excuse is he was born just before the 20th century.

Fisher: Right.

Sunny: So, great uncle Henry Fox has just been a real fox in terms of being elusive, and trying to find out more about him. So, he’s been hiding for a while. And I was really intrigued by great uncle Henry. Even though, he married into the family and wasn’t part of their family officially for many years, due to divorce, and so he became my ex-great uncle Henry.

Fisher: Okay.

Sunny: I have this great story of him that my mom told that just stuck in my mind all these years.

Fisher: Sure.

Sunny: This is when my mom was a baby, she had colic and anyone who has ever nursed a baby with colic knows how miserable the baby is and how miserable the parents are.

Fisher: Yes, been one of those.

Sunny: Okay. So, the baby just cries nonstop for months and the parents go out of their minds. That’s the end. That’s the story of every baby with colic.

Fisher: Sure, yes.

Sunny: So, apparently, my mom was a colic baby and everybody really was wearing out on her. But, blessed is her great uncle Henry who would just come over and sit in the rocking chair on the porch and just and rock her and let her cry and give her parents a break. And it never seemed to bother him. Now, I don’t know if he was deaf or what the problem was. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] Maybe that’s it.

Sunny: But he was the evidence of kindness. He was just a part of the family for a while but he clearly left a mark there and my mom didn’t even really know him that well, but she always spoke of him with real true fondness because maybe it saved her life, maybe it saved her parent’s marriage.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Sunny: Anyway, she just loves this great uncle Henry.

Fisher: Well, that’s awesome. So, you wanted to research him obviously.

Sunny: I do want to research him. And what I found was what I thought was kind of a sad story. His kids all grew up and moved away to California. And after he divorced, he apparently never remarried. He seems to have died alone in Pueblo, Colorado, in the 1960s, buried alone. And I just sort of thought of him, to just end up living this very lonely life there. So, I wanted to give him his due.

Fisher: Sure.

Sunny: And I thought, maybe we’re not seeing the full picture here, let’s push back a generation further into his family of origin and just see what else I can find about him.

Fisher: Yeah.

Sunny: Maybe at least reconstruct him on my family tree and bring him back to life in that way. Maybe it will at least let me feel better, right?

Fisher: Yeah, right. Absolutely.

Sunny: so, his death record mentions his parents’ names. From that I was able to go get a marriage record index. In the state of Colorado, they don’t publish their marriage records, just indexes to them. So, I had to order from the Colorado archives, the first name of the husband was different than what was on the death record, but I was able to figure out that it was still the same couple, but there weren’t a lot of clues. Once I got a copy of their marriage record it just said, they got married. It didn’t say their parents’ names, there was no application. I was so disappointed. So, I couldn’t go any further. I tried the witnesses’ names and nothing looked familiar or panned out.

Fisher: Wow! Don’t you hate when that happens?

Sunny: I do hate it when that happens.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Sunny: So, then I noticed on the marriage certificate that they were married by Godfrey Rader a Catholic priest.

Fisher: Okay.

Sunny: There’s a clue.

Fisher: Yep.

Sunny: And since I’m a church records person, I’m like, all right, I can work with that.

Fisher: Yeah. I know what to do now.

Sunny: I know what to do next. This was in 1889. So, I Googled the 1889 Catholic Directory, which was an annual publication of all the different priests and where they were assigned and I found that he was assigned to the church of St. Ann in Northeast Denver. So, immediately I turned around and Googled Northeast Denver, looking for his parish, nothing. No Facebook page. No website. I’m like, okay, this is a closed parish. So, my next step is to Google, Diocese of Denver Archives and I find that it’s an archdiocese. So, I contact the diocese and archivist and ask about the records for the church of St. Ann and he said, “Well, I’ve got them right here. What do you need?” So, I told him about this marriage and he sent me a copy of the marriage record for the couple.

Fisher: Sweet.

Sunny: So, I get the record and it’s got not only the information I already had out of the civil marriage record. It tells me both of the parents’ ages, that it’s their first marriage, and that they both lived in Denver. It gave me their birth places and the names of their parents.

Fisher: Oh, wow! Now you’re off and running.

Sunny: Right, that much more. I think sometimes we get a little lazy maybe and we feel like, well, if I’ve already got a marriage certificate then I can check that off my list.

Fisher: Right.

Sunny: I’ve got the civil record, why would I need to look for any other evidence of that event?

Fisher: But this is a perfect example of why you do need to keep going.

Sunny: Yes. This is absolutely a perfect example. So, what I found was the parents of Mike Fox were Martin and Francis, really common name. I haven’t been able to make headway with them very much. But, Mary Eyreman was born to Joseph and Catherine Eyreman and Eyreman is a really uncommon name.

Fisher: Yeah.

Sunny: And I was able to push back a little bit further and find more, and guess what?

Fisher: What would that be?

Sunny: I was able to reconstruct a family that showed that Henry grew up around cousins, grew up around his maternal grandparents and that Henry is actually not buried alone in Roselawn Cemetery in Pueblo, Colorado. He is buried in Roselawn Cemetery with his grandfather, and his aunt, and several of his cousins. He wasn’t alone. And in fact, he did have relatives around him in Pueblo that I didn’t recognize because they were maternal relatives.

Fisher: Sure. Yeah.

Sunny: He didn’t share the surname.

Fisher: Interesting. I think a lot of us would say, you know, that’s kind of a rabbit hole, right?

Sunny: Yeah.

Fisher: It’s somebody that’s not directly related to your line, but it’s somebody who had an impact in your life and really anybody can do this for old neighbors who meant something to you at one point in time. Whatever happened to these people? What was the story of their lives before I was a little kid and knew them as an old person? I mean, there are so many different things you can do with this stuff.

Sunny: Yes, absolutely. Well, I have one more little mystery at least to follow up. And if I ever solve this Scott, I’m going to give you a call and we’ll talk about it again on the show.

Fisher: Okay.

Sunny: There’s evidence that his mother must have remarried because his obituary says that he is the brother of Sister Mary Britilla of Waterloo, Iowa. So, that’s a nun’s name.

Fisher: Yes.

Sunny: It’s not her birth name. Of course when she took holy orders, she changed her name.

Fisher: Okay.

Sunny: So, this mystery will keep me working for a little while yet.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Sunny: And if I ever figure out who Sister Mary Britilla is, you’re going to get a call.

Fisher: I’m looking forward to that. She’s Sunny Morton. She’s the author along with Harold Henderson of “How to Find Your Family History in U.S. Church Records” just recent recipient of the NGS book award. Congratulations on that Sunny! Thanks for sharing that story and we look forward to seeing how many other stories are developed by people using the techniques and the resources that you talk about in your book.

Sunny: Thanks so much Scott.

Fisher: David Allen Lambert rejoins me next as we go through another round of Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, in three minutes.

Segment 4 Episode 424

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, back on the job on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. David Allen Lambert is back from the New England Historic genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. And it’s time for Ask Us Anything. And Dave, out first question is from Denise in Detroit, Michigan. She says, "Fisher and Dave, I thought of a project I think would be interesting and would like your advice on. I would like to make a history of all the descendants of a pair of my great, great grandparents. Do you think this is doable? Denise." I'll say right away, Dave, absolutely doable!

David: Um hmm, especially great, great grandparents. And when you say all the descendants of your 20th great grandparents.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: Then that's a lifetime pursuit.

Fisher: [Laugh]

David: Great, great isn't bad, of course providing they don't have 12 children and each one of the children have 10 children. Actually, it’s a challenge that I think most people should be up to.

Fisher: Yeah, I think you're absolutely right. I actually did this before we had the internet. And just because of the fact that I could do this before the internet tells you that now with the internet, it should be a much easier project than it was back in my time with this. But I did it back in the '90s and it was from my second great on my name line, because I wanted to see what the family had become from these immigrant ancestors. And in this particular case, we couldn't find the ancestry of this ancestor, so I just figured, well, the best I could ever do with the family is trace the descendants. Of course, I eventually did get the ancestors, but that's another story. So, here's one thought for you as you go through it. You do a section for each generation and you start with the number one person as being like number 1, and then his first child would be like 1.1. So, you do a little quick paragraph or two bio on that person and then you list the children and just maybe put in B. and then their birth year for born in that year and you list the kids. Now, the next section is the second generation and 1.1 becomes the primary person there, and then you do a little bio on them and 1.1.1 would be their first kid, 1.1.2 would be the second, 1.1.3 would be the third. And you do it that way and it’s easy to keep track of who everybody is and you know which generation they come from and where they fall in line, so it’s easy to track. The other thing about it is, is that finding living people these days is so much easier. Back when I did it, I had to find obituaries on microfilms and also from probate records, wills and that type of thing in the earlier generations. But finding living people got a little harder, because back then, we didn't really have the internet access, there was no Facebook, but we do now have FamilyTreeNow.com, which links people. And you can find phone numbers and email addresses and reach out to these people. That's one thing that I don't think has changed, Dave is that we can actually reach out to our cousins and say, "Okay, who are the other cousins that should be a part of this?" And they can share that information and then you can go on and keep adding it until you reach the point you feel it’s complete.

David: Well, you know, I think that any project that brings future generations to connect with their ancestors should be beneficial. And social media is no exception to the rule, because you might find something like Facebook to find some of those children, grandchildren, photos, whatever you want to do and its right at your fingertips and you may not even realize it.

Fisher: Yeah, I did another one of these for another set of second greats awhile back, wound up with over 1100 descendants and it was a lot of work and I think I was only missing one person and she had actually followed her mother after a divorce back over to Spain and was never heard of again. So there may be a few stray descendants somewhere over there that I'll never find. But it was a really neat project, and you can either keep it going over the years or just take it as a snapshot in time if you want to publish it and just say, "Okay, this is where the family is in 2022." It’s a great project and it also leaves a lot of information for descendants for a long time to come to link into. Great question! Thanks so much for that, Denise. Got another one coming up for you next, another question concerning a project on the way Dave when we return in three minutes for Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 424

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, we're continuing with Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here with David Allen Lambert. And this email comes from Flo in Topeka, Kansas, Dave. She says, "Hi guys. I have my grandchildren for the summer and have been thinking of something to do with my family history with them. Over the years, I've collected copies of a bunch of ancestors wills. Do you think I could make some kind of project out of these? Flo."

David: Oooh, that is a great topic to start a summer project with!

Fisher: Yeah.

David: So you have all these probates. One thing that I think really illustrates what your ancestors have to these kids would be just to simply Google some of the inventory items.

Fisher: Oh yeah, that's interesting. What a good idea!

David: Because there's stuff that they probably have never would have seen before, like maybe a butter churn or maybe a firedog, which are the things that hold the logs in the fireplace.

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]

David: I mean, there's all sorts of really weird things. And of course, the other thing that is really valuable for them, especially younger kids that may not be learning cursive handwriting, if anything is going to benefit them in the next school year is understanding some cursive. Those probates are going to give them the extra advantage. And you probably know, Flo how to read it. So, maybe this could help them in their own scholastic work.

Fisher: Well, the question is of course Dave as it always is with kids is, how willing will they be to do something that's almost like school work, right?

David: Well, I think if we combine one of the stories we have this week about getting flowers from your ancestor's property. Here's an idea, one of the things probates list are where your ancestors own land. So, you now take the probate, Flo and you go and look up the deeds. Then you get the grandkids in the car, hopefully you're not going across the US to do this, and go to the home sites where someone lives and perhaps if it’s a cellar hole or something like that, you know, the kids bring a metal detector, if you get permission from the land owner of course. They might find and old coin or you know, maybe they find that petunia growing by the old well site or by the wall or something like or bring home a rock from a field stone wall that your ancestor did and put it on a wall on your property.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: Build your own ancestral wall.

Fisher: Absolutely. There's so many different things you can do with it and it really depends on your circumstance. If you live in the area where your people have lived for generations, that kind of thing would be really possible and you really never know what kind of trinkets that you could find as a result of that. And hopefully it gives the kids an adventure. I mean, what a great idea, Dave. At the end of the day, you can create some amazing stories, but you really need to again have some kids who are really interested in it. Maybe have photos of these folks out if you have them before you get started on it, so that they can feel some kind of connection with these people. And it’s really fascinating when the grandkids get going. I've certainly had that in my case where they just absolutely loved the stories from the family.

David: Well, I mean, look at the story we started, the both of us using the coins of your ancestor's birth year.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: That's a project that skyrocket. I know dozens of people who come up to me after the fact we first mentioned it. The other thing with kids is that you're opening their imagination. For me, I was seven and I learned simply that my grandmother's father was a whaler. Wow! How amazing was that! Who watches whales when I was a kid, you know.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: And you get maybe the odd occupation. Maybe they were a tinsmith, maybe they were a surgeon or maybe they were a minister. Find something about the ancestor that's more than just names and dates. And I promise you, one of those grandchildren may grow up to be a genealogist like you, Flo.

Fisher: You never know. Great question! Thanks for it. Dave thanks so much for your time on Ask Us Anything. We'll talk to you next week.

David: I always look forward to it, my friend.

Fisher: All right. And thanks so much to our guest, Jessica Taylor from Legacy Tree Genealogists. Congratulations on your 18th anniversary! And to Sunny Morton, she of the book, “How to Find Your Family History in U.S. Church Records.” Always appreciate hearing from Sunny and the great stories she brings to the table. Hey, if you missed any of the show or you want to hear it again, listen to the podcast of course. It’s on AppleMedia, iTunes, ExtremeGenes.com, iHeart Radio, Spotify, wherever fine podcasts are found. We'll talk to you next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!

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