My name is Kathleen, and I have been researching my family history since I was a child. I love to go into county courthouses and smell the old books and paper... or is it dust? This blog will focus on the stories I've heard over the years and the research methods I follow. I am particularly interested in data management and cloud genealogy.

Some of my personal areas of interest include Southern Maryland and DC (Robie, Rhodes, Grimes, Lindsey), NY state (Hill, Cookingham, Flynn, Rhodes, Skinner, Wheeler, Mead, Havens, Trotter), NJ (Parcell), North Carolina and Eastern TN (Lynch, Seabolt, Spears), MO (Wilcox, Kiddell), and CA (Simi, Grady)

I am always happy to compare notes or share my experiences, so please leave a comment!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Exploring a little-used source for Southern research!

I love finding new sources.  Half the fun of genealogy is ferreting out new information... the kind that most people don't bother to chase after.  The Draper manuscripts are one such source, a monumental collection of original documents, notes, and correspondence collected by Lyman Draper and relating to the history of the American South in the period from the French and Indian War through the War of 1812.  These manuscripts were the original materials Draper collected over many years, which he used to write his 1881 historyKing's Mountain and Its Heroes.   
Recently I attended a webinar on the Draper manuscripts, courtesy of Legacy Family Tree software company.  The webinar provided an invaluable rundown on the rich content of this collection and how to access it.  The difficulties lie in the fact that it is not indexed, has a complicated structure making it difficult to navigate, and copies are not readily available to most researchers.   The webinar guides the researcher through the collection and provides examples of the kinds of detailed information that might be found there. has digitized some of the calendars for the Draper collection, making the document summaries completely searchable (go to Card Catalog, search on the keyword "Draper," and from there enter your own search terms).  Since I have quite a lot of Southern blood, I was anxious to try it and see what I could find.    

Boy, I hit the jackpot with information on William Green, and I am so excited I can hardly stand it!  He has been a "potential ancestor" for some time -- several undocumented family trees on Ancestry suggest a connection with my own but I had not yet seen any evidence for this.  Now, after one quick Ancestry search, I had something to work with:  I identified 30 documents in the Draper Collection containing information about this man.

William Green was an interesting figure; he was a Tory officer who fought against the Americans at the Battle of King's Mountain, but afterwards became a private soldier and spy for the American side.  His story is one of those few that help us imagine the real person who was trying desperately to survive during the Revolutionary War.  In King's Mountain and its Heroes, Draper noted that Green and a companion were among the Tories taken prisoner by the Americans after the battle:

Lyman Draper, Kings Mountain and its Heroes.
If a good story like this one made it into the final draft of Draper's book, imagine the details yet to be discovered in the manuscript collection!  Of those 30 references to William Green that I found in the Draper calendars on, the one that jumped out at me was this: 

You see, this Mrs. Mooney, née Charlotte Green, is my documented 4th-great grandmother... the proverbial missing link!!  

Now, all I have to do to add William Green to my family tree is track down this document on microfilm....

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Finding the Missing Pieces

I've been a listener of Lisa Louise Cooke's Genealogy Gems podcast for awhile now -- I love Lisa's friendly style and her great ideas for using technology for family history research.  She often tells stories of the serendipitous connections made by people who share their research online.  

Think about it, we are all just part of a whole:  your old family movies also include neighbors who attended your family birthday parties, your photos include people and places in your ancestral communities, and your memorabilia include events that other people participated in as well.

I was reminded of this recently, when I got an email from a woman named Carla who had seen my blogpost from Memorial Day 2013.  In that post, inspired by one of Lisa's podcasts, I wrote about my father-in-law's experiences during World War II as an Army doctor attached to the 1777th Construction Engineer Battalion in the European and Pacific theaters.  I included a Google map with a scanned copy of his unit's "travelogue" and photos from every place they were stationed, as well as relevant newsreels I found on YouTube.  Altogether, it provided an in-depth perspective on his unit's experiences in the last years of the war.

This is what Carla wrote:


I just found your blog about the 1777th Engineering Construction Battalion.   My father was a member of the 1777th Engineering Construction Battalion out of Ft. Sill, Ok.  Although I saw no reference to Oklahoma in your blog or map detail I can only assume they are the same group.  My father told us next to nothing about his time in the service.  He did mention working in Japan after the war helping clean up.  He was a bulldozer operator and said he worked in the kitchen also.  So when I saw your picture of the "kitchen ablaze" in Agoo, I burst into laughter.....oh, let's just pretend it was my dad's fault.  LOL...he never enjoyed working in the kitchen let's just say.

The only time I can actually recall him working in the kitchen was when my mother was making homemade rolls.  She would call him into the kitchen and he would have them "rolled" in no time.  Typically rolling them against the counter with multiples at one time.  A skill he attributed to from working in the kitchen while in the Army.

My father, Junior T Montgomery (based on the discharge paperwork) but who went by the name Thomas Montgomery afterwards died of cancer in June 1990.  I sometimes wonder if the time spent in Japan had anything to do with his dealth.

The discharge papers that I have from the Army shows that he departed on November 2, 1945 for AP (Asia Pacific) and arrived November 21, 1945.  It also shows returning July 29, 1946 and arriving back on August 10, 1946.

Thank you for your detail on their movements.  I have often wondered.  I submitted a request for his medals several years ago.  At that time I also requested a detail of the travels done.  The government replied stating the archives had burned in a fire years ago.  So finding your information has been a gift.  Something I can now share with my kids.

My father brought back with him some Occupied Japan china, some weapons, and binoculars from Japan.  I plan on dividing up the items and gving them to my children.  I will add the Travelogue to the collection.

Again, thank you. 

Carla Montgomery Matto

"No, not enemy action -- kitchen ablaze at Agoo" -- Henry Tesluk, 1945

Making those connections and helping someone find the missing pieces of their story is one of the true joys of genealogy in the internet age.