Sunday, February 25, 2007

Letter to your Ancestor

Letter to your Ancestor
Or "Rednecks, Unanswered questions and Wishful thinking"
by Uncle Hiram

The other night I was sitting in front of my computer staring at my genealogy program and muttering under by breath. I just want five minutes with this guy. How can a person sail from England to North Carolina, live 50 years in our country and leave so many unanswered questions? As I sat there staring at the screen in frustration, I got to thinking, "What I would like to do is write this guy a letter." I realize that he wouldn't ever get the letter or answer the letter but I was hoping it would help me to crystallize what I knew and what I needed to know.

Here is the Letter:

Dear Great Grandfather Howcott:

First let me introduce myself, I am your 11th generation grandson born in the state of Texas in the United States of America. About 30 years after your death the 13 colonies fought a revolution against Great Britain and won their independence. I realize you were a loyal Englishman but your descendants helped to build this great country I now live in, I hope we have in some ways lived up to your expectations. I am currently involved in trying to research our family in order to better understand them and to pass on the family history to my descendants. I hope you don't mind, but I would like to ask you a few questions to help me get a better grip on you and your motivations.

I know you were born in 1688 near Birmingham, England. I know you sold some land in Bertie County North Carolina in 1715. I know you were married and had several children. What I would like to know is:

How did you get to America and in what year did you and your brother sail over here. Also, I am just curious who's ideal was it yours or John's?

What was your wife's name? Did you marry more than once or was the multiple wife's names just a matter of the clerk putting down a nickname instead of the given name?

Why did you leave a safe comfortable life in England for the wilds of North Carolina?

What were the names of all your children?

Why North Carolina instead of one of the more prosperous colonies up north? Not that I am complaining, I much prefer having southern roots.

Why did you leave one of your sons out of your will? Was he still living or had he already passed?

How did you go from being the son of a comfortable but not wealthy Tavern owner to a large land owner in America in only 30 years?

Why didn't you leave better records?

Seriously, don't we all wish we could just sit down with one of our lost ancestors for five minutes to ask him (or her) some key questions? Next week let's discuss letters to distant cousins you don't know.

I am proud to announce the winners of the August Site of the Month Awards:

County Site of the Month
Providence, R.I. USGenWeb Page(
Home Page of the Month
Harned / The Harneds of North America(
Misc. Site of the Month
Helm's Genealogy Toolbox - Providing the Tools to Research Your Family Online(
- Adios and Keep Smiling!

2007 Update:

Again I need to point out this column was written many years ago. Since that time I have found answers to some of the questions I wanted to ask my longdead ancestor. I do want to point out the majority of the answers found since I wrote this column were not found by me but instead by a distant cousin doing research in England. The URL for my English "Cousins" website is

Letters to Distant Cousins

Letters to Distant Cousins
Or "Rednecks, Snail Mail Research and Opening the Door"
by Uncle Hiram

Last week discussed writing a letter to your ancestor, this week lets tackle an even harder subject. Writing that letter to the cousin you aint met yet. The first thing you need to do is go out in the front yard and ask the big tree about your family roots. OK, what did the tree tell you? Right, not a blessed thing. The reason for this exercise in futility is to get you ready for the lack of response you will get from 80 percent of the letters you send out. BUT, Instead of dwelling on that depressing fact lets look forward to the 20 percent that do respond.
Enough beating around the bush, lets get down to the basics. You need to decide how much info you are going to include in the letter and what info you are going to ask for. In your first paragraph you need to introduce yourself and tell a little about your family.

For example, here is the first paragraph of my "Couzzie" letter:

Dear Kinsman:

Hi, my name is Bill Hocutt, son of George Willis Hocutt, son of William Jackson Hocutt, son of Agrippa Jackson Hocutt, son of George Hocutt, son of Edward Hocutt, son of Edward Hocut, son of Edward HOWCOTT of Chowan County, North Carolina. I am attempting to trace OUR family roots. I say "our" family roots because every person in the United States with the surname Hocutt descended from either John or Edward HOWCOTT, a pair of brothers who emigrated to North Carolina in the early 1700's.

You will notice I gave my direct line and explained why I had chosen to write to them.
In the second paragraph explain to them that you are not selling anything, that you are just trying to gather info on the family. Assure them that you are not going to use this info for any purpose other than family research. (i.e., you wont sell it to Columbia House Records, Amway or the IRS). After you have done this, explain what type of information you are looking for. Tell them you would be more than happy to share info with them.

Now you need to include with this letter a family sheet for yourself, a family sheet for the oldest person in your family line and a blank family sheet for them to fill out.

You can dramatically increase the odds on people responding by including a stamped self addressed envelope. Hopefully you will get at least the 20 percent response and your family tree will sprout some new twigs.

- Adios and Keep Smiling!

Letter to Your Descendants

Letter to Your Descendants
Or "Rednecks, Remembered Family and Your Heritage"

Two weeks ago we all got together and talked about writing to an ancestor. Last week we chewed over the prospect of writing to that distant cousin. This weeks lets kick off our boots, nuke some popcorn and try to leave a note for our descendants.

Before you start putting down those brilliant ideas on paper, let's talk about what you want them to know about you versus what they will need to know about you. You want to tell them a little about yourself beyond the basic information. For example:


My name is Uncle Hiram, I was born in the Great State of Texas during the Eisenhower presidency. I grew up in that town that Tom Landry made famous. I Went to various schools some good, some bad. I did a year of college before joining Uncle Sam's Traveling All Star Team (USAF). After 8 years, 6 assignments and 3 countries culminating in a tour in that big 5 sided nut house, I decided the military wasn't as interested in my happiness as I was. I then had the great fortune to meet an East Texas Blonde that was willing to put up with my unique personality.

Of course, since your note isn't going out on the Internet, I would suggest you put in actual dates and names instead of just vague references like in the example.

Next you might want to tell them anything about your life that was interesting or unusual. It may surprise you, but I don't mean tell them about your job unless that is the only thing that defines your life. For example:

If Yall still study American history up there in the future Yall might have heard that we had an American President killed in Dallas in 1963. President Kennedy died in Parkland hospital. I mention this only because I was in Parkland that day having surgery, as a result of being burned when I was 2.

The third thing I would suggest putting in is an explanation of why you started doing genealogy. What you had hoped to find out about your heritage and the strangest thing you ever found or happened while doing research.

The final thing to include is a complete copy of your research.

- Adios and Keep Smiling!


Or "Rednecks, High School Yearbooks and Great Photo's"

I don't know about Yall but one of the things I love to add to my family research material is photo's of the various folks in my tree. The problem with that is most of my family tends to run away when someone breaks out a camera. I sware sometimes I think they must all be afraid that they will show up on "America's Most Wanted." Now I tried making little drawings of all of them but skill level as an artist has not progressed past the kindergarten level.

For the last few years I have made myself a total pest to most of my families by snapping photo's of them while they weren't paying attention. This has resulted in some "interesting" photos as well has two broken cameras, three black eyes and a broken nose. I never said my family was entirely stable.

About a year ago I was in a used book store (one of my favorite hangouts) and ran across a yearbook from Athens Texas High School from 1967. I was joking with my blonde that I couldn't for the life of me think of why anyone would want an old yearbook from a school they didn't attend, when I came across a photo of James Hocutt. After I convinced the store manager that I had not had some kinda spastic attack in the middle of his store, I purchased the book. I scanned the photo into my Database and began my search for more old Yearbooks.
Since then I have purchased Yearbooks from seven high schools all over Texas and two colleges. All bought from used book stores for less than $15 each. I have managed to add photos of 16 cousins using this method.

Now I know that Some college's started doing Photo yearbooks during the 1880s and that most High Schools had them by the 1930s. You will not be able to add new branches by doing this but you will be able invaluable photos to your family tree.

If you are near a university that one of your family members attended you can contact their Library and see if they have any of the yearbooks from the years you are looking for. That way you can determine if your ancestor is in it and with the high quality copy machines that are out there. You can make a copy that is at least acceptable to add to your files. You might also wanna check out the local libraries and used book stores.

-Adios and Keep Smiling!

Beating the Bushes

Beating the Bushes
Or "Rednecks, Phone Books and High School Football Programs"

I wanna tell Yall about one of the things I do that drives my sweet blonde right up the wall. Everytime we go on vacation or on a trip, the first thing I do when we check into the motel, even before I steal the ashtrays, is grab the phone book. I carefully go through it, looking for surnames. I have always considered this creative research, she says I am compulsive.

For years I had no real good answer for her because I had never come across the surnames I was looking for. I would search the phone books and she would just sit over there and giggle. I would go through the football programs everytime our little town had a road game and she would roll her eyes and giggle. I am not sure, but I think she put up with my little compulsion because she figured it was harmless and it only took me a minute or two.

Last summer, on our extended vacation to Florida, like always, I would go through the phone books in every small town we stopped in. In a small town near Mobile, Alabama, we stopped for dinner at one of those old-fashioned Greasy Spoons. You know the ones I mean, the cook is always named Cookie and the waitress is named Flora Bell or Norma Jean.

As we were waiting for our Chicken Fried Steaks, and after sneaking over to the phone booth "borrowing" the phone book, I started my routine. Let's see No Traywicks (Sigh), No Lunsfords (Sigh), No Dodsons (Sigh), and of course No Hocutts, Wait, there it is, Five separate listings for Hocutts. My blonde was so shocked she didn't even object when I pulled out the cell phone and started dialing. I ended up with six pages of notes on a branch of the family that had escaped my widely thrown net.

The moral of this, never overlook any opportunity to do genealogy. Check those phone books, look at those High School Football programs and look at any source that lists lots of names. Sometimes you get lucky.

-Adios and Keep Smiling!

Church Records

Church Records
Or "Rednecks, Missed Opportunities and Tons of Records"

One of the least used of the many avenues of research, available to the genealogist, is church records. This is probably because most folks don't realize what a treasure trove of info is hidden in these records.

Let's take a few moments and examine some of the documents and information that you might find in the church. There are six major types of records available. I would like to briefly touch on each of these six types of documents.

Baptism and Christening Records - You can use these to find the names of a person's parents, date of birth and you can document the person's religious affiliation.

Marriage Records - Aside from the obvious information, you want to pay attention to the witnesses which are frequently relatives.

Death Records - Again, aside from the obvious information you can mine, these records for additional vital info. For Example: the cemetery the person was buried in, spouses name, list of pallbearers (Frequently family) and possibly a list of survivors.

Confirmation records - You can get the person's full name from this document, date of birth, parents name and more.

Membership records - You can use these records to track your family's participation. Look for family members dropping off and joining. This could indicate that they moved or died, when new family members are added it could give a clue on a marriage or birth.

Miscellaneous records -- such as committee's, deacons and religious classes can be used to track your family.

In closing I want to remind you that the Churches don't have to share these records with us, so be polite and make sure you thank the church secretary.

I want to thank Taz for the research that went into this column. For more reading on this subject I wanna suggest the following URLs:
-Adios and Keep Smiling!

A Genealogist's Christmas List

A Genealogist's Christmas List
Or "Rednecks, Gifts and Desires"

It's that time of year again, their is a chill in the air. People are smiling and humming Christmas songs and VISA cards are melting all over the place. Folks are sitting at tables all across America and making out Christmas lists. If you will allow me to be a bit on the presumptious side, let me make some suggestions for that genealogist on your list.

First, let's discuss the high dollar gifts that any genealogist would love to get:
A new computer - a faster computer with more ram and a bigger hard drive would bring a smile to the grumpiest genealogist. More space turns into more precious family documents and photos stored. 2) A cable modem or DSL connection, prepaid for a year - just sit back and imagine the look of pure joy on your genealogists face, as those gedcoms and BLM documents download in seconds, instead of hours. Who knows, they might even end up with enough spare time to organize their desk and get those census forms off the Kitchen table.

A Genealogical trip - if you have some "serious" money to spare. Set up a trip for your genealogist to the "Promised Land". It don't matter if it's back to Fayette County, Alabama, to run the court houses and talk to distant cousins or back to the old country, your genealogist would flip. If you plan it right and get lucky, they won't even notice that you wandered off to play golf or visit the casinos.

A CD Burner - a tool that is quickly becoming a "must have" for the amatuer genealogist. The ability to save scanned images of documents and photos to a CD, rather than eating up hard drive space, makes this one of the best gifts you can give.

A Digital Camera - we both know, that genealogist of yours is gonna spend a minor fortune on photos taken of cemeteries and distant relatives. This gift would not only allow them to transfer their photos to genealogical databases a lot easier, it may, in the long run, save you money.

A Scanner - Genealogists crave photos and documents, the same way that rednecks crave beer and beef jerky. The ability to scan a copy of those precious items, would delight your genealogist to no end.

Now a few gift suggestions for those of us with slimmer wallets.
A subscription to or one of the other online genealogy services. There isn't a computer genealogist alive that wouldn't like to browse through one of these paid databases.
The latest version of their favorite genealogical software. I dont know a single genealogist, that wouldn't love to upgrade their program.

A Genealogical book - Now before you say you dont know which one they would want, let me tell you that we all love the latest source books or how to books. I would also like to suggest "Uncle Hiram's Adventures in Genealogy Vol. 2: Running with the Redneck", if nothing else it's good for a laugh. (

Now a few FREE gift ideals
Give your genealogist a little understanding. This hobby is more addictive than Monday night football. Be Patient with your genealogist. We aren't really ignoring yall.
I hope I have given you a few ideals to work with. (Feel free to print this column and casually leave it where your spouse will find it.) (GRIN)
-Adios and Keep Smiling!

NOTE FROM 2007: This column was written 7 years ago. I would suggest a DVD Burner now instead of a CD Burner. I would also suggest one of the "BOOK" hard drives I saw last week in Best Buy. They are external hard drives -- the largest one I saw was a Terrabyte. Amazing how much progress computers have made in the last 10 years. Both of my books are no longer in print but I do still have a few copys laying about the house if you would like to buy one.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Can I Give Up Now?

Can I Give Up Now?
Or "Rednecks, Brick Walls and Blind Alleys"

Now I will be the first to admit I am about as patient as a 5 year old on Christmas morning, but I try hard to remember that there aint no GOOD shortcuts in Genealogy. As much as we all hate to admit it sometimes that proof, that documentation, that one vital piece of paper that will establish an undeniable link form great great Aunt Ethel and Jim Bowie's brothers Grandson by Marriage simply does not exist.

When you reach this point of no return you have several options on what step to take next. The first option that may pop into your head does not work. Shooting your computer wont find your missing ancestor and if your spouse is anything like my sweet blonde she wont be very understanding when you want a new monitor. Not to mention that the local cops really frown on shooting unarmed innocent computers. (It took me three house to convince that Deputy I wasn't crazy enough to be dangerous).

There are several viable options that you can try that wont get you in trouble with the law or your spouse. First go back to your census work and find your last entry for this person. As an example lets use my paternal Grandmother (My Daddy's Momma). She shows up in the 1920 census as my Grandfathers wife but they had not married in 1910. So I had to cast a wider net, I found all the Cox families in the 1900 census, the Cox families in the 1910 census and compared them to the 1920 census. Using this method I was able to identify which Cox family she belonged to and found out the names of her brothers and sisters. Since the census said that the whole family was born in Alabama but I had not been able to find any paperwork in Tuscaloosa County I took a shot and checked in Walker and Fayette Counties. This turned up the documents I needed for the Cox family. Of course this method does not always work so lets move on to the next option.

Again you need to backtrack a little on your research. Go back to the County Courthouse and if you are researching a male ancestor you can check the court minutes for Jury Duty, Poll Tax and various other official government duties the average citizen was required to fulfill. Of course as much as I hate to I need to point out this method will only work if your ancestor was a white male. You might also check the land deeds and wills of your ancestors neighbors. Quiet often you will find that your ancestor of one of the other neighbors were the witnesses. You might get lucky and prove your ancestor was in a location years before you thought he was. This may not work as a primary source but it helps to build a mountain of secondary sources.

OK, so you have tried both of these methods and you are still striking out don't despair, don't sign up for those Cyber Quilting lessons just yet, there is still hope. Your next option is church and obituary records. Check the records for the churchs in your ancestors area. If there records still exist and he joined a church or served as a deacon or as a pallbearer for one of his neighbors you will have documented proof he was in the area when you think he was. Again not a primary source but it is more evidence to support your conclusions.
If you ancestor was in the West you will also wanna check at the courthouse for brands. If they owned any livestock they would have registered their brand. The single unifying point of all the methods I have described is the need to be a detective. So break out your Sherlock Holmes gear and think outside the box. Remember check the census record, land records (Including the names of the witnesses), Court Records (Jury Duty), Church Records (Deacons, Pallbearers), brands and other court records.

If you try all of these and nothing has worked I have three other suggestions that don't involve firearms.

Write the historical society for that area and see if they have any of the old ledger books for the local General Store. Quite often the farmers would run a tab until their crops were sold. You might get lucky and find your missing ancestor.

Work on a different branch of the family for awhile. This will keep your frustration level at a manageable level.

Chuck the whole thing and take up quilting... (GRIN)... just kidding. Basically the key is persistence and patience.

- Adios and Keep Smiling!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

A POWs Letter Home

A POWs Letter Home

I'm Cold, I'm Hungry and I think I'm Sick. No, that's not true I know that I'm sick. I've been in this damn POW camp for three months and my wound still aint healed. I'm not sure if anybody will ever get to read this but I hope my kids will. Maybe it will help them understand why I had to fight. I ain't normally a morose man but yesterday the guards shot Sgt. Lawson for trying to escape. Course he weren’t really trying to escape he just got too close to the fence. I ain't sure any of us are gonna get out of here alive.

I guess I oughta start at the beginning. I'm a farmer, I was born on my Daddy's farm back in 1835. I was a happy child, me and my brothers had lots of chores but we always had a lot of fun. At night Momma would gather us all around the big table and learn us our numbers and letters. I don't think Daddy thought that was important but Momma said a man needed to read in this modern age. At bedtime Daddy would tell us stories about the family. I'll never forget that look of pride he would get on his face when he told us how his Grandpa William had marched off to fight the British in 1774. He would tell us about his Uncle Richard figtin the English agin in 1812.

He told us that Flag was our family Crest, those red stripes were Hocutt blood and that if our country called it was our duty to answer. That old man would get to struttin around, wavin his arms around and telling us about how our family came over from England in the early 1700's. How they had helped to build this country. He would tell us about how his Daddy decided to take advantage of the free land being offered back in 1818 and loaded up his whole family into covered wagons. They crossed the wilderness, fought wild Indians and settled in the prettiest valley Daddy had ever seen.

Me and my brothers grew up proud and ready to do our duty. Then things started to change. Elijah started talking about state rights and how nobody in Washington DC had the right to tell him how to live. I can still remember when I was 10 and Uncle George came over and said to Daddy "Robert, South Carolina dun quit the United States. The Papers say the Yankee's are gonna send in troops." That was the first time I ever heard Daddy curse.

Of Course we learned a couple of weeks later that Carolina stayed in the country and how they compromised on free and slave states. I wanna tell you right now we didn't own no slaves, some of our rich Traywick cousins did but we were just poor dirt farmers. More and more folks starting talking about how Yankees couldn't make us Alabamans toe their line. My older brothers Rufus and Elijah would get into shouting fights with Daddy about it all.

I guess one of the saddest days in my Daddy's life was when we got word that Mr. Lincoln had been elected President and Alabama was gonna quit the Union. My brothers Rufus, Elijah and Felix went down to Tuscaloosa and joined the Infantry. I went over to Daddy's and talked to him about those stories he told us. I asked him if he would take care of my kids while I was away. Then I told him. He Said "Son, I understand your decision but you gotta know most folks around here won't."

The Next mornin I saddled up and rode off to Missouri. It took me a couple of weeks to get there but eventually I did. The reason I went all the way to Missouri to enlist was cause I didn't wanta have to face my own brothers on the battlefield. I gotta admit I was both proud and sad the day I put on that Blue uniform.

I did my duty, I fought the Rebels, fired on my neighbors and fellow southerners. I never enjoyed it but the nation must not be divided. I was never a hero just a common soldier serving his nation.

I got a letter last year from Momma, she said my brother Richard died in TN and two of my cousins were POW's somewhere up in New York. I don't know if I will ever see my farm back in Bama or my kids again, but if I do I hope the wounds caused by this terrible war don't destroy my family too. If I don't make it out of here I just want my brothers Rufus, Elijah and Felix to know I bear them no grudge for fighting for the Gray.

I don't think this damn war can possibly last much longer. The south has been chopped up and the guards were saying that General Sherman dun burned Atlanta to the ground. I'm hoping that they are right and the war ends soon. I would really like to see my kids again.

Alford Hocutt, Pvt
US Army
17th March 1865

NOTE: The facts in this article are true. The Names are true. I tried to imagine what Private Alford Hocutt would have said if I could have asked him why he left Tuscaloosa County Alabama to fight for the North. The Fact that he died in a Southern Prison Camp is both Ironic and sad.

2007 Update:

Several years ago while I was still actively doing Genealogy I met some of the descendants of this branch of my family. I was a bit odd but worth the drive to Northern Oklahoma to meet some family members that had an entirely different viewpoint of our family's "Southern" heritage.

The New World Book of SCAMS

The New World Book of SCAMS
Our Friends in Bath Ohio

For all of you who have been doing Genealogy for awhile this information will be old hat, for that I apologize in advance. Our Friends in Bath Ohio are once more sending out their letters offering to sell you the “NEW WORLD BOOK OF (insert surname) for the very reasonable price of only $39.95 (preprinting price) plus shipping and handling. With this amazing Tome you can Amaze yourself with facts from the only (insert surname) international Directory. Discover how family names originated and what the distinguished (insert Surname) means. You will get your very own Family Coat of Arms, granted to a (insert Surname) centuries ago, Learn how to trace your family history and how to use rare records to discover even more about your origins.

What can I say, lets all immediately send these outstanding individuals our Visa number, Right? Wrong!!! This is a scam, these people send you a book consisting of some very rudimentary Genealogical tips, a Bogus family Coat of arms, and a list of address’s that you can get from for FREE. This scam has been going on for years; they have been sued repeatedly over the years. If you read the order form carefully it says “No Direct Genealogical connection to your family or to your ancestry is implied or intended.” What they don’t intend is for you to read the fine print. If you feel the overwhelming desire to waste $39.95 plus shipping on something please instead send it to your favorite charity, donate it to a church, take you kids to a movie anything just don’t send it to these thieves.

NOTE: This was one of the few articles I wrote when I was angry. I seldom get angry but this scam really burns me up. I know people who have bought their product and felt so disillusioned they gave up the hobby.

2007 Update:

These scam artists are probably still out there trying to steal your money for what is no more than a consolidated phone book.

Aunt Mabel's Turkey in a Bag

Aunt Mabel's Turkey in a Bag

The Following is the Transcript of the Interview I did with Aunt Mabel when I asked for her Recipe:

"Aunt Mabel Can I get your recipe for the Christmas Bird?"

OK, but you gotta remember this is an old family recipe and aint meant for just anyone. Lets see, first you need a decent size bird, about 12 to 18 pounds. Now if your Uncle Bobby Don is coming over we gotta cook ham and Turkey cause he eats like a steam shovel stuck in high gear. No, Hiram, I aint talking about you, go back to watching the football game. I swear that man thinks that I aint got nothing better to do than talk about him. Now where was I?

You were gonna give me the recipe. Said we needed a 12 to 18 pound bird.

Oh yea, OK next, you need a paper bag, like the one get from the grocery store. It don't matter what store you get one from, but Hiram always gets a Piggly Wiggly bag cause he says the little pig on the front of it makes him laugh. You also need some peanut oil, about a cup. Now make sure its fresh and it has to be Peanut oil, none of them other oils work as well.

OK, a cup of Fresh Peanut Oil

Now you also need some Worcestershire Powder, not a whole bunch but a little. Sprinkle the Worcestershire Powder on the bird and rub it in with the Peanut oil. Don't get carried away with either one of em. Just a couple of pinches of powder and just enough oil to get it in. Go ahead and turn on your oven to 325 degrees. What, No Hiram I aint Cooking supper right now, I am telling this boy a recipe. No, I don't know why he wants it, everyone knows his wife wont let him in the kitchen after that fiasco with the tomaters.

Aunt Mabel, the Recipe

Well, if you would quit interrupting me all the time you would have it already. Now slide that bird in the sack, Breast side up. Tie off the bag with some string, and now you can't use fishing line, it melts and smokes up the house. Now stick the whole thing in a roasting pan without the lid. Put it on the bottom shelf of your oven and cook it for 10 minutes per pound. If you cook it longer than that the meat will fall off the bones. You wanna make sure that sack aint touching the top of the oven.

When its done that bag is gonna be all full of steam so open it careful, put it on the platter and serve it. Now that goes real well with My Stuffin and home made biscuits.

Thanks Aunt Mabel, it sounds wonderful.

End Transcript

Aunt Mabel's Turkey is famous in the family for its tenderness and juiciness. It may sound strange but makes a good bird.

NOTE: Another article that started out as a joke. I was still in training when I wrote this and a few people told me that if I could ever stop talking about food in the chat rooms I would make a good host. Well those of yall that know me know I couldn’t resist an opening like that.

2007 Update:

This has over the years been one of the most popular things I have ever written. It has appeared in the Leonard Graphic, Van Spotlight, Celeste Tribune, Houston (online) Tribune. Southern Footprints Magazine, the Dallas Genealogical Society Newsletter, the Golden Gates Genealogical Society Newsletter and various webpages. This is a REAL recipe and the one my family uses every Christmas and Thanksgiving for our Turkey.

Adventures in Genealogy: Migration

Adventures in Genealogy: Migration
Rednecks on the Run

Normally I come to yall once a month and discuss one of the strange thangs that happened to me during the month while I was researching my family. This month the Boss suggested (Threatened) it would be nice if my article was actually on topic. (I didn’t even know there was a topic every month) When I told her I didn’t even know what the topic was this month (Migration). She reminded me that we get a schedule every month. Personally I think I messed up when I told her I didn’t ever read that memo. You wouldn’t think a sweet little ole lady from Colorado would even know that kinda language. Anyway to make a long story short I decided to write about migration (Grin).

My immigrant ancestors were a pair of brothers (John and Edward HOWCOTT) who came to America sometime between 1706 and 1711. I know they were here by 1711 because that is when they sold some land in Bertie County North Carolina. I’ve spent the last few years trying to find them on Cindy’s Passenger List or in one of the Passenger books in the Dallas Public Library, but no luck. I think they either swam over or came in a bass boat.

Now my family wandered all over NC for a hundred years. My cousin and part time research partner says they kept moving to the frontier. I suspect they kept moving cause their neighbors objected to all the dogs and wagons up on blocks in their front yards. (Well we are Rednecks)

My direct line disappeared from NC around 1810 and don’t reappear till 1821 in Tuscaloosa County Alabama. I have found lots of circumstantial evidence that my HOCUTT’s and TRAYWICK’s and several other families were a part of a wagon train that left Johnston County North Carolina, traveled through Georgia, and Ultimately ended up in Alabama. The circumstantial evidence is 1) They were in the 1800 census of North Carolina but not the 1810. 2) Several of the wives that show up in the later census list Georgia as their place of birth. 3) Several of the people I am researching show up in Church and land records in 1821.

The next major migration for my family took place in the five years following the Civil War. Some of them moved to Holmes County Mississippi while the others moved on to East Texas.

They are lots of reasons for the migration. I suspect my emigrants (2 of the 8 kids of an English Bartender) came to America for purely economic reasons. I think the move to Alabama was a combination of the desire for cheap land and the “need” to live on the frontier. The post civil war migration was spurred by the devastation visited on the South during the Civil War and the bitterness towards the Reconstruction laws and the carpet baggers.

Whatever the reasons or the direction your ancestors migrated, the very fact that they moved can help in your research. In Many cases their relocation would necessitate the selling and purchasing of Land. Joining new churches and other things that generate “official” paperwork.

Once more we come to the end of an Adventure in Genealogy and find we have learned a little. 1) Ancestor Migration can generate useful paperwork 2) Even if You don’t immediately find your emigrant don’t give up. 3) Never I mean Never tell the boss you don’t read her Memo’s.

NOTE: Again the facts are true, but I did a little stretching. I had actually read the memo but I don’t usually write on subject, my articles tend more to the thought of the week style. The Boss asked me if I could work something up for the “Monthly Theme” because we were a little short on articles. To put it mildly I saw a chance to let my humor run a little wild and share a laugh with he

Let’s Talk Genealogy

Let’s Talk Genealogy

Please indulge me for a moment; allow me to take off the rubber nose, big shoes and my class-clown image to discuss a serious matter with you. As we are all aware our nation is currently embroiled in a constitutional crisis and once more our soldiers and sailors are risking their lives under foreign skies. First let me ask all of yall to pray to your God in whatever form you believe he takes for the quick resolution of this foreign crisis with as little loss of life as possible on both sides. For whatever reasons we wage this war justified or unjustified let us hope it ends soon, then we can debate its merits and motivations.

That leads into my second subject. I understand that passion; tempers and suspicions are running very high at the moment. I will not lecture you on the pros or cons or our current constitutional crisis, that would not be appropriate. Instead I ask that we all try to remember that these chats are set up for Genealogical Research. There are separate chats set up for political debate. I frequently attend them myself when the desire to discuss the day’s events overtakes me. The rules are a little looser there and discussions more intense, I suspect because of the confrontational nature of the subjects.

I am pointing this out with the hope that we can at least restrict the number of nongenealogical discussions that erupt in “our” chats. Those of you who know me, know that I am not a stickler for the rules. I like to play, almost always willing to discuss eating, sports or any other subject or to just make jokes and play wavs. So please don’t misunderstand me, I am not discouraging the bonding of friendship that in my opinion makes our rooms the best on AOL, but I am concerned about the growing numbers of heated nongenealogical discussions going on in the rooms. I fear that the general tone of these discussions, the apparent lack of respect for each other may erode the bonds of friendship and mutual respect that our rooms have always been known for.

Yes we are all adults with strong opinions. Yes, we have the right to express them, BUT we are also friends, cousins and friends of cousins. Lets try to respect each other and think twice before offering an angry or insulting word.

January is the birth of a New Year, the last of this millennium. Lets put aside our old anger and try to get along, or at the very least lets keep our disagreements civil. Remember what your mother told you (or at least what mine told me); if you can’t say something nice to someone keep your mouth closed. I would like to state for the record I have met some of my dearest friends in these rooms. They have enriched my life in ways I can never describe. You people, all of you people, are wonderful and very worthy of respect and friendship.

NOTE: I wrote this during the impeachment of President Clinton. Its strange I found myself at odds with people who I really care for over the politics of the day. Sometimes we all just need to step back and consider whether what we are about to say in anger is what we really think. The Cosova deployment continues still as of this writing and still seriously question the reasons and need for it, but arguing with my friends will not answer the questions. As you all know President Clinton was impeached but was not removed from office, so all the harsh words exchanged in the chats between people who were friends did nothing but hurt each other. Its been over almost a year since I felt the need to write this particular column, but I still feel sometimes we need to be reminded.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

The Email Miracle

Adventures in Genealogy: The Email Miracle
Rednecks, Computer Mail and Long Distance Cuzzies

I don't know if yall have had this experience yet, But I had an Email Miracle this Month. When I got home from my Vacation (Yes we went to Paris -------------Texas), I had over 1000 emails waiting for me on my various screen names. This is of course a result of my forgetting to temporarily Unsubscribe to the 6 Genealogical Lists I belong to. (Just in case you’re curious, Alabama, East Texas, Tuscaloosa County ALA, Wilson County NC,Staffordshire {England} and the Black Sheep List). So I got to work reading, deleting and all those other fun things we do with email. Just a side thought here if you don't like the subject being discussed - Delete the email there really is no need to flame the people on the list. After 4 hours of constant work I came up with about 25 emails that I felt the need to respond to. Some just to pass on suggestions or info on where folks could find stuff (Yes I know I am a busybody on the lists too), some to ask questions about something said (I aint the smartest Redneck in the world) and ONE From a person who asked about my main Genealogical Line. After a series of emails with this lady it turns out that we are cousins, she was the Great Great Grand Daughter of my Great Grand Fathers brother. (BOUNCE BOUNCE a Real Life BINGO). Well of course we exchanged information on our lines (I didn't have nothing at all on hers). I sat back and thought well that was sweater than Grandma's Corn Cob Jelly.

A couple of days later on one of the lists I belong to (BlackSheep) one of the Old Members returned after a lengthy absence. Well being the serious- minded person I am, I couldn't resist throwing a couple of jokes at him about the fact that this Old Timer was One of the Youngest Genealogists on the list. We exchanged a couple of emails and then I sent him a link to My Main Page, the Adventures in Genealogy. Well he wrote to the whole list and suggested they check out my page and listed my real name. Now I don't make any effort to hide my real name but I do write under the name UncleHiram, and all of my email from my columns go to Well to make a long story short (I think it's a little late for that), one of the other members of the list sent me an email asking about her ancestor with the same surname. Turns out she was also a distant cousin and again on my main line. I couldn't believe it. Not only did I have her Ancestor in my Data Base but I had her in my material. I sent her an Ancestor printout for her Grandfather and she updated all the info I had on her immediate family.

Well to put it mildly this has been one of the Red-letter Weeks for my research and its only Wednesday.

Well once again we come to the end of one of our little Misadventures and we have learned a little. 1) Subscribe to the Lists that pertain to the area your Ancestors lived in. You can find a complete list of the Lists available at 2) You really should UNSUBSCRIBE to a list if you are going to be on vacation for a while. Either that or prepare to listen to your Blonde make jokes about you while you weed through a ton of email. 3) The More you get your SURNAMES out there the better your chances for finding a new cousin.

NOTE: Hard as it may be to believe this one is completely true. Sometimes you just get lucky.

2007 Update

I no longer use the email address mentioned in this column. There are still genealogical mailing lists out there. You can find them at

Cyndi's List Mailing Lists

Dumb Luck

Adventures in Genealogy: Dumb Luck
Rednecks, Divining Rods and Cemeteries

Our mutual hobby (Obsession) is fueled by intense research, whether its running the Court Houses, haunting the libraries, staring at Fiche (Grin) or Cemetery hoppin. We have discussed at least in passing all of these but this month I wanna tell yall about the thing every amateur genealogist lives for, PURE DUMB LUCK.

Over the Memorial Day weekend I took a trip down to Van Zandt County to do a little Cemetery hoppin. I stopped at the Van Zandt County Genealogical Society Library and picked up a copy of their cemetery guide. (Graveyards of Van Zandt County, TX Volume A, Southeast Section (I20 to TX19)

Now some of yall may have guessed I aint a Professional or even a very conventional Genealogist. I tend to try things "normal" people would dismiss as crazy. Which explains why I took a Divining Rod to the cemetery. A well- respected AOL Gen Room Chat host from Oklahoma, that is a good friend of mine, sent me an email describing their use in locating unmarked graves. So there I was in a small East Texas cemetery near the Van Zandt - Henderson County line with my book, Divining Rod, Graph Paper, Pencils and 3 cameras making notes, taking photo's and wandering from grave to grave. I noticed a couple of other people when I got there, I waved at them and basically forgot about them.

I was examing the headstone of a James Marion Hocutt (a distant cousin) taking photo's and wondering what his relationship was to the other Hocutt's in this cemetery when I heard a voice behind me. "Boy, what you doing to my Daddy's Grave?"

I turned around and saw a 6ft tall Good Ole Boy wearing a baseball cap that said "Hocutt Cement" frowning at me. I very quickly explained my name was Hocutt and I was doing a family tree for our family.

He looked at me and shouted over his shoulder "Honey, this little guy says he is a Hocutt and he's doing a family tree. Aint that a kick in the head?" I ended up going over to their house and discussing their branch of the family over BBQ ribs and home made Cole Slaw.

Once again we come to the end of one of our Adventures with a few lessons learned. (1) Do your research, know who you are looking for in the Cemetery (2) Keep an open mind don't dismiss a research method just because it sounds crazy and (3) Some times you just get lucky.

NOTE: I sorta blended two trips together for this one. The first happened at the New Hope Cemetery in Wood County Texas. We were looking for my wife’s ancestors and ran into one of her cousins in the cemetery. The second happened in the Cemetery I described. I met a cousin of mine later that day that turned out to be descended from the people in the cemetery. A branch of my family I had never met before.

2007 Update

The Van Zandt County Genealogical Society continues to be one of the best small town societies that I have ever encountered. You can visit the website at

Their extensive list of genealogical publications is available at, while pulling the URL for the page this morning I noticed they are now offering some of the books on CDs. If you have family in Van Zandt County I highly recommend you use this wonderfull site to further your research

Genealogical Societies

Adventures in Genealogy: Genealogical Societies
Rednecks, Little Old Ladies and A Parking Lot Full Of Pickups

Some of yall may have guessed by now I am from East Texas and we do Things a little different out here. I would like to be able to tell yall that everything I've learned in the last three years has been a result of the Chat Rooms. I wish I could tell you that you can do all your research without ever leaving your computer chair, but my Momma told me lying was like working. Once you start you can’t ever stop.

The fact is that sometimes you just gotta go out into the field for a little hands on research. Don't Panic, You don't need to go out and buy a pick up truck, hunting rifles or shovels. If you will let me, I wanna tell you about one of the places you can go for help, suggestions, research materials and a cold beer. Ok, you cant get a cold one but you can meet a lot of good folks. Now I am a member of four genealogy societies myself.

The Dallas Gen Society because of the lectures and conferences was a natural for me. (I need lots of help.) The 2nd one I joined was the Tyler County Texas Gen Society. I learned a valuable lesson from the Tyler County Gen Society that has influenced my decisions on whether or not to join every other society I have dealt with. Don't ever assume that the city of Tyler is in Tyler County. I joined the Greenville Society because they are the closest one to me and I use their facilities a lot. The fourth society I joined and the one that constantly reminds me that I live in Texas is the Van Zandt County Gen Society. The First meeting I managed to attend (I live 70 miles away) the first thing that I noticed pulling into the parking lot was all the Pick Up Trucks. I will be honest with ya I was expecting a bunch of blue-haired little old ladies with country club credentials and little or no patience for dealing with a dumb redneck from the sticks.
I started to relax when I saw hot peanuts and tortilla chips on the snack table. In case yall aint aware of it these are two of the major food groups for rednecks. The folks in the meeting made a point of shaking my hand and trying to make me feel welcome. They were even friendly and helpful after they got my membership fee. The folks in the group were a real cross section of the county, some young enough to be my kids and a couple of people who voted for Calvin Coolidge.

The Van Zandt Gen Society has published quiet a few books to help East Texas researchers. Two of the books they published I feel deserve a special mention. The first was a compilation of school records, tax records and various other legal documents from 1890. Although its not as good as actually having the 1890 census (I hope that guy that burned them is still freezing) it did help me to locate a few of my long lost ancestors. The second was a comprehensive listing of local cemeteries with maps and an index of who was in the book. This wonderful book helped my find my blonde's Gr. Gr. Grandfather's final resting place and finally nail down some facts on the man.

Once again we come to the end of another Adventure in Genealogy and without meaning to we have learned a couple of things. 1) Almost all Gen Societies produce excellent books, that can help your research. 2) Almost all of them are filled with really good people who have the same passion for finding dead cousins that we have. 3) and of course you gotta have hot peanuts on your snack table. Adios and Keep Smiling

The Christmas Reunion

The Christmas Reunion
Rednecks, Turkeys and Crazy OLE Uncle Hiram

It was one of those Magical Moments, Reba is on the stereo singing Jingle Bells, my sweet little Blonde has been baking pies for 3 days. I've got 100 blank family history sheets ready, 20 copies of my family printout in binders to sell at the family get together tonight and visions of a genealogical goldmine dancin in my head. I've got 40 family members coming over tonight and figure to get updates and info from all of them. Suddenly, the phone rings. I pick it up and say "Y'all got us, who are yew." And the nightmare begins. I hear that raspy voice say, "Hey Boy, this is Uncle Hiram, You know your grandpa's sister Mabel's husband. Just wanted you to know that me and the Mrs. is running a little late, we wont be there until about 5." All I can think to say is "OK".

Oh Lord Baby, you better put up the Good Jelly glasses, Crazy old Uncle Hiram is coming. Now don't get me wrong, I love old Hiram but this is the man who thought our Goldfish bowl was a great way to keep your fish bait fresh.

About 3 o'clock folks start showing up loaded down with fried chicken, potato salad, corn bread and pies. As they come in I give them a blank family sheet and ask them to fill out the stuff they know. I set up the camcorder and start interviewing the old folks about their memories and lives. Cousin Bobby Jean asks me about the family printout. So I explain, "Bobby Jean a lot of folks have asked me for copies of my research. I figured this would be the perfect time to spread it around. What I did was scan some of the old photo's I had, added some of the family history that I have discovered, and printed a copy of all of it along with a descendant register from FTM. I took that whole package down to the copy store and had them make 20 copies, bought some nice little binders and viola a family history for $5 a copy."

More folks show up, more food, oh great nanner puddin and Jell-O. Uncle Jimmy Don wants to know "why you want us to fill out these little forms, what are you some kinda revenoor?" (Sometimes having redneck relatives is a real adventure in tortured logic) No Unk, I am just trying to get all the names and dates right, and things like that. I mean after all you do want me to get it right don't ya? Cmon we all know you were in the army, but your grandkids wont know you fought in Vietnam if we don't tell them. "Alright but if them black helicopter start chasin me, I Gonna get you!" (Now I don't want yall to get the wrong ideal about Uncle Jimmy Don, he's been the Asst. Night Manager at the Dairy Queen for 12 years and that incident at the waffle house wasn't his fault, I don't care what the County Sheriff says.)


I run to the window and hear Uncle Hiram yelling "who put this dang dog house in the driveway." Hi Uncle Hiram, you parked in the front yard again instead of the driveway but that's OK, come on in. In comes "Crazy Old Uncle Hiram, almost 80 years old, half blind and carrying that nasty spit cup. "Uncle Hiram have a seat, we are all fillin out family histories and sharin our memories of our childhood."

"Well, I know yall all call me Crazy Uncle Hiram but let me tell you one thing. I can remember the old days. When I was born back in 19 and 19, Daddy was a farmer in Fayette County. I was born after Daddy got back from fighting the Germans, of course ifin he had dun it right, I wouldnt had to go back and finish the job in WW2."

For the next two hours our "Crazy" Uncle Hiram amazed us with stories of his childhood in the depression, fighting in WW2 and some of the odd jobs he had as a kid. He told us about the stories his daddy had told him when he was young about growing up in back woods Alabama at the turn of the century.
Well, another Adventure in Genealogy ends and another lesson learned. When getting ready for that family get together take plenty of blank forms. Put together a small family book and "Publish" it. Your family will love it and wont mind paying a small price to defray the costs or your research. You can get nice binders at any good office supply store for less than a dollar each and copies of your printout made for about 8 cents a sheet. You can put together a 60 page family history for about $5. Finally, Never dismiss any relative, no matter how old or "Crazy." Sometimes they can be a treasure trove of information, even if they do empty their spit can in your wife's Ivy Plant.

NOTE: I hate to admit it but most of this story is true. The family members I described are real but I changed their names to protect myself. They would have killed me. The "Character" Crazy Old Uncle Hiram described in this column became the basis for the Uncle Hiram Trayweek character that grew into the Nomocotton stories. Uncle Hiram is a real person and he is pretty much the way I described him in this story, But Hiram isn’t really his name.

2007 Update:

Uncle Hiram was loosely based on my Father-In-Law LV Lunsford. We lost LV early last year. The rather wild humor that fills these columns and the associated Nomocotton Stories is not just mine, it is also borrowed rather liberaly from LV's stories.

Do we need to know history to do Genealogy

Do we need to know history to do Genealogy

An interesting Question and one without an easy answer. It all depends on what you want to get out of your research on your family. If all your are trying to do is put together a family tree with dates and statistics then the answer for you is NO.

But, if you want to understand your ancestors and what their life was like it helps to know that Uncle Joe died on June 6th 1944 in France because it was DDay. I’m not saying you need a college degree in Medieval French Bathroom Fixtures, but what I would suggest is that you familize yourself with the basic history of the country your ancestors came from. It’s important to investigate that nation’s history because it might not match American history. If you ask an American when did World War 2 start most can tell you Dec 7th 1941, but a Frenchman, Englishman or Pole will tell you September of 1939. I recently witnessed two good genealogists argue about the date of the civil war. After a few minutes I realized they were both right because they were talking about two different wars. One the American Civil War (1861 –1865 and the other the English Civil war. Quick what’s Independence Day? -------- I bet most of yall said the 4th of July, well your right unless your ancestors lived in Mexico then its May 5th. The Date that Mexico won their independence from France.

What I am trying to say is a basic knowledge of History gives us a better perspective on our ancestors lives.

NOTE: Although I come at it from humorous point of view, the necessity of knowing History to do Genealogy cannot be stressed enough. You will never understand the "Why" of your family history without understanding the history of the times.

Black Sheep

Adventures in Genealogy: Black Sheep
Rednecks, Family Legends and Lynchings

I don’t know how it works in normal families, but here in the South we all got at least one Crazy old Uncle who tells stories about the family. Now I told yall about Uncle Hiram a while back, so I want bore yall with his descriptions. Instead lets talk about family legends and our Black Sheep.

Uncle Hiram told me a funny story about some of our Lunsford Kin from West Texas. Now I didn’t believe him, but I did take notes about the locations figuring if nothing else it was good for some leads.

So a couple of weeks ago I loaded up the truck, grabbed the new Garth Brooks tape and the new Jeff Foxworth tape and headed for Lampasas. I got down to Lampasas and went straight to the newspaper office. When I asked to see their old newspapers, either the lady didn’t understand or she had a vicious streak. She told me to go down the hall and the 2nd door on the left is the Morgue. I got one of those stunned confused looks on my face and said, "OK, I am looking for Dead folks, but that aint quite what I had in mind." She just shook her head and said "2nd door on the left." I don’t know why but I seem to that reaction a lot.

Well anyway I went down the hall and went through the 2nd door. There was a little old man in there and he offered to help me. I explained I was looking for any info on the Lunsford family that lived down near here in the 1880’s. He gave me a strange look and said, "You mean the Lunsford GANG?" Well, I guess so. We have lots of stuff on them, here let me get the Fiche.

I got a big smile on my face and said "Sir, I’m way ahead of ya", I handed him the bag I had picked up at German John’s on the way down, "it’s a family order of fried catfish with Jalapeno breadin." He started laughing and said "I love your sense of humor, I’ll be right back." He came back a few minutes later and said "you’re in luck that time period has already been put on microfilm." We popped the film in and started going through it while munchin on the fish.

After about an hour and almost all the fish, we came across an article about a new gang of rustlers working the Lampasas area. There was also a small article about Wyatt Lunsford the youngest son of "Captain" John Lunsford being arrested for beating up two men in a bar fight over in Nomocotton Texas. The article went on to say "Captain" John Lunsford was rumored to have ridden with "Bloody" Bill Anderson during the War of Northern Aggression. I told the guy this can’t be my Lunsfords, My John was only a private and served in the infantry. He smiled and said that’s "Captain" John, they called him that because he was fast with a gun and he insisted.

As the afternoon wore on we came across newspaper reports of more rustlin and bar brawls. Finally about 3 PM we got to the account of the trial of 3 members of the Lunsford Gang. They were convicted and sentenced to Prison for Cattle rustlin, I figured that was it and told the little ole man helping me that I shure appreciated him helpin me find all this great stuff. He looked at me and "don’t you want the rest of it?" Well yes, you mean there’s more?

He then fast forward to the paper’s account of the gang’s appeal. It was obvious from the tone of the piece that the editor thought the appeal was a miscarriage of Justice. It seems that all 3 were released on appeal because all of the witness’s had "disappeared".

When they were released there was another wave of rustlin in the surrounding counties until sometime in 1889 when Wyatt Lunsford was shot in a bar fight and his brother Jason Casebeer was lynched by an angry mob. The guy helping me explained that there were other accounts of the various members of the Lunsford family in the paper but the gang had been broken.

Another Adventure in Genealogy draws to a close and once more we have learned some lessons. (1) Before you decide to ignore your family "blacksheep" keep in mind they could very well be the easiest member of your family to research. (2) We didn’t all descend from Puritans and Saints. This may strike you as embarrassing but if you stop and think about it; these folks are like Jalapeno’s on your nachos. They keep your family history from being bland and boring.

NOTE: The facts of this story are true, I did stretch a few details to make them funnier. The Lunsfords of East Texas were cattle rustlers and John Lunsford did serve in the CSA.

Member Search and Profiles

ADVENTURES IN GENEALOGY: Member Search and Profiles
Rednecks, Mega Huhs and the Broken Printer

Yall might not believe it but I aint what you would call a computer geek. When I first started doing this Generology stuff I used a couple of spiral notebooks, pencils and a big old box for filing. I used this system for a couple of months
Then one day I got an email from some guy I didn’t know complaining that the printer I sold him didn’t work right. Well being the calm, level-headed, tactful person yall know I am, I immediately sat down and wrote a two page email back to him telling him I didn’t know him and what he could do with that printer. Before I could send it, my blonde read it and said "Baby that aint very neighborly and besides I don’t think that’s physically possible. Did you ever think maybe there’s another person online with the same name. " I told her "Babe you know what the odds are that there is someone else out there with my name?" She said "I don’t know Bill, why don’t you ask your cousin Bill, or your nephew Bill or your Uncle Bill!" Then she just walked off grinning. You know for such a sweet little blonde she shure do love to let me know when I have overlooked the obvious.

Deciding it was at least possible she could be right I decided I needed to find out how to check for other folks on AOL with my name. I punched that little button named "Help" and typed in "anybody else got my name". Well I aint gonna tell you what it said the first time but eventually I got to the members search. I typed in my name Billy D Waffle (Bet yall thought I was gonna tell you my real name – didn’t ya?). To put it mildly I was shocked when someone with the same name showed up, on top of that we had almost the same screen name. He just added a couple of numbers on the end of his.

I gotta tell you I was as excited as a man with front row tickets to a Tanya Tucker concert. I yelled out "Babe, there is someone down in Houston with my name." She stuck her head in the door and said "don’t pay no attention to what I suggest after all you the big Online Expert." Like I said sweet as Golden Eagle honey but I think some of the bee’s are still hangin around.

Well I deleted the less than nice email and instead forwarded the complaint to the other "Waffle" with a short note explaining who I was and how I got his mail. I also asked him if he was interested in genealogy and if he would mind helping me add his family to my database.

Well a couple of days went by and I forgot all about it. Then I got a phone call from this guy in Houston. We must have talked for an hour, turns out he was doing Genealogy too and he had been aware of me, but because I didn’t have a profile he never bothered to contact me. Thanks to a misdirected email, I got a new cuzzin, added a lot of info to my database and made a new friend.

Thus another Adventure in Genealogy ends and again without meaning to we learned 3 things. 1) Make a profile for yourself, don’t put personal stuff in it but put the surnames you are looking for and the word Genealogy. 2) Do a member search (on AOL) for your surnames, and 3) Listen to your blonde. Adios and keep Smiling.

NOTE: Again based on the truth ---- sorta. I did get the broken printer letter and my sweet blonde did make the suggestion that I do a member search, but I really didn’t lose my temper that bad.