I can already hear the experienced genealogy researchers laughing at me. I really did think I could do such a minor project in 2 months. I'm a professional person. I'm smart and organized. I'm also the decendant of a family that does not willingly allow itself to be easily found and documented.
Problem #1, was that I quickly realized that my maiden name was a common one. How many Thomas' in the state of Georgia? And where was my father born? What was the name of his brothers and sisters and cousins? Being a bit discouraged by this development, I retreated to the maternal side of the family. Surely this side can't be that bad!
At this point, I realized that I was in deep trouble. My mother's maiden name appeared to only apply to her father & brothers and sisters. Could my grandfather have been an alien who landed on this planet? And her mother's maiden name appears to be the name of every other person in east Tennessee. I had no idea of how many brothers and sisters my mother had. Multiple marriages by her parents had produced more names than I can keep up with in my stressed moments.
I may be slow, but I finally caught on and found something else for my mother's birthday. I also told her of my "intended" surprise. I had to. She had a lot of the information that I needed to get started. Luckily, my 90 year old maternal grandmother was alive and could help. I found an aunt on my father's side who pointed me to a cousin (my 2nd?) who has done some research. And among the things left by my alien grandfather was an old suitcase. In it were pictures and letters, Christmas and get-well cards. Even a Christmas card that came from my mother, father and me sometime in the 1950's. A card he cared enough to keep. Suddenly, I found a great uncle that was still alive that I didn't know about. Cousins (of all levels of kinship) galore. Some had slight name changes but they were still my cousins.
Then I started using the resources of the internet. The Georgia GenWeb project even listed my ancestors in the census info they have published. On the maternal side, I found a website dedicated to sorting out the family lines of the people of the mountains of east Tennessee. Now I'm cooking. I can do this. And hopefully, my mother will stop saying "I could have told you that." or "Did I forget to tell you that your uncle went by Earl but his name was Barney?"
It's been several years now since I started this "short term" project. I'm a little brighter now. I realize that some ancestors will probably never be discovered. I am happy with the ones I do find. If others finally come out of the woodwork and get documented, I will be happy and I will share that info with anyone else that is searching their family tree. I am searching a family forest. What I've found so far has shown me a lot about myself. Why I do or say certain things. Certain expressions I use to communicate with others. My basic self is made up of those people from my past.
During this search, I have found a lot of good people on the web. Many have freely shared info that I'm sure took them a long time and a lot of effort to find. I've found distant relatives that I hope to one day meet. I did make one vow during this ongoing search. If I have some info that will help someone else, then I will freely share it.
I can't possibly list all the family names that I have discovered. But, if you think your roots may be in North Carolina, north Georgia or east Tennessee, feel free to write me. The main names that I have found are:THOMAS, OGLE, HUSKEY, PLOTT, STARKS, NELSON, QUEEN, HULLANDER, WHISENANT, STEPHENS and BURNS. Others will be added as they pop up in limbs of the family trees. A couple of the links on this page are my way of doing a quick listing of my family trees so I could keep track. Other links are either ones that have been of great help to me in my search, or they are of a quality that they should be able to help someone else.
Happy hunting. Hope your family trees are easier to tame.
Editors Note: Unless you want to be committed to an institute consisting of padded walls, do not jump up and down and yell when you discover that oh so alusive maiden name of your great-grandmother or whomever. The non-genealogy type will not share your enthusiasm and will have you thrown out of the library or archives or wherever you're researching. Also, please do not involve me in any discussions of the Civil War or The War of Northern Aggression. My Georgia side fought for the South and my Tennessee side fought for the North. And my Indian side should have opened a Burea of Immigration and thrown a lot of people back into the ocean or at least back into the Carolinas.
Update April 2005:I'm still digging for ancestors. I've made a lot of progress but there's so far to go. Almost weekly, I find a new link to my past. I've found that by helping others, they in turn help me beyond measure. I frequently have to choose between updating my genealogy files or my web files. Guess which suffers.
Among other things, I've found that I'm a MUTT. And proud of it. German, English, Welsh, Cherokee, Swiss, Scots, Irish. My ancestors were highlanders and farmers in their homelands. Most came to America seeking a new life of freedom and a chance to do better for themselves and their children. Along the way, they've fought in all of America's wars; suffered the bad times and enjoyed the good. They've produced a few black sheep along the way but every family does. Mainly, they've produced hardworking Americans who have contributed to the growth of this great land. Someday, I hope to put a lot of my info in some sort of book so that the future generations won't have to work so hard finding their past.
Sworn Documents For Cherokee Citizenship