We think we know them. We think we know them well. That is, until we go to write their story. Our families are often mysteries to us. This is why we must ask questions…lots of questions.
The beginning genealogist/family historian begins with the interview. I want the oldest family member to answer my questions as soon as possible, but I’ll begin with whomever I have at hand.
I need FACTS to fuel my research.
- When and where were you born?
- Who were your parents? When and where were they born?
- Who were your grandparents? When and where were they born?
- When did you marry? Where? What county?
- In what states and counties have your lived?
- Did you or anyone in our family serve in the military? When? What branch? Where?
- What are your siblings’ names and approximate ages?
- If their parents, grandparents, siblings are deceased, when did they die? (Approximate dates are better than no dates.)
I need STORIES to flesh out our history.
- What was your best childhood memory?
- What was your favorite holiday?
- Who was your favorite relative, teacher, neighbor, etc.?
- Tell me about your best friend growing up.
- What were your mom and dad like?
- What were your grandparents like?
- What is the best place you ever lived and why?
- Where was the best place you ever visited?
Capture the facts and their stories.
- When possible, send your questions in advance of your visit and interview.
- If possible, record the interview.
- Take extensive notes and “flesh” them out while they’re fresh on your mind.
I cannot overstate the importance of family interviews. You need this information to backtrack your family. You need this information to tell their story. You need it first. When you begin their story, be prepared to reconnect and ask more questions. And you will have questions. Every good historian has more questions.
I’m one of the world’s worst when it comes to bragging on my children. I do it a lot, and I’m especially grateful when they make it easy.
Four of our seven children work for the third largest property management company in America. Lincoln Property Company manages residential, commercial and international properties around the world. The website Rainmaker describes the company.
“Lincoln Property Company was founded in 1965 for the purpose of building and operating quality residential communities. Consistently listed as one of the largest apartment developers in the United States, Lincoln has developed more than 182,000 multifamily residential units. Lincoln is currently ranked, in terms of size, as the third largest property manager in the U.S., with more than 140,000 apartment units under management. In addition, approximately 70% of Lincoln’s apartment management portfolio is comprised of fee management accounts for third-party investors.”
All of our children working for Lincoln have won multiple performance awards. Our youngest daughter Shelly Grace Roberts Williford becomes the second to win the Gold Medallion Award. She follows her oldest sister Shannon in winning this prestigious award. You can only win it once in a career and all of our children know it’s a big deal. Congratulations Shelly!
I want to express to the middle and upper management of The Lincoln Property Company the appreciation of a grateful parent. You invited four of our children to join your team. You trained them and allowed them to advance at their own pace. You recognize their achievements. You pay them well. Thanks! To those in the company who have had the most “hands on” influence in our children’s professional development, you are the real champions here. What they have achieved has been done on the shoulders of their managers and supervisors. They could not have accomplished what they did without your unselfish contributions. Thanks!
Here’s a copy of the letter read last Friday at the annual award ceremony. It was held this year in San Antonio, Texas. (Click on the link below the photo to read the actual letter. If you know Shelly, you’ll enjoy the read!)
Gold Medallion Letter
William Brumley Price was my great great great grandfather. I only uncovered his name in early February and was able to visit his burial site with my mother, sister and wife this past week.
Here’s how we’re connected. My mother’s name is Bertha Mae Byrd Roberts (Mamaw to some of you.) She was born a Byrd. Her mother was Willie Mae Burns Byrd. She was born a Burns. Her mother was Annie Elizabeth Price. She went by “Bettie” and was born a Price. Her father’s name was William Henry Price. His father is the focus of this post.
William Brumley Price was born in Tennessee on March 27, 1819. He moved with his family to Missouri in 1834 and married Rhoda Brixie in 1843. They named their first child Francis M. “Frank” Price. Rhoda may have died giving birth to him or shortly thereafter. William married Rebecca Eggman in 1846. They migrated with their 7 children to Texas sometime after 1856 where they settle in Collin County and would go on to have 11 children.together. He served as a member of a cavalry regiment during the Civil War. It may have been the same unit in which Pleasant Wesley Byrd served. (researching) There is one piece of evidence that indicates he may have been a lawyer. (researching)
William Brumley Price died July 3, 1901 in the Blue Ridge Community in northeast Collin County. He is buried in the historic old Grounds Cemetery north of this community. He and Rebecca’s grave is surrounded by a chain link fence. Their beautiful engraved stone has been knocked off of its base and was too heavy for our crew to upright. (We need some big Roberts or Collins boys to make a trip to Collin County.) There appears to have been a storm through the cemetery. The engraving on the stone reads:
W. B. husband of Rebecca Price, Born Mar 27, 1819 Died July 8, 1901 Father let thy grace be much that we may meet in heaven Rebecca wife of W.B. Price Died Feb. 27, 1906 Aged 82 years old We trust our loss will be her gain, And that with Christ She’s gone to reign
I hope one day to meet the direct descendants of those responsible for erecting the marker and fence. Thank you…and please contact me.
Bertha Mae Byrd Roberts visits the grave site of her great great grandparents in March of 2015. Looks pretty good for 82!
One reward for the family historian is discovering and walking the ground of their ancestors. I did this last week with my best friend. My wife is an incredible person. I’ve spent the last 40 plus years getting to know her. In the past three years she’s revealed her hidden talents as a research assistant and photographer. Dee’s my best help when chasing family “ghosts”.
Below is a recap of what we did and how we accomplished so much in a limited time, valuable tips for genealogists everywhere.
In five days we traversed five counties. (The other three days were spent visiting family, porch sitting with Debbie and Jim and antiquing with David and Cheryl. Family should be fun!) Here are some of our unearthed treasures:
- Located in Collin County and took my mother to visit the grave of her two x great grandfather. Before last week, she didn’t know his name. (William Brumley Price)
- Located in Wise County and visited the grove of trees where my great grandfather pastored a Methodist church for 16 years. (Pleasant Grove) In the adjacent cemetery we visited the graves of my great grand aunt and her family. (Narcissus Byrd Curtner)
- Located in Wise County and visited the graves of my two time great grandmother’s family. (Elizabeth Norman Ashlock Byrd)
- Took Dee to see the grave of my great grandparents Pleasant Wesley and Rachel Marinda Byrd, in Wise County.
- Located in Collin County and visited the graves of my great grand aunt Malissa Jane Byrd Spradley, her husband James Reed Spradley and her first husband Charles H. Gough.
- Narrowed the date of my great grandfather John Anderson Roberts’ arrival in Texas by the use of microfilmed tax records from Red River County.
- Located and visited the grave of my great grand uncle Samuel Zedock Byrd and his second wife Martha Josephine Vicars in Collin County.
- Located in Hunt County and visited the grave of Samuel Z. Byrd’s first wife my great grand aunt Sina Canzada Burke Byrd. (Does anyone know the origin of “Sina” and if it is short for something else? Her marker reads “S. C. Wife of Samuel Z. Byrd”. No help here.) This also gave me previously unknown birth and death dates!
- Located in Lamar County and visited the grave of my 3 x great grandfather Wiley Laningham. I only learned his name doing research last month! (We also enjoyed lunch with my cousin Glen Gambill and his precious wife Sarah! I’ll write more about Glen in a later post or two,)
- Documented my great grandfather John Charles Wesley Ingram’s first land purchases in Kerr County further confirming the errors on several historical markers and online historical accounts of Ingram, Texas.
- Further documented the correct arrival date of my 3 x great grandfather Jeremiah Horn to Texas and when he and others actually began the Swayback Methodist Church and school in western Collin County.
- Documented my 2 x great grand Uncle John Horn’s 1846 Collin County enlistment to fight in the Mexican – American War. (We had located and visited his grave in Stillwell, Oklahoma this past December. While looking for his grave we also met and visited with his g-great grandson!)
- Meeting Genealogy Librarian Cheryl Smith of the Haggard Library in Plano, Texas. (I’ll write more about this wonderful resource in a later post.)
- Finding the surprise resource of the genealogy room in the Walworth Harrison Library in Greenville, Texas.
While this is only part of what we learned, I think it’s the best part!
My post has run a little longer than I intended. Let’s finish it later. Come back for those tips on getting more genealogy done in a short amount of time.
Consider pressing the Follow button and registering to be contacted by email when we post here. Happy ghost hunting!
Wealth generates paperwork. Deeds, lawsuits, contracts, account books, purchase records, education, etc. all produce records of our past. The wealthier you are, the more paperwork is produced. The more paperwork produced makes it easier to find and follow our relatives and their past. We follow their extensive paper trail.
Backtracking the common is the challenge. Finding and following those who have left little to follow is the task of many family historians. You’ll need determination and tenaciousness. You may have to get creative. You will need the help of others. Reach out. Ask. Collaborate. Be open. Be grateful.
Consider joining an online community like Backtracking the Common.
Beginning genealogists – family historians – are truth seekers. They are fact finders. The stories they tell may be wonderfully crafted (Some do this better than others and that’s okay.) but, these stories are always shaped and supported by the facts. Aunt Sally’s story may enhance the family’s prominence or save the family’s “face”, but the historian in you must always discover the facts. Once those facts are known you may tell them in your unique voice and by doing so bless your family, community and world. What would have been lost history is now recorded history. Thanks!
Decide now beginning genealogist, family historian – fact or fiction?