The 2013 North Carolina Family History Fair

mccullohI went to the North Carolina Family History Fair at the state library last Saturday.  It was not as big as the San Diego Comic Con but it had a goodly number of people in attendance.  There were also numerous vendors and Local History and Genealogy Librarians in booths from various counties in NC.  Cumberland County won for best booth in my opinion, but maybe because they had the most swag and I got a free water bottle.

I had a great conversation with the Gaston County (my home county) librarian, Anne Gometz, about the German settlers in the county and about my childhood growing up a couple of blocks behind the library.

Also, one of the vendors, Stewart Dunaway, had some great materials that he had authored for sale.  We had an interesting discussion on Henry McCullough, the infamous land baron/ speculator who was given 1.2 million acres of land from the king in hopes of fostering new emigrants to North Carolina, but conversely the grant enabled McCulloh to extort people who had already settled on the land, which in many cases caused them to leave the colony.  I had first read about McCullough in Marjoleine Kars’ Breaking Loose Together: The Regulator Rebellion in Pre-Revolutionary North Carolina, and found him an intriguing villain. I am definitely going to order that book as well as some others from his site.

The first speaker, archivist Debbie Blake, gave an absorbing and informative presentation on vital records titled “Before the Vital Records Law: What’s a Family Historian to Do?”  Most of the material she covered would already be in the repertoire of an experienced genealogist but she found frequently entertaining examples of the records with some especially hilarious divorce records.

The panel discussion on DNA led by Dianne L. Richard, genealogist from Mosaic RPM, “Who’s Your (Great-Grand) Daddy?: The Basics of DNA Testing for Genealogy”  was for the researcher that is just entering the world of DNA but gave some great examples from the panel’s own experience in furthering their genealogical research with DNA testing.

So maybe next year I will have a booth for our library at the fair.

Crafting Lives: African American Artisans in New Bern, North Carolina, 1770-1900

crafting livesReceived this new book today and it looks like an intriguing examination of an aspect of the antebellum South that has gone frequently unexamined.

Inside the  book jacket:

From the colonial period onward, black artisans in southern cities–thousands of free and enslaved carpenters, coopers, dressmakers, blacksmiths, saddlers, shoemakers, bricklayers, shipwrights, cabinetmakers, tailors, and others–played vital roles in their communities. Yet only a very few black craftspeople have gained popular and scholarly attention. Catherine W. Bishir remedies this oversight by offering an in-depth portrayal of urban African American artisans in the small but important port city of New Bern. In so doing, she highlights the community’s often unrecognized importance in the history of nineteenth-century black life.

You are more related to some of your grandparents than others


painting by Jim Abeita

There is a great article on Slate magazine by my favorite genetics blogger, Razib Khan.  I read his posts daily on Gene Expression and it is nice to see him on something that will get his erudite writings on a complicated subject to a larger readership.  The article is titled, Which Grandparent are you most related to?, and Razib proceeds to explain how you are not related to each of your grandparents equally and how you can go about testing that with a test from the company 23andMe.

The short of why you are not related to your grandparents equally goes back to Mendelian genetics, which states that you get half of your genome from your father and half of your genome from your mother.  But that does not mean that you are getting exactly a quarter from each grandparent.  The process is random so you most likely get a different percentage from different grandparents.  You could also get nothing from some of your grandparents being that there is a 1 in 4 million chance  you could get all of your maternal or paternal chromosomes from just one grandparent.

The advantages of knowing this is not trivial but can lead to a better understanding of deleterious genetic conditions that you may inherit from your parents or grandparents.  Check out the article to read more.

Lyman H. Howe’s Moving Pictures in Wilson, NC


Today I digitized a flyer for a traveling moving picture show that stopped in Wilson, NC on October 13, 1904.  The show was put on by a former traveling salesman and railroad-man named Lyman Hakes Howe who introduces America to the movies with his six  touring companies.  Howe even built his own projector called the Animotoscope which he used to put on his ‘high-class moving pictures’.moving_pictures_1909_2

The show at the Wilson Opera house contained clips titled:  Russo-Japanese War Scenes, A Real Havana Cigar (not sure what that would be, either a man smoking a cigar or people making them I reckon), Moving In- Modern Methods of Furnishing a Flat, Training Military Horses and many others.  The show cost 25, 35, and 50 cents, depending on how close you wanted to observe the proper way to furnish a flat.

The Family History Fair at the State Library of North Carolina


On Saturday, October 26 the State Library of North Carolina will be hosting the Family History Fair.  This Fair will include presentations, panel discussions and vendors.  The presentations this year will be “Before the Vital Records Law: What’s a Family Historian to Do?” at 10 am and “Who’s Your (Great-Grand) Daddy?: The Basics of DNA Testing for Genealogy” at 11 am.  At one time I was asked to be on the panel for the DNA discussion but I guess they forgot about me.  However, I will be there as an attendee asking the probing questions or hanging out by the snacks.  See you there!

Alien Registration and Naturalization Records for NC now Available Digitally


Morris Barker was an immigrant to Wilson County, NC in 1909 from Kovna, Russia and this is his petition for naturalization.

The State Archives of North Carolina has recently added Alien Registration and Naturalization Records to their digital collections.  So if you had an ancestor that immigrated to NC between 1821 to 1944 they are probably included in the collection.  The State Archive of NC has much more information over at their blog.

Was your Ancestor a Soldier in Late Medieval England?


You wish this guy was your ancestor, but yours probably had more pockmarks and was less handsome.

I have been reading a historical fiction novel set in  the Hundred Years War, which was a long and terrible war that started when Edward III of England decided that he was also king of France.  The war was the death knell of plated knight mounted on the destrier thanks to the long bow and the English experience in the wars against the Scots which taught them how to fight in dismounted close formation against charging cavalry.  It also saw horrific depredations against the French peasantry while the French state became less feudal and more centralized.

Reading about the period made me interested in looking at it from a genealogical perspective.  After some reconnoitering, I found a site  called the Soldier in Late Medieval England.  At this site you can search the Muster Roll Database, which is a database made up of the muster rolls of England from 1369-1453 and the Protection database, which is  comprised of the treaty rolls, the gascon rolls and the scottish rolls during the same period.  The  website is a “…on-line searchable resource for public use of immense value and interest to genealogists as well as social, political and military historians.”  And it is  brought to you by a grant to the University of Southhampton and is intended “to challenge assumptions about the emergence of professional soldiery between 1369 and 1453.”

It is also a lot of fun to play with.  I found many names in my family as well as Nicholas Hook, the protagonist of the book I am reading called Agincourt by Bernard Cornwell.

New Materials

ansonuncommon ground

The Wilson County Genealogical Society and the Wilson County historical Association has generously donated some great new materials

From the Wilson County Genealogical Society

  1. Abstracts of the Pasquotank County, NC Guardian Bond Books, 1798-1831
  2. Abstracts of the Pasquotank County, NC Guardian Bond Books, 1832-1867
  3. Pasquotank County, NC Will Abstracts, 1720-1880
  4. Abstracts of Wills and other Records, Currituck and Dare County, NC, 1663-1850

From the Wilson County Historical Association

  1. The Heritage of Nash County

New materials I ordered that are now on the shelf

  1. Anson County, NC Deed Abstracts, 1749-1766 and Abstracts of Wills and Estates, 1749-1795
  2. Searching for Scotch-Irish Roots in Scottish Records 1600-1750
  3. Surry County, North Carolina Wills, 1771-1827
  4. Uncommon Ground: Archaeology and Early African America, 1650-1800