Saturday, November 9, 2013

Genealogist in Training

No, I am not a Genealogist, and I have a lot to learn. I have however become addicted to researching. I want to share with anyone just starting out the mistakes I have learned from.

1. Never copy someone else's research.
2. Document
3 Document
4 Look through everything in your own home. Even your parent's Home.
5 Talk and document everything your family can share with you on your family. Don't think you know it all.
7 Learn to enjoy grave yards. I have photographs of Kilsyth old church yard that have been useful. About 450 to be exact.
8 The internet is full of information just google the name. I have found several books, that were published from family notes, that took my family back some 783 years.
9. Remember you are only 1 of a million grand children. There are a lot of us out there that are related. It is their information too.
10. Share information. If you don't then their information will not get better and neither will yours.
11. If someone doesn't want to accept your documentation. OK. Leave them alone to their work. Just keep Documenting yours.
12. Be ready to accept you just might be the on who is wrong. The first time someone tried to tell me I was wrong I took it personally. So, I set out to prove I was right. Well, I wasn't and they were able to help me document my tree much better.
13. Did I say share? Well, do it!  I have been able to work with other family members like 8th cousins and together we have been able to add so much documentation to our trees. She is good at documenting and I have learned I can trust her tree. She is the only one I will accept putting information on my tree from.
14 Since names change through History. Some to the point of not recognizable from the original name. Pick a spelling and stick to it. My example is Cleland and I use that spelling. At first I used several spellings that just confused my tree. So, I changed them all to Cleland with the understanding it might have a different spelling. Another one is Stuart/Stewart. I do use both spellings but I know to look under both spelling to find a person. Just do not use more than 2 spellings. You will get overwhelmed looking up someone on  your tree.
15 And for ME and I emphasize "ME" - I do not add family to my tree unless they are Blood, married into or adopted. It got to the point I didn't know who was a direct line (Blood Related) or not. Many want to add everyone even their mother in law of her cousins wife. Trust me you will have enough of your own family once you get started. You do not need to add just to make your tree bigger. I have had to go back and delete a lot of folks because I did this to start with - Not a good practice.
16 Document
17. Don't get impatient with road blocks. They happen. Documents were destroyed in fires, wars, and just plan not kept up. It happens. You have plenty of branches to work on. don't let one upset you. I have a great grandmother I cannot find - anywhere. I know from family she is Irish but that is about it. Then one family line I can take back generations.
18 Don't let other discourage you!! People get jealous and will not believe you if you take your family back to far. Sorry for them but I will not stop for them. They can de-friend me on FB and they have over jealousy. I do try not to brag because as I said I am only one of a million or two that have them as grandfather's and grandmother's. That one drop of blood does not make us who we are.
19. Admit you will have both good and bad in your tree. I have Kings and Murders in mine. Alcoholism, depression, you name it I have it.
20. Take a class. It takes time and cost but learn from real genealogist. You just might learn something you didn't know. Yes, I did do this and would like to take more.
21 Be ready - some family do not want to be found. Yes, that happened to me too and I took it personally.
22 and last but not least Document.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Post for on Face Book

A photo of my grandfather on the right and his great nephew on the left.

I knew very little about Samuel Duff my grandfather's family. He moved to the USA from Scotland in 1911 at 31 yrs old. Samuel was born in Kilsyth. He had an older brother and 3 younger sisters that we knew very little about.

My grandfather's older brother David Duff the First and Samuel never kept up with each other. After getting on I found a connection to David Duff  I was totally shocked. After connecting I found David had a son named David Duff in 1900.  Then that David Duff had another son David Chalmers Duff my 2nd cousin also born in Kilsyth.

When I got this photo from David C Duff's wife I was amazed at how much they looked alike. I would have to say my 2nd cousin looks so much like his great uncle.

I can only say WOW.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Family Graves in Kilsyth, Scotland

I found all these graves just inside the front gate. I didn't have time to look through the rest of the cemetery. I really just started clicking photo's of headstones and came home and looked and identified them after the trip. I want to take a full day next time I go. I can't imagine how many I could have found if there had been more time. With Mom, Sarah, and Elizabeth we tired quickly and still had to drive back to the Farm. It was a fun day needless to say. 

Mom's grandparents grave John Duff/Anna Horn Barr. She never got to meet them but they always remembered her at Christmas with a box from Scotland. 

While Bill Gracie and I were in the office looking for the location of Mom's 2 great grandparents. Mom and Elizabeth were out having fun. 

 Mom's 2nd g grandparents:  James Anderson/ Anna Horn And Elizabeth's 5th great grandparents. Also John Anderson/ Mary Abercrombie Mom's great grand aunt and uncle. 

 Mom and her new friend Bill Gracie. (The local historian) He was so nice to meet us and show us around. 

 James Johnston/ Margaret Shaw Mom's 1 cousin 4x removed. Their Daughter and son-in-law Isabella Johnston and James Allan 2nd cousins 3x removed.

 Robert Anderson/ Mary Ann Bennie another great grand aunt and uncle of Mom's. Also their daughter Mary Anderson

 Thomas Anderson/ Jane Jarvie Mom's 4th cousin 3x removed and there son Thomas Jarvie Anderson Mom's 5th Cousin 2x Removed

 William Anderson/ Clementina Young Mom's 2nd great grand Uncle. Their Children Jean Anderson, Martha Anderson, Matthew Anderson, and Helen Anderson. Mom's 1 cousin 3x removed.

 James Anderson/Christina Brown another great grand Aunt and Uncle of Mom's 

John Cleland Mom's 3rd cousin 4x removed. Son and Daughter-in-law William Cleland/Agnes Stevenson Mom's 4 cousin 3x removed.  And child the grandchild Alexander Cleland died at 17. He would be Mom's 5 cousin 2x removed. 

 Anderson Chruch were everyone was married. Minister was Rev. Anderson

 Kilsyth in the back ground of the Parish Cemetery

 Graves of Livingston Family descendants of King David the Bruce. The cemetery worker told us the ground fell in and he saw the bodies. They are well preserved and photo's were even taken. No you can't see in it. Inscription says this branch of the family died out. 

Family graves in Murkirk, Scotland Dad's Houston/Dickson Family

Does she look like she is thinking - her Mom and Grandma are a little crazy for taking photo's in front of Family Graves? 
 Church door were Elizabeth's 4th great grandparents were married. Janet Dickson/ John Houston. 

 We let her have some fun collecting flowers!

Family in Scotland

As many of my friends know I have been to Scotland several time in the past year. This time it was strictly for FAMILY. I wanted to share my connections I found with Mom and Sarah. Elizabeth might be a little young to understand but, someday she will get it.

I have worked on adding family and finding family. The internet is full of ways to search. There are headstone inscriptions on line, Scotland's People let you search their records for a small fee, even small town have websites to go to and leave a message. I have found connections in each way. I will say the biggest connection was through Ancestry. I have found and talked to several of my Cousins. Some were as close as 2nd cousins and some as far off as 7th cousin 1x removed.

My goal this trip was to find my Mom's ancestors and the graves. I found that her father was born in Kilsyth and his family goes back to 1600 in Kilsyth. That is the biggest connection I have found at all. I have added about 3,000 family member that were born in Kilsyth. There were 5 sets of cousins that married each other. One set was even first cousins. No wonder that my Grandfather wanted to get out of Kilsyth and move to the USA.

We are all the Shearer Family Members
 My 3rd cousin 1x removed Margaret and her husband. Found them on 
 2nd cousin Jim and wife Mary I am in the center. Shearer's
 Mom's full cousin Helen, Mom, Helen's Husband Tommy and Me. All Shearer's 
 Helen Mom (Sarah) and William Shearer's. William is my 2nd cousin.
William with the Shearer family
 Dorothy with the Shearer Family
Back: Dorothy, Scott, Callum, Me(Laura). On the left arm Sarah, right arm Sarah & Elizabeth.
Front: Fiona, Laura, Sarah, Chrissy 

The Farm in Scotland

The Dairy Farm
I am so lucky to have family still in Scotland. I am also lucky they like me and I them. You know God picks your family and you pick your friends. I am pleased to say they are not only Family but are Friends. 
This year I took my Mom to Scotland her first trip in over 13 years. I wanted her to get a visit in with her cousin and the rest of the family. I also wanted my daughter and grand daughter to go with us. We made a 4 generation trip and it was amazing. 
Sarah found them a little fun :)
Elizabeth loved the "baby moos" 
She especially loved the cat and dog!
Mom even liked the "moo" cows. 
 Elizabeth loved the new farm/boy toys. No baby dolls here.
Trains and yes she is getting one for her birthday in 2 weeks!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Thursday, March 3, 2011


The first time I tried haggis I wanted to throw up. Why? From what everyone else said about it. How it was disgusting and all. I did try it and my mind was so ugh that I didn't want to let go and really give it a shot. Not bad but I was not going to be caught eating it. My conclusion was - it was OK. 

This time in Scotland, August 2010, I decided to give it a better try. Yea, thats right I liked it. The seasons smelled so good and that is really what you taste. I found some in a can and wondered if I could take that home. I decided not to try. 

I journeyed back to Scotland in December 2010 and this time I couldn't help myself - I carried home a can of it. It is now packaged to travel - Before now it was not OK to bring it home. 

Finally last night I gave it a try and put it in some chicken and even made some whiskey sauce. As I opened the can I wondered if I was going to gag or not. No, actually it smelled so good but I was still wondered about the taste. I mean have you ever eaten canned meat that was good? Just saying!!

Here is the end result and it was good!!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Elizabeth and Mommy

This is the best way for great grandma to watch the video. So I am sharing on my Blog.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Have you ever gone through your parents old things? Did you care about what you saw? Well, growing up it was like a treasure chest to me. Mom had hair clippings of her sisters, old watches, a dirty old ring with string wrapped around it, trinkets, and a lot of blankets and table cloths.

The other day I was looking for Mom's birth certificate and in the process I looked at everything again. Then I looked at the ring closer and tried it on. With the string around it - it fit me fine. After finding my great grandparents graves in Scotland and working on I find old things a lot more interesting.  I remember seeing it all my life but never questioned any of it. I asked Mom about it and she said she had no idea where it came from but that see remembers it always being in her father's, Samuel, things.

I began the process of taking off the string one wrap at a time. It was put on with meticulous accurate. Each wrap was exactly next to the last. Not one wrap overlapped the one before. Then a knot came and the string continued. After getting all the string off I realized how big the ring was and that a man must have worn it before the string. Well Mom said Samuel never wore it so who did. I could see that under the tarnish was some lettering. Wow did my mind race. Was there in inscription as to who the mystery might be about.

 I worked for several days on the tarnish I knew it was not gold but what was it? Since it was my grandfathers and all his family was still in Scotland, did it come from his family. I surmised that it was my great grandfathers, John, and when he died my great grandmother Anna, must have worn it. But, how did my grandfather get it?  My grandfather came to the USA in 1921 the year after his father died in 1920. So, I don't think he brought it with him because the string was wrapped around it for a woman to wear.

It was so hard to read but as the tarnish came off I kept seeing the word PENNY. No one in our family had that name. I tried to make the Y an A and said Ann... NOT! After the tarnish came off better I could see a candle holder next to the PENNY. WHAT?  On the other side of the ring I could read 1897. Then finally came the letters N E what is that? Holding it back and in the light I finally saw the ONE. I got on line and put in google 1897 PENNY and low and behold this is what I found.

And here is the ring:

It must have been John's and Annie wore it after he died. When Samuel went home for a visit he must have gotten it at that time and it stayed as a memory in his other stuff.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Elizabeth WALKING and God's Grace

I just watched this on Sarah's Blog and cried my eyes out. The song is so perfect for that big step and many times it has helped me in times of trouble. But, when you add it to my Elizabeth - tears abound at Gods Grace. The small joys he lets us enjoy sometime we don't see them with out the pain. It makes us look for joy that others miss out on.

Enjoy the video and listen to the song.

Monday, October 18, 2010

I'm still here

I'm still here - isn't that a song? I can't believe how long it has been since I posted. Time and I have not been getting along. Since I have been home I left for a week to Houston with a quick trip to Austin. Sarah had her first wedding photo shoot. I went to take care of Elizabeth. Can I just say Elizabeth is a blooming flower and to watch her is amazing. She is expanding on her likes, dislikes, and even what she enjoys doing. We played and had some wonderful time together as the photo's below show.

 Larry was the minister that, with my Father, performed Sarah and Ryan's wedding. It was so nice to be able to visit with him in Austin.

The day of the wedding Elizabeth and I saw Sarah off with breakfast and then went back to the room for a much needed nap. Then we got up and had a picnic and packed. She loved riding on the luggage carrier. How else was I going to get her back to the room.

Need I say more? God has been good to me.