Thursday, December 30, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - Remembrances

Several times in the past few weeks, I’ve tried to write this post but every time the tears started flowing as I tried to find just the right words to honor two of my grandparents descendants that we had to say goodbye to this year.

During the week leading up to Christmas, the two suddenly became three and again I struggled.

Then without warning, the words I had struggled to write to pay tribute to two first cousins and an uncle suddenly started flowing as I reflected on not what I lost with their passing but what I had gained by having each one of them in my lives.

Cousin Vera

Cousin Vera was 20 years my senior.

When I was a kid, I remember Vera loved soap operas. She was my baby sister when I was in elementary school. So, through Cousin Vera, I was introduced to the world of Mrs. Chancellor, Jill, Snapper, Brock and the Brooks sisters of The Young and the Restless. The Edge of Night was our other favorite soap opera, although I don’t remember any of the characters from it.

I use to love for Cousin Vera to press my hair. She was the only one that I never feared burning me with the pressing comb. Mom and I always thought she missed her calling by not doing hair.

The best thing that she gave me was one of my first buds, her oldest, my cousin Daryl, who was one year younger than me. I tell ya until we hit junior high, he and I were practically joined at the hip or at least it felt like it. It helped that Cousin Vera and her family lived with our granddad in his house, which as I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions was one street over from our house.

She was diagnosed with cancer about 4 years ago. Even after she was diagnosed, she was courageous and chaired the last family reunion that was hosted by the North Carolina branch of the Pierce descendants. On 15 June 2010, her battle with cancer was over as it had the last word.

Cousin Ann

A few weeks ago, I posted a picture of my big cousin Ann and me for Wordless Wednesday. Shortly after I posted that picture, she passed. In fact, she passed while I was in Georgia for the Atlanta Family History Expo and my first research trip.

Ann, Cousin Vera’s younger sister, actually babysat me before her big sister did. Ann always recalled that I was always threatening to tell my mother on her about something. Meanwhile, I always remembered her washing my mouth out with soap although she swore she never did that.

One of the most interesting things about Ann is that outside of her North Carolina family (includes grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, first cousins and first cousin’s descendants) she’s known by her first name Elizabeth or Liz for short. When you start talking about Ann to family outside of North Carolina, they are like who’s that? Then you have to remember that they know her by her first name.

From my earliest days of researching, Cousin Ann was always pushing me to write a book about our family history and even offered to help write it. She mentioned it again the last time I talked to her, which was a few weeks before her death. I always said no because….well I had a lot of excuses. However, since I’ve been blogging, I’ve begun to think about doing a book about our family and my research even if it’s just for family. Ann’s passing has made me want to do it even more especially since I know how important learning about her ancestral past was to her.

Cousin Ann was also battling the cancer demon and once again it won. We lost her on 14 November 2010, exactly five months after the loss of her sister.

Uncle Melvin

Uncle Melvin was 96 years young and the second of my maternal grandparents' children. He was part of their “Georgia” kids. I suppose we / I should have been expecting that his days were possibly numbered given the numerous health problems he’s had of late. But as the last uncle on my maternal side, blood or otherwise, it just seemed like he would be there forever or maybe I just didn’t want to think about it.

From my childhood years, there is no one special moment that stands out. Like the rest of my aunts and uncles, Uncle Melvin and Aunt Dot, supported me in some of my early endeavors. While I was a Girl Scout, I could always count on them to be among my first customers each year for Girl Scout cookies.

There was one recent special moment. Through the years, I had never given Uncle Melvin anything for his birthday but this year, even though it was several weeks late, I just had to give him a little something. So, one weekend when I was in the hometown, mom and I went to his house, where I hand delivered the belated birthday card, which had a small gift of cash inside. Uncle Melvin was in good spirits that day. He read aloud the card that I had given him. I didn’t even realize that’s what he was doing as I was too busy talking to Aunt Dot and getting caught up on how my cousins were doing. Mom had to tell me to be quiet so that Uncle Melvin could read the card. After Uncle Melvin finished reading the card, mom and I stayed a little longer and visited a bit more before we had to leave. On the way out, I gave my Uncle a hug and a kiss and told him that the next time I was on that side of our hometown, I would be sure to stop in and say hello.

Uncle Melvin’s earthly journey concluded on 20 December 2010.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Reflecting on 2010 Genealogical Goals

Where has 2010 gone? Wasn’t it just yesterday that we were welcoming in the year?

Looking back on my goals for 2010, I didn’t get nearly enough accomplished. In some areas, I did better than I thought I had done or at least I think I did. And in other areas, as with everything in life, there are things I need to improve on.

Accomplishments for 2010 include:

  1. I did manage to get to a couple of conferences. Both happened to be in the state of Georgia. I attended the Southeast Family History Expo in February and the Atlanta Family History Expo in November.
  2. In February, I attended my first genealogy workshop. The workshop was given by a local group, Comprehensive Genealogical Services.
  3. After all these years, I went on my first research trip. It was a great experience and while I think I had great preparation, there were a few things I forgot like taking snacks to keep your stamina up. I will be better prepared for my next research trip.
  4. Even though some months I struggled with what to say, but, at least on this blog, I stayed on an even keel, more or less, with my posts. Now, Conversations with My Ancestors, the blog about my paternal ancestors, is a totally different story.
  5. I feel that I did manage to get in a bit more quality time with the folks although most of the dad quality time revolved around hospitals and doctors.
So, what do I hope to accomplish in 2011? Everything I didn’t manage to get accomplished in 2010 and then some. I’ll list specifics next week or at the beginning of 2011.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Vote for Me, Vote for Me

Well, I’m speechless. I just discovered that my blog, Georgia Black Crackers, was nominated for the Family Tree Magazine 2011 40 Best Genealogy Blogs in the Heritage Groups category.

Thank you to my nominator(s). I’m honored to be recognized and considered alongside others whose writing and research I’ve admired.

You can find out more about this recognition by reading the announcement on Family Tree Magazine’s blog, Genealogy Insider. Then go to the ballot to vote for your favorites. Voting is open through December 20, 2010, and you can vote as many times as you would like.

If you would like to check out all the blogs before voting, DearMYRTLE of DearMYRTLE's Genealogy Blog was kind enough to prepare a Sample Ballot with links to all the nominees’ blogs.

Now, here’s where I’m supposed to go into politician mode, but since I’m definitely not a politician, there won’t be any stump speeches promising things I can’t deliver on. Sorry folks. I hope you’re not disappointed.

Now start voting!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Advent of Christmas Memories, Day 12 - Charitable / Volunteer Work

Did your family ever volunteer with a charity such as a soup kitchen, homeless or battered women’s shelter during the holidays? Or perhaps were your ancestors involved with church groups that assisted others during the holiday?

Through the years I've participated in many charitable activities this time of the year either on my own, through church, or through work. This was instilled into me at an early age through my mother. My folks were two different denominations and I usually attended church with mom. Every year, our church would participate in Operation Santa Claus. My mother always adopted a child for Operation Santa Claus and included me in the process of selecting items for our adopted child.

After I was out on my own, I continued participating in Operation Santa Claus / Angel Trees, etc. either on my own or through church. Also, many of the places I've worked, adopted a family for the holidays and I also contributed food and clothing items toward those activities also. I did and still do get a rush from helping a child or family have a Blessed Christmas.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Blog Caroling, 2010 - A Non Traditional Song

I love music, period but especially Christmas music. I like traditional renditions of traditional songs but I also like traditional songs played in other genres such as jazz, soul, R&B, and rock. I especially like non traditional Christmas songs. So with all that in mind and remembering songs and groups from my youth, my entry for Footnote Maven's Annual Tradition of Blog Caroling is Give Love on Christmas Day by none other than little Michael Jackson and his brothers, aka The Jackson Five. This version is sung A cappella.

Revisiting Private Wheeler Sharp

Last year, after being allowed into my Aunt Lucille’s stash of photos, I posted on some of the pictorial finds. One of those was Pvt. Wheeler “Bubba” Sharp, who was one of my grandmother’s people.

I’ve traced “Bubba” backwards and forward, but have been unsuccessful in determining the connection he had to my grandmother. As stated previously, Bubba and his family migrated out of Walton County, Georgia about the same time my grandparents did and briefly settled in my home county in North Carolina before eventually moving on to Ohio.

Since posting about “Bubba,” I’ve often wondered if any of his children were still living and if so how I might get in touch with them. Well, this morning, the answer fell into my lap. I came across my potential lead toward finding out more about Bubba in the usual way I sometimes unexpectedly find leads; I simply was playing around, doing a Google search on various things I wanted to find answers to. Today I searched “‘Wheeler Sharp’ Ohio.”

I’m sure I’ve done this or a similar search before but came up empty. Today was different. Today, the obituary for one of Wheeler’s son’s, Avie, came up. Avie died last month. As luck would have it, two of Avie’s siblings are still living. So of course I’m planning to try to get in touch with them. Hoping and praying that 1) they will respond and 2) that at the least that they can tell me how “Bubba” is one of my grandmother’s people.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Family Recipe Friday - Momma’s Hot Russian Tea

The weather in North Carolina this week has been bitterly cold. Okay, I know you Northerners won’t think 19° is cold but for we southerners it is especially when it’s accompanied with wind. During these times, there is only one thing I can think of that chases the chills away, my mother’s Russian Tea. When I was a child, I couldn’t wait to get inside to have a cup. Nothing compared to it, not even hot chocolate.

After I grew up and moved away from home, my mother quit making Russian Tea and even lost the recipe. Whenever I would ask her how to make it, she would give me some recipes that she had collected over the years but none were it. For years, on my own, I would try to find recipes but none came close to duplicating the tea or the memories from my youth. Then suddenly about 4 years ago, I finally found one that even if it’s not how momma made it, it’s pretty darn close.


5 quarts water, divided
4 c sugar
2 Tbs whole cloves
1/3 inch piece cinnamon (I use way more than this)
6 family size tea bags
1 c pineapple juice
2/3 c lemon juice
1 c orange juice or juice from about 3 oranges


Combine 1 quart of water, sugar, and spices. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Strain (I don’t strain the spices out. Mom never did and that’s what made it so good). Bring 1 quart of water to boil and pour over tea bags. Steep 5 minutes. Combine spice mixture, tea and all of the juices. Boil remaining 3 quarts of water and add to above mixture. (I usually just add it directly to the mixture and bring back to just below boiling).

Serve with slices of orange. (I usually like to include a few pieces of the unstrained spices just like Mom use to do).

This version that’s as close as can be to mom’s appeared on  on Jan 31, 2007.

Lastly, I have friends who make something under the same name to give as Christmas presents. This version is a mix made from tang, instant tea, etc. No offense to my friends but it’s just not the same.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Amanuensis Monday – Research Trip, Day 1

After the 2010 Atlanta Family History Expo, I went on my first research trip. Day 1 of the research trip was spent in Monroe, Walton County, GA and Day 2 of the trip was spent in Greensboro, Greene County, GA.

The main purpose of this research trip was to acquire the probate records of my maternal Great Grandfather, Cornelius Pierce. Last year, I wrote the Walton County, Georgia Probate court to inquire if there were probate records for my great grandfather. They informed me that there were records but that due to the age and fragileness of the documents that they could not make copies. The documents would need to be transcribed or I could take a picture of them. I did both. My mother, who accompanied me to the Family History Expo and on the research trip, was a great help during the transcribing. She read and I wrote.

My great grand father died intestate, without a will. Therefore the records regarding his estate were found in the Minutes of the Walton County Ordinary Court and not the Wills and Estate Records. Because of this, it took me awhile to locate the proceedings.

Proceedings regarding my great grandfather’s estate took place over the course of the September and October 1911 terms of the court. (My great grandfather died May 14, 1910.) The following are the proceedings petitioning the court to sell the property. At the time of my great grandfather's death, he was in the process of purchasing this property.

Walton County Court of Ordinary, Oct 2nd Term 1911

To the Ordinary of said County

The petition of Jas. E. Carlton, adim of the Estate of Cornelius Pierce deceased, showeth that the Estate of said deceased in part A track of land in Town district it being part of the James Tanner Place. Containing 62 ¾ acres more or less bounded on the north by Alex Norris, east by Lon Pierce, south by Green Hawk, and west by G. A. Gibson and Mrs. Allcorn. Said Cornelius Pierce, at the time of his death, held bond for title to said land with part purchase money paid and the Bank of Monroe held deed. And said Bank of Monroe consents to the sale, provided the balance of the purchase money is paid by the Admin or all of the sale of the land and that for the purpose of paying the debt of said estate. It is necessary to see the said land. Therefore, petitioner seeks an order directing citation issue and be published as the law requires and if no good cause be showed to the contrary your petitioner be granted leave to sale said land.

J. E. Carlton Administrator

Walton County Court of Ordinary, Sept Term, 1911

Upon reading the foregoing petition, it is ordered that citation issue intervene and published as the law requires.

E. C. Arnold, Ordinary

Walton County Court of Ordinary, Oct. Term 1911

The written petition of James E. Carlton as admin of the estate of Cornelius Pierce, deceased, praying for leave to sell the land of said deceased having been duly filed and in appearing that notice of the same has been published as required by law that is necessary for the purpose of paying the debts of said estate that said land be sold and no objection being filed. Hereto it is ordered by the court that the said James E. Carlton he, and he is hereby granted leave to sell for the purpose of aforesaid, the following described land of said deceased all the track of land in town district in Walton County containing 62 ¾ acres more or less bound on the North by Alex Norris, east by Lon Pierce, south by Green Hawk and west by G. A. Gibson and Mrs. Allcorn.

The balance of the purchase money to be first paid to the Bank of Monroe, and the balance to be paid on other debts according to priority.

E. C. Almond, ondy

The underlined words were ones that mom and I had trouble making out.

Also, Lon Pierce, whose proprety was to the east, was my great grand uncle, great granddad's brother.

Friday, December 3, 2010

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy - Challenge #48 - Personal Genealogy Library

Amy Coffin of The We Tree Genealogy Blog, created a 52 week challenge to help we genealogist sharpen our skill set. This is my second week of participating.

The challenge for this week is Examine different online tools for cataloging your personal genealogy library and keeping track of the books you read. LibraryThing ( is a site where you can catalog and tag the books in your own personal library. It is a great tool for keeping track of the genealogy books you have. You can ever create tags for books you want to purchase. Good Reads ( and Shelfari ...( are web sites that help you keep track of books you have read. All three of these sites have social networking components. Your challenge this week is to browse these sites and see how genealogists use them. Bloggers, do you use any of these tools? How do you organize your own personal genealogy library?

This challenge runs from Saturday, November 27, 2010 through Friday, December 3, 2010.

I checked out and set up accounts with both Library Thing and Good Reads. After one day of use, I preferred the set up of Good Reads. For whatever reason, it seemed more user friendly to me.

How will I use this in tool in my research? Good Reads will definitely help me keep track of books in my collection and others that I have read but that aren't part of my library. I think it will also help keep track of materials I have ordered but not yet received. I recently checked a book out of the library that I had already ordered through This occurred because I simply had forgotten about the ordered book (the book arrived within a few days after I had checked the same title out of the library).
The other thing the catalog system helped with is visually seeing how my voracious reading appetite has returned even if it is for all things genealogical. I amazed myself with the books I've read during the past 2 years and I'm still no where where I would like to be.

This was a great challenge. Thanks Amy!