Thursday, December 19, 2013

Norwood Heraldry

When I began my genealogical research, I began in Tennessee and South Carolina with Southern American folk.  I never imagined I'd run into anything quite like I did with the Norwood line, a well documented family of knights and English land owners that I became fascinated and fell in love with.  I trace my lineage to the Norwoods via my 5th great grandmother, Elizabeth Norwood.  She married George Yarbrough and they were the great grandparents of Alexander Yarbrough, my third great grandfather.

In researching this branch of my family, their heraldry factors prominently into the pieces of their history that still remain.  Eventually, I wanted to recreate an image of their heraldry and in doing so, began to research it more specifically.

Although I began researching the Norwood de Sheppey heraldry, I quickly ascertained that there is no such thing as a family coat of arms. [11]  Instead, each individual family member achieves their own heraldry that is specific to them and their accomplishments.  Thus, this wound up being a journey through the history of the Norwood Heraldry.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Using Evernote for Genealogy Research

Could I just say... I pretty much live in genealogy geek paradise.
  • I have covered 4,000 years of family history in my research.
  • I have squirreled away tens of thousands of pages of genealogy related books, photos research reports, newspaper articles, vital records and pages of notes in 700 documents
  • My research includes over 30 years of effort from my grandmother and me
.... and I can find absolutely any of it within seconds.  

I can cross reference the state of Tennessee with the name Yarbrough or find every note, photo or scrap of evidence related to my civil war ancestor, Drew Sinks with a few clicks or by typing a few words.  I can create entire research articles with full citations within hours or days instead of weeks.  I have access to entire digitized books on the history of Kent or North Carolina that mentions my ancestors.

I can do all of that with Evernote.  And it can be done for free!  Evernote is a note taking application that I use to organize pdfs, images, documents and research notes related to almost every aspect of my life - but more specifically, to this blog, my family tree stuff.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

John and Patience Turner

John Turner's mark
This is the story of my 5th great grandfather and grandmother, John and Patience Turner.  I first discovered them while researching my Hursey family.  There were smatterings here and there on the internet about it.  John was a slave and his freedom was purchased by his wife.  What?!  Surely, I would have heard about this from my grandmother, who was the family genealogist and our connection to the Hursey family.  But I hadn't.  So I assumed I must have made a mistake and I'd have to come back later to it to prove out my connection to this man - or disprove it.  I came back it early this year when a DNA test revealed Yoruban ancestry that would, in part, be explained by this connection.

Patience's father's name and date and place of birth are unknown.  Her mother was named Rachael Smith and was from Halifax Co., NC.  Rachael was of Irish descent and died while Patience was still a child.  [1][4]

By 1769, Patience's last name was Turner. [2]  Given the evidence I have regarding her maiden name, I believe that this is because she and John married before he was freed (see below) and she took his last name.

It's at this point that I should mention that although I did find some statements about Patience's racial identity being 'mulatto' while doing this research, I was not able to confirm that.  In fact, the evidence I've seen seems to indicate that she was not multiracial.  Although I can find one court record that said "Patience Turner passed and was received as a free white woman not having more than 1/4th negro blood" [6][13], and one could surmise that wouldn't need to be said if she was clearly white, 'less than 1/4th negro blood' could technically include no African heritage and the statement may have been made simply because she was married to a man of color so someone thought it needed to be on the record, so this statement is not evidence of African descent.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Mattie Clark Sinks - My Family's Lewis and Clark Mystery

This post is one part biography and one part mystery.  Although I know some about Mattie from interviews with family, I have been unable to trace her family past her.  I've stuck with this one pretty tenaciously because there is a family story that we "are related to either Lewis or Clark of the Lewis and Clark expedition" via my great grandmother, Mattie.  I'm hoping that by posting this information, someone who has some of my missing pieces will see it.

I started at both ends... by researching Mattie and also by researching William Clark and Meriweather Lewis.  What I was hoping is that by staring at both ends, I could try to narrow down the possible relation connections and/or find a link to Mattie via the known descendants of either man.  That didn't work out as well as I'd hoped.

My great grandmother, Mattie Clark, was born 2 Jun 1878 to Jam Clark and M Parmellia Lewis Clark in Tennessee.  [2][4][8]  She does not have an official birth record or a delayed birth record with the state of Tennessee.  As of the time of her death, she had the following half brothers and sisters : Ed Clark, Nashville, Mrs Myrtle Bateman and Mrs EJ Wyatt, Erin, TN and Mrs L O Rye, Birmingham, AL. John Clark, Tennessee Ridge, TN [2].  Being that the males have the last name Clark, these half siblings are likely her father's children with a different mother and are  most likely born after the 1880 census in which James appears with Mattie's mother.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Slave v/s The Confederate - a Civil War in my Genes

Between 1861 and 1865, our country fought over whether slavery should be allowed or not.  The Union lined up on one side and the Confederacy lined up on the other and they commenced to killing each other over the disagreement.  The Union won the American Civil War and as a result, not only was slavery ended but the idea of 'human rights' or that all humans are created equal gained traction, which, I think, kept momentum behind America's path toward equal rights for all people that we still fight today, albeit, less bloody.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

DNA Test Results - Neanderthals and Mitochondrial Eve

The thing that interested me in genealogy to begin with was this desire to know who I am, what I'm made of and where I came from.  I started with this really general research into the origins of humans, which ended with 'humans migrated to various places across the earth at various times'.  Then I picked up about 700 years ago in Europe with my earliest known ancestors with genealogy.  Between the two - 700 years ago and a few hundred thousand years ago was this really big gap of ... "Eh, Who Knows?!"

So, one of the most compelling reasons I wanted to get my DNA tested was to find out what my mitochondrial Haplogroup is - and, in turn, to have some idea of how my ancient ancestors migrated across the earth's surface, and in turn, what their lifestyles were like.  Its one thing to know, in general, that some male and female somewhere got together to have babies, who had babies etc and that's how our species came to be - but something else entirely to know where my ancestors specifically, fit into the advent of agriculture or the use of iron or how they helped carry their culture from one place to another.

I got my dna analyzed via  They do two forms of analysis that was applicable to this particular research into myself.  They will tell you how  much of your DNA is neanderthal as well as what your maternal haplogroup is.

Neanderthals were these humanoid folks that were really closely related (although  not ancestors) to modern humans.  We are Homo Sapien Sapiens, they were Homo Sapien Neanderthalensis (or Homo Neanderthalensis). We have tons of neanderthal fossils.  And by 'we', I mean scientists that know what to do with such things.  Not too terribly long ago - only a few years - it was discovered that modern humans have a touch of neanderthal DNA in them.

I will say that there seems to be quite a bit of dissention over how that DNA got into us humans.  Some say hey maybe only the males of one species were able to mate with the females of the other and only the female offspring survived.  Some say, if it happened, it was rare.  And some insist it never happened and instead, the Neanderthal DNA that we have in us is actually the DNA from a third, common ancestor.

At any rate, only this year, the first fossils thought to be a hybrid of neanderthal and modern human was found.  Cusp of science and whatnot and 23andme is able to analyze for it.  So the first cool thing I found out is that I have 2.8% Neanderthal DNA.  By whatever means neanderthal DNA made it into my DNA, I can now reasonably explain my eating habits and my son's bedroom.

But even cooler was to discover that my mitochondrial haplogroup is T2f1.  Ta da!  Exciting, right?  Those four characters tell me how my ancient ancestors migrated across the earth so that I, Carrie, wound up here, where I am.  You know exactly what those four characters mean.  Right?  Hah.  Neither do I.  I'm still piecing together my specific history - but in the mean time, here is some stuff about Mitochondrial Haplogroup where it intersects with ancient history.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Health and Genetics Meets Genealogy

dna double helix
DNA Double helix | Public Domain
I have to say that although it's fascinating to find civil war soldiers, knights and kings in my family tree, medical history is one of the huge pieces of information that I get from my research.  Regardless of having both parents living, most of their siblings still alive and most of their parents having lived into my teens, I have a tremendous lack of knowledge about my family health history.  As in... I never really had a family health history at all.  All of those family history forms you fill out at a doctor's office so that they know what you are at risk for... I just never had anything to put there.

My mom raised us but after about age 8, her family was relatively far flung. I wasn't raised around my father's side of the family but even once I established a relationship with my father, we stayed relatively disconnected from his family until I later reconnected with his siblings in adulthood.  Maybe that's why family health stuff isn't common knowledge in my immediate family.  It could also be a generation thing... genetics and hereditary diseases and disorders is a relatively new generation-wise, 'common knowledge' concept.  Even 10 years ago, DNA testing wasn't something the average person had access to, let alone for under $100.  It could also be a regional thing.  Health care in the south is vastly different than health care where I am now.  Whole person (holistic) care just isn't 'a thing' there.  Medical issues are tackled completely differently.  My family is Southern and their attitudes about health have definitely been shaped by Southern culture.  But, for whatever reason, here I am with no family health history to speak of.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Lately in Geneaology

The last two weeks have been kind of a whirlwind of activity for me where genealogy is concerned - without a whole lot to blog about in great detail (yet).

First, after tons of research on various companies and having had it on my list of "stuff I want" for quite some time I got my DNA done at  Their price dropped to $99 and it was an offer I just couldn't bypass. I'm really impressed with the process so far and I'm itching to get my results back.  It could take another month or so.  I'm curious what it turns up in the way of surnames and I'm really interested in learning more about my mitocondrial haplogroup and migration across the globe.

I rescued some family member's memorials at Find a Grave and touched them up with accurate names, dates, family members and bios.  I love that Find A Grave has such a broad network that I was able to find some family headstones that I didn't have before.  I went on a local graveyard excursion to get a picture of some headstones for some strangers on Find a Grave too... it was surprisingly rewarding.

I ordered some death certificates from Florida and Georgia for my grandparents that have passed.  I would like to have hard copies of them.  From there, I think my next step will be to order my great grandparents - although several of those were available online.  It's funny to me that they are so readily available after a certain number of years.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Alexander Yarbrough

Alexander Yarbrough on a wagon
Alexander Yarbrough on a Wagon [4]
Alex Yarbrough (aka Alex or Allie [4]), my great, great grandfather, was born on the 6th of January in 1862 in Shiloh, TN to Weldon and Millie Yarbrough. [2]

Alex married Laura Belle Martin in Stewart County, TN on the 25th of April 1882. [1]  My family all calls her Laura Belle, just like her daughter.  I matched her with Laura Martin via her marriage to Alexander Yarbrough and her death date, which matched family stories.  There is some confusion over Laura Belle Martin's birth date though.  Her headstone (in this post) and her Social Security Death Index record says Sept 12, 1861, the marriage record says she was 18 in 1882, making her born about 1864 and the census says she was 37 in 1900, making her birth year about 1863.  The marriage record could have been a transcription or miscalculation error as I have not seen the original, the census is written very clearly and I am not sure of the source of the date on the headstone.  So take that for what you will but she was born sometime between 1861 and 1864.

The 1900 census shows Alex, 37, his wife Laura, who is also 37, married for 17 years, at that point, with seven children.  Oscar, 16, Mary, 13, John, 11, Ella, 8, Ethel, 6, Effie, 3 and Millie, 1.  [7]

On February 12, 1901, Laura Belle Yarbrough, my great grandmother, was born to Alex and Laura Belle.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Legacy Family Tree : Why I Like It and You'll Like it Too

If you've never had the pleasure of compared genealogy software, I'm about to save you a whole lot of headache.  Genealogy software is not the polished application you would expect from say - Microsoft.  It's built by genealogy companies who hire a software developer or happen to know someone who does 'software stuff', not software development houses.  Software development and UI design are complex.  And so is genealogy   The combination of the two, regrettably, mostly winds up being a clunky interface with lots of features that are really difficult to use.

I took my first foray into genealogy several years ago.  And at first, there is this process of information overwhelm.  There are thousands of people out there who have done massive amounts of work and there is tons of data there for the taking - sometimes even entire family trees.  I was in internet research hog heaven!

During that phase, I collected what I could and put it together the best I could so that I could kind of wrap my head around what was there.  I found Legacy Family Tree on a free software site and used it to create my own gedcom file  so that I could send it to my grandmother to say "Hey - look what I found!"... but I didn't do much else with it.

Fast forward five years and two computers later.  I picked up genealogy as a hobby again.  This time, I was far more conscious of approaching it as actual research because I wanted to resolve some long standing questions in a couple of my lines of ancestry.  I was careful about making sure what I gathered was properly sourced and making sure anything I sent out had my information on it and all of the finite details that ensure that genealogy remains accurate.  As I realized the breadth of data I'd be collecting, storing and organizing, I realized I'd need software to do it.  And so I started doing genealogy software comparisons.  And by comparison, what I really mean is tragically crash testing my ancestry against meager feature sets with the assistance of copious amounts of Tylenol to take the pain away.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Google-Fu for Geneaology

Google-Fu Master / scott_hampson / CC2.0
Google-Fu : (n) The art and science of crafting google searches to give you precisely what you need.  Example : GoogleFu is strong in you.

If your Google-Fu is strong, the sky is the limit for what you can find online.  I have often found amazing resources with a few tweaks to an otherwise useless search.  Free, electronic resources free for the taking - if only you know how to find them.

First up is Google Advanced Search.  If you use this advanced form, you can do all of what I'll show you in this post without having to type special stuff into the search blanks.  The google advanced search form is a really user friendly form that allows you to search just about anything with easy, user friendly explanations off to the right of each blank.  If you like google advanced search, add it to your bookmarks so that you can get there easily.

Although google is capable of doing a ton of things and you can do all of them from the advanced search form, sometimes it's quicker for me to do google-fu in the generic search blank.  Here are a couple search tricks that are at the top of my list for genealogy searches.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Laura Belle Yarbrough

My connection to the Yarbrough family comes via Helen Paulene Maynard, my grandmother.  She was born to Barnes Maynard and Laura Belle Yarbrough, November 7th in 1924. She married John Michael Sinks.  She died Sunday, Feb. 6, 2005, in Atlanta, Georgia.  [5][6]

Her mother, my great grandmother, Laura Belle Yarbrough, was born on 12 Feb 1901 in Montgomery Co., TN [3] [11] to Alexander Yarbrough and Laura Belle Martin.   The 1910 census shows Alex, 49, married to Mary, 24 with Laura's children,  Ethel, now 16, Effie, 14, Millie, 11 and Laura (Belle) who is now 9 years old.  [11]

When Laura Belle Martin passed away, my great grandmother, Laura Belle Yarbrough, was only three years old.  Alexander remarried to a lady named Mary (Dib) Kirlacy. Dib and Alexander had several children that would be Laura Belle's half siblings.  My family remembered Virginia, Sally, "Betsy", Sam.  [1] Bessie was 9 years old in the 1920 census. [8] I have seen on other family trees, but have not yet verified that Lorene (Sally) was born in 1924 and died in 2002 and Virginia Ruth was born on 03 Mar 1928 in Clarksville, TN and died on 26 Apr 1976.

Laura Belle Yarbrough married Barnes Maynard, the son of James (Jim) Henry Maynard and Callie Potter [2] on on 23 Sep 1917 in Clarksville, TN, becoming Laura Belle Maynard. [4]  According to a story I got from my first cousin once removed, Callie (my great, great grandmother) once told her (my cousin), Barnes and his family went out west in a covered wagon and settled somewhere in Oklahoma.  But Barnes and Laura had fallen in love before they left and Barnes wanted to come back and marry her so the whole family came back with him.[2]

Laura and Barnes had Robert Earl [9], Helen Paulene [9].  They appear in the 1920 census as Laura and Barnes "Mayner", 19 and 21 years old, respectively with a 5 month old Robert Earl. [8]  They appear in the 1930 census with a 10 year old Robert E and a 5 year old Helen P.[10]

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Importance of Genealogy Bibliographies

Bibliography \ Suzanne Chapman \ CC2
Have you ever played the telephone game?  One person starts.  They whisper something into the ear of the person next to them.  That person then whispers what they heard into the ear of the person next to them... and so on.  At the end of the line of people, the person says what they heard out loud and it's compared, usually with lots of laughter, to what was originally said.  It is never actually what was originally said and is usually something quite silly compared to what was originally said.

Geanology websites, unfortunately, often play out like the telephone game.  The same information is parroted over and over from family tree to family tree, becoming slightly skewed here or there, which is then skewed again later and before you know it, you have this individual on a family tree that has a different name or a different birth or death date which can wreck havoc on entire ancestry lines.  I've run across situations in researching my own family tree, where I noticed that an entire line of someone's tree was incorrect because they fudged someone's name.  

Further adding to this frustration, so often in my research, I've run across a blurb of interest from a book or family tree - but it wasn't properly sourced. So, for all I know, it could have been plagiarized directly from another author or could be an inaccurate paraphrase.  Often times, when I do a keyword search, I run across 20 pages that all have the exact text verbatim - so, in my experience, plagiarism is rampant, even in genealogy. 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Norwood Books in PDF Download format - Free!

Happy Saturday!  I found two pretty incredible books on the Norwood line that are in free pdf format that I wanted to share.  Both books are commonly sourced as evidence in family trees and can cost hundreds of dollars in paper form.  So it was great for me to find them in pdf form and to get to read them first hand.

I originally found the titles of the books I wanted here.  (I have tried contacting the owner of the site to thank him but my email bounced - I'd love to find them)

Both books are on, which is the LDS church.  No LDS membership or affiliation is required to get the books though.  To find the books, create an account on the site, sign in, click 'search' and then 'books' and type 'norwood' into the search field.

The two I found on are :
Dempsey, James G. Norwood-Northwood Families of Kent, Warwickshire and Gloucestershire. Cincinnati: The Author, 1983 - which is a really incredible history of the English norwood family from Jordanous all the way down.  Including all sorts of specific evidence.  It is such a fascinating read that I might have read it from cover to cover without stopping.  

The other was : Norwood, William Howard, James Harvey Norwood, Sr, and Henry Offie Norwood. Comp. "General" John Norwood and related lines. x, 424 p. col. coat of arms, ports. 24 cm. Dallas: Trumpet Press, 1964.  - Also a very interesting history of that part of my line that contains some photos.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Online General Genealogy Resources

Old textbooks / SellTextbooks / CC2.0
I've done the majority of my own research online and I've run across some pretty stellar resources in the course of my research. Some are kind of typical but some are maybe not so obvious. Over the next couple of weeks, I will post some family/location specific resources tht I've found helpful. But here are some general resources.

 Internet Archive : Books and Texts Archive - If you're researching something that has become the subject of history, you are likely to find something here. I found a great deal of information around Kent and Sheppey as it relates to the Norwood line. - This site was really indispensable to my research. I think there are lots of arguments for and against sites like this and I can see myself writing a whole post on it at some point. The Cons include the fact that folks share family tree information that is not necessarily reliable or well researched. However, overall, I love the site and where there are lots of members, there are financial resources to obtain and archive genealogy information - power of the masses, if you will. has an extensive collection of birth, death, social security and census data, among other things. If you join and use their records, I recommend downloading the actual image of the records you use as you go so that you have them to refer back to later.

Google Books - Google books has a ton of books in electronic format. Often, you can only access excerpts of them, depending upon their copyright status. BUT, sometimes, an excerpt is enough. - I really like that they make so many resources available for free. I understand the power behind charging a fee... you then have resources to offer more (hopefully). But the LDS church has resources and has opted to allow free access (without membership to the LDS church) to so many resources and I've found myself grateful so many times for that access.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


Family Tree / Carrie Norwood
My grandmother is the real genealogist in the family.  She painstakingly collected boxes of documentation from in person research at libraries and court houses.

My first excursion into family tree research was in middle school.  I created this poster with my family tree on it that went back 13 generations on my mom's side.  My grandmother sent me pages of handwritten notes to help me with it.  I didn't know my father at the time so I didn't have his side on it.  After moving umpteen times and downsizing and de-cluttering and cleaning out over and over through the years, that poster is still rolled up in my garage and my grandmother's notes are in a box somewhere.  Of all of the things to hang onto for 20 (plus) years, that was it.  So, it was meaningful to me.

And I think it was also meaningful that I didn't know my father or his family.  It became important to me, in the course of my budding interest in genealogy research to understand and know his family more - the best I could, even if it was only through getting to know people long since passed.  In the course of that, I reconnected with some living family on his side.  Hooray!  And also, inadvertently, became fascinated and fell in love with the family.

My family research has, for the most part, centered upon the family lines of Norwood (hereto forthwith to include Norwode, Northwood, Norwude etc), Yarbrough, Maynard, Sinks (and possibly Sykes), Kelly, Hursey and Bass and those family lines as they pertain mostly to Tennessee, Virginia and South Carolina, with a few exceptions.  So far, I have connections outside of the United States to England and Prussia.

I love research... fact finding.  I love categorizing and stashing information - having information.  There's still quite a bit I don't know yet, where genealogy research is concerned.  I'm certainly not a certified genealogist - or someone who has been educated in the role.  But I strive to be accurate and logical in my approach.  All of my research has thus far been based upon what I can find through personal interviews with family, books and online resources.  

I've been consistently frustrated with old defunct websites and email addresses.  There will be an amazing blurb written about someone I'm researching in a forum and no sources cited - and then email to the person to ask about sources bounces.  Dead ends upon more dead ends.  So I'd like for this blog to be a place where I can put details about someone I'm researching and get feedback or information from others researching the same person.  A place that doesn't go dead. Unless I go dead.  Knock on wood.