Tag Archives: Ancestry

Family History Trip

I have long awaited a trip out west, to finally locate the graves of ancestors.

We first started in Arkansas after leaving Alabama. I was in search of the location for William H Pickens, 3rd great grandfather. Who, ironically, moved from Alabama headed west with family. The circle of life.

We managed to find the cemetery, just an hour or so before sundown. There was a beautiful church across the street. Calvary church. He is buried in Calvary Cemetery, Bradley Arkanas. We looked through the cemetery, so many markers were illegible. I only hoped I could find his, but, did not. Just as we were getting in the car to leave, I snapped this beautiful picture of the cemetery where he was laid to rest in 1860.

He died taking his family to a better life  out west. Leaving his wife to carry onward alone, with seven children. Some I was able to locate on this trip and have recorded photos. Julia must have been an icredibly determined and strong woman to finish this journey. At the age of 37, she had these children in tow. Mary, james , Harvey, Leonidas, Jane , Josephine and William.


After leaving the cemetery , we headed west to visit some beautiful courthouses, and yes, more cemeteries!!

If you ever are in north Texas, yes, I know it is a big state. Please be sure to visit the courthouse of Hopkins County, in Sulphur Springs. I love courthouses and will photograph them in all the county seats I visit. This probably started on a trip I made to Georgia in 2012. Growing up in Florida, our architecture did not have a great deal of history. And knowing many courthouses had burned during the civil war and after, I knew I needed to record these beautiful structures when I could see them for myself. So, thereafter, I was hooked!

Hopkins county courthouse, so far, is the most beautiful. It was built from 1894-1895, comprised of sandstone and pink granite.

After visiting this lovely piece of history, onward a bit more north, to Honey Grove, Fannin County Texas. Here is where Julia A Pickens was buried. I had known the location of the cemetery. Knwoing the family history, I also knew she had children buried in the same location. We pulled up to the cemetery and did not know where to start. Divine intervention told my boyfriend David, to look to the right. I could not believe, we went directly to it.

This smile indicate just how happy I was to locate it so quickly. Leonidas, James and Josie were all buried with thier mother . A family that had true devotion to their mom, who had endured so much. I was truly thrilled to find this treasure.

Next up, another side of the family who married into Pickens. This plays into the story below of Alice LIndell Davidson, who married long lost James Harvey Pickens. Her mother was Mary Lumley Sullivan of the William Dunklin Sullivan family. She married Hiram Isaac Davidson, who was born in, ALABAMA!  Once again, the circle of life. They married n 1875, Leon County Texas, she was just 16. They had ten children together , he died in 1926. I found info, that she later remarried. A widowed Mr Cearley. I have not found a valid record of marriage or a death certificate to authenticate this.

We located the four corners in Sanger, where her address was listed. I could not see but one house that could have belonged to her. I continued to search for information on a death certificate or marriage and still not luck.

She was buried with her first husband with whom she bore ten children.



Story below is long awaited satisfaction of a story untold.

James Harvey Pickens with Alice Lindell Davidosn, my grandfather Harvey Hershel and sister Velma Ruth , taken about 1908

James Harvey Pickens, Harvey Hershel Pickens, Viola Ruth Pickens and Alice Lindell Davidson Pickens

My dad’s grandfather was never mentioned by his father. We only knew he left the family sometime before the trip to Florida. in Florida, my father was born to Harvey Hershel Pickens and Mamie Christine McCall. Harvey’s dad was married to Alice Lindell Davidson. See above picture. They were married in Texas. Years ago, I was able to locate their marriage certificate. It was here in this courthouse, I kind lady mailed me the certificate. It had never been picked up, so now, it is gracefully framed. A memory to them, a mystery to me.

Marriage Certificate of James Harvey Pickens and Alice Lindell Davidson


Below is the visit to Hillside Cemetery in Purcell Oklahoma.

James Harvey is buried with his parents. Harvey H Pickens and Sarah F Smith . Their daughter married the local undertaker and they are all in one location in the cemetery. I had found the records of burial years ago, but, there is nothing as rewarding as the real visit. Tommie, the sister married B H Rackley, local man of Purcell Oklahoma.

We drove around the very small town to see where my great granfather may have lived, I had the last census record. Best we could tell, it was an apartment/ boarding house in town.

Brother in law BH Rackley


We visited several other location on this trip through Texas. Seeing a great deal of beautiful places and history.

Now, on to California!!





I late fall 2013, I attended my first DAR meeting. I met two ladies at McDonald’s one afternoon. They were planning the Good Citizen awards for the local chapter. They needed a calendar, I provided an iPhone. I had been listening for some time, and deduced from their discussion they were DAR members. We sat for a while and talked about local history and our ancestors.

In October of 2000, my Mom and I travelled to Pennsylvania to do some investigative work on her side. That would be the descendants of Alexander Ewing, Patriot. We went to several court houses on our travels, Butler county, Lawrence and Venango, all placed some had lived in the 1700-1800’s. We were able to locate his grave in Plain Grove cemetery in Lawrence county cemetery. It took quite a bit of walking too!




I have been contacted by the local chapter director, I need a few more documents for authentication. I need to send my parents birth certificates and marriage record. That should be the final items to get my membership approved.


Digital scrapbooking is really the way of the future. No more cutting, pasting, sticking slicing and choosing the right paper. This is all digital, and you can MAKE IT YOUR OWN. I have been working on a scrapbook for my dad the last couple of months. He is having memory issues, and I wanted to make something he could look at and maybe recount some good times throughout his life. I did a chronological story and added photos to go along with them. Different phases from childhood to marriage, military and good friends.

I have begun working as an Independent Publishing Consultant with Heritage Makers. You can make so many wonderful projects. Here are two pics of his album and a link to look a the rest of it. I hope he likes it.

If you are interested in making a similar project, or a story book such as I made my mom, please contact me. I can show you how with Heritage Makers. It is an easy system, no software to download. You simply go to their website, upload photos, store them in albums and ” Drag and Drop” them into a project. Add some embellishments and your own words, and that is it!!


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I posted the template of the Family Tree on here the other day. Many people commented on the fact I posted it on Ancestry.com as well. A lot of likes. Was anyone interested in finding the HOW TO on it? On my site, it is template 93774 and 93775. It is an 8×20 canvas, but, you can easily make it a 11×14 poster to share with family.

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I have been doing family history for about fifteen years now. I have just found a way to pass on that heritage in a book form.

I became a personal publishing consultant with Heritage Makers. If you are looking for a way to create a storybook, scrapbook, this is the way to go. You create the projects digitally, and Heritage Makers publishes and sends you a copy of your very personal item. Look at what I have done so far…..

a scrapbook documenting my father’s life, click on the link below  to view project in its entirity


Dad’s scrapbook

Mom’s book of her stories   http://www.heritagemakers.com/projectBrowserStandAlone.cfm?projectID=2432180&productId=5&sponsorID=601955



Visit me on my website….www.heritagemakers.com/makeityourown to see what you can create.



I have death certificates for several ancestors in Texas. I have several from Florida and Pennsylvania. Where do some of the tree makers on Ancestry get their family information? It seems some grab at twigs and branches just to try to make a tree!!!

It gets very frustrating when a leaf appears, and I look at the clue and there is no way this is the same person. Keep in mind, many names were similar. Family names were inherited through male and female. But, you need to look at ages, locations, siblings etc.

I try to compare at least three census records before I attach it. Then, I may also review the entire census in a community to verify other members of the same last name living there. Census records were not used in the same way they are today. Getting a name spelled correctly, well, it was phonetic. And you were lucky if the person had good handwriting at all.

When doing your research


1. Compare census records, from previous years

2. Look at family members in all the census records, siblings, initials, dates of birth ages, on the record itself

3. Look at the marriage status of individuals, M/WD/ S…and many times the persons who married lived near each other, check an earlier census

4. Follow locations…people did move, but, usually was from one state to another or around a county, they kept it local, no cars in the 1800’s. They travelled slowly.

5. Look at family members in the community

6. Use death records and family info to verify

7. Use cemetery details for facts on dates and family members buried locally

8. Use surname message boards and state/county sites as well.


1. Attach a record because the name is the same

2. Record without verification/ cross referencing facts

3. Assume there was only one marriage

4. Get lost in the trees that are posted

5. Copy a tree

For those of us who create a family tree, it is vital information is not taken without communication. It takes years to gather all we have. While we do not mind sharing, it is more fun to connect with the person. Who know, you may find long-lost cousins as I have. If you are an Ancestry.com member, you can easily email for facts, photos or hints.

I have had several mysteries in my family with misspellings of names. Manny, Mamie and Mollie….my hunch of Mamie was correct. I found the obit.

Lumy, Lumley, Lummie and Lumnia….follow the records, Lumley was right.  I have the death record.

Good luck in your search, and I wish you all the answers.




Nancy was the daughter of Joseph McCall and Mary Drenan. Her brother John R. McCall was my 2nd great-grandfather.

After my Georgia trip, I felt compelled to post some of my favorite headstones. There is something haunting, yet serene about old cemeteries, and I really enjoyed being able to trample through some on the backroads of Georgia. I came across four different cemeteries while on my travels. I knew I would more than likely, not find any relatives. However, I did find some familiar names. Just like Drenan, the Dismuke and Dismukes names are sometimes interchanged.

E W Dismukes

From what I understand, my ggg grandmother Mary Drenan ( sometimes Drennan or Drennon ) , was of the Dismukes family. She married Joseph McCall Nov 7, 1850 in Muscogee County. Their two daughters, Emma E and Nancy J. also married into the Dismukes family. Nancy married Joseph T Dismukes. They are located in the 1880 census in Webster County and the 1900 census in Irwinville, Irwin County Georgia. It is said that Joseph McCall died from wounds sustained at Chickamauga.

Attached is a page from Memoirs of Georgia Vol II

Clem E. Cheatham of Dawson he entered the medical college of Georgia, Augusta, from which he graduated, Dr. H. V. M. Miller, now of Atlanta, being then a member of the faculty. After graduating he located in that part of Lee now included in Terrell county, near the present site of Dawson. He practiced there two years and then moved to his present location then known as “Hardmoney,” now Weston. Early in the war between the states he enlisted as a private in Company K, Seventeenth Georgia regiment, but soon afterward was commissioned as assistant surgeon, in which capacity he served until the surrender. He was present at the seven days’ fight around Richmond, Second Manassas, Sharpsburg, Gettysburg, Chickamauga, and the siege of Petersburg. On his return home after the war he resumed the practice of his profession, in which he has been successful, his patronage extending for miles around, even into adjoining counties. Dr. Dismukes was married in 1868 to Miss Nancy J., born and reared in Talbot county, Ga., daughter of Joseph and Mary (Drennin) McCall. Her father was killed in the battle at Kennesaw Mountain, and her mother is a member of Dr. Dismuke’s family. To Dr. and Mrs. Dismukes nine children have been born: Alice, wife of John Sims; William J., merchant, Weston; Forrest S., Coffee county; twin sister of Forrest, died in infancy; Robert Toombs; H. M.; Charles D.; Z. C.; and M. G., these last five at home. Dr. Dismukes is a democrat, and himself and wife are members of the Methodist church, of which he is a trustee.
(Memoirs of Georgia, Vol. II, 1895)
Submitted by Cathy Danielson



I love looking through cemeteries, I think I have stated this more than once, perhaps countless times. My husband now says, “where you grave diggin today” ? I enjoy the historical aspect. Looking at the different headstones can tell you so much about the person. The detail of markers from the mid 19th century are so detailed, you have to wonder why that craftsmanship is no longer requested.

The older cemeteries have much more interest to me. I hardly ever stop if I don’t see vertical markers. They have changed so much over time, from wooden markers to flat ones. These new cemeteries seem unadorned, although they are always covered with flowers. I look for the obelisks, there I know, I will find something intriguing.

But, sometimes, you come across a marker that makes you sad, that of a child. That is what I will show today. We have all heard the saying, ” no parent should ever have to bury their child “. Below are some photos I have taken of children’s headstone, from stillborn to seventeen years of age. Some parents lost two children. The lamb usually marks the grave of a child. The lamb always stands for innocence.

Lois Christine Swann, 1 year

Roger Speegle 1 year and Donald Speegle 2 years

Blaxton Boy

Charles E Lamb 1 year

Maggie Russel 17 years

Great-granddaughter of Setimus D. Cabaniss, no name or age

William James Sykes, 4 months

Curtis Ray Pepper, 2 months

Ruth Elizabeth Black, 9 years of age

Sally Haywood Hansell, three years

Edward Mason, 8 days old

James Edmond Gamble, 2 years

Mary Helen Gamble, 6 years

Burton Clements, 2 years

Infant son, Witty

William Witty, 4 months

Infant daughter, J.S. Crutcher

Too many children lost at a very early age. These are all from cemeteries in Madison, Limestone and Lawrence counties. You can search online for your relatives, and read bios on FindaGrave.



Ethel and Albert Ewing, my maternal great-grandparents, are buried on Congress Hill, Graham cemetery, Sandycreek community, Venango county Pennsylvania. They were the parents of the eight children I spoke of earlier.

I do not know where they met, or how they came to be in Venango county. He was born in Butler county and she in Mercer county, these counties are adjoining.






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