Friday, July 29, 2011

Your Genetic Genealogy~ Is It As Accurate As You Think?

Good morning and Aloha! 
It has been breezy but also rainy here on Oahu this morning and it makes for great sleeping weather, so what am I doing up? It's 9 a.m. that's why; I cant sleep in like my husband can, he can sleep through a tsunami! If I were only that lucky...but anyway, I have been wondering about the accuracy of DNA in our genealogy. 

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How do we know this is truly accurate, as DNA is taken from the living, not the dead? The genetic genealogy tests can be expensive, depending on your own economic standpoint. So just how great is this anyway? I've been reading up on several different articles that pertain to this topic and in my opinion, I wouldn't waste my time or money on something that isn't 110% accurate. I'm not saying that a person shouldn't do this type of testing, if it leads them to finding their missing links in their families history. By all means, go for it if that's what you want to do. I am merely expressing my own opinion. After reading the following article, I became a little skeptical. There are many companies offering these types of services that promise to trace your lineage through means of a DNA test, whether it's paternal or maternal, the price goes up depending on your needs. Read this article from another blogger, who seems to have done her research and then let me know whether you think this type of test is something you would do. 

Genetic Genealogy Blog

To My Readers: Have you tried this sort of testing to trace your ancestral roots? Did you have any success? Please post your success stories! Below is a company offering this type of service. What do you think?

DNA Ancestry Project

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Family Genealogy Package

Yesterday, I received my genealogy package in the mail from my Aunt Evelyn! I was so excited to open it, that it was like opening a birthday gift except there wasn't any frilly bows or paper to unwrap. In this package came two thick stacks of family history, stapled together, one for Lucia Cornett, (my grandmother's side of the family) and another packet of information for Walter Cornett's side of the family, (my grandfather). 

One packet was labeled, "The Family of Stuart Marvin Cornett and Gincy Malinda Long Cornett" which contains names, birth and death dates, marriages and the children's information, etc and there was even a few photos included in each of the documents, a couple of newspaper articles, one which was a 50th wedding anniversary article, another article titled, "Three Couples From Cornett Family Celebrate 50th Wedding Anniversaries" (Gazette, Galax, VA, Monday, December 9, 1991) How exciting to have three different couples, all in the Cornett family to celebrate such a momentous occasion at one time! The other packet was labeled as "The Descendants of David and Feby (Phoebe) Sutherland Cornett.

The package also included a death certificate for Walter and a birth certificate for Lucia, two different Honorable Discharge papers for Walter's WW II military service, a press release regarding his service in the Army Air Forces and a story titled, "Roberts Cove" which was written by Pat Miles Burris and Anna J. Woods and included a photocopy of the George Parks homestead which is posted below.

George Parks Homestead
(Notice that there are three front doors)

In the above photo, the back side reads: George Parks and Vinnie Testerment- 
Izora's Mom & Dad- (Walter's grandparents on mother's side)
Date Unknown
The Homestead Photo has writing also- "Old George Parks Homestead"
Date Unknown

Monday, July 25, 2011

Through The Looking Glass

Our ancestors of past generations would probably think that living in today's digital world of computers, the iPad, and even our smart phones, as alien. In their days, they were lucky if they even had a land line! Knowing what I know now, depending on Internet and my iPhone on a daily basis, I would be lost without them; I couldn't imagine living life day to day without these items which have become so common in our world today. 
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Taking you back in time, imagine life without any technology whatsoever. You don't have electric or gas stoves, but wood burning stoves instead, you don't have computers to write your family and friends an email or the ability to share photos, but you have to hand write everything down to the last letter, there was no such thing as a washer and dryer, you had to use an old washboard for every article of clothing you wore. Which by the way, had to be taken to the nearest lake or creek to be washed and you can just forget your handy dryer with your lavender scented fabric softener sheets! And FaceBook? My husband's grandmother, Evelyn is still in awe, when I show her pictures on my iPhone and she doesn't understand how they got there! I have tried many times to explain to her what FaceBook really is and how you can share photos of family and comment on them. My favorite part of this is the way she says, "You can do this on the computer? It does that? Oh, how nice!" (Laughing) Oh the possibilities! We haven't even really started to break the mold as far as what technology can do for us today.

Image Source

So with this great thing called technology, I am searching and scouring the various websites and resources in search of my family. Making contact with relatives I never even knew I had, all through the use of the Internet and my laptop! Ha! Who knew?? But being out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, living on Oahu, I find that I am forever grateful for the high tech world I live in, and being able to re-connect with family I haven't seen since I was probably six years old! 

The digital world has turned my laptop into a great tool. I now have the power to see through the looking glass (my laptop screen) to the world that was once my ancestors, and see not only photos of them, but also see the homes where they lived, the town where they grew up, the ability to see historical maps as they were back in the 1700-1800's, searching old newspapers and census records, and so on. 

Today, my research is at a standstill somewhat, as I am waiting to receive documents from a family member that will give me something solid and concrete as far as actual data and birth records. Having contacted several members of my family, who I might add, are gathering photos and documents for me as I type this article. I hope to read and go over these very soon!

Hopefully I will be able to tear down one or more of the brick walls that seem to have stopped me in my tracks. 

Happy Hunting!!

Friday, July 22, 2011

And the Plot Thickens!

This past week, I've been researching and reading on my Cornett relatives even though I haven't been posting new articles as I go along. In the beginning of the week I received a book that I purchased on Amazon's web site, entitled, "Grayson County: A History in Words and Pictures".
I found a few things about my family personally inside and a couple of photos also, which was very exciting. I can actually put a face to the name now. The book explains the history of Grayson County and how it came to be what it is today. 

Image Source

Among the events that happened in the 1700's is a story, which caught my attention and it's the legend of Caty Sage. She was kidnapped at a young age and given to Indians. Caty's mother had been at the creek, and came back to get clothes for washing when she found her daughter was missing. Caty grew up among the Indians and even spoke their language, she even married a Chief of the tribe, so when she was eventually found some fifty years later, she needed an interpreter as she no longer knew the English language. The sad part of the story is that when she was about to be reunited with her mother, the mother was already in her elderly years, and died before she was able to set eyes on her beloved daughter. There is so much history regarding Grayson County as a whole; before white man settled here, it was the hunting ground of many different Indian tribes, not only was settling in Indian territory one of the events of the time but the families had to deal with the effects of war too. 

Today, I am still researching my Cornett family and just enjoying the time I get to spend learning about them, their hardships, their way of life, their occupations, the way they dressed and a little about how they raised their children back in the day. It is one never ending journey that I have been taking one day at a time! As a family historian, researching your ancestors will never, ever really be completed, no matter how hard you try. I can't imagine someone saying "I'm done with my family tree!" Ummm....really? That's nice, but HOW? I don't even consider that a possibility! There are so many people in your tree that could be studied and their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and siblings, for generations and generations. I just don't see it happening like that. I don't think my research will ever be complete, at least not in my lifetime! 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

My Sutherland Family~ Did They Live In Dunrobin Castle?

A thought I have been pondering~ Did any members of my Sutherland family ever reside in Dunrobin Castle? Being that said castle is magnificent in its' own right, it is also a castle, which is located in Golspie, Scotland and was built and still owned by the Sutherland family. (The Sutherland Family) It is only that several hundred years later that Sir Charles Barry did an extensive remodel, which he is famous for designing the Houses of Parliament. The Sutherland family may still inhabit this grand castle, but is it my Sutherland family or those of another?

Image Source: Getty Images
Photographer- Giorgio Perbellini

From prior reading, I know that Dunrobin Castle is the seat of Clan Sutherland and the oldest part of the castle dates back to the 13th century and was considered a stronghold of the family. What I wouldn't give to just take the actual grand tour of this place! According to Clan Sutherland, the castle has 189 rooms! Yikes- imagine having to clean that on a daily basis! But what intrigues me the most, is what is inside the castle, not necessarily the magnificent exterior and  its' gardens. Although that would be a pleasure to see too, but it is the artifacts, furniture, art and most of all the families memorabilia that I would like to see firsthand! I can just imagine the history that is on display here at Dunrobin.  
Tour The Castle!

I hope you enjoy the videos! 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Are Your Children Interested In Genealogy?

Good afternoon! I have been trying to figure out a way to get both of my sons, ages 20 and 14 to have an interest in their family tree. I have had some success with my oldest son John, but Dakota, well that's another story entirely. All he is interested in, is playing basketball! So how can I get him involved and actually start liking "the hunt"? I have a few ideas that I have been thinking about but have come to realize that he may never really be interested in genealogy or where he comes from, for quite awhile. But in the meantime, I like to share what I have found out so far with both John and Dakota. John likes hearing it to a certain extent, he wants to know about all the drama in our family! Personally, I think he watches too much television! I haven't found any mobsters or convicted criminals yet. My family is not based on a mobster movie like the "Godfather", either! 

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As much as they would like it to be, I can't say that the research I have come across, resembles anything even close to that. Dakota, on the other hand, thinks I'm weird for focusing my time on research and not doing fun stuff! He told me the other day, "Mom, you live in Hawaii! You need to do fun stuff like going surfing!" Haha, me on a surfboard? Now that would truly be a sight! Don't get me wrong, I love the ocean and watching the surfers do their thing. But I don't want to be one!! I like to go snorkeling. Now that's something I could do without getting cut up by the reef. Besides I kind of fear sharks A LOT! Give me a boat and I'll go out in the middle of the ocean, but you aren't going to find me on a surfboard, catching the next swell anytime soon. 

Are your children interested in Genealogy? Does anyone have any ideas for activities that will help get children involved more? If you do, please share! I imagine if I had started this when they were younger, there would be plenty of things that I could do with them. But they're a little older now, so it may not be such an easy task. Everyone has their own idea of fun, their likes and dislikes and what I may like and think as fun, someone else may not. 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Saturday Shout Out

A few days ago, I thought about taking a few college courses in Genealogy to further my research and put my thirst for knowledge to work. Then life intervened and I got side tracked and it just slipped my mind to investigate it any further. That is, until I read a blog called Family Cherished written by Valerie, a very talented and inspiring writer I might add. The particular blog article I am referring to is called, "Getting a Great Genealogical Education For Little or No Money!"  Can I just say, I was hooked before I even finished the first paragraph? 

The article was very informative, and just what I was looking for, in terms of courses that wouldn't put me into tremendous debt. Been there, done that! I'm still paying off college loans, so why would I want to be further indebted just to take a couple of extra courses? This article is a "must read" for those that have been thinking about gaining a little extra knowledge on this topic. Valerie listed some very good ideas on.....well you really need to read it for yourself! 

Kudos, Valerie for writing such a great article and spurring me into action!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Happy Aloha Friday!

It's such a beautiful day here in Kailua! The birds are chirping, the sun is shining brightly, and how I love the ocean breeze. Such a perfect beginning to a wonderful weekend ahead! As I sit here, I am debating on the content of today's blog post. To all my fellow blogger's out there: Do you ever get "Blank Screen Syndrome"? For me, it's almost like writer's block! 

But anyway, I want to tell you about my most recent 'jump for joy' feeling that I had last night! As you know, I have been doing all this research, and in the process I have made a few contacts through and other sources. By discussing my searches on these forums, forums such as and, I have made three different contacts, who turned out to be distant cousins!! I never knew I had these cousins, and I never met them in my whole life! To be able to connect with family, is truly a treasure and worth its' weight in gold, especially when we are all trying to attain the same goals in regards to our past lineage. So going on... last night I received a message through Ancestry's web site, from a cousin that I have been going back and forth in correspondence with. My initial question to her was about my search for Alexander Sutherland, who is one of my current brick walls and also one of hers too. She didn't have much information on Alexander but we still send messages to one another just in case we manage to break through the mortar. Anyway, her message was about her brother, a "Sutherland" cousin of mine. Where does he live? Oh! Only about 30 minutes away from me!
So you can imagine, I was just about ecstatic when I read and re-read the message. I had to read it at least twice to make sure it wasn't my imagination! This was great news for me, I was so excited to learn this. What a small world it is! I mean really, what are the odds? I only moved here to the Hawaiian islands a mere 5 months ago! 

Ever since then, I have been digging deeper than ever to find the base of my ancestral roots, some roots which don't want to be found and have turned into such a congested knot, never to be untangled! But I have news for you, Sir Root, as you are about to become untangled and care free! I don't give up so easily. It's only a matter of time before you unravel.

Yesterday, I was searching high and low, in every nook and cranny on the world wide web, changing up keyword searches and all; looking for information on my Sutherland link to the Cornett line. I didn't find too much, but I am in the process of trying to retrieve birth documents and death records to prove my lineage along the way! I hope I have better success today. 

Good luck to you in your searches as well! 

Have a happy Aloha Friday everyone!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness

As I am researching my Cornett surname, I happen to come across another web site that I had to share! It's called Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness, where select volunteers offer to do look ups for people like myself, that cannot locate a particular document. In my case I was looking for a marriage record, which I couldn't find for my grandparents. After searching and not really wanting to pay the price, at least not at the moment; I came across this little gem of a web site. The volunteers on the site have generously offered their time to do some genealogical research on my (visitor to the site) behalf. So really the only thing that must be reimbursed to the volunteer is copy and printing costs, postage, mileage, parking and the like. I didn't think that was such a bad deal! You never know unless you try, right? 

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So here's the link if you would like to try the services being offered.

So for now, I have sent in my request and hopefully I will receive the results that I couldn't find elsewhere. Wish me luck! What would you do as a random act of kindness for another person? Comments are most welcome.

Learning "Legacy" Family Tree Software

Good morning all! This morning I am finally learning and teaching myself more about the Legacy software created my Millenia. What's so great about this program versus others out there? I have tried many different ones, but I seem to get along with this one the best, and it has come in under the #2 spot in the Genealogy Software Review for 2011! But just to let you know, I tried the standard version, which is free by the way; but I absolutely love the options and features that are offered for the deluxe version!

PROS: "Legacy can directly search, FamilySearch, and many other online services."
CONS: "Although this is a powerful database application, some others are more visually appealing." 
(Data Source: Genealogy Software Review)

This program is cost effective especially when you look at what Legacy offers, some of the features that I found so far that I like the most are listed below.

  • Mapping feature which allows you to utilize the Microsoft Earth to pinpoint the places in your ancestors lives, automatically from within the program.
  • The Source Writer! I can't forget to mention that- and who wouldn't like to have their sources written out for them- just type in the necessary information, and you're good to go!
  • Interview Reports- currently there are over 1000 pre-written interview forms you can use to interview family members or others when researching your family history. Cool huh?
  • Along with attaching pictures, sounds, and video to individuals, events, locations, and sources, you can now also attach any other kind of document (PDFs, Word files, etc.).
  • Recording DNA marker test results from different companies offering this type of service
But this is just a few of the features I like, that the deluxe version offers; there are plenty more! On the Legacy web site, they are offering several webinars on different topics, that you can listen in on, if you wish. I'll post the links below.

I'm not getting paid for the content of this blog posting; I am just merely expressing my opinion on  the software itself and the features that I enjoy so far.

Image Source: Getty Images

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Family Heirlooms~ Preserving The Past For Future Generations

When you think of the word "heirloom", do you think of the old doilies your grandmother hand crocheted so long ago, but now look yellow and dingy? I do. When I think of heirlooms, I think of useless objects that have seen better days. Old sienna photos in antique silver frames, handkerchiefs with flower embroidery that my grandmother used to carry around with her, family albums, quilts, baby blankets, family Bibles, and my own wedding dress, which I hope to one day hand down to a granddaughter or great granddaughter of my own. One day! Not anytime soon mind you. What heirloom object would you treasure if it were given to you, to pass on to your children, grandchildren or even great grandchildren? How would you preserve it? 

You may already have a cedar chest full of potential heirlooms, or maybe even in the attic in boxes.  I remember playing with my grandmother's old clothes when I was probably 8 or 9 years old. She had vintage hats made of black velour with feathers and trim which covered the top half of my face. I remember they were in a box that my cousin and I used to go through to play dress up. 

Isn't it funny how certain memories resurface when you see an image, read, or even for me as I  happen to be writing in my blog about something as simple as family heirlooms? The memory of my grandmothers old hats just popped into my head for some reason. I wish I had all of her old hats! That would be such a treasure! I don't know whatever happened to them after she passed away, but it would be an heirloom I would treasure!  

Family Heirloom Ideas

Family heirlooms should evoke special memories of a bygone era. You can even create your own if you wish. Here are a few ideas that have crossed my mind a time or two. It doesn't have to be expensive to make it an heirloom of quality. For most, it is just tradition past on from generation to generation. 

  • Wedding dresses or christening gowns
  • Create a family cookbook of family favorite recipes- include some that are handwritten   and  dated.
  • Jewelry~ If you wish, you can have a custom made ring, broach, or even a charm bracelet made.
  • Artwork or drawings that were created by an ancestor- have it professionally framed and matted for other generations to see.
  • Medals of Honor- maybe one of your ancestors fought in the Civil War or the American Revolution- creating a shadow box of these medals would be an idea!
  • Another popular idea is creating a scrapbook for each of your children, inside include items of times past i.e., a piece of lace fabric, pressed flowers, photos, or something else that may bring back fond memories.
  • You could even gather memorabilia from older generations, like maybe a childhood diary that may have been kept over the years, a favorite book that an ancestor may treasure. For example, it could be a signed baseball that was part of a collection in your grandfathers belongings, an old trophy, the list can get longer, believe me.
Use your imagination when it comes to collecting family heirlooms, the possibilities are endless. 

Share your ideas! Comment below...

Image Source: 

Photo Credit: Doris Rudd Designs, Photography

Family Stories That May Be Lost Forever

Thank you! I have made contact with family members I didn't even know existed. By researching the Cornett/ Sutherland heritage on the web site, I have connected with others who are researching the same family as I am and what do you know? They're actually family. This is very exciting! The branches of my tree have become so tangled and intertwined, but in such a good way. What a great way to share data gathered through web sites such as Ancestry, and being able to share that knowledge with your own family, is priceless.

Image Source: Family Stories
Photo Credit: Andrew Bret Wallis

I was just talking to my oldest son, John, who was recently asking about our ancestry. He has become somewhat curious about who his relations were back in the "old days". I was so excited that he even asked, that I think I may have bored him with my rantings of our family tree and what I had found so far. When I was his age, I "tuned out" my family when I heard the stories of ancestors past. Now I'm kicking myself for not paying attention! I went into my own little world of music and television so I didn't have to listen to boring stories that related to history of people I never even knew. Today, I really wished I had recorded their stories in some way. Now that the older generations in my family have passed on to a better place, there is no way I can get that history, or even the stories back. The stories seem to have died with them. 

Family stories casually chatted about at the dinner table, or told again and again at family gatherings can parallel great epics or notable short stories. The memorable stories of our lives and of others in our family take on special importance because they are true, even if everyone tells different versions of the same event. These tales are family heirlooms held in the heart not in the hand.

So knowing that I lost those memories forever, how do I continue my research into a quest for family stories that relate to my family? Any suggestions?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

John Hits the Big 2-0! Happy, Happy Birthday Son!

In just under a week, my oldest son John, will be 20 years old! How time flies by. Did I ever think about this day almost twenty years ago? Certainly not! I always felt that he would be my little boy forever. Now, he has grown into a handsome man, who I love dearly. I still remember those little brown eyes staring up at me, the coos and smiles, and his baby laugh. I am now the proud mother of an adult child! A child who can get married, have children and make me a grandmother! I don't want that grandma title just yet! He was always such a happy baby, always smiling and playing. I remember his first birthday like it was yesterday. He had his own personal birthday cake which I remember him crying over all the blue icing caked in his little fingers. He didn't like that so much!

Photo From Personal Collection

I can no longer carry him in my arms or send him to his room; he could probably carry me! He will always be my little boy and my baby but he is also a very independent man.Man. I said it. He's a man. How in the world did this happen so fast? How can I be the mother of a man already? Wasn't he just a baby not too long ago? 

Oh! How He Has Grown!

Wishing you the happiest of birthdays!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Thinking About Acquiring An Education In Genealogy? Read This First!

I love learning new things and furthering my education and knowledge. I was even thinking about taking some classes in Genealogy. I thought that maybe acquiring additional knowledge or procedures might just help me in my own research. Below is an article I found on the web site in regards to certain institutions offering a beginners genealogy course. If you are interested in these types of classes, please check the qualifications and reputations of the instructor and the educational institution! Granted some may be free, but why risk being led in the wrong direction which in turn, could be a costly mistake in your research.

Students Beware!

"The Genealogical Web Site Watchdog warns of a free online course offered by the Iowa Digital Education Association. The Watchdog says, "There are 15 lessons in the course covering what one would expect to find in a beginning genealogy course. Problem is, much of the information is too generic to be useful and there is a lack of qualifications on how different laws and time periods affected the records available. Additionally, the beginning genealogist is frequently referred to secondary sources, with no mention of the primary sources and their availability. Granted, the course is free, but the cost can be high to someone sent off in the wrong direction with bad information."

The Genealogical Web Site Watchdog also alerts genealogists about the Genealogy 2000 School of Genealogy which allows you to become an Ethel Torice Certified Family Genealogist (Certified Certificate Program), or an Ethel Torice Certified Professional Genealogist (Certified Diploma Program), or an Ethel Torice Certified Home-Based Business Genealogical Executive (Certified Diploma and Business Licensing Program). Watchdog states: The Ethel Torice Genealogical Society claims to be an umbrella group for a number of other organizations, some sharing the Torice name, but others with names that are deceptively similar to well-known national genealogical organizations with no connection to the organization. The society lists credentials of an unidentified "Educational Staff" that includes respected credentials awarded by recognized national accrediting bodies, but includes others unknown generally, like "Accredited Master Genealogist."
This demonstrates how vulnerable we are to seemingly credible education. To prevent the cost of poor education, check out the credentials of instructors. Compare a sample lesson with lessons from another Web site." Written by Kathleen W. Hinckley, CGRS

Kathleen W. Hinckley, is a Certified Genealogical Records Specialist, author, lecturer, and owner and operator of Family Detective. She also serves as the executive director of the Association of Professional Genealogists, and trustee for the Board for Certification of Genealogists.
But on the bright side, The National Genealogical Society offers this type of course free to their members, which only costs $60 for a one year membership. If interested, you can go to the following web site for further information. You can review the syllabus on this site also.
NGS Educational Courses

Hinckley, Kathleen W. "Genealogical Education: Online and Home Study Courses." Web site, n.d. Web. 11 Jul 2011. <>.

The Mystery of My Grayson Family Heritage~ Will It Unfold or Be Untold?

This past week has been all about making new contacts that would eventually help me in researching my Cornett ancestry and understanding exactly who they were. I found a connection and a book entitled, "Bicentennial Heritage Grayson County, Virginia 1793", which was published in 1995 by the Grayson County Bicentennial Foundation. This book is no longer in print, unless you are lucky enough to have a copy of it in your possession already.

Image Source

My "connection" has sent to me, parts of this book as they relate to the Sutherland /Cornett families and myself. Just scanning through these pages, I'm  thinking that my new "connection" might in actuality be related to me in some way, not just through the Sutherland lines, but also through the Cornett family too. How exciting is that? Finding a family member that has been researching the same families lineage that I am; I am super excited to read through these papers more. There are several pages of Cornett names and their ranks listed on both the American Revolutionary War and the Civil War pages. 

There is still the mystery that surrounds Alexander Sutherland (Southerland) and his wife, Margaret Elizabeth Bryan. Who were they really? What were their hobbies? Did Alexander like to hunt like most men back then? In what year did he move to Virginia from Scotland? What kind of life did they live? Will I ever find out who Alexander really was? So many questions, so few answers.

In my past posts, you've read about Alexander and his role in the British Army. I think I read somewhere that he was 2nd Lieutenant. But don't quote me on that just yet! He has been the most intriguing family member I have researched so far; probably because there are so many different views from so many other people, that the truth has yet to be documented. Alexander Sutherland is a true mystery; one that I hope I can solve one day. 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Where Do I Go From Here?

A college friend of mine found me on Twitter today through my blog on Genealogy. It was a surreal moment, because I had just been thinking about her only two days ago. Monete and I had the same classes, and had similar dreams of making it big in the graphic design world. It was kind of funny, remembering her passion for Photoshop while my own passion was geared more towards vectors and I loved Adobe Illustrator. She would help me in Photoshop and I would help her in Illustrator. It was a win- win situation!

There are just some talents that God blessed people with and I think God put me in her path for a reason. So after graduation, she moved away from the metro Atlanta area and we kind of lost touch, until today. Now I've moved away and she is still making a go of it in the graphic arts world. I thought, "Okay, now I have a degree, it's only a matter of time before someone likes my work and decides to hire me!" Boy, that was a huge smack of reality! So what am I doing with that piece of paper that I framed? Well the degree is still in its' frame, hung up on my bedroom wall. I now have an Associates degree in graphic design and animation that has only become a hobby at most. That paper reminds me of how expensive that particular hobby actually was.
Another lesson learned, right?

This is a graphic image I created using Adobe Creative Suite

Now today, only five years later, I have finally found what I love to do. But how many people actually can say they make money from writing blogs? This blog has become my baby, I guess. I always loved reading and writing, except when it was required in high school! At that time all I ever wanted to do was get a job, get paid, and go home. I didn't want to read Shakespeare plays or write Haiku poems; I wanted to grow up fast, become a writer, get out in the real world and make something of myself. Thinking back to when I was 16, I was infatuated and very addicted to reading the Harlequin romance novels. I could finish one book in a day, and then I'd be at the library checking out a dozen others. After reading so many of them, I thought to myself, "I could do this!" So I did. I wrote my very first manuscript and submitted it to an agency in New York City. It was accepted, but the agency had a fee associated with publishing the book. I think it was two thousand dollars back then. So where is a teenager supposed to get that kind of money from without having a job?  My mistake was thinking that the manuscript wasn't good enough for them to publish my work, so I requested the manuscript back and I then threw it in the garbage! Now I wish I had at least held onto it!

So where do I go from here? I think I will stay on this particular path, because it's something I love to do.

 Need a Graphic Designer? Try Monete!

Friday, July 8, 2011

What's The Deal, Lemon Peel?

Searching high. Searching low. I've been researching Alexander Sutherland for some time now; I can't seem to get the man out of my head. I have been scouring the internet for anything to do with the Sutherland surname. Alexander would be my 4th great grandfather who was born June 3,1743 in Sutherland, Caithness, Scotland, and died in the year 1843 in Grayson County, Virginia. I know that he married Margaret Elizabeth Bryan, who was from Culpepper, Virginia sometime in the year of 1784. I'm not sure of the exact date, but I do know it was supposedly during that year. Alexander's father was Samuel J. Sutherland born 1717 in Scotland and his mother was Jane Barbour born 1719, also in Scotland.

I have heard a few different stories as to how he came to the United States. While in Scotland he served in the British Army. One side of the story tells us that he switched sides and fought for the Revolutionary forces, and another story says that he deserted the British Army, (or even right after the war) to settle in the rugged mountains of Virginia. In my own opinion, I believe he and another man may have deserted and come through the lines of the American Revolutionary soldiers and ended up coming to the mountains of Virginia by way of North Carolina, as the border was very near but were first in Wythe County, Virginia.Wythe County is where he would have met Margaret Elizabeth Bryan, his future wife. Margaret was the sister of a man that Alexander had befriended. Back then the mountains were considered a wilderness, untouched by the people as far as farming and settling this land. Later, Alexander married Margaret, whom the family called "Peggy" (Peggy Bryan). They may not have married in Culpepper, Virginia but in Wythe County. I just have to find proof if there is any.  

I imagine that I will have a pretty difficult time finding any legal documents because at that time during the war, many of the homes and even the courthouse itself, was in fact, burned to the ground. So any records they may have had, were destroyed. 

During the time that Alexander came to America, the Scotland Clearances were in full force; so Alexander inevitably felt that he should join the British Army and come to the states to escape the risk of starvation. The Clearances was the clearing of people from Scottish lands so that sheep could be raised instead. It sounds horrible to let your own people die of starvation in order to raise sheep. The clearances took place in the Highlands, which is where some of the Sutherland family comes from. Some from Caithness; but most others came from the coast to coast band across Scotland.

The Sutherland family actually had their own clan; the Sutherland's were also intertwined with the Campbell's, since the Countess of Sutherland married into the Campbell family. 
I recently received an email, name is private, sorry. But in this email, I was told that the Campbell's are now very close to the Queen of England; and that the original Sutherland Duke was killed by his wife and her family- whose last name was Gordon and the Sutherland Castle is now Dunrobin. But Sinclair Castle, near Edinburgh, is where a lot of Sutherland information is now.

I will definitely be investigating the link between the Sutherland and Campbell families. It seems an interesting story as to how or even why the Sutherland Duke was killed by his own wife and her family. Were they the devious sort, marrying their daughter to a titled man and then killing him off so they could gain his property and the castle itself? Very interesting indeed!

Image Source: Lemons
Photo Credit: Photographer~ James and James

A Rough Week

So, it has been a rough week for research. I have hit many brick walls when it comes to searching for my elusive ancestor, Alexander Sutherland. I may have to try a different avenue, other than the online searches I have been doing. As a member of, I still have been unable to get an exact match as far as retrieving any documentation on him. I have tried Scotland's People, Family Search and many other genealogical sites, and sad to say, have come up empty handed!

I have been making new contacts and sending out emails all week. My most recent email was to a Dr. Fenwick of Scotland, a researcher that covers all of Scotland. He has expertise in gentry, historical research, legal texts/document searches, parish records, and wills. He was very helpful and has offered to send me an informational packet regarding current research procedures, especially that pertaining to the wide range of relevant off-line and un-indexed Scottish records which I may now need an introduction to. I can't wait to see what this packet will include! I am ready to climb this brick wall already!

I wish there was a site out there somewhere that offered everything you needed such as documents for BMD, military records and the like. Maybe there is and I just haven't found it yet! I just dislike subscribing to multiple sites where you keep having to pay, as it is not in my budget! But it seems to me that the ones you do pay for, are the ones that give you the information you seek! When I researched in the past, most but not all of the links would lead me right back to; so I decided to try it and now am paying for the worldwide membership. But there seems to be another site that is interesting me also, its called FMP, Find My Past. Maybe a 14 day free trial is in order, just so I can see what this site has to offer before I decide whether or not to become a member!

I hope you all have had better luck this week than I have :) 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Now Where Did I See That Surname?

Have you ever thought about how much genealogy research you accumulate over time? I have papers, personal notes, photos, and other documents that just keep piling up and thrown into a folder, then filed away into my filing cabinet. How will I ever stay organized and find what I need without having to search each paper individually for a particular surname or date? I found it! A program called Evernote; I'll only have one account and can use it on a multitude of devices! 

Evernote works by connecting all the computers and phones you use daily, which in turn, enables you to capture something in one place and then access it from another. What a genius idea! Imagine creating a folder for each project, surname, location, or however you see fit. You can capture everything, every bright idea, every little post-it you may have attached to one of your documents, so if you can see it or think of it, Evernote can help you remember it. "Everything you capture is automatically processed, indexed, and made searchable. If you like, you can even add tags or organize specific notes into different notebooks."
 Evernote Download

Using Evernote will help me remember tons of things! I will be able to clip text from different web pages on topics of interest, I can then tag them for easy reference later. What's even greater? The fact that I can use my smart phone to automatically sync my account with the program I have installed on my laptop! I could be in town and see something that sparks an interest that relates to genealogy in some way- snap the pic and off I go! I love this program because I can also use it in my library research. If you decide to use Evernote, let me know what you think of it. You can download a free version, the link to the website is above. 

Email notes from anywhere and they end up in your Evernote account to access later. A scribble from your iPad, a voice memo from your phone, a typed memo from your desktop, a clip from a website, a snippet form a blog, a photo, a link - absolutely anything! The world is your oyster...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Highlands of Scotland

I have always wanted to visit Scotland, and now I have an even better reason to travel there. My Sutherland ancestors. What a great way to experience the life,the beauty, the culture, and all the people of the land than to visit the place where your ancestors grew up. I may still have family there that I never even know about! Which is a good reason to continue writing this blog. Right now, I'm stuck on the Sutherland branch of my family tree. Alexander, well he's giving me fits right now; where is his information hiding? Is his data in an archive building somewhere collecting dust in the corner of a dark room that nobody ever goes to anymore? Well Alexander, I will find you! One day soon before I'm old and gray I hope! In this post, I kind of want to talk about the Highlands of Scotland where some of my Sutherland family come from. 

The Highlands of Scotland lives up to the picturesque postcards with scenes of outstanding natural beauty, and while its' just natural for you to think of this region as mountainous, there are also miles and miles of beautiful coastlines with turquoise waters and wildlife. The Highlands aren't just all landscapes of green valleys and majestic mountains, but also the historic, remote castles, and the distinctive culture and language of the welcoming towns. 

Even though Scotland is so beautiful, there was such hardship for the Highlanders of the region;   the Scottish Clearances were during the time when Alexander Sutherland came to America. He probably thought it was in his best interest to join the British Army and come to the mainland than it would be to stay in Scotland and most likely starve. The Clearances were the terrible clearing of people from Scottish lands so that they could instead, raise sheep.

"These clearances were in the Highlands -- where the Sutherland family comes from. The Highlands of Scotland is from the Northern border of Scotland and south (about the top third of Scotland). Sutherland County is from the East coast to the West coast of Scotland. Caithness is in the upper Northeast area of Scotland. Some Sutherland's were from Caithness -- but most are from the coast to coast band across Scotland. The people were moved from the lands so they could raise sheep and many were starved or driven out."

(text content was taken from an email I received recently, name if author is confidential for privacy reasons).

"For the people who moved to the coast, life was inevitably hard. They had to adjust to a new lifestyle and try to earn some semblance of a living from fishing- something that most people had no experience doing. In many cases they continued to farm on their small plots of land. The early clearances were the most harsh of all because no alternative was offered. Emigration and migration were discouraged by the landlords as being against the interests of the country and most notably themselves. Kelping demanded a large workforce and while it prospered the landlords and to some extent the people prospered. However, once the kelp prices began to fall during the 1820s this situation changed. Those who did choose to migrate or emigrate were seldom the poorest people in society. They had the means to support themselves in Scotland if they had wished for the emigrating Highlander of this period chose to go to America."
The Clearances of Scotland

Geographically Scotland consists of 2 parts: the mainland and the islands. On the mainland, one can discern 3 clear landmasses: the northern Highlands, the central Highlands and the Lowlands. The Highlands are divided by the Great Glen, a narrow gap in the mountain landscape. It's no wonder many people thought America was the land of opportunity. As compared to the life style they had been living, this must have been such a life saver for them. No pun intended. 

I think that is enough for tonight! (Remember I'm on Hawaii time) More to come tomorrow. What would you like to read on this blog? Dunrobin Castle of Highland, Scotland? Let me know! 

Other Image Source: (Top of Page)
Eilean Donan Castle, West Highlands, Scotland
Photo Credit: Photographer, Medioimages/Photodisc