Monthly Archives: November 2014

Which of your Ancestor’s Would You Most Like to Talk To?

Before being a guest on the Savory Spotlight radio show; which I recently blogged about; I was sent a list of questions I might be asked.  One of those questions was…….

If you had a chance to sit down with one of your ancestors, whom would it be; and what would you ask?

We never got around to that question due to time.  However; it certainly got me thinking.  So…… what I would like to do is to ask each of you to answer that question by commenting below.  I will start by answering the question myself.

Although there are many ancestors whom I would love to speak with and ask questions of; if I had to pick just one; it would be my GGG Grandfather, Thomas Gist.  Thomas was born ca 1809-1811; depending on which census you want to believe.  He was born in Kentucky; although records of his children show that he was born in Alabama.  I won’t bother with the details here.  However; I have very good reason to believe that Thomas was almost certainly “raised” in Alabama; although I am sure he was born in Kentucky. Thomas married Eliza Kemmer in Bledsoe Co., TN in the 1845.

Although I have done a ton of research on Thomas; and have a lot of strong “evidence” to suggest who his parents were; I have nothing that “absolutely” proves it.  Yes…… even I have brick walls of my own.

So…… if I could sit down and talk to just one of my ancestors; it would be Thomas Gist.  I would ask him if his parents were in fact William Gist and Abigail Pennington; as I believe they were.  I would want to ask him about his family’s adventures while moving from Kentucky to Jackson Co., AL.  Tell me, Grandpa….. what was the trip like?  What kind of trials and tribulations did you encounter along the way?  Why did you decide to leave Alabama and move to Bledsoe Co., TN?

Grandpa……..  did you ever get to meet your Great-Uncle, Daniel Boone; sister of your Maternal Grandmother, Hannah?  You would have been about 10 years old when he died.  Maybe he visited his sister; your grandmother in Alabama.  Or maybe you met him in Kentucky before your father made the decision to move the family to Jackson Co., AL.

Grandpa……  I was told that you were killed by bushwhackers during the Civil War.  Is that true?  Please tell me about it.  Were you home at the time?

These are just a few of the questions I would want to ask my GGG Grandfather, Thomas Gist.

I hope many of my readers will take a few moments to tell me which ancestor you would most like to sit down with; and what question or questions you would ask that person.  Please do so in the comments section below.  I look forward to your responses.


Posted by on November 28, 2014 in General Genealogy


Interview on LA Talk Radio

Just finished doing an interview on an internet radio station.  The show (A Savory Spotlight) focuses on  Wellness, Travel, Genealogy, DNA analysis, Entertainment.

I was contacted by Sheri (the host of the show) many years ago regarding our common ancestors.  She has come a long way since then! We have a family connection through our Gist and Pennington families.  Although I have spoken to Sheri many times over the years; and exchanged many emails with her; we have never met personally.  It is always a pleasure to speak with her.

Sheri asked me several days ago if I would be a guest on the show today.  It was such a blast speaking with her and her co-host, Tina. Although I have not met Tina previously; she was a pleasure to talk with.  I hope they will have me back on the show again sometime.

If you would like to listen to the show; visit the show’s webpage at Click the link to play or download the Nov. 25, 2014 episode.  My segment begins about 30 minutes into the show.  You can forward to that if you would like.  But you will probably enjoy listening to the entire show (about 50 minutes).

Hope you all will take a listen to it.


Posted by on November 25, 2014 in General Genealogy


The Journey to Finding the Parents and Grandparents of an Illegitimate Child

I was recently contacted to do some research for a client whose Great-Grandmother was born 1863.  Although she was found on the 1870 census of Delaware County, Indiana; it was clear that the head of this household was not her father.  The great-grandmother’s name was Minnie Priest; according to that census; as well as other records that had been previously discovered.  Although most records gave Minnie’s maiden name as “Priest”; there were a couple of records that gave her maiden name as “Tweedy”.  However; based on the number of records that gave the maiden name as Priest; it was likely that Priest was her maiden name.  I still did not want to ignore the name Tweedy.  After all; we had 2 records that gave that name.  Obviously; someone had reason to believe that Minnie was a Tweedy.

Minnie - 1870 Census


On the above census; we see that Minnie is in the household of Leonard Halstead.  My first instinct was to locate Leonard in 1860 to see if there were Priest families living nearby.  After all; it appeared likely that Minnie’s father or mother was a Priest.

Having been unsuccessful in locating Leonard in 1860; I needed to try other avenues in order to piece things together.  Since Leonard was in Perry Township, Delaware County in 1870; I decided I should still check for Priest’s who may have lived in Perry Township in 1860 (Minnie having been born in 1863).  Indeed; in 1860 I found a household headed by Jeremiah Priest in Perry Township in 1860.  In the 2 images below; Jeremiah’s household begins at the bottom of a census page; and continues on the next page (thus the two images below).


Knowing that this Jeremiah Priest was in Perry Township in 1860; just 3 years before Minnie was born; I wanted to try to learn just how close this Priest family might have lived to Leonard Halstead; even though both were not in Perry Township on the same census.  To determine this; I started looking at the neighbors of Leonard Halstead in 1870; and of Jeremiah Priest in 1860.  Something jumped out at me!

I noticed the Isaac Peters family that was next door to Jeremiah Priest in 1860.  I remembered seeing 2 Peters children in the household of Leonard in 1870!  So… I looked at that 1870 census again.  The oldest of those 2 Peters children who were living with Leonard Halstead in 1870 was Samuel Peters; who was 13 years old.  Notice that this Isaac Peters had a 3 year old son, Samuel; on the 1860 census; and was living next door to Jeremiah Priest!

Because Isaac’s son, Samuel Peters was living with Leonard Halstead (of course Minnie was in Leonard’s household also); I now had reason to believe that Jeremiah Priest and Leonard Halstead had been neighbors at some point between 1860 and 1870; although they were never in the same Township during the census records.  I also have a suspicion at this point that Isaac’s wife, Vesta Jane Peters, might have been a Halstead.  This was something to look for.

At the library the next day; I located the marriage of Isaac Peters to Vesta Halstead!  Bingo!  I now knew that the 2 Peter’s children living with Leonard Halstead in 1870 were actually his grandchildren.  Was Minnie Priest also a grandchild?  After all; Leonard Halstead did have a daughter, Nancy; who was 26 years old; and still living with him in 1870.  I had also found a marriage in 1871 between Nancy Halstead and Barnett “Tweedy!  There’s that Tweedy name!  I knew this meant that it was likely that Nancy Halstead; who later married Barnett Tweedy in 1871 (when Minnie would have been about 8 years old), was probably the mother of Minnie.  That would explain why descendants later would think that Minnie’s father was a Tweedy.

Next I knew I needed to search the court cases in Delaware County.  I now suspected that either Jeremiah himself; or his son Mark or Samuel could be the father of Minnie.  Both Mark and Samuel were old enough to have fathered Minnie with Nancy in 1863.

So…. to the court cases I went.  Searching the court cases; I quickly noticed a Bastardy case in 1864 between Nancy Halstead and Samuel Priest.  The case was over 30 pages in length; and gave a lot of details.  Although it did not specifically name the child; Nancy did state that she had a child fathered by Samuel; who was born in April of 1863.  Although we did not have an exact birth date for Minnie; the 1900 census did give her birth month as April; and she was 7 years old in 1870; placing her born in April of 1863!  This left no question that Nancy Halstead was the mother of Minnie; and Jeremiah’s son, Samuel was the father.  Of course we also had the next generation now as well; knowing that Nancy was the daughter of Leonard Halstead; and Samuel was the son of Jeremiah Priest.

This has opened up many more doors for my client’s research.  She can now pursue these lines further back; being armed with a lot more information.

The moral of this story…..  Pay attention to the little things.  The 13 year old Samuel Peters who was in Leonard Halstead’s household in 1870 was a key piece of information; that lead me down the path I took to finally finding Minnie’s parents.  Also; looking at the marriages in Delaware County of all of the Halstead’s lead me to finding the marriage of Nancy Halstead to Barnett Tweedy.  Of course I had also payed close attention to the neighbors of Jeremiah Priest in 1860; and of Leonard Halstead in 1870.  That was when I discovered Isaac Peters (and 3 year old Samuel Peters) next door to Jeremiah in 1860.

As you can guess; my client was thrilled at finally finding the parents of Minnie; after having searched for several years.  She had even made trips to Delaware County in the past to try to find the answers.  I am thrilled that I was able to help her find those answers.

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 22, 2014 in General Genealogy


Free Online Presentation on “Tips and Tricks for Searching Census and other Records”

This coming Sunday (16 Nov. 2014) at 8pm Eastern Standard time.  I will be hosting another free Google Hangout Video session in which I will do a presentation about searching  I will talk about (and show) various tips and tricks that can be used to find some of the harder to find ancestors in the census records; as well as other records on Ancestry.

There are various little tricks that some folks are not aware of; that can help yield better results when searching for our ancestors on Ancestry.  Some may be aware of most of these.  However; many are not.

After discussing and demonstrating some of these tips and tricks, I will open the session up for questions and comments.

This will be a free session.  This is done using Google Hangouts.  Doesn’t matter where you live since this will be done online.  You do have to have a Google/Gmail account to use Google Video Hangouts.  If you don’t have a Google/Gmail account; you can set one up for free.  If you have a webcam, you can also share video.  Of course you need a microphone to share audio.  Most laptops have a webcam and microphone (and speakers) built in.  You can also use Google Hangouts from most Android and IOS smart phones.

Google Hangouts does limit the number of people who can attend a Video Hangout to 10 (including myself).  Those who wish to attend need to contact me by email; or you may comment below as soon as possible.

Please check your own time zone to know what time this is for you.


Posted by on November 11, 2014 in General Genealogy