Sunday, March 28, 2010


For those of you who are new to the world of genealogy, today’s post is a quick start guide to creating your family tree.

To dig into one’s family history is a truly rewarding enterprise. When you explore the corridors of the past, you enter a fascinating world. You are acting as a detective, digging up information and presenting the facts. Then, as you dig deeper, you uncover very real and human stories. Finally, you place these stories and facts into a historical narrative that brings your family to life.

The first step to take when beginning your family tree is to interview your relatives. The best source of information you have about your family is your family! Talk to your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and anyone else you can think of who might know something. You want to find out who is who in your family. Get full names, nicknames, names of siblings, birthdays, wedding dates, death dates, where they lived, where they are buried, and where their parents came from. Then ask them if they know any stories about the family, find out if there are any rumors about who the family is related to. While doing your interviews, you might just find a relative who is already working on your family history!

The information you get from your relatives should provide a good starting point. Even if all the information is not accurate, it should be enough to get you going. Take good notes and try to develop a system to organize your data.

At this point, I think it is important to say that there are many options available to organize and present your family tree. You can always do it the old fashioned way, with pen and paper. Family histories have been maintained like this for centuries. If this does not appeal to you, you can maintain your family tree on your computer. There are many software products available to save and present your information. I have been using a product called “Family Tree Maker” for almost 20 years. It is a complete package and I have been happy with it.

I have a lot of data on the surnames I have listed on this blog and I am willing to share my genealogical information with anyone who can use it. If you have any questions about genealogy or you need information that we share, please ask and I will do my best to address all inquires.

Friday, March 26, 2010


Some years after my mother joined the DAR, my sister joined. Talking to my mother later, she found it was unusual that my sister’s application added one more generation to get to the same ancestor. She never looked much further into it. I picked up our family history some time later and found that our common ancestor, Moses Fuqua Sr., had 10 children. One of his daughters, Nancy, was born in 1766. She married Josiah Morton in 1790. They followed her father to Kentucky when he migrated. They had a son, Richard Woodson Morton, who was born about 1798. He married Hannah Bingham in 1820 and had their first son James in about 1821.

Moses’ 5th son was also named Moses, and he was born in 1798. He was sent out ahead of the family to scout Moses’ land in Kentucky. He stayed in a tavern in Alexandria, Ohio owned by John Collins. He fell in love with John’s Daughter, Cynthia Ann, and married her on 23 December, 1800. They had a daughter, Cynthia Jane, who was born in about 1822. Cynthia Jane married James Morton (the son of Richard Woodson Morton and Hannah Bingham).
This means that Moses Fuqua, Sr.’s granddaughter (Cynthia Jane) married his great-grandson (James Morton)!

In my study of my family’s history, I have found that it is very common for the same group of families to be closely associated over a few generations.This happens for a number of reasons. First, in rural areas the number of families in a given location is small. Therefore, when families have a large number of children, it is likely that there will be multiple marriages between families. Furthermore, many of the people that migrated west from Virginia believed in maintaining social position. These families came from the landed class and believed in staying within their own station. This reduces the number of options one has to find a suitable mate. It is inevitable that there will be some marriages between distant (and not so distant) cousins.

These close relationships between families can make tracing your roots a much simpler task. I have used the existence of related families living in close proximity to help in verification. This becomes a valuable tool the farther you go back in your history. Sometimes the connection you need will be found in legal documents of other families. Many of these will provide the only proof of connection between generations. Remember, birth certificates are a fairly recent innovation!

For those interested, here are the surnames I am researching in my family tree: Whiting, Steele, Harton, O’neal, Porter, Shawan, Fischer, Callihan, Ayres, Foster, Andrews, Finnell, Sleet, Roberts, Pratt, Morton, Fuqua, Bingham, Woodson, and Backus.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Welcome to my World!

I inherited my love of genealogy from my mother. My mother used to talk about the stories she heard growing up, where she was told that her family had ties to the Mayflower. She traced her history with the assistance of her mother and found that she was descended from Captain Moses Fuqua who served in the Revolutionary War. This permitted her to join the Daughters of the American Revolution. She was also able to discover that Moses Fuqua’s wife Judith Woodson came from a family that arrived in Jamestown in 1619. She was never able to confirm the connection to anyone associated with the Mayflower.

Over the last 25 years, I have picked up my family history numerous times and have been intrigued by the stories I have found. One of the first things I discovered when I researched our history is that there are people who are more interested in collecting names than facts. I have seen tenuous connections made just to get another generation added to a family tree. Because of this, I have spent a lot of time verifying the information that was passed on to me.

I have expanded the research my mother did and opened many new family lines. One of the connections I found was the Bingham family line. Hannah Bingham married Dr. Richard Woodson Morton (grandson of Moses Fuqua) in 1820. Hannah is the great-great-great-granddaughter of Myles Standish, Captain of the Mayflower Company. This proves the accuracy of one of the rules of genealogy; get as much information from living relatives as possible. It may lead you to real connections.

The name of this blog comes from a story about the sons of Dr. John Woodson. In April of 1644, Dr. John Woodson was killed during an Indian attack on his plantation. His wife Sarah hid their 2 sons, one (Robert) under a washtub and the other (John) in a hole used to store potatoes. Ever since, descendents of John have been referred to as “Potato Hole” and Robert as “Washtub” Woodsons.

I am starting this blog to share the story of my family and my quest to find it.