Wednesday, September 21, 2016


My mother's paternal grandfather's surname is WEST, proven through Y-DNA. He's either the great- or great-great grandson of Willis WEST and Sarah GAINEY, born around the 1860's or 1870's in North Carolina. Probably Johnston Co., but it could be Sampson or thereabouts.

I've put together a list of WEST men that fit the criteria. It could be one of them or it could be someone else. I strongly suspect that BLACKMAN or BLACKMON is also in his ancestry.

Surname, Given names BirthDt BirthPl DthDt DthPl Father Mother
WEST, Albert Sidney 02-Jan-1874 Sampson, NC 22-Aug-1938 Salisbury, Rowan, NC John Elliot WEST Sarah ROSE
WEST, Archie Berry 31-Dec-1878 Johnston, NC 27-Apr-1943 Wake, NC James Allen WEST Sarah Right BEASLEY
WEST, Atlas Z. 26-Dec-1880 Johnston, NC 13-May-1956 Smithfield, Johnston, NC Franklin WEST Narcissus BLACKMAN
WEST, Charles Bayard Sr. 07-Feb-1877 Sampson, NC 17-Apr-1948 Kinston, Lenoir, NC John Elliot WEST Sarah ROSE
WEST, Charles Sylvester 24-Aug-1867 Johnston, NC 28-May-1941 Benson, Johnston, NC Lloyd WEST Martha MORGAN
WEST, Charlie Franklin Abt 1870 NC Franklin WEST Narcissus BLACKMAN
WEST, Esther Perry 08-Dec-1877 Benson, Johnston, NC James Allen WEST Sarah Right BEASLEY
WEST, John Claude 23-Apr-1873 Sampson, NC 3-Feb-1957 John Elliot WEST Sarah ROSE
WEST, Lloyd M. Abt 1863 Johnston, NC 8-Jan-1940 Elevation Township, Johnston, NC Allen Jesse WEST Lucy BAKER
WEST, Robert Marshall 14-Jun-1869 Johnston, NC 14-Jan-1942 Salisbury, Rowan, NC John Elliot WEST Sarah ROSE
WEST, Vassey 25-Jun-1872 Johnston, NC 5-Mar-1915 Ingrams Township, Johnston, NC Jesse Anderson WEST Sr. Nancy JOHNSON
WEST, William Henderson 08-Jan-1866 NC 14-Jun-1912 Allen Jesse WEST Lucy BAKER

If you know any of these men or their families or anyone I've left out that could also fit, please contact me at

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Robert David Johnson

After many years of looking, I'm convinced that Robert David Johnson is my mother's maternal grandfather. If so, he had a child with someone else before he married and that child would be my grandmother. Below is what I've been able to put together about his family from publicly available records. He was the son of David P. Johnson and Catherine Tyner. He was a lumber mill operator in Johnston Co. in 1930. I would like to talk to anyone who knows this family. If that's you, please contact me at

1-Robert David JOHNSON b. 25 May 1876, Smithfield, Johnston, NC, d. 29 Sep
  1952, New Bern, Craven, NC
 +Lula Zanie SMITH b. 20 Oct 1882, Wilson, NC, m. 14 Dec 1904, Ingrams
  Township, Johnston, NC, d. 01 Sep 1936, Smithfield, Johnston, NC, par. Henry
   2-David Paul JOHNSON b. 01 Aug 1903, Wilson, NC, d. 03 Oct 1960, (Wilson,
     Wilson, NC)
    +Ruby Iva BARNES b. 21 Feb 1906, Wilson, NC, m. 15 Jun 1921, Wilson,
     Wilson, NC, d. 12 Apr 1990, Wilson, Wilson, NC, par. William Henry BARNES
     and Mary Frances BARNES
      3-Paul Leondes JOHNSON b. 25 Jun 1923, Wilson, NC, d. 07 Apr 1992, Sims,
        Wilson, NC
       +Alice Lucille BARNES b. 15 Oct 1923, Wilson, NC, m. 26 Dec 1942,
        Wilson, NC, d. 25 Apr 2000, Wilson, Wilson, NC, par. Clinton Oliver
        BARNES and Vida MEWBORNE
      3-Robert H. JOHNSON b. Abt 1928, NC
   2-Robert Silas JOHNSON b. 06 May 1906, Johnston, NC
    +Marguerite Delois LOCKE b. Abt 1912, Franklin, OH, m. 03 Feb 1930, Putnam,
     WV, par. Elmer Andrew LOCKE and Alma Rosette DAVIS
      3-Frances Jeanne JOHNSON b. 29 Sep 1930, Lenoir, NC
   2-William Jennings Bryant JOHNSON b. 08 Jun 1908, NC, d. 18 Jul 1937, Stump
     Sound, Onslow, North Carolina, United States
    +Sue Taylor CHAUNCEY b. Abt 1915, m. 19 Aug 1936, Pamlico, NC
      3-Robert Bryan JOHNSON b. 11 Mar 1937, Washington, Beaufort, NC
       +Virginia Dare KEECH b. Abt 1943, m. 30 Jul 1958, Beaufort, North
        Carolina, United States, par. Edgar KEECH and UNKNOWN
         4-Robert Bryan JOHNSON Jr. b. 04 Apr 1959, Washington, Beaufort, NC
         4-Emily JOHNSON b. 06 Nov 1960, Washington, Beaufort, NC
         4-Tammie Raye JOHNSON b. 28 May 1963, Washington, Beaufort, NC
   2-Dixie Faye JOHNSON b. 07 Apr 1911, NC, d. 15 May 1974, Raleigh, Wake, NC
    +Edward Stanley ABELL Jr. b. 01 Dec 1900, Johnston, NC, m. 31 Aug 1934,
     Lenoir, NC, d. 27 Mar 1978, Raleigh, Wake, NC, par. Edward Stanley ABELL
     Sr. and Irene PAGE
      3-Edwina Faye ABELL b. 07 Aug 1934, Smithfield, Johnston, NC, d. 21 Mar
        1999, Chapel Hill, Orange, NC

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Transcription Help

I caught Cuz transcribing records by hand. Is she kidding me? I don't mean the ones that need to be transcribed. I mean the ones that are already done.

I don't know how works but at FamilySearch there's a COPY button at the top of each record page. For example:

When you click COPY, what copies to your clipboard is the entire transcription on the page including the source citation.

After clicking COPY I go to which I keep bookmarked. Then I do Ctrl+V to paste into the top box. Then I click the second radio button which says "Replace both multiple whitespaces and tabs with a single space". And then click:

The text from the top box will appear in the second box all cleaned up, tab spaces removed, and it's ready to paste into Legacy under Source Detail.

As soon as you put your cursor in that second box, the text will highlight. So right click and click Cut. Then go to wherever you go (in my case, Source Detail) and Paste.

If there's an image to download, I paste the source citation from the bottom of the page into the Caption in the metadata.

There are simple ways to get more bang for your buck or, in this case, more bang for your time.

Monday, September 5, 2016

How To Get It Wrong

Looking for my grandmother's father.

About ten years ago, I had my sights set on a particular fellow who was the youngest son in a family where an older brother married one of my great-great grandmother's half sisters. It seemed quite likely that the son of the right name and age was the one who got my great-great grandmother's daughter pregnant. Obviously these two families were at least connected through that one marriage and the younger children could have come in contact through some other family events. Obvious. Done deal. Even though I couldn't find anything else about him except when he was born.

My 94 year old aunt had given me his name and the following is the rest of the story, told repeatedly and consistently over the last 10 years, even though she has Alzheimer's. She doesn't remember what she said 10 seconds ago but this story has never changed.

1900: My great-grandmother did not marry because the fellow she expected to marry got another girl pregnant and married her instead because her father had a shotgun. ONCE she said, "probably" had a shotgun. (I noticed for the first time when I was reviewing my notes the other day.)

1920's: When she was "little" she went to visit him "many times".
He had a nice house in town.
He was a nice looking man, always dressed neatly in a shirt and tie.
A pretty girl (younger than my grandmother) always let them in and then disappeared.
He was an office-worker or something; he was not a farmer.

My mother immediately discounted the idea that he wasn't a farmer. How would she know? She was just a little kid. He could have cleaned up before the visits and put on a tie.

I discounted the idea that he lived in town. Who knows where he actually lived. He could have been using a house that belonged to someone else. What does "nice house" mean anyway? I think I live in a nice house. The Queen of England would consider it a hovel.

Instead, I fixated on his marriage. Based on when my grandmother was born, and the detail that the other girl's father had a shotgun, I figured he must have gotten married late 1899 or early 1900.

I got a list of all males of that name married in that county during that time period. The fellow described at the top of the page didn't fit the time-frame so I threw him out.

There was only one who did. Married in early 1900. Perfect. I paid the local historical society to find a living descendant, paid for his DNA test, wrote many emails, stayed awake at night excitedly combing through every detail of how things must have happened. And then watched the whole thing fall apart.

He did not live in town, he was a farmer, his photo did not bear any particular resemblance to my family with the exception of one daughter who could have looked like my grandmother. Sort of. Maybe. Still undaunted I began conjecturing. Maybe they had clandestine meetings at a friend's place in town? Maybe that's why someone else answered the door? Maybe it was just the photographic light that day and if he wasn't wearing a hat he would look more like HIM?

My mother sent the photo to my aunt, twice, but it never connected because the letter would arrive one day, my mother would phone her a week later and my aunt wouldn't remember where she put the letter. Chewing my toenails off over here ...

Two more years go by. I'm sitting on my couch the other day thinking, Let's go back to the beginning.

What did my aunt actually SAY? What does my aunt actually KNOW from her own direct experience? Not the part she heard third or fourth or fifth hand 20+ years after the fact. OK, turf out the part about the other girl and the father with the shotgun. Whew. Now, I don't know when he got married to someone else or if he ever did.

Back to the original list. GOT HIM. The only one who lived in town, had a nice house ... I scrolled backwards and forwards through the census records looking at house values, alternating with street view in Google Maps ... and he was a businessman, (hence the shirt and tie and neat appearance) the only one not a farmer. His youngest child was a daughter who was a teenager when my grandmother was in her mid to late 20's; 16 when my grandmother was 27. That would register in a child's mind as "younger" whereas the difference between 22 and 27 probably wouldn't.

Guess who this guy is? The one described at the top of the page!  He did get another girl pregnant, when my grandmother was 3 years old, and married her a year and a half later. So there probably was no father with a shotgun.

All I need now is a photograph.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Overcoming Resistance

I have an entire room in my house devoted to gym equipment. You know, the stuff you buy on Boxing Day when you're feeling motivated for New Year's.

It could be a spare bedroom or a crafts room or something else but I put all my best intentions for getting fit in there instead.

And I've had an extremely difficult time using it. I'd pass by the doorway on the way to the bathroom several times a day and never notice it.

I am not one of those people who wakes up at 5 in the morning bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and jumps on the treadmill with unbounded glee. I usually wake up anywhere between 9 and 11 in a bit of a stupour.

I thought and thought about how to overcome my resistance and tried every trick I could think of. I left a light on, I decorated it in bright colors to make it more user-appealing, all to no avail.

But, I finally got it. If I can commit to at least walking into that room once every day and staying there for one minute, somewhere between the count of 1 and 60, I will pick up a dumbbell. Out of boredom if nothing else. Once I've gotten that far, the rest is easy.

Over time the old bod realizes it likes the feeling of stretching and looks forward to it.

I find the one minute rule works for writing as well. As I mentioned last post, I've been working on a personal memoir for the past two years. It's in outline form split into years and then sub-items of various topics and vignettes.

I don't know how it ever got to 350 pages at the rate I was going but that's how it's done; one minute at a time. The commitment I made was to stop any time it got to be too much. A lot of days that was 5 minutes.

On the days when I think I just can't face another word, all I have to do is pick one item and look at it for one minute. Something always happens. A little editing here or there and I'm off to the races.

In the grand scheme I'm committed to writing for at least 15 minutes a day. It could be The Book, or my dream journal or anything else. Today it's this.