Cool Videos

Sorry I haven’t been writing more-we are down to one computer and I so dislike trying to think and type on an iPad. Plus we’re trying to finish bathroom reno, painting a bedroom and Spring is definitely calling us in 17 different directions, so computer time is limited.

Not only am I a genealogy geek, but I LOVE languages too-and accents…And I thought this was really fun, considering how much of my ancestry I now know is from the British Isles. By the way, I refuse to call it the UK. To me it will always be Scotland, England, Ireland, Wales (and a few other wee bits) and to me, conglomerating it all together is a culture killer, just like the EU.

So here’s the video. Enjoy!


And here’s one more.
When we go to do genealogy research we have to remember things weren’t then like they are now. Heck, even in my lifetime, the map that used to show the U.S.S.R. doesn’t even exist anymore. Now we have all these smaller countries, and they have their identities back! (Add USSR to the yucky list with UK and EU.)

So here’s a video to show you just how much the place where your ancestors came from has changed.



Recently, I uploaded my DNA info into another ancestry/genealogy site, one that gives pretty simple raw data, connections and names/email addresses.
So I contacted the person who was highest on my list. We SHOULD BE third cousins, which means that our great-grandparents were siblings-in other words, we SHARE a great-great grandparent.

We exchanged surnames back to the GG stage (which is 16 names). I am lacking no names but am sketchy on details on a few people. This other person is missing a last name for one person, and, well,

I thought it would be so easy since this would be my closest kin so far, but….nothing.
Yes, our families have been in the same states…but…

How can it be that we can’t recognize a common name in 16 people…
And then I got to thinking about some of my ancestors. Yes, I have one line of lovely royal blood, my great-grandmother with the strong royal-looking face who probably didn’t even know she’s from princess blood… but a lot of my family is…”skitchy”.

We have two who are on the rolls for being tried and convicted of adultery. (No sentence). One murdered for running liquor, Several who could not read or write, many tradesman, many who were always on the move, and I’m guessing we have more than a few cases of “who’s your daddy?” happening in my tree.

So now I’m making myself crazy, going over and over the information that I got from the other person, trying out their ancestor’s name with my names on Google, checking through my 16 great-grands to see where I might be missing something, where someone could be lying about parentage, where someone could have been adopted or ravished by a stranger in the night….

And I’m making myself nuts!

I am curious what other genealogy researchers do in this case…Again I wonder, does this change who I am? What if I found that someone in my recent ancestry is not my ancestor?…Am I NOT a descendent of Kings? Not descended from the Cherokee’s?

I’ve connected with people in my Keeney, and Whitecotton lines, so I know at least those two…but…one small lie, or mis-representation one hundred years ago, could be a HUGE deal…

Crazy making….

The Myth of the Cherokee Princess, or Family History Revised

I’m going to throw this out there, because while I’m sure a million of you have heard this story, I am sure some have not, and if I can save someone the embarrassment of telling this story in public and having someone else cry “BS”, then it’s worth it.

The stories always go something like this:
You have an ancestor (vague connection) who was Cherokee, and not just any Cherokee, she was a Chief’s daughter, a Princess! She died on the Trail of Tears, and there’s a memorial to her….somewhere.
The family tales tend to be always women, and always women of some notable, story-worth tale. And yes, I have had unknowing people tell me stories like this at least twice. In my family she wasn’t a princess but here father lived off the Nation and her mother on it so at a young age, she would ride a horse to visit between her parents. One day a wolf chased on her horse, and she found an abandoned houses to shelter her and her horse until of the wolf ran away. It was inferred that she was riding between Oklahoma and Southeastern Missouri!
Most likely the truth of the story is that her mother was not living on a reservation (she remarried twice and all three men were white) and if this young girl did visit others it was likely it was no more than one county distant. As for the wolf, I don’t know. But after listening and learning,it’s very common that these family stories are like fish stories-they get bigger with age.
It is likely that many, many of the stories of Cherokee princesses were really Choctaw, Seminole, or even, as in the case of the “Melungeon” people, of African ancestry.
Stories in many cases changed because to be “Indian” was dangerous, but to be “Portuguese” was exotic and acceptable. It is also common that’s while great great grandpa may have played down his native blood, consecutive generations play it up. Not out of meanness and not out of trying to get enrolled, but honestly, at least in my family, out of a sense of pride. But the stories really do get bigger with time.

Recently I had a friend mention that he just found out that a deceased grandparent was Cherokee. I cut straight to the point and said, don’t listen to the family stories, go straight to her closest relative and ask if she was enrolled on the Dawes Rolls, and if not, chalk it up to family tales. And in fact, this friend did just that, and found his grandmother was indeed enrolled, and so now he has an established fact to build his thoughts and perceptions, and family tales on. The documentation gives credibility to the stories. Without documentation, family stories cannot be verified, and should always be taken with a large grain of salt.

In my family history, that young lady that supposedly fled the wolves was my great great grandfather’s sister. My father was lucky enough to inherit two large photo portraits of my great great grandfather, John Willis Goddard, and his 2nd wife, Hannah Parilee Gibson, my great great grandmother.
These portraits hung on the wall of my parents bedroom growing up, and sometimes I would just stare at the old man (he’s under 40 in the portrait!) and wonder about him. He has very piercing eyes, and he does look “native”. He has very dark hair, high cheekbones, darkish skin, and the assumption was that he was Cherokee. But was he?OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
When I was about 12, I was still in “Camp Fire Girls” and we made a simple buckskin looking dress for ourselves out of poplin. Just for fun one Saturday, I put darker makeup on my face and braided my long brown hair. I had a choker and two beaded hair ornaments that I had made, so I put all of this on, and ran into my dad coming out of the bathroom. He looked stunned. I can’t remember what he said, but he wanted to take my photograph, and I remember him being proud. Of his ancestry, maybe, of his look-alike daughter, maybe, but I know it was a special moment to him. It became a special moment to me too, and because those “Cherokee” stories were some of the rare few anyone in my family ever told, those stories became special to me. Part of my perceived identity. But that does not make them true?
Even a few years ago, there was no real or common way for anyone to refute the stories a family would tell. Even now, you can say you are anything you want, and really know one will know, no one will force you to tell the truth, but now, with the common DNA test getting less expensive, there is a whole new world, not only of genealogy but ancestry in general. Now instead of going to a library to do research, you go on line, or learn about autosomal and mitochondrial DNA, and you can match numbers and DNA strands with total strangers. And DNA doesn’t lie.
Or does it? I don’t even know for sure what the DNA tests are really covering. In one place I read that it’s only a certain generation back-like eight generations. So how do they know whom my fourth cousins are? I realized today that I need a “DNA for Dummies” class or something because all of the genetics information is really over my head.
But I’m hooked, and I think this “sure science” is what really sucks us in. If we can just find that one ancestor, that one bloodline, we will know who we are! I would love to find out anything about my maternal grandmother’s family because I know literally nothing about who they are, what their traditions were or where they came from. To me it feels like I am missing part of my maternal spiritual inheritance. And what of someone who feels good about who they are only to open up their email one morning to find that they have a new match, and this person is sure to be their father-when they thought they knew their biological father.
Even small amounts of new information, like being .1% Cherokee instead of 12%, or being “Middle Eastern” (which is a very large and vague can of worms), what does that switch do to your identity? What do you do if in one night you go from attending pow-wows to feeling like you should check out a synagogue or a mosque?
It seems like in this computer-data age we are playing-no juggling with emotionally double-edged swords. Yes, genetics can tell you the biological truth and widen your horizons, but what about a woman who’s sibling isn’t really related, or a father who died never knowing his son…?
I think that there should be more of a warning on ancestral DNA-type tests. People don’t really realize how subtly or how drastically it can change your entire sense of who you are. But it doesn’t have to.
Ultimately, the people who raised you, those that loved you, and the culture you grew up in ARE who you really are, and they are never a lie, no matter what a DNA test says. This is very much like finding out you are adopted. Does the mom that raised you suddenly stop being your mom? No, but having a second mom or second family can broaden your idea of who you are.
It can be a really painful process, even to learn something small that you did not know.
Ultimately we each have to find that place in ourselves where no piece of information or lack thereof can change who we really are. When we know that part of ourselves, we can have fun with the journey, but for those who are seeking to be validated or shaped by others, even dead ancestors, it may be a painful journey.

Basic Family Chart

I’ve made a basic “Fan Chart” here, with myself in the middle, and showing my mother and father, grandparents and great grandparents.
This is the chart I will use to reference all biographies of specific people in my ancestry.
For instance, if I want to do a “spotlight” on Nancy Raines, from whom all the Welsh and European royalty come, I will reference this fan chart by saying, “Nancy Raines, ancestor of Christina Whitecotton.” So I will always refer to one of the people on this chart, so that everyone can get some idea of which “branch” of the tree we’re talking about.

One of the reasons for only going this far on the chart is that my maternal grandmother’s families are a mystery, beyond what is here. In genealogy they call this “a brick wall” because we can’t see or find information behind it.
On the other hand, I call Christina Whitecotton, descendent of Nancy Raines a “Jackpot” or “Mother Lode” because when I tapped into Nancy Raines’ parents, I tapped into genealogies going back to in some cases 700 AD!

Note to nieces and nephews (not greats) the center dot (me) represents HALF of your genealogy. If I live long enough I might get to your other halves…but for now, that’s on you.

If anyone reading this recognizes someone that they’d like my information, please contact me here. I am new to gedcom files, etc. and have just loaded my info onto GEDMATCH.Com, I also have a profile on so I should be able to share what I have, and in turn, if you see something you think I might not have, or have not posted about yet, please let me know!

Click on the chart below for a larger version:

Family Genealogy Fan Chart


Fun with Welsh

Soon, I will get around to mapping out my genealogy, but for now, let’s just suffice to say, I have some Welsh. Good bit actually, and some royal Welsh lines, going back to something like 1100 AD!

I love languages, and for several years after starting research on the Cherokee ancestors I studied the Cherokee language. I love the different “Letters” and the Syllabary, and it was fun, but I really didn’t have anyone to converse with, so it’s hard to go very far.

Now I’m enamored of Welsh. It looks fun and has lots of strange sounds we don’t make in English, so I’m poking around a bit, learning some sounds, and practicing the dreaded “LL”.

Apparently the most fun you can have with a word in Welsh is a little town called “Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch”.

It means  “The Church of St. Mary in the hollow of the white hazel near the rapid whirlpool and the church of  St. Tysilio’s by the red cave” and can be found on Anglsey, in Northern Wales, near Bangor.

If you break it down, it’s  “Llan-fair   pwllgwyngyll   gogerych   wyrndrobwll  llan-tysilio  gogogoch”

Need some help with that? Here’s a fun video that will have you singing along in no time!


Why “Finding Grandmothers”?

I thought of this name a few years ago. It was the title of a piece of writing that I never published anywhere. Some pertinent information has changed, so I need a major re-write on it, but the gist of the story is this.

Alice2In 2002 I had a horrible year. Everything that was lose-able, I lost. Let’s just leave it at that. So by 2003 I was licking my wounds, rebuilding a life, and I strongly felt a grandmotherly presence. I do that. Feel things. My cousin says in inherited that from my Great Grandma. They called her “Little Grandma”. Her name was Alice Rosaline Goddard (see photo) and she married Alexander and then Sylvester Crabtree. Her father had the Cherokee blood, and everyone said that Little Grandma could see and hear spirits. I think some of that has been passed down.

In 2003 I just always felt comforted, watched over, and that feeling and events that encouraged that idea lasted til about 2006. So really the “Finding Grandmothers” started when I realized that presence was a grandmother. Alice perhaps. I started to do genealogy work on Alice’s father John Goddard, determined to find that Cherokee line. That started in May 2007 when something in my back went “spoing” and I laid flat on my back for 10 days. Couldn’t do much else but surf the internet. Since then my search has finally moved outward, to other branches of the family tree. I never could find much solid evidence of the Cherokees.

As I’ve researched, over the last seven years, I’ve aged. This seems to have been that peak time where I’ve gone from young to older. Topped the hill and started down the backside, so to speak. In finding my grandmothers-or rather greats and great-greats (all the way back to the 700’s now, I think in some cases) I’ve been finding myself. I never had a child, so there won’t be grandchildren-I won’t actually BE a grandmother, but I will be old. I will be aging, with grace perhaps. Another 20 to 40 years to really LOVE my life and live it for the right reasons-rather than all of the impetuous and silly reasons of youth. Deliberate living! Being a “Wise Crone”.

So for me, as I am finding my grandmothers, I am finding pieces of myself. Not just my ancestry but snapshots of older women that I resemble now, in lines around my mouth, the never-graying hair or the hearing of spirits.
Finding grandmothers. Finding me.

Welcome to the ‘Finding Grandmothers’ Blog

I intend to make this blog part personal journal, part commentary on genealogy research, part snapshot/highlights of particularly notable or interesting ancestors, part photo album and hopefully leave a legacy for my family, so that in generations to come my descendents can look back and have an easier time finding their way home.
Where our branches cross, I hope you find some useful and interesting information.

Our life, our family, our blood, our ancestry, and “where we come from”-they ARE who we are. You cannot know home, until you know yourself. You cannot know yourself until you know your history.

I have a lot to write…so I’ll get right on it!


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