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Isaiah West and Zemiah Black Marriage Record

I will be writing up a timeline post for Isaiah West, hopefully this week. Right now I am working on updating his section of my database website. That way I can point to the exact records I will be talking about. I am just so excited to finally see proof of this marriage.

Isaiah West, Zemiah Black
Isaiah West, Zemiah Black marriage bond

Pendleton County, Kentucky, Marriage Bonds, 1851-1864, v. 6: 139, West-Black, 1861; digital images, Family Search ( : accessed 23 Apr 2016).

What is a Genealogist to Do? Part 3

If you aren’t caught up on this saga, you can read Part 1 and Part 2.

Things went quiet again for a few years. Then in 2012 my Aunt went to the cemetery to visit Grandpa and to check on the graves. Unfortunately, it looks like in 2011 another baby was buried in our family lot. This one not by my 2nd cousin, but her ex-husband’s sister.


Where do you even go from there? What do you do? The second baby had been there at least a year before we were aware of it. I don’t even know the circumstances surrounding the second burial because this time, they stayed silent and didn’t come to us to “brag”. I hesitate to say the word, but that is what it felt like to our family at the time.

Again we called the cemetery, and this time they told us our information was in there, but there was no note. Then they told us they don’t require proof of ownership, that the funeral home tells them where they need to go and they open the grave. When we called the funeral home, they at first didn’t want to talk to us. Finally after we were persistent to have some kind of answers, we were told that grieving parents weren’t asked those kinds of questions.

The cemetery assured us that the middle plot is still able to hold my Grandma and that the babies were buried with the father of my 2nd cousin. Do we believe that though? I don’t know that we do. Every time we go to the cemetery now, we just can’t help but wonder. Every single family member who goes to visit now always analyzes the graves. There is a paranoia that exists with this now.

Let me just say at this point, I understand how we can be seen as the cold-hearted ones. I am sympathetic to the loss of life. It’s not the fault of the babies who are buried there. Drug addiction is a major problem in my family. We’ve dealt with it for a lot of years. I am sympathetic to all that comes with it but at what point do you say enough? My grandfather worked very hard in the short time he was here. He lost his 3 year old son to an illness he couldn’t help. He provided what his son needed to the very end, all the way to his final resting place.


I can’t even say we wouldn’t have let her bury the first baby there in the first place, because we most likely would have with no hesitation. It’s the sneaking around and the maliciousness towards our family. This second baby, I don’t even know where to start with that. The first time, you say it’s just a family argument and they wanted the baby with their family members. The second time, I don’t see any reason for that at all.

We were in contact with the cemetery again last month. Another new person is working there and again, there was no note saying there was a problem with this grave. There was a comment from the new caretaker that this wasn’t an isolated problem, that he was seeing quite a bit of weird things going on.

Is this something I’m just not thinking of in the right way? What would you do if you were faced with this?  Who do you get mad at? The cemetery? The funeral home? The family members? Do you just let it go or do you fight back? Is there even any cause to be mad, or are we just too sensitive?

If you even take the personal aspects out of it. How do I document the second burial in my family tree? Do I just ignore it?

There are so many questions and no answers.

Willie Mays Grave

What is a Genealogist to Do? Part 2

I’m sure by now you are curious as to what I was talking about on Friday. I know I said I was going to post the second part on Monday but I’m anxious to just get the story out and see what others might think.

To make a long story as short as possible, my Grandpa bought a 5 plot cemetery lot  in 1953 when his son passed away. When Grandpa died in 1976 he was buried next to his son. Over the years, members of my Grandma’s family had come to her and asked if they could use other spots in the lot. She agreed because it was her family and she was okay with it since there was still a spot there next to Grandpa and Willie for her.

Willie Mays Grave

We never even thought about the cemetery until 2008. We would visit over the years but we didn’t think there was anything to worry about with it. Then in 2008, we received word through my cousin one day that the cemetery deed was needed because someone had lost a baby and needed to bury it. We were a little taken aback because we didn’t even have anyone in the immediate family who was pregnant. When we called the cemetery they told us that the person who was burying the baby told them it was her cemetery lot and the funeral home was already on the way to the cemetery. As we didn’t have all the facts and it was an infant, we just told them to go ahead and bury the baby.

This is where I start to get a little hesitant about the details, but they are important to the story. The woman who lost the baby turned out to be the daughter/grand-daughter of the other two people buried in the family lot from Grandma’s side of the family. This woman was also a heroin addict and lost her baby due to her drug use. None of those details were important at first because at the end of the day, an infant needed a final resting place.

Something still didn’t sit right with my family. Why did my second cousin just walk into a cemetery and claim ownership and they believed her? I guess because her father and grandfather were buried there. However, we physically had the deed in Maryland that said Stanley Mays was the owner and his heirs would inherit it should he die.

My mother called the cemetery. She was just wanting to make sure that no one else tried to bury anyone else in that grave without permission. The man at the cemetery seemed bewildered but after explaining the circumstances to the man he assured us that this would not happen again. He was leaving a note in the computer that this was an issue for this particular site. He updated the contact information for the grave site, which was also part of the problem. We left it at that, despite the continued unrest knowing that it could happen again.

There was definitely drama between my 2nd cousin’s mother and our family after this incident. Basically, my mother let it be known she wasn’t happy with the way the situation unfolded and the way they seemed to brag about the “free stuff” that was donated. They weren’t happy with us and threatened to sue us, among other things.

You would think this is the end of this story. That I would just  tell you to make sure that you update your cemetery contact information because through a series of misunderstandings this happened to us. No, that’s not what happened here and it became very clear to us.

But I’ll get into that in the final part tomorrow.

Stanley Mays Grave

What Is a Genealogist to Do?

For years, I have had a huge dilemma with my family tree research. It has to do with a family lot we own in a cemetery. What would you do if you went to your family cemetery lot and saw that there were strangers buried there? Not strangers from your past, but strangers from current times who were buried there recently.

I could write a book on the circumstances surrounding how this happened to us. I’ve been struggling with how to document this situation for future generations. There needs to be an explanation documented or there could be some very bad confusion later on. I’ve also been struggling with whether I should be saying anything about this at all. There are still living family members on both sides of this battle. I will try to be as unbiased as I can be about this. It wouldn’t feel right not saying anything though, because I wouldn’t want anyone to have this happen to them. For you to show up at your grandfather’s grave site, that he purchased for his family, and find there are people buried there that you don’t even know.

Stanley Mays Grave

I’m sure as my story progresses, any internet savvy person will be able to figure out where and who I am talking about to some extent. That’s not really my concern right now. My concern is to bring light to something everyone should be aware of if they have family cemetery lots.

Next part coming Monday. I didn’t want to make this post too long.

What’s New in my Genealogy Database

I get a lot of e-mails about what kind of information I have about all the names I talk about here on the blog. My database website is pretty outdated with the information I currently have. So I wanted to show the easiest way to find out what is new on my database website.


If you go to my main website, there is a Database Additions link in the sidebar. I will be putting some serious time in over the next couple of weeks to try and get that as updated as possible with information and documents.

Marriage Record of John Walter Parkin

My website has migrated to its new server and there should be zero downtime! That is definitely good news. Usually something always goes wrong for me in these things. 🙂


To celebrate here is the marriage record for my 2x great grandparents John Walter Parkin and Jennie Featherson. I had hoped to get the maiden names of their mothers with this record. I have to say 50% is much better than 0%!

Lucky for me Find My Past had some sort of promotion going on and I was able to find census records for Ann Maltis’s family. More about that later though. 😉

Marriage of Herbert Redford and Sadie Sutcliffe

Sadie Sutcliffe is no longer my family tree’s biggest mystery! Thanks to the New Jersey State Archives, there are plenty of new names for me to play with!


I hope your family trees are treating you kindly! My father’s side is definitely ripe with activity while I am waiting on my website to change servers. There are a couple more records that came with this one and I can’t wait to share them.


Site downtime and upgrades

codingMy website will have some scheduled downtime within the next two weeks. My webhost is moving to a shiny new data center. They will let me know when the move is done, then I will have to get on my brother’s case within seven days to change a few things on the domain backend. Then everything should be good again. The problem will come if I can’t get him to get on the ball. He is a system engineer at a Florida hospital, so I understand when he can’t jump to do these things for me. 🙂 It’s more important for him to be on the ball for them.

I’ve decided to not update until the move is finished. I am doing this for the main reason that I don’t know when the move will start. My webhost said they will notify me when the move is done, so I will just wait for the move before adding new content. This insures that I won’t lose any new data that I add. After the move, I plan to upgrade my TNG software, version 11 was just released!!, and work on getting my database website up to date. Like all my other electronic devices, my websites have a lot of clutter in their storage, so I will start cleaning up all those and organizing them as well.

I hope to have as little downtime as possible, because I am ready to get things rolling here again! It was always my best way to talk things out as I was working through data confusion. 😉

George Washington Webb and White Burley Tobacco

I’ve talked about the family tree my Grandma showed me when I was in the eighth grade. It was what started this genealogy obsession with me. There was always this little blurb in the beginning of it. It was the only little insight we had to George Washington Webb, his siblings, and his parents. I was always so fascinated with that little blurb. Maybe it was the problem solver in me, I just love to solve mysteries! Whether it be movies, books, or TV shows, I love a good mystery.

It told me that George and his brothers were orphaned at a young age and were three of five children. I found out that wasn’t quite right. There were at least 10 children born to his parents 1and his father, Reuben, was alive until he was at least 86 years old 2.  From what I can tell so far, the surviving children were all married by the time Reuben died. I can only guess that happened between the 1850 and 1860 census. I am still searching out those records!

The other part of the blurb that always stood out for me was that George was credited with discovering white burley tobacco. If you google it, you can find a little blurb about it and it does mention George but I was never quite sure what to go on. Well, before I went on a recent trip to Ohio with my mother, I decided I would look and see if there was anywhere I could go that would give me any idea about this. It turns out there is a Tobacco Museum right in between my two aunts houses.


The museum was closed when we went by, but there was this cool plaque sitting right outside! It’s technically been there since 1964, so it makes me wonder if my Grandma knew about it. She sure didn’t like to give me hints at all. Now I have to make sure I go back when the museum is open to see if there is anything at all about George Webb in there.

  1. Biographical History of Tippecanoe, White, Jasper, Newton, Benton, Warren and Pulaski Counties, Indiana.  2 volumes.  Chicago, Illinois:  Lewis Publishing Company, 1899.
  2. 1850 U.S. census, population schedule, Highland County, Ohio. White Oak township, p. 322-A, dwelling 427, family 427, James Webb; digital images, Ancestry ( : accessed 22 Sep 2015); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M432, roll 694.

William Mays and Fanny Atkins

I had some amazing progress yesterday on my Mays ancestors. It all started on Tuesday, when I shared a bunch of old photos on my Facebook. I like to do that for my Aunts, Uncle, and other relations because it helps jog their memories of things. It was a wonderful day full of pictures and stories, and none of us were in the same place. Gotta love technology when you are far apart!

When I woke up on Wednesday morning I was refreshed and excited. After running the morning errands, cleaning, relaxing for a bit, and then cooking dinner, I really should have just watched a movie and went to bed. It must have been that boost from the day before though, because I just had to get onto FamilySearch and research more.

Usually when I’m searching FamilySearch, I just plug in various search terms and see what it finds. Don’t worry I smacked my own knuckles for that! I know I should make research plans, but it never turns out that way. However, I learned something new this week. I learned that if you have a specific locality you are wanting to search, you can use the catalog to see if FamilySearch has anything at all for that locality. It could be book, microfilm, or even online records. I know I’m late to the party with this. I knew about the catalog before but there is a newer feature I hadn’t know about previously.

catalogUsually when I use the catalog I use a film number to see what record group the information I am looking at came from. This is the first time I’m reversing the process. Since I was talking with my Mays relatives the previous day, I thought I’d go for broke and see if Montgomery County, Virginia records would show up for me. Montgomery County is where indexes tell me my 4x great grandparents were married in 1798.

vitalrecordsOh boy, this made me excited. To know the records were somewhere in the records was wonderful. That means I just had to get to them. I knew from the indexes they were supposedly married in September of 1798. So I clicked on Register of Marriages, Montgomery County Virginia, 1773-1863.

browseimagesI have no idea when those little icons started showing up but I am officially in love with them.

jackpotThis is when I stopped being able to contain my excitement!

0588-WilliamMays-MRLuckily for me, I knew from the index that I needed the year 1798. I thought at the time I was looking for September 17, but this record clearly says that William Mase and Fanny Atkins were married on September 20th. I checked my dates one more time, and nowhere did I have the 20th as an alternate date. Since this was the first actual record that I saw with my own eyes, I added it as the preferred marriage date, entered all the information in and patted myself on the back. I got curious about those Marriage Bonds on the list of Montgomery County records though. I mean, it can’t hurt to look right? Where did the 17th come from anyway? That was the date given in the index. I usually can tell how a transcription error has happened, but that 20 does not look remotely like 17.

1798 Marriage Bond

Nope, I suppose it can’t hurt at all! I found it pretty quickly in the 1798 section. This is also where the 17th of September came from, everything is so much clearer to me now! The interesting part is that it has Moses Atkins acting on behalf of Fanny. My excitement wanted me to add Moses as her father, but then I realized, it never actually says that. In bonds before and after this one, it will specifically say Father. I will take time right now to thank all the wonderful genealogists I learning from. If this was 5 years ago, I might have gone ahead and added Moses as her father. I would have assumed it was true and never thought twice. It makes me so happy to know that I have built better habits. Now if I can just learn some better ones in other areas of my research!

This is still an awesome find though, and I thought to myself, years I’d been looking for this and finally I’ve seen it. I am going to start planning a weekend trip to Montgomery County, VA. Not just for record searching, but because this is verifiable proof that my ancestors were there. This is the first known record of my Mays line, this is as far back as we go. There are still so many mysteries about them. Who is William’s father? Were they living in Montgomery County long term? Were they just on their way to Kentucky from a further East Virginia settlement? Now I am going to be diving into an uncomfortable place for me. The census records before 1850. I haven’t really used them before because they are hard to use in some of my families. When they are all named William, all about the same age, and all have 8 million children. Okay, I exaggerated the last part.

It doesn’t stop there, maybe because I was afraid to stop looking, I decided to look in another marriage records listing on the catalog page. The one that said Marriage Records, 1785-1861.

1798 Marriage Bond - clearerIt looks like at some point, Montgomery County decided to make a much more legible, indexed copy of the marriage bond records. Once again, Moses Atkins is specifically not mentioned as Fanny’s father. I suppose that means I made the right decision in not putting him down yet. Now I just have to research those three witnesses and the area and see what that brings!


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