ancestry, Blog, genealogy

Excavating My Roots – Lost Genealogy

I have written about my genealogy research here many times before. It is an endless search for those who came before to help understand who we are today. There is an almost mystical connection to places that seem to be crafted in our DNA. Filling in the gaps is well suited for problem-solvers and it does not take much to reignite the flames if the search has stalled

Two weeks ago, Ancestry updated their ethnicity estimates. This is done as more and more people have their DNA tested and they can better correlate how our DNA compares to other people globally. It is a bit of hocus-pocus at best since there is, of course, no way to test the DNA of people long deceased.

The biggest change in this update for me was the more granular breakdown of England and Northwest Europe. My old results were:

Ethnicity estimates

My new results show the more definitive breakdown:

I am very aware of my English roots. They are very well documented on one side of the family. I am also somewhat aware of my Irish roots, but since it appears my Irish ancestors (two brothers) came to this country in 1774 and settled in York county, PA, there are no ship manifests from that time, so that is where my knowledge of my Irish heritage ends. I have no knowledge of Scottish or German or Swedish roots which I attribute to possibly fluid borders and migrations at the time.

Getting beyond these brick walls is necessary to go further back on your ancestral line. But, this little change was enough to inspire me to dig a little more into some of the brick walls. The big one for me is finding information on my paternal great-grandfather who I have written about on this blog before.

I decided to try an avenue I had never tried before. I contacted the church my paternal grandparents attended and eventually all of my nuclear family attended as well. Small churches’ documentation is not anything like what seems to be available to larger Catholic churches for example.

But, last night I received an email from the current pastor of the church. I received the membership records for my family back to my paternal grandparents. I now know when and where they were baptized and when memberships were transferred to other churches. I even know what minister baptized each of them. And that’s where I found my glimmer of hope.

My dad was baptized in the church by his uncle (my great-grandmother’s brother). He is also the same person that reported the death of my great-grandmother which means he may have had knowledge of what happened to my paternal great-grandfather who was run out of town on a rail according to family oral history.

The pastor is now seeking out conversations with a 90 year old person who was raised and lived in the community his whole life. It is a long shot, but I am hopeful one little scribble on a piece of paper may unlock a door that has been shut for over a century. Fingers crossed.


Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Albums – What’s Going On

I am not a fan of reading the news these days, especially in the morning. But, this morning I was excited to read the CNN article documenting the change in Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” with Mavin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” taking the number one spot, unseating “Dr. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”.

I am a big Beatles fan, too, but I am glad to see the music list updated.

With 154 new albums to the top 500 and 86 from this century, Wikipedia editors are going to have a lot of editing on their hands.

I have not read through the entire list on Rolling Stone, but I will. Right now I am enjoying listening to Marvin Gaye while I savor my last cup of coffee.



One Liner Wednesday – Autumn

Fall photo with a quote
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Our weather has been seasonal with less humidity and much cooler seasonal temperatures. The mosquitos are still in full force, but the gnats seemed to have died down some.

Yesterday, our local weather people published their predictions for the height of fall color. We will be taking our annual trek up on the Blue Ridge Parkway soon to take in the fall color changes. It is one of our favorite drives of the year.

Fall color predictions

I am wishing for a long and languishing fall and a short but brisk winter.

One Liner Wednesday is brought to us each week by Linda Hill. Check out Linda’s blog to see what others have to say with just one line.


The Grape Arbor

Grape arbor
Photo by Terra Slaybaugh on Unsplash

My husband recently discovered a suspected Scuppernong grape vine on our property. It is an old untended vine, in need of pruning and care. He did manage to pluck the last handful of grapes and brought them into the kitchen. What an overwhelming sensory memory for me. I could not walk into the kitchen without smelling the strong aroma. He did not seem to notice the aroma at all.

The smell whisked me back to another place and time. A period of what seemed a time of abundance to me. I would not realize until decades later just how much hard work that abundance required.

Everyone in the Valley had a garden to provide food for their family. The nearest grocery store was a good 30 minute car ride away and not everyone had access to a car. Trips to the grocery store were planned and precise and combined with any other errands requiring a trip to town.

My grandparents had a grape arbor in the back yard. I have no idea if my grandfather built the arbor, but I feel like he must have. It was about five feet high and spanned 10 to 12 feet. The grapes were sweet and purple and luscious when warmed by the summer sun.

I am not sure what grapes grew there, but from my limited research it must have been something similar to a concord or Norton grape. There are a number of native grapes to this country and I have no way of knowing for sure what type of grapes these were.

Late summer was the beginning of preservation time. As harvests came in, the arduous task of preserving food for winter began. Canned fruits and vegetables, relishes, pickled cucumbers, beets, corn and beans and of course fruit jams, jellies and preserves.

My maternal grandmother made the most beautiful apple jelly from a grafted pound apple tree in her front yard. It was so pristine you could see completely through it. My paternal grandmother did not have apples, but she did have those grapes!

From the grapes, she made grape jam and jelly, grape juice and my grandfather made some grape wine which was squirreled away in the cellar. (I do remember sneaking down with my brother to ‘taste’ the wine. Needless to say, one taste of that homemade wine was enough to keep us from ever trying it again!)

Canning sieveThese old fashioned grapes were not seedless. I am sure we swallowed our fair share of the seeds over the years, but there was also a lot of spitting them out.

The seeds presented a challenge in the jam or jelly making process. My grandmother used a canning sieve and pestle similar to the one pictured and currently for sale on EBay.

The grape arbor was also a perfect shaded area to play under in the early spring. I often found the perfect hiding place for treasures I found along the creek bank between the vines and the rough-hewn trellis. Old match boxes were the perfect treasure box although they did not fare well in the rain.

We picked grapes and prepared lavish banquets displayed on old platters deemed unsuitable for the kitchen. Paired with crackers or slices of apples, it was a feast fit for kings.

As the summer progressed and the fruits became heavier, the arbor became a haven for the bees. Old fruit, fallen to the ground were often covered in bees dining on their over-ripe sweetness.

On cold winter mornings, fresh warm oven-toast would be the perfect host for a spoonful of grape jam. Leftover biscuits and cornbread were transformed into dessert when topped with the sweet grape jelly of summer.


Monday Missive – Not Quite Fall

Stuffed peppers
“And then the sun took a step back, the leaves lulled themselves to sleep and Autumn was awaked.”
Raquel Franco

The sun is shifting and mid mornings have golden beams of light flooding the living room. Fall has not fully taken hold because the sun moves more quickly now rather than at the timid pace of fall and early winter.

  • I am finally working in my studio some. I am experimenting and getting comfortable with tools right now. A photo essay to follow later in the week.
  • The Covid-19 news this morning was bleak. Cases on the rise everywhere it seems. The CDC said the airborne transmission covers a larger distance than 6’ and stays airborne longer than first thought. Unfortunately, the CDC is no longer trustworthy since we know politicians were deciding what information would be posted there.
  • This past weekend we bought more fall vegetable starts. More spinach, kale, lettuce, shallots and garlic. Hopefully we will get them planted today.
  • The weather has turned cool. Our low last night was 47°F and has now warmed ip to 58°F. With the humidity also low, I can almost breathe again.
  • We have seen a number of migrating birds making a stop at our feeders on their long voyage south. The news is not good for migrating birds in the west. Between sudden cold weather and fires in the west. Hundreds of thousands of birds have perished. You can read the article posted on
  • Hubby found an old Scuppernong grapevine on our property – in much need of care. He picked a hand-full of grapes and brought them in the house. The aroma takes me back to my childhood – the smell such a distinct one. It will be the source of another story about my childhood coming soon.
  • Last week we had 8 inches of rain, 6 inches of which fell in one day when Hurricane Sally came through south of us. This week looks to be seasonally sunny and mostly dry. It is the kind of weather I thrive in.
  • The death of Justice Ginsburg is having political impacts here in the U.S. donations from democrats have reached record levels. Sadly, she will most likely not receive the respect she deserves from this administration.
  • The stock market also took a major hit with the news about the spread of the virus and the anticipated struggle about filling Justice Ginsburg’s seat on the Supreme Court.
  • Good news, good news, good news…think. My family is well and healthy thus far. My joy comes in the little things. Video chats with my grandchildren, and text and phone conversations with family help keep us going. It is a lonely existence otherwise.
  • We started watching “Top of the Lake” on Netflix. I also saw that “Call the Midwife”, season 9 is available now, too. I have not had the mental focus to read much of late.
  • I did make stuffed peppers out of our garden harvest which turned out well. Now I look forward to making a hearty soup this week. It is that time of the year.
  • And last but not least. I am looking for recommendations of bloggers to follow in Ireland. If you have any, post the link in the comments.

Have a good week. Stay in, mask up and stay healthy.