This blog will include reminiscences, photos, musings, observations, research tips, data extractions and links to websites having to do primarily with our ancestors in the deep south states Georgia and Alabama, and may also include information and photos gathered during research of our family's lines in other states.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Beginning - part 2

In 1995, online genealogy research tools were few and far between. There were some BBS-type groups, but not much else. Then Larry Stephens started a few e-mail lists at - they were fantastic!

In mid-1996, Larry let members of his lists start their own surname lists at - my first, of course, was JORDAN, followed soon by KING, then CARWILE and BOZEMAN and other surnames - then a few "area" lists, and some "special interest" genealogy lists. These lists were very helpful - many people joined, and progress was made.

When a spammer destroyed the Maiser server at, in late April, 1997, Brian and Karen at RootsWeb generously offered a new home to those of us listowners who wanted to bring our lists and archives. By the end of May, 1997, my lists were up and running smoothly again, with the archives in place and searchable.

Those lists were my most helpful online research tool. RootsWeb already had other resources at that time also such as Roots-L. RootsWeb was and has been by far the most valuable website to me.

USGenWeb was organized for the states I research in the deep south in 1996. At that time, most of it was housed at RootsWeb also.

Most Productive Online Tools 1995-2008

In 1995 when my search began for the parents of Thomas S. Jordan and other missing ancestors, the need for some sort of genealogy software became apparent. Family Tree Maker had the features I needed and was very user-friendly for a newbie, so I entered data into it. Later versions permitted connecting with online resources, and I am still using a current version of that software.

In late 1995, there was not a whole lot available for genealogy research other than genealogy BBS type groups. Larry Stephens had started some e-mail lists at, and they were wonderful - I particularly liked Deep-South-Roots-L, because it specifically targeted my main area of initial research. That list survived at until August, 2008! In mid-1996, when Larry began letting us individually set up and manage e-mail lists, many of us eagerly set up surname lists for our major surnames - my first was JORDAN, of course, soon followed by KING, CARWILE, BOZEMAN and others. By the time Maiser was trashed by a spammer in April, 1997, many wonderful e-mail lists had been created, not only for surnames, but for counties and large cities and geographical areas and special genealogical interests. Brian and Karen at RootsWeb kindly offered us a new home for our lists. By the end of May, 1997, those of us who wanted to move there were settled in with our lists running smoothly and our list archives, which Larry had let us bring from Maiser, in place, continuing to save list posts. E-mail lists and their archives were, and continue to be, my single most valuable online research tool.

Then came the online censuses. The earliest source I remember for online access to census information was USGenWeb. Volunteers transcribed by hand from census film or census books, and for those of us fortunate enough to have a hardworking transcribing volunteers for the county censuses we needed to access, life was good - even if we had very limited free time, we could work on our lines at home. Problem was that there were a LOT of counties and years, and few volunteers willing and able to do so much work. When added the census to their offerings, online genealogy turned a new page - now it was actually possible to research anywhere in the US online.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Beginning, part 1

One afternoon in the fall of 1995, youngest son Tom, then age 17, decided that we should begin investigating our ancestors - including especially (but not limited to) his g3grandfather, Thomas S. Jordan.

Although books had been written about several of Tom's family lines, I had never been interested in our family history aside from a curiosity about Tom's Indian (Native American) g3gmother whose ethnicity was more than just a "family story", given that she was my beloved grandmother's grandmother.

Tom's Indian g3gmother's daughter married Thomas S. Jordan's son, who was the only great-grandparent I had an opportunity to know and love and remember. My son's expressing an interest in this line triggered an interest that would probably not have occurred if he had mentioned any other of his lines.

We immediately called my first cousin who lived in the area of Alabama where Thomas S. Jordan had died - we had been told at one time that she was researching. She generously sent us copies of the information she had accumulated.

We began gathering copies of books about our family lines - we owned a few, but more had been written. Cousins loaned us copies or duplicated pages of the ones that were unavailable for purchase. I was already involved online in non-genealogy internet mailing lists and such, so looked for and found some genealogy resources, including the wonderful e-mail lists at that Larry Stephens had created and the Roots Surname List that Karen had created at RootsWeb.

Son Tom had meanwhile become deeply involved with college again. He had limited time to spend on researching ancestors, although he was still interested - but I was addicted already...............

The main difficulty at that point was one factor that continues to present a hurdle. I "migrated" to Mississippi as an adult - generations of our ancestors had migrated down the Atlantic coast to Georgia, then to Alabama, where I was born - courthouses here in Mississippi do not have the information I need. Were it not for the internet, researching our ancestors would be impossible for me.