MY ANCESTRY JOURNEY–by Cheryl Pierson

 Guess what I did on Mother’s Day? I bought MYSELF something I have been wanting for a very long time—a six-month subscription to Ancestry . com! I’ve always wanted to do that, but never did because I just knew I wouldn’t “have time” to use it…but guess what? You really DO make time for the things you love! Even if it’s only 15 or 20 minutes here and there, I always discover something I didn’t know.

I think of how my parents would have love to have had this technology and the ability to use it when they were living! There is such a huge network of people out there that are doing the same thing, and contributing what they have to share, so a person can amass a lot of knowledge in a short time!

A lot of family stories can quickly be proven…or DISproven!

I found out that my gr gr grandfather, George Washington Casey, served in the Civil War for the Union in Missouri—I found his application for his pension! I learned that another couple of relatives never married—not until their children were all grown, married and had kids of their own! That was a shocker. But the marriage license is there to prove it.

 

I’ve used family history in my stories before on several occasions, but this is beyond anything I could have imagined. I have enjoyed this “journey” so much, so far, and look forward to all the things I’m going to find out (yes, if you do this, be prepared to be surprised and shocked) no matter what my discoveries might yield.

I learned that my gr gr grandfather (the Civil War soldier, G.W. Casey) also was married three times and had thirteen children! Someone else I don’t know had posted a picture of him on her family tree. I actually got to see him at a luncheon he attended with four other Civil War veterans. In the picture below, he is on the far right, back row.

I have not started on my mother’s side of the family yet—there is so much I’m learning about my dad’s side right now—I don’t want to get them “mixed up” and believe me, I’m going to have to draw up a  family tree so I can actually see it all in black and white to get it straight! In the picture below, George Washington Casey is seen holding one of his granddaughters.

One thing that is unusual is that my gr gr grandmother has a discrepancy in her dates of death. I also read in an obituary someone wrote that she was the daughter of a “Cherokee man and  his half-blood wife” –now there is a description for you!

I’m a novice at this, but it’s fun to learn—and I’m sure I’ll come across some more skeletons in the closet here and there…maybe some things I can incorporate into my own stories! 

Here’s a fun fact: When my son was born, we named him Casey. But…I had never had any clue that “Casey” was a family name, or that my ancestors carried that last name. I had not started my “ancestry journey” yet at that point. Coincidence? Or…some other connection? I’ve often wondered. When a relative told me she was glad I’d named Casey a “family name” I have to admit, I got chills. I had not had any idea. 

Here’s my Casey in a pic taken last year. It’s hard to make out any family resemblance from the poor quality of the pics of G.W. Casey, except that they both have beards! LOL

Do any of you use Ancestry or any other site like that? Have any of you discovered some interesting facts about your long-ago families that you didn’t know? I’m having such fun with this!

Cheryl Pierson
A native Oklahoman, I've been influenced by the west all my life. I love to write short stories and novels in the historical western and western romance genres, as well as contemporary romantic suspense! Check my Amazon author page to see my work: http://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson
I live in Oklahoma City with my husband of 40 years. I love to hear from readers and other authors--you can contact me here: fabkat_edit@yahoo.com
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32 Comments

  1. I’ve never used a ancestry site. My MIL did, but she doesn’t share information with us. My kids don’t have much from my husband’s side of the family.

    On my side of the family, we had genealogy from before home computers. I can trace both sides of my families back to Europe in the 1500s. I have copies of love letters between my maternal great-grandparents. I have photos going back to great-grandparents on both sides.

    I have a hardbound book of family genealogy on my dad’s side. An admiral from the Navy with the same surname researched it and created hardbound books. He even has a ship named after him. It’s an Arleigh Burke-Class destroyer.

    1. OMGOSH!!! I am dying to share info with my sister and anyone who’ll listen (just look at this blog!) LOL Can’t imagine not wanting to share what is out there–it’s amazing stuff.

      Oh, and how wonderful to have those love letters. I have some between my parents in a box upstairs in the attic. I will get them out and read through them someday–have just skimmed over a couple of them, and they are soooo sweet and heartfelt.

      And how wonderful to have the hardbound book for your dad’s side of the family. That is wonderful! I really am enthralled by it all. I can’t go a day without doing SOMETHING on it.

  2. I discovered that my maternal grandparents were never married in the legal get a license way. My guess would be they had a traditional native American marriage since my grandfather was part native American. Both there death certificates say single.

    1. Kim, I imagine that there were a lot of those kinds of marriages back then due to the fact that it was so hard to pay for anything, and customs were different, and so much more was commonplace because it just had to be in such hard times. I think what matters is the lives they lived, gave to each other, shared with their kids and families–I can’t wrap my mind around paying out a lot of money for a huge wedding. My parents did that for my oldest sister and of course, they ended up divorced within about 3 years (probably before the wedding was paid off.) LOL There are so many wonderful things to learn about the people who came before us.

  3. This is amazing. I’ve often wondered if this was worth the $$. Now that you’ve done and loving finding out about your past, I’m even more intrigued. How much does it cost, if you don’t mind me asking?
    I hope to see some of your relatives in future books. Possibly even a 3rd Casey.
    Love and hugs…

    1. Hi Tonya, I don’t mind a bit. I think the regular price is $99 for 6 months but they run specials all the time. I did mine at Mother’s Day and the price was $79 for 6 months. You can also go on there and do a free trial for 2 weeks, I think it is–not sure if you have to sign up for a monthly price then or not. You can get it for 3 months, I think but the better deal is for the 6 months. Actually the best deal was for a year, which I will do next time I re-up.They also have DNA testing they offer–special price for that was $59, but I know those results are not always accurate so I’m probably not going to invest in that.

      I did write about my gr gr gr grandpa on my mom’s mother’s side in ONE MAGIC NIGHT–a short novella about him being stolen from his Native American parents, adopted out to a Presbyterian minister, and being sent to medical school in Missouri (at the time, they lived in Indian Territory). I wanted to give him a happy ending–better than what he had in “real” life.

      Oh, a 3rd Casey would be just great! LOL I’m keeping my fingers crossed for that! Hope you’ll take the plunge and look into the Ancestry . com thing–it has just been so much fun and there are people on there who have trees that correlate to yours that have so much information on them, too!

  4. I have always wanted to but never have. My sister in law started one.

    1. Debra, I put mine off for years. I’ll be 63 this July, and I just decided it was now or never. I’m glad I did it!

  5. Related to 2 Presidents – one on each side, Grover Cleveland was an 8th cousin on Mom’s side and Grant on my Dad’s side – my daughter did my side of the family as her Great aunt did hubs side many years ago – both back to Europe!

    1. Teresa, that is soooo cool! My aunt did some work on our ancestry and really traced it back pretty far on my mom’s side, but I have not started on that yet, just on my dad’s side first. Anyhow, the funny part was, my parents were sooooo Republican (back in the 60’s/70’s) and my mom just could not stand LBJ. So, guess who we are related to? LOLLOL! When she found that out, she said, “Maybe you looked at it wrong.” to my aunt! LOL

  6. We enjoy learning our family history. We use Family Search for a lot of ours. Five years ago, we made a trip out to McCall, Idaho where my 3rd gr. grandfather settled (the town is named for him). It was fun to walk the same places he walked and go into the church he worshipped in. We got to see his and his wife’s tombstones. It was a very special trip.

    1. Oh, thanks for the tip, I didn’t know about Family Search! I will try that, too. I’ve been lucky to live so close to the place where my grandparents from both sides and their parents, too, had a homestead. As a kid I went with my mom down there a lot–she used to live there too, Albany, Oklahoma. She pointed out the places they lived, and told stories about growing up and things that happened and so on. I wish I had been older and listened better.

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    I use it all the time. I found out I was related to Clinton Eastwood, Christopher Reeves, Hugh Hephner, and Deborah Sampson who portraited a man in the war and was only found out because she was shot.

    1. Oh my goodness, Charlene! What a great bunch of relatives you have. I love that story about Deborah Sampson. What a brave woman she was!

  8. Congratulations. This is such a fun tool. My husband has always been interested in genealogy. He has a lot of letters, photos etc from his side. I mean a lot. Everyone knew he was super interested, so they gave him all the old information that they had. He has put them into scrapbooks. Many of the letters are written in German and polish and french. He can read most of them. He got ancestry dot com and it fueled his desire to learn more. He went as far back as he could with his side, then had to get the international part to continue his search. He has found a lot of really interesting things. A lot of interesting people. On my side, my dad told him that he would not find anything on his side and dont bother to look. Well that just made him look all that much harder. And boy oh boy did he find stuff on the history of my dads side. My mom told my husband when my dad wasn’t around to please go and see what he could find about her side. And again my husband found a lot. Turns out that on my moms side, a lot of men were in the many wars of the US. And they were all farmers, many with land grants signed by the president of the US. Oh so much fun and interesting history. And pictures. Wow. He went into the cemetery fields and there was a lot of information and pictures. He went into newspapers and found a lot. There is so much information it really is cool. My tip is to save all this information as you go along, because you will want to refer back to someone or someplace.
    But the biggest tip I can give you is to just have fun and let the experience show you how our gracious God has made you and your family.

    1. Lori, how wonderful that your husband is doing this. I’m so thrilled we live in this day and age where we can digitally share information and “meet” people in other locations we are related to (even if it’s very far removed and very distantly related) that we never would have met before. I often think about how, we might be sitting on an airplane next to a relative and not ever even realize it!

      My husband told me the same thing about his family–I would find nothing. I haven’t started on his family yet, but I KNOW I will find some things. I’m anxious to get going on it–he’s not the least bit interested, but I know my kids will be.

      I’m going to try to save every bit of this info to the keep it safe for the future. Also I think I would like to have it in book form–I am a really visual person and it sinks in better if I can see it all laid out in front of me. Your hubby is really creating a wonderful gift for the entire family!

  9. I have never tried to research my family though I am interested. It’s just one of those things I never considered because of the cost of the program.

    1. Janine, it’s a lot more reasonable now, especially when they run their specials. I signed up for 6 months for only $79, so that’s only about $13 a month, and believe me, I use it every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. I want to feel like I’m making progress. LOL (And there is so much to learn!)

  10. I haven’t used Ancestry, except once on a trial offer. I may have to check into it again, as I’d love to find out more about my paternal side of my family. My maternal side I have some info on, as a cousin has done a lot of genealogical stuff and shared our mutual info. I have two friends that met at church here in FL, one is from Michigan, the other from Tennessee. When they started talking one day, they realized their shared a mutual relative, both and done searches, and they found out they are cousins! It was soo cool!!

    1. OH MY GOSH, TRUDY! Isn’t that unbelievable? It makes you wonder so many things–did they just see something in each other that was recognizable as “relation” or was it purely coincidence, or what? Just like me naming Casey that and not knowing it beforehand. I wonder if there is some kind of genetic thing in us that makes us “know” things instinctively? That is so interesting. I’m glad you told us that!

  11. How interesting to find out so many things about your ancestors. I signed up for Ancestry at the beginning of the year but then had very little time to use it with 2 little kids. Then corona virus came along and helping my second grader with distance learning to finish out the school year and I had even less time. I ended up canceling the subscription instead of wasting money every month. Hopefully one of these days I’ll be able to get back to it. It’s so fun to find records of people I’ve heard of but didn’t know.

    1. Oh, Christy, I don’t know how you would have had time with little kids. I always wanted to do it when my kids were younger, but I just knew there’d be no time for it. Especially while I was writing, too–only so many hours in the day, and of course during “regular times” they have all their activities to go to, etc. so I just waited. I hope some day you’ll be able to get back to it, too, and enjoy finding the “treasures” that are there. I have been beyond excited to just see their handwriting and learn about them.

  12. Cheryl, isn’t Ancestry intriguing? I’ve done it for years off and on and I think if I didn’t have these books to write I’d do it full time. It’s so addictive and I’ve learned secrets about my family that I never could’ve guessed. That’s so amazing that you named your son Casey and didn’t know why. Just unbelievable. I think the spirit of someone, maybe your g-g-grandfather, whispered in your ear. I, too, have learned so many things. Tracing your heritage is so important. But I’m stuck right now so I’m giving myself a break. I love that show on PBS called Who Do You Think You Are.

    1. Hi Linda! I have had so much fun with this and I am looking forward to so much more to come! I still get chills sometimes when I think about Casey and the very moment my relative (she was my dad’s cousin) said to me, “I’m so glad you named him a family name…” And I think, “What if she HADN’T said that to me? What if she just let it pass?” I still might not know about my ancestors and that Casey was a family name. LOL While I was searching through I discovered that my gr gr grandmother’s middle name was Adeline and my sister’s gr granddaughter is named that, too. They did not know that, I’m sure, when they named her. This is what makes me wonder if there is some otherworldly connection with names, etc. I have seen that PBS show once and I loved it. I’m not a big tv watcher, but that, I would watch! Thanks for coming by! Hugs, dear one!

  13. I spent a LOT of time in February and March going through old letters and papers, 1860’s to 1920’s, from my husband’s family trying to organize them and make copies for the rest of the family. We were fascinated by the look into the past. I was able to find information we hadn’t known about my husband’s greatgrandmother’s side of the family through the”Find a Grave” website which was free when I was using it. It helped us understand the connection to people who began letters “dear cousin” but signed names that we did not recognize. One of the biggest challenges for us is finding someone to translate the old German language travel documents from the 1840’s. A number of years ago my father-in-law had some of the papers translated but the person translating was unable to translate all of them.

    It has been such a great experience delving into family history. Reading the letters makes me feel like I know these people, especially the ones who wrote many letters.

    1. Hi Alice! Sounds like you all got pretty far on your search for your family tree! Find a Grave has been wonderful! A lot of the entries on Ancestry . com are from their site. I don’t think I’ll come across anything that will have to be translated but you never know, do you? I have a copy of the letter my great grandma’s sister sent her to tell of their mother’s death–it goes into such detail about what they dressed her in and about the funeral and so on. A fascinating look into the past for sure. Thanks for coming by–I’m so glad you’re having such success!

  14. That is awesome, one of my brothers had it done and our daughter and her hubby and our 2 grandchildren we have from them had their DNA done also, it really sounds very interesting . I am thinking about doing it. My brother got a kit for my mom , but she never wanted to get it done and she didn’t. Have a Great week, that is really good that you got yours done , good for you! <3

    1. Hi Alicia–I have not done my DNA yet–I’m trying to hold off until it’s a little better perfected. I had relatives on both sides of my family (mom and dad’s sides) that had it done with very mixed results and I didn’t know this but siblings can have a different “mix” of ethnic groups–some “more” of one thing than the others, etc. which I found fascinating! I will get it done but I’m hoping they’ll get it refined a bit better in the next few years before I do it. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  15. I knew a little about family history from things relatives said, but never got into the research part of it. I knew both sides of my mother’s family were French Canadian. On my dad’s side I knew my grandmother’s family was French Canadian and my grandfather’s Irish. Luckily, one of my brothers became interested in genealogy. He has become quite good at doing the research. He has published several books on our family history and some others. He also teaches classes on the subject and is part of the local genealogy society. He has our families back to when they came to North America and some before that. It is just expensive to do research in another country.

    Both sides of my mother’s family came to Canada from France early on. My dad’s mother’s family came from France to Canada and his father’s family from Ireland. All the French ancestors came during the earliest years of settlement in Canada. One thing he found that I had not heard of before was about the Fille du Roi (The Kings Daughters). The King’s Daughters were the approximately 800 young French women who immigrated to New France (Canada) between 1663 and 1673 sponsored by King Louis XIV of France. Their passage was paid and the king even provided dowries for some of the early groups. The king wanted to ensure France’s claim to the territory by establishing communities and populating the area. My brother’s research shows we have at least 20 of these founding mothers of French Canadians in our family tree. He also found the families got caught up in the Acadian purge. The Irish part of the family came over to Canada escaping the Potato Famine. If I remember correctly, the families on both sides immigrated to the US when my grandparents were children. There are many relatives in Quebec which I have never met. Most of them do not speak english. I have done the DNA thing and it confirms the Celtic and French heritage. There is also a wee bit of native American in. Looking over the earliest records, the way the marriages were recorded, it appears there may have been a few native wives in there. If we get to travel to Ireland and France in the next few years, I hope to trace the families back a little bit further.

    Have a good week. Stay safe and healthy.

  16. Oh goodness, Patricia! You have a wealth of information thanks to your brother! That is marvelous. I would love to travel to Ireland and do some research, but I doubt that will ever happen. Be well, and thanks for stopping by–you have a lot of good research already done–I would be thrilled to be in your shoes!

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    Cheryl, I’ve done two hardback books–one on my mom and one on my mother-in-law–and a larger hardback on my dad’s family. My brother helped collect info with our dad’s book and he had dates back to the 900s. The earliest ones are not in the book, though. I’ve been collecting photos and personal stories from relatives for years. I didn’t want just dates and names, but vignettes that make the people come alive. I’d been collecting info for years when my mil asked me to do a book about her for her grandchildren. That is the smallest book I’ve done because a distant relative had done a huge amount of research on her father’s family, the Pendletons. Then I had to do a hardback for my mom since they were in the same Sunday School class. My father’s family kind of split up when he was eight and one brother went with him to live with his oldest brother and sister-in-law but the other five siblings went different ways. Some boarded with friends or relatives, some worked on their own, and his sister married. It made finding info on each sibling very hard due to a common family surname. We finally found info and photos on each one and published our book. I’m so glad we got the information into a physical form. Of course, the family tree is on Ancestry.

    You might want to reconsider getting your DNA done. You get a lot of “hints” from matches and can compare with relatives. In addition, when they refine the process, you get a FREE update! There’s a tutorial video on Ancestry to explain how siblings can have different results. The entire thing is fascinating. I’d still like to do one of the 123Me for comparison because they tell a few different things. For instance, Ancestry tells you traits you and a relative share and how common your traits are among the populations. An example I found amazing is the kind of wax you have in your ears is hereditary.

    1. WOW CAROLINE! That is all awesome, awesome information. I would be so thrilled to have my ancestry line back to the 900’s! I’m so glad you did all that for your “future” generations, and sooo glad you persisted and found all the “bits and pieces” of your scattered relatives. I’m sure that had to be really tough!

      I didn’t know they would send updates on DNA–that’s great! Yes, you’re right–I will probably reconsider it. It’s hard NOT to do it, when there could be so much info that we would love to have. Thank you, thank you, thank you for coming over and letting me know about all this. Now, I’m going to know who to call when I need advice on this stuff, Caroline! XOXO

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