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Only a Few Bones

Only a Few Bones: A True Account of the Rolling Fork Tragedy and Its Aftermath is not a novel. Author John Philip Colletta does, however, tell a story. The story is dates back to March of 1873, in a little populated area of the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta, where a murder has taken place. At least according to newspapers, court records, and family stories, handed down through the generations, a man and four others were victims of an assault and fire which took their lives.

Only a Few Bones is actually much more than a tale of murder, it is closer to a cross between a graphical narrative and a case study for genealogical research. Colletta has taken 30 years of investigative research, laying groundwork and recreating the scenes and events related to what became known as the “Rolling Fork Tragedy.” His research carefully examines 12 possible explanations, each reviewed within the narrative.

Myths are dispelled one by one in the account. Family stories always blamed “the darkies” for committing “highway robbery.” But evidence doesn’t make that likely. By examining not only the family’s circumstances, but also through a thorough examination of the time period, of Reconstruction, of carpetbaggers, and other pertinent facts a probable explanation comes forth. Was it really murder? Who was the behind this terrible tragedy? Sorry, no spoilers here. All I will say, is the book is worth your time.

In the words of Helen Hinchliff, Ph.D, C.G., author, and professional genealogist:

“Only a Few Bones is a tour-de-force of genealogical and historical sleuthing! It deserves to be read at least twice by every family historian: once, just for the fun of it, and a second time to take notes on how Colletta used his sources to turn his ancestors into living, breathing human beings.


Table of Contents

March 6, 1873

March 7, 1873

March 8, 1873

March 8, 1873, Evening

March 10, 1873

March 11, 1873

March 14, 1873

Joe and Barbara

The War, North



The War, South


The Store

The Delta

The “Vicksburg Place”

March 19, 1873

April 9, 1873

April 14, 1873



Ring & Co.

Rolling Fork Landing

May 4, 1873

July 15, 1873

July 20, 1873

July 25, 1873

July 26, 1873, About 2–4 A.M.

July 26, 1873, Daytime

July 27, 1873

July 28, 1873

July 29, 1873

July 31, 1873


The Trials



Saints Rest

“A Dreadful Mystery”

Epilogue: Grandma Ring

Genealogical Charts



Author’s Note



Get your own copy of Only a Few Bones: A True Account of the Rolling Fork Tragedy and Its Aftermath from Family Roots Publishing; Item #: HBC3270, Price” $23.52.

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Expanded Access to Pennsylvania Vital Records

The following excerpt is from the February 15, 2012 edition of

… the public may now access birth and death records online and in person for free at the Pennsylvania State Archives thanks to a new law, according to state Sen. Judy Schwank.

“This is good news for families who are seeking information about their loved ones and for researchers who are looking to learn more about their communities,” Schwank said. “The new law will make it more convenient to search the state’s archives for this important information.”

Under the new law, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and the Department of Health are expanding public access to birth and death certificates. Birth certificates are now available to the public 105 years after issuance and death certificates are available 50 years after issuance. This means that births from 1906 and deaths from 1906 to 1961 are available, and one year of births and deaths will be added each year from now on. Records prior to 1906 are held at the county level.

To access the records, visit and click on the “Birth and Death Certificates” link, or visit the State Archives at 350 North St. in Harrisburg. Researchers would need to know the year of the event, the correct spelling of the name they are searching for, and/or the county of the birth or death.

Read the full article.

For more detailed information, check out the Genealogy – Vital Records web page found at the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission site.

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Old Wedding Invitation Leads to Heir

The following excerpt is from the February 20, 2011 edition of the Wetzel Chronicle.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — An old wedding invitation has helped West Virginia officials track down the heir to a South Charleston resident’s estate and give her more than $480,000.

A niece of J.D. Mier will get $481,335.70 after the executor of Mier’s estate found her in Ohio after finding the invitation in boxes of personal documents. State Treasurer John Perdue presented executor Robin Klapproth with the check on Friday.

Read the full aticle.

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Amesbury, Massachusetts Library Receives Large Donation to Preserve Historical & Genealogical Archives

The following excerpt is from the February 20, 2012 editon of the Newburyport News.

AMESBURY [Massachusetts] — Pending approval from the Municipal Council, the Amesbury Public Library will be receiving $80,000 to help ensure that its valuable collection of historical documents, genealogy records and other vital links to Amesbury’s past is preserved for generations to come.

The donation comes from the Amesbury Public Library Charitable Trust, a fund created by the estate of local historian Sara Locke Redford, who died in 1983. In 1995, her estate left $237,000 to the trust following the death of her husband, James Redford.

Read the full article.

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LDS Church Apologizes for the Proxy Baptism of Simon Wiesenthal’s Parents.

The following teaser is from an article published February 20, 2012 edition of the Calgary Herald.

LOS ANGELES – Simon Wiesenthal’s parents should not have been posthumously baptized, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has acknowledged. And on Monday, an official with the church apologized.

The uproar began last week when it was discovered that a member of the Mormon Church had submitted for posthumous baptism the names of Wiesenthal’s parents, and that the couple, Asher and Rosa Rapp Wiesenthal, were baptized by proxy last month.

Simon Wiesenthal, who died in 2005, was a Jewish rights advocate and a survivor of the Holocaust. He spent decades hunting down Nazis and bringing them to justice. The Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, established in 1977, is named after him.

The Mormon Church member, who is not being identified by the Salt Lake City-based church, used a genealogical database to submit the names for proxy baptism. Such baptisms have proved controversial in the past, and the latest incident was certainly no exception.

Read the full article.

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Radkey Goes After Romney

The following excerpt is from a Washington Post article about activist Helen Radkey and her current obsession with going after Governor Romney – attempting to tie him to both the posthumus baptism of off-limits Jews, as well as some of his polygamous ancestors. She makes the news regularly by locating controversial proxy baptisms, and blowing the whistle on them.

My readers all know my opinion about LDS proxy baptisms. I’m a simple man, and simply put, If it’s true, then hallelujah!. Thank you, my Mormon friends. If it’s not true, then what possible difference can it make…

SALT LAKE CITY — Mitt Romney has major headaches named Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich.

This month, he also had Helen Radkey.

At 1:55 p.m. on Feb. 8, Radkey, an excommunicated Mormon who spends her days combing through databases at the church’s Family History Library, e-mailed Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, named for the famed Nazi-hunter.

“FYI, discovered today: Posthumous baptisms for the parents of Simon Wiesen­thal,” Radkey wrote. “I am collecting evidence, which will be e-mailed to you, if requested, as long as there is a public stink.”

Now Radkey’s energies are directed at a new area of research, which she hopes will cause a new headache for Romney: the posthumous plural marriages of his ancestors. She calls this “Romney’s polygamy tree.”

More important for her, she found Romney’s depiction of polygamy — he called it “bizarre” and “awful” — in bad taste. “How dare he say that polygamy was horrible when it was what his ancestors believed?” she said. “I believe you should honor your bloodline. I have convicts in my bloodline. I don’t reject them.”

Read the full article at the Washington Post webite. Note that you may have to register (free) and/or sign into the site.

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Genealogists’ Public Enemy #1

The following teaser is from “The Legal Genealogist” website. This is best article I’ve seen written about the very real possibility that genealogists will lose access to the Social Security Death Index. PLEASE let the teaser lead you to the full article, It’s important…

The man pictured to the left is Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security. And he’s out to get us.

More specifically, he’s out to get our access to the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) and to the social security records that underlie the index, such as all those wonderful SS-5 forms (applications for a Social Security number) that we use all the time as evidence in place of the birth records that — for most of two or three generations — just don’t exist and the death records we’re not allowed to see.

If you don’t believe me that he’s out to get us, take a gander at the video clip Michael John Neill has posted on his website Astrue isn’t bothered one bit about closing off records for 10 years… or 75 years. After all, he says, genealogists can get the information they need from other sources. We’re just overreacting.

Read the full article.

Thanks to Julie Durand for alerting me to this article.

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The Hidden Half of the Family

For the greater part of American history, and like most of the World, the United States has been largely a patriarchal society. As such, through law and custom, men and husbands ruled the affairs of home and were the recognized ambassador of the family in political and worldly affairs. Often, only a mans name appeared on wills, land records, pension records, census records, and other such records of genealogical concern. When mentioned, women, mothers and daughters, were often “hidden” under the use of terms like “Mrs.,” “Mistress,” “goodwife,” “wife of,” “daughter of,” etc. This makes finding the names and details of female ancestors more difficult than one’s male ancestry.

The Hidden Half of the Family: A Sourcebook for Women’s Genealogy, by Christina Kassabian Schaefer, demonstrates h0w to recover the identities of one’s female ancestors. The authors solution to finding ancestors in a patriarchal history that often obscured a women’s identity is to find those government, legal and social area where the unequivocal identification of both men and women was custom. Schaefer expounds on her belief that, “the legal status of women at any point in time is the key to unraveling the identity of the female ancestor.” She examines the history and laws, both federal and state, granting freedoms to women like owning real estate in her own name, ability to enter contracts, devise wills, and other freedoms awarded only to men prior to these changes of law.

The book is broken down state by state. Each state includes historical dates relevant to the state’s history and for key changes in the laws pertinent to women’s rights and to records in which women many appear. Such areas of change include marriage and divorce, property and inheritance, suffrage, citizenship, censuses, and other such items. For each state, there is also information for finding marriage and divorce records as well as selected resources for women’s history.

Table of Contents

Table of Illustration


How to Use This Book










District of Columbia





















New Hampshire

Newe Jersey

New Mexico

New York

North Carolina

North Dakota





Rhode Island

South Carolina

South Dakota







West Virginia







Order The Hidden Half of the Family: A Sourcebook for Women’s Genealogy from Family Roots Publishing; Item #: GPC5179 , Price: $41.33.

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Historical Society of Pennsylvania Partners with

Read the details in the following article from the Lebonon Daily News:

Roots & Branches: State historical society teams with


Teamwork and collaboration have been the bywords of the genealogical world the last few years as groups both profit and nonprofit have attempted to make more resources better available to researchers.

A great example of this is the recently announced partnership between the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and, which will put some 7 million records online from the society’s collections, including records culled from both the microfilm and extensive book collections of the society.

“We had been talking about a year with Ancestry,” said Lee Arnold, the society’s library director. “We’re hoping that this will be the first of several phases of a partnership.”

Included are everything from church, cemetery and undertaker records to county ledgers and genealogical scrapbooks. Some of the records will be database abstracts while others will have images of actual records, Arnold said.

Arnold said that probably the best feature of the partnership is how these collections will now be fully keyword searchable by subject. With this type of indexing feature “Ancestry has done the searching for you,” he said.

Click here to read the full article.

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Mexican-American Genealogical Research

So many of the books we come across focus on tracing one’s ancestry to Europe. And why not? For hundreds of years Europeans represented the majority of immigrants into North America. Ellis Island alone saw 12 million enter this country from 1892 and 1954. Of course, not everyone is descended from European immigrants, or at least not Europeans alone. Immigrants have come to the U.S. from just about every country in the world. Not all in mass migrations or by the millions; yet, here they are. One country from which many millions have immigrated to the U.S. lies not across oceans, nor even from another continent, but rather it shares a common border, Mexico.

Fortunately, Mexican American genealogists aren’t without help. There are experts and authors to help family historians trace their Mexican ancestry. Mexican-American Genealogical Research: Following the Paper Trail to Mexico, by John Schmal & Donna Morales, was written to help descendents find records of their ancestors from governmental sources and through the Family History Library.

According to the authors, “Mexico probably has the most detailed records in the world, stretching back more than 400 years.” This is a great boon for researchers focused on Mexican research. This book focuses on helping genealogists find and access this wealth or records.

The authors declares the most important piece of information to obtain is the location name from were one’s ancestors in Mexico came from. The book helps you discover these locations by covering such records as Naturalization papers, alien registration forms, border-crossing documents, death certificates, obituaries, and mortuary documents. Through samples and explanations, the book also details the information one may find among Mexican church and civil records. There is even a discussion over the problems associated with racial classifications found in documents prior to the 1822 independence


Table of Contents


Table of Illustrations





Chapter 1 — Following the Paper Trail

Chapter 2 — Finding Vital Records

Chapter 3 — Other Sources of Vital Information

Chapter 4 — Naturalization Records

Chapter 5 — Alien Registration Records

Chapter 6 — Crossing the Border

Chapter 7 — Best Records in the World

Chapter 8 — Passengers to the Indies

Chapter 9 — The Indians of Mexico

Chapter 10 — In the Service of Their Country

Chapter 11 — Getting Prepared



Author Biographies


Mexican-American Genealogical Research: Following the Paper Trail to Mexico is available from Family Root Publishing; Item #: HBS2139, Price: $20.58.

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The Aiken Barnwell Genealogy Society Finds a Cemetery

In an interesting story a genealogy society finds remnants of a nearly forgotten cemetery among the trees and brush. Read more about their find in an article from the

Genealogy society finds remnants of cemetery

By Suzanne Stone

Members of the Aiken Barnwell Genealogy Society have found a few remnants of local history tucked away behind trees and brush in a forgotten corner of Aiken County property.

Cynthia Hardy, editor of the society’s journal, has been in search of general information on the Aiken County Home – also known during its existence from the late 1800s to 1937 as the Aiken Poor Home or the Alms House – since she joined the society in 2003.

Hardy began to suspect the Poor Home must have had cemetery grounds – one for black residents, another for white – after she began transcribing the facility’s records in 2004, which she found in the South Carolina Archives.

With the assistance of Pope Cook, whose father was the Poor Home’s last superintendent and who spent time there as a child, Hardy and the society members have located a few timeworn scraps of the Poor Home’s cemetery for white residents in a wooded area behind the Aiken SPCA, the Aiken County Animal Shelter and the Doris Gravat Detention Center on Wire Road. The find includes one intact headstone, a wrought-iron floral bouquet holder, a wooden plaque worn smooth and free of carvings by time and weather, a glass ornament they believe to be part of a grave marker, a few more unreadable stones and depressions in the ground that may be indicative of burial sites.

Click here to read the full article.

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Finding Your Slovak Ancestors

There are few enough books on researching Slovak Ancestry. For this reason alone, Finding Your Slovak Ancestors…, by Lisa A. Alzo is valuable to many researchers. Approximately 650,000 Slovaks emigrated to North America between 1875 and 1914. That mean millions of descendents living in Canada and the United States today. Utilizing over 15 years experience, Alzo presents her techniques, along with resources and key methodologies to tracing one’s Slovak roots.

The book provides an overview to both traditional as well as online resources. Alzo provides examples to finding and interpreting records. She helps the reader analyze different record types. She even covers conducting successful oral interviews and working with family members to record stories and memories.

Finding Your Slovak Ancestors focuses on research one can do from home. Why pay the high cost of travel when there is so much that can be done without exuberant fees. Alzo guides researchers to local sources, as well as those records which can be found on the Internet. The author notes that many records for Slovakian villages have been microfilmed and are available through the Family History Library.

Ultimately, Alzo guides the researcher to creating contact with others searching their Slovak ancestry. She recommends, and discusses how to, use community based research tools and groups. Working with and supporting other researcher may open up opportunities which would otherwise remain closed off.


Table of Contents




Why Do You Want to Know?

  • Identity
  • Medical Reasons
  • DNA Testing
  • DNA Definitions
  • Curiosity about Customs & Traditions
  • Leaving a Legacy
  • The Journey Begins

Where to Begin?

  • Start with Yourself
    • Pedigree Chart/Ancestor Chart
  • Home & Family Sources
    • Gather Family Information
    • Family Group Sheet
  • Asking Questions
  • Recording Information
    • Ancestor Data Sheet
  • Contacting Your Relatives
  • Becoming a Good Interviewer
    • Before the Interview
    • During the Interview
    • Conducting the Interview
    • Questioning Techniques
    • After the Interview (follow-up/transcription)
  • Avoiding Duplication of Efforts
  • Is Your Family Tree Online?
    • Personal Ancestral File
    • Ancestry World Tree
    • RootsWeb
  • Published Family Histories
  • Slovak Societies & Surname Databases/Reference Projects
  • Utilizing the Family History Library
    • Family History Centers (FHC)
  • Traditional vs. Online Research
    • Online Research

Starting in North America

  • Start with the Census
  • Canadian Census Records
    • Locating Canadian Census Returns
    • Newfoundland Census Returns
    • How and Where to Consult Census Records
  • United States Census Records
    • Federal Census Records
    • What You Need to Know to Find the Correct Census Records
    • Sources for Obtaining Street Addresses
    • Traditional Census Searches
  • Soundex
    • Organization of Soundex Records
    • The Soundex Card
    • Soundex Information
  • U.S. Federal Census – Glitches and Problems
  • Still Missing Your Ancestors?
  • Public Records Sources: Vital Records
  • U.S. Vital Records
  • Death Records
  • Newspaper Databases
  • Birth Records
  • Marriage Records
    • How to Obtain Vital Records
  • Other Records: Divorce and Adoption
  • Canadian Vital Records
  • Church Records
  • Special Considerations Regarding Vital Records Research
  • U.S. Social Security Death Index
    • Who is Listed in the SSDI?
    • What Information Does the SSDI Contain?
    • What do the Numbers in a Social Security Number Mean?
    • What Other Information is Available from the Social Security Administration?
    • How can I get a Copy of the Original Records?
    • Why Can’t I Find the Person I’m Looking for?
  • LDS
    • Family Tree Legends
  • U.S. Naturalization Records
    • General Guidelines for Obtaining Copies of Naturalization Records
    • Alien Registration United States
  • Canadian Naturalization Records
    • Alien Registration Canada
  • Land/Probate Records
    • Land Records United States
    • Land Records Canada
    • Land Petitions
    • Métis Land Claims
  • Probate (Court) Records
    • Canada
    • Online Public Records
    • Probate (Court) Records – United States
  • Canadian Military Records
    • Post-First World War Records
  • Military Records: United States
    • Access to Military Service and Pension Records
    • The Family History Library
    • Other Sources
  • Immigration Records (Passenger Lists/Ship’s Manifests)
    • Canadian Immigration Records
    • Border Entry Records
    • Emigration from Canada
    • United States Immigration Records
    • Searching the Ellis Island Database
    • How to Find Exotic-Sounding Names
    • Additional Stumbling Blocks
  • Morse’s Tools
    • Another Tools: Edward Rosenbaum
    • Other Methods for Finding Ancestors Arriving
    • Before Ellis Island or at Other Ports
    • To Find Your Ancestor’s Ship
    • Obtaining a Picture of Your Ancestor’s Ship
  • Internet Resources

Slovakia: Brief Historical Synopsis

  • Where is Slovakia?
  • Brief Historical Background
  • Overview of Slovakia’s History (all dates, A.D.)
  • Political Considerations
  • Language Issues
  • Slovaks and Religion
  • Slovaks and Family
  • Leaving Home: A Glimpse at Slavic Immigration
  • Are You Really “Slovak?” How to Know?
  • Czech, Hungarian, Polish, Slovak, Ukrainian? Other?
    • Czech
    • Czechoslovak
    • Hungarian
    • Polish
    • Slovak
  • What is Rusyn?
  • How to Find the Ancestral Village
  • Research Steps
  • Locating the Ancestral Village
    • Maps
    • Other Useful Maps
  • Printed Gazetteer(s) and/or Atlas
    • Gazetteers of Hungary
    • Other Atlases/Gazetteers
    • Online Gazetteers/Atlases
    • Using Shtetlseeker
    • Place Name Hungarian-Contemporary Conversions
    • Accented Characters


  • Language Concerns: Slovak, Hungarian, Latin, etc.
    • Identifying Key Words and Phrases
  • Records Available for Slovakia
    • Local Parish Records
    • Civil Registration
    • LDS Microfilmed Records
    • Church Records
    • Index of Slovak State Archives Church Records
    • Searching the Online Family History Library Catalog
    • How to Read and Interpret Birth, Death, and Marriage Records
    • Marriage Records
    • Names
    • Jewish Records
    • Other Helpful Resources
    • Census Records (Czech)
    • Census Records (Slovak)
  • Other Records
    • Local Histories
    • Military Records
    • Nobility
    • Tax Lists (berni ruly)
    • Contacting Relatives
    • Making Contact

Scaling the Brick Wall: Dealing with False Leads and Pitfalls in Your Research

  • What if the Records are Not Available on LDS Microfilm?
  • Writing to the Ancestral Town or Village
    • Enclosures
  • Czech & Slovak State Archive Records
  • Research in Person
    • State Regional Archive Centers
  • Research by Mail
    • Helpful Tips for Mail Requests
    • Look at Unlikely Sources for Information
  • Networking: Finding Others
    • Internet Searching
    • Posting Queries in Printed Publications
  • When to Hire a Professional

Identifying “Cluster” Communities

  • A Glimpse at Slovaks Around the World
    • Slovaks Living Abroad
  • How to Located ‘Cluster’ Communities
  • A Good Place to Begin: The 1990 U.S. Census
    • Slovak Lineage by State in the U.S.
  • Slovaks in Canada
  • U.S. & Canadian Maps
  • Search Immigration Records and Census Records
  • Slovak Churches: Rich Repositories of Information
  • Web or Telephone Directory Searches
  • Contacting the Parish Priest
  • Visiting the Parish Cemetery
  • Attending Church Functions
  • Viewing Church Records
  • Analyzing, Interpreting and Organizing Your Data
    • Analyzing Data
    • Interpreting Data
  • Overview of Slovak Traditions
  • Religious & Social Customs
    • Weddings (Marriage)
    • Births (Baptisms/Christenings)
    • Death (Funeral/Burial)
  • Identifying Community Celebrations
    • Slovak Festivals & Other Events

Slovak Communities

  • Internet Research
    • Cyndi’s List
    • Google
    • Other Websites
    • Meta Search Engines, etc.
  • Traditional Research (Society Lists & Publications)
  • National Organizations
    • Other Groups
    • Slovak (Eastern European) Conferences & Local Meetings
    • Local Meetings
    • Other National Groups
    • Benefits of Attending Such Conferences
    • Other Slovak Websites
  • Colleges & Universities with Slavic Languages Departments
    • Language Classes
  • Historical Societies & Museums
  • Newsletters & Other Forms of Communication


  • Networking Protocols
  • Web and Directory Searches
  • Newspaper/Journal/Magazine and Other
  • Publication Advertisement
    • Message Boards
    • Classes
    • Village-Based Associations
    • Village-Based Associations: Should You Form One
    • Funding Issues
    • Identifying a Membership
    • Consolidating Research Projects
    • Fundraising and Other Projects
    • Sharing the Work
    • Expanding the Circle to the Ancestral Village
    • Making Contact with Relatives and Others in Slovakia
  • Planning a Gathering or Reunion

Sharing Information

  • Options for Publishing and Sharing Information
  • Traditional Print Materials (Newsletters, Booklets, etc.)
  • Electronic Publishing
    • E-mail Lists
    • Websites
      • Public Websites
      • Private Websites (
      • Village Sites: Milpos
    • Revising & Updating Information
    • Recruiting “New Blood”
    • Keeping the Momentum Going
    • Miscellaneous Resources
    • Conclusion

Surfing for Slovak Ancestors

References/Further Reading



Order Finding Your Slovak Ancestors… from Family Roots Publishing; Item #: HV04, Price $23.52.

Leave a Comment Posted its Forth Quarter Earnings

Its amazing how the stock market will respond at times. dropped today by 20% on news that its revenues were up, they had 22% more subscribers, and they beat analyst expected earnings per share. What? How does a company’s stock fall on what seems like great news. Check out the article for yourself at Goes Out on a Family Tree Limb

By Rick Aristotle Munarriz

Bears have overrun‘s (Nasdaq: ACOM ) quarterly family reunion.

Shares of the leading genealogy website operator were down by roughly 20% this morning after the company posted financial results that inherited trouble spots in key metrics and ended with a soft outlook for the current quarter.

The fourth quarter itself wasn’t too shabby on the income statement. Revenue climbed 26% to $104.2 million, fueled by a 22% increase in subscribers and a healthy year-over-year increase in average revenue per user.’s profit of $0.40 a share was ahead of both the $0.25 a share it earned a year ago and the $0.34 a share that analysts were expecting.

So far, so good — but now let’s introduce the rest of the brood.

Click here to read the rest of the article. And, don’t worry, Ancestry is not going anywhere, and it will likely continue to grow for some time.

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Slave Ancestral Research: It’s Something Else

For 14 years Mary L. Jackson Fears worked diligently on her family’s history. Slave Ancestral Research: It’s Something Else is a narrative of her experiences in researching her slave ancestors. Instead of a how-to book, Fears has created a guide by example. Her her words, “My purpose is to narrate the details of my roots search in a manner to inspire others.”

This book outlines, step by step, the process of finding documents and records, with her interpretations, as she traced her ancestry, with all pitfalls and stumbling blocks one might expect in finding relative once held in slavery. Sometimes tracing the family lines of slaveholders is necessary in order to find one’s own ancestors. Fears guides the reader, with over 64 documents serving as examples throughout the book.

In these pages the reader will discover sage advice and tips just from reading the experiences shared and insights provided in the context. For example:

“Rarely was a surname listed with the slave’s given names. Sometimes a relationship was given with a woman’s name, Example, ‘Mary and her child, Susie.’ A father was seldom given recognition in the records.” [page 23]

This quote provides useful insight to what someone may expect in researching documents and records. Knowing what to expect ahead of time may help alleviate the frustrations one might otherwise experience when not finding a desired bit of information. For those with slave ancestors, this book will easily inspire and guide your research. For those who don’t descend from slave, one might sill learn and find inspiration for their own genealogical studies no matter where they my lead.


Table of Contents

List of Charts

List of Illustrations




List of Abbreviations

1. My Discovery of Grandpa Simon and Grandma Tildy McCants

2. Slave Ancestral Research

3. Taylor County Court Records

4. A Discovery

5. Are These My Folks: Abram, Emily, and Mary on Catharine Daniel’s Inventory and Sale of Perishable Property?

6. He’s the One, John McCrary

7. Talbot County Returns

8. A Light at the End of the Tunnel

Beneath Taylor County Sod

On to Talbot County

On to Atlanta and the Georgia Archives

A Rude Awakenting

Questions, Questions, Questions

9. From Pillar to Post

10. Baldwin County Probate Records

RECORD GROUP No. 1 Bartley McCrary

Jenny Poindexter

“Oh Lord, How Come We Here?”

RECORD GROUP No. 2 John McCrary, Sr.

Warren County Records

RECORD GROUP No. 3 Jonathan McCrary

RECORD GROUP No. 4 Issac McCrary

RECORD GROUP No. 5 Robert McCrary

RECORD GROUP No. 6 William McCrary

Hiring Day

Matthew McCrary

RECORD GROUP No. 7 John McCrary (d. 1845)

11. A Name, A Name, What Name Shall I Take?

12. Where to Go From Here

July 7, 1993, A Day Remembered

13. The Day I Found My Folks

14. John McCrary, 1789–1854, Estate Records

The Division and Whereabouts of “Old Visues”

15. Revelations from Revolutionary War Records

16. The Transfer Chart

17. “All Things Work Together for Good”

The Metamorphosis of a Name

18. Missing Links, Divine Guidance and John McCrary

19. So Little to Go On, Reflections

20. The Descendants of Luveser McCrary



Selected Bibliography


About the Author


Order Slave Ancestral Research: It’s Something Else today, from Family Roots Publishing; Item #: HBF0200, Price: $36.26.


Leave a Comment Now Offering DNA Testing has partnered with Family Tree DNA in order to offer DNA services. See this article from the blog:

NEW: MyHeritage DNA tests for genealogy!

MyHeritage is proud to take genealogy to the new millennium by offering a revolutionary technology for advancing family history research — DNA testing — at affordable prices.

Your ancestors left clues to your family history in you and in other descendents, and you can unlock these clues by testing your DNA. Order your DNA test now.

DNA testing can help you:

  • Discover previously unknown relatives via DNA matches
  • Uncover the ethnic and geographical origins of your ancestors
  • Prove or disprove whether you and another person are related through a common ancestor
  • Break through “brick walls” encountered during your family history research

Click here to read more on MyHeritage’s Blog

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