Sunday, December 2, 2018

Witt Photo Found

Normally I would post this on my family blog (, but this one has an interesting backstory about how it was discovered.

Martha Ann Rachel Witt-Hill (1846-1934) is my 3rd cousin, 5x removed. She married a Francis Patterson Hill in Alabama in 1865. She is buried in the Old Perry Cemetery in Moody, McLennan County, Texas (Find A Grave 33566368). Her obituary is a wonderful work of prose about her life. I have seen others like it during that same era. It reads:

Mrs. F.P. Hill Passes Away At Her Home in Hamilton.

On Thursday morning, November 22, at ten o'clock impressive rites were said at First Baptist church in Hamilton for Mrs. Rachel Hill, who passed away at the family home there on Wednesday morning at 11:30 o'clock. Services were conducted by Rev. Vernon Shaw, her pastor. Rev. John D. West, Rev M. Phelan of Hamilton and assisted by Rev. Odell Jameson, pastor of the First Baptist Church of this city. A great company of sorrowing relatives and friends passed by the bier at the alter following the services to bid farewell to this lovely aged woman, whose influence on earth, ever lifting the hearts of others to the Great Creator, Who she worshipped in thought, word and deed.

Grandsons of Mrs. Hill were privileged to act as pallbearers/ They were W/ Oscar Lewis, Emmett F. Hill, Roy Lewis, Frank Monroe, Ray McCauley, Truett Allen, Bill Hill and Hill Monroe.
Masses of beautiful flowers banked the altar and covered the casket, creating a fit setting for the sweet, frail form that slept so peacefully in the calm and rest of death. The flower bearers were Miss Lois Allen, Miss Roberta Allen, Mrs. Emmett Hill, Mrs. Oscar Lewis, granddaughters of Mrs. Hill; Mrs. Lillian Grimm, Miss Mae Harris.

Following the funeral services there the cortege left the church and proceded here where internment was made in Old Perry Cemetery, with rev. West and Moody friends in charge.
Mrs. Rachel Hill had made her home in Hamilton with her daughter, Mrs. Cleveland H. Martin, and husband since 1919.

Rachel Witt, aged 88 years, 16 days, was born in Randolph county, Alabama, November 5, 1846, and was converted in early life and joined the Missionary Baptist Church living true to the faith to the day of her death.

Mrs. Hill was the daughter and granddaughter of Baptist ministers who were pioneers of Christianity in Texas, Her father, Rev. W.C. Witt had part in the organization of what is now the First Baptist Church of Temple.

She, with her husband, F.P. Hill who met an accidental death in 1913 were charter members of Stampede Baptist Church, contributing libera;;y to the building and support of that church as long as they lived in that community. In her native state she was married to Francis P. Hill on Nov. 2, 1865. Seven years later the family moved to Texas and settled in Cass county, where they changed their residence to Bell county. Mr. Hill was summoned to his reward in 1913, and in 1919 Mrs. Hill moved to Hamilton to reside. Mrs. Hill was the mother of eleven children, ten of whom lived to maturity. The nine surviving children are J.F. Hill, Hamilton; W.F. Hill, Eddy; E.I. Hill; Tahoks; Dr. J.A. Hill, Canyon; Mrs. Belle Allen, Waco; Mrs. C.H. Martin, Hamilton; Mrs. E.R. McCauley, Moody; Miss Mary Hill, Alpine; Mrs. S.J. Munroe, Hamilton, all of whom, except Dr. J.A. Hill, of Canyon, were at the bedside when the end came. She is mourned by twenty-six grandchildren, also a brother and sister, W.C. Witt, of Bailey county, Texas, and Mrs. John Womack, of Ontario, California.

Out-of-town people besides near relatives here for the funeral were Rev. Shaw, Mr. Williams, Paul Colson, Misses Mae Harris and Katie Kinseym Hamilton, Mr. and Mrs. Cleve Amsler, Mrs. Marion Witt, Mcgregorl Dr. J.R. Knight, Miss Kathryn Knight, Wayne Bateman, Eddy.

"May we, upon whom her mantle falls, hold high the banner of Christ that we too may have an abundant entrance to that House not made of hands, eternal in the Heavens".

Beautiful obit for sure. Now for the really neat part. While adding some additional information on this family, I stumbled across the Ancestry tree of  Patrinka51 in Sheffield, AL. 
She had this absolutely fabulous picture taken of Martha. The back story of how it was found is even more interesting. "Photo found by Beth Garland at Mary's Flea Market, Midwest City, Oklahoma."

A flea market in Oklahoma? Unbelievable! It pays sometimes to dig around other folks trees and it places you would not normally look for family heirlooms and photographs.

My best advice is to leave no family stone unturned. You never know what family treasures you will uncover.  Oh, yea, and the picture. It speaks for itself.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Spring 2019 TCCC Genealogy Classes

If you live in the Tri-State area (GA/NC/TN) and are looking for some genealogy education opportunities look no further than my genealogy classes during the Spring 2019 semester at Tri-County Community College. You can get more information or register for these classes by calling Lisa Long at 828-835-4241. I hope to see you all next semester. 

Tuesday Night Classes

DNA 101 – The Foundations of Genetic Genealogy
A basic introduction to genetic genealogy and how it can be used in combination with traditional genealogical research. The course includes introductions to Y-DNA, mitochondrial DNA, and autosomal DNA testing, how each of these types of DNA is inherited, who you should have tested, where you should purchase these tests, and how these tests can be used for genealogical research. This course is a prerequisite for advanced genetic genealogy classes. 10 hrs. (4 nights).
Instructor: Van Horn                        Min: 8
January 22 – February 12              T
6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.                      $35

You’ve seen the ads on television. You may have even purchased a kit from them. Learn more about the test you took and the results you received from the most popular DNA testing company in the world. This genetic genealogy course is a must. 10 hrs. (4 nights).
Instructor: Van Horn                        Min: 8
February 19 – March 12                 T
6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.                      $35

Researching Your DNA on the GEDmatch/FTDNA websites
What is the next step in your genetic genealogy research after you have finished your work at AncestryDNA? Next logical steps are uploading your results to GEDmatch and FTDNA, and both DNA websites can be intimidating. In this course, we will start at the beginning and look at some of its basic, but very important tools that genealogists can utilize in their research. 7.5 hrs. (3 nights).
Instructor: Van Horn                        Min: 8
March 19 – April 2                            T
6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.                      $25

Advanced DNA Analysis
This course will introduce some advanced techniques used by genetic genealogists including the use of triangulated groups, chromosome mapping, visual phasing, and phasing. Will introduce third-party tools and examine how to analyze complex questions with DNA. 7.5 hrs. (3 nights).
Instructor: Van Horn                        Min: 8
April 9 – April 23                               T
6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.                      $25

Thursday Night Classes

NEW  Stories in Stone
Ever wonder what various gravestone symbols mean? Is everything "set in stone" completely accurate? Larry will walk you through cemeteries with tips on how to use cemetery and associated records in your genealogy quest. 5 hrs. (2 nights)
Instructor: Van Horn                        Min: 8
January 24 – January 31                TH
6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.                      $20

NEW  Researching Your Civil War Ancestors
The American Civil War, fought from 1861-1865, affected nearly every man, woman, and child living in the United States. Almost 3.5 million soldiers are believed to have been involved. Given the dramatic impact of this conflict, if your ancestors lived in the United States during this time, it is likely that you'll find at least one Civil War soldier in your family tree. Locating a Civil War ancestor, whether it is a direct ancestor or a collateral relative, can provide another source of information on your family tree. This course will help you start your Civil War research journey. 5 hrs. (2 nights)
Instructor: Van Horn                        Min: 8
February 7 – February 14               TH
6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.                      $20

NEW  Researching Your Revolutionary War Ancestors
The American Revolutionary War was fought from 1775-1783 and took place in all of the original thirteen states, Florida, Western Frontier, Canada, Caribbean, and even England. During the war, there were many records that make tracking down your Revolutionary War ancestor possible. So where do you start when you are trying to find your Revolutionary War hero? This class will set you on the right path. 5 hrs. (2 nights)
Instructor: Van Horn                        Min: 8
February 21 – February 28            TH
6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.                      $20

NEW  They Came in Ships
The history of this country is filled with stories of immigrants, which, for many of us, means that our individual family histories are also filled with them. Many will find tracing these immigrant ancestors tricky or even frustrating. There’s just something about crossing the big, wide ocean that makes their trail grow a little fainter, a little harder to follow. This genealogy course may help you follow their footsteps back to the old country. 5 hrs. (2 nights)
Instructor: Van Horn                        Min: 8
March 7– March 14                          TH
6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.                      $20

NEW  Researching Your Family History on the Internet
The Internet offers a wonderful array of databases, records, and other resources for researching your family tree online. Knowing how and where to search online is a must for any genealogist using the Internet. This course will teach you how to search like a pro, find genealogy databases, and discover your family history on the Web at some of the top Internet sites. While our beginner genealogy class is not required to take this course, a basic understanding of genealogy research principles is strongly recommended. Register early since seating in this class is limited. 15 hrs. (6 nights)
Instructor: Van Horn                        Min: 8
March 21 - April 25                          TH
6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.                      $50

Classes are subject to change and/or cancellation based on student registrations. Watch this blog or the WNC Mountains Genealogy Friends Facebook group ( for any late date changes.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Genetics of Cousin Marriage

It’s conventional wisdom that procreation between first cousins is unhealthy. But what are the actual genetic risks?

Learn more in this article by James MacDonald at

County Lines on Google Maps

Google Maps doesn’t show county boundaries, so Randy Majors has created a new tool to display them. The tool is simple to use. Simply enter a place name and then click “GO.” The normal Google Map commands of Plus (+) and MINUS (-) can be used to zoom in and out on the displayed map. You can see all county lines on Google Maps anywhere in the U.S., U.K., Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Switzerland. You can get more details at

You Can’t Call the Mormons “Mormons” Anymore

I can't pass this one up. Courtesy of the Dick Eastman newsletter, the president of the Mormon church states he wants members, the media and others to use the faith’s full name, saying nicknames are “a major victory for Satan.” Russell M. Nelson said the church’s name “is not negotiable.”

The name of the religion based in Salt Lake City is now officially The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All future references to the church, including its millions of genealogy records and its genealogy library in Salt Lake City, should use the full name: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Details may be found at:

Another Wierd and Unusual Obituaries - Rick Stein

Many thanks to Dick Eastman and his newsletter for another weird, wild and wacky obit. Disclaimer: It is long but is well worth the read.

Rick Stein

Wilmington - Rick Stein, 71, of Wilmington was reported missing and presumed dead on September 27, 2018 when investigators say the single-engine plane he was piloting, The Northrop, suddenly lost communication with air traffic control and disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Rehoboth Beach. Philadelphia police confirm Stein had been a patient at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital where he was being treated for a rare form of cancer. Hospital spokesman Walter Heisenberg says doctors from Stein's surgical team went to visit him on rounds when they discovered his room was empty. Security footage shows Stein leaving the building at approximately 3:30 Thursday afternoon, but then the video feed mysteriously cuts off. Authorities say they believe Stein took an Uber to the Philadelphia airport where they assume he somehow gained access to the aircraft.

"The sea was angry that day," said NTSB lead investigator Greg Fields in a press conference. "We have no idea where Mr. Stein may be, but any hope for a rescue is unlikely."

Stein's location isn't the only mystery. It seems no one in his life knew his exact occupation. 

His daughter, Alex Walsh of Wilmington appeared shocked by the news. "My dad couldn't even fly a plane. He owned restaurants in Boulder, Colorado and knew every answer on Jeopardy. He did the New York Times crossword in pen. I talked to him that day and he told me he was going out to get some grappa. All he ever wanted was a glass of grappa."

Stein's brother, Jim echoed similar confusion. "Rick and I owned Stuart Kingston Galleries together. He was a jeweler and oriental rug dealer, not a pilot." Meanwhile, Missel Leddington of Charlottesville claimed her brother was a cartoonist and freelance television critic for the New Yorker.

David Walsh, Stein's son-in-law, said he was certain Stein was a political satirist for the Huffington Post while grandsons Drake and Sam said they believed Stein wrote an internet sports column for ESPN covering Duke basketball, FC Barcelona soccer, the Denver Broncos and the Tour de France. Stein's granddaughter Evangeline claims he was a YouTube sensation who had just signed a seven-figure deal with Netflix.

When told of his uncle's disappearance, Edward Stein said he was baffled since he believed Stein worked as a trail guide in Rocky Mountain National Park. "He took me on a hike up the Lily Peak Trail back in the 90s. He knew every berry, bush and tree on that trail." Nephew James Stein of Los Angeles claimed his uncle was an A&R consultant for Bad Boy records and ran a chain of legal recreational marijuana dispensaries in Colorado called Casablunta. Niece Courtney Stein, a former Hollywood agent, said her uncle had worked as a contributing writer for Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm and was currently consulting on a new series with Larry David.

People who knew Stein have reported his occupation as everything from gourmet chef and sommelier to botanist, electrician, mechanic and even spy novelist. Police say the volume of contradictory information will make it nearly impossible to pinpoint Stein's exact location. 

In fact, the only person who might be able to answer the question, who is the real Rick Stein is his wife and constant companion for the past 14 years, Susan Stein. Detectives say they were unable to interview Mrs. Stein, however neighbors say they witnessed her leaving the home the couple shared wearing dark sunglasses and a fedora, loading multiple suitcases into her car. FAA records show she purchased a pair of one-way tickets to Rome which was Mr. Stein's favorite city. An anonymous source with the airline reports the name used to book the other ticket was Juan Morefore DeRoad, which, according to the FBI, was an alias Stein used for many years.

That is one story.

Another story is that Rick never left the hospital and died peacefully with his wife and his daughter holding tightly to his hands.

You can choose which version you want to believe or share your own story about Rick with us at the Greenville Country Club on Friday, November 9, 2018 from 3:00-6:00pm.

For online condolences, please visit

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Fall 2018 TCCC Genealogy Class Schedule

If you live in the Tri-State area and are looking for some genealogy education opportunities look no further than my genealogy classes this Fall at Tri-County Community College. You can get more information or register for these classes by calling Lisa Long at 835-4241.

I hope to see you all this fall.

Genealogy - Legacy Genealogy Software for Beginners

You can do genealogy on paper. That is how it used to be done until only a few decades ago. But if you are researching your family history and not using genealogy software, you’re crazy to do it without. This genealogy class is an introductory course teaching the fundamentals of the Legacy 9, the gold standard of genealogy computer software. It will include instruction on the program menus, basic data entry, importing and exporting projects, SourceWriter, hashtags and other features available in Legacy 9. This course is a prerequisite to take any of the advanced Legacy courses offered at TCCC. 15 hrs. (6 weeks)

August 21-September 25    Tuesday 6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. $45

Genealogy - Advanced Legacy Genealogy Software

This genealogy computer class will explore some of the advanced feature sets and research tools available in the world class genealogy software package. Completion of the Legacy Genealogy Software for Beginners is required to take this class. 17.5 hrs. (7 weeks)

October 2-November 15    Tuesday 6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. $55

Genealogy – Searching for Your Ancestors

Who am I and where did I come from? It's that intriguing question that has made genealogy research one of America's most popular hobbies. But where does one begin such research? What resources exist? How can you prove that what you find is true and valid? How do you go beyond America's borders to find roots in other English speaking nations? Searching for your Ancestors offers the beginner and even experienced genealogists alike a fresh approach to genealogy research. Subjects cover the full gambit from organizing your research to exploring your family history using traditional and electronic research, social media, and the newest genealogy tool – DNA testing. Whether you are new to genealogy or have been family hunting since microfilm days, this premier genealogy course will assist you in researching your family in the 21st century. This is one class you won't regret taking regardless of your genealogy skill level. This course is a prerequisite for many of the advanced genealogy courses offered at TCCC. 32.5 hours (13 weeks)

August 23-November 15     Thursday 6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. $80

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Clay County Genealogy Group Meeting

We have a change of location for the March Clay County Genealogy Group meeting.
We will be meeting at the LDS Family History Center in Peachtree, NC, on March 3 at 9:30 am. Marlene Bryan will be showing us what is available at the center. Bring your laptop and something for taking notes. Marlene's primary purpose is to acquaint us with what we can access at FamilySearch while at the center. She said there is also free access to Ancestry, My Heritage and Fold3 and several other sites. Come learn what resources are at our fingertips locally at the FHC.
The Family History Center is located at 656 Hwy 141 in Peachtree, NC, not too far down 141 from the light near the hospital and closed corner restaurant.
We hope to see you there.