Jane Tucker: Correcting an Earlier Mistake with Tutorship Records

This entry is part of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks series.  This week’s prompt is Mistake.  (To see other posts in this series, view my 52 Ancestors in 2019 index.)


I made my share of mistakes as a baby genealogist. I trusted others’ trees blindly and didn’t bother to cite my sources. But as I built my family tree, I began to question its accuracy — and then I learned about evidence analysis. I discovered the importance of original records and basing my research on solid evidence. A year after beginning my genealogy journey, I scrapped my tree and restarted with better methodology.

One mistake I discovered was an incorrect mother for my 2x-great-grandfather Cicero Edward Hendry. I connected him to his step-mother Mattie Viola Thomas instead of his biological mother Jane Tucker. It was an easy mistake to make, as Jane never appeared on a census with her children or husband because of the gap between the 1880 and 1900 U.S. censuses. And in my early years of research, I relied heavily on census data. As my skills improved, I added probate and court records to my research, and those records — specifically tutorship records — are what tell the story of Jane Tucker, my 3x-great-grandmother.

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Ogden School Days: A History of Liddieville’s Community School

This entry is part of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks series.  This week’s prompt is School Days.  (To see other posts in this series, view my 52 Ancestors in 2019 index.)


Ogden School sits in the middle of the Liddieville community — right at the intersection of LA-135 and LA-870 in Franklin Parish, Louisiana. Once the center of community life, this beloved school educated three generations of my family.

I attempted to count just how many of my family members attended or graduated from Ogden, but I quickly lost count. Here was my best attempt:

  • I attended Ogden from kindergarten through 8th grade (1986-1995).
  • Both my parents spent all their school years at Ogden — my dad was Class of 1965; my mom, Class of 1970.
  • My grandfather James Paul Smith, Sr. attended all grades at Ogden and graduated in 1943.
  • My grandmother Ethel McMurry also attended Ogden, possibly from 1922-1932, according to 1940 census data.
  • 8 of my great-aunts and great-uncles attended or graduated from Ogden.
  • 13 of my aunts and uncles attended or graduated from Ogden.
  • At least 7 of my first cousins attended Ogden.
  • My first cousin, once removed Charles “Cuz” Horne taught high school science and coached basketball at Ogden in the 1960s. He was also a Franklin Parish school board member and a parish school administrator.

And even more relatives and extended family members had connections to Ogden. If their last name was Horne, Johnston, McMurry, Ritchie, Smith, Wiggins, or Wright — they’re probably my family! I can also claim a few Ogden cafeteria workers, janitors, and bus drivers.

Ogden is special to me both for its place in my family history and because I spent most of my school years there. I also watched as our community fought to keep Ogden open during school consolidation in the 1990s and mourned as it died a slow, bureaucratic death in the years that followed.

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James Smart: Yesterday’s Antebellum Farm is Today’s Agricultural Research Station

This entry is part of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks series.  This week’s prompt is Work.  (To see other posts in this series, view my 52 Ancestors in 2019 index


Growing up in rural Louisiana, I’ve always been surrounded by agriculture. Both sets of my grandparents were cotton farmers, so I haven’t been surprised to find generation after generation of farmers in my family history research.

But our family’s farming history hasn’t been one of sweeping plantations and large-scale operations run by slave labor. For the most part, my ancestors had small family farms — fathers and sons working together to provide just enough for their immediate needs. It wasn’t glamorous, but it was their way of life.

My 4x-great-grandfather — and also possibly my 3x-great-grandfather, but that’s another story — James D. Smart, was one of these small-scale antebellum cotton farmers. Ironically, the land he owned in Louisiana is even used for agricultural research today.

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Walker Guess: Violence, War, and Tragedy

This entry is part of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks series.  This week’s prompt is Tragedy.  (To see other posts in this series, view my 52 Ancestors in 2019 index


Participating in this year-long challenge has resulted in reconnecting with several members of my extended family. Sometimes these family members request I write about certain ancestors, and this week’s post was such a request. My grandfather’s half-niece Wanda Davis Collins thought Walker Guess would be an interesting tale. Walker is my 3x-great-grandfather and Wanda’s great-grandfather. He definitely fits with the “tragedy” theme, as he saw — and was a victim of — much violence during his life.

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Edward Morgan: Comedy Ensues When Discovering Your Husband Is Your Cousin

This entry is part of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks series.  This week’s prompt is Comedy.  (To see other posts in this series, view my 52 Ancestors in 2019 index


A few unrelated genealogy happenings have aligned the past few weeks to give our family some laughs, culminating in my finding a new cousin — my husband!

We took a family road trip to Kentucky earlier this month and included stops at Daniel Boone’s grave, Fort Boonesborough, and Cumberland Gap National Park purely for their historical value. A few weeks before the trip, my husband’s cousin who does Collins research reminded me that their family is related to Daniel Boone. He is my husband’s 7x-great-uncle; therefore, the boys’ 8x-great-uncle! Our historical sightseeing quickly turned into a mini-genealogy road trip. We checked out age-appropriate books from the library about Daniel Boone’s life and had fun learning more about this distant relative — and then bringing his frontier story to life for our sons.

Daniel Boone Grave at Frankfurt Cemetery in Frankfurt, Kentucky
Collins Brothers at Fort Boonesborough, Kentucky
Hiking at Cumberland Gap National Park

After our trip, my grandfather’s half-sister emailed me about several research topics, including if I believed we were related to Daniel Boone through our Guess family. She doesn’t use Facebook and hadn’t seen our vacation photos, so she didn’t realize the great timing of her inquiry. I haven’t thoroughly researched our Guess family, but I took her clues and quickly discovered she was correct — it looks like I’m related to Daniel Boone, too!

I went to bed one evening with a husband and woke up the next morning with my 9th cousin. Our shared ancestors are Edward and Elizabeth Morgan, Daniel Boone’s maternal grandparents.

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