Georgia Confederate Pensions on Ancestry Put to Use

George Preston Birdsong (1841-1905), known as “Pres” to family and friends, is my presumptive great-great-grandfather.  He was the scion of a prominent Upson County, Georgia, family.  Pres’s father, George Lawrence Forsyth Birdsong (“Larry”), was a sportsman and land owner.  Larry also served for a time as Upson County Sheriff. When the Civil War began, Pres enlisted in  Company K, 5th …Continue reading →

OFF Adds Lincoln & Civil War Docs

This announcement on the 24/7 Family History Circle blog today: PROVO, UTAH – Feb. 12, 2009 –, the world’s largest online resource for family history, announced today it will commemorate the 200th birthday of one of the nation’s greatest Presidents – Abraham Lincoln – with the addition of five new databases to its Civil War Collection. This historically significant …Continue reading →


"Open" State Vital Records: The Bad and the Ugly

One of Several Posts about Open Government Laws and Genealogy Previously, we spotlighted several states that are particularly “genealogy-friendly” concerning access to state vital records. Now we wade into the swamp of vital records-access horribles. At the edge of the swamp are states that have unreasonably long (100 years or more for birth records; more than fifty years for death …Continue reading →


Black Catholics In America: Who Was The First African-American Priest?

The answer is . . . it depends on who you ask. And sometimes the same person will give two different answers! The contenders are Father James Healy (1830-1900), ordained 1854; and Father Augustine Tolton (1854-1897), ordained 1886. The simple genealogical data would seem conclusive: James Healy was the first African-American priest. But it’s not quite that simple. The 1830 …Continue reading →


Two Heroes: Wilson and Shadrach of Andrews’ Raiders

Note: This is the last in a series of four posts about heroic soldiers who were denied or overlooked for the Medal of Honor at the time of their extraordinary acts. Less than ten days ago, Congress authorized the award of the Medal to five of these men. One of the most daring events of the Civil War took place …Continue reading →


History Comes to Dinner

Actually I’m going to dinner at the home of my great-great grandmother, Matilda Manson, in Rockdale, Milam County, Texas, on a day in 1900. Grandma Mattie has been kind enough, at my suggestion, to invite her son Otis, and his wife Bettie Sanford, as well as Bettie’s 90 year old father, Billie Sanford. Bettie is pregnant with their fourth child, …Continue reading →


Whatever Happened to Mary Manson?

My great-great-grandmother, Matilda Manson, had a sister, Mary, born in about 1846. [See 1850 US Census, Talbot County, Georgia]. The 1850 census is the only one in which Matilda, Mary, and their mother, Jane, appear together in the same household. In fact, it may be the only census in which Mary appears at all. Mary next appears in a record …Continue reading →


Debunking A Family Myth

I’ve written about this before, but it fits this topic exactly, so I’ve reached into the archives and dusted this one off. Matilda Manson is listed in the 1850 census of Talbot County, Georgia, with her mother, Jane Manson and her sister, Mary Manson. Matilda’s age is given as 6 years old; Mary is reported to be 4, and their …Continue reading →


Confirming & Debunking Family Myths, Legends and Lore

I have a host of family legends that I have not been able to entirely confirm or debunk. Legend #1: My gg-grandmother, Sarah Gilbert Johnson, was an Indian. I haven’t found any evidence that she was, mainly because I’ve found no evidence of her except an entry in the Clay County (Mo.) marriage records and one census record. Family members …Continue reading →

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