One year ago, I launched this website. Since then, there were 51 posts and 160 surnames added to the index in 2020! This site has been my first experience with WordPress and building a website. Previously, I had 2 blogs that I made in blogger/blogspot. I’ve spent a lot of time learning and testing website design and various formats for presenting information. I’ve tasked a lot of my friends and family to navigate this site looking for specific things, to see where they might get stuck, and then I tried to make it more user friendly. I’ve tested colors, fonts and contrast for family with various vision challenges. I’ve also changed structural formatting a few times to better handle large amounts of information that I expect to add to the site; including pictures, charts and a cemetery project. I’ve also learned how to better use the flow chart software, draw.io, as well as Photoshop Elements for various features I wanted to add to the website. I’ve enjoyed being at home more this year, and having been able to learn new ways to collaborate and share my work. This website has been one of my “covid projects”. It’s been a fun challenge for me to learn more about website formatting, making clickable buttons and linking pages.
Most of my work is divided between Virginia genealogy, and Polish genealogy. Catherine Stowe is the daughter of Fannie Gray, who was born in Mecklenburg, Virginia. Catherine married Paul Sanetra, whose parents and two sisters were born in Poland. Paul was raised in the Chicago area. My research, projects and two websites are about Catherine and Paul’s families. I started up my Polish website a few months after I started this website.
Over the last three years I’ve spent a lot of time researching and trying to better document my Virginia families in the time period of 1820 and earlier. Originally, I was only looking at the Newman family before 1820. James B. Jones, the ancestor of most Jones families in the Bracey and Blackridge area, married Martha Newman who was born in Orange County, Virginia. Three of Martha Newman’s sisters married three Walker brothers. The more I’ve studied colonial Essex and Orange counties in Virginia, the more I think it’s possible that many of my Mecklenburg ancestors might have lived in these same places, before moving to Mecklenburg. William Jones who was the grandfather of James B. Jones, died in 1818 in Mecklenburg, but where was he born? Many neighboring families in 1750 Essex County, Virginia are the same family surnames as those that were neighbors in Mecklenburg 100 years later.
Two books were written about the Newman family, about 100 years ago. Some bad errors from those books have multiplied and been copied all over the internet. Martha Newman’s grandfather William Newman was a dragoon during the Revolutionary War, from Orange County, Virginia. His brother George also joined the same unit. A published regimental write up incorrectly reported that George died during the war, along with several other stories about George that also contained incorrect information. I have a copy of George’s pension record, the military troop roster and muster rolls, which show that nothing that was said about George in the published regimental history is true. The Pre-1850 time period is challenging to document because household names aren’t on the census yet, parents are not listed on marriage records, and deeds and wills don’t list people’s ages. Many people used the same names over and over in their family. I have seen a situation where five brothers each gave their firstborn son the same name. The oldest son in many of my Newman families is Thomas Newman. This means that several first cousins, born within a 2-5 years of each other all have the same name. People often assume in error, that several people with the same name must be the same person. I was researching the will of William Walker in Brunswick, Virgnia. This will was written just before his sons that were married to the Newman sisters moved to Mecklenburg. William’s will mentioned that his son is also named William Walker and also mentiones his good friend, William Walker who he named his executor… three William Walkers in the same document! It is very easy to get these people confused with one another! To hopefully help clear up some of this confusion, I launched my third and final website in December; about the Newmans, their family, and neighbors. The framework for it is ready, but much of my content is still in the draft stage. When the website is more established, and I find connections that show families moving to Mecklenburg, I will share the Mecklenburg related information here on this website.
I celebrate another big anniversary this month. I took these pictures on my first visit to Mecklenburg, eighteen years ago! At the time, my mother and I both had little ones at home. My grandma was living in Florida, and came up to join us for our trip to Mecklenburg. A friend who I’d been emailing with offered to show us around the area where my family would have lived. We met at Arnold’s diner in South Hill. We then visited an old Rainey property which included Williamson Rainey’s tombstone and the windmill for the well picture. We also visited Sardis Church, LaCrosse cemetery and Rehoboth church. Most of my visits to Mecklenburg since then have been in these same areas.
This year I hope to visit other areas of Mecklenburg County, and take pictures of churches and cemeteries. I’m also hopeful to receive more submissions of pictures of both people and places. I’ve been working during the week to have things ready and scheduled to post before Monday morning. This helps me continue to post weekly, even when my personal life gets a little extra crazy, or when I’m spending extra time on behind the scenes website formatting or getting cemetery information formatted and ready to post. I’m currently reformatting the surname index pages. I plan to add more cemeteries and interview notes to the site this year. I will also add some chancery case summary notes.