Posts Tagged ‘ancestry’

Refocusing and Stuff

Arlene (Janzig) Smith and Stuff Smith

Arlene (Janzig) Smith and Stuff Smith

Have you ever been zipping along on a project, somewhat interested in the topic, only to have something new come along?  All of a sudden you’re swept up in this new thing, like a fresh shiny romance you’re carried away by the novelty of it all.  No?  Really?  Never happens to you?  Sometimes I think that happens every day to me.

Okay, truth be told, maybe not every day, but it does happen fairly frequently.  Yes, I suffer from something-shiny-syndrome.  Just ask my sister-in-law.  I once got distracted by a wrapper on the ground when we were out golfing.  Probably will never live that down.  It didn’t help that I yelled, “Oh look, something shiny!” as I rushed to it.  I know, it’s sad; but that’s how I roll.  I prefer to think of it as my cockeyed-optimist approach to life.

Anyway, I was working on a project that I found quite exciting.  Right up until the facts nearly bit me.  Completing the project would come with definite legal consequences.  That does not excite me.  I had to tap out.  But it brought me back to a project I was working on before.  It’s an equally exhilarating book project about jazz violinist Stuff Smith and his widow.

Yesterday I went to the local library to research the website through their membership.  Not only am I easily distracted, I’m also kind of a library dork.  Love ‘em.  Could spend hours there and not even realize it!  The problem is you only get ONE HOUR on the computer.  Hello?  You expect me to stay that focused to limit myself to one hour?  Who are you kidding?  I can see this is going to be a challenge requiring numerous trips to the library.

The upside to being easily distracted is that I don’t mind the mental meandering involved in doing research.  I found some really cool websites.  Stuff’s ancestry goes back to times of slavery and Native Americans from multiple tribes.  One website had old microfiche loaded so you can actually click around slave records from the 1800’s.  I didn’t find the names I was looking for, but the lessons learned were equally as valuable.

If you are in the Atlanta area, or have any historical info on Peachtree Street or Barbers of color in the 19th century, feel free to reach out to me.  It may take a little bit, but I’ll definitely get back to you!  And if you’ve never heard of Stuff Smith or listened to his music, do yourself a favor and check it out.  As they said in nearly every review of him, that cat can swing!




Recycle Your Family Tree!

My husband received a call the other day from the secretary at the cemetery where his parents are buried.  There was some confusion as to who was in which space and which empty plots were being held for whom.  Now if this seems odd, I’ll give you a little hint—everyone is named Matthew, John, or Peter!  Okay maybe not everyone, but a large portion of the males in this family have one of those three names.  Back in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s it was very common to give the first born son the name of his grandfather.  When subsequent sons came along, they usually got one of the other two.  This got us talking about family trees.

A few years back my mother gave me a bag of information, some clippings/pictures, and a rough-draft family tree.  Having the best of intentions, I took the bag home and carefully stored it in my office for when I had some time to really dig in.  In the interest of full disclosure, I am a huge procrastinator and that bag is still in there somewhere.  But after the secretary’s call we did go online and look at a few different websites to try to get the information for the cemetery.

I’ve seen the commercials for the popular genealogy website on TV.  This is a membership-type site and you have to purchase your entrance.  Like many others, our public library has a membership; but I just didn’t have the time to go there to dig around.  So we looked up a site I’d heard about before when doing some research,   It was awesome!  We found some records we needed to help out the secretary, and put to rest the rumor that the family’s lineage wasn’t really 100% German.  We poked around and looked up a few other old family names.  I even found my grandfather’s entry to America through Ellis Island.  What an amazing site.

I don’t know if everyone is as interested in their family history as we are.  But if you are, I urge you to recycle that family tree!  There are so many websites devoted to genealogy that you are almost sure to find something that will lead you in the right direction.  If you Google genealogy websites there are a bunch that pop up.  Poke around; enter in a name or two.  And by all means, dig that old bag out of the office and check it out!