Heart of a Southern Woman

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Remembering American Slaves by Name, Part II

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slave names


slave names engraved on hand

–www.pinterest.com, search for image

The Slave Name Roll Project, started by Schalene Jennings Dagutis, strives to create a searchable resource for genealogical research of ancestors who were slaves in the United States. By asking descendants of slaves and slave-owners,  to collect and submit  names of slaves of their ancestors to this project, the hope is to collect as many names as possible, making them all more searchable and accessible to descendants.  There are only a few main resources to find the names of slaves. The slave schedules only had numbers of slaves. But some courts required the listing of slaves by name for property tax purposes. The other main place to find the names of slaves, is in wills.  People actually willed their slaves to their children!  Everytime I realize this, it makes me sick at heart. I will never understand how one of my relatives truly thought it was not only all right, but a good thing, to own slaves –to enslave another human being and  rationalize it in your mind! But it happened on a large-scale in the United States, until we fought a war over it and the slaves were freed. It took at least another one hundred years for African-Americans to begin to gain their civil rights.

Virginia showing Warwick County on map

Warwick County, Virginia, source: familysearch.org


My eighth great- grandfather, John Langhorne arrived in the Virginia Colony sometime after the mid 1600’s.  He and his wife Rebecca Carter married in England in 1665. John established a family home in Warwick County, Virginia, which served five generations.  In his book, The Virginia Langhornes, Appendix V, page 309,  James C. Langhorne gives a list of 36 slaves, first names only, who belonged to the Langhorne family, and were enumerated on the Warwick County tax lists between 1783-1785. By 1783, three generations of Langhornes who had lived in the home at Warwick County were gone. John’s great-grandson,William Langhorne  1721-1797, my 5th great-grandfather, would have been the head of the household  at that time. That means we’ve not yet found a lot of names. I will continue my research and see what I can find. I wanted to go ahead and get these names submitted so that they would be available for family to find.


Cumberland County, Virginia, source familysearch.org


In this same appendix, James C. Langhorne lists 80 more slaves who belonged to the Langhorne family who lived on a plantation in Cumberland County, Virginia.  These names were collected from Cumberland County tax records and estate records between 1784-1797. James C. Langhorne makes a note of telling us that names appearing more than once are not duplicated.  We know that  Maurice Langhorne, 1721-1791 was the first of the family to  relocate to Cumberland County in the piedmont of Virginia, away from the coast. He was my fifth great-grandfather, and  according to  tax records he bought thousands of acres of land in Cumberland, establishing himself as a successful plantation owner. The only way he believed he could be a successful planter in the late 1700’s, was to use slave labor to work the agricultural endeavors.  Among those slaves, are these now identified by James C. Langhorne if only by first names. I take my hat off to James, not many authors of genealogy books include the family slaves! It is a commendable thing that he does.


I found the illustration of Isaiah 49:15 very fitting for this situation. Men in  17th and 18th century America might have neglected the names of their slaves, but it seems God did not. As we find more and more names to place in the Slave Name Project, it seems God is giving the names to us, as He was holding them in the palm of His hand all the time, as promised.

slavery quote by Abraham Lincoln

From The Virginia Langhornes by James C. Langhorne we find this list of names of slaves owned by the Langhorne family, from Warwick County, Virginia, 1783-1785:

Adam,  Ann,  Bedford,  Ben,  Bob,  Cloe,  Cuddy,  Cupid,

Dinah,  Eliza,  Fanny,  Flora,  Frank,  Freeborn,  Grace,  Jack

James, James Read,  Jerry,  Judith,  Lawrence,  Lucinda,  Lucy,

Nanny,  Paul,  Peter,  Phillis,  Rachel,  Roger,  Sary,  Sylvia,  Sue  

Tom,  Venus ,  Will    

Also from The Virginia Langhornes comes this list of 80 more slaves belonging to the Langhorne family  in Cumberland County, Virginia between 1784-1797, gathered from estate records and County records:


“Abba,  Abraham,  Absolam,  Agga,  Alice,  Amy,  Ann,  Anthony, Archer,  Belley,  Betty,  Bob,  Caroline,  Cate,  Charles B. Smith,  Cland,  Damond,  Daniel,  Daphne,  Davy,  Dick,  Edmond,  Emy, Fanny,  Flora,  Frank,  George,  Hannah,  Hannibal,  Harry,  Isaac, Jack,  Jackson,  Jacob,  James,  Jane,  Jenny,  Jesse,  Jim,  Jimmy,  Jocie,  Joe,  John,  Johny,  Joicey,  Jubar,  Judy,  Juliana,  Julius,  Let,  Lewis,  Lucy,  Margery,  Misse,  Molly,  Moses,  Nancy,  Natt,  Ned,  Patty,  Peter,  Phillis,  Polly,  Rachel,  Reid,  Rhoda,  Robin Byrd,   Roger,  Rose,  Sally,  Sam,  Sarah,  Shepherd,  Sue,  Sukey,  Tom,  Violet,  Will,  Wiltshire,  Yorick “

What a blessing to be free, I wish you and your loved ones that blessing always!







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The Importance of Recognizing Slaves of Our Ancestors by Name


A genealogical blogger I know named Schalene Jennings Dagutis, author of the blog Tangled Roots and Trees, recently created the Slave Name Roll Project .  It has become very popular quickly,  and offers an excellent  way to catalogue the names of slaves for genealogical research by descendants, bloggers, and all interested parties.  Thank you so much for thinking of this and doing it Schalene!

In response,  I am writing this post and others to identify slaves that I have discovered were owned by my ancestors. That very statement bothers me terribly. I know all the arguments for the “institution of slavery”, how labor was needed to run the huge plantations of the Southeastern United States, etc. Nonetheless, I find it an abhorrent idea that any one individual might think they have the right to “own” another person!  It brings with it a sense of shame although I have always been proud of being a Southerner. Somehow I separate or deny the issue generally–bad idea!  It is a part of our history, a fact, that some of my grandparents owned slaves.  I am happy now to see what I can do to help identify them, and list them by name to be recognized in the Slave Name Roll Project.

An African-American friend of mine, True Lewis, is another genealogical blogger whose blog titled “Note’s to Myself about My True Roots” can be found at   http://www.mytrueroots.blogspot.com/.   This is a quote from her that inspires me so very much and in many ways gave me “permission” and encouragement to identify the slaves that I can.   About finding and publishing slave’s names, she says: “It’s  Honorable to do…You’re  RELEASING their Names and their Souls for their Descendants to hopefully find them one day. Every time this Happens they are Rejoicing. They have been in a book or what have you for so long.”  Thank you for the encouragement True.

I also want to thank another genealogical blogger and friend, Cathy Meder – Dempsey, who writes her blog Opening Doors in Brick Walls at https://openingdoorsinbrickwalls.wordpress.com/.   Actually, I first found out about the Slave Name Roll Project when she wrote about it a week or so ago.  I am so happy that she did, all of this collaboration and encouragement is what moves us forward.

As I began to research my ancestors who owned slaves, I decided to start with one of my closest ancestral families whom I’ve been involved with a lot lately due to helping plan the first reunion of descendants last August, 2014.  My second great-grandfather, James Steptoe Langhorne owned a 13,000 acre plantation in the mountains of Virginia. He did own slaves, as did his brother William Langhorne who lived nearby on the same property. For such a large place, Grandpa Steptoe as he was called, owned relatively few slaves. He was blind you see, and he owned a grist mill and came from a wealthy family, so I suspect he didn’t do a lot of agricultural work, some as I understand it.  As I looked for information, I was reminded that a very talented writer and editor I know, one Bob Heafner, had edited and published a magazine/journal in the Southwest area of Virginia starting about 1983 I believe.  In The Mountain Laurel (now available online at: http://www.mtnlaurel.com/) he had published stories, reviews, recipes, and generally given a voice and a window to life in those Blue Ridge Mountains! More than that, Bob Heafner was a social activist as well.  In 1984, when he realized that the headstones of the slaves once owned by James Steptoe Langhorne, interred in the cemetery at the Meadows of Dan Baptist Church, were broken or missing, having been displaced by the construction of  the Blue Ridge Parkway, he embarked on a thirty year project to have them restored and the slaves recognized! Extraordinary!  In his own words:


“The Slave Meadow

By Bob Heafner © 2012

Online: September, 2012

The Old Slave Cemetery

In 1984, when I promised Mr. Matt Burnette that I would try to get the headstones restored to the African-American graves on National Park Service land adjacent to the Meadows of Dan Baptist Church Cemetery, I had no idea what trying to keep that promise would entail. After twenty-eight years, hundreds of emails, meetings and countless frustrations the Blue Ridge Parkway management has finally erected a fence around the “old slave cemetery” shown on the original acquisition maps drawn in 1938 when the State of Virginia was acquiring the right of way for the Parkway.

On June 1, 2010, I wrote this email to Phil Francis, Superintendent of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Within twenty-four hours after emailing Mr. Francis, he called and said he was going to “do the right thing,” about these almost forgotten African-American pioneers.

Mr. Francis, good to his word, got the ball rolling and on August 4, 2010, John Johnson and I met with Steven Kidd, Bambi Teague and Monika Mayr at the Guilford Courthouse Visitor Center in Greensboro, North Carolina.

On November 22, 2010, John and I met with Steven Kidd at The Slave Meadow in Meadows of Dan. Using a backhoe, Mr. Kidd dug several two to three feet deep holes at the sunken spots near the Langhorne Family plot but said he saw no evidence of graves. Mr. Matt and other old timers were adamant that the Langhorne slaves are buried there and I still believe they were correct.

Earlier this year the Blue Ridge Parkway erected a fence around the “old slave cemetery.” It’s not what Mr. Matt wanted but at least there is now official acknowledgement that people are buried in this scenic mountain meadow beside the Blue Ridge Parkway in Meadows of Dan, Virginia. Thanks to Leslie Shelor, owner of the Greenberry House in Meadows of Dan, for the photo.”

In this article, Bob Heafner actually names the slaves buried in this area of the cemetery:

“The Slave Meadow Story

By Bob Heafner © 2001

Online: 2001

The Langhorne Family Monument with The Slave Meadow and the Blue Ridge Parkway in the background.

The Langhorne Family Monument with The Slave Meadow and the Blue Ridge Parkway in the background. The hole in the top of the monument was put there by a stray bullet during a 4th of July celebration in the early part of the 20th century.

In the mid-nineteenth century they accompanied the James Steptoe Langhorne family to “Langdale,” a “plantation” encompassing the area where the tiny mountain community of Meadows of Dan, Virginia, is located today. The Langhorne family owned thousands of acres in the area prior to the Civil War.

According to the will of Henry Scarsbrook Langhorne, his son James Steptoe Langhorne had already been given five slaves prior to his father’s death. They were: Robinson and his wife Vestey, George (a man), John (a boy) and Page (a girl). After the Civil War, the 1870 Census reveals that Ira Langhorne and his wife Page and their two children, Mary and Ellis, were living next door to the James Steptoe Langhorne family.

Little is known about the Langhorne slaves, or even their exact number, but two facts are certain; they were African-Americans and this meadow is the final resting place of some of them.

The Langhorne family obviously thought highly of these people because they specified that they be buried in the Langhorne family section of the Meadows of Dan Baptist Church Cemetery.

However, nearly seventy-five years ago, when the Blue Ridge Parkway was built, the National Park Service acquired that portion of the cemetery where the slaves are buried. The Langhorne family graves are on church property beneath the shade of a tall poplar tree immediately adjacent to Parkway property. If you were standing in the shade of this old tree today, however, you would not see any evidence of the slaves’ graves, only the little mountain church on a small hill with its tall white steeple and well-kept cemetery.

Separating the cemetery and the Parkway is a small meadow, covered in summer by waist-high orchard grass that sways gently in cool mountain breezes. Buried in this picturesque mountain setting, is not only the Langhorne slaves but the symbolic remnants of African-American history in the Blue Ridge. These pioneers have passed into the oblivion of time unknown, their lives and contributions all but forgotten. They lived without benefit of freedom and now in death they face eternity without the final human dignity of a simple stone marker to acknowledge their lives.

Old man Matt Burnett, told me about the graves before he died and recalled why there were no markers. During the construction of the Blue Ridge Parkway the markers, which were just simple stones, were carried into the woods at the edge of the meadow to “get them out-of-the-way” during construction. The intent was to put them back when they were finished but no one ever got around to it.

Shortly after hearing about these unmarked slave graves in 1984, I approached Gary Everhart, who was then Superintendent of the Blue Ridge Parkway, about the possibility of placing a granite marker on the site to commemorate not only the people buried there but to honor the overall African-American contribution to Blue Ridge history. Mr. Everhart agreed, provided I could raise the funds necessary to erect the monument and prepare the site.

The monument I envisioned was a single granite boulder between six and eight feet high, left rough and unpolished to symbolize the rugged life, hardships and quiet endurance of those it would commemorate. However, efforts to raise the necessary funds met with no success.

Picturesque Meadows of Dan Baptist Church

Picturesque Meadows of Dan Baptist Church

I feared then, and still fear now, that unless something is done before long, the replacement of the gravestones or the erection of a monument may never happen. With that in mind, on June 12, 2001, I wrote a letter to Daniel W. Brown, who succeeded Gary Everhart as superintendent of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and asked the National Park Service to assist in getting the gravestones replaced. After all, National Park Service employees removed the gravestones during Parkway construction and it only seems right that the National Park Service shoulder the burden of replacing the monuments.

I was pleased to receive a prompt and encouraging email reply from Gordon Wissinger, Chief Ranger, of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and later met with Mindy DeCesar, District Interpretive Specialist and was very hopeful that finally action would be taken to restore The Slave Meadow gravestones. Unfortunately, that was almost nine years ago and the gravestones have still not been replaced nor a monument erected.

If you are an educator please tell your students, if you are a minister please tell your congregation. Individuals, please tell your family, friends and co-workers and encourage their support of this effort.

Let’s put our hope together and encourage the National Park Service to do the right thing. A monument in this meadow would serve as a reminder to generations that the pioneers of our nation were of all races, the rich and the poor, the free and the slave.”

Wow, I am so moved by Bob Heafner’s work over the years on behalf of  slaves owned by my family! I wish I had gotten involved sooner, perhaps I can be of some help from here out!  This article gives us the names of nine slaves owned by James Steptoe Langhorne. They are:

1. Robinson and 2. his wife Vestry

3. George, an adult

4. John, a boy

5. Page a girl. ( I wonder if she is the same as the later identified Page, wife of Ira Langhorne?)

6. Ira Langhorne and  7. his wife  Page

8. Mary Langhorne their daughter and

9. Ellis Langhorne, son of Ira and Page

I will have to do some research to discover if there are other names available of the other slaves. Of course I will ask that they be included in the Slave Name Roll Project also, to honor their lives, and their memory.

Please share your thoughts with me, I’d like to know what you think about this whole issue. Helen




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Meadows of Dan Baptist Church Burns Down!


Meadows of Dan is a small town on top of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Patrick County, Virginia. It sits at the mouth of the Dan River which runs down through North Carolina. My great, great-grandfather, James Steptoe Langhorne (called Steptoe) is credited with naming this town when he took up residence there about 1840. He and his wife, my Great-Great-Grandmother, Elizabeth Rachel Omohundro inherited a 13,000 acre plantation! They had slaves to help them run the house and the agricultural part of the plantation. They built a grist mill, started a school, and taught Sunday school from their own home. I descend from their daughter Evelyn, one of Steptoe’s eight children. Unfortunately, Steptoe was blind, inflicted with retinitis pigmentosa, the hereditary disease that stole the sight of his mother, several of his siblings, children, grandchildren, and continues in the family today.

Steptoe’s daughter Frances, called Fannie married Wallace Wolford Spangler and they raised their six children right there in the Meadows of Dan while most of the other grandchildren went elsewhere. When we had a Langhorne family reunion last year, it was the Spanglers who gave the tours and led the singing since they were the accomplished musicians from years gone by ! (If you check the right column of categories, you can find many stories and music videos about the Langhornes and the Spanglers.) While all of the grandchildren are gone, many of Steptoe’s Great-Grandchildren, Great-Greats and more still live in the area. 

During the Langhorne reunion last year, several of the family attended church services at the Meadows of Dan Baptist Church. We all went to the church cemetery where Steptoe and Elizabeth are buried, as well as Evelyn, Fannie and some others, including Evelyn’s child Virginia. This beautiful church and cemetery rests on land that once belonged to the Langhorne’s, Steptoe and his brother William who donated the land for the church, and even built the first log church there. When you walk in the cemetery and into the church, you can feel a sense of roots–this is  where our family lived, this is where they walked, 175 years ago! 

Also in this same church cemetery, are the graves of the Langhorne slaves. Yes, they are segregated, but they are present in the same church cemetery which lends credence to the stories of the Langhornes being kind to their slaves and treating them humanely. I am working on another post about the slaves, gathering their names for the National Slave Name Roll Project which was recently started by Schalene Jennings Dagutis. Over the years, there have been some controversies surrounding the “slave meadow” as their area has come to be called, started by an article of that name that can by found in the online mountain journal by Bob Heafner entitled The Mountain Laurel. I discuss this in more detail in the next post. 

Over 100 years ago, the members of the Meadows of Dan Baptist Church built a new church–the lovely white one seen in the pictures above. Last night that church burned down!  Thank heavens, no one was hurt.  Apparently the fire was caused by the furnace malfunctioning. Already the minister of the church is reminding the public that the church is the community, not the building. They will rebuild and be stronger than ever. 

When I learned that the church was on fire– I was shocked, even moved to tears! Then I was surprised that I had such strong feelings for a church just barely known to me really, as family history. However, I realized that I had gotten to know many people, many cousins,  in that community in the last couple years–I knew it would be painful to them, and part of what I was feeling was sympathy, empathy, the desire to go and be with them, to comfort them. I have to admit, being steeped just now in slave research, I wondered if there was malice involved, or anything to do with the controversies of the slave meadow. As it turns out that was all fantasy on my part, it reflects what I was studying in another era, arson is NOT suspected in this situation, but a wiring or other electrical problem unfortunately. The blessing comes in that no one was hurt by such a huge fire!  If you look at the very last photograph above (click to enlarge), you will see that three crosses appeared in the fire. A citizen of the community took this picture, Angela Grubb. What does it mean? Was it real?  What do you think, I’d really like to know. 

What a heart breaking event for many, many people, members of the church, and others with ties to the community.   I am praying that from the ashes something better will arise, with God’s help. Amen. 

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Interesting Phenomena in Our Family Trees–Coincidence? Serendipity? Six Degrees of Separation? Reincarnation–traveling through time with our tribe? The Pierce/Pearce Family

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Pierce COA
This is the fifth and last post of this series regarding connections and relationships I have found with my neighbors. It has been a joy and a continued amazement for me to put on paper the relationships and connections that I have been noticing regarding my neighbors’ families and my own for the last few years during which I’ve been doing genealogical research. There are more connections I might explore at a later date that have involved the many cousins I’ve met since doing this research, and connections to other genealogical bloggers, but today, I want to talk about this very special family– the Pierce family, and how it connects me to a neighbor and much more.
As I have said before, about ten years ago, we moved into a new subdivision, where everyone was new. Because the neighborhood was new perhaps, many neighbors set about fixing up their yards and gardens, which simply had the bare basic landscaping of any new subdivision. We often walked, well, I rolled in my electric wheelchair due to a heart condition, around the neighborhood, looking at what folks were doing, and getting to know the neighbors. In this way I met neighbors from other streets as well as my own. One such person was Lynn Pierce. Lynn was a great gardener, and had a special joy for daylilies, one of my passions as well! It was such a joy to learn that she was not only a devoted gardener, but a craftsperson extraordinaire and a retired English teacher with a flair for drama and costuming. My husband was very happy to meet her husband Bill and learn that he was a retired woodworking teacher, as my husband had taught woodworking also, along with drafting and engineering. We became good friends and remain so today through joys and sorrows.

I hate to admit this, but I’d known Lynn several years before I even knew her maiden name! I had not been doing genealogical research, so until about a year ago, gardening and traveling together to the beach and to the mountains, were the basis of our friendship, not family background! Lynn met another friend who did genealogical research and was a Pearce. She began to talk with me about it, wondering if she might be kin to him, and so we began to work on her family tree to find out! Sure enough, as I worked on Lynn’s Pierce ancestral line, I began to see surnames I was related to, in her family tree! It finally dawned on me, like a light bulb going off, that I had never checked my dna to see if I was kin to the Pierces myself, and I was! That didn’t mean I was kin to Lynn’s Pierces, but it was a place to start. I began to build Pierces into my own family tree as well as Lynn’s, to see if I could discover if we were related! Lo and behold, I discovered that this close friend of mine was also my cousin! We were both descended from Richard Pearce, born between 1540-1563, and his wife Marguerite Coney born in 1568. Lynn descends from his son Richard Pearce b.1590, and I descend from his son the sea Captain, William Pierce/Pearce, b. 1595. Lynn and I are eleventh cousins! You can find a relationship tree at the end of this article.

As I mentioned, Lynn had met and become friends with Tony Pearce  since moving here, and he lived only a couple miles from us. She wondered if she was kin to him, and so we added more to her family tree to try to ascertain whether or not they were related. At the same time, I realized that a friend of mine for over 45 years, Thomas Clayton, was the son of a Pearce mother!  I was more than surprised when I realized he and Tony shared the same ancestral line!

 Within weeks of our moving here, our neighbors introduced us to a retired mechanic named Jack Strickland who had started his own business. They recommended him highly, and we became friends as well as he helped us keep our cars in shape. When I found Stricklands in my friend Thomas’s tree, I felt compelled to ask Jack about his ancestry, and so I started working on his tree as well, with his help. Of course, he, Tony, and Thomas shared the SAME Pearce line!

Although Lynn is from Pennsylvania, and I am from Virginia, we now live near the small town of Bunn, North Carolina. I was surprised to see that several Bunns were married to Pearces in these guy’s family trees!  So I looked into the history of the town and the Bunn family, and found that they were indeed very involved with the Pierce/Pearce family! The town was named Bunn, and nearby was Pearce’s Church Road! Of course, with serendipity reining supreme, I got a note on ancestry from one Donnie Bunn, who ended up being from this founding family of Bunn, and a Pierce through his mother’s family! In fact, he shares the very same line as Thomas, Jack, and Tony!  It appears that they would all be part of the Southern Pearce/Pierce branch by dna.

 At first I thought all six of us were related, but after consulting someone with the Pierce dna project, he said that more than likely Sharon and I were not related to the other four guys by dna, but that all four of our friends were closely related! We are all contemplating getting male relatives with direct line Pearces/Pierces to join the DNA project for their family, perhaps then we will know for sure!

The Pierce/Pearce family is rich with history and notable ancestors and descendants.  In this very group of cousins, our Thomas Albert Clayton is a published author and screenwriter! In 2011 he published the screenplay, Rebel with a Cause, The Radical Reformer, an amazing story of Servetus, the first Protestant martyr burned at the stake not by a Catholic Pope but the Protestant reformer himself, John Calvin. He is currently rewriting this film as a novel which will soon be available.

They can also be proud of being kin to Capt Michael Pierce, 1615-1676, who fought and died in a battle with the Indians. This Michael is Lynn’s 8th great grandfather. Another ancestor of note was Sea Capt. William Pierce, 1560-1641. This William Pierce captained the Mayflower on her second voyage to Massachusetts and was the master of the Lyon, a ship he owned.! Capt William Pierce was my 11th great grandfather.

Not to be confused with the Capt. William Pierce above who lived in Boston and arrived there about 1835 to settle for a bit, he was mostly a mariner, there was also one Capt. William Pierce who settled in Jamestown Colony, Virginia about 1609. He became a well respected land owner and planter in Virginia, and became the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia for awhile. He was married to one Joan Phippen and had a son Thomas, and a daughter Jane who married John Rolfe after Pocahontas died. There was also a son William who died young of disease, a stepdaughter Cecily Reynolds by Joan Phippen’s first marrieage, and possibly a daughter named Edith, who married Jerimiah Clements and became my 8th great grandmother in a different Pierce ancestral line!

On Feb. 13, 2015, I will have the opportunity to hear Connie Lapallo speak to the Chesterfield County Historical Society about her books about the women and children of Jamestown. She is specifically discussing Joan Phippen Pierce and her daughter Cecily! I am so excited to meet her, and possibly be hearing the stories of my grandmother! My sister Anne told me about Connie and her exciting books two of which are titled: Dark Enough to See the Stars in a Jamestown Sky, and the second in the trilogy: When the Moon Has No More Silver.  Connie is currently working on the third book.

The Pierce/Pearce family also has an illustrious ancient history. Richard Pierce of 1540- 63 traces right back through Her Royal Highness Mary Lancaster Plantagenet, 1320-1362, King Henry III, and King Henry II. These Royals are our grandparents! John Lockland Plantagenet, King of England, 1166–1216 who signed the Magna Carta is Lynn’s and my 21st Great- Grandfather!

Look at what this means! Lynn and I were strangers who moved from different states and ended up in the same subdivision, where we met over daylilies, and became good friends! Back in the mid 1500’s, close to 500 years ago, we shared a common 12th great grandfather! Even more amazing, we can trace the Pierce lineage back to 1004 ad! It takes us through the Plantagenet’s, through King Henry II and King Henry III! Her Royal Highness, Mary Lancaster Plantagenet, 1320-1382, is our joint 17th great grandmother! How is this possible! Have we been traveling through time together for sure? Our ancestors were the same over 1000 years ago!

I do want to say for all my genealogical researching friends out there, and for all of my family, old and new, research is always a process. This Pierce/Pearce ancestral line is controversial. There are currently DNA studies going on, and if we are lucky, they might finally unlock the true answers to this line. The first scholarly genealogical work on this line, written in 1888 by one Frederick C. Pierce, titled The Pearce Genealogy Being the Posterity of Thomas Pearce has proven to have many errors so that it is more a guideline than proof. However, there has been a multitude of research on this family.  If you are interested in more specific  information regarding  articles helping to distinquish between the two different Capt. William Pierces, leave your contact information in the comments section and I will send you some infomation.

That said; look at how this family connects all of these people, these neighbors! Thomas,Donnie, Jack  and Tony are  cousins  and friends of friends of mine!  By the way, even though they don’t live in our subdivision, Tony, Donnie, and Jack live within a couple of miles of Lynn and me. Thomas is not far. We are planning a get together for these newfound Pierce/Pearce cousins very soon, won’t that be interesting?!

I really want to know what you think of this series. Are you as amazed as I am? Have you found this with your own neighbors by any chance? Maybe you should start checking out their genealogy! My favorite explanation, above reincarnation and traveling through time with my tribe, above six degrees of separation, is the definition given me by Linda Voorhees McLaughlin that coincidence can mean: “a miracle where God’s presence is invisible” –how about you?

Relationship Trees:

Helen Spear Youngblood Holshouser(1949 – )
is your 11th cousin 2x removed
Margaret Steptoe Kerse (1918 – 1980)
mother of Helen Spear Youngblood
Katherine Steptoe Houchins (1883 – 1943)
mother of Margaret Steptoe Kerse
Walter Houchins (1854 – 1937)
father of Katherine Steptoe Houchins
Nancy J Houchins (1833 – )
mother of Walter Houchins
William Houchins (1807 – 1860)
father of Nancy J Houchins
BENNETT HOUCHINS (1780 – 1815)
father of William Houchins
Edward Houchins (1760 – 1846)
Joyce Clements (1739 – 1821)
mother of Edward Houchins
Stephen Clements (1692 – 1746)
father of Joyce Clements
John Clements (1669 – 1704)
father of Stephen Clements
John Clements (1631 – 1710)
father of John Clements
Edith Pierce (1607 – 1644)
mother of John Clements
Capt. William Pierce (1560 – 1641)
father of Edith Pierce
Richard Pearce (1540)
father of Capt. William Pierce
Richard Pearce (1590 – 1666)
son of Richard Pearce
Capt. Michael J Pierce (1615 – 1676)
son of Richard Pearce
Ephraim Pierce (1647 – 1719)
son of Capt. Michael J Pierce
Ephraim Pierce Pearce Jr. (1674 – 1772)
son of Ephraim Pierce
Mial PIERCE (1693 – 1786)
son of Ephraim Pierce Pearce Jr.
Caleb Pierce (1726 – 1776)
son of Mial PIERCE
Caleb Pierce (1758 – 1836)
son of Caleb Pierce
Caleb Pierce (1808 – )
son of Caleb Pierce
John W Pierce (1840 – 1918)
son of Caleb Pierce
Luther C. Pierce (1881 – 1960)
son of John W Pierce
Betty Lou Pierce (1933 – 1984)
daughter of Luther C. Pierce
Lynn M. Pierce
You are the daughter of Betty Lou Pierce
 Thomas Albert Clayton (1950 – )
is your 2nd cousin 1x removed
Zelda Grace Holleman (1924 – 2006)
mother of Thomas Albert Clayton
Mary Patricia Pearce (1899 – 1991)
mother of Zelda Grace Holleman
Atlas Strickland (Strick) Pearce (1868 – 1938)
father of Mary Patricia Pearce
John Omega (Miggie) Pearce (1884 – 1980)
son of Atlas Strickland (Strick) Pearce
Alvin Oren (Ben) Pearce (1915 – 2001)
son of John Omega (Miggie) Pearce
Hattie Frances Pearce (1939 – )
daughter of Alvin Oren (Ben) Pearce
Donnie Rudolph Bunn
You are the son of Hattie Frances Pearce

=====================================================Jackson Wendell Jr. Strickland (1943 – )

is your 2nd cousin
Jackson Wendell Strickland (1910 – 1965)
father of Jackson Wendell Jr. Strickland
Martha Ellen Pearce (1890 – )
mother of Jackson Wendell Strickland
Atlas Strickland (Strick) Pearce (1868 – 1938)
father of Martha Ellen Pearce
Mary Patricia Pearce (1899 – 1991)
daughter of Atlas Strickland (Strick) Pearce
Zelda Grace Holleman (1924 – 2006)
daughter of Mary Patricia Pearce
Thomas Albert Clayton
You are the son of Zelda Grace Holleman 


Tony Pearce
is your 5th cousin
Elbert Lawrence Pearce (1915 – 1988)
father of Tony Pearce
Jonah Robert Lee Pearce (1874 – 1954)
father of Elbert Lawrence Pearce
CSA John Calvin Pearce (1838 – 1924)
father of Jonah Robert Lee Pearce
Acrel N. Pearce (1814 – 1878)
father of CSA John Calvin Pearce
Nathan Pearce (1783 – 1867)
father of Acrel N. Pearce
Phillip Pearce (1754 – 1812)
father of Nathan Pearce
Hardy Pearce (1789 – 1860)
son of Phillip Pearce
Strickland Pierce (1822 – 1862)
son of Hardy Pearce
Atlas Strickland (Strick) Pearce (1868 – 1938)
son of Strickland Pierce
Mary Patricia Pearce (1899 – 1991)
daughter of Atlas Strickland (Strick) Pearce
Zelda Grace Holleman (1924 – 2006)
daughter of Mary Patricia Pearce
Thomas Albert Clayton
 You are the son of Zelda Grace Holleman 



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Interesting Phenomena in Our Family Trees—Coincidence? Serendipity? Six Degrees of Separation? Reincarnation–traveling through time with our tribe? Two more families in the neighborhood.


Aerial view of cul-de-sac with neighbors who are related from Google Earth

Aerial view of cul-de-sac with neighbors who are related from Google Earth

Due to privacy concerns, I will not name two of my neighbors whom we love and are involved with, and with whom I’ve found that I am kin to or were neighbors of as much as 400 years ago!

Founders of New Jersey by Evelyn Hunt Ogden
I wrote a blog post about my 7th great-grandfather, Hartman Vreeland (read it here) who was one of the Founders of the state of New Jersey in the USA. I found a marvelous book by Evelyn Hunt Ogden who listed the founders of NJ and included brief biographies of all the founders. Besides our 7th great-grandfather, I have discovered kinship or connections in present times with ten of this community who were alive and well in New Jersey in the mid and late 1600s!
One of my neighbors used to be a police officer in this area of North Carolina where we now live. In my research, I find his own 10th great- grandfather was the sheriff of the community in New Jersey where my Hartman Vreeland lived! How is that possible? They both purchased land from the Native Americans as well! What an incredible find, and what an amazing ancestral history to discover you share with your neighbor. His grandfather kept my grandfather safe in 1665, and now my neighbor helps keep us safe!

Jamestown Society symbol
Also living on our street is a family where the father used to teach in the same school with my husband, before my husband retired. They are a loving, young family whose child is friends with our grandchild. They moved into our neighborhood after we did, and were not known to us before then. Now I find through my dna, and a paper trail, that I am kin to both the husband and the wife! It looks like our ancestors were together in Jamestown in the Virginia Colony, 400 years ago!

Castlerock Street view from google earth
We live on a cul-de-sac with 12 houses; I can now draw kinship or connections to at least five of my neighbors from 300-400 years ago! Five out of twelve is 41.6% , almost 42% of those twelve, and I haven’t investigated the rest! In my next post, I’ll disclose a discovered kinship to a neighbor in our same subdivision, but on a different street, with whom I can prove a relationship from the 1300’s–over 600 years ago! To me this is a miracle, awesome, and such an amazing adventure in research, dna, and genealogy!

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Interesting Phenomena in Our Family Trees–Traveling Through Time Together? Coincidence? Six Degrees of Separation? Part 3—The Burgesses and Pryors


In this series of blog posts, I’ve been discussing connections to my neighbors found in my family tree. Having moved into a cul-de-sac about ten years ago, it has amazed me that I have discovered either relationships, or connections by marriage with several of my neighbors! All of us were new to this neighborhood, and new to each other. I had never done any genealogy so we became acquainted through shared interests and proximity, then I discovered the genealogical connections.

My next door neighbors were a delightful couple, named John and Dora Burgess Pryor. John was an accomplished genealogist at age 92! He’d been researching for years the old-fashioned way– no internet! He and his wife had traveled the towns and states, and spent many hours in libraries and courthouses, poring over tax records, marriage and death records and the like. They’d walked cemeteries and taken copious notes!  I was impressed with what John had accomplished and he inspired me to think about creating my own family tree.

Many of my readers know I have severe heart disease and can’t walk far or stand long. I had always loved to garden, but unable to bend over or stand for any length of time, I thought my gardening days were finished. John was  in his nineties as mentioned. He could not stoop or bend over either, so he sat on the ground and scooted or crawled to where he wanted to go, gardening up a storm!  I watched him work and again was inspired! If this 92-year-old man could sit on the ground and garden, I could too! What a pair we made. Other neighbors got used to seeing us crawling around our gardens! I loved it, and hadn’t had as much fun in years–playing in the dirt! We both had beautiful flowers to show for it as well. Not that we could take all the credit! John’s wife Dora was quite a bit younger than John, and she could and did work rings around both of us!  She was the true gardner! Her yard was spotless and beautiful! I didn’t even try to keep up, just tried to enjoy what I could do. My own husband didn’t consider himself a gardener, but he was the labor end of our efforts! Dora and I became great friends! Unfortunately, John passed away a few years ago, and even though he has left a hole, we love Dora with a passion! John passed away shortly after I started my own genealogical work, so we had only a couple of opportunities to compare notes! What a loss.

Just like with the Voorhees and McLaughlins, it wasn’t long until I was seeing Pryors and Burgesses in my tree! What’s up with this?! My neighbors thought I was crazy as they heard me saying again, “Dora, I think we are kin to each other…and I might be kin to John as well! LOL Like before, I asked Dora to let me work on her tree a bit so that I could check out these things I was finding! The “coincidences” are amazing in my book, and unfortunately, I can’t even remember them all! I wasn’t thinking I’d ever write about them, so I noted them, talked about it with Dora, then went on with my research.

But look at this. As you know, my paternal grandmother’s line is Hogue on one side. Hogue is Scottish, and Pryor is generally English in origin. However, I found the name Pryor all over my Hogue family tree! My neighbor John was named John Hamilton Pryor. Right there in my tree was a John Pryor Hogue, a Pryor Hogue, and a John Hamilton Hogue! My neighbor John was born and reared in West Virginia, and I could trace my Hamilton Hogues right to West Virginia! I could never quite prove the kinship however.  After John passed, I took a dna test to aid with my genealogy research. As I learned more about the Hogue dna, I discovered that the Pryor and Hamilton Hogues were not  in my Hogue haplogroup! Hard to believe, but definitive. Nevertheless, what are the chances we’d have these name connections moving in next door to each other from different states and backgrounds?

Dora and I not only shared the love of gardening, we became red hatters together and played like there was no tomorrow!  She and Linda and I shared our strong faith as well, we were great “pray-ers”!  Dora and Linda were avid volunteers in the community, at their church and in other endeavors. I couldn’t believe the blessing of moving next door to such a dynamic, loving woman.

Burgess and McKay (pronounced McCoy) were her main two genealogical lines. Her McKays were from Scotland like my Hogues, and I saw them everywhere, along with Burgess!

After I got my dna done, I began to zero in on my exact relationship to her Burgesses! We shared a third cousin! However, we were kin to that same person  by opposite sides of the family, so we were still only kin by marriage. But, hey, it seemed amazing to me!

Thomas Burgess (1814 – 1871)
is your 3rd cousin 4x removed
father of Thomas Burgess
father of Thomas Burgess
father of William Burgess
father of John Burgess
son of Edward Burgess
son of William BURGESS
son of William Burgess
son of John Burgess
son of Ezar Asa Burgess
son of William Henry Burgess
son of John Edward Burgess
You are the daughter of Alton Cleveland Burgess -
Thomas Burgess (1814 – 1871)
is your 3rd cousin 6x removed
mother of Thomas Burgess
mother of Wynna Caudle Key
father of Agnes WITT
father of William (Guillaume) Witt
son of John Witt
daughter of John Witt
son of Sarah Witt
son of Abner Harbour
daughter of Moses Harbour
daughter of Joyce Harbour
son of Nancy J Houchins
daughter of Walter Houchins
daughter of Katherine Steptoe Houchins
You are the daughter of Margaret Steptoe Kerse
Thomas Burgess was born in 1814, He was one of fourteen children –so we share 14 third cousins!  LOL  Just think, 200 years ago, Dora’s family and mine were the same, our families , or our kin folks lived together in West Virginia!
If that isn’t enough, our families were together again in Jamestown, Virginia! Dora’s eighth great- grandfather, John Chew, 1587-1668, has an illustrious history in  the colony of Jamestown, Virginia, and qualifies her to join the Jamestown Society.  We can verify in The Genealogy of the Chew Family  by Robert L. Chew,published by the Gloucester County Historical Society, Woodbury, N. J. that John Chew was a Burgess in Jamestown for almost twenty years starting in 1624. He also served as a Justice for York County. Quoted from this same source: “John Chew of Jamestown, VA (1587-1668) was born in Whalley Parish, Lancashire, England. A wealthy merchant, he may have been with John Smith as early as 1607, when the first permanent English settlement in the new World was founded at Jamestown. It was certain that John Chew received land granted from the Virginia Company in 1618. He married Sarah Gale in England, and returned to Virginia in 1622 on the ship Charity, which was owned by his wife’s family. He operated a tobacco plantation on Hogg Island, across the James River from Jamestown. His wife, indentured servants and oldest children immigrated from Chewton, Somersetshire, England on the ship Seaflower to join him in 1623. John built a house, warehouse and store in Jamestown, where he dealt in wine, corn and tobacco. He was a member and secretary of the Virginia House of Burgesses. By 1642, he also owned 1200 acres in York County. When the Virginia Governor oppressed
Puritans in support of the Church of England, the family migrated to Anne Arundel County, Maryland. John used Virginia tobacco to buy 500 acres near Annapolis. When his wife died in Maryland, John returned to Virginia. He was the oldest son of John Chewe of Bewdley, Worcestershire, England.”
When you look at the history for my own 9th great-grandfather, Nicholas Martiau (blog post here), the similarities are striking and the shared experiences so strong, they surely must have been acquainted!  From John Baer Stoudt’s book entitled Nicolas Martiau –Adventurous Huguenot, we learn that Nicholas “left England and sailed for Virginia arriving in June, 1620. His construction of a fence or palisade around the Jamestown Fort helped the settlers survive an Indian uprising in 1622. He …was elected to the House of Burgesses from the colony. Later he served as a Burgess from Elizabeth City, Yorktown, and Isle of Kent. Nicholas also served as a Justice for the early court system of Virginia–with court sometimes being held in his home.”  It seems they must have known each other, I cannot imagine how they would not have.
How can we explain Dora and I moving next door to each other and becoming close friends, 400 years after our grandparents worked and played together as well?!  It certainly seems as if our families are connected. Add to that my connections to the Voorhees and McLaughlins across the street…well, what do you think?  Is it serendipity, reincarnation-traveling with our tribes, or coincidence–the definition given us saying “coincidence — a miracle where God’s presence is invisible?” Kind of feels like that to me–like a miracle of friendship!
John Chew (1587 – 1668)
is your 8th great grandfather
son of John Chew
daughter of Col Samuel Chew
son of Sarah Chew
son of William BURGESS
son of William Burgess
son of John Burgess
son of Ezar Asa Burgess
son of William Henry Burgess
son of John Edward Burgess
You are the daughter of Alton Cleveland Burgess

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Interesting Phenomena in our family trees–coincidence? Part 2, the Voorhees Family


Voorhees family, Linda and siblings!

The Voorhees Family of Maryland, with Linda Voorhees in the center (in dark blue) of her siblings. Thanks to Linda for permission to use this photograph.


Time Travel? Six Degrees of Separation? Reincarnation and traveling through life with your tribe? God’s miracle? In this mini-series of blog posts, I am exploring connections I found, especially with my neighbors, as I researched my family tree. Can you imagine what my neighbors thought as I began to say to more and more of them, “I think we might be kin to each other!” LOL Once maybe, but five times!? There are many other connections that coincide with these. It raises questions, makes me think of things I’ve only read about before!
The VanVoorhees family was originally from the Netherlands. They came to this country of America by at least 1660– when Steven Coerte VanVoorhees, born in Hees, Drenthe, Holland in 1600, came to New Amsterdam, New York. The name was shortened to Voorhees in America, with some families changing it to Voorus, Vorhis, and other spellings.
My introduction to the Voorhees family came in 2004, when I moved into a new neighborhood in North Carolina, USA, and Linda Voorhees and her husband Jerry McLaughlin lived across the street from me. They had retired and moved from the Washington DC area, Maryland to be specific. The day we first saw our perspective new house, we met Jerry McLaughlin. He was in his yard working, and we asked him a few questions about the neighborhood. His warm welcome, best wishes and most of all, his incredibly charming laugh…stayed with me and made me feel like we had found the place we were supposed to be. Little did I know how much at “home” this neighborhood would become.
Linda and I became good friends, she is one of the smartest, most giving, kind, and friendly people you could ever meet! Besides that, her past was so very interesting in that she had worked with congressmen, for the World Bank, and had an office in the White House when Bill and Hillary Clinton were there! We became good gardening friends as well and she was President of our local gardening club. We became Red Hatters together also, and had so much shared fun! I was struck by the fact that she had six sisters and one brother! My mother had been one of six sisters and one brother as well, it intrigued me how close to each other both families were.
It wasn’t until 2011 that I began to explore the world of genealogy and develop my family tree. I was truly a newbie, and knew very little about my ancestors when I started. First, I began to see the name McLaughlin crisscrossing my family tree! I even asked Jerry to let me develop a family tree for him so that I could tell if we connected! He already had a lot of family information, but said “sure”. That exploration connected with my Hogue family of Scottish descent, although Jerry was Irish. A lot of Scots of course, settled in Ireland for a period of time before coming to America.
I was exploring and cataloging my Hogue family who came to Pennsylvania in 1747 with some moving to Ohio shortly after 1800. I came across the most wonderful book titled The Story of the Dining Fork, by Joseph T. Harrison, copyright, 1927. The Dining Fork was a valley near a branch of the Tuscarawas River in the southern part of Carroll County and northern part of Harrison County, Ohio. Harrison writes this story in such a way that it covers many historical events of the nineteenth century, at the same time, he writes so personally of the citizens and neighbors that you feel you get to know them a bit! I was intrigued and read most of the book, available from the card catalog on ancestry.com. Imagine my shock and surprise when I discovered that he wrote about neighbors there, Hogues and Voorhees! Wow! Not only were they neighbors, but they were teachers and more at the brand new Scio College built in the town, later to become a Methodist college. Linda and I are both Methodists. It took some work to link these Voorhees to Linda’s family and those particular Hogues to mine! Thanks to Linda’s helping me develop a tree of her family, and many Hogue relatives helping me with my research,  we were able to determine, that the Jacob Voorhees who moved to Ohio from New Jersey, was Linda’s third cousin! Robert S. Hogue who also taught at Scio College, was not my 4th great uncle as I had first thought , but my own cousin as well! They lived and worked together in the late 1860’s, at least 155 years ago! Now Linda and I are friends in 2015. But that was just the first time I found our families in close proximity!
Continuing to work closely with a group of family researchers, I met a woman named Dorothy Hogg Moore from Pennsylvania. In studying her family tree, and how our Hoggs/Hogues were related, I made a startling discovery–several in fact. She was a Voorhees descendant! Another connection! Her family had changed the spelling to Voorus, but her line tracked right back to Garret Voorhees, born 10 April, 1761 in Monmouth, New Jersey, USA, Linda’s fourth great grandfather! That made Linda and Dorothy fifth cousins!

Voorus sisters of Pennsylvania with Dorothy on left, namesake of Dorothy Hogg Moore

The Voorus sisters of Pennsylvania. Dorothy Voorus, fourth from left, is the one who imarried Calvin Hogg, and is the namesake for Dorothy Hogg Moore. thanks to Dorothy H. Moore for permission to use this photograph.

In Dorothy’s tree also, I discovered another amazing thing.  Now, the Hogues who are on my father’s side of the family, were the connection between the Voorhees and me, but here were the Spanglers from my mother’s family—German descent Spanglers, in the family with these Hoggs and Voorus/Voorhees families! Her Spanglers definitely traced back to my Spangler ancestors! We were kin through the Hogues and the Spanglers, and she and Linda through the Voorhees. The Spanglers joined the Voorus’s in the mid 1800’s, and the Voorus’s joined the Hoggs/Hogues around the turn of the century to 1900, so we’re talking interactions again about 100 to 150 years ago! All in one family tree with a neighbor.
But I wasn’t finished yet. My maiden name was Helen Spear Youngblood. I was tracking all my major lines back as far as I could, so the Spears of course were one of those lines. In the Spear/Spier line, I have surnames Banta, Vreeland, and VanSwol among others. It wasn’t long before I ran into the surname Voorhees again! This time it showed that my 8th great-grandfather, Henrich Jansen Spier, 1619-1679, and Linda’s 9th great-grandfather, Steven Coerte VanVoorhees, b,1600 in Hees, Drenthe, Holland, Death 16 Feb 1684 in Flatlands, Kings, New York, United States, were both in New Amsterdam together. In the mid 1600’s, it’s likely they knew each other!
As I explored this time era with this family further, I found more connections with Linda’s family! Look what I wrote her via email late one night as I was researching –this connection takes us back 250 years!
Hi Linda darlin,  As you may have seen, I just wrote a blog post yesterday on an ancestor from the Netherlands, Magdelina Van Swol who married one of my Spiers, my maiden name was Helen Spear Youngblood, same line of Spears/Spiers. Anyway, the Spiers, VanSwols, and Bantas are all contemporaries (in the mid 1600’s!) in my line, so imagine my surprise when I saw Magdalena VanVoorhees married to one of my Banta cousins! Wow! They both lived in Bergen, NJ, and went to the Dutch Reformed Church there. Magdalena (1739 – 1810)) is your 2nd cousin, 8x removed (8 generations removed). Her husband Albert Hendrickse Banta, 1728-1810, is my 2nd cousin, 7x removed! that makes their children our mutual 3rd cousins, removed 7x for you, and 6x for me! LOL We keep crossing paths in this life, we were meant to be friends and neighbors I think!
Awesome! Linda and I became neighbors in 2004, we had never met before. I had never heard the name Voorhees as far as I know. Then in 2011, I started doing genealogy and wow, Linda’s ancestors and mine certainly seem to have traveled through time together! How can we explain this?  How interesting that Linda was not my only neighbor with whom this happened! In the next couple posts, I’ll outline how I found that at least four more of my neighbors’ ancestors and my ancestors knew each other! I’m thinking of Linda’s sending me this definition of coincidence–“a miracle where God’s presence is invisible.” That idea speaks to me! We might also consider, Six Degrees of Separation, Reincarnation, and Serendipity!

LOL I love my neighbors, and my family, and isn’t genealogical research fun!




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