Heart of a Southern Woman

A snapshot of life one blog post at a time.

Honoring the School Principals in our Family–Past and Present, Part 2 of 2

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Leadership Quote by John-Quincy-Adams on inspiring

Youngblood, Kay in front of bookshelvesToday I want to introduce you to  a true leader and another school Principal in  our family tree!  Kay Youngblood Fuller is my 2nd cousin on my father’s side of the family. We knew each other as children in Richmond,Virginia,  then lost touch until we ended up at the same small Methodist College, Greensboro College in Greensboro, North Carolina. This allowed us to renew our friendship which has lasted uninterrupted since then in 1968! Being friends with this dynamic leader and ball of fire is amazing all by itself!  She is fun to observe and fun to be with–she’s like the driving force or the wind beneath a lot of people’s wings! Kay has been married for 45 years, and has three children and three grandchildren. Like many educational leaders, she has done it all!

After college, Kay went on to earn not one, but several Master’s degrees! She earned a Masters in Curriculum at Elon College, in Elon, NC. She also earned a Master’s in Educational Administration at University of North Carolina at Pembroke, UNCP. As if that wasn’t enough, she completed all but her dissertation in Educational Leadership from UNCP/East Carolina University! What’s amazing is that Kay did all this while parenting three small children! When Kay walks into a room, people notice the energy she exudes!

Giving you the briefest synopsis of Kay’s career is still amazing in my opinion!  I neglected to tell you that Kay is also a talented musician, playing several instruments and singing beautifully! Think God gave her enough talents? The wonderful thing is that she uses them! She served as a Director of Music at Harrells Christian Academy in Harrells, North Carolina, then held the same position at  Heritage Academy in Newman, Georgia.  When her family relocated to Greensboro, NC, Kay started teaching eighth grade Math, first at Mendenhall Middle School, then at Kiser Middle School for the Guilford County Public School System. I personally was thrilled when her husband’s job brought them to Raleigh, NC where I was living.  The Wake County Public Schools System was very happy to have this experienced educator to teach 8th grade Math and English at Ligon Gifted and Talented Magnet Middle School, where both of my children attended!  Never a family to let grass grow under their feet, Kay soon found herself teaching in Laurinburg, NC where she not only taught 8th grade Math, but became the AIG-Academically/Intellectually Gifted Program Facilitator at Spring Hill Middle School! Her leadership skills firmly recognized and tested, she was chosen the Assistant Principal of I.E. Johnson Elementary School, then the Principal of Scotland High School of Leadership and Public Service in Scotland County, North Carolina!  After serving Scotland County Schools as the Director of Secondary Education, at only age 63, Kay retired with 37 years in education!

What did this amazing woman do upon retirement?  She was asked, and agreed to teach Algebra II for one year at Hickory Grove Christian School in Charlotte, NC!  This year she is administering an NC Quest Grant for Richmond County Schools!  Whew! Wow! Awesome! I can hardly catch my breath just thinking of this whirlwind flying through life!  I’d certainly have to compare her to a soaring Eagle when I think of this quote which I believe describes her very well:

Leadership eagle

Bill Williamson was married to my first cousin Claudia.  We already had the chance to meet his dynamic Williamson, Bill, Principaldaughters, teachers Becky W. Stodola and Stephanie W. Nicklin. He has a very entrepreneurial son, Bill Jr, a good businessman as well! Bill Sr. was a popular Science teacher at Matoaka High School in Chesterfield County, Virginia,  where he was also a football coach. He was later tapped to be the Principal there where he was so well-known. I wonder if that made his job harder or easier?  He served as Principal at two other schools as well, Kanawha Elementary in Cumberland County, Virginia, and  Mechanicsvile Junior High School in Mechanicsville, Virginia.  Bill also earned three Master’s degrees– one from the University of Virginia and two from Virginia Commonwealth University!  We do have an educated family–one who lives by their strong beliefs in the importance of education!  Tragically, Bill was killed in an automobile accident when he was only fifty years old. He would have been so proud to see how well his children have done professionally and personally–how they have followed in his footsteps in education. How they’ve become good people who care about others. His grandchildren as well, four of them, all growing into smart, exciting young men and women. We are blessed by this family in ours and in our world!

Hogg, Calvin, principal and Dory grandfatherAn ancestor Principal, Calvin Hogg, was born 10 Mar 1883 in Slippery Rock Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania, and died 15 May 1962 in Cherry Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania.  He is related to  our family on both my father’s side through his Hogues and Watts, and on my mother’s side of the family through the Hoges and the Spanglers! Isn’t that amazing! I did  not know this until I started working on genealogy and met his granddaughter, my cousin, Dorothy Voorus Hogg Moore, called Dory. The Spanglers are related to Dory through her Voorus/Voorhees line of ancestors!  Amazing.  Calvin and his whole family were educators. We already met and heard about his wife Dorothy and her sisters, Bessie, and Lena. His son, Dory’s father,  Robert Arthur Hogg, taught Science and later became a Guidance Counselor.  We will hear about another of Dorothy’s brothers when we meet our college educators.

Calvin was an interesting person. He served in the Armed Services in World War I. When he returned, he earned his BA from Grove City College and his MA from the University of Pittsburgh. He then taught at Karns City Elementary. Later he served as the Principal at both Harrisville and at Evans City School. He moved on to be a District Supervisor and the Assistant Superintendent of Butler County Schools until he retired in 1953. What a career he had!  How much would I have liked to have had the opportunity to talk with him about all of his experiences over the years.  He attended schools before the turn of the 20th century, then taught and lead them for another half century, can you imagine what he could tell us?  He was retiring about the time  Juel Turner from our last post was beginning his educational career. We know Juel filled his own pot-bellied stoves for warmth in his classroom and taught and served as Principal at the same time–can you imagine what the classroom was like for Calvin Hogg?  I would have loved to hear his stories! 

Five School Principals profiled, five in one family system! I think  that is pretty amazing, and I am sure there are more of whom I am not aware.  These five however, bring us great honor as a family, and so we honor them back! Thank you for all of your hard work, for the huge gift you have given our society and our family as you have chosen to lead the call for the importance of education!  

Our last educator posts will focus on our college professors and instructors.  We have quite a few of these talented individuals who represent our family well. Please share your thoughts with us, tell us about your favorite educator, tell us about  some of these if you knew them. Until we meet again, keep on learning! 

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Honoring High School Teachers in Our Family Tree, part 2

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In this the second part of honoring the  high school teachers in our family, I have some more very interesting people to introduce to you!  One is a retired English teacher so that I’d better watch my dangling participles! Continuing in alphabetical order by last name we’ll be saluting a science teacher first.

Holshouser, MarthaMartha Powell Beck Holshouser, wife of my husband Max’s first cousin, John Alton Holshouser, is a retired Science teacher who was married to a farmer. She worked on the farm and helped raise prize-winning  show cattle, as well as reared three wonderful, smart and kind sons– all married, some with children of their own! Besides her busy schedule and teaching responsibilities, Martha has helped organize the Holshouser family reunion for 4o years!

In 1973, Martha graduated from Pfeiffer University in Misenheimer, North Carolina. She then taught for 30 years! Fifteen of those years were spent teaching science at Erwin Junior High School, and 15 at East Rowan  High School. Both schools are located in Salisbury, North Carolina.  Martha taught science all of those years! She taught Physical Science, Earth Science, Environmental Science, and Chemistry! I know Martha well, and she is a doer, a go getter. I bet those students who had her for a teacher knew they were blessed to have such a knowledgeable teacher. She is an enthusiastic person  whose positive spirit is catching!  Congratulations on a wonderful career and family and thank you for teaching our leaders of tomorrow how to problem solve! 

 

Sharon Lynn was my friend first, we were neighbors and SAM_1981gardeners together when we discovered our kinship though my genealogical research! We are cousins through my mother’s family, Beard, Reynolds, and Pierce through the Houchins, and the Clements all the way back to Jamestown! Sharon is a retired English teacher married to a retired Woodworking teacher. However, although they are retired from teaching, both of them work full time. Sharon went back to school after retirement and earned her CNA so that she could work with seniors, helping them remain in their homes. Sharon is a force to be reckoned with!  Intelligent, creative, energetic even driven at times, she is dedicated to her clients and works diligently to make them happy and comfortable.  It is easy to see why she still has former students who call her and ask for her advice. She lives here in North Carolina, taught in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and  West Virginia, and has students calling her from California!  She is a strong advocate who goes the extra mile to help students and friends through life, as well as school. Sharon is a talented craftsperson also, making wreaths, cloth flowers, quilts, and costumes among other things. She and her husband facilitated the staging of  plays and events for their church for many years. Over the years, they have kept a sick parent in their home and have helped support and care for their chronically ill adult son . The old adage, “ask a busy person” comes to mind when I think of my dynamic cousin Sharon! 

Teaching English, punctuation matters

 

Nicklin, Stephanie Williamson editedMy younger cousin Stephanie Williamson Nicklin is the next teacher I want to honor. Stephanie is my first cousin once removed through the Kearse, Houchins, Langhorne family lines. Her Mom Claudia was my first cousin with her mother and my mother being Kearse sisters. Stephanie comes from a family of educators with her father a teacher and principal, and her sister plus many cousins and Aunts and Uncles being teachers. Stephanie lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia which is where she teaches Biology in the High Schools. She is assigned to different schools as a part-time instructor. Just think of all the more students whose lives she touches that way! She has two teenagers at home, and a husband who is a leader and instructor on the SWAT team of the police force.  

Young female teacher teaching human anatomy at biology class

–source, depositphotos.com

I know Stephanie well, and I take my hat off to her every day! She is a friendly, strong, smart, and kind individual whose enthusiasm and energetic approach to life never seem to wane!  The students of Virginia Beach are so lucky to have her influence in their lives, although they may not realize that until later in life. I stand in awe of her ability to organize so well and cope with the dangers of her husband’s career while coping with teens and her own career. Way to go Stephanie, you rock! The sign below is one she loves, and that tells us just about all we need to know about the positive person she is–one who builds people up, doesn’t tear them down!

Self worth

 

Spangler, Betty Smith croppedBetty Spangler Smith is the first of two Spanger/Langhorne family member cousins I want to acknowledge.  Betty is a retired Latin and Spanish teacher in High School who taught full time 33 years, and has been substituting for the last seven!  She taught Latin levels 1-5, and AP Latin as well as Spanish levels 1 and 2.  She also taught an Introduction to Foreign Languages class. What a rigorous career!  What a great opportunity to expand the minds, abilities, even the worlds of so many students! Research shows that learning a foreign language is good for our brains–creating new learning pathways. We also know it allows us to communicate with many other cultures at home and around the world. Thank you Betty for giving our children this opportunity–for training our leaders of tomorrow!

Spanish, factspy.net

Betty is also an excellent genealogical researcher. I had the opportunity to hear her speak at a family reunion last year and loved it! She told of the history of the family, and anecdotal stories for all of us to enjoy. It was so great to see this dedicated teacher in action!

Betty is also  the supervisor of the Credit Union at her old high school, a job she really loves! She explains, “We are the only high school in our district that has a credit union! I work with 4 students who get community service time for helping me, and they get banking experience, so it’s a win-win situation for all! The kids I have are juniors or seniors and since we have some days of no customers, it really gives me a chance to get to know the 4 who work with me.”  You know she is a genuine, caring teacher when you hear her say, as I did the other day, that it almost makes her cry to think of not interacting with students everyday when she truly retires again- possibly next year! Your influence will go on forever dear Betty. 

My own mother required me to take Latin in High School. She impressed upon me the importance and helpfulness of learning this classical language in developing my vocabulary and knowledge of words. I have Mom and my Latin teachers  to thank that I now know these Latin phrases and enjoy using them!

Latin phrases, latinsuitcase.com

 

One thing anyone who knows our family, from one end to another, has to admit is that we have incredibly talented, intelligent, and dedicated  people in our group. The fact that many have chosen education for their careers, only speaks more highly of our values. Epitomizing those character traits is Spangler, Harriet Ann Caldwell, Otto wifeHarriet Ann Caldwell Spangler who retired after 35 years of teaching all levels of High School Mathematics! She taught 7 years in Kentucky, and 28 years in Florida!  Harriet actually taught Physics as well, but her favorite was always geometry with algebra running a close second!  Harriet’s leadership skills were well recognized as she served as the Math Department Chairperson for many years at Newberry High School in Alachua County just west of Gainesville, Florida.  What a career! When I look back at my own High School career, geometry was one of my favorite subjects as well, and I loved my math teachers all the way through school. I have no doubt that Harriet Spangler inspired many, many students to make the most of their lives. Teachers are our first line counselors, guidance counselors, and instructors–when are we going to let them know how strongly we value them!

Spangler, Harriet and Otto, chuck's parentsWhen I asked Harriet about how she and Otto met, she told me such a sweet and touching story, that I thought I’d share her words with you! 

“Otto and I were high school sweethearts.  We met on the tennis courts near my home when I was 13 and he was 14.  He was there playing with a friend and I too was there with my girl friend.  It started pouring down rain, and his friend offered my friend a ride home, and Otto offered to take me home on his motor bike.  He sat up on the tank and I sat behind him.  By the time we got home, his shirt was soaked, so I invited him in and mother dried his shirt by hanging it in front of the oven.  We listened to 45 RPM records, and talked while it dried.  Otto tells that when he went home to eat lunch, he told his parents that he met the girl today that he wanted to marry.  It took a few more years to convince me.  We were married when I was 19 and he was 20, and had been married for 57 years when he passed away.  Fifty-seven wonderful years.” 

Harriet and Otto attended Carson-Newman University near Knoxville, Tennessee.  Since her husband was a year ahead of her, Harriet decided to quit college–NOT!  She decided she needed to finish college in three years so that she could go with him when he attended seminary in Louisville, Ky! She went to summer school and carried some heavy loads of classwork–they both graduated in 1958! Harriet graduated with honors!  That same drive and determination carried her though life in raising her family, teaching her classes, and in helping Otto with his ministry to their community. What a wonderful woman and a wonderful teacher—whose life sets an example for us all! 

Together she and Otto raised three children, Chuck (Otto Jr.), Elizabeth, and Victor,  who have become the kindest, most considerate adults who could ever make a parent proud! Otto was the Baptist Campus Minister at the University of Florida. When he died recently, there was an outpouring of love for him and for Harriet that was awe inspiring and let us know just how much this couple has touched their whole community. Harriet continues to lead her family through their grief, and to keep the faith she and her husband believed in so strongly! Harriet shared this video with us recently via facebook, and I thought it a blessing to share with all of you as she has blessed so many. 

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of  our high school teachers! It is surely not enough, but please know it is worth more than diamonds to our youth and our society!  We are thankful to God for your gifts and your talents and for placing you with us and in our world!  As we honor more educators, we will turn the spotlight on our Principals and on our Professors and Instructors in our colleges and universities.   How exciting! 

Teachers, Golden apple award from Center for reseach in learning and teaching, crlt.umich.edu

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Honoring the High School Teachers in Our Family

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Teacher support without date

High School is a whole different world from Elementary and Middle School. Students– some, are thinking about careers and college. Some are thinking about girls…or boys!  Hormones are raging, anger spills over easily, there’s driving, dancing, and football!  There are the shy introverts, and the wide open extroverts –and then there are teachers and principals! Bravest of all souls on earth! We have at least twelve high school teachers in our family and two principals, plus one assistant principal already recognized!

Max Holshouser, 2013I have to start with my most favorite high school teacher in the world of course–my husband, Max Holshouser. After teaching for twelve years, Max retired  almost two years ago now.  Max earned a BA in Industrial Arts Education at North Carolina State University and has taught woodworking as well as his other subjects. Although trained as a teacher, Max spent  25 years as a mechanical designer in industry.  He designed things like the  mechanical components  for uninterruptible power supply sources, and million dollar pharmaceutical bottle filling 061313093651machines!  When he decided to teach, he brought all of that experience into his classroom.  He taught drafting, Computer Assisted Drafting to be exact. He also taught Architecture and Engineering honors classes at Wakefield High School in Wake County, NC.  Max taught woodworking in a community college setting and to middle schoolers along the way. It was always interesting for me to visit his school and classroom and see the high esteem his peers and his students had for him. Everywhere we went  were students speaking to him, “Hi Mr. H.! What do you think of this! Look what I did!”  After they graduated, several students got in touch to let him know how things were going in college.  Recognizing my bias on his behalf,  I wrote an in-depth blog post about Max previously, so if you’d like to see some of his woodworking you can at this 3 part post: Max Alexander Holshouser, Family Man and Extraordinary Craftsman.

TRAVIS 6

Architectural model built from CAD design in classroom of Max Holshouser, abt. 2012

I think it is so great to find out what family has been doing and to learn more about them! With that in mind, I want to tell you about more  of the high school teachers in our family both past and present!  I will present them in alphabetical order according to their surnames!

Claire Fallon with crown of flowers, croppedA cousin through my Scottish Hogue family, Claire Fallon is a young woman I have known all of her life! Her mother and I were college roommates discovering we were cousins after I got involved in genealogical research in my  60’s.  I have had the honor of watching Claire grow up and become this amazing teacher!  From childhood on, Claire was very independent and creative. She developed into a strong individual with philosophies of life well-defined.  She was blessed in my opinion, to grow up in Hawaii having been born in Pennsylvania, and to have spent her early childhood in North Carolina.  In Hawaii I believe, she embraced a healthy lifestyle, danced and became interested in theatre and yoga.  She earned a BA from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York. She also took extensive training in yoga at the Yandara Yoga Institute on the Baja Peninsula in Mexico.  

In 2010, this courageous young woman opened and taught in a school for yoga and meditation. The school was named The Culebra Institute of Yoga and was located on the beautiful island of Culebra, Puerto Rico. Amazingly, when Claire moved back to Hawaii in 2014, she opened a branch of this school in Honolulu! She then became a business tycoon as well as a teacher at heart. Loving theatre and dance still, Claire took a position teaching both of these at St. Andrew’s Priory School in Claire in playHonolulu, Hawaii which includes grades K-12! Claire teaches music and movement to K-5,  and directs theater productions in 6-12.  She is currently directing an all female  Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare, and she and the students are very excited about it!  Just look at a typical day in the life of this dynamic young educator:

Started off my morning with some meditation and yoga, taught 4 classes of music and movement for young children, led a status acting workshop for older kids, went snorkeling and saw a school of unicorn fish, watched a sunset on the beach, got take out from Shaloha, and in bed before 9pm! That’s a day well lived!”

Claire Fallon yoga pose in water

Last year  Claire  taught  a sunset yoga class at the Yoga School of Kailua, in Kailua, Honolulu County, Hawaii. In October, 2015, Claire will start teaching a new yoga class through her new endeavor called Clarity Yoga. You can find information about Clarity Yoga on facebook , just click on the name.

Just in case you were hoping Claire would do more for you and our world, she does!  Claire is the owner/consultant of Hawaii Green Living. Through her efforts there she teaches people to live a healthier life and to decrease their footprint on our earth. You rock Claire! We are so proud of you and your efforts to make the world a better place.

Susan Elswick Ferrell, Math Geek Teacher of the YearSusan Elswick Ferrell is part of our extended Spangler family. She is officially retired from teaching in high school, but like many teachers,  continues because she loves the students and the job. Susan has had an amazing career. She started college herself at Southern West Virginia Community College then finished at West Virginia University Institute of Technology with a degree in Mathematics Education in 1977.  In 2004 Susan earned her Masters Degree from University of Phoenix in Technology and Curriculum. 

Susan’s career varied as well from beginning to end with some amazing peaks and valleys of course.  Just after finishing college, Susan taught remedial classes for college students at her alma mater. After that she taught 7th grade Math and coached cheerleading at Summerville Junior High School. Then she taught Special Education on the Junior High level for three years. She began to teach in high school and loved it. Moving to  Montgomery, WV. and  Valley High School, she taught every Susan Elswick Ferrell cartoon math teacherMath course offered there and some computer programming for the rest of her high school career, retiring in 2011. However, that is not all she did–she was the advisor for the yearbook most of her time at Valley  High School and loved it. She coached cheerleaders for a few years.  As well as all of that,  on a county-wide level, she piloted the computer grading system and taught it in the different schools. Awesome! 

Even while teaching in high school,  Susan also taught part-time at West Virginia Tech.  During eight summers Susan  taught “Upward Bound” programs which encourage children from low-income or low opportunity situations to learn that they can succeed  in college and beyond.   Since retiring she has continued to teach part-time, two courses a semester where she has generally taught developmental math, or Finite Math.  

What an amazing career with many mixed experiences as well.  We know that Susan was an extraordinary teacher also, because in 2006, she was chosen Secondary Teacher of the Year not only from her own school, but also from the whole of Fayette County, West Virginia! I am not surprised that they were as proud of her as her extended family is! You know Susan was an excellent teacher when she states emphatically that “It’s all about the kids!” and says she misses them since retirement! That’s a teacher to love! 

We have many more high school teachers in our family tree, some who came before us  and laid the groundwork  for our family.  I will have the joy of telling their stories in the next post. I can hardly wait to hear what some of you think of these three incredible teachers! We are blessed with talent in our families! 

Teachers need 3 bones

 

 

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Honoring the Middle School Teachers in Our Family!

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Teacher saying excellent

Highlighting the eighteen Special Education and Elementary Educators in our family in the last post was so much fun! I  got to know more about some cousins than I had ever known before!  I hope to continue that joy by focusing on more family members who have chosen to serve our society by teaching in Middle School, High School, as Principals and in our Colleges and Universities! We are blessed by these individuals who not only enrich our family, but make our society a better place! Thank you so very much!

Middle School usually covers sixth through eighth grades in the United States. When I was a young teacher, it was called Junior High and usually included 7th, 8th, and sometime 9th graders. My husband Max and I both taught in Junior High Schools for brief periods of our career. We are included in other categories however, as is my cousin Kay Youngblood Fuller who did teach in Middle School, but became a Principal and will be included there. I personally think Middle School aged students are the toughest to teach! They are just moving out of that childhood stage where they are generally fairly easy to motivate to behave and to learn.  By the time most teens reach  15 or 16, they seem to mature a bit, begin to think about college, and are sometimes more goal oriented. (I know I am talking in general!) Middle schoolers are wonderful and unique, in that they have one  foot planted squarely in childhood and the other rebelliously in teenagehood! They love to discuss the big world issues, and can be very wise, but bring out the crayons and legos…and they are instantly transported to those “live for the moment” children! It can be a delightful, trying age, and a challenging teaching assignment!

Williamson, Rebecca Jayne Stodola croppedOne of my 1st cousins once removed on my Mother’s side (Kearse, Houchins, Langhorne) is Rebecca Jayne Williamson Stodola. Becky teaches in middle school now and has an illustrious record of her work!  Becky’s father was a high school teacher and principal, and her sister Stephanie teaches also and will be profiled later !  Their Mom was a nurse, but Claudia served as a substitute teacher as well.  What a blessing they have been to our family and to our society.!

Becky Stodola earned her Masters in Education at Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, Georgia, after earning her undergraduate degree at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta. She started her career teaching Pre-Kindergarten at Church of the Savior Day School in Roswell, Georgia for three years. Then she spent four years teaching Reading and Creative Writing at the Marietta Sixth Grade Academy for the Marietta City Schools. This vibrant young woman continued her career with ten years of teaching English, Language Arts–Literature, Composition and Reading for  all grade levels at Woodstock Middle School and Mill Creek  Middle School for the Cherokee county School District.  During this time she was also a wife and mother of her lovely daughter Miranda. Along the way Becky  received the Kiwanis GEM –Goes the Extra Mile–award in 2004! It didn’t surprise me then when I heard that she was one of the teachers who voluntarily stayed with many children overnight when they could not get home due to a severe ice storm! Wow!

Becky  also received the  Cherokee County Educational Foundation IMPACT Grant this year! Her superb work was recognized when she was chosen  New Teacher of the Year for MSGA, in 2002-03, and again  for MCMS for  2015-16! We are so proud of you Becky, your immediate and your extended family.  Thank you for your service just doesn’t seem like enough!

Noelle Roberts Kitchen is a cousin through my Kitchen, Noelle RobertsSpangler/Langhorne line. She teaches 7th grade Language Arts at Cramerton Middle school in Cramerton, North Carolina about forty miles west of Charlotte. Noelle is starting her ninth year teaching this year! At only 32 years of age, that seems remarkable to me! Noelle is married and has two daughters who keep her busy outside of school!  Noelle says she knew she wanted to be a teacher when she was still in high school.  She ran track and was very athletic, soon beginning to stay and help coach the other athletes. She loved helping them reach their goals, and went to college thinking she’d become a physical education teacher.  She graduated from Western Carolina University. Then– epitomizing the whole purpose of these blog posts on the importance of teachers–she took an English Class in college from a Professor Gastle, loved the writing and reading, and decided with his influence that she would become an English teacher!  Don’t we wish we could count all the teachers who have made these kinds of life altering influences on their students. Good Teachers ROCK!

Noelle is thankful to all of the teachers who influenced her greatly along the way, and she now states unequivocally, “I hope to always help children find their way the way I was helped.”  She credits many of her teachers, but goes on to relate that Mr. Gastle, was the speaker at her English Honor Society induction. When she started her student teaching,  she was nervous, and went to him with many questions, one of which was, “What should I do if a student asks me a question for which I do not know the answer?’  He readily told her that might indeed happen, and his suggestion was to  use it as a learning opportunity, and find the answer together. He told her that generally, the student will remember that experience more than  thinking gleefully that he “stumped” the teacher.  Thank you God for wise teachers!  

Noelle readily credits her family influences also for gifts that make her a good teacher. Gaining the love of independence from her mother and leadership skills from her Dad has served her very well. She has identified her organizational skills as being nurtured especially by one grandparent, while crediting another for her love of coaching and one more for teaching her patience!. She loves teaching  as part of a team, and states that her team teacher says  that “she is the fire starter, and I am the peacemaker.” How wonderful to recognize the importance of both, in fact all of these skills,  and how lucky for their students!

Developing this thankful heart for the good influences in her life, and the love she has received spills over into more of her philosophy of teaching.  Noelle says, “I teach students not only to help them learn academics, but to help them learn to be a good person as well. I don’t believe kids can reach their potential when they haven’t had their basic needs met. One of those needs is being loved. Every student I teach hears the words, “I love you” on a regular basis, and it is the truth. I love the kids I teach. If they don’t remember a thing I’ve said all year, they will remember that “my teacher cared about me and wanted the best for me.” In closing, Noelle shares this story with me which I think you will enjoy hearing also, as it is what we all want for our students and for ourselves!  

“Last year I had a student who was really struggling. He was in therapy for all the trauma he experienced at home, and acted out in school often. When he wasn’t acting out, he tried to sleep in class. From the start I knew my hands were going to be full with him. I showed him time and time again throughout the year that I was there for him, I was on his side and he could count on me. He is a student who needed very much to hear the special words, ‘I love you,’ and ‘I want what’s best for you.’ At the end of the year another student started to yell at me in class! Before I could even speak, the child I had been worrying about all year hopped up out of his desk and told the boy, “You can’t speak to her like that!” He said “you better respect her (Noelle, the teacher) because she respects all of us!” I intervened before things got heated, but I knew at that moment I had made it clear to that student that he mattered. He was important to me and in turn I was important to him. This year this same child has brought his problems to confide in me. Sometimes a good teacher is all a kid has in this world. That is what I aim to be every day.“

teacher quotes from the heart

Our family is so blessed by the inclusion of teachers like Becky Williamson Stodola and Noelle Kitchen Roberts!  They represent us so very well, make us all proud, and personify what is best about all teachers!  Thanks you two, for being such GREAT teachers!

 

There are several other middle school teachers in our family, but they also taught or lead at other levels and will be recognized there. The next installment will honor our high school teachers. I would love to hear your reaction to these stories, and your meeting or being refreshed on the lives of these two great teachers, or the ones from my last post.  What a joy to have these folks in our family!

 

 

 

 

 

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Honoring the Teachers in Our Family

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School is starting again this week for millions of children around the USA and the world. What a perfect time for me to tell you about some of the teachers in our family tree. I can count almost forty teachers in just a couple of generations!  What a legacy they are leaving, what an example they are and have set! I am so proud of each of these educators, and so pleased to be counted among them and related to them!

Teachers are so important, how is it that we, as a society forget that, or neglect them sometimes?  All it takes is to send your 5 year-old child or grandchild off to school under someone else’s control, influence, and guidance all day, to realize just how important they are! As the years progress, not only do we count on teachers to socialize our children, we count on them, depend on them to actually educate them! We want our children not only to read, write and do math, but to learn to think critically and solve life’s problems well! We might also hope they learn a sport and sportsmanship. What about a foreign language? Art, music, theatre, calculus, geometry, history? Yes, we want it all–and we don’t want our teachers to complain that they are poor or to act out in any way!  Wow! Tall order!  I am proud to say many men and women in our family have chosen this noble profession!  

This post will highlight family members who have chosen Special Education and Elementary School Teaching for their career.  The next couple of posts will  feature Middle and/or Junior High School teachers then climb the ladder through High School, and meet the Principals are in our family tree! There are also family members who’ve taught in our business schools, community colleges, and Universities as well! All of these educators represent a  great deal of brain power! 

Special Education Teachers are teachers who teach children with cognitive and/or developmental impairments, learning disabilities, and behavioral  and emotional difficulties that impede learing. They are courageous and magical! 

Kerse, Janey Bell

Janey Bell Kerse Sommers

Previously I wrote a blog post about my Mother’s sister, my Aunt Janey Bell Kerse Sommers! She was a teacher of students with behavioral and learning problems. She spent over twenty years dedicated to helping them do the best they could do, then became the Special Education Supervisor for all of Forsyth County Public Schools, Forsyth County, N.C.,  mentoring other teachers along the way. You can see her story “Janey Bell Kerse Sommers, 1923-2002, Brilliance and Joyfulness Dimmed by Alzheimer‘s” by clicking on the title.

Helen Y. Holshouser, about 48 years old

Helen Y. Holshouser in 1997

  What is amazing to me, is that even though Janey Bell Somers had no children of her own, she inspired several generations of young people to teach and to learn. She motivated me to teach students with special needs–in learning, in behavior, which I did for seven years before I became a family therapist. I taught children in elementary school at first, then I moved to a Junior High where I had children ages 12-16 in my classroom . Their academic skills ranged from about 3rd grade to 9th grade, and I prepared individualized plans for each student at their level in each subject!  Every day we worked on social and behavioral skills and goals as well. One student got angry while in time out, and set our classroom which was in a mobile unit (trailer) behind the school, on fire! Another time a student attacked me physically and took me backwards, over the sofa where I was seated, onto the floor! One student hot-wired and stole my car! (He brought it back after a brief joy ride!) LOL, no wonder I had a heart attack at age 50!  I was challenged everyday with these students, and cared for them deeply. 

Youngblood Kerr, Susan

Susan Youngblood Kerr

One of my younger cousins is still teaching Special Education– Severe Behavioral Needs Children, now in her 33rd year! Susan Youngblood Kerr who lives in Missouri with her husband and three children,  has two Master’s Degrees, one in Special Education and one in Educational Leadership. She served as a Language Arts teacher to General Education students for several years and worked for others at the Middle School level. Susan was honored when one of her former students got in touch with her recently with a heartwarming message: (This from a student she had in 1985. He was from the projects–no dad–she never met his mom.)

“Hi Young lady well so nice to hear from you. I was unforgettable– I hope that’s a good thing. how’s your family doing? fine I hope. they have the greatest mom in the world but you already know that. well I’m doing great myself –just retired last year from the Navy after 20 years of service. I live in Japan with my lovely wife and 3 beautiful kids. yes who would ever think me a husband and a father! well for what it is worth I’ve always known that you cared about us kids even then. when I think about any teacher that cared and made a difference in my life, you are #1 on my list and I mean that from the bottom of my heart!  so you see you did make a change in a little boy’s life, but now I’m a man. thanks and God bless.” 

Wow! The above brings tears to my eyes–what a great tribute! 

 

Nichols, JonathanRemarkably, we have another young cousin, also through the Langhorne line, who taught students with behavioral and emotional difficulties!  Jonathan Daniel Nichols is my second cousin, and he taught in Maryland. He is smart, caring and well-respected.  He continued a family tradition he didn’t even know existed when called to teach the most challenging students.  We especially need men to serve as role models for this population of students. I am so proud of him.

Special Education seems to be a calling for many in our family,Houchins, Mrs. John L. Josephine Ellis Bell as we had a Great Aunt Josephine Bell Houchins who taught deaf students at the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind in Staunton, Virginia for many years. I remember how interesting it was to go and visit her and her husband my Great Uncle John Langhorne Houchins, and see her talking with the students in sign language. During breaks I was mesmerized to watch the students gather with their friends and engage in animated sign language chatting just like we did between classes at school, only they were quieter but more expressive.  

Jamie Beck SkinnerAnother Youngblood cousin, my second, once removed, Jamie Beck Skinner is a Special Education Paraeducator at Abingdon Elementary School in Abingdon, Maryland. While the teacher leads a group activity, Jamie might be giving another student private reading lessons. She is truly a para–beside–educator who teaches where and when the teacher cannot. It makes it possible to reach some students, to prevent melt-downs, to teach to certain strengths and weaknesses not possible with only one teacher in the room! What a blessing a paraeducator in the classroom is! 

Goodell, Mary, edited from weddingIt’s hard to believe, but in our immediate family system, I have another cousin who is a Special Education Supervisor! She serves the people of New Hampshire!  Mary Casey Goodell is a dynamic, dedicated educator who has been mentoring other Special Education teachers for many years now!  So, two supervisors of Special Education, and eight special education teachers in one family, pretty amazing!  I wonder if there is a call to serve others embedded in our dna?

Elementary School Teachers

Those who teach kindergarten through fifth grade work with children as they meet a great number of their developmental milestones, socially, physically, and intellectually.  Teachers and parents are the ones who help mold and shape us at these formative ages. My sister Anne Youngblood Prince Anne Y. Prince, 2015has retired now after teaching fourth, fifth, and sixth grades in both public and private schools for over 36 years!  She earned her Master’s Degree in Reading at the University of Richmond (Virginia).  Most of her teaching career was spent guiding fourth graders at St. Christopher’s School, a private Episcopal school for boys in Richmond, Virginia. Anne was highly dedicated to her students and was an excellent teacher who was always thinking about, training for, or putting into practice her myriad skills to give her students the best education possible. You couldn’t ask for a kinder, smarter, more successful teacher. She taught long enough to teach the children of some of her students who were so proud to have their children in her care. 

Youngbloods, Liz, and her children, Mary taylor, Susan, and Lewis IIIOne of Anne’s mentors was Elizabeth Walker Youngblood, wife of Lewis Jr. and mother of  Mary, Lewis III, and Susan. As described above, Susan is now teaching for her 33rd year! What a great influence Liz was for her children and many others.  Liz and Anne, my sister,  taught fifth grade at L.L. Beasley Elementary School in Prince George County, Virginia at the same time, and my sister remembers her as creative, skilled and highly motivated to do an excellent job.   I remember Liz also as a wonderful, firm, kind, and very intelligent woman.  Unfortunately, she is the second teacher in our family taken ill by that crushing disease Alzheimer’s! Liz also served as an assistant principal  as well in a school in Colonial Heights, Virginia.

My sister Anne tells an interesting story about how she first met Elizabeth Walker Youngblood in 1952.  Anne was in fourth grade at Bon Air Elementary School, and was her classroom’s representative to the Red Cross School Committee. Elizabeth was the Red Cross School Coordinator for all the schools in Chesterfield County,Virginia.  Liz sat right down beside Anne and introduced herself as the fiancée of her cousin!  (Her husband Lewis Jr. was our father’s first cousin.)  “Let me show you my ring. I just got engaged to your cousin!” Elizabeth was so kind to ten-year old Anne, that they became friends for life and then coworkers.

My first cousin once removed, Susan Youngblood Rawls, Youngblood, Susan Rawlstaught fifth grade for ten years at Crestwood Elementary School in Chesterfield County, Virginia.  She is now the Director of a preschool. Energetic, enthusiastic, and smart as a whip, she is quite amazing! How lucky are all the little children, all the families who enter her school! She will help get them started in the right direction, will help lay the ground work for their happiness and their learning the rest of their lives!  That is one tall order and a major accomplishment! 

Lauren Ruby editedLauren Ruby, daughter of Jamie Beck Skinner and another Youngblood cousin, teaches Kindergarten at Taneytown Elementary school in Carroll County, Maryland. Do you remember the poem by Robert Fulghum that reminds us what we need to succeed in life we learned in kindergarten? Well, that’s Lauren– preparing her students to succeed in life and in school! A tall order that she handles with aplomb! 

Kindergarten all I ever needed to learn

Maryrose Youngblood, my first cousin once removed in my wonderful family tree, taught fourth grade like my sister for many years in Highland County, Virginia. These Youngblood women– we are hard workers, and we are directors at heart and by dna!  Kind, efficient, smart…Maryrose was an outstanding  teacher. 

Youngblood, Marshall daughter kathy Lee Pack 2015Kathy Lee Pack, daughter of Marshall Youngblood Lee and Robert Lee, has been teaching at the elementary school level in Florida for 31 years this year!  All of those years were as a 4th grade teacher until the last two when she changed to second grade! Kathy has four adult children and grandchildren to keep her busy. She is my second cousin once removed, and a Youngblood woman through and through. By that I mean she can handle a room full of 30 restless 6 year olds and make them feel good about themselves because they chose to complete their math assignment while she was reading with a small group! 

A cousin through the Voorus, Hogue, and Spangler family lines, Vorus, BessieBesse B. Voorus was born December 12, 1893.  Miss Voorus was graduated from Pleasantville High School and received her bachelor of arts degree from Slippery Rock Normal School. She was an elementary school teacher for over 43 years, teaching in both the Oil City and Meadville School Districts in Pennsylvania.  One of her great nieces remembers her mother talking about having Bessie as a teacher and her encouraging them to learn about Geography especially.  Wouldn’t it have been a surprise to realize a little girl you taught in elementary school would grow up to marry your nephew and her children would be your great nieces and nephews! 

Besse taught for forty-three years  and died in 1992 at 98 years old! Can you imagine what she witnessed in her lifetime!? The things she witnessed and was able to teach her students–she lived through horse and buggy days to automobiles and rockets to the moon! She saw cooking with wood to gas, electricity and even microwaves! Television didn’t exist in her childhood, but later became a huge part of our lives! Talk about having to be adaptable! Just to live successfully she had to be willing to change, grow, and adapt–weren’t her students lucky to have such an experienced teacher and a versatile one! 

Vorus, Dorothy Pearl VorusBessie’s sister, Dorothy Pearl Voorus Hogg was a teacher also, teaching in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania. Her husband was also a teacher who will be featured as well.  Dorothy and Calvin had six children of their own, can you imagine how busy this lady was day in and day out! . She began teaching in a one-room school-house with all grades together, and taught long enough to enter a modern elementary school building in the 1950’s and into the early ’70s! This kind of longevity always inspires me. 

Lena Voorus is the third sister to teach in the Elementary Voorus, Lena had a stroke, very sweetSchools of Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania! Born in 1889, Lena died in 1978 all in Venango County, Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, Lena had a stroke and became wheelchair bound. Her sisters took care of her and stayed supportive of each other. Her great nieces and nephews remember her as sweet and kind, a great tribute. What’s amazing to me, is that these women, born in the late 1800’s, at a time when women didn’t generally work outside the home, went out and got their education, and worked at a profession. That takes a lot of courage and fortitude, good for them! 

Julia Houchins Patterson

Julia in the 1940’s

My Great-Aunt Julia Houchins Nichols became an attorney. However, she was only 15 in 1900 when her mother died. Her father soon deserted his six children and moved out-of-state. Thank heavens the children did have a guardian angel and grandparents nearby. Nonetheless, never one to let grass grow under her feet, Julia went out and got a job teaching.  The story goes that Julia, only a teen still, went to apply for a teaching job in the mountains of southwest Virginia in Patrick County, where she lived.  The person interviewing her asked her what she could tell him that would impress him and make him think she was smart enough to teach. She told him she could tell him exactly how many boards for lumber he could get from any sized tree.  She had caught his attention, and he pointed to a tree outside the window and said “Okay, tell me how many boards could you get from that tree? Julia solved the problem aloud, and her reasoning and math skills so impressed the man, he hired her on the spot! Later she told family that she was so thankful that her family member, I’m not sure who, had worked in a sawmill, so that she had learned this skill. I’m sure she was an excellent teacher, she had four younger brothers to wrangle with after her mother died, children didn’t scare her! Julia lived from 1885 to 1969, another witness to travel by horse to travel by rockets to the moon! She served as the very first female Assistant District Attorney in the State of Virginia. Julia was a force to be reckoned with, and was highly loved by her family and still is today by grandchildren who are now grandparents themselves! 

Eight Special Education teachers, and ten Elementary Education teachers–what a group to be proud of, but they are not all of the educators in our family!  In the next post I will tell you about our Middle and High School teachers as well as our  Principals, and College Professors! What a legacy they are creating or have left for our family.

 It’s Fall– “time to go back to school”– it seems that teachers  hear this call in their souls!  

Teacher , Thank-a-Teacher

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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DNA for Genealogical Research Can Turn You Upside Down and Inside Out!

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DNA saying re. stars by Carl Sagan, quotefancy.com

Source: Carl Sagan, quotefancy.com

As many of you, my readers, know, I’ve been doing genealogical research for about five years now. It has become not only  my hobby, but my passion!  I can’t explain why delving into decades and centuries of ancestors is so satisfying for me. It’s the detective work that keeps me involved I think, intellectually, and the family captures my emotions.

Genealogy Quotation-Lawrence-Dillard-friends-best-Meetville-Quotes-152308

That saying by Lawrence Dillard is so true! Through my genealogical research I have met so many new cousins and friends, I cannot even count that high!  Today I want to tell you about one of those special people. (The names of her and her family have been changed to protect their privacy.)

About a year or so ago, a person named Albany got in touch with me through ancestry.com with an amazing story. Just like me, she had her, and her sister’s dna tested for genealogical research purposes. Both of her parents were deceased. However, when Albany’s dna came back, it said she and her sister were only half sisters! Surprise and shock set in.  Very soon however, curiosity came to the fore. She decided to look into this situation more seriously, and see what she could discover. She started by turning to her beloved older sister Abigail of course. They were both having to deal with all the ramifications of this news. Albany’s father, whom she’d adored all of her life, was not really her biological father! Had they lied to her? Did he know? Did her mother even know?  Did her mother deceive her Dad all those years? Quickly she discarded that idea. Her mother was just not the type of person to do that, being honest had always meant the world to her mother. More than likely when Albany was born in the 1950’s, there was just no way to tell who the father was. Her parents had reunited as well, so more than likely, they both believed the long awaited second child was theirs.

This is just a bit of what Albany wrote in her journal at that time: “A year ago, just minding my business, working on my genealogical research,  I took a DNA test along with my sister. Then, BAM! I discover that I am not my daddy’s biological daughter.  I was 58 years old when I made this discovery. All those years a big secret was carefully hidden from me.” Of course, Albany knows that it may not have been “hidden” from her, but we can’t help but consider that when discovering such a monumental secret. She says her mother was overprotective. Her mother may have not wanted her to deal with all of that, or like we said, she might not have known.

Other journal notes: “In trying to unravel the mystery, I talked to my sister, asking about anything at all that she could remember. She told me, that my parents were legally separated for awhile when she was young. During the time when my parents were separated,  she remembered  a man who made a very brief appearance in my mother’s life.

One evening some neighbors invited my mother to the VFW, and mother took my sister along. It was there mama met this man, “Danny.” After the VFW, Danny brought mama and my sister home and came inside for a while. My sister recalled that he was tall, nice-looking, friendly, and very, very charming. She learned that his last name was Mansfield.  A bit later he got up to leave, and mama walked outside with him, apparently just saying goodbye. In a while, my sister realized that mama had not come back inside, so she looked out the window and saw that Danny’s car was gone, and so was mama. She can’t recall how long mama was gone…maybe an hour or so, but for her it seemed like a very long time. Mama was extremely overprotective, and it was highly unusual for her to leave her daughter alone, especially at night.

After that, my sister vaguely recalls that she heard Danny’s name mentioned, maybe once or twice, but nothing more about him. Perhaps a few months later mama and daddy got back together, and I was born in December of that year. “

Why had Albany never, ever heard this before?  Well, as we realized, Abigail was young , and her parents got back together, so “all’s well that ends well”. That charming man just wasn’t important to a child anymore and was quickly forgotten!  Fast forward fifty-eight years to a dna test!  Albany was so shocked, and so worried about her family relationships and just everything, that she and her sister agreed to seek professional counseling together.  The counselor gave them some very practical insights, helped them discuss the difficult issues, and gave them resources. Albany and Abigail say they are glad they took that opportunity.

As the air around her cleared, Albany was determined to discover who her biological father was, and began to research vigorously. She enlisted help from other researchers as well, people skilled in dna, and people knowledgeable of the Johnson-Smith-Mansfield family. That’s how we connected! Albany belonged to ancestry.com and she found The Mansfield Family Tree I had researched for a cousin there! She wrote me a note asking if I might be interested in helping her search, and I readily volunteered, intrigued immediately. I was touched that this stranger would reach out to me, knowing that had to be difficult.

Albany had taken three different dna tests to aid us in this quest. She took one test from Family Tree DNA. She took another dna test from 23 and Me, and an autosomal dna test from ancestry.com. Each type of test gave her different types of results. If she’d had a brother it would have helped, y-dna from males usually traces the family line back efficiently. She would have had the information much more easily. As it turns out, she found cousins, lots of cousins!  The closest who weren’t identifiable as belonging to her mother’s family, were ones with names like Johnson and Smith. The closest being a second  cousin. We had that name Danny Mansfield as well. I could not readily identify a man with that name in my cousin’s family line, but I didn’t give up easily either.  I knew a woman who was collecting Mansfield family  information from all over the United States and beyond. I consulted her immediately and she gave me access to her huge  data base. We also started scouring newspapers from the time near her birth.

Albany turned to the others who were helping her as well. They gave her many hints, a sense of direction, and kept helping her narrow her search. This is one of many things she wrote in her journal: I had matched on Ancestry with a 2nd cousin. Sharing this with one of the people who helped me with my DNA search, I saw that Jennifer Smith might be my great grandmother. I mentioned this to a friend, who quickly wrote me sharing an old obituary of Mrs. Jennifer Smith Johnson wife of Chester Johnson, stating that Mrs Cynthia Mansfield  was her daughter. I later found that Cynthia Johnson Mansfield  was married to Bob Mansfield, they would be my grandparents! . Ancestry census records had their sons as  Robert and William Mansfield. It looked like one of these men should be my biological father, but there was no hint of a Danny! Then I found an obituary for William Danforth Mansfield, and it had in quotes “Danny” as his nickname. Voila!”  

DNA and family make up

He fit! He had the right line going through the great-grandparents we’d identified as probably belonging to Albany. Next we found his obituary, which was sad, but had a surprise gift. Albany had a brother, a half brother named William, called Bill,  who lived out of state.  Albany wrapped her courage around herself, and called him on the telephone!  Bill was also surprised,  but could not have been kinder or more receptive! He offered to take a dna test, and within a month, they knew it was true, he and Albany were sister and brother! Since then, they’ve talked almost everyday.  Learning about each other what most of us grow up knowing, all the ins and outs!  They’ve become friends on facebook, and the wonderful thing is that they have included me in that friendship! Albany and I have become very good friends who enjoy many things in common like genealogy and gardening. That circle of “family” grows, and our hearts grow along with it! Albany  can love her new half brother and still love her sister, mother, and the father who lovingly raised her.

I’d love to hear about your own adventures with meeting new family members through your dna or genealogical work. I have written about some of my own before, including the post just before this one on dna. Meanwhile, I hope things are going well for you, and am wishing you all the best, Helen

Genealogy poem

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DNA–An Integral Part of My Genealogical Research

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This blog post was first published on “Worldwide Genealogy–A Genealogical Collaboration, July 27, 2015. I wanted to share it here with you as it connects to my next post as well. You can see the exciting Worldwide Blog at http://worldwidegenealogy.blogspot.com/2015/07/dna-integral-part-of-my-genealogical.html?showComment=1439293198648

It’s been almost two years since I tested my dna on ancestry.com. Since then, I have done four more tests for cousins there, and I have administered two tests on Family Tree DNA. I have downloaded raw data, and uploaded it to GEDMATCH and other sites. I am far from an expert in dna, in fact, I am quite the amateur, but I have been intrigued by what I have learned of it; it has affected the way I do my research; and it has introduced me to several hundred new cousins!  I thought you might be interested in this journey.

For this blog post, I am going to concentrate on the autosomal dna that I did through ancestry. Since I keep my family tree there, it is a great enrichment to my research and findings. I have about 4000 matches to my dna on ancestry! The matches are arranged by closeness of kinship, with parents, brothers  and sisters and 1st cousins listed before  2nd , 3rd, and 4th and more distant cousins/relatives. Most of those matches are attached to a family tree I can consult. You are also given dna circles, I have eleven of those which have shown me incredible things which I will explain below. You can also search your matches by surnames or by location, or by both. It is amazing to me!

Ancestor confirmed by autoaomal dna, Linda Geddes, ancestry.com.jpg

Ancestor confirmed by autosomal dna, by Linda Geddes on ancestry.com

First, let me tell you about the dna circles. I have eleven of these as I said,  I am including a detailed description of what ancestry’s dna circles are and how they are created from ancestry.com at the end of this post, hope it is helpful. But one of the most exciting things about these charts of your dna matches, is that it can give you new relatives, as it did me!  Ancestry explains it like this, Descendants of an ancestor often inherit pieces of DNA from that ancestor, and they may share those pieces with other descendants. If these descendants are in a DNA Circle for their ancestor, you can get a New Ancestor Discovery to a DNA Circle, even if you don’t have this ancestor in your tree.”

I was amazed by my circles. Let me give you just one example. I looked at my 11 circles on ancestry, and one was  titled the “Cuthbert Cheely DNA Circle”. That surprised me because I had no Cheelys in my tree at the time, and had never heard of this man, whom ancestry said was my 4th great grandfather! There are five “members” in this dna “circle”, I have some with ten members. When I looked at one of the matches, this is the chart I saw: My maiden name is Helen Spear Youngblood by the way, that’s me on the bottom left in this chart.

Cheely dna circle cropped

I was shocked, because my family did not know who the father of my great- grandfather was! My Great-Grandfather, Walter Thomas Houchins was born in 1854  of a single mother which we knew,and could clearly be seen in the censuses. William W. Stoops lived on the farm next door to my 2nd great-grandmother Nancy Houchins, and was actually her boss at work it appeared. On one census, when Walter Thomas was 16, he can be seen on the census living with his neighbor, we now know as his father! It looked like he was just working there. In 1880, after all of her seven children were born and mostly adults, Nancy and William W. Stoops married. Why then I wonder?  Elizabeth Cheely was William’s mother, and Cuthbert was her father–a family mystery solved, and new 3rd and 4th grandparents identified, all from a dna test! Previously, I had consulted a professional genealogist, a genealogical society in Walter Thomas Houchins area of birth, collected marriage, death, military and census records, none of which helped me identify his father! Now with no research on my part, my dna circle identifies him, wow!

I have discovered many new relatives through my dna!  One thing ancestry does is  list all of your dna matches with “shared ancestry hints” separately from all of your matches, even if they are not in a circle. I have 63 of them. When I look at this list exclusively, the first one was also my first match when exploring my Scottish Hogue family! Turns out she is my 3rd cousin, lives in Pennsylvania compared to my North Carolina, and we’ve become good friends on facebook. She is also experienced in  genealogy, so we have enjoyed searching for our Hogue family origins in Scotland together!  Actually, I formed a Hogue research group on facebook , almost totally made up of Hogue cousins I met through my dna on ancestry. There are two from California, two from Connecticut, one from New Jersey, Colorado, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Virginia, Florida, and my North Carolina of course! We even have a member from England and one from Scotland! We are stretched across the USA and the world, truly a genealogical collaboration! We were all already interested in genealogy and dna, now we are letting it guide us through our history.

There are so many stories I could tell, and so many experiences I’d like  to share, but it is not possible in this one blog post. However, I feel I’d be remiss not to tell you how incredibly the dna dovetails with my normal research. I was helping my cousin’s fiance research his family tree as a gift for them, when several things happened. One, I got to a brick wall in one of his lines. I had learned to check my dna matches for everything, so in this case, I did exactly that, and bingo, discovered I was related to this young man via this line, and that my dna took the line further by connecting me to a researcher with thousands of people in his tree and this line! I even saw that his line connected to some Mayflower relatives that I already had in my tree, and was easily able to share this exciting news with him.

Here is another example of using my dna for research– say I am looking for information about my great-great grandfather James Steptoe Langhorne. I could search all the family trees on ancestry for clues, or I can search my dna for the surname Langhorne, and search my matching dna trees/people for information. If I am searching a family tree that I know already matches my dna, well then, anything I learn will surely match me, and that is a step forward in my research!

What can I say–dna has changed and enriched my life and my research! It has added hundreds of friendly new cousins, many of them now facebook and ancestry friends! We have learned to research together, and my research alone is more efficient.  It is so exciting and interesting to me..  If you have questions, I will try to answer them, or find someone who can. Thanks for reading and please share your thoughts with me. Helen

Ancestry explains dna circles this way: (http://help.ancestry.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/9120/kw/dna%20circles)

A DNA Circle is a group of individuals who all have the same ancestor in their family trees and where each member shares DNA with at least one other individual in the circle. These circles are created directly from your DNA and your family tree in a five-step process.

1. Find DNA matches

We compare your DNA to the DNA of every AncestryDNA member. When we find enough shared DNA to suggest that you and another member have inherited that DNA from the same recent ancestor, we consider you a “DNA match.” Based on the amount of DNA you share, we then estimate your relationship (for example you may be 5th or 6th cousins).

2. Search trees for shared ancestors

Once we’ve found a DNA match, we carefully search both of your family trees looking for ancestors who appear to be the same person. We consider facts like name, birthdate, birthplace, parents, and spouse (going back nine generations).

3. Calculate a shared ancestor hint confidence score

We consider a variety of factors to determine how likely it is that you and your match share DNA from this same ancestor (as opposed to sharing DNA common to a region, or sharing DNA from a different ancestral line).

4. Add more people to the DNA Circle

Now, we repeat the process and look for other pairs of individuals who have the same shared ancestor in their trees and who share DNA with one or more of existing circle members (each circle has at least three members). Some of these new members may not share DNA with you, but each member of the circle has DNA evidence supporting their relationship to the share ancestor, and therefore to you.

  1. Calculate connection levels

Last, we figure out a connection level for every member of the circle based on the number of people they match in the circle and the strength of their connections. It’s a simple way to show how likely it is that each member is a descendant of the shared ancestor. Levels go from Strong to Good, Weak, or Emerging.

DNA Circles will change over time

You’ll notice that DNA Circles are constantly evolving. A circle could grow, shrink, or even disappear. And new circles will be created too. This all happens for a couple reasons. First, AncestryDNA members are constantly growing and improving their family trees. Second, as new people take tests and join AncestryDNA, we have even more information to analyze and use to improve our circles and help you fill in even more pieces of your family history puzzle.

Note: What if you aren’t a member of a DNA Circle for one of your ancestors? One possibility is that you descended from the ancestor, but you didn’t inherit DNA from them. Another explanation is that more descendants need to take the AncestryDNA test before there’s enough evidence to create a circle.”

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