Category Archives: Cluster Research

Civil War Stories

Are You A Civil War Junkie?

Are you a civil war junkie? Or maybe you have ancestors who fought that you want to know more about?

Civil War Stories

Civil War Stories

I am working on a new project at Ancestry / Fold3 that will help you learn more. If you are interesting in helping us out in our early phases, fill out this short survey:

And my RootsTech Presentation can be found here:

Civil War: It’s Personal at RootsTech 2020

Stay tuned!  More to come….

Well, Hello There. Talking To The Dead

bbchurch-googleOn my latest research trip I stopped by Buffalo Baptist Church Cemetery in Blacksburg, South Carolina.  Now I had seen the graves on Find A Grave. And I had looked on Google to see the cemetery.

I could see it was broken into two sets of graves.  But it is always so different when you pull up to a cemetery.  Each one has its own feeling, its own character.

Next to the road in the first graveyard, I found the older graves.  They were starting to turn black and many were unreadable.  The ones that caught my eye were the bright white ones.  They marked the Confederate graves and I believe they all came from the veterans administration.  It was mowed and kept up, but the graves had a forgotten by time feel to them.

The very first grave I saw that caught my eye was Lansford M Hopper.

I actually said out loud, “Well, hello there.”  Do any of you talk to your people when you find them?

Lansford was my 3rd great grandfather who survived the Civil War, but was murdered by his nephew when they were working on a road in 1870.


Looking at his grave marker, I realized he had been in the 18th SC Vol Infantry.  I have him down as being in the 28th North Carolina Infantry.  There is some work to do there.

sc-bb-hopper-lansford-m-1826-1870Most of the white stones that marked Confederate Graves stood in front of the original ones.  My 2nd great grandmother, Delila Parthenia Hopper was born in October of 1861.  Her father died when she was nine.  I can just imagine the family standing in front of the grave.  Susan, Lansford’s wife, was left alone with 7 children.  She was pregnant with number 8. She had raised them throughout the war without him and now she was his widow.

I continued walking through this section of the cemetery.  Maybe 200 stones at most.  And all the Confederates for the most part served in the 17th or 18th SC Infantry.  I haven’t really researched that bunch yet. But this group lived together, fought together, and eventually died in the same place.

I’ve proposed a new class for NGS 2017 in Raleigh, North Carolina titled: Researching the Civil War in the Southern Community.  A small community like this is a perfect example of what I am talking about.  Hopefully it gets accepted!

Yep. I’m Not Building Family Trees — I’m Building Family Graphs

A couple of days ago I published Family Tree or Family Graph and was delighted at the comments I received. Some of you knew exactly what I was talking about!  And Chris from NM and I had discovered our shared Snavely line!

So I started digging back into the Snavely line.  I’m presenting at the Family History Institute of Southwest Virginia on April 2nd and Chris got me to thinking about old unsolved problems.  And it’s always good to talk about local families at presentations.

I was trying to find the death date of Maxine Edna Wilmore Warden and came up empty.  But I did find her husband’s and his parents.  (Love those Virginia Vital records!) The name WALTERS looked very familiar.

more on family graphs01

So I dug through census, vitals, trees and some of my books. I built the Walters line back to William Walters and Mary M Powers and those names looked very familiar.

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More clicking and I find William Walters and Mary M Powers, my 5th great grand parents; they are also the grandparents of Adam Boyd Snavely’s second wife and my 3rd great grandmother, Mollie E Repass.

more on family graphs03

So what does this mean?  James Warden and his wife Maxine Edna Wilmore are both great great great grand children of William Walters and Mary M Powers.  (Below, Catherine and Michael Walters are the children of William and Mary M.)

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Now there were no amazing ah ha moments.  No brick walls came tumbling down.  And I still don’t know when Effie Snavely Wilmore died.  But southern research is not about researching lines.  It’s about researching communities and how they connect.  It is part of our ancestors’ stories.

I think this has to change how I look at researching people.  I’m just not sure what methods I need to change or add to my process.  But I’m pretty sure I need to adjust my thought process.  I’m not looking for people.  I’m looking for people AND where they fit into their communities.  I suspect that this will break brick walls and add more to their stories.

Stay tuned.

What’s I’m Looking Forward to in 2016: Extended Clusters

I neglected my blog in 2015. And I neglected my personal research. Work and life get in the way sometimes. I am ready to refocus on my people and new techniques to learn more about them.

And this year it all about the cluster. As genealogist we focus on links between generations. Moving up and down the tree. And good genealogists use cluster research or the FAN principle, which are more or less the same thing.

I think we miss a lot about who our people were when we just look for the links between generations.  To really understand who they were, we need to understand the time they lived in, where they lived and the extended family they lived within. I’m thinking of these as extended clusters much like the dandelion.

Maybe it’s because I do southern research, but my family tends to be more of a graph than linear tree. 🙂

I’ve been working on five lectures for Swing Across the South that I’ll be delivering at SLIG 2016 and I keep coming back to the extended family and how it leads to understanding.  Not just establishing links to another generation, but knowing who they were.  I find the the more I know about them, the more I know about myself.

So if I can keep life from getting in the way — this year I’ll be working on new techniques for these extended clusters and what we can learn from them.

Stay tuned!

And Happy New Year!