Today is the first anniversary of the day my blog appeared on Geneabloggers. In reality, it's been about a year and two weeks since I started writing Becky's Bridge to the Past. I've written 65 posts and had over 7,000 pageviews. I've been contacted by a couple of cousins and gotten some encouragement from other bloggers. I can say that it's been very helpful to put my genealogical notes in narrative form and has totally been worth the hours I've spent trying to get my words and images just right.
The post that has gotten the most hits is "Genealogy on the Road: Waterloo, Alabama," about the trip my brother and I took to the town our great-grandparents lived in before they came to Oklahoma in 1894. I have a feeling that has more to do with motorcycle riders researching their rally route than with anybody trying to find out about my rather unexciting (but enjoyable) trip to Alabama. I always wonder at someone's reaction when they Google something and get my little blog as a result.
I started the year by listing what I knew about the four branches of my family--my two paternal grandparents and my two maternal grandparents and their ancestors. This is information I have collected in over 25 years of doing genealogy--first by visiting genealogical libraries in Oklahoma and then by using Ancestry.com and the free research tools I could find online. Recently, my posts have been all about using DNA to search for ancestors and some of the new cousins I have found through this medium.
In just the last month I have identified two of my DNA matches--one on each side of my family. The common ancestor of Leo Pentney Gaines and myself is our great-great-grandmother, Elizabeth Simmons, which would make us 3rd cousins. Herbert Archie Miller has been my biggest match on FTDNA (aside from my brother) since I first got my results, but I finally got some help in identifying him as a Ming cousin.
We haven't been successful YET, but a number of Huff cousins have been working hard this year trying to untangle the family relationships in Jackson County, Tennessee. My new cousin Barbara and I are still related, although we now know through DNA testing that our great-great-grandmothers Elzina and Ellender Huff were not sisters. I found out that I somehow have a previously undocumented connection to the Pharris family of Jackson County. And to make things more complicated, in the last month we have discovered that we are also related to the Broyles, Wilhoite, and Blankenbaker families of the 1717 Germanna Colony of Virginia. Hopefully, the solution to that puzzle will help us find the parents of our 3rd great-grandmother, Mrs. Susannah Huff.
In the past year I have visited ancestral homelands in Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, and Alabama with my brother. We finally found the graves of our Castle great-great grandparents in West Liberty, KY, and saw the town in Virginia named for our ancestor, Jacob Castle.
What are my goals for the coming year? I hope to find more cousins through DNA testing and solve the Huff and Germanna puzzles. DNA has brought us closer in the last year than 20 previous years of chasing the paper trail. In the last week I have been contacted by a Smith cousin who found me through DNA testing from Ancestry.com. I so hope we can collaborate to find out more about the ancestors of our great-grandfather Stephen Albert Smith. This summer my brother and I will visit North Carolina and Virginia. I hope by the time we visit Germanna, I will know how I am connected there.