Farewell, Summer!

Wow, what a crazy, busy summer it’s been. It’s been more than a month since I last wrote a blog post. So sorry about that. I’ve had more irons in the fire than I know what to do with lately. The fall appears to be just as busy, I fear. Still, I hope to get back to some semblance of research practices.

As always, wound care appointments keep me busy every three weeks seeing the actual physician. Home health nurses visit me weekly as well. To add insult to injury, I broke a tooth a couple of weeks ago and had to endure quite a bit of pain and frustration before I was able to go to the specialized clinic in Chapel Hill to have the tooth extracted. Thankfully, last week I did and now all is well in that arena.

I’ve spent a great deal of the summer also doing another activity which I truly love- reading cozy mystery books and writing book reviews. Were that it would be possible I could just do genealogy and read books all the live long days of my life. The introvert’s truest dream.

My eldest niece is getting married in a little over a month. My next to youngest niece had her first child this past weekend. What a cutie that little guy truly is and such a blessing to our family.

I am three assignments away from finishing my second course in preparation of becoming a professional genealogist. The courses/schooling isn’t mandatory but it definitely helps one prepare for all the logistics of obtaining certification and looks ‘good on paper” too.

And that is what’s been going on of late. Until next time!

Henry Poole, 1822-1897

It’s been a week or so since I had the opportunity to blog post. I’ve been a bit busy, as always. The last couple of weeks I’ve been on a mission to find the parents of my Charlie Barnham Poole from Raleigh, Wake Co., NC.

I’ve been looking for Charlie’s Mama and Daddy for close to twenty-five years without success. That is until the last week. I can 99.99% for sure say that Charlie Barnham Poole’s father was in fact, Charles Henry Poole born in 1822 and died in 1897 in Raleigh, Wake Co., North Carolina.

The 1860 census, as well as a marriage certificate for Henry Poole and Mary Ann (Powell) Poole dated 8 April 1844 seem to support my theory. Additionally, there is a son with the same name Charlie B. Poole living in the home of Henry and Polly as she was known; of the same age and birth year as my own Charlie Barnham Poole.

The marriage certificate for Charlie Barnham and Azorah Virginia (Adams) Poole also give the names of Henry and Polly Poole as parents to Charlie B. Poole. So, I feel quite comfortable at the moment in my assertions that Henry Poole is in fact, my C.H. Poole that I have been trying to locate for over twenty- five years.

I will be writing more about Henry Poole as time goes by. I was able to locate a probate record for him this past weekend. It’s quite lengthy at 46 pages and the probate process on this estate went on for over six and half years, as there was some family disputes going on at the time. What all the drama and issues surrounding this estate was, at the moment, I have not had time to piece together. I’m saving that for another day when I am not quite so busy and have had ample time to review the probate record thoroughly.

Until next time!

Mysteries uncovered

The last week I have been focusing my research efforts on my Poole and Smith lines from Raleigh, Wake Co., NC. My great grandparents were Alzer Fay Poole and Mamie Lorraine (nee Smith) Poole. Alzer and Mamie were married September 3, 1928 at the Salvation Army in Downtown Raleigh, NC. Mamie was 16 years old and Alzer was 22 years old.

Mamie’s parents were John D. Smith, Jr. and Avana Blanche ( nee Catlette) Smith. John and Blanche as she was known by were married on 1 February 1905. Their first child, John Bryant Smith was born on Christmas Day 1905. Their daughter Maggie Pauline was born in 1909 and my great grandmother Mamie Lorraine was born on 3 November 1911. All of this for the most part, was familiar information to me. The mysteries however, were with my 2x times great grandmother Avana Blanche (Catlette) Smith.

I had always heard that Blanche had died giving birth to a child and her death certificate dated 1 November 1918 confirms this. Pre-eclampsia is the official cause of death per the record. I have no concrete knowledge as to where Blanche is buried but assuming she is buried near or next to her husband John who died on 20 September 1936, I am going to assume like most of the rest of the family that she is buried at a little overgrown cemetery in Raleigh, NC called Macedonia.

While doing some online research over the course of the last couple of days, I ran across a death certificate for a baby just identified as Baby Girl Smith, daughter of John D. Smith and Blanche Catlette Smith in the Caraleigh Mills suburb of Raleigh, in Wake County, NC. This baby girl was born stillborn on January 7, 1914 and the records indicate she had been deceased in utero for quite sometime. Until I saw this record for myself, with exact information on the parentage, I had no previous knowledge of this baby girl. No one in the family had ever mentioned this child or this pregnancy. Given that she was born stillborn, it’s highly likely none of the family members, in this case her sister who was my great grandmother, even knew about her sister. I’ve posted the death certificate for Baby Girl Smith below.

Where I’ve been, education, etc.

It’s been a good couple of weeks since I’ve had an opportunity to post to this blog. So sorry about that. I’ve been so super busy. There’s lots going on behind the scenes though here at Dead Relative Collector Genealogical Services.

First off, I started taking classes at genealogicalstudies.com to help me better prepare to develop my portfolio and begin the processes (which are long and arduous) of obtaining my genealogical accreditation. The course I am taking is not difficult, in fact for an introductory course, it’s quite easy. But it IS LABOR INTENSIVE. There is a lot of information and a lot of reading to be done and then one has to be able to back up that information with the necessary skill sets taught throughout the courses.

I’ve also been working on sourcing my own personal research. Many years ago, as I’ve said previously in this blog, I did my research rather haphazardly. Something I now regret. Thankfully though, I do have my documentation and I can go back now and make right all that is wrong.

I’m also super excited to say that I have been able to break down a brick wall in my research on my father’s maternal line. My father’s mother Julia Catherine (Hackney) Mendenhall passed away on December 7, 1947 when she was only 23 years old and my father was just 3 years old. She is buried in an unmarked grave at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, in Pittsboro, Chatham Co, North Carolina. She died of Guilian -Barre syndrome. I received her death certificate from my grand – uncle a number of years ago. That said, I always wondered if there was anything more. Such as an obituary. I went seeking information on how I might locate an obituary by posting a query on a Facebook group page for Chatham County, North Carolina. Interestingly enough, I have a very dear friend and sister genealogist from the area in question and also a member on that search page. It had never occurred to me to ask her if she could help me locate the information I sought. But as is true fashion for my dear friend, she saw my query and offered to assist me. Within a matter of about ten minutes (if that) I had the information/obituary I have been looking for, for over twenty odd years.

I am super excited to be able to share this with you all now. Never give up hope and never stop searching. One never knows when one might find the information they are seeking.

Why Oh Why

Why, Oh Why, Do I do these things to myself I ask as sit here yet another afternoon twenty years after the fact of originally researching these records, trying to input them into my database and give proper source credit to them.

Granted, yes, I have been ill for a great many years and research fell by the way side. Then again, that only accounts for ten of the twenty plus years that I have neglected to do these tasks. I cannot attribute my neglect of this project the ten years prior to my illness to anything other than pure laziness. There, I said it. Sometimes, I just do not want to do the “dirty work” of data entry and sourcing.

The process of researching for the information is much akin to writing a novel. Once you get past the initial writer’s block and negative messages of “My stuff is shit” and “I’m no good”, and settle down into the process of actually writing, that process becomes therapeutic. Well, most of the time. There are a few rare exceptions. The process of data entry and source documentation, Oh Friends, is much like the process of editing. It’s just boring and monotonous. No two ways about it or around it. Still, in order to have a completed (or near as completed as is humanly possible) tree, one must source and edit continually before releasing their work into the atmosphere that is called the genealogical world or heaven forbid, the world as a whole.

There are some positive aspects to editing, source documentation, and revision. First and probably the most important beside the obvious of completing those necessary tasks is being able to see your project with fresh eyes. To inadvertently run across material or information you previously missed. To realize, that source you were looking for longer than you can to remember much less admit, is staring you right in the eyes.

A good case in point, I have been looking for a marriage record on my paternal grandparents for upwards of twenty-four years. I had exhausted, to my knowledge, all resources in North Carolina looking for this information. Well, what I hadn’t considered was to check another state as well as another repository. Recently, I did just that. Having lived on the cusps of two bordering states, it suddenly (can we say duh?) to look over into South Carolina for the record I was seeking. Too, for whatever reason, and honestly given the LDS church’s excellent record sets with a plethora of information it amazes me I had never looked here, I decided to investigate the records of familysearch.org . Bingo! I input my grandparents names and the State of South Carolina with a plus or minus of two years to the year 1940 and lo, and behold, I found their marriage record from March 13, 1942. I now have this record in my possession with both of my grandparents signatures on it.

To say I was ecstatic is an understatement. I have a two-fold lesson in this post. One, always cite your sources, to include notations of where you came up empty. Lastly, and most important never stop searching but never assume that your ancestor didn’t travel, or that everything happened exactly in the same spot they were from. Make sure you look to neighboring towns, counties, and believe it or not, even states.

Happy Relative Counting!


The Journey Begins

“To forget one’s ancestors is to be a brook without a source, a tree without a root.” (Chinese proverb)


Picture: headstone of my father, Ralph Lane Mendenhall. 

September 10, 1944- September 27, 2007.

Lately, it seems I have so many irons in the fire.  Sometimes, this is a good thing.  Other times, it’s a bad thing.  I have to say for this season of my life it’s a good thing.

In 1997, I accidentally began researching my family history.  I say accidentally because I had not considered doing genealogy.  Rather, I fell into the process while randomly wasting time online one evening.  Yes, good old boredom.  One night I was up rather late — I’ll preface this comment with the fact I’m always up late, I don’t tend to sleep at night much.  If at all.   Anyhow, I was up late one night mindlessly playing on the computer while waiting for a good opportunity to call my father at the Serve Co gas station where he worked the graveyard shift before I went to bed.  Running out of things to look up and learn about, I found myself for kicks and grins, inputting my surname MENDENHALL   into the search engine.  Honestly, I don’t recall which search engine- this was pre- Google days.

Imagine my surprise when I found this website dedicated to the name MENDENHALL.   Now, the site had my attention.  Within the site itself was a search engine for folks to research individual names.   Okay, so I knew nothing about my father’s paternal line.  I mean nothing.  Oh, I had my grandfather’s name but that was literally all I knew.  I don’t know that I ever saw my granddad but perhaps once or twice if at all, as a child.  Also, he passed away when I was eight years old so memories prior to that were at best, sketchy.

I opened the search page within the Mendenhall family site and input my paternal grandfather’s name, Eber Orlindo Mendenhall, not really expecting to find anything.  Expectations are funny things though. They never are quite right.  But digress.   I was happily and pleasantly surprised to find that Granddaddy Eber’s name was in the search engine.  I was even more surprised to find his father, Guy Ciscero Mendenhall.  This was a name I had only heard once, perhaps twice in my life.

My real excitement happened when I clicked Great Grandpa Guy’s name.  I then learned my Great Grandmother’s name was Patricia Alice Mitchell, and she was from Moore County, NC.   That night turned into a very long one which in turn, brought about many more long nights as I clicked on each name connected to early generations from the past.  Names I had never heard.

It was then and there, that I began my now twenty-four year journey into researching my family history and developing a real desire to become an accredited professional genealogist.  This blog, will chronicle that journey as well as the side trips I’ve taken into archival preservation and paper crafting, all in an attempt to restore the stories of my ancestors.  I hope you enjoy my stories.