Archive for the ‘discovering family’ Category

Orange and violet pansies

Orange and violet pansies (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have decided to start a little genealogy project by interviewing my mother to learn more about her life when she was younger, how she grew up and what her life was like in those times. Even though she is my best friend in the whole wide world, there are still some things about her that I don’t know and have never bothered to ask about. I will start with the formalities and things I do know and then continue on from there. This should be fun!

If given the chance, what family member would you interview and why?

Me: What is your given name?

Mom: Carolyn Ann

Me: What are your parents’ names?

Mom: My fathers name was Claude Flemon Dodson, he was born in October of 1903 and he died in 1987. My mother was Dora Younas Worley-Dodson. Worley was her maiden name. My mom was born on April 20, 1907 and she died on December 11, 1990. It was a day before your cousins birthday and right before you gave birth to your first son, John.

Me: Do you know why your parents named you?

Mom: They named me because my brother, Otis liked the name. He was killed in a head on car collision when I was three years old.

Me: Did you have a nickname?

Mom: No. But when you were born your grandmother, Lucia, called you “Little Carolyn”.

Me: When and where were you born?

Mom: I was born in Belair, Maryland

Me: Where did you grow up?

Mom: Phoenix, Maryland

Me: Do you remember the house in which you grew up in? Can you describe it to the best of your recollection?

Mom: Yes, I remember it. It was a 2 story red house with a basement but the outside had red shingles on the walls. It had an L-shaped porch and when they remodeled the house and built an extra room they added the porch. There was a basement that had 3 rooms for storage; there was a washing machine down there. On the first floor, there was a living room, den, big kitchen, two bathrooms and a bedroom. One of the bathrooms was originally a closet. On the second floor, there was three bedrooms and a hallway that led to the attic. There were two other rooms in the attic and another storage area that we kept all of our Christmas stuff in. It was just big enough that you could walk through.

Me: What is your earliest childhood memory?

Mom: Umm…let’s see! Learning to swim and I was a Brownie in the Girl Scouts. I also remember going to Bible School. We never missed a Sunday at church because my mom would never let us miss a Sunday service. We had to go to church no matter what.

Me: What kind of games did you play growing up?

Mom: Hopscotch, jacks, jump rope, hide and seek.

Me: Did you have a favorite toy? Why was it your favorite?

Mom: Yes! I had a Tiny Tears doll. The very first one. Because I could dress it up and feed it. If you fed it water then it would pee.

Me: (Laughing)

Me: What did you like to do for fun when you were little?

Mom: Ride our bikes and go sleigh riding in the winter time.

Me: Did you like to read?

Mom: Yes, I read all kinds of books.

Me: Favorite color?

Mom: Yellow

Me: Favorite flower?

Mom: Hibiscus, Roses, and Pansies

Me: I thought your favorite was the daisy, because that was in your wedding bouquet!

Me: What was your favorite book as a child?

Mom: The Three Little Puppies. I liked Cinderella, Bambi, Donald Duck. I liked a lot of different stories and read many different ones.

Me: Did you have to do any chores when you were younger? What were they?

Mom: Milk cows, feed chickens, clean the barn, pull weeds and pick vegetables out of the garden. I washed clothes and hung them on the clothesline. Had to iron them too.There’s a lot of stuff we did!

Me: Did you have a least favorite?

Mom: Pulling weeds.

Me: What was school like for you growing up?

Mom: I used to cry in first grade when I went to school until I got used to it.

Me: Didn’t you go to Kindergarten?

Mom: No, there wasn’t a kindergarten back then.

Me: Oh! That’s interesting.

Me: What was the name of your elementary school?

Mom: Carroll Manor. That was my elementary then I went to Ridgley Middle School and I ended up graduating from Towson High School.

Me: What year did you graduate?

Mom: 1964

Me: What was your favorite school subject?

Mom: Reading

Me: I should have known that answer! Because you are always reading on your Kindle app on your iPhone!

Me: Do you remember any fads or fashions that were in style when you were in high school?

Mom: Oh! Hold on! I have to get my laundry!

(Intermission of sorts while mom gets her laundry in the dryer! Hahaha)

Mom: I used to wear skirts, blouses and dresses. Poodle skirts were the big thing then. We wore skirts with a belt that tied in the back.

Me: What kind of clothing did you wear to elementary school?

Mom: My mom used to make our dresses from feed sacks and there was a lot of print, no solid colors.

Me: What kind of music did you listen to? Who was your favorite artist?

Mom: Rock and Pop music of the 60’s. Dionne Warwick and the Supremes and Frankie Avalon.

Me: Did you go to prom? Who did you go with?

Mom: Yes, I went with my neighbors son, Glen. He asked me and he had a crush on me back then.

Me: What did your dress look like?

Mom: It had a flower print that came down past my knees. I looked glamorous in that dress!

Me: Did you have any pets?

Mom: Yeah I had a rooster for a pet but he didn’t have a name because I never named him. I had a Cocker Spaniel named Trixie, a Boxer named Mack, and another dog named Freckles.

Me: Those are cute names I like the name Freckles.

Me: What was your first car?

Mom: A 1963 Cadillac that I received when I graduated high school.

Me: What was a typical family dinner like?

Mom: Everybody ate together as a family. Not like today where families eat at different times.

Me: What was your favorite food back then?

Mom: Ham, green beans, and potatoes.

Me: Green beans? Yuck!

Me: Any Christmas traditions in the family?

Mom: Every year on Christmas Eve, we went to the Christmas church service. Me and my brothers and sister would decorate the tree and sometimes my mom would help. I remember getting up on Christmas day and the presents would be under the tree and there was so many presents that it seemed like they were everywhere in the living room.

Me: How many brothers and sisters do you have?

Mom: I had 3 brothers and 4 sisters. I had two brothers and one sister that died in a car accident. One of my brothers was married and his wife died in the accident too.

Me: What were their names?

Mom: Exie, Otis, and Clara. I was only three years old so I don’t remember if Clara was my sister’s name or if she was the wife of Otis.

Me: What was the full name of your husband?

Mom: Billy Edward Cornett, he was born March of 1944.

Me: How did you meet dad? What year did you meet?

Mom: When I was bowling. I used to belong to a bowling league. We met in 1971. I used to have plenty of trophies from bowling. Me and your dad were on the same bowling team and we both had trophies.

Me: Wow! That wasn’t a very long courtship then since i was born the year after!

Mom: No we were hanky pankyin!

Me: Oh my! I don’t need to know the details. Hahaha

Me: How did dad propose marriage to you?

Mom: He asked me in a car, we were parked on the side of the road across from his house in White Hall, Maryland. We were just talking normally when he popped the question.

Me: Did he look nervous like most men do, when he proposed to you?

Mom: Yeah he looked nervous because he didn’t know what I would say, I guess.

Me: When and where were you married?

Mom: St. John’s Lutheran Church in Sweetair , Maryland on April 24, 1971

Me: Was it a morning or afternoon wedding?

Mom: I think it was about 2 o’clock in the afternoon. After the ceremony we had the reception down stairs in the church hall.

Me: Did you have a honeymoon?

Mom: No.

Me: Why didn’t you have one?

Mom: We couldn’t afford it at the time.

Me: Was dad a romantic kind of guy?

Mom: Not really.

Me: What memory is your most favorite about your wedding day?

Mom: Walking down the aisle

Me: Did he cry when he seen you walking down the aisle towards him?

Mom: No. We were both very nervous. But after the ceremony, everyone got together and we cut the cake.

Me: So you guys had that deer in the headlights look on your faces?

Mom: Kelly, you’re funny….

Me: Wedding gifts?

Mom: I had a wedding shower at his moms (Lucia’s) house and we opened the gifts then. I should have pictures somewhere.

Me: Do you remember what some of your gifts were?

Mom: Vacuum cleaner, towels, dishes, and we were given a money tree but I don’t remember how much it was. That was a long time ago!

Me: Does that mean I’m old?! Gee thanks mom!

Mom: Don’t give me that look either! (laughing)

Me: How would you describe dad? What did you admire most about him?

Mom: Quiet and shy. I liked his personality and he always had someone laughing. He liked to joke around quite a bit.

Me: How did you find out you were pregnant for the first time?

Mom: I was nauseous and I had bad morning sickness.

Me: Were you and dad happy about it?

Mom: yes

Me: You’re not just saying that? Because that was me in that belly of yours!

Mom: No!

(Both of us are smiling)

Me: How did you come up with my name when you named me?

Mom: Sue, your dads sister, liked the name and was going to name her baby Kelly. We were pregnant at the same time and she ended up having a baby boy, so she chose another name for her son. So I decided to take that name. But if you were a boy, you would have been named Daniel Eugene.

Me: I’m so glad I am a girl!

Me: How did you choose my sisters name?

Mom: I just liked that name. Because you had my middle name, Ann, and when I named Amy I wanted her to have part of my first name of Carolyn and used that for her middle name for Lynn. That’s how I did it ūüôā

Me: Last question. What is one thing that you would want people to remember about you and your life?

Mom: Kelly Ann! I am dependable, like to help people, and a very lovable person. I don’t know, I didn’t think you would give me such a hard question.

My grandfather is being very elusive. I am having a hard time finding information on him. So far, I have some paperwork compiled by a family member of our family tree, some old black and white scanned photos, names, dates, and family members both past and present. Some are familiar to me and some are not. But that is the love of Genealogy research! Discovering family and learning, reading, and visualizing the lives they have led in the past.

But I will tell you what I do know of him so far. Walter Allen Cornett Sr. was born on December 29, 1909 and died nearly five years before I was born, he died on June 30, 1967. He married my grandmother, Lucia Rose Cornett on July 15, 1928. From what my mother tells me, they had 9 children together including a Dorothy Mae who was born on April 11,1930 and died May 10, 1930. She was only a month old when she passed away. I’m not sure what the cause of her death was. He was in the military, but I’m not sure which branch, what his rank was, military responsibilities, or even how long he was in the service.

According to the Social Security Death Index (SSDI), he was 57 years old and 5 months! Pretty exact I would say. I am still trying to find information on him, sent out emails, Facebook messages to family, and once I get more information I will be sure to post an update!

On¬†, I found the 1930 Census information on Walter’s household during that time. The information found is below.

Name:Walter A Cornett
Census Event Date:1930
Event Place: Black Lick,Wythe,Virginia
Marital Status:Married
Estimated Birth Year:1909
Immigration Year: N/A
Relationship to Head of Household: Head (SELF)
Father’s Birthplace:Virginia
Mother’s Birthplace:Virginia
Enumeration District Number: 0004
Family Number:469
Sheet Number and Letter: 4B
Line Number: 59
Nara Publication:T626
Roll 2465
Film Number:2342199
Digital Folder Number:4547863
Image Number:00576

Walter A Cornett, Married at age 21 to Spouse Lucy R Cornett age 15.

Please Note: In the 1930 Federal Census- my grandmothers name is stated as Lucy R Cornett but in actuality her name is Lucia Rose Cornett. I guess that is the problem with Census takers, a lot of misspellings in the names and such, which makes it harder to discern your research at times.

Source Citation
“United States Census, 1930,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 16 May 2012), Walter A Cornett, Black Lick, Wythe, Virginia.

Below are some of the photos I have of them. Since I am in the process of moving, I will¬†have¬†to wait until I unpack and get settled to see if I have any other photos I can add to this blog about Walter! Please be patient….

After going through some paperwork, I found some other documents such as 2 separate honorable discharge papers, a press release and also a death certificate for Walter Allen Cornett. These were given to me from a family member. Granted, they are only scanned copies, but I’ll take what I can get! I am very much appreciative that she took the time to scan them and mail them to me.

Press Release
Andrews Field, MD

Honorable Discharge Document #1 (1945)

Honorable Discharge Document #2 (1946)
Death Certificate for Walter Allen Cornett

Good morning and Aloha! 
It has been breezy but also rainy here on Oahu this morning and it makes for great sleeping weather, so what am I doing up? It’s 9 a.m. that’s why; I cant sleep in like my husband can, he can sleep through a tsunami! If I were only that lucky…but anyway, I have been wondering about the accuracy of DNA in our genealogy.¬†

Image Source:

How do we know this is truly accurate, as DNA is taken from the living, not the dead? The genetic genealogy tests can be expensive, depending on your own economic standpoint. So just how great is this anyway? I’ve been reading up on several different articles that pertain to this topic and in my opinion, I wouldn’t waste my time or money on something that isn’t 110% accurate. I’m not saying that a person shouldn’t do this type of testing, if it leads them to finding their missing links in their families history. By all means, go for it if that’s what you want to do. I am merely expressing my own opinion. After reading the following article, I became a little skeptical. There are many companies offering these types of services that promise to trace your lineage through means of a DNA test, whether it’s paternal or maternal, the price goes up depending on your needs. Read this article from another blogger, who seems to have done her research and then let me know whether you think this type of test is something you would do.¬†

Genetic Genealogy Blog

To My Readers: Have you tried this sort of testing to trace your ancestral roots? Did you have any success? Please post your success stories! Below is a company offering this type of service. What do you think?

DNA Ancestry Project

Thank you! I have made contact with family members I didn’t even know existed. By researching the Cornett/ Sutherland heritage on the web site, I have connected with others who are researching the same family as I am and what do you know? They’re actually family. This is very exciting! The branches of my tree have become so tangled and intertwined, but in such a good way. What a great way to share data gathered through web sites such as Ancestry, and being able to share that knowledge with your own family, is priceless.

Image Source: Family Stories
Photo Credit: Andrew Bret Wallis

I was just talking to my oldest son, John, who was recently asking about our ancestry. He has become somewhat curious about who his relations were back in the “old days”. I was so excited that he even asked, that I think I may have bored him with my rantings of our family tree and what I had found so far. When I was his age, I “tuned out” my family when I heard the stories of ancestors past. Now I’m kicking myself for not paying attention! I went into my own little world of music and television so I didn’t have to listen to boring stories that related to history of people I never even knew. Today, I really wished I had recorded their stories in some way. Now that the older generations in my family have passed on to a better place, there is no way I can get that history, or even the stories back. The stories seem to have died with them.¬†

Family stories casually chatted about at the dinner table, or told again and again at family gatherings can parallel great epics or notable short stories. The memorable stories of our lives and of others in our family take on special importance because they are true, even if everyone tells different versions of the same event. These tales are family heirlooms held in the heart not in the hand.

So knowing that I lost those memories forever, how do I continue my research into a quest for family stories that relate to my family? Any suggestions?