Posts Tagged ‘family’

White and Purple Flowers, taken on September 8, 2012, Hawaii
Photo Credit: Kelly Vial 2012

Yesterday I had the opportunity to be a part of my husbands family reunion here in Hawaii. It was a beautiful, but hot day with little breeze. As we entered, my husband signed us in and grabbed our name tags that stated what line we were descended from. There are about 11 different family lines that stemmed from one common ancestor. I took our trays of food to the outdoor kitchen where there were many hugs and kisses going around, and new introductions being made. I don’t think I’ve hugged and kissed that many people in one day EVER! You could definitely feel the close bond of a loving Ohana (family). We made our rounds saying aloha to the family sitting down at tables or sitting on benches underneath the palm trees. 

After speaking and saying hello to all the Ohana, I decided to take some photos of the boards on display of the Meyer genealogy tree! Huge! It was stretched out over 3 or 4 different display boards. Another 2 or 3 boards also displayed old family photos of generations past. One looked like a collage, and the others were more formal looking with  8×10 photos with the ancestors name below them. Very nice!

There was a straw hut I guess you could say, that had members of the Ohana giving out goodie bags to the keiki (children). The children’s games were all set up- putt putt golf, a pinata swinging from the tree above, and many others. Some of the older kids were tossing a football, the younger ones were chasing each other around trees, blowing bubbles, blowing their little plastic horns which sounded like a high pitched whistle. The band under the tents sounded wonderful, playing local style music and just seeing everyone so happy, dancing around, doing hula and just having some good ol’ fun was just one of the highlights of the day. 

Before enjoying the food that our Lord had blessed us with, we had Pule Ho’okuu (opening prayer).  There was an abundance of food brought to eight banquet tables, laden with all the food you could possibly envision. Anything from fried chicken and hot dogs to Pork Adobo and spinach salad with tofu (which was my favorite), potato mac salad, beef curry, pies and chantilly cake, doughnuts, mini muffins,  and brownies; you name it and it was there. 

After the potluck lunch, there was a presentation given on the history of George Kahelelani Meyer, our common ancestor. Group introductions of the descendants by lineage were then asked to go on stage in front of everyone. Everyone snapping pictures of each generation and one person to speak and say how they were descended from this one man. After all eleven different family lines had their turn on the stage, we all gathered around in the biggest circle I ever seen, holding hands with one another while everyone sang “Hawaii Aloha” which was written by Reverend Lorenzo Lyons. This concluded all ceremonies of the day, but this didn’t stop me from playing with the keiki’s, chasing one little girl around trees, blowing bubbles with a 3 year old cutey and passing a football to one of the other boys. Mind you, I don’t have a football arm! But it was all in good fun and I had the best anniversary day with my husband and his extended family, that I truly enjoyed being a part of! 

Before we left for the day, my husbands grandmother, Evelyn was acknowledged by the entire Ohana as being the oldest living descendant of George Kahelelani Meyer. She had a beautiful framed picture box type of photo frame, where on display at the top, were two crossed bats that was an emblem of sorts and had a group photo of her grandfather as a member of the local baseball team. What an honor for her! Love you grams <3! 

Hawaii Aloha Song Lyrics by Reverend Lorenzo Lyons

English: Erythrina crista-galli (flowers). Loc...

English: Erythrina crista-galli (flowers). Location: Oahu, Ala Moana Beach Park and Magic Island (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hope everyone had a wonderful, blessed weekend! I spent my Saturday, cooking and creating in my kitchen and my Sunday was spent at Ala Moana Beach Park near Magic Island. I went to a baby shower for a dear friend and it was a smashing success! Plenty of games, good food, playing and watching the keiki’s have fun in the sun. There’s nothing better than getting together with your family and friends and welcoming another new life into this crazy world. The sun  was hot yesterday and it was really refreshing to enjoy the cool,  salty water with everyone. It was an unconventional baby shower where men were included in this awesome celebration. It was all great fun 🙂

Speaking of family, who were they really? My quest is to learn more about who my Cornett family really is. It’s more than the genealogy aspect, it’s about the history of my family and getting to know them on a more personal level even though they are long gone. Sometimes I think I should have been born in this era, back in the 1800’s. What life must have been like for them. The trials and tribulations they must have endured in order to survive. Once you start your own family history research, you find that you need to dig just a little deeper because you just haven’t found that clue yet. It may be in the next shovel of dirt you are digging with. You bend over and scoop up a handful of rich soil, while it slowly sifts through your fingers. Looking, searching, and hoping that the next clue will one day be right there in your hands.

What kind of people do you come from? Were they from another country other than the U.S.? Why did they choose Grayson County, Virginia or even Kentucky in which they decided to settle? What were their thoughts regarding the land they would be living on? Was it fertile land, great for farming and cattle? What did they hunt for food? Deer? Did they come across Native Americans? What did they eat back then? So many questions and I will probably never know all of it, but the thrill of the hunt keeps me going!

When my family settled in Grayson, Virginia and also in Kentucky, why did these particular areas appeal to them so much over other areas? I can only imagine that this land in which they decided to live and start a family on, was rough and rugged. Can you imagine having to clear land and trees in order to build your home? Today we have heavy machinery to do this for us, so you can guess how much hard work, tears and sweat they must have poured into their lives, their land and their homesteads. I guess the good thing about that, is the ability to use the lumber in which they had to clear,  using the wood as a log home or cabin.

Where did the Cornett family originate from? From some web sites I have read, it mentions that the Cornett surname was Norse or of French origin. Does anyone really know? The Cornett family married into one family with the last name of Sutherland, where some of the Sutherland’s back in the mid 1700’s originated from Scotland. But what about the Cornett’s? Where do the really come from?

There are so many things to discover in your family tree. The who, what, when, and where of your history will only add depth to your knowledge of your ancestors that came before you.

What will you discover?

Happy Ancestor Hunting!! 🙂

A Plumeria Gathering
Photo Credit: Kelly Vial 2012

I lost my motivation today to research family members, so I decided to write about some fun stuff for genealogists and family historians. I had to get away for the day, as I am sure most of you understand where I am coming from. Sometimes a girl just needs a break, if just to get away from it all and focus on the fun stuff! I’m not saying genealogy isn’t fun, but I just wanted to focus my energies on something a little different today.

There are so many ideas out there for the family historian, don’t you think it’s time to have a game night with your children? Dedicate one day a week, maybe even tonight, to a game night that focuses on your ancestry. You could create a word search puzzle with surnames or events that happened during that time in your ancestors life. Word searches aren’t your cup of tea? How about Ancestor Trivia? I always loved playing Trivial Pursuit with my family and learned so much and gave a lot of wrong answers to be honest. But it was fun! You could create question and answer cards in which each player has a turn asking a question about all the ancestors in your family tree. What better way than to get the children involved and maybe even spur their interest in their family’s history?

Maybe you and your family are more on the creative side, what can you think of that you could do in terms of your own family tree? You could create a collage, paint pictures, or create Christmas bulbs in which to include on your tree this year! Wouldn’t it be nice to include your ancestors of the past into your holiday celebrations? You and your children could paint a family members name and birth date on the ornament, add glitter, bows, or whatever you like to make that ornament special to that particular person. It’s a great way to get the whole family involved and they might even like it 🙂

Here are some other ideas you might like:

  • Scavenger Hunt
  • Create a Time Capsule (but in reverse)
  • Make Picture Magnets
  • Create a Tombstone Rubbing
  • Tour a Cemetery

Here are a couple of good sites I found that may give you some other ideas:





Dollar wet ground

Dollar wet ground (Photo credit: ceoln)

As I was catching up on some reading in the genealogy blogosphere, I came across an awesome article that was also a fun read. The In-Depth Genealogist blog site had an article that caught my attention and shed some light on the census records that we all use as genealogists, but just may have overlooked a certain part of the form. The article was titled, “Fun With Land and Property” by Michelle Goodrum.

In this article, she talks about the column with the dollar amounts listed under your ancestor’s real estate or personal property by utilizing an inflation calculator to determine what the value was, but in today’s dollar! I remember seeing this column on one of my own ancestors but didn’t give it much thought. Now I want to go back and check all my census records I have and use this inflation calculator to determine their wealth or lack there of. I never even thought to use this calculator but this could be of great use to the family historian and a wonderful tool.

What a great way to find out just a little bit more about your ancestry. It would give me better insight into how they lived, the value of their land, home, or personal belongings. Maybe they owned a farm, this would hopefully tell me what that property value was worth, say back in the year 1900. Comparing that value with today’s dollar amount, I could probably figure out more about their standing in the community, their lifestyle and even what their cost of living may have been during those times. It’s a wonderful approach to a side of genealogy research that I hadn’t previously thought of before. But in regards to their economic standing and the value of our dollar today, given our economic recession, I would have to take that into consideration as well. Here is the link to the article I read:

Below are a couple of links to different inflation calculators where you can try the one you like best. Compare it to your census records and find out all you can about your ancestors! This is just the tip of the iceberg! Maybe now we can figure out what those numbers really mean!!

brick wall

brick wall (Photo credit: Muffet)

Most days, I stay motivated by working with other family researchers, who just so happen to be my own family! Family I never knew I had until recently. They have become my rock so to speak. They know what hard work it can be to try and track down our ancestors. The thirst for knowledge we have about our family’s past. The ache of not knowing where one family members’ life may take us. It could be down an old, beaten path or it could be down a road less traveled. So much so that we have to cut our way through and make the path passable. At the end of the day, a genealogist or family historian still has names, dates, agendas, to-do lists, research plans and logs, documents to find, dusty attics to search through– all this and much more goes running through our minds at any given time. Most of the time I suffer from insomnia and find myself wide awake at different hours of the night, or should I say early morning? It seems like my best writing ideas comes to me at 3 a.m.! I guess it’s my quiet time with no interruptions or anything else that would distract my thought process. It’s just me, my cup of coffee which is flavored with my favorite hazelnut creamer, my laptop, and my thoughts!

I have even found myself dreaming of what I needed to do regarding my genealogy research. I recently had a dream of ancestors and antique shops, where I found something from the 1700’s that had their name and date of birth written on it. It was a simple Christmas ornament, but the shop keeper wanted an arm and a leg for it and it was way out of my price range. ($7500 to be exact) What do you think triggered this dream? It had to be the email I sent to this antique shop in Virginia just a few days ago! If I were to interpret the dream, I would say that I am feeling out of touch, feeling that my ancestors are just out of my reach. So close but yet so far! I can dream up some really strange dreams, but this one I actually remembered in vivid detail for some odd reason.

Today, I feel like I need more motivation to keep up with all the block walls that I seem to be running into blindly. If you can just picture this: a woman running along a winding road, the wind blowing through her hair and the sun shining down on her. All of a sudden she collides into a brick and mortar wall, her face slamming right into it, as it just appeared out of nowhere. She’s stunned. She looks around to see if anyone saw her. Oh, how embarrassed she would be! Mortified to say the least 🙂

In my most recent search for my fathers documents, I didn’t know the city or county he was born in until Sunday afternoon. I received an email from my aunt, telling me that my father was born in Wythe County, Crockett, Virginia. He wasn’t born in a hospital, but born at home. Even though all that is good to know, I need concrete evidence so I am able to move further back into my family tree, nourishing those roots with some good old TLC and begin my thorough research on my grandfather. One of my goals is to become a member of the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) through one of my patriot family members. But to do this, I need all the documents that I can get my hands on. With any luck, I will accomplish this goal! For those of you who don’t know me personally, I am determined, strong willed and stubborn like my father. I admit I am sometimes too patient but at the same time, I can also have a mean temper. Just ask my husband he’ll tell you what it’s like! 🙂


Photo Credit: Kelly Cornett-Vial via (June 2012)

How do you plan on getting clues about your family’s history? What would you like to know? How about interviewing a family member? By asking the right questions, you may just get a lot more information than your originally thought. Getting people to share their stories isn’t the easiest thing to do but in reality, it needs to be done. What would happen if you procrastinated getting your questions together? Your relative may die with those memories and then you would never know. It would be lost forever!

Think about the questions you would ask them if you were ever given the chance. Do you live too far away to do a one on one, personal interview? That isn’t always a bad thing as you can always create a list of questions for your relatives to answer by email, a phone conversation, or even snail mail. With all the social networking that is done by men and women of all ages, there is no reason for you to delay contacting them. Another idea would be to create a “note” in Facebook, list all of your questions and share it! Why not? It’s worth a shot!

If you do have the chance to interview one on one, be prepared to have a notepad and several pens. If you plan on recording the interview, which I would advise, I would have a voice recorder, extra tapes and also extra batteries. Give yourself at least two hours in which to complete the interview.

Below are some questions I will be asking my relatives by the time the day is out. I am currently in the process of creating this interview in a Word document and I will copy and paste the text in an email for those members that do not have the program. There is always the option of a PDF document too! There are so many questions I have to ask, and I think this is the perfect way to get those questions answered.

Questions You Could Ask

Before you get started, write or record the name of the person being interviewed, who interviewed the person (you), the date, time and location of said interview. Try not to ask questions that will give you a simple yes or no. That doesn’t really get you anywhere. Try and think of open ended questions you might ask to give you more details in which you can work with. Good luck!

  •  What is your full name? Why did your parents select this name for you? Did you have any nicknames growing up? When and where were you born?
  •  How did you and your family come to live where you are? Is there a reason behind why they chose this town over another city or county?
  •  What are your parent’s names? Do you know when they were born and where?
  • What were your (4)grandparents names, birth dates, wedding dates, death dates, and place of burial?
  • What were your (8) great grandparents names , birth dates, wedding dates, death dates and place of burial?Did any of your grandparents ever mention if they emigrated from another country? If so, where did they come from?
  •  Are any family members war veterans? If so, what war and in what year? Do you have any documents showing their terms of service?
  •  Do you have other family that lives in this area? Who were (are) they?
  •  Did your family have a house or a farm? What was that like?
  •  Can you describe the house or property in which you grew up?
  •  Were there any special items in the house that you remember?
  •  What is your earliest childhood memory? Any siblings? If so, what are their names?
  •  What was your family like? Did they have different personalities? What were their personality traits?
  •  What was your favorite thing to do as a child? Did you have a favorite toy or game? What was it?
  •  What school did you go to as a child? What was it like? Did you excel in a particular subject?
  •  Did you ever participate in school clubs or activities? If so, what were they?
  •  Were you ever mentioned in a newspaper article? If so, what was it about? Which newspaper?
  •  What was your family life like?
  •  What Church did you and your family go to?
  •  Who did you look up to as a child?
  •  What was your favorite color? Is it the same one that is your favorite, today?
  •  Did you ever own any pets or farm animals that you considered a pet? What were their names?
  •  Do you have any old pictures that you would be willing to share? Who are they of?
  •  What types of events took place while you were growing up? Did you grow up in a recession or experience the affects  of war?
  •  What family traditions did your family have? What were holidays such as Christmas, like for you as a child?
  • What family heirlooms do you own?


These types of questions should get you started and you can alter or delete the ones you don’t think you would need to ask. You can also add more than the above questions I listed to better suit your needs. I hope this article helps you in some way. Now I have to get started writing my own!




Tree - leaf canopy

Tree – leaf canopy (Photo credit: blmiers2)

A little over a year ago, I became intensely involved with finding out who my family really was, what natural or historical events may have shaped their lives, and even with any amount of luck, I would be able to put a face to those names and dates! When researching I found out a few things, the most important thing being that just because you see it on the internet or in print form doesn’t necessarily make it a fact! I started out with the basic version of and from here I searched for my Cornett family just to see what information was hiding out inside this site. Granted, there are photos and documents such as BMD records, public and private member trees, stories that members have shared in their trees, census records, immigration and emigration records and so on. What got me into trouble with my tree was linking my current tree to someone else’s data that they had in theirs. Big mistake! HUGE! Not only was there some incorrect data as far as the person’s name but some dates were incorrect too. By the time I realized the error in my ways, I had at least a thousand family members in my descendants’ tree and I had no clue that maybe someone could have made an error. I uploaded a GEDCOM file, which wasn’t created by me, but someone else in the family line and in this file there were tons of errors. This created the biggest family tree on Ancestry that I become sort of lost. Who were these people?

Some of the errors I was at fault for, by presuming these facts to be true in nature, I came to realize that the “research” I thought I was doing, really wasn’t anything but sloppy research on my part. So what do I do now? Delete everything and start over with what I do know as fact! I started with my father, who passed away in 2001, and contacted the mausoleum to obtain his death certificate. Okay, so I’m getting on the right track now; I’m documenting every little piece of information or document I can get my hands on and being that I am his next of kin, I was able to obtain a copy. There was so much more information on this little piece of paper than I had originally thought there would be. I found out the exact time of his death, the facility where he was pronounced dead, his social security number, who his parents were (of course this I already knew), I also found out that he died from congestive heart failure. So having these types of documents further feeds my passion for wanting to know more.

I have talked to family about my passion for genealogy, and they have offered to help me in any way they can, if it is at all possible. I really appreciate all they have done thus far. What next steps do I take? Well, for me, I started to write a blog, originally with BlogSpot, but after a year using the site, I feel that WordPress is offering so much more as far as my writing, which I love to do, and also my desire to connect with others that share my interest in family history. So, with that said, since talking to older family members about what I was doing, I was really overlooking the younger generation. Why not involve them too? Get them interested in who their family really was, what trials and tribulations they may have gone through to get us where we are today. I consider my contributions to this research as a glance into our past. Passing our family legacy onto the younger members of the family. I truly wish I had been this interested 20 years ago!

Researching my families past, who they were, where they lived, who died from what ailment, or even how many children they had, gives me a better idea of what their lives were like. I know some think that what is in the past should stay in the past, but I find this to be a very fulfilling adventure! I like to dig; I like to investigate further so I can paint a picture of who my family was all those years ago. Family stories passed down from generation to generation says that we, the Cornett family, were descended from King Canute, but I haven’t been able to track back that far to say whether this is actually true or not. Yes, we might be, but then again maybe we really aren’t. Another story is that a family member married into the Hatfield family, you know the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s? The History Channel recently aired their family story and the families well known for their feuding counterparts. I know a member of our family married a Mary Hatfield who was born in 1777, but is it the same one from this notorious family? Or another Mary Hatfield belonging to a different Hatfield generation? Could there be any relation? I hope to one day find out!

This is why I think researching your family’s ancestry is such an adventure! We won’t ever know if we are part of families such as this, unless we investigate and dig deep into our roots. After all, the roots are what keep a family tree standing! I wish you all the luck in finding your past and hearing about your findings as well!