Tag: Community

Faces of NextGen: Meet Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee, 41, Texas

What five words would you use to describe yourself? Energetic, passionate, motivating, inspiring, teacher’s heart.

Why genealogy? Why not genealogy? Of all the activities that I could do, nothing will last longer or have a greater impact than connecting my children’s hearts with those of their ancestors. There are lessons to learn from the tragedies and the triumphs as well as the wise or imprudent decisions. Only genealogy profiles these connections on such a deep level. Plus, sometimes you learn some hilarious situations along the way.

What’s the coolest discovery you’ve made? There are too many to name, so I’ll limit myself to three. With DNA testing, my circumstantial/inferential genealogy was proven correct! Oh, yeah. I have discovered more relations for my grandmother’s adopted line than she ever knew. I untangled a great-grandfather from his brother’s wife and discovered he had a second wife that only one side of the family understood well. And I also found out about a great-grandmother had a fiancé who died before she married my great-grandfather. The woman who encouraged the second match was the mother of the deceased fiancé!

What are you working on this week? That changes daily. I will either be giving back through indexing at FamilySearch, preparing a manuscript for publishing the stories of my ancestors, connecting with emails from DNA relatives matches, or just going where the hints lead me. Or, I’ll work on videos for the FamilyHistoryFanatics.com channel on YouTube.

What’s the number one secret to your success in genealogy? Patience! You have to laugh because I’m not a naturally patient person. I am easily distracted, so perhaps that helps me be patient. The discoveries of a Civil War ancestor that led me to discover his brothers and sister required patience. Patience for a photo request to be filled at Find A Grave. Patience for a Civil War Pension file to be scanned and sent to me. Patience for myself as I attempted one-name genealogy research for other Townsends in Franklin County, Ohio. Patience for the right time to take a DNA test. And that’s just one line. Every family line has a story of patience as I await the technology, time, or financial resources to catch up so I can make more discoveries.

What superpower would you want to help you uncover your family history? Time travel. Is that a superpower if it requires mechanical devices to access? I think this is every genealogist’s dream superpower. If that isn’t possible, it would be to read multiple foreign languages. I’d love to use the superpower to read German newspapers and church records to benefit my family and to learn other languages so I could serve my community through indexing or one-on-one family tree climbing.

What are we most likely to find you doing when you’re not researching family history? Raising my five superheroes or dating my husband. My family is my life. You might also find me reading a Regency England era romance novel.

Anything else you’d like to share? Family history is more than researching dead people. We have to preserve the stories of our living relatives and ourselves as well. I am a young mother, yet my father passed away after meeting only three of his grandchildren. His stories died with him, and so did his voice. When my youngest was two, my mother joined him in the grave the same year my last living grandparent died. The link to the past closed and I only have access to what I can find in “traditional” genealogical records. Preserving the living is the most important thing a genealogist can do. As time permits, finding more about the deceased relatives can increase.

The NextGen Genealogy Network is made up of young genealogists with diverse backgrounds, interests, and experiences. Faces of NextGen showcases a different member of our community each month. If you would like to be considered for an upcoming feature, simply complete our questionnaire and submit a selfie.


Faces of NextGen LIVE! Meet Devon Noel Lee

The NextGen Genealogy Network’s Faces of NextGen LIVE! is a new feature hosted by Education Coordinator Eric Wells. In this recorded interview, get to know Devon Noel Lee of Texas:

Want to say hello to your fellow young genealogists during a fun and informal interview with Eric? Let us know at info@tnggn.org.

Don’t forget to bookmark our YouTube Channel to keep up with the latest on Faces of NextGen LIVE!


Faces of NextGen LIVE! Meet David Allen Lambert

The NextGen Genealogy Network’s Faces of NextGen LIVE! is a new feature hosted by Education Coordinator Eric Wells. In this recorded interview, get to know David Allen Lambert of Massachusetts:

Want to say hello to your fellow young genealogists during a fun and informal interview with Eric? Let us know at info@tnggn.org.

Don’t forget to bookmark our YouTube Channel to keep up with the latest on Faces of NextGen LIVE!


An Afternoon with Dad

Editor’s Note: This is one of a series of guest posts highlighting the ways in which intergenerational connections have inspired young genealogists. To learn more about how the NextGen Genealogy Network encourages young genealogists to build connections between all generations, see the NextGen Connection Challenge.

A few years ago, my father and I spent a Saturday going through boxes and envelopes containing our family history. His mother, my Mema Eula, was a history buff and amateur genealogist and kept a lot of  family things to pass down to my father. After Mema passed away, her cedar chest with all of this collected history was taken to a storage warehouse.  At the time, we really didn’t have an understanding or appreciation of the contents inside.

The first item that drew our eyes when we opened the cedar chest was an old Whitman’s chocolate box.  As I wiped off the layers of dust from the lid, I couldn’t help but think of the saying, “Life is like a box of chocolates,” and laughed a little at the irony. I lifted the lid and wondered what family treasure it might hold, if any. I prayed it wouldn’t contain fifty-year-old chocolate covered fruit as the lid described!

My fingers rested on the piece of paper that laid on top. Gingerly unfolding the stained and tattered paper, I wondered how it had survived for years in this chocolate box under such poor conditions. I worried it would fall apart in my hands. Thankfully it didn’t, and to our excitement we discovered the paper was a marriage license for my great-great-grandparents, John Goode and Henri Ellen Roberson, dated September 1880!  They both were twenty-two years of age and from Garner Township in Union County, Arkansas.

Anticipation building at what we might find next, we opened a smaller box with the name of a Little Rock jewelry store, long since gone, written across the lid. Inside we found a lovely cameo pendant, a locket with the photo of a woman and baby from around the turn of the century, a gold wedding band, a broken beaded necklace, and several other jewelry remnants. All prized possessions for someone at one time, no doubt.

The rest of the cedar chest contained letters, other boxes of keepsakes, yearbooks, and photos. Lots of photos. People we knew and people we didn’t.  The mystery lady from the locket turned up several more times in larger, more stunning photos. Her side profile revealed a long straight nose and perfectly arched brow. Her beautiful dark hair was swept back in a loose, wavy bun. Fashionable ladies at the turn of the century wore such styles, and this helped us narrow down who she might be in the family tree.

One other woman appeared in a Civil War era photo. Having traced my family history quite extensively, I knew that my father’s side came to Arkansas from Yorkville after the Civil War. Wearing a dark dress with a voluminous skirt, the woman in the photograph holds a Holy Bible in one hand. Her face is pleasant, if expressionless, which is so often the case with old photos like these. We thought about who she could possibly be. Which great grandmother is she? Where does she fit in the family tree? The photo jacket named J. R. Shorb, Yorkville, South Carolina. Once we went home, we did some research on Schorb, a prominent photographer in Yorkville in the mid-1850s until his death. Given the dates of his work and the age of the woman in the photo, we determined that the woman was most likely either my third great grandmother, Cynthia Louise Hall Garrison, or my second great grandmother, Mary Jane Simril Garrison. Mary Jane moved with her husband, Major Brown Garrison, to Bradley County, Arkansas around 1870.

As we went through the remaining photos and other items in the chest, I learned many things that I didn’t know about my grandparents. Almost every item brought up a memory for Dad and a story I hadn’t heard before. We read letters my grandfather wrote during World War II while he was stationed in the South Pacific. I learned that my grandfather, an engineer by trade, loved to draw floor plans, which is something I have always loved to do myself. I learned about how my grandmother, a teacher, managed to raise two wonderful children on her own after my grandfather died unexpectedly from a brain aneurysm. I learned of my father’s childhood in the oil boom town of El Dorado, Arkansas. Of him laying highway asphalt one summer, in the oppressive Arkansas heat and humidity, to earn money for college. I learned things that amused me, things that surprised me. Things that made me proud. Things that made my grandparents and great grandparents more than just names on the family tree. Most importantly, I spent a fun and meaningful afternoon with my father.

Beth Garison Wylie, MPA, is a genealogy blogger at lifeinthepastlane.org. When she is not researching family history, she’s busy juggling the crazy but rewarding life of a healthcare administrator, wife, and mother of two littles. She is currently a member of the Oklahoma Genealogical Society Board of Directors and the Secretary for the NextGen Genealogy Network’s Leadership Team.