What I hope you discover in the articles here at Extreme Ancestry is a thoughtful exploration of family history through real-life stories, experiences and ideas that inspire a sense of belonging and connectedness. That’s what I’m aiming for.
For each ancestor I discover, my goal is always to piece together as much as I can about their stories of strength, survival and beating the odds so successfully that they made it possible for me to be here today.
My journey in family history began as a New Year’s resolution in 1976, the bi-centennial of the United States. A phone conversation shortly afterwards with then 81-year-old Great-Aunt Clara fanned the flame of my interest in genealogy. And I’ve been hot on the trail ever since making discoveries that constantly challenge who I really think I am.
I’m betting Aunt Clara would be proud.
Because I started researching my family history long before computers and the almighty Internet, I learned how to do it the old-fashioned way – through the proven step-by-step process called “genealogy”. Within 10 months, my new-found skills led me to a surprising discovery – William Hood, an ancestor from Pennsylvania who fought in the Revolutionary War.
I don’t know who was more shocked – him or me!
Finding William Hood led to my becoming the first acknowledged Black member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) in 1977. I’m a member of the Ezra Parker Chapter DAR in Royal Oak, Michigan and an associate member of the Presidio Chapter DAR in San Francisco.
Since my early years of doing genealogy, I’ve discovered other Revolutionary War ancestors, so a fair amount of my ongoing research is focused on documenting the lives of those patriots and the other ancestors they’ve led me to.
I’ve also researched my slave and slave owner ancestors from Georgia, Virginia and North Carolina and my Puritan roots in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine and New York that include a colonial witch or two.
In addition to being a member, Membership Chair and 1st Vice Regent of my DAR chapter, I’m also –
- A co-founder and charter member of the Fred Hart William Genealogical Society in Detroit, Michigan
- A member of the New England Historic and Genealogical Society and
- A new member of the Associated Daughters of Early American Witches through my descent from ancestors who were persecuted and executed for witchcraft in Connecticut – 40 years before Salem.
I’m also in the year-long process of obtaining my certification as a professional genealogist. Of course, I’m never done with work on my own family history which has given me invaluable experience researching at the:
- National Archives
- New England Historic and Genealogical Society
- Library of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution
- Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana
- Genealogy Society of Pennsylvania
- Bloomfield Hills, Michigan Family History Center of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints and
- Burton Historical Collection at the Detroit Public Library, where I spent many hours doing the research that led to my Revolutionary War patriot, William Hood.
I’ll have to live to be 105 to complete all of the family research I’ve started.
Lately, I’ve done something really different for me – exploring the lifestyle of my ancestors through what’s called “living history”. Living history is where you engage in activities that allow you to re-create historical events or the lifestyle of a certain time in the past. Right now, I’m living the history of colonial America in the years leading up to and including the American Revolution.
Watch for my “living history” posts on wearing 18th century clothing, working at a colonial farm and learning first-hand about the life my early American ancestors would have lived. It’s beyond amazing to start the day in the 21st century and spend it back in the 1700’s!
As you explore around Extreme Ancestry -
1. Read any of the posts here on your laptop or mobile devices, like smartphones and tablets.
2. Learn more about my story.
3. Enjoy the photos – many of which are old photos from my family archives or pictures I took with my trusty iPhone camera. I use PicMonkey for editing (because it’s easy and I don’t know, or want to learn, Photoshop).
4. Check out the family surnames I’m currently researching.
6. Visit Extreme Ancestry on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest and my Tumblr blog – Hotchpotching. It is my fondest wish that what I write inspires you to learn more about your family history and stories.
Thanks for stopping by.