Start Here

Karen 20 opt sepia Start HereHi. I’m Karen Batchelor and first and foremost, I’m a history geek.

But my passion is, and always will be, genealogy – the hunt for ancestors long-dead but not forgotten, if I have anything to do with it.

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 doing Black 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.

aunt clara old Start Here

My Great-Aunt Clara.

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 shocking discovery – William Hood, an ancestor from Pennsylvania who fought in the Revolutionary War.

Not at all what I expected.

fort freeland 600px Start Here

My 4th great-grandfather, William Hood fought at the Battle of Fort Freeland in 1782.

The discovery of William Hood led to my becoming the first recognized 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. 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.

Francis Walton Batchelor Start Here

Great Grandpa Francis Walton Batchelor and four of his daughters.

Lately, I’ve started 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.

turkeyroost1 Start Here

This is an example of women’s clothing from the 18th century.

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.

5. Share some feedback by making a comment at the end of any post. And you can also  email me.

6.  Visit Extreme Ancestry on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

It is my fondest wish that what you read here at Extreme Ancestry inspires you to learn more of your family stories.

once upon a time25 Start Here

Thanks for stopping by.