Archive for ‘General Information’

March 11, 2014

Paw Martin and Daylight Savings Time

My father often tells tales about his maternal grandparents, Paw and Maw Martin, whom he adored. They lived right next door when he was growing up, so he saw them often and has many fond memories of them.

One story Dad tells is about Paw’s reaction to Daylight Savings Time, back when it was implemented in the US. Paw refused to go by the “new” time, so anyone who wanted him to be anywhere during the months affected by DST would have to convert that time to Standard Time.

I know, this makes Paw sound like a curmudgeon, but he wasn’t; he was actually a very good man. Possibly, his attitude toward a time switch had something to do with being a farmer. Animals have clocks in their heads, not on their mantels, and when a cow’s used to being milked at a certain time, that’s the time it needs to be milked. There’s a reason farmers work from day’s light to day’s end. It has little to do with the position of hands on a clock, and more to do with efficient use of light and other resources.

Every year when the clocks change, I think of Paw and wonder if I might have inherited a little bit of his practical nature where time’s concerned.

February 26, 2014

Mailing List for Publications

I’m trying to move my publication efforts into the 21st century, and that includes deep and serious thoughts about marketing. Right now, I have four titles out (three non-fiction and one novel), with more in the works. Figuring out how to let people know when new titles are available for purchase is one of the challenges self-published writers and compilers face.

To that end, I’ve started an e-mail list for my publishing company, Bone Diggers Press. Right now, I mail flyers through the U.S. Postal Service to past customers, which can get expensive and isn’t always effective. (I secretly believe some libraries are throwing the flyers away without opening them, even those that have expressed interest in purchasing future titles.) So, I’m hoping the e-mail list will be an easier, more cost-effective way for me to communicate with potential customers.

If you’ve purchased a title from me in the past, you’re on my USPS mailing list. If you’d rather receive an e-mail, just let me know and I’ll help you shift from physical to digital notices. To sign up for the e-mail list on your own, go here and submit your preferred e-mail list.

February 18, 2014

Shifting Priorities

A few of y’all might have noticed that I’ve only posted here infrequently over the past few months. Part of the reason is because I’m shifting my attention away from genealogy onto other things (more on that in a moment), and part of it is because since November 2013 I’ve been completely unable (for non-health related reasons) to get out and do research.

The “other things” I’m doing include refocusing my activities toward writing both non-fiction (genealogy) and fiction. In the past year, I’ve published Rabun County, Georgia, Writs, 1836 – 1859 (a book-length abstract of important historic court records), several articles for The Appalachiana, an article for the Georgia Genealogical Society Quarterly (on Georgia’s poor school records), and my first work of fiction.

The latter came about in kind of an odd way. Back in November, when I realized I wasn’t going to be able to get out to do research for a while, I started playing around with what has long been a dream of mine: writing a novel. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for decades, and the way I actually accomplished it was in many ways thanks to my skills as a non-fiction writer. The end result is The Prophecy, which I’ve self-published under the pseudonym Lucy Varna. The Prophecy isn’t really confined to a particular genre. Richard says it’s suspense with romantic elements, but I intended for it to be romantic suspense with paranormal elements (immortal women, a curse; sorry, but no vampires).

Even before I wrote started plotting (I use that word loosely) and writing The Prophecy, I’d been considering shifting my focus to more writing- and editing-related activities. It’s no secret that I’m pursuing certification through the BCG and that I’m trying to slowly establish myself as a serious academic genealogy author. Writing and publishing a novel doesn’t mean I’m leaving genealogy or those particular goals behind. It just means that I have more than one possible future path.

For now, I’m trying to juggle writing both non-fiction and fiction. The rest of my genealogy related activities are still in place, although they’re receiving less attention than I would like. I still can’t get out to do research (again, non-health related reasons) and I’m not taking on any new projects, unless something really interesting comes my way (in which case, I reserve the right to change my mind). One project I’d like to pursue and have been thinking seriously about is a historical faction (novel) set here in Rabun County. That’s a long story, and I’m not ready to reveal the details yet, but look for more information in a year or so.

In the meantime, I will try to find time to post more often here. I haven’t forgotten this blog; far from it. But my time is severely limited right now. I don’t see that changing anytime soon, but I will try to budget enough time each week for ye olde blogge.

January 28, 2014

Rabun County’s Weather, January 1899

We’re having a snow day today here at home. Interestingly enough, the weatherman predicted no snow for northern Georgia; yet, there it is: three inches of snow, and more coming down by the second.

Just for fun, I thought I’d post some excerpts from The Clayton Tribune‘s community columns for January 1899. All were taken from my published transcription of Rabun County’s early newspapers, Rabun County, Georgia, Newspapers, 1894 – 1899.

6 January 1899 issue:

Tiger: “We are having some very cold weather.”

Warwoman: “According to the ruling days the weather will be very favorable for out door labor up to June.”

If you’re wondering what “ruling days” is, the old-timers believed the first twelve days of January corresponded respectively to the twelve months of the year, weather-wise.

13 January 1899 issue:

Warwoman: “We are experiencing a cold snap at present, hope the weather will moderate soon and we may have a pleasant January.”

Bridge Creek: “The weather is very cold and unsettled now.”

20 January 1899 issue:

Upper Tiger: “We are having some more disagreeable weather and the roads are muddy. The overseers are trying to have them worked so that Judge Estes will not grumble when he attends court next month.”

North Chechero: “It is the muddiest time now we have had in quite a time. W. L. Carver arrived home last Friday and reports more mud and it in larger pieces.”

26 January 1899 issue:

Bridge Creek: “Mud and rainy weather seems to be plentiful.”

North Chechero: “I am glad to see nice weather again. The roads are drying out some.”

Vandiver [column] 1: “Rain and mud, no end to the mud.”

Vandiver [column] 2: “We are very proud of the beautiful weather and if it remains fair I think we will have less mud.”

So it seems that no matter what the era, people are always interested in the weather and either complaining because it’s bad or joyful because it’s not. Plus ça change…

October 16, 2013

It’s Here!

Yesterday, the mailman left a much anticipated surprise in my mailbox: the Fall 2013 issue of the Georgia Genealogical Society Quarterly, which contains an article I wrote, “Georgia’s Poor School and Academy Lists: An Upson County Case Study.”

The article is, loosely, a proof argument, the first one I’ve published. But it’s also a methodology. The key figure is Nettie (Alford) Jamerson, who was the daughter of Pierce Lewis Alford and Amanda (Jenkins) (Alford) Ansley. P. L. and Amanda lived in Talbot and Upson Counties, Georgia. Both died young and left no estates. Nettie’s death certificate listed two different people as her parents, and she was never located on a federal census prior to her marriage to Andrew McDonald Jamerson. So, what to do? The poor school lists were only part of the solution, but they were an important part.

Continue Reading

August 7, 2013

The Appalachiana, Vol. I, Issue 1, August 2013

The first issue of the Southern Appalachians Genealogical Association’s quarterly newsletter, The Appalachiana, has just come out. Many people put much work into making the newsletter a reality, from the authors to members of SAGA’s Publications Committee and Board of Directors. We’ve put the Table of Contents for this issue online. Our feature articles include:

  • The Georgia Archives Endures, by Michele Simmons Lewis
  • Research at the East Tennessee History Center, by Sue Ann A. Reese
  • Exploring the 1906 Eastern Cherokee Applications, by Yvonne Mashburn Schmidt
  • From the Experts: Two Writing Tools for Managing a Research Project, by Julie Cahill Tarr

All of the contributing authors did an excellent job, and we thank them for their patience and commitment to this project.

August 6, 2013

Now Available: Rabun County, Georgia, Writs, 1836 – 1859

I’m very pleased to announce the release of my newest book-length project, Rabun County, Georgia, Writs, 1836 – 1859. This book covers early Superior and Inferior Court records that have never before been published, and that are not microfilmed. The only way to access these records is by viewing the originals, which are located in the Clerk of the Superior Court’s office in Clayton.

In spite of the title (which was taken from the titles of the original bound record volumes), this publication includes many different kinds of court records, including: complaints or petitions, affidavits, acknowledgments of service, executions of writs, receipts, confessions of judgments, answers, pleas, verdicts of juries, bonds, counterclaims, and, of course, writs (e.g. subpoenas). The covered court cases were primarily civil in nature.

By using these writ and other records in conjunction with extant court minutes, dockets, and other court records, one can gain a more clear and detailed picture of the nature of court proceedings, as well as the activities of one’s ancestors.

Rabun County, Georgia, Writs, 1836 – 1859 is hardcover, 6×9″ with 334 + x pages, with a glossary of legal terms and an every-name and subject index. The cost is $30 plus $3 shipping and handling. Orders postmarked on or before 21 August 2013 receive a $5 discount off the total cost of the book. To order, e-mail me or write to: Dawn Watson, P. O. Box 292, Rabun Gap, GA 30568.

May 22, 2013

Call for Authors: The SAGA Newsletter

The Southern Appalachians Genealogical Association (SAGA) was formed last month to serve the needs of researchers with ancestors from across that region in the states of Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Membership is open to anyone willing to support the Society’s objectives, which revolve around education, preservation, publication, and scholarship.

The Society’s quarterly newsletter will be published in February, May, August, and November of each year. The first issue is scheduled for publication in August 2013. Regular features will include member queries, member news, and news from around the region.

Longer articles are also needed. Topics of particular interest include: research in archives or libraries; using and finding specific records; methodologies and techniques for better research; genealogy technology; genetic genealogy; biographies and short case studies; and articles on the history and culture of the region (specific localities or events), as well as historical preservation activities. Ideas on other topics are welcome.

All articles should be well-documented [edit: i.e. referenced] using citation formats recommended in Evidence Explained: Citing History from Artifacts to Cyberspace (2d. ed.) by Elizabeth Shown Mills.

For more information, see the newsletter section of the Society’s web site. Contact the newsletter’s editor at

April 13, 2013

Thank You to the Genealogical Computer Society of GA

A huge and hearty thank you to the Genealogical Computer Society of GA, with whom I had the pleasure of speaking today. Y’all were a great group to visit with. Don’t forget to e-mail me if you have any lingering questions.

A special thank you to Don and Pat Thompson, who took me and my crew (Richard) to lunch afterward. We enjoyed speaking with y’all, and appreciated the thoughtful gesture.

There were a few topics we touched on, not part of the lectures but additional queries, that I wanted to follow up on for those of you who are interested.

Educational Opportunities
One subject discussed lightly at lunch concerned educational opportunities for genealogists. A list of many of the opportunities I recommended can be found on the Board for Certification of Genealogists‘ web site under Educational Preparation. I also use the web site Conference Keeper and read the blog Adventures in Genealogy Education to find additional opportunities.

Finding Professional Researchers
Several members asked questions about finding reliable professional genealogists to perform client work. Here are three sites I recommend for doing so: Board for Certification of Genealogists, Association of Professional Genealogists, and ICAPGen. If you need a more personal recommendation, please do not hesitate to e-mail me.

Citing Sources in RootsMagic
While we were discussing source citations and Elizabeth Shown Mills’ excellent work, Evidence Explained: Citing Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, Don mentioned that RootsMagic incorporates EE into its source citation models. Since I don’t use that particular software, I’m not much help, but Randy Seaver regularly posts about citing sources in RootsMagic on his blog, Genea-Musings.

Once again, thank you for having us. I look forward to speaking with y’all again.

April 11, 2013

Announcing SAGA, a New Genealogical Society for the Southern Appalachians

What do you do when there are no genealogical societies nearby and local historical societies are less than friendly to genealogists? Why, you start your own society, of course!

We’ve been hard at work over the past few months organizing the Southern Appalachians Genealogical Association (SAGA). I’m pleased to announce that as of April 10, we are officially organized and open to new members.

SAGA is a regional genealogical society, covering those families who lived in Appalachia in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. When most people think of the Appalachians, their mind goes straight to West Virginia and Kentucky, but the Appalachians extend much further south. Researchers whose ancestors lived in the Southern Appalachians face many of the same problems encountered by those researching in the mid- and northern sections, and need the same kind of support.

SAGA aims to provide this support by offering a society specifically geared toward researchers with Southern Appalachian ancestors and by actively encouraging the development of resources for those researchers, while promoting scholarship and high standards of research.

If you have ancestors who lived in the Southern Appalachians and are interested in joining our fledgling Society, please visit our web site. We look forward to hearing from you!


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