Happy New Year, Claiming Kin Turns 5

Happy New Year Everyone!

I am so excited that this is the first day of 2016 because . . .
Claiming Kin turns 5 years old today!

That’s right, my blog here in cyberspace is growing up and I owe my growth to everyone who continues to support me. I’m so thankful to have a mom and brothers who get a big kick out of my passion for genealogy. As a result, I can call them any time of the day (or night) with questions and information about our family without them checking caller IDs to screen my calls — LOL!

I want to (((THANK))) Zachary Montz (Ph.D. student at University of Texas) and Thomas McWhorter (grad student at University of Houston), for contacting me to learn more about my dad and the class action law suit he and others filed against the discriminatory practices of the labor seniority system at Houston Armco Steel Corporation. Yes, I have an activist in the family that I will be blogging more about this year.

I also must (((THANK))) Amanda Fishel for contacting me last year when she discovered  my mtDNA GedMatch kits were a match to her great-great Aunt’s kit, to one of her cousin’s kits, and a small match to one of her own kits. Even though I was excited to have this DNA match, I was a little hesitant about responding to her at first. Why? I wasn’t sure how Amanda (who is not black) was going to feel about her connection to me and my African/African-American Ancestry. Well, it was a relief to know that she was not only cool with our connection, but willing to collaborate with me to find out how we’re related. I have a strong feeling this is the year we find that connection!

To all my genealogy friends who visit my blog and interact with me regularly via Twitter, Google+, and Facebook — THANK YOU! I appreciate your friendship, guidance, and your family’s history very much. I wish you and yours a — Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, Claiming Kin Turns 4!

2015 is finally here!
Not only is it a new year, but it’s also the 4 year anniversary month of  — Claiming Kin . . . . woo-hoo!

2014 was filled with challenges that kept me from blogging as regularly as I would have liked. But having little time to blog, thankfully did NOT keep me from squeezing in some quality research time. How was I able to do that? I was able to do that by staying connected with other genealogists at the Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research and via my membership with the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society’s Wille Lee Gay, H-Town Chapter. I’m excited about my genealogy journey in 2015 and I look forward to sharing that journey right here with you!

I send virtual (((((hugs & well wishes)))) to my ‘genealogy & Downton Abbey bestie’ – True Lewis – who sent me a happy blogiversary tweet on New Year’s Day!

And to all my genealogy friends who visit this blog and interact with me regularly via Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and LinkedIn — THANK YOU! I appreciate your friendship, guidance, and support very much. I wish you and yours a — Happy New Year!

My 3 Words for 2014

Thanks to Chris Brogan, CEO of Human Business Works, I adopted a new tradition last year that involves choosing 3 words that would be the action steps I take in my genealogy endeavors for the year. My 3 Words for 2013 were — First. Proof. Publish. 

What went well in 2013?

  • I was very successful in creating those “First” experiences here at Claiming Kin! Adding the “New Here?” page to my blog definitely made everyone who surfed in feel welcomed into the family and given a reason to stick around and connect with me. Therefore the engagements and discussions I had with newly found cousins (online and offline) and visiting researchers who thought the lives of my ancestors were fairly intriguing enough to want to know more about them was — PHENOMENAL!
  • Providing valid “Proof” of my family connections in my research process and citing my sources (APA Style) definitely played a major part in why I had active engagements and discussions here throughout the year!

What didn’t go well in 2013?

  • I didn’t get to “Publish” the eBooks I wanted to. BUT, one of my eBooks for “the beginning genealogy hobbyist” is in progress now. If all goes well, the e-book will be ready Fall 2014 . . . woo-hoo!

My 3 Words for 2014 are:


I believe Lawrence Block, a popular American crime writer, said it best when he penned —

Serendipity. Look for something, find something else, and realize that what you’ve found is more suited to your needs than what you thought you were looking for.”

I cannot begin to list all the “unexpected” discoveries I made about one ancestor while searching for another last year. Therefore, I want more of those experiences! But for that to happen, I must remember NOT to make assumptions about any of the resources and records available, online or offline, because I don’t believe my slave ancestors would be found in them. I must explore ALL resources and records with no preconceived ideas about what I will, or won’t, find in them. Genealogy, in a nut-shell, is problem-solving work. So as I go about reconstructing the lives and identities of my ancestors this year (and beyond), I want some serendipity thrown in there for good measure . . . for without it there would be no cool surprises waiting for me along the way!


Slave Ancestry is challenging work and to fully understand the process requires that I have knowledge about the African Diaspora and the slave experience in America! One thing my association with the African American Genealogy & Slave Ancestry Research Group (AAGSAR) has taught me is how necessary “active” collaboration with like-minded researchers is to my slave research success! Collaborating in this grassroots group has allowed me to help some incredible new family historians with their research, as well as, learn strategies for moving my slave ancestry work “back” beyond the 1870 census. AAGSAR is an interactive genealogy community I’m proud to belong to and more collaboration at this level is a MUST for me!


I believe the time has come for me to learn how to use my DNA data (and my brother’s recent Y-DNA data) to expand my family research! There has been a lot written about genetic genealogy last year; a number of  advancements in this area of study has made it possible for me to decide if I’m related to others with the same surname and to identify my geographic/ethnic ancestral origin. But my real inspiration for wanting to learn how to use my DNA data comes from closely observing the family connections AAGSAR members Kristin Williams, True Lewis, Maurice BellTeresa Vega, and others in the group have blogged about because of DNA testing.  I want to learn as much as I can about this field so that I can use my results to enhance my experience with relatives. Yes indeed! I’m ready for all my genetic testing has to offer!

Have you set some genealogy goals for yourself this year? Yes?! No?! Feel inspired to choose *three* words that would help focus your goals and efforts with your family research this year? If yes, what three words would you choose? Let me know your thoughts, but most of all Happy Ancestor Hunting to you this year!

Happy New Year, Claiming Kin Turns 3!

Happy New Year!

It is officially January 1, 2014  and  today, Claiming Kin Turns 3!

January 1

That’s right! I’ve been blogging about all things “genealogy” for 3 years today!

If I tell you these three years have gone by in a flash, you better believe it. It just doesn’t seem like I’ve been blogging very long; especially since I blog more when time allows than everyday. But I’ve been blogging and interacting with the genealogy community online more than I realize. To date, I have a total of  — 162 posts (including this one) and 542 comments (with 78 being pings & trackbacks). That’s 69.1% more posts and 80% more comments than the number of posts and comments I had at the close of my first year in 2011. So in light of these percentages I say  . . . it’s time to . . .

C E L E B R A T E!!

Special thanks and lots of LOVE goes out to all my family for their contributions to our family tree, this blog, and online family photo album. I am honored that you trust me to be “the keeper” of precious family photos and documents as I preserve them for future generations of our family!

I send virtual (((((hugs & well wishes)))) to all my genealogy friends who visit this blog and interact with me regularly. THANK YOU! I appreciate your friendship, guidance, and support very much and wish you and yours a —

Happy New Year!

His Day is Done: A Tribute Poem for Nelson Mandela (Transcript)

You know Luckie Daniels (Our Georgia Roots),  is right when she said,

“Wow! I’ve lived to witness yet another historic moment in time — South Africa’s first Black President, Nelson MANDELA being eulogized by America’s first Black President, Barack OBAMA.”

This was indeed a historic moment! As I tuned in to watch the memorial service of Nelson Mandela today, I could not help but be moved to see the world “stop” to honor him for his lifelong commitment to promoting democracy and equality not just in his beloved South Africa, but EVERYWHERE! What I’m most thankful for is that Mandela lived long enough to finally see the peaceful change he fought so desperately for slowly come to fruition in his native land.

At the request of the US State Department, our beloved author and poet, Maya Angelou, was asked to pen a tribute to him. On behalf of the American people she wrote — His Day is Done — an outstanding tribute about the life and legacy of South Africa’s first Black President, Nelson Mandela!

Poem Transcript —

His day is done.
Is done.
The news came on the wings of a wind, reluctant to carry its burden.
Nelson Mandela’s day is done.
The news, expected and still unwelcome, reached us in the United States, and suddenly our world became somber.
Our skies were leadened.

His day is done.
We see you, South African people standing speechless at the slamming of that final door through which no traveler returns.
Our spirits reach out to you Bantu, Zulu, Xhosa, Boer.
We think of you and your son of Africa, your father, your one more wonder of the world.

We send our souls to you as you reflect upon your David armed with a mere stone, facing down the mighty Goliath.

Your man of strength, Gideon, emerging triumphant.

Although born into the brutal embrace of Apartheid, scarred by the savage atmosphere of racism, unjustly imprisoned in the bloody maws of South African dungeons.

Would the man survive? Could the man survive?

His answer strengthened men and women around the world.

In the Alamo, in San Antonio, Texas, on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, in Chicago’s Loop, in New Orleans Mardi Gras, in New York City’s Times Square, we watched as the hope of Africa sprang through the prison’s doors.

His stupendous heart intact, his gargantuan will hale and hearty.

He had not been crippled by brutes, nor was his passion for the rights of human beings diminished by twenty-seven years of imprisonment.

Even here in America, we felt the cool, refreshing breeze of freedom.

When Nelson Mandela took the seat of Presidency in his country where formerly he was not even allowed to vote we were enlarged by tears of pride, as we saw Nelson Mandela’s former prison guards invited, courteously, by him to watch from the front rows his inauguration.

We saw him accept the world’s award in Norway with the grace and gratitude of the Solon in Ancient Roman Courts, and the confidence of African Chiefs from ancient royal stools.

No sun outlasts its sunset, but it will rise again and bring the dawn.

Yes, Mandela’s day is done, yet we, his inheritors, will open the gates wider for reconciliation, and we will respond generously to the cries of Blacks and Whites, Asians, Hispanics, the poor who live piteously on the floor of our planet.

He has offered us understanding.
We will not withhold forgiveness even from those who do not ask.
Nelson Mandela’s day is done, we confess it in tearful voices, yet we lift our own to say thank you.

Thank you our Gideon, thank you our David, our great courageous man.

We will not forget you, we will not dishonor you, we will remember and be glad that you lived among us, that you taught us, and that you loved us all.

Source Citation:
1. U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Information Programs (Director). (2013, December 06). His Day is Done – A Tribute Poem for Nelson Mandela by Dr. Maya Angelou [Video]. Retrieved December 10, 2013, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PqQzjit7b1w