Thursday, October 20, 2016

Madam Ancestry is taking a break...but I'll be back soon! 11/1/16 to be exact! :-)

Hey everybody! There has been A LOT going on in the past few months - some good, some not so good. With that being said, I have decided to take a little break. Because of my love for genealogy and my love for my GenFriends, I can't stay away too long - so I'll be back in full swing on 11/1/16. I just need this short break to clear my mind and regroup. Please know that I have tons of things to share when I do come back! What this means is that I will not be responding to phone, email, or any social media posts until 11/1/16. Client work is also on pause until that time.

Thank you for understanding and allowing me this time to become better!

We'll talk soon! :-)

Friday, September 9, 2016

Grandparents Day - Sunday, September 11, 2016

I was looking for a cool graphic to promote Grandparents Day, and this one that I found (on the app Typorama) stopped me in my tracks. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and this picture brings many words to mind. One word in particular that sticks out in my mind is nostalgia. To me, this picture depicts grandparents who look like they are about to ride off into the sunset. Something about the setting of the picture makes me want to hold on to them, memories of them, and to hear so many of the stories they possess.

Grandparents Day was founded by Marian McQuade to recognize the contributions of seniors. This year, Grandparents Day is Sunday, September 11, 2016. Grandparents are the foundation of a family. Doubtless, they’re the reason why your family upholds many dear traditions to this day.

I’ve never had the grandparent experience and it’s something that I’ve always wished I could’ve experienced. All of my grandparents passed away early on in my life. I remember them but I do not have memories of them (if that makes any sense). I think it would’ve been fun to bake cookies together, go to the park or a museum, or have them teach me something cool. I often hear stories about how good of a cook my paternal grandmother was. I wish I could taste some of those cakes and pies – or least have been able to ask for a recipe (smile)! I wish I could ask them about their lives or what my parents were like when they were little. I think I’d always let them know how important they are. Even though I never really got to know them, I still feel as though they are important to me.

I urge you to take time on Grandparents Day and let your grandparents know how important they are, because if you still have them, your family is blessed. Make the most of making memories with them. Sit down and tell them about your life or have them tell you about theirs. Indulge them in something they would like to do - maybe even help them prepare their favorite meal.  

Most importantly, get family history! Let me say that a little louder, GET FAMILY HISTORY! Capture their family stories and advice while you can, because just like the people in the picture, once they ride off into the sunset, they’re gone. It will do them good to share and to know that you actually take an interest in what they have to say.

And if you’re like me and don’t have any grandparents around, find the oldest person in your family, or an elderly neighbor, or even visit a nursing home. There are so many elderly people in nursing homes who have no one checking on them. I’m sure it would put a smile on their face to see and talk to you, or even bring them a nice card.

Happy Grandparents Day!  

Friday, August 5, 2016

My First Book Review: Going Over Home

Those of us who do genealogy are fascinated by the lives of our ancestors and the stories that surround each of their lives. I've had the pleasure to read Going Over Home - the first book in the Wayfaring Sisters Series, written by Katie Andrews Potter. I'm excited to have been invited to write a review for it! I absolutely love stories about families and somehow always feel connected to the events and characters of each story. 

"Going Over Home is a story that many of us can relate to as we follow Maddox "Maddie" Fox (the main character of the story), on her journey to learn about her family's history. Maddie was always curious about where her family came from and knew there was more to it than what she was being told. With the help of her sister and roommate, she slowly uncovers family secrets and begins to connect the dots. Things that were vaguely familiar to her, soon become more keen to her memory; and a surprising chain of events leads her to discover some unlikely family connections! As Maddie sets out for answers, she gets more than she bargained for when she realizes that the outcome of her family's past - and future - rests on her shoulders. Maddie soon finds herself in a race against time as she struggles whether to enjoy the only life she's ever known or walk the path of her ancestors to preserve the fate of her family! This story will take you on a blast to the past - literally! Thrills, chills, suspense, and love - this story captures it all and will leave you feeling like part of the family! I can't wait to read the other books in this series!"

- Madam Ancestry 

Check out Katie's bio below to learn more about her and to get information on how to order these great books! 

About the Author
Katie Andrews Potter

Katie Andrews Potter is a 9th generation Hoosier and has been a genealogist since she was 16. She has her degree in Elementary Education and has always enjoyed writing for children. She is currently pursuing her Master's in American History and a certificate in Genealogical Studies-American Records at NIGS. She lives in Indianapolis with her husband, Ben, and their two children, Eliana and Micah, who she homeschools. Katie writes for The In-Depth Genealogist, and is soon launching a blog entitled Storybook Ancestor, which will focus on encouraging parents and their children to delve into their family history and write their ancestors' stories. Her personal genealogy blog is

Going Over Home is the first book in The Wayfaring Sisters Series. Each book follows a different member of the Fox family. Going Over Home follows Maddie, and the second book, Going Over Jordan, released in 2015, follows Ellie. 

Katie is currently writing the third book, Wayfaring, centered around Carrie. The books are set in present and pioneer Indiana, and were inspired by Katie's love for genealogy and Indiana history. Katie's books can be found on Amazon.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Join My Book Club!

Hey everybody! I thought it would be cool to launch a book club this month! The way this book club works is that we'll share some of our favorite genealogy books/resources each week. I'm sure we all have resources that we utilize that can be helpful to others who are researching. I'll be posting my favorites each week on my Facebook page and also encourage you to post your favorites. Make sure you're following my page so that you can get all the updates!

Happy researching :-)

Friday, July 29, 2016

Have you heard? I'm giving someone an AncestryDNA kit for FREE!!! You heard that right - FREE! And that someone could be YOU!

I've heard some people express that they are not in the position to purchase a testing kit, so I'd like to help you get one step closer to reaching your family research goal!

Here's what you have to do:

  1. Like my Facebook page
  2. Post a video (60 seconds or less) on my Facebook page telling me why you should be chosen
  3. Use #MadamAncestryGiveaway when posting and sharing!
That's it! :-D But you must do ALL 3! 
The winner will be announced next Friday, August 5, 2016. Note: This date is subject to change based on the number of entries received. 

House Rules:
  1. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents age 18 and older (except my family members - sorry guys). 
  2. Contest is open July 29, 2016 from 12:01am - 11:59pm EST
  3. Madam Ancestry, its owner, and affiliates does not assume any liability past ordering the AncestryDNA testing kit for the winner. 
  4. Madam Ancestry, its owner, and affiliates does not assume any liability for family upsets or any situations that may arise out of the discovery of information concerning living or deceased individuals or events/circumstances surrounding living or deceased individuals. 
      Happy posting! :-)

Monday, July 18, 2016


As keepers of family history we have a responsibility to maintain and preserve the family history for future generations. The issue of privacy is even more important in today's world as things can be shared all over the world with just one click of a button.

We rely on many types of vital records to conduct our research. Sometimes those records are easily available to us and sometimes they are not. In doing my own family research I found that due to privacy reasons, many of the areas would not release birth records until after 75 years, death records until after 50 years, and some had completely different restrictions in place.

I've run into situations where I'm on a good lead for a record and it comes to a screeching halt because of privacy restrictions. While it hurts me to my core to know I may have to wait some time to find out what's contained in the record, I can tell you it's for a good reason - protecting personal information! And I'm OK with that!

Birth and death records within 50-75 years can contain lots of information about people including:

  1. Names of living individuals 
  2. Addresses 
  3. Medical history 
  4. SSN

This is definitely the kind of information you wouldn't want falling into the hands of any random person, so you can see why such restrictions are set in place.

Protecting personal information goes even further than this. We can sometimes become overzealous as we share information about our family discoveries. We're so excited to share what we've found that we've just shared names and photos of individuals without their consent, or a vital record that contains personal information pertaining to other people, or maybe even someone's location. Imagine your image or your personal details being shared with millions of people. Imagine some random person walking into the vital records office and gathering information about you. I'm sure that thought makes you feel a little uneasy and now you can understand why such privacy restrictions are put into place.

Here are a few tips to help protect personal information:

  • Keep personal information on living individuals private. I know sometimes it's hard not to include living individuals as it relates to discoveries, but think about giving that person a code name so you're not giving out their real name or any other personal details about them. Some people don't mind you sharing their name, but if it can be protected, do so. 
  • Ask for permission before sharing someone's photo when you're sharing your discoveries. If no permission is given or you feel that you don't want to show the faces of the people in the picture, there are tons of apps where you can blur the faces out before sharing the photo.
  • Blur out/cross out sensitive information on vital records such as SSN, addresses, full names, etc. This practice still applies when sharing screenshot images. While we know that some records are so old they become a matter of public record, you still want to protect any sensitive information contained, especially if it relates to living individuals or the next closest generation to living individuals. 
  • This one is a matter of preference but I'll throw it out there anyway and let you use your own judgement - Family Trees! I had my tree public at one point, but recently decided to make it private. In many programs the information for living individuals is kept private. I got to thinking "What if there is some unsavory person out there lurking for information?" They could be looking for any type of information that could connect them to something else. My mind went all over the place so I decided to make it private. And there's a rigorous questioning process I'll take them through before deciding to share that information!

If you'd like to share suggestions on how to keep privacy, you can comment on this blog post, email me at, or post them to my Facebook page!

Enjoy your privacy! ;-)

Friday, June 10, 2016

Do You Recognize This Family? Help Reunite the Smith Family with their Family History!

It's Family Friday and I've got some BIG NEWS!!!

We’ve all seen a story on social media or mainstream news about some random person making an unlikely discovery of another family’s heirloom or other personal family effects. Little did I know that I would soon become part of such a discovery!  

A few days ago I received a message from a good friend, Lorissa Edwards. She mentioned that she had a project for me and that she would tell me about it later. She called me that evening to tell me she had been out “thrifting” at a local Goodwill and found some really cool art pieces. As the conversation continued, she mentioned that she found a photo album that caught her attention. As she thumbed through the album she discovered that there were some personal photos inside the album. “Are you sure those aren’t stock images?” I asked. She replied “No, these are someone’s personal photos - old photographs – a couple look to be from the 1800’s! There are even handwritten letters from 1916 and letters typed on Emory University letterhead from the 1920’s and 1930’s!” I had to sit all the way up! “What?!” I exclaimed.

We continued talking about how we couldn’t believe she had made such a discovery. She offered to drop the information to me the next day and let me have at researching since that’s my thing. “Connecting families one ancestor at a time” is what I do. We exchanged calls and messages over the next few days to piece together the ins and outs of the matter and decided that we would try to reunite this family with this information. If you are related to this family please contact

We also need your help in spreading the word, so share, share, share! If no family members come forward to claim this information by August 31, 2016, we discussed the possibility of donating this information to the Emory University Archives. 

Take a good look at these photos and let us know if you recognize this family or if you are any relation to this family. 
We are not sure who the woman on the left is, but the man and woman on the right we believe to be Mr. & Mrs. Ponder Lane Smith.

We believe the photo on the top left is an older photo of Mamie Harden (Hardin?) and the photo on the bottom left is a young photo of Silas "Sike" Harden (Hardin?) - his name is actually written on the back; The top right photo is believed to be Mamie; the middle photo is believed to be Rose (Rosa?), Mamie, and their other sisters Robin (Dee?), Frances, and Sarah; the bottom right photo is believed to be an older photo of Mamie and Silas "Sike" Harden (Hardin?).

This is a copy of the death notice for Ponder Lane Smith (P.L. Smith) along with a photo of his burial. 

This is what we've concluded:
  1. Rose (Rosa?) was a nurse (and possibly a student) at Emory
  2. Rose and Mamie were sisters
  3. Rose married Robert "Bob" Young and Mamie married Silas "Sike" Harden (Hardin?). They are listed as Mrs. Robert Young and Mrs. S.S. Hardin in their father's death notice in the paper. 
  4. Ponder Lane Smith (P.L. Smith) is the father of Rose and Mamie and three other daughters - Robin (Dee?), Sarah, and Frances, according to his 1939 death notice in the Atlanta Journal Constitution. 
  5. The family was in Juliette (Monroe Co.), Atlanta, and Forsyth. Mamie and Silas were in Jacksonville, FL. 
After reviewing additional records, it appears that Ponder Lane Smith (P.L. Smith) was married to Janette M. Sawyer and they had 7 daughters: Mamie (b. 1902); Robin D. (Dee?) (b. 1905); Rose (Rosa?) (b. 1907); Lillian (b. 1908); Willie (b.  est. 1910); Frances (b. est. 1910); Sarah T. (b. est. 1910). 

There were only five daughters listed in Ponder Lane Smith's death notice, so at this point we do not know what happened to the other two daughters. I've added images of the letters as well, in case this information can offer additional clues to possible relatives. Many of the letters have sections that are blurred to reserve sentiment for possible relatives. Again, we would like to reunite family members with this information, so if you are related to this family please contact by August 31, 2016. 

REMEMBER: It is so important that you do not throw out photos, letters, and other things of that sort. If you do not know what to do with them, donate them to a library or historical society so that they can be properly archived and preserved.