Tuesday, July 26, 2022

A Time to Write: 2. The Most Elusive People

I am working on writing, Our Brown Roots, the history of my paternal grandfather’s family & its many leaves & branches. I am trying to focus my time & efforts on finishing up that huge project but will give some time to posting about the procedure here.

My Closest Family May be the Most Elusive


Does anyone else find this to be true?


For several years I have compiled data on ancestors. Among others, I have found:


Andries Van Valkenberg, c 1540 Netherlands – 1609

My 11th great grandfather


Thomas Lawrence, 1539 - 28 Oct 1593 England

My 11th great grandfather


John Ashley, 1625 England - c 1687 VA

My 9th great grandfather


I have traced & documented these ancestors, their families and their connection to my paternal grandfather and me. 


However, I am still missing information about my closest family members. I am still learning about my paternal grandfather, Roy Jessie Brown and his seven children. It can be easier to learn about an ancestor in a library or in a census report than to ask a cousin about their parent. Memories are not always clear or siblings can differ in their memories. Recent records are harder to access. 1950 is the most recent Federal Census we can study. I have not accessed recent records often & am unfamiliar with them. Researchers, do you have any favorite places to search?

In genealogy you are told to begin your research with what you know, the people who are closest to you. I thought I did but I only knew basic facts. Now I need to know what kind of people they were. What did they do between those birth and death dates? Where did they live and what did they do? Were they kind, curious, adventurous, timid, shy? Do I have their traits?

And, what about my own parents, can I write about them subjectively? Will my brothers have the same memories & thoughts? And, how objective should I be when writing about people who are close to my heart; maybe the emotions are important to keep them come across as living people. These are the thoughts I am dealing with as I finish the final section of my book.

Therefore, I am working hard on writing about my paternal grandparents & their children but it is not easy. They are my last generation to write about. Then it will be down to formatting. 


Related Posts:


Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Forget Me Not: Preston S. Brown, 1918 CA

 Preston Seward Brown

4 Sept 1847 MI – 29 Aug 1918 CA

Son of Aaron & Elizabeth Brown


Butte Pioneer Dies. Chico (Butte Co.), August 30 – Preston S. Brown died following a paralytic stroke last night. The deceased was 71 years old. He was born in Cass County, Michigan, and moved to California with his family in 1904. He is survived by a widow and two daughters, Mrs. Lisle Mecum of Chico and Mrs. B. A. Sifford of Oakland.


Source: Butte Pioneer Dies. (Sacramento, CA: The Sacramento Bee, 30 Aug 1918) 9; digital image, Newspapers.com: accessed March 2022.

Related Posts:


Tuesday, July 12, 2022

A Time to Write

 As a genealogist I am a gatherer of information. I gather birthdates and anniversaries; military service details; addresses and cemeteries. I have scraps of paper, spiral notebooks, folders and books. I have photographs, Bibles and year books. My laptop is filled with files.


Genealogy is more than just gathering. I believe it is also about sharing. I share the bits of data I collect in my blog posts and on my website. However, to know the full story, the people and the times they lived in, I believe a book is required. A book gives me the room and the flexibility to paint a picture of our family over the centuries. 


I have written “The Mark Family Story: The Story of the Mark and Other Related Families: Brown, Dick, Gruissy, Heffelfinger, Keck Ritter & Wolf” which is the story of my paternal grandmother’s family. (2011) I have written “Remembrances: The Story of Brady, Coyle, Gardner, Mullane & Other Related Families” which is about my mother’s family roots. (2016) Both were printed through Troy Book Makers in Troy, NY. 


Now I am writing 



















This has been a work in progress for several years and it is approaching completion. My daughter, Alyssa, is editing my format, tables & charts & maps. My first cousin, Nancy, is editing each page, each word and punctuation mark. It is amazing that they can find time to help with this enormous venture. 


As the end appears in sight, I am reluctant to take time away from its completion, but I will attempt to document that final process here. Please be sure to leave comments. I welcome suggestions and encouragement to help me reach my goal. 

Related Posts:



Thursday, July 7, 2022

Library Research - Fairfax Regional Library

In the years since I have been researching my family’s history, more and more information has become available online. I am grateful to have those resources at my fingertips. However, archives, courthouses and libraries still contain information that can only be accessed by visiting those buildings.


Fairfax Regional Library

Virginia Room

10360 North Street

Fairfax, Virginia


Recently I was researching my 7th great grandfather, John Hollis (c1700 England – 1768 VA). According to my online research he lived in Fairfax County, Virginia for many years. I visit Virginia frequently to visit our oldest daughter and her family. Fairfax is the neighboring county to hers.


I sent off an email to the Library asking about their holdings. I gave them my grandfather’s name and dates, asking if they had resources that would teach me more about him. I received an answer the following day. The librarian gave me information about hours & parking and information on their holdings. He also told me about specific resources that have information about John Hollis. He also suggested a visit to the nearby Fairfax Courthouse. The email was very helpful.


When I arrived at the Fairfax Regional Library I easily found their free parking and stepped into the large, beautiful library. I went up the stairs to the Virginia Room and spoke to the friendly librarian. She gave me a quick tour and soon I set myself up at a table with a large stack of books to search through. 


A sample of Books that gave me information I had not found online:


  • Sparacio, Ruth and Sam. Fairfax County, Virginia Orders, 1768 – 1769 (VA: The Antient Press).  Includes court activities which included my family.

  • Minutes of the Vestry, Truro Parish Virginia, 1732 – 1785 (Lorton, VA: Pohick Church, 1974). Includes years of parish records with many references to the Hollis family.

  • Index to Farifax County, Virginia Wills and Fiduciary Records, 1742 – 1855 (Lovetttsville, VA: Willow Bend Books, 1995). References the Will of John Hollis.

  •    Browne, John. The Story of Ravensworth (North Haven, CT: 2022). Ravensworth was the landgrant where John Hollis lived. His family is                   mentioned in this book.

What did this library visit tell me about John Hollis?

  • A 1760 may showed me exactly where John Hollis lived in Fairfax Co.
  • John Hollis grew tobacco & operated an "ordinary" (tavern/inn).
  • John belonged to the same parish as George Washington.
  • Truro Parish gave John yearly monetary support for his disabled son.
  • John and 2 sons served in the French & Indian War, serving under Col. George Washington.


Visit a Library!


At the top of this blog, click on My Library for many books that I have found useful for genealogical & historical research.

Related Posts:







Friday, July 1, 2022

Military Service: John Hollis, French & Indian War

Independence Day is a time to think of our Revolutionary War Soldiers & our family does have those soldiers. However, I recently found that we also have soldiers from the French & Indian War. AND - John Hollis and his sons served under the command of Col. George Washington, their neighbor. AND - their service is documented in George Washington's papers in the Library of Congress. Exciting!

Later, John's grandson, John Hollis, served in the Revolutionary War.



John Hollis

C1700 England – 1768 Fairfax, VA


My 7x Great Grandfather


The French and Indian War (1754 – 1763) was a conflict between France and Great Britain to control the American Colonies. Native Americans fought on both sides. North America east of the Mississippi River was largely claimed by either Great Britain or France and between them large areas were dominated by Native American tribes. When conflicts began most of the British colonies mustered local militia companies to deal with Native American threats, generally ill trained and available only for short periods, but they did not have any standing forces. Virginia, by contrast, had a large frontier with several companies of British regulars.[i]

            John Hollis and his sons served in the French and Indian War in the Virginia Regiment of colonial forces under George Washington. They served “in the forts protecting the Virginia – Maryland – Pennsylvania frontier.”[ii] John Hollis can be found listed in payroll records between January[iii] and July 1756.[iv] Son, William Hollis, served under Colonel Washington at the Battle of the Great Meadows at Fort Necessity in the summer of 1754.[v] Son, Burr Hollis, served in the “detachment of Militia from Fairfax County under the command of Capt. Bryan Fairfax.”[vi]


[i] French and Indian War; digital record, Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org: accessed June 2022). 

[ii] Browne, John, The Story of Ravensworth (North Haven, CT: 2022) 72.

[iii] George Washington Papers, Series 4, General Correspondence: Thomas Waggener, January 1756, Company Payroll Receipt; digital image, Library of Congress (loc.gov: accessed June 2022) John Hollys.

[iv] George Washington Papers, Series 4, General Correspondence: Thomas Waggener, July 1756, Company Payroll Receipt; digital image, Library of Congress (loc.gov: accessed June 2022).

[v] Roster of Virginia Regiment, Fort Necessity, National Park Service; digital record (home.nps.gov: accessed June 2022) Will’m Hollis.

[vi] Bockstruck, Lloyd DeWitt, Virginia’s Colonial Soldiers (Genealogical Publishing Company, 1988) 93.

Related Posts: