Monday, November 30, 2009

Central Coast Genealogy Calendar: December 2009

Sunday, December 6
Jewish Genealogical Society of the Conejo Valley and Ventura County
1:30 - 3:30 PM
Steve Morse - "Hodge Podge of Lesser Known Gems", and Annual Chanukah Party

Wednesday, December 9
Monterey County Genealogical Society
6:00 PM
"The Annual MoCoGenSo/FHC Christmas Potluck!"

Tuesday, December 15
Conejo Valley Genealogical Society
6:00 - 8:45 PM
Holiday Potluck

Saturday, December 19
Santa Barbara County Genealogical Society
10:30 AM - 12:00 PM
"Holiday Share"

Saturday, December 19
Ventura County Genealogical Society
12:00 PM
Annual Christmas Party

NO MEETING in December:
San Luis Obispo County Genealogical Society

Please send me an email if you would like to have your event included in this monthly calendar series.

Copyright © by Elizabeth O'Neal

Saturday, November 28, 2009

SNGF: We Could be Twins, Right?

I wish.

Tonight's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun involved making a collage of our celebrity look-alikes. I'm not convinced that I look like any of these lovely ladies, but you can decide for yourself.

Hmmm... suddenly I've got the urge to go sing country music. And work out. I wonder how I can get Linda Hamilton's "Terminator" arms...

Copyright © by Elizabeth O'Neal

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
Have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious
And your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off your thighs!

~Author Unknown

From our house to yours: I wish all of you a very safe and happy Thanksgiving. May you have much to be thankful for this year.

By the way, did you find the perfect wine to go with your Thanksgiving meal? If so, please share in the comments!

Copyright © by Elizabeth O'Neal

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: In Tribute to my Aunt

Edna Fae (Swanay) Rogers
June 5, 1918 - November 2, 2009


"Edna (Swanay) Rogers." Digital image. 1944. Original photograph privately held by [NAME AND ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Benton Co., Washington. 2009.

About Wordless Wednesday.

Copyright © by Elizabeth O'Neal

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

WorldVitalRecords Offers Free Access for Thanksgiving

I received the following announcement from WorldVitalRecords this afternoon:

Celebrate the treasure of family this Thanksgiving with FREE ACCESS to colonial and Revolutionary War databases from WorldVitalRecords. Create a new tradition by sharing the lives of your ancestors with family.

FREE now until November 30th

This FREE ACCESS includes:

Vital records, Land records, Court records, Revolutionary War records spanning from the 1600s to the 1780s.

and don't miss OUR NEWEST ADDITION...

The Lineage Books of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution
Volumes 1 through 58
Lineages include over 1.2 million names.

plus a special offer...
25% off our regular annual rate!
now until November 30th
Give it a whirl here.

If you don't find your ancestor in the Lineage Books at WorldVitalRecords, you can look for yourself in the DAR's Genealogical Research System (GRS). It's free all the time... not just for Thanksgiving.

Copyright © by Elizabeth O'Neal

Tombstone Tuesday: Pvt. Burwell BLANTON

With all the excitement this week over the DAR Genealogical Research System (GRS) going public - a data entry project in which I personally participated - I thought I would post the tombstone of one of my Revolutionary War ancestors.

Burwell BLANTON was born on 01 November 1763 in Dinwiddie County, Virginia. He was the son of George BLANTON and Elvira LEE.

Burwell married Phoebia Margaret BRIDGES, daughter of James BRIDGES and Rebecca HAMRICK. They had 9 children:

  • Elizabeth BLANTON
  • Sarah BLANTON
  • Susanna BLANTON
  • John "Buck" BLANTON - born c. 1785 in Rutherford County, North Carolina. He married Rebecca Hughes in 1807 in Rutherford County, North Carolina. He died on 01 Nov 1847 in Beaver Dam Creek, Cleveland County, North Carolina.
  • James BLANTON - born on 26 Jun 1787; died on 05 Apr 1833.
  • Jesse BLANTON - born 1789; died Jan 1875.
  • Nancy BLANTON - born on 11 Feb 1792. She married Joseph Byers on 27 Jul 1818.
  • George BLANTON - born on 01 Jan 1802. Married to Priscilla Harril in Sep 1821. Died on 08 Apr 1835.
  • Charles BLANTON - born on 29 May 1804; died on 26 Apr 1866.
Burwell's 2nd wife was Mary "Pollie" WILEY. They had 1 child together: Burwell Wiley BLANTON, born about 1835. He died in the Civil War.

Burwell served as a Private during the Revolutionary War under Capt. Neval and Col. John Earl. In 1855, at the age of 92, he received a Bounty Land Warrant of 160 acres.

Burwell died on 14 May 1861, at the age of 98, in Cleveland County, North Carolina. He is buried in Sunset Cemetery, Shelby, North Carolina.


Photograph of Burwell Blanton's grave in Sunset Cemetery by Find A Grave volunteer Richard Jordan. Used with permission.
For sources and additional information about this family, please contact me.

Copyright © by Elizabeth O'Neal

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Bascomb Falls: A Family Album

When you think of "genealogy," one word that probably does NOT pop into your mind is probably "poetry." At least, it certainly doesn't pop into mine.

However, the always-creative Bill West, author of the "West in New England" blog, has issued "The Great American Local Poem Genealogy Challenge": Find a poem by a local poet, famous or obscure, from the region one of your ancestors lived in. It can be about an historical event, a legend, a person, or even about some place (like a river) or a local animal.

Not one to shy away from a challenge, I offer the following, an excerpt from Part I of Bascomb Falls: A Family Portrait, by my uncle, John Lee Swanay.

Bascomb Falls

The red clay road divides at Bascomb Falls
   not much there,
   Morrison's General Store,
   Mount Carmel Church,
   the school.
Our farm's a mile on south.

Grandma used to get mad when
   we were called hillbillies.
"We own bottom land!" she'd growl empahtically.

Seems like everything is always
   just about a mile away.
Sometimes -----
   it isn't far enough.
There's no waterfall,
   just a branch that heads on down
   towards Sinking Creek.
Lots of Bascombs,
One way or another
   most people in the valley are related.
Sunday, Mount Carmel Church
   is full.
Lichens blur the rotting stone:
   "Silas Bascomb, 1699 - 1791."
Some graves are older,
   wooden markers are long gone.
County Court House seems to burn every ten years.
Can't check records.
Over the fence lies
   the old Indian burial ground.
We're part Cherokee.
Someone way back
   must have wanted to keep the family together,
   but there is a fence.

Old fence keeps rotting away.
Someone keeps putting it back.

The red clay road divides at Bascomb Falls,
   not much there.
Seems like everything
   and everyone
   is just about a mile away.
Sometimes it isn't far enough.
Does this poem make me want to research the subject more? You bet, especially since it's about my ancestors (there's much more to Bascomb Falls than just the excerpt above).

*  *  *

While falling more into the prose category, Bascomb Falls: A Family Portrait is the semi-autobiographical story of my uncle John Swanay's early years in Tennessee. Actually, my grandparents had moved to California before John was born, so the story is really written as if he had lived in Tennessee as a child. He must have spent a good deal of time visiting there, though, because he seemed to know a lot about the place.

Where is Bascomb Falls? I assume that it's a fictional representation of Fall Branch, Tennessee, which is in Greene County. Perhaps it is a play on words that I don't quite understand. The "waterfall" and "branch" references are what lead me to believe he's talking about Fall Branch. Plus, that's where the family members he writes about later were living at the time.

I'm pretty sure that the Mt. Carmel Church he describes is actually a reference to Pleasant Hill Church. Several family members are buried in the cemetery at Pleasant Hill Church, including "Grandma" - who he says later in the story was actually his great-grandmother. There was no fence when I visited the cemetery back in 1994, nor did I find an Indian burial ground.

I've also found no proof that we're part Cherokee, although this has long been a family legend.

I'm not aware that the Greene County Courthouse ever burned, much less burned every ten years. The Washington County Courthouse (the county from which Greene County was formed) was damaged a few times, so perhaps he's referring to that.

As I said, Bascomb Falls is only semi-autobiographical.

*  *  *

Composer, author, and gourmet chef, Dr. John Swanay was a professor of music at the University of Missouri - Kansas City. He grew up in California, attended UCLA, and was a well-educated world traveler who was stationed in Germany while serving in the U.S. Army. He was also eclectic, eccentric, and a bit odd. At least, I thought so.

I hardly knew my uncle; he lived in Missouri, didn't visit much, and died while I was still in college. To be honest, I never thought he liked me. Ironically, as the "family archivist," I've come into possession of many of his compositions, photographs, and other items. He was married once, but had no children, so there weren't many places for his personal effects to go after his death.

I read Bascomb Falls now with a genealogist's eye. It is interesting to "see" family members come to life, even if some (most?) of the details are fictional.

And yes, it sure makes me want to know more.


Swanay, John Lee. Bascomb Falls: A Family Album (Kansas City, Missouri: Swartz Printing Co., Inc, 1974), pp. 1-2.

Photo above of John Lee Swanay, probably taken in Los Angeles, California, c. 1930. Original is privately held by me.

Copyright © by Elizabeth O'Neal

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Early Christmas Present from FTDNA

As the Group Administrator for the Swanay/Swaney DNA Surname Project, I am pleased to tell you about the Holiday promotion announced today by FamilyTree DNA:

2009 is coming to a close and we're finishing it off with an end-of-the-year promotion!

Our Holiday Season promotion will bring back the discount that we offered this summer for the Y-DNA37, since this has been requested by many of our project administrators.

  • Y-DNA37 – promotional price $119 (reg. price $149)
  • Y-DNA67 – promotional price $209 (reg. price $239)
  • mtDNAPlus – promotional price $139 (reg. price $149)
  • SuperDNA – promotional price $488 (reg. price $665)
Orders for the above tests need to be placed and paid for by December 31, 2009 to receive the sale price.

IMPORTANT: since this promotion will run through the months of November and December, we encourage you to spread the word starting now, as the natural tendency is for people to order at the last minute, and we will not extend it beyond 12/31/2009.

In addition here are the newly released permanent prices for the Full Mitochondria Sequence:

  • New kit (mtDNA Full Sequence) … $279
  •  Upgrade from HVR1 … $229
  •  Upgrade from HVR2 … $209
  •  mtDNA Full Sequence after testing Y-DNA … $249
Thank you for your continued support. We appreciate your contribution to the sustained growth of the Family Tree DNA matching database, the best genealogical matching tool of its kind.

Bennett Greenspan
Family Tree DNA
For more information about the Swanay/Swaney DNA Surname Project, please visit our public project page, or visit FamilyTree DNA. Please also feel free to contact me if you have questions.

Why not give a cheek swab for the holidays? It's the gift the whole family can share!

Copyright © by Elizabeth O'Neal