Category Archives: history


Tessie Lee Whitehead Stroud
May 17 1902– April 2 2002

Grandmas Guitar

My grandma Stroud loved music, guitar music especially. She could pick out some tunes and even taught me some chords and Wildwood Flower. Once during a visit, I laughed at someone on TV boisterously tapping their foot-or rather, their entire leg- in time to music. No outright mockery was intended on my part in my amusement, but it must not have seemed so to her. She gently reproached me by stating that ‘some people have music in them and they just can’t help moving’.

Some of her favorite artists were Merle Travis, Doc Watson, Chet Atkins and one she mentioned often- Elizabeth Cotten.  They were all talented musicians. Ms. Cotten’s  ability to play acoustic guitar left handed and upside down was a remarkable talent to add to her songwriting skills. It would be reasonably easy to figure out additional reasons why Ms. Cotten struck a chord (sorry, I had to) with Grandma and some of those would likely be right, or in the least, quite close to the mark. Grandma loved Ms. Cotten’s song Freight Train.
Read more about Elizabeth Cotten here:

Elizabeth “Libba” Cotten, Smithsonian Folkways 

Time goes on. Girl grew into teen and things caused less time to be spent at Grandma’s hearing her stories of ‘old times’ and music. Failed attempts to learn Freight Train and Wildwood Flower on the guitar became embarrassing, regardless of how good the teacher was.

The love of good acoustic music with good harmonies never faded.

The need came for Grandma to live in a nursing facility. She held up pretty good and needless to say enjoyed visits. She always seemed to have a joke or a good tease handy. Then time caught up with her and the body began to fail. Comments from her might be in the present or of something only she understood, from past days. Visits would end with her asking my Pa to play the train song. His piano repertoire didn’t include the train song.

Then, her medical condition worsened. Visits were more seldom than they should have been, and difficult not only for the visitor, but for her. She would look into her visitors face, who could see frustration and confusion in her eyes. It seemed as if she both recognized that she knew the familiarity of you, but didn’t know your name or exactly who you were. Her eyes would wander, or close in sleep, her mind wandering through the years of memories, or perhaps not wandering at all.

Coping with infirmities that come with the body’s aging, or sudden catastrophic illnesses are difficult for the person immediately affected and for those close to them. Who knows how the mind and senses work. How can we know for certain of what the ill and infirm are aware of, when others in the room think they are asleep or unaware of their surroundings?  Somewhere deep inside themselves, do they feel that their mind is perfectly fine and hampered by a failing? Do they truly understand us, or do we appear and sound distant and unfamiliar?  Do they dream of times that were good? We can only hope they do dream of pleasant things.

The last few times I saw Grandma, there were no gentle teases or jokes. She didn’t ask for the train song. I’m sorry she didn’t get to hear it one last time.

For those who suffer dementia, alzheimers, for the ill, for the infirm and for their caretakers, I dedicate this song. It’s not about illness, but some of the words can be viewed as  eerily metaphoric for those whose minds visit other things and other times.

For my Grandma, Tessie Lee Whitehead Stroud

The train song


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

I am the Walrus

People, please please please, be careful what you  add to your family tree. Please verify verify verify. When comparing or using info from other people’s family trees, (or any information especially from the internet) make sure that there are sources and citations attached to the individual(s) you are researching.  Ancestry. com ancestry trees, millennial files, complied data bases do not constitute or substitute documentation, these only mean that you and countless other people have the same names in your family trees.  We’re talking real source documents such as census records, church minutes, probate records, land records, birth, death, and marriage certificates….you get the idea.

Those who have used ancestry. com know that upon clicking on hints you are presented with the opportunity to look at the actual document available (click review and the ‘view’ selection will left side of the page.)  Non subscribers to ancestry files can try for free access. Many states also have online access to their archives. These are only a couple of many online options available  to all. ( I’m sure most serious genealogy aficionados have heard of Cyndi’s List as well) 😉

If you’re out of time to look in depth at the information, bookmark it. Ancestry. com allows you to save it in your shoebox for later perusal. You may also download it to your hard drive for later examination. (note: ancestry’s terms of use only allows downloads for personal use only, not for sharing).

And here’s my snarky comment of the day: If verifying information is too much trouble for you and you think your time is more important than truthfully representing facts, please – find a different hobby.

Once, while researching on ancestry. com I was looking at what many researchers and historians consider to be the alleged progenitor of American Strouds, Strodes, Strouts, Strowds, Strauds, etc. Warinus De La Strode. Alternate spellings depends on the nationality of the researcher or the tree that was copied and pasted.  Several examples include Warin De La Strode, Guarin Du le Strode, Guarin Du l’ Strode and Warinus De La Strode.

Well, somebody must have decided to play a joke. Or who knows how it got started.

There, in the search results, glaring bright and sassy back at me was the name WALRUS De la Strode. I can’t say how many examples of that spelling had been copied to other trees.

I still shake my head over that one. And laugh.

Don’t let that joke be on you. Verify!!

walrus-908609_960_720 (640x427)
Grampaw, is that you?

(Photo taken during USGS research efforts permitted under US Fish
and Wildlife Service Permit No. MA801652-3)
Location: Point Lay, AK, USA; Date Taken: 9/19/2013.
Photo Credit: Ryan Kingsbery/USGS.

That old brick wall

DNA genealogy: it confounds me at times. Trying to understand the haplo groups, subclades,  which test to get, how many markers  are needed to find a genealogical match, the difference between Ydna, Mtdna and autosomal dna. Some of the more scientific language used in some essays and explanations frazzle my brain at the titles alone.

Confusion aside, I’m attempting to educate myself about it enough to understand how it works with genealogy. And bless their soul, a direct Stroud male descendant had a 37 marker Ydna test done, uploaded and is gracious and kind to share the results with me and other descendants.

Now we are told we have a 37/37 marker match with another descendant of the line of John Stroud b. circa 1726 died 1776 in Mecklenburg County, Va. He married Sarah Morris, who apparently expired before he did, as his will mentions his deceased wife. Most researchers information of this line do not include locations/names and/or dates that seem to align with the names/dates/known locations of Thomas Stroud 1775-1832 Emanuel Co, Georgia, USA.  But it’s hard to argue with the results: 37/37 markers match and  DNA is DNA.

Now all we have to do is figure out how we are connected to this couple.

Easier said than done. Our group of Stroud bloodhounds researchers are hot on the trail and we can’t be stopped! 😀 The hunt continues.


Tags: , , , ,

Adventures in building a family history.

I’ve gotten off the subject of the specific ancestors that I am tracing. For a bit of a change, I want to share some of the pitfalls, stumbling blocks and errors I’ve come up against, and goofs I have done myself,  while researching family history. In the process, I’ll share some tips and give suggestions that have helped me, in the hopes it might spare others a bit of hair pulling and banging the head on the desk frustrations.

Words of warning, genealogy can be addictive. Especially if you like history in general, tend to be detail oriented, and love to solve mysteries.

The first step is to decide what type of tree you want to put together, and where to draw the line.

There’s the kind of family tree that is nicely printed up and framed for display over the fireplace. This is what I consider a “skeleton” tree; it primarily contains names and dates only, going back maybe to your great great great grandparents. You may or may not want the parents of each individual parent, grandparent, great grandparent and so on. You might want a separate family tree for each of your parents.  You might choose a paternal or maternal line only. See how quickly it can become confusing as the names start adding up?

Are you trying to write up the world’s largest tree going proving that each of us is somehow connected to each other or so that others can refer to and admire your tree? By all means, include every possible combination of every possible connection.  Go ahead, add your great grandparents’ children, their children, their spouses, second marriages, step children from their second spouses first marriage, the step children’s biological parents & their parents, their step  children, aunts, uncles and cousins and several generations of step grandparents. Whew! That tires me out just typing it! 

That type of tree also seems to go hand in hand with the ” must have as many names as possible” trees, full of mistakes, duplicates, parents born before their children, children with two mothers and one father……just a clear reckless disregard for any semblance of concern for a representation of facts as recorded (accuracy). The name I’d give to that type of tree might be insulting vanity so I’ll just quietly leave that for you the reader to decide. 😉 Let me just repeat a line from a song: “that don’t impress me much.” 

The family history tree is my favorite choice; it includes as many ancestors as I can find information to warrant adding to my tree. I do include collateral kin of blended families but I’ve had to decide where the line needs to stop. Uncle James Public, his spouse, children, his second wife, her children, their biological father, and her father and mother are added for clarification of who’s who. If the second wife’s parents turn out to be descended from another family who is already connected to the family through a different line or marriage, I’ll connect them. Not only does this  flesh out the family tree,  it can also give us a snapshot of history. Friends neighbors and family of course, barring rifts in the relationship, naturally helped each other with many aspects of daily life. It may very well lead to a discovery that your great grandfather signed a witness statement for a neighbor who came home from the War Between the States injured and unable to work for a time. These documents establish residence, and reinforce community ties. And that might lead to finding that elusive Maiden name of that great great grandmother. 

If this type of tree interests you the most, be forewarned; if you are starting with basic information, names, dates and general information,  a family history will not  be written in a weekend or two. They take time, patience, attention to detail, a lot of reading, willingness to keep an open mind, ability to solve mysteries and some days…. a couple of aspirin and a neck massage.

That’s another thing. Keep an open mind. Don’t cling so tightly to that family oral or written history as to be unwilling to accept that it might be chock full of inaccuracies. Family histories are only as accurate as the people relaying the story, and that can change over time for a variety of reasons, whether accidentally or not. That great great great great grandaddy that you think fought and died for the freedom of America during the Revolutionary war may well turn out to have fought for the British, was a spy, lived to be 91, married twice and had 17 children.  It happens to most everyone.

Just be open to the truth and try to be neutral about passing judgement too quickly on ancestors.

Always check as many resources as you can find before adding information or names and dates to your tree. If something comes up that you cannot verify and you’re not sure of, keep it in a ‘to be looked at later’ file for future reference. When  or if it’s later verified to be correct, add it to your tree. Don’t be too hasty to add fluff to your tree.

Take your time, relax, and enjoy the search.

Till next time, happy hunting.

B.L. Stroud


Fill in the blanks. No, don’t!

You’re working on that family tree on You get as far back  as the fifth generation of ancestors. Then, it happens. That blank space–you know the one.  Where you add the mother’s name. The name you don’t know.  At least not the full name. You know what you should do, but you can’t seem to help yourself. It just sits there big and blank and empty and you just have to put something there. Before you know it,  your itchy fingers reach out to the keyboard and fill in that blank. With Jane UNKNOWN.  Immediately, cute little leaves start dancing at you with the proclamation that you have hints!!!

Oh joy. Hints. That thing we love so well on

You point and click.

Congratulations. You now have hints. For Jane Knowles. Jane Knowlton,  Jean Knowleton, J. Bowles, Jane Unitas, Jenn Unity,  and need I go on? Some are in Boise ID, some are in Ireland  and are 300 years ‘off’ from your ancestor’s lifetimes.

For the uninitiated with, its search engine  pulls combinations of names, dates, locations of the data you input along with  any possible combination  of ‘near’ matches.  It looks for numbers in  the date fields, letters names fields, and a minimum of the State  (or region) and the Country for the place. I know, DUH!  Imagine you are a search engine trying to match those items up and someone has entered this information:

name: John Doe ; Birth – somewhere around 1770,  Georgia;
death: at home; residence: Carolina;

spouse Mrs. Doe; spouse birth maybe 1770-1780 in Ala????;
death; don’t know;
residence ?????

The search engine can’t find computer logic in the fields; it’s going to bypass question marks and fragmented sentences in the date fields. If the lady’s maiden name is entered as MNU, the search engine will match up any and every name with any and every possible combination of M, N, and U in it.

This is one reason that the  hints you click on, and/or the ‘search records’ feature  can come up with 119 pages of results that  can be 95%  irrelevant to your search. Most of the “hits” wind up  being “misses”  and lots of time is wasted sorting through all that, or either one gets frustrated and gives up.   Another reason is, it’s just results happy and wants to make you suffer by wading through all that just  in case that ONE relevant clue might turn up.  At least that’s my opinion.   😉   It also opens up the possibility you will get no matches or hints at all.

It seems easy enough:
if you don’t know the information that goes in a field, then don’t put anything in that field .

Leave it blank.

Yet so many people seem  flummoxed by this simple concept.

A pet peeve of mine: messing around with women’s  names, especially the maiden name.

Unless you know, or find records that prove her last name prior to marriage to John Q. Smith  really was Smith, don’t put Mrs. (first name) Smith  (maiden name).

Here’s an example of actual women’s names I’ve seen on family trees.
Names are changed of course, for privacy. 🙂

Mother (spouse)                        Father

Jane Smith                             John Q Smith
Mrs. Smith
Jane LNU
Jane MNU
Jane Unknown
Unknown Smith
FNU  Smith
—-      —–
**** ****
Mrs. John Smith
Jane Maiden Name
Jane Not Known
Jane Don’t Know
Mrs. Unknown wife of Mr. Smith. (:O)

I kid you not. While these apparent bloopers might initially seem amusing, this is non informational filler which serves no purpose.

If is new to you, I hope you find this helpful. Hang in there, it gets easier with time and experience. We were all new at something one time or fifty others.

If you’re doing it for some other reason,  please stop. You’re only clogging the system and making research more difficult for everyone, including yourself.

And is it respectful to fool around with our ancestor’s lives and names like that?  I don’t think so.

By leaving the “unknown information” fields blank you are leaving your tree open for future hints from matches with other future trees. Remember that documents and records are constantly being uploaded and updated, and new people sign up every day to work with  You never know when that distant cousin might just have information you’re missing, and vice versa. It can mean the difference in brick wall breakthroughs.

Happy hunting.

B.L. Stroud


Fill in the blanks. No, Don’t! Part II


Tags: , , ,

Another kind of family tree

The kind in which one feels they must include ‘famous’ people, even if facts have to be bent or stretched a bit to make it happen. Otherwise, what’s the point of a family tree if it’s not full of royalty and famous people, right?:)  Well, ok, if you really DO have family connections and have the documentation to support it in some way….that’s just fine. But making up pseudo facts to suit your purpose and build that ego does no one any favors, and very likely your ancestor from 1759 is unimpressed at such endeavors.

Here’s a website full of interesting observations, painstaking research, and thoughts  similar to mine, but expressed more eloquently than I can manage at this moment. Especially the last paragraph on the page.

Happy hunting.

B.L. Stroud

%d bloggers like this: