Research Tip of the Week

Naming traditions

Names are an integral part of genealogy. Surnames, maiden names, given names, even middle names are important in genealogical research. They are one of the biggest things that help us find our ancestors in records through the ages.

In some cultures, beyond just being a personal identifier, names can provide genealogical clues. This week my tip is about using cultural naming traditions in genealogical research when possible.

One example of a naming tradition is in families where the first son is named after his father. It is common knowledge that if an individual has a Jr, II, III, etc. behind their name that they are named after their father. Even non genealogical inclined individuals are able to quickly map out that person’s pedigree by looking at that information.

What are some less well-known naming traditions?


Not all families with Scottish roots will follow these traditions but they are common. In cases where the tradition is followed it can provide clues to several generations on both sides of a family.

  • 1st son – named after father’s father
  • 2nd son – named after mother father
  • 3rd son – named after father
  • 4th son – named after father’s brother
  • 1st daughter – named after mother’s mother
  • 2nd daughter – named after father’s mother
  • 3rd daughter – named after mother
  • 4th daughter- named after mother’s sister

Ashkenazi Jewish

Ashkenazi Jewish families sometimes follow a naming tradition of naming babies after recently deceased relatives. In cases where this tradition is followed it can sometimes provide clues to the date of death of relatives.


Spanish naming traditions make it easy to follow the maiden names of female ancestors. Women kept married names when they married. Children born to the marriage took the surname of both parents. The father’s surname is first and the mother’s surname is second. This tradition is also followed in most Latin American cultures.

These are just a few examples of instances where naming traditions can provide genealogical clues.

What are some naming traditions that you have discovered in your research?

52 Ancestors – Week 1 – Fresh Start

I contemplated for a couple of days on this week’s 52 Ancestors topic of fresh start deciding how to approach it. I settled on one of my ancestors who made a fresh start which had the most effect on my life. My ancestor of the week is Lillie Mae Weatherspoon, my father’s paternal Grandmother. Her fresh start in life not only changed her life but led to a whole branch of “Fulkerson” family members which are not Fulkerson at all. I am one of those Fulkerson relatives and this is the tale of how I was born with the surname Fulkerson.

Lillie Weatherspoon

1912 – 1999

Lillie Mae Weatherspoon was born into a poor family in the boot hill region of Missouri. Her date of birth was 22 January 1912. She was the second child born to the union of William Weatherspoon and Fanny Bennett. An older sister Nellie died in childhood. After Lillie’s birth, brothers Claude, Clyde, and Cledeth joined the family.

Humble Beginnings

The 1920 census supplies the rare snapshot of the family unit, lacking only Nellie who was already deceased. Also living in the household is Elmer Bennett. Elmer was Fanny’s nephew, the illegitimate child of her older sister Victoria. While it is impossible to understand the level of dysfunction in the family from a simple census record, family lore and other documents paint a picture that is less than rosy.

1920 Census

Shattered Childhood

Not long after the 1920 census Lillie’s family dissolved. Her parent’s marriage split up. Her mother abandoned the family to marry a man named William Denbow in 1923. Lillie remained with her father, William Weatherspoon, and helped care for her brothers.

Murder, Marriage, and Mayhem

Behind the scenes a bigger problem was brewing as a grisly murder rocked Ripley County, Missouri. In June 1926, the mutilated bodies of the elderly Van Patton brothers were discovered, and the consensus was that they were murdered.

Within the year, James Wesley Bennett, Fanny’s brother was charged with the crime of murder. The shock of the involvement of her son in the grisly crime helped contribute to the death of Lillie’s maternal grandmother.

Amidst all the chaos in her family life Lillie decided to get married. She accepted the marriage proposal of William Baker, a man 13 years her senior. Lillie Weatherspoon and William Baker were married on 24 September 1926. She was 14 years old at the time.

In July 1927 Lillie’s father died. It seemed to be a final blow to whatever was left of her childhood family. On 12 February 1929 Lillie gave birth to her only child, Jay Dee Baker.

1930 census
1930 Census

Turning the Page

Tales told by Lillie late in life tell of a marriage plagued by alcohol and violence. The marriage was ill fated and short lived. According to the stories told by Lillie the ultimate end came about one morning after Bill Baker returned from a night of drinking. He spilled hot coffee on their child and according to Lillie she hit him in the head with a cast iron pan, grabbed the baby, and didn’t quit running until she made it to Iowa.

The next several years are a period of mystery. Tales she was willing to share with me tell of her operating what she called “beer gardens” with her mother. I have heard tales from other families that say she may have lived a very rough life during the period and dappled in prostitution to support herself and her child.

Seven years pass with no known documents of Lillie’s life. She appears again in records on 5 June 1937. She married Moman Harold Fulkerson, a widower with no children who lived in Flint, Michigan and worked in the auto factories. On their marriage record Lillie used an alias. She was still married to William Baker.

Lillie Mae Weatherspoon and Moman Harold Fulkerson wedding photo

On 7 Nov 1938 Lillie took the final step to her fresh start. She officially divorced William Baker.

On the 1940 census Lillie and her son are living with her 2nd husband in a working class neighborhood in Flint, Michigan. Lillie would live out the rest of her life in the house.

1940 Census
1940 Census.

A name change

On 4 February 1947 M.H. Fulkerson adopted Jay Dee Baker and changed his name officially from Baker to Fulkerson.

adoption papers for Jay Dee Baker and name change to Fulkerson.

Lillie Mae Weatherspoon is my fresh start ancestor. Through her life she managed to find ways to create a fresh start for both herself and her son. Her fresh start led to me being born with the surname Fulkerson.

Lillie Mae and M.H. Fulkerson

What’s New in the New Year?

Today marks the start of a new year and a new decade. 2019 was an exciting year for the blog. As we turn the page on 2019 here are some things that you can expect from Dusty Roots and Forgotten Treasures in the new year.


Tips each week on tip Tuesday.

The return of Courage Under Fire as I finish tracing the movements of the company that Fred L. Jacobs served with during World War II.

Dusty Roots and Forgotten Treasures monthly reading list of recommended reads.

I will also be joining 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks by Amy Crow Johnson.

In addition to the blogging schedule above watch for more resources on the Records Research and DNA Tools pages.

Coming soon is also a page with some of the great blogs I follow and a directory of some of the great genealogy webinars and podcasts I follow.

Here is wishing everyone a Happy 2020!

Happy New Year 2020

Research Tip of the Week

Each week I provide a helpful research tip. This week my tip is about getting the most out of google searches.

Google can be a genealogist dream if you know how to really unleash the power of the advanced search options.

Performing a routine google searches should be a part of your basic strategy on any research subject.

Pick any ancestor and plug the name into the google search bar.

For my example I began with “James Spence” the name of my great-grandfather who in his early life has hazy origins.

The results are overwhelming, and I am swamped with unrelated websites in the return. With most names it will be necessary to filter out some of the background noise.

A quick trick to narrow the results down to genealogy related results is to add the keyword genealogy. That takes millions of hits down to under 500,000. Still unwieldy and with this approach I risk missing important results that don’t include the “genealogy” keyword.

At this point there are 3 ways to approach this search.

  • Advanced search options.

Once you have performed a google search additional options will become available to use advanced options. These can be accessed through the “settings” tab just under the google search bar.

Select “Advanced search” on the settings pull down tab. This takes you to a new page with extra search options.

advance search screen
  • Manually use search options built into google.

All the options that are available on the advanced search page work in the search bar. At the end of each search bar it has tips on how to manually use the search trick.

Here is a great blog post from Family History Daily with 6 great search tricks that are useful for genealogist.

Randy Majors has created a great tool that uses all the advanced search tricks of google in a very user-friendly search page. His site is a good way to play with some of the search options to get more comfortable with them.

Using these different search tricks can help you discover items that you might otherwise miss using other search techniques.

What are your favorite search tricks for google?

Research Tip of the Week

Each week I provide a research tip to help build better genealogical researchers. This week with the holiday season is full swing, my research tip is about preserving treasured family recipes.

It is tip Tuesday!

Family history is richer when it includes more than just vital statistics and records. It is the extra details that bring family history to life.

Family Recipes

Many families have holiday traditions and many of those traditions center around food. For some families no holiday is complete without decorating cookies. Other families may spend days leading up to the holiday gathering with a full day of pie making.

Great Grandma’s recipe box

One of the greatest genealogical treasures I own is a recipe box that belonged to my Great Grandmother with handwritten recipes on the index cards. It includes a peanut butter cookie recipe that I have made for my own grandchildren and hopefully someday my daughter will make cookies from that recipe box for her own grandchildren.

Too often we forget to document our family recipes and traditions which is sad. Few things can transport us to a memory of times long gone and loved ones who have passed like the smell or taste of a food or treat we associate with a warm and fuzzy distant memory. If we don’t take time and make efforts to master Grandma’s biscuit recipe it can be gone in the passing of a single generation.

As you gather this holiday with your loved ones take the time to look around the table and see if there is any dish that your holiday would be incomplete without and take the time to record the recipe and its origins. Your descendants might thank you.

Happy Holidays from Dusty Roots & Forgotten Treasures!

The Pentagon on Direct-to-Consumer DNA testing

As a military family member I have been surprised that the Pentagon has been so slow to issue an opinion on DNA testing. Behind the scenes memos indicate that might be coming to an end.

Read the latest information on the Pentagon and DTC DNA testing in this Yahoo exclusive.

Exclusive: Pentagon warns military members DNA kits pose ‘personal and operational risks

Do you think the Pentagon should prohibit service members from DTC DNA testing?

Daniel E Adams – Gunsmith, Soldier, Photographer, Attorney, Skunk Farmer

The Unbelievable Life of Daniel Adams

A gunsmith, soldier, photographer, attorney, and a skunk farmer – it sounds like the start of a joke where the next line should be they walked into the bar. Interestingly enough those are all job titles held at various times by Daniel E. Adams.

On the scale of interesting characters of genealogical research my third great grandfather, Daniel E. Adams, is a jackpot. For the last several weeks I have been slowly pecking away at research on him for this blog…but it seemed the more I dug the more I wanted to dig. His life took many turns that make him an intriguing research subject with countless sources.

Early Life

Daniel E. Adams was born in Canada on 23 February 1832. His parents, Erwin Adams and Charlotte Murray, were of American birth. Shortly after Daniel’s birth, the family moved back south to the United States. Over the next two decades, the family would reside in Illinois and Michigan where most of the family would settle for generations.

Daniel married his first wife, Rachel Hamilton, in Oakland County, Michigan on 23 Sept 1852. There are four known children born to the marriage Flora, Edward Dexter, Arthur Hamilton, and Elmer Eugene. Rachel passed away 5 July 1862 leaving Daniel a widower with four children under the age of 10.

After the death of Rachel, Daniel hired 17-year-old Sarah Ferguson to help care for his children. The two married on 20 September 1863 in Genesee County, Michigan.

American Civil War

On 7 September 1864, Daniel enlisted as a gunsmith in Company G 4th Michigan Infantry reorganized. According to information he provided at the time he was a veteran of the Mexican American War. During his term of enlistment, he would see combat action in skirmishes across northern Alabama.

On 14 May 1865 the train carrying Daniel’s unit derailed while traveling through Tennessee. The train car he was riding in became detached and jumped from the track. Daniel received injuries in the accident. The Army discharged him a month later in Nashville, Tennessee on 7 June 1865.

After the War

Daniel returned home to his family after his discharge from the Army. The 1870 census shows him at home with his young wife, Sarah, and their rapidly growing family. His profession at the time is listed as a photographer and records show he operated the first photograph gallery in Lapeer, Michigan. He would study law while operating the Mammoth Skylight Gallery. By 1872, he was a practicing attorney.

Daniel and Sarah continued to reside in southern Michigan and their family continued to grow. The two would have eight children together.

Eventually Daniel branched out from practicing law and started farming skunks.

Daniel passed away on 5 April 1906 in Genesee County, Michigan. He is buried in the Smith Hill Cemetery in Otisville, Genesee County, Michigan.

Research Tip of the Week

Tip Tuesday

Each week I provide a tip that can be helpful in genealogy research. This week my tip is about the use of social media in genealogical research. I use several forms of social media. My primary form of social media is Facebook, but recently I have ventured into the land of Twitter and Pinterest. Each platform seems to have its own drawbacks and benefits. This week’s tip will focus on using Facebook in genealogy research.

Facebook in genealogy

Social media can be valuable in genealogy research in unexpected ways. Here are my tops uses for Facebook when working on genealogical related projects.

Connecting to living people

Facebook is a great source for researching living people. While genealogy focuses on researching ancestors, you may need to look up a living person as part of your genealogical research. DNA matches are one instance where Facebook can be helpful. People test out of curiosity about ethnicity and never return to the site. If you have a DNA match that you want to connect with, it might not be a bad idea to search Facebook. People respond to Facebook messages more readily than they do Ancestry messages in my personal experience.

Genealogy groups and pages

Facebook has become a hub of genealogical activity. It’s free, and it gives genies a chance to collaborate across the globe in real time. Some of the brightest minds in the genealogical world have carved out a presence on social media.

One of my favorite groups on Facebook is Genetic Genealogy Tips & Techniques. The group has over 60k members and Blaine Bettinger is one administrator of the group. It is my go to source when I have questions about genetic genealogy. The group is hugely active and it usually up to the minute on big news in the genetic genealogy field.

The second group that I really enjoy on Facebook is the Genealogy Squad. It is a group with Cyndi Ingle of Cyndi’s list, the Genealogy Guys, and Blaine Bettinger as administrators. The Genealogy Squad is the sister group to Genetic Genealogy Tips & Techniques which focuses on the traditional records based aspect of genealogy research.

Family groups and pages

Facebook has become a popular place for families to create groups that serve as a connecting spot. My personal journey of genealogical sharing began with a Facebook family group. Support from my family members helped build the confidence I needed to venture out into a more public platform. That first group, The Shuck Funny Farm is now a virtual family reunion that never ends. It spans generations of people with a shared family line in rural West Virginia.

Members of the group share memories and personal stories of family members long gone. There are photographs shared that are not available anywhere else. The group is just under 100 members, and it has added a rich layer to the genealogical research for many relatives. The personal details add an amazing context to the genealogy. 

Facebook is just one social media platform that can be useful in genealogy. With the use of Facebook, you can put yourself in contact with the best minds in genealogy and stay up to date on latest news and events. It also allows you to connect with both close and distant relatives and opens up the possibility of creating ongoing virtual family reunions.

Do you use Facebook in your genealogical research? What groups or pages do you find useful? Have you checked out the Facebook page for this blog?

December Reading List: The page turners I can’t put down this month.

I read constantly. The news, old records, books, even the back of a cereal box if that is all that is handy. I’m like a sponge that is always trying to soak up information from anywhere I can. Most of my reading choices relate to history or genealogy, and I’m always looking for new great reads.

This month I am reading 3 interesting books.

**Using the links in this post to purchase books will take you to Amazon. If you use these links to purchase these items I may receive compensation from Amazon. Beyond being an affiliate for Amazon I receive no compensation for recommending these books and my opinions are my own.**

32D Infantry Division World War II by Maj. Gen. H.W. Blakeley

The first book I am reading is by Major General H.W. Blakeley. I am using it as one of my source documents for the blog series about Fred Jacobs during World War II. The printed version is pricey. Thankfully, a digital version of the entire book is available on the Internet Archive.

Pacific Street by Amy Cohen.

I started this book a few days ago. It is nice to take a break from research and class studies to read a book purely for enjoyment. This is a fact-based fictional novel with a heavy dose of genealogical influence from Amy’s research of her own ancestors. For more from Amy Cohen be sure to check out her genealogy blog at Brotmanblog: A Family Journey.

The Asylum by Nathan Dylan Goodwin

This is another read I picked up purely for enjoyment. This is a short novel about a forensic genealogist. I was hooked from the moment I read the description. I have this one saved for reading later in the month and I can’t wait to dig into this tale. Crime mystery meets forensic genealogy! This is sure to be a winner. For more from Nathan Dylan Goodwin be sure to check out his site.

What are you reading?

I am always looking for great reading suggestions. Is there a book you cannot live without in your research? What genealogy or historical inspired novel hooked you like no other?

Sold! GEDmatch partners with forensic site Verogen

It is time to head to GEDmatch again for updated terms of service.

Most people at this point who have even a passing interest in genealogy have heard of the site GEDmatch. The site focuses on the DNA aspect of genealogy and allows users of the different testing sites to upload raw DNA information for comparison against other users in the system. It is a powerful and useful tool in any genetic or forensic genealogist tool box.

GEDmatch has made a lot of waves in the news the last couple of years because of the use of forensic genealogy to in several publicized cases such as the Golden State Killer. There has been a lot of back and forth about the use of the information on the site for the purpose of solving crimes and how to manage privacy issues. Likely because of all the involvement of legal issues in recent months, the creators of GEDmatch have sold the site.

GEDmatch is now owned and operated by Verogen, a company that specializes in forensic DNA and works with law enforcement. As of December 9, 2019, if you wish to continue using GEDmatch you must go agree to updated terms of service. The site promises to protect customer information, but everyone will need to weigh the value of that statement for their own benefit. I will opt in. For me the benefit outweighs any personal risks to me. I do so with the belief that my DNA might identify a unidentified person or solve a crime.

Do you use GEDmatch? Will you continue to use the service with the latest change? Are there any sites out there that come close to offering what GEDmatch provides? Sound off in the comments about the latest happenings with GEDmatch.