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2015 in review

LOL!  I need to get busy blogging more about our ancestry – I managed to eek out only 4 posts this year!  Not to fear – I’m heading to New Mexico, Utah and Arizona this year – surely I will make some wonderful family discoveries there.  Happy New Year!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,000 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Posted by on January 1, 2016 in Odds and Ends

 

Legends and Myths

Do you remember playing the childhood game called “telephone” – the game where the first person in line whispers a phrase into the second person’s ear, and the phrase is then repeated down the line? When finally at the end of the line, the phrase almost always ended up being vastly different than what it was at the outset. And so it goes with family stories – sometimes they are true, but many more times, they are simply family legends and myths.

I receive weekly contacts and inquiries from other genealogy enthusiasts who are hunting the same family lines that I am. Nearly everyone has a story to tell – a story that has been handed down through the generations about their ancestors. Some of the family stories that I hear most often include:

Our family has Native American ancestry. Our great-grandma was a Cherokee Indian Princess.” This story never varies – it’s always a Cherokee – never another tribe – and it’s always a female princess – never a male king, prince or chief. 🙂  The majority of the Curbow researchers that have contacted me have made this same assertion. I have done extensive research on several Curbow lines and have never found proof of Native American lineage and there has been no Cherokee Indian Princess lurking among the ancestors! From the Cherokee Museum: The Cherokee never had princesses. This is a concept based on European folktales and has no reality in Cherokee history and culture.19041452

Our family is related to Jessie James, John Wesley Hardin, Billy the Kid, Kit Carson, Daniel Boone , etc., etc., etc.” Of course, it’s only human nature, to want to lay claim to one of these American legends and place them in our family tree. It is also true that not everyone with the surname James can be traced back to Jessie James – and not everyone named Boone can trace their roots back to Daniel Boone. Such a relationship can only be proven by diligent research and proper sourcing.

Our first American ancestors were three brothers who came to America…..” I ponder the fact that it’s never five brothers or six sisters – always three brothers!!! I hear this family story very often and so it was with our Curbow family. When I first seriously began researching the family all I had heard was: “Three brothers came to America from Ireland.” None of this proved to be even close to the truth. Do your research!

I’ll share a few of our own family stories that l have been researching:

Brothers, Joseph Curbow (1755-1850) and William Curbow (1757-?) were both Revolutionary War soldiers. The family story states that both Joseph and William were present at the British surrender in Yorktown in 1781. Fact or fiction?

Lieutenant-Colonel John West was said to have committed adultery against his wife and left her to live with Cockacoeske – Queen of the Pamunkey – and purportedly a cousin to Pocahontas. Fact or fiction?

One of the “Curbo girls” married into the John Wesley Hardin family. The “Curbo boys” ran with the gang and are responsible for burning down the Courthouse in Hill County, Texas in the late 1870s. Fact or fiction?

With all this said, I do believe that most family stories begin with a smidgen of truth. In other words, where there is smoke there might be a fire. Take it all with a grain of salt and do your own research being careful to source every fact.  The family story that has been passed down to you may be a starting point that leads you to breaking through a brick wall and compiling a very successful and interesting family tree.

Happy Hunting !

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2015 in Odds and Ends

 

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2013 – The Year in Review – and Catching Up!

While pondering my genealogy goals and “to do list” for 2014, I contemplated writing a Year in Review blog post – and then I was completely caught off guard and stunned to realize that I had not written one single blog posting since July of 2012.  What a slug!  And – the excuses start right now – I’m still working a full-time job (and probably will until some attorney annoys me into a heart attack and early death) – and so I can’t ever squeeze in all of the things that I have to do much less the things I want to do.  I will endeavor to do a better job in 2014!

All was not lost though – given the fact that I’ve not posted anything new this year – we still received 54,852 hits on the blog!  I’ve been consistently busy behind the scenes – and below are a few highlights of the year.

My family history website (curbowfamily.com) is now fully documented and sourced as it pertains to my son’s Curbow line all the way through to his gggg-grandfather Tilman P. Curbow.  While we didn’t have any major breakthroughs, and many questions still exist – I did add an obituary here and a death certificate there and these small details continue to flesh out the specifics of who these people were.  In 2014, I plan to broaden the Curbow base by concentrating my research on the next generation (Henry B. Curbow).  Henry interests me because I believe him to by my son’s fifth great-grandfather, a Texas pioneer, who was present in the Republic of Texas by 1846.

Last July I made another trip to Waco, Texas – where Tilman settled “east of the Brazos River” after the Civil War.  My Curbow research partner, Jan S., met me there.  Jan and I had been corresponding for several years via email, and as such, it was so special to meet her in person.  On a previous trip to Waco, I had met John K., a retired McLennan County surveyor.  John was our tour guide for the day.  He loves genealogy, history, and he knows McLennan County like the back of his hand.  The day was amazing and inspiring.  John, through old maps, plats and surveys, took us to the land that Doss Bedwell used to own – and the land that Tilman P. Curbow leased, farmed and ranched.  While viewing the general area we also drove past the Storey Ranch and the land once owned by Elijah Miller’s father.  It was so beneficial to see where the families lived in proximity to each other.  While we didn’t find the Bedwell Cemetery, as we had hoped, it was nonetheless so remarkable to see the land that our ancestors lived and toiled on.  We also visited the historic First Street Cemetery and several others, all the while reaping the benefit of John’s unending knowledge of historic Waco.  We also had the opportunity to spend some time at the McLennan County Courthouse, where Jan and I were just astonished that we were given free rein to hold and handle wills and estate papers that were 125+ years old.  While there I joined the Central Texas Genealogy Association.  I have enjoyed their quarterly newsletters – and hope to be a contributor at some point.  We topped the day off by eating fried chicken in a parking lot in sweltering Texas summer heat.  I wouldn’t have it any other way !

When you marry a man from the South – you are going to find Confederate veterans in the family tree – and I have found lots of them!  This year my son, Ryan, was inducted into the Descendants of Confederate Veterans – a Texas Confederate Historical Society – based on the service of his gggg-grandfather, Tilman P. Curbow.  His wife’s uncle serves as the president of the Austin Chapter.  I was invited to attend the November meeting to tell the story of Tilman and his Civil War service.  I was super nervous. Genealogy is my passion – and I can talk a lot about it – but I am not a public speaker !!!  However, it was such a welcoming and receptive group that I got over myself pretty quickly and thoroughly enjoyed having the opportunity to tell Tilman’s story.  In 2014, we will start working on Ryan’s membership in the Sons of the American Revolution through his gggggg-grandfather Leonard Miles (1760-1835) who served out of the Fairfield District of South Carolina.

In 2014, I will shift some of the focus off of the Curbow family lines and focus on my Montoya/Spencer family lines.  These families are each unique and fascinating, and I am very excited to dig in a little deeper.  My father always told me that his great-grandfather emigrated from Barcelona Spain.  This oral family history story is partially true; however, we now know that the Montoya family came to New Mexico many generations prior to that.  Our emigrating ancestor was more than likely Bartolomé’ de Montoya – a Spanish conquistador  who was born in about 1572 in Cantillana (province of Andalucía) Spain.  He emigrated to Mexico City where he met and married María de Zamora.  This couple with their children and servants later traveled to New Mexico with the Onate Expedition.  Thus the Montoya surname is firmly established as one of New Mexico’s first families.  Most people who carry the Montoya surname today are descended from Bartolomé’s son Diego de Montoya.  Here is an article on the Montoya surname in New Mexico written by Jose Antonio Esquibel.

One very exciting development as it pertains to our Montoya family is the development of a family group Facebook page.  Thank you Syndi Montoya Miller for this great idea – and for getting it implemented !!  It has been a lot of fun reconnecting, and in some instances, meeting new family for the first time.  (Yes….we are a very large family!!)  We have had a lot of fun exchanging stories, memories and photographs of our loved ones.  I’m especially pleased to learn more about my Uncle Pete – and his family.  My father always spoke fondly of Pete and David – his older half brothers.  Additionally, a picture of my grandmother Pearl Spencer was shared by Syndi that I had never seen – and it is such a treasure – because there aren’t many pictures of her.

Lastly, I was really thrilled to receive a phone call from my Aunt Margie out-of-the-blue one day earlier in the year inviting me to coffee “to meet a Montoya cousin.”  It was none other than Sam Montoya – who lives less than 10 minutes down the road from me.  We met at Starbucks, and I didn’t even have to look for him.  I spotted him as a Montoya right away!  There’s been a little bit of talk about a family reunion.  What crazy fun would that be?!

Here to more happy genealogy hunting in 2014 !

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2014 in Odds and Ends

 

And We Have a Winner !

Today we held the drawing for the ancestry.com prize package winner!  Congratulations to Jan Shaffer of Dallas, Texas!  Courtesy of ancestry.com, Jan will receive a 6-month U.S. membership and the 2012 version of Family Tree Maker.  Thanks to everyone who took the time to enter.

In her submission, Jan shared as follows:

One of my favorite pastimes is researching my family tree.  Being a history buff I have enjoyed finding exactly where my forefathers fit within history.  I first began when I had my first child and one had to write letters and spend hours in libraries looking at microfilm for information.  The forward movement was very slow and I made very little progress.  When my father died I connected with one of his (mine too I guess) cousins who was the keeper of the Smith family history.  She shared much of her written records with me.  Of course, we didn’t have a copy machine so there was a lot of hand scribbled notes during long distance phone calls from Dallas to Tucson. She has since died and her research I assume is with her children.  Next I purchased a little software package called Family Tree Maker that helped organize the information on my tree.  At this point I was on my way to something that could be passed down to my descendants.  This was when I got hooked; but, the big breakthrough was when Ancestry.com was launched.  I had data at my fingertips that I never knew existed.

My big brick wall was finding the parents of my maternal grandfather.  My grandfather Bedwell died when my mother was one year old.  As my grandmother had passed away my mother couldn’t even tell me her grandparent’s first names.  I found a hand full of pictures when my mother died but did not know who they were or to which side of the family they belonged. I connected with other researchers through Ancestry.com and by comparing pictures the other researchers owned, found I had a picture incorrectly identified resulting in having a young picture of my great-grandmother and a more mature picture shared by another researcher. Another researcher was able to provide the father, to who we now know is Belle, and she came alive for us.  Belle has been the fuel for my continued research and now I have over 2,000 people listed in my tree.

I have also learned from my fellow researchers how important documentation of your facts is for your research.  The experienced researchers are happy to guide one through the brambles of information and at the same time teach good habits of research.  As a result when someone contacts me for information I pass along the kindness and experience others have shown me.  I consider some of my Ancestry connections personal friends.

The latest Ancestry.com option I have taken advantage of is the DNA testing.  I never knew where my ancestors immigrated from and having grown up as a Smith I could have come from anywhere.  Now I can say I am mostly from Great Britain with a little Eastern and Southern European thrown in and as a result I am planning a trip to Great Britain this fall.

Jan Shaffer
Dallas, Texas

Congratulations to Jan !!

And to all of you:  HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY !!!!!!
 
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Posted by on July 4, 2012 in Bedwell, Odds and Ends

 

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The Ancestry.com Contest – Win Prizes !

Some time ago I “liked” ancestry.com on my Facebook page.  I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the posts, blogs, articles, tips and announcements – along with reviewing the many user comments and feedback.  I am a longtime fan of ancestry.com and have had a paid subscription for the last five years.  I can’t imagine researching my family history without the help of ancestry.com.  They have become the obvious market leader.  I believe that their success stems from the fact that they understand the importance of (and our desire to know) “where we came from.” 

 Here’s my short list of what I love most:   

All the records are compiled in one convenient place.  I can sit at my computer in the comfort of my own home in my most worn out night-gown, drinking coffee and eating chocolate and still be accomplishing research tasks!  That’s not to say that I don’t venture out.  I’ve spent untold hours in libraries sifting through musty old books – in archives going cross-eyed while scanning microfilm – and have spent many a hot Texas day trudging through old cemeteries.  But for the beginner – or anyone for that matter – the records compiled at ancestry are a great resource.  I usually start with the “little hint leaf” but always browse the card catalog to see if there is a database available that my ancestor might be found in.  Yes, I agree, there are other databases online that offer this same information for free; however, I never have enough hours in a day, and I appreciate being able to go to one website that has all of the resources compiled in one place (including the images in most instances).   

Connecting with others:  By far, my greatest thrill has been connecting with other like-minded researchers and distant family members – people who are as crazy passionate as I am about their family history!  I receive numerous email inquiries every day via the “Members Connection” feature.  Alternatively, I check it almost daily to see if anything new or interesting has been posted pertaining to any of my ancestors.  I’ve had some major breakthroughs by connecting with people who are working on the same family lines that I am.  Additionally, I love browsing the message boards on ancestry.com.  I almost always get helpful responses whenever I post an inquiry.  In addition to all of this a user has the ability to search the family trees of countless other public members.  There is a fairly good chance that you’ll run across a connection somewhere.  (A word to the wise:  don’t take anyone else’s work as gospel.  Most family trees are not documented or sourced in any way – so you’ll have to do your own homework.  With that said – I’ve found many trees that offered a smidgen of information – I then used that as a springboard and ran with it – many, many times with great results.  Just be vigilant in double checking everything you glean from other family trees.) 

Original Documents/Census Records – A majority of the databases available at ancestry.com contain images of the original documents.  By way of example, the ones that have benefited me the most are the census schedules (U.S., state, agricultural and slave) and the World I Draft Registration Cards.  I have additionally been lucky enough to find a few passport applications for some of my ancestors along with some military records.  When working on a thorough study of your ancestry, I believe, it is critical to be able to view the actual documents rather than just viewing an index.   

So those are my top three reasons why I love ancestry.com.  And here comes the fun part.   Due to the fact that I am an ancestry.com member and because I have a blog and a family history website, ancestry.com has designated me as an “Ancestry Ace” and thus is allowing me to offer this give-away contest.  Ancestry.com is very graciously offering prizes to the contest winner as follows:

A 6-month U.S. Deluxe ancestry membership AND a copy of Family Tree Maker 2012 (PC or Mac version available)!!!!!

This is a very exciting prize!  Here’s what you need to do to enter:

*Entrants must email me at jlcurbow@att.net (with the subject line entitled:  “Ancestry Contest,” and provide me with your name, location and email address.  (Please also mention whether you require the software for a PC or for a MAC.)  In the email submission, please describe how ancestry.com HAS helped you break through a brick wall in your family history research.  Alternatively, if you are not yet a member, describe how ancestry.com COULD help you break through a brick wall. 

 *Entrants must go to Facebook and “like” ancestry.com OR sign up to follow them on Twitter.

*Entrants must “Share” this blog on Facebook OR share my family history website (http://www.curbowfamily.com). 

One contest entry per person please.

The winner will be selected from a random drawing conducted by me on July 4, 2012 at 12:00 p.m. (central time)I will post the name of the lucky winner here at that time along with their submission.  The winner’s name and email address will be transmitted to Ancestry.com for awarding of the prizes by Ancestry.com.

Share this with all who would benefit from this membership package.  Thank you again to Ancestry.com for offering to provide this wonderful prize…and good luck to you all !

 

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2012 in Odds and Ends

 

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Honoring Our Veterans

Our combined family consists of dedicated veterans who have served, fought and died for our freedoms in every American conflict starting with the American Revolution all the way through to the present conflict in Afghanistan.  We have had family members who served proudly in every branch of service, Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines – and even the United States Coast Guard.  Some of our veterans suffered greatly as prisoners of war; some have received Purple Hearts; some just quietly served and never spoke of their experiences – many more served during peace time around the world.  I am proud and grateful for each and every single one of them.  The sacrifice to the veteran and his family cannot be measured.  Today we stand up and remember you – and we thank you for your sacrifice and service to our country.  Without you there would be no us.

Below is only a small sampling of our family members who have served our country valiantly.

American Patriots:  James Curbow; Joseph Curbow; William Curbow; Leonard Miles – American Revolution

Willis D. West – Texas Revolution; Siege of Bexar

James L. Atwood; Tilman P. Curbow; Wiseman Curbow; John Montgomery Ham –Civil War

William Henry Lytle; Nathaniel Sheridan Murry; Frank Edward Story – World War I

Roy Orville Curbow; David Alfonso Montoya; Leonard Lee Setliff; Milton Pete Zimmerle – World War II

Gene Oliver Curbow – Korea

Richard Ernest Montoya (my father); Roy Oliver Curbow, Jr. – Vietnam

 
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Posted by on May 28, 2012 in Odds and Ends, Times and Places

 

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The Wait is Almost Over!

Two – count them – TWO more days!  At midnight on April 2nd, the United States National Archives will release the 1940 census – the first to be released in 72 years.  For those of us that research our family history – this is like the Super Bowl on steroids!  I am essentially foaming at the mouth.  I can’t wait to find my father (and many other family) in the 1940 census.  And then there are the brick walls – will the 1940 census solve some mysteries for me? 

Stephen P. Morse in his article published in the Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly (December of 2011) stated that a complete name index will not exist until at least six months after opening day.  Consequently, if you hope to find your ancestors in the 1940 census, you will need to find them by location – and specifically you will need to know which enumeration district they resided in.  You can read the entirety of Mr. Morse’s article here.  Additionally, Stephen Morse has a tool on his website which he calls the “One-Step.”  This will enable you to quickly figure out the enumeration district that your ancestor lived in and hopefully give you a head start into the search for your ancestors in the 1940 census.

                                                           Fun facts about 1940: 

….the average car cost $1,611

….a gallon of gas cost 18 cents

….a loaf of bread cost 8 cents

….a typical man’s suit cost $24.50

….nylons cost 20 cents

….an Emerson radio cost $19.65

….a Philco refrigerator cost $239

….a pork loin roast cost .45/pound

….the average home cost $3,920

….a Sealy mattress cost $38

….the movie “Rebecca” by Alfred Hitchcock won the Academy Award

….the song “Frenesi” by Artie Shaw was a top song

We laugh at these costs now – but keep in mind – taking inflation into account – $100 of their money would translate to $1,433.771 in today’s market.

For those of you who are working on the same family lines – let’s partner up – no sense in duplicating effort!  As I find family in the 1940 – I will post here.  As you find family – send me the image. 

I know what I’m doing this weekend – I’m hunting down enumeration districts !

 

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2012 in Odds and Ends

 

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