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First Award

April 13, 2010

Ancestor Approved Award

What a pleasant surprise to receive an email from Theresa Martin Klaiber of the Eastern Kentucky Genealogy blog that she had given me the Ancestor Approved Award.  I am very honored since I don’t post as often as I should.  My excuse is that quality means more than quantity, but this may provide some encouragement to do more posting.

In the meantime, I have a few posts in the works – a deep dark family secret revealed in on-line court documents in the Library of Virginia and barking up the wrong tree or how I spent 2 years researching a family that I’m not related to, unless we go back to Adam.


Web Site Is Finally Up

March 23, 2010

After much drama, wailing, and gnashing of teeth, Appalachian Aristocracy is uploaded and functional. Finished it is not, and probably never will be.

There are gremlins in my GEDCOM. Quotation marks and apostrophes are noted with Greek and hieroglyphic symbols. Soooo I’m having to manually find and remove the little buggers. And in the process, I’m also finding inconsistencies in abbreviations and other things that accumulated over 10 years of putting this together.

So with this understanding, I invite you to visit When I say this is a work in progress, I’m not kidding.

So while my husband watches cop shows, “World’s Dumbest ….” and other upscale reality shows, I sit with my laptop finding these errors and making changes. At some point, I will say “To heck with it” and start adding all the census records, photos, and other media I have amassed.

Let me know what you think and any suggestions you may have.

Appalachian Aristocracy Web Site

March 6, 2010

I’m hard at work on getting my web site ready.  Being a perfectionist, I want to have my GEDCOM as complete as possible.  Now I realize that if I rely on being satisfied with what I have so far, it will never be completed.

My husband has been watching me fiddle with my genealogy programs on my laptop  as we watched the Winter Olympics.  While I’m in my “but wait there’s one more thing” mode, he pointed out that he was getting darned tired of looking over and seeing genealogy and hearing me talk about a bunch of dead people.  My witty rejoinder was they he could join his ancestors sooner rather than later if he didn’t leave me alone.  But he made his point that he wants to see all my work up on the web so others can access it and share information with me.  At least I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt on his altruistic motives.

So if all goes according to plan, I should have the basics uploaded within a few days. But if my husband thinks I’m finished, he is going to be disappointed.  Now I need to organize and upload all the photos and other media files I have accumulated to this point.  Then I still have oodles of stuff to scan.

I’ll post the web address when it is all up and working.

The Truth Is Out There

October 22, 2009

Never underestimate the power of social networking! I’m a newcomer to this whole Facebook and blogging part of the Web. Thanks to two responses to my post about Emeline Chambers, I got a miracle.

First was a nice comment about my blog and a suggestion I put information on It is a wonderful site, and I wrote the site developer Thomas MacEntee with an idea of adding an Appalachian Genealogy section. Thomas thought it was a great idea, did so, looked over my blog, and made it a highlight in the weekly This Week’s New Genealogy Blogs. Needless to say, I am flattered.

In less than a week after Thomas put out the word about Appalachian Aristocracy, I got an email from a man, turns out to be a long lost cousin, who has information about who was the father of Emeline’s three children before she married Chapman Elswick. He had the name, and a bit of the story, and will introduce me to another cousin who can give me all the details. Unless all parties agree I won’t give out the father’s name, but this is just too good not to share. gets credit for this brick wall tumbling down.

Moral of the story: add social networking to your search tools. Use to look for cousins you don’t know who have a piece of the puzzle you need, and you may be able to return the favor.

After more than 100 years later, the truth is still out there. Now we can all hum the theme song from the “X Files.”

Found At Last: Emeline Chambers

September 5, 2009

When I was a child, my maternal grandmother Ella Pack Whitaker told me she wanted to name me Euphemia Allyfair after my great-great grandmother Euphemia Allyfair Chambers Christian.  I will always be grateful to my mother that she named me Cheryl instead.  Can you imagine the teasing in school? Not to mention learning to spell it!

Now I’m sure “Feemie,” or Allyfair as she was sometimes called, was a good woman, a good wife, and mother.  At least that is the information that has been handed down. And the name Fair was given to at least one of her great-granddaughters, my mother to be precise. So I guess Mom didn’t want me burdened with a “mountain” name, as by this time she was a military wife and was expanding her Appalachian roots.

Euphemia Allyfair Chambers mother was Emeline Chambers and we don’t really know who her father was.  I’m sure there were rumors at the time, but those rumors died along with those who knew.

At any rate, Allyfair named a daughter Emeline, after her mother so there must have been a measure of good feelings. Emeline Chambers married Chapman Elswick 21 Feb 1863 in Tazewell County and had another family. I knew that one of them had the distinctive name of Buenavista Elswick.

I had often wondered about Emeline, who she was, what did she looked like, and what was her story.  Why hadn’t she married Allyfair’s father? What was the reaction of her mother having a child out of wedlock?

Late last week I decided to explore the digital collection of the Library of Virginia at, specifically the collection of Tazewell County photographs. For those of you with Tazewell County roots this is a treasure trove. On a whim I decided to put in Elswick to see what popped up. Lo and behold there were all kinds of photos of Buenavista Elswick and his family.  Among the bunch was a photo of his parents.  So I now know what Emeline Chambers Elswick looked like. Her daughter Allyfair looked like her too. Don’t you agree? They both sure had a stern countenance.

Emeline Chambers Elswick and Chapman Elswick of Tazewell County, VA circa 1895

Emeline Chambers Elswick and Chapman Elswick of Tazewell County, VA circa 1895

Euphemia Allyfair Chambers Christian and Thomas C. Christian of Tazewell County circa 1910

Euphemia Allyfair Chambers Christian and Thomas C. Christian of Tazewell County circa 1910

Emeline Chambers, daughter of Thomas Chambers of Russell Co. VA and Nancy Christian Chambers, was born about 1831 in Russell Co. VA and died in 1898 in Tazewell Co. VA.

Euphemia Allyfair was born circa 1851 and her death date isn’t certain. She married Thomas Christian Christian on 20th March 1865 and they had a large family, 2 boys and 7 girls.

Front: Thomas C. Christian (father) Thomas Delbert Christian  Euphemia Allyfair Chambers Christian (she has a goiter on her neck) Virginia America (Mexie) Christian, Emmeline, George, Lillie Belle (my great grandmother), Mary, Oklahoma (Oakley), either Oceana (Ocie) or Tillie

Front: Thomas C. Christian (father) Thomas Delbert Christian Euphemia Allyfair Chambers Christian (she has a goiter on her neck) Virginia America (Mexie) Christian, Emmeline, George, Lillie Belle (my great grandmother), Mary, Oklahoma (Oakley), either Oceana (Ocie) or Tillie

My Brick Walls Rival the Great Wall of China

August 15, 2009

After collecting family history material for umpteen years, being chronically disorganized, and some what lazy, I decided the easiest way to get out the morass I find myself in, and to keep my husband sane, is to just start blogging.  I’m too verbose to Twitter, so this seems to suit my style. Given that I am a procrastinator par excellence, I tend to ignore stuff in my email, so I figure replying to comments may be better.  Of course, I do have check the blog every so often to do so.

I am willing to share information about the families who are my ancestors.  I don’t have all the answers and have enough genealogy brick walls to rival the Great Wall of China.  I am not an accomplished genealogist or family historian, but I do have the passion for finding out why I am the way I am.  Which ancestor gave me absolutely no sense of time? Which one provided the delightful combination of being very short and very round? And where on earth did I get my bizarre sense of humor?

Bear with me if I don’t post stuff regularly or don’t respond in a timely fashion.  My husband and I have our own family business to keep from going bankrupt in the New Economy, plus an adult son who is ventilator-dependent, pretty much bedridden, and requires skilled care nursing when we can get it.  When they don’t show up, then we are working and doing homecare. We are approaching the age when we will be going on Medicare. I figure if I keep going fast enough, old age won’t catch up to me.

Here are the families I’m researching on my side:

Whitaker, Christian, Pack, Beavers, Petts (Tazewell County, VA and McDowell County, WV) Chambers, Tate, Davenport, Owens, Payne (Washington and Russell Counties, VA) Johnson, Bryant (Buckingham County, VA) Hamman/Hammond (Botetourt and Tazewell Counties, VA)

My husband is descended from the Duke’s of Clarke County, Alabama. I’ve been working on them from time to time, but they are a difficult to find information about. According to family lore, they are one generation away from sharing the North Carolina Duke fortune, but I think that is just wishful thinking. Otherwise, his Russell ancestors are from York, Co. ME, Cluverius and Walker are FFV’s (first families of Virgina).  He is a descendant of Dr. Thomas Walker, the explorer of Southwestern VA and found the Cumberland Gap. So even though he is a flatlander, he does have some connection with Appalachia.