May I Introduce to You . . . Kathy Duncan
I have the great pleasure of introducing you to Kathy Duncan and her blog, Porch Swings, Fireflies, and Jelly Jars, described as, “. . . Family Genealogy and History.”
Kathy, please tell us a little about yourself.
“I was born in Texas but spent my formative years in Kansas and New Mexico. Currently, I live near Dallas with my husband and our cat. We have two grown children and one granddaughter. My husband raises daylilies, and I would quilt more if I could stop myself from spending so much time on research.”
How did you get started in genealogy?
“I started doing research in the summer of 1975 after my high school graduation. My mother was researching her family at the time, but no one was researching my father’s family. As a beginner, I dutifully sent off for a copy of my paternal great-grandparents’ marriage license and enclosed the required $1 fee. A few weeks later I received their original marriage license because they had never picked it up from the courthouse. It was magical, and I was hooked. I’ve been researching ever since. I was lucky to begin at such a young age because I had the opportunity to talk with and to question many people who are now gone. I pestered my grandparents, and wish I’d pestered them more. This summer was my big 4-0 anniversary as a researcher.”
Kathy, why do you blog and what do you hope to accomplish by sharing your stories?
“When I realized that I would never get around to publishing a book or be able to afford to publish a book, I decided to ‘publish’ my research on a blog. It has been one of the best decisions I’ve made. Blogs really are excellent cousin bait. My blog has put me in contact with other family researchers, many of whom have additional pictures, letters, bibles, etc. that I would never have seen otherwise. It has been a wonderful way to meet other family researchers. One generous man, who is not a family researcher but is a collector of old envelopes and stamps, sent me an envelope mailed by my husband’s great-grandfather in about 1868/69. He was thinning out his collection and decided to see what he could find out about Rev. D. H. Selph. He found my blog and decided to return the envelope to its family.”
How did you chose the name for your blog?
“My favorite memories of childhood revolve around visits to my grandparents. In the evenings, I raced around the yard with my brother and cousins, catching fireflies that we put in jelly jars. When it got dark, we would take our jars of fireflies and join the grown-ups on the porch. It was always a treat to get to sit in the porch swing. Then we’d listen to the adults recount old family stories that went back as far as the Civil War. My blog’s name is a tribute to those evenings and the stories that drew me into genealogy.”
Kathy, do you have tips or advice for new bloggers?
“Just do it. Blogger is fairly simple to use. Be patient because it takes a while for search engines to find you. The more you post, the better. Eventually, you will start to hear from other researchers. Then the magic happens.”
What other genealogy blogs inspire you?
“I read Randy Seaver’s, Genea-Musings and James Tanner’s, Genealogy’s Star on a regular basis. I am also a fan of Nicolas Weert’s attempt to identify old photographs and to reunite photographs with their families on his Dead Relative Collector blog.”
Kathy Shares Her Favorite Blog Post
“One of my favorite posts concerns my great-great grandfather, James Hogan Dendy and his experience at Elmira. I had known through his widow’s Confederate pension papers that he had been captured during the war and was in prison. When I finally was able to check his service papers, I was surprised to learn that he had been at Elmira. I treated his service records like a timeline and then researched what was going on at Elmira during the same time frame. The result is a glimpse at what he might have experienced while he was there.”
How Kathy Spends Her Genealogy Time
“I do some research every week, but because of my current circumstances most of my research is online. I really need to get back into a brick and mortar library to do some substantial research. As wonderful as online research is, my local library has more information. Of course my ‘local’ library is the Dallas Public Library, which is a gem.”
Kathy’s Favorite Ancestor
“My favorite ancestor to research is my great-great grandfather, Grandison D. Nevill Sr. He has been very difficult to research. I have been able to document the oral traditions about him, located at least four wives for him but only two divorces out of the at least three divorces that he must have had. I’ve documented the surnames of three of the four wives, but not the one I descend from. It is entirely possible that he had more wives than I’ve accounted for. I’ve tracked him to various locations between census years, but cannot locate him in 1850 and 1870. Most secondary sources have him dying in 1878 in Texas, but I can document that he was living in Arkansas in 1880. If it had been easier to find him, I would probably know less about him and would not have honed my research skills. I try to remember that lesson in my research – go beyond census years and birth, marriage, and death dates. There is so much more to be found for each ancestor.”
What family story or heirloom do you cherish?
“My grandmother gave me a photograph album that belonged to her mother. Too many of the photographs are unidentified, but I cherish it.”
How has genealogy improved your life?
“Genealogy makes the world smaller, and I’ve met a lot of interesting people.”
Kathy, what do you love most about doing genealogy?
“The thrill of the hunt. Organizing, not so much.”
If you wanted to leave a message for future generations, what would you say to them?
“This message would be for future generations of researchers: no one has ‘done it all.’ That cousin or aunt or other relative who you believe has ‘done all’ of your family’s genealogy has not. I know because in my family, I am that relative. I can assure you that there are great gaping holes in my research. Questions still to be answered. Please take what I leave behind and continue the search.”
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Please take a moment to head on over to Kathy’s blog. Leave her a comment letting her know you stopped by. Welcome Kathy, it’s great to have you here!
© 2016, copyright Gini Webb. All rights reserved.
Gini Webb lives in San Diego, California and manages her own blog, Ginisology, while also researching her own German heritage, retired, enjoying life with wonderful husband Steve and visiting with her grandchildren! Are you a genealogy blogger who would like to be interviewed for the “May I Introduce To You . . .” series? If so, contact Gini Webb via e-mail.