Saturday, March 30, 2013

Fearless Females Blog Post: Best Advice From My Mom

This blog prompt comes from Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist. She has created 31 blog prompts in honor of Women's History Month. If you haven't read her blog yet, take some time and check it out.

March 30 — Did you receive any advice or words of wisdom from your mother or another female ancestor?

I received the best advice ever from my mom recently. I truly have come to savor every time she comes over to visit. I see so thoroughly that I come from her. Looking at her feels often like I'm looking into the future at some older wiser reflection of myself. We are not identical in thought but the similarities between us are abundant and obvious. With that being said, we had a lovely conversation at my dining room table. As usual, it was me sipping on coffee while she talked about her day's events and things she planned to do later in the week. She is a gorgeous woman. Mom always takes the time out to make sure that not a hair is out of place and her ensemble is perfectly coordinated. Nails did. You get the picture. Mom is fly and she knows it. :) I love that about her. 

Anyway, as she got up to leave and was heading down the stairs toward my front door, I stopped her. I had to tell her that her jacket and purse were so gorgeously coordinated. Then I told her that I admired her for always taking the time to put herself together. She turned looked up at me and said, "Let me give you the best piece of advice. Live! You can't take it with you. Live and take care of yourself, because tomorrow isn't promised to anyone." 

Love you mom. You give the best advice!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Fearless Females Blog Post: Genealogy Trading Card For Ophelia Jones Bryant

This blog prompt comes from Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist. She has created 31 blog prompts in honor of Women's History Month. If you haven't read her blog yet, take some time and check it out.

March 29 — Create a free Fold3 (formerly Footnote) Memorial Page or a Genealogy Trading Card at Big Huge Labs for a female ancestor. Some of you may have created your own card back in September 2009 following Sheri Fenley’s post over at The Educated Genealogist. This time, the card is for your ancestor.  

The ancestor I've chosen to make a Genealogy Trading Card for is my maternal great grandmother Ophelia Jones Bryant. Her image inspired me to begin the journey of discovering my ancestors. I send a thank you out to my grandmother Mary Horton, her daughter, as well as my great grandmother up in heaven. There was a beautiful portrait of Ophelia that hung in my grandmother's bedroom when I was a child that I would gaze at and wonder -- Who was this lady? What was she like?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Not So Wordless Wednesday: What Does The Name Kelleher Mean Anyway?

My husband told me about this sometime ago and it came up again in conversation today. That's when I thought...ya know, I think that's a blog post. I love my husband to bits. It's a cliche, but I knew that he was "the one" when I met him. After our first date, I came back home and told my roommate that I had at the time that if Tom was indeed "the nice guy" he kept telling me he was, I was going to marry him. Turned out he was telling the truth. 

We've had our ups and downs like in any marriage, but we always come back to the place we call us. 

Now getting back to that thing that came up in conversation again today; it was regarding the meaning of the name Kelleher.  On, they describe the Kelleher name meaning as "companion-dear" or "lover of company."

Image courtesy of

One of my husband's friends told him that the name translated more closely to "a man who overly loves his wife."  Now when I heard this, I have to admit I was a bit skeptical so I started looking on-line today to see if in fact this might be true.'s definition seemed on the right track. 

To my surprise on another website called Irish, I found an article that made mention of this specific translation. Here's the link to the article:

This is an excerpt from that article called "The Kelleher Clan" by Conn Corrigan.

Kelleher exists also as Keliher, Kellaher, Kelliher, etc. The modern forms of the name are derived from the Irish name O Ceileachair, from ceileachar, which means "uxorious," or "excessively fond of one's wife."

Tom Kelleher, my husband, at the Grand Canyon in 2003.

Kelleher...I think the name is very fitting for this man.

Monday, March 25, 2013

My 23andMe Results!

My 23andMe Results --How Did I Get Here? My Amazing Genealogy Journey
Image courtesy of dream designs/  image ID: 100106353

Like so many of you out there, I couldn't help myself when 23andMe dropped the price for their test to $99 last December. I took full advantage and ordered a test for my husband as well as one for myself. Well, my results came back late last week and I found them reaffirming and interesting all at the same time. 

My 23andMe Results --How Did I Get Here? My Amazing Genealogy Journey
Image courtesy of 23andme

Maternal Haplogroup Result: L3e3b

In a prior post, My MtDNA Result Are Back!, I revealed the results of my first MtDNA test. I tested with FamilyTreeDNA last year and they determined that my Haplogroup was L3e3b. It was reassuring to see that 23andMe came up with the same result this time around. I think I can now safely claim L3e3b as my Haplogroup.

Ancestry Composition:

Okay, now we're going to get into the meat of the situation ---my ancestral breakdown. I have taken three other Autosomal DNA tests, first with African Ancestry, next with and then lastly with FamilyTreeDNA. Not one of those tests was able to detect any Native American Ancestry. Would this test find anything different?

My 23andMe Results --How Did I Get Here? My Amazing Genealogy Journey
Image courtesy of 23andme

23andMe has the ability to break down the results a bit further which is interesting to see as well.

My 23andMe Results --How Did I Get Here? My Amazing Genealogy Journey
Image courtesy of 23andme.

Now these breakdowns were based on their standard estimate. 23andMe does give you the option of viewing your results under a more conservative or a more speculative estimate.

Under the more speculative estimate, here's what my ancestry composition looks like:

Image courtesy of 23andMe.

My 23andMe Results --How Did I Get Here? My Amazing Genealogy Journey
Image courtesy of 23andMe.

No I couldn't let the whole Native American thing go folks. Something inside me said keep stirring the pot to see what turns up. Lo and behold there it is. Now, not a lot mind you but it's there. Of course now this gets my curiosity going in regards to my mom. It's her side of the family that is supposed to have the Native American ancestry and so I am assuming that is where it comes from in me. I wonder what her ancestral percentages would be. Wouldn't that be something if we found out the Native American was from my father's side of the family. I guess I will be purchasing some more tests. Ha!

Friday, March 22, 2013

I've Never Sounded Better! Coming Soon My 23andme Results.

Image courtesy of 23andme.

I don't think I've ever sounded better. My 23andme results are in and I am currently looking over everything to figure out what this stuff all means. I love this idea of a DNA Melody. If you want to hear what my DNA sounds like, click on the following link:

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Did I Just Find One Of My Father's Cousins? Part two

Microsoft Office Downloaded Image

If you missed part one, here's the link:  Mystery Monday: Did I Just Find One Of My Father's Cousins?

So what happened to Leon or Leroy Kuylen, my father's first cousin?  I decided to do a little more reading up on the New York Foundling Hospital. On Wikipedia, I came across this:

The Foundling Hospital (1880–1957)

In response to an increasing need for skilled medical and nursing care for mothers and children, The New York Foundling began providing health services in addition to social services, changing its name to The New York Foundling Hospital to more accurately reflect its services.

While The Foundling provided medical treatment in addition to adoption and support services for mothers-in-need, it wasn’t until the 1930s that a Social Service department was established to assist those who could not properly care for their children.

It appears that my aunt Hilda Dixon Kuylen was not able to take care of her son Leon and placed him in this agency's care. This makes sense. I know that she and her husband Hubert split up sometime later in 1940, according to the newspaper article on the kidnapping of their daughter Geraldine. Hilda was a "cafe society entertainer" who worked nights. Caring for a child would have been difficult to do on her own. 

The next thing I decided to do was Google "Leroy Kuylen." Nothing promising came up.  Then I tried "Leon Kuylen." 

Leon Kuylen
Evergreen Cemetery 
Oneida County, New York, USA
Plot: Section 27
Image courtesy of Find A Grave

I think this may be my guy. Correct age. The name is unique. I haven't come across any other Leon Kuylens in all my searches and it is the correct year of birth ---1939. Perhaps I could find out a bit more.  I go back to Google and plug in "Leon Kuylen" again and this time I narrow the search down by clicking on books.  A result comes up. 

Some of them roll over and spring from a sit-down to stand up position." He noted that staff members are required to be on the trampoline with jumping residents except for a few who are "pretty good. "Leon Kuylen can do flips." Greg beamed.

I say to myself.....What is this?!!

This entry is from a book called "Mental Hygiene News", Volumes 48-49 - Page 10, New York State Department of Mental Hygiene., 1977. Only a portion of this text is view-able online. This is Google's explaination for why. 

For books that enter Google Books through the Library Project, what you see depends on the book's copyright status. We respect copyright law and the tremendous creative effort authors put into their work. If the book is in the public domain and therefore out of copyright, you can page through the entire book and even download it and read it offline. But if the book is under copyright, and the publisher or author is not part of the Partner Program, we only show basic information about the book, similar to a card catalog, and, in some cases, a few snippets — sentences of your search terms in context.

Okay so this is when I play around with Google to see if I can see more of this snippet.  It sounds like to me that this Leon had some sort of disability. I put in quotes the following:  "Leon Kuylen"+"mental".  This is what came up.

"Tramp Aids Wheelchair-Bound"

Rome--Since mid-March residents confined to wheel chairs at Rome Devlopmental ...........

Aha! Okay we are now talking about Rome, NY. Was Leon wheelchair-bound? I try Leon Kuylen again but now I type it in the box for searching inside the book and a little more information comes up. I begin reading in the middle column.

According to Mr. Vickowski, the purpose of the program is to enable residents to feel movement, stimulation, and balance they never experienced before. He said the sessions were initiated because "We had a lot of overweight residents in Quincy Hall."

I skip to the section with Leon's name. I pick up with

His definition of a flip? "Standing up, doing a somersault and landing on his seat."

Wow that sounds pretty cool to me. I don't think I could do that now if I tried. 

So this is where I leave off with Leon Kuylen. I have some leads and of course more digging to do. At least now, it feels like the story my father was told about his cousins wasn't a fairy tale. Geraldine and Leon Kuylen were real people.  When I know more information, I will pass it on.

Oh by the way did I mention that my 23andme results are do back any day now :)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Mystery Monday: Did I Just Find One Of My Father's Cousins?

Microsoft Office Downloaded Image

Last year, I wrote about the mysterious circumstances involving one of my father's relatives. That post was called Thriller Thursday: The Kidnapping of Geraldine Kuylen. My father sometime ago shared with me the story of a kidnapping that took place involving one of his aunt's children. Hilda "Bernice" Dixon was the sister of my grandmother Ethel Murrell. When she was young, she apparently had married and had two children of her own. The story was that the oldest child, Geraldine was kidnapped by a family friend. My father said that the other child, a boy named Theodore was eventually taken away from his aunt by social services. This all took place before my father was born so this story was based on information passed down to him by his mother. In 2012, I came across a newspaper article on ProQuest that gave further detail regarding the kidnapping. I learned of my aunt's married name --Kuylen. After finding the article and writing a post about it, I became distracted by other things genelogy-wise. Recently, I took a look at the article again and realized that I never tried to look up my aunt Hilda under her married name on the 1940 census. One of those "Duh" moments, right?! Oh well, nobody's perfect.

So what a nice surprise to come across Hilda Kuylen on the 1940 census.  Her household was headed up by her husband, Hubert Kuylen.

Source Information: 1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012.

On page 2, there's Hilda and 2 children, Geraldine and what's this?
Leroy? Hmm. Had dad remembered the name wrong? Or perhaps the boy was listed here by his middle name or nickname? Was the name Leroy even correct to begin with?

I decided to do a search on for each person in the household. When I tried looking for information on Leroy Kuylen, something interesting popped up. Now before I reveal what I found, let's look again at what was on the census entry above.

Name:  Leroy Kuylen  
Sex: Male
Color or Race: Negro
Age: 7/12 born -1939
Place of Birth: New York

This is what came up when I attempted the search for him.

Leon Kuylen born about 1939 in New York. Okay, you got my attention. 

Inmate?! New York Foundling Hospital?

Source Information: 1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012.

Of course the next thing I did was Googled "New York Foundling Hospital."  The organization has since dropped the word "hospital" from it's title and is now simply known as "The New York Foundling."  

This is the group's mission statement directly from their webpage

Founded as a home for abandoned children, The New York Foundling has been saving children, preserving families and building communities since 1869.  In the tradition of openness and compassion of its sponsors, the Sisters of Charity, the agency helps children, youth and adults in need through efforts that strengthen families and communities and support each individual in reaching his or her potential.  The agency serves more than 6,000 people each year in the New York City area and in Puerto Rico as we work to empower children and families.

I feel confident in believing that Leon and Leroy were one in the same person.  So what became of that little boy?

To be continued....

Friday, March 15, 2013

Fearless Females --Six Word Memoir Tribute --March 15

Rosa Mitchell Jones
July 17, 1861--October 3, 1931
Maternal 2nd great grandmother

In Celebration of Women's History Month, I am following along with some of the blog prompts provided by Linda Alzo of  The Accidental Genealogist. If you are not aware of her "Fearless Females" Blog Prompts, take some time out and visit her blog.

March 15 — Write a six-word memoir tribute to one of your female ancestors.

Rosa Mitchell Jones:  Landowner, Family Oriented, Intelligent, Strong, Spiritual.

For more about my 2nd great grandmother, you may want to check out the following posts:

So our people owned land...
The audacity to own land.
Keeping up with the Joneses

Friday Funny: Stuff My Kids Made That Make Me Smile

Spongebob --by my daughter.
Age: 5

Pants --by my son 
I think he was 3 when he made these. He used to make me pants daily by cutting out a rectangle from a piece of construction paper and then making a simple slit to make the legs.
I love the simplicity of these.

Here's a whole wardrobe of pants made by him.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Pictures From Our Siesta Key Vacation

That's right there's my feet again folks. If you have been following me since last year you may remember I took a similar picture to this one for our trip to Pass-A-Grille, Florida. Well this year we decided to visit Siesta Key, which is near Sarasota, Florida.  I have to say I have never felt sand that felt like this stuff. It was just like powdered sugar. Loved it!

There's my hubby thinking deep thoughts by the sea.

"This is alright!"

My son digging away at the sand.

"Dude, that's a big hole."

"Oh, Hi Mom."

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Fearless Females --Gone Too Soon--March 11

In Celebration of Women's History Month, I am following along with some of the blog prompts provided by Linda Alzo of  The Accidental Genealogist. If you are not aware of her "Fearless Females" Blog Prompts, take some time out and visit her blog.

March 11 — Did you have any female ancestors who died young or from tragic or unexpected circumstances? Describe and how did this affect the family?

Ophelia Jones Bryant
November 20, 1894--February 20, 1939
Age at time of death:  44

Carrie Whitney Harrison
October 11, 1897--August 1, 1939
Age when she died:  41

Both of my maternal great grandmothers died before my mother was born so sadly she didn't get the opportunity to know them. When they passed away, they left children who still needed rearing. The ages of Ophelia Bryant's three youngest were 16, 13, and 11. The three sisters, Mary, Rosa, and Eloise were going be sent to live with different relatives, until their older sister stepped in to help. With the assistance of her husband Luther Gywnn, my aunt Loris was able to enroll Rosa and Eloise, at Laurinberg Boarding School. My grandmother Mary attended Fayetteville Teacher's College, but but didn't complete her studies there. Eventually she made her way to New York and met my grandfather Lemuel Harrison. I'd bet there was an immediate sense of connection felt by my grandparents upon meeting. They had in common the experience of losing their mothers at a young age. Both of their mothers died in the same year no less --1939.

When my great grandmother Carrie Harrison died, things in her household became very difficult. According to the 1940 census, there were five children still living with their father, John Harrison. Their ages were 6, 7, 8, 13, and 16. An infant son was raised by my great grandfather's sister Betty. There were two other children, James and Earl, who would have been under the age of 18 at the time of Carrie's death. I haven't been able to find them on the 1940 census. Perhaps they were living with another relative at that time to ease the burden on their father. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Fearless Females --Favorite Holiday --March 7

In Celebration of Women's History Month, I am going to try and follow along when possible to some of the blog prompts provided by Linda Alzo of  The Accidental Genealogist. If you are not aware of her "Fearless Females" Blog Prompts, take some time out and visit her blog.

March 7 — Share a favorite recipe from your mother or grandmother’s kitchen. Why is this dish your favorite? If you don’t have one that’s been passed down, describe a favorite holiday or other meal you shared with your family.

I have decided to share some thoughts on my favorite holiday when I was a child, Thanksgiving! Thanks to my paternal grandmother, Ethel Murrell, she ensured neither of her grandchildren would go home hungry on that day. WhoooWee! Where to begin. Well, let's start off with who would be there. My grandmother would invite over her two sisters, Hilda and Edna. Usually, this would be the one time of the year that we would see them. My sense of things growing up was that Ethel and her sisters were not close. I think that my grandmother played more of a maternal figure in her sister's lives then their own mother who always seemed to be running away from something.  Anyway, my grandmother always made sure to connect with them at least during Thanksgiving.  The rest of the attendees would include, my parents, my father's sister Janice, my grandfather and of course my brother and I.

Now to the meal. I have to say to this day, I have never been more stuffed then after a Thanksgiving meal at my grandmother's house.

The menu would usually include:

Cornbread Stuffing
Corn Pudding
Collard Greens
Macaroni and Cheese,
Pigeon Peas and Rice
Sweet Potato Souflee With Marshmellows Toasted On Top
Buttered Rolls

This would be followed usually with the choice of two or three desserts.

Lemon Glazed Pound Cake
Chocolate Cake
Sweet Potato Pie
Ice Cream

It goes without saying that everything was homemade, except for the ice cream. :)

Me and Grandma

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: To The Man I Love......

To the man I love, thank you for making this vacation possible.
 It is good to see you smile :)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Fearless Females --Heirlooms --March 6

In Celebration of Women's History Month, I am going to try and follow along when possible to some of the blog prompts provided by Linda Alzo of  The Accidental Genealogist. If you are not aware of her "Fearless Females" Blog Prompts, take some time out and visit her blog.

March 6 — Describe an heirloom you may have inherited from a female ancestor (wedding ring or other jewelry, china, clothing, etc.) If you don’t have any, then write about a specific object you remember from your mother or grandmother, or aunt (a scarf, a hat, cooking utensil, furniture, etc.)

Here is a post I originally published back on June 3, 2012, which I believe is fitting for this particular prompt.

These Artifacts Are My Time Machines

When my grandmother, Mary Horton, passed away my mother
 asked me, "What would you like from her house?"
I told her, "The Hands."

I am sure that some of you out there who read my blog probably can relate to this. I have items around my house that I have inherited from family members who have passed away. They are my little time machines. When I look at them, in my mind I can travel back to a specific place. I can see the layout of a room come back as clear as day. These hands were always part of my childhood memories of visits to my maternal grandmother's house. They sat on the ledge of the upright piano that stood in her living room. They were placed toward the right side of that ledge and just to the right of that was the thermostat dial on the wall. This is my  reference point for rebuilding in my head the rest of the room. Suddenly, it is all there. There's the sound of the parkway outside (My grandmother's house was on a service road.) Her house feels stuffy. It's just a little too warm and humid. I see the coffee table with the set of Encyclopedia Britannica on the shelf below. The crystal candy dish appears with it's delicious contents inside. I can see the light blue recliners by the windows, the couch placed perfectly centered along the mirrored side wall.  I see my grandmother in her favorite blue house dress smiling, waiting for her kiss from her grandchildren. Ahh...It's all there. 

Mom and me at my maternal grandmother's house.
In the background on the right you can see the base of "The Hands" statue. 

"The Cats"

Oh how I miss the days of after school going over to my paternal grandparents house in Hollis, NY. These cats take me back there when I look at them. They used to rest on the mantle in the living room, overseeing whatever day to day activities occurred. They were always watching. I see the fireplace and my eyes continue downward. There's that seashell shaped ceramic vase on the floor. Next to that the crochet poodle craft that I think one of my grandmother's friend's made back in the 70's.  Then I see the glass coffee table, the slip-covered royal blue upholstered chairs, and the light green couch. I see my grandmother meticulously vacuuming the blue carpeting to achieve the perfect vacuum wave pattern. I smell the scent of freshly baked rolls coming from the kitchen. I see granddaddy sitting at the kitchen table with dog underfoot, having a cup of tea with lemon and a slice of Sarah Lee pound cake. 

My paternal grandmother Ethel Murrell and my aunt Janice Murrell
Part of one of the cats can be seen on the mantle behind my aunt.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Fearless Females --Marriage Records--Ethel Smith and Harold Murrell

In honor of Women's History month I am going to try to follow along with some of the blog prompts provided by Lisa Alzo of the The Accidental Genealogist. I am away on vacation this week, so I can't promise that I will be able to keep up with this daily. If you haven't been over to The Accidental Genealogist to check out the blog prompts, you should check it out. 

Today's prompt -- March 4 — Do you have marriage records for your grandparents or great-grandparents? Write a post about where they were married and when. Any family stories about the wedding day? Post a photo too if you have one.

I don't have a copy of their marriage record, but I do know that my paternal grandparents were married in 1932 at Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, New York.

Abyssinian Baptist Church
Image courtesy of Wikipedia. Picture by DennisInAmsterdam

An interesting side note would be that they were married by Adam Clayton Powell Sr.

Adam Clayton Powell Sr. 
Image courtesy of

For more information on Adam Clayton Powell Sr., here is the link to

My grandparents met while working at a place called the Morgan Laundry. When I did a search on Google today with the words "Morgan Laundry" and "Harlem", this is what I came across.

Excerpt from the "The New York Age" page 10, Saturday August 1, 1931 courtesy of Fulton

Many of the white laundry companies of New York employ large numbers of colored workers. The Morgan Laundry Service, the national laundry chain, a subsidiary of the Pullman Company, employs mostly colored in the laundering of the Pullman linens and towels. Another large laundry employing Negroes in Harlem is the National Laundry at I West 140th street, which has several hundred Negro workers. There are other similar establishments throughout the city.

Although I don't have a copy of their marriage license I am blessed to have my grandparents wedding photo.

Ethel Smith Murrell (January 6, 1911--July 4, 1996)
 Harold Osmond Murrell (August 16, 1903--October 9, 1996)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

We Made It!

Microsoft Office Downloaded Image


Now the first thing your probably thinking as you read this is, "Where did they make it to?" Next question would be, "Who is we?"  I'll answer the second question first. The "we" would be my husband, our two kids and I.  The answer to the other question, I will get to a bit later.

Well it turns out that my husband was able to take some time off from work, so we have taken a break to somewhere sunny and relaxing. I found the above featured picture online and I think it perfectly describes the joy my husband and I felt upon arriving to our destination. You see, the last time the family and I were on vacation it didn't go so smoothly. That fiasco started off with us getting up at 3:37 AM, which my son still remembers the precise time to this day. Ha! I guess that made an impression on him. Our early morning flight was initially delayed and then eventually cancelled due to mechanical issues. The airline then drove us from Binghamton to Scranton's airport to catch an afternoon flight which...that's right you guessed it was delayed. It was just one delay after another. Our poor children had been through so much and were exhausted. Oh yeah did I mention that this was their first time flying. (smile) As we came in for the landing on our last flight, both of them threw up.  So there we were at 11:45pm in an airport restroom trying to clean up the remnants of yack off of two bleary eyed kids. We then stumbled to our rent a car and prayed to Jesus that we had correct directions. The end result was us arriving to our destination at 1:30AM. 

No delays for us this time! So that's why I chose this picture of two people jumping for joy at the beach to illustrate how we felt on our arrival. Now mind you if I could have found a picture of a handsome, older white gentleman and a beautiful black woman with braids in her hair jumping for joy to represent my husband and I then I would have used that instead. So please excuse the fact that these are two men in suits. Not that I have anything against two men in suits. I think they are rather handsome men in suits, at least from what I can tell of them. In fact I think men should jump for joy in business suits on the beach a lot more often....huh, what? Oh, I kind of got off track there for a minute. Anyway, wonder no further about where we are because we are staying in lovely Siesta Key, Florida. It was a little cool here today so we weren't able to spend much time on the beach but I think the rest of the week it is supposed to be a bit warmer. Here's hoping.
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