Thursday, October 19, 2017

An Unexpected Journey

by Debra DuPree Williams                                                                           @DDuPreeWilliams

Back in 2011, when my husband and I lived with our eldest son and his family for a few months, I spent a great deal of time with our then, fourteen-month-old granddaughter. She was a delight, as was her seven-year-old sister. Their needs were very different. Jim chauffeured P to all of her camps and activities while I remained at home with E.

E and I spent many happy hours devouring every little board book and every picture book in their home. She had her favorites. One of those was about a band. Since she comes from a long line of musicians, including her dad who plays guitar and drums, and her mother who was a drummer in a rock band back in her school days, I think it was just a genetic thing for her to be drawn to that little book.

But one of her books made me cringe every time I read it. The rhythm of the words was off. I had a hard time reading that book, but E loved it, so I read it anyway and tried not to make too many faces.

One night I thought, I can do this. I’ve written poetry all my life. I think I could write a children’s book. So, I set about giving it a go. I wrote a book about music, of course (I have two degrees in music). It wasn’t a grand book, but it was a start. It featured an adorable little conductor whom I called Maestro Musik. It taught some basic music lessons, too.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

From Generation to Generation

by Debra DuPree Williams @DDuPreeWilliams

Our Great-Nephew Brit and His Beautiful wife, Kelly
I did something for the first time ever this past Friday. Actually, my husband and I did this together. We attended a baby reveal party. Now, when we were having our kids, there was no such thing as a baby reveal party. If you wanted to know the sex of your unborn child, they would tell you during a routine ultrasound, but only if you wanted to know. And no one had heard of a baby-reveal party.

We didn’t want to know. We decided that we wanted to be surprised because we knew we were going to be thrilled no matter the baby’s gender. So, three times we waited. Three times we were blessed with little boys. Precious little boys.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Now We See in a Mirror Darkly

                                              by Debra DuPreeWilliams @DDuPreeWilliams

I recently had cataracts surgery. I cannot begin to tell you how much I dreaded that particular procedure. Even though my husband and several family members have been through it and they all assured me that it was “a piece of cake” I just couldn’t imagine being awake, though highly sedated, for such. I’m the proverbial chicken when it comes to things like this. At one time, I was even needle phobic and would pass out during a simple blood draw. Heart issues cured me of that, big time.

Fast forward to this past Wednesday when I had my left eye done. My husband had told me, “You won’t even remember it. All you’ll see is bright lights and a psychedelic show.” I’m not much for light shows. They give me migraines, every single time. Just the thought of being aware of what was happening to me was enough to have me running for the hills.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Helping One Another in the Midst of Life's Storms

by Debra DuPree Williams @DDuPreeWilliams

One thing we Americans do well is to look out for one another. While some factions seek only to tear us apart, I just don’t see that as a part of our future. When the going gets tough, we come to one another’s aid in dramatic ways.

Take hurricane Harvey. Who could have predicted the amount of flooding the poor people of Texas would have to endure? It just wasn’t on the radar, pun intended. At least, not to the extent that was seen. 

But people were hurting, and others heard their cries and came running. Even when they didn’t have to. Even when they put themselves in harm’s way. Even to the extent of sacrificing their lives in order to help their fellow man. The Bible tells us in John 15:13, Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Mayhaws, Mimi, Mel, and Mayhem - Brought to You by a Nasty Gal Named Irma

by Debra DuPree Williams @DDuPreeWilliams

What a couple of weeks we’ve had. Virtually every square inch of Florida has been impacted in one way or another by hurricane, Irma. We didn’t just get to watch as most of our country did, from a safe distance and the air-conditioned luxury of our living room. No, we had to watch in order to make the decision if we should stay or go. Many of Florida’s citizens had no choice as they were in mandatory evacuation zones. Where we live was right on the edge of one of those zones. So, we prepared by putting up our storm shutters, bringing in supplies of food and water, talking our two middle sons into coming to our home, gassing up our car, and praying.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Sacred Harp Singing

by Debra DuPree Williams @DDuPreeWilliams
Last week I told you about learning that my grandfather, Wilburn Bass, was a leader in the Sacred Harp singing community in south Alabama. I’m still trying to deal with that surprise. I cannot believe that no one ever told us this about Grandpa. It could be that our mother didn’t even know as her father passed when she was just seven years old. Since I recall attending Sacred Harp sings with his widow, my Granny, I have to wonder why we never knew this information.

I’m sure some of you know what I mean when I say Sacred Harp singing, but many more of you likely do not. While I’m no expert on the subject, I do know a bit about it. If you saw the movie Cold Mountain, you may recall the scene in the church where they were singing and raising and lowering their arms in the rhythm of the music. That was Sacred Harp.  

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Social Media and Genealogy Connections

by Debra DuPree Williams @DDuPreeWilliams

Facebook has been around for quite a while now. But many people are just becoming aware of how effective it can be for finding and connecting with long-lost family members. It seems that the advent of DNA testing for ordinary folks has increased the awareness of social media for such.

In my own family, once I did the DNA testing available through Ancestry, I was able to connect with family members I had never known before. And through those connections, I was able to join a couple of closed, or private, DNA pages on Facebook and reach even more extended family members.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

I Wish I"d Asked That - Family Questionnaire Part 3

@DDuPreeWilliamsby Debra DuPree Williams 
This week we finish with our questions for family members. This is a great tool for those who don’t want to take the time to write a memoir. Your family will thank you one day if they haven’t already done so. I know that there are many questions my sister and I wish we had asked of our parents and grandparents, and even of our aunts and uncles. So many family stories lost to time. I hope you have found this helpful and that you have added your own questions to the ones in my list.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

I Wish I'd Asked That - Family Questionnaire Part II

by Debra DuPree Williams @DDuPreeWilliams

Last week I asked if you had begun a memoir and I gave you a list of questions to ask family members in case you aren’t into writing a memoir. 

I hope that you enjoyed reading through those and that you may have gotten to interview a relative or two. 

This week, we continue with part two of the questions regarding your adulthood.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

I Wish I'd Asked That . . . Family Questionnaire Part I

by Debra DuPree Williams @ DDuPreeWilliams

DuPree Siblings with Spouses and Two Nieces 1980s
I’m of the generation that is likely next for Glory. My parents went home to be with the Lord in 1996 and 2012. While my sister and I did encourage them to tell us many of their life stories, there are still things we wish we had asked. Before it was too late.

The Past has Passed
There are things about our grandparents we wish we knew. We were too young to care when they were still alive. My Granddaddy DuPree, my last grandparent, died when I was only thirteen. I can tell you that at that age, I didn’t care about much besides getting to spend at least a couple of weeks with my cousins in the summer time. How I wish we had gathered around family members and asked all the things we would love to know now.

If you haven’t begun a memoir or if you don’t care about writing such, how about just answering some questions with a sentence or two? I think most people could and would do that. Perhaps you could get one of your children or even a grandchild to write down your answers.

Let's Get Started
Below are just a few questions to get you started. I will use multiple posts to make this easier and more manageable. These questions can be used not just for you, but for your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and any other family member you wish to question. Some may seem obvious, but believe me, you may be surprised at what you thought you knew. For example, we always thought our mother was born in the same county in which we were born. She wasn’t. She was born in a totally different county, at her grandmother’s home. And she wasn’t the first of the twins to be born, she was last, making her her father’s seventeenth and final child.

If you don’t like my questions, make up your own. This is just a basic guideline. Have fun with this, and be very glad that you didn’t wait too long.

The Questions:

Your Childhood, Schooldays, and College:
  • When and where were you born?
  • Where did you get your name?
  • Where did you fall in birth order?
  • What is your earliest memory?
  • Where did you live when you were a child?
  • Tell us about your home(s) and how long you lived in each one.
  • Who were your closest friends?
  • Where did you go to school?
  • How did you spend your free time?
  • Did you play outdoors or mostly indoors?
  • What games did you play?
  • What were your favorite television shows?
  • What was your favorite music?
  • Did you play an instrument or did you sing or dance?
  • Were you in any groups such as FFA or Scouts?
  • Were you in any clubs or groups in high school?
  • Who were your favorite teachers?
  • What were your favorite subjects.
  • How old were you when you began dating?
  • Were you allowed to go steady?
  • Did you learn to drive in high school? Did you take driver education?
  • Did you ever own your own car or did you drive the family car?
  • Did you take college entrance exams? How did you do on those?
  • Did you attend college? Where, and what was your major?
  • What degree or degrees did you earn?
  • Did you use that degree in your professional life?
  • Were you in a fraternity or a sorority? Which one?
  • Were you in any groups, such as academic societies?
  • Were you in sports in college? Which one(s)?
  • Were you active in musical groups or theatre?
This is a good start. Next time we’ll enter your adult years.

Can you think of any other questions you’d like to ask about your relatives’ formative years? Leave those in the space below. 


Thursday, August 10, 2017

An Old Country Church

By Debra DuPree Williams @DDuPreeWilliams

If you grew up in the south as I did, you likely attended worship services in an old country church. The one I frequented was Taylor Methodist Church, now called Taylor United Methodist.

This was the church my mother’s family attended when she was a child. It is rich with history, and is still an active, though small, congregation. My cousin, Florence, is a member, making this the place of continual worship within my family for over a hundred years.

 Precious Memories

I have fond memories of visiting this precious place for worship services and revivals. My family and I were members of the big Methodist church downtown.

When my sister and my cousin, mentioned above, were teens, a young preacher by the name of Johnny Couey came to preach one night. I remember, even as a child, thinking how handsome he was. My sister and my cousin just about flipped over him. I’ve just learned from Florence that Johnny is still alive and still preaching. How wonderful.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Barking Up the Wrong Tree

by Debra DuPree Williams @DDuPreeWilliams

Y’all already know that I am an amateur genealogist. I’ve been doing family searches for quite a few years and I’ve learned a great many things in that time, but I am, by no means, an expert. I still have to call on my sister Bobbie, or a cousin or two for help from time to time.
Genealogy is a lot of fun. I enjoy learning about my ancestors, where they came from and how they lived their lives. But the research can be grueling when you can’t find that one piece of the puzzle that will open a door. We call these situations, brick walls. I’ve run into more than one in my research. It’s disheartening when you know you know and yet you cannot find the piece of paper to prove what you know to be true. No lineage society will allow you to enter on your word alone. You must have that paper trail.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Procrastinators - Don't Wait Until Tomorrow To Read This

by Debra DuPree Williams @DDuPreeWilliams

I admit it. I am a procrastinator of the highest order. I don’t mean to be. I just am.

A prime example of my skill at procrastinating is this blog post. Here is it Tuesday, just prior to noon, and I am just now writing this. It is due Thursday. Normally, I would have about four weeks of blogs written and ready to go, but life got in the way─a writers conference in May, a trip to North Carolina in June.

Those are only excuses. My way of explaining to myself why I didn’t do this earlier. Why things got so bogged down that I am now playing catch-up.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

I Have All I Need

by Debra DuPree Williams @DDuPreeWilliams

Papa, Bob DuPree, Surrounded by His Family On his 90th Birthday
This past week was my Papa’s birthday. He would have been ninety-seven years old. It’s hard to believe that the man I loved so much is no longer on this earth. I know, without a doubt, he is in Heaven with his Lord and Savior and I am sure he is walking around telling everyone, “God loves you, and so do I.”

That was one of Papa’s favorite sayings. It didn’t matter who you were or where you may have run into him. He didn’t care if he knew you or not. To him, everyone he met was his brother or sister in Christ. When he left, the last words he would say to you would be, “God loves you, and so do I”.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Mothers of Boys - You've Got This

by Debra DuPree Williams  @DDuPreeWilliams

December 2012, Indian Rocks Beach, FL
If you’ve read my bio, you know that I am the mother of four boys. Well, they’re all grown men now, thanks be to God. And I don’t say that lightly.

My nephew and his wife have five sons and two daughters. I have a lot of friends who are the mothers of boys. It seems as if we gravitate to one another like one of those earth magnets that has super-strong pull. Maybe there’s something within us that silently calls to one another, “You can do this!”  Or maybe just a simple, “Help!” seems to be written across our foreheads. I’m here to tell you, you will survive and, God willing, so will they.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Food For Thought - Get Those Family Recipes

Family Reunion about 1921, Burdeshaw Side of Dad's Family
by Debra DuPree Williams @DDuPreeWilliams

So here it is, summer once again, that time of year when families can finally carve out some time to be together. If you are fortunate, you have scheduled the get-together when all or most of your family can be there, and that is a blessing.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Who Do You Think You Are?

By Debra DuPree Williams @DDuPreeWilliams

This has become not only the name of a popular television show in recent years, but a question asked on social media as well. As more and more of us delve into the tech-world and engage more and more people in the latest-greatest inventions like Instagram and Twitter, just to name a couple, we are finding groups of people who tell us, “Hey, we’re related.”

I admit it. I was hooked from the beginning on the television show, but I was also mesmerized by my family Facebook groups.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Learning New Tricks: A Writer's Lifelong Journey

By Debra DuPree Williams @DDuPreeWilliams

I’ve been writing seriously for about four years. In that time, I’ve learned many new things. I’m not as good at some of them as I hope to be, but I’m still learning. I’ve learned Twitter and Instagram. I’ve learned how to blog and how to make memes and I have learned many other things I never knew.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

It's Never Too Late For Your Dreams

by Debra DuPree Williams @DDuPreeWilliams

It’s been a few weeks since I returned home from the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. The conference gets better with each passing year. This was my fourth one.

The fact that I even went to that first conference back in 2014 was a miracle. At that time, I didn’t even know there were such things. And why on earth would I think I should attend one? Me, a writer? No way. I was a singer. That’s what I had done all my life. God was supposed to use me and my voice to reach people. Period. And then I got older and my hearing began to fail me. But God was already working in the shadows to give me a second voice.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

A Proverbs 31 Woman

One Of the Many Suits Mama Made
by Debra DuPree Williams  @DDuPreeWilliams

I wrote a blog post a few weeks ago about my mother. I told you I’d say a bit more about her. She wouldn’t like that I’m sharing at least one of the photos posted here, but they say so much about who she was.

Mama was a woman of many talents. As discussed earlier, unless it was party food, you really didn’t want her to cook. That one doesn’t go on my list of her talents. But sewing and crafting belong at the top.

When we were little girls, Granny, my mother’s mother, made most of our clothes. I guess that's because Mama always worked and Granny stayed home with us. I suppose I should say with me as my sister, who is seven years older, was already in school. Well, Granny loved all things shiny and noisy. Yes, I said noisy. Those are the only two reasons I can come up with for why every dress she made was made from taffeta and made that swish-swish noise with every movement. Granny passed away when I was eight, and from that point forward, Mama made all of our clothes.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Music Is a Fair and Glorious Gift From God

By Debra DuPree Williams @DDuPreeWilliams

This has been a week in which my life was enriched by a musical experience. That isn’t unusual since I am a musician, but I had the privilege of hearing the Tampa Bay Symphony play their last concert of the year. They were joined by Jeffrey Multer, Concert Master of the Florida Orchestra. He played Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D Major, Opus 35. I wish you had been there, as it was a superb performance by Mr. Multer and the symphony members. That performance brought to mind the quote that is the title of this post. In doing a search for its origins, I found these quotes, all by Martin Luther. The title of this post is also attributed to him.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Name Game

by Debra DuPree Williams  @DDuPreeWilliams

I am a member of a private DNA-study page. On that page, a cousin posted about using names in a not-so-obvious way to find one’s relatives. In one of my lines, I have three Andrews in a row, my great-great-great-grandfather, my great-great-grandfather, and my great-grandfather. It was difficult to distinguish between all of them. And, in my opinion, a middle name has been assigned to one that wasn’t truly his. But he did give that middle name to his son, my great-grandfather, Andrew Jackson, plus the family name. And that great-grandfather gave his name to one of his sons, thus creating a senior and a junior. Thank goodness, that wasn’t my grandfather. I think I would have been thoroughly confused by that point. Then consider that I gave the name Andrew to my second son as his middle name, long before I knew that any of my family members bore that name, let alone that I had three greats in a row and a great-uncle with that same name. Just way too many Andrews!

Naming Patterns
Back in Colonial times, children were named by conventional naming patterns. These patterns varied slightly depending on the country of one’s origin, but for the most part, this is what they were:

Males: First-born son was named for the father’s father
            Second-born son, mother’s father
            Third-born son, father
            Fourth-born son, father’s eldest brother
            Fifth-born son, father’s second oldest brother, or mother’s oldest brother

Females: First-born daughter, mother’s mother
               Second-born daughter, father’s mother
               Third-born daughter, mother
               Fourth-born daughter, mother’s eldest sister
               Fifth-born daughter, mother’s second oldest sister or father’s oldest sister

That was a lot of kids. Today, most of us don’t have that many. But back in those days, life expectancy wasn’t like it is today. Children often died in childhood. And complicating things in a way that we would likely not do today, if a child died, they would name the next-born child of that sex, after the child that had died. You can see why tracking one’s genealogical roots could be very difficult.

She's My What?
Back then, terminology had different meanings, too. An in-law was what we would today call a step relationship. In other words, it was a relationship created by the second marriage of one’s parent. Rather than your father’s new wife being called your step-mother, she would have been called your mother-in-law. Odd, huh?

If you are very lucky, your ancestor would have been given an unusual name, a name that would stand out in the pool of common names. Now, I’m not making fun of names here, I’m only telling you that you would likely have no troubles finding someone with an unusual name. In my family, we have a Keziah and a Keren-Happuch, both Biblical names, (Job 42:14).

Another genealogy page that I visit from time to time had these names posted this week. Mind you, these are their true names, they were not made up, Cancer Brain and Lung Cancer. There were others which were much longer. I could almost guarantee that you would be able to find these people in any search of a genealogical site.

Randolph David Miller, 1760-1790
Expand Your Search
When you are searching for long-lost relatives, don’t just look in the direct line. Look at the siblings
of your direct ancestor. Look at aunts and uncles. Even look at neighbors. If a neighbor was greatly admired, you may find your relative was named for such a person. In doing research on my husband’s Miller line, part of his mother’s family, I came upon a name that totally shocked me.

William Josiah and Rachel Wood Burdeshaw
My father’s mother was a Burdeshaw, the anglicized version of the French name, Bordajeau. They came to the New Bordeaux Huguenot Colony of South Carolina in 1770. From there, they moved to south Alabama. That is where I found them living in the same area as my husband’s Miller family. One day I found a Burdeshaw Miller. Upon further research, I discovered that this is the grandson of my husband’s three times great grandfather. Jim’s GGG grandfather had known my GGG grandfather. Each man was a minister and each  preached against slavery from their pulpits. They so admired one another that the surname of the one was passed to the other’s family.

At the beginning of this post, I mentioned my family DNA-study page. It is a private group on Facebook. You should check to see if there is such a study under your known surnames. Ours has a wealth of information. 

Choose Wisely
I can tell you from personal experience that names matter. Think long and hard about the name you will give to or suggest for the next generation.

For whom were you named? Do you like the name you were given? What unusual names occur in your family? Do you have many ancestors with the same name? Leave your comments and share your story with us.