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"The ancestor of every action is a thought." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Entries in history (46)


Joining the Daughters of the American Revolution: First Steps 

I am in the beginning stages of joining the prestigious Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). A non profit women's organization established in 1890, the organization focuses on the promotion of historic preservation, education, and patriotism.  If you are a male, you can apply for membership in the Sons of the American Revolution.

Membership in these organizations gives you a forum for the exchange of historical information and genealogy research with others with shared interests. Any female 18+ who can provide documentation of their lineal descent* from a Patriot of the American Revolution can apply for DAR membership. There are approx 3,000 local chapters of the DAR, you can search for a chapter near you. *Lineal Descent: Belonging to or being in the direct line of descent from an ancestor. Ex parent, grandparent, great grandparent...

I recently discovered my 7x great grandfather, Samuel Merrill, was a participant of the American Revolution as a Lieutenant in the 30th Regiment of Foot from Buxton, ME. I first learned of his involvement in the American Revolution from my family tree. When viewing Samuel Merrill there was a leaf indicating a possible historical record match. When I reviewed the hint I was brought to an application to the DAR from 1909 with a Samuel Merrill listed as the Patriot in which the applicant was proving their lineal descent. The applicant was not from my direct line but had similar information so I decided to do a little digging to see if this was in fact the same Samuel Merrill I was researching.

To do this I focused on my direct line from Samuel Merrill to flush through and verify the information and sources I already had for these specific ancestors. I worked my way up the line, starting with myself going up 10 generations in my tree to Samuel. Feeling confident in my lineal descent from Samuel, I filled out a Member Interest form on the DAR website to get the ball rolling. This is simple form to notify DAR of your interest and get you connected to a local chapter to learn more about the application process.

A week or two later I received an email from the Brooklyn DAR Chapter with a genealogy worksheet for me to complete. The genealogy worksheet has blanks to fill in genealogical information about the ancestors in your direct line to connect the generations up to the Patriot. All of the information needs to supplemented with documented sources and you have to indicate what sources you have for the information you provide (vital records, census records, certificates, etc.). I thought I was pretty organized but I quickly found out how scattered my information was! If anything this process so far has really helped me organize, connect loose ends, and encourage me to learn more about these ancestors.

I've completed the worksheet and emailed it back to my contact. Hopefully I'll hear back soon! I hope I entered in the information correctly and thoroughly enough. Fingers crossed.


Desperate Genie Travels to Scotland: Day Five on the Isle of Skye

We woke up early and made our way northwest- the Isle of Sky being our main destination. According to the Isle of Sky website, National Geographic named this destination the "4th best island in the world"! And really, who doesn't love a beautiful island? It was a hike from our accommodations in Aviemore, about a 3 hour drive, but there was much to see along the way! The scenic drive brought us pass Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle,  and the Eilean Donan Castle. Click on the map below for a larger image of our travels!

We just briefly stopped at Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness, the entrance fees were a little steep (I don't remember the exact amount but I'm thinking it was around £10 for adults). We had so much we wanted to see that day we had to keep going. It was beautiful though! We continued our trip up and around Loch Ness until we arrived at the Eilean Donan Castle- the most photographed castle in Scotland!

The admission price for a self guided tour of this restored castle is £6 for adults and was definitely worth it. There are many historical and family pieces, a great way to experience the history of the castle and family. The have guides located on each floor and they were more than happy to share their expertise with us. Again, no photography is allowed indoors.  

We were on a fish and chips kick and on the recommendation of a guide we enjoyed a delicious lunch at Hector's Bothy. This friendly local spot was located just a 5 minute drive from the castle in Kyle Lochalsh, right before the Isle of Skye Bridge. After lunch we headed to Skye via the Skye Bridge. We then found a small road and decided to explore. It turned out to be a very narrow road with only room for one car. It twisted and turned through the hillsides of the island, complete with steep cliffs and amazing views. This was by far one of the craziest drives ever!


As the 20 or so minute drive brought us closer to the water, we realized the final (and ONLY) destination at the end of this road was the Skye Ferry, transporting cars to and from the mainland. Upon our arrival to the end of the road/ferry line, we learned the ferry information from chatting with passengers from the 2 other cars waiting. There wasn't anyone who worked for the ferry on our side and we had no cell phone service, so we took a chance. We could see the ferry on the Glenelg side and waited about 20 minutes for the ferry to make the trip over to us on the island.  

Once we started loading the entire trip from lasted 15 minutes max. On our trip there were a total of 3 cars, 2 ferrymen, and their boat loving dog. A single trip was £12 per car for up to 4 car passengers. This ferry is known as "the last manually operated turntable ferry in Scotland"...what that means exactly, I'm not really sure. But after the unique experience, I do suggest their services and encourage you to invest in similar "historic" achievements found in your communities!

There was MUCH to see when we exited the ferry in the small town of Glenelg. I'm thinking the rest of our afternoon in Glenelg deserve an entire post.  It was a mix of small town seaside culture, neolithic landmarks, and war memorials which made for a very interesting tourist experience.

If you have any questions about these locations or want to know more, please leave a comment or send me an email! I'm more than happy to help, happy travels!


Desperate Genie Travels to Scotland: Days Three and Four

So it's been a few days since I visited these locations, didn't reach my goal of blogging everyday. But when you don't have WIFI in your hotel accommodations (GRRRR) it makes blogging on the reg a little difficult. We have been having a BLAST in Scotland. The highlands are absolutely gorgeous, vistas like I've never seen.

Scotland is home to many historic castles and we really enjoyed our trip to Cawdor Castle. Located in Nairn, this "fairytale" castle is beautiful and well maintained (probably from the £9 adult entrance fee!). The estate is inhabited by the late wife of Hugh Campbell, 6th Earl and 25th Thane of Cawdor, during the months of Oct.-Apr. Can you even imagine what it's like for someone to actually live in a medieval castle!? Photography isn't allowed inside, but the place is full of beautiful antiques and extraordinary family memorabilia dating back 700 years! In my opinion the entrance fee is a little high, but I would definitely suggest checking it out! We ate at their cafe and were very satisfied with our meal.  

Next on our sightseeing route was a visit to the prehistoric Clava Cairns. These burial cairns are over 4,000 years old (very hard to comprehend!). Stones are piled in circles with narrow pathways leading to their center.

The 2 cairns are surrounded by tall standing stones in a very specific circular pattern. Studies have discovered that the entrance pathways to the center are positioned so that during the winter solstice the sun would shine brightly into the center. This place was surreal and a little creepy! And as you can see from the picture it was a very chilly/windy day.

In the next edition of Desperate Genie Travels to Scotland: Days Five and Six...Eilean Donan Castle, Isle of Sky, and the Glenelg Brochs.



Desperate Genie Travels to Scotland: Days One and Two

Hello from Scotland! I've been traveling a lot lately, my current position is the Highlands of Scotland! This is my first trip to the UK and so far it's been great. Normally when I travel I find blogging impossible and I'm trying to break that pattern. I spent the past month in sunny southern California and the transition to northern Scotland has my body shocked from the time zone and temperature changes. The weather here is a constant mix of cloudy/rainy/windy with intermittent sunshine with an average temperature somewhere in the 50's.

We first visited the William Wallace Monument in Stirling, Scotland. I have to admit- I've never seen the movie Braveheart, but I now know the main character is based off the actions of William Wallace. I was still a little jet lagged and awake for the 20 something hour in a row so I didn't take any pictures. But it was a beautiful spot with amazing views of Stirling.

A scenic drive through the rural roads of the highlands followed. We saw Highland Cows, "eeland coos" as pronounced by the locals. We've had fun saying their name. They are so cute with their long shaggy hair!

"eeland coo"

We made our way to the picturesque town of Elgin to visit the magnificent ruins of Elgin Cathedral. The remains of this church and the cemetery that surrounds are just beautiful.

To avoid most tourist routes, we have been taking many small back roads to get a feel for the real Scottish Highlands. While driving down a small road near Dulsie we spotted a sign for an ancient Scottish landmark, the Ardclach Bell Tower. I am SO happy we made the stop. This might be one of the coolest off the map places I've ever experienced. It's located off a very remote road and even when you get to the primitive staircase leading up a tall hill- you still have no idea what you are about to to see!

The Ardclach Bell Tower, circa 1655, is an open landmark and it seemed like we were the only people for miles! Located on top of a small hill, this tiny small building is a relic bell tower and rumored prison with sprawling views of the country hillside. It was beautiful and breathtaking. You can even ring the bell!



Stay tuned for more travel updates! If you have an ancestor or relative from Northern Scotland and you'd like to request a picture of a place like a house, cemetery, or headstone- please contact me! I'll be here for another week.

In the next edition of Desperate Genie Travels to Scotland: Days Three and Four...Cawdor Castle and The Clava Cairns.