Grace Odessa Musgrove 1913-1940 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #1

Amy Johnson Crow suggested a weekly blog theme of “52 Ancestors” in her blog post Challenge:  52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks on the No Story Too Small blog.  To help focus my writing, I’ve accepted her challenge with a little catching up to do, but starting with a paternal great-aunt. Here’s Gracie’s story collected from family interviews.

Grace Musgrove
Grace Musgrove

It was breakfast time and Jim was building a fire in the cook stove.[i] Jim was 19, living with his parents and his pretty sister Gracie, two years younger than him. The older children, Bill Jr. and Nora, were already married and gone, though Bill and his growing family lived just down the hill. Gracie was in the kitchen with Jim in the small wooden house behind the main farm-house.


James and Grace Musgrove
James and Grace Musgrove

Jim was using green wood and he went to pour some white gas in the cook stove to set the fire. The fire blew up and caught his hand on fire. He hollered and threw the flaming container out the door, just as Gracie was trying to go out the door to get away from the flames. The white gas splashed all over Gracie. She caught on fire and ran outside. Jim grabbed his leather coat hanging by the door, chased Gracie down, got her on the ground and put the fire out.

Their mother, Mary Pennington Musgrove, was a Pentecost and didn’t believe in doctors, so they put Grace Odessa to bed, prayed over her and tried to make her comfortable. Someone told them to keep Gracie warm, so they kept her in the kitchen with a fire in the cook stove. She was in terrible pain, only somewhat comfortable when sitting in her beloved father’s lap, her skin coming off on his overalls.

Aunt Dessi, Mary Pennington Musgrove’s sister, heard about the accident. No one knows exactly how she heard. There were no telephones in Powell, Oklahoma in 1940. Perhaps a letter was written. Never the less, as soon as she learned of the accident, she, her husband Jesse and young Jerry, their nephew and cousin to Gracie and Jim, packed up in the Buick and drove the 120 miles south from McLoud. They arrived about a week after the accident; the smell of decaying flesh in the 90 degree kitchen was overwhelming. Aunt Dessi, with Gracie carrying her middle name, insisted Gracie be taken to the hospital. An ambulance was called, over the protests of Gracie’s mother, Mary Pennington Musgrove, who threw such a fit she was placed in a straight jacket by the ambulance attendants.

Grace Musgrove - about age 17.
Grace Musgrove – about age 17.

Gracie died a few days later in a Oklahoma City hospital. Funeral services were held on a Sunday afternoon at the Holiness Church in McLoud, Oklahoma.[ii]

Gracie’s boyfriend from when she lived in McLoud, Johnnie Henderson, helped to dig her grave. Johnnie later worked at Tinker Air Force Base, married and still has family in the area.

Aunt Dessie and, her husband, Jesse Smith had just one son, Kenneth Eugene Smith, born in 1917, and purchased three burial plots in Dale, Oklahoma, near their home. Kenneth had told them he wouldn’t use his plot. So Grace Odessa Musgrove was the first to be buried in those three plots. Her grave can be found next to her Aunt Dessi and Uncle Jesse’s at Dale Cemetery, Dale, Oklahoma.

Gracie’s death was hard on the family, especially Jim, as his mother constantly reminded him that he had killed his sister. A few years later, he joined the navy. Then, he went to school on the GI bill. He met a woman in college. They married and her two young sons took his name. They later divorced. Jim became a shop teacher, first in Bokchito, then for many years in the Sasakwa High School. When my great-uncle Jim died there was no one to bury him, so my dad had his body transported to our small town and buried Uncle Jim in the local cemetery, in one of my dad’s own suits.


Author’s notes: All locations are in Oklahoma.  Information for this article was collected from family interviews. Due to current Oklahoma laws, a death certificate is not available. All pictures are in the possession of Andrea Musgrove Perisho, from the collection of [NAME FOR PRIVATE USE] passed down from William Walker (Bill) Musgrove Jr. and Eva Evalina Buckmaster Musgrove.


[i] [NAMES FOR PRIVATE USE], a nephew, a niece and a cousin of Grace Musgrove, Bryan County, Oklahoma, interviews by Andrea Musgrove Perisho, July 2013; interview notes privately held by interviewer, [private address], 2013.

[ii] “Lamp Burns Take the Life of Powell Girl – Death Claims Grace Musgrove at Oklahoma City Hospital,” Madill Record, March 1940.

Written for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge at No Story Too Small.

Copyright © 2014 Andrea Musgrove Perisho

The Search for Dovey Continues – Reverse Genealogy & DNA to Find Living Relatives

With few results from the search for documents on the possible father of Dovey Alpine Piearcy, DNA offers some hope to try to find family for Dovey.

As you may recall, Dovey, my father’s mother’s mother, my great-grandmother, was born four years before her parents married when both James Wesley (Jim) Piearcy and Bertie Wellington were each 14 years old. Family stories say Dovey was born in 1889-90 in Texas, but no records show where either Bertie or Jim were at that time.

I administer kits for nine family members tested at FTDNA, in addition to my own tests at, FTDNA and 23andMe.

First, I contacting the four people who looked like a Piearcy match from family trees on Two of the four responded, saying they weren’t related to the Piearcys. No luck there.

Next, I did reverse genealogy on Rosa Belle Piearcy, the younger daughter of Jim and Bertie Piearcy. Genealogy typically tracks back to prior generations; with reverse genealogy we search forward to find later generations.  If  living daughters/granddaughters of Rosa’s daughters would agree to DNA testing, both autosomal and mt-DNA tests would be performed. If the autosomal test indicated the women were cousins to my father and his sisters and if the mt-DNA test matched my father, then we could presume Bertie was Dovey’s mother. But only if I had other known Piearcy cousins tested to triangulate the match, proving the DNA really was from the Piearcy/Wellington marriage.

I was able to find Rosa’s Texas death certificate, thanks to Karen Stanbary the leader of Mastering Genealogical Proof study group 18.[1] The death certificate listed Rosa’s parents as J. W. Piearey and Bertie Wellington and was signed by Bertha Davis.[2] family trees listed Rosa’s children, including Bertha and named Bertha’s husband, Jess W. Davis. A search of newspaper clippings on  located Bertha’s husband’s  obit, listing  two daughters.[3] A further search of located obits for those two daughters and listed their daughters. No further names will be listed to protect the living people.

A google search of those two women gave me their addresses and one phone number. I prepared letters to the great grand daughters  of Rosa and included a picture of the Jim and Bertie Piearcy family taken about 1906 along with my phone number. I mailed the letters with great anticipation. By a month later, no envelope with a bad address was returned to me, but I had no phone calls either. A call to the available number indicated it had been disconnected.  A google search located several other phone numbers, all disconnected. 411 information calls yielded no phone numbers. The website, Spokeo had a current phone number and email for one of the husbands, but $1.98 later, both the phone number and email were no longer working. None of the involved names had Facebook or Linked-in accounts. So much for my first efforts use reverse genealogy.

From her death certificate, we know Rosa Piearcy Merritt died at the age of 55 as a widow. trees show she had five children. Reverse genealogy on Bertha has led to a dead end. Another daughter, Laura, died of appendicitis at 10 years of age. A third daughter has no information on, but another daughter and son had children. Next steps include identifying living descendants of those children, then if that doesn’t work, identifying living descendants of Rosa’s brothers as the search continues for Dovey’s parents.

[1] Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013).

[2] “Texas, Deaths, 1890-1976,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 05 Jan 2014), Death certificates > 1950 > Vol 123, certificates 061001-061500, Feb-Oct, Travis-Matagorda counties, includes delay; citing State Registrar Office, Austin.

[3] “Jess W. Davis obit,” The Corpus Christi Caller-Times [TX], 15 Jan 2007, on-line archives, ( : accessed 7 Jan 2014).

Copyright © 2014 Andrea Musgrove Perisho

Constitution Week Celebration – Daughters of the American Revolution

The tradition of celebrating the Constitution was started many years ago by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). The aims of the celebration are to (1) emphasize citizens’ responsibilities for protecting and defending the Constitution, preserving it for posterity;  (2) inform the people that the Constitution is the basis for America’s great heritage and the foundation for our way of life; and (3) encourage the study of the historical events which led to the framing of the Constitution in September 1787. Right click on this link and open link in a new tab to see President General Young’s post on Constitution Week –

The DAR encourages local chapters to celebrate  Constitution Week with proclamations and other events. Here in Southwest Florida, area chapters hold an annual Constitution Week Luncheon hosted by one of the chapters. This year, my chapter, the Lawrence Kearny Chapter based in Cape Coral, Florida,  was the hostess. We’re a small chapter with about 25 members. About eight of us helped with the event. As a very new member, I volunteered to handle decorations with the theme “Let Freedom Ring.”

Centerpiece DAR LuncheonCenterpieces were based on a wooden stand borrowed from the Barefoot Beach Chapter.1 A free clip art picture of the liberty bell was found on the internet and sent to Walgreen’s photo center where a navy blue border with stars was selected for the 5 X 7 picture. The red poster board mat was added after “Let Freedom Ring” was printed across the top. The back of the centerpiece had selected facts from the National Constitution Center.

Flag CookieFor the favors, rather than a pencil or a copy of the Constitution, we decided to make cookies. Our theme was “Let Freedom Ring,” so we went with flag and liberty bell cookies. A friend and I made a prototype batch of cookies and decided sprinkles on the frosting was not the look we were going for, so we googled flag cookies. Of course, Martha Stewart has a video on how to make flag cookies. Right click on this link and open in a new tab to see Liberty Bell Cookiethe video –   We followed Martha’s video, other than using our previously purchased smaller cookie cutters. After icing, the cookies were wrapped and sealed with a Lawrence Kearny sticker. So, one hundred and eighty cookies later, we’re a lot better at piping royal icing, but still not ready for a job in the Publix grocery store bakery. 

The centerpieces and the cookies were a big hit, but even more impressive were the Southwest Florida Handbell Ensemble directed by Michael Helman and the speech by Rev. Dr. H. Timothy Halverson, Senior Pastor, Faith Presbyterian Church. Altogether, our small city of Cape Coral did a fine job of hostessing the Greater Southwest Florida chapters at our Constitution Week celebration.

Now, enough of this and back to genealogy research – more homework with the Mastering Genealogical Proof study group and a brick wall in finding my great-grandmother Dovey Alpine Piearcy’s parents.2 Then working up the information from my summer research trips.


  1. The wooden stand was hand-made and donated to the Barefoot Beach Chapter. The base is 10″ in diameter. The stand is about 9″ tall and 7″ wide. The wooden pen holder is about 2″ square and drilled through in order to hold a pen, feather or flower arrangement, in this case. The back should be decorated as well, if you use it for a round table centerpiece.
  2. National Genealogical Society, “Mastering Genealogical Proof,” NGS Special Publications( : accessed 09 Sept 2013).
Copyright © 2013 Andrea Musgrove Perisho

Mastering Genealogical Proof Study Group

Since mid-August, I’ve participated in an on-line study group covering Thomas W. Jones’ book Mastering Genealogical Proof.1,2 This new book has the genealogy community excited, with case studies and questions/answers showing us how to apply respected standards to come up with acceptable conclusions.

Angela Packer McGhie, administrator of the ProGen Study Program, in her Adventures in Genealogy Education blog has just announced five more study groups are forming.3 DearMYRTLE has just completed a study group; the YouTube videos are still available.4  I’ve reviewed those chapter 2 videos to help me understand that chapter’s difficult, for me, concepts.

While working on my family history, I want to learn professional techniques so my research can be used by others. One assignment in MGP is to select a brick wall in your own family tree and use the techniques in the book to break through that brick wall.

For my brick wall, I selected my great-grandmother Dovey Alpine Piearcy Buckmaster, with my research question – “Who were her parents?” The answer to that question seemed pretty clear-cut, until I really started gathering sources for her. Dovey wasn’t listed as a great-granddaughter of Tryphena McGinnis Piearcy in her petition for Choctaw citizenship, as were Dovey’s two younger siblings. (See my earlier post for Tryphena’s petition.) Then I pulled out my paper files on Dovey, including the original marriage records for James Wesley Piearcy and Bertie Wellington. From the calculation of Dovey’s age from the 1900 census, Dovey was born in 1889/90, four years before her parents married in 1894. Both Jim and Bertie were fourteen years old in 1889/90. It really doesn’t seem likely Jim and Bertie would have a child when they were fourteen, then marry four years later. Possible, but not likely.

In chapter 2 of the study group, one of our assignments is to develop a locality guide with all the possible sources of information, to assure a reasonably exhaustive search for records. So far, I’ve written a locality guide for Ozark County, Missouri, where Bertie’s parents married. I’ve found extensive records on Bertie’s mother, Lucinda Webster, but little on Bertie’s father. Family records say his name was John Wellington and his two children , Daniel and Bertie, have their last name recorded as Wellington. So far, I’ve found John’s last name spelled as Wilington and Worlington; maybe that’s why no one has any records of John’s parents.

My next step is to gather information for a locality guide for Arkansas and while I’m at it, see if I can find any records of John and Lucinda Webster Wellington in Arkansas, using a wild card surname search of W*lington. I want to find out where Bertie was nine months before Dovey was born, so I’d love to find records in the 1888-89 time frame. Unfortunately, the 1890 census was destroyed in a fire, so that’s not available.

After that comes a locality guide for Texas, particularly Clay County, where James Wesley Piearcy and Bertie Wellington married in 1894.

It really may take DNA testing to break down this brick wall, so if you are a Piearcy cousin and are interested in DNA testing please contact me. In the meantime, I’ll keep working on this brick wall and through my study of MGP learn more about foot notes, several of which should have included on the above material. But stay posted, I’ll have more blogs on this family lines, with proper footnotes.

Here’s more about the book from the NGS website – Mastering Genealogical Proof aims to help researchers, students, and new family historians reconstruct relationships and lives of people they cannot see. It presents content in digestible chunks. Each chapter concludes with problems providing practice for  proficiently applying the chapter’s concepts. Those problems, like examples throughout the book, use real records, real research, and real issues. Answers are at the back of the book along with a glossary of technical terms and an extensive resource list.5


  • Preface
  • Chapter 1 – Genealogy’s Standard of Proof
  • Chapter 2 – Concepts Fundamental to the GPS
  • Chapter 3 – GPS Element 1: Thorough Research
  • Chapter 4 GPS Element 2: Source Citations
  • Chapter 5 GPS Element 3: Analysis and Correlation
    Chapter 6 GPS Element 4: Resolving Conflicts and Assembling Evidence
  • Chapter 7 GPS Element 5: The Written Conclusion
  • Chapter 8 – Using the GPS
  • Chapter 9 – Conclusion
  • Appendix A – Pritchett Article
  • Appendix B – McLain Article
  • Glossary
  • Reading and Source List
  • Answers to exercises

MGP can be ordered through the NGS website. If you are a member, log in first, to get the discount.


  1. Thomas W. Jones Ph.D, CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS is certified by the Board for Certification of Genealogists as a Certified Genealogist and Certified Genealogical Lecturer, and is a Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists, Utah Genealogical Society and the National Genealogical Society.  He has co-edited the National Genealogical Society Quarterly since 2002 and is a trustee and a past president of the Board for Certification of Genealogists.
  2. Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013).
  3. Angela Packer McGhie, “Five Gen Proof Study Groups Open for Registration,” Adventures in Genealogy Education, posted 07 Sept 2013 ( : accessed 09 Sept 2013).
  4. Pat Richley-Erickson, “MGP Study Group – Hangouts on Air,” DearMYRTLE, posted 17 Mar 2013 ( : accessed 09 Sept 2013). [NOTE: While DearMYRTLE’s MGP Study Group is finished, the YouTube videos are still available, accessed 09 Sept 2013, to watch the videos just click on the video tab in DearMYRTLE’s YouTube.
  5. National Genealogical Society, “Mastering Genealogical Proof,” NGS Special Publications( : accessed 09 Sept 2013).
Copyright © 2013 Andrea Musgrove Perisho

DNA Testing – Three Different Tests & Three Different Reasons for Testing.

dnaDNA testing brings a new tool to genealogy with the ability to match your genetic material or genome to your cousins. DNA testing is a broad term with three types of testing available to genealogists. Each test provides different information.

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) was the first test available to genealogists. The mitochondrion is the power plant for each cell in your body and has its own DNA, separate from your cellular DNA. mtDNA is inherited from your mother. Men and women each have mtDNA, but men do not pass it on to their children.

mtDNA does not mutate very often and is used to find maternal origins as it is traced from a daughter to her mother, to her mother, to her mother back to ancient times. The basic use of mtDNA is to exclude someone from your direct maternal lineage. Both men and women can be tested for mtDNA, but only women pass it on to their children.

When I first had mtDNA testing performed, I spent hours emailing over 50 identical matches from all over the world. I was not able to match any common ancestors in my family tree. I could just confirm my Haplogroup U5a European/North African/India/Central Asia maternal ancestor had many descendants in Europe, the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

Each of us (with exceptions) has forty-six chromosomes, which pair up. Females have two X chromosomes and men have one X and one Y chromosome. The Y chromosome is passed down through the male lineage.  The Y chromosome can be traced from a son, to his father, to his father, to his father, back many generations, but with mutations. Specific families can be identified as a result of the mutations. Only men can be tested for Y-DNA, since women have no Y chromosome. It was very exciting when the matches on my father’s Y-DNA test confirmed our Musgrove/Musgrave paper trail going back ten generations. This test is very useful when you can follow a direct male line.

The most recent DNA test available to genealogists is autosomal DNA testing, where portions of 22 pairs of chromosomes (all except X and Y) are tested. Within five to six generations, this test can find cousins who have had the same testing performed. Both men and women can take part in this testing.

I had my autosomal DNA testing performed through and have matched five cousins with confirmed family ties and with about one hundred other people with no identified common ancestor. One recent match looks like it may clarify that the mother of my 3rd great grandmother was the second wife of John “Go Back” Eoff, rather than the first wife as indicated by some genealogists. That same day, a match showed up on another family line – one where I had entered my “best guess” ancestor on my family tree. (Bad girl.) That Pennington line is an interesting Puritan family, where I do have documentation back several generations. Based on my new-found cousin’s research, I can collaborate with her when I do start working on documentation of that complete line.

The three major websites (Family Tree DNA, 23andMe, and are password protected and state their genomic data is secure. Other genealogical research sites allow people to download their own genome to allow open study for matching with other genomes. GEDmatch is one of the largest sites for open study. Recent DNA genealogy workshops I’ve taken have indicated GEDmatch is a safe site to load results for matching  DNA to a broader community. That site has seen a lot of activity with making DNA testing through their company available for download into other programs. GEDmatch has closed for new downloads through until August, while they process the current matches. I plan on downloading my own DNA results into GEDmatch after it reopens.

Since some gene sequences are tied to diseases and other personal characteristics, one could see a situation where, perhaps, health care providers or employers might consider mining such data for nefarious reasons. At this point, it looks like when genomic data is maintained within the testing site, privacy is maintained. Legislation is underway to prevent discrimination based on any genetic results.

I have downloaded my results into FTDNA, the site where my parents and sister were tested. With our results on one site, I’ll be able to go to specific chromosomes and see which genes were inherited from which parents. I’ll also be able to see specific gene matches for cousins, helping pinpoint our common ancestor. This could help find a common ancestor for future DNA matches but with no common paper trail.

The cost of DNA testing for genealogy purposes has dropped dramatically with 23andMe offering the autosomal test for $99. However, at this point, I prefer testing on Family Tree. I’ll just see which relatives will agree to testing and wait for another sale on Family Tree.

If you test three siblings in each family with autosomal DNA, this would capture almost all the full genome of their parents. The earliest generation you have should be tested so, as my mother put it very well “you don’t dilute the DNA.” So over time, as I have funds available, I’d love to test two more of her siblings and two more of my dad’s siblings, along with some specific people for Y-DNA and mt-DNA.

I have a B.S. degree in medical technology and worked in a hospital laboratory. After receiving my master’s degree, I managed commercial laboratories for many years. That science background is helpful to me in studying the rapidly changing field of genealogical DNA testing.

Copyright 2013 by Andrea Musgrove Perisho.

Native American Connections

Family stories indicate some branches of our family tree included ancestors from the Five Civilized Tribes. There is much interest in proving Indian or Native American ancestry.  However, there are very specific criteria for proving Indian ancestry.

The Dawes Commission Roll Book, the Final Rolls of the Five Civilized Tribes, used for Certification of Degree of Indian Blood was compiled mainly during the years 1899-1906. Anyone who died before 1899 does not have a roll number. To be enrolled there were certain requirements to be met. Application had to be made during the enrollment period, showing membership in the tribe and actual residence within the area occupied by the tribe.

If the ancestor lived outside Indian Territory, they did not qualify to apply on the Dawes commission. Our Charles Wilson Buckmaster and his family were living in Indian Territory then, but I have not found any of his family names on the Dawes Roll, nor any evidence they were considered Indian. I have found no other records of other ancestors who were living in Indian Territory during the enrollment period.

Some people may never be able to prove Indian heritage. Indian law usually dictated that “when any citizen shall remove with his effects out of the limits of the Nation and become a citizen of any other government, all his rights and privileges as a citizen of the Nation shall cease,” provided nevertheless that the National Council shall have power to re-admit any such person who may at any time want to return to the Nation, but no one is entitled as an inherent right to re-admission to citizenship. If an applicant proves that at one time he was a recognized citizen of the Nation and has forfeited that citizenship, there is no law by which he can demand admission. As a matter of course, the same laws and usages governed the Dawes Commission in their consideration of claims to citizenship.

Possible Cherokee Connection

Through the Holder line, family tradition states Peter Adams Tyler met his wife-to-be, Eveline Minerva Price, at a trading post on the Mississippi River. Minerva was reportedly 1/2 or more Cherokee. Practicality would suggest that he met Minerva at a store or post in Northwest Arkansas. Eveline, born in North Carolina, followed the Cherokee routes to Arkansas, and Price is a prominent name among the Cherokee Nation. As yet, proof of her Cherokee heritage has not been found. Peter and Eveline married on July 4, 1845. They had nine children, including James Buchanan Tyler, Carl Lee Holder’s grandfather.

Possible Choctaw Connection

Through another branch of Eva Buckmaster Musgrove’s line, through a Google search, I found over twenty  pages of records where, starting on February 1, 1898, Tryphena Elizabeth McGinnis Pearcy filed a lawsuit against the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations, declaring herself and her children as Choctaw Indians. Appeals went back and forth in the Choctaw and Chickasaw Citizenship Court in Ardmore, Indian Territory and in Tishomingo, the seat of the Southern District of the Indian Territory, until 1904, when the court ruled that the plaintiffs, Tryphena Elizabeth Pearcy and her children “were not entitled to be deemed or declared citizens of the Choctaw Nation, or to enrollment as such, or to any rights whatever flowing  therefrom.”

Copyright 2013 by Andrea Musgrove Perisho

“He’s Mine” – A Valentine Story

NaDean Holder
NaDean Holder

NaDean was in the 5th grade. School had just started. NaDean and her friends, Velma and Mary, welcomed some new students – Mary Mae, Clorene and Inez. The three sisters spoke fondly of their older brother, Sonny Boy.

Sonny Boy or William, as he was later called, was 12 years old and would not be going to school that year. His daddy had broken his foot and would not be able to farm. Young William would be staying out of school to put in the crops. He used a mule and a plow to put in, as he later described, the crookedest corn rows ever, since he wasn’t big enough to keep the mule in a straight line.

Mary Mae’s stories of William intrigued the 10-year-old NaDean, who had never laid eyes on him. She turned to her friends and declared, “He’s mine.”

William Andrew Musgrove
William Andrew Musgrove

After she actually met William, NaDean stayed sweet on him all through school. When she was 15, William would ride his horse, Dixie, the five miles down to her house. They would sit on the front porch and talk, with her little brother making faces at them through the screened window. Sometimes, on Sunday afternoons they, with other friends, would ride double on horses two miles further south to swim in the Red River.

After finishing high school, William graduating the year after NaDean, they married in 1952, ten years after NaDean told her friends, “He’s mine.”

In 2012, they celebrated 60 years of marriage, along with their 5 children, 5 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

Family Reunion
Family Reunion

William and NaDean are my parents, but I never heard this charming story growing up. After I became interested in genealogy, all the books recommended conducting family interviews. While I couldn’t imagine learning any new family stories, I’m the kind of person that follows the rules. So I gathered some sample questions from a popular genealogy book, bought a tape recorder and scheduled an interview.

This story is just one reason I’m still conducting family interviews.

Like most things, preparing for your family interviews creates better results. Decide your focus; realizing most interviews should last no longer than an hour. Interviews can be tiring for both the interviewee and for you! Think about who else you want to interview and consider starting with the least involved person. That person could give you some insights for questions for your more significant interviews, especially if you get only one chance for that significant interview.

Write out your questions ahead of time or use a script of questions from a genealogy book. The library can be a good source for genealogy books. Your topics could start with the basics asking for birth day, date of marriage and where they lived. You could then ask the same information about their children, parents and grandparents, including any death dates and locations.

Other interview topics could be questions about cultural customs like how birthdays and holidays were celebrated; what churches were attended and how often; types of clothing worn as teenagers; what did they do for fun when they were kids; describe their first job, their first memory, their first house or how they met their spouse.

As you can, see the list is endless. Limit the use of questions requiring just a “yes” or “no” answer.  You’re looking for family stories, so don’t be in a rush to finish your list of questions. If you keep the interview pleasant and under one hour, hopefully, you can schedule a second interview.

At the start of the interview, ask permission to use a digital recorder. Start the recording with the name of the person being interviewed, your name, the date and place. Just keep the recorder running, even if the person is stopping to think.  You want to focus on the interviewee, not the technology.

Remember, if you transcribe the interview, to plan on three to four hours of transcription time for every hour of interview. If anyone has any ideas on how to transcribe faster, let me know. I’ve tried some voice recognition software, but with our Southern accents, the software was not very useful.

As a result of your efforts, future generations will be introduced to the stories and the voices knowing “He (and She are) Mine.”

You can send your feedback, comments and questions via email to or on this blog site at as we seek our roots together.

Andrea Musgrove Perisho is a retired health care managing director and a member of the Lee County Genealogical Society Writer’s Group. Copyright 2013 by Andrea Musgrove Perisho.



Flag of Germany

Generations of wars and heavy taxation in southern Germany plus a severe winter in 1709 caused devastation in the land and impoverished the people, making many families seek relief by migrating.

They were called “Palatines” as most were from the Palatinate region of Germany. One group left in 1708, but a larger group left in 1709. They traveled down the Rhine River to Holland and camped near Rotterdam waiting for ships to England. Of 13,000 Germans who reached London in 1709, only an estimated quarter came on to New York.  The rest found refuge in other places. The huge migration overwhelmed the British government and caused a big political uproar.

Queen Anne encouraged this Protestant migration to her American colonies. Most boarded ships for New York in December 1709, but did not leave England until April 1710. They sailed on eleven crowded boats with unsanitary conditions. Typhus was a problem for these already malnourished refugees. Four hundred seventy people , most children, died before reaching America. With about twenty-one hundred survivors, the Palatine immigration was the largest single immigration to America in the colonial period.  

On reaching New York in June 1710, the ships were quarantined on Nutten Island (now Governor’s Island). Governor Hunter of New York needed the immigrants for the making of naval supplies of pitch, turpentine and tar. Most families first settled along the Hudson River in work camps, to pay off their passage. (This was not a well-thought out process, since Governor Hunter’s pine trees were the incorrect species for producing the needed naval supplies, causing more hardship for the refugees.) Some widows and children, deemed as unfit for the work camps, were left in New York.

Our first Eoff ancestor to come to colonial America was Hans Jacob Eoff (variously spelled Öff, Hoof, Oave and Offin) born October 17, 1679 in Grossheppach, Germany. He was serving an apprenticeship as a weaver, when his illegitimate son Johann Jacob Öff, born to Magdalena Nussbaum, was baptized on April 10, 1702.  Han Jacob and Magdalena married on June 14, 1702. Since an apprentice could not be married, the financial burden of not having a trade and the lure of cheap land could be the reason for the family’s migration. A subsistence list on July 1, 1710 in New York shows the Hans Jacob Off family with five members. By October 4, 1710, the family had decreased to three members. Hans Jacob Eoff died on September 24, 1710 on Governor’s Island, probably from typhus. A child must have also died before October 4, 1710. Magdalena Offin was listed with John Jacob Offin age 8 (or Johann Jacob Off/Eoff our direct ancestor and founder of the Eoff family in America), and Anna Barbara Offin age 6. Magdalena and her children were probably left in New York and did not go the ill-fated Hudson River work camps. She married Joan Peter Kassener (John Peter Castner) in New York 2 April, 1711.

Source for Eoff material – excerpts from “The Eoff Family from the Old World to the New”, from a manuscript by Roberta Grahame in “The McIntires and the Elliotts of Bickle’s Cove, Stone County, Arkansas and the descendents of John McIntire of Maury County, Tennessee” by Pauline Mitchell Pierce, January 1997.

The Eoff ancestors were in my maternal family line, through Edith McIntire Holder.

Copyrighted, 2012 by Andrea Musgrove Perisho.