Genealogy Wise

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Hello! My name is Douglas Edward Noblehorse.

When it comes to genealogy, I've taken the road heavily traveled - I didn't consider genealogy a productive pursuit until after my father, Earnest Robert Payne, passed away in December 2004. My biological mother, Virginia Mae Gulick, had passed away in March 2008, while my stepmother, Jennie Lee Wilson, passed away in November 1994.

In my defense (such as it is) I had always been told and believed that my mother Virginia had been adopted as a child. Also, my father Earnest had never talked much about his early years - he was of Native American descent, being half Shawnee and half Cherokee (or so I believed for most of my life); I mistakenly thought that not much family history on his side could be traced beyond my grandparents.

Family assumptions. You grow up being told certain things about your family and these assumptions carry forward unchallenged into your adult life. So it was for me. I had no reason to think otherwise.

I believe it was my oldest daughter Damara Payne Neuenschwander (for reasons that escape me now) that finally secured a copy of my mother Virginia's birth certificate from the State of Washington - and it clearly showed that adoption was not involved. So one assumption was eliminated; however, the genealogical bug hadn't hit just yet.

I grew up having quite the blended family - both my mother Virginia and my father Earnest were married multiple times during their lives (at last count 10 for my father!) I can count 14 siblings, alive and dead, half and step; however, I have no full siblings. Keeping track of who was who was easy for me - it seemed like a natural thing to me, as all things seem normal and natural when you're growing up.

So it never occurred to me that my children were a bit confused as to which of my siblings belonged to which set of parents, at least until my youngest daughter Aleena Noblehorse mentioned that she had no idea who was who. So, thinking that this was an easily remedied problem, I set about to find a computer program that would help me diagram my immediate family tree so that my children could understand my genealogical history - at least as far back as my parents.

I had no clue what awaited me - surprises, twists, turns, brick walls, family stories verified - but most of all, the skeletons in the closet. Along the way my understanding of myself, my parents and my family history has completely changed. Despite having an already large and unwieldly blended family structure I found (or in some cases they found me!) complete branches of my family completely unknown to me! And I'm talking aunts, uncles and first cousins, not 14th cousins, 38 times removed. Some of these family members literally lived down the street from me - not in the town where I grew up nor in the town where they grew up, but in the city I've adopted as an adult home town (as did they), Phoenix, Arizona.

This blog will detail the long and winding genealogical road I've traveled, the surprising stories I've uncovered, and the brick walls I've run headlong into. As a reader of this blog you may see elements of your own genealogical journeys in my story - I'm hoping you can identify with the delights and commiserate with the frustrations.


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Comment by Sheila Hincy on October 30, 2009 at 12:56am
Hello, My name is Sheila Hincy

When I started my family search it was because I was home sick. well it did help me but then I became hooked. I always that my grandmother was very educated. To my amazement she was very good at writing. She wrote thank you notes to her doctor, electric company etc.. Could you see their amazement> Then I was told there was Indian in our family by my grandmother. Well, I.m still looking for the mystery Indian ancestry. But each grandfather and grandmother brings a new piece to a puzzle. Someone asked my Grandchildren what I do and they always say" Looking for dead people in a tree." Well at least they kind of get it. But every new limb gives me a clue to just who I am. I'm sure that we all have someone who thinks we should discover a new hobby to do, but I would not trade the past twelve years for anything. It gives me a new adventure to go on. I can travel the Trail of Tears with our Native American. Travel back in time to Ireland and how my ancestry lived. Walk along my family at Valley Forge. with General Washington. No I wouldn't give this up for anything. I just can't wait to discover the next mystery to unfold. Sheila


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