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Featured Provider: tennessee-gal

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Tennessee-gal is the author of The Fetherling Boys, a family history based on information she gathered while researching her mother’s ancestral line. A member of the Association of Professional Genealogists and the National Genealogical Society, her research specialties include Tennessee and the surrounding states of Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabaa, Georgia, and North Carolina. Tennessee-gal offers both fixed-fee document retrieval and hourly research through Genlighten.

How did you get started doing genealogy research?

My mother-in-law inspired me to learn more about my family in the early 1990s. She and her cousin Katrina had many tales to tell about their research years of pouring over census records before they were readily available by an indexed program. The stories they told made me yearn to know about my family. My mother gave me the few know facts and said she wanted to know more about her mother who died when she (my mother) was four years of age. From there the rest is “history.”

How have you developed your research skills?

Some of the skills I naturally brought with me. I love to read and research any topic so I came into genealogy with a good set of skills. Mentoring from my mother-in-law was invaluable. Taking courses, reading genealogy publications such as APG Quarterly and NGS Quarterly, joining focus groups, attending meetings when I can, and talking to other genealogists have all aided me in developing my skills.

Do you have a genealogy superpower? If so, what is it?

If perseverance could be a superpower, that would be mine. I don’t give up easily and continue to search until I’ve reached a logical conclusion or found the obscure document needed to develop an ancestor’s history.

Tell us a favorite story about one of your ancestors.

My great-grandfather was a chameleon! His young background describes him as having poor parents and being self-educated. In the medical research, I found him described as having light complexion, light hair, and blue eyes. He had many occupations in his lifetime from school teacher to Civil War soldier, to hardware store owner and solicitor. At age 19 he was in charge of a school district in Twin Township, Preble County, Ohio.

There are colorful stories of his escapades in the where he sold potatoes from the Army supply to a civilian and was busted from a sergeant to a private but later regained his rank. My second cousin found his picture wearing his Civil War attire at an auction but the winning bid went to a museum—where it should be.

After the war he served as a principal teacher (sometimes called superintendent) and had full control and authority of superintendent in Washington Township, Preble County, Ohio. Additionally, he ran a general store in the shoe and boot business and carried a line of groceries which later morphed into a hardware store.

In 1887 he served as a Senatorial Delegate representing Lemon Township in Ohio to the Republican Party. I believe that I inherited his entrepreneurial genes and you would agree if you read my history.

What’s the most unique record source that you access for research?

I purchased two original Ohio county histories from the late 1800s—A History and Biographical Cyclopedia of Butler County, Ohio, with Illustrations and Sketches of its Representative Men and Pioneers and History of Preble County, Ohio with Illustrations—in which I found a wealth of information about my great grandfather whom I described earlier. These are wonderful books and well worth the price I paid for them. Reproductions have been printed but there is nothing like the originals of these jewels.

What’s the one must-visit repository for out-of-town visitors doing research in your area?

The local library, Obion Public Library, has an excellent genealogy room titled “Tennessee Room.” The genealogy librarian there is excellent as is her assistant. They have a wealth of knowledge and have built an excellent collection of West Tennessee history. I can’t stop at one! Another must-visit would be the University of Tennessee-Martin about 20 miles north of Union City. This library is strong in North Tennessee resources.

What advice would you give to someone trying to break through a brick wall?

Think outside of the box, bounce your research off someone else’s noggin, and take a break. I compare it to finding an answer in a jigsaw puzzle. One sits staring at the puzzle knowing they should know the answer but can’t fit the pieces together. They get up for a beverage, walk around, come back to the puzzle, and see the missing piece.

What hobbies do you pursue when you’re not at the archives doing research?

I love to read, sew, cross stitch, and walk my dog. Because I love old stuff, I have a web store where I scour the auctions, yard sales, and attics for items to sell to other people. You’d be surprised at what I find for my genealogy through my hobby.

Anything else you’d like to share?

If you don’t know from whence you came, how do you know where you are going? We, in America, have a wonderful country in which to live and riches beyond measure because our ancestors worked had to leave us a legacy. If we don’t understand why they came to America to flee oppression, poverty, or starvation, we are missing out on an appreciation from whence we came and the ambition to keep America great.

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