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Professional genealogist Rebecca R. Laurent (gulfcoastgenerations) is the owner of Gulf Coast Generations Family and Historical Research. She frequents the Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research in Houston and is proficient in Creole de Colour research in southern Alabama. Her Biography + Photo = Unique Gift offering on Genlighten turns research into art.
1. How did you get started doing genealogy research?
This is an interesting question. I actually started when I was about 10 years old, giving my first genealogical interview to my grandparents. Though, I didn’t get far and since then the records have been lost. I would have to say I started in earnest in 2000 when I was pregnant with my first child. I realized then I did not know much of my husband’s family history. So, I started digging. Soon I found out he is a descendant of the Creole de Colour of Mobile. I’ve been working on that history ever since.
2. Do you have a genealogy superpower? If so, what is it?
Superpower? Well I don’t fly or anything like that. I guess I would have to say it’s perseverance. I LOVE the challenges that genealogy presents. I persist in finding the information needed, even if it’s not in typical ways. I don’t give up in finding out the answers to my questions.
3. Describe a challenging research problem you’re particularly proud of having solved.
Well I have one research problem that is just as persistent as I am. Bertélemi Lauren is the patriarch to my husband’s family line. It’s is almost as if this man did not exist. He is not found in birth records of the area, he is not in any census, and any records of his death are missing as well. So with Bertélemi, I had to find him through references to him. Through others’ land transactions, and baptisms, along with delinquent tax records I have been able to piece together the life of this elusive man. An intriguing life it was.
4. Tell us a favorite story about one of your ancestors.
Favorite story? Wow. I have so many—from surviving a hurricane tied to a Model T to a Confederate turncoat. There’re even rumors I’m a descended from the Welsh God Gwydyon (though I have not verified that one.) But, I would have to say my favorite story is of Justine Laurent. She was a Creole who had a long-time relationship with a white man named Daniel Juzan. After Daniel’s death she has to fight Daniel’s son-in law, a prominent citizen of Mobile, for her children’s willed inheritance. This is at a time when women, and colored women at that, we not seen nor heard. She had courage!
5. What’s the most interesting record source or repository you’ve utilized in your area?
I love the Clayton Library in Houston, TX. It is just 45 minutes from my house. From there I can receive LDS microfilms, research through their massive holdings, or use their many Internet sources. I also have a great library system here in Brazoria County. When I need items like books or even microfilm the librarians bend over backwards to get what is needed through the inter-library loans system.
6. What tools do you use to create the reports/images that you provide to clients?
I use the program Family Tree Maker to maintain my research and documents in one location. As for reports I convert basic data provided from this program to a document file giving me the ability to customize fully-sourced reports. But with that said, I have several sources to create many different types of projects whether it is providing the typical genealogical report, an online tree for the client to watch grow, or preparing photographic images. I have the resources and know how to complete many different aspects of the genealogy field.
7. What advice would you give to someone who is trying to break through a brick wall?
This is such a wide open question. A brick wall can occur for many reasons, whether it is the lack of the data needed, or a lack of knowledge in the subject. But I would have to say, “Don’t give up!” Data is found and generated into usable sources everyday. Knowledge can be acquired, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. A second opinion or different view point can bust a case wide open.
8. What other passions do you pursue when you’re not at the archives doing research?
Passions? I don’t know that I would say all these are passions but first and foremost I am a wife and mother. That is why my genealogy career fits so well in my life. I am able to work around my husband’s schedule and I work from home giving me the ability to home-school our two children (not to mention dragging them to different locations from time to time). Other interests are my study of herbs as needed for the family and participating in the local chapter of Toastmasters (a public speaking club).
9. Anything else you’d like to share? I’m looking forward to the tremendous possibilities your site provides. Thank you.
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Bertélemi Lauren is the patriarch to my husband’s family line. It’s is almost as if this man did not exist. He is not found in birth records of the area, he is not in any census, and any records of his death are missing as well. So with Bertélemi, I had to find him through references to him. Through others’ land transactions, and baptisms, along with delinquent tax records I have been able to piece together the life of this elusive man. An intriguing life it was.
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