Conversations with Mama: You never know what she will say and more… #36

Conversations with Mama: You never know what she will say and more… #36

I call my mother almost nightly to chat, hear how her day went, and as always, enjoy her stories. Several years back, I began scribbling on paper those nightly musings. Later I started a journal on my computer and began Conversations with Mama, and just recently last year began compiling them here on my blog. On my last visit to mom, I gifted her a book of all I had so far – she had never saw them. Mama was thrilled with the book and took it to the senior center to show everyone. Thank You mama for your nightly conversations, they truly make my night!


Mama wearing her pearls!

September 19, 2016: In remembering about mama’s pearls she mentioned the other day, I asked her tonight if she had found them…. “I did find a pair but I’m not sure if they were the ones I’m looking for. These had a little weight to them, and I laid them somewhere to show you when you come – if I can find them again. Well, they can’t be too far, probably over there with all my other jewelry. We could take them to a jewelry store to see if they are real.” (I need to take photos of all my mothers jewelry when I go down – she loves jewelry. Her favorite place to look is an antique store in Braselton, where they have counters of old costume jewelry in baskets and she enjoys rummaging through – whether she buys anything or not. One thing she won’t do is pay too much, it has to be a real bargain! She tells me to one day, take all her jewelry for the grandchildren – it will be theirs to play with.)

In telling mama that Steve has jury duty on Wednesday, she said… “I think I was only called once for jury duty in Perry, but I was sick and our doctor gave me a note to send in. I was never called again there, or here in Monroe, but I would never go now – they better not send me a notice.” (I told here not to worry because they can’t make you go after you are over the age of 70 – but again she just said, “well I won’t go.”)

We were talking about where we would go out to eat when I come down, and … “I never did care about going out to eat at a restaurant, but we can go wherever you want. I’d rather just put my money in my pocket and let it stay there; I just don’t care to go out to eat. Many of them at the senior center love to go on those trips where they go places to eat, but I don’t enjoy going. The one time I went on that trip to Memphis, I was bored out of my head, and couldn’t wait to get back home to my bed and my Boo! Most of the times when I have eaten out, I’ve never really enjoyed the food. I do like eating at Holcomb’s, but I enjoy it more when I get back home and eat in my own house. I don’t really even like eating meat anymore, but when I did, the fried chicken we ate at the Smith House in Dahlonega was as close to the fresh chicken my mother cooked, as I can remember; now if I could find a blackberry pie like hers… well that would be good. My mother was a good cook, no recipes though – no one had recipes back then.”

Every night in talking to mama on the phone, I yawn… and you know what happens when you see or hear someone yawn… You Yawn! “I just heard you yawn and now I’m yawning, I just don’t understand why people do that. We don’t do other things when we hear or see people do, but if they yawn, well then you do it too.”

September 23, 2016: Before I had a chance to say anything when I called, mama said… “I’m watching those protesters on TV in Charlotte (N.C.). If they don’t stop, there’s going to be another Civil War in this country. People think that only blacks were slaves, but they have forgotten history as the Irish were brought here as servants to this country. People need to stop this type of protesting and destroying and learn to work together.”

I had a specific question for mama tonight about where she was married. “Yes the house I married in, is still standing. It belonged to the preacher and sat next to the church there; Aunt Chris is buried in the cemetery next to the church – it’s between Siloam and Greensboro. The woman preacher who married us also preached in that church. I don’t know why we went there, maybe it was a spur of the moment as your father was home from the Navy for the weekend and I think another week following. She also had married my girlfriend Willie Mae to her husband Henry and I had stood up for them; maybe that’s why we went there. When you come down, we will stop there and you can take a photograph of the house.”

“We went there with our best friends, Willie Mae (Walker) and Henry Sisson; they stood up for us. I think I wore a white dress that Aunt Lena made me when I graduated from high school. It wasn’t a favorite dress of mine, but it was white. I’m pretty sure it was a Saturday night as my parents were in Siloam – daddy sitting with his friends at the filling station and mama over at cousin Ulma’s general store.” (I asked her why weren’t they at their wedding… “daddy wasn’t interested in coming for a wedding. Actually he told me that I’d be sorry one day and wished I could spit him out.”)

“After we married, we left in the pouring rain to go to Richlands in Greensboro for a square dance. Later we went back for a honeymoon night at the City Hotel in Union Point, then stayed the rest of the week at his parents house just down the street. My girlfriend Willie Mae’s father (Bill Walker) owned the City Hotel and had given us that free night; Clayton should have spent the money for us to stay at the hotel instead of his parents house, as his mother and I didn’t seem to get along. After he went back to the Navy the following week, my father in law took me home to my parents farm where I stayed until we saved money for me to join him at the Navy base in Millington, Tenn. I think daddy felt sorry for me, and it wasn’t long before he bought me a bus ticket to go be with my husband.”

“Do you remember the time I went to Texas with Joyce from the club (Moss Oaks) in Perry. She had family there, but it was a spur of the moment trip that night when we left the club. We headed to Atlanta and bought tickets on Delta. The first plane out that night to Texas we missed and waited for the next one; that plane got hi-jacked to Cuba. I remember telling Joyce, “dam I missed a free trip to Cuba.” She was like, “don’t mention Cuba when we get on the next plane.” Things didn’t matter to me back then, whatever way the wind blew was OK with me. I think Willie Mae and Henry went to Cuba one time; he won the trip from the insurance company he sold for. Henry worked for Life Insurance a long time, but your father left them when we left Union Point.”

“You used to take your father’s free sample items like combs and rulers and even blank policies and go up the street and sell. I’d see you coming down the street pulling your wagon, and you’d be all smiles with a pocket of change jingling in your pocket. One time you hid your father’s week of insurance money he had just collected. Back then, the insurance men visited their clients weekly to collect premiums and then pay the insurance company. For some reason, you took that money and hid it. We looked the house over and over and couldn’t find it, and no matter what I said to you – you said nothing! Finally I told you that the police would be coming soon to lock up your father, and you quickly left the room; as I peeked around the corner I saw you go in my closet and pull the money out of the shoe rack.”

“Another time you scared me was when you hid from me when we lived on Binns St. in Union Point. I called and called for you, and even went outside and up the street, but you were no where to be found. Back behind our house was a large hole that had been filled in with fresh dirt, and my thoughts were running that you had fallen in. When I walked back in on the back porch and spotted you under the table, before I knew it… I grabbed you out and gave you a spanking; I guess I should have hugged you, but at that point even though I was so happy to see you, I was very angry at what you had just put me through.”

September 25, 2016: I called mama to tell her what I learned babysitting for the two red’s on Saturday night…. After telling her how McKinley squirmed out of her footed pj’s under the covers because she wanted to be naked…. “Well now I know she really is a McKinley, she is just like me. She needs to come down here with me and the both of us can sleep naked.” Then while sitting at the table with them finishing dinner, which was taking forever… I was talking about going up to Sleeping Giant for a hike and McKinley said… “I’ve gone up there with daddy on a hike and I peed in the woods.” Well then her daddy intervened… “McKinley lets get this straight, we went on the hike and you said you didn’t have to go to the bathroom, then as soon as we were on the trail, you had to pee.” I could tell mama was laughing over this, and … “Boy daddy Frank sure has his hands full with those two, next time Grace will be yelling “I want to pee in the woods too.”


To be continued…

Like to read more… click on Conversations with Mama and more

© 2016, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved


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Conversations with Mama: You never know what she will say and more… #35


Conversations with Mama: You never know what she will say and more… #35

I call my mother almost nightly to chat, hear how her day went, and as always, enjoy her stories. Several years back, I began scribbling on paper those nightly musings. Later I started a journal on my computer and began Conversations with Mama, and just recently last year began compiling them here on my blog. On my last visit to mom, I gifted her a book of all I had so far – she had never saw them. Mama was thrilled with the book and took it to the senior center to show everyone. Thank You mama for your nightly conversations, they truly make my night!


Mama doing one of her head stands! Sure wish I had one of granddaddy doing it too!

September 6, 2016: In telling mama tonight that McKinley, Ana and Ella were taking ballet classes, she said…. “I used to be able to put my leg up on the bar and lay my body down on my leg flat. I might could do that now, but someone would probably have to push my head down toward my knee and I’d probably hear a crack (laughing), but I might could still do it. (All I could picture in my head was the Lucy episode where she got her foot stuck on top of the bar and couldn’t get loose). I was very limber, and I could even stand on my head… you have a picture of me doing that. Too bad we didn’t have a camera back then as one day when my father saw me, he just flipped down and stood on his head. Now that would have made a great picture!”

“Some of the girls took dancing lessons when I grew up, but it was only the city girls and their parents had money, the farm girls didn’t grow up with those luxuries. Daddy didn’t even want me to play basketball in high school, but I was determined to be on the team… so he gave in. My position on the team was guard, but it wasn’t what I wanted to play – I wanted to be a shooter – and I was good at hitting the basket. But when your parents were farmers, you weren’t picked to be the star team player. Whether they could shoot or not, they were the shooter, that’s the way it was… no farmer’s daughter was going to picked. I learned to shoot by nailing a metal rim on the car shed and using some piece of ball I had…. It had no bounce! If I had had a real ball and goal hoop, I’d have thought I was uptown!”

“I played in all the ball games, we often played Union Point. Our coach was Mr. Burke, the principal at the Greensboro high school. My parents came to all the games because they had to bring me.”

“I hope more jewelry comes in down at the center like last week when all that costume jewelry came in. I need to find my pearls I wore the other day. I do have a real pair of pearls that your father gave me one Xmas.” (I told mama about how St. Anthony helps to find lost things. She told me to say the prayer tonight to help her find them. The prayer is… “St. Anthony, look around, something is lost and must be found.” (I never knew mama had pearls saved that daddy gave her. I hope that St. Anthony helps her to find them. I just recently came across an older photo of mama wearing pearls – maybe those are the ones.)

September 11, 2016: When I called tonight, I asked mama about my BB gun I had at the farm and if she ever shot a BB gun when she was young… “Yes I shot Leroy’s BB gun at the farm… I remember shooting the eyes out of the doll I had. I really should have been a boy, whatever Leroy did, I wanted to do.” Then I asked about birthdays… “My parents never mentioned anything about birthdays, they were never mentioned and there was never a cake. It was just another day. I never gave much thought to when my birthday even was, usually in school nothing was said either. Some kids had parties, but more the city kids, whose parents had money.”

“The Model A daddy had was a dark maroon, before that was a Model T. It sat under the car shelter for years until he sold it for scrap, for fifteen dollars’ Leroy and I used to play in it. The only brand new car daddy ever bought was that Flat-Head Ford, maybe about 1955. It was referred to as a strip car – meaning it didn’t come with any extras. It had no clock or cigarette lighter.” (I remember riding to town with granddaddy in that car)”

I mentioned McKinley went to ballet class today and… “I can still stand on my toes… I remember doing that when I was young. I bet I can still do it now, I’m still a tough old bird. I’m going to have to try that one day.” (I told her to please hold on to something when she tried or she might break her other foot)

September 13, 2016: When I called, she said… “I’m just watching some program about the Democrats and Republicans; this world is a mess. I don’t know if anybody can do anything to ever fix it. I believe Steve is my grandfather reincarnated. He was a funny kind of a person. I didn’t like that he had favorite grandchildren though, and I wasn’t a favorite. He paid no mind to me, but I was daddy’s girl.”

“I was thinking about Flat Rock from the other night. Yes there was a spring there. I remember hearing my cousin Kennith talk about it. I never seen it, but he used to go swimming there with some of the guys. I probably wouldn’t have jumped in, thinking there would have been snakes around. Too bad they didn’t make Flat Rock into a resort. It was something to see, you could just walk around and see nothing but flat rocks. I never knew who owned it back then, but everyone went there to have picnics. Daddy used to even go fox hunting down there. The dogs would track the foxes over the flat rocks while the men sat and probably had a few cigarettes, listening to them bark and howl.”

I told mama about the video of Grace with her hand on her hip and dancing, and… “There was this young girl who mama sometimes kept and one day she asked my daddy if he could do the Boogie Woogie? I don’t know what daddy said, but the little girl said “you just put your hands on your hip and go on down to the floor; she was probably about five years old.”

I saw something on Facebook about sleeping in the buff, so I told mama… “See, I told you that sleeping in the buff was good for your body, you skin needs to breathe. I can’t stand any clothes all twisting around on me when I’m trying to sleep.”

September 15, 2016: Mama called me tonight… “Guess what I brought home for you today… a bag of yarn I got at the center. Someone brought in a big bag of yarn and I thought you might like to go through it. I’ve just been sitting here in the bed brushing my hair tonight. I love this brush with the plastic ball ends, it feels good on my scalp; it’s like a massage. Tomorrow I’m going down with Johnny and Carolyn to get some stew; he cut my grass the other day so now he’s ready to go eat. I’m all out so I need to fill up the fridge again – it’s all I want.”


Mama on Leroy’s horse Pat. There’s the old Model T in the background.

I asked mama about the picture I found of grandmamma on the horse… “That was Leroy’s horse, his name was Pat. I remember the day that picture was taken, I dressed mama up in that outfit and put a hat on her; she would have never done that by herself. Mama had a horse on their farm also when she was young and the only way you could get it to come to you was to sit down and pretend to cry, then it came to you.”

September 17, 2016: When I called tonight about 6:30 p.m…. “I was sleeping and having a good dream. I was happy in my dream, but I don’t remember what it was about. I’m just bored, but there’s nothing I know that I want to do. I need to clean this house, but I’m not interested in doing that. We went to Holcomb’s yesterday for BBQ and Stew and I brought home about four or five quarts of stew; that will last me for awhile. It’s clouding up out there now, but it’s not going to rain… it never rains here.”

I asked mama if she liked to fish, and… “Fishing is not for me, you have to sit too still and too quiet, and I can’t do that. I used to go with your daddy, but I’d do other things like catch bugs or dig worms. One time I went fishing with him and Bobby out at their farm, but I decided to sunbathe instead, and took a blanket to lay down out in the field. All of a sudden I heard grunting noises and looked up to find myself circled by the pigs, they had discovered me. I jumped up and ran back down to the lake, afraid that they might eat me.”

“My father never fished or ate fish; he’d say that he didn’t want anything with all those bones to pick through. He only wanted to fox hunt, then go to town on Saturday and argue over who’s dog had been in the lead on Friday night. He’d always say that he knew it was Smoker, (his dog); that he knew his bark and holler when he was in the lead of the pack. Talking politics and fox hunting was what he loved.”

To be continued…

Like to read more… click on Conversations with Mama and more

© 2016, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved.

Posted in Daily Writings and funnies... | 4 Comments

National Grandparents Day: Sept. 11, 2016

National Grandparents Day: Sept. 11, 2016

I have no grandparents to visit on “Grandparents Day,” but I’ll always remember them… and if they were alive today…. boy would I have questions!

I know more about my mother’s parents than my fathers… why – because my mother has told me stories all her life. In as much as she says she hates to write, well good thing she doesn’t hate telling stories. She shakes her head and doesn’t understand my love to write, saying if I waited for her to write her stories down, well then I’d have a mighty long wait!


Ola (Askew) and Edgar McKinley on their farm in Siloam, Georgia. Directly behind them is the smoke house and their farmhouse – both still standing today. This was an exciting place to explore and spend time!

Let’s begin with my grandmother, my mother’s mother, Ola Askew McKinley. Grandmama was always a quiet woman and probably the same in growing up; a woman of very few words.  She was born on August 8, 1907 in Hancock Co., Georgia. I don’t know the name of the town she was born in other than Militia District 107? I never questioned that before until I sat down to write this post – too late now! I always wondered about her name of Ola and wondered if that really was her name or part of the name Viola, but it will continue to be a mystery no one will solve.

Another thing I never noticed until this post was that she married on her birthday of August 8th in 1923; she was only sixteen years old when she married. Did she wait to marry on her birthday because she needed to be sixteen to marry, or just a coincidence? Her father, Samuel Askew, died four years earlier when she was just 12 years old; sad to think that she lost her father at such an early age, and probably one of the reasons she married so young. Her mother, Maggie Hillsman, was left with eight children to now raise alone, so each one that could marry and move out probably made her life a little easier; especially since Maggie was wheel-chair bound from the stories I’ve heard, but no one has ever known how or why she was or even when it came about.

I know very little about my grandmother as a child other then knowing a few stories she told. My mother said her mother very rarely talked about her life as a child and mama said she just never thought to ask. One of the rare stories told was about a pair of shoes. Shoes were treasured as you were very lucky if you had more than one pair growing up in the early part of the twentieth century. The story goes….her brother was told to go to town and buy his sister a new pair of shoes, and whether it was by accident or intentional, he bought them a size too small. It was said she cried every time she wore them, but unless she wanted to go barefoot, she squeezed her foot in them; there was no money to buy a second pair.

There must have been a horse on their farm when she grew up as she my mother about a horse they had, that the only way you caught him, was when you sat down and pretended to cry – it seemed to be the only way he’d come to them. So I know grandmamma rode and I even have a photo of her on one of the horses at my grandparents farm.


Granddaddy Edgar & Grandmama Ola McKinley. This was taken on their farm in Siloam, Georgia about 1940. I guess it did snow in Georgia, as it looks like a covering on the ground. Mama said… “This was Leroy’s horse Pat, I dressed her that day with the hat and we made her get up on the horse.” (I always enjoy the backgrounds in older photos – I’m seeing granddaddy’s old Ford Model T.)

During World War I, she and her siblings gathered steel to sell to help support their mother. Mama told me her mother talked about how they gathered pieces for the steel pile in the yard and someone often came around to purchase. When not in school, she helped around the house, but usually it was the girls who stayed in school while the boys worked on the farm. I’m assuming she no longer attended school after marriage – she had no need for it then.

The only item my mother remembers finding of her mother’s when she grew up was a shimmery, sparkly flapper-style dress with a pull-down slouch hat that she kept in the hallway closet. My mother often put it on and played dress-up; now she wishes that she had asked why her mother kept that specific 1920’s style dress, but now it’s only speculation that it might have been her wedding dress and had special meaning to her. What I wouldn’t give for a photo of grandmama in her special dress… but I do have the story.

My grandmother was a very quiet woman, but lost to me as a grandchild as her mind slowly drifted away after the death of her son in World War II. That seemed to end her life – she withdrew into her own world where it was safe to not remember his death.

She’s the grandmother I saw but never really knew, except through the stories of my mother. I never tasted her well-known blackberry and peach pies, blackberry jam, those peach preserves or that special jam cake I heard so much about. She mailed her son Leroy a jam cake every month while he was in the service. When her last cake to him was returned, she knew he had died… that was the beginning of her shutting down to the outside world.

My mother remembers her mother as a great baker and always having goodies waiting on the back of the wood-burning stove every day after school. Whether it was tea cakes or just a sweet potato, something was always waiting. Grandmamma worked from sun-up to sun-down – she was the first to rise every morning – lighting the stove for warmth in the kitchen and making breakfast. Biscuits were made twice a day, morning and lunch; supper would be the leftovers from lunch. Mama learned grandmamma’s biscuit technique of pinch and roll and  I Thank You for passing that know-how down to me!

I may not have inherited my love of writing from my grandmother, or even my mother, but I did inherit my ability of crafting from her. She quilted, crocheted, sewed and even canned all the farm vegetables. Every evening she pieced quilts by only the light of granddaddy’s lantern. What she couldn’t do though, was follow a pattern, but  she didn’t need to – all she needed to do was just look at a piece in order to make it; and she didn’t sew just plain block quilts, they were intricate patterns such as the wedding ring and flower garden pattern. I also have a crochet pinwheel bedspread she made; I wouldn’t know where to start in making that without a pattern. She may have been a woman of few words, but through mama’s stories, she has come alive and made me feel like I truly did walk alongside of her.

In writing this, I learned that I actually seem to know more about grandmamma as a child than I did my grandfather Edgar T. McKinley. After all these years, I still  speculate on his actual birthday as I’ve found several variations. On his WWI draft registration card, there is the date of January 15, 1896, while the U. S. Department of Veteran Affairs has him born February 15, 1895, as well as the Georgia WWI Service Card. The Social Security Application lists his birth as January 4, 1895; his gravestone only lists the dates of 1895 – 1972.  After much review while writing this post, I am betting that the 1895 is the correct year  but by using the 1900 census, it would be 1896 – which listed him at 6 years of age; but census information is only as good as it is given. This is going to cause me to search through more information for a defining birth date. Darn Granddaddy, why couldn’t you have given the same birthday on all your information?

After much review of his birth dates along with his siblings, I think I can scrap the 1896 one as his brother, Richard Everett McKinley, was born on January 13, 1896 – they both weren’t born two days apart! Most large families seemed to have a child two years apart, and his was no exception, except for the four-year span of no children being born after 1888 until 1892. There could have been that a child died and no one listed it, but it’s not a story I’ve heard.


Ola & Edgar McKinley with my mother Helen and me!

So what would I ask my grandparents, well….

Grandma Ola, first I’d like to ask if Ola was your real name or was it really Viola? How did you meet granddaddy and was that flapper dress, really your wedding dress? Were you married at home or a church – who was there – and what were you thinking marrying so young at 16 years old! But lastly, I’d like to know how old you were when you learned to crochet and sew and who taught you those skills? Did you make a quilt before you married? Are these answers I’ll ever receive an answer for – probably not – but I can wish!

Granddaddy McKinley, I’d like to know why you hated school so much – mama always told me you didn’t like school.  Your mother died in 1902 when you were only eight years old – and it was your sister Lena who mostly raised you. I’m told she toted and pampered you when you were small and you always hollered, “I want a sweet” (sweet potato). It seemed eating was unusual for you, why was that? Granddaddy only liked one thing at a time on his plate – no mixing of his foods. Mama remembers him always eating one thing at a time, first the pork chop, (he loved pork) then vegetables – one at a time. He loved grandmamma’s biscuits, especially the leftover ones in the evening with his coffee – on the back stoop. Mama says he could make a pot of coffee so strong that it could walk off the table. Granddaddy even made a mean biscuit, when he had to; if grandmamma was sick, he made the biscuits!

I’m thinking he didn’t spend much time in school as he couldn’t read or write, although he could write his name, but grandmamma read all the letters and mail that came to the house; he enjoyed listening to her read and even sat in on the bedtime book readings she did for mama and Leroy. I’m sure most of his time was spent in the field as a young boy, not much time for school – they all worked on the family farms. Another question I’d like to ask is, “Who taught you to drive?” Whoever it was, didn’t do a very good job as I heard you liked to ride in the ditch more times than not; grandmama broke her collarbone on one of those ditch rides – no wonder she was afraid to learn to drive after that. How did you become interested in fox hunting; you know I always wanted to go with you – I loved those dogs almost as much as you – and I loved letting them loose every time I came. I thought the best thing in the world was to ride to town with you or sit on the back stoop calling to the bobwhites out in the tall pines. I learned a lot at your farm… you taught me to shoot the BB gun, although you yelled every time I hit the farm bell, but I loved the ping sound it made; you taught me to whistle as I walked around the yard feeding the chickens. I always thought being at the farm with you was the best thing in the world – I only wish now that  I had told you!

BELL_0002 (545x800)

Granddaddy McKinley’s “farm bell” in my yard

To my grandmother Evelen (Little) Bryan, I wish I spent more time standing by you in the kitchen when you were making that sweet potato cobbler. If I had, I wouldn’t have had to spend so much time with trial and error in devising a recipe; but I finally managed to come up with a taste that reminded me of yours. No one wrote down recipes, they cooked by the feel with their hands and taste.


Paul and Evelyn (Little) Bryan

Granddaddy (Paul P. Bryan) Bryan was my favorite to hang with when I was at their house. It was always more fun to follow behind him, and walk like him. Granddaddy had a slight limp, with one leg shorter than the other and I’d fall right in behind him – having the same limp; drove my mother crazy as she thought I would never stop walking that way. And whatever granddaddy ate at the table, I wanted the same. If he put lemon in his tea, I did also – if he put corn in his biscuit, well I did too. Granddaddy was well known in the area for cooking BBQ and Brunswick Stew – if I could have one recipe sent to me from the beyond – it would be those recipes.


Granddaddy Paul Bryan with my cousin Robert Bryan and the infamous goat cart. I never saw this cart or even remember granddaddy having a goat. The car shed in the background was my favorite place to explore when I was there. Under the sides was a sandy floor and the best spot for doodle-bugging! The door in the center housed a tool room – another place to explore until kicked out. When my father lived there, it was his area for repairing TV sets. If you look through the right side of the car shed, you can see the posts that held up the large muscadine arbor – a great place to hang out when they were ripe.

If only I had the thought and want years ago, I could have asked – “what was your childhood like” – “how did you meet” – “what fun things did you do – “where did you get that goat, and “why did I not get a ride?” Those questions didn’t come into my head until it was way too late for asking. But maybe one day I’ll find out why granddaddy Bryan’s middle name was Pinkney?

If someone is looking down and thinking of me on this special “grandparents” day – I hope you’ve enjoyed my remembrance down memory lane on your lives. The memories I do have are very special and I’m thankful for the many years I called you grandmamma and granddaddy.

© 2016, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved.


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A day I will never forget… a story I wrote remembering that day!

Everyone Has a Story

image911 – I REMEMBER

I’d like to share a story I wrote fifteen years ago….A day that often feels like yesterday… A day I’ll never forget…A day that changed my life… A day that changed my country!

September 11, 2001 is a day I’ll never forget, and pray I never see happen again,  but I was lucky that day, as I lost no loved ones as many others did.

I was at work that morning, just a regular work day for me, when suddenly a friend said, “a plane just hit the Twin Towers in New York.” It was 8:46 a.m. At first I didn’t believe what I had heard and quickly headed over to the bank – they had their TV set on CNN news. I stood there in disbelief as I watched smoke rising from Tower One of the World Trade Center – I couldn’t believe what I was…

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Conversations with Mama: You never know what she will say and more… #34

Conversations with Mama: You never know what she will say and more… #34

I call my mother almost nightly to chat, hear how her day went, and as always, enjoy her stories. Several years back, I began scribbling on paper those nightly musings. Later I started a journal on my computer and began Conversations with Mama, and just recently last year began compiling them here on my blog. On my last visit to mom, I gifted her a book of all I had so far – she had never saw them. Mama was thrilled with the book and took it to the senior center to show everyone. Thank You mama for your nightly conversations, they truly make my night!


If you haven’t read about Clyde in mama’s stories, well you’ve missed a treat.

Aug. 1, 2016: When mama answered I asked what was she watching… “I’m watching a show called Ninja’s where they compete against each other. I could have done all that when I was young – I used to hang by my heels from tree branches all the time; I wasn’t afraid to do anything.”

“I went to the center this morning, guess I figured I’d laid in bed long enough – all weekend! No one showed up to work in the clothes closet either. Even when you try and give it to them – they don’t show up; so I went in there for awhile.”

Aug. 3, 2016: While sitting in traffic headed to Pennsylvania, a beautiful orange butterfly floated across the windshield – someone stopped to say hello; now which one of our loved ones were saying hello? As traffic crawled along – very slowly – we began counting all the different license plates that passed us. We passed 19 states! When I told mama… “remember when we counted Coca-Cola bottles, or colors of cars when we traveled. I took one side of the road and you took the other. That’s when people threw out glass Coke bottles – and down South, they threw out lots of them.”

I called mama tonight to tell her I was in Pennsylvania. We went down for a little antiquing and to check out the Amish country. As soon as we got in Intercourse, PA. we began seeing all the buggies trotting all around town. The funniest thing was when we saw a buggy going through the bank drive-in window! Mama said… “We had some Amish people living outside of Perry – I remember going out there once; once in awhile they came to Perry in their buggies. Somewhere outside of Monroe are also some Amish families. The senior center drove out there once, but I don’t remember now where it was. Johnny put the new air conditioner in today, boy is it freezing me out. I think Boo likes it – he’s in the living room, but he also has a fur coat. Maybe if I get the back room cleaned out, you can put the old air conditioner in that room and someone can sleep back there.” (I laughed – telling her, what your walk-in closet! You’ll never get rid of all those clothes.)

Aug. 4, 2016: After we got home from PA. I called mama and… “I just feel unnecessary today, not feeling like myself, I used to tell my teacher that in school.” And then this tale… “One time when I worked at Nathaniel Greene Restaurant a man I knew came in and ordered a steak – telling me – just slap it on the grill and turn it right over; well I went right back to the kitchen and cooked it myself just like he asked – he was being cute, so I was too. When I took it out, he didn’t really want it, but I made him pay for it! He left it on the platter but he did pay for it. He thought he was being cute – but I didn’t think so, and he got what he asked for. I remember some guys would come in and order in funny ways – like one guy ordered his burger – just walking. I think I gave it to him raw!”

August 6, 2016: No sooner than I asked what happened at the center today … “I don’t understand some of those people who come down to the center – I’ll never get old like that! They just come down and sit, not participating in anything and let others do for them. That will never be me! I’m gonna live!!!”

August 9, 2016: Often my first question is – how hot is it in Georgia tonight? “It’s kinda cool tonight, I turned the air conditioner off. I just like to be comfortable, not cold.” And then the conversation went to my father… “Whenever your father came to the farm he always laid down on the bed and took a nap. I know mama didn’t like it, as she didn’t like anyone to lay on the bed once she made it, but she never said anything – and he always made a big dent in the mattress… those were only cotton filled mattresses, not like today. I don’t know why he always had to take a nap when he came, but he did. My father used to say, he’d bury him standing up.”

I think I mentioned McKinley taking the bus to school next year, and… “I took two buses to school, one picked me up near my house and took us to town, where we waited for the next bus. After school when we got off the first bus, while waiting for the second bus to take us home, some of the kids would go into Mr. Johnny Jackson’s store for candy – I never had any money for that but often Mr. Jackson handed me a small bag of candy. Cousin Ulma McKinley often gave me a coke and peanuts if I went in their store on the corner before the bus came”

August 12, 2016: We were headed home Friday night when mama called, and… “Can you tell me why that car dealership in Winder that I bought this van from keeps sending me letters telling me how much they want to buy my car? (I’ve gone through this before with her and keep telling her, just rip them up without opening – they send them to me also.) They just keep sending letters and cards telling me they really want the van – why?” Of course I tried telling her that they don’t really want her car – they want her to come buy another car; but she wasn’t really having any part of it – LOL! So I told her, well why don’t you call them up and ask them why they want your car! “That’s a good idea, I think I’ll call them up tomorrow and ask why do they want my van so bad; maybe I’ll ask them… did you leave money in there that I didn’t find yet? I’ll aggravate them, like they do me with those letters!” When I hung up, Steve said, “now watch her call you tomorrow and tell you about the new car she bought!”

August 14, 2016: After finding a turtle on the road today, I called mama and when I mentioned it, she said… “Willie Mae and I found quite a few turtles when we played in the creek below her grandmother Walker’s house. We’d write our names or either the date on their shells with fingernail polish and send them on their way. There were probably some in the creek on the farm too, but since it was back behind the field where the bull was, we couldn’t go there.” I asked mama if they ever saw again those turtles they painted on – mama said No.

“One time while in Macon at Ann and Hinton’s (Amos) house, Hinton brought home a good sized turtle from work. He worked at Burn’s Brick in Macon; they made bricks from the Georgia red clay. They often dug up turtles that had buried themselves in the mud on the banks of where they dug for the clay. When he brought this turtle home, he covered it under a big tin tub, but the turtle had other ideas and got out… and when he saw Hinton in the yard, he stretched his neck out really far and chased him into the house. Hinton quickly got on the phone and called some man who had wanted the turtle – for food. It wasn’t long before the man showed up and caught the turtle – happy to have him; it was a snapping turtle. I think I’ve seen a turtle once or twice in my yard here, there is a small stream of water back down behind my house.” (I remember finding two shells at granddaddy McKinley’s farm when I was young; I still have them)

“I also raised a pig on a bottle when I was young; no sooner after filling a bottle with milk – he’d grab a hold of it and suck it dry. I toted him around in a blanket when he was small and he even came in the house and slept either under the stove or under my bed, but once he grew up daddy made me keep him outside. Leroy and I made him mean like a bull dog by pushing on him with our feet as we swung on the porch. One day a man came on the back porch and when he pushed him away – the pig bit him. Daddy decided to sell him after that as he was getting to be a big hog and he was afraid of what he might do to one of us. He told us that the man who bought him wanted him for a pet, but we knew better; daddy didn’t have the heart to kill him.”

August 16, 2016: When I called mama tonight, I asked if she had ever sucked on a honeysuckle for the juice; I had posted a photo of honeysuckle on Facebook today and the words on the picture said “remember when you sucked the juice out of a honeysuckle.” Well I never had heard of that, but many of my Southern family had; I guess I grew up under a rock! So when I asked mama…“Oh yes I used to do that and you had to be careful or you’d suck down a little spider when you sucked that sweet juice – I did that once too, but I didn’t swallow it – I coughed that spider right up. We always drank the honeysuckle juice when they bloomed. I also chewed on something called “sour grass” which tasted kinda tangy. And there was also some type of weed flower that had pods on them and we’d put them in our mouth, and the seeds would pop out, not sure if we ate them or not – or even why we did that. I guess it wasn’t poisonous, as I’m still here at age 86. I don’t know why we did those things, I guess we were just entertaining ourselves; you had to find things to do or your parents would find things for you to do – you never told your parents you were bored.”

I asked mama how the ant situation is, as last night she told me she had bought some ant traps and she said… “Oh they’re gone, I told you I’d get rid of them. I had told them they better get out! Ants come in when it’s dry, looking for water. It’s been so dry here all summer; it rains out at Carolyn’s in the country, but not around my house. The ground is so dry that I pulled up all my tomato plants and threw them out, only little tiny knobs on them and they were dying. They won’t grow from just tap water, they need real rain with nutrients to grow and produce.” (She feeds Boo in her bedroom – he insists to eat in there as well as the kitchen; he rules the house! He only likes to drink water from the spigot, that she turns on slow, in the bathroom sink – talk about a spoiled cat!)

In telling mama how the girls immediately pull their shoes off when they come inside, she said…”McKinley takes after me, I hated wearing shoes and still do… love being barefoot. The only shoes I can wear are open summer shoes, I can’t put my feet in any closed shoe and definitely not a sneaker like you wear. McKinley also is a string bean like I was in growing up. I was only 99 pounds when I married your father and I stayed at that weight for a long time. I never really gained weight, and I don’t care about food today. For the most part, I’m content to drink Ensure – and the only food I really want is Brunswick Stew.”

August 29, 2016: In talking about politics and Trump, and trying to encourage mama to vote this year – she’s a Trump girl… “I only voted once in my life and it was a Democratic vote. I probably voted for John F. Kennedy as that was a very popular election. I’m not voting anymore, but if I did… it would be for Trump!”

“I’m going to be the “Lady in Red” tomorrow at the center. I was just laying out all my clothes and accessories in the back room. I’m going to wear a red top with my blue jeans, my vest, my Ga. Bulldog flip-flops and Bulldog red purse and my red jewelry. I’ll be all decked out to strut my stuff!”

“You know you never did fix that bracelet for me that I bought one time. I want you to put all the grandchildren’s photos in it and bring to me when you come. Give it to Steve, he’ll figure out how to do it.”

“I like these boots on TV (she’s watching QVC), I think I’ll get me a pair this winter. I want a pair that zips all the way up to my knees. I’ll be tough! They are only $164 – dam! I don’t want those – not worth that kind of money. I’d never buy anything off TV – I like to touch and feel what I’m buying.”

September 2, 2016: I called mama to see if she had gotten any rain or wind from Hurricane/Storm Hermine. “No, not a drop, it’s illegal to rain here in Monroe. No wind either, maybe it will get windy and blow me on my broom up to CT. Keep your eyes open for me blowing by.”

To be continued…

Like to read more… click on Conversations with Mama and more

© 2016, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved.


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DNA: 20 DNA Circles

DNA: 20 DNA Circles

In my last post DNA: 18 DNA Circles, I had 18 DNA circles. I first started off with 12, then 16, then 18, then 19 and now I’m at the count of 20. I have lost one along the way; still not sure why I lost my James Gooch.


I’m still puzzled as to why I lost James Gooch in my DNA circles. I have strong lines to him, and his son Tillman Gooch is still in the circles! My first thought was, are they dropping the 5th generations, but I still have some 5th generation grandparents in these circles? So Why???

I’m  told the circles come and go, depending on new DNA testing, or changes you make in your tree, but if you showed the connection before… seems like they would only add not subtract – unless you delete them off your tree. This DNA search is a learning process – a search we are all delving into – blindly. It helps to have more cousins in on the process and testing, so if you are reading this – I hope it encourages you to take the DNA test and share your results. We will all learn together!

20 DNA Circles – The circles are climbing



Finally Berrian Clark Bryan appeared as No. 19 in my DNA circles, but I’m still toe tapping while waiting for his wife Berrilla Free to appear! Her mother Sally Free is in my circles. Robert C. Wilson is also a new DNA circle along with wife Jemimah Hines (below)


Jemimah Hines, a new DNA circle with husband – Robert C. Wilson




Sally Troutman and husband William R. “Billy” Justice are new DNA circles.


My DNA matches have risen to 714. More matches to check!


If you have questions I haven’t posed here – please leave a comment or suggestion on my post. It will take an army of cousins to solve this! Let me hear your thoughts!

For more, click .DNA: My Results are in

© 2016, Copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved.


Posted in Daily Writings and funnies..., DNA: My Results are in | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment



Sgt. John P. Wilson

Breaking down the wall to find Sgt. John P. Wilson came with a double “Wow”! Not only did I break through one wall, but another right behind it tumbled down also; Double Wow!

My break-though came  after following a leaf hint on Ancestry. It pays to rummage through those leafs; I think I paid more attention when they were “shaking.” On this day I wasn’t searching for him, but the Wilson name popped up with clues – that set me on a hunt.

Having such common names as John and Mary often lead to brick-walls! After all, how do you decipher who’s “John and Mary” is who’s? Why do I have so many ancestor’s with common names, couldn’t I have a few oddball names to make the search a little easier?

The first leaf on John P. Wilson led me to a family that fit to a “T.” John was about the right age with a wife of Mary E. (which was new to me), and a daughter Alma E, which also fit in the right time frame. There was even a brother James – which had been mentioned in the family as a name, but never documented anywhere. I was excited, and began tracing them through the census, when… bang! I looked at the 1930 and 1940 census, Alma was still living home. I knew at that point… I had the wrong family. Why… How… could the family I was searching with have exact names be so almost right, but be so wrong?

Often as I work, I try to look at the entire page in its entirety; move too fast and you often will miss that tiny clue that’s often right in front of your eyes. And that’s exactly what would have happened, if I had left that wrong page I was on.

As I sat there staring at the screen, knowing this family was the completely wrong family – I looked off to the right where there are other suggestions and there was a link to a Sgt. John P. Wilson. I clicked on it, taking me to find-a-grave, and I knew right away… here was my John… and he was not alone. His wife, Mary Elizabeth, and the one daughter, my great grandmother, Alma Wilson was there – with the correct date of death.

As I sat there reading line by line, going back and forth to Ancestry on the links provided, I knew I had just opened up more than two generations as John’s parents were listed with links to their find-a-grave sites. It will take more than one post to complete my brick-wall breakthroughs.

John P. Wilson

The first account of finding my John P. Wilson in the census is on the 1850 Alexander Co., North Carolina census. He is listed with parents Robert C. Wilson and Jemima (Hines) and one of ten siblings:

Clip 1850 John P Wilson

1850 Census: Alexander County, North Carolina – enumerated August 7, 1850

  • Robert C. Wilson – 47 – born GA – occupation: tanner
  • Jemima Hines – 40 – born N.C. – occupation: keeping house
  • Caroline Wilson – 19 – born N.C. – attending school
  • Elizabeth Wilson – 17 – born N.C. – attending school
  • Emily Wilson – 15 – born N.C. – attending school
  • John P. – 13 – born N.C. (March 11, 1936) – attending school
  • William – 11 – born N.C. – attending school
  • Joseph – 9 – born N.C. – attending school
  • Franklin – 7 – born N.C. – attending school
  • Albert – 5 – born N.C.
  • George – 3 – born N.C.
  • Martha – 1/12 – born N.C.
  • Also in Household:
  • Daniel C. Thompson – 23 – occupation: tanner (soon to marry Margaret E. Wilson – was this Elizabeth Wilson?)
  • James D. Patterson – 21 – occupation: Tanner (soon to marry Mary C. Wilson – was this Caroline Wilson?)

1860: I did not find my John P. Wilson – he wasn’t listed in his parents household or even nearby – where did he go? What I did find was a U. S. Army Register of Enlistments from 1855 – Jan. – 1857 – Sept. and listed on pg. 270, # 1 was my John P. Wilson. It stated he enlisted on August 29, 1857 in Charlotte, N.C. by Scout Jones. His birth was listed as March 11, 1836 – age of enlistment – 21 – enlisting for 5 years – occupation as tanner. This record also gives me insight to what he looked like, giving a description of hazel eyes, dark hair, fair complexion and a height of 5 ft. 9 3/4 inches. It’s also written he deserted on 16 – Jan. 1859. Could that be the reason he wasn’t found anywhere on the 1860 census count?

1861: U.S., Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles Record: 1861-1865

Name John P Wilson
Residence Alamance County, North Carolina
Age at enlistment 24
Enlistment Date 22 Aug 1861
Rank at enlistment Sergeant
Enlistment Place Alamance County, North Carolina
State Served North Carolina
Service Record Promoted to Full Private on 16 Dec 1861.Enlisted in Company A, North Carolina 7th Infantry Regiment on 22 Aug 1861.
Birth Date abt 1837
Sources North Carolina Troops 1861-65, A Roster

Did John really desert and enlist again? Is that even possible? Wouldn’t they have arrested him when he tried to re-enlist? Why was his rank at enlistment listed as “sergeant”?

So many questions – with No answers!

I’ve never heard of anyone enlisting with a higher rank other than private, unless they previously  were in service. Another thing I question is the Service Record; it states he was promoted to full private – was he demoted from sergeant? I probably will never understand this record!

In 1861 John P. Wilson marries Mary Elizabeth Day (date from 1900 census); I have not yet found a marriage record to confirm a maiden name, but did find the surname of “Day” on several Wilson Ancestry trees and on two of their children’s social security applications their mother was written as Mary Day. No parents have been found for Mary, but I have found possibilities that will have to be researched.

1870 John p wilson census

1870 Census: Prathers Creek Township, Alleghany Co., N.C.

Census Enumerated: August 11, 1870

1870: John P. Wilson (34) is living in Prathers Creek, Alleghany Co., N.C. with wife Mary (26), John (6), and Laura (6). (Laura is my great grandmother.) John’s occupation is listed as tanner and born N.C.; both children born in N.C. Using the birth year of John (6), we know they were together by the year 1863/64, but his enlistment record showed he enlisted (again) in 1861 and not paroled until 1865. Did he return home for visits?

Clip 1880 Census John P Wilson

1880 Census: Alpharetta, Milton Co., Georgia

Census Enumerated: June 01, 1880

John P. Wilson (42) and Mary (35) made home in Alpharetta, Milton Co., N.C. by 1880 and there were now five children in the family. Mary’s parents were listed as both born in S.C. – this is the first time I have seen them listed in South Carolina, as other census show GA.

  • John R. L. (14) born Virginia (abt. 1866)
  • Laura W. J. (12) born Virginia (abt. 1868)
  • Charles H. (7) born N.C. (abt. 1873)
  • Thomas A. T. (4) born N.C. (abt. 1876)
  • Joel/Joseph W.C. (1879-8 mo.) It clearly says Joel here: gravestone has Joseph

The occupation of John P. was written as farmer, but in studying the census I see it as “tanner” – which fits more with the other census years. Often you need to view the census yourself as the written transcriptions are what the transcriber took it as – and not always correct. All children attended school except for Thomas and Joel; good to see that their children went to school, learning to read and write, as so many were required to work on the farm instead of attending school. In the 1870 census it states John R. L. and Laura were born in N.C., but here it’s noted they were both born in Virginia. Could he have left N.C. after the war, for work in Virginia as a tanner; it seems he moved around quite a bit for work in his occupation of tanner.

Clip 1900 Census John P Wilson Alabama

1900 Census: Dixon, Cherokee Co., Alabama

Census Enumerated: June 15, 1900

1900: John P. Wilson (64) and Mary E. (56) are now living in Dixon, Cherokee Co., Alabama; only two children remain in household. Mary now lists her parents as both born in Georgia, and she herself born in Georgia. John’s occupation is listed as farmer and rents a farm. It is on this census that it’s asked how many years they have been married – they both list 39, which is where I based my original marriage date of 1861. Also noted was that there were 9 children in family, but as of 1900, only 7 were living. I have only found 6 children listed through the census years.

The one most important mistake on this 1900 census was when the enumerator wrote the birth year as 1864 – and the next box of age was written 36. His birth year was 1836 and his age was now 64. That is a huge mistake – my first quick look at this census was – this can’t be my family, but I took the time to scrutinize it and quickly figured out the mistake. I left a note on the mistake in the comment section and wrote Ancestry asking for a correction. Alma’s name was written as Almer M; there names were written as to how the census enumerator interpreted the pronunciation, especially if it couldn’t be spelled for them. The middle M. looks like it could either be read as M or W. Many of the other census’s show the letter E for Edith.

Clip 1910 John P Wilson Census

1910 Census: Edgewood, Fulton Co., Georgia

Census Enumerated April 15, 1910

John P. Wilson is found as a widower on the 1910 census of Fulton Co., GA. and listed as an inmate in the Confederate Soldiers Home of Georgia at 410 E. Confederate Ave. The home was located in Edgewood – just outside of Atlanta. I immediately questioned the word “inmate” and thought he possibly was there for treason or desertion, but further reading told me that is what they called all veterans who lived in these homes.

orig old soldiers home

Confederate Soldier’s Home of Georgia – 1901

The Confederate Soldier’s Home of Georgia was established in the year of 1889 for the protection and care of the Georgia Veterans from the Civil War. The land on Confederate Avenue, just out of the Atlanta city limits, was purchased by the help of newspaper editor Henry Grady. A Gothic style home was built to house the residents, but did not open until 1901 due to a lack of funds. The state of Georgia eventually had to step in and purchase the property to finally speed up the opening of 1901. It wasn’t long after opening, on September 27th of the same year, that a fire completely destroyed the Confederate Soldier’s home. It was rebuilt the following year and re -opened with 68 rooms.

inmate Confederate Veteran record john p wilson

History of Inmates Admitted to the Confederate Soldiers’ Home of Georgia

John P. Wilson is listed on pg. 190 with information of… birth date March 11, 1836, born in Alexander Co., N.C. – enlisted in Confederate service on Aug. 22, 1861 as a private. Engagements at which present were Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Petersburg and “others.” (I will write more on his Civil War History in another post.) His expiration of service was listed as April 9, 1865 – and listed as paroled. Col. Campbell and Col. Davidson were present at discharge; also noted he was a private at discharge.

This finding left me with more questions of… When did he return to GA.? Where was his family? What does this middle initial of “P” stand for? Was he sick and needed more care at age 74? When did Mary Elizabeth die? Where is she buried? I have yet to find anyone with a death date or a burial site for her.

Notation on bottom of page mentions… In case of death notify Mrs. Laura Henderson, RFD #1, Jefferson, GA. – Honorably Discharged OR Deserted? 2nd 1911? Re-Admitted Jan. 25, 1912… Died Hospital, January 12, 1914, 4 p.m. (Laura Henderson is the daughter of John P. Wilson; I have not completely settled on the name Deserted as of this post. I also have wondered if they wrote December, showing he left and then re-admitted in 1912)

obit newspaper

The Atlanta Constitution, 13 Jan 1914, Tue, Page 3

John T. (P) Wilson, aged 77 years, died Monday afternoon at 3:30 o’clock at the Confederate Soldiers Home. The body was taken to Harry G. Poole’s Chapel, and funeral arrangements will be announced later. (The wrong middle initial was listed in this obit announcement)

In searching for information on Harry G. Poole’s Chapel, I found several members on Ancestry on the message boards mentioning this funeral chapel, which was a funeral home. It was sold many years later and no records have been found at this time.

Headston application Wilson

The United States Headstone Application for Military Veteran Gravestone

The United States Headstone Application for Military Veterans gave me the information of where he was buried – Westview Cemetery, Atlanta, GA. I’m assuming he had no stone until this one was ordered on June 10, 1947 by Mrs. Ernest B. Williams, 420 Loomis Ave. S. E. Atlanta, Ga. (I have not located which family member she is from at this posting – I searched the Atlanta city directory but didn’t locate her) The rank was first written as private, but then crossed off and Sargent written. I am assuming, that at this point, they finally knew the correct rank from his military records, so I’m going with Sargent after finding this record.


Westview Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia: Photo Credit to Rhonda Brady Rampy at Find a Grave

 Westview Cemetery, established in 1884, was the original site of a portion of the Battle of Ezra Church, a famous Civil War battle in Atlanta. 


Confederate Soldiers Memorial and graves: Photo credit to Rhonda Brady Rampy at Find a Grave

The Confederate Memorial in WestView Cemetery was erected by The Confederate Veterans Association of Fulton County. The monument is a stone soldier holding a flag, with small cannonballs below. Two Cohorn mortars lie just beyond a circle of Confederate graves, which marks a path that leads to the monument.

John P Wilson graveston

John P. Wilson Sgt. 7 N.C. Inf. CSA – March 11, 1836 – Jan. 12, 1914: Photo Credit to Rhonda Brady Rampy at Find a Grave

© 2016, Copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved.

Posted in Daily Writings and funnies..., Family Stories | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

DNA: 18 DNA Circles

In my last post – DNA: Finally More DNA Circles – Before & Now I had 16 DNA circles. Within a week of the post, one DNA circle went poof, and I was left with 15; I lost James Gooch.

I’m  told the circles come and go depending on new DNA testing, or changes you make in your tree, but if you showed the connection before… seems like they would only add not subtract – unless you delete them off your tree. This DNA search is a learning process – a search we are all delving into – blindly. It helps to have more cousins in on the process and testing, so if you are reading this – I hope it encourages you to take the DNA test and share your results. We will all learn together!

18 DNA Circles!

18 DNA Circles

Robert C. Wilson (new)  was discovered this past week, along with his son, John P. Wilson, who has not appeared yet. The Wilson line connects through my grandmother Evelyn Little Bryan – her grandfather and great grandfather.

Robert C Wilson bio

It puzzles me how Robert was born in Georgia, but didn’t remain in Georgia, instead relocating to N.C. to marry and raise his family. (I only have Ancestry’s word at present of him born in GA. – another puzzle to solve!) Did he return as an adult or return with his parents as a child? His son, my Sgt. John P. Wilson, spent his adult life in Georgia. I need to work more on the census to follow Robert and possibly determine his parents. Find A Grave was very informative and helpful with photos as well as information, including the obit of John – but why hasn’t my John appeared on my DNA circles yet.


18 DNA Circles 2

Berrian Clark Bryan (new) –  Finally he has appeared! YooHoo!!! I hope to keep adding to my Bryan line…

Now that Berrian Clark Bryan has appeared – what about his wife Berrilla Free? Her mother Sarah “Sally” Free and her father Martin Free are listed… I find it hard to believe that her DNA was skipped over. Who has the answers?

Berrilla Free

I’m hoping for Berrilla to show soon!

18 DNA Circles 3

Jemimah Hines Wilson (new) – wife of Robert C. Wilson. A new thread of DNA with the Hines and Wilson lines.

18 DNA Circles 4

All same from previous DNA circle post.


18 DNA Circles 5

Same from original DNA circle post.

Ancestry says the DNA circles go back 6 generations – I’m waiting for no 6!

Questions, Questions, Questions… but when will I receive the answers to solve the puzzle?

DNA matches new

New cousin matches are showing with the addition of the 3 DNA circles – more detective work is needed!

If you have questions I haven’t posed here – please leave me a comment or suggestion on my post. It will take an army of cousins to solve this!

For more, click .DNA: My Results are in

© 2016, Copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved.



Posted in Daily Writings and funnies..., DNA: My Results are in | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

DNA: Finally More DNA Circles – Before & Now

DNA: Finally More DNA Circles

Before and Now

YooHoo, after only one week of uploading my Gedcom to Ancestry, I went from 3 potential new ancestors or relatives who are not in my family tree at present to 4. 2 DNA circles to 16. My cousin, Charles Bryan went to 12 – sharing all those same 12 with me.





matches 4.jpg

A wife of Clemeth Cavender was added – but Who is Clemeth Cavender. I need to begin seriously research this couple as they intrigue me at the moment. In looking at Clemeth Cavender’s date of birth of 1774, who is he connected to – Bryan? Cain? Free?



I went from 2 DNA circles to 16 after uploading my gedcom. My cousin, Charles Bryan went to 12 – sharing all those same 12 with me.

DNA circles

Using linking my Ancestry tree online, I only had two DNA circles!


16 dna

16 dna 2

16 dna 3

16 dna 4

YOO HOO – Finally after uploading my gedcom, I now have 16 DNA circles!!!

I’m happy to now see  James Bryan (4th great grandfather) in my DNA circles. I had begun to question my own Bryan paternity when he wasn’t showing up!

The DNA process is rolling along – stay tuned for more matches – maybe I’ll be able to break down my Bryan wall – eventually!

But I do have so many questions, and the more I look at those circles, the more questions pop in my head –  so I’ll list them here – just in case someone can help or offer a suggestion!

  • Why does my Berrian Clark Bryan not show up in a DNA circle? Is there something I have listed wrong, or written incorrectly that is stopping a match?
  • Berrilla Free, wife of Berrian C. Bryan does not show up either, but the funny thing is – her mother Sally Free shows – now isn’t that odd? I saw her place of death was listed as Hall Co. in some profiles of her. While I believe that Lumpkin Co. is correct, I changed my tree to Hall Co.  If that makes a difference, then she should show up in about a week or disappear – LOL.
  • There seems to be a gap between my William Clark Bryan to James Bryan – and that is where my William Madison Bryan and Berrian Clark Bryan fit. There should not be a gap – so what piece of information is stopping that? I did take the “t” off of William Madison Bryan – as he went by “Bryant” in later years and it is on his gravestone, but I removed it to see if that makes any difference.
  • As I have some 5th generations showing in DNA Circles – I know it goes back that far. So, why isn’t my John Bryan showing, father of James Bryan? What information is stopping that link? I have an abt. birth date of 1760, while others have 1761 or 1765 – could that be stopping it? But isn’t Ancestry analyzing the complete picture of my tree – and he is there. (I changed his birth to 1765 Rowan Co., N.C. to match others and gave a death date of Oct. 20, 1825 Franklin Co., to better match with what others have – time will tell.)
  • And those possible DNA matches, that are not in my tree at present are really driving me crazy – just so you know Ancestry! Did you throw those in to tease me?
  • Maybe I need to have my mother’s DNA tested so I can possibly have more maternal matches. At present, I do have some McKinley and Beatty, from a few generations back, but no Sharp, Hillsman, Askew, Meadows or Lancaster. I will definitely have mama do a DNA test in October on my Georgia visit; I can only imagine her remarks on this!


© 2016, Copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved.

For more, click .DNA: My Results are in

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DNA: Results are in – May 14, 2016

DNA: My Results are in – May 14, 2016


Finally, after waiting weeks and weeks, my results have finally arrived, and hopefully will  prove more beneficial than the first test I took with a Groupon Coupon; it gave me, at least I thought, a strange percentage of ethnicity. This DNA test was done by giving a 1/2 teaspoon of saliva vs a swab of my inner cheeks on the first one.

DNA percentage

My Ethnicity percentages…

I was a little puzzled with Europe West – exactly what does this cover. This had me searching to understand, but I keep thinking where is my Scottish lines or is this DNA more geared toward my paternal lines? I haven’t thought I identified with the groups below but it looks like I have some surprises in store to discover- I need to put my “thinking cap” on!

map of 5th unit

Ancestry says Western Europe is of this mix!

DNA is our living history – and shares back hundreds of years to trace our ancestors who walked this earth before us. Hopefully my choice to share my DNA will lead me to break through several brickwalls. My no. 1 brickwall is of the parentage of my John Bryan married to Nancy (unk) – and No it’s not Nancy Mayes. So many researchers link her to John Bryan, father of James Bryan, born 1791. If they seriously look at her birth date of 1787, there is no way she could be the mother of my James Bryan (1791-1885), but people keep tying her to John Bryan Sr. In actuality, Nancy Mayes is married to John Bryan Jr., son of John and Nancy (unk) Bryan.


My first click on Ancestry to check out my DNA results told me they haven’t found a new ancestor for me yet. I didn’t really expect to sign on and immediately find new ancestors, but I’m sure somewhere in the back of my mind – I was! I think this will be a continual work in progress and I plan on sharing my finds and discoveries here.

dna lives

I was excited to discover that I initially had 335 DNA matches to wade through of possible new cousins, but many are only as good as the information shared on family trees and DNA matches; some matches have no tree, and some only have private trees. It seems that the matches can change daily as more DNA results are uploaded as just before I published this post, my  DNA matches changed to 674.

I was more excited with my ethnicity results on this DNA test as it showed no Asian like the first test of 13 percent – which totally confused me. Not to say, that I couldn’t have Asian in my lines, but in my twenty-plus years of searching – I have not discovered any.



In July (2016) my cousin Charles Bryan’s DNA results came back and it showed me as his first match – well I knew that! But even with him testing as a direct male Bryan, he wasn’t showing our Bryan line back any further than his grandfather, William Clark Bryan – my great grandfather. No DNA circles have shown up for him yet, but the Sara Elizabeth Turner we share is from who my DNA circles of Gooch and Grizzle come through. I’m sure they will show on his also, but I’m still puzzled by no further connections on our Bryan line. At present I have him connected to my Bryan gedcom tree, but I may have to make him a seperate tree to see if it turns up any Bryan circles and takes our Bryan line back further.


DNA circles

I am really puzzled with my DNA circles – first all – there’s only two! As I didn’t have a full complete tree on Ancestry, I uploaded my gedcom hoping to have more DNA circles – preferably Bryan DNA matches. I even called Ancestry to inquire, and they told me it could take several weeks for the matches to appear – not sure if I believe that, but I really don’t have a choice; Every time you link a new tree, it takes time for it to be analyzed for matches.



These three matches really puzzle me as I don’t have them in my gedcom and only recognize the name “Cavender” as being in Lumpkin County. I looked around at some of the leaf hints, but haven’t discovered a match.

If I could only see Bryan matches – I think it would motivate me more!

My mission, if I so choose to accept it, is to discover my DNA matches within these circles. As always, should I not research, I will not break down any new brick-walls or meet new cousins.

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Exit now!

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© 2016, Copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved.

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