Tracing my Family Roots

I can’t believe I’m actually doing this – writing my first blog post on my family genealogical research blog. I’ve wanted to write a blog, but really didn’t know how to write a blog, if I had enough information for the contents of a blog, or if I had what it takes to be a true blogger.

For the last ten years I’ve considered myself to be a family historian. I’ve been able to trace both sides of my family to at least the late 1700s. I have over 5,000 people in my family tree. However, I still have some puzzles left to solve. I think that as we get older, we start thinking about our mortality. I was already in my forties when the ancestry bug hit me. It was as if my ancestors were speaking to me, pushing me to become serious about capturing my family’s history.

Now, I admit, I had been procrastinating. This was primarily because one of my first cousins had already crafted a family tree for my mother’s paternal side. From his work, I thought that my work was done. However, when I really thought about it, I realized I had big gaps in my history. I was missing information from my mother’s maternal side. I had no information on my father’s side.

The catalyst into this genealogy effort for me was my father. He died when I was sixteen and I had no clue about his family aside from knowing his mother, brother, and half-siblings when I was small. I didn’t know his father’s name. I didn’t know what my paternal grandmother’s maiden name could even possibly be. (Little did I know at the time that none of my aunts and uncles knew their mother’s maiden name either! Finding my grandmother’s maiden name was one the first genealogy puzzles I solved. That story will have to be in a future blog post.)

I started attending family reunions and I found that most events had very little formal ancestral information. That gave me even more incentive to dig into my family history. At one point, the thought crossed my mind that I may have been too late. A lot of the older relatives were now deceased. I kicked myself for not asking the questions that could have quickly moved my research forward. However, ‘when you know better, you do better,’ so I had to just move on.

We scheduled a visit to go to Lake Charles, Louisiana to rendezvous with my mother who would also be visiting Louisiana at the time. Prior to this trip, I had committed myself in my mind that I was going to trace my family lineage on both sides. I had only mentioned this in passing to my husband. I hadn’t done any heavy lifting in getting to document the history of my family. It was also around this time that my ‘family tree’ star cousin informed me that his computer had crashed and he had lost all of his research that he had been working on in the last few years. I was more determined than ever to really get started. While there in Louisiana, I took the opportunity to go to my home town of Ville Platte and visit with a couple of my aunts and then I was determined to spend the night at my uncle Felton Frank’s home in Eunice. The following day, we went on to Lake Charles, to my uncle Alsen Jason. That trip I had a pad and pencil everywhere I went. I was given names, pictures, and stories I had never heard. At one point, my uncle Felton said “Tammy go through all those pictures and take whatever you want.” It was during that trip that I got the only known picture of my great-grandmother, Victoria Leday! At that time, I didn’t know it would be the last time I would see both of my uncles. Each of them died the same year, months from each other.

Here’s my uncle Alsen Jason II of Lake Charles, La.

75Alsen Jason Jr

Here’s is my uncle Felton Frank of Eunice, La.

98a Uncle felton close up

Here’s is my great-grandmother Victoria Leday, who lived in Ville Platte, La. all of her life.

96victoria leday

I know it was my ancestors that were telling me to do it now. I try never to miss a family history opportunity. I try to take pictures of everybody, even pictures of pictures. Some of my relatives have made comments that I asked too many questions, but these relatives have been the same ones showing off the genealogical print outs that I periodically send to them. I’m on the right track, and I pray that my ancestors will continue to send me on these genealogical quests. I have to close more gaps, but I’m in a good place to know who I am through my family history.

Why I do genealogy? The simple answer is this: I do genealogy so I can know my ancestors’ names. It is said that if you remember the names of those who have gone before you, they will live and never be forgotten.

This blog traces my ancestors primarily in southwest Louisiana in and around the town of Ville Platte. The surnames included in this family are as follows: Jason, Ruben (Rubin), Joseph, Snowden, Antoine, Frank (Franks), Denton, Bibbs, Lede (Leday), George, Johnson, Fields, Bales, Jones, Lavigne, Tisenot (Tezeno), Lafleur, Laviolette, and Lasonde.

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For the last 30+ years, I've worked as a finance executive for a global corporation and I am now retired. In 2000, I started seriously researching my family ancestry, and I was able to trace both my maternal and my paternal line back to 1700s. I've identified ancestors that were free people of color. I've even traced several separate lineages of my enslaved ancestors through slave property rights documentation. I've helped many with their personal genealogical quests and I've shared my personal genealogical findings on my blog: Ancestors in the Present. In 2017, I will begin doing workshops and seminars to help others get started in genealogy. I also have run Ancestral Pathways LLC, which provides genealogical services. If you would like my help, I can be reached at

25 thoughts on “Tracing my Family Roots

    1. Hi Stephani – thanks for stopping by! I don’t know any Sterlings or Schexnayders. I really only would go to Lake Charles to visit family. I grew up in Cali so did go back much to Lake Charles. I will, though, as my 1st who still lives there, in the house my uncle Alsen built :-).


  1. You’ve done a great job with your first post. Welcome to the world of blogging. Loved hearing about your experiences. \


  2. Tammy…you are an excellent story teller! Your information kept me interested throughout. Looking forward to the rest of the story.


    1. Hi Sister Denise: I’m going back over my post and I think I forgot to reply to your post. (At least, I don’t see it.) I wanted to say think you for stopping by. I really appreciate you support.


  3. Iyatee, Welcome finally to the world of genealogy blogging. All I want to know is what took you so long to get blogging? — ROFL! I’m just teasing you sis . . . but I must say that your blog is absolutely BEAUTIFUL! I love the look and feel of your theme which compliments your family photos perfectly! I am very happy that you now have an official place to share with family and friends . . . so blog on!

    Happy New Year and Happy Ancestor Hunting to you!


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