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Ancestor Searching Newsletter, Volume 1, # 12

The Huguenots: The French branch of the Reformation has come to be known to us as the Huguenots who were followers of the teachings of the French-born Reformer John Calvin. Around the middle of the 1550's the first congregations were becoming established in France, and before the decade was finished there were over 70 churches, which met for their first Synod in 1559. Also in 1559, a sickly fifteen year old Charles IX ascended to the throne with the government being run by his mother, Catherine Medicis. Three powerful families contended for supreme power in France with two of the families having developed strong Huguenot sympathies. Each of the three maintained their own territory located in a different section of the country.

At first, Catherine Medicis tried to promote peace between the Catholics and Protestants by granting certain privileges to the Huguenots with the Edict of St. Germain (1561). The peace became short-lived when on 1st March, 1562 a number of Catholics descended on a large Huguenot assembly in Vassy, killing 1200. This ignited the Wars of Religion which would rip apart, devastate, and bankrupt France for the next three decades.

By August 1570, the Regent Catherine de Medici was forced to proclaim the Peace of St. Germain to prevent the Huguenots from taking Paris. Their leader and spokesman, Gaspard Coligny, succeded in obtaining freedom of religious practice in all of the French cities except Paris. Coligny was the Admiral of the French navy as well as Governor of Picardy and had joined the Protestants in 1559. The Peace of St Germain illustrated clearly just how much power was vested in the Huguenots. The Catholics feared this power and it was decided to eliminate the Huguenots, particularly their leaders. With the marriage of Prince Henry of Navarre, a Huguenot, to Marguerite Valois (daughter of Catherine Medici) on 23rd and 24th August, 1572 an exceptional opportunity presented itself. It happened during the wedding, when thousands of Huguenots converged on Paris for the wedding celebrations.

At some point during the night of August 23, the decision was made at the Louvre to kill Coligny and the Huguenot leaders gathered around him. Charles IX was certainly there along with Catherine de' Medici and Henri d'Anjou. It may not have been originally intended to be a general massacre. Charles IX was reputedly badgered into this decision by Catherine and his counselors, and when he finally broke he is alleged to have said, "Well, then kill them all that no man be left to reproach me." The killing spread into the country side and lasted for 3 days. The powerful Huguenot Henry of Navarre's life was spared by pretending to support the Roman Catholic faith. Despite persecution, Protestantism continued to flourish in Orange, Uzès, and especially Nîmes even though religious battles occurred regularly. The Huguenots were considered a martyr church for over 200 years

When Henry of Navarre (King Henry IV) came to the throne in 1589 he pressed for the basic civil rights for the Huguenots although he himself had turned back to Catholicism. The 1598 Edict of Nantes temporarily brought relief to the persecuted church. However, in 1685 King Louis XIV of France revoked the edict. This drove the bulk of the Huguenots out of the country. France lost so many highly skilled and industrious people in this "brain and skill drain," that its economy suffered severely. It is estimated that more than 250,000 French fled. Perhaps that many more were killed in France before they could flee. Chief of state Richelieu, whose main goal was the unification of all aspects of French society into a form approved by Paris, eventually suppressed or destroyed Huguenot communities throughout France. The bloodiest of these skirmishes was in the Atlantic coast port of La Rochelle, but also destroyed were the Provencial strongholds at Uzès and Les Baux. The holocaust continued until the French Revolution. Many Huguenots who did not find their death in local prisons or execution on the wheel of torture, were transported to sea duty to serve their sentences as galley slaves. They were chained down to row galley slave ships which were not part of the French Navy (the French Navy was mostly Huguenot). The mortality rate was great among these prisoners with few being released alive and most rowing to their death.

Genealogy Workshop

Fact: The Huguenots of France were in large part artisans, craftsmen, and professional people and were usually welcomed into the countries where they fled for refuge when religious discrimination or open persecution caused them to leave France. Most of them went initially to Germany, the Netherlands, and England, although some found their way eventually to such far places as South Africa. Their character and talents in the arts, sciences, and industry were to such a high level of regard that they dealt a severe blow to French society which they were forced to leave, and considered to be a hugely tremendous gain to the communities and nations where they settled.

Tip: Considerable numbers of Huguenots migrated to British North America, especially to the Carolinas, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York. An excellent FREE resource to consider in researching this group is the Huguenot-L mailing list which focuses on the Huguenots who settled in the United States. To subscribe to the Huguenot list, address your email request to either: Huguenot-L-request [at] rootsweb [dot] com (if you'd like to join in list or mail mode) or to Huguenot-D-request [at] rootsweb [dot] com (for subscribing in digest mode). In both cases, put only the word subscribe in the message body and in the subject line.

Genealogy News

Here are the final details of the TVGS 2007 Spring Seminar to be held on Saturday, March 31, 2007.

Seminar fee $30.00. Lunch will be provided, however, ONLY those who are pre-registered will be guaranteed a meal. (The caterer needs to know in advance how many total attendees). The location will be in the Main Library Auditorium.

The guest speaker this year is Shirley Wilson from Sumner County, Tennessee. She is a certified genealogist and a professional in the field since 1979. Shirley comes with a wide variety of experience to her name including...

  • Author of several family histories and county record books
  • Instructor of genealogy at Volunteer State Community College for twenty-five years
  • Past president of the Middle Tennessee Genealogical Society and currently serving as its Book Review editor
  • Serves at present on the Tennessee Historical Records Advisory Board
  • Retired director and one of the founders of the Sumner County Archives in Gallatin, Tenn.


9:00 – 10:00 –Registration, refreshments and book browsing

10:00 – 11:00 – “Combining Good Old Fashioned Research with Internet Sources.” This is not an in-depth course on the internet, but rather a demonstration of how the internet can bring astounding help along with some of its drawbacks.

11:00 – 11:15 – Refreshments

11:15 –12:00– “Research at the Tennessee State Library and Archives.” This lecture will guide you to the best use of this outstanding facility.

12:00 – 1:15 – LUNCH

1:15 – 2:00 – “What’s New in Genealogical Research.” New developments in the genealogical field, along with a session on the old Mero District and how it can help in your research.

2:00 – 2:15 – Refreshments

2:15 – 2:45 – Questions and Answers. All questions must be written out and given to Shirley in advance.

Cherokee Nation Votes to Expel Slaves' Descendants

Cherokee Nation Votes to Expel Slaves' Descendants: OKLAHOMA CITY —Cherokee Nation members voted Saturday to revoke the tribal citizenship of an estimated 2,800 descendants of the people the Cherokee once owned as slaves. With a majority of districts reporting, 76 percent had voted in favor of an amendment to the tribal constitution that would limit citizenship to descendants of "by blood" tribe members as listed on the federal Dawes Commission's rolls from more than 100 years ago.

The commission, set up by a Congress bent on breaking up Indians' collective lands and parceling them out to tribal citizens, drew up two rolls, one listing Cherokees by blood and the other listing freedmen, a roll of blacks regardless of whether they had Indian blood.

Some opponents of the ballot question argued that attempts to remove freedmen from the tribe were motivated by racism.

Tribal officials said the vote was a matter of self-determination. The petition drive for the ballot measure followed a March 2006 ruling by the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court that said an 1866 treaty assured freedmen descendants of tribal citizenship. Since then, more than 2,000 freedmen descendants have enrolled as citizens of the tribe.

Court challenges by freedmen descendants seeking to stop the election were denied, but a federal judge left open the possibility that the case could be refiled if Cherokees voted to lift their membership rights.

Family Roots Radio

Family Roots Radio from ProGenealogists, Inc. and Genealogy Today announced the launch “Family Roots Radio,” an Internet radio show devoted to the widely popular pursuit of genealogy and family history. This weekly, hour-long radio show will begin airing each Thursday at 1pm Pacific (4pm Eastern) beginning February 8, 2007 on Modavox’s VoiceAmerica™ Channel (, the nation’s leading Internet radio provider.

Hosted by well-known genealogical author, speaker and researcher, Kory L. Meyerink, the show will feature a wide range of “how-to” elements designed to assist all people interested in family history, from the novice to the professional. In addition to answering general questions from listeners, spotlighting important family history news and providing research tips from professionals, the show will include guests from among the most prominent genealogists today. The show will also explore effective ways to use software and the Internet in the pursuit of family history, including spotlighting data-rich websites. In addition, an “interactive” feature will walk listeners through the use of important sites, while they are listening to the broadcast.

“The value of the Internet for genealogical research today cannot be over-emphasized,” according to Meyerink. “The growing number of genealogical sites online, along with the explosion of content on the web makes it crucial for all family historians to more effectively use this key resource. An Internet radio show is simply the best way to provide that information. Users can log onto the show live, or anytime after the broadcast and listen at their leisure. Since they’ll be listening on-line, we’ll have the chance to walk them through the sites and concepts we discuss in each show.”

“Family Roots Radio” will be broadcast on the popular VoiceAmerica Channel, accessible by anyone having an Internet connection with audio capabilities. The addition of an interactive website and downloadable archives of past shows will provide many more listener options than available via traditional radio broadcasts. To listen to the show live, log on to the VoiceAmerica Channel at Kory will take calls toll free at 1-866-472-5788. All past shows will be archived and available in MP3 format for podcast download.

Natalie Cottrill, CEO of ProGenealogists, Inc. explained, “We have long wanted to find a new and unique way to share the tremendous expertise that exists among our staff and researchers, and to reach out to the broader genealogical community. We also wanted the ability to tap the expertise of the entire professional genealogical community so the typical family historian can get to know the wonderful people who contribute so much to this important and engaging activity. We appreciate VoiceAmerica for giving us that opportunity.”

To help with the publicity and content of “Family Roots Radio,” Cottrill and her team at ProGenealogists turned to their long time friend and colleague, Illya D’Addezio, owner of “Genealogy Today” a popular web site for family history news, data and information. “I am excited about this project, and have been from the day Natalie first talked to me about it. Both the content and audience of “Family Roots Radio” fits very well with the demographic of our site visitors at “Genealogy Today” and our affiliated web sites. This will give us the opportunity to broaden our user base, while providing additional important content to our existing users.”

Host Meyerink brings more than 30 years of professional genealogical experience to “Family Roots Radio,” having served in a wide variety of genealogical positions. He has worked as an independent researcher, as a librarian at the Family History Library, as a manager at and is currently a vice president at ProGenealogists, Inc. He also serves as adjunct faculty for San Jose State University and Brigham Young University. As a volunteer in the genealogical community, he has served as a trustee of the Association of Professional Genealogist and as president of the Utah Genealogical Association. He is also the founding director of the popular Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. His writings include Ancestry’s major reference work, Printed Sources. He holds four Accredited Genealogist credentials, has a Masters of Library Science, and is a Fellow of the Utah Genealogical Association.

Randall Libero, executive producer at the VoiceAmerica™ Network, explained that their market studies had shown a great need for content oriented to the growing activity in family history. “Studies have consistently shown that interest in family roots is one of America’s most popular leisure pursuits, and providing such informative, topic-driven radio is exactly what we do at VoiceAmerica. When we went looking for a professional group to develop and host a genealogy radio show, we were impressed with the expertise and the people at ProGenealogists,” said Libero. “We look forward to providing our listeners with timely, expert information to make it easier for them to find their family roots.”

From Dick Eastman's Newsletter...

The Last Muster: Did you know that many of the men and women of the American Revolution sat for photographs in the mid-nineteenth century? These Revolutionary War veterans were old men and women by the time photography was invented. However, it is believed that many of them had their photographs taken. As elders and as veterans, it was a sign of respect to record their images. Now Maureen Taylor is looking for those pictures.

Maureen has been mentioned in this newsletter many times (see She is known as a photography expert, specializing in identifying and restoring very old photographs. She is the author of Uncovering Your Ancestry Through Family Photographs, second edition (Family Tree Books, 2005), Preserving Your Family Photographs (Betterway, 2001) and Scrapbooking Your Family History (Betterway, 2003).

Maureen writes,

"It'll take an army of volunteers to find all the members of the Revolutionary War generation that had their picture taken. We need your help! If you own or know of a photograph of an individual who served in the American Revolution, was born during the War, or who was married to a soldier, please let us know. Your assistance is needed."

A full description of her project and several articles can be found at

Maureen has also started a blog that describes her efforts, details newly discovered items, and also gives a lot of great information. For instance, one recent article describes the differences between Daguerreotypes, Ambrotypes, Tintypes or ferrotypes, and cartes de visite (CDVs).

You can find this educational blog at

From Could you claim the throne?

London - Hundreds of hopefuls have stepped forward to claim the throne of England after a worldwide quest by genealogists to find a rightful heir.

After rooting through their family trees, legions of French, Italian, Norwegian, Dutch, Swedish and Canadian would-be royals bid for the monarchy.

More than a quarter of all claims came from the United States after English Heritage, an organisation which seeks to protect Britain's historical environment, placed advertisements in newspapers around the world.

The ads, asking people to supply documentary proof on, asked "Can you trace your family tree back to 1066? Might your ancestors have claimed the English throne?"

Dynastic confusion reigned supreme in the 11th century. Edgar Aetheling was named heir apparent by his great uncle King Edward the Confessor but was not crowned when the King died in 1066 because he was too young. Harold II was crowned instead.

William the Conqueror crossed over from Normandy, defeating Harold at the Battle of Hastings. The teenage Aetheling later submitted to William.

Genealogist Nick Barratt revealed that researchers were looking for "gateway ancestors" who could trace their lineage back to St Margaret of Scotland. Then they could be in with a chance.

"If people can trace their lineage back to St Margaret, they are well connected to two of the key players," he said.

"A direct descendant of Alfred the Great, she was related to both Edward the Confessor and Edgar the Aetheling," he added.

Floodgates opened

The ads, designed to involve people in history, certainly opened the floodgates when English Heritage explored what might have happened if Harold had not died at Hastings.

"As many of the claimants met the desired criteria, it's fair to suggest England could have suffered something of a power struggle," said a spokesperson for English Heritage which is to put the claims on show at a new battlesite exhibition centre.

"We had a chap from Arizona who tracked himself back to St Margaret. A lady from California could trace herself back to Edgar and William the Conqueror and says she has a pair of handsome sons who would make perfect princes," the spokesperson told Reuters

"One Australian tied himself in with assorted 11th century royal families. A number of Scandinavians claimed Norse and Danish noble ties. We had many English claims from families called Ashling and Avling, suggesting a derivation of Aetheling.

We were exploring a 'What If?' scenario. Queen Elizabeth and the House of Windsor need not feel threatened. The throne is safe with them," the spokesperson added.

Northeast Alabama Genealogical Society

Received recently from the society:

“The Northeast Alabama Genealogical Society is getting ready to work on the new Northeast Settlers that will be going to all members and to many libraries across the United States. If you would like to put a query in this one you can send it to me and I will pass it on to Vickie the editor. The queries are free to members but there is a small charge for non-members. You can email me off the list for more information or send your query to me. If you are not a member of the Northeast Alabama Genealogical Society, you can check out our website and you will find an application. This is the time of the year that we have our membership drive.

If you are ever in our area Gadsden, Etowah County, Alabama, please look us up. We have over 5000 family files and are open to the public every Thursday and by appointment if you are out of town.

We will be having our 8th Ancestor Swap Meet March 31, for more information on this please contact RoseMary, rhyatt [at] hiwaay [dot] net. This is such a great day for family researchers, a day to meet new cousins and for families to get together and exchange information with others.

Looking forward to hearing from you."

Gail Brown, President
gbrown [at]
Northeast Alabama Genealogical Society

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