Why We Moved From Virginia to Alabama

My husband and I moved from Virginia to Mississippi in April 2007, when I was about seven months pregnant. We were close to the state line so after our son was born we began looking for a home in Alabama because taxes are lower. We were able to buy half an acre of land, an older manufactured home, move said home, and set up utilities for under $15k.

We came here because I have always wanted to be a stay at home mom. I don’t trust many people with my children so the thought of strangers watching them made me sick. My husband made decent money in Northern Virginia, but in order to survive we were having to live with family. That puts a strain on any relationship.

We have stayed down here because there is little regulation on everything. At times that has caused trouble, but most of the time its great. My husband built our 12×12 tiny house without requiring permits, we moved both of our manufactured homes here without requiring permits, and we can add on to our homes at any time without permits.

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Another great thing is our taxes. We pay $12 per year for our home and land. That’s it. Guess what, we still have schools, roads, and everything. The local government wants you to spend money in town, so they let you keep more of it. Its a great system!

We also love how everyone helps everyone else. If you need something all you have to do is ask and be prepared to return the favor some day. It’s basically like credit, because if you don’t repay the favor they’re going to be busy next time.

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Also, there are mountains and beautiful, clean ocean. My husband and I were not beach people until we visited Orange Beach. It’s amazing! It’s also affordable and unlike some places you don’t have to stay at an ocean front hotel to gain beach access. The whole beach is public property. We still love visiting Huntsville to get our mountain fix because it’s still warmer there than Virginia most of the time. The German culture (food) is worth the visit alone.

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I could keep going, but I think you see where I’m going here. Is Alabama perfect? No. I really wish there wasn’t a monopoly on health insurance, but I’m not going to move over it. This is home and I’ll be here forever, God willing.

Bringing Your Ancestors Back to Life

You’re probably wondering what I’m getting at with a title like this. Your attention. If you’re reading this then it worked. 😀

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I want to encourage you to add stories, photographs, anything you can to make your loved ones real to the next generation. Nothing is as exciting to me as a researcher as one of my ancestors with at least one good photograph. I love studying their clothes, guessing their height, and gleaning little tidbits of information about these people who I will never meet.

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The same goes for stories. I had a couple in my family who left New York for Minnesota on their honeymoon and never returned. The story was attached to their profiles on Ancestry.com. They just fell in love with it and never went home. It kind of reminded me of myself and my husband. We visited Alabama and moved here three months later when I was six months pregnant. I’m planning on attaching that story on Ancestry myself one of these days. I know sooner or later someone is going to wonder why a pregnant woman and her husband left Northern Virginia for West Alabama (that’s another blog post).

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    I encourage you to also tell stories to the younger generation. Make history come alive for them! Make it relevant if you can so it’ll stick with them. For instance, my mom was born in Germany after World War Two and they were lucky that they survived. Some of my grandmother’s family perished in the concentration camps. My dad’s father fought the Germans in World War Two. I remember these things because my parents told me about them while I was learning about them in school.

    If you don’t want to post stories online then please write them down. Sooner or later someone will be curious about where they came from.

Learn Your Family History

You may be wondering what you can learn about a bunch of people who died long ago. A lot! I joined Ancestry.com because it is easier to find and verify information. I have a notebook that I’m planning to fill with what I have found so far, eventually. For now I’m enjoying putting it online.

Just from census records you can find occupations, spouse, and children. You just need to know where they lived and when. Most of my Yankee ancestors are from Jamestown, New York which makes my job easier.

Death certificates are also full of wonderful information (I know that sounds morbid, but follow me for a moment). Most of them list parents of the deceased, spouse, and possibly a child. The cause of death can also tell you a lot about their lifestyle, occupation, hobbies, etc. For instance, I learned that one of my great uncles was a farmer in North Carolina. He died when his tractor fell on him.

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Newspapers.com hasn’t really helped me a whole lot, but some people have great luck finding information in old newspapers. I did find one story where a cousin of mine was shot in the head with bird shot. She survived for many years after that.

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A marriage certificate can also tell you a lot about a person. Did they marry for love? Was the bride forced to marry by poor parents? I have found the latter up into the 1970s. For love, well, my dear great aunt must have dearly loved her husband to become Rhoda Missouri Midgett. They had ten children so she at least loved one thing about him.

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Most states have genealogy departments. Some are more helpful than others. Give them a call and ask questions, you may get more information than you ever imagined.

What information have you found about your family?

Ways to Connect With Your Ancestors

Today I want to talk about ways you can connect with your ancestors. For me this is a fun topic because you are continuing a legacy from a long time ago. Or maybe not so long ago. It depends on how far back you were able to trace your ancestry. This also gives you something to do with all of that information.

So, let’s get started, shall we?

  1. Learn their language. Look at where your ancestors are from and learn their language, if you can.
  2. Listen to the music that was popular in their day and in the region they’re from. My grandmother from Germany loves polka. I personally don’t care for it, but my three year old loves it.
  3. Try some cultural dishes. You can use Pinterest or Google and find great recipes. I enjoy making Paprikash like my German grandmother did when I was little.
  4. Hang pictures. If you have pictures of your ancestors hang them up instead of just looking at them on a screen. My parents and inlaw’s have pictures of their grandparents hanging up and it’s great to see them and allows me to tell my kids about their great, great grandparents.
  5. Write down or print stories you find about your ancestors and put them in a book. One day someone else in your family will thank you.
  6. Tell their stories to your children and grandchildren, even if you don’t think they’re listening. You may be surprised.
  7. Learn an old fashioned craft that your ancestors may have enjoyed. A lot of them, such as knitting, are becoming popular again.

How do you keep your ancestor’s memories alive?


The Alabama Shoe Tree

This post is going to be a bit different, but something I saw this past weekend inspired me. It was the shoe tree on Highway 72 in Cherokee, AL. Yes, odd things inspire me.

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    When I first saw the shoe tree I wondered if perhaps there was a story behind it. Maybe a tragic accident and in remembrance loved ones and strangers hang their shoes from the tree. Perhaps this has been going on for thirty plus years.

    No. It’s just a tree that people stop and add their old shoes. Sometimes flinging them at it as they drive down the highway at seventy miles per hour. It was first spotted in 2008 so only ten years.

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    That’s what really inspired me. I feel like a legend needs to be assigned to this shoe tree. Remember, legends don’t have to be true. Otherwise it’s just a tree on the side of the highway collecting shoes for no reason.

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    I personally like my idea about it being a memorial for every person who has passed away on that highway. It would make sense, right? Maybe inspire others who see the tree to pay better attention while driving. I don’t know, but it’s a thought.

Genealogy meets home design

I have always been a huge fan of Lucille Ball. I grew up watching reruns of I Love Lucy and The Lucy show. My biological maternal grandfather’s family is from Jamestown, N.Y. (her hometown) so I was secretly hoping that there was a connection there, but there wasn’t one.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that we are distantly related on my biological father’s side! It made my week, I won’t lie. So now I’m wanting to start collecting things with her on it. I’m not a big collector normally because I hate clutter, but I’m having to get over that with three kids.


I’m thinking about making my kitchen/dining room into a 1950s style and decorating it with Lucy memorabilia. That way it all ties in.

Are you related to anyone famous? Who or who would you like to be related to? Comment below!

Who Do I Put In My Tree?

This question is asked a lot on Facebook by adoptees and nonadoptees for different reasons. The simple answer is whoever YOU feel belongs there as long as it’s historically accurate. If you have no interest in putting your biological family on there, there’s no reason you should. You can focus on the family you know and love.

Once you get started you will want to add siblings, but it is up to you if you want to add your twentieth cousin ten times removed. You can, but you certainly aren’t required. It’s up to you when to stop.

I personally like to add all spouses even if there are no children. I think part of that is because I wanted to honor the memory of my husband’s first wife and the daughter she was carrying. To me, they are part of our family.


I wish you the best of luck as you begin. Please like and comment on my posts so I know if you’re enjoying them.

Be blessed!