Welcome to Gram’s Basement.

tree-576847_1280Gram’s Basement Genealogy got started in 2010 when my curiosity got the best of me.  I was in my Grandmother’s basement helping her go through some paperwork when I came across a bright yellow folder.  I asked what was inside, and that is where my real journey into genealogy began.

Stay tuned as I start this blogging journey.


© Melissa Woodard, 2017

Genealogy, Research, family, branch, dilemma, genealogy,, Uncategorized

An Insight Within Genealogy; Vulnerability

Today, I would like to highlight one very specific area of vulnerability that can occur when researching.  That area is when you put yourself out there and reach out to a family member.

Recently, I found myself feeling extremely vulnerable when I reached out to some cousins on my Father’s side.  I have never met them and I am pretty sure they do not even know I exist.  Well at least until, I reached out to them on Social Media.  I did my best to introduce myself properly.  I know in today’s day and age, people are and should be careful on what they send through the internet especially on Social media sites.  So I proceeded to be as direct and non-threatening as possible and introduced myself to a couple of cousins.  Then the wait began.

You know that wait, the feeling that comes over you as you sit there hoping and waiting that they respond.  It is the same feeling, I get when I put my surnames out there on a new genealogy site group or that feeling from putting yourself out there for the world and hoping they accept you.

It has been weeks, since I went out on a limb and put myself out there.  I want to make a family connection on this side so badly.  I have been hoping and praying for a response.  I realize this may sound excessive but part of me knows they are my blood.  And as the old saying goes, “blood calls to blood”.  These cousins are the only branch, I have been able to track down that are not dead.  Sadly, every one of my direct Ancestors on this side are gone.  So as these weeks, turn into months part of me even though it is tiny is still quietly hoping they reach out in return.

As I wait, I am also wondering.  Wondering, if I am being a little kooky for wanting to make this family connection?  Wondering, if anyone else feels this way when they go out on a limb in their research?

So here I go, putting myself out there again.  Have any of you ever felt something similar when doing your research?

© Melissa Woodard, 2017


Evidence dilemma; what do you do?

Recently, I found another branch in my tree.  Now all of us know how exciting that can be!  However, also like most of us we need records of proof.  So here is my dilemma; this branch is entirely circumstantial.  I have not one exact record.  The closest I get is the 1820 census.  Where it lists the heads of household only and everyone one else is a tick mark in an age group.  My remaining evidence is this:
1. Death certificate listing birthplace as Vermont.

2.  Finding 1790 census listing head of household in Vermont.

3.  Last name is not that common especially for early America.

4. My direct descendant marries her husband in the same town where her children are born and kids names match the typical naming convention of first born son has middle maiden name of the wife.  Also his first name is that of her brother (potentially). Second son bares name of the head of household in the 1820 census, her Father and other Brother. Names are unique Seymour and Rufus.

5. Able to track her brother to same town as her son in later census records. They live very close to each other as well.

Now based off this for me it is hard to deny that this is the correct family.  But nowhere do I have a record that specifically states her parents.   My question to you is do you record it as an official branch of the family or do you record it as a possibility?

I welcome your thoughts on this one.

© Melissa Woodard, 2017


Cemetery Hopping; A Perfect way to spend the day.

Now that we are officially in Summer.  I find myself wanting to be outside on nice, warm, sunny days.  I also find myself on rare non-planned out days, wanting to research my family history.  A couple of years ago, I came up with the perfect way to combine the two with Cemetery Hopping!  What is Cemetery Hopping?  Well, while a majority of us are more familiar with Bar / Club Hopping, I will say that it involves a lot less alcohol and there is no expensive cover charge! 🙂

Sunshine through the trees.

Basically, you plan your day out going from Cemetery to Cemetery collecting and documenting graves for your family research.  I usually try to plan out which cemeteries I intend to document that day and try to make sure both are fairly close to each other.  I will usually start at the furthest out Cemetery in the morning then grab a nice lunch before heading to the second cemetery.

In addition, to planning out where you are going to go, it is equally important to pack your Cemetery kit as well.  Now mine, I have created on my own through trial and error. What goes in a Cemetery kit, you ask?  I have listed the items below that I have found essential.  Feel free to mix and match and come up with one for your own.  I usually keep mine in a storage container with a lid.

  • garden knee cushion / garden gloves
  • small shovel
  • medium paint brush
  • bottled water
  • A couple of rags
  • A straw
  • A pruner (for trimming bushes)
  • plastic bags for trash, cleared debris

There are many other things you can put in a Cemetery kit but these are the few things I make sure I always have.  You should also plan ahead, be sure to wear pants and comfortable tennis shoes.  I also have my phone charger with me and check that my cell phone is fully charged. I will also include a first aid kit, and baby wipes.  If I know that I will need any additional tools I will pack them as well. Extra tools are typically utilized for clearing bushes and for cleaning up engravings.

Once I arrive on site, I locate the grave markers / family plots, I wish to document.  I then notate the location by documenting with photographs.  Usually, starting with the Entrance / sign, I then proceed to take pictures from a distance including the surrounding Grave markers and proceed to take close up photos of the grave marker on all sides.  I will make additional notes of any damage as well. 

After documenting the scene, I will then proceed to assist in the care of the site.  I will remove any debris.  If flowers are planted, I will make sure they are watered and any additional landscaping is cleaned up.  I will remove any plants that are encroaching on the grave, (taking care not to damage the marker in any way).  If there is lichen, I will make a note and often reach out to others in the field and research the best way to remove it in the future. 

Finally, I  will upload my photos to and for future documentation purposes by others.  Once completed, I will then proceed to the next location and so on. 

I find spending time amongst the stones of my Ancestors very enjoyable and believe it is a nice way to spend the day by honoring people of my past and a good way to get out into some nature. 


© Melissa Woodard, 2017




Genealogy; its historical importance.

This Ad is a great example of why Genealogy is important.

This is my favorite commercial ever created in the genealogy industry. I love the concept and the execution. In less than a minute, managed to remind us of the importance of unity and freedom. This great experiment that is America, survives and thrives by our willingness to be united in supporting the freedom and […]

via Happy Birthday America — thegenealogygirl


The Yellow Folder of Destiny

Here it is folks, the bright yellow folder of life changing destiny!  A bunch of you have been asking about this folder since my first post.  Remember, this folder may look ordinary but it has captured my interest and imagination since 2010.  

The contents of this folder has changed my life in so many ways.  It has fed my eternal flame of curiosity and to be honest I am grateful.  Inside there are a few different aspects of genealogy research, represented here, that has kept me busy ever since.  

From the first page, I had questions.  The contents of which seem pretty basic.  It states, my Great Aunt Karen and her Husband put this together in 1981.  This page goes on to list all the records they obtained to verify their information.

The next few pages lists our Brasington / Miller line for a few generations back to around the 1830’s.    This is where things got real.  I vaguely knew the Miller name but I never had heard of Brasington before.  (This family line to this day affects me on a routine basis.)  At this point, I started asking; Who are these people?  Have I met any of them?  

The pages that followed frankly sealed the deal on my budding curiosity.  (Pictures are listed below.)  There is a plat map from 1872, a copy of a land deed signed by Martin Van Buren, a collection of family stories that had been passed down (at the time of my discovery, I had never heard them before), a copied newspaper clipping, highlighting the 50th Wedding Anniversary of my 4x Great Grandparents and the most exciting of all was the pictures.  (Granted they are just photo copies of the originals but I love them anyway. )

The plat map of our family homestead from 1872 in Waterford, Michigan.

A Land deed issued in 1837.

One of the family list pages.

50th Wedding Anniversary, so cool!

My 2x Great Grandparents.

Family photo!  ( Taken in about 1886 or so.)

Another relatives family photo.

All together this folder still keeps me motivated and I am eternally grateful to My Great Aunt Karen! 

So tell me, what has been the most exciting discovery for you?  What got you motivated to research your family? Feel free to comment.

© Melissa Woodard, 2017


Waterford Historical Society’s, Annual Log Cabin Day

The Waterford Historical Society is putting on their Annual Log Cabin Day on June 25, 2017 this year.  If you are going to be in the area, we encourage you to join in the fun.  There is free admission & parking.  You can view the event’s flyer here:

whs sign

For more information on the Society itself and all the wonderful things they have you can click on the link here:


© Melissa Woodard, 2017



Genealogy Guardian Angels; They Do Exist.

Family Grave MarkerDuring my research adventures, I have met many awesome people like Nick who are always there to help us on our journey.   They seem to appear out of nowhere to nudge us on like our own personal Guardian Angels.  So here is how I met, my Moment in time Guardian Angel, Nick.

Earlier this week, I went to a local cemetery to track down a family members grave marker.  Now, I have been working on tracking down this particular headstone for a while and after three trips, I am happy to report it has been located.

It was during this latest attempt, that I encountered a nice man paying his respects to his parents (Nick).  He apparently had been observing me for a few minutes walking down the rows methodically.  Okay…okay maybe a little erratically.  🙂

Either way, he could tell I was in distress, so he approached and introduced himself.  I explained to him my dilemma and he offered up some assistance.  I gladly accepted his help and gave him the little bit of information I had.   He started in one direction and I the other.  After about 30 minutes, I decided I was not going to be successful today and I was about to throw in the towel.

But then, I looked up to find my new acquaintance and wouldn’t you know directly in front me was the head stone I was looking for!  I did a little happy dance and ran up to inform my new acquaintance of our success.

He shared in my joy at locating the correct grave.  From there we discussed the importance of paying our respects and maintaining our ancestors grave markers.  We continued to chit-chat and he stated he would be sure to greet my Ancestors the next time he visits the cemetery to pay his respects. I informed him, I would do the same.  I thanked him for his assistance and wished him well before parting ways.

You see if it wasn’t for Nick, I probably would have gotten increasingly frustrated and given up for the day.  It is out of respect for his offer of help, that I kept searching as long as I did.  If he wasn’t going to give up then neither should I.

I believe it is important to remain open to those who can help us along on our journey of discovery.  My question to you is, has this ever happened to you?  How did your Genealogical Guardian Angel help you?

© Melissa Woodard, 2017


Michigan Naturalization Records – Archive Help Needed

The Archives of Michigan is looking for volunteers to help transcribe Naturalization Records.  If you ever wanted to learn more about transcribing or take part in a Genealogical project, then now is your chance!  This is a great opportunity to learn more about the very important need for record transcription.  Volunteers will need to download some software and join FamilySearch in order to assist in the project. After enrolling, you will be able to take part in the project to further enhance what’s available online for our Michigan Ancestors.

Once the records are completely transcribed,  it will be made available to the public on the Archives website at

If interested then please go to the Seeking Michigan website;

© Melissa Woodard, 2017