Saturday, November 18, 2017

Tracking The Carter Families of Colleton County, South Carolina

My Carter's were fond of using the same names for generations within the same family with few or no designation as to whether this was a "Sr., Jr., 2nd, etc.". Many of the women the Carter men married had common first names but had less common maiden names which made finding the families a little easier. Oh, and did I mention they love nicknames? The same nicknames like "Jack" for John are carried through for generations as well. 

After getting frustrated with online trees full of misinformation I decided there had to be a better way to track all of the Carter families of Colleton County, South Carolina. As a general rule I use online trees as a springboard to find clues for the families I research but with these Carter families it is just impossible to do that. Oh and let's not forget that I have learned that there was a lot of inter-marrying with some families. I am still trying to figure out to what degree these relationships are and hoping that my family tree will not collapse!

I should point out that Colleton county records before 1865 are almost nonexistent and it is considered a burned county which makes researching more difficult. Many of the Carter families I am tracking settled in an area known as St Bartholomew's Parish, which was considered to be part of the Charleston District up until the 1800 US census.(1)

There were also plenty of boundary changes for Colleton county as well.  Another thing I have to consider is that prior to 1785 all records were filed in Charleston (Charles Town). Colleton is surrounded by the following counties: Bamberg, Barnwell, Beaufort, Charleston, Dorchester, Hampton and Orangeburg. The last of the boundry changes for Colleton came about in 1897 with the additions of Bamberg and Dorchester counties. Many of these families stayed in Colleton for many generations while others branched out to the surronding counties.(2)

I decided the best way to conduct my research for the Carter family was to use the Friends, Associates & Neighbors (F.A.N) Principle by Elizabeth Shown Mills.(3) I am using the F.A.N Principle to identify each Carter family from census records (1850-1880) who were born, lived in and died in Colleton county. I am following each generation to identify parents, spouses, siblings and children. I am using delayed birth certificates, and death records (including certificates, obituaries and Find-A-Grave) and newspaper announcements to help me with identifying family members. 

I began my research with census records from 1790-1880. In order to keep my findings manageable I used Google Spreadsheets. I searched each census year page by page for Carter families. I decided that keeping the census records all in one spreadsheet was more efficient and added a sheet for each census year. For the census information I have included a transcription of all the information. 

Figure 1, Carter Census Information Colleton county, South Carolina, census year 1850. Example for Nash Carter (4) and J. Wilson Carter (5).

After recording all census information I began making family group sheets for census years 1850-1880. Of course, indiviual family members were not listed until the census for 1850 and the relationships between family members was not listed until 1880. This is where good old fashion genealogy work comes in! I downloaded the family group record sheet from Ancestry and printed out the blank forms in groups of 25 and I have filled out about 150 so far. This part of my project has been the most time consuming thus far. However, I feel that I have come to know these families a little better. Unfortunately, I still have a few widows with the surname of Carter and I am still trying to determine who their spouses were and what there maiden names might be. Patience is my friend!

Below is the family record group sheet for my 2nd great grandparents, John Coker and Harriet (Linder) Carter. 

After completing all of the family record group sheets for census years, 1850-1880, I went to the "South Carolina Delayed Birth Records, 1766-1900". South Carolina did not require statewide birth and death registrations until 1915 and general complaince did not happen until 1918 and statewide marriage registrations began in 1911. I have been combing through delayed birth records, death certificates and obituaries.(4) I then used "South Carolina Death Certificates, 1915-1965. Both of these record collections are available online at FamilySearch and at Ancestry. I also turned to GenealogyBank, and Find A Grave to help me find older obituaries and help me to identify family members as well, especially the children. South Carolina did not require statewide birth and death registrations until 1915 and general complaince did not happen until 1918 and statewide marriage registrations began in 1911. I have been combing through delayed birth records, death certificates and obituaries.(6)  

All of these record groups have helped me find many clues. I have learned the names of additional spouses. I have been able to identify children who were born and perhaps died between the 1880 and 1900 censuses. I have been able to determine a time period for the death of a family members prior to 1915. I have found the maiden names of spouses, in some cases. I have been able to find the married names of daughter's (who suddenly disappeared without a trace) who were mentioned in obituaries. I have also been able to identify additional family members, biological and step children, half siblings, spouses (or multiple spouses) and in some cases even grandchildren. 

Figures 2, 3 and 4 are samples of my research logs by record group.

Figure 2, Carter-Delayed Birth Certificates for Colleton county, South Carolina. This example is for my great grandfather, Postell Samuel Carter. (7)

Figure 3, Carter-Genealogybank Obituaries for Colleton county, South Carolina. Includes Carter family members who died elswhere but were buried in Colleton county. This is example is for my 2nd great uncle, Abraham/Abram "Burrell" Carter. (8)

Figure 4, Carter-Find A Grave for Colleton county, South Carolina. This example is for my 2nd great uncle, Benjamin Coker Carter (9) and his wife, Florence (Johns) Carter (10).


1. FamilySearch Wiki contributors, "Colleton County, South Carolina Genealogy," FamilySearch Wiki (,_South_Carolina_Genealogy : accessed 1 November 2017).

2. Ibid.

3. Elizabeth Shown Mills, "Quick Lesson 11: Identity Problems & the FAN Principle," Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis & Source Usage ( : accessed 1 November 2017).

4. "1850 U.S. census, Colleton District, South Carolina," population schedule, St Bartholomew's Parish, p.187(stamped), dwelling 62, family 62, Nash Carter household; image, ( : accessed 21 September 2017); citing National Archives microfilm publication M432, roll 851.

5. "1850 U.S. census, Colleton District, South Carolina," population schedule, St Bartholomew's Parish, p. 187, dwelling 63, family 63, J. Wilson Carter household; image, ( : accessed 21 September 2017); citing National Archives microfilm publication M432, roll 852.

6. FamilySearch Wiki contributors, "South Carolina Vital Records," FamilySearch ( : accessed 1 November 2017).

7. "South Carolina, Delayed Birth Certificates, 1766-1900," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 17 November 2017), certificate image, entry for Postell Samuel Carter, 22 June 1890, Colleton County, certificate no. 12-1235; citing South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Columbia.

8. "A. B. Carter of Ritter - Dead," death and funeral notice, Evening Post (Charleston, South Carolina), 29 December 1925, p. 3, col. 1-2; database with images, GenealogyBank ( : 17 November 2017), Newspaper Archives, 1690-2010; subscription to database required.

9. Find A Grave, Find A Grave, database with images, ( : accessed 17 September 2017), memorial page 7294522, Benjamin Coker Carter (1850-1912), created by "Kim & Dana Grisson," submitted on 27 March 2003; citing Ebenezer United Methodist Church Cemetery, Walterboro, Colleton, South Carolina, USA.

10. Find A Grave, Find A Grave, database, ( : accessed on 17 September 2017), memorial page 7294530, Florence Johns Carter (1850-1911), created by "Kim & Dana Grisson," submitted on 27 March 2003; citing Ebenezer United Methodist Church Cemetery, Walterboro, Colleton, South Carolina, USA.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

How Do You Keep Track of Your DNA Results?

I started my DNA journey in 2011, the same year I found my birth mother. I have tested at the three major companies and have uploaded my results to all conceivable sites. However, I am completely overwhelmed with trying to keep up with all the different sites and results! 

I have been keeping a log in a notebook but it is no longer working for me now that I am managing more kits than I was a year ago. I am trying to keep up with the results and to find a way that is easy for me but also productive at the same time. I want to be able to see "the results" all in one place without having to pull out multiple notebooks. 

DNA Locator Log

As more companies allow for us to upload our DNA results to their website I have found that the easiest way for me to keep track is with a DNA Locator Log. It is simple and uncomplicated and gives me a brief overview of the DNA results. Here is a shareable link.

Here is a screen capture of my DNA Locator Log. I have columns for the following information:
  • Name of Test Take
  • Name of Testing Company 
  • Type of DNA Test (at, mt, y)
  • Year Test Was Take n
  • Ethnicity Results
  • Ethnicity Breakdown
  • Gedmatch Upload/Kit Number
  • FTDNA Upload/Kit Number
  • My Heritage Upload/Kit Number
  • Comments
DNA Match Log

Again, using Google Sheets I have come up with a spreadsheet for my DNA matches and the results generated from all of the sites. I have designed some spreadsheets based on the information that is generated by the different testing companies and at Gedmatch. I feel like I am really overthinking this but the key is in the details! Not all columns are applicable and can be removed if desired. Here is the sharable link.

This capture does not include all of the columns but I have made columns for the following information:

  • Testing Company/Website
  • Kit Number (Gedmatch/FTDNA)
  • Test Taker Name or Alias
  • Managed By
  • User Name (Ancestry)
  • Contact Information, (if known)
  • Date of Match, if applicable
  • Shared cM's
  • Gedmatch Autosomal DNA (Total cM's/Largest cM's)
  • Gedmatch X-DNA o r FTDNA X-Match (Total cM 's/Longest  Block)
  • Predicated or Estimated Relationship
  • Shared DNA Percentage (23 & Me)
  • # of Segments Shared (23 & Me)
  • mt-DNA haplogroup, (if known)
  • y-DNA haplogroup, (if known)
  • MCRA, (if known)
  • Shared Surnames
  • Shared Ancestral Places
  • Other Relatives with that Surname & Relationship to User/Testee
  • Shared Ethnicity
  • Correspondence Method (Direct email or via the testing company)
  • Date of First Correspondence
  • Was A Response Received
  •  # of Attempts Tried
  • Is the Testee an Adoptee
  • Paternal or Maternal Match, (if known)
  • Notes About Test Results
  • Questions
  • Comments
  • Ancestry Tree (Public, Private or No Tree)
  • Gedcom Available (Gedmatch, FTDNA, 23 & Me)

I know that many of you are much more experienced with DNA and I would greatly appreciate your feedback on whether you find these spreadsheets helpful, too detailed or heaven help me not detailed enough. Thank you in advance!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

2017 A to Z Challenge ~ All About Me ~ Letter B

This is a post for the 2017 A to Z Challenge ~ All About Me created by Jeanne Bryan Insalaco of Everyone Has a Story.


In my family I have one brother Billy. However, between my birth parents I have six brothers, which by the way, is more than I thought I had! I know for a fact that my brothers through my birth mother that one is older and one is younger than me. I am not sure about my brothers through my birth father but I suspect that they are also older than me.  From my non-identifying information I knew that I had at least eight older siblings but my birth father's obituary listed that he had eight children so at least three of his children were born after me. I have four paternal brothers, Richard, Johnny, David and Mike. I never dreamed I would have so many brothers both older and younger than myself. 

I have been searching for Richard, Johnny, David and Mike since I learned about them in June 2016. Hopefully I can find them sooner rather than later because I really want to meet them and get to know them.


Barbara is my birth mother. I met her twice first in March and again in late April of 2011. We talked for several hours during our first visit. I showed her pictures of my children, pictures of my parents and siblings. She showed me pictures of ancestors and my siblings. She was very forthcoming when it came to family and medical histories. She told me a little about my maternal siblings. We soon learned that we were both long time book readers and even liked some of the same authors. The one thing I wish I had done was to take a picture of her especially because she made it very clear that she did not want a relationship.

When I asked her about my birth father she didn't have much information because according to her he lied about everything he ever told her. It was obvious that he caused her a lot of emotional pain, I could see it in her eyes when she spoke of him. I am hoping that my siblings will share pictures of their respective parents with me at some point.

Birth and Baptism

I was born on Saturday, the 21st of July, 1962 at Baptist Hospital in Miami, Dade (now Miami-Dade) County, Florida. My birth mother told me that she worked in the X-ray Department typing reports and was working on the day I was born. I was delivered by Dr. Grosskloss (now deceased) and he is the doctor who arranged my adoption. My adoption was considered a closed, private adoption. My parents brought me home from the hospital the next day and the rest as they say is history.

Daddy, Momma and me the day I came home from the hospital. (personal collection)

I was Baptized one week later on Sunday, the 29th of July 1962 at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Hialeah, Florida. It was also my Momma's birthday. My Godparents are my Aunt Barbara and Uncle Kenny. Uncle Kenny is my Momma's younger brother. My Baptism was performed by Fr. S. J. Clift. I was the first to wear the family baptism gown. All of my siblings as well as my nieces and nephews wore this very same gown too. I had my children baptized together when Kenny was one and David was a newborn however, David weighed in at 10 pounds and even leaving the buttons undone he was just to big for the gown.

This is me in my baptismal gown. (personal collection).


Books and reading have always been a passion for me. As a child who had severe asthma and allergies I spent a lot time inside. One of my parents was always reading to us kids. Once I learned how to read there was no stopping me! In middle and high school I would read late into the night. I can't tell you how many times my Dad would come in and tell me it was time to go to bed and turn out the lights.

I am not exactly sure when my parents bought this particular set of books (the books are long gone and I don't even remember the names any longer) but it was series I read repeatedly about U.S. Presidents for elementary school age children probably up until about 6th I would think. My particular favorite was the volume on John F Kennedy. These books fit in with my love of history which led me to reading books about the Salem witch trials, the kidnapping of the young son Charles Lindbergh, the sinking of the Titanic and other fascinating events in history.

By the age of 12, I discovered Agatha Christie novels. I couldn't get enough of them. In my freshman year of high school I discovered J R R Tolkien's, The Lord of the Rings and what some might call "trashy" romance novels. Complete ends of the spectrum I know. My senior year of high school I discovered true crime books when I found my Dad's copy of The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule, which was about Ted Bundy. 

I am never without my e-reader which I received for my 50th birthday but I also still read real books too. I am a voracious reader and always have been. I would spend lunch hours in my car reading. I would read at my children's sporting practices but never during a game! I still read at lunch, between television commercials and always before falling asleep. I can't tell you how many times my husband has woken up in the middle of the night to find my book beside me with the book light on! 

This is my largest bookcase. It has only my hardback and oversized paperback books. (Personal collection)

As you can see in the photo above one set of my bookcases is quite full in my living room. I have a smaller bookcases on either side of my entertainment center filled to capacity and overflowing with paperback books only. I still have boxes, tote boxes, nightstand drawers, a shelf in the closet filled with books. Then I have a bookcase in my office filled with genealogy books, magazines and notebooks. 

I refuse to part with the series books I have collected over the years such as the Alex Cross series by James Patterson, the Luke Davenport series by John Sandiford and the Kay Scarpetta series by Patricia Cornwell to name just a few. 

Saturday, January 21, 2017

2017 A to Z Challenge ~ All About Me ~ Letter A

My friend and fellow blogger, Jeanne Bryan Insalaco of Everyone Has a Story started a fun blogging challenge about writing about ourselves. You can find her first post Letter A... All About Me here. The 2017 A to Z ~ All About Me Challenge is her twist to the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge. The idea is to post bi-monthly posts about ourselves and completing all 26 posts by 31 December 2017. I am accepting Jeanne's challenge and I hope she won't mind if I add my own twist to it as well. My twist is that I will be using these posts to tell my birth siblings about my life. 

History has always been my favorite subject so it is no wonder that I fell in love with genealogy. With genealogy I can step back in time and discover who my ancestors were. I tell their stories here one my blog. Now I am going to step back into my memories and write my life so that my birth family will learn about me and my life. 

The letter A makes me think of being Adopted and Alabama.


I have always known I was adopted. I can remember a set of books that my parents used to read to me about being adopted and how special I was because I was chosen. As far as I am concerned being adopted was like winning the lottery. My birth mother didn't have a lot of choices in 1962 and I believe she made a great choice in choosing my adoptive parents, Bill and Nina. I say choose because my adoption was arranged by the obstetrician who not only delivered me but treated both of my mothers. As a matter of fact, this same doctor delivered all of my siblings too. I have a great life, and I love my family.

 Dawn Marie Williams (personal collection)


After graduating from high school on 4 June 1980, my husband Marc and I left for Montgomery, Alabama to begin our life as a married couple. He had been living and working there since shortly after we were married three months earlier. He was working for his brother, Lester at a motorcycle dealership. We lived in a two bedroom apartment in an area that was mostly open space. Now that area is filled with housing developments and shopping areas. 

We spent our time going to Lamaze classes as we awaited the birth of first child who was due on 21 September 1980. It was the hottest summer ever! To keep from going stir crazy in our apartment I would go to the Alabama State Archives where I began my journey in the world of genealogy. Finally on Friday,  10 October 1980 our son, Kenneth George Kitts was born at 12:50 p.m. We left the hospital the next day but two days later Kenny had to be admitted to the children's hospital because he was severely jaundiced. Then in November I was admitted to the hospital for anaphylactic shock from penicillin. 

By December the company my husband was working for was closing and we were heading home back to North Carolina. It was a 500 mile trip with a two month old baby but pulling up in front of my parents home just a few days before Christmas was homecoming I will never forget.

My son, Kenny. The best thing that happened in Alabama. (personal collection).


Friday, January 13, 2017

Do I Look Familiar Friday? # 4

 Photo Credit: Personal Collection

Do I look familiar to you? If so, please contact me! You can find my contact information in the left hand corner of my blog in the box "Are We Related?".

This is a post for my series, Do I Look Familiar Friday?. I will be posting pictures of myself at various ages in the hope that I may look familiar to someone who is either my sibling or by someone who maybe related to them.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Top 5 Posts of 2016 for Scarlet and Dawn

I didn't write nearly as many posts I had hoped to here at Scarlet and Dawn, however, things really started popping for me my research and my search for my biological family back in the spring and it didn't slow down all year. I am hoping that 2017 will continue to see as much success as I had in 2016. 

Here are the top 5 posts from my blog for 2016!

  • Newspaper Extraction Form for Death, Burial and Obituary Notices This was my top post for 2016 and it is still getting hits! After months of clipping burial, death, funeral and obituary notices for my birth family I needed to find a way to get as much information as I could from each type of notice. I hope that eventually I can make a book for each surname using my form and a copy of the notice.
  • The Tale of My Two Mothers  This is by far my favorite post so far! It is the story of how one woman gave me life and how one woman took me into her heart and made me hers. I had originally written the post for my blog Dawning Genealogy on Mother's Day, 9 May 2015. I updated it with a few more details and posted it here for Mother's Day, 8 May 2016.
  • I Found My Birth Father's Funeral Notice! This was an amazing find for me! I was in Charleston for medical reasons but as usual wherever I go I always find time for genealogy. I still have had no luck in finding my paternal half siblings but I won't stop until I do.
  • A Little of My Story This was my first blog post of 2016. It is my story about how I came to be adopted. 

Saturday, December 31, 2016

A New Year and a New Name for my Blog!

This is the first year for The Other Side of Scarlet. I wasn't sure if I would be able to keep up with two blogs but I did manage to contribute nearly 60 posts between this blog and Dawning Genealogy. I am certainly aiming to write more posts in the coming year.

There is a big change coming to The Other Side of Scarlet! The change will be in the title of this blog. I realized in the late summer and fall as I worked with several paternal cousins on our shared family lines that the name of this blog just wasn't right. The goal of this blog for me was to explore my birth family, focusing on the stories of my biological ancestors, exploring my DNA and using it to confirm my birth family.  Now, The Other Side of Scarlet will be known as Scarlet and Dawn. This change will begin today. The link will still be the same.

In exploring my DNA this past year two things happened. The first is that I have been following every BSO and the second is I fell into the rabbit hole during the process! I took advantage of a sale at 23 and Me for the health reports after learning that my birth father died of liver cancer and knowing that my birth mother had leukemia when she died of a heart attack. I have now tested with all three major DNA companies. I also took advantage of deal negotiated by Thomas MacEntee for the company GPS Origins.

Starting in 2017 I am going to write a series of posts about working with my cousins and how we used DNA and good old fashioned detective work to confirm our Bessinger family line. I have only recently learned that I have a couple of maternal lines that are Quakers and I am anxious to explore these lines further and will be posting about them later in 2017. 

I want to wish all of my readers a very Happy New Year! Thank you for your support over the last year and I look forward to reading more of your posts throughout 2017!