Thursday, October 16, 2014

Vikings in Lincolnshire

It does seem strange how one family demands attention. It is as if the ghosts of our ancestors are saying 'pick me pick me!' They will not be denied.  As of today there are 38,059 people on my tree. In preparing the Christmas project for 2013 it was the Cullins family that pushed to the fore. (Hannah Cullins was my paternal grandfather’s mother.) Throughout this year I’ve added to the Cullins information and I can’t seem to get away from them. sends emails with new hints for our trees. These hints could be for any one of the 38,059 people, although they generally are hints for direct-line ancestors, which narrows the pool significantly.  Still, that is a lot of people. I decided to pick one random hint, do an updated search, and write up a little article for the blog.  It was the Billesby family that was picked out the virtual straw hat. I knew nothing about them but when I looked them up – guess what! – they lead right on down to Hannah Cullins .

Cicely Billesby * (1475 - )
is Sandy’s 13th great grandmother

Your 13th great granJane Langton * (1515 - 1559)
daughter of Cicely Billesby *

son of Jane Langton *

son of Edward Asfordby *

son of William Asfordby *

William Asfordby * I Hon (1638 - 1698)
son of John Asfordby *

daughter of William Asfordby * I Hon

son of Susannah Asfordby *

son of William Beatty * II

daughter of George Beatty *

son of Rebecca Jane Beatty *

William C Cullins * (1825 - 1918)
son of John Cullins * II

As you can see the first Billesby (Billsby, Bilsby) in our family was Cicely born in 1475. Once she married we lost that name, of course, but the DNA flows on down.  So, what of Cicely’s family? It seems that the family of Cicely’s husband, Alexander Langton and the Asfordby family were close, intermarrying neighbors in or around the village of Billesby (now Bilsby, yes it is still there!), Lincolnshire, England. Cicely’s second husband was John Asfordby.

 Lincolnshire, England

These days Bilsby is a 10 minute drive to the beach at Sutton on Sea, or a 2 minute jaunt into the market town of Alford, East Lindsey District.  You can read more about Bilsby at
Here is what I’ve gathered from perusing the online information given for the Billesby family. They were likely not Angles or Saxons, or Norman French . . . most likely, they were settlers who came with the marauding Vikings of Norway.  If you haven’t seen the Vikings series on the History Channel I recommend it, especially to my family.  These are your ancestors, colorfully portrayed. (Another of our lines leads back to Ragnar.)  I’ve watched the first season, but there are two more.  Also, look at this article about the Norman Invasion of England especially the section called Tostig's raids and the Norwegian invasion.

The suggestion that Bilsby (Billesby) was probably named for a Norse goddess, Bil, is another clue that our ancestors were Norwegian settlers. They, of course, didn’t have a 10 minute drive in from the coast, but a few days of trekking would have brought them to the ideal spot for a settlement.  I believe they were there a while before the Norman Invasion of 1066. After the invasion when the Normans were in power they would have granted the Billesby family the land they had already claimed, no doubt, in thanks for aiding in the conquest of England. By the time the Doomsday book recorded Billesby it was a settlement of 18 households.  There was, eventually a castellated and moated house (replaced by the Bilsby House mansion built in 1740 on the same sight). The other dwellings would have been wattle and daub with thatched roofs.

Our family name comes from that first settlement and most likely was of that first land holding Billesby family.  Here is Cicely Billesby’s family tree:

John de Billesby */ (1226 - )
is Sandy’s 21st great grandfather

Your 21st great grandfath
son of John de Billesby */

son of Robert de Billesby*

son of Eudo de Billesby *

son of Richard Billesby *

son of John Billesby Bilesby *

son of Thomas Billesby *

son of Richard Billesby *

daughter of John Billesby *

John de Billesby, born 1226, is as far back as the records go at the moment. That is 160 years after the Norman invasion and 140 years after the village of Billesby was listed in the Doomsday book.  The family certainly had a long history in that area prior to the first of our records. This John was my grandchildren’s 23 great grandfather.  
Lincolnshire is primarily, even to this day, agricultural and life keeps the slow pace of the seasons. Most likely the landholding Billesby's were Medieval landlord famers with tenets working a good deal of the land. For many more generations Cicely’s descendants remained in Lincolnshire. It wasn’t until 1674 that the brave Billesby descendent, William Asfordby, gathered his wife, Martha Burton, and children and left the land their family had claimed six centuries before and headed for America.  You’ll find some interesting facts about this intrepid ancestor at William Asfordby. 

Credits: Thanks to and

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Ichabod and ADGD

[There's a song at the bottom!]

Okay, here’s the deal. . . I have this disease called ADGD. The above picture was posted on Facebook by one of my genealogy wielding 3rd cousins, whom I love dearly. It’s meant to be funny (I’d love to give credit for the picture, but I don’t know where she got it). It is in no way meant to poke fun at those with ADD or ADHD. Still I think most genealogists will agree that they have a problem with ADGD, which if you are trying to accomplish anything, can be a very real problem.
At Christmas I promi told my family to expect an “Ohio family-of-the-month” until the workbook I sent them was complete. That would mean I’d need to send one family’s information in January, right? Today is January 30. Yikes! It is a given that January is a very busy month for me in other ways but you’d think I’d be able to finish the Cullins family in short order as it is the one I’d already started. Not done. Of course, there’s plenty of time . . . two days. I have two whole days to work on this. Aren’t I lucky there are 31 days in this month? I have many non-gen things to do but that is beside the point.
Boy have I been distracted. There were several days when I was determined to work on the Cullins. Indeed, they are fascinating people but. . . picture this, I’m sitting at my desk looking at’s John Cullins page on my monitor and then someone walks by me with a steaming bowl of home-made corn chowder. My nose picks up the scent, I sniff the air, my head turns to follow that delicious odor, and I start to float out of my chair. I'm transported out of the 1805 Cullins’ cabin with spoon in hand and feet flapping. Picture, if you will, Ichabod Crane at a party. Yes, it is downright cartoony. Of course, it isn’t literally a bowl of chowder it is more likely a comment someone made on the Oldfield family on Nancy Fidler’s page. (I started this morning with this one.) Since revved up their ‘comment’ section to social media status it has been a banquet of comments (large
enough to cause nightmares), most of which I’ve had to save to look at later (even with the fear that the headless horseman will soon be riding my way).

Or, it could be that I pulled myself back to the Cullins only to find I’ve somehow gotten wrapped up in the fascinating Vassal family (Yum, pot roast with veggies!), landing in the 1600s. Well, who could resist. You probably haven’t heard of Uncle William who, in my opinion, was one of the most significant men to set foot on our soil. For me he has risen to the ranks of Abe and MLK and FDR. So, you can understand why I was pulled away from the good ol’ Cullins.
I’m switching everything over to a new tree. I try to do some of that every day -- it’s a distraction. In December I found my cousin Stephanie’s daughter on Facebook. There’s so much to catch-up on with her (Hm, chocolate cake!). Oh, but she's not a Cullins. And so it goes . . .
I’m really rock ‘n rollin’ with Facebook. Yesterday I added as friends cousin Patty and her daughter on my father’s side (hamburgers hot off the grill!) and the son of my cousin Susie on my mother’s side (the chips – got to love those Lays).
So you can see each circumstance is a delightful bowl of food passing by Ichabod’s nose.  Old Ic definitely has ADGD. There is no end to the work you can do on your family history. It is absolutely endless.  Still there is a great feeling of satisfaction when you complete a project, which is why every month I’ll work to overcome ADGD!

Ichabod and pie – Disney Wiki
The Headless Horseman Pursuing Ichabod Crane, by John Quidor, 1858, Smithsonian.
Turn, Turn, Turn - The Byrds, embryonicsoul,
YouTube GVmota

Monday, January 20, 2014

Saddling Up the Horse

It says there have been 34 visitors to my blog so far today and that is amazing as nothing has posted in almost a month. Like everyone I was busy with the holidays. January is an odd one. Welcoming it as a fresh start I try to sort through any files from the previous year both paper and digital to be ready for taxes, have a clean and orderly desk with room in it (!), and a tidy computer with fresh files for the New Year. That is the ideal anyway. I try to have a life in addition to all that but do hope by the end of the month I’ll be ready to rock 2014.
After Christmas Our Ohio Pioneers and the stacks of books had been sent off to family. My copy was still in pieces and there was a very messy guest/assembly room to reclaim. The door was closed on the mess. As of this morning it is accomplished. The book is on the shelf and the room looks great. Guests are welcome once more. So, what’s next?

The book, or rather workbook, is a work in progress. The introduction promised that more information on each of our families would be added every month. "Welcome to the family of the month club!" reminiscent of the fruit of the month, wine of the month, etc. This month it's time to finish the Cullins family of Muskingum County, Ohio. What fascinating stuff! I’ve run into references to Melungeons, a mixed-race group of mysterious origin from Appalachia, mention of Jamestown, and even John Smith and Pocahontas. Good grief, maybe there were vampires back there as well! (Okay, just kidding. If you haven't followed the Twilight series that comment makes no sense at all.)

Are any of these related to my family? I don’t know yet, but what interesting possibilities they present.  There's still a lot of work to be done. Of all the Ohio pioneer families we had this Cullins family is most like the one depicted in Conrad Richter’s Awakening Land Trilogy. They entered Ohio very early and carved out a homestead in the wilderness.
So folks, that’s where I’m at. Just saddling up the horse for a ride through the year. (No, not a literal horse, that beauty at the top of the page isn't mine. I snapped a photo of him while working on Sandy Hikes San Diego, at the lovely and rugged Daley Ranch near Escondido, CA. Two riders were ready to go up one of the many trails best accessed on horseback. Looking further into these Ohio families will be an interesting journey, and it brings up the desire, once again, to travel to Ohio. Today the TrekOhio website posted on Facebook a fabulous winter hike. Check it out!

I received a note on my hiking blog that the musical links were great. There isn't anything relevant to my genealogy work at the moment except that wonderfully cool, mellow music that has been keeping me company - Jack Johnson's album Brushfire Fairytales. Enjoy!

Credits: TheJackJohnsonShow YouTube, Jack Johnson - Drink The Water, Album – Brushfire Fairytales