Sunday, May 15, 2011

Please read this first.

Welcome to the Free Family research blog. Three kinds of material will be posted on this blog: research we have done that will not appear in the Free family history; analysis we have done to determine what is to go into the book; and messages to you, our cousins, asking for help and keeping you up to date.

We are grateful for the circumstances that make writing the Free Family History possible – finally. As you know, I have had Addison’s disease for more than half my life. It is a terrible condition and has prevented me from doing many things. But at this moment I am on a new medication that allows me to write several hours a day, thus being able to keep my promise to you, that I would write the Free Family history. Jill has also had a miracle in her life which has freed up some time for working on the history. Together we will do our best.

And what an auspicious time to write the Free history. Women’s history in the church is at the forefront. And who will we be writing about? Among others? Emeline Free Young, Louisa and Hannah Free Wells, Vi Free Kimball. Of course, we’ll write about the Sherrills, Perkins and Frees as well as Andrew Free and all his tribe. We will include Martha Belcher, Annie Hicks, and the Jarrold sisters. Exciting, yes?

I’ve collected Free materials since I was about 15 years old, let’s see, that’s more than 50 years. I’m especially grateful for the contributions of Abbie Wells, Myrtle Joy Free, Judy Gunter, Jill Shoemaker, Mae Rose, Wanda Clark , William Sherrill, Pat Geisler and others. Of course, Jill and I have also done much original research. We can hardly wait to share all the great stuff we have found with you

We cannot put anything in the book we do not know; therefore, we need scans of anything and everything you have regarding any and all members of the Free family. Please scan and send pictures, documents, letters, journals, bios, to We are in particular need of pictures of the sons of Absalom Pennington Free: John Wesley, Finley Carroll, and William Oliver. But if you have a picture of Frees – in-laws, outlaws and children, homes, possessions, clothing, etc. – that is not on the disc from the 2006 family reunion, please scan, email and identify it, then send it on to us.

There are some research projects we would like to have done. If you have research experience or are willing to learn, please let us know you are willing to help. I am of an age and am taking a medicine that compel me to write, write, write until this project is complete. I hope I can keep myself from research tangents. If anyone is willing to take on a research tangent, just let us know.

Why me? Abbie Wells asked that question once, in the 1970s, when my family was visiting her. She admitted she had hoped to give her research materials to one of Betsy’s descendants. But I was the trained and interested one, so she passed them on to me. I don’t usually “toot my own horn,” but it may be necessary here. I have 2 ½ degrees from BYU, an M ED from ISU. I taught college composition as an adjunct professor [due to poor health] for more than 21 years at BYU-Ricks, Ricks, College of the Desert, Chapman University. My Wadsworth history won awards and took us to the Savoy in London, England where we lunched with the Duke of Norfolk.

I’ve written three sets of columns over my lifetime. The first was a humorous column about being a young mother and was printed monthly in the Idaho Farm News. The second was called QualityQuest and lasted 3 ½ years [until I moved] which was voiced on the Ricks College NPR station by myself. The third was a series of genealogy columns written over more than 5 years and published in 4 venues.

My genealogy how-to book, Find Your Actual, Factual Ancestors: A Genealogy Journey in 8 Steps is now at a publishers. My book of columns, It’s All Relatives, is available from my website which will be up and running again soon. I’ve won various writing awards, and even a teaching award at Ricks, though I was “only” an adjunct teacher.

Further, Absalom Pennington Free, born 1798, is only my great grandfather. Emeline Young is only my grand aunt. Hmm, that makes Brigham Young my grand uncle by marriage. I love these folks and am excited to write about them. I’ve stood on the land in St Clair County, Illinois where Absalom Pennington Free farmed. I’ve located and stood on the spot in Nauvoo where they lived. I would like to visit ancestral spots in North Carolina and Tennessee. We are now retired and on fixed income. So if any of you would like to contribute money to the writing, visiting, publishing of the Free history, we will not say nay. In fact, we should probably turn this into some kind of a non-profit, so your contributions are tax deductible. Anyone out there interested in such an endeavor?

Nevertheless, the history will be written and made available to all in some format for some kind of reasonable price. What are you willing to pay for a deeply-researched, professionally written, life-consuming project such as this family history? We need someone to take care of this side of things as well.

And then there is distribution. We would like all Free descendants to have access to this blog and the history. We need email addresses. Anybody interested in taking on this project? We should connect with the Young, Wells, Kimball, and Smith family organizations as well.

So I’m asking for help. HELP. And God bless us, every one. By the way, my full name is Helen LaRae Free VanderBeek Kerr, in case you were wondering.

You will notice that most of the items added to the blog are copyrighted. If you choose to use information from any of them, please attach the source information: author[s], title, publication date and url. Thanks.

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