thegenealogygirl


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Book, Book, & Book – Plus a Wee Glimpse of a Tale of Using Indirect Evidence

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I have loved books for as long as I can remember.  I probably even loved them before that.  When I was a teenager there was a certain book I checked out from the library several times.  I loved it so much that I asked my mom if I could say that I “lost it” and pay the lost book fee so I could keep it.  I was only joking.  Mostly.  You see, it was out of print and I really wanted my own copy.

That is definitely not the only time I have longed for an out of print book.

A few years ago I solved a long-standing brick wall using indirect evidence.  It was a lot of work.  I was nervous to call my conclusion solid.  The whole concept of indirect evidence was new to me.  I didn’t even know that phrase until well after I had drawn my conclusions.

Then I took an excellent class taught by Tom Jones at RootsTech in 2016 and realized I was, in fact, solid.  I had already done the very things he was teaching us, but I was uncertain until I watched him masterfully lay out how to use direct, indirect, and negative evidence.

But before taking that class and learning the phrase “indirect evidence”, I was scouring the web searching for more information to help solidify my conclusions.  I came across the book pictured above – Reminiscences of My Life and Times by, Telesphore Brouillette.

I could find it in only one location in the world – The University of Washington.

Telesphore was the brother of my previous brick wall.  I wanted desperately to get my hands on that book and see if my conclusions were correct.  Would he mention his sister in that 183 page volume and confirm my conclusions?

So onto the genealogy to-do list that book went.  I tried getting inter-library loan privileges, I considered asking my brother to go visit the library (but there is noooooo way he would scan all 183 pages for me), and I thought about going to Seattle myself and scanning away.

But I was definitely more thought than action on this to-do list item.  There were just other projects that were simpler to tackle.

Can any of you relate to that?  😉

Well, this past summer I connected with a newly found cousin, Margaret.  Margaret happens to own a copy of that prized book.  She generously offered to loan it to me to scan.  It arrived on Friday!

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Can you feel my pure genealogy joy pouring off your screen right now?  Because it is like the mighty Mississippi in both volume and current – lots and lots of joy!

So now I will interrupt my current and equally joyful scanning project (My Grandpa’s journals from his LDS mission to New Zealand in the late 1940s with a recap of his time in the Marine Corps during WWII) so that I can scan and return this precious book to Margaret.

Who needs chocolate when you can have rare books?

Thank you, Margaret!

 

 

Now for a very quick bit about two additional books written by dear genealogy friends.

Last Wednesday I completed reading Kin Types by, Luanne Castle.

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Oh!  Be still my heart and soul.  This slim, but powerfully moving chapbook (44 pages) of poetry, prose, and flash non-fiction is the perfect read for anyone who loves language, history, and genealogy.  You will be drawn into so many different compelling events in Luanne’s family tree.  Please read it and tell your friends about it.  You will love it!

I know exactly who needs to receive a copy of this book from me for Christmas.

Read Luanne’s own words describing the project here, and purchase this lovely book here.

 

In June, I finished reading Pacific Street by, Amy Cohen.

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Why haven’t I told you all about this book sooner?  Life, I suppose.  😉  Amy has created a beautiful historical fiction account of her own grandparent’s early lives.  It is lovely, moving, and so eye-opening.  Amy brings to life the experience of first-generation immigrants in America, of the challenging process for families to save and work to slowly bring everyone safely to America, and the persecution Jewish families have experienced pre-WWII.  It was especially meaningful to me to know that she wove this story using facts.  It felt like being invited into Amy’s home to listen to her tell you all about her Grandparents youth and how they met and I loved every minute of the tale.

You can read Amy’s own words about the project here, and you can purchase her wonderful novel here.

 

 

Ahhhh, books.  My love for you just never ends.  ❤️

 

 

Do you love books like you love air?  What is your favorite?

 

 

ps – Nobody take away my chocolate, please.  I may have been exaggerating a tiny bit about rare books replacing chocolate.  😉

 


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Two FamilySearch Classes this Week

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Sunday night I taught a class at my local Family History Center, Finding “Hidden” Records on FamilySearch.

I covered everything from this blog post and then some.  I really love teaching.  So it was a great time for me.  And bonus, my students were pretty happy too.

Well, today I get to teach a group of 10 and 11-year-old girls.  I have ten minutes.  Ten minutes is not a lot of time.  You really can’t cover a lot in ten minutes.  So I am going for quality.  We are going to talk about preserving memories.  I’ll tell them a story or two.  I’ll show them how to add a photo and an audio recording to FamilySearch from the app.  Then I am going to challenge them to go home and add 3 photos and 3 audio recordings to FamilySearch using the FS app.

I will send them home with this handout:

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I hope at least one of those little girls will feel a nudge towards her ancestors.

 

Wish me luck!

 

 

ps – Those girls?  They are members of my church.  We have a program called Activity Days that is for 8-12 year old girls.  They meet twice each month and learn new things, complete service projects, or participate in some sort of activity.  I was asked to help out this time.  If you are an Activity Days Leader and come across this post, please feel free to use my handout.

 

pps – If you are interested in my overly detailed handout from my Finding “Hidden” Records on FamilySearch class, send me an email and I’ll happily share.  Email address on sidebar. 

 


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My Maternal Ancestor Count

My Maternal Ancestor Count

Last week, my genealogy efforts felt aimless.

It’s understandable.  My Grandma just died.  She was a big part of my genealogy life.  She got me started.  She loved my updates.  She called me with questions.  I called her with discoveries and the resulting questions.  She was never far from my thoughts.

Last week I spent some time writing about her final two days of life.  I included every detail I could recall.  It is something that I hope will be important to my family now and in the future.

Pondering on those two days, on Grandma’s last 85 years, and on the questions I have asked her over the years, I was struck by one thought.

A good genealogist always runs out of time before they run out of questions.

Lest you worry, let me clarify.  I don’t have any genealogy regrets in regards to my Grandma.  I tested her DNA, she tested her DNA.  I interviewed her and recorded it.  I made lots of notes.  I asked her many, many questions over 20 years.  We hit the high points over and over again.  I even started keeping track of her verbiage on certain answers so that I could make a judgment call on how clear her memory of certain events was.  She was getting older after all.

Despite all of that time and all of that information, I still have questions.  Of course, I do.  Everything a genealogist does starts with a question.  If we run out of questions, we are doing it wrong.

So now that I can no longer ask my Grandma questions, a portion of my genealogy process is broken.

And that’s okay.

But I find myself feeling a bit aimless.

I need to get my feet solidly back under myself.

So in an effort to bring some more focus to my genealogy, I decided to create an ancestor count.  Except, I decided to leave my dad’s side of the tree out of it.  It’s not because I care about them less.  It’s simply because his side is a tangled mess of many LDS pioneers being worked on by many hundreds, dare I say thousands?, of descendants.  But on my mom’s side, that is all my Grandma, my sister, and me.  We did every bit of that work, the three of us, and only us.  There is still lots to do, and I will keep on doing it.  But looking at the numbers did something for my mental focus.

I think I am feeling my internal sense of direction coming back.

Here is my maternal ancestor count as of the 27th of September 2017:

Maternal Ancestor Count, 27 September 2017

 

If you’ve been reading my blog for long, you know that my great-grandfather John Costello is my biggest brick wall.  The missing 25% for my 2nd, 3rd, and 4th great grandparents is all because of that brick wall.  From there, I start to have missing pieces scattered throughout my tree.  To really help me track my progress, I added that last column so that I know which branches of my tree those ancestors come from.

Looking at the numbers this way has put an energy into my thoughts.  I know that goals will follow, but they aren’t solid yet.  For now, I’m just comforted by having a new yardstick to measure my progress.  My old yardstick was printing a new fanchart for Grandma every so often and seeing the differences.  And now?  Now, I will update my ancestor count every so often to measure my progress.  Maybe I can get my Mom excited about it.

Maybe.

 

Have you ever created an ancestor count?

 

 

 

I wish I could take credit for the idea of an ancestor count, but I can’t.  I have no idea who thought it up first.  But I first heard the idea from my friend Cathy at Opening Doors in Brick Walls, so I’ll send you her way.

 


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This and That

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My littlest darling battling a yucky stomach flu.

The last week has been rough at our house.  The stomach flu made its way through all of us with the exception of my husband.  Despite spending the majority of my time being a human pillow for my feverish, sleepy little lad, I did have some cool genealogy moments.

But first!

Exactly one year ago today, we said goodbye to our missionary.  One year down, one to go!  🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉  Here is my favorite picture from that day.

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And Second – 

Momma C is a woman in South Carolina who loves Mormon Missionaries.  She adopts them, trains them to say “Yes ma’am”, take out her garbage, and bring in her groceries.  In return she feeds them – a lot, calls their mothers every week, and sends text messages with pictures.  My missionary has been in that area for exactly 8 days.  I’ve gotten 2 phone calls, 17 text messages, and 16 photos from Momma C during those 8 days.  What an awesome service!  What makes it even more remarkable to me is that Momma C is a staunch Baptist, raised by a Baptist Preacher whose best friend happened to be a Mormon Bishop.  What a great reminder she is that we really don’t have to have the same beliefs or viewpoints to just love and serve each other.  And as she said, “We really do believe mostly the same things”.  Bless her, for focusing on our similarities, not our differences.  ❤️

Now for the genealogy.

 

 

On Sunday I was fortunate enough to teach a group of 15 and 16 year olds a little bit about Family History.  I love doing that!

In preparing, I revisited one of my earliest “hunts” – Helen Boles.  Helen is my 3rd great grandaunt.  Learning her story took quite a bit of digging.  I planned to tell her story as part of my class, so I wanted the details to be fresh in my mind.  While reviewing, I also reviewed my Ancestry hints for Helen, her husband John, her children, and grandchildren.  Ancestry had a hint for a FindAGrave entry for Helen’s husband John.

The hint was accurate.  But even better was the fact that someone had uploaded a photo of the headstone!  Helen had paid for a monument and included information about her husband, granddaughter, and great-grandson on the stone.  This act of love just added to my depth of feeling for Helen.

This headstone find sent me on the hunt for other cemeteries in Scotland that might have been added to FindAGrave.  Then I just branched out and found a handful of headstones for my Boles family from Scotland.  Among them:

  • James Thomson Boles (grandson of Helen Boles), wife Mary Ann Storey, and sons James Thomson Boles and John Albert Storey Boles.  Scotland
  • James Boles (nephew of Helen Boles), wife Jessie Ferguson, and daughter Annie McFarlane Boles.  Scotland
  • Barbara Crow Boles (granddaughter of Helen Boles), and husband Robert Smith Yuille.  Scotland
  • Isabella Boles (mystery great granddaughter of Helen Boles), and husband James Moffat Marr.  Scotland
  • Isabella Muir Boles (niece of Helen Boles), and husband Alexander Kirkwood.  Ontario, Canada
  • John McLaren Boles (nephew of Helen Boles), and wife Jean/Jane Penman.  Ontario, Canada

There were a few other Boles entries in these cemeteries, but without the stones for confirmation, they are still hanging out on my “likely” list.

In the past, I haven’t had much luck finding cemeteries or headstones for family members outside of the US.  These new finds were especially exciting.

I am so grateful for the individuals who photographed the headstones and added them to FindAGrave.  This act of service helped me learn more about many of my family members.  But even better than learning more, was the connection I felt when viewing the stones, particularly the one that Helen had made for her husband, granddaughter, and great-grandson.

 

How about you?  Have you found any cemeteries or headstones on FindAGrave outside of the US?

 

Or even better, have you helped to photograph a foreign or obscure cemetery and uploaded the photos to FindAGrave?

 

If so, I commend you for your great service.

 

Happy Thursday!  My kids start school next week – more time for genealogy.  😉

 


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The Price That We Pay as the Keepers of the Memories

PETERSON, Grandma and Grandpa with Kent kids, 1987

My siblings and I with our grandparents – Ronald and Margaret Peterson.  1987

The first time I read The Giver by Lois Lowry, I was in my late teens or early twenties attending college.  I was instantly struck by the lack of true joy that existed in the community because of the absence of historical knowledge and freedom of choice.  The stripping away of freedoms, the complete control of the environment – even the weather itself – eventually led to a deterioration in all that makes us human.  No one chose their own career, spouse, number of children, what to eat.  They took daily “vitamins” to control their sexual urges.  Children were bred and then placed with families.  Members of the community were instructed in every way.  They even lost their ability to see color.

But there was one community member who was the “Keeper of Memories”.  This community elder was tasked to contain all knowledge of the past.  He held the memories of snow, music, dance, colors, taste, love, fear, courage, war, death, hunger, and everything in life that has the potential to bring pain.  He alone could advise the other village elders on matters they did not understand.  He alone kept the memories of humanity.

Jonas, the main character of the story, is selected to be the next “Keeper of Memories” and begins to meet with the man for whom the book is titled.  The Giver slowly pours memories into Jonas.  He begins with pleasant memories.  As time passes Jonas learns all that has been taken from him and his community members.  He learns that joy and pain are two sides of the same coin.  That the deeper we love, the deeper our loss when death comes.

Genealogists are also Keepers of Memories.  Memories of family members and their lives.  Memories of facts and stories.  Memories of how our family members fit into history.  We research, archive, write, analyze, preserve, store, share, and most of all – we tell.

Genealogists may be the Keepers of Memories for their families.  But they are nothing like Lowry’s Keeper of Memories.  We tell everything we can, to everyone who will listen.

We pay a price for our role as Keepers.  We give up time, money, space in our homes and hearts.  We have rooms filled with boxes, photos, albums, records, and artifacts.  We pay far more than we would ever admit for supplies, trips, education, books, records, and subscriptions.  We spend more time than even exists in a normal person’s week on our work.  We fill our hearts to overflowing with connections, memories, and love for people – many of whom we have never met.

There is another price we pay.

It is sharp, gut wrenching pain.

Pain that comes when we open a death record for a little baby and read that they died of measles in their infancy.  Pain we feel again when we hear people refusing vaccines for their children.  Because we know.  We have read the records and seen child after child in the same family die of diseases that are preventable today.

Pain that comes when we learn that some ancestor was intentionally harmed by someone.  Or even worse, when we learn that a member of our family chose to cause harm to someone.

Pain that comes when we doggedly chase lead after lead after lead, hoping to find that one record, that one fact that will finally poke a hole in our brick wall only to face disappointment.

Pain that comes when we have some simple daily reminder of how we lost someone that we love more than we can possibly say.

That happened to me this weekend.

I was watching something from my DVR.  An old episode of Long Lost Family that I hadn’t watched yet.  When it finished and I clicked delete, the TV went right to the channel it was on and a commercial began to play at that moment.  The moment I clicked the off button was the exact moment I heard “…cures Hep C…”.  I instantly turned the TV back on and sobbed as I watched a commercial for the first time, advertising a new wonder drug that can cure Hepatitis C in a few weeks or months with a 95% cure rate.*

My heart immediately ached for my Grandpa Peterson.  A man that I loved with my whole heart.  A man who was good and loving and selfless.  A man who always had time to listen and help.  A grandpa like no other.  A grandpa who spent time with me – lots of time.  He was a Mormon Missionary, a Marine, a University Professor, a Psychologist, a Church Leader, a Marriage and Family Therapist, a School Board President, a good neighbor, and an outstanding son, husband, father, brother, and grandfather.

He died about the same time that I first read The Giver.  I was 20 years old when he passed.  It was a punch to the gut.

He died of complications from Hepatitis C that he contracted from a blood transfusion in the eighties.  Near the end, he had Congestive Heart Failure that was so advanced he slept in a wooden rocking chair most nights.  He tried everything the doctors suggested.  He tried Interferon treatments that left him even sicker, much like chemo treatments.  He was on a no salt diet and meds for his CHF.  Nothing was working.  As a last ditch effort, he had heart surgery.  There was a slim chance he would recover and then they could give him a liver transplant.  But he never left the hospital.  He died two weeks later, three weeks after his 71st birthday.

As I watched the commercial, I sobbed for the years that I lost with my Grandpa.  And I thought about how we, as our family’s Keeper of Memories, can’t help but connect everything we see, hear, read, and experience to some part of our family’s history.  I’m not the only member of my family who remembers how we lost Grandpa.  There are plenty of others who share in the same pain.  But there are so many other parts of our family story that are kept only by me.

I am my family’s Keeper of Memories.  I pay a price because of that.  But it is a price I would pay again and again because the joy, understanding, and connections that come, outweigh the price every single day.  Even on the days when a TV commercial reminds me of one of my greatest losses.  The depth of my pain only exists because of the depth of my love and the joyful memories of a grandfather who loved being a grandfather – who loved me completely and let me know it.

I treasure my role as Keeper of Memories for my family.  I don’t need that red sled.  I’m staying in this role until I know it’s time to pass the torch.  I will keep telling everyone in my family who will listen, the precious tid-bits about our past.

My Grandpa is one of the reasons I embraced this role that came to me.  His memory should never be forgotten.  I will do my best to make sure it isn’t.

 

What joy and pain have come to you as your family’s Keeper of Memories?

 

 

*I’m not sure if I got the numbers from the commercial exactly right.  That is what I recall.  I didn’t want to find it and watch it again.

 

ps – I believe that Families can be Forever.  This belief means that the flip side of my pain in missing my Grandpa is the joy of knowing I will see him again.  I treasure that knowledge.  His death was the first that I experienced in my family.  (Not counting great grandparents who I didn’t know nearly as well.)  That, and the manner in which he died, and the strength of our relationship, have made his loss more painful than many others I have experienced.  Which makes my gratitude for Eternal Families even deeper.  You can read more about what I believe here.


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Memorial Day 2017

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Memorial Day 2017 with my family was really wonderful.

 

Part One:

 

While driving north to begin our adventures, we talked about the origins of Memorial Day, our cousin James Boles and his life and sacrifice, and where we were headed.

Part Two:

 

A picnic lunch with my 4th great grandmother, Maria Amanda Dolby Skeen at Lehi Pioneer Cemetery.  This sweet little cemetery is just a grassy park surrounded by trees and a flowing irrigation ditch.  There is only one marker sharing the history of the cemetery.  We know that Maria is buried there.  She was the mother of 9 children, 4 who pre-deceased her.  She died in 1854 at the age of 36, leaving her husband with 5 young children.  Maria and her family were Mormon Pioneers who experienced extreme persecution and were driven from one place to the next, finally traveling with the saints to what is now known as Utah.  A few short years after their arrival, Maria passed away.

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Part Three:

 

A few hours in the American Fork Cemetery.  We had a list of ten of my husband’s ancestors to look for, and 16 little star shaped flags to post on any veteran’s graves that had no decorations.  This year I couldn’t find actual flags so I had to make do with my Dollar Store find.

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This little darlin’ was so fascinated by everything about the cemetery.  He wanted to know all about every headstone he came upon.  He was searching for “soldier headstones” and “B-E-C-K”.

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He was so happy when he found his first “B-E-C-K” headstone.  Of course I missed his huge smile and caught his explanation instead.  😉

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Jacob S and Elizabeth H Beck, my husband’s 2nd great grandparents

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With my camera in hand, I obviously had to photograph any headstone that caught my eye.  I have a bundle to add to findagrave.

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It was a lovely cemetery visit, to a beautiful cemetery, in a fantastic setting, on a perfect day.

Part Four:

 

We made some new family memories exploring the beautiful Cascade Springs.

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Even the drive home was picturesque.  The summit took us to an elevation of 8060!

It was a Memorial Day to remember.

 

Happy Wednesday!  I hope you preserve a special memory today.

 

 

ps – Why do 15/almost 16 year olds insist on being ridiculous in photos?  Sigh.  My 19 year old recently told me I need to lecture his teenage brother and tell him to just smile for photos.  Haha, he was the scowler/face maker not so long ago.  A normal phase I suppose…