thegenealogygirl


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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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Advice Please ❤️

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I have finished filing thousands of precious letters between my grandparents, as well as letters from my great grandparents, extended family, and friends to my Grandpa during WWII and my grandparent’s respective missions.

I have begun scanning and transcribing.  What a joy!

But I am struggling with a few decisions.

Should I post the letters here or on their own blog?  I haven’t counted the letters, but there are thousands.  If I post them here, how should I alter my posting schedule?

Should I include everything?  My Grandma wrote the word destroy on a few of the envelopes.  You see, she inadvertently “Dear John”ed my Grandpa and was extremely embarrassed by that.  It wasn’t something she talked about.  Ever.  But my Grandpa told me all about it.  How do I handle those letters with respect to both my Grandma’s feelings and honoring the truth of their story?  (I really don’t think she had a reason to be embarrassed, it all worked out just fine in the end.)

Then there are a few letters written by Grandpa’s friends that don’t exactly paint the letter writers in the best light.  Do I include those?

Oh boy!  So many decisions.

So, I have a little survey here with these questions.  Feel free to answer on the survey or in the comments or both.  I would love any feedback that might help me choose a path forward.

 

Thank you!

 

 

 


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If you aren’t watching Relative Race – you are seriously missing out!

relative race

Relative Race is a reality tv genealogy extravaganza chock full of all the feels.

All.  The.  Feels.

Seriously, if you aren’t watching this season, do yourself a favor and watch it.  The first season was fine – not my favorite, but my kids liked it and it’s definitely family friendly so we watched it together.

But this season – so, so, so, so good!

You can watch it from the beginning for free on the BYUtv app or you can watch it online for free at BYUtv.  Here is the link to the first episode.

The premise of the show is that these four couples had their DNA tested through Ancestry.com.  The producers used their DNA matches to plan out a family member for each team to meet each day.  They all started in Florida and each day they have to travel to a new city with the use of paper maps.  They have a burner phone that they can take pictures with.  They text a picture of themselves by the city sign to producers and then they are given a challenge.  Once they complete the challenge, they have a second challenge.  The challenges are often related to the interests of a relative that they will be meeting.  Once they complete the second challenge they are given an address that they have to find.  They arrive at their relative’s home, take a picture together and text it in to stop their clock.  Each day they have an allotted time to complete everything and arrive at their relative’s home.  The team that goes over their allotted time the most receives a strike.  Three strikes and the team goes home.  The show takes place over ten consecutive days.  The end goal is to arrive in the same city – I think it’s Boston this year.  Once they arrive they have some more competing to do to win the prize.

The amazing part comes when they meet this relative they had previously never met.  Sometimes they are distant cousins.  But sometimes, they are immediate family members.  The relative always has some sort of activity planned to allow their new family members to get to know them and their interests.  The team then spends the night with their new found relatives.

The show is very tastefully done, especially considering how personal some of these connections are.  It’s very family friendly.  And for those of you that might be wary of the fact that it is produced by BYUtv – have no fear, there is absolutely no religious angle to the show.  In fact, none of the team members seem to be LDS.

My husband, 15 year old son, and I have been watching it together.  We all love it so much.  Most episodes my husband ends up crying a few times – although, he cries at touchy feely commercials so that doesn’t really mean a lot.  😉  My husband is an acquaintance of the host.  They both attend an annual event.  Last night while we were watching an episode, my husband says to me, “I’m going to have to ask him how he plans to top this.  This has been an incredible season!”

It’s so true.  Give it a try, if you aren’t hooked with the first episode, skip to the episode from April 9th.  I promise, it’s worth it!

 

ps – This season ended last night.

 


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“We’re not Irish… so we just decorate for Easter.”

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A few weeks ago, my darling little 5 year old was playing with a friend.  They were in my piano room and I was in the next room.  I heard my kiddo say, “We’re not Irish.”

It’s true.

But, it’s a weird thing to say.  Especially when it’s completely out of the blue like it was.  I chuckled to myself and thought, “Okay, I guess he’s the son of a genealogist.”

Then he said, “So we just decorate for Easter.”

Oh!

Then I got it.

He was basically explaining to his little pal, who could not have cared less, why we didn’t have any St. Patrick’s Day decorations up, but we did have Easter decorations up.  Not lots, just those little window clings.

It was only the week before that my kiddo was at a different friend’s house where there was lots of St. Patrick’s Day decor.  When we left he said we should decorate for St. Patrick’s Day and out of laziness I replied, “Well, we’re not Irish, so we just decorate for Easter.”

My words came right back to me.

But for a brief moment I thought my little 5 year old cared about his ethnicity estimates.

😂

Maybe one day!

 

Happy Tuesday – I hope you make a great, or at least amusing, genealogy discovery today!

 

ps – Won’t it be funny if my ethnicity estimates show that I am a wee bit Irish?

 


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National Family History Month

National Family History Month

October is National Family History Month.

Sort of.

It’s a bit of a puzzle to try to determine if it really is or isn’t.  Go ahead and give a whirl.  Maybe you can figure it out well enough to explain.  This is what I can tell you.  Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah has introduced and helped pass legislation every year for many years to designate October as National Family History Month.  I can’t find anything that indicates it has happened this year, but I like the idea so I’m going to celebrate whether some government agency put a stamp of approval on it or not.

How do I celebrate?

Well, I keep working on my family history like I always do but I add an extra element.  I post some small thing on Facebook everyday.  A photo, a short story or anecdote, a ‘did you know?’ about a record collection or website.  Just simple things each day.  I plan to do it again this year in honor of National Family History Month.  The month that may or may not be a thing this year.

Join me won’t you?  How will you celebrate?

 


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Cousins All Around Me

Me & a bunch of my first cousins.

Me, my two sisters & a bunch of my first cousins.

Growing up, I loved spending time with my first cousins on both sides of my family.  My definition of ‘cousins’ was formed by these interactions.  For me, cousins are good.

As I have gotten older my world has expanded.  I understand cousin relationships beyond first cousins.  I’ve gotten to know some of my other cousins.  I also cherish those relationships.  I love making a connection with someone who shares an ancestor.  I love to see that we share traits, habits, mannerisms, opinions, values, and simple things that must be genetic or learned from our common ancestor and passed down.  Case in point, check out the hand positions in the above photo.  No one told us how to stand, only to turn to the side and squeeze together so we would all fit.

I love meeting new-to-me cousins through my blog and online trees.  The relationships that develop are awesome.  We share information, stories and photos.  For me, cousins are good.

What has really surprised me over the years are the few times when I have learned that someone dear to me is also my cousin.  This sweet moment has happened three times.

1 – When we purchased our first home, we had amazing next door neighbors.  Their two kids were about the same age as our two kids.  The husband and wife were almost exactly our same ages.  We became fast friends.  After a few months of living there, we found out that our two husbands were 3rd cousins.  Their grandmothers were first cousins, close first cousins.  That meant our children, who were each others best friends, were 4th cousins.  Such a fun discovery!

2 – Several months ago I was working in Family Tree on FamilySearch.  I noticed that some photos had been added to my 3rd great grandfather Lyman Stoddard Skeen.  I looked at the user name and thought it would be an interesting coincidence if that person was who I thought it was.  I clicked on the name and saw their email address.  Sure enough, it was a woman who lives in my neighborhood.  A woman who taught my son piano lessons for a few years.  A woman I find completely delightful, a friend.  And as it turns out, my 3rd cousin once removed.  You know what sweetens that deal?  Her son and his family live a few houses down from me.  Fourth cousins right there!

3 – Just last week almost the same thing happened.  I noticed that some changes were made on my 2nd great grandfather Heber Albert Huband by someone with a familiar name.  A woman who I work with at my local FamilySearch Center.  A woman I have gotten to know as we have collaborated, attended each others classes, and assisted patrons.  She has become a friend, and now I know she is also my 4th cousin once removed.

I LOVE discovering that my friends are also my family!  For me, cousins are good.  Really, good.  I love feeling as if I have cousins all around me.