FamilySearch Recipes

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During RootsTech, FamilySearch announced FamilySearch Recipes.  A portion of their website dedicated to preserving favorite family recipes.  What a fabulous idea!

Most of us have special recipes in our families, even if they are from the current generation.  In my family, I have a few favorite recipes that come from my Grandma.  There aren’t many, but the few I have are treasures.  I have several of my own recipes that my family LOVES.  I can’t get back the family recipes that have been lost to time, but I can be sure to preserve my own recipes for my children and the generations that will follow.

My oldest son is currently serving as a Missionary for our church.  His 19th birthday is coming up.  Missionaries don’t really need much.  They move very frequently and live out of 2 large suitcases and 1 one carry-on suitcase.  He doesn’t need more “stuff” for his birthday.  But he could probably use a little dose of home.

So, for his birthday I created him this very detailed recipe of his favorite pasta:

lemon pasta, one file-01

And because I know he will most likely lose track of his laminated recipe cards at some point in his life, I also uploaded it to FamilySearch Recipes.

I included the background of this recipe:

In 2007 I had a cardiac ablation. Afterwards I developed a blood clot in my neck. It was very painful and I lost mobility in my neck and shoulders. I was stuck resting for a few weeks. During that time our next door neighbors were doing some remodeling in their kitchen. My sweet neighbor, and very good friend – Brooke, cooked dinner in our kitchen for both of our families for many days. One day she tried a new pasta recipe. I LOVED it. I kept meaning to ask her for the recipe. I never remembered to ask. We moved away and I still thought about that yummy pasta on occasion. I decided to try to recreate it. After many revisions, this was the end result. It has become a family favorite. It is fast and easy to make, light and delicious. My oldest son especially loves this pasta dish. For his 19th birthday – his first birthday as a missionary – I created this detailed recipe for him to follow.

Not only do I love this pasta because it is delicious, but I love it because it reminds me of my very dear friend and her loving service to me and my family. As a bonus, Brooke’s husband is my husband’s 3rd cousin. A fact we discovered several months after we became neighbors.  🙂


I look forward to preserving additional recipes on FamilySearch Recipes.  Especially the few that come from my Grandma.  She made the best orange rolls!  That one needs to be preserved for sure.


Do you have any family recipes you want to preserve?




Family History Magic & Involving Your Family!


My youngest, my husband, my computer, my leg, & The Tooth Book.

Saturday night story time for my little one consisted of listening to MY Grandpa reading The Tooth Book.  This awesome moment was many years and the efforts of several people in the making.  Here’s what it took to make the magic happen:

  1. My Grandpa visited my family years ago – in the 80s maybe?  While visiting he pulled out his tape recorder, two blank tapes, and a big stack of our picture books.  He read for 2 hours.  He must have done it while we were sleeping because I don’t hear any kid noises in the background.
  2. My mom stored those tapes all this time in her closet.  When I asked about tapes of HER Grandpa’s interview she threw in the tapes of MY Grandpa reading stories.  This was sometime last year.
  3. I went to RootsTech this year, connected with Larsen Digital, they emailed me to remind me of their RootsTech special and I took my tapes to them to be digitized.
  4. When the files got back I really wanted to break those big long audio tracks into individual tracks by story so they would be more user friendly.  I asked my cousin Matt to tackle that and he did!  On the very day I asked him to help!!
  5. A few days after we got the tracks back from Matt, my husband dug around in our children’s books to find the only book we currently own that my Grandpa read all those years ago.  He sat our little guy down next to me on the couch with book in hand and finally – Family History MAGIC for my preschooler.

I am so grateful that everything worked together to culminate in this cool moment.  We have listened over and over to my Grandpa already and I hope we will continue to do so.  All of this leads me to a few very specific points I want to make.

First, asking my cousin Matt was a big leap for me.  Not because I thought he would say no or anything, just that I, like many of you, bear the responsibility of being the Family Genealogist without complaint or much hope of ever really sharing the load.  But is that fair?

When I help new genealogists who are just starting to work on their family history they often express concern that they will “mess something up” and so-and-so in their family will be upset.  Because of that they have never gotten involved before and are hesitant now.

This repeated experience has taught me that I probably have family members who would be happy to pitch in if they felt comfortable doing it and knew where to start and what to do.  When those audio files showed up in my email from Larsen Digital and I was facing an unknown task that would take me a lot of time to master, I remembered all of this and thought of my cousin Matt.


My cousin Matt

Here he is.  He looks friendly right?  He totally is.  Plus, he has expressed interest in our family history repeatedly over the years.  AND, he happens to have an MBA in something to do with the music industry – I should totally remember what exactly but I don’t.  He lives in Tennessee and works in the music industry.  I took a stab that he would know how to split apart those tracks or would have access to someone who could teach him.

My thought process went a little something like this – “I will probably spend about two weeks trying to figure this out, get really frustrated, learn a lot of new things, and finally get this done.  OR, I could ask Matt.  I bet he knows how to do this.  If he doesn’t he can ask one of his friends.  He could probably do it MUCH faster then me.  Plus it gives him a chance to get involved in our Family History and he has wanted that in the past.”  Deep breath.  “Okay, I’ll ask Matt to help.  And be sure to give him an easy way out if he doesn’t want to do it.”

I asked.  He accepted.  And he did it lickity split, that very day.


Second.  All of that hard work and effort by multiple people needs to be preserved and protected in such a way that generations of my family can have access to my Grandpa reading children’s books.  So step one was emailing my family to let them know.  Step two was inviting them to my dropbox folder with the recordings so they can download and listen to them.  And last, step three was more complicated and the most important.  I uploaded the audio files to so that there is a place online where those files will be stored indefinitely.  I shared the link on our family Facebook page, in a story on my Grandpa’s page on FamilySearch, and on his page in my private Ancestry tree that my family has all been invited too.  This way if they choose not to download the files now or lose track of them, there is a way they can find them.

Third.  This experience has caused me to reflect on how we can get our family members more involved in our Family History efforts.  I’m certainly not an expert on this but my experience with Matt and with other family members in the past has caused me to consider a few points that help lead to a moment like the one Matt and I shared.

As the family genealogist, we should create broad family interest in our history through regular, gentle, bite-sized sharing of stories, photos, artifacts, and facts about our family.  Then we need to pay attention to who is interested in what we share.  What special skills do they have and how can those skills help our family history efforts?  What is their schedule like?  How much time could they share?

This simple equation has been successful for me in the past in small ways and once again with my cousin Matt and these audio tracks.


Have you been able to get your family members involved in your Family History work?  If so, how?  If not, what have you tried that didn’t work?



My Great Grandmother the Genealogist

Estelle Maffit Duval

Estelle Duval, my great grandmother

I was born 14 months before my great grandmother lost her battle with cancer.  At the time of her death, I was her only great grandchild.  I have no memory her, and yet her impact on my life has been significant.  Among other things, she was a genealogist.

Long before the days of personal computers, genealogy programs, and the internet, my Grandma Duval worked to preserve her family history through her amazing photography and through several different typed records.

Grandma Duval had two children, my grandmother and a son.  For each of her children she created a lovely little book about their family history.  I say lovely, but the reality is that they are just a handful of typed sheets taped together at the top.  Each book is about 12 pages and includes information for just a few generations.  What makes them lovely is the information she included and the handwritten notes in various colors that she added over the years.

I ended up with both books in the collection of items my grandmother gave me.  The last few weeks I have been corresponding with my cousin, a child of my grandmother’s brother, and am about to mail her the book created for her dad.  Before sending it, I scanned each page.

As I scanned this sweet little book, I was once again overcome with emotion.  I felt so much gratitude and love for my Grandma Duval.  I am particularly grateful for her genealogical work.  It’s from her records that I have found so many clues that have helped me understand the additional records I find.  It’s from her notes and photos that I find that extra special something that helps me know my ancestors more personally.  It’s because of the records she left that I knew where to look at all when I got started.  I can’t wait to give her a big hug one day and say thank you for the treasures she left for me to find!


I have included just a few pages of the book my Grandma Duval made for her son.  I blurred or removed the personal details about my great uncle to protect his privacy as he is still living.

Francis Duane Duval Book Cover018

Francis Duane Duval Book, page one019 copy

Francis Duane Duval Book, page two020

Francis Duane Duval Book, page four022



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.



Ancestor Story – Don, Jason, Ira Stearns Hatch, & A Tangle of Cousins – 52 Ancestors

jason, baby - b&wJason

My husband Jason isn’t a genealogist.  It’s not that he doesn’t find it interesting, he does.  But he’s busy and doesn’t love it like I do, so it’s not a big priority for him.

Two weeks ago I started a new group of people in my Family History Class at church.  He decided to join in.  The first week is really basic and talks mostly about why we do family history.  This past week we discussed an article and then took a tour of the FamilySearch website.

Several hours later my husband was mentioning something he noticed in the photos section on FamilySearch so we pulled it up and looked at photos of his ancestors that other family members have uploaded.  This was the first time I had really looked in his tree.  I noticed a name that was familiar for some reason – Ira Stearns Hatch.  It only took a moment to decide that I knew where I had seen that name.


I called my sister and asked if she would know a name from her husband’s tree if I mentioned it.  She did me one better and pulled out her husband Don’s fan chart to find the very name I was calling about – Ira Stearns Hatch!

A moment of calculating later and this is my conclusion:

  • Don & Jason are brothers-in-law & 4th cousins once removed.
  • My sister Tara & I are – of course – sisters, but also 4th cousins once removed-in-law.
  • Our children are 1st cousins & 5th cousins once removed.
  • Don is my kids uncle but also their 4th cousin twice removed.
  • Jason is my sister’s kids uncle but also their 5th cousin.

Such a fun discovery!

Ira Stearns HatchIra Stearns Hatch

Ira Stearns Hatch is not my ancestor but it turns out he is the ancestor of my children & my nieces and nephews.

My husband is now wondering how many of his friends he might be related to.  I heard recently about the Are we related? app.  I have a feeling if I tell Jason about it he just might start asking everyone to log in and see if they are somehow related.  🙂

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Descendancy Research – A Story About Catherine Lucille

Last week I defined Descendancy Research.

Descendancy research is the process of tracing one person’s posterity or descendants.  It starts with one person and moves forward in time.

Descendancy research is a pretty hot topic right now among genealogists, particularly among those just beginning to work on their tree.  There are a lot of reasons why descendancy research is valuable to genealogical efforts.  I will continue to discuss this important topic in future posts.  Today, I want to illustrate the power of descendancy research through a true story.

First a graphic to acquaint you with the characters in our completely factual tale.

Catherine Lucille story

Several years ago, Gregg and I began a lovely correspondence.  {That story is, in it’s own right, a completely factual tale worthy of it’s own post.  Another day.}  I shared my research, countless documents and conclusions that grew his tree significantly.  He shared photos.  Oh, be still my heart, he had photos of the people I knew all about!  He also shared stories.  Can it be true?  Stories I would otherwise never have known.

Among the stories was a sad little tale about Catherine Lucille.  Catherine Lucille is Gregg’s first cousin, and my first cousin twice removed.  She is the daughter of Catherine, the oldest child of James & Catherine.  Catherine, mother of Catherine Lucille, died as a very young woman in 1923.  Catherine Lucille was the tender age of three at the time.  She was the only child.  Her father, William, was not able to care for her and work the long hours required of him.  He depended upon family members for her care.  He tried to keep her close by as much as possible.

When Catherine Lucille was an older teenager she lived with Gregg’s parents for a while.  Gregg never knew her as she moved on before he was born and never returned.  Among the family treasures Gregg’s father gave him was a little box that Catherine Lucille left behind.  Inside there are a few sad letters from a sickly William to his beloved daughter, a couple of documents, and a photo or two.

gg - william and catherine photo, letter montage

Gregg shared scans of these items with me and expressed on more than one occasion his desire to know what had happened to Catherine Lucille.

This past year I determined to solve the mystery of Catherine Lucille.  I spent time on and searching for records.  Using census and immigration records I was able to determine that William eventually remarried, had another daughter and lived in Canada, and that Catherine Lucille lived with various aunts and uncles as a young girl.  What I didn’t know was her ending.  I couldn’t find a marriage or death record.  I stalled.

Then I took a class on historical newspapers.  In the class I learned about a website called  This is a subscription website that has more recent obituaries.  While researching for a client, I began a membership with genealogybank.  After using it a handful of times, I remembered Catherine Lucille.

A search for Catherine Lucille on genealogybank’s website yielded an obituary.  It had enough information in the article to ensure that it was our Catherine Lucille.  It also had information about her children and grandchildren.  The words in her memorial were sweet and spoke of a happy life.  I felt such a calm, peaceful feeling as I read through the obituary.  Catherine Lucille’s story seemed to have a happy ending.

But I didn’t want to stop there.  I knew that Gregg and I had some important pieces of history that Catherine Lucille’s family deserved to know about.  Using the names of her children from the obituary, I searched through the familysearch catalog and discovered a marriage record collection for the county in which she died.  I took a guess and searched for the marriages of her children.  They were there!  From this record I now had the names of her children’s spouses.

Now on to the white pages.  I found entries for a few family members but the phone numbers were no longer active.  I checked on facebook and found a daughter in law and a granddaughter named Cathy.  I couldn’t help but wonder if she is Catherine, named for my Catherine Lucille.  I sent facebook messages and waited.  And waited.  I resent the facebook messages and waited.  And waited.

I was pretty busy with other projects so I emailed Gregg and explained my efforts.  I then gave him the addresses found in the whitepages.  I explained that I didn’t know if they were current, but worth a try.  After a period of time Gregg sent a few letters and waited.  But only for a short time before receiving a phone call from one of Catherine Lucille’s children!  We have now begun a phone and email correspondence with Catherine Lucille’s posterity.

We know the end of Catherine Lucille’s story and now her children and grandchildren know parts of the middle that had been long ago forgotten to time.  We were also able to share information on Catherine Lucille’s ancestors – photos, stories, and many generations of names, dates and places.  All information that had been previously unknown to them.  There is power in descendancy research.  The power to make connections.  To solve old mysteries.  To tell someone’s forgotten tale.  Even if it is sad.

Everyone has a Catherine Lucille or two in their tree.  Have you considered learning about yours?