thegenealogygirl


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Happy New Year! 2017 Review & 2018 Goals

Eleanor Brownn Quote

Happy New Year!

 

2017 was packed with amazing genealogy experiences, milestones of both the personal and genealogical kind, the sorrow of loss, and the joys of life.  When I reflect back over the year, these are some of the biggest moments:

 

Digging into the story of Rosey, my 2nd great-grandaunt, has been a fascinating adventure.  I’m still finding tidbits scattered across the world.  Just last week I found a big one I wasn’t expecting.  The story that is unfolding is so enthralling that I think it is worthy of its own book.  Here are the 2017 posts about Rosey:

 

John Costello continues to elude me.  He is my great-grandfather and my most challenging brick wall.  Despite his continued brick wall status, I have had some major breakthroughs this year.  I discovered seven seconds of color video of him with my great grandma and my mom as a baby!  I added to my collection of photos of him including the first one of him looking at the camera and smiling!!  I learned that he was ethnically Jewish.  He is still a brick wall, but I feel like I am making some meaningful progress for my own sense of connection to him, and preserving details for future generations to know something about him.

 

I finished organizing and filing all of the letters my grandparents wrote to each other during WWII and their LDS missions.  TEN Hollinger boxes worth.  I have also begun the process of digitizing and transcribing those precious letters.

 

I made enough progress in my Young surname study of Renfrew, Renfrew, Scotland to untangle my 5th great-grandparents James Young and Janet Robertson in the Family Tree on FamilySearch.

 

In my DNA efforts to learn about John Costello, I discovered a first cousin who was adopted at birth.  Together we went on an amazing journey to identify his father and mother.  I still can’t get over what a cool experience that was!  You can read about that journey here:

 

Still on a DNA high, I watched a Legacy Family Tree webinar on DNA and heard a tip from Diahan Southard that led me to solve my Priority 2 brick wall!!!

 

In September, I rushed to the bedside of my grandmother to be with her in her final days.  She was diagnosed with leukemia on a Thursday and passed away on Sunday.  I deeply miss her and the genealogy experiences we shared.  But I am so grateful that I started my genealogy adventures in my very early twenties.  That meant I got 20 precious years of asking her questions.

 

In October I finally held in my hands a long sought after, precious, and very rare book because of a cousin connection I made on Ancestry.com.  It confirmed my previous research efforts and added a richness of story to a family line that had been lost to time and young deaths.

 

I ended the year with a bang! when I helped my friend end her 50 year-long search for her paternal grandparents using her DNA results.  What a joyful experience!

 

As I consider 2018, I am struggling to put my finger on my top three goals.  I know that I want to continue to learn, research, digitize, archive, solve, teach, share, help, write, and answer questions I have.  But those are the things I do all of the time.  The one thing that often eludes me is a very important word – FINISH.

So I am pondering on what three things I want to FINISH this year.

The list of projects I am considering is long enough for a lifetime of effort.  I’m never short on projects.  But which three are the most important, the most pressing, the most meaningful?

I’m still pondering that and will be for a bit.

For now, I am grateful for the progress and experiences of 2017.  I hope 2018 will be just as richly rewarding.

 

How about you?  What do you hope to accomplish in 2018?

 

 

ps – The moment I am looking forward to the most in 2018 is standing in the baggage claim area of the Salt Lake Airport in August and wrapping my arms around my precious first-born, missionary son for the first time in two years and 5 days.  That will be a big milestone moment right there!  ❤️

 

 


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Lighting the World

 

My oldest son is currently serving as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in South Carolina.  He is a happy, friendly kid who loves people.  You can see it in these pictures.

Missionaries spend many hours each week serving others.  They volunteer at libraries, soup kitchens, thrift stores, local churches – of other faiths, nursing homes, and so many other places.  They rake leaves, shovel snow, help people move – mostly for strangers.  They spend two years of their life seeking opportunities to serve.

When I read my son’s weekly emails and hear about the different people he meets, the different acts of service he provides, and the lives he brightens through his love and kindness, the word proud barely begins to describe how I feel.

I have never been a missionary.  But I also seek to serve when I can.  So I love the invitation the LDS Church has issued to the world to Light the World this holiday season by serving others.

This short video introduces the Light the World campaign:

 

 

One of my favorite videos from the whole initiative is this one:

 

 

People are good.

When given the chance, we like to help others.  And while there are a few vending machines in the world that will allow you to purchase something to help a stranger improve their quality of life, most of the time we have to look for ways to serve and lift.

During this year’s Light the World campaign, there have been two small things that have been particularly meaningful for me.  The first came on Day 2.  I woke up and decided to watch the video for that day while I was still in bed.  Here it is:

 

 

One of the suggestions for Day 2 is “Consider donating to a cause that helps provide safe water to individuals or communities.”  From the comfort of my own bed, I searched for an organization that does just that.  I found that my own church has a cool clean water initiative I hadn’t previously known about.  I was able to donate right from my phone before I even got out of bed!

That simple act of service for people I will never meet, brightened my day – all day.

The second experience that has really touched me came last Saturday.  My middle son had a basketball game in the morning.  When we got home, my 5-year-old and I could hear a bird crying.  It took us a while to locate the bird.  It was a very young robin sitting in one of our trees.  Sitting on a branch near it was an adult robin.  We were worried they were hungry.  We used Google to learn what we should feed it and found some appropriate seeds to scatter on our driveway.  We didn’t have a lot, so we headed to the grocery store and found some bird seed in the shape of a bell to hang from the tree.  My little 5-year-old and his dad got some yarn and hung it up right away.

Every time I come and go from my home I can see that bell.  I know it’s such a simple act of service, but it feels especially meaningful to me.  It can be easy to miss suffering around us, but on that day, my little one and I noticed cries for help and found a way to help a small bird.

I am grateful for the Light the World initiative.  It has helped bring greater focus to my month.

And of course, I have found ways to help Light the genealogy World too!

So this is my invitation to you, for the rest of December, find one simple act of service that will help brighten someone’s day – near or far – and help join others in an effort to Light the World!

 

 

Here is my sweet missionary and other missionaries he serves with.  They created this video to invite their loved ones to join in and help Light the World:

 

 


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Photograph Showcase: James & Catherine Young

YOUNG, James and Catherine with small child

James Young & Catherine Brown are my 2nd great grandparents.  James and Catherine were both born in Scotland, as were their first 5 children.  Their youngest son was born in America after they immigrated.

This photo of James and Catherine comes from the collection of my GrandAunt Barbara, James and Catherine’s granddaughter-in-law.  This is the most recent photo I have ever seen of James and Catherine.  They both died in 1945 in Spokane, Washington.  James in January and Catherine in July.

The photograph is labeled simply “Young 2”.  I do not know who the child is.  Yet.  Once I do, hopefully I can narrow down the date of the photo.

But for now I am just happy to have this great photo of my 2nd great grandparents hanging out in these cool yard chairs.

 

Happy Thursday, I hope you make a new ancestor photo find today!

 

 

ps – If you are anything like me, you have probably been paying attention to the news surrounding Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.  My son is currently serving a mission for our church in South Carolina.  He is safe and will likely spend the next few days, or more, helping with clean-up.  Depending on the extent of the damage in his area, he may be donning a yellow “Helping Hands” t-shirt and working with a larger crew.  You can read more about Mormon Helping Hands here.  If you know someone who has suffered damage to their home and is struggling with clean-up, they can request help from the Mormon helping Hands program – no matter what faith they belong to.  Additionally, if you have been wanting to donate to a service organization that is helping people rebuild in Texas, Florida, or elsewhere, you may wish to consider donating to the Humanitarian Fund of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (those Mormon folks who are helping clean up).  100% of donated funds will go to help those in need.  All labor is donated and funds are used for supplies.  You can donate here and leave a note in the “Comments or instructions” section with Hurricane Harvey or Irma listed.  If you choose to donate, you will receive an official receipt around tax season.  Every little bit helps ease suffering and begin the long process of rebuilding.  ❤


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Treasures: Susan Kaziah Davis History

Susan Kaziah Davis

Susan Kaziah Davis is my 2nd great grandmother.  In 1915, at the age of 65, she wrote a brief sketch of her life.  This manuscript was passed down to her son Claude Albert Ellis, and to Claude’s daughter Mary Margaret Ellis, and to Margaret’s son Blake, and then to me.  Margaret is my grandmother and Blake is my uncle.

This brief sketch was used as the basis for a longer personal history written by Susan and her son Claude.  That history can be found here.

The full resolution scans for this handwritten sketch can be found here.  Smaller images of this sketch are presented here in order:

Transcription of Susan’s history:

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Ogden Utah

April 28th, 1915

A Brief Sketch of the life, & happenings of Susean K. Ellis, Wife of F. W. Ellis. and Daughter of Sarah E, & Edward G. Davis, Born Jan 28th, 1850, Bath Summerset England,

My Mother and Father joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, about the year 1849, just a short time preceeding my birth, I being born with my

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eye lids sealed together, but through the anointing with oil, and the faith of my mother, I was made to see,

I was blessed with a name by Bro Kendel.

My Father was made president of the Bath branch of the Church, and Counsel meetings were held at our home every monday evening,

Our doors alway’s remained open to welcome any of the servent’s

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of God,

When about twelve years of age, I went to work at the Corset factory, where my Father was engaged as a presser, and two of my sisters as seamstresses,

A year later after my Father’s death, my Mother had to begin work in order that we might obtain a living, We continued working at this factory for five years longer, “And were greatly favored, & respected by our head Maneager”

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When we decided to emigrate to Utah,

During our short stay in England as members of the Church, we rec’d great persecution from mob’s, which gathered to persecute the saints,

Many times my Father had to remain at the Poleace Station the greater part of the night, to avoid being mobed, and our windows were broken in with rocks from the hand’s of our enemies,

I was very sickly

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the greater part of my younger life, and when we decided to come to Utah, A great many people tried to perswade Mother to leave me in England with them, as they thought it impossible for me to stand the voyage across the water, and told mother that she would barry me in on the ocean, but through the faith, & ambition of my mother, & the goodness of the Lord, I was permitted to come to Zion,

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We sailed from England on the ship Colorado, Tues, july 14th, 1868, with a company of six hundred (600) saints, under the direction of William B, Preston,

After a voyage of about two week’s, we arrived in New York, July 28th, 1868, The Company continued on as far as Benton Neb, arriving Aug 7th, 1868,

We left Benton Aug 14th, 1868, for Utah, with an Ox team company, numbering 61 wagon’s, & 411 passengers, under direction of Capt. Daniel D. McArthur,

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arriving in Salt Lake valley in Sept 3 1868,

There were six deaths on the journey,  One being a young man by the name of Harry Popel, who was acciedently shot, “Also one birth”

Our journey accross the plain’s was very pleasant considering the mode of travel, The evenings were spent singing hyms, and listening to our brethern talk, We had not the hard-ships to indure which some companies had,

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We were meet in Salt Lake City by Sister Irish, who took us to her home, that we might rest for a few days,

I went to work at the “Salt Lake House” as Chambermaid, with Mr Little, as owner, After two months service I went to live with a family by name of Foalsome, staying with them about four month’s, I then went to live with a family by name of George Alder, for two month’s, Here I took sick with Typhoid feaver,

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and Erysipelas, and was under the care of Sister Polly Felt, for seven weeks I was very sick, but rec’d the best of care,

While in the City I took an active part in the seventeenth ward choir, under direction of F. W. Ellis,

In July 1869, I accompanied Bros James Ward, F. W. Ellis, & Miss Marry an Ellis, to North Ogden, and made my home with Bro. & Sis Ellis, at Plesant weiv [Pleasant View],

I also lived a short time with Sister Lizia Brown,

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On the 6th, of sept 1869, three month’s later, I was married to T. W. Ellis [Frederick William Ellis], in the Endowment House at Salt Lake City, by Bro Daniel H, Well’s,

I joined the Relief Society in 1869, shortly after arriving in North Ogden, and with a number of other’s we used to walk from Plesant view, to North Ogden each week to our meeting, & choir practise, I acted as a visiting teacher until just about four years ago,

My Husband was asked to take charge of

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the coaperative store, which then stood on the East corner of the old Dudman lot,

This necessitated our moving to North Ogden, which we did, and lived in one log room just behind the store, “which was used partly for a granery” Until four month’s after our first baby was born, When we moved to where we now live,

In 1881, My Husband was married to Sarah Jane, Barker, Both Family’s lived

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together until the persecution started, and my Husband then built another home at Plesant view,

My Husband was taken to the Penitentiary Dec 13th, 1886, where he served a term of six month’s, and then again later, the 13th, Dec 1890, he was made to serve two month’s more, This was a hard trial for me, having such poor health at that time, and a large family to take care of,

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In 1893, My Husband recd a call to the Australian Mission, which he accepted, and left Nov 6th, He was gone for 2 1/2 years, during which time we did every thing possible to support him, & ourselves,

Two of My boy’s also have filled mission’s of late, My oldest son “Freddie” spent two years in the Western States mission, and my youngest son “Claude” spent two year’s in

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the Eastern States Mission, The oldest son, “William” of the second Family spent 4 1/2 years in the Japanese Mission,

I am happy to state that I have been priveleged to go through the temple a number of times, and do work in behalf of our dead relative’s,

I am the Mother of ten (10) Children, six boy’s, & four Girls, all “but one” of which are living at the present time, and all but

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two have made their home’s in the Idaho Country,

I am now (65) years of age, and am enjoying better health than when a girl alout the age of 18 year’s,

 

There is something extra special about reading a sketch of someone’s life in their own handwriting.  Even though there are more detailed histories of her, this one is my favorite.  I feel like the items she chose to include on these brief 15 pages must have been the very dearest to her heart or the most painful.

I am grateful for Susan and her life.  I’m grateful for the fine son she raised who grew up to be the father of my own beloved Grandmother.  I’m thankful that this treasure found its way to me.  And lastly, I am thankful for the technology that has allowed me to preserve and share this family treasure.

 

Happy Monday, I hope you have a meaningful genealogy experience today!

 


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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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Photograph Showcase: Grandma and Her Fancy Dress

ELLIS, Mary Margaret, wearing black sequined dress in snow - smaller

This photo of my Grandma, Mary Margaret Ellis, comes from a bundle of negatives found in her collection.   She has an engagement ring on, so I am guessing this was taken sometime while my Grandpa was on his LDS mission in New Zealand.  I need to do a little digging to nail down those dates.

I love the details of her dress.  She made most of her own dresses.  I wonder if she made this one too?  It’s a little bit fancy, I wonder what it was for?  They got married in June so I don’t think it was for any wedding festivities.

 


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Major Milestone Right Here!

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Last week I filed and filed and filed letters.  Do you know what a treat it is to open letter after letter and see your grandparents handwriting?  To touch the pages they touched?  To hear their sweet and enduring love for each other?  It was completely joyful for me.

I am soooooo happy to say that I filed every single letter for the 5 1/2 years they wrote to each other!  Ten Hollinger boxes filled with letters.

(Of course, I still have the letters from the 1960s when my Grandpa was in graduate school.  But we won’t even think about those yet.)

As soon as I finish scanning Aunt Vera’s scrapbook – these letters are next on deck for scanning.  I think they deserve their own blog.  Maybe this fall.  😉

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These four boxes were mostly full on Wednesday when I started.  They look so beautiful empty, I might just leave them on my table for a day to enjoy their tender place in my heart.

 

Happy Monday, I hope you conquer a special genealogy project sometime this year – it is an incredible feeling!