A Reason To Celebrate!

Today is my 3rd Blog Anniversary!

 3 birthday candles

Time to put a great big check mark next to one of my genealogy goals from last year.  My next goal will be to keep writing until my fourth anniversary.  To tell the truth, I don’t feel the need to make a goal.

I really enjoy writing about my dead people.  Even though most of my ancestors were farmers, they all have interesting stories to find and tell.  Like most women, I love to talk (especially to anyone who will listen about ancestors).  I enjoy research.  I have an American History minor from my college days.  Research makes me feel smart and still connected to academia.  I also love the way family history connects family.  I am now friends with extended cousins.  We share photos on Facebook.  It is awesome!

Basically I am trying to say that blogging has created a larger and fuller genealogy picture for me.  It has focused my research, encouraged me to take a larger role in participating in my local society, given me the opportunity to make new friends, and taught me how to share the stories I have found.

Thank you for reading my blog and being part of my genealogy family!  Cheers to another great year!

Not So Wordless Wednesday – Kenny Mitchell

Kenny Mitchell is my grandma’s older brother.  He was the fourth child of Dudley Mitchell and Opal Strickler.  This photo of him was taken in Harlinger, Texas circa 1940-1945.  The original is held by Kenny’s wife, my great-aunt Susie.   I find the background so interesting in this photo.  He is in some type of photobooth with a fabric back that is painted or printed to look like a front porch.

Mitchell, Kenny in uniform

Researching For My Day Of Research

In a few weeks I am flying to the East Coast to meet my new nephew.  I am so excited to finally meet the little man in person!  He arrived a few weeks early so I have been obsessing over him through the photos my sister has been sending.  While I love the little man, I plan on disappearing one day of our trip to get some genealogy research done.

This year I am jumping in with the big boys and girls.  I am going to spend my day researching at the National Archives.

Photo from www.archives.gov

Photo from www.archives.gov

I spent a couple of hours last weekend getting ready for my trip.  First item on my list was to learn more about visiting the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). At the NARA website one of the first tabs you see invites you to learn more about planning a visit to one of their locations.  I clicked on the District of Columbia location and found address, hours, transportation, food information, etc.  I also visited the webpage for Researchers.  This was important because it outlined the procedures, types of records, and orientation information.  Also included on the page was a video explaining what to expect when you research at the National Archives.

Now that I know how to behave myself, I turned my genealogy powers to what exactly I wanted to learn more about.  I am currently transcribing a series of deed records for my ancestor Moses Mitchell.  He bought land from one of his brothers in Jackson County, Kansas in November 1858.  This trip will be a great time to research how the family obtained the land in Kansas.

After consulting the NARA website, I know that I will need specific information ahead of time to pull the land entry case file I am looking for.  I am using the Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records website (BLM-GLO) to find the original land patents to identify the state, land office, certificate number and type of entry for each transaction.  I have started an excel file to keep information organized by family and state.  I will print out a copy of my excel sheet to take to NARA and use it to fill out my pull slips.  Here is an example of what it looks like for the Mitchells in Kansas:

NARA land file

As I complete my research to do my research I am remembering the day Joshua Taylor spoke at the Spring Seminar at the San Mateo Genealogical Society.  I distinctly remember when he said you generally need to put in an hour of work ahead of time for each hour you plan to spend at a research facility.  I am getting my hours in so that my trip will hopefully be successful.  Wish me luck!

Throw Back Thursday – Mary Bradley and Frank Switzer

Mary Eugenia Bradley is my great great grandmother.  She was born 18 December 1867 in LaSalle County, Illinois.

me to mary bradley

Frank Switzer was Mary’s second husband.  They married in 1906, four years after Mary was widowed with four surviving children (two children from her first marriage died young).  Mary and Frank would have a son, Milford, in 1909.  Mary would be widowed again in 1934.  Frank passed away in Halstead, Kansas.  Mary would live another sixteen years before passing away at her daughter’s house in Wellington, Kansas.  Frank and Mary are buried together in the Halstead Cemetery, Halstead, Kansas.

Switzer, Mary and Frank


Switzer, Mary and Frank gravestone

Follow Friday – The Patient Genealogist and Her eBook

One of the genealogy blogs I follow in Feedly is The Patient Genealogist written by Devon Lee.  Devon Lee writes about two main categories: photographing memorabilia and heritage scrapbooking.  The Patient Genealogist has a great series of blog posts about creating digital scrapbook pages.  The blog posts cover everything from where to get digital scrapbooking supplies to types of pages to include in a book.  Devon is generous in sharing some of the scrapbook pages she has created.  It gives you lots of ideas how to craft your own.

I have been playing with the idea of starting to write a book about my family history (like every genealogist).  I like the look of the scrapbook pages and have decided this is the way to go for me.  I can have photos along with text to make a more digestible (aka non-genealogist) book for family to read.  There are many options to create a book this way including using Shutterfly templates.  While I do like the Shutterfly products, I would like a little more creative control by creating my own pages.  The great news is that I can upload my digital scrapbooking pages to Shutterfly for easy printing.

I noticed last year that Devon Lee had written an Kindle eBook called Create A Family History Scrapbook Digitally In 12 Simple Steps.  I recommend this book for anyone thinking of creating a family history book with both pictures and text.  The book covers many topics including how to digitize the items you want to include in your book, different storytelling styles, how to organize your book, and creating digital scrapbooking pages.  While I am excited to learn how to create digital pages in Photoshop, this eBook covers so much more than that.  The eBook really has a wide audience and is priced at only $3.99 at Amazon.com.

With inspiration and education I got from Devon Lee’s eBook, I have created my first digital scrapbooking page! Check out this scrapbook page about my great-grandmother, Opal Strickler and don’t forget to stop by The Patient Genealogist.

Opal Strickler page

DNA Away

My Christmas present to myself this year was a DNA test.  Not sexy to the average person but thrilling for a genealogist.  I did my research and decided to get a mtDNA test done with Family Tree DNA.  The test arrived this week and my DNA sample should reach Texas on Monday.  My results should be ready in approximately six weeks.

My DNA test kit

My DNA test kit

A mtDNA test looks at the women in your direct maternal line.  I am not expecting anything too mind-blowing.  I have researched my maternal line back to my g-g-g-g-grandmother, Jane Berry.  I am expecting to see the British Isles as the major DNA line.  I am keeping an open mind because anything is possible!

Sierra Excel File

The biggest reason I am doing this test is to see what exactly you get when you have a DNA test done.  It works out great for me that the Marin County Genealogical Society is hosting Katherine Hope Borges at the March meeting.  She will be presenting “I Have DNA Tested – Now What?”

If my DNA test goes well, I will be testing the DNA of my Mom’s cousin.  There is a family story of an illegitimate child forced onto a new bride in 1867.  The story continues that the mother of the illegitimate child was Jewish.  My mom’s cousin is a direct female descendant.  I am hoping that a mtDNA test for her will either prove or disprove the family story.

DNA away, just waiting to play!

Almost Wordless Wednesday – Mitchell Children

This is another photo from my great-aunt Susie’s collection.  She was so generous to share photos and stories with me when I visited Kansas last fall.  She has given me permission to share the family photos on my blog.

This photo is the only picture I have seen of my grandmother’s siblings as young children.  Delbert, the baby in the photo, was born in December 1924.  I am estimating that the photo was taken in 1925.  That means Loretta, holding Delbert, would have been 7.  Raymond, to the right, would have been 4.  I wish I knew more about the dog.  He is obviously good with the kids and they must have loved him very much!

mitchell kids

Treasure Chest Thursday – Rodgers Hotel, Valley Falls, Kansas

I am sharing photos from my grand-aunt Susie’s collection.  I scanned photos from her family album in September 2013 in Kansas.  She has agree to let me share them on my blog along with the information we know about the people in the photos.  It was so much fun to share family stories with her.

Rodgers Hotel Valley Falls Kansas


I apologize for the slight distortion in the photo.  I must have accidentally moved my Flip-Pal as it scanned the photo.

I got very excited about this photo when I saw it.  I immediately knew the name from the obituary of my great-great-grandfather, Abraham Strickler.  Unfortunately, all of the information I know about the Rodger’s Hotel is what I found in that obituary.  I have been unable to find any further information about the hotel.  I believe this may be one of the last photos of Abraham Strickler before he died in March 1910.  His obituary states that be bought the hotel when he moved to Fall River, Kansas in 1908.  He was only there about 18 months before suffering a stroke.  He died only four months later.

There are so many things I love about this photo including the street light, sign above the street, the columns on the building, the large porch, and the colored tiles on the roof.

I know the family was very invested in this town.  Not only did Abraham buy the hotel but he also purchased the Fall River Creamery.  We know his wife Effie ran a millinery shop in town.  She had run an advertisement the day of her husband’s funeral apologizing for the delay in any orders for Easter.  She went on to say that her and her daughters would work to be sure all orders were finished before Easter that weekend.

It makes me sad to think what hope for the future the family had when they moved from Northern Kansas to Fall River.  It would all change so quickly.  Effie Strickler and her three daughters would move to Topeka, Kansas between 1911-1914.

Treasure Chest Thursday – Opal Strickler

I have mentioned several times that I went to Kansas at the end of September to visit family.  During that trip I was extremely thankful that my Mom’s Aunt Susie brought a photo album to share.  I had brought my Flip-pal scanner and she was awesome to not only let me scan the photos but to tell me stories that she remembers from the photos.  I will be sharing some of these photos in the coming months.

The first photo is of my great-grandmother, Opal (Strickler) Mitchell.  This is a photo my Mom and I had not seen before.  I just love the chair she is sitting in.  Since she is wearing a wedding band, I believe this photo was taken between 1916-1918.  Opal was married to Dudley Moses Mitchell in 1916 and they had their first child in 1918.

Opal Strickler about age 20