Tombstone Tuesday – Percy Emery Fuller

Percy Fuller is my husband’s great-grandfather.  He was born 4 June 1885 most likely in Comstock County, Nebraska.  He was married to Loretta Palmatier.  They divorced when their third child, my husband’s grandmother, was little.  After that I have found Percy in Sterling, Colorado and Hood River, Oregon.  Percy passed away in Oregon on January 6, 1965.  He is buried in Pine Grove Cemetery, Hood River, Oregon., digital images (htp://, accessed 9 February 2015, photograph by fred, gravestone for Percy E Fuller (1885-1965), FindAGrave memorial #29641419, Pine Grove Cemetery, Hood River, Hood River, Oregon., digital images (htp://, accessed 9 February 2015, photograph by fred, gravestone for Percy E Fuller (1885-1965), FindAGrave memorial #29641419, Pine Grove Cemetery, Hood River, Hood River, Oregon.

Genealogy Time With My Daughters

Disclaimer: I work very hard to indoctrinate my children in all things family history.  I believe (and studies are backing me up) knowing where you come from helps grow your children into the best version of themselves.

Last fall my six-year-old daughter made a five-minute video on her LeapPad (a game tablet for kids). The topic was genealogy.  She spent a lot of time telling me how much she wanted to “do genealogy with Mommy.”  She also said that she wanted to go to cemeteries to find her ancestors.  The only problem was that the list of ancestors included living people.

The next day, after clearing up the fact that only dead people are buried, Julia and I talked about what kinds of projects we could work on together.  We agreed to start interviewing different family members about their lives.  As a surprise for her birthday, my husband and I purchased Julia a basic camcorder.  She took a couple of tentative steps into the video world at Christmas by asking my extended family questions.

This week Julia approached me again with a request to tell her about an ancestor.  We got out the video recorder and I told her all about her great-grandmother who recently passed away.  We ended the video session with a promise to talk about other family members in the near future.

I was surprised yesterday when Julia again brought up the topic of family history.  She wanted to “see” her ancestors.  We sat down together and printed out a fan chart from  It was so adorable when she kept stating “these are all my ancestors!”  I didn’t have the heart to tell her I have much more research to do.

Julia was not happy though because a fan chart does not include her cousins.  She wanted to see her cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents from both sides of the family in the same chart.  I gave her a piece of paper and this is what she put together:

2015-02-19 10.42.05

She asked for help adding the rest of our immediate family and dogs.  Together we worked to make another version of her family tree.  This time I started by writing Mommy and Daddy.  We worked together to add the rest of our family and dogs by attaching them to the correct people.  I was so proud that Julia knew how the family relationships should be laid out.  I also loved that she felt it was important to include the dogs and cat since they are loved as family members.  She has already mounted the sheet to construction paper and taped it to the wall.

2015-02-19 10.41.04


My 3-year-old is all about keeping up with her big sister.  Mia wanted to draw a family tree too.  I gave her a piece of paper and let her do her own thing.  She decided to draw stick figures of our family including dogs.  We finished it off by adding each person’s name to the bottom of the page.  This picture was taped to the wall right next to her sister’s.

2015-02-19 11.25.42


The fun my kids and I had this week is another example of how you can make genealogy fun and age appropriate.  I am so excited about the ideas I have to “do genealogy” with them in the future.

Following A Shiny Star Into A Genealogy Black Hole

I try to be an organized, thoughtful researcher who plans every move in advance.  Reality looks different then my dreams.  I have research that I need to analyze and enter into my genealogy software.  I use my research log but not consistently (a goal again this year to work on).  I also get sucked into genealogy black holes every now and then.


I will get sucked in so fast and so hard by some random side line of research that I do not even realize what has occurred.  When I come up for air a couple of hours later, there is not much to show for it.  Except me with my eyes wide-eyed and glassy and hair sticking out in every direction like it was electrocuted.

I have been working on my family tree at FamilySearch by adding documentation and photos, attaching sources, and adding siblings.  Yesterday after adding a transcription of the obituary for Lydia Ummel, my house was suddenly engulfed by a HUGE genealogy black hole.

It started with a quick search for anything about Lydia Ummel in Juinata County, Pennsylvania. This was listed as her birthplace in the obituary.  Not finding anything, the search then detoured to the Ohio Marriages database at FamilySearch.  There I found a record of Lydia’s marriage to William Lawbaugh in Wayne County, Ohio on 22 November 1849.

I really got in deep when I Googled “Lydia Ummel Ohio”.  I found a reference to Lydia on a record for Joseph Ummel on MyHeritage.  I was excited because as a member of the Southern California Genealogical Society I can log into that database from home.  There was a biography of Joseph Ummel posted that named his Lydia as his sister.

At this point I had a feeling I was onto something and opened Evernote on my laptop.  I started clipping everything I was finding so I would have breadcrumbs when I returned to reality.

I was able to get a partial read of the title of the book at the top of the article about Joseph Ummel.  Another tab was opened in Chrome to now do a Google search for Joseph in Elkhart, Indiana.  I found the full biography using the Google Book search.  In “Pictorial and Biographical Memoirs of Elkhart and St. Joseph Counties Indiana”, pages 748-749, is a complete rundown of the life of Joseph Elkhart.  Not only does the biography name his four sisters, I now have he names of his parents!

Pictorial and Biographical Memoirs of Elkhart and St Joseph Counties Indiana, Goodspeed Brothers, 1893, page 748.

Pictorial and Biographical Memoirs of Elkhart and St Joseph Counties Indiana, Goodspeed Brothers, 1893, page 748.


Of course, I could not stop myself and steamed ahead into the genealogy unknown.  After some searches at FamilySearch and Ancestry, I went back to my trusted friend Google.  A simple search for John Ummel had too many hits, but the same search on Google Books was akin to having winning lottery ticket.  The very first listing is for a book by Helen Ummel Harness titled “Ummel-Lambert Roots and Branches: The Family History of John Ummel (1861-1942) and Ella Lambert (1874-1951): Their Ancestors and Descendants, Including the Surnames Brumbaugh, Coughman, Gehman, Musselman, Nafzger, Unangst and Others.”  The book was not digitized on Google.  I clicked on the link to find a copy in a library which pops you over to WorldCat.  I happy to see that a copy of the book is at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

I opened yet another tab in Chrome to check the catalog for FamilySearch.  I was hoping the book had been microfilmed and I could order the film right away.  To my surprise, it has been digitized and is available online at FamilySearch!  The pages 31-54 include tons of information regarding John Ummel and Magdalena Nafzger.  It even goes back another couple of generations for the Nafzger line. I now have at least one more gateway ancestor on my list.

Ummel Book

It was time to come up for a breath of fresh air.  The first thing I did was send an email to a cousin who is researching the same line.  I was so excited to share the link to the book!  I then called my husband to ask him to pick up take-out since I had not been doing anything I was supposed to be.  After some family time and the kids were snuggled into bed, I attacked my laptop again to get some sources created and people entered into my database.

I still have some more work to do today for my finds yesterday but I am confident my notes in Evernote will lead me the right direction.  I also now have tons to research to do to find the sources listed in the Ummel Lambert Roots and Branches book.  Only a genealogist would be this happy to have more research to do!

I have never had such a successful genealogy black hole! I do not generally recommend chasing shiny stars into a genealogy black hole.  I will say that an occasional trip can be fun and it might have some results.  Just be sure to follow up after you finish your genealogy binge with good research skills such as citing your sources and analyzing the data.

Almost Wordless Wednesday – Dudley Mitchell and Opal Strickler

This is one of my favorite family photos.  It is not the best quality photo but I can’t get enough of it.  Why you ask?  Look closely in the background of the photos at the pictures on top of the piano.  There are six marriage photos.  One for Dudley and Opal and then one for each of their five children.  Love it!

Mitchell photo

Rest In Peace Grandma

This past Wednesday, January 31, 2014, my grandmother, Roberta Fleming passed away peacefully with her family around her.

She was known by many names including Mom, Grandma, Aunt Roberta, Birdie, and the Silver Fox.  A couple of years ago when my children, her great-grandchildren, were born we added another name, Gigi.  It was her short hand for Great Grandmother.  She wanted a fun grandma name.

Roberta Mitchell baby

Roberta Irene Mitchell


My grandmother was born Roberta Irene Mitchell to Dudley Moses Mitchell and Opal Blanche Strickler on January 10, 1931 in Topeka, Kansas.  She was the youngest of five children with one older sister, Loretta, and three older brothers, Raymond, Delbert, and Kenneth.

Her family moved to Hutchinson, Kansas during the Depression. Grandma stayed there until she attended X-Ray Technician school in Topeka, Kansas.  While at school, she met my grandfather, William Henry Lawbaugh.  They married in 1950.  The couple starting raising their family in Pratt, Kansas with their first three children.  They relocated to the Anaheim, California area in the late 1950’s.  There they added to the family a set of twins.  In 1964, Bill Lawbaugh passed away leaving his wife with 5 children.  Roberta went to work to provide for her family.

Roberta and Bill

Roberta and Bill Lawbaugh


In 1973, Roberta married James Fleming.  They joined their families Brady Bunch style, five from her side in addition to the four children Jim had. They lived in several cities in Los Angeles and Orange counties. I have many memories from my childhood of them being together.  In fact, I learned how to swim in their pool when they lived in Downey, California.  After their time in Downey, they moved to the desert, living in the Cochella Valley.

Roberta and Jim

Jim and Roberta Fleming


After Jim Fleming passed away in 1994, Grandma moved back to the beach.  She loved the ocean and was at home in San Clemente, California.  This was during my college years in San Diego.  At least once a month I would make the 45 minute drive north to spend the weekend with her.  We had so much fun together!

All of the facts above do not capture the entire picture.  My grandma was fun and feisty.  She LOVED her children.  It would not be a complete day without a Crown Royal and cigarette, even her dog enjoyed cocktail hour with a piece of ice.  Her house was never quiet, either the news channel was on the TV or she was playing her beloved big band music.  She loved to dance.  Our family has the great memory of dancing the night away at my cousin’s wedding this past summer.  While she was not interested in researching her family herself, she was always willing to tell me stories of her childhood and what she remembered of others in her family. Grandma was a horrendous driver.  We were always offering to chauffeur her places.  She was an avid Bridge player.  The drawer of her coffee table has many sets of playing cards and bridge score sheets.  Grandma was very neat and clean.  You were always careful to make your bed and clean up after yourself at her home.  Most of all Grandma loved being with her family.  Holidays were always big affairs with lots of food and football.  Most Sundays were spent with family on the beach.  The beach was a slice of heaven for my grandma.

Roberta 80th

I could go on and on.  She is going to be so greatly missed.  I have to take comfort in how she taught us all to be a family.  I know that although she is no longer at the head of the family, we have each other.

I love you grandma!


Feeling Like A Tech Genius Today

Have you ever noticed the small images that sit next to a website’s name in a bookmark list or on the tabs at the top of your web browser?  I have but I had no idea what they were called or how to get one for this website.  So I Googled “What is the picture next to web address.”  The websites in the results all used the term favicon.  They also said that you just had to upload something to a root directory.  While I want to be technically savvy, this was way beyond my comfort level.

Next I did a Google search for “favicon wordpress.”  The results included more instructions how to add code to the website.  Again, not very comfortable with this idea.  I noticed at the bottom of the search a related search suggestion for “favicon wordpress plugin.” I got excited!

I have a bunch of plugins already added to my website.  A plugin is a tool that will add a function you want accomplished.  For instance, I have plugins for creating a backup of my website, website analytics, blocking spam, and an option to send each blog post to you as an email.

I found there were lots of options for favicon plugins available through WordPress. Installation was fast and easy.  The favicon plugin pointed me to a favicon generator where the fun began.  You get to create an image by uploading an image and using the generator to turn it into a favicon or use the editor to create an image that is 16 pixels by 16 pixels.  I went with door number two. Once I created the image, the plugin uploaded it and like magic it appeared.

Take a look for yourself – the little tree next to my website name in the tab of your browser. The tree is an up arrow with multi-color green leaves.

A huge THANK YOU to the real tech genius brains out there for providing a tool to make me feel like one too!


Tuesday’s Tip – Check Again and Again and Again

I have learned this tip several times in my research history.  I was reminded AGAIN this past week.  The scene is me sitting in my family room watching TV with my tablet in hand.  I was not watching anything in particular and decided to take a look a look at the Ancestry App.  In a tangential genealogist (check out this link for a definition) mood, I let myself be sucked in by those green shaky leaves.  I have not put a lot of time into accepting or ignoring the suggestions by Ancestry.  Most of the time they lead to records I already have documented in my software.  All of my dead people have those shaky green leaves screaming at me to give them attention.

A click into the black hole of green leaves lead to a list of people who have suggestions.   I immediately zoned in on Emma Dovel.  She was the first wife of my g-g-grandfather, Abraham Strickler.  She died young and there are not many records available for her.  I have been trying for years to find out where Emma died.

The previous information was light at best.  Her son’s obituary said that she had passed away in Kansas City as the family was traveling west.  I did not have an exact location or date.  I only knew that Abraham and David W (without Emma) were living with Emma’s mother in the 1880 census in Page County, Virginia. Since David Walter was born in 1876 that left a 4 year gap in information.

I have searched Find A Grave in the past with no luck for Emma.  Guess what the first hint on that shaky green leaf was?!  A link to the gravestone photo for Emma Dovel Strickler.

Emma F. Dovel Strickler Gravestone, digital images (, accessed 2 December 2014, photograph by Kathy Eltiste, gravestone for Emma F. Dovel Strickler (August 11, 1878 ), FindAGrave memorial # 55549418, Kite Cemetery, Nemaha County, Nebraska.


Emma F.

Wife of

Abraham Strickler

Died August 11, 1878

Aged 25 yrs

8 mos & 8 dys

Along with birth and death dates, I now know Emma was in Nemaha County, Nebraska when she passed away.  She is buried in the Kite family cemetery.  This name is familiar to me as one of the usual suspects in Page County, Virginia.  My first hypothesis is that Emma has a sibling who married a Kite and they traveled west together.  I will have to do some further research of the other burials in the same cemetery to determine just how Emma and Abraham were related to this group.  I also need to check what sources are available for Nemaha County.  There may be additional information about Abraham and David Walter there.

So check again, and again, and again for information you cannot locate.  You never know when and where you will find what you are looking for.



Sunday’s Obituary – Barbara (Frick) Gamble

Barbara Gamble is my 4th great grandmother.

Me to Barbara Frick

I have found her name and relationship to John L Gamble in his military pension papers.  Using the obituary index on the genealogy page at the Butler Area Public Library, I ordered a copy of Barbara’s obituary.

Butler Citizen, 28 March 1890, Page 2, Column 2, Film # 015, Butler Area Public Library.

GAMBLE – In this place, suddenly, March 26, 1890, Mrs. Barbara Gamble, wife of Mr. John Gamble, aged 71 years.

On Wednesday evening, about 6 o’clock, Mrs. Gamble was in the toll house on the plank road kept by her husband, when she was, without any warning, stricken with paralysis.  She was removed to her home nearby, where she died about 10 o’clock the same evening.



Tombstone Tuesday – John and Barbara (Frick) Gamble

In the military pension papers for John L Gamble, I identified the names of my 4th great grandparents, John Gamble and Barbara Frick.  I was able to find their gravestones on  They are buried together at South Cemetery in Butler, Pennsylvania. A google map of Butler shows the cemetery on South Main Street.

I would like to thank “Me” who has posted over 41,000 memorials to Find A Grave.  Another thank you for posting permission to the contributor’s bio to use the photo.

Frick, Barbara Gravestone

Barbara Gamble

Our Mother, Barbara, wife of, John Gamble, born Apr 5, 1819, died, Mar 26, 1890., digital images (, accessed 2 December 2014, photograph by “me”, gravestone for Barbara Gamble (Apr 5 1819 – Mar 26, 1890), Find A Grave memorial # 68540886, South Cemetery, Butler, Pennsylvania.


Gamble, John Gravestone

John Gamble


Our Father, John, Gamble, died, Sept 30, 1901, aged, 85 years., digital images (, accessed 2 December 2014, photograph by “me”, gravestone for John Gamble (Sep. 30, 1901), Find A Grave memorial # 68540887, South Cemetery, Butler, Pennsylvania.