Best Laid Plans

This spring has been an exciting time for me. After years of planning, our house remodel got underway. We moved temporarily while the bulk of the work was quickly finished. Most of our belongings got boxed and stored in our bedrooms. I boxed up all of my genealogy items with a grand plan. I was going to work each morning for an hour to sort, organize, catalog, and properly store my genealogy related items. I even brought a Gaylord Archival catalog for easy ordering. I would move all my genealogy stuff back to our home beautifully boxed and cataloged.

Unfortunately, this is not what happened. I grossly underestimated what was involved with our construction project. Instead of my genealogy project, most mornings were spent at my house making decisions or running to different vendors for orders/pickups. I will not lie – I am completely okay with my project failure. We were able to move back in quickly (in construction time) and I absolutely love everything we have done to our home. From a genealogy prospective, it is time to just pick up and try again .

Genealogist Janine Adams has a great blog (The Organized Genealogist) and a great podcast (Getting to Good Enough). I am an avid podcast listener and subscribe to Janine’s podcast. There have been several episodes I have completely identified with. The theme of these episodes usually deals with getting back on track after falling off a habit or backsliding. It is like Janine and Shannon are speaking directly to me. It is great to be reminded the most important thing is to keep trying when things do not work out. Good enough includes letting go of the guilt.

Where does that leave me? Well, the 7 boxes of genealogy that left my house got moved back in the exact way they left. Brown moving boxes. Some reorganizing as we unpacked our home has led to a dedicated genealogy bookshelf in our office closet. Most of the items in the boxes have been moved to the new shelving. I still plan on cataloging and properly storing everything I have. I am carefully planning this time so I can be successful in completing my project. If I tried to start now, my attempt would be interrupted by kids, dogs, and vacation since school is out for summer. Being honest with myself about time management puts my project off until late August when my girls go back to school.

The follow up to this post will not be “Try, Try, Again” but instead read “Mission Accomplished.”

Another Year To Celebrate

I was surprised to see today is the 8th anniversary of this genealogy blog! It seems like just last year I started writing about my family history. I guess I should not be too surprised since I was pregnant with my 2nd child when this blog started. Note to self – #2’s birthday is coming up.

I do not write as often as the first few years of my genealogy blog. I still keep trying and that is what makes fewer posts okay for me. I have more stories to tell and I look forward to getting them out in the universe!

Aloha 2019!

I hope everyone had a happy holiday season! To start the New Year I decided to update my WordPress blog to the new 5.0 update. There is a completely new editor in this version that works very differently than the prior versions. Think moving from Word to something totally not Word.

I am up for the challenge and in some ways the new format makes sense. I will be spending the rest of the week trying to find some how to videos to make sure I am using the new editor correctly. I also need to learn how the plugins work with this new setup because I already see that my spell checker seems to be missing.

In the near future, if you see something that looks funky, not to worry, I will figure it out soon enough. Mahalo!! (I am full of Hawaiian spirit because we just got home from a great trip to Maui!)

A Renewed Effort To Digitize My Archive

I live in Northern California.  Our geographic area has seen several disastrous fires in the last year.  The land my husband’s family has in Hopland had a near miss this past summer.  The entire other side of the valley burned as part of the Mendocino Complex Fire.  The  western side of the valley has burned before and it will again sometime in the future.

One of the biggest lessons in the last year is urban/suburban areas are not immune to fire.  Both Santa Rosa and Redding saw how fire does not discriminate cities from rural areas.  My family has created a fire evacuation plan.  We have boxes ready to load and go with supplies.  I also have a list inside one of my kitchen cabinets of other items to grab if I have time  when evacuating.

While I would love my genealogy archive to be at the top of that list -realistically my kids, dogs, and husband need to come first.  Within my genealogy treasures I have a mental list of how to prioritize what to take.  Physical items need to be cataloged and kept in one area so they are easy to grab.  Paper items will be at the bottom of the list.

The good news is there is a way to lower my risk of losing my genealogy treasures.  I can digitize all of my paper records and keep them in the cloud.  I can also photograph all the physical items.

Over the years I have talked about getting this project accomplished.  Sadly, I always started and never finished.  Instead the pile has slowly grown.

I have been listening to Janine Adams, The Organized Genealogist, new podcast, Getting To Good Enough.  I have identified with sooo (yes, all the o’s are needed) many of the episodes.  I feel that having a better understanding of why my attempts at my digitization project have not worked will hopefully help me to complete the project this time.  My personal favorite episode is about rewarding yourself as you go.  I will definitely be implementing this concept!

I will be using a “Treasure” tag at the front of my digitizing blog post names to identify what I am trying to accomplish.  I am also using the ClearScanner app on my Android phone to speed up the process.  It allows you to identify the edges of a document before you save.  Also, I am creating citations but will not be focusing on perfection for each one.  Instead my goal is to get enough information included so someone else can follow my research.  The punctuation may not be perfect but again, not my goal.

So please, sit back and enjoy all the digitized images coming your way!

An Important Checkbox

2017 was a year of highs and low for my family.  We created many incredible memories.  Traveling to Finland and meeting family is something none of us will ever forget.

2017 was also the year my husband and I lost our remaining grandparents.  Between August and December, my paternal grandmother and my husband’s paternal grandfather and maternal grandmother all passed away.

Both of us have commented how lucky we were to have grandparents who lived such long lives.  Our children who are 9 and 6 were able to grow and form relationships with their great-grandparents.  I only have a couple of memories of one great-grandparent from my childhood.

Today was the day I went to FamilySearch Family Tree and made an important change to my husband’s grandfather’s profile.  I unchecked the living box and added a death date for the last of a generation in our family.  I took a few minutes to digest this.  For our  branches of the family, an entire generation is no longer with us.  My family had a run of 9 years with 4 living generations. I am so thankful for each and everyone one of those years for adding to our story.

I am working on life sketches for each our grandparents who passed last year.  All three grandparents lived long lives so there is a lot of history to cover for each of them.  As I finish each sketch, I will publish it here on my blog.

 

Wait…. Are My Kids Russian?

Our trip to Finland this summer was incredible for so many reasons.  My favorite being connecting with extended family on my husband’s side. Another important part of the trip was learning more about Scandinavian history. Specifically, this year is the 100 year anniversary of Finland as a country.  The Republic of Finland, as we know it today, gained independence from Russia in December 1917.

History of Finland from Wikipedia

The area has a long history though.  After the middle ages, Finland became part of Sweden.  It remained this way until the early 1700’s when Sweden and Russia began to take turns controlling the area.  Russian forces occupied Finland twice in the first half of the 1700’s.  Sweden once again regained control of the area by 1743.  Also by this time the area was called Finland by both the Swedish and the Russians.

The Finnish war of 1808-1809 ended with Finland being taken over by Russia once again.  It was declared the Grand Duchy of Finland in 1918.  This was an autonomous part of Russia.  Finland was okay with this arrangement until Alexander III took the Russian throne in 1881.  He began a period of “Russification.”  My husband’s relatives explained this time as Russia remembering they owned Finland and began to exploit it.  Men were required to spend time in the Russian Army, the Finnish economy was overtaken by Russians, towns were renamed after Russians, etc.  The worst of it came in 1899 when Russia declared Russian Law as the law of the land.

The Russian Revolution occurred in 1917.  Finland took the opportunity to declare their independence and create the Republic of Finland.

So what does this history have to do with my children?  A lot.  My husband’s 2nd great grandparents, Charles Mattson and Wendla Batmaster, both immigrated to the San Francisco area from Ostrobothnia at the turn of the century. Both left Finland due to hard economic times under Russian rule. Both were born in the 1880’s and both identified as Finnish.

So are my kids Russian or Finnish?

When looking at history, technically they were Russian since Finland was part of Russia.  Deep history would indicate they were Swedish.  Sweden had control of the land area first.  So maybe my kids are Finnish Russian Swedes? Haha! Just kidding.

The answer is no. Your identity is not always rooted in the dates of history.  My kid’s immigrant ancestors came from families who had lived in Finland for hundreds of years.  We know Finland was referred to as Finland and the people as Finnish since the late 1600’s.  The families identified as Finnish even during Russian rule.  My kids are part Finnish.

Blog Birthday Fail

OOPS!!  I missed my own blogiversary this month.  The bad news is the anniversary was two weeks ago. The good news is I was in Virginia talking all things family history with my Mom and her cousins when I missed the big day.

My mom’s cousins flew to Virginia for a visit.  I had been in town the few days before their arrival so I stayed an extra day for some family time.  We spent the day traveling to Page County, Virginia.  I was able to show them the area my ancestors helped found in the mid-1700’s.  The highlight was driving to the Strickler-Louderback house.

The Strickler-Louderback house is on the banks of the Shenandoah River in Page County, Virginia.  My 3rd great-grandfather, David Strickler, built the brick home that stands today.  The Strickler’s owned the home for many years and then sold it to the Louderback family.  It was so fun to share this history with family!

Happy 6 Years to my blog!!

A New Idea To Display Your Family Tree

My house was dominated last year by the movie Inside Out.  This is an animated Disney movie which played on repeat in my house.  You can also find lots of fun games, kids activities, and shop for anything about the movie at Disney Movies.

rich_insideout_header_6017c389

The main characters in the movie are the emotions which control an eleven year old girl named Riley.  Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust run headquarters in the brain where core memories are stored.  The core memories create these islands which represent different aspects of Riley’s personality (family island, friendship island, hockey island, etc).  When you view the islands from headquarters you see lots of color and neon.

At this point you may be asking yourself, “How does this tie into genealogy?!”

Like all things Disney, the movie not only sells merchandise, there is a game you can download onto your phone for your kids to play.  I was playing the game and working my way through family island when I noticed this:

inside-out

A NEON FAMILY TREE!!!  This would be the coolest way to get family interested in your family tree.

I have since amended my dream list of what I would do after winning the lottery to include a neon family tree to hang up in my mommy cave. I just need to start playing the lottery!  I need to take a safer route and ask Santa!

Summer Adventures In Genealogy

The last couple of months have been incredible.  I cannot believe how quickly it has flown by.  Then again they say time flies when you are having fun!

Back in April, I was working on the probate file of Willis Coffey.  I have received more documents from the DeKalb County Historical Society.  The short story is that when Willis passed away, the children from his first marriage went to court against the second wife and their half-brother from that marriage.  It reads like a Lifetime Movie.

I was distracted from the drama of Willis Coffey for a couple of reasons.  First, I was re-elected as President of the Marin County Genealogical Society.  I am looking forward to another year of working with great people on our Board of Directors.

The second distraction is working with a friend on their family tree.  One of our good friends (GG) needed help to work on his paternal line.  He has tested his DNA to compare to a person we are pretty sure is related.  I have been building the paper trail so when the results come in, there is a tree to work with.  This project has been a blast!  I am so lucky because GG’s family only arrived in the United States a few generations back.  The gateway ancestor has a fairly uncommon name so tracing him back to Denmark was a breeze.  From there I have found over 50 digital images of the family in the Ancestry.com Denmark Church Records.

Gregers Erichsen Death Record 1746

The farthest ancestor for GG we have identified is Gregers Erichsen. His death record on 19 September 1746 states he is 77 years old. This gives us the earliest date of 1669 for this family.  Just incredible!!  Just thinking about it makes me happy all over again. I am so thankful for the time I got to flip through the church records and learn all about patronymic research.

My children got out of school in early June.  We have been on one adventure after the next. We visited my parents in Virginia and my uncle and aunt in Seattle.  Not too much genealogy research was accomplished in June but I was able to get a bunch of documents transcribed on the plane rides.

One of my biggest projects this summer has been to clean out our office and the top of my sewing table.  My husband was shocked at the two black garbage bags of paper I was able to get rid of.  Being liberated from all the clutter has led us to start using the office again.  It also created specific piles of genealogy work to digitize and write about.

This month has had genealogy peek into the picture more than I thought it would.  Look for a blog post about a previously unknown sister for my grandfather.  I am also going to blog about my experiences with DNA testing.  In the last month, the autosomal DNA results for both of my parents and one of my mother’s cousins has come in.  I having been immersing myself in DNA education to figure out what it all means.

The rest of the summer includes more adventures with the kids.  They are in dance camp this week, which has created time to write this blog post.  Hopefully, I can keep my new schedule of 20 minutes a day to either scan, transcribe, or write something.

How is your summer going?

My Ancestor Score Card

Every now and then the Ancestor Score Card makes it rounds in the genealogy blogs.  This is a chart that compares the possible number of ancestors in each generation to the number you have identified.

Last month, I saw a couple of blog posts focusing on the genealogists Ancestor Score Card.  Today I want to share mine.

8 generation score card

I am very happy with the progress I have made in my family tree.  It will be really interesting to see when I finally crack the 100% level at the 6th generation.  The four ancestors I need to identify are the parents of James Dempsey and Mary Ann O’Neil.  Haha!  This should be fun to find in Scotland.

Filling out this chart is not my goal for my genealogy research.  I enjoy filling out the lives of each ancestor with stories.  I think this is a fun exercise to take stock of the work done so far.