Travel Tuesday – Getting Ready For A Research Day

Next week is Spring Break for my children.  We are taking a trip to visit my parents outside of Washington, D.C.  Each time we visit back east, I get to have a research day.  Some of my research has taken me to Page County and Rockingham County in Northern Virginia.  I have also spent days in Washington, D.C. at the National Archives and Daughter’s of the American Revolution Library.

Last week, I sat down and took a look at my research to decide what repository would be the lucky winner on this trip.  In Evernote, I have a genealogy to-do notebook.  As I find things I cannot access digitally, I create a note by repository so that I do not forget the where, who, and why I want this information .  Currently I have three notes with archives that are within driving distance of my parents.

The first option is microfilm at the Pennsylvania State Archives.  This would be a 3 hour drive for me to Harrisburg.  I have previously agreed with my husband that research day would coincide with a trip to Hershey, Pennsylvania.  I am going to take it off the possible research day list for this trip.  I would rather visit in the summer.

My second option is to visit the National Archives again.  I had great success at NARA last year.  I have a several pension files I would like to see.  The list is split with 1 in-law direct ancestor and 4 siblings of my direct ancestors. Two of the siblings are of John L Gamble (I found his pension record last year.)  These will flesh out this family further but I am not sure there will be any new information. The other two siblings are from my John F. Flock line.  These may have some gems in them to confirm siblings and parents.  I am hoping that it will give detailed information on the locations the family lived in Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois.  The direct ancestor is for my husband’s Shipman line.  I have found a lot of information about James O. Shipman this year.  It would be nice to round it out and confirm his parents.

My last option for research day is the Daughter’s of the American Revolution Library.  I have also had great success at this library.  I have been combing the online catalog and identified a couple of books that need a closer look.  My maternal line has a branch that descends from John Berry and Jane Campbell.  The DAR library has a book on the shelves that focuses on this couple and their descendants.  There is also a book on the shelves that looks at the ancestry and descendants of John Laubach.  I believe this may be a brother of one of my direct line Lawbaugh/Laubach ancestors. I also have a list of 3 direct ancestors and 6 possible siblings of ancestors who are verified patriots.  I want to look at the applications and supporting documents to fill any holes in my research and/or verify relationships.  This could be a landmine in new information.

Right now I am leaning towards going to the DAR Library.  Which option do you think I should go with?

Another Year Another Reason To Celebrate

I am so excited to be celebrating my 4 year blogiversary today!  I am always working to include my kids in genealogy projects.  To celebrate another year of writing, the girls and I made cupcakes and decorated them to create a family tree.

Thank you for reading my blog!  I love writing and look forward to sharing more stories about my family!

Up In The Tree

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:

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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.

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!


Finding Some Balance

Hi! I just wanted to let you know I am still here.  I have been having trouble finding some balance between my life (mom, wife, household Chief Operating Officer, etc.) and the rest of my life (genealogy, writing, and quilting) since school started.  I had no idea that my oldest going to elementary school would have such an impact on my life.

I am learning as I go.  I am loving spending more one on one time with my youngest.  I am not crazy about the daunting amount of paperwork and rules that come with school.  I love the changes I am making to make my house a home that reflects our family.  I am a little surprised to admit that I actually am enjoying waking up earlier and the schedule we are following.

To help right the balance issues, I have signed up for two upcoming workshops in the Bay Area.  First is the Digging For Your Roots Conference at the Concord Family History Center on October 18th.  Two weeks later I will be attending the Fall Seminar at the San Mateo Genealogical Society.  I am super excited because the seminar features Judy Russell.  I love her blog, The Legal Genealogist.

In the mean time, I have calendared some time to write a few blog posts.  Since I am not finding time naturally, it is time to make time.  See you again soon!

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!

2014 Starts With A Bang!

My family has enjoyed a wonderful Holiday Season.  So much so that I took a break from the blog to keep up with it all.  I am so thankful for such a great month with family and friends.

The end of the holiday season brings a new year.  A new year always brings me a feeling of starting fresh and being motivated.  This year I am excited to work on some projects around our house, watch my children grow, and work on my favorite hobby – genealogy!

To help me get started with a bang, my wonderful husband has given me an after Christmas surprise.  He has ordered a new laptop for work and I get to have his old one.  While I do enjoy working on our desktop computer and its enormous screen, I am excited to be mobile!  I have spent the last couple of days cleaning out the hard drive and setting the laptop to be a genealogy machine.

Thank you honey for not only putting up with my obsession (oops, I meant hobby) but supporting me to the fullest!  I love my (semi) new laptop!

Saturday Night Fun On Sunday

Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings writes a weekly blog post called Saturday Night Genealogy Fun.  Each week he picks a fun topic to write about over the weekend.  This week’s topic focuses on the states you have visited in the United States.  He found a fun website where you can color in the states to identify where and how much time you have spent.

My tally – 45 states and 3 Canadian provinces.  My map being colored in so much has to do with my dad’s career.  He spent 30 years in the Coast Guard.  Since his jobs were always located on a coast, we have driven across country MANY times.  We always made these moves into sight-seeing trips.

I have hopes to take my kids on many long road trips in the next 15 years so that they get to experience all of the United States.  Hopefully, I will be able to finish coloring my map in at the same time.  There is so much to see!!

Here is my map:

  • red for states where you’ve not spent much time or seen very much.
  • amber for states where you’ve at least slept and seen some sights.
  • blue for states you’ve spent a lot of time in or seen a fair amount of.
  • green for states you’ve spent a great deal of time in on multiple visits.
map created at
map created at

Follow Friday – A New Perspective On The Brick Wall

This week Chris Staats of Staats Genealogical Services posted a great blog post about a new way to look at brick walls.  You can read ‘Genealogists Should Abandon the “Brick Wall” Metaphor’ here.  The post discusses how when we run into a dead-end with research,  it is more like building a brick wall then running into it.

I really like this post because it puts a positive spin on troublesome ancestors who just do not want to be found.  I believe that you will definitely get further when researching your ancestors if you start with a confident upbeat attitude.

This post appeared last weekend just as I was working in the front yard on a project.  I was removing dirt from a flower bed and knocking down the brick retaining wall.  For me it was all about proper drainage away from the foundation.  As I was swinging away at the bricks with a sledge-hammer, all I could think about was genealogy.  While it was fun to break down a brick wall, I would much rather do the hard work to build a proper one.


Thank you to Chris Staats for a new perspective at some of my more difficult ancestors!

A Vacation Genealogy Moment

My favorite place we stayed on our vacation was the Hotel Weisses Rössl in Saint Wolfgang, Austria.  It is at the other end of Wolfgansee Lake mentioned in my last post about the cemetery in Saint Gilgen.  This region just had a peaceful nature and extraordinary beauty.  Hotel Weisses Rössl translates to White Horse Hotel.  The hotel has been made famous in Europe by several musicals and movies in which it played a prominent role.

Hotel Weisses Rossl in St. Wolfgang, Austria
Hotel Weisses Rossl in St. Wolfgang, Austria

The hotel has been under the ownership of the Peter family for the last 101 year.  To celebrate the centennial anniversary last year the family published a book and a copy sits in each room.  It is a genealogy of the five generations that have run the hotel.

Weissen Rossl Book


I was inspired by the book.  The book included great photos of the family and the hotel through the years.

Photo depiction of the five generations who have owned the hotel.
Photo depiction of the five generations who have owned the hotel.

Although I was not expecting to find a genealogy moment in this beautiful hotel, it was a great one.  If you ever get the chance to visit this beautiful town and hotel, I definitely recommend paying for a lake view room.  It is spectacular!

View of Hotel Weisses Rossl from the lake.  This photo is from
View of Hotel Weisses Rossl from the lake. This photo is from