Another Big Step

This last year I have taken conscious steps to increase my participation in my local genealogy society, The Marin County Genealogical Society.  Along with attending our monthly meetings, I have become the Treasurer.  I volunteered for the position when another member announced she was moving away.  I really enjoy the position and have already put my name in for our yearly board member elections.

Late last fall, I met with one of the other board members to discuss possible topics for the monthly program our society presents.  One of the ideas was genealogy blogs and how they can help your research.  I decided to jump in feet first and offer to give the presentation.  I am almost finished putting together my presentation.  I am excited and nervous all at the same time.  I know it will be a fun night!

If you live in the Bay Area come to our meeting March 27th at 7pm in San Rafael, California to see my presentation of Genealogy Blogs: How They Can Help Your Research.

Tech Tuesday – Genealogy Graffiti

I was brain storming this weekend about future blog posts.  I quickly realized that I have written enough posts that I don’t remember what topics I have already covered.  There are also enough posts that it is slow to browse through to check what is there.  I need a way to search more quickly.

I remembered there are things called categories and tags in WordPress.  After doing some internet research to find out what they even are, I sat down with my husband to discuss my plan.  I have mentioned before that he is the social media guru for the family business.  He explained to me in non-techy english what works best.  Categories are like the chapter headings and tags are the index in the back of the book.

I did some browsing to see how other genealogy blogs use categories and tags.  I took the stuff I liked and formed a plan of attack.  My categories are mostly based on the type of records you use such as census records, church records, vital records, etc.  I have also added in a category for surnames and another for places.  My tags are the specific surnames and the states mentioned in each blog post.

So I went genealogy tagging this morning and made some genealogy graffiti on my blog.  Hopefully this will allow me and my readers easier access to the information they are looking for.  There is now a drop down menu to access the categories.  I have also created a word cloud to select tags.  Enjoy!

Disney’s Version of DAR

I know that I am a genealogy geek.  I am perfectly fine with it.  Sometimes I am not so sure that my husband wants to be seen with me when I am fully geeked out.  My family went to Disneyland right before Christmas to celebrate my daughter’s and my father’s birthday.  It was a wonderful two days of everything Disney.  Of course, there was a total genealogy geek moment during our trip!

The morning of our second day we made our way from It’s a Small World to Toon Town.  Toon Town is where Mickey Mouse’s house is located so it was high on our must see list.  To get there you walk underneath a bridge for the train that rides around the park perimeter.  As I was walking underneath the bridge, I cried out in delight when I saw a sign with pictures of Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck and the letters “DAR.”  I immediately was thrilled thinking that Disney would have something related to genealogy in the park.

There was at least one laugh from my husband as I took my camera out to get a photo of the sign.  After taking the picture, I realized that the sign actually read “Daughters of the Animated Reel.”  Oops.  I think it would have been fun to see how Minnie and Daisy made their way back to the Revolutionary War.

Disneyland DAR


I could not help myself and googled – Mickey Mouse Family Tree.  There is actually a blog with a family tree printed for Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse.  It does not go back to the 1700’s but it does have extended family members for both characters as seen in cartoons and movies.  You can check it out at

Here is a picture of us at Disneyland.  My very wonderful husband agreed to take his fleece off to take this picture.  The rest of the day he covered up his matching shirt but that is okay since I got my photo.

Family Pic Disneyland

Society Saturday – Putting Money Where Your Mouth Is

One of the fastest ways to make a genealogy society better is to get involved.  I am a member of my local society, Marin County Genealogical Society.  I have been a ‘regular’ member for a couple of years now.  I have attended most of our monthly meetings in the last couple of years.

Recently, our Treasurer announced that she will be moving to a new area and will not be able to remain on our Board.  I decided that it was time to put my money where my mouth is and volunteer to complete the term of the Treasurer position.

We had our monthly meeting the last week of November.  It was awesome that the next day I was already taking checks to the bank.

I am looking forward to being in the Treasurer position.  Next time your society has a position open consider volunteering for it.  You may be surprised how happy it will make you.

Tombstone Tuesday – My Kids First Cemetery Adventure

My older daughter attends preschool three days a week.  Tuesday is a non-school day so we were looking for something to do.  In an attempt to avoid some house work, I suggested we go on a genealogy adventure to Colma.  San Francisco does not have any cemeteries inside the city limits.  Most people who live in San Francisco are buried just south of the city in the town of Colma.  My husband’s side has many family members buried in three of the cemeteries there.

I was immediately bombarded with “why” questions from my daughter.  It was the first time in many months that I was excited to answer several hundred why questions.  We talked about why there are cemeteries, who is in them, the gravestones, and how each of the people are related to us.

I tried to keep things simple such as “You have two grandmas.  Daddy’s Grandma Shirley also  had two grandmas.  We are going to visit both of Grandma Shirley’s grandmas.”  This description worked better than “This is your great-great-great-grandma.”

We kept is fun.  J did a bunch of rubbings at one cemetery.  She picked the little weed flowers at another to make a tiny bouquet for our gravestone.  We used each gravestone as a letters quiz.  (Can you find an E?)  J also acted as my photo shoot director.  At the Pope family plot, she would ask who was at each headstone and then tell me we needed a picture of them.


My little one is only a year old.  M had fun on our adventure too.  She wanted to touch each gravestone we passed.  I was cracking up because it looked like she was playing Duck, Duck, Goose.  Anything outdoors makes her happy.

It was a great day!  I taught my kids some family history, photographed some headstones that I was missing in my collection, and enjoyed a beautiful day outside.  I still had to clean my house but I did it with a smile thinking about the day.

Family Even If It’s Not Legal

This post is in memory of Andrew Geordie Mackie (1967-2012).

I clearly remember the day my Aunt M was married. My Mom & I had stayed at her house the night before and helped my Aunt get ready that day.  I was officially in charge of the guest book at the church. At 12 years old, I took my duties seriously.  No one was missed in the book because I snagged everyone as they walked into the church.  It meant a lot to me to be included that day.

Unfortunately, the marriage did not stand the test of time. All is not sad though because my cousin C is the best part of that union.

My Aunt M has had different long-term boyfriends over the years. I liked some of them more than others.  Some fit in among our family better than others.  We are a loud, happy bunch that can easily overwhelm.

Things changed three years ago when Aunt M met Andrew. They were introduced by friends and were quickly taken with each other.  Andrew made an immediate impression on anyone he met with his long, blonde surfer hair and huge smile. He was always dressed stylishly (this usually included something with argyle or plaid on it).

The first time I met Andrew, we were at a family weekend at my Grandmother’s home. I was amazed how Andrew fit into our family so smoothly. There was no question, Andrew loved my Aunt M and he was part of the family immediately.

The last three years I have had the pleasure getting to know Andrew.  Like everyone else in my family, I have had some wild conversations with him.  He had a busy, fun filled life and was willing to tell you all about it (the good, the bad, and his belief in aliens).  Andrew was smart and could catch you by surprise with his knowledge.  He was always concerned that everyone around him was okay.

I personally was excited that Andrew also had an interest in family history.  He took great pride in his Scottish roots.  He would listen to the stories of our family without his eyes glazing over.

A year ago, we all gathered in the Outer Banks, North Carolina for my sister’s wedding.  Andrew was the most stylish man in attendance.  He had to be since he brought two suitcases full of clothes to choose from.  I could not help but laugh at how some of the East Coast guests did not know what to make of the blond surfer from California.  It was such a wonderful week with family.

While my Aunt M will tell you that Andrew is the love of her life, they did not marry.  They lived together and were committed to each other for the long haul.

Andrew unexpectedly passed away on July 20, 2012.  We all gathered to remember Andrew the following weekend.  A testament to Andrew, so many people showed up for his memorial service that not everyone could fit into the chapel.  There was another room of people watching on tv monitors.  The next day a large group paddled out into the Pacific Ocean and paid tribute to Andrew as his ashes were spread over his favorite place.

Andrew was survived by his father, stepmother, three sisters, and brother.  He was also survived by Aunt M, Cousin C, and my family because although he was not legally ours, we considered Andrew family.

Outer Banks, North Carolina – September 2012

Rest in Peace Andrew.

Welcome To My New Website!

Welcome!  I am so excited to have my own website!  I have been busy in the last week learning all about WordPress and creating a new logo for my blog.  I still have a few things I want to add to my new site but I am too excited to wait before going live.  I am in full genealogy/tech geek mode and enjoying it.

I saw this car last week in Truckee, California.  Only a genealogist would stop to take a picture!  Unfortunately, I did not get to meet the driver of this car.

Registration Happy Dance

Why am I doing a Happy Dance?  Because I am going to see Tom Jones speak this Fall at the San Mateo County Genealogical Society Fall 2012 Seminar!

With two small children at home and not a professional genealogist, I don’t get to attend seminars, conferences, etc. very often.  My wonderful husband has agreed to keep the kids alive for a full day while I go get my genealogy geek on.

Tom Jones will be the second genealogy super star that I have had the privilege to hear speak.  My first star was a day long seminar in Sonoma county many years ago where Elizabeth Shown Mills was speaking.  In fact, it was my first seminar to attend.  I was in my mid twenties and  just getting serious about genealogy.  I started citing my sources that very same day!

Tom Jones will be giving four lectures during the Same Mateo event.  The topics range from creating biographies to Genealogical Proof Standard to finding elusive ancestors.  It should be a great day with lots of information to bring home.

My registration and check is officially in the hands of the United States Postal Service as of today.  Now I just have to wait until November 3rd!

To read more about the day long seminar visit the San Mateo Genealogical Society’s webpage.  Hope to see you there!

Foliage Fun (Part 3)

This week I am writing a blog post mini-series about the trees in my town.  Read the first two installments at Foliage Fun (Part 1) and Foliage Fun (Part 2).

#9 – This tree has little clusters of leaves that are growing at the ends of the branches.  It looks like the person researching this tree has found ancestors and attached them to their tree without proving the intermediate generations.  I do not recommend this style of research.  You need to start with what you know and work out from the trunk of the tree.  It is time for this tree to apply the Genealogy Proof Standard!

#10 – The most abundant tree in Northern California has to be the mighty Oak.  Every hillside you look at has at least one oak growing on it.  I love this Oak tree by my sister-in-laws house.  It is HUGE! My guess is that it is easily 60-70 feet tall.  Looking at this tree makes me think of the researchers who have thousands of people in their genealogy software databases.  You have to be a strong tree to handle that kind of genealogy weight.

#11 – We went to Yosemite last week to visit with my husband’s brother and his wife.  They are so lucky to live in such an amazing place!  Walking across the meadow near the Swinging Bridge, I noticed this tree because of the two branches it has at the top.  I have no idea why this tree has grown this way but it looks nothing like any trees near it.  It reminded me of the the research I had to do regarding Pietro Ciardonei (I wrote about it in (2Matteo + 2Lucia) – Pietro(Teresa/Antonia) = ?!?!).  A quick recap is that there are two men named Pietro Ciardonei in Cossano Canavese, Italy in the late 1800’s. I had to figure out if they were the same person and if not, which one was I related to.  I had to build two separate trees going back a couple of generations because both sets of parents were named Matteo Ciardonei and Lucia Avetta.  The answer was in the third generation.  Gotta love naming conventions!

#12 – This is my favorite tree in our neighborhood.  It also happens to be in my in-laws front yard.  Yes, my in-laws are three stop signs away.  I also have a sister-in-law that lives about 2 miles away.  It is convenient, especially since they all work together at the family business.  I digress, back to the tree.  I don’t know what kind of tree it is but it stands about 35-40 feet high.  When the wind blows, which is often, it makes a gentle rustling sound.  It is very relaxing.  The tree is tall, strong, and has many branches and leaves.  I hope that someday our family tree resembles this tree.  I have a few huge brick walls to tackle first!

Thank you for joining me on a tree trip though my neighborhood.  If I come across some other interesting trees that make me think of genealogy I will be sure to share them.