Foliage Fun (Part 2)

This week I am writing a blog post mini-series about the fun trees I see on my walks.  Read the first post at Foliage Fun (Part 1).

#5 – When you live in Northern California you can always spot some Redwood trees.  There is a grove of them up a nice hike at the western edge of my town.  This tree, like the families of the pilgrims, has been around for a long time.  I call it the New England Family Tree.  The coolest part is the base is about 5 feet in diameter.

#6 – This funny looking tree is the ultimate brick wall!  None of the branches grow vertically.  It looks like someone has done an immense amount of FAN research but cannot find the next generation.   I will never grow a tree like this in my yard.  I would not want to jinx my research with this tree.

#7 – The neighborhood where my home is located used to be a walnut tree orchard.  Most houses still have one or two on the property.  Many trim them each year to nubby branches at the top of the trunk so that walnuts do not grow on the branches.  Each year small branches grow with the leaves on them.  Almost all of these trees end up with an almost perfectly balanced, round top.  I see these trees and think of the organized researcher.  All of the data in their software is cited and the originals are filed correctly.  There are no piles of research that needs to be digitized or entered in software.  When we moved into our house, our walnut tree had to go because it was ruining the sidewalk.  Good thing,  I would not want anyone to get the idea I was super organized!

#8 – This tree represents the researcher who has carefully pruned their tree so that it looks like they want it too.  They have snipped off all of the skeletons and not so positive stories.  They do not want anyone to think badly about their family.  What they are left with is a freaky looking tree.  It is kind of like some of the women you see in reality TV.  They have so much makeup and plastic surgery that they end up looking odd.

The conclusion of my mini-series will be up in a few days.  Join us for Part 3!

Foliage Fun (Part 1)

Last month I read a great blog post on  The post, written by Chris Staats, is entitled Researching Collateral Lines: A Visual Aid.  The visual aid is a photo of a tree he took on a walk near his home.  It really helps to drive home the point of how working “sideways” can aid your research.  

When I read the blog post, I could not help but laugh at myself.  I walk all over my town pushing my kids in a stroller in a bid to keep fit.  I, like Chris, look at trees while walking and think of genealogy.  I used to look at trees to identify one that portrays my family tree.  Now I look at trees and make up a story about what kind of family they belong to.    

I have decided to write a  mini-blog post series inspired by the blog post on  It will capture a sampling of some great trees I see on my walks.  Warning : You are now entering the mind of an obsessed genealogist!

#1 – This palm tree represents a family that does not use birth control.  Each branch of the family has A LOT of kids as shown by the number of leaves on each branch.

#2 – This is what can happen to your research when you blindly copy other people’s trees off of  Rot creeps into your tree if you do not verify sources.
#3 – There is a home in the front left portion of this multi-acre orchard.  I am positive that a professional genealogist lives here.  Each tree represents a different family that he/she has researched for a client.  They must be one of the best paid researchers out there because there are a couple hundred trees on the property and they are all mature, large trees.
#4 – I think the tree growing in my front yard is a Japanese Maple.  It has these crazy branches that shoot out as it grows each year.  This tree is a perfect visual of a night that I get on a roll and stay up all hours to work on a suddenly expanding branch of my family tree.  You know those nights – your research log gets thrown out the window so that you can quickly jump from website to website as new ancestors throw themselves at you from digitized records.   
Come back for more foliage fun – the next post will include a photo that represents the worst brick wall I have ever seen.  

Down In The Roots

I believe that reading other genealogy blogs teaches me a lot.  Not only do I learn about all things genealogy, I have been learning about blogs themselves.  Just by observation, I see what things I like about blogs, what I do not like, and things that I am willing to put the time in to learn about.

As I scanned the list of new blogs posted by Geneabloggers last week, my interest was peaked by a great name – Pardon My Redundancy.  The blog is focused on Anecdotal Blogging.  RHarrisonScott writes posts that memorialize his memories.  This is a blog that is done in a great way and speaks to my style.

I had a moment of brilliance while reading many of the posts at Pardon My Redundancy.  Although I have tried to write down my memories and feelings about current events, I generally fail miserably.  Then I had my DUH moment. Duh, I do not write in a journal because it is not a habit that I cultivate.  I realized that I need to write my memories down in a way that incorporates habits I already have.  I am in the habit of completing digital chores (email, facebook, blogging).

I have made the decision to create a second blog where I can write my memories down as blogposts.  Since this blog is about my ancestors who live up in the branches of my family tree, I am calling my new blog Down In The Roots to indicate that it is about me and my memories.

You can access my memories by pressing the Down In The Roots page button at the top of this blog.

A huge THANK YOU to RHarrisonScott for giving me the inspiration for starting my own anecdotal blog.    

Follow Friday – “Timeline of Their Lives”

There was a wonderful post this week at Adventures in Genealogy titled “Timeline of Their Lives.”  Deb Ruth shared that she would be presenting a talk about timelines at her local library this week.  Although Deb Ruth will be giving her talk to a local audience, she shared the great resources she would be detailing to the rest of us in the genealogy blogosphere.

I checked the websites out and they are a treasure trove.  I have already added them to my genealogy favorites in my web browser.  I have written posts before where I wonder how life impacted my ancestors.  Timelines are a great way to put some context into the picture you are building of your ancestor.  

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun on Monday

I have been missing from my blog the last couple of weeks.  Although I try to plan ahead and have posts written for when times are busy I did not get ahead of the 8 ball this time.  Instead of worrying about it, I have been having fun living life.  My younger daughter had her first birthday, my dog had her fifth birthday,  my parents came and spent time with us, we went to the first stage of the Tour of California bike race, attended the wedding of my husband’s cousin, celebrated at a baby shower, and my brother-in-law received his MBA.  It has been a great couple of weeks around our house!

When I read Randy Seaver’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge, I thought it would be a great way to get back into the blog swing of things.

I was surprised to find that I can get all the way to number 41 on my Ahnentafel Report.  Number 41 is the unknown wife of Edward Dempsey.  She is also the mother of James Dempsey.  James is the grandfather of my paternal grandmother who immigrated to the United States from Scotland with the surname Dempsey. My grandmother’s maiden name is Dempsey.

I have to admit that it has been a long time since I looked at this branch of my family tree.  According to James’ death certificate, he was born in Scotland on 15 April 1864.  He passed away 13 April 1959 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  He is buried in Calvary Cemetery in Pittsburgh.  I have found James in the 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930 Federal Census enumerations.   Depending on which census you look at, James immigrated from Scotland in 1883, 1885 or 1888.  Due to the birth of his first child in 1887, I believe it is more likely he immigrated between 1883-1885.  James became a naturalized citizen in 1903.  I have received a copy of the naturalization paperwork but it really could be any James Dempsey in Pittsburgh as there is no identifying information included.  James married his wife Mary Ann O’Neill about 1885.  They had five children all born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

I found James’ father’s name on his death certificate.  His mother’s name is listed as unknown.  Looking at this branch of the family tree makes me realize that there is still a lot of work to do here.  I need to do additional research on my grandmother’s grandparents.  The first item on my to do list is to call my grandma and see if I can jog her memory for any further family information.  Another first step is to find an obituary for James Dempsey.  I definitely need to spend some time working on a research plan for this side of the family.(That sounds like a great follow-up blogpost!)

A huge Thank You to Randy Seaver for this week’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun Challenge.  It was fun to do and has me excited about researching a side of my family I didn’t realize I was neglecting.  It is also wonderful because it gave me a minute to appreciate how much research I have accomplished in the last 15 years.  I really have found so many stories about my family and love every single on of them!

One Entire Year!

I did it!  Today is my one year anniversary for this blog.  To celebrate, I created some memories with my daughter while making a blog anniversary cake.  It is chocolate with cream cheese frosting, green sprinkles, and brown sugar.

As I cross one of my genealogy goals off the list (write a genealogy blog for one year), I embark on a new goal to continue this blog to my five year anniversary.

A huge THANK YOU to everyone who reads my blog!  I never expected that I would have so much fun telling my genealogy stories.  I have been overwhelmed at the support and comments from the genealogy community and family.

Wedding Wednesday – Accidental Bigamist

“Woman Finds Out She Has Four Husbands”

This is the headline that screamed out to me on on Sunday night.  Of course, I immediately hit the link to see what this was about.  The genealogist in me was chomping at the bit to hear more.

The article summarized another article that appeared in the New York Post on March 17th.  Basically, a woman goes to get a marriage certificate.  The request is denied by officials because they say she is already married twice.  It turns out that her birth certificate was stolen and used fraudulently.  The best part is that the woman was served divorce papers by one of the men that she was “married” to.  What! Even better, she found out that even though she has been married to her husband since 2004, another fake marriage has cropped up.

Here is the link for the full story:

Qns woman ‘married’ to multiple men in immigration scams

This story makes my marriage dates look simple.  Yes, I married the same man twice within a week.  My story is not scandalous though.  We planned a destination wedding in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.  To make things easy, we got legally hitched with our parents as witnesses in the United States almost a week before our wedding date.  We celebrate the day we spent with friends and family in Mexico as our official anniversary date.

Tuesday’s Tip – Family Fun With My Flip-Pal Scanner

As many of you know, I bought myself a Flip-Pal Scanner as a post-Christmas present.  I love it for so many reasons.  This past weekend was no exception.

We attended a baby shower hosted by my in-laws this past Sunday.  After the shower, my 3 year old came upon some old photos that had been put in the drawer of a side table.  It was fun to sit as a family and look at the photos and hear some stories.  Since we live only 3 stop signs away, I ran home and grabbed my Flip-Pal Scanner.

When I came back, I was surprised to watch my daughter pick up the photos and put them into the Flip-Pal Scanner.  I quickly realized that she was into helping me so I showed her what button to press and let her have fun.  It was great!  While I got to document who was in the photos and the story behind them, Julia was scanning away for me.  Julia did need some supervision since she is so young but the Flip-Pal Scanner is so easy to use that it didn’t take much.

We had a fun afternoon looking a pictures together and commenting at some of the hairstyle and clothing choices from earlier years.  The stack of photos we found even enticed some photo albums to make an appearance for more great pictures.

Tuesday’s Tip – Involving children can be fun in unexpected ways.  My daughter started with wanting to play with the scanner but ended up learning about family.  She learned faces, relationships, and even a few family stories about her dad and his pony.  (My personal favorite was when she exclaimed,”What do we call Great Gramps’ dad? Great Big Gramps?”)

Surprise Genealogy Time

I am able to grab a few minutes today while both of my kids are taking a nap.  This hasn’t happened in months, I am giddy with excitement for a little bit of surprise genealogy time! 

Tomorrow night is the monthly meeting for my local genealogy society, Marin County Genealogical Society.  I am really excited because Steve Morse is coming to our meeting to present “Getting Ready for the 1940 Census: Searching Without a Name Index.”  I am really looking forward to this.  I have been to two Steve Morse presentations before.  He is a great presenter and I can’t wait to learn more about his One-Step web pages for the 1940 census.
I am going to spend my “surprise genealogy” time this afternoon making a list of the ancestors who were alive in 1940.  If the kids sleep long enough, I will try to pin down locations for each person too.

21COFH – How I Organize My Digital Files

The Turning of Generations blog is hosting a great series this year called the 21st Century Organized Family Historian.  Each week a ‘project’ will be posted that relates to organizing your family history.  Week 2’s topic is Developing a Digital Organization Scheme.

I am excited to participate in this blog series.  I am in the middle of reorganizing my digital files, scanning a box of genealogy paperwork, adding citations to my genealogy software for the scanned documents, and adding citations to the meta data for each digital file.  I always love hearing how other people organize their genealogy data.  We all do it just a little differently from each other.  My scheme is all about what I can maintain and ways to find the files without too much searching.

One of my biggest problems with my old digital filing system was the files being saved in Documents and Pictures.  I found it confusing so I created a new library on my C drive called Genealogy.  I did this by right clicking on the word Library in the Windows Explorer.  Now all of my photos, documents, and downloads will be kept is one area.

Within the genealogy library I have several folders: Genealogy Education, Places, Up In The Tree, Surnames.  The Genealogy Education folder contains all of information I have collected from webinars, genealogy ebooks, etc.  The Up In The Tree stores copies of all my blog posts (I am a backup junkie).  The Places folder contains any information regarding a specific place that I am researching.  The last folder is the Surname folder.

With the folders mentioned above, there is only one file kept at this level.  My Research Log is kept here for easy access at all times.

The Surnames folder is divided into 2 sub folders, one for my side of the family and one for my husband’s side of the family.  The sub folders are further divided into 16 folders, one for each surname of a great-great-grandparent.  At this point, the sub folder is divided as needed.  If a person has more than one document or photo, I create a person sub folder.  I do not create document type folders.  I put all documents within the person folder.  If there are additional surnames either further back in my line or laterally, they get a folder.  Here is an example:

Here is what an individual’s folder may look like:
Information for women is kept under their maiden name.  The exception is marriage licenses which are filed under the husband’s name.  If a woman has additional marriages beyond my direct ancestor, these files are kept with the woman.  
My naming convention is “Lastname, Firstname Document Type.”  As mentioned above, for each file I put a copy of the citation in the meta data.  To do this, right click on the the file.  Chose properties and then click on details.  The comments section allows for text.  Any additional information about the file is also added after the citation.