Thursday, December 31, 2015

Dawning Genealogy - A Review of 2015

Wow, where has 2015 gone? It has flown by and now 2016 is literally knocking at the door. 
Last year my goals for genealogy and my blog were about education, energy, texture and hope. They weren't big goals but goals to see what I could I do in a year and how it would impact my genealogy, research and keeping up with a blog for an entire year. I think I did pretty good job. 

One of my biggest goals for 2015 was genealogy education and to start the new year off with a bang I began with the Genealogy Do-Over by Thomas MacEntee. I participated in the original group and the final group known as Cycle 4 for 2015. I learned so much and was very overwhelmed in March when the original group finished. I spent March through September using my new skills to update my research, begin new research and build new trees. When Cycle 4 came around I decided to repeat it to help with some of things I was not completely confident in and it was a good decision. I also attended several webinars via Legacy Family Tree.

In 2014, I wrote 47 blog posts between June and December. From January thru New Year's Eve 2015 I will have posted 189 blog posts which is a 300% increase over 2014. I can't believe I wrote that many! I think I have written some very good posts this year. I hope to write even better ones in 2016. I will be keeping up with my regular posts, Family Photo Friday, Surname Saturday and I will continue to announce the newest members of our family as they arrive. I am thinking of adding a some new regular posts but I haven't quite decided which ones and how often. 

I am also starting a new blog in 2016. It is The Other Side of Scarlet and will be about my journey to find my biogentic family history. In the meantime, below is a list of my top posts in 5 categories. The four part series on my son's death were the hardest four post I have ever written but it did me a lot of good too.

Thank you one and all for stopping by Dawning Genealogy and reading my stories. I hope you continue to do so in 2016. Wishing you all a very Prosperous and Happy New Year!

Take care,


TOP 5 Posts for the Genealogy Do-Over
  • Things I Learned By Participating in the Genealogy Do-Over (Posted 3 Apr 2015)
  • The Genealogy Do-Over - The Best Thing I Did For My Genealogy (Posted 6 Apr 2015)
  • Genealogy Do-Over - Original Group Week 2 (Posted 14 Jan 2015)
  • Things I Learned By Participating in the Genealogy Do-Over Not Once But Twice (Posted 29 Dec 2015)
  • Genealogy Do-Over - Original Group Week 1 (Posted 6 Jan 2015)
TOP 6 Posts for New To Me, Educational, Sharing How I Do Things & Ancestry
  • How I Determine Marriages & Pregnancies for my Ancestors When Records Are Scarce (Posted 13 Aug 2015)
  • An Open Letter to James Tanner (Posted 3 Nov 2015)
  • How to Share My Blog Another Way (Posted 5 Aug 2015)
  • Ancestry Drops Another Bombshell - Family Tree Maker to be Discontinued (Posted 10 Dec 2015)
  • The New Ancestry and My Frustration (Posted 30 Sep 2015)
  • A New Tool From Blogger - Featured Post (Posted 17 Dec 2015)
TOP 5 Posts for Most Personal Posts
  • The Death of Our Son Part 3 (Posted 11 Feb 2015)
  • The Tale of Two Mothers (Posted 9 May 2015)
  • The Death of Our Son Part 1 (Posted 9 Feb 2015)
  • The Death of Our Son Part 2 (Posted 10 Feb 2015)
  • The Death of Our Son - Conclusion (Posted 12 Feb 2015
Top 7 Posts for Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories 2015 Edition
TOP 5 Posts for Family Photo Friday
  • The Descendants of George and Myrtle (Behrle) Rueff (Posted 28 Aug 2015)
  • 23 Years Ago We Started Dating! (Posted 20 Nov 2015)
  • The Grandchildren of George K and Myrtle (Behrle) Rueff (Posted 3 Jul 2015)
  • My Boys and Me (Posted 2 Oct 2015)
  • Meet The Original Rueff Boys (Posted 10 Jul 2015)

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Welcome to the World Lillian Elizabeth!

Congratulations to my cousin, Ashley and her husband, Josh who brought a beautiful little girl named Lillian Elizabeth into the world yesterday. I am so very happy for you both and your new little family. Congratulations to your Mom and Dad and especially to your grandparents, Kenny and Barbara, because that makes your precious little girl their 15th great grandchild! Congratulations to Josh's family too!

Dear Lilly Beth,

Welcome to the world precious little girl! 

I hope you have eyes that are bright like starlight.

I hope you are sugar and spice but mischievious too!

I hope your laugh sounds like the tinkling of bells.

I hope your heart is full of grace.

I hope that you reach for dragonflies, lady bugs, butterflies and the wonders of the world.

Most of all, little girl I hope that you know how much you are loved!


Cousin Dawn

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

I Added Stat Counter to My Blogs

I love Blogger and find it very easy to use but I have not been very happy with the statistics provided by Blogger because it doesn't really breakdown the month status of hits. I did a Google search and found StatCounter for Blogger/Blogspot. From what I can tell, the company provides hit tracking and visitor tracking which Blogger does but they also provide web analytics and website statistics. Below is an example from their website.

 An example of the type of stats from StatCounter (

They also provided a video of the instructions as well as step by step guide with pictures on how to add this to your blog. I used the step by step instructions rather than the video. You will need to register with a user name and password. Once you have done this you will need to "add a project". I used the name of my blog (Dawning Genealogy) and the website for my blog ( for the project information. Then you be asked which platform and there many listed. Click on Blogger/Blogspot. You will be lead to the step by step instructions and video. 

There are 20 steps to follow and there is also a "check your installation" button so that you know whether or not you have done it correctly. Since the process is has 20 steps I won't bore you with each and every step. It took me maybe 10 minutes to set up both of my blogs and in the time I have taken to write this post I have had 38 hits at Dawning Genealogy. I have made a note on my calendar to post a followup in 30 days.

Here is what my stats look like since I added this my blog.


StatCounter, ( : 29 December 2015) 


Things I Learned By Participating in the Genealogy Do-Over Not Once but Twice

I participated in the original Genealogy Do-Over class from January to March of 2015. I spent the time between March and October 2015 honing the new skills I learned but I still felt that I didn't quit have a handle on everything I learned the first time around. I wanted to be more comfortable in the new skills I had learned so in October I chose to repeat the Do-Over. Wow, the second time around was even better. I feel much more comfortable with my new & improved skills.

I would like to say thank you to Thomas MacEntee for starting this project! It has given me so much confidence, more than I ever expected. I was good at research but this class has made me a much better researcher. I have a much bigger base now upon which I can build new family trees. Though we have never met in person, Thomas, I do consider you to be one of my mentors in the genea-community but especially in the genea-blogging community. If I had not found Geneabloggers I would not have started blogging and Dawning Genealogy would still be just a dream.

I have met so many new people and my genea-community has exploded this year, more than I ever thought possible. All of you have been encouraging and supportive. I can only hope that I have given you the same in return. I know that this experience is the best thing I could have done for myself and the generations who will come after me. Now that this experience is over the next part of my journey can begin.

For those of you who are getting ready to start the Genealogy Do-Over journey, ask yourself the following questions, "What do you want from this experience?" and "What are your goals for this experience? Once you know the answers you will be able to get the most out of this experience with Thomas Here is my advice to those who are getting ready to start the Genealogy Do-Over:
  • Don't jump ahead of the schedule if you can help it.
  • SLOW down, take your time because there is no reason to rush
  • Ask questions, especially if you are feeling overwhelmed and/or your not sure about something.
  • Don't be afraid to reach out to the wonderful genea-community that this journey has to offer. 
  • Enjoy this EXPERIENCE and remember to breathe.
Here is what I am taking with me from participating in the Genealogy Do-Over, twice:
  • Tracking your research is VITAL for every genealogist!!
  • Time management is a must!! I know this now more than ever.
  • I now own a copy of Elizabeth Shown Mills book, Evidenced Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace and hopefully my citations will continue to improve. This is a learning process and I have had to put aside the way I was taught in school oh so many years ago and start with a clean slate.
  • Evaluating the evidence - this is the process where we gather the information we have collected such as documents, books, files, images, websites and photographs. We then write up an analysis outlining our questions and determine what the next step should be.
  • Research plans help us determine specific questions and will lead us to the next set of questions, in our research.
  • Collateral Research and Conducting Cluster Research - using the Friends+ Associates Neighbors (F.A.N. Principle) to find elusive ancestors is both my "bright shiny object" (BSO) and my rabbit hole because I have to know what happened to everyone in the family that I work on. I now keep a small notebook beside my computer to write down info and check out the found information when I have a few minutes here or there to look and read.
  • Organization is the KEY to everything in Genealogy!
  •  Backing up our data in the form of flash drives, cloud storage, hard drives etc. is a MUST do for every genealogist to preserve our work.
  • The advancements made in DNA testing is an important tool for genealogical research. It can not only help you find other family members but other researchers who may be researching the same lines as you but also other lines in the family you may not even have yet. These DNA tests can tell you what your ethnic background, can trace only your paternal and maternal lineages too.
  • Social Media, Networking and Gena-Community are vital in today's world of genealogy. Don't be afraid to ask Questions in your genea-community if you need help! Don't be afraid to try something New! I think having a mentor or two is a very important too. We as genealogists have so much more than the genealogists of those generations before us.
  • Preserving and "future proofing" our genealogical research is a must. Keeping and preserving your research is going to be ongoing process as technology changes in the years to come.
  • Technology is great and very helpful however for me, however I prefer to also keep pens, pencils, notebooks and paper documents too. It will take more effort and time but in the end I feel that it will make me a better researcher too. Of course, I have set a limit to what I think are the most important documents but that is a personal decision for each of us.
  • Skills are vital to any genealogist and keeping them in tip top shape with continuing education courses offered in webinars, conferences, specific genealogical institutes are important.
  • I Will  become a certified genealogist and I have decided to use the The American Genealogical Studies program offered by the National Genealogical Society. I hope to start in March 2016. I have set a up a finish by date because I want to see how things go with the first course. 
Editor's Note: Portions of this post are from two of my previous posts about the Genealogy Do-Over but have been changed and hopefully more polished! You can see these posts here and here.
Source: Family Tree Silhouette Clip Art, ( : accessed 29 December 2015).

Monday, December 28, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over ~ Cycle 4, Week 13

This is it, the final week of Cycle 4 and the 2015 Genealogy Do-Over which began on January 2nd of this year. Beginning Friday, the Genealogy Do-Over will begin again however, the format has changed. With some modifications, Thomas MacEntee has taken the class and made it so that it is now in a yearly format and a workbook is currently available for Amazon Kindle and PDF format and a printed version is also in the works. Please see Thomas's announcement for further information.

This week we will be discussing securing our research data and reviewing our journey. Though I think my journey is a little different since I chose to repeat it twice and I am very glad that I did!

Securing our Research Data

I began my research back in 1980, in Montgomery, Alabama while I was waiting for the birth of my first child. I have moved several times since 1980. I have lost files along the way and rebuilt them but I didn't always cite my sources. When this "Do-Over" was announced In December 2014, I jumped at the chance to learn the proper techniques of genealogical research. There were many who found it hard to set aside their research but it was fairly easy for me to do. I kept only the necessary documents and papers I felt I would I need and set aside what was left. 

At the end of the original cycle of the Do-Over, I wasn't at all sure about how I wanted to proceed with preserving my genealogical research, my notes and any other data that would need to be preserved. I am still not sure that I have the right method for me but time will tell.  

Here is what I have been doing to preserve my research for the future: 

I took advantage of the great deal that Thomas was able to get for this group right at the beginning with I-drive, an online storage company. I have my settings to back up every other week and as of this week every document and photo on my computer has been backed up to my external hard drive. I am going though each of my research notebooks/pads and have begun scanning the pages. Then I attach them to the file of that person in my genealogy software which is currently, FTM but I am looking for a new one. I also scan my handwritten pedigree charts, cemetery charts, family group sheets any documents generated by me whether via handwriting or computer is backed up and attached to the software program. I also use flash drives and I am contemplating downloading photographs to CD's by family surname but this is a time consuming task and I feel that it will be redundant however I am still considering my options. 

Future Proofing my Genealogical Research

If I were to lose all of my genealogy research today, I would most likely be able to recreate most of the families in my research with the help of my notebooks, blog posts handwritten pedigrees. I would simply begin with our grandson and go backwards from there. I also have my big master tree is still on Ancestry and would be able to use it as well if it were available to access. 

In the original cycle of the Do-Over I had stated that I was going to start new trees but my spring, summer and fall were pretty busy with life and I never got around to it. As I have been working my way through this second time around I have decided to build much smaller trees and I am trying to decide if I should do only the main surnames for each family or perhaps by surname alone or possibly divide them into maternal and paternal lines. However, with Ancestry's announcement of the discontinuation of Family Tree Maker, I am now trying out new software to see which one I truly like and one I can stick with!

Backing Up Your Genealogy Data

  • Creating a Back Up Plan - Right now my back up plan is probably short sighted because I am not seeing "the big picture" but for right now it does work. 
    • My I-Drive account/hard drive is automatically backed up every other week.
    • I have emailed myself every blog piece I have written and they are now backed up to my external hard drive and to flash drives.
    • All of my photos from my cell phone and tablet were automatically stored to my Drop Box account on daily basis. 
    • The new Google photos app also backs up my photos from my cell and tablet and dates them so I know have an extra place to where my photo's are saved and it is private.
    • I am striving to make both a hard copy (expense is something I need to consider even though I will print it myself) and a flash drive with ALL of my research that I can give to certain people in case of an emergency.  
    • After reading my friend, Cathy Meder-Dempsey's post on, "How to Upload Your Family Tree to Rootsweb's World Connect" (click here.) I have decided that once I have my new basic tree done I will be adding it to World Connect.
  •  Identify Data for Back Up & Identify a Back Up Plan That Works for Me - I am not sure that I have actually identified what my must haves for back up are but here is what I have been backing up:
    • I-Drive - my entire computer hard drive
    • Drop Box - photos and files
    • Polaris - pdf files a feature offered through my cell phone
    • Google Photos - photos via my cell but can upload photos as well
    • Hard copies - notebooks, printouts, pedigrees, family group sheets and all paperwork generated from a person and/or family will be
      • Scanned and attached to each person and/or family as I determine. For instance I may not include a spouse's entire line but I have his parents, siblings and grandparent's information in my files, so I will attach it to the spouse and any children from that marriage but I won't show them in my software and/or online tree.
  • Test Your Back Up Plan -I will let you know how things go in a future post from my blog.
  •  Future Proof Your Technology - I am technically challenged without question so I will have to rely on those who do through reviews to keep up with newest, latest and greatest ways to do this. Hint! Hint! Thomas!
Future Proofing Your Genealogy Now

I never realized that my genealogical research should be added to my will until recently when I saw a post on Facebook by a man who was in his 90's. He wanted to know what he should do with all of his research now that no one in his family seemed to care. I believe his questions were should he throw it away? donate it? and was asking what the genea-community for suggestions. I don't the outcome of this story and did not think to save the link.

As I create new trees with documented evidence, my research in all forms and correct source citations (I hope), I will make a inventory. I am not sure if I should do this by surname or by family and welcome your suggestions. In the meantime here is my working list thus far:
  • Inventory! Inventory! Inventory! 
    • Original Birth, Marriage, Divorce and Death Records
    • Mass Cards
    • Bibles
    • Baptismal, Holy Communion and other Church documents
    • Photographs
      • Actual photos
      • Digital photos
      • Photo albums/scrapbooks
    • Announcements
      • Birth
      • Engagement/Wedding
      • Graduation
      • Obituaries
      • Diplomas
      • Funeral Programs
      • Wedding Programs
      • Commencement Programs
    • Military 
      • Discharge papers
      • Pension records
      • Awards (medals and ribbons)
    • Handwritten Documents
      • Diaries
      • Letters
      • Calendars
      • Ledgers
      • Christmas Cards 
      • Guest registers for funerals, weddings and anniversaries, if available
    • Newspapers
      • Articles
        • Birth 
        • Engagement
        • Weddings
        • Obituaries
        • Write ups on families
        • Major news events 
    • Immigration/Naturalization
      • Passenger lists
      • Shipping manifests
      • Citizenship
      • Passports
  • An index of the inventory by
    • Main Surnames
      • Individual families with that surname 
In my original post I mentioned getting a codicil for my will but I never got around to it but I need to update my will anyway in the coming year so I will be adding my genealogical research and writing to the list of items I want to include in the new will. Of course, it is my hope that I have at least another 40 or 50 years on this earth however that decision is in God's hands. 

I do know that my niece, Kaitlyn is interested in genealogy and once I have things the way I want them I will be sending her a copy of everything. I will also be giving a copy to my son as well as my siblings should they or one of their children ever decide to follow in my footsteps. I will also give my husband Tommy a copy as well as his own copy for his family tree. I will also pass it on to his siblings too. Once I have added each of cousins and their families I will provide them with a copies if they would like them. Who knows, maybe one of them will pick up my research in the future.

Blogging about your family history is a great way to share your family history, research and adventures in the world of genealogy. I began my blog, Dawning Genealogy in June 2014. The responses have been very good and the support from my genea-community overwhelming. I will also be starting a new blog, The Other Side of Scarlet in January 2016.

I have some other ways on my list of how to preserve my family history and share it as well. Some of these are ideas are putting my blog posts into a yearly book of say the top 25 posts or the top 25 that are meaningful to me and my family. Self printing small chapters on each family and giving them to my family as gifts. As time and money allow, I will do each project that I can.

Reviewing my Journey with the Genealogy Do-Over of 2015

As I said during the first cycle of the Genealogy Do-Over and during this fourth cycle, I taught myself the genealogy research basics and I have never been afraid to ask questions. I was so overwhelmed during the first cycle trying to make sure that I soaked up every conversation and/or discussion on the Genealogy Do-Over Facebook page, learning from Thomas and other well known genealogy mentors and speakers that I just didn't think I could remember everything. I have learned so much more than I thought possible in both sessions of the Do-Over.  I realize now more than ever that genealogy is so important for the present generations but also for the generations that will come after me. I owe it to them and myself to be sure that my genealogy research is on a solid foundation, one that they can build upon proudly and one to be proud of too.

I have been shoring up my research foundation with all the new techniques and information I have learned during this journey. I am diligently following the outline provided by Thomas, taking my time and doing it right. I am trying my best to cite my sources properly, thank you to Elizabeth Shown Mills and her book, Evidence Explained Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, 3rd Edition, and who has helped our group by commenting with her wisdom, feedback and suggestions. Thank you to all of the wonderful professionals who gave their feedback and encouragement to this project.

I love the environment that our teacher, Thomas MacEntee has given us to ask questions, admit our mistakes and allow us collaborate in a forum that gives us the freedom to exchange and share our ideas about genealogy. I have formed a network that has grown by leaps and bounds in 2015. A network that I might not have discovered had I not asked a question about blogging at Thomas's, Geneablogger's page on Facebook in 2014. I am honored to be part of this amazing network of people known as genealogist's! Thank you Thomas for such a wonderful project and allowing me to be part of it.

I have come to realize that genealogy is a continual journey and genealogy allows me to go back in time and get to know who my ancestors. Who they were and what they did by the records that they kept such as diaries and ledgers, census records, vital records, court records and newspapers accounts. Where else can I go and visit the 18th & 19th centuries and never leave home? Genealogy allows me to to honor my ancestors and gives me the privilege of telling their stories which I can only hope would make them proud to have me as their descendant. 

Editor's Note: Portions of this post are from my original Do-Over post for week 13. 


Sunday, December 27, 2015

Welcome to the World Micah Edwin!

Congratulations to my great niece, Brittney and her husband Michael, who brought a beautiful little boy named Micah Edwin into the world on Christmas Eve. I am so very happy for you and your new little family. 

Dear Micah,

Welcome to the world precious little boy! 

I hope you have eyes that are filled with wonder.

I hope you are mischievous as all little boys tend to be.

I hope your laugh sounds like big deep belly laughs.

I hope your heart is full of grace.

I hope that you reach for the stars and the moon and everything the world has to offer.

Most of all, little boy I hope that you know how much you are loved!


Aunt Dawn

Friday, December 25, 2015

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories # 24

 Photograph by Kris De Curtis, 2006
From now and until Christmas Eve I will be participating in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories, 2015 Edition by Thomas MacEntee and the Geneabloggers. If you would like to join you or want to know more about it please see this link.

Today's Christmas memory is about Christmas Eve.

For me, Christmas Eve is all about family. This afternoon we will make our way to David and Cassie's where we will all hopefully fit into one car then we will head up to Greensboro to my the home of my parents. We will probably arrive while everyone is at the Children's Mass and celebrating the birth of Jesus. Once everyone arrives at Then we Momma and Daddy's we will settle in for dinner and gifts. 

Every Christmas Eve, my Momma makes manicotti with a salad, rolls and big pot of sausage & peppers. However, before we can sit down to eat this wonderful meal we have to gather around the table in the kitchen (all 23 of us) to say grace which is usually said by my Dad. After dinner is the cleanup and in years past when we would use Momma's good china and silver we had to wash everything by hand. Fortunately, one of my sister's (Kathy, I think) finally convinced Momma that paper plates and regular flatware was just fine! Then it is time for presents.

We let the kids open their gifts first and they go in order from youngest to oldest. I think last year my nephew Walker got a rude awakening when he realized that Easton was now the youngest and would now get to go first. I am looking forward to seeing how Easton handles this Christmas Eve with all the kids and the adults this year. He is shy until he gets use to everyone, then watch out! The noise level alone when the kids open their presents is enough to make anyone deaf! After the kids are done they go to the den and watch tv or a Christmas movie or special then the adults get their turn!

My parents, siblings and their spouses, Tommy, David, Cassie and I do Dirty Santa gifts. My nephew TJ is also considered an adult now, once the grandchildren hit age 21 they get to play too! The rules are that the gift must cost no less than $20.00 but cannot cost more than $25.00. If you choose to play as couple than you get 1 pick on the other hand if a couple chooses to play as an individual then you get 2 picks. We draw numbers to decide what order we will start. Then the fun begins because if you are pick the # 1 you pick first but if someone else likes what you picked they can take it away from you and you have to pick another gift. Any gift can be swapped twice. Oh and did I mention alcohol is always involved? This year I am taking spiced apple cider and champagne for apple cider mimosa's for Christmas Eve. Last year was my nephew TJ's first year and he purchased a giant (64oz) white flask and I was the lucky one who got it. It has come in handy at our Parrot Head events.

This will be the first year that all 23 of us will be home for Christmas Eve. I have already told my Momma that we need to be sure we a group picture. We all try to be at all family events but it is not always possible. We also need a picture of her and Daddy with all of the grandchildren, which we did for years but for some reason last year we only took one only of all the grandchildren.

  The Grand's: L-R Standing: Kaitlyn, TJ, Williams, and Jebb. L-R Sitting: Walker, JJ, my son David holding my grandson, Easton, Bryan and Gracie; personal collection

I just talked to my youngest nephew Walker on the phone because I want him to do a special favor for me. I asked him since he is now the second youngest if he would please show Easton the ropes for Christmas Eve with our family and that if Easton needed help with anything would he please be sure to help him. He said of course he would! 

This Christmas Eve we will start 2 new traditions with David, Cassie and Easton. The first one is that Tommy and I will be spending the night with them so that we can be there Christmas morning to watch Easton open his gifts from Santa. The second tradition I start will be a secret but I will tell you on Christmas Day. I am really looking forward to Christmas morning!

Merry Christmas Eve Everyone!

Photo Credit: File: Christmas tree bauble.jpg, Wikimedia Commons, ( : downloaded 22 December 2015) image contributed by Kris De Curtis (own work) 3 December 2006; used under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International; originally posted to Flickr ( 22 December 2015)

Christmas Eve 1997 ~ The Williams Grandchildren

This picture was taken at my Mom and Dad's house on Christmas Eve, 1997. My family traditionally does our family Christmas on Christmas Eve, where we exchange our gifts to each other. When my boys were younger they would spend Christmas Day with their Dad. In this picture from left to right are my son Kenny, my nephew TJ, my niece Kaitlyn and my son David.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories # 23

From now and until Christmas Eve I will be participating in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories, 2015 Edition by Thomas MacEntee and the Geneabloggers. If you would like to join you or want to know more about it please see this link.

Today's Christmas memory is about the meaning of Christmas. We are suppose to be able to explain it to someone who has no concept of Christmas. I can only tell you what it means to me but I hope that if I were to find someone with no concept of Christmas that this post would be a good place to start.

For me the meaning of Christmas has changed over the course of my life. As a child it was a man dressed in a red suit trimmed in white fur, with a big white beard. He carried a big sack of toys and drove a sled with eight reindeer. 

As a parent it was making sure I did my best to make sure that my children would understand that Christmas was about family, the special kind of magic that we all have in hearts and I wanted them to know about gifts bestowed upon us from God, faith, hope and love, that is not just about presents. As a grandmother I want Easton to know these things as well.

It is in 1 Corinthians 13:13, we are told of the spiritual gifts that God has given us, " And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." 
Christmas is a magical time of year. It is our ability to renew our faith in ourselves and in each other. It is our ability to give hope to ourselves and to each other. It is a special kind of magic that comes from our heart. It is our capacity to love and be loved in return.

Today when I think of Christmas and what it means I call upon my faith in God who I know watches over me and mine daily. I call upon my faith that tomorrow will be better than yesterday. I call upon my faith to celebrate the joy of life and it is my faith in God that has seen me through the darkest days in my life.

As Christmas draws closer I think of hope. Hope that I will see world peace in my lifetime. Hope that I will be around to see my grandchildren marry and have children of their own. Hope that the tomorrows to come are better than today. Hope that here in the United States we can find solutions for homelessness and the escalation of the violence here in our homeland. Hope that we overcome the damage that has been done by ignorance.

Christmas always reminds of love. My love for my children, Kenny and David. Myy love for my husband, Tommy. My love for Easton, my precious grandson is a love I have never experienced before and it is a blessing for which I will forever hold in my heart. I think of my love for my parents, sisters and brothers, their spouses and children for my life would not be the same without them. I call upon the love I have for my friends who have seen me at best and even at my worst.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories # 21

From now and until Christmas Eve I will be participating in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories, 2015 Edition by Thomas MacEntee and the Geneabloggers. If you would like to join you or want to know more about it please see this link.

Today's Christmas memory is about Christmas wishes. 
My Christmas wish is for peace here in America. In 2015, here at home in the United States we have seen a lot of violence. I can't remember in my life time when the violence was so bad. The country that I grew up in is no longer as I remember it and it is changing every day. I feel that the violence is going to continue and I don't know if anyone person or group has the solution, however we need to find one and quickly. 

I was looking for a poem or a quote to share about peace when I found this poem by Dr. Maya Angelou. She wrote this beautiful piece for the lighting of the Christmas tree at the White House in December 2005. George W. Bush was the President at the time. Below is her poem, "Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem" I hope you like it.

Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem
By Dr. Maya Angelou

"Thunder rumbles in the mountain passes
And lightning rattles the eaves of our houses.
Flood waters await us in our avenues.

Snow falls upon snow, falls upon snow to avalanche
Over unprotected villages.
The sky slips low and grey and threatening.

We question ourselves.
What have we done to so affront nature?
We worry God.
Are you there? Are you there really?
Does the covenant you made with us still hold?

Into this climate of fear and apprehension, Christmas enters,
Streaming lights of joy, ringing bells of hope
And singing carols of forgiveness high up in the bright air.
The world is encouraged to come away from rancor,
Come the way of friendship.

It is the Glad Season.
Thunder ebbs to silence and lightning sleeps quietly in the corner.
Flood waters recede into memory.
Snow becomes a yielding cushion to aid us
As we make our way to higher ground.

Hope is born again in the faces of children
It rides on the shoulders of our aged as they walk into their sunsets.
Hope spreads around the earth. Brightening all things,
Even hate which crouches breeding in dark corridors.

In our joy, we think we hear a whisper.
At first it is too soft. Then only half heard.
We listen carefully as it gathers strength.
We hear a sweetness.
The word is Peace.
It is loud now. It is louder.
Louder than the explosion of bombs.

We tremble at the sound. We are thrilled by its presence.
It is what we have hungered for.
Not just the absence of war. But, true Peace.
A harmony of spirit, a comfort of courtesies.
Security for our beloveds and their beloveds.

We clap hands and welcome the Peace of Christmas.
We beckon this good season to wait a while with us.
We, Baptist and Buddhist, Methodist and Muslim, say come.
Come and fill us and our world with your majesty.
We, the Jew and the Jainist, the Catholic and the Confucian,
Implore you, to stay a while with us.
So we may learn by your shimmering light
How to look beyond complexion and see community.

It is Christmas time, a halting of hate time.

On this platform of peace, we can create a language
To translate ourselves to ourselves and to each other.

At this Holy Instant, we celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ
Into the great religions of the world.
We jubilate the precious advent of trust.
We shout with glorious tongues at the coming of hope.
All the earth's tribes loosen their voices
To celebrate the promise of Peace.

We, Angels and Mortal's, Believers and Non-Believers,
Look heavenward and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at our world and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at each other, then into ourselves
And we say without shyness or apology or hesitation.

Peace, My Brother.
Peace, My Sister.
Peace, My Soul.”


Christmas Dove of Peace image, Free Wallpaper,  found at

Maya Angelou, Quotes, Goodreads, ( : 21 December 2015).

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over - Cycle 4, Week 12

This is week 12 of cycle 4 of the Genealogy Do-Over. Our topics this week are (1) sharing research and (2) and reviewing research travel options.

Sharing Research

I have been very fortunate when asking for help from other researchers. I have also been given research done by other family members many years ago. However, regardless of this I still do my due diligence and verify every scrap of information passed on to me.The one thing I have learned here in the Genealogy Do-Over is that sharing and collaboration are important steps when working and/or researching genealogy because without them you won't get very far. I love being able to share my research efforts with someone new and I like to be able to pay it forward for those who have helped me too.

I am always happy to share my research and I will do whatever I can to help someone else even if we don't share the same family lines. However and it is sometimes my biggest bright shining object (BSO) for me. Why? Because my curiosity gets the better of me. I have to know what happens to the family so I follow the lines all the way through and that leads to lots of extended family members! 

Since the end of the my first time through the Genealogy Do-Over I have made some  changes about my research and sharing. I have learned that just because someone asks to see my tree doesn't necessarily mean they need to see your entire tree. What they really want is to see the documents attached especially if it didn't come from Ancestry. I changed my member profile at Ancestry.  

I have written what I hope is a great profile! I have introduced myself and explained that some trees are not mine to share without that person's permission. I have asked that when sending me a message to please include which tree they are referring to, all pertinent information and I have asked for people to include their name, I hate not knowing who I am talking to. I have listed the names of my trees because they are private and marked the trees that are my bio-genetic trees. I have listed what I can do to help someone who may need something from my neck of the woods. I also suggested they stop by my blog and then my thank you and sign off. I would like your opinion this so please leave me a comment, thank you!

Here is my member profile from Ancestry:

Do's and Don'ts of Collaboration and Sharing

Always Be Nice! The genealogy community is a small world and with social media it maybe getting just a little bit larger. This means that how you answer queries from other researchers may be posted "everywhere" as a "beware of __________, they are _____.", I will let you fill in the blanks. Being kind and generous with those who  approach you and those you approach can make the world of difference to a new genealogist/researcher but also to the more experienced genealogist/researcher as well.

If you are going to share and/or collaborate with another researcher the work you have painstakingly done and vice versa, then Attribution should be given to all parties. I have not actively and/or directly collaborated with anyone in regards to my genealogy research in such a detailed endeavor, at least not in anything I have done thus far. I have been the lucky recipient of research done by older generations in my family but much of this work had no source details and only the name of the compiler of the research. I choose to use research as springboard to find other clues. I also create and include source citations for this research. I include researchers name and contact information, the type of information shared, the family it pertains to, the date it I received it and any other pertinent information. When I share my research I create a report in Family Tree Maker which includes my name, contact information and a source list.

My preferred way to get information is to reciprocate in kind, I don't just take it and run.  When I ask someone to share information, their research or online tree with me the first thing I do is to offer the same in return. When I have finished with the information provided, I then forward a copy of my updated information, a new individual family report, provide sources for any new information and include my research notes and a picture of the individual or family, if I have it.

One thing I learned from Thomas MacEntee in a webinar titled, "Google for Genealogists" which he did for Legacy Family Tree in 2011 (year is from the CD I purchased) was to create an Alert using Google. However, until reading this I never thought to use it for my research or my blog. Thank you, Thomas, for the reminder and my new alerts have been set! I have two more things I would like to add to the Do's and Don'ts list. 

When you are asking someone for help, Provide as much information as you can on the person or family you are seeking information on. For example, if you are contacting me and you want information about a person or family please provide as much detail as you know. My Ancestry member profile has a section detailing this information but I think it is worth repeating. This especially  important for anyone with multiple trees and/or with families who use the same names for generations.
  • Please tell which tree you found the information you are requesting, 
  • Please provide as much detail of the person or family you are asking about such as:
    • Birth date/year and place of birth, if known
    • Death date/year and place of death, if known
    • Parents names, if known
    • Spouse's name (including maiden name, if known
    • Their birth & death places, dates and year, if known
    • Children's names, place of birth and year, if known
Whether you are asking for help or you find that someone has incorrect or outdated information do not Bully them! Send them an email, a message or leave a comment providing the correct information or ask them to contact you privately. I include this because when I first started adding my research to Ancestry I contacted by a research via Ancestry who not only bullied me but was extremely rude. This person told me that if I could not spell his surname correctly I had no business doing genealogy! I was't wrong with the spelling because there were 4 or 5 variant spellings to this particular surname and I had this information in my notes section of Ancestry. That wasn't good enough! They did not want to have a rational and calm discussion. He continued to berate me and threatened me by telling me he would contact Ancestry if I didn't make the changes. I knew Ancestry wouldn't do anything to me. Finally I went in and changed the surnames of about 40 profiles to THEIR preferred spelling and added each possible spelling with it.

Was I intimidated by this man, Yes, but I knew Ancestry would not do anything to me. However I was afraid that this man could post negative comments about me via message boards or perhaps to other researchers. So, I went in and changed the surname and listed every variation possible for every person with that surname. I also blocked him so as not to have any further contact with this person.

Reviewing Research Travel Options

I am very fortunate that a lot of my research is done within an eight to ten hour drive from my home. When I go to visit my parents, I try to do get in as much genealogy as I can by talking with my parents, looking for graves on my husband's side of the family and sharing information with my niece who is interested in genealogy. Whenever, wherever and however I can I will always find something genealogy related to do. 

Sponsored Research Trips, Genealogy Cruises and More
  • Genealogy Society Trips
  • Individual or Vendor-Sponsored Trips
  • Individually Tailored Trips
  • Genealogy Cruises
Organized trips such as those sponsored by genealogical societies, vendor-sponsored, individual sponsors and genealogy cruises are great. Some of these trips may include transportation to and from the airport to the host hotel, a couple of breakfast and lunch seminars/meetings and there may be a dinner event sponsored by a genealogical society and/or vendor (or two) depending on the type and/or length of the event. One perk to consider is that you may be able to have a consultation with a professional genealogist who may have very specific areas of research which you do not. Genealogy cruises also have the perk of a vacation within the conference you are attending. Another perk to consider is that you may find a genealogy based trip that may take you close to an ancestral country and you might be able to book a few extra days at the beginning or end of your trip depending upon the vendor. The part of these types of trips are the connections you make whether they are personal or professional or perhaps both and it can all be a fabulous adventure.

Do-It-Yourself Research Trips

I consider myself to be a good traveler especially since I am a former travel agent with experience in traveling both here in the states and abroad. These are great things to consider when planning any trip.
  • What type of traveler are you?
  • Preparation & Packing
  • Preferred Mode of Transportation
  • Accommodations
  • Expenses
  • Emergencies and Last Minute Changes
What type of traveler are you?

I am a relaxed and easy traveler. I always bring a good book or two, and magazines to keep myself occupied while waiting to get from point A to point B. If I am flying I will keep a good eye on any price changes because if the price drops then you maybe entitled to refund for the difference in price but only if you can meet the requirements for the new fare. I also start checking for any changes about a week prior to my trip even though I will arrive at the airport at least 90 minutes early to determine if there are any delays or changes such a new gate assignment.

Preparation & Packing

I will admit here and now that I tend to over pack especially if I am traveling by car!  If I am traveling by plane then it depends on where I am going, how long I will be gone and what I will be doing and keeping in mind the weight restrictions for suitcases set up by TSA. As I travel agent I learned the secret of how to maximize my packing space! Regardless of how long the trip maybe, my packing starts as I do any necessary laundry. I start pulling together my genealogy materials at least a week or two before my scheduled trip so that I have the latest updated information at my fingertips. Now I have a time or two gone to the nearest package store and shipped things home before my trip is over. My husband just loves me when I do this!


Photo Credit: Andrew Stawarz

Preferred Mode of Transportation


I like traveling by plane. I find it relaxing and enjoyable. In my carry-on bag I keep a few things that I consider "must haves" if I am flying. My "must haves" are ear plugs (for crying babies and snoring passengers), lip balm and a pair of sandals or flip flops. Why sandals or flip flops? On long flights my feet sometimes swell so I keep these handy just in case because they are easy to slip on and off.

Have you had any surgeries that required "medical metal" as I call it, such as rods, plates and screws? I have and I tend to set off the scanning machines at the airport especially considering I have "medical metal" in my neck, back and foot! If you are like me then you might want to see this link ( It does not exempt you from a search or screening by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) but it allows you to let them know without the entire area knowing your personal issues. I also recommend checking TSA's website ( for any recent changes before leaving home. You can also get a note from your doctor explaining what type of "medical metal" you have. It can certainly help.

For me, traveling overseas means acclimating myself to the time difference before I leave so that the jet lag doesn't interfere too badly. The best piece of advice I ever received from a fellow travel agent is this, If you are going to be on a flight that is 8 hours long or you be crossing the international date line, you may want to consider consulting your medical care provider for a short term prescription of sleeping medication (or if you prefer, use an over the counter product) to help you sleep on the plane in both directions. You will wake up much more refreshed and it also helps with the jet lag too!


I have always wanted to travel by train! However, living in the Carolina's the options are limited. Train travel in the south is not as prevalent as it is in other parts of the country. My sons use to travel by train from Charlotte, NC to Greensboro, NC after moving in with their Dad. It cost $20 round trip (back in the mid 1990's) so they came often. My son David actually fell asleep on the train at Thanksgiving one year. He woke up and realized he had missed the stop so contacted whoever was in charge on the train and they dropped him of in the middle of the tracks about 3 miles from my parents house. Talk about being less than happy with Amtrak! However once they had obtained their driver's license's they quite taking the train.


I also enjoy traveling by car and I have to be in the front seat for any trip over 2 or 3 hours otherwise I get quite car sick. I love the freedom that driving provides such as creating my own schedule, stopping when I want, the scenery and using the GPS in my car. As I mentioned I tend to over pack, however, it does allow me to take more genealogy related items such as a large portable scanner and my cemetery kit.


Now this is where I get really picky!  

If I am lucky enough to be researching in area where I have family and/or friends living and it is not an imposition for them during the dates I plan to be in their area, then I prefer to stay with them because it will allow us to catch up. Hopefully, I will get a few family interviews in too. 

I don't need to stay at the most luxurious hotel with all the bells and whistles. Instead what I do need is a hotel where I will feel comfortable and safe. I prefer hotels where all the doors are accessible from inside the hotel. No matter what chain of hotels you are staying at, they are not all equal. In some areas a Days Inn can be a 4 star property and in others you wouldn't even think of considering it. My wish list for a hotel room is a sitting area, desk, mini-fridge, a pool (indoor or outdoor), room service and/or at least have good eateries close by. It is a must for me to have non-smoking and pet-free room because of my asthma and allergies.


As noted above, if I can stay with family that is by far first preference. It will also help my budget too. Keeping expenses down while traveling is hard even with a budget because you never know what might happen. I am a change thief!! When my husband comes home from work he deposits his loose change on the bar. He won't carry change, it makes his pockets to heavy. He also leaves it in the car too. My philosophy is once he goes to bed, it is mine! (grin). I also collect the change from pocketbook and wallet at the same time and keep it in a old cosmetics bag and carry it with me when I am researching in repositories for making copies and feeding the parking meter. In a few months time I usually $30.00 to $50.00. 

Emergencies and Last Minute Changes

I am a relatively calm person and react well in emergencies. I do have some first aid training, I know how to perform CPR, the Heimlich maneuver and I can tie a tourniquet if need be. Along with being a travel agent I was also a certified nursing assistant. 

As someone with a "colorful" medical history that includes multiple food and drug allergies I am always prepared for the worst. I never leave home without my medical history form that I prepared about 10 years ago and modify as needed. It includes my name, address, home and cell phone numbers, my insurance information, my emergency contacts, my blood type, a list of my medications both prescriptions and over the counter medications and/or supplements, a list of my medical issues, a list of all surgeries, and a list of any type of medical devices (like pins, rods, plates and screws) and where they are located. I also have have included that I am an organ donor and whether or not I want the full code blue treatment and should the time ever come that I need to have a Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR) I will attach a copy to the medical sheet. Here is a sample of what a demo of my medical history form looks like I would also include the hospitals, urgent care facilities and pharmacies near my hotel in whatever city I am visiting.

I never leave home without making sure that my family knows where I am going and how long I will be gone. As a young kid I started doing this with my parents. If there was a change in my plans or if I was going to be late I never failed to call my parents and let them know. I also made sure that my kids did it too. When Tommy and I traveling together I send our itinerary to our son David and my Mom that way there at least two people who know the details. When I am traveling by myself I leave my itinerary with Tommy, David and Mom. Some habits, whether good or bad never leave you!

Editor's Note: Portions of this post are from my original post for week 12 which you can find here.

PHOTO CREDIT: Andrew Stawarz, file number 3538910787_478191af2b_b.jpg, Flickr ( : downloaded 19 December 2015); used under Creative Commons Attributions-No Derivatives 4.0 International.