Saturday, October 31, 2015

Surname Saturday # 6 ~ My Children's Paternal Line of Plowden & Allied Families*

Please note that the names above are listed with wife's maiden name first followed by the husband's name.

The surname of Plowden comes from my children's paternal grandmother, Ursula Floride Plowden Kitts. There are still many descendants from these families still living in South Carolina. From my research I have learned that many of these families came to South Carolina from England via the Caribbean Islands. There are several surnames that are also part of my children's French Huguenot history as well.

There are few Plowden men who served in the American Revolution and many more who served in the Civil War for the Confederacy.

If you are researching any of these fine families who came to South Carolina in the hope of starting new lives, please let me know and let's see how we are RELATED! 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Another Frustrating Day with Ancestry!

I built a temporary tree for a blog post I am working on for a Tombstone Tuesday post and I have already called Ancestry twice today! If you are having problems please send me a message or leave a comment. I would like to fix the problem if it is me and/or my computer or whether if it is Ancestry. Thanks!

The 1st Problem

I attempted to start this temporary tree and after entering the father's name I began putting in the information for his wife but for some unknown reason it would not accept the information. After 30 minutes I still could not enter her information so I closed the window in which I working in. I honestly thought because I had not named the tree that I would loose the information I had already pit it in. My list of trees only has this one temporary tree listed and nothing indicates that I have tree that is "unnamed". I started a new window and reentering the parents names, dates of birth, death & marriage.  

As I added the children to this temporary tree I noticed on the 5th child that the mother's maiden name, Dieter kept coming up as the surname for each of the children. So I went back to look and sure enough all of the children I had entered had their mother's maiden name as their surname too. See the picture below.

I am willing to admit that this is operator error, maybe, however I am only taking 50% of the blame. When I talked with the Ancestry representative, I explained what was going on and asked if she would kindly pull up this tree and explain what I did wrong. She then told me that of 5 children I had entered thus far, two were not showing up in the "family view" but were all listed as his children when you looked at his profile. I had to go into Edit Relationships and upon doing so I saw that the father was listed as the mother. See the picture below.

Remember that cancelled window? I must have hit the "add/save" button 10 times in 30 minutes trying to figure out why it would not allow me to enter the mother's information. I closed that window thinking the tree would not be recorded at all. WRONG!!! 

Please remember I am not an computer expert! Here is what I think happened I think the tree was saved even though I could not enter all of the information for the mother as well and named it Schwarz Family Tree. And all because I hit that button so many times, it saved the father's information Then when I started what I thought was the new tree, and entered both the husband and wife's information, it picked up or kept the previous information even though I had not saved that first tree. So I guess this must be some type interfacing problem, right?

The 2nd problem

Every record I have saved at this point is giving me the following message, "We're sorry. The page you tried to access is no longer available." Why is this happening? When I go back into the profile of the person I am working on, the record was indeed saved to that person. So why am I getting " longer available"? I wish I knew!

Family Photo Friday ~ Kenny & David Halloween 1985

My sons, Kenny and David on Halloween, 31 October 1985. Kenny had just celebrated his 5th a few weeks earlier and David would celebrate his 4th birthday the next day.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Happy Birthday to Our Wonderful Daughter in Law Cassie!

Just a few pictures to wish you a Happy, Happy Birthday, Cassie! You are a wonderful wife, mother and daughter! We hope you have a great day! We love you!

Clockwise from the top: Tommy, Cassie, my sister Kathy and David at my cousins wedding; Cassie and Easton on his first day of preschool; Cassie and Easton having ice cream; Cassie and Easton at the beach and Cassie and Easton with a selfie.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Welcome to Our Family Annie Marie!!!

Congratulations to my cousin, Melissa and her husband Steve on your newest family member, Annie Marie!! She is absolutely adorable! I am so very happy for you and your family. Congratulations to my cousin Donna and her hubby Steve on their beautiful granddaughter! Congratulations to my Aunt Barbara and Uncle Kenny on their newest great granddaughter too!

Dear Annie Marie,

Welcome to our family precious little girl! 

You have eyes that are bright like starlight, beautiful red hair and a smile a mile wide.

I hope you are sugar and spice but mischievious too!

I know 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

Genealogy Do-Over ~ Cycle 4 ~ Week 4: Managing Projects & Tasks and Tracking Research

We are now in week 4 of the Genealogy Do-Over and topics are (1) Managing Projects & Tasks and (2) Tracking Research.

Managing Projects & Tasks

In my other life I was a travel agent. I kept track of my clients itineraries, tickets (issuing & delivery), deadlines for deposits or final payments etc. using a daily calendar. I have watched Thomas MacEntee's project management video a few times now. With that in mind, I have incorporated Thomas's project management techniques onto my calendar. I was already using green for completed assignments, yellow for projects that have been started but not finished. I use red for projects that have titles but that I have not started to write about and I use turquoise for projects that the writing is completed but that I need to add photos, sources and/or documents to that post. 

I had been using Google Calendar for 6 months for my projects and tasks until I found it posted on my Google+ along with my personal calendar. Apparently, it was an issue with my phone that caused this to happen according to Samsung. I know use a great calendar I purchased at Target. It is a monthly/weekly combination calendar.

 The above picture on the left is of my calendar for this month. The only thing that is not showing completed is this post. At the beginning of each month, on the to do list side I put down the posts that are regular from month and the number of times I will have to post that series for the month. I also list posts that were not originally planned once they are completed. About half of my posts for October were done back at the end of August and early September.

I try to do Tombstone Tuesday's, Surname Saturday's and my Family Photo Friday's in advanced for three months at a time. As I complete each item, I draw a green circle around it showing that all posts for that subject are now complete. Red means I haven't started but there 3 more days left in October and I will get them done.

My color coding system is this:

If the proposed post has a red triangle it means that I have not started the post. If a post is highlighted in yellow it means that I have started the post. When the post has a turquoise box it means that I need to get pictures uploaded, list my sources and double check them. Finally, if the post has a green circle it means I have completed the post and it has been scheduled to post.

This is my November calendar and as you can see there are quite a few red triangle's at the moment. The picture on the right is my to do list for November and there is a lot to do. I do not currently have any projects other than my research and blog.

Tracking Research

If you were to look at certain profiles in my master tree at you will find that I use their weblink function, a lot! This is It where I store whatever sites that pertain to that person from web searches I have done on Google, Bing, FamilySearch, Findagrave and other websites. Unfortunately, the weblink function is missing elements such as adding a dates, notes or even a reminder to try the search again at a later date.  

I tried using Evernote to track my research but I kept forgetting to open the program especially since it is so much easier to cut and paste to the weblink on Ancestry and Family Tree Maker. My calendar technique works for me but I know that using Thomas's Research Tracker in Excel or using Evernote is a better way to keep track of my research. I will once again try them both and see how things go this time around. You can find my research tracker and planner from last here.



Day Designer Planner, Weekly/Monthly, School Edition July 2015-June 2016, personal calendar.


Welcome to the World Riley!!!

Congratulations to my cousin, Jonathan and his fiance Samantha who brought a beautiful little girl named Riley into the world yesterday. I am so very happy for you both and your new little family. Jonathan I am truly thrilled for your Mom and Dad because being a grandparent is awesome! And by now Riley, has you all wrapped around her little fingers! Congratulations to my cousin Robin and her hubby Mathis on their beautiful granddaughter and Congratulations to Samantha's family too!

Dear Riley,

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, October 27, 2015

Monday's with Easton # 4 and # 5

I didn't get a chance to post my regular "Monday's with Easton" last week because I ended up being there the whole week because he was sick and then Mama and Dada came down with it too. They are all feeling much better! I share Monday's with his other grandmother whom he calls Memaw and she was sick this week too, so I got an extra Monday I wasn't expecting. I do hope Memaw is feeling better soon.

19 October 2015 # 4
Last week, all Easton wanted was to be held which I had absolutely no problem with. We watched his favorite movies of the moment which are Frozen, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs and Ice Age: Continental Drift. It is amazing to see what he focuses on when he was watching these movies. He loves the song, "Walk the Dinosaur" from Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaur which is performed by the cast in the movie. In Frozen, he will get up and dance to all of the songs. He just loves music and especially dancing.

He also loves his books. We read many books last week and he surprised me when I asked him if knew what a rooster said because he immediately said, "cock-a-doodle-do". Hearing Easton say that gave me the idea of calling him Doodlebug! He just smiles and laughs when I call him Doodlebug. 

26 October # 5

Yesterday with my Doodlebug we started by playing outside even though it was cold with the wind blowing. He wanted to wear his raincoat, it was dark and cloudy with rain expected later in the day. I let him wear it because I think he looks adorable but remember I am biased when it comes to Easton. I always bring something with me to give him like bubbles, magnets for the fridge or whatever I find I think he will like. 

We did bubbles yesterday morning and the wind sure did help! My husband and I found thess particular bubble tubes at a Walmart back in June when we were in Greensboro for my niece's high school graduation. They had been marked down to fifty cents a tube. Then while in North Myrtle Beach over Labor Day with my parents we found a set of 8 for $2.50, needless to say we bought a pack. These tubes are 12 inches in length and the wand measures the same length and it is roughly 1 inch wide. It can make one really large bubble but with the wind yesterday and moving the wand back and forth it made about 25 bubbles each time.

After being outside so early blowing bubbles and chasing them we had a morning snack while we watched Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs for the umpteenth time but that's okay. At the end when Queen Latifah and the cast sings "Walk the Dinosaur" my sweet little Doodlebug got up to dance and trying to follow the characters as they danced. I was able to record a small video and he caught me. I posted it to my Facebook page.

After the movie we had lunch and then we were back outside for more fun with the bubble wand. Afterwards we had story time and then it was nap time. I usually take a nap too! We had a snack, then we went back outside for a while but he knew it was getting close to when his Mama would be home and he wanted his Mama. So we went out to the garage with him holding my car keys and played with his toy car until Mama came home!

Guess what movies he will be getting for Christmas? The whole collection of Ice Age movies. I just learned there is a new Ice Age movie coming out in 2016, Ice Age: Collision Course. I am looking forward to carrying on this tradition with Easton. I started taking my own children at age 2 to movies and we always had such a fun time. Our first movie was E.T. the Extra Terrestrial.

I love this little boy to the moon and back! 


Ice Age Collection (2002-2016), The Movie ( : 27 October 2015)

E.T. the Extra Terrestrial (1982), The Movie ( : 27 October 2015)

"Walk the Dinosuar" sung by Queen Latifah, written by Donald E. Fagenson, Randall Keith Jacobs & David Jay Weiss, Lyrics Freak ( : 27 October 2015).


Tomestone Tuesday ~ Corrine Elliot Lawton

This is the tombstone of Corinne Elliott Lawton who died on January 24, 1877. Born September 23, 1846, Corinne was born into a wealth and privilege as the daughter of General Alexander Robert Lawton (1818-1896) and Sarah Gilbert Alexander Lawton (1826-1897). She is buried in Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia. There is a story told about how Corrine died but I have learned that it is incorrect. I am hoping to post at later date the true story of her passing.


Corrine Elliott Lawton: The Lore, 6th Sense World Historic Ghost & Cemetery Tours (

Corrine Elliot Lawton: What Really Happened to Her? blog entry, Dreaming Casually ( : 29 June 2015)

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Surname Saturday # 5 ~ My Children's Paternal Line of Kitts

Please note that names above are listed with the wife's maiden name first followed by the husband's name.

The surname of Kitts is my children's paternal line. The majority of these families still reside in Grainger, Union and Knox Counties, Tennessee. Some of the older generations started in the counties of Wythe, Bland and Tazewell counties of Virginia.

Many of the Kitts men in Tennessee fought for the Union in the Civil War. However they literally fought against family who served in the Confederate Army from their own home state of Tennessee as well as in Virginia and West Virginia.

If you are researching any of these fine families who started their lives in Virginia and Tennessee please send me a message and let's see if we may be RELATED! 


Friday, October 23, 2015

Family Photo Friday

My son Kenny, dressed as a magician for Halloween circa 1986-1987. This was taken at his Grandma Kitts's house. I would often take them trick or treating through her neighborhood after they had been through my Mom's neighborhood. 


Sunday, October 18, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over ~ Cycle 4 ~ Week 3: Tracking and Conducting Research

We are now into Week 3 of Cycle 4 in the Genealogy Do-Over. Our goals this week are tracking and conducting research. This is my best and worst categories, my best because I love the research and as my Aunt says "I know how to dig" and my worst because I am not consistent with tracking my research but I am trying to improve that bad habit. 

Tracking my research:

I have always documented what and where I have found information for my research but usually on a separate  piece of paper. Then I would place this piece of paper in the information pile which eventually translates to lost forever in my folder of scrap paper. Not exactly a good method for tracking. 

Since my first go round in the original Genealogy Do-Over I have tried to use electronic and/or digital formats for tracking my research and I have failed miserably! I have failed for a few reasons at this particular method of tracking my research. The first is that even though I open the log, I forget that it is there because it is not front and center where I can see it. The second reason is that I can't tell if all the information I want is actually in that tiny space, nor can I read it due to the small font. If I use a larger font so that I can actually read it, the spreadsheet then becomes difficult to handle because I am going back and forth looking for this or that. I have finally come to terms with the fact that for me at least, that "old school" is better for my brain and my eyesight!

So how does this genealogist keep track of her research? I mainly use three different documents that I have adapted to my needs from other trackers and logs that I have used over the years. My original version of a research planner was 2 pages front and back, see my original post for Genealogy Do-Over Original Cycle, Week 3. I also used a separate research planner. However, now I have combined the two and it is down to one page document. However, when printing them out in bulk I add additional lines to the back side of the page. Below is the current research planner/tracker that I use.  If you like my research tracker/planner you can get a copy here Dawn's Genealogy Research Tracker/Planner Version 2.

I also use a document log. Using this log allows me to keep track of what documents I have and which ones I need. In my original version this document was 2 pages long with information on both the front and back of each page. I have made some revisions and it is now 1 page with information on the front and back. Not all of the categories listed will apply to everyone you are researching. If you like my document log you can get a copy here Dawn's Genealogy Document Log Version 2 . I keep both of these documents on my desk so that they are easy to find and get my hands on.

Front side of my document log

Back side of my document log.

Conducting Research:

My process for conducting research has changed a lot over the years especially now with more records being added on a daily basis to websites like Ancestry and FamilySearch.  The picture below is a "boiled down" version of the steps I take when conducting research. I wish I could put it in some fancy, colorful chart but that is not something I know how to do right now. I got so frustrated trying to make a chart using Google Documents that it went straight to the trash can! However, if you would like to review my detailed version of the process please click here How I Conduct My Genealogical Research

My "boiled down" research methods.

I don't know about you but I get side tracked easily when I find Bright Shiny Objects (BSO's). I generally fall way down into the rabbit hole so to help keep me on track with my research I made a Bright Shiny Object List. With the list I put the date, who and where then when I am ready I can go back and investigate the BSO. I then add notes, how and/or why it is or is not relevant and my conclusions. You will find it here Bright Shiny Object List

There is one final document I use when I am conducting research. It is a source summary sheet. By using a source summary sheet I can keep track by person and/or surname. I also use it as a backup for sources listed in my research tracker/planner. The one I prefer is from Ancestry, here is the link to that Ancestry's Source Summary Sheet. Ancestry also has other charts and forms that may be of interest and you can find them here Ancestry's Blank & Downloadable Charts. Family Tree Magazine also has a good list of blank & downloadable forms too. You can find those here Family Tree Free Forms. 


Charts and Forms, Free Downloadable Forms, web, ( : 17 October 2015)

Free Genealogy Forms, Genealogy Research Tool Kit, web, FamilyTree Magazine
( : 17 October 2015).


Saturday, October 17, 2015

Surname Saturday # 4 -Bartberger & Crenshaw Families

Please note that names are listed with the bride's maiden name first.

These are the surnames in my Aunt Barbara's family starting with her parents, Erwin G Bartberger and Frances Noel Crenshaw. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Family Photo Friday ~ George Kenneth Rueff

This is the freshman class of St Xavier All Boys Catholic High School of which my grandfather, George Kenneth Rueff was a member. Grandpa was born in 1905 so I am estimating that this picture was taken about 1919 or 1920. St. Xavier's is in Louisville, Kentucky.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Slave Name Roll Project # 2 ~ Releasing the Names of Slaves From the Will of Robert Nichols

Will of Robert Nichols ~ Georgia Virtual Vault (

In February of this year, my friend and fellow blogger, Cathy Meder-Dempsey, who writes the blog, Opening Doors in Brick Walls wrote a series of posts for Black History Month about her 5th great-grandfather, James Sims (1754-1845). You can read her story of James Sims, here (Post 1 for James Sims, Post 2 for James Sims, Post 3 for James Sims). Here in these posts, Cathy released the names of 9 known slaves formerly held by James Sims. Cathy's articles gave my fellow blogger, Schalene Dagutis of Tangled Roots and Trees, the idea to create The Slave Name Roll Project. This is my second post for The Slave Name Roll Project.

This is the second of the Colonial wills I found at the Georgia Virtual Vault and is for Robert Nichols, second husband of my children's 6th great grandmother, Mary Esther Maxwell Sabb Nichols. Robert and Mary had no children and in his will he makes bequeaths to his wife, his sister Sarah and his stepson, Morgan Sabb. Robert's will was written on September 17th, 1768 and recorded on December 20th, 1768 in St John Parish, (present day Liberty County) Georgia.

Robert's first bequest is to his sister, Sarah, a spinstress (spinster), his five Negroes Tom, S_______, Harry, L______, Sealer (?), unfortunately the ink is smeared and there is a piece missing in this section of the will and I cannot make out all of the names. Robert also makes the point of addressing the fact that he gave to Sarah a Negro girl in St. Christophers in the year 1764 known by the name of Peggy. It would appear that Robert gave Peggy to Sarah without any deeds or bill of sale and he makes a point of settling the matter in his will.

Sarah is also to receive her bed and its accessories that she was already using along with six silver tablespoons and six silver teaspoons. Along with these items she also receives all of his pitchers, a mahogany dining table and a trunk belonging to M__ __ther (perhaps a trunk that belonged to their mother or grandmother?) Portmanteau. She is also left one thousand acres situated in the Parish of St. Davids on Turtle River. 

In his second bequest he gives all of his wearable clothing to his stepson, Morgan Sabb. I can only imagine that perhaps Robert and Morgan were approximately the same size. Perhaps Robert felt the need to leave his stepson something but yet did not want to leave him anything with too great a value knowing that he was his mother's only heir.

In his third bequest Robert makes the request of his wife, Mary Esther Nichols, that his plantation called (or known by) Springfield in St. Johns Parish along with his entire stock of cattle, horses, hoggs and sheep, plantation tools, utensils and household furniture ("except such as shall be excepted in this will"), along with of his four Negroes, Sam, Huster, Princess and Nancy, are to be sold to pay his just debts. However, in the event that selling these items does not cover the cost of his debts then and only then should any other part of his estate shall be sold to make up the difference with the exception of what he left to his sister, Sarah Nichols.

In his final request, Robert bequeaths to his wife Mary Esther Nichols during her natural life and no longer his twelve Negroes following viz. Old Jeffrey, his wife [Theresa] and his son Jeffrey, Sirus, Jupiter, Silvia, Bess, Christmas, Dick and [Duchess], Betsy and Old Bess. Once Mary is deceased these twelve men and women were to be inherited by Mary's son, Morgan Sabb. 
Robert's sister Sarah married John Stewart in 1769. They had one daughter, Elizabeth. In John Stewart's will, the land that was left to Sarah by her brother was passed on to her daughter Elizabeth.

I have not yet found the will of Mary Esther Nichols but I have found that of her son Morgan Sabb. In Morgan's will there is mention of a slave named Jupiter but I can't not say with any certainty that he is the same Jupiter found in the will of Robert Nichols. I can only suspect that he is perhaps a descendant of the Jupiter named in Robert's will. 

Releasing their Names

It is now my turn to release the names of the known slaves as listed in the will of Robert Nichols. I release Tom, Harry, Sealer, Peggy, Sam, Huster, Princess, and Nancy. I also release Old Jeffrey, his wife Theresa and their son Jeffrey, Sirus, Jupiter, Silvia, Bess, Christmas, Dick and Duchess, Betsy and Old Bess. There are two names that I am unable to read clearly but I release them as well. I release these names in the hope that one day it will release their souls and that they will be reunited with each other and their families.

Over the years, I have been helped by many other genealogists and I have always tried to pay it forward as often as I can. I hope in some small way that I am helping someone else to find their family.


Georgia Virtual Vault, Colonial Wills, Colony of Georgia, digital collection, Georgia Virtual Vault (cdm.georgiaarchives:2011 : 2 September 2015), entry for Robert Nichols; citing Georgia Archives, Record Group: 49-1-2, Record Id: cw20162, Date: 1768-12-20.

Georgia Virtual Vault, Colonial Wills, Colony of Georgia, digital collection, Georgia Virtual Vault (cdm.georgiaarchives:2011 : 14 October 2015), entry for John Stewart; citing Georgia Archives, Record Group: 49-1-2, Record Id: cw20191, Date: 1776-11-22.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over ~ Cycle 4 ~ Week 2 : Research Goals, Self-Interviews & Family Interviews

This week we our covering research goals, self-interviews and family interviews. I will be going over the goals I set for myself in the original Genealogy Do-Over (GDO) and tweaking my self-interview.

When I started the in the original GDO, I really didn't have any specific research goals that pertained to any family or individual in my genealogy research. At least I didn't think so then. Yes, I did have goals for my genealogy when I started the GDO. I just didn't realize that my "wishes" were really goals. I was more preoccupied with the bright shiny objects (BSO) discussions of filing systems, software, paper vs. paperless that my head spinning and I wasn't paying close attention to the assignment for the second week. Let's hope I do a better job the second time around!

Research Goals 

If you don't have a research goal what's the point of doing all of the work? Research goals are important and they keep you focused on the big picture. Research goals can even keep you focused on the little things too. Everybody has different goals for different reasons. When the first cycle of GDO ended I took one look at my "working" tree and thought to myself, how am I ever going to do this? I realized then that some of my goals were just too narrow or specific. I needed to start with broader goals and then turn to the smaller, more detailed goals.

Now my research goals seem more attainable. As I work my through each generation I am asking more questions. These questions, along with my notes, now help me to formulate better research goals and questions, making it easier for to handle as I work my back into the past. It is easier to put my goals into categories similar to a card catalog but with broader subjects. Immigration and naturalization records for specific ancestors is one of my top goals on the maternal side of my tree.

An example of this would be my immigrant ancestor William Rueff. I know he was born either in France or Germany according records I have found at and I also know that he immigrated with at least one child, Charles, so why can't I find them on a passenger list? Naturalization records for at least one of them? My goal is to find that passenger list and/or some type of documentation as to when they arrived. They didn't just appear out of nowhere now did they?

My Self Interview

Here is the self interview I did for myself back in January in the GDO cycle.

None of the information above has changed however, except that I now have all of the certificates/records for my birth, my Catholic records of annulment (for my first marriage), baptism, communion and confirmation, my marriage and my divorce records. All have been scanned into my computer and added to my genealogical database with proper source citations.

I now know that my self-interview is one of the most important interviews I will ever have or do because it is the story of me and my life. It is the story that will be handed down to my descendants. I want that story to mean something to my descendants and I don't know what that is yet. However, I hope that when my name is said and my story is told that it will show that I was a wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister and friend. A woman who stood strong but was also tender, a woman who was tough but loving and nurturing, a woman who made mistakes and learned from them (hopefully!) but more importantly a woman who loved with all of her heart and soul. That is the legacy I want to leave to leave for the next generations to come.

Conducting Family Interviews

I had hoped to do a few family interviews before repeating the GDO but life moved to fast over the summer and I have pushed the interviews to back burner for now. I know, shame on me! 

In hope of getting my cousins more involved, I set up a Facebook page/group for both my maternal and paternal cousins. My goal was to post questions from Steve Anderson's blog post, 52 Questions in 52 Weeks which was originally posted at the FamilySearch blog on August 26, 2013 and then record everyone's answers as a group interview. The feedback was not what I was hoping for and my own life got in the way of my original idea for how I wanted these pages to work. I have since deleted these pages/groups and I will have to come up with a brilliant plan that will keep my cousins coming back for more information on our families and participation! 

Here are some of my favorite sites to find questions for family interviews, "20 Questions for Interviewing Relatives", by Family Tree Magazine"Family History Sample Outline and Questions", UCLA Center for Oral History Research,  and "Fifty Questions for Family History Interviews", by Kimberly Powell. Here is a list of my favorite questions to ask during an interview:


Anderson, Steve, "52 Questions in 52 Weeks: Writing Your Life Story Has Never Been Easier", FamilySearch, 26 August 2013, Web, ( : 12 October 2015). 

Powell, Kimberly, "Fifty Questions for Family History Interviews: What to Ask Relatives",, Web, ( : 12 October 2015).

Family Tree, "20 Questions for Interviewing Relatives", Family Tree Magazine, 21 July 2010, Web ( : 12 October 2015).

UCLA Library - Center for Oral History Research, "Family History Sample Outline and Questions", UCLA, Web ( : 12 October 2015).

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Surname Saturday # 3 ~ Elbert's ~

Congratulations Jeff and Mario! The Elbert surname is that of my maternal uncle, Jim who is married to my aunt, Bonnie Rueff. Today is a special day in the Elbert family. My cousin Jeff is finally getting to marry the love of his life, Mario. I am very happy for them both and I am looking forward to attending their wedding later today. Cheers!


Friday, October 9, 2015

Family Photo Friday ~ Happy 35th Birthday, Kenny!

Dear Kenny,

Tomorrow is your birthday. God gave me a precious gift when he gave me you. I have been thinking of you all week and as I write this, tears are falling down my cheeks. I miss you terribly, some days are better than others. On days like today I wonder what your life would be like if you had not been taken away from us so soon in life. Would you be married? Would Easton have cousins to play with? Oh how you would love your nephew! He is another precious gift too! He is super goofy and he calls me Dede.

Happy Birthday my son!



Tuesday, October 6, 2015

New DNA Notification Icon on Ancestry ~ Now You See It ~ Now You Don't

Today, when I signed in to I opened my usual two windows on my desktop computer to begin working on my current tree. I use one window to work in and another to keep the pedigree view of the family that I work on for the day so that I can keep things in perspective and quickly check dates, ancestors and descendants. I usually leave the window with the pedigree alone until I am through for the day. 

After doing a few things here at home I sat down at my computer to begin where I left off before lunch. That is when I noticed a new icon in the top right hand corner of my Ancestry toolbar. I went to look at the window with pedigree because I had not refreshed it in since I had opened it this morning which meant it still had the old tool bar icons. The photograph below shows only the "leaf" for hints and the message icon. See the photo below.

 I went back and forth between the two pages. The DNA icon was not the only thing I noticed (the icon actually had the number of matches) but unfortunately I didn't think to snap a picture with my cell phone at that particular moment. Below is the the "new toolbar" with the DNA icon.

Yay!!! Now that there is an icon on the Ancestry toolbar it will be easier to see new matches right? Not yet! I clicked on the icon and I had about 20 matches I could look at and I quickly scanned them, realizing that of the 20 matches I could see only 4 of them which were direct matches for me. Now wait a minute, should I really be seeing these matches? I know who the matches belong to and we are related on my birth father's side of the tree. As a matter of fact, without this person's help I would still be wondering about the paternal half of my biological tree. However, the 4 matches belonging to me on the list are for my maternal side of the tree. 

I called Ancestry and yes, the icon is a new feature being rolled out. When I was talking with the Ancestry representative my question to him was, "Am I seeing these results because I have shared my DNA results with the administrator of another test/tree?" Yes we share DNA but should I really be seeing all of her matches? The representative I talked to didn't really have an answer. While he put me on hold and attempted to find answer for me, the blurb he was given to pass on was in short, yes.

Curious to see if possibly these are new matches to me, as in a branch of my birth family I had not discovered, I opened a new window so that I could click on this new icon for DNA matches I was seeing and to try the first name that was on the list. When the toolbar was visible, the icon was no longer available. I signed out of Ancestry, signed back in and still I have no icon. Just think, if I hadn't snapped some quick pictures I would be really wondering if I had seen this icon!  Obviously there is still some tweaking to do and I will wait until Ancestry is ready to roll out this feature in more detail and see what happens.


Monday, October 5, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over Cycle 4 ~ Week 1

Photo Courtesy of Thomas MacEntee and used with permission.

Genealogy Do-Over: Cycle 4 ~ Week 1

For the first week of the Genealogy Do-Over Cycle 4 ~ Week 1 the goals are to (1) set aside our previous research, (2) begin preparations for our research and (3) establish base practices and guidelines.

I participated in the original cycle of the Genealogy Do-Over back in January because I wanted to learn, plain and simple. I am self taught when it comes to genealogy so I knew I picked some bad habits and I felt this was a good way to learn the proper techniques. I set aside my research, I made preparations and set up my base practices and guidelines.

During the original cycle there was so much information and all of it was like one great big bright shiny object! I would start my research for the week and would find a new piece of information I had not previously heard or seen and down the rabbit hole I went. Hopefully, I am better prepared this time around.

A few weeks ago, I posted on my blog about why I wanted to repeat the Genealogy Do-Over. So, why I am back for Cycle 4 of the Genealogy Do-Over? It is because there are more specific and concentrated areas I want I want to focus on. 

Previous Research:

I set aside my previous research and did not touch it again until July. I decided that it was time to do something with it. So with trepidation and a little courage I went through each and every piece of paper. I ended up throwing out roughly 60% of my previous research! You may be thinking I am crazy or that I have lost my mind? Trust me, I am not crazy nor have I lost my mind. Through this purging/genealogy housekeeping I found that it gave me the freedom to literally start again with fresh eyes and no preconceived ideas. It is a great feeling.

Here is a list of the papers/records I kept during this genealogy housekeeping event. 

  1. I kept only files that belonged to major surnames in the families I am researching. 
  2. I kept all B/M/D records or certificates that I have collected/paid for with no exceptions.  
  3.  I have kept all of my research notebooks since 2009. At some point I want to scan them and attach them to each individual in my genealogy database. 
  4. I kept printed pages from Ancestry, FamilySearch and other archives & libraries that had source citations. 
  5.  I kept only printed or digital pages/images from books that had the actual title and call numbers so that I could properly source the information I used from them.

I am ready to start! My desk is cleared and my mind is open to new possibilities. I don't have a lot of preparations to do at this point since the purging of my old research. Since I am technically challenged I like to keep it simple. I have finally found what works best for me and how I process information.

My notebooks are ready, I have printed out a stack blank pedigree charts, information extraction forms, research planning & tracking forms and a variety of others if needed. Every notebook has the major surnames I am researching on the front. However, because I stack them in a corner of my desk at the end of the day they also have a label on the side. Actually, it is post it tape and I write the same information on it as the front, making it easy to find.

I have added a few new research books to the stack on my desk. These are done by categories (cemeteries, military, slave owners) for projects of special interest to me and/or subjects that allow me to write about my genealogy and participate in such projects The Slave Name Roll Project by Schalene Jennings Dagutis, of Tangled Roots and Trees and The Honor Roll by Heather Wilkinson Rojo of Nutfield Genealogy through my blog.

Practices and Guidelines:

These are the Practices and Guidelines I established for myself in January and they still hold true today but with a few tweaks here and there.

  •  I will not assume any information without evidence and/or supporting documentation. 
  • I will not assume that information on line is completely accurate but will document it and record it.
  • I will do my own research and not rely on the genealogy information that has been passed down as fact.
  • I will include any and all siblings, aunts, uncles, and other spouses as they are just as important to my research and will be important the further back I go. This is where the F.A.N principle comes in as well.
  • I will gather as much evidence and/or supporting information as I can because one piece of information does not equal proof or evidence.
  • I will go over every document multiple times until I am sure that I have gleaned all the details no matter how small or insignificant they may seem.
  • I will track my progress and I cite my sources as I make each discovery.
  • I will ask for help when I need it and I will be here for others in my genealogy community should they require assistance from me.
  • I will practice Random Acts of Kindness within my genealogy community as others have done for me.
  • I will share my research and/or information with others who are researching the same families.
  • I will be consistent in recording data with both paper and some digital formats.
  • I will back up my data daily (which I have set it up for the 30th of every month).
  • I will conduct new interviews with all family members. 

If you would like to see my original week 1 post you can see that post here, Genealogy Do-Over, original cycle 1. If you would like to know why I am repeating the Genealogy Do-Over you can see that post here, Why I am Repeating the Genealogy Do-Over and if you would like to read the post about my genealogical housekeeping event you can see it here, 1, 2, 3 Out it Goes!.