A Letter from Mother: The Nagging is Timeless

I’ve gotten to the WELLS family folder in my digital clean-up. I will be SO happy when this is finished, and I can move on to the next stage. My new Apple watch keeps telling me that I have been sitting too long! Electronic nagging, if you will.

Which brings me to the subject of this blog post…

A while back, at Mom’s house, I found a wallet belonging to my great-great grandfather, Matthias Wells. Inside were two letters, one written by each of Matthias’ parents, Hawley Wells and Susan Harlow Wells. I wrote about the wallet and Hawley’s letter in this post.

Today, I transcribed the second letter, written by Susan Wells, my 3x great-grandmother.

1860-WELLS-susan harlow-letter to children (1)

The letter is dated April 15, 1860, and it is addressed to two of her daughters, Cordelia and Mary, who are about 23 and 21 years old. Apparently, they had moved away for a time for work, probably as domestics, as the letter mentions sewing.

(To place this letter in time, the Civil War had been officially declared April 12, 1860, just a few days before these letters were written. I can imagine that if word had gotten to Hutisford, WI, before the 15th, this surely would have added to Susan’s anxiety.)

The letter reads:

April 15, 1860

Absent daughters we received your letter last evening and read it with pleasure. We were all glad to hear from you and Cordelia and that you were both well and enjoying yourself so well. We are all as usual but we feel very lonesome the most of the time when we think of our absent children scattered over this wicked world but hope and pray that they will live so in this world they will not be separated in the next. Yes I hope that we shall be one unbroken family in another. Yes this is the prayer of your Mother. Mary if we cannot all live together let us all try to live together in a better one.

Roena is at home now on a visit. She is quite smart. Her babe grows like a pig. He is a pretty little fellow and I love him better than I thought I should.

I believe that our friends are all well as usual. What will you think when I tell you that I have been a visiting three times since you was at home. Should have thought it. Well it was a strange thing. Well home is as good a place as any.

Elder Dan and wife and all the children here a visiting the other day. We had a good visit. I wish I could see my children all at once once more.

How little do we enjoy when we are together but how much we might if only tried to. Well I hope that we shall all be together again some time. I would like to have you come home and do your sewing but if you cannot you must come and make a visit as soon as you can. Write often, good by from Mother.

A few lines to Cordelia.

O my child, you can never know how much I think about you. How much I fear for your health. Now be careful of what health you have. If you think that you can’t stand it to work do not stay to long. You had better not earn so much than to kill yourself. I feel anxious about you. I think of you a great deal.

Oh be careful and not get cold nor fight (?) to hard. You had better get your health than to get more cloth(e)s now. I hope you will think that mother knows best sometimes. You do not know how much I want to see you and Mary.

Roena had been at home almost 2 weeks and we (?) took so much comfort with her. Before I think she is a different woman. She had got as pretty a babe as you would wish to see. He is a fine little fellow and grows like a pig. She is quite smart. If you and M had been here we should (have) had good time. You see I have got to the end of my paper so good by from Mother.

Mothers! Always with the nagging!

Poor Susan. I truly believe that she loved her daughters dearly and missed them terribly. But, poor Mary and Cordelia! I imagine that they read that letter aloud and gave each other knowing looks over the top of the paper. Heavy sighing might have ensued.

By the time of the 1860 census in June of that same year, the five younger children, except for Roena, were all back home. Which must have pleased their mother very much.

The joy she had at the girls’ return may well have been short-lived, though. By 1863, her son, Matthias, had volunteered with the 7th Infantry from Wisconsin. Thankfully, he survived the war. But, I’m sure Susan’s distress might very well have been overwhelming.

1863- muster roll-wells-mathias n-

1920-army invalid-WELLS-mathias-possible


‘Til next time!


William and Harriet Stanley Pettingill and the FAN Club

I’m working away here, in between work trips and trips just for the fun of it, plugging away at getting my digital house in order. There hasn’t been much of interest to post that I haven’t already, which is why you haven’t heard from me.

Today, I’m sorting through my PETTINGILL folder. William Russ Pettingill and Harriet Stanley Pettingill are my 3x great-grandparents on my mom’s WELLS side of the family.

Both William (b. 1821) and Harriet (b. 1825) were born in Vermont, where their families  were neighbors. In the 1840 US Census, the Pettingills (William) and the Stanleys (Harriet) are listed on the same page.

1840-US census-STANLEY-abijah-PETTINGILL-isaac-morristown-lamoille-VT-1.jpg

The Pettingills and the Stanleys are in what family historians like to call the FAN Club: Friends (or Family), Acquaintances, and Neighbors.

It wasn’t all that unusual, in days when it wasn’t as easy or convenient to travel about, that folks would stay put most of their lives, being born, marrying, working, and passing away in the same community. And, for those who did relocate, they would often move to where they knew someone who was a friend or family member, someone who might have blazed a trail before them. So, you are likely to find your elusive relatives living among the same people, and quite possibly, making them a bit easier to research.

For William and Harriet, this was certainly true. They grew up as neighbors in the same community, likely very close neighbors. The census enumerators would move systematically through a community, up one street and down the next. Or, from one farm to the adjoining farm. So, being on the same census page meant that their families were living in very close proximity to each other.

William and Harriet were married in Vermont about 1842-43, and between then and about 1860, they had four children: Alberta, Candice, Isaac, and Frank.

Alberta, Candice, and Isaac were all born in Vermont. Frank was born in New York.

Sadly, it seems that Alberta and Frank were the only children to survive to adulthood. Candice passed away in 1847 at age three, and Isaac in 1852, at one year, four months.

Alberta Pettingill Wells and her younger brother, Frank Pettingill

In the 1850 census, William (age 29), Harriet (25), and Alberta (3) were living in the same household in Morristown, VT, along with Mary Pettingill (30), Benjamin Pettingill (24), and a second Mary Pettingill (18). A cursory bit of research leads me to believe that these are siblings of William. (Although, the second Mary has me a little stumped…)


Then, William and Harriet began to move around before they finally settle in Wisconsin.

In 1855, they were no longer in Vermont; they had moved to Wisconsin. They were listed on the Wisconsin census as residing in Rubicon, Dodge Co., WI. And, in 1858, William purchased land in Kewaunee, WI.

But, by 1860, they had left Wisconsin and had moved to Bangor, New York. Where we again see the FAN Club.

1860-census-PETTINGILL-william-alberta stanley-NY-1

William and Harriet are living in the same house as Harriet’s parents, Abijah and Mary,  and her two of her younger siblings, Myron and Alvira. In addition, her brother, Matthias, his wife Charlotte, and his younger sister, Jeanette are living two houses down.

From other records, William and Harriet were still in New York through the year 1864.

Harriet Stanley Pettingill, Alberta Pettingill, and William Russ Pettingill

In 1867, Alberta Pettingill married Matthias Wells in Dodge Co, Wisconsin. Matthias, like Alberta, had been born in Vermont, but the Wells family had moved to Wisconsin by 1850, when the Pettingills were still in Vermont. It’s possible that the Pettingill and Wells families either knew each other, or had acquaintances in common in Vermont, but that requires a bit more research.

By the 1970 census, William and Harriet Pettingill had moved from Bangor, New York to Ashippun, Wisconsin. And, once again, we see the FAN Club.


Alberta Pettingill and her new husband, Matthias Wells, and their 2-year old, Willis, (my future great-grandfather) were also living in Ashippun, just two houses away from Alberta’s parents.

My 3x great-grandfather, William R. Pettingill

In 1880, we see the same thing. Both families had moved to Omro, Wisconsin. This time, they are next door neighbors.


William and Harriet would spend the rest of their lives in Wisconsin. Harriet passed away in 1885, in Omro. In 1893, William was living in Oshkosh, WI, and for the first time, I couldn’t find family in close proximity. But, I bet they are there. William passed away in 1895.

These are two people for whom family obviously meant a great deal. I think I would have liked them.

‘Til next time.

Pedigree Collapse, or Why My Brain Hurts: Pt. 2

Once again, my desk is awash in sticky notes.

I’m working on the BREED sub-folder today, one I had put off, as I knew it was likely to be a brain-buster. And, it is.

I found this little tidbit on a scanned document from a family history given to me by my Aunt Gwen.

There are quite a few typos in this note, but I think you can get the gist of it.

breed family history 3-1

If you remember from my last post, I mentioned that Sarah (Hood) Bassett was my 6x great-grandmother.

What I didn’t realize until reading this note is that her younger sister, Anna (Hood) Breed is my 5x great-grandmother!

And, it’s even more convoluted than that… Hang on; it’s gonna get bumpy.

Sarah and Anna Hood were the daughters of Richard Hood and Mary Newhall Hood. Sarah married into the Bassett family, while her sister Anna married into the Breeds.

Easy so far, right?


Now, Sarah and William, and Anna and Samuel, begin to have children, as married folks in New England did.


And, Ruth Bassett and Benjamin Breed grew up and got married, too, as people do…


Oh, dear; what have we here? Both Ruth and Benjamin married into the Allen family.

And, not different branches of that family. Oh, no; that would be too simple.


Ruth Allen, wife of Benjamin Breed, was the daughter of Ruth and Abraham Allen, Benjamin’s first cousin and her husband. So, it turns out, Ruth Allen and Benjamin Breed are first cousins, once removed.

Benjamin’s grandparents and Ruth great-grandparents are the same people: Richard Hood and Mary Newhall.

And, that’s why the Hood sisters aren’t both either 6x or 5x great-grandmothers, but one generation different from each other in relationship to me.

Now, let’s see where we go from here, shall we?


Ruth and Benjamin get to work and begin having children, including a son, Abraham. Abraham grows up and marries Sarah Bassett.

Bassett. There’s that name again. And, yes, it’s our Bassetts.


Sarah Hood and William Bassett had a son named also William, sister to Ruth Bassett. William married Rebecca Berry. They had a son named Joseph, who married Eunice Hacker.

Joseph and Eunice had a daughter named Sarah Bassett.

Yes, the same Sarah Bassett who married Abraham Breed. Sarah and Abraham were second cousins, having the same great-grandparents, Sarah and William Bassett.


Well, now. That’s a nice, tidy family tree, isn’t it???

Endogomy for the win!

I’m sure that there are more tangled branches on this tree, but I will tackle them another day.

‘Til next time.


Pedigree Collapse, or Why My Brain Hurts

I’m still diligently working through my digital files, and I’ve cleaned up my husband’s side of our family tree, filing, renaming, and organizing.

I have rearranged my folders to make it easier to find who or what I’m looking for. I originally had just two main folders, one each for my family (KEENE) and my husband’s family (GARRETT), with all our ancestors last names each in their own subfolder.

However, I have now divided it further and made a folder for each of our grandparents’ names. So, my side of the family has two main folders, KEENE and WELLS, and my husband’s side has GARRETT and GIER, each folder then having subfolders for only that line, rather than both lines mixed.

I hope I haven’t lost you, but trust me, this has made it so much easier.

I have finished both the GARRETT and the GIER folders on my husband’s side. I’m now working in my KEENE branch. And, I haven’t gotten very far, as it’s a tangled shrub of New England ancestors, rather than a nice tidy tree.

I was trying to properly file documents in my BASSETT folder, having made further subfolders for each married couple.

And, this is where things began to go off the rails. I was finding that I had saved documents which, at first glance, didn’t seem to fit.

The Bassetts had great affinity for the name William. And those Williams seemed to have a liking for girls named Sarah. Over and over…

And, I couldn’t figure out, i.e. see, how the pieces fit.

It got so confusing that I pulled out a pad of sticky notes and began writing names down and making a very visual, physical tree on my desk.


Now, see that William Bassett over on the left? Next to Rebecca Berry? Turns out, he is William Bassett III, son of William Jr., son of William Sr., who you will find over on the right.

Ah-ha! One mystery solved.

Now, see William Jr. and Sarah Hood Bassett over on the right? Now just follow down the tree. Their daughter, Ruth, married Abraham Allen, whose daughter Ruth married Benjamin Breed, whose son Abraham married Sarah Bassett. OK, clear enough.

Except, we now know that William III is also a child of William Jr. and Sarah Hood. His sister was Ruth Bassett Allen. William III married Rebecca Berry, their son Joseph married Eunice Hacker, and their daughter Sarah married Abraham.

So, Sarah Bassett Breed and Abraham Breed have the same great-grandparents, making them second cousins.

Oh, my. It’s not unusual at all for cousins to marry, especially in small populations like New England or French Canada. (Another reason I’m holding off on organizing those Bergerons…)

And, that is where pedigree collapse comes in. Instead of the family tree expanding backwards in time, growing ever larger, in actuality, it weaves in and out, tangling itself over and over.

And, now all my files and documents make so much more sense.

Now, look again at those sticky notes and find Sarah Hood Bassett and her daughter, Ruth. Sarah was accused of witchcraft in 1692, and both she and Ruth were imprisoned when Ruth was about 2 years old and Sarah was pregnant.

Her husband’s sister, Elizabeth Bassett, had married John Proctor. And, if you are at all familiar with the trials, you will sense just how close to the center of the madness Sarah and Ruth were. They shared a jail cell with Elizabeth and John.

Elizabeth and Sarah were spared the gallows because they were pregnant, but John was executed.

Sarah was my 7x great-grandmother through two of her children, William III and Ruth. William and his sister Ruth are both 6x great-grandparents.

‘Til next time.

It Must Have Been All Too Much for Him

I have been a ‘man with a plan these past few weeks. I’ve cleared off my computer desktop and emptied my download folder, except for photos. I’m planning on tackling the photos in a separate tear through my digital world.

Today, I’m working in my Genealogy folder. I’ve reorganized it to make it much easier to navigate, based on what I learned in a webinar that I watched last week featuring Cyndi Ingle, of Cyndi’s List.

I’ve made folders for each married couple, using numbers for generations in the folder name, so they are automatically sorted into chronological order. It makes it SO much easier to find the right place to move a file to.

Here’s a quick little example before your eyes roll too far to the back of your head:


Now, doesn’t that look like I have my stuff together?

Don’t be fooled; it’s a work in progress.

But, in that progress today, I came across a document that made me gasp.

It was a death certificate. And, I have a lot of those. And, to be honest, I’m becoming a bit hardened to yet another child in a family who died. So, death certificates or notices don’t usually bring about that reaction from me.

But, this one did.

1922-death certificate-garrett-arthur-unionville-putnam co-mo

Do you see it, too?

Cause of death: Gun shot wound inflicted by own hand with … intent.

Arthur Garrett was a great-great uncle of my husband, brother to Edward Garrett, great-grandfather of my husband.

Arthur was born January 17, 1860, in Lockport, Illinois, son of William John Garrett and Isabella Kissack, immigrants from Isle of Man. He was the fourth son of the couple, but only the second to survive infancy. Their first two boys, William and George, both passed away as toddlers.

Arthur was working in a fence factory by the time of the 1880 census, when he was about 20. He was still living with his parents and siblings in Joliet, Illinois.

He married Josephine Coop in 1896, and their son, Gilbert Charles was born in December the same year.

In 1900, Arthur was living in the household of his brother, Edward, my husband’s great-great grandfather in Liberty Township, Missouri. He gave his occupation as farmer, claimed he was married, and that he had been so for four years.

But, Josephine wasn’t living in the same household.

I found her living with her parents, John and Susanah Coop, and her little boy Gilbert Charles in Unionville, Missouri.

By 1910, Arthur and Josephine were living together with Gilbert Charles on their own, mortgage-free farm in Wilson Township, Missouri.

In 1920, Arthur and Josephine were living in Union Township, Missouri, owning their own farm once again. Gilbert Charles has apparently grown up and left the nest.

Sadness came when Josephine passed away May 19, 1921. She was 64.

Now, did you note the death date for Arthur? May 26, 1922.

I’ve seen it over and over again; one spouse passes away and, all too often, the other doesn’t live very much longer. But, Arthur’s circumstances are very, very different.

He died by his own hand almost a year to the day of Josephine’s passing.

I don’t think that’s a coincidence… 

It’s a guess, and only a guess, but I imagine that his sadness was just too much for him to bear. I’d love to know the whole story.

’til next time.





George Augustus Keene: Inventor

First, a quick progress report: I have cleaned off my computer desktop! Yay! I can now see Norway clearly! I might even go fetch a new set of photos for my background.

And now I’ve moved on to my downloads files. Yikes… I really need to put a system in place for when I download files.

While cleaning off the computer desktop, I found several more patents of my great-grandfather, George Augustus Keene.

I might have mentioned a while back that my he had held quite a few patents for his inventions. He had even listed his occupation several times as “inventor.” Alas, neither he nor our family ever profited long-term from his ideas. According to my Uncle George, George A. drank away several fortunes and died in poverty.

But, let’s set the stage, shall we?

George Augustus Keene was born in about 1833, the first son of Washington E. Keen and Lydia Ann Kent.

When George was about 11 years old, his father, Washington E., died of tuberculosis at the young age of 34. Washington’s wife, Lydia, remained an unmarried widow until her death 1895, at the age of approximately 86. I think the family must have had a hard time making ends meet, based on the recollections of George later in life.

In an interview with a Lynn, Massachusetts, newspaper in 1916, George recalled:

“At the age at which I would just be eligible for the Boy Scouts if I was living it over today, I was thrown upon my own resources. I became a mill hand in the cotton mills of Massachusetts. In those days the only excitement about child labor and the only thought given the matter was in favor of it. From pulpit and rostrum the importance of teaching the young industry and diligence was lauded as a virtue. There were no eight hour laws for children in those days, no workmen’s compensation, few labor saving devices, no industrial welfare departments, and dust and dirt of the mills and shops was actually believed to be strengthening and beneficial.”

After working in the mills for a few years, he related that he had worked as a cooper, making barrels. Eventually, he made his way to work as a ship’s navigator, which might have been the genesis of the invention of which he most proud.

KEENE-george augustus

Through the years, George had a variety of professions.

  • 1850: In the US Census, he was just 17, living with his mother and siblings, and working as a carpenter.
  • 1853: In his marriage record for his first marriage with Ellen Piper, he lists his profession again as carpenter.
  • 1858: In a Newburyport, MA city directory, he is a lounge manufacturer.
  • 1860: In the US census, his profession is upholsterer.
  • 1863: In the Newburyport, MA, city directory, he is listed again as a carpenter.
  • 1865: In the Newburyport, MA city directory, he is once again an upholsterer.
  • 1865: In the Massachusetts census, he is a machinist.
  • 1876: In the marriage record for George and Lydia Thompson, he gave his occupation as rubber manufacturer.
  • 1880: In the US census, he gives his profession as an inventor.
  • 1889: In the Newburyport, MA city directory, he is also an inventor.
  • 1900: In the US census, he is listed again as an inventor.
  • 1909: In the Lynn, MA city directory, he is an inventor.
  • 1910: He has no profession claimed, only “own income.”

Hummmm… I find in interesting that in all those years, on all those various forms, he never gave his occupation as a mill worker, a cooper, a navigator, nor a fireman, all professions he claimed to have had when he gave the interview with the Lynn newspaper.

keene-georgo augustus

George begins to apply for and be granted patents about 1860. His earliest patent that I could find was a bed for invalids. This piece was convertible, making it easier for an ill person to move.

This bed converts into a chair that converts into a commode:

1860-bed patent-KEENE- george augustus- augustus-MA.JPG

From the patent document:

Be it known that I, George A. Keene, of Lynn, in the county of Essex and Commonwealth of Massachusetts, have invented a new and useful Reclining Chair and Extension Bed Combined…

In 1881, he designed a different piece of furniture, an improvement on a reclining chair:

1881-reclining chair patent-KEENE-george a-MA.JPG

In 1892, he designed an improvement to a bath tub seat, making it collapsible and easily stored when not in use:

1892-bathtub seat patent-KEENE-george a-MA.JPG

He began to design new and improved funnels in the 1860s, eventually being granted patents for three different versions.

In 1862:

1862-improvement in funnel measures patent-KEENE-george a-MA.JPG

In 1880:

1880-funnel patent-KEENE-george-MA.JPG

And, in 1898:

1898-improvement in  measuring funnel-KEENE-george a-MA.JPG

In 1864, he was granted a patent for an improved cattle stanchion:

1864-cattle stacnhion patent-KEENE-george augustus-lynn-MA.JPG

And, another product for animals, he received a patent in 1876 for an improvement on harness rosettes for horses:

1876-hraness rosettes patent-KEENE-george a-MA.JPG

In 1867, he invented a paper neck tie :

1867-neck tie patent-KEENE-george a-MA.JPG

Who knew that paper neck ties were even a thing? But, apparently, they were. The neck ties were to be made “of paper, either of uniform color, plainly embossed, or embossed or printed in patterns of any desirable color or character…”

He had several patents for improvements of household objects, in addition to the measuring funnels.

In 1871, he designed a laundry dryer:

1871-laundry dryer patent-KEENE-george a-MA.JPG

In 1882, a window washer:

1882-windowwasher patent-KEENE-goerge augustus-lynn-MA (1).JPG

In 1885, a floor mop:

1885-floor mop patent-KEENE-george a-MA.JPG

In 1906, a sink cleaner:

1906-sink cleaner patent-KEENE-george a-MA.JPG

He held two patents for improvements in carriage steps, including the addition of rubber tread to prevent slips, which were quite common and could be devastating.

In 1874:

1874-carriage step tread patent-KEENE-george augustus-MA.JPG

In 1877:

1877-improvement in carriage steps-KEENE-george a-MA.JPG

His most promising invention was a feathering paddle wheel. Steam-driven paddle wheels were the primary means of river boat power in the mid-1800s. But, they were rather inefficient, as the paddles would by design need to push up against the water for the wheel to complete a turn. George’s designs involved feathering the paddles, making them turn as a rower turns an oar when bringing it up through the water.

He first designed his version of the feathering paddle wheel in 1865:

1865-patent feathering paddle wheel-KEENE-george a-MA.JPG

In 1911, he had improved it:

1911-paddle wheel patent-keene-george-MA (4).jpg

George formed a company in New Hampshire and offered 1,000 shares of stock for sale at $10 each to the public to raise funds. From the Lynn newspaper: ” … all matters considered, a more separable investment for capitalists it would be difficult to find. The company propose to furnish wheels, or to permit parties to build them themselves at cost on paying a royalty.”


Unfortunately for George, the days of the paddle wheel river boat were ending, as newer and more efficient means of power were found. His invention came to naught.

Only a few years after being granted this patent, my great-grandparents, George and Lydia, were depending on money sent home by their son, my grandfather, Charles.

George A. died in Illinois in March 1919, as he, Lydia, and my grandparents, Charles and Perpetue, were traveling across the country to California.


Heartache and Loss

Happy New Year, my friends! I wish a wonderful 2019 for you and yours.

As I mentioned in my last post, my resolution this year is to get my genealogical house in order. I have so much information, and because I haven’t been diligent in my housekeeping, I don’t even know what I have!

My first task is to clean up my digital desktop. It is a visual mess, cluttered with files downloaded or copied and pasted and sprinkled over my beautiful screensaver of photos of Norway.

As I was working on renaming and filing this morning, I came across a census from 1870 for William C. Kendall and Alice Jane Crew Kendall, 3x great-grandparents, through my mother’s mother’s side of the family.

They look like a couple who has had more than their fair share of sorrow, don’t they? The look on Alice’s face just about breaks my heart. She looks like a woman who needs some comfort.

I think I know why. So let me share what I learned today with you.

To beign, I renamed the file in the format I learned from Diana Elder at RootsTech 2018: year-file type-LAST NAME-first name-location. When files are named in this way, they are automatically filed in the folder in chronological order, making a nice little visual timeline.

So, the renamed census file now looks like this:

1870-census-KENDALL-william-alice jane crew-james-william jr-alice ida-charles-mary-randolph township-IN

As I pasted it into the KENDALL folder, I noticed other files that I hadn’t attached to my family tree software. In the software tree, I had only three children for William and Alice. But, in my folder was a handwritten record, seemingly copied from a family Bible, with the birth dates for nine children. Yes, nine


William and Alice were married in 1847.

In the 1850 census, they were listed as having one daughter, Sarah, my 2x great-grandmother.

In 1860, the children in the household were Sarah and James. But, according to the record above, William and Alice had had five children by 1860. Where were Winfield, John, and Samuel?

In 1870, the children in the household were James, William E., Alice Ida, Charles, and Mary. (Sarah was married and no longer living at home.) Nine children were born in the space of 22 years, with three little ones gone.

The back of the birth record page lists death dates for the family:

kendall-crew-family record (2)

Winfield, John, and Samuel, the second, third, and fourth children to be born, never lived to their second birthdays. As a mother, I can’t imagine the heartache of watching one after another of my babies pass away, knowing that I am absolutely helpless to do anything about it.

But, that’s not all. Alice died in 1876, at only 45 years of age, when her youngest child, Mary, was only about seven years old.

And, then in 1880, at only 19, young William died.

1876-headstone-kendall-alice jane crew

Only four of William and Alice’s nine children survived to adulthood.

The elder William lived until 1900, to age 75. As far as I could tell, he lived the last 20 years of his life without marrying again. I will guess that was self-preservation, avoiding the possible sorrow of more loss. 

‘Till next time.



52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks | Week 52: Resolution

Well folks, this is it.

The End.

Week 52.

When I began this project at the beginning of the year, I truly was unsure whether or not I’d be able to finish. But, once I got started, I began to enjoy the challenge more and more, looking forward to what I  might discover on the way.

And, here we are at the start of another new year. I’m sure that there will be more discoveries along the way. New stories to tell.

I’ve just resolved to go about it in a different way in 2019.

This past year, as I’ve collected more and more records and photos, both physical and digital, I’ve fallen down on organization. In my haste to get blog posts written, I’ve too often just thrown the pictures on my computer desktop or in a box, telling myself, “I’ll get to this later.”

In short, my genealogy records are a hot mess. Now is later.

I’ve got file folders in the garage. Boxes in the spare bedroom closet. Binders in my office cabinets. Family scrapbooks in the attic.

Digital files run amok on my hard drive. Photos aren’t properly named and sorted. Duplicate galore. Unscanned photos and documents too numerous to count.

So, this year is the year of getting my genealogy house in order.

I’ve resolved to:

  1. Clean up my digital files. I need to properly name and file all photos and documents.
  2. Organize my physical records, deciding what to keep and what to toss. Those that I keep need to be properly filed in binders or folders, preferably archival. I need to find one place to keep all physical records and mementos.
  3. Unscanned photos and records need to be scanned, properly named, and filed.
  4. As I find records on my computer that I haven’t attached to my family tree software, I will add those while I double-check my tree’s accuracy.
  5. As I sort through records and photos, I need to upload to my online trees any records that might be of value to other researchers.
  6. I need to make sure that all my digital records are properly backed up.
  7. And, finally, as I find new information or stories along the way, I will post about them here. I enjoy sharing family history stories and discoveries, and I’m resolved to continue.

Whew… It’s going to be a busy year. I’d better get started.

Happy New Year!

‘Til next time.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks | Week 51: Nice


It can appear to be, well, a rather vanilla word. At first glance. Sort of an all-purpose, fill-in-a-blank sort of word when you don’t know anything more specific to say about someone or something.

“She’s nice.”

“Dinner was nice.”

“We had a nice day.”

On the other hand, it’s also a lovely, descriptive word, when used with purpose.

From dicionary.com:


Who doesn’t want to be pleasing, agreeable, or delightful? Or amiably pleasant and kind? How about having accuracy, precision or skill?

Do you know that some of the nicest people you can find are genealogists? I sure have found this to be true. I have been helped numerous times during my family history journey by others who did so without expecting any sort of recompense. It’s been delightful.

  • I am a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution because of the kindness of a fellow member who spent hours helping me to find records and fill out my application.
  • Another DAR member, who I never even met or spoke to, researched in the Family History Library without even being asked to do so, finding a brick-wall breaking record in the process.
  • At the Manx Museum, the librarians and archivists were more than just doing their job when they found documents and records for Doug’s family and eagerly showed us more than we asked for.
  • The Switzerland, Indiana county genealogist who, with a friend, tramped out in the woods to take photos of a family cemetery and headstones for me.
  • Random My Heritage and Ancestry members who have posted photos and records, making them public, in order to help others in their research.
  • My two cousins, Peter and Judy, fellow genealogists who have given freely, abundantly of their research and knowledge over and over.

I have had the most agreeable time this year on this 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks journey. I have had discoveries and breakthroughs. Surprises.

It has been also been a challenge at times, but in a nice, pleasant, way. The prompts this year have forced me to greatly increase my genealogical accuracy and skill. I have had to learn to write with much more precision, as genealogy can be a slog to those for whom “second cousin twice removed” sounds more like the teacher voice in a Charlie Brown film than English.

So all that to say that I’ve had a nice time this past year. Thank you for coming along with me.

‘Til next time.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks | Week 50: Naughty

We are coming to the end of this year at a rapid pace. Christmas was this past week, and the New Year is only a few days away. And, if I concentrate, I just might get all 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks actually completed in the allotted time!

This is one of those prompts that I have had to ponder. There just aren’t that many rouges, scoundrels, or miscreants in my family. I haven’t uncovered any hushed-up scandals. Brushed under the rug disgrace. Hidden crimes.

For sure we have the usual assortment humanity’s faults: failed marriages, alcohol abuse, and broken relationships. But, we have been proven, for the most part, to be just an average, normal, run-of-the-mill family.

So, I have decided on the more light-hearted interpretation of naughty. The more playful, impish definition.

My dad personified that definition.

Perhaps it is the season and holiday-induced nostalgia. Perhaps it was my recent trip to Pearl Harbor with my Uncle George and wishing my dad could have shared that. Perhaps it is just my own looming mortality and the general fragility of life, upon hearing of another old friend’s passing.

Whatever the reason, I have been missing my dad lately. I miss his sense of humor. His quirky expressions. His eyebrow twitches and ear wiggles. The fake stern looks, with a wrinkled brow, that he couldn’t hold for very long without breaking out in laughter. The way he loved teasing my mom.

I can see that playful naughtiness in photos so very clearly.

bearded daddy.jpg
Dad and my older siblings, circa 1950s
china lake039.jpg
Dad with my brother, Don, circa 1955
china lake017.jpg
Mom and Dad, circa mid-50s
salt lake.jpg
The Great Salt Lake; my dad chasing me through the water. 
thanksgiving 1963, bula, charles
Dad and Mom, circa 1963
1972, charles, in fez
Dad, in his fez, circa 1972
mom's birthday, 1972, charles, bula
Mom’s birthday, 1972
jan 1975, charles
Dad, circa 1975, with the mustache he was so proud of.
oct 79, on our way to oregon, barbara, doug, rachel, charles
Me, Doug, our first-born, and Dad, circa 1979

He passed away in 1996, at the relatively young age of 77. He went to the doctor complaining of stomach pain, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and was gone just six short weeks later.

I miss you, Dad.

‘Til next time.