Reflections & an offer.

So 2018 has been a year to remember good and bad. As I get older I try more and more to roll with it.

The good

  • Gerard retired.
  • Chiara was accepted into her dream college for her dream program.
  • Jimmy made the transition to middle school seamlessly.
  • I attended the Genealogical Research Institute in Pittsburgh. (would love to attend in 2019 but don’t think that will happen.
  • Attended my 2nd DAR state conference.
  • worked on organizing a Children of the American Revolution Society
  • Lots of good times with friends and family.
  • After a lot of hard work we finally were able to get Samantha settled in a Kindergarten and she is thriving.

The bad:

  • Jimmy having to have 8 teeth removed which resulted in a rather large bill but he seems happier.
  • Sami’s fiasco experience in the first kindergarten she was placed in.

Thankfully my parents are healthy and still moving and grooving in life and I am blessed by that.

I have lots of goals for 2019 and I am working on putting them together and making them concrete realities which leads me to my next thought. I know I am not a prolific writer I think it has to do with being a special needs mom and not having a huge amount of time on my hands and that I am a fairly direct person. So I am going to work on this blog more in the coming year.

I want to try my hand at 30 minute ancestor profiles. I will research your ancestor for 30 minutes and provide you with a written ancestor profile on the ancestor. I am still working on the pricing for this as I want it to be fair and playing with the price of $45.00  for this. The turn around will be 2-3 weeks.

So I need your help to try my hand on this. I am offering a limited trial run at the discounted price of $23.00 limited to 10 people.

If interested please e-mail me at, the first person to email me will receive their ancestor profile for free.

Thanks in advance if you are one of my trial ancestor profile guinea pigs.

Decoding those leaves…



We all know about those shaky leaves on ancestry. See these leaves here they sit for a long time. These in particular because they deal with Irish Ancestry. I you look you will see a lot of Peter, Marys and Bridgets. They give me a headache after a while. Decoding a leaf for me is a long process.  If the hint is another tree, I hit the ignore button. While trees are great hints for a starting point the facts have to be verified so I would rather not have any preconceived notions.

The following trees I am trying to set up research questions for and concentrate on finding answers. Having a research plan will hopefully keep me more organized and help finish some lines.

This is the Maxwell tree. This one has so many fabulous names. I am going to start with who was Byrd C. Maxwell and some basic facts of his life.maxwell

Another thing that hints from Ancestry that I love and do spend time perusing is photos. I stumbled across this one of Byrd Maxwell.


Byrd is seated in the front row and he looks like a character. I wonder the stories he could tell.

Below is what I have termed the Hoffman family tree.  Charles Hoffman is actually a Robinson. HE was adopted. I am in search of his actual obituary and not the copy I found online.


I also love the fabulous names in this tree including George Wesley Collison and Cornelius Collison. These families came from the East and moved west.  I am trying to piece together Cornelius Collision and am having a hard time as their is either another Cornelius or it is possible the had 2 families (not unheard of).  I recently bought some poster board to see what I could find out. Sometimes I have to revert back to old-fashioned paper and pen research to figure things out.

Here is another tree I am loving. This one has some fabulous names. I am trying to flesh out some Revolutionary War Ancestors for someone. I am also trying to find the immigrant ancestor on the deeply Irish side. This tree currently has over 200 hints I need to review. I timed myself one day. Each hint takes me around 5 minutes to decide if it is correct.


This last tree I am loving. I showed you a portion of this family in my last post about Israel and Golde Angert. This is a different branch but equally as interesting. Number one, what a fabulous name Monteville is.


Also that Sylvanus Judson is a twin. This tree has so many names on both sides speaking to me that I am deriving several questions including the first one of who is Rose Gross. We know she was adopted but we need to find out more. This is where the release of the Birth and Death Records that Reclaim The Records is pursuing is so important.

I am thinking of offering a history of one ancestor snapshot – 30 minutes of research for the fee. If interested email me at and we can chat.

Off to work on writing those research questions.




A Feeling? Intuition? The Ancestors are calling..

Dr. Sarah larkin Beardsley

For many years this lady had been an obsession of mine. Her name is Sarah A. Larkin Beardsley and she is my 2X-great grandmother. She lived from 1847-1886 dying at the age of 39. I am working on a profile of her life for my family because I want to share what a kick ass woman she is. For many years I researched her, on the clue of the initials of MD on her tombstone. I wanted to know how she became a doctor. It always came back to her and I am still trying to find out more.

Do you ever feel like your ancestors are trying to tell you a story and you need to find more? Like they are reaching at you beyond the veil. Even when I am working on other families that don’t belong to me I sometimes get a longing to tell their story.

I have been doing research for a friend and their Great Grandfather has become a calling because I loved their name. Jenkins Jeffrey. You can only imagine how this one gets screwed up in the records but these are people and they must have a story that needs to be told. We can put flesh and bones on the dates.

Another friend just recently gave me her information and a story of a Revolutionary War patriot, who is connected to George Washington, I love family lore, but it is her Great Grandmother Goldie Wasserman, who is speaking to me along with her 2X great Grandfather a Monteville Benjamin (isn’t Monteville a great name).

There are names that just jump out at me and call me to learn more to the point I have dreams about these wonderful individuals who came before. I have been toying with the idea of doing some biographical sketches of these people for the blog.

So I am off to see what ancestor speaks to me next, actually I am trying to work on a problem for a DAR supplemental so I can document another patriot in my line but that is a whole other post.


Yes I do use the leaves!

I had posted yesterday about helping look for a revolutionary war patriot for friends and woke up to a friend wanting some help.Screen Shot 2018-07-05 at 5.38.07 PM

After receiving the information, I began a tree and there are all those hints and some potential parent recommendations. Now begins the process of reviewing each and every hint and evaluating the information. I actually begin by deleting all the member trees and photos of documents. It means hitting the ignore key.

As she was interested in a revolutionary war patriot which is on her mom’s side I will start with that,  but she also is interested in her dad’s side and it isn’t as deep so it will mean expanding my horizons into an area of the world I am not super familiar with but I consider it an adventure and learning experience.

I just timed myself and it takes me about 5 minutes per hint to evaluate it and decide if it is correct. I also love states like Michigan who put their death records online for Free. So I am taking the don’t be a source snob to heart and reviewing a lot of these items and I did find a set of twins in her tree born in the late 1700s with very similar names and I think they are causing some problems but I will get it sorted out.

So yes I do use the shaky leaves but I have learned to evaluate each and everyone for its merits. Due Diligence and a reasonably exhausted search are so important.


Leaves, potential mothers & fathers

Screen Shot 2018-07-03 at 7.55.00 PM

Ancestry has a new feature to go along with their shaky leaves. They now give you potential hints for Mothers and Fathers. If you have followed me for a while you know I am not a fan of the shaky leaf, so it goes to say that I am not a hyuge fan of the potential mother and father boxes either.

To me the give people the option to put a tree together without doing their due diligence and connecting the dots.

Above is my 3X – Great Grandmother Jane A. West. I am still not 100% sure of her 1889 death date so their is no way I can give credence to any potential mother or father’s ancestry has decided to recognize.

Now as I have branched out into doing genealogy research for others their is no way, I could in good conscience just click and add people to a tree. Also I have found researching for others is slow going as these are not names that I know like the back of my hand. I have 4 projects in process and I am getting to know some wonderful people in various places. Tennessee has a big one as has Ohio and Indiana.

Screen Shot 2018-07-03 at 7.53.15 PM

In this tree I have hints and potential mother and fathers and so far I am not having luck which is why they are still green. Every hint should be evaluated on its own merit. While I was at GRIP last week, one of the instructors said not to be a source snob and to use everything as clues which I am a big proponent of but remember we need to source everything and employ the best genealogical proof standard.

So my final thoughts on shaky leaves and potential parent hints use them as clues and not fact.


GRIP Day 4 & 5

F4379081-42E6-4345-976D-8CBACEEDD43Asome of the new books I acquired this week at GRIP.

Day 4  of GRIP continued the whirlwind of knowledge acquired at GRIP. It included lectures on NYC Urban Centers of Research. Different special holdings of libraries and museums and I absolutely loved our Case Study of Joseph Johnson Chase and it really opened my eyes to the importance of doing a case study to lay out all the facts. I knew they were important but actually seeing one progress was fabulous. I also loved Karen Mauer Jones’ quote of not being a source snob and using those unsourced items as clues and hints to move forward.

After classes on Thursday, I went and perused the samples of Board of Certified Genealogists portfolios they had for review and it was great to see real samples of client reports and the depth of knowledge required to become certified.

Thursday evening was another lecture this one by the Legal Genealogist, Judy Russell, CG, CGL. It was about telling the stories of the children. The children who did not survive and the effects they bring on to families. This one had me laughing and crying and wanting to dig deeper. It also had me wishing I could attend the July Session for her course on Women and Children.

With Friday it was Day 5 of GRIP and time to pack up and go home but first we had 2 lectures to complete. The first was about Vital Records and different alternatives. The second was about the importance of reading Genealogical Journals and Case Studies and how they can be useful even if they aren’t about your family. Also loved Karen’s prod to submit articles and not be afraid to submit. Editors are  your friends and will provide guidance.

So with that we earned our certificates and it was time to go home. I will be doing a wrap up post in the coming days but for now I want to dive into research and work on some brick wall problems.

I will say after taking this course I feel more adept at tackling my brick walls and have a few research trips planned to get some boots on the ground things done.

GRIP Day 3


Day 3 of GRIP was a bit of a  whirlwind. We covered wills, transportation and military. I was able to glean a few sources out of this overloaded mind of mine. I am sure it will get better when I type up my notes.

Wednesday evening a group of us DAR ladies met up and it was definitely fun to meet a group of daughters from different states. As there was no evening lecture I decided to use some of the newfound knowledge I learned and see if I could find some wills. I found one that was of interest and since I have a Have Written from the DAR I decided to work on it. It was a bit difficult as I didn’t have the letter or the documentation I originally sent. I am now tracing out the lines of the patriot and of his daughter’s family to see what is out there.  I have been writing lots of  notes in a notebook of the research I found but it definitely is not my usual set up making it a bit more difficult. I am thinking a trip to the Essex County Courthouse is in order unless I can convince my loving family who is going to Clinton County in August to go there.

Well it is time for me to have some breakfast before Day 4 of GRIP starts. This has been a wonderful experience so far and I am definitely thinking I want to return.

Have a great Thursday.

GRIP – Day 2

Screen Shot 2018-06-27 at 6.22.52 AM.pngDay 2 was another whirlwind of classes here at GRIP. (above is a picture of LaRoche College where GRIP is being held.)

The morning started with a class on “Dutch” in NY and how the Dutch may just not be Dutch at all which was quite enlightening. We then proceeded to learning about the land in New York. Disheartening to find that the records can be spotty up until 1840 or so after the Anti Rent Wars but I will have to keep plugging away.

After lunch it was back to the Legal system in NY with the fabulous Judy Russell and this is an area of records I am seriously under utilizing. Going to start browsing those early court records soon. The day of classes ended with learning about early Probate in NY.

The classes are seriously a whirlwind and I have a 100 page spiral bound notebook that is almost half full already. I may need to head to the store to get another book at this rate and I would love to take notes on the computer but that is not my way of doing things.

Thursday was a free lecture by DNA Expert Blaine Bettinger and that was super interesting. It was a bit about chromosome mapping and DNA painter and to remember to tie it to the stories and your ancestors. Good Stuff.

Off to learn more about Genealogy and the black hole of New York.

GRIP Day 1


Day 1 of GRIP is in the books. It was a long day for me. Number 1, I did not sleep well and was up way before 6am. I was able to get a workout in way before 6:30. I was actually in the common area by 7am since I needed to get out of the room.

I am taking Researching in New York: Resources and Strategies. The morning opened with an overview by Karen Mauer Jones, CG, FGBS.  We then moved to a tract on the North River from the Verazanno to Albany by Jane E. Wilcox. My head was swimming by my lunch break.

After lunch we dived back in with Judy Russell, JD, CG, CGL aka as The Legal Genealogist. We learned about New York’s crazy legal system and my head was ready to explode but I found a couple of resources I want to check out so the headache was worth it. If you ever have the opportunity to hear Judy speak grab it. She was one of the reasons I signed up for this track.

Last but not least for the day was Jane’s talk about the Tenant Farmers of NY. Now while I do not have any tenant farms in my lines it was interesting to learn.

By this time I was ready for a nap but ran to Target for a pillow. Should of brought some of the things on the supply list because the accommodations are sparse but heck I don’t have Jimmy snoring in my ears so it is all good.

After dinner, there was a talk given by David Rencher of Family Search and oh my goodness. Let me tell you I am seriously underutilizing this resource and it is my goal to get better at it. There are so many cool collections and features.

Now I am winding down and am going to read through tomorrow’s lessons before crashing. I am seriously so happy to be here and am a bit overwhelmed with the amount of information being thrown at me but am seriously glad to not be in a class with homework.


Last week I sent off my first report binder, this week I am humbled.


I received the following post on my facebook page.

From the absolute bottom of my heart thank you! You have given him the most precious gift. I cannot thank you enough. ❤️❤️❤️

I had the honor to trace my friends family back into 1870 Texas and gave recommendations of where else they could look. The proverbial 1870 brick wall came and I have names of people who were alive pre-civil war but lack information on where they came from.

It was eye-opening to try my hand at African American research and I am blessed to have a friend who let me dive into her family history.

The result was more than I could of asked for. I also know this family will be a pet project of mine as I have fallen in love with a few of them. I will just need to listen to their spirits as they guide me forward.