Mid-Year Check-In

In January I posted about some of my previous-year accomplishments and current-year goals for my genealogy.  I decided to do a mid-year check-in to see where I’m at on meeting my goals for this year.  Here’s the list I began the year with:

  • Continue the research I’ve begun on D1′s family and start collecting proof of lineage (on a side note, it’s pretty amusing to me that I discovered D1 and I share a common ancestor around 8 generations back, LOL!)
    • Status: Progress made.  I’ve been collecting digital copies of census records, military records, obituaries, etc.  I’m very excited about what I found this weekend!  When I originally talked to D1’s parents to get some preliminary genealogy information it was mentioned that D1’s paternal great-grandmother was known by several different versions of her name and that no one really ever knew what her name was.  This weekend I ran across what I suspect is her legal given name.  I started the weekend with the name Leona or Lena and discovered she’s been known as Leona, Loney, Laney and finally…drum roll please…Appalonia!  Wow, what a name!  AND I now have some potential family connections to contact thru Ancestry.com.  I hope I get some cousin-bites 🙂
  • Once my application to DAR has been accepted, start work on adding one additional patriot to my file, submitting paperwork for the additional paperwork by the end of 2014.
    • Status: No progress made.  Hmmm, I don’t know if I’ll make much progress on this since I’ve been so focused on D1’s family.
  • After acceptance of my DAR application, obtain my first DAR pin.
    • Status: No progress made.  I’m hoping to get my first pin within the next couple of months.  I really want a patriot state pin!
  • Make a genealogy trip to Danville, Illinois to see the grave of my third great-grandfather and visit the genealogy library to see if I can find any information on my family there.
    • Status: No progress made.  I’m not certain this one will get completed this year.  It doesn’t help I keep adding things to my list of genealogy to-dos.
  • Make a trip to North Dakota to visit family and obtain more genealogy information on my paternal family.
    • Status: Partial progress made.  D1 and I made it up to North Dakota and spent several hours with my family up there but we didn’t discuss much about the family history.  We had a ton of fun talking to them though!
  • Increase my participation in the Billion Graves transcription project
    • Status: No progress made.  And no excuse for it either 🙁
  • Get a new copy of my great-grandmother’s obituary
    • Status: No progress made.  This is a fairly straightforward thing, not a lot of searching involved since I know either Mid-Continent or the Johnson County Library will have the microfilm that contains the obituary.
  • Get the genealogy document hard copies sitting in piles around my house organized
    • Status: Progress made.  I still have a loooooong way to go on this but I’ve made a good start.  I’ve gotten my hanging folders and file folders made, tracking labels made and affixed to the folders and a nice stack of printouts and copies filed in those folders.  Next piece of the project: making sure all those printouts are filed under the correct person and that they all contain source citations.  I’m really trying hard to make sure all my documents have citations not only printed on or with them when I print them but that the electronic copies also have the source citations included in the file somewhere.
  • Print and organize all electronic copies of genealogy documentation
    • Status: Partial progress made.  I keep running the printer out of ink…LOL
  • Finish attaching electronic copies of records to applicable persons in my genealogy database
    • Status: Partial progress made.  I need to be more active on this goal.  I haven’t gotten very much done on it.

Well it seems as though I need to get my rear in gear on my to do list, doesn’t it!  I feel pretty good about what I have gotten done though.  I think a mid-year check-in was just what the doctor ordered.  Time to get moving on some of these items!

Life Got in the Way

And don’t you just hate it when that happens?  I know I do.  I’ve been noticeably absent from posting on my blog because of it.  But I definitely haven’t been idle.  My big project was changing employers.  I usually stay away from talking about work because, after all, this is a genealogy blog.  But I’m so excited about this new position I just couldn’t help but mention that I’ve moved over to a different association where I’m part of the professional development team…education for public works employees.  I’ve always loved learning new things myself so helping others continue learning is definitely up my alley.

And I haven’t been idle on the genealogy front either.  Here’s what I’m currently working on:

  • I’ve tried to ramp up working on my sources and citations.  Have I mentioned how much I hate citations?  I know they’re not the big deal I’m making them out to be but I’ll admit it, I stress out over whether I’m doing them right.  I really need to get a copy of Evidence Explained and read it but it’s not in my budget right now unfortunately.  So for now I’ll continue to try and figure out my citations using Family Tree Maker and the ProGenealogist Genealogy Citation Guides online.
  • Speaking of working on my sources, I’ve been ordering vital records and finds from the North Dakota State University archives as my pocketbook will allow.  I’ve got a surprising amount of documents to save/scan, sort and attach to my tree in Family Tree Maker.
  • I dug in and worked hard on my organization one weekend.  I’m utilizing the system set out in Eliminating Genealogy Clutter by Sherene Henrie Whiting with one or two tweaks.  I think this is a great system but I don’t have a lot of room for binders.  On the other hand, I have plenty of file cabinet space for hanging folders.  I’m not even close to being done but I think I’ve got a very good start.

Working hard on my genealogy organization and filing!
  • The spousal unit and I traveled to Iowa and sat down for a day of genealogy and family time with the Iowa family branch.  We had fun, shared some genealogy and made some VERY interesting discoveries!  Let’s just say when my puzzle pieces matched with their puzzle pieces we made a couple of full (or almost full) pictures.  It was very exciting.
  • I mentioned earlier that I was the recipient of a RAOGK (Random Act of Genealogical Kindness) when a non-relative happened upon some family ephemera and was kind enough to be willing to return it to our family.  You can read about that RAOGK here.  I was surprised to receive another email from this kind stranger letting me know he’d been contacted by the flea market seller again and had come into possession of one last piece of the family ephemera.  I feel very fortunate that he was willing to be the messenger to pass that last piece to me last weekend and a photo of my first cousin (once removed) has returned home.

A six-year-old Harold Wilkinson returned to the family fold
  • The spousal unit and I also dropped in on the North Dakota family branch and got to spend a little time talking with them…which, for me, inevitably leads to genea-talk.  The few hours we had with them turned out to be a few hours too little when we started talking about my father, who passed away a little over a year ago.  It’s fun to hear stories and thoughts from other family members about the people you love.  I haven’t talked much about my North Dakota family because I was working on my DAR paperwork (which is on the maternal side and not the paternal side, where the North Dakota connection comes in) but North Dakota has become a very special place for me in the last couple of years thanks to the kindness of family and friends there, so I’m sure you’ll be hearing about that side of the family in the future.

WHEW!  In between all of that I’m still attending as many genealogy education events as I can.  I’ve participated in some great webinars recently and I’m hoping to use some of what I’ve learned very soon.  I’ve been using the heck out of the Ancestry subscription the spousal unit gifted me and even broke down and put a public tree out there in hopes of getting some nibbles on my tree.

So here’s to getting back on the blog-wagon…I can’t wait to post some of my recent discoveries!

Christmas Came Early In Genealogy-land

This past weekend has been an absolute whirlwind of activity and discovery for me.  I had to travel to Fort Worth, Texas for work Thursday and Friday and I took the opportunity to go see the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza.  Dealey Plaza is where President John F. Kennedy was shot in 1963.  The Sixth Floor Museum is the former Texas Book Depository building where Lee Harvey Oswald shot JFK from.  It was a very interesting site.  I also did the walking tour of Dealey Plaza and the surrounding area.  I highly recommend both.

The former Texas Book Depository Building, now known as the
Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza


Dealey Plaza as viewed from the Triple Underpass.  The
Texas Book Depository Building is on the left behind the
trees on the infamous grassy knoll.

As I was sitting in the airport waiting for my flight back Friday night and checking my email to see if there was anything interesting going on, I saw an email from the Registrar of the Daughters of the American Revolution chapter I had applied to join.  She was letting me know that my application for the DAR had been approved by National and I would be receiving my paperwork soon!  How exciting!!!!!  It only took me a few months to gather my documentation and complete my paperwork, from May to December.  Luckily my patriot had already been proven through a different branch of the family so I only had to prove back to the son of my patriot, Guian McKee.  Guian McKee was a Private serving under Captain James Montgomery and Colonel McKay, Colonel Brodhead and Colonel Bayard.  He was from Pennsylvania and most likely somehow related to Colonel McKay.  It seems that the name McKay may have morphed into McKee somewhere between Ireland, Scotland and America.

As if that wasn’t enough excitement, a few weeks earlier I had been contacted through my blog by a non-relative who had purchased a batch of my family’s ephemera from a flea market.  I was floored and couldn’t imagine how some family items could have ended up in a flea market in Oklahoma.  So I went to the only source I could think of that might have some knowledge of how this could have happened.  According to the maternal unit, a cousin who lived in Oklahoma had passed away and the children of this cousin had sold off all contents of the shed of the cousin’s property without looking through it.  And so, the items had ended up with someone unrelated who began researching my family.

I haven’t written about this part of my family much simply because I have been working on other parts of my genealogy.  Tombstone Tuesday afforded me the opportunity to touch on them briefly when I highlighted my grandparents, Edward Bell Conwell Jr. and Edith M. Brown Conwell.  My Tombstone Tuesday post on my grandfather, Edward Jr., is what caught the attention of the gentleman in Oklahoma.  What was it about the post that caught his attention?  It wasn’t Grandpa Edward but his relation to Frank R. Conwell that caught this gentleman’s attention.  Frank Russell Conwell was my great-uncle.  I remember meeting him when I was younger.  He was a widower who was living in a trailer in California when I met him.  To me, he was a distant relative whom my Grandpa Edward wanted to visit.  I was more interested in cool stuff we were seeing while we were traveling to visit Frank than I was in Frank himself.  And what a shame that was, since Frank had quite a few interesting experiences I didn’t learn about until later.

Frank was born 1 August 1912 in Kansas City, Jackson, Missouri to Edward Bell Conwell, Sr. and Zella May McCabe, who I’ve been using as guinea pigs in my posts about what you can find on the U.S. census records (so far we’ve looked at the 1930, 1920, 1910 and 1900 census records.  I’ve also used Zella as a guinea pig for a post on death records and Edward Sr. and Zella as guinea pigs for a post on marriage records).  He married Maybelle Victoria “Mabel” Boileau 19 November 1940 in Norwich, New London, Connecticut.  They didn’t have any children together and Mabel died 27 May 1988 in Jamul, San Diego, California.  Frank lived several more years and died 13 April 2001 in El Cahon, San Diego, California and is buried in Greenwood Memorial Park in San Diego, California.

So what makes Frank such an interesting individual that a non-relative would want to learn about him?  Frank was a Navy-man, as were his brothers, Edward and Milford.  He assisted in the salvage recovery of the U.S.S. Squalus, a submarine that sank off the coast of New Hampshire on May 23, 1939 and he was awarded the Navy Cross for his work on the salvage recovery.  And that is what made him such an interesting subject for research.  As a child I knew he’d been a Navy diver, but I was never aware that he’d helped salvage the wreckage of a submarine or that he had been honored with a medal.  I learned of it when I was older and of the fact that he saved a woman who had fallen overboard while watching the recovery of the Squalus.  My family never made a huge deal over these two instances that I can remember.  It was just a fact added to our genealogy and accepted as what needed to be done.  My family has always just done whatever was necessary to get things done without making a big deal out of it.

Which led me to this past weekend.  I made a trip with the most wonderful mother-in-law to pick up all the ephemera which the gentleman from Oklahoma so kindly sold to me.

Family items picked up in Tulsa, Oklahoma
this past weekend

I’m so excited about these items.  Some of them are about my cousin, some about my great-aunt and some about my great-uncle.  I’ve just begun going through and sorting the items but this is one of my favorite.

Hand painted picture of Zella May (McCabe) Conwell

This is a picture of my great-grandmother, Zella May McCabe (who was married to Edward Bell Conwell, Sr.)  It’s a picture I’ve never seen before; I’ve only seen her as an elderly woman in black and white photographs.  She was very beautiful when she was younger and I feel very privileged to have been able to bring this picture back into the family.  With all these goodies I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me to scan, share and preserve them.  It feels like Christmas in Genealogy-land!!!!  Stay tuned to see some follow up posts on Grandpa Edward, Uncle Frank, Uncle Milford, Aunt Edna and some of the other cousins who are intertwined with these individuals 🙂


With the time off from work I had around Christmas time I devoted some time to beginning work on D1’s genealogy.  I had no idea what I would find or if it would be difficult to find information on his family but I was prepared for some quality time on different genealogy sites in search of information.  I was pleasantly surprised with my first foray onto Ancestry.com to discover there were others out there who had done quite a bit of research into different parts of his family.

Like a good genealogist I began entering the information to prove into my database.  I’m always hesitant to use GEDCOM files I find online.  I’m just a little overly cautious, so I choose to re-enter the information manually.  It’s more time consuming but it also allows me to get to know each and every person I enter so I can usually remember one or two things about each person I add, plus I can verify the information I add.  In my opinion, those reasons alone balance out the time and effort it takes to enter the information manually.

I spent hours each day on my time off looking at different family trees on Ancestry, checking source documents and adding names to the family file.  D1 thought the amount of time I spent doing genealogy over Christmas break was pretty humorous and he began to joke about it with his family.  It’s all good though, because I got the last laugh.  I made it back to his 10th great grandfather and began entering the information and was surprised to get the following error message from Family Tree Maker:

Whaaaaa?????  What was this??  This was an error message I’d never received before!  No, there was no way we shared an ancestor.  I was sure I’d made a mistake in my entry of individuals.  So I checked the list of children for each Caleb and Hannah Knapp…and they matched.  To the name, date and place of each event listed for each child.  So I checked the source documentation to make sure these were the correct connections.  And they were.  Unbelievably, my husband and I share a common relative from the mid-1600s!  My 8th great grandfather was his 10th great grandfather.  I couldn’t help it, I started to laugh.  Poor D1 didn’t really find as much humor in it as I did.  He just didn’t get why it was so funny, but it was hilarious for me.  The maternal unit thought it was pretty funny and dear brother thought it was pretty funny, so maybe it’s a genealogy humor thing.

I haven’t done any research into the Knapp side of my family but after I told the maternal unit about my discovery and the possibilities of additional Daughters of the American Revolution patriots, she mentioned she had heard they were a pretty large and prominent family in early American history.  I’m having a very hard time focusing on just one genealogy project right now, LOL.  I want so badly to start working on supplemental patriots for DAR, even though I haven’t even received notification of acceptance of my initial DAR paperwork.  On the other hand I really want to see what else I can find on D1’s family.  His 2nd great grandfather died in France during World War I and is buried in the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery.  I definitely want to look into him a little more and see what I can find out from the National World War I Museum’s research center.  Then there’s the rumored Native American connection in D1’s family, the woman who lived in the dugout that my mother-in-law remembers, and the part of the family my mother-in-law would like to know more about.  I feel so ADD right now, LOL.

So many projects, so little time for genealogy…what surprises have you found in your family?

A New Year

After a taking a brief hiatus from blogging for the holiday season I decided a good first post for 2014 would be a review of accomplishments for 2013 and a list of goals for 2014.

I was very excited to get back into working on my genealogy in 2013 after several years of not working on it.  In March I attended the Genealogy KC conference and attended some fantastic sessions on subjects ranging from brick walls to DAR genealogy.  After attending that conference and talking to my mother about what I learned, she mentioned that we should be able to join DAR and that lit my fire.  I began researching DAR chapters, located the patriot I could connect to, chose a DAR chapter to work with and began the process of proving my lineage to Guian McKee.

In June I married my husband.  D1 has not only been tolerant of my genealogical craziness but he’s encouraged me every step of the way, from getting paperwork for my DAR application to traipsing through cemeteries to take pictures of unknown gravestones for Find-A-Grave to stopping at out of the way cemeteries to just walk through and look at the old tombstones.

In July I took the big leap and started TBG.  It’s been a lot of fun writing about different genealogy items.  It wasn’t a goal of mine in 2013 to start a blog but it’s definitely been an accomplishment.

My big accomplishment for 2013 was completing my application for the Daughter’s of the American Revolution.  I’m very excited about having made my goal of completing the application, obtaining all the required documentation and submitting it to the chapter I selected by the end of 2013.  I’m currently awaiting a response from National about the acceptance of my paperwork!

Looking forward to 2014, here’s a list of the things I hope to accomplish

  • Continue the research I’ve begun on D1’s family and start collecting proof of lineage (on a side note, it’s pretty amusing to me that I discovered D1 and I share a common ancestor around 8 generations back, LOL!)
  • Once my application to DAR has been accepted, start work on adding one additional patriot to my file, submitting paperwork for the additional paperwork by the end of 2014.
  • After acceptance of my DAR application, obtain my first DAR pin.
  • Make a genealogy trip to Danville, Illinois to see the grave of my third great-grandfather and visit the genealogy library to see if I can find any information on my family there.
  • Make a trip to North Dakota to visit family and obtain more genealogy information on my paternal family.
  • Increase my participation in the Billion Graves transcription project
  • Get a new copy of my great-grandmother’s obituary
  • Get the genealogy document hard copies sitting in piles around my house organized
  • Print and organize all electronic copies of genealogy documentation
  • Finish attaching electronic copies of records to applicable persons in my genealogy database

Wow, that’s a large list.  I realize I probably won’t get all of that accomplished but if you can’t shoot for the stars, why bother right?

I hope all my wonderful readers and followers are having a great year so far.  Tell me, what’s on your genealogical to-do list this year?