Monthly Archives: June 2011

Genealogy at a Glance Giveaway!

Many of you know that a few weeks ago I attended the Southern California Genealogy Society’s 42nd Annual Jamboree in Burbank, California. I had an amazing time learning new things and getting to know my fellow genealogists. Every year it also feels like a bit of a family reunion for the bloggers – many of us know each other through Facebook, Twitter, and our blogs and some of us have met in person at other conferences

One of the perks of being a Geneablogger at this conference is the Geneablogger Welcome Bags put together by Thomas MacEntee, Joan Miller, and Amy Coffin (and the help of her lovely parents). Within these bags contains items donated by genealogy vendors and companies.

Genealogical Publishing Company donated two items to the Geneablogger Welcome Bags: (1) French-Canadian Genealogy Research at a Glance and (2) African-American Genealogy Research at a Glance.

Since I have neither French-Canadian or African-American ancestors, I’ve decided to give these guides away in a contest! So here is the deal:

  1. The winner will be able to pick ONE of the above guides (either the French-Canadian Guide or African-American Guide).  The guide will be sent to the winner’s address via U.S. postal mail.
  2. The giveaway is only open to the United States – I know I have readers from other parts of the world but I just can’t afford the postage costs to send the item international.
  3. The winner will be generated by a random number generator:
  4. There are multiple ways to enter but an entry will only be counted if a comment is left on this post AND the action item is completed.  Please leave a comment for each separate entry.  You may enter a total of 4 times.  If you attempt to enter more than 3 times, I will delete your extra comments.
  5. Tweet the following post: Check out this #genealogy giveaway by @GenealogistElys
  6. Make a comment about a lecture you would like to hear at a genealogy conference.  This could be a lecture by a famous genealogy speaker or a lecture that you make up.  I’m just curious as to the type of lectures people would want to hear at conferences.
  7. Follow this blog in your favorite RSS reader or by email.  If you already follow this blog by email, then leave a comment on this post.
  8. Leave a comment saying which guide you would pick if you won and why.  It doesn’t have to be long – a sentence or two will do.
  9. This is my blog and all of my decisions regarding this giveaway are final.

The contest will end on July 1st, 2011 at 11:59 pm Pacific Time.  Good luck!


Happy Birthday Mom

Today would have been my Mom’s 52nd birthday.

I’ve been trying to write this post for weeks.  I’ve written it and rewritten it at least a dozen times.  I’ve added photos, rearranged them, took them down, changed them, and rearranged them again.  I’ve been desperately trying to find the words that would grab her essence.  Something that would describe her.  Something that would describe who she was.  Something that would capture her.  But no matter how many times I’ve tried, I just can’t seem to do it.

My mom was not someone who could be captured in a blog post or a scrap book or in pictures.  You just had to know her.

Mom was a born rebel.  She seemed to love to follow the unbeaten path.  She seemed to have a natural attraction to breaking the rules.


Mom and her big brother, Gene. Gene died in a car accident when Mom was two years old.



Mom loved adventure.  She loved trying new things and going on new discoveries.  She never had a plan.  Plans are not adventurous.  Packing up the car with clothes for any kind of weather, a cooler full of snacks, and picking a place on the map that “calls to you” is adventure.


As a teenager, Mom practically lived at the beach.


When we lived in Seattle, we would take impromptu weekend trips.  We would pack the car with some clothes, a cooler full of drinks and snacks, and then we’d just go.  Mom would have me pick somewhere on the map and have me read the map for directions.  When we found an interesting place or got tired of driving, we would look for a camp ground and hang out for the night.  We’d make a fire and play cards or read.  We’d listen to music and relax.  That was just how Mom did things.


Mom and I in a paddle boat in Washington



Mom was also a fighter.   She was never the type to stay quiet in the face of injustice or wrong doing.  She always believed in helping people – especially the “underdogs” of the world.

When Mom stood up to wrong doings – it was magic.  She always came prepared with the facts and evidence.  She was strong and unwavering and never backed down.  When she was on a roll – people were afraid of her.  She was always ten steps ahead.  When it came to doing the right thing, Mom was never scared – or at least she never showed it.


Mom wanted me to see the world and meet family members that lived in other states. She would often let me travel with family members and close friends.



That isn’t to say that Mom and I always got along – because we definitely did not.  We are both stubborn control freaks, which did not always mesh well.  Our fights were huge.  Sometimes we would go days without talking to each other.  But we’d always find a way to get over it – generally through laughter.  And then we’d talk like we had never gotten in a fight in the first place.

Happy Birthday Mom.


Finding Mom in the SSDI

While browsing the Social Security Death Index on for my great-grandfather, Max Doerflinger, I found an entry for my Mom.

My heart stopped when I saw it and I debated whether or not to click on it.  I finally decided to open it.  I read her name over and over again.  I cringed when I saw they listed the wrong last residence.  I held my breath and I read her birth date and realized that her birthday was only a week away.  And I let out a long sigh as I saw her date of death.  Then the tears came, but only for a moment.  But then I smiled when I saw the year she got her social security number – I didn’t know that information before.

Have you ever come across a record that gave you some mixed feelings?


Another Jamboree is Over

I am now home and recovering from a wonderful weekend in Burbank at SCGS’s Jamboree.  This was my 3rd Jamboree, and I had a blast!  There is nothing better than being in surrounded by old and new friends, top notch speakers, tons of wonderful and hardworking volunteers, and a bustling exhibit hall.  This was one amazing and memorable weekend – but I must admit that I am so happy to be home and resting.  An event like this can wear you out.

But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t get a lot of learning done.  I attended quite a few of the sessions offered over the weekend, which gave me new ideas and provided some much needed motivation to tackle some of my research problems.

But the real learning took place while I was getting to know some of my fellow attendees.  I loved seeing my friends and meeting new ones.  I was honored to meet the recipient of the Suzanne Freeman Memorial Student Genealogy Grant, Anthony Ray.  His specialty is Hispanic research and hopefully he will soon be a genealogy blogger!  (You should really consider donating some money to this amazing grant, which provides financial assistance to a young genealogist to help them attend Jamboree – the donate button is on the bottom of the page).

Overall – this conference was a huge success.  I had more fun than I could ever have imagined and I learned so much.  But I am also exhausted.


Jamboree 2011 Game Plan

It is officially 11 hours until I leave for the train station.  I’m taking the train to Burbank and I’m so excited!  My suitcase is packed and now I’m just working on making sure I have all of my tech related gear together in my backpack.  I am so excited for this weekend, but I have a lot on my mind as I try to get everything ready.  I just know I won’t be able to get much sleep tonight.  Below you’ll find my plans:


  • Arrive in Burbank around 9:30 am
  • Kids Camp meeting at 1 pm and then Kids Camp starts at 3 pm – 7 pm’


  • Second Life World Table in the tent from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm.  Please come visit me and say hi!
  • Geneabloggers Ice Cream Social sponsored by Geni at 8 pm


  • At 11:30 am, I will be on the Bloggers Summit Part II panel with Kathryn Doyle, Joan Miller, and Dick Eastman.  Thomas MacEntee will be moderating.
  • Sometime around 8:00 or 8:30, there will be an unofficial Pajama Party.  This is completely unofficial.  This came about as a joke last year, because all of the bloggers hung out in the lobby of the hotel until late in the evening to take advantage of the free wi-fi.  Since we were down there so late, why not have us in our jammies?  So this year we are having an unofficial PJ party.  I like to think of it as a “Jammin Jamboree Jammie Party” (Say that 3 times fast!).  Stay tuned… because there will be goodies too!


  • The final day of the most amazing weekend of the entire year.  I’ll be so sad and so very exhausted – and I’ll know it was all more than worth it.  My train leaves Burbank around 3.

Throughout the weekend, I’ll also be handing out some WikiTree goodies and showing people how to navigate the website.

Jamboree is so much more than a genealogy conference for me: It is like the best family reunion ever!  It is so much fun to see all of my genealogy friends, family, and colleagues.  There is always excitement in the air, something new to learn, and a new tech toy to try out.  Even when I lay down to go to sleep, I can’t seem to quiet my mind because the memories of the day are swirling through my brain.  There is nothing better than being in a learning environment and connecting with your fellow researchers.  The first time I went to Jamboree, I promised myself that I would never miss one – no matter what I have to do to get there.

There is no way I’m getting a sound sleep tonight – I’m just too excited.  I’m so excited that I just might burst into confetti at any moment.

And don’t worry – there will be LOTS of pictures!


My House is on Fire

Kerry Scott of Clue Wagon wrote a quick blog post about the one family heirloom she would save if her house was on fire.  She then asked her readers what they would save if their house was on fire, their loved ones were out of the house, and they only had time to grab one thing – What would that one thing be and why?

If you had asked me this question in 2009, I would have easily told you that it would have been this big metal eagle that my Grandpa Max Doerflinger made.  I’ve always felt a connection to my Grandpa Max, even though he passed away when I was only four months old.  Mom often told me stories about Grandpa Max and it was clear that she loved him deeply.  She even made sure that I was given the last name “Doerflinger” because she wanted me to have his name.  The way she told the stories, the way her voice was filled with happy memories, and the way the look in her eyes changed that made me love the stories.  She always said “Daddy always made each of his children feel like they were his favorite”.  I wish I could remember him.

But since I can’t, all I have left to learn about who he was are the stories other people tell me and his artwork.  I have many pieces of his metal art collection – stuff from when he was first learning and stuff from when he was a master at his craft.  When I was little, the giant eagle used to terrify me – especially in the middle of the night.  But as I became older, I began to appreciate the details on the eagle.

While I still love this piece, I would now pick a different heirloom to take with me as my house is consumed in flames:  My scrapbook full of pictures of my Mom.

After my Mom passed away and I was left to plan a Celebration of Life, I quickly realized that I had very few photos of her.  In fact, I didn’t really have more than a handful.  I was full of grief and now full of guilt because I didn’t even have any proper pictures of her.  I had plenty from her childhood, but I have very few from her adult years.  Mom hated cameras and avoided them like they were the plague.  When people would try to get photos of her, she would reply “You can’t take my picture!  I’m wanted by the FBI and you wouldn’t want them to find me would you?”.

So my family set out on a mission to find pictures of my mom.  And they found way more than I ever could have imagined.  Then my cousin put all of the pictures into a beautiful album for me and gave it to me at my Mom’s Celebration of Life.  It is beautiful and documents so much of her life.  I look at the album whenever I feel lost or lonely or overwhelmed or when I think about something I’d love to tell her.  Something that I know would make her laugh or say something quick witted or have her tease me.

So if my house was on fire, I’d grab that album and bolt for the door.


Pardon The Dust..

I’m currently in the process of changing the theme of my blog and cleaning up the widgets in the sidebar in hopes of making everything cleaner and streamlined.  So if things look a little out of whack for a day or two, I apologize.  The blog will be back soon – promise.


Organizing Colonial New England Ancestors

My main research goal this summer has been to work on my Colonial lines.  As I’ve been researching, I’ve noticed that I was having trouble organizing all of the information.  My typical organizational system of dividing everything by surname and then subdividing chronologically by family, just was not working.  So after some brain storming, I think I’ve finally come up with a system for my New Englanders.

With these lines, I’ve noticed that many of the families live within a small geographical area and they generally interacted with each other often: selling land to one another, serving in militias together, going to the same church, and marrying each other.  So I really wanted to  make sure that all of my colonial ancestors were together.

So I created a binder just for my Colonial New England ancestors.

Then I created my tabbed dividers for each surname, and they are filed alphabetically.  I also created dividers for maps/boundaries and research guides.  I find it helpful to have the basics of the area (like when the area was settled, what records are available and where to find them, etc) at my fingertips.

Within each surname section, I have a pedigree chart to show me how the surname line fits into my overall family tree.  Directly behind the pedigree chart comes any general notes about the family.  Then I have a family group sheet for the most recent family of that line.  I then use a highlighter to highlight the child in that family that I am directly descended from.  Then I place all of my notes and documents that pertain to that family.  Then I have the next family group sheet, and behind that I place all of the notes and documents for that family.  Then I just repeat until I run out of families for that surname.

Having all of the families together helps me understand how they all fit together.  I can now see the “big picture” without having to switch binders or cross reference everything.  It is all in one folder.  Plus, one folder is a lot easier to carry to the Family History Center than the three binders I was carrying before.

Do you have Colonial New England ancestors?  If so, how do you organize them?

Further Reading:

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