Category Archives: Uncategorized

52 Weeks Ancestors Challenge: Zacheus Downer

This week’s 52 Ancestors Challenge is all about my 4th great grandfather, Zaccheus Downer and Harriet Thatcher.

Zaccheus/Zacheus is an interesting ancestor for me – mainly because I have been a bit stuck with him.  He isn’t a brick wall necessarily, but I have been unable to find a ton of original documentation on him.  He can be found listed in old genealogy books such as, The Downers of America or The History of the Brigham Family – and both books offer brief information about his birth, marriage, death, and children.  However, none of these books provide sources for the information.

So my hunt for Zaccheus/Zacheus has been mainly through the census records – tracking him every 10 years, from 1830 -1870, and from New York to Ohio to Indiana.  I have been unable to find a marriage record for him to prove his marriage to Harriet Thatcher (according to the censuses though, he is married to a Harriet).  Furthermore, I cannot find a will, obituary, or other death record for him either.  You can read about all my research on Zaccheus/Zacheus Downer at the WikiTree profile I created for him here.


My Revolutionary War Ancestors

In honor of the United States’ Independence Day tomorrow, I thought it would be appropriate to post a list of my known Revolutionary War ancestors.  So here is my list of ancestors that served in the Revolutionary War:

  • Julius Dugger, born about 1760 and married to Mary Hall and living in Tennessee and North Carolina.
  • Zaccheus Downer, born in Connecticut in 1755 and married to Bethiah Brigham.

I don’t have a lot of people in my direct line that served in the war but I do have a couple and many more indirect ancestors that served as well.


Review: Mind Maps for Genealogy by Ron Arons

After watching a webinar on mind mapping given by Thomas MacEntee (of HackGenealogy and Geneabloggers fame) at my local society meeting about two months ago, I have been addicted.

I’ve used mind mapping for years for my school work and as a teacher in my own classroom, but I had never thought of using it for genealogy.  But using it for genealogy makes perfect sense – it is such an easy, visual way of laying out your research for planning, logging, or brainstorming.  You can see holes in your research must easier and you have so much flexibility to make it work for you.

This is why I was so excited to hear from Ron Arons that he has released a new book on using mind mapping in genealogy.  So while at Jamboree, I was very fortunate enough to be given a free copy of Mind Maps for Genealogy: Enhanced Research Planning, Correlation, and Analysis by Ron Arons.  (Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of Mind Maps for Genealogy at Jamboree 2014 in Burbank, CA for the purposes of a review.  As usual, these are my honest opinions on the book).

Mind Maps for Genealogy by Ron Arons

I was so excited about the book that I actually took some time to browse through it in the hotel at Jamboree.  Once I was home and had fully recovered from the three day genealogy party conference, I sat down and read the book.  I love that this book is an easy read that packs a lot of information into it.  The book is completely full color with screen shots and actual examples of mind maps.  It is also so clearly organized for reviewing specific topics.

I love that Ron has devoted a whole section to mind maps vs other tools for genealogy research – and he includes full screenshots of things like Excel tables, genealogy programs, and timelines.  It then moves into a section devoted to the basics of mind mapping complete with full color pictures.

However, possibly my favorite thing about this whole books is that there are whole sections on the genealogical proof standard, inferential genealogy, and cluster research that is all explained in an easy to understand way and with full color examples from Ron’s own family.

Finally, Ron provides how-to instruction for three different mind mapping services.  He inspired me to go out and try one of those mind mapping services and although I don’t think I’ll switch from my use of Popplet, I do appreciate the step by step instructions for using those three services.

You can order Mind Maps for Genealogy: Enhanced Research Planning, Correlation, and Analysis by Ron Arons (2014) on his website for $26.95.


Military Monday: Did Joseph Frank Serve in the Civil War?

My third great grandparents are Joseph Frank and Nancy Rice.  Joseph Frank was born around 1823-1824 in France.  Nancy Rice was born in October 1834 in Kentucky to John Rice and Margaret Brite.

I have Joseph and Nancy, together with their children, in the 1860 and 1880 Census in Shawswick, Lawrence County, Indiana.  I have been unable to find the family listed on the 1870 Census.

And honestly, I hadn’t really thought about Joseph serving in the Civil War until I stumbled upon his FindAGrave Memorial.  On his memorial I found a comment by a man named Bill that appears to be an obituary.  This comment/obituary says that Joseph served in the Civil War and even gives the exact company and regiment information: Company A, 67th Regiment, Indiana Infantry.

After doing a quick search on Google, I found “The history of the 67th Regiment Indiana Infantry Volunteers, War of the Rebellion” on  This showed a Joseph Frankle enlisting in Company A, 67th Regiment in Indiana on 19 Aug 1862.  There is nothing under the “remarks” column.


History of the 67th - Joseph Frankle

History of the 67th – Joseph Frankle

My next step was to try finding Joseph Frank in the enlistment records somewhere.  However, Fold3 does not have the Indiana enlistment records online – they only have index cards.  But I did find an index card for Joseph Frank – and his name is spelled right!

Joseph Frank - Indiana Service Index Card

Joseph Frank – Indiana Service Index Card

My next step was to look for his pension record.  Sure enough, I found his Civil War Pension Index Card.  This time, his name was listed as Joseph Franikh.

Joseph Franikh Civil War Pension Index Card

Joseph Franikh Civil War Pension Index Card

I noticed that the Civil War Pension Index Card listed a widow’s pension, so I went off looking for that and found one for Joseph’s wife, Nancy.  She is listed as Nancy Franikh.

Nancy Franikh Widows Pension Payment Card (Front)

Nancy Franikh Widows Pension Payment Card (Front)

Nancy Franikh Widows Pension Card (Back)

Nancy Franikh Widows Pension Card (Back)

The pension card reports that Nancy died 4 Jan 1910.  The day and month aligns with the death information I already have, but I have Nancy’s death as occurring in 1909.

Based on this evidence, I’m gonna make a guess and say that yes, Joseph Frank served in the Civil War.  The extent of his service, whether he was injured, and the details of his pension are still unanswered questions and avenues to explore.



Packing for a Conference: Jamboree 2014 Edition

As you prepare for a conference, you need to decide what you will pack.  My preference is to make a packing list before I start, so I can plan out what will be needed – this keeps me from forgetting something important and from over packing things I don’t need.  While the exact things you will need will vary based on the conference, the region of the world the conference is in, and the time of year that the conference is happening, some things stay the same.

Here is my packing list for Jamboree 2014:

  • Comfortable Shoes.  This can’t be understated enough – you will be doing a lot of walking, so make sure your feet are comfortable.
  • Clothes.  Always make sure you are prepared to dress in layers – even though it will be in the 80s this weekend at Jamboree, the conference rooms themselves can sometimes be quite cold.  Having layers will keep you comfortable.  I’ll be wearing more professional looking attire this year since I will be presenting all three days.
  • Toiletries and Medications.  Obviously, this varies from person to person, but be sure to bring the basics like a toothbrush and toothpaste.
  • Tech.  Obviously, this also varies from person to person but I never go to a conference without my smart phone, my laptop (which I hop will one day be a tablet – so much easier!), my camera, and chargers.
  • Extra bag.  If you plan on doing some shopping while at the conference, an extra bag can come in handy for carrying all your goodies home.
  • Itinerary and Reservation Numbers.  Always good to take with you on any trip.

Are you going to Jamboree?  What do you pack when you go to a conference?


Jamboree 2014: Planning My Sunday Classes

Here is my third and final post in my Jamboree planning series.  You can view the posts about Friday’s classes and Saturday’s classes here.

Here is my plan for Sunday:

  • 7:00 – 8:30 a.m. Gena Philibert-Ortega will be presenting, “Of Elephants, Gold, and Dashed Dreams: Researching the California Gold Rush”.  Breakfast will also be served (can you say LOTS of coffee and extra concealer to hide the under-eye bags?) and the recipient of the Suzanne Winsor Freeman Memorial Student Genealogy Grant will be announced.
  • 8:30 – 9:30 p.m: I will probably want a break, so I will probably just make my last round in the exhibit hall and get some last minute socializing in with friends.  And I’ll be exhausted.  If I am awake and checked out of the hotel, I might head over to Josh Taylor’s talk, “Resources of the DAR: Beyond Revolutionary War Soldiers”
  • 10:00 – 11:30 p.m: I’ll be on a panel with Janet Hovorka, Crista Cowan, A.C. Ivory, Michael Melendez, and Josh Taylor.  We’ll be speaking about “Rebranding Genealogy and Engaging the Next Generation”.
  • Then it will be saying goodbyes to everyone as people leave the conference at different times for flights home.  The conference is officially over at about 4 p.m., when the grand finale drawing is done.  I keep promising myself that I will be the winner this year of the 7 Day Stay at the Salt Lake Plaza Hotel, just steps from the Family History Library.  You have to play to win!

I am so looking forward to this conference!  I can’t wait to see everyone again – it is truly like a family reunion for me.  If you will be there, come say hi!


Jamboree 2014: Planning My Saturday Classes

Here is my second post in my series on planning the classes and lectures I will take at Southern California Genealogy Society’s Annual Jamboree.  You can view the post about Friday here.

Here is my plan for Saturday:

  • Spend the first part of the morning visiting with friends, drinking coffee, and doing some social media work.  Check out the exhibit hall.
  • 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. Judy Russell will be speaking on “Staying Out of Trouble The Rights and Responsibilities of Today’s Genealogist”.  Judy Russell is a fabulous speaker that can make complicated topics like law, easy to understand.  She is fabulous.  I would listen to hear talk about the process of paint drying – she is that good.
  • 11:30 – 12:30 p.m.  The Blogger Summit is where you will find me.  I love supporting my blogger friends at this panel session.
  • 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. Josh Taylor and I will be presenting “Preserving Stories: Tech that Isn’t Scary”.
  • Break time and socializing time.  Probably some exhibit hall time too.

What are your Saturday Jamboree plans?  Will you be attending or just watching from home?  If you are attending, be sure to come say hi to me!


Jamboree 2014: Planning my Friday Classes

This year’s Jamboree is going to be so much fun.  Jamboree is always fun but this year is extra special – I’m speaking with Josh Taylor (yes, the Josh Taylor) twice, going to be on a really exciting panel, I’m having my bridal shower/bachelorette party with my genealogy friends, and my fiance is coming along for the first time.  So, it is going to be fun.

I am a huge believer in having a game plan when you go to conferences – what are your goals, what classes do you want to see, who do you want to see if the exhibit hall, etc.  Be ready to let the game plan change in the moment, but having an idea of where you are going with things will help you make the most of the conference.

So here is my plan for Friday:

  • 8:30-9:30: Josh and I will be teaching “Engaging the Next Generation” and discussing ways to attract new members to your society.  The lovely NextGen Genealogy Network is sponsoring this session.  It’s going to be bright and early – so come out and support us with your coffee in hand (I’ll definitely have some in my hands!)
  • 5:30-6:30 at “Proof Arguments: How and Why” by F. Warren Bitner.  This falls in my plan of always improving my methodology.

Between this, I will be enthusiastically greeting my genealogy family and friends as they arrive.  Somewhere in there, I will be eating breakfast (either in the expensive hotel restaurant or at the little Starbucks kiosk in the lounge), checking out the exhibit hall, and eating lunch somewhere.  There are lots of lunch options across the street such as Sansai Japanese Restaurant, George’s Greek Restaurant, and Denny’s.  We could also eat in the hotel restaurant but we probably won’t since it is a bit pricey for our budget.

What are your Friday Jamboree plans?


I’m Back!

After 4 long months of full time student teaching and methods courses at night, I can officially say that I am done.  That’s right, D-O-N-E, done!

It’s not that I didn’t enjoy student teaching.  Despite how absolutely exhausting it is rewarding work and I love teaching.  I have learned so much in the last four months that at times, I thought my brain would explode.

Student teaching meant that I had zero time for genealogy.  And even if I did have time, I didn’t have the brain power.  I was just physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted from student teaching.


Photo: Flickr User Gwyneth Anne Bronwynn Jones and used via Creative Commons License Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

But?  I’m done!  So it is back to genealogy I go.  This will be the summer of genealogy and my schedule is already getting exciting:

  • From June 6th – June 8th, I will be at the Southern California Genealogy Jamboree in Burbank, California.  I will be doing two talks with D. Joshua Taylor and I’ll be on a panel moderated by Janet Horvorka.  And?  My fiance will be coming with me too.
  • On June 18th, I will be speaking at South Bay Cities Genealogical Society on Brick Wall Boot-Camp.  If you are in the area, come on down!
  • On June 21st, I am getting married!  Yay, wedding!
  • Lots of time at the library and family history center too!  I can’t wait!

In summary: Let’s go family tree climbing!


52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: John E. Asher

Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small blog has created an interesting challenge to write about one ancestor each week for the entire year.  The challenge is called 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks and you can read all about it here.

This week’s ancestor is John E. Asher, my 3x-great grandfather.  Most of what I know about John Asher is from later in his life.  Having to write this blog post has actually added a long to-do list of resources to check but I’ll get to that later.

John Asher died sometime before June 1855.  On 4 Jun 1855, his wife, Louisa Asher, was made the Administratix of his estate.


On 4 Jun 1855, Louisa Asher was made the Administratix of John Asher's Estate.

On 4 Jun 1855, Louisa Asher was made the Administratix of John Asher.
(Source: “Tennessee, Probate Court Books, 1795-1927,” digital images, FamilySearch, FamilySearch ( : accessed 18 July 2013), entry for the Letters of Administration to Louisa Asher on the estate of John Asher, deceased. Johnson County, Wills 1836-1872, Vol 1, Image 66, Pg 98.)

John Asher is listed on the 1850 Census in Civil District 5, Johnson County, Tennessee and he is also listed on agricultural census for the same year.

He is also listen on the 1840 Census in Civil District 5, Johnson County, Tennessee.

But that’s where the trail stops.  Where and when did he get married?  Who are his parents?  Siblings?  What about his birth date?  There are a lot of unanswered questions.

It seems the rest of my research for John Asher will have to come from traditional not-yet-on-the-internet sources like early tax lists, Bible records, and land records.  These will help me narrow down when he came to Johnson County (or answer if he was born here) and possibly answer the parent and sibling questions.