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?


Do You Really Need Paper Files?

Recently, I saw a question in The Organized Genealogist Facebook Group that caught my eye: “How does everyone organize paper files? …Are paper files even needed anymore?”

If you have been reading my blog for a while, then you know that I am a big believer in going digital with your research.  I love having my files at my fingertips on any device, at anytime.  I love that my tree is backed up on my computer, various cloud storage sites, and flash dries.  And?  It only takes up the space of my laptop.  That’s important, because in my tiny studio, I don’t have the space for a file cabinet or large bookshelves.  It just isn’t feasible for my space.

But can you go complete paperless?  The short answer: Mostly.

The key word is mostly.  With technology, you no longer need to have print outs and photocopies and handwritten notes sprawled out on random Post-Its and napkins.  In all honesty, you don’t really need to print much out to begin with.  When you find a record online, then just save it digitally.  When you need to take notes, add it to your family tree program or note-taking program like OneNote.

Of course, there are instances where you will need to order records from courthouses or archives.  The first thing I do is scan the document so I have a digital copy of the file.  Then I store the record in file folders (preferably legal sized) and then in boxes.  I am not going to throw away a document I just paid for, even if it is in paper.

There are also times when I will write or print something out to see a research problem clearer.  Sometimes, the act of taking a pen to paper can draw out new ideas that typing on a keyboard just can’t.  Or sometimes, if I print a problem out and leave it on my bulletin board, I will randomly get inspired with a new idea to try or something I forgot to consider.  But once I am done with the paper, I will scan it using my phone and either stick it into OneNote (my note-taking program of choice) or save it in my digital filing system.

So can I go paperless in genealogy?  Mostly.

What about you?



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 (www.FamilySearch.org : 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.


SNGF: What’s My Ancestor Score?

Every Saturday, Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings challenges us to a Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge.  Although it is now Monday and I am late to the party, this week’s challenge was just too much fun to pass up: What Is Your Ancestor Score?  In this challenge, you calculate how complete your genealogy is based on 10 generations, create a chart for those generations, and find our score.

I filled in the below chart by creating an Ahnentafel chart in RootsMagic and counted up each the people in each generation.

Generation Relationship Possible People Identified People
1 Me 1 1
2 Parents 2 2
3 Grandparents 4 4
4 Great Grandparents 8 8
5 2x Great Grandparents 16 16
6 3x Great Grandparents 32 29
7 4x Great Grandparents 64 49
8 5x Great Grandparents 128 69
9 6x Great Grandparents 256 51
10 7x Great Grandparents 510 5
- Totals: 1,023 234

I have identified 234 ancestors out of 1,023 possible ancestors.  My ancestor score is 23%.  Let’s see if I can raise that in 2014!  Thanks for the fun challenge, Randy!


52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Peter Potter

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.  I’ve decided that even with my busy schedule, I am going to accept this challenge.

The first week’s ancestor will be Peter Potter.  Why?  Because I don’t know if Peter Potter picked a peck of pickled peppers.  [Go ahead and laugh, you know you want to]

Peter Potter is my 4x-great grandfather.  He was born around 1800 in Tennessee and I have yet to prove his parents although my guess is that his parents were John M. Potter and Mary/Molly Stout.

On 2 June 1821 he married Martha “Patsy” Bunton in Carter County Tennessee.   Here is his marriage record:

Peter Potter Marriage Record

Source: Tennessee County Marriages 1790-1850, , Peter Potter & Patsy Bunton, 2 June 1821; FamilySearch.org

Peter lived the rest of his life in Carter County, Tennessee.  With his wife Martha “Patsy” Bunton, he had the following children: Sarah Ellen Potter (my 3rd great grandmother), Peter H. Potter, Mary Ann Potter, Naomi Potter, Noah J. Potter, Martha C. Potter, and Mercy S.R. Potter.

After the death of his wife, Martha, Peter married Lousana Shell on 10 Oct 1870 in Carter County, Tennessee.  With Lousana, he then had Alice R. Potter, David E. Potter, and Daniel S. Potter.

I have been unable to tract down Peter’s exact date of death, although I know it was after 1880 and before 1900.

Are we related?  Drop me an email.


2014 – The Year Genealogy Becomes Fun Again

There has been some talk lately in the genealogy blogosphere about how all the definitions and methodologies and good research practices can bog down a researcher – and I totally agree. If you aren’t careful, you can quickly become obsessed with all the definitions and proof arguments and lose all the fun of discovering the stories of your ancestors.

2014 The Year Genealogy Becomes Fun

Let me be clear here: I’m not saying you shouldn’t always strive to make your research the best it can be, because you should always be doing that. You should always be learning and growing and experimenting when it comes to your research. But you shouldn’t obsess over all of that so much that you forget the rush you felt on your all night research binges.

Remember the all night genealogy research binge rush? You got your favorite beverage by your side and you start opening browser window after browser window, going from Ancestry.com to FamilySearch to Fold3 and Google Books and downloading documents left and right. Your eyelids start getting heavy around 2 a.m. but you keep going, insistent on figuring out who great-great grandpa’s fourth wife’s maiden name was. And you know you are so close, right on the edge of finding it. And then you get that magical moment where you find it and you cheer, lifting your arms in the air with pride cause you did it. And then you look over at the clock and realize it is 5 a.m. and you gotta get up for work in two hours. So you go to bed, wake up feeling like something the cat dragged in, and down coffee the rest of the day until you are free to do it all over again.

Now I’m not saying all of your research should be late night binges where you download things willy-nilly and half way enter the source citation into your database program. But you should enjoy that binge every once in a while. You should enjoy that rush that comes with discovering your ancestors through the records they left behind. But at the same time, you should also regularly take a step back to re-evaluate the research you’ve done – is there something you’ve overlooked, a different way of seeing things, a new record type to discover, or a new research trick you can try?

While I spent much of 2013 trying to learn as much as I could about proper research methods, in 2014 I will learn to find a balance between the fun late night binges and the proper research methods and I challenge you to do the same. There is no reason why we can’t have fun while so producing sound research.


Conquering Genealogy Clutter

Since moving into a studio apartment with my fiance, I have had to pare down my stuff.  Space is at a premium and the slightest bit of clutter makes my apartment feel messy.  Do I really need this?  Do I use it?  Do I love it?  Do I have a place for it?  If the answer was no to any of these questions, then it couldn’t stay.  It either went into storage, the dumpster, or a donation bin.

And with all the paper and stuff I am getting in this teaching credential program, I don’t have as much space for my genealogy stuff as I used to.  I have to pare down yet again.

Family pictures, heirlooms, and family furniture is being kept at my Dad’s apartment.  This means no more midnight scanning binges or photo organizing. {My dad is cool.  But not that cool}

I’ve scaled back on my genealogy clutter and gotten more creative with my storage solutions.  Here are my lessons learned and some tips so you can do it too:

  1. Think about all the stuff you have to do your genealogy – pens, highlighters, notebooks, legal pads, binders, magazines, books, etc.  Do you really need all of it?  If you’ve read the books and you don’t find yourself referring to them regularly, then get rid of it.  Donate it to a friend or a library or a genealogy society so someone else can learn from it.  And do you really need all of those pens?  Or 15 highlighters?  {My answer is yes.  I love pens and highlighters.  I am addicted.  Hope is lost for me.  Do as I say, not as I do}Contain Your Office Supplies
  2. Categorize and Containerize.  I love boxes, bins, baskets, dividers, folders, binders, and creative solutions – both for physical items and digital ones.  Little bins or baskets from the dollar store can separate office supplies in your drawers or on your desktop.  Don’t have drawers connected to your desk?  No problem – I buy plastic drawers (often the Rubbermaid brand because that’s what at Target – but any brand will do) and make your own drawers.  You can customize the size to whatever you need so you don’t waste space.  And they are on wheels so you can roll it under your desk, in a closet if company comes over, or whatever.  For your digital files, categorize things into folders and put it all away.  If a folder gets too big to find things quickly, then break it up.Go Vertical for Organization
  3. Use technology to make life easier – not harder.  Space is limited in my house but I still like to take notes by pen and paper sometimes.  But if I keep those notes, then I have to file them away and I probably won’t ever look for it in the binder I filed it away in – and that all requires space I just don’t have.  So, when I use paper to take my notes, I snap a photo of it with my phone when I am done – it is automatically backed up to Dropbox where I can sort it into the appropriate folder right from my phone.  Plus, I can put that photo into OneNote using the app so it is with all of my other notes and searchable.  Then I recycle the paper copy and I just saved myself some physical space in a few easy steps.

  4. Put. It. Back.  If you take it out, put it back.  Put it away.  Because if you leave it lying around, it will pile up and before you know it, you have a mountain of stuff and it is so  much harder to put it away!

Honoring Lomita Veterans

For a few years of my life, I lived in a little town near the beach in Southern California.  The city of Lomita, California was founded in 1907.

For Veteran’s Day, I want to especially honor the Lomita Veterans.  My goal is to transcribe this memorial so that a family member or descendant of these  veterans may find this.  This memorial may be the first step in telling the stories of these veterans and their lives.

Lomita Veterans Memorial

World War I

Clyde Chester Blain – USN

World War II

Jerry Angelich – USA
George Reynolds Baker – USNR
Robert Barker – USAAF
Thomas Walter Beecham – USN
Raymond Bodam – USMC
Robert Brumpton – USN
Richard Cox – USA
Jack Cheek – USN
Martin Devries – USN
John Logan Egnew – USN
Robert Fenton – USA
Lory Garcia – USA
Bill Glover – USN
Chelsea Hamilton – USA
George Henderson – USN
Pete Hernandez – USA
Gordon Jacobs – USN
Richard Johnson – USN
Alvah Don Johnson, Jr. – USA
William Luedke – USA
Melvin Martin – USN
Clyde Maxwell – USN
James Meadows – USMC
John Mulkern – USN
Manuel Muro – USN
Charles Richard O’Brien – USA
Walter Owens – USAAF
Kristi Palica – USA
James Peightal – USNR
Floyd Ramsay – USA
Albert Reading – USCG
Allen Rider – USN
Dick Rider – USA
Pearl T. Roomsburg – USA
Marcus Rowin – USA
Wayne Sammon – USN
Jim Sanders – USN
Robert Schreib – USMC
George Stambaugh – USNR
Miles Stubblefield – USN
Malcom G. Tadlock, Jr. – USN
Eddie Tapie – USN
Jess Taylor – USA
Leonard Vorhis – USN
Norman E. Wilson – USN
Bob Wolverton – USN


Stuart Clark – USA
Donald Dana – USA
Charles Duncan – USA
Joe Hooker – USA
Duane Parsons – USA
Bobby Spratt – USA
William Teuchert – USA
George Washburn – USA


Jerry D. Atkinson – USMC
Richard A. Baglio – USA
Robert R. Bohler – USA
Perry Bozeman – USA
Curtis Brockinton – USA
John T. Carrol – USA
Dennie Ray Carter – USMC
Michael B. Carter – USMC
Michael F. Cook – USMC
Leon T. Culverhouse – USMC
Samuel R. Durham – USA
Alan R. Guymon – USA
Richard W. Hastings – USN
Don Ray Heimark – USA
Frederick R. Horridge – USMC
Richard L. Keeler – USN
John Lortz – USA
Raymond D. McGlothin – USA
Steven W. Musgrove – USA
Glen A. Musguire – USMC
Chester O’Brien – USMC
Alan P. Sandoval – USMC
John Roy Tighe – USA
John G. Turk – USMC
Leslie James Watson – USA

Global War on Terrorism

Jose Gutierrez – USMC
Sergio Rafael Diaz-Varela – USA


Organizing: Event or Lifestyle?

Right now, I am student teaching.  My life has been going to school, teaching lessons, go to methods courses, write lesson plans and repeat.


While I am writing lesson plans now as practice and to prove my competence for my teaching credential (the event), I will always write lesson plans in some form.  Writing these plans, even if they aren’t as detailed and formatted the way my university likes then to be, will keep me prepared an organized.  Writing lesson plans will.be a part of my lifestyle for the rest of my career.

The same idea applies to our genealogy research as well.  You can either look at organizing your genealogy stuff as an event – something you only do once – or you can view it as a lifestyle.  If you try to view organizing as an event, your stuff will look pretty and seem functional for a short amount of time before the old habits come back and things get out of hand again.

Or you can view organizing your genealogy stuff as a lifestyle.  Sure, no one likes filing but you gotta do it.  No one likes renaming downloaded files and putting them in the right place.  No one likes taking meticulous notes or recording where you have searched.  But if you don’t do it, you will waste time looking for stuff you have already done.

So which will it be?  An event or a lifestyle?

Photo: Flickr User Rubbermaid Products