Author Archives: Lauren Mahieu

Don’t throw the baby (or the paper) out with the bath water….

Family History Binders

Some of my labeled binders.  

I really enjoy finding stuff.

I really hate filing stuff.  (I believe I’ve mentioned that a time or two…or ten…in previous posts, lol.)  Hence, I’d made (the unfortunate) decision to go digital in my filing system a couple of years ago.  Of course, I kept all of the documents I had currently, as well as any new paper documents obtained from the courthouses or other places.   I dutifully scanned those documents, and numbered them using reference number by document type.  For example, all death certificates were numbered, beginning with the first certificate, which was DEATH 001, and the next DEATH 002, and so on.  The paper copies were kept in a binder of death certificates, and the electronic copies were kept similarly.  It seemed to make sense at the time.  I stopped printing things I’d found online, and only saved those items electronically.

This left quite a few problems, but it took a couple of years for them to surface. Continue reading

Two Thumbs Up – “Genealogist’s Handbook for New England Research”

Genealogist's Handbook for New England Research

I received my copy of the fifth edition of the Genealogist’s Handbook for New England Research  today, and have to say I’m impressed!  When I originally ordered the book last Fall, I wondered if this would mirror the Handybook for Genealogists (a wonderful resource), or would it offer new content.  (Surprisingly, I’ve not ever seen the previous four editions.  How have I missed it all these years?)  It certainly didn’t disappoint.

For each state, the book provides a summary of the state’s history, and then has a section discussing each of the following:

  • Vital Records
  • Church Records
  • Probate Records
  • Land Records
  • Court Records
  • Military Records
  • Other Records

State repositories are listed with contact information, hours of operation, and types of records found within each.  Next is a list of counties, followed by a helpful list of extinct counties.  (From this I learned of Maine’s extinct county, “Old Lincoln”, which was part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony from 1652-83.  I would have otherwise incorrectly assumed Old Lincoln referenced the present-day county of Lincoln.)

What I like best about this new NEHGS publication is the many county maps that include details of the towns therein.  This book will definitely be sitting on my desk for regular reference, as most of my research is centered in New England towns.   Thanks, NEHGS, for a wonderful book.  It was well worth the wait! autosomal DNA test – Part II

“Baby’s Family Tree” from my mother’s baby book, written by my grandmother in 1942.

Family trees are full of mysteries.  The one thing we can be sure that we know is that there is a lot that we DON’T know!  :-)  That’s a good reason to have a DNA test done.  Hopefully it will help link us to others who DO know something about lines we are researching.  Sometimes, instead of providing answers, DNA testing presents more questions.   Continue reading

My (free) DNA results – a comparison to FamilyTreeDNA

My Genetic Ethnicity (per DNA testing)

It seems like an eternity ago I received an email from offering me a free autosomal DNA test.  (Still don’t know why I was selected…were all subscribers offered the free DNA testing or only their most neurotic users that spend most of their non-working, waking hours searching family history?)   I immediately signed up, and shortly thereafter received my DNA kit, swabbed my cheek, sent it back and have been waiting.

This afternoon I received an email from Ancestry letting me know the results are finally in. Continue reading

Excel, Evernote, RootsMagic, and my research log

Excel spreadsheet for New Hampshire – a combined planning tool and research log

After my first day at the Family History Library, I realized I need a major over-haul of my research log.     For quite a while now, I’ve used Excel to plan what materials to research at a repository and updated the spreadsheet with what I’d located.  However, I didn’t have a really good way of incorporating that into a research log.

However, I think I’ve come up with a system that will work and is relatively simple to use.   Continue reading

In which I confess my sins – Family History Library fun!


The Family History Library

I feel like a kid that ditched church to go fishing.

I was bad.

I was VERY bad!

Here I am in Salt Lake City, registered for the RootsTech conference, but spent 80% of my time at…..DRUM ROLL please….THE FAMILY HISTORY LIBRARY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The library has been a place I’ve sought to visit for the last 25 years.  After checking in to my hotel on Wednesday, I made a beeline for the library and oriented myself to the various floors and holdings.  Thankfully, it’s very user friendly and organized well.  I made quite a few finds, but most importantly, found a book, written in 1991, on the Westcoat/Wescoat/Westcott/Wescott/Wasgatt family.  There wasn’t a ton of new info on my own line, but I did get a few new hints to follow up on.   In addition, I was able to review dozens of rolls of microfilm and books, and have completely overhauled how I’m handling my research log.  (See my post about Excel, Evernote and Roots Magic here.)

Back to RootsTech…the sessions I did go to were very good.  I will leave the details to the official bloggers who’ve done a phenomenal job covering the event.  The energy and amount of interest in genealogy was awesome.  Oh yes…also had to make my purchases in the Exhibit Hall.

Here’s my loot:

My RootsTech loot

Books on researching, books on writing, and webinars by Thomas MacEntee, Marian Pierre-Louis, and Karen Clifford

I’m hoping to listen to Karen Clifford’s webinar, “Organizing For Success” at the airport on my way home tomorrow.  While I may not have had as much time as I’d planned at the conference, my time here in SLC was certainly well spent!

Maritime Monday: They Came By Sea

The Maine Public Broadcasting Network has produced a wonderful series entitled, “The Story of Maine.”  The YouTube video above shows Part I of Program 3 in the series, “They Came  By Sea.”  (You can download the entire broadcast here.)

This was particularly interesting to me with deep roots in Mount Desert Island, Maine, where my 5th Great Grandfather, Capt. Benjamin B. Stanwood, was born.  The sea was a way of life for many in that region, whether supporting their families by fishing, boat building, sailing, or as in the case of Benjamin, as ship’s captain.  The video showed how many wives would take their children and join their husbands on board.  I wonder if Benjamin’s wife, Margaret (Wasgatt) Stanwood, was one of those adventuresome types, sailing abroad, or did she stay home with their children?   Another question to ponder in my ancestral search!


Riveting Results with Reverse Genealogy

Parker College Baseball Team

Parker College Baseball Team, Winnebago, MN, 1914 – back row, 2nd from left – Robert Wasgatt; 3rd from left, David Wasgatt; 6th from left, John Wasgatt, sitting next to his father, Frank Wasgatt, coach.   (Photo courtesy Madge Pedersen)

There is a story behind each name we discover, each date we enter into our genealogy databases.  As new genealogists, most of us began simply seeking those names and dates; however, as we grow in our research and learn the value of reverse genealogy (working forward to assist in find out more about the past), many of us find ourselves seeking our living relatives.  When we are able to connect with cousins or others who may be researching our same family lines, our research can expand exponentially, and most importantly, we can begin to learn the stories of those who lived before us.

Earlier this week I received a large envelope full of photographs sent by my grandmother’s fifth cousin, Madge Pedersen.  I “met” Madge online after doing a Google search for others descended from Thomas and Margaret (Davis) Wasgatt, and we’ve been corresponding for several weeks now.   Continue reading

Tech Tuesday: My Super Experience With Scrivener!

Scrivener Cork Board

Screenshot of the Scrivener “cork board” which allows you to organize your writing  

Growing up I always had pen and paper in hand.  I’d sketch out newspaper templates, and would write amusing articles for my family’s enjoyment.  As I grew older, the pen was replaced by a typewriter.  In my Sophomore year at Elsinore Union High School, I was given the opportunity to write for The Rancho News, where I’d cover the happenings at our local high school for the community newspaper.

What Motivates Miss Rancho-Temecula Contestants?

One of my first newspaper articles, published in The Rancho News

By 15, I was taken on as a paid, freelance reporter.  Toting my 35mm camera, I’d cover stories such as the design of the Riverside County Emergency Medical Services (the predecessor of 911), area floods, and how the gas crisis of 1979 was affecting Temecula residents.   My first paycheck was a whopping $18.37, but I was in heaven – getting paid for something I LOVED!   Continue reading

The Ennis and Fleming Families


My Daddy, about 1980

When my Daddy died on June 23, 2010, I wrote a tribute to him which you can find here.  He was not my biological father, but very few people knew that – he loved me as though I was his own, and I adored him.  He was a kind, quiet person – but hysterically funny with a wicked sense of humor when you got him talking.  He loved to fish and he LOVED his tools.  (Don’t all carpenters?)  When Daddy got sick and moved in with us, he brought all of his many tools, guns, fishing poles, and other treasures with him.  My husband has spent the last three weekends cleaning and organizing these tools, and boy did Daddy have a LOT of them!   He would be so happy to see how Ed has them all sorted and hanging on the peg board, ready for our household projects!

While the tools didn’t surprise me, the photos below which Ed found mingling among some of Dad’s other papers did!   Continue reading


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