Custom smartphone cases carry your ancestors!

The iPhone 7 was just released.  My iPhone 6 Plus is just fine though, although it just had it’s second birthday.  My case, however, is quite cracked and desperately in need of replacement.  My creative son suggested I buy a custom case, and thought I’d enjoy one with a genealogy theme.  So, off to Zazzle I went, and uploaded my image, one that I had previously created showing photos of me, my mother, my grandmother, back to my 2nd great grandmother, Lavina (Bursley) Stanwood.

My custom iPhone case shows my female ancestors

My custom iPhone case shows my female ancestors.

Zazzle is offering 15% off, which was just enough to cover the shipping.  There are other companies that do custom cases, of course, but Zazzle seemed to have the best reviews and the cases were reported to be of better construction.  Can’t wait to get mine and share my genealogy with me where ever I go!

I toppled my self-created brick wall!

Cynthia (Day) Bursley death certificate

Cynthia (Day) Bursley death certificate

Death certificates are great sources of info – but the one above was frustrating to me.  I wanted to see the original death register from which the data had been taken.  However, I was told that privacy laws prohibited me from viewing the nearly 150-year-old book containing the death of Cynthia (Day) Bursley, my 3rd great grandmother.  After contemplating this dilemma, last week I found my nicest, kindest voice and called the County Recorder.  I followed my call up with a sweet-as-pie email thanking the Recorder for her time and asking for additional clarification as the state statutes showed that death records in Minnesota are actually public.  My persistence paid off.  Today I received the following:

Copy of the death register showing Cynthia (Day) Bursley's parents: Aaron and Martha Day!

Copy of the death register showing Cynthia (Day) Bursley’s parents: Aaron and Martha Day!

Talk about Christmas in July!  Since the certificate above completed by the Clerk of Court did not list Cynthia’s parents, I assumed the register also did not have this info.  I was wrong!  After 2 1/2 years of working on a proof argument for Cynthia’s parentage, I finally have the smoking gun:  a piece of paper clearly stating Cynthia Bursley was the daughter of Aaron Day and his wife, Martha.  That brick wall wasn’t so thick after all!

Yup, it’s Christmas in July. 🙂

U.S history – OUR history

A Patriot and a Red Coat in Concord, Massachusetts

A Patriot and a Red Coat in Concord, Massachusetts

My husband and I spent an awesome week in Boston, and enjoyed visits to Lexington and Concord, Cambridge, and my favorite town, Quincy. The latter included a tour of the homes where John Adams and his son, John Quincy Adams, were born, and concluded with a visit to “Piece field,” the enormous home where John and Abigail Adams made their abode after returning from Europe.

Reflecting on our nation’s history and the roles my own ancestors played in it, I’ve come to realize that U.S. history is now MY history. It is personal.

My ancestors were here during those early colonial years, and took an active role in events that shaped our nation. Not only did those events involve the men, but the women and children were dramatically affected as well; when their husbands went off to war, the women were left to carry on with her usual chores as well as maintaining the farm and managing affairs at home.

When I think about the sacrifices my forebears made for our country, I have to wonder – am I made of the same hardy stuff? Could I have endured the eight months my 5th great grandmother Sarah Day spent at home without word about her husband’s safety and well-being while he and the militia marched from Ipswich, Massachusetts to New York in 1776? Or when he was called to duty again in 1779 with his unit reinforcing the army under General Washington?

Yes, our ancestors, both male and female, have made many sacrifices to give us the freedoms and privileges we have in America today. For this I’m grateful and proud. I’m also cognizant that we have reached a crucial juncture in the 2016 election with two political candidates who have quite opposing values and world-views (not to mention political strategies). The outcome of November’s election will have a profound impact on U.S. history that has yet to be written. I’m sure I’m not alone with the sense of unease that often overpowers me when watching the evening news these days, listening to world events and thinking about the role our next President will play in them.    Our ancestors faced similar dilemmas in choosing the nation’s earliest Presidents; and like them, we must prepare for the upcoming election. We must cast our vote for the candidate we think will continue to move our nation forward to ensure our grandchildren and great grandchildren will be proud to be called Americans.

Missed NGS? Get a PlaybackNow package!

playbackAre you an NGS left-behinder?  NGS has partnered with Playback to record the large majority of their sessions, and they offer a variety of packages for purchase.  Of course, you can order a la carte, and purchase only the lectures of interest, or you can buy the whole enchilada!  A 6-month “Fast Pass” allows you to listen to any of the recorded lectures for up to six months, and is the most affordable of the packages at $195 (conference special) or $295 for non-attendees or purchase after the conclusion of the show.  The 12-month Season Pass allows the same streaming as the 6-month package, but has the added advantage of download, so you can save the MP3s on your device to listen later.  More details can be found on the NGS site here and at the NGS Playback page here.

The Future of Family Tree Maker

Family Tree Maker at NGS 2016

Family Tree Maker at NGS 2016

The genealogical community was certainly rattled when Ancestry announced the imminent retirement of Family Tree Maker (FTM) in December 2015.  Many people breathed a sigh of relief two months later when Ancestry shared:

Software MacKiev, with whom we have a long-standing relationship, is acquiring the Family Tree Maker software line as publisher for both Mac and Windows versions. Software MacKiev has been the developer of Family Tree Maker for Mac for more than six years and is thrilled at the opportunity to publish future versions of Family Tree Maker for Mac and Windows.

So then, what exactly IS the future of Family Tree Maker?  I had the opportunity to explore this with Judy Wright, a volunteer and beta tester manning the Family Tree Maker booth at NGS, and asked her how Software MacKiev will ensure that the program remains solid for serious genealogists.  Will they consider the needs of the genealogy community as the add (or, gasp, remove) features?

Software MacKiev, according to Ms. Wright, has taken their acquisition seriously.

    • They are already investing in the future of FTM, and have doubled their design/programming team.
    • Beta-testing for FTM’s Window’s application is underway.  Ms. Wright is one of eight beta-testers, and related that the designers really consider the feedback the beta-testers provide.  She encourages those that wish to participate in future beta-testing to sign up on the FTM site.
    • Visibility is important to them, as well as the ability of getting feedback from users.  Their booth at NGS is part of that visibility.
    • Users of FTM are also encouraged to visit the Family Tree Maker FaceBook page where feedback, questions and comments may be voiced.  Not only will developers see your comments, but the page is also monitored by Software MacKiev’s president, Jack Minsky, who has been at the helm of the company for the last 21 years.

It appears that Sofrtware MacKiev is committing the resources to ensure Family Tree Maker remains a solid genealogy application for current and future genealogists for years to come.

The animals of my ancestors

My great grandfather, Ernest L. Simpson, far right, with his dog.

My great grandfather, Ernest L. Simpson, far right, with his dog.

I sit here typing with two Toy Poodles on my lap.  (I come from a long line of animal lovers!) Where did this love come from?  Until recently, I assumed this passion for animals was nurtured through childhood.  Certainly that is part of it, but I was intrigued by last week’s episode of TLC’s Long Lost Family, in which a woman was introduced to her biological father.  While they had before never met, father and daughter learned they had one huge thing in common – a love for animals.  Both were involved with animal foundations and rescue programs, and considered animals to be a huge part of their lives.  Could this love of animals be partly genetic?  Continue reading

The Chosen Genealogist


A very young me with my maternal ancestors

This Facebook post so eloquently describes the passion…the mission…to know our ancestors!

We are the chosen in each family

There is one who seems called to find the ancestors.

To put flesh on their bones and make them seem alive again.

To tell the family story and to feel that somehow they know and approve.

Doing genealogy is not a cold gathering of facts but instead breathing life into all who have gone before.

We are the story tellers of the tribe.

~Author unknown

Do you have a favorite poem or quote that explains your passion for genealogy?