Sunday, August 20, 2017

It's Time for Church! - or Sunday Singing

Come on in! I've saved you a place next to me in the church pew.

Yes, looks like a beautiful Sunday, doesn't it?

Yes, we're lookin' forward to hearin' the special singin'.

Let's settle back. Oh, before it's warms up, here's you a paddle fan to keep cool.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

How to Organize Your Research - Or Scintillating Saturday

How to Organize Your Research 
Scintillating Saturday

Okay, it's no big secret, but my new favorite way to keep track of ANYTHING is by using a Bullet Journal.

What, may you ask, is a Bullet Journal?

According to the definition for Bullet Journal is "The Bullet Journal is a customizable and forgiving organization system. It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above."

Yep, that about sums it up. It's a place where you can keep track of EVERYTHING . My personal Bullet Journal contains everything from my To-Do list, to my Client Appointments, to my Hydration Tracker, to my menu and shopping list. I even keep my checkbook register in it!

But the really neat thing, is that you can use it to keep track of ANYTHING, and that's where it comes in handy with genealogy research. Because my Bullet Journal  keeps me on track with my latest research projects as well. 

I break my new, blank, journal down into several sections. Some are just a few pages long. Some are a couple of hundred pages long (yeah, my latest journal, which I am in love with, holds over 600 pages!~ I'll fill you in on where to get one like it at the end of this post.) By breaking my journal down into sections, I can easily locate whatever list I am wanting to see at a moments notice.

The one thing that you will see, should you decide to use a Bullet Journal, is that it is an ever evolving process. Until you find what actually works best for you. Mine is still evolving, but I'm getting close to what is perfect for me!

I have seen journals that use tabs, yes, just like those you used to divide your school notebook with, or use to divide files with. I found those to be too bothersome, and they stuck out, causing me to always catch them on something in my handbag. (Yes, I carry my journal EVERYWHERE with me!) So, I found an example of one that color coded pages, using colored pencils to marks each page.
You will note that each section is has a different color. You will then take and mark each page with a small square of that color, directly below the key page here. So that when viewed from the side as you thumb through the pages, you will easily locate the pages that match that color. As an alternative, I have seen some that use Post It Sticky Tabs. My problem with those is that they tend to come loose eventually, and have to be replaced frequently if your journal is a large one that lasts awhile.

On my genealogy list I keep two lists: Working On, and To-Do. My Working On list contains the names of ancestors I am working on, so that should I come across some bit of information, I will readily know that this is someone I should jot down the information on. (Of course, under this section I leave extra pages in case I find this new information while I am out and about!) On my To-Do list are things that I am constantly doing: such as writing my family newsletter; sending out emails with announcements; writing this blog; etc. These are things that I am always working on.

As I said, I keep my journal with me at all times. You don't have to. It can be something that you use only when you are at home, or at your desk. I use mne more as a life organizer. It helps keep me focused, and I find I get more work done when I have a list to check off, thus the great thing about the Bullet Journal. As I complete each task, I simply check off the box, and I know it is complete.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I also use mine for my Bible Study, and for my personal diary. Just some food for thought!

Now, can you imagine what it would mean to you to come across such a thing from one of your ancestors as a Bullet Journal? (First of all, I'd think they were a pretty organized person! LOL) But the greatest thing of all, is the intimate look you would have of your ancestor's daily life! Not just their To-Do list, but their diary, their budget, their diet, their thoughts on philosophy and religion, and on and on.

When I keep this journal, I am able to locate my latest research at a simple glance. And i carry it with me everywhere I go, so no matter where I am at, I can reference it. Yes, it is a low tech work tool. And I know I could do the same thing with my tablet, or even my iPhone! But I also doodle, and draw pictures in it. I add photographs. And ticket stubs. Receipts. Funeral programs. Wedding invitations. Newspaper clippings. These are things that when kept separate, just don't make a lot of sense later down the line. But when placed in my journal, will coincide with that day's notations. Not only will I know what the item was from, so will anyone who may years from now look at it.

So, maybe you'd like to give it a shot?

Here's my latest journal:

 I love it because it's 5"x8", and has LOTS of pages! It is leather, so it will be around for a LONG time to come. The pages are gilt edged, so they really look nice. And there are two ribbon bookmarks, which make it alot easier to get to those well used pages, like my regular To-Do lists. The pages are unlined, so I am free to draw and doodle around my entries as much as I want without lines getting in the way. And the pages don't bleed when I use colored markers or fountain pens. (I have a passion for fine writing instruments, and fountain pens are a lost art tool these days!) This is available for $11.99 on

In the past, I have used leatherette journals from Walmart, which are at a comparable cost. I have used soft cover art journals. Again, at a comparable cost. And I have even used....
...a composition notebook on more than several occasions. These are excellent for when you are on a tight budget. I have purchased these by the case. Right now you'll find them on sale at most local Walmart's, Sam's Clubs, and Costco's for only 50-cents each. Yes, 50-cents. These are a little larger than I normally like, but if you aren't sure if you would use a Bullet Journal and want something to try out, this is the way to get started!

Take a look on for Bullet Journal ideas. And you'll even find some free templates if you want to print out some journals instead of trying to come up with your own.

This is what keeps my whole world organized. Not just my day-to-day life, but my business, my research, my job, everything. EVERYTHING

Who, knows, if you give it a try, it just might work for you as well!

Let me know what you think!


Friday, August 18, 2017

How To Make Your Final Plans - Or Friday's Final Fantasy Finishes

How To Make Your Final Plans 
Friday's Final Fantasy Finishes

Most of us at least consider leaving a Will behind when we die, simply because we want someone we care about to get what we own now. (Or, if you can't take it with you, make sure someone gets all your junk!)

Earlier this week, I came across a a fun page (okay, it's on Crave Online so you know it's crazy!), and it tells about some pretty insane things people have put in their Last Will and Testament.

Being the me that I am, I simply had to find a way to share it with all of you! So, consider it a Friday Funnies, as the title says, Friday's Final Fantasy Finishes.

Please click the link here to be taken to this hilarious look at these Last Wills and Testaments.

Enjoy! (It's okay, really! Go ahead and laugh out loud! Laughing is good for you!)

Thursday, August 17, 2017

What Did They Drink? - or Thirsty Thursday

What Did They Drink? 
Thirsty Thursday

It may seem like a pretty innocuous question, but just what did our ancestors drink? I mean, coffee wasn't around until 1668 in America, and was considered for the wealthy only! The cost to have it shipped to America was astronomical! Tea was the same! Both were so expensive that they were often kept in locked chests to prevent thieves from absconding with it!

Whiskey was a "man's" drink, and ladies seldom partook. Although the lighter refreshments of wine were sometimes imbibed by the fair sex.

Citrus fruit and sugar were not common in those early days. And when they did arrive, again they were considered very expensive, and the common people did not have access to this. At least not in quantities to squander for simple drinks! Not until about the mid 1800's was the use of sugar more common.

There was, of course, milk, when one had a cow. But between large households, children and baking often took up most of the milk.

Wells were dug by hand. Men literally lowered into the holes as they were dug, and earth brought up bucket, by laboring bucket, until the well began to get damp. At this point, stones were sometimes used to line the walls of the well and allow for some clearer water to filter, but the tops were often left open. This meant a breeding ground for insects during the summer months. And the occasional rodent, or other creature that might wander too close to the edge met its untimely death by falling into the watery shaft. The water was often muddy during the rainy seasons of spring and summer. Bringing a pitcher of brown colored water to the table for a meal was not unheard of.

And yet, water was, and still is, the number one drink around the globe today.

Our ancestors, especially those who first came to America's shores, often built a privy (outhouse) right beside a well. This was for convenience. However, they did not understand sanitation, and typhus and cholera epidemics often occurred during those early years.

Many of the early settlers soon realized that the Native Indians to the country seldom suffered any of the maladies that they (non-Natives) did. And upon further investigation, some came to realize that the Indian thought of the water as alive. And it was this "alive water" that they would drink. What was the difference between "alive water" and "bad water"? Alive water was water that flowed. It tumbled over stones and moved continuously, thus filtering itself.  Not like the man made wells that simply filled up with water and sat there waiting to be muddied up,or have animals fall into it.

Although it is not seen so much today, as late as the latter part of the 1960's, it was not uncommon to find a pitcher of water set upon the dinner table, and everyone's glass filled with chilled water, rather than other drinks.

It is still considered the norm when going to a better restaurant to have a glass of water brought to the table prior to beginning the meal.

And there really is nothing as refreshing as a cool glass of water on a hot day! It refreshes you, and quenches your thirst. It hydrates your body. And keeps your body functions within a normal parameter.

So, the next time you uncap that bottle of refreshing spring water, take a sip and remind yourself that you could be drinking water from a source one of your ancestors also drank from! And that you are enjoying one of the world's healthiest, and oldest drinks known to mankind.

Cheers my friends!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

How to Get Genealogy Clients - Or What's Up Wednesday

How to Get Genealogy Clients
 Or What's Up Wednesday

So you finally did it! You graduated with that certificate in genealogy from an accredited school, and now you're ready to hang out your shingle!

First of all, congratulations! It wasn't easy getting to your goal. It took hard work, and determination! And guess what? It will take those same attributes to get to a profitable business!

There's no two ways about it. You will have to dedicate yourself. Put in the hard work to get the clients. And you will have to be determined to always present your clients with the best work you can possibly do for them.

So, you've set up a home office. You spent a few hundred dollars on a nice desk. You have a comfortable chair. A good computer and printer. The best internet set up you could find. Even a guest chair sitting across from your desk, so you can face clients who will come to your home. You've added bookcases, and all of your study books, as well as research books that you've purchased along the way, are lining those shelves. You probably even have binders filled with your portfolio of research, findings, and written family histories. (Yes, I've been there too!) 

Maybe you've added a Genealogy themed poster or two; a mouse pad with a cute genealogy print on it; curtains at the window that reflect antiquities; a globe sits atop the bookcase. A nice  oriental rug (it's a knock off, but only an expert will know that) sits in front of the desk.

With cell phone in hand, you sit down behind the desk, and you are lacking only thing.


So, how do you get those first clients? How long does it take to start seeing real money coming in?

First, remember to be humble. You are, after all, just starting out. And you are providing a service for your clients. So, starting out might be slow! That means, unless you have a spouse who can carry the financial burden for a while, you may have to work at another job as you build your business!

Next, let's get the word out.

Here's what I've always done to grab some quick clients for just a few dollars of income. And although you don't make anything, really, the word of mouth starts rolling around and pretty soon you can start rolling in the higher paying clients! I go onto auction sites, like eBay and I make an offer to do some fast, cheap research. Say 2 hours for $10. Yes, I know. No money made there, right?

Wrong. What you will get will be something you can't afford to buy!

See when you offer an introductory offer of something as innocuous as 2 hours of research for $10, and you actually find SOMETHING for a client, they are usually so grateful, that they will come back for more!

Yes, you heard that! MORE! And get this, it only costs you about $1 for that listing you made.  (Watch for free listings events on eBay to do this, that way you only pay if the ad sells!) You use up about 2 hours of your time. Reports are sent to your client of your findings electronically. So, you've spent about 2 hours of time, and cleared $9. Okay, so you don't want to live on that, but it gets you a client. And that client will tell another, and that one another, and so on. (Be sure to ask for something specific the client is looking for. And let them know that with that offer, you will only be using electronic databases that you have subscriptions or access to. )

So, you begin to get a small following of individuals on eBay, or CraigsList, or whatever electronic medium you choose to use.

Now, let's start making an online presence for yourself.

The fastest, and easiest presence you can make known is a blog. Yes, I know, you don't think you can write a lick. But you can! Just write like you talk! Basic grammar makes it easy for you, and your readers love it. (Don't use a lot of fancy, schmancy, long words that the average high school student couldn't understand. Yes. I am serious. Use plain, common English.) Don't use slang. Don't use derogatory remarks. Just write from the heart. (And you can download a program called Grammarly that not only checks for spelling and grammar, but will check for accidental plaigerism as well. Best of all, is it's free!)

You can start blogs for free at either or Both are free. And you can purchase your own domain from for just a few dollars a year.

Let's start sharing a bit of your knowledge.

What? How can you make money if you give all the secrets away, you ask? Clients want to know that you are knowledgeable, and that at some point they can take charge of the situation. So, do what any one would do. Teach them how to do what you do! Yes. Keep some secrets for yourself. Sure. But give them the basics.

Once you start a blog, then start promoting the heck out of it! How? Be sure to post your blog entries on social media sights like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, and anyplace else you can possibly think of! Open a Facebook and Pinterest business account, and make sure you are getting every post out there, several times a day!

Next, blog every single day! Yes, religiously. You can actually write up all of your blog posts for a week, or a month, or even longer!, and then schedule them to post automatically. You can even schedule those posts to be featured on social media accounts without having to manually do that with great apps like Tailwind (it's got a free trial that's really free!) and others.

Make sure you have added a Contact form (Kontactr has a free form you can insert into your blog, and it won't cost you a thing!)  to your blog so that visitors can contact you!

Join genealogical societies (yes, there are fees, but you're going to have to spend money to make it. It's just the law of starting up a new business. And society fees are tax deductible to your business.) Get yourself an APG (Association of Professional Genealogists) membership. The cost is minimal if you list everything you specialize in on your personal information! People really do peruse the sight for genealogists to perform searches for!

Network on professional sites like LinkedIn. I've worked with some European genealogists who were looking for inexpensive assistance in research here in the States, and with running to get hard copies of  documents for genealogists who couldn't make it to my home state.

Volunteer to do research for online sites such as Ancestry or FindAGrave. Take your camera and start documenting cemeteries. Then get them entered into cemetery databases, like FindAGrave. I've had more than a few clients come from seeing my name there!

And lastly, get out there to local events: historical society meetings, genealogical society meetings. Let yourself be heard and seen. Pass out business cards. And let it be known that you are willing to do speaking engagements, just to get your face out there and be seen!  I've landed many clients in the meet and greets following a meeting.

 There are so many other ways you can also incorporate if you want. But this is how to get immediate clients. With these methods, you will actually start seeing a few clients right away. Don't look for big money to suddenly start coming in. Ask anyone who has been a genealogist for long, and they will tell you they make an average income. Sorry, but if you're looking for a big income, or becoming famous, you'll probably do better in another profession.

However, if you are looking for your passion, the thing that drives you, the thing that you dream about, and researching family histories and family trees does that for you, then you have found your niche!

The main thing is to keep at it. Keep putting your name and your talents out there. Even if you do it at a loss for a while. Eventually you will begin to have an income that you can support yourself on. Or at least support your own research habit! And from experience, let me tell you, that is just as satisfying!

As always, your comments are welcomed.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Where to Turn to For More Clues? - Or Tuesday's Tips

Where to Turn to For More Clues?

So, you have exhausted Google, you've poured through, Genealogy Bank, and FamilySearch. You've looked through the state archives. You checked every online index you could find! 

Let's face it. You've simply run out of options. That bit of information you're searching for, say, great-grandma's birthday, is simply not there. And now you'll never know what date it was! You feel like a failure! You feel like your research is incomplete without the info!

Okay. Sit down. Let's get a cup of nice Earl Grey (my personal favorite), and a couple of biscuits (no not American biscuits dearie, but a couple of sweet tea cookies) and let's strategize.

Get a pad and a pen, cause we might need to make a list.

I'll pour the tea. You write. One lump or two? In your tea, silly! Lemon? Well, of course you want some lemon, it is Earl Grey after all. And do be careful! That's my great-grandmother's tea service you're drinking from!  The silver? They were a hand-me-down set of tea spoons from great-aunt Vida. You can see they're really sugar spoons, but since there are so many, they make lovely additions to the tea service, don't you think?

Yes, yes. I digress!

Got the pad and pen ready?

Well, let's start with where great-grandmother was born. Charleston, West Virginia, you say? Well, let's write that down. And her tombstone just lists the year she was born? Well, let's put that down. 1879.

Now, do we have a full death date? No? Just the year again. 1938. But you know she married great-grandfather, and what was his last name? Smith. Okay, write that down. You know her maiden name? Jones. So let's write that down.

So, we have Jane Jones born in 1879 in Charleston, West Virginia. She married John Smith. But that's all we know. Not the date of their marriage? Of course.  But we know she died in 1938 as Jane Smith? Correct?

Well, I think that will get us started! So, grab your hat, sweetie. We're headed to the Kanawha County Courthouse.


Well, we're going to do some searching! We're going to see if we can find out more information on your great-grandmother! What do you mean you didn't know you could look at the courthouse for information?

Well, let's get in the car and I'll explain on the way.

Well, of course, I'm driving! Sweetie, just because there's snow on the roof does not mean I can't drive! I am a very careful driver, and besides, I know where the courthouse is! Do you?

Careful closing the door, dearie. And don't forget to buckle up for heaven's sake!

Thank you. Yes, it is a nice car. But let's get back to what we were discussing.

Yes, your great-grandmother. You see, not all of the records that are available for research can be found on the internet! You young people are so used to having this world of information right on your smart phones and tablets and gadgets, that when you can't find something, you forget some of us didn't have those gadgets when we were younger, and we did this genealogy search without the infamous internet!

How? Leg work and hours spent in musty libraries and dusty courthouse rooms!

Okay, we're here!

Kanawha County, West Virginia Courthouse

I know you don't see the courthouse from here. It's around the corner. Why? Because it's on a one-way street, and it's simply easier to park over here and walk back around than to ... oh just grab your pad and come on! Oh, and grab that tote bag in the back seat for me. 

What? No it's not my purse! I have my purse. That's my research bag!

What's in it? Oh, you'll see!

Here we are! County Clerk's Office.

Hello there! We would like to take a look at some vital statistics. We are looking for a particular name born in 1879 and died in 1938.

Why thank you, we'd be happy to follow you!

Come along now dear, and don't dawdle! This nice lady doesn't have all day to wait on us!

Yes, we'll wait here at the table.

Well, if you must know, she has gone to get the birth register for the year 1879, and the death register for the year 1938.  Here she comes.

Gloves? I have my own here in my tote bag, but she will need a pair!

Do put them on sweetie! It's to protect the old registers from oils from your hands! The paper is quite fragile you know.

Miss? Can I take a photo of the documents with my cell phone? Or are we required to make copies? Just no flash? Not a problem! Thank you so much for all of your help.

Sit down, sweetie! Let's get this going.

Now, this particular register is in two parts. Come now, do sit down! You look as though you've never been in a climate controlled room before! No? Well, the temperature and humidity are kept at a steady place to prevent breakdown of the precious papers that are stored in these rooms. The gloves you wear will further protect the paper and ink. And by my not using a flash with my camera, we will further protect pages from exposure to UV light that can harm the paper as well.

Really? Well, perhaps you should think about such things! If not you, then who? These are precious documents and archives that could be lost forever if not preserved properly!

Okay, so we have an index in the back of the register, which was added later by the county. It contains everyone in the front of the register, in alphabetical order. So, we'll start in the back of the book under the "J's" for Jones.

Yes, yes, I know. The pages aren't easily turned when wearing these gloves. You'll notice the rubber finger tip there in my accessories bag. If you will hand me one please. What? Oh, it will allow me to grab a page and turn it without doing any harm to the paper.

Here we are, at the "J's". Let's go down to Jones, and yes, here we are. And look here! Jones, Jane. page 101. I think we've found her! You write, while I take a photograph.

Jones, Jane; date of birth April 1, 1879 to Marcus Jones and Dorothea Miller. Look sweetie! That's your great-great-grandparents!

What? No, that doesn't mean her parents weren't married! Her mother is listed by her maiden name! Now you'll know what name to look for when you begin researching that branch of your ancestry!

So, now that we have a copy of the register entry, and you've written the information, let's leave this book open to the page for the registrar.

Now, we'll do the same thing for the death register. Only this time we know she died in 1938 and her married last name was Smith. So, we'll come back here to the index....

Yes, yes! That's what I've been trying to tell you! It's so exciting!

And here are the "S's". So we'll scroll down to the Smith's. Okay, there's a lot of Smith's! But we're looking for Jane. So, here are the J's.  So, whoever did this index, simply listed everyone by their first initial and last name, and there are four Smith, J.'s.

How do we figure out which one is correct? Well, we could simply go through and look each one up. Or we could begin elimination right here! Look at this spot, each listed as Male or Female. And three of the four are Male's. So by process of elimination, we know that this must be your great-grandmother! She is found on page 2!

Look, here she is!

January 21, 1938. Oh, and bless her heart, it looks like she died from influenza.

What dear? Yes, we don't hear of a lot of death's due to the flu any more. But antibiotics and even better sanitation and hand washing have made it a lot easier to get over it these days.

So, I'll photograph the entry, and you take the notes as before.

There, now we have it.

No, don't close the books! We'll ask the clerk to make us certificates of these two! Well, yes, of course we can get regular birth and death certificates from them!

Miss! Miss! Yes, we'd like to get certificates for these two entries please!

Yes, cash of course.

What sweetie? No cash on you? That's okay. Look in my tote bag there. You'll find a change purse with some cash and change. I'm sure there's enough for these two certificates.

Now, certificates in hand, we've made a giant step forward in your family tree research today, don't you agree?


Well, darn! Would you look at that. The parking meter is just about out. Hopefully we can pull away before it runs out!

No, I'm driving. You just sit over there and admire those two pieces of paper!

What? Yes, this is what you do when you can't figure out where to look next! And yes, it is just as much fun in person as it is clicking on those computer keys! So glad this white haired old lady could help you out, and teach you a thing or two after all!

And for heaven's sake! Do buckle up!


Monday, August 14, 2017

What to do When The Party's Over - or Monday Madness

What To Do When The Party's Over
Monday Madness

This past Saturday we held our family reunion. It was wonderful! Well, at least Saturday was wonderful.

It was hosted at my sister's house for the first time. And everyone had a great time. We don't do much. Have a fantastic meal. Dessert. And visit. At some point one of us draws numbers and passes out a few door prizes. Everyone signs an attendee book. We take a few photographs. And then we all promise to see one another again in two years.

Sadly, because of a couple of people who were not only rude, vulgar and ugly, any further reunions have been cancelled. I said all the right things: "Well, of course I understand!" and "Of course, we shouldn't allow someone to behave like that!" and "Yes, our seniors don't need to be exposed to those kinds of behavior!"

But, once I got home, I cried like a baby! I really did. This heart-hardened old nurse simply was broken-hearted. And I suppose I always will be.

As a genealogist, I think we all look forward to family reunions and the time we get to spend together.

Time when we will be able to not only reconnect with those who we have always seen there, but time to connect with new family members and those lost long connections we've never met! (Such as I got to with these "new", old, cousins this Saturday! Descended from my gr-gr-grandfather, they fall from a line of his children that was a brother to my gr-grandfather. And had no idea what our family history was!  I had a blast telling them what I could in such a short time! Showing them what I could. Hoping to fill in the gaps that they never knew how to fill! It was absolutely wonderful for me!

And so, my heart is broken over not being able to show them the many things there wasn't time for! And now, never knowing if I ever can!

So, after praying and soul searching, I have decided to do what I can to keep this family legacy alive. In the only way I know how.

Renewed vigor in my research. Writing more of our history. Especially on the initial 12 children of those shared distant grandparents we come from. And in keeping the family newsletter alive and going. (I write it monthly, and it goes out to over 200 individuals!)

And meeting, when I can, with those who would like to meet with me. Keeping family, and traditions alive as best I can.

I'm not yet a senior citizen, and so I hope I have a few more years that I can continue doing this, that I love so. Sharing the history and legacy of our family.

The motto of each of us that does this for the sheer love of it, is, and should always be, "Never Give Up". For without us, the history may be lost forever! Without us, who will tell the stories and legacies that have been shared with us? Who will fan  the spark,and keep the flame alive for those who follow behind us!

Let us work with renewed spirit on writing those family histories down.

Let us keep families together in whatever way we can: whether that be with family reunions, newsletters, or sharing the research we have done.

Plan on whom you will relegate to receive your family research when you are one day gone. Will it be to a younger family member who has shown intense interest in your research? Your local historical society? Or your local genealogical society?

So, should the party come to an end, as it seems it has for my family, then please, keep those memories alive! And "Never Give Up!"

I know, I never will.

As always, your comments are always welcome.