19 November 2015

More Great and Free Educational Opportunities

Thank you to Shannon Combs-Bennett for mentioning "The Educated Genealogist" in her article "Keeping Up With the Ancestors: Self-Education."  You can find Shannon's article in the latest issue of the FGS Forum:
FGS FORUM • Volume 27, Issue 3 • Fall 2015

For more information about the Federation of Genealogical Societies - FGS - click HERE.

So yes, having my blog mentioned in the FGS Forum has guilted me into writing a post about more educational opportunities.  

The following are not necessarily about genealogy, but are great towards increasing your knowledge about the time era your ancestor lived.  You have to know what was going on during the time your ancestor was living to know what kind of records were created and why they were created.

A few of the courses mentioned below are to improve upon or learn other skills needed to becoming the best genealogist you can be.

All of them are FREE so what are you waiting for?

Coursera provides universal access to the world’s best education, partnering with top universities and organizations to offer free courses online.

Canvas Network offers free, open, online courses taught by the world’s leading educators everywhere.

Free online courses from top universities and specialist organisations.

Free, open online courses.

Offering high-quality, free courses from the world’s best universities and institutions to learners everywhere.

Free courses from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

08 October 2015

Your Genealogical Education

It is that time of year when I get that back-to-school frame of mind.  Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside to think about all the opportunities that are out there for genealogists to get educated.  

This post will deal with opportunities that will cost some dollars but well worth the education you will receive.

The ProGen Study Groups are organized to encourage professional and aspiring genealogists to put into practice the principles found in Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers and Librarians, edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills.
18 month course
Cost:  $95

Offers a certificate of completion and the have an Associate of Arts Degree in Family History Studies.  Instructor is Karen Clifford, AG, FUGA.
Cost:  Currently $46 per unit, each course is 3 units

Held at LaRoche College in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
June 26th to July 1st 2016
July 17th to July 22nd 2016
Tuition is $450 for each week-long course

January 11-15, 2016 at the Hilton City Center in Salt Lake City, Utah
Tuition for week long course:  $485
As of  October 7th 11:00 pm Pacific Time here is the status of the course offerings for January 2016:
Course 1: Intermediate U.S. Records and Research, Part II - 12 seats open
Course 2: Researching New York: Resources and Strategies - 2 seats open
Course 3: Swing Across The South - course is full
Course 4: Corpus Juris: Advanced Legal Concepts for Genealogy - course is full
Course 5: Early U.S. Church Records - 8 seats open
Course 6: Advanced Research Tools: Land Records - 6 seats open
Course 7: Beginning Genetic Genealogy - course is full
Course 8: Advanced DNA Analysis Techniques For Genealogical Research - course is full
Course 9: Solving Problems Like a Professional - 13 seats are open
Course 10: Advanced Genealogical Methods - course is full
Course 11: Writing A Quality Family Narrative - 10 seats open
Course 12: Problem Solving - 1 seat open
Course 13: Advanced Evidence Practicum - 4 seats open

March 10-12, 2016 at the Menger Hotel at the Riverwalk in San Antonio, Texas
Registration is $445

Certificate of Completion is offered.
American Genealogical Studies series - all prices are non-member prices.  Member prices are of course discounted.
The Basics - $65
Guide to Documentation and Source Citation - $65
Bundle of The Basics and Guide to Documentation - $100
Beyond the Basics - $200

They also offer courses that are more advanced in their Continuing Genealogical Studies series

15 week online course for $2695.00
Certificate is awarded upon successful completion
They also offer a 4 week online course - Genealogy Essentials for $775

Held at the National Archives in Washington, DC
The week-long course is usually held in July and tuition is around $450

Credential earned:  PLCGS - Professional Learning Certificate in Genealogical Studies
Works in affiliation with the Continuing Education Division of the University of St. Michael's College in the University of Toronto, Canada
They offer certificates in American Records, Australian Records, Canadian Records, English Records, German Records, Scottish Records, Irish Records, Librarianship, Methodology, Professional Development
Average of 40 courses needed to obtain certificate
Average cost of 40 courses:  $3450.00

An assessed programme of ten online genealogy courses to be completed in 18 to 36 months.  Certificate awarded upon successful completion.
Cost per course:  around $70 for unassessed (not graded)and around $93 for assessed (graded)

09 September 2015

Fabulous Frakturs

Last night as I was clickity-clacking away on my keyboard looking for one thing or another, I came across something that is simply fabulous - FRAKTURS!

Courtesy of www.philamuseum.org

A fraktur  is a type of certificate, most popular from the late 1700's to around 1900, used by the Pennsylvania Dutch to document births, deaths, family genealogies, and land purchases.  The most common type of fraktur is the taufschein, or baptismal certificate. It includes names of the child, father, and mother (with her maiden name); date and place of birth; name and denomination of officiating clergyman; and names of the witnesses present. Wedding frakturs may have pictures of a bride and bridegroom as in the image above. 

From the pension file of Philip Frey

Fraktur decorations vary greatly in design and color. All kinds of flowers were used, but tulips were especially popular. Birds, such as doves, cardinals, parrots, eagles, and peacocks appear in the borders.  Also among the designs were: the sun, moon, stars, rainbows, vines, leaves, trees, butterflies, and various fruit. 

From the pension file of  Christian Nichols

These early form of record keeping became very important in the late 18th and early 19th centuries when soldiers from the American Revolutionary War applied for pensions. Most people did not have birth certificates or registration to show proof of family, location, name and age, however some had frakturs.

From the pension file of Tobias Starry

These were placed in the case files of those seeking a war pension or a bounty-land warrant. The U. S. National Archives has them scanned and you can search to see if an ancestor submitted one.

The Wikimedia Commons site has placed these images, some 219, online so you can view them easier and if you find one you want, you can download the image as they are part of the public domain.

A few other places to locate frakturs online are 
Free Library of Philadelphia  and  Frakturweb.

From the pension file of Christian Roth

Next time you are at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah you must have a look at this book:

The Printed Birth and Baptismal Certificates of the German Americans (FHL US/CAN Book 974.8 A3st) is the full title of the Fraktur art and printing collection of Klaus Stopp whose interest was in the ornate Pennsylvania German folk art and unique style of lettering. His value for the genealogical content is reflected in the indexing of some 24,000 individuals of German American heritage. The certificates were created between 1738 and 1901.

Bound in red cloth with gold embossing of “BBCs” on the spine, this valuable collection can be found in the open stacks on the third floor of the Family History Library. Each of the six volumes is about 300 pages with a surname index of about 4000 names. The index includes the name of the child (Kind), the parents (Eltern) sometimes with the mother’s maiden name, and the witnesses (Taufzeugen) often grandparents or other relatives. 

I will finish by leaving you with this gem.  This is a fabulous short video made by the NARA Conservation Lab about Fracturs:

Illustrated family record (Fraktur) found in Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land-Warrant Application File W3079, for Philip Frey, Pennsylvania.  Record group: Record Group 15: Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, 1773 - 2007 (ARC identifier: 344).  Series: Case Files of Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Applications Based on Revolutionary War Service, compiled ca. 1800 - ca. 1912, documenting the period ca. 1775 - ca. 1900 (ARC identifier: 300022).  File unit: Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land-Warrant Application File W3079, for Philip Frey, Pennsylvania, ca. 1800 - ca. 1900 (ARC identifier: 300194). NAIL Control Number: NWCTB-15-NM22E19-W3079-SLIDE18.

Illustrated family record (Fraktur) found in Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land-Warrant Application File W2842, for Christian Nichols, Pennsylvania. Record group: Record Group 15: Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, 1773 - 2007 (ARC identifier: 344). Series: Case Files of Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Applications Based on Revolutionary War Service, compiled ca. 1800 - ca. 1912, documenting the period ca. 1775 - ca. 1900 (ARC identifier: 300022). File unit: Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land-Warrant Application File W2842, for Christian Nichols, Pennsylvania, ca. 1800 - ca. 1900 (ARC identifier: 300192). NAIL Control Number: NWCTB-15-NM22E19-W2842-SLIDE48.

Illustrated family record (Fraktur) found in Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land-Warrant Application File R10234, for Tobias Starry, Pennsylvania. Record group: Record Group 15: Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, 1773 - 2007 (ARC identifier: 344). Series: Case Files of Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Applications Based on Revolutionary War Service, compiled ca. 1800 - ca. 1912, documenting the period ca. 1775 - ca. 1900 (ARC identifier: 300022). File unit: Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land-Warrant Application File R10234, for Tobias Starry, Pennsylvania, ca. 1800 - ca. 1900 (ARC identifier: 300033). NAIL Control Number: NWCTB-15-NM22E19-R10234-SLIDE90.

Illustrated family record (Fraktur) found in Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land-Warrant Application File W14231, for Christian Roth, Massachusetts. Record group: Record Group 15: Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, 1773 - 2007 (ARC identifier: 344). Series: Case Files of Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Applications Based on Revolutionary War Service, compiled ca. 1800 - ca. 1912, documenting the period ca. 1775 - ca. 1900 (ARC identifier: 300022). File unit: Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land-Warrant Application File W14231, for Christian Roth, Massachusetts, ca. 1800 - ca. 1900 (ARC identifier: 300066). NAIL Control Number: NWCTB-15-NM22E19-W14231-SLIDE68.

29 August 2015

What Does She Say - An Online Study Group

Dear Myrtle has done it again.  She has formed an online study group that focuses on chapters 1 and 2 of Elizabeth Shown Mills' Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, 3rd edition (1), commonly referred to as EE.   For four weeks a panel of seven, led by Dear Myrtle as moderator, discusses the fundamentals of evidence analysis and citation.  I am one of the panelists and so far have had a wonderful learning experience.   Myrt is a task master - we have had homework assignments every week!

You can view the first three sessions :

August 14th
August 21st
August 28th

The other panelists are:
Lisa Gorrell
Hilary Gadsby
Russ Worthington
Lacey Frazier
Dave Robison
Annette Lyttle

For more educational and informative videos by Dear Myrtle:

Dear Myrtle YouTube channel

"Mondays With Myrt"
"Wacky Wednesdays"
"Scotland Genealogy Study Group"
"Genealogy Game Night"
"Mastering Genealogical Proof"
"Beginning Genealogy Study Group"
"The Written Conclusion"
"GenLaw Study Group"

Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, 3rd edition (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2015). [Book available from the publisher at http://www.genealogical.com and in digital format from the author's websitehttp://www.EvidenceExplained.com]

09 August 2015

Cheers to 7 Years!

Where has the time gone?  I can't believe that seven years have passed since I joined up with a handful of bloggers who wrote about and shared anything having to do with genealogy.  2008 was a year of firsts for me genealogy wise.  In June 2008,  I attended the Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama.  I had just finished a 2 year certificate course at Monterey Peninsula College called Family History Studies and felt I was ready for the week long intense course of work that IGHR offered.  I was ready for the class but found I was very disoriented in being away from home for the first time in a very long time and felt like I was in a foreign country.  To vent my frustration at being so uncomfortable I wrote about my week long adventure and posted the series on the APG maillist to share with others.

It was Randy Seaver who contacted me and asked why didn't I start a blog.  I wasn't ready at the time but he did convince me to be a guest blogger for his blog Geneamusings.  My posts were well received and in August 2008 the first post for The Educated Genealogist went live.  Thank you Randy for your encouragement and friendship.

2016 will be the last year that IGHR will be held at Samford University so it seems fitting to celebrate my 7th Blogiversary with "What I Learned at Samford."


  • Not all donuts have a hole in the middle and come in big, pink, square boxes.
  • "Motorcycle Mama" has new meaning for me.
  • I may be geographically challenged for opportunities to join my peers at events, but I no longer feel alone in my pursuit of a career in the field of genealogical research.
  • I do not like thunder and lightning storms as much as I thought I did.
  • There is room on the porch with the big dogs.
  • There's a whole new definition for humidity and a human being's tolerance for it.
  • I do not like grits but I really like butter beans.
  • I don't care what anyone says, I like the Waffle House!
  • There is nothing better than being around so many people who don't think you are crazy.

I feel the need to share my reasons for the statements above and my first academic adventure at Samford and so begin with Day 1.


Birmingham, Alabama

My flight from California was smooth and fast; after a mere 30-minute layover in Houston, I arrived in Birmingham, Alabama, about 2:30 PM. I have never seen a place as green in the summer like Birmingham. Birmingham sits at the bottom of the lower Appalachian Mountain Range. Everywhere you look are low, tree covered, rolling hills.

My roommate had arranged for us to stay with a shirttail relative of hers because we could not check into the dorms until Sunday. We went to dinner at a Chinese buffet called Aunt Lisa's where the only Chinese food I saw were the fortune cookies we were given as a parting gift when we left. 

I was promised dinner and a show and was not disappointed. In the Winn Dixie parking lot was a group of musicians who get together once a month and play. One of the band members appeared to be under the age of 65, the other 11 were not. Three of them were women (one of them playing a bass fiddle that was 3 feet taller than she was). A total of 1 mandolin, 1 fiddle and 1 bass fiddle and 9 guitars. They played everything from very old gospel favorites to Elvis. An addition to the festivities was a car show (Southern definition of a car show: A group of 3 or more newly washed vehicles that are NOT trucks parked next to one another). Dancing was an option that a few took advantage of.

The next morning was a church service that I still do not know how to explain. Finally, after church but before we were dropped off at Samford, was another dining experience that I feel I must share - The Waffle House. 

There is a Waffle House everywhere in the south. The places are no bigger than my bathroom at home so I am assuming in order to serve the masses of people who frequent the establishment, having one on every corner is not over-doing it. I had hash browns that were smothered, covered, diced, chopped and some others things that one can have done to their food order. As you tell your waitress all the different ways you would like your food to be assaulted, she repeats your request to the cook shouting your preferences across the room.


At an hour of the day that I did not know existed (6:00 AM) I dragged my behind out of bed so I could peel the bed sheet off of it (my behind, that is) and get ready for the day. Now I could have said that my eyes popped open at the sound of the alarm clock and as I leapt out of bed ready to greet the new day, blah, blah, blah. But you and I both know what a big fat lie that would be!

There is a nice air-conditioned shuttle bus available to take you where you need to go on campus. It is perfect for those perky; "early bird gets the worm" kind of people who can make it out the door in time. For those of us who are perhaps a tad cranky upon arising, do not like worms, and are fond of our snooze buttons, the walk from the dorms to the cafeteria is downhill and if the wind is blowing in just the right direction it is a very short 5 minute walk. I would recommend taking the shuttle on any return trip to the dorms until your body acclimates to the heat and humidity. No amount of wind, blowing in any direction, is going to get you up that hill without your calves screaming in pain that first day.

A short detour here - I am used to 100 degree summers here in Stockton. I want to be clear on this - the heat is not a problem for me, and neither was the humidity once I learned how to breathe without absorbing excess moisture and drowning.

Again, the food was very tasty. I still do not like grits but have a tip for new people on how to make friends and fit right in - scoop some of those grits onto your plate and surround it with some more of the local favorites. You are allowed to eat all the food you want, so get an additional plate of food that you are comfortable with and voila’, instant friends. Beware however of meat that appears to be a chicken fried steak - it is catfish in disguise and does not go well with spiced apple oatmeal.

At 8:30 a.m., I walked to my classroom and feel silly admitting that I was very nervous. All the bright, perky, worm-eating people were already there. I took the last remaining seat in the back row (which as I will later relate was the best seat in the house) and tried not to call attention to myself.

(Note to self: - Wardrobe color and selection DO matter. - Save the fluorescent lime green mini skirt for day 3 or 4.)

Birdie Monk Holsclaw was the instructor for Land Records Case Studies. I felt at ease as soon as she began the class. She provides a stress-free learning environment. This is a term we use in California. It is meant to encourage blonde girls to get an education. It basically means that blondes are capable of learning and that previous theories of an overload of information does not make your brain explode, as first thought.

I knew the basics of land records, but Birdie taught me how to use them more effectively. She gave me tools I had never thought of using before to make those kinfolk connect. I am the registrar for our local DAR chapter and need to make sure that applications for membership that I send in are well documented and verifiable. Many times that magic piece of paper in which someone declares …”to my son/daughter…” does not exist.

I learned from taking this course that different pieces of evidence, when analyzed and correlated properly, can present a convincing argument for the case you are trying make.

Claire Bettag was up next. Now I have to explain something here. I had done a little snooping to find out about the instructors I would be learning from. Claire was one of a few that scared the hell out of me. I just knew that she would be able to take one look at me at say, “Aha! You’ve never been to Washington DC; you’ve never filled out a slip of paper with all those numbers on it to request a single case file from NARA.”

(Note to self: Preconceptions are a bad thing to carry around.)

I couldn’t have been more wrong. Claire is not scary at all! Claire gave us a wonderful presentation on the use of Private Land Claims. She made sure that no one was getting left behind in the class. She didn’t move on until everyone’s questions had been answered. She is just as passionate about teaching and sharing her knowledge as I am about learning. 

I was in bed that evening at another time that I did not know existed - 9:00 pm. I learned so much, my head did not explode, and I had a smile on my face.
As genealogists we are always running into problems and have to use our skills to solve them. Sometimes we collaborate with other genealogists to solve them as I will now demonstrate:I left out a very important event that happened on Sunday. 

My roommate had become ill and couldn't make it down to the cafeteria for dinner. I mentioned this to some people on the shuttle bus and a wonderful lady, Katherine Hopkins from Tennessee, offered to drive me into town to get the roommate something to eat. She went above and beyond the call of duty by taking me to Wal-Mart so I could buy a coffee pot. I would not have made it through the week without it. I cannot even get myself dressed without a cup of coffee first thing in the morning. I gave the coffee pot to Katherine when it was time to go home so she could donate it to her church.

I had a problem and Katherine helped me solve it. See how nicely that worked out?

(Note to self and pat on the back: Nice job of working that in. Katherine should forgive me for omitting her part of the story and I do not make myself appear quite the strung out, caffeine addicted junkie that I really am).

An aside: I am working hard on my "image" ever since the regent of my DAR chapter popped in at my home to bring me some papers. She found me in the backyard, my hair pulled up in a bun that looked like a rat's nest, in my bathing suit and flip flops, cigarette hanging out of the corner of my mouth, stereo headphones on top of the rat's nest, rocking out to Stevie Ray Vaughan while mowing the lawn. No, please don't even try to picture this in your head. If you do, I cannot be held responsible for any mental health issues that you may develop. I only share this unfortunate event with you because there is a valuable lesson to be learned here and as soon as I figure out what it is, I will get back to you.


Before our first guest speaker, Birdie says that she needs to know who will be giving a presentation on Friday morning. She had emailed us before we arrived and asked us to share a case we have worked on that involves land records with the class. Remember this part of the story; it becomes very important a bit later.

Elissa Powell, from Pennsylvania, is our second guest speaker. She shares one of her own actual case studies to illustrate how to correlate records using the Genealogical Proof Standard. Elissa was not on my "Scary" list. This is because I had already met her online. I participate in an online study group (they do NOT know that I am blonde) that is made up of people who are serious about becoming professional genealogists. Elissa has been very generous and sits in on our discussions whenever time permits. Whenever I see Elissa she is always smiling, she has a great sense of humor and you can tell you that not only does this lady know her stuff, she truly enjoys her job. This is a fairly new concept that is extremely difficult for some people to grasp - having a job that you love.

(Note to self: Need to get a job so I can start the loving)She gave us a great hands on exercise in which the class was divided into groups to solve the case. Deb Deal, Ann Staley, Margo Fariss Brewer and Stacy Anderson and I were Group 4. Our group worked so well together, I could have sworn that we had done it a million times. All of these ladies have been coming to Samford for years as well as many other genealogical events throughout the year. These ladies were great and they even liked my outfits. One of them even told me that not many people can wear that shade of magenta and get away with it.

(Note to self: Magenta does go with orange, keep the outfit)

Each group was given pieces of the problem and then had to report our findings and how those findings tied into the other group's findings. I learn new things best visually. When I cannot picture something in my head, good visual aids are a must for me. Maps are key to finding the answers for a lot of land problems. Looking at pedigree charts fixes a person's place in a lineage in my head. Elissa provided great documents like those above to use as clues to help the groups along. I think the purpose of this assignment was not so much finding an answer to a problem as it was to show us how to interpret the records properly, what records are available and where to find them and the importance of developing a research plan.

Dr. Debbie Abbott was our 3rd guest speaker. If you haven't ever had the opportunity to attend one of Dr. Debbie's Lectures - find a way to make it happen. Her topic was completely new to me - Using land, tax and census records to find the owners of a slave family in Kentucky. Using a real case study that she recently completed for her pastor, she showed us step by step the records she used, why she used them and what that record told her. If you pay close attention and interpret a document correctly, it will tell you where to look next in your search.

Dr. Debbie had us divide into groups and like Elissa, gave each group documents that she used. Each group had different documents to analyze and then report their findings. I am so glad I paid close attention to the background information she gave us before she handed out the documents. All of us have seen a page from a deed book before. It is pretty straightforward: It records a date, grantor, grantee and a reference to where you can find the original documents. I have not had an opportunity to research a case that involved slaves before. Did you know that in the deed books if the grantee was only referred to by their given name (no surname) more than likely is was an owner granting that person their freedom, not land? After Dr. Debbie explained this to me it made perfect sense. Slaves were property and when property is transferred from one person to another it is recorded in a deed book.

I am fully aware that one person cannot "know it all", but the value of knowing a little bit of everything is priceless. Since I was becoming familiar with the time of day known as 10:00 PM, I went to bed and had a smile on my face.

I promised to let you know what lesson I had learned from the unfortunate incident in the previous post - The lesson is to get a better hair cut so there is no possibility of ever having a rat’s nest. Moving on….


Here is where I had planned to skillfully weave yesterday’s ending and today’s beginning. It was my intention to bedazzle you with my brilliance so that I would not have to tell you that I overslept and was 2 hours late to class. But I don’t know how to do that, so I won’t.

Birdie was again asking for volunteers from our class to consider giving a little presentation about their research on Friday. I felt so bad about being late (and was still groggy) I walked right up to her and volunteered. Don’t forget this part; you will need it later.Guest Speaker #4 was Mark Lowe. Mr. Lowe was not on the scary list. Last year I had downloaded a recording of a lecture he gave at a FGS conference. His voice in person sounded just like the recording; therefore, he was not scary.

Mark’s presentation was great. Although this was not a hands-on exercise, it was a case study. “In the Parlor or Dining Room: Marriage on the State Line” was about one man, one house, three counties and two states. For those who haven’t heard this lecture, I don’t want to give away too much. Mr. Lowe is a very experienced researcher. When a student asked him how long it took to go through all the deeds for the case, he revealed that he had some connections that allowed him special privileges. (Being sworn to secrecy I cannot explain any further, but if you have the chance you could casually ask Mr. Lowe about his keys. You did not hear this from me.)

Lloyd Bockstruck was Guest Speaker #5 and he was on the scary list. First, he is a librarian and second, he is a librarian. I don't know about anyone else, but our local librarian was someone you did not want to mess with while you were in her territory. One little giggle or whisper was all it took for her to give you that look (you know the look - peering over the rim of her glasses, her mouth looking like she sucked a big old lemon). This of course was in the olden days when libraries could afford to have librarians. Mr. Bockstruck is not scary, he is extremely intelligent and a gentleman in every sense of the word. His lecture covered different methods of discovering a married woman's maiden name using guess what? Land records!

I had a very busy evening after dinner. I went to the library on campus to do a little research in their Special Collections. Samford has a great library. The Special Collections house an extensive Irish Collection. On the same floor is the computer lab which is in an enclosed room and then an area with about 25-30 computers with an internet connection. I used these computers to type up a few reports.

Katherine Hopkins (who took me shopping Sunday evening) saw me at the computers and nonchalantly whispered to me that she received an email which gave her some privileged information - Macy's was having a midnight madness sale! Did I perhaps want to join her, she asked? I arranged to meet her back at the dorm.

When I came out of the library I noticed immediately that something was different. There was a breeze and it was almost chilly. There were also some of the largest and blackest clouds in the sky that I had ever seen in my life. I got as far as the cafeteria before I started with the "Hail Mary's". A bolt of lightning that Zeus himself must have thrown filled the sky. I hurried a little faster to my room. The deafening crrraaccckk of thunder that shortly followed made me scream for my mommy. I made it up that hill to the dorms from the cafeteria in less than 5 minutes. I have seen and heard storms before, but nothing that would have prepared me for this. Going to Macy's did not sound like such a great idea.

The evening was not lost, however. Fortunately I remembered about a little ‘soiree' that I had been invited to. It was held on the prestigious 2nd floor of Chi Omega. Those rooms have new flooring, a towel rack in the bathroom, and no cobwebs in the corners. I am really glad I went.

Margo and Ann and Stacey I already knew from class, and Katherine joined us as well. I met some new faces: Amy, Beth and Mary. .I didn't get their last names. I had come very close to a complete meltdown earlier what with the storm, and I was doing good to remember my own name. The refreshments they served were quite varied: Cheetoes, Pork Rinds and something called a soy chip that reminded me of the movie "Soylent Green."

Later in my room, exhausted from the day, I didn't even look at the clock to see the time, but when I closed my eyes, I had a smile on my face.


I am not a writer nor do I play one on TV. I had intended this to be a chronological accounting of my experience... but each time, as soon as I posted one part I realized that I had left something out. So to continue with that theme…. Dr. Debbie Abbott was on my scary list too. She was also a part time student in the Land Records class and sat next to me in the back of the room (this is were that “sitting in the back of the class was a good thing” comes in). Being the new kid in school I had no idea who she was at the time, but I had a check mark in the scary column by her name. When Birdie introduced her she stood and walked to the front of the class and gave me a little nod. I dug in my bag for the bottle of white out and took her off the list. My basic formula for the Scary List: Librarian = Scary, PhD = Very Scary, Elizabeth Shown Mills = Very, Very Scary. You’ll be pleased to know that I no longer have a scary list.

Today we had Birdie all to ourselves for almost the entire day. When it comes to land, the records they produce, maps and how to plot them - Ms. Holsclaw reigns as the Queen in my book. She took us through (what she likes to call) mini-case studies to teach us how to plot maps from the calls in survey descriptions and how to use that information to find our ancestors. We got into our groups again and Birdie gave us a hands-on case to solve using multi-partitioned deeds. The manner in which Birdie Holsclaw teaches her classes lets you know that she started out in the genealogical field just like everyone else - a novice who through hard work and a genuine love of her profession put her at the top of the field today. 

After break was when IT happened. We heard a deep rumbling sound. Ann Staley said it was thunder and the rain would start soon. I told her that I had just come in from outside and the sun was out, sounded like a motorcycle to me. 

She went to the window and peeked out the blind and said “Oh, it is a motorcycle” and started to turn away from the window looked again and said “OH MY GOD, IT IS A MOTORCYCLE AND CLAIRE IS ON IT!” We just about fell all over ourselves rushing to the window. I’ll be damned, there she was, Claire Bettag, wearing a skirt mind you, riding shotgun on a Harley, waving to us with the biggest grin on her face. I didn’t know Claire liked to ride. She did not have a single visible tattoo as most “Motorcycle Mama's” are known to exhibit. Maybe things were different in the East than out West. For more information on this historic event or to get on the waiting list to be Claire’s roommate next year, please contact her directly. P.S. - For those who want visual confirmation, photos are available.

Our 6th and final guest speaker was Carolyn Earle Billingsley, PhD. Ms. Billingsley was on the list, but I had bought her book and after the first few chapters I had erased her name. Her topic was “Kinship Theory and Migration.” Her explanations of how and why people migrated as groups made such perfect sense to me. I highly recommend her book. She was very entertaining and skilled at getting her points across. I may be wrong but I got the feeling that she and I both march to the beat of a different drummer. But ultimately we are all in the same marching band (See - I did understand the book!).

Before I could leave for the day Birdie asked me how long my presentation would take. Presentation? Yes, how long was it going to take and would I be using a PowerPoint presentation or would I need an overhead projector? I just about passed out. I thought she had wanted maybe a written paragraph or two about my work. OMG, I don’t have a laptop, much less any of those other things she mentioned. I had to sit down. I told her that the answer was none of the above. She smiled sweetly and said OK, an oral report 10-15 minutes would be just fine.

Samford has a tradition of holding a lovely banquet the last night of our stay. I am sure that anything you wear would be OK, but most wore something a little dressier than daytime wear. I went to the dorm to get dressed and made it inside just as the sky opened up and let us have it. It rained cats, dogs, sheep, elephants, you name it. I have since heard that the rain is traditional on banquet night. The food was wonderful as usual and the speaker, Paul Miller, was entertaining. I was having a hard time concentrating. I was still trying to make myself understand that I am going to talk to people, while standing in front of the class. Talk to them like I knew what I was doing. 

I got back to the dorm and went to bed dazed and confused but with a smile on my face.


For blondes in California, Friday the 13th is a legal holiday. This is what I thought might get me off the hook for speaking to the class. I was not having a good start to my day. I had not made the correct calculations and had run out of cigarettes the night before. I got more than a few funny looks as I was walking down the hill looking up into the sky and saying, "Just take me now and get it over with!" I was working on a legal holiday, they had run out of spiced apple oatmeal in the cafeteria, and I was drinking coffee without a cigarette.

Walking through the parking lot to my classroom to meet my fate, an angel pulled up in her car. Why, it was Ms. Martha from my class, Ms. Martha who sat in the Front row of my class. I must have looked really bad. She asked what was wrong and when I told her she took a quick look around and said, "Hurry quick and get in the car." Bless her little heart, Ms. Martha took some back road, got me to the mini mart and back to school in time for me to have a smoke and for us to get to class on time. PLEASE NOTE: Ms. Martha does not smoke, she did it for me out of the kindness of her heart which I blessed earlier. I am forever in your debt, Martha.

OK, so maybe the day was getting a little better. I was wearing my favorite fluorescent Hawaiian Print Dress and lime green sandals. My mother always told me when you look good, you feel good. 

It was nearing the time for me to have my turn. Everyone before me had power point things and laser pointers. I finally tore a piece of paper out of my notebook, wrote on it and waited. I dragged myself up to the podium, held up my piece of paper that said, “The Problem with Pauline,” and proceeded to tell everyone about my research. I did this with a classroom of new friends, some new found confidence, and a smile on my face.

(c) Sheri Fenley, June 2008

31 May 2015

Wearing My DAR Registrar Hat

Last Wednesday I appeared on Dear Myrtle's Wacky Wednesday show.  That show focused on reviewing the DAR application of True Lewis.

Marian Koalski and I had been working with True for a month before the show helping her gather documentation for her application.

I think the show turned out well and provides many tips on the application process.

To watch the archived video click HERE.

27 May 2015

That's Right - I'm Going to Jamboree!

It's that time of year again - time for the Southern California Genealogical Society's Jamboree.  I missed going for the last couple of years for one reason or another.  But not this year.  I registered online, booked my flight and in 3 weeks I am leaving on a jet plane.

I even became a member of their society - first time ever!  The difference in total cost of registration with a membership was only $10 more than if I didn't become a member.  Plus I have a year membership to a great society who has oodles of benefits.

I have circled several sessions that peaked my interest and signed up as a volunteer to sit at the DAR booth and the California State Genealogical Alliance Booth.

I have promised to TRY and behave myself, but we all know how that will probably go.  

There is still time to register but you may have to do it at the door.  If you still need convincing, here are a few photos from past Jamborees that are sure to change your mind!

27 March 2015

First Families of San Joaquin County Certificate Program

The San Joaquin Genealogical Society and the San Joaquin County Historical Society have partnered to offer First Families of San Joaquin County Certificate Program.

This project has been a long time in coming.  I don't usually like to toot my own horn, however - TOOT, TOOT, TOOT!
I have worked for over a year to make this happen.  Many thanks to Dave Stuart (CEO) and Leigh Johnsen (Archivist) from the San Joaquin Historical Society and Jacqi Stevens and Harvey Williams from the San Joaquin Genealogical Society.  The project wouldn't even have got off the ground if not for these wonderful people.

There are three categories of First Families that your ancestor may qualify for:

FOUNDING FAMILY:  Settled in San Joaquin County before 1860.
PIONEER FAMILY: Settled in San Joaquin County between 1860 and 1880.
CENTURY FAMILY:  Settled in San Joaquin County after 1880 but before 100 years fro the current year.

We hope to identify pioneers and early residents and to honor their lasting contributions to the history of San Joaquin County by recognizing their descendants who submit genealogical information.

All applications and documentation submitted will be housed in the San Joaquin County Historical Museum Research Library to preserve your family's history and will be made available for public research.

For each qualifying ancestor, an 8 1/2” x 11” certificate, suitable for framing, numbered and signed, will be issued.   $10 for members of the San Joaquin Genealogical Society or San Joaquin County Historical Society; $15 for non members. 

For instructions and application form, click HERE.

15 March 2015

"The Most Beautiful Woman in California"

This statement was quoted in the San Francisco Call (23 November 1908) from the artist Charles Dana Gibson (Gibson girls) when he saw Anna Delpino Peters at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco.

Anna was one of the charter members of El Toyon Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution.  Anna's mother, Anna Forman Peters was the organizing Regent.  Anna's sister, Genevieve Peters was also a charter member.

Anna Forman Peters was the wife of J.D. Peters one of the wealthiest men in San Joaquin County.  He was a grain merchant, banker, land developer and owner a fleet of steamships.  Their children, J.D. Jr., Genevieve and Anna, spent much of their teen and young adult years back and forth between Stockton and San Francisco.  They were part of what was then called “The Smart Set” - people who were among the very wealthy and were socially prominent. 

Genevieve, though maybe not quite as pretty as her sister Anna, held her own when it came to popularity amongst her peers.  

Genevieve was engaged to be married to a man named Arthur Duncan.  One week after the date to be married was set, she broke off the engagement citing religious differences.  The same evening she attended a dinner that was held in honor of the broken engagement.  Exactly one year later, she married Dr. Clarence Logan Six and they had three children:  John Logan Six, Robert Forman Six and Genevieve Six.  Robert Forman Six was the CEO of Continental Airlines from 1936-1981.  He was married twice, both times to actresses – Audrey Meadows and Ethel Merman.  Genevieve Forman Peters Six died at the age of 48 on 17 May 1926 in Stockton, San Joaquin County, California.

While working as a volunteer in a San Francisco hospital, Anna Peters met James Callery Jackman.  James was a Captain in the Marine Corp and was hospitalized from being gassed during World War I.  Anna nursed him back to health and they were later married.  They did not have any children.  Anna DaPino Peters Jackman died at the age of 88 on  15 June 1974 in Santa Clara County, California. 

The only son in the family, J.D. Peters followed in his father's footsteps and was a successful grain merchant and land developer.  He married Jessie Fillmore and were very happy until the year 1908.  

All the staff involved were fired immediately from their positions.  To this day, the crime has never been solved.

14 March 2015

This One Should Make You Chuckle

So I came across this article I wrote for "The Catholic Gene" blog back in 2011.  It really is way too funny not to share it with you here.  So for those who may have missed it 4 years ago -

St. Vincent de Paul

For my first post to The Catholic Gene I am going to tell you about St. Vincent de Paul. I have to tell you that there is more to this guy than meets the eye. Just look at that face – that twinkle in his eye. There aren’t many portraits of Saints that make me smile like this one does. He even died with a smile on his face. You can see for yourself the next time you’re in Paris. Just go to the Vincentian Chapel at Rue de Sèvres and have yourself a visit with St. Vince. Maybe he looks happy because he didn’t die a gruesome, horrible martyr’s death.

The boring hard facts are that Vincent de Paul was born at Pouy, France on April 24, 1581. He was ordained a priest on September 23, 1600. Vincent devoted himself entirely to works of charity. Vincent died in Paris on September 27, 1660 and was canonized in 1737.

 In 1633 he founded the Sisters of Charity who wear the coolest habits and coronets.

I’m certain that it was this order of nuns, the Sisters of Charity, that TV Land had in mind when they created The Flying Nun. I think I will contact the Pope and petition for another cause for St. Vincent for surely he is the patron saint of flying nuns as well.

And finally we thank St. Vincent for the inspiration behind the creation of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Founded in Paris, France in 1833 and brought to America in 1845, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul brought us the THRIFT STORE! Who among you hasn’t been in a St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store? The stores have been around a lot longer than I imagined. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is the oldest charity in Chicago. It opened its doors in 1857. Philadelphia’s opened in 1861 and Baltimore, Maryland in 1865.

Because I am a most thorough and meticulous researcher, I recently went on a Pilgrimage to all the St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Stores withing a 100 mile radius of my home here in Stockton. I am happy to report that there are exactly 23. In the spirit of St. Vincent (being charitable, that is) I will share with you the treasure of all treasures that I found in the St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store in Pacific Grove, California.  You’re welcome.

Disturbing, yet hideously tacky in a delightful sort of way

Thank you St. Vincent, you’re my kind of saint!