30 December 2011

Answering The Challenge or Double-Dog Dare

Back in January 2011 Cheryl Palmer and I had lunch and decided to set some goals and try to achieve them using the Buddy System that Amy Coffin and Denise Levenick had implemented.  Cheryl and I became the Northern California Team, while Amy and Denise were name the Southern California Team.  This wasn't a contest but rather more reinforcement to help each of us achieve our goals set for the year.

Amy and Denise each chose three goals.  I chose only two and Cheryl had quite an ambitious list.  You can read about Amy's year end results HERE, Denise's final recap HERE and to read how Cheryl fared you can click HERE.

My first goal:

Write and submit a genealogical article to , well, anyplace that will take it.

I had been asked to write an article for the Idaho Genealogical Society about my "Problem With Pauline."  Halfway into writing, I found more information that will change the story and it was agreed to hold off on submitting the story for now.

A few days later I was asked by Kathryn Doyle from the California Genealogical Society and Library to write an article for their magazine "The Nugget."  The magazine has a recurring series entitled "California Ancestors" and she knew that I had done extensive research on a few San Francisco Pioneers.  So I did a narrative on my sister-in-law's ancestor David Nathan Walter who came to San Francisco in 1858.  I am pleased  the article was worthy of SIX pages in the Fall 2011 issue of the Nugget!

My second goal:

For my educational goals for the year, I really wanted to do something different. I read about some genealogists getting together and meeting in a virtual online world called Second Life. Through the use of avatars, they get their genealogy groove-on. The group has recently been approved and is a bona fide chapter of the APG - Association of Professional Genealogists.  This goal is going to take me way longer than I had anticipated. I can't seem to even get my avatar dressed and when I tried to change the hair style and color of her hair - well it somehow got snatched off her head completely so now I have a naked and bald avatar prancing around make-believe land and have not a clue as how to save my avatar from certain destruction. At the very least a ticket for indecent exposure.

Well my first attempt to participate had discouraged me so much that it took me until just last week to give it another try.  I am pleased to say that my avatar - JypsieBluze - has hair, clothing and I was able to navigate to the Just Genealogy Group meeting hosted by Clarise Beaumont aka Dear Myrtle last week.

My Second Life Avatar - JypsieBluze 
standing in front of a building at Just Genealogy

The Buddy System worked for me.  Being accountable for the goals I set made all the difference in the world as far as motivation was concerned.  

So I am ready to set some goals for 2012 - who wants to be my Buddy???

28 December 2011

Making Some Family History Where Ever I Go

So my husband has children from a previous marriage and it is because of his children that I have grandchildren.  We don't see them often and maybe it's because of the stories they tell their parents after one of their visits with me.

Take today for instance.  I needed to go to the market.  They did NOT want to accompany me but they are only 10 and 8 years old and I felt not old enough to stay home alone.  So being the responsible grandparent that I am I made them come along.  I told them grocery shopping with me was an experience of a lifetime.  Of course they rolled their eyes at me but curiosity got the better of them and off we went.

As soon as we arrive I begin with the fast paced shopping cart races in the parking lot.  I had them hooked.

We danced in the frozen food aisle, played the paper towel end zone challenge in another aisle.  This is where you launch a roll of paper towels to see how far you can throw it down the aisle.  Then of course we played canned food bowling and topped it off watching the "Lobster Wars" over in the fresh seafood aisle lobster tank.  

With the right combination of caffeine and creativity, you can transform grocery shopping into a Disneylandish bonding experience with your children or grandchildren. Life is too short not to have all kinds of fun where ever you are! 

26 December 2011

My Other Life

Because of the posts written by Leah Kleylein over at Random Notes and by Susan Peterson over at Long Lost Relatives, I feel the need to reveal what occupies my time when genealogy doesn't.

I used to think that those who watched television were akin to those who worshipped Satan.  In the last year or so, the Devil took me by the hand and showed me the way to Hell.  The current list of shows I NEVER miss:

Big Bang Theory
Modern Family
Raising Hope
I Hate My Teenage Daughter

Body of Proof
All the Alphabet Shows
Boardwalk Empire
Hell on Wheels
The Closer
Pan Am
Prime Suspect

The Sing Off
Dancing With The Stars
So You Think You Can Dance

The Event
Being Human
Once Upon A Time
Falling Skies

I have fallen further into the Unholy Abyss with my addiction to playing games like Angry Birds, Gardens of Time, Hot Shot, Mah Jong and Word Whomp Whackdown.

As if that weren't enough, I have also fallen prey to timesuckers such as Jibjab, Imagechef,  Smurf Yourself and FunnyWow.

I try to redeem myself with puzzles because it almost like doing science, right?   I can spend hours with word logic puzzles.  However that usually leads me to the jigsaw puzzle.  There is ALWAYS a jigsaw puzzle in progress on my dining room table.  I can't pass by the table without stopping to fit a piece or two in.

Of course I do all of the above while listening and dancing to music from the Black Eyed Peas, Adele, Matchbox Twenty, Maroon 5, Pussycat Dolls and Lady Gaga.

So what evilalities (yes it is a word, I just now made it up)  occupy your time?????

16 December 2011

Northern California Chapter APG January Field Trip

The Northern California Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists has scheduled their quarterly field trip for Thursday January 5th, 2012.  This time it will be right here in Stockton at the Holt-Atherton Special Collections of University of the Pacific Library.

Archivist Michael Wurtz will take us on a tour of their holdings and give a presentation on the Stockton State Hospital.  Constructed in 1853, it was first known as the Stockton Insane Asylum.  The state legislature at the time felt that existing hospitals were incapable of caring for the large number of people who suffered from mental and emotional conditions as a result of the Gold Rush and so they authorized the creation of the first public mental health hospital in the State of California.

Just a few holdings of  the special collections:

Japanese-American Internment Collection which includes oral histories of Japanese-Americans who had been relocated during WWII

The archives of jazz Legend Dave Brubeck

The John Muir Papers - the world's largest collection of Muir documents.  The furniture in the special collections reading room is from John Muir's study.

Western Americana is comprised of over 400 collections of unique primary sources and a specialized book collection - over 22,000 volumes on the American West

Spooner Collection - This collection consists of stereographs taken by John Pitcher Spooner in California between approximately 1875 and 1905.

University of the Pacific was established by pioneer Methodist ministers in Santa Clara in 1851 as California's first chartered institution of higher learning. Initially named California Wesleyan College, it petitioned the state to change its name to University of the Pacific one month after it was chartered.  The University provided the West Coast with its first medical school in 1858 (which later became part of Stanford, and today is California Pacific Medical Center), its first coeducational graduating class in 1858, and its first conservatory of music in 1878.  In 1871, Pacific moved to San Jose and in 1896, it merged with Napa College. Its final move was from San Jose to Stockton in 1924.

Are you a member of APG?  Are you thinking about becoming a member?  Are you a Northern California Genealogist?

All are welcome to join us for the tour, presentation and lunch afterward at a nearby restaurant. There is no cost for the tour and presentation, however we all go dutch at lunch. I will need a headcount no later than December 31, 2011 so the good people at UOP can accommodate us comfortably.  Please email me, Sheri Fenley, to RSVP :  sherifenley@gmail.com

DATE:       Thursday  -  January 15, 2012

TIME:        10:30 am until 12:00 pm
                Please plan on arriving at 10:15am inside the library in the cafe.

PLACE:     University of the Pacific
               3601 Pacific Avenue
               Stockton, California 95211

Christmas Video Series - Part 4

As you may know, I made a few Christmas videos to show my appreciation for commentators, mentors, encouragers and others who have shown me all kinds of love this past year.  Have you seen the first, second, and third in the series?  After watching this one, I know you'll want to go back and see the others.  OK, on with the show!

The Cast of Characters

Chris Staats - Staats Place
Caroline Marshall Pointer - Family Stories
Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski - In My Life
Denise Levenick - The Family Curator
Cheryl Palmer - My Heritage Happens

13 December 2011

Simply Mahvalous Websites and Blogs

Dae Powell over at Shoe String Genealogy has written a most informative and useful article about reading and deciphering different handwriting styles through the years.  His site is full of help for beginners and seasoned genealogists alike.  I love his page of charts, forms and checklists and his article on the Works Progress Administration (WPA) is brilliant!

Probing The Past, Virginia and Maryland Probate Inventories 1740-1810 is brought to you by George Mason University, Gunston Hall Plantation and Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.  Probate records provide valuable information about the lifestyles of people during the colonial and early national periods.  325 probate inventories from the Chesapeake region of Maryland and Virginia for the period of 1740 to 1810 were transcribed and the household items entered into a searchable database.  This is the place to learn all about Colonial Era probates.

Repositories of Primary Sources for the Western United States and Canada can be found on the University of Idaho Special Collections site.  

Pattie and Pam are the authors of Technology Tamers.  This blog is devoted to using MS word for genealogy.  Each post is a lesson on how to do a specific task in MS Word.  Check out the Label list in the left sidebar.  They make it so easy to understand, even I can follow the instructions!

Documenting the American South is a digital publishing iniative that provides access to text, images and audio files related to southern history, literature and culture.  It currently has 15 collections of books, diaries, posters, artifacts, letters, oral history interviews and songs.  The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill sponsors the site and the texts and materials come primarily from its holdings.    Here I found oodles of information about the Methodist Church in North Carolina.  My 3rd great grandfather - H.A.T. Harris was a Methodist minister.  He started out as a Circuit Rider in Lincoln County, North Carolina and ended up as the minister of the Methodist church in Montezuma, Poweshiek County, Iowa. His life as a minister is documented and much of it in the archives maintained by the Methodist church.

Christmas Video Series - Part 3

Continuing with my Christmas video series to show my appreciation and undying love, I present to you something a little, er ummm,  different.

The Cast of Characters

FootnoteMaven - The FootnoteMaven
Elizabeth Swanay O'Neal - Little Bytes of Life
Thomas MacEntee - Destination Austin Family
Diana Ritchie - Random Relatives
Donna Pointkouski - What's Past Is Prologue

12 December 2011

Christmas Video Series Part 2

As you might remember from last week, I made a series of Christmas videos starring people who almost always leave a comment, have given me encouragement, acted as mentors and just plain made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Today I give you the second video in the series.

The Cast of Characters

Randy Seaver - Geneamusings
Jennifer Holik-Urban - Generations
Michelle Goodrum -  The Turning of Generations

09 December 2011

Appreciation For Commentators, Mentors and Warm Fuzzies

Blogging is really easy to do.  Blogging on a regular basis is a bit tougher.  

But  you know what makes it easier?  When I read the comments that readers have left for me.  Some tell me that they have learned something new and some just want to say I have made them smile.  There have even been a few that have taught me a thing or two!

I appreciate each and every one of you more than you'll ever know.  And to show you how much I have made a series of Christmas videos that star people who never fail to leave a comment, have given me encouragement, act as mentors and just plain make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

To kick off the series of Christmas videos I enlisted the help of some CG's and some not :

Brenda Dougall Merriman who has a most excellent blog that is conveniently named Brenda Dougall Merriman!

Paula Stuart WarrenPaula's Genealogical Eclectica

Marian Pierre-Louis - Marian's Roots and Rambles

Deborah Lord Campisano who doesn't have a blog YET, but says she will soon.

And I couldn't resist playing a part in this one, so the 5th wheel is me.

Stay tuned for the next one!

07 December 2011

Blog Caroling - Everybody Sing!

My dear friend, the footnoteMaven is continuing the tradition she started of "Blog Caroling."  What is it all about you ask?  Well, "Blog Caroling" is posting the lyrics, a video or anything really of your favorite Christmas carol on your blog.  For complete directions on how to join us, head on over to footnoteMaven's and read all about it.  

Now where did I put that video of Eartha Kitt, hmmmm???

02 December 2011

Ooooh Look - Something Shiny

Well it's happened to me again.  I begin a search for information for an article I am trying to write and 25 hours later I am full of all kinds of useless information and no closer to finishing the article.  Don't laugh - I KNOW it has happened to you too!

IT ALL STARTED when I happened upon the NARA blog called "Prologue: Pieces of History" and the post by Hillary - What's Cooking Wednesday:  Truman and the no-turkey Thursday.  President Harry S. Truman delivered the first televised presidential speech on October 5, 1947.  Speaking from the White House, Truman appealed to Americans to conserve food for starving people in Europe - no meat on Tuesdays, no poultry on Thursdays.

Ooh - I need to learn how this affected my rural SouthEast Kansas ancestors who were farmers.   Clickity- clack goes my keyboard and I do a search for "Americans no poultry on Thursday."  I scan down the list of results and this pops out at me-

Mike the Headless Chicken

No way can I move on without checking that out first.  In 1945 a man attempts to behead a chicken for dinner and botches the execution.  With the brain stem and one ear left intact, the damn bird lived.  The owner named it Mike and took the chicken on the road.  Don't believe me?  Check out the Life Magazine photo shoot of Mike the Headless Chicken.  There is even a festival celebrating Mike's will to live in Fruita, Colorado every year in May.

So now I am thinking I need to find out about sideshows and carnivals back then.  Maybe my ancestors lived in areas where they frequented and maybe had the opportunity to attend one. Clickity clack type type type and now I find "Rural Kansas Tourism" that has such gems as "Bicycle Mystery" and  "The Biggest Ball of Twine."    But the best find of all?  My ancestors were living in the thick of the carnies and Freak Shows.  Kinsley, Kansas is where you will find the National Foundation for Carnival Heritage Center.  Boy, I never saw that coming. They even have a Facebook page!   Kinsley is also called Midway, USA because it is exactly 1561 miles to San Francisco and exactly 1561 miles to New York City.

By this time I can't even remember what the hell I was searching for in the first place.  Figuring my brain needs  some R & R from the information overload, I spent the next two hours playing "Angry Birds."  After dinner and some T.V. viewing, I am back at the computer going through my email.  It's now 1:00 am and I am just about to shut the computer off and all the sudden remember about the article that I need to have finished by the next morning.  

And so clickity clack,  I begin again with the searching. So let's hear about the last time you saw "Something Shiny", where did it take you?

29 November 2011

I Am Just All Kinds of Festive!

Changing my blog design was the most scariest thing I have ever attempted tech-wise.  I hope I have done everything right so when the holidays are over, I can put things back the way they were.  If not, make friends with the peek-a-boo Santa above now.

It was actually pretty easy to do.  So easy that it makes me think I might have screwed something up. Ha Ha

Anywho, you can decorate your blog too!  If you are using the Blogger platform then I STRONGLY suggest you watch a couple of 3 minute videos by Thomas MacEntee.  Unless of course you are a tech geek, in which case never mind what I just said and get your blog all kinds of Festive!

If you are tech-challenged like me then head on over to Geneabloggers and read the post "Have You Decorated Your Blog For The Holidays?" and watch the 2 very short instructional videos.  Then take your new-found knowledge and head over to "Resources For Holiday Blog Decorating".  Plan on spending some time ogling the delicious holiday blog eye candy.  I changed my mind a hundred different times trying to decide on the decorations.

Once you have your blog decorated, shout it out loud so we can all come visit your place and be awed by your creative genius!

22 November 2011

From Me To You - A Thanksgiving Video


My gift to you.  You are welcome.


BILL WEST - West In New England

MARIAN PIERRE-LOUIS - Marian's Roots and Rambles

PAULA STUART WARREN - Paula's Genealogical Eclectica

RANDY SEAVER - GeneMusings

20 November 2011

What Do I Want From A Genealogy Society Website?

Did I happen to mention that I recently was appointed Secretary for the California State Genealogical Alliance?  No?  Well now you know.  I am so thrilled to be working with Alliance to further genealogical endeavors in the State of California.

The California State Genealogical Alliance Blog  is our current endeavor to reach out to not only the membership, but to the entire genealogical community.  Managed by Gena Ortega, there are currently four bloggers:  CSGA webmaster, Cat Nielsen will be posting about  CSGA webite news.  Special Projects Chair Cath Madden Trindle, CG will report on Alliance projects , the Online California Research Guide and give reviews of California resources.  Legislative Watch Chair Junel Davidsen, CG will keeps us updated on legislation that affects the genealogical community and present a "Find of the Month."  And me?   I will be contributing to the blog with a monthly spotlight on member societies and present a Volunteer of the Month.  Do you know of a volunteer that deserves special recognition for their efforts?  Please contact me by either leaving a comment or email me directly at  :   sherifenley at gmail dot com    so I can make them a rock star.

Writing the first post that spotlights a genealogical society got me to thinking - what do I want to see on a genealogy society website?  I am tech-challenged beyond mortal comprehension so I am not sure how difficult it is to make the items on my list happen, but for what it may be worth here is what I like to see on a genealogy society website:

I adore sites that have  a clean, sharp, uncluttered  look and are easy to navigate.

The landing page of a society's website should tell me exactly what I am going to find on the site and clearly labeled buttons for me to click and take me there.  Example:  Let's say I read somewhere that Our City Genealogical Society has an obituary index located on their website.  When I arrive at the website I do not want to have to spend time looking for it. There should be a button for me to click on and whisk me away to the index.

One of the first things I look for are PHOTOS - photos of special and even not so special events and meetings that include the membership.  Photos that show the benefits of membership.  Photos of smiling genealogists enjoying time spent with others who share the same interest and passion.  Photos that make me want to belong.

Another section I really enjoy is the History of the Society.  When was it established?  How many people are currently members?  Who was the first president?  Special achievements?

An important part that I see lacking on many websites is the Contact Page.  It does not please me when the only way to contact the society is to mail  a letter to a P.O. Box.   Who are the current board members and what is their email address?  I appreciate the convenience of  a contact form right there on the site to fill out.

One of the best ways to get the feel for a society and the way they run things is to read their Newsletters.  I understand that the most current newsletter is a benefit of membership and have no problem with that. However, a sample of a  newsletter from the last year is not an unreasonable request.   I have come across quite a few society websites that only have newsletters from 10 years ago.

And last, but certainly not least is the section about Membership.  In a perfect genealogy world, one could become a member simply by filling out an online form then click a button to pay the dues online.  Having to print an application form, fill it out by hand, write a check, buy a stamp and mail it practically guarantees that I won't be a member of that society anytime soon.  I am lazy that way.  Make it as easy as possible for people  and I'm going to bet that you will see membership numbers rise.

So there you have it.  My rants and raves.  What about you?  What do you want from a genealogy website?

16 November 2011

My Flip Pal Project

I had envisioned using the Flip Pal as the sharpest tool in my onsite research kit.  Totally for book nerdy geekoid uses, oh let me count the ways!

Wracking my brain to come up with something artsy-crafty has almost put me in a coma.  I did not inherit the Martha Stewart gene from my mother, much to her chagrin.  However -  I did have my mother in mind when I finally came up with this home made gift for her.

Lately, the first sentence out of my mother's mouth has been - "I don't see enough of you!"  Mother lives a mere 2 1/2 hours away from me and I really need to make an effort to spend more time with her.  So this is where my brilliant, oh so clever idea for a gift stems from.  My mother wants to see more of me.  Well, with the help of my little friend Flip Pal, I am going to create a one of a kind gift that I'll bet never, ever occurred to Martha Stewart.


1  legal size piece of paper, a paper doll figure pattern,  6 little photos of me ( I suppose you could substitute a different photo, but it wouldn't mean as much to my mother), a couple of festive-colored garments of your chosing - I chose a green velour jacket and a  red sweatshirt that my mother made me take home the last time I visited with her. ( Bonus points for  using something with  sentimental value.), red and green markers and glue.


Fold the paper in half lengthwise.  Then fold the paper accordian style 2 inches in width.

Trace the doll figure onto the folded paper.  Draw the lines for the hands and feet all the way to the edges of the paper.  Next cut out the doll through the whole thing taking care not to cut in the red "x" area as shown above.  When you are finished cutting, stretch out the paper.  Do you have something that resembles this? :

If you answered yes, then move along to the next part.  If what you have isn't even close, then talk to me after class - there are support groups to help you with this kind of thing.

OK, here is where the Flip Pal comes into play.  To make dresses for the me-dolls, I first scanned the red sweater and then the green jacket, printed the scans and then cut out hourglass shapes  for dresses.   


I am going to tie a ribbon to the donuts on the ends of the hands so Mother can hang me practically anywhere she choses.   I think this is a huge step up from the reindeer ornament, don't you?   

Disclosure: I am an affiliate of Flip-Pal which means that when you click on a link, graphic or text, and then purchase from them, I receive a small referral commission. Flip-Pal provided me with an evaluation scanner to participate in the Simple Gifts Blog Hop, which I will not be required to return.

Be sure to visit the other participants in the Flip Pal Simple Gifts genealogy blog hop:

Drusilla Pair
Find Your Folks

Marian Pierre-Louis

          Marian's Roots and Rambles

Caroline Pointer

For Your Family Story

Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Nutfield Genealogy

Nancy Shively

Gathering Stories

Julie Cahill Tarr


09 November 2011

The Results From the APG Election Are In!

Association of Professional Genealogists Announces Election Results for Executive Committee, Regional Directors and Nominating Committee

Kenyatta D. Berry Elected APG President

WESTMINSTER, Colo., November 9, 2011−The Association of Professional Genealogists (APG®) today announced election results for its 2012–2014 executive committee, as well as for nine regional directors and two new nominating committee members. Kenyatta D. Berry of Santa Monica, Calif. was elected president. Berry, a genealogist, entrepreneur and lawyer with more than 15 years of experience in genealogy research and writing, served as APG vice president during the last term. She will succeed Laura G. Prescott of Brookline, New Hampshire.

“I am honored to be elected and excited at the depth and breadth of experience represented by our incoming officers, board and committee members,” said Berry. “APG made great strides during the last administration, growing to more than 2,400 members, adding new Chapters and expanding internationally. I look forward to continuing the important work of this organization.”

Kimberly D. Powell of Pennsylvania was elected APG vice president. Powell has been writing and blogging on genealogy for About.com since 2000. She is the author of several genealogy books and currently serves as a member on the APG board.

Janice S. Prater of Denver, Colo. will serve as secretary. Prater is the editor of the International Society of British Genealogy and Family History’s quarterly publication and is treasurer for the Colorado Chapter of APG. APG treasurer will be Joan Peake of West Virginia, a certified public accountant and the president of the Great Lakes Chapter of APG and the Fayette Ohio Genealogical Society.

APG members elected the following regional directors:

West region: Jean Wilcox Hibben, CG, is president of the Southern California Chapter of APG and the Corona (Calif.) Genealogical Society, secretary of the Genealogical Speakers Guild. Joan A. Hunter, MLS, CG, serves as Librarian General for the National Society, Daughters of the American Revolution, and is a past president of the Oregon Chapter of APG.

Midwest region: Billie Stone Fogarty, M.Ed., fulltime genealogist and lecturer and president of the Genealogical Speakers Guild. Jay H. Fonkert, CG, is a fulltime genealogist, lecturer and writer and a founder of the Northland APG Chapter.

Southeast region: Alvie L. DavidsonCG, is a Florida-based private investigator and circuit court qualified expert, specializing in missing persons and genealogical applications of investigations. Michael Hait, CG, is a professional genealogy researcher, writer and lecturer who currently serves as vice president of the National Capital Area Chapter of APG.

Northeast region: Debra Braverman is a professional genealogist in New York City, specializing in due diligence for trust and estates matters, and 19th–21st century New York research. Michael Leclerc of Massachusetts is a genealogist who most recently served as director of special projects at the New England Historic Genealogical Society.

International regions: Michael Goldstein of Israel, traces roots worldwide, specializing in family reunification, heir searches and Holocaust research.

Elected to one-year terms on the nominations committee are: Jana Sloan Broglin, CG, a director for the Federation of Genealogical Societies, and Debby Horton, professional genealogist and web designer.

About APG
The Association of Professional Genealogists (www.apgen.org), established in 1979, represents more than 2,400 genealogists, librarians, writers, editors, historians, instructors, booksellers, publishers and others involved in genealogy-related businesses. APG encourages genealogical excellence, ethical practice, mentoring and education. The organization also supports the preservation and accessibility of records useful to the fields of genealogy and history. Its members represent all fifty states, Canada and thirty other countries. APG is active on LinkedIn, Twitter (www.twitter.com/apggenealogy) and FaceBook (www.facebook.com/AssociationofProfessionalGenealogists).

Media Contacts:
Kathleen W. Hinckley, CG, Executive Director,
Association of Professional Genealogists
P.O. Box 350998, Westminster, CO 80035-0998
Phone 303-422-9371, fax 303-456-8825, email 

Corey Oiesen, Communications Officer
Association of Professional Genealogists

APG is a registered trademark of the Association of Professional Genealogists. All other trade and service marks are property of their respective owners.