Watch out Salt Lake City – Here I come!

Posted by Laurie M on October 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

The Southern California Genealogical Society holds their annual Jamboree each June, and is the highlight of my year. The event brings the best of the best to Southern California, and each year I expand my knowledge by listening to superb lecturers who are experts in their specialties. This past year I attended two sessions by Lisa Louise Cooke on using Google Earth to research and to show your family history to others. I made a mental note of her Genealogy Gems podcasts, but became distracted with our New England research trip, and well, life…

So, a few a days ago I finally decided to check out these podcasts. I consider myself a techie (okay, maybe “geek” is more like it), but I’d never subscribed to a podcast. I downloaded a few of the free podcasts, and WOW! Starting with titles from 2010 that sounded intriguing, Lisa had several interviews of speakers that were scheduled to present at the first ever RootsTech 2011 last February. I’d heard about the event, of course (and had been green with envy when various bloggers mentioned their attendance and described the event). I’d even considered attending RootsTech 2012 this upcoming year. However, what really got me was one of Lisa’s guest speakers describing RootsTech as “the Comdex for genealogists.” Yes, I’m a geek, and get excited about new technology. (I have one desk top PC, two laptops, an iPad and an iPhone, if that helps you understand how much I love my electronic gadgets!) My husband and I had attended Comdex in Las Vegas several times, so I can certainly understand such an analogy…and get totally jazzed at the prospect of attending a conference that combines both of my passions – genealogy and technology! So……….RootsTech here I come!


I’m so elated as I’d always wanted to go to SLC to visit the Family History Library. Was thrilled to learn they will be open until 11 p.m. on Thursday the 2nd! Must slip in for at least a few hours while there to do a bit of research as well, and at least orient myself to the library so I can plan for a longer trip where I can devote more time to doing what I love the most – finding my family!


I’m hooooooooome – here in Bar Harbor!

Posted by Laurie M on June 20, 2011 in Uncategorized

Almost there - Fort Knox, on the way to Bar Harbor

My grandmother died in 2004, and to honor her and work on her family history, my mother and I decided to take a trip to Maine. With our hotel in Bangor, we decided to take a day trip to Bar Harbor, where our ancestor Job Stanwood was an early settler. As we approached Bar Harbor we both exclaimed, “we’re HOME!” We canceled our Bangor hotel and stayed the rest of our trip in Bar Harbor. The next year I brought Ed to see my “home away from home,” and have always wished I could live here.

This afternoon we made the six plus hour trip from Rowley, MA to Bar Harbor, and I was just as enthralled with the view as I was the first time Mom and I visited in 2004. I haven’t been back since my mom died five years ago, so it was a bit emotional coming to our special place without her, but it feels sooooooo good to be HOME!

Bar Harbor, near the visitor's center

Another view of Bar Harbor, near the Vistor's Center

Living Area of our Condo in Southwest Harbor

Ed's Wine Stash - yummy - guess what we'll be dining on while here?


A morning with the Bradstreets

Posted by Laurie M on June 20, 2011 in Uncategorized

Jabez Howland Home in Plymouth

Yesterday was quite an adventure! We took the subway to Braintree, MA, only to find that the trains to Plymouth had been canceled about 3 month ago. So, we decided to rent a car (had planned to do so that evening anyway) and drove to Plymouth. Had hoped to see the home of Jabez Howland, son of John Howland, my pilgrim ancestor. (I’m quite proud of the fact that MY ancestor fell out of the Mayflower and was pulled back in – what a goof ball!) Would have been nice if the tours of the house were still going, but they’d already stopped for the day by the time we arrived.

This morning we set off for Ipswich and Rowley, Massachusetts, neighboring towns where my colonial ancestor Humphrey Bradstreet resided. Humphrey emigrated from England to the U.S. in 1634 and shortly thereafter was granted land in what became the town of Ipswich, Massachusetts.

Humphrey Bradstreet's Farm, in the Bradstreet family from 1635-2007

The farm is thought to the be the oldest farm in the U.S. The Bradstreets originally farmed onions, but this venture was changed to cows when the “onion maggots” ruined the crops. The Bradstreet farm remained in the family from 1635 to 2007, when it purchased by the town of Rowley, Massachusetts. The current barn on the property was constructed about 1774, and the house about 1850.

Bradstreet Farm - 1635

Much to my delight, the town is seeking to sell the home and barn along with seven acres to someone interested in farming. While not practical for us to purchase, it provided great discussion for us today – quite a fantasy, envisioning a move to Massachusetts to live on my ancestor’s farm! Ed suggested we become potato farmers and also have a winery. I don’t think we could support our family farming potatoes, but hey, fantasies don’t have to make sense!

Inside of the Bradstreet barn

In addition to the Bradstreet farm, the town also owns a second Bradstreet property, called the Platt-Bradstreet home, which currently houses the historical society.

The Platt Bradstreet House

The Platt Bradstreet home contains many ancient Bradstreet relics, along with other items owned by other early Rowley settlers. Of particular interest to me, of course, were the items from Bradstreet family members. Thankfully, I’d made an appointment with the historical society and Ed & I had our own private tour of both Bradstreet properties.

Nathaniel Bradstreet's rifle, used in the Revolutionary War

Nathaniel Bradstreet's rifle, used in the Revolutionary War

Nathaniel is not my ancestor, but a family member who served in the revolutionary war and also lived on the Bradstreet farm. Many of the items found at the Platt Bradstreet home had been moved from the Bradstreet farm.

Pie Safe from Bradstreet Farm

Pie Safe holding planes dating back to early 19th century

This “pie safe” was originally utilized to store baked pies. It is now used to house the planes and other tools that were originally owned by the Bradstreet family. Both the pie safe as well as the planes were moved to the Platt Bradstreet home from the Bradstreet farm.

The Bradstreet family apparently used this tool for shoe making

Used for making shoes, these items were found at the Bradstreet farm

Standing on the ground where my 10th great grandfather lived, and where my 9th great grandfather was likely born, was quite overwhelming. I wanted to take in every detail, and spent a lot of time looking at the landscape, the trees, focusing on what my Bradstreet ancestors saw when they looked outside their windows. As fabulous as it was to simply be on their land and in their barn and homes, even more impressive was seeing the Bradstreet coat of arms.

Bradstreet Coat of Arms

Lastly, we visited the “Old Burial Ground” in Rowley, and saw the gravestone of my 9th Great Grandfather, Capt. Moses Bradstreet, who has the oldest stone in the cemetery (buried 1690).

Gravestone of Capt. Moses Bradstreet, died 1690 - Old Burial Ground, Rowley, MA


Today’s Adventure – NEHGS

Posted by Laurie M on June 18, 2011 in Uncategorized

The above video only hints at the massive crowds that flooded Boston in preparation for the Bruin’s parade today. Why did they have to choose THIS month to take back the Stanley cup?? We left our hotel at 8:30 a.m., giving us plenty of time to get to New England Historic and Genealogical Society (NEHGS) by 9 a.m. It’s one of my favorite libraries with six floors filled with books, microfilm, microfiche and periodicals on New England families. It’s a genealogists dream!

I digress. Getting back to our trip to NEHGS, we knew we were in for trouble when we attempted to get on the subway this morning. It was full of rowdy, happy Bruins fans anxious get downtown for the parade and celebrations. After we were finally able to board, we discovered the train let us out on the wrong side of town; normally it would be fine, but the streets were closed off. We hopped in a taxi (was miraculous to find one empty), but the driver wasn’t terribly familiar with the area. (How is that????) He got us somewhat closer to where we needed to go, but in the end it didn’t matter. We had to continue to walk through throngs of people forming solid walls, trying to find where the streets reopened. Poor Ed was ready to give up, but I was not. Since NEHGS is closed tomorrow and Monday, it was my last chance to go to the library. I made it there by 12:30, four hours after we left the hotel! Oh well, better late than never, right?

I spent a good part of the afternoon looking at fabulous books on the town of Farmington (Farmington Historical Society’s Pilgrimage series), which will be our last stop in Maine next week. There were photographs of ancient homes and biographies of the families who lived there. Hopefully some of these homes are still standing.

I spent the last hour sifting through microfilms of old newspapers and probate records. Unfortunately for cousin Clarke, I was (again!) unable to locate the documents he hoped for. However, I did stumble upon Lincoln county Maine probate records, and was able to FINALLY see the microfilmed original of Job Stanwood’s probate. :-)

Probate of Job Stanwood, 1788

Probate of Job Stanwood, 1788

Tomorrow we’re off to Plymouth for some sight seeing. Will be great to see the town of Mayflower ancestors!


Gloucester, Ancient Seaport and Stanwood Home!

Posted by Laurie M on June 18, 2011 in Uncategorized
Lobster Cove in Gloucester Massachusetts

Lobster Cove in Gloucester, MA - Home of Philip Stanwood and Benjamin Bradstreet

Gloucester, Massachusetts is a charming seaport village, and was the home to my oldest colonial ancestors, including Philip Stainwood (selectman of the town and resident as early as 1654), and Rev. Benjamin Bradstreet, who was the first pastor of the Third Parish Church, now known as Annisquam Village Church.

Annisquam Village Church

Third Parish Church in Gloucester, MA, now known as Annisquam Village Church

While the picture above is of the church’s subsequent building (the original meeting place burned down), it is on a beautiful hill right at Lobster Cove Landing.

Unfortunately, again, my time at the libraries, museums and archives was cut short. This time, we under-estimated the travel time by train from Boston to Gloucester. By car it’s a short 40 minute drive. However, with the many subway and train changes, it took us nearly 2 1/2 hours. Thankfully, the Gloucester Archive staff is lovely, and has offered to copy many of the documents I was unable to photograph. :-)

I would be remiss if I did not mention Friday’s adventure. Having taken the train to Gloucester, we relied on the Cape Ann Transportation buses to get around town. Boarding the bus at 3:15 p.m., we headed to Annisquam. Our 15 minute bus ride lasted an hour and fifteen minutes; the bus was held up waiting for the police to arrive after a kid shot at the driver’s window with a BB gun. Thankfully, the window was closed but it certainly left quite a mark.

After visiting Rev. Bradstreet’s church, we set off on foot to find his burial site at Bay View Cemetery. Guided by the GPS on my iPhone, we decided to take some small side streets to the location displayed by the map. Fearing for our lives, we turned back to a main road after we saw how the cars drove on this windy streets without side walks. Thankfully we did – it turned out the GPS was wrong and the cemetery was actually in a different location than depicted.

Bay View Cemetery

Bay View Cemetery - burial spot for Rev. Benjamin Bradstreet

I was so relieved to FINALLY make it to the cemetery, and was not about to be deterred by the many weeds and warnings about entering. Dressed in capri jeans, I ignored the signs that suggested wearing long pants with legs tucked in socks to prevent tic bites. To my knowledge, I did not get bitten, but I certainly did get scratched up by the tall grasses and weeds! Hmmm….it looks like I was attacked by a rabid cat!
scratched legs

Attacked by weeds in Bayview Cemetery

Sadly, I was unable to find Benjamin’s gravesite. Many of the headstones were damaged, and others were hidden by the tall weeds in the cemetery. Since he died in 1762, it’s not surprising the headstone is gone, but given that it was included in a transcription project, I was sure hopeful. At least I was able to photograph many of other intact headstones, and will later add to Find A Grave.

sarah davis headstone

Headstone of Sarah Davis, Bayview Cemeter, Gloucester, MA

After concluding the unsuccessful search for Gr. Gr. Gr. Gr. Gr. Gr. Gr. Grandfather Benjamin’s headstone, we headed back to Annisquam Village Church to wait for our bus. Just being able to see this church made the entire day.

Me at Annisquam Village Church

Me at Annisquam Village Church

After heading back into town, Ed and I had a delicious stuffed lobster dinner at Azorio’s restaurant, paired with a delicious Chardonnay.

Stuffed Lobster at Azorio's restaurant in Gloucester

I guess we were a bit giddy on the train on our way back, as a girl asked if it was first time on a train before. :-) Here is a pic I snapped of Ed on our return trip.


Ed on the train back to Boston

Thank you honey for being my wonderful traveling companion!


New England 2011! Here we are!

Posted by Laurie M on June 18, 2011 in Uncategorized

After tons of planning and preparing for visits to multiple libraries and other repositories of ancient genealogical (and other!) records, WE’RE HERE IN NEW ENGLAND!!! :-) I absolutely LOVE the East coast, and would love to spend time here even if it wasn’t the region that my colonial ancestors lived!

Our trip has been rather interesting, starting with take off. Due to weather in Chicago where we had a layover, our flight out of San Diego was delayed. By the time we touched down in Boston, it was 2:30 a.m. We made it to our hotel about 4 a.m. on Thursday the 16th. Needless to say, we didn’t get the early start we’d wanted that day. I had quite a list of items to search for at the Massachusetts Archives and unfortunately didn’t quite get to them all. First on the list were items I’d promised to my wonderful cousin Clarke. However, the War of 1812 and Revolutionary Muster records were not to be found for Lemuel and Benjamin Bursley.

Moving on to my Stanwoods and Bradstreets, I had a little more luck.

Dr. Humphrey Bradstreet treats Capt. Greenleaf

Dr. Humphrey Bradstreet treats Capt. Greenleaf - 1695

Dr. Humphrey Bradstreet was my 8th great grandfather, very prominent in the Newbury, Massachusetts area. I was thrilled to find several records of his care and treatment of patients.

At the end of the day, Ed came back to the Archives to escort me to the subway. (I’m still a bit intimidated by the system…much prefer travel by auto. However, we learned last time we were here that cars in Boston can be quite challenging!) Here is a view of Boston from the University of Massachusetts, next to the Massachusetts Archives.

View of Boston

View of Boston from the University of Massachusetts


Grandparents make the world a better place – a tribute to my Grandmother, Goldie Simpson Edwards

Posted by Laurie M on February 26, 2011 in Uncategorized
My grandmother, Goldie (Simpson) Uphouse Edwards

My grandmother, Goldie (Simpson) Uphouse Edwards, about 1974

In the era when families are spread through the U.S., I suppose my family was quite an anomaly. So much so that in later years my grandmother would often remark, “I must have done something wrong – I just can’t rid of you kids!” Of course, all of us “kids,” now well into adulthood with families of our own, knew she was fiercely proud of her loyal brood of children and grandchildren. Her life had been spent raising her three daughters, and then, spending her mid-life and senior years doting on her six grandkids.

Reflecting back on my childhood, I now realize I took for granted that all kids had wonderful grandparents and extended families. In many ways my grandmother was a second mom to me – she certainly was just as important to me in my growing years, and helped mold me into who I am today. One would think she had been privileged with same joy as a child; however, as the off-spring of more mature parents, she did not have the advantage of a grandma or grandpa in those early years. However, she spoke of her many aunts and uncles, most of whom were considerably older than her parents. Aunt Georgiannna Stanwood Cravens, her mother’s older sister by 13 years, was the closest she had to a grandmother. She once said her cousins were more like aunts and uncles due to the age difference.

At thirty-six, great-grandma Susie, my grandmother’s mom, was no spring chicken when she gave birth to my grandmother, Goldie Simpson. Susie had been married once before to Edwin Clark and had one daughter, my grandmother’s half-sister, from that marriage. She was a junior by 16 years to Ernest, my grandmother’s father. Great grandpa Ernie had been married twice before exchanging vows with Susie, and had three children from his first marriage and six from his second; however, my grandmother, “Grammer,” never recalled meeting any of her older half-siblings. Grammer wrote, “He completely, worshiped my mother, and I was bathed in the same sunshine, perhaps because I was hers, yet bearing the blackness of his eyes and hair.” Years later she would recount stories from her happy childhood; due to the age difference between her and her older sister, Beatrice, in many ways Grammer was an only child who did not have to share the affection and attention her parents showered on her with other young kids in the home. What never did reflect in her stories, however, was the incredible pain I’m sure she must have endured in the early loss of both of her parents. In 1939, while only a girl of 17, Grammer’s father Ernie died from prostate cancer. How difficult that must have been for her, but the loss was compounded when her mother died suddenly of a heart attack just days before Christmas in 1946. My own mother recalls this event as the earliest of her childhood, having adored Grandma Susie. Clearly it was a somber Christmas without holiday cheer. I have to imagine the next few months and years were very difficult for Grammer, a young woman having already buried both of her parents.

My grandmother’s obvious love of life and resilience helped her through those years, as well as her close relationship with her older half-sister, Auntie Bea. After my grandmother’s death in 2004, Bea’s daughter Pat shared many stories with me of my grandmother’s youth and early adult years. Vivacious and active, she had many would-be suitors, including a well-known Minnesota DJ more than thirty years her senior. (Cousin Pat recalled this did not meet with her family’s approval!) Despite her many beaus, Grammer married young. On March 24, 1940, she and my grandfather Harold T. Uphouse exchanged vows. While many photos of the newlyweds capture the happiness of their young love, it apparently did not last. By 1955 they’d divorced, leaving my grandmother alone as a single mother with two young daughters. Never one to be easily overcome by life’s challenges, my grandmother later would reminisce, describing this period of her life as her “bachelor years.” Clearly this was a happy time, as my mother also fondly recalled the years after her parents’ divorce. One has to admire such a courageous woman, who, without a college education, not only set out to raise and support her children, but to help them find joy in life despite its challenges and adversities.

In 1956, Cecil Edwards came along, and stole the hearts of my mother and her sister. My grandmother always made it clear that she didn’t choose her second husband, but her daughters did. Thus it was that she and Cecil married in January of the following year. My mother adored Cecil, and quickly began calling him “Dad.”

Gramper was a marine, and served in both the Korean and Viet Nam wars. This was not my grandmother’s first experience with a husband serving his country overseas – Harold was a WWII veteran. Still, I cannot fathom the worry and fear that filled her mind with Cecil gone. She later told me it was just something that they didn’t talk about – it was always assumed he was coming home and that was that!

An active and eager parent, Grammer showed no less enthusiasm for her role as a grandmother. Her two older daughters each blessed her with grandchildren the very same week. I was born first (and as a child always delighted in the fact I was the oldest of her grandchildren!) and two days later, my cousin J.H. was born. Throughout my childhood, beginning with pictures of my first Christmas, birthday, and special occasions, we always celebrated at the home of my grandparents. It is there that most of my fondest and earliest memories were formed.

Christmas at my grandparents about 1969

Sitting on my grandmother's lap, about 1969, with my aunt on left.

It is no surprise that my very first memory involved my grandmother. Not only did she care for me while my mother was at work, but she always enjoyed the many hours we spent together. As a very small girl, I was quite enamored with Grammer’s very long hair, and would sit next to her and carefully brush the long black strands. Perhaps two or three years of age, it occurred to me that Grammer should pin her hair up. Without sharing my plan, I darted off to the kitchen to look for a suitable tool to create a bun. My grandmother must have overheard my rumblings in the kitchen drawers, for when I returned to the living room she was quick to inspect my tiny little hand, in which she found a thumb tack. For many years to come we laughed about the hole she’d have had in her head had my toddler’s plan come to fruition!

My grandmother had an uncanny ability to see the world through the eyes of a child. Just as she had for her daughters, she always seemed to find ways to make my world a little brighter. Born with an orthopedic disorder, the doctor ordered me to wear leg braces. As I grew, the braces were shed but replaced with ongoing strengthening exercises. Even this was a game to Grammer, who would lead me about the house like a mother duck, quacking about and doing the “duck walk,” a term we coined as we’d turn our feet outward and walk like ducks.

Having been very ill as a young girl, my grandmother was exceptionally sympathetic whenever I’d catch a cold or had the flu. When six or seven years old, I clearly remember being very sick for several days. Instead of staying with Grammer, I was at home being nursed by my mother when my grandmother called. My excitement rose when mom shared that my beloved grandmother was coming to see me. In typical fashion, Grammer was armed with an array of items designed to distract me from my ailment. To this day, I can’t see a paper doll without thinking of my grandmother’s tireless efforts to ease my discomfort.

My lifeline, confidante, and best friend was my grandmother. When things at home were tough (which was often in the months immediately preceding my parents’ divorce), I’d call Grammer. Though I’d spent most of the afternoon already with her and would go home after my mom was off work, Grammer would gladly interrupt whatever activity was occupying her time to sit with me on the phone and talk through whatever was bothering me. I could share anything with my grandmother.

Christmas was always a very big occasion with my family, and even more joyous as the extended family all assembled to celebrate at Grammer’s and Gramper’s home. My aunt, just seven years my senior, was more like a sister to me, and would join me in decorating freshly-baked Christmas cookies. Dressing the tree was an equally joyous occasion, but doubly so for me – I helped put up the tree at home as well as at my grandmother’s house! Perhaps due to having lived through the great Depression, or maybe just another one of her endearing traits, my grandmother did not wish to see me worry about what gifts I’d receive at Christmas. It was always understood that I’d get at least two gifts from her; one would always be a baby doll which I would be allowed to carefully unwrap on Christmas Eve. (I come from a family of doll-lovers, a trait passed down from my grandmother as well!) The other would invariably be an item that my own parents were unable to afford. While I’d open that gift on Christmas morn, it was never a surprise; Grammer always took me aside well before the holiday to show me the sought-after toy, reminding me “just pretend to be surprised!”

My grandmother influenced many areas of my life, not the least of which is my diet. She had many opportunities to do so, as I was taken to my grandmother’s home in the morning, where I’d ride the school bus to and from her home. Breakfast generally consisted of pop-tarts and hot cocoa, followed by milk and cookies after school as she would patiently help me with my homework. As I got a little older, Grammer introduced me to coffee – now a lifelong love of mine! Kept in a canister on her kitchen counter, I was given the treat of carefully opening the new can of coffee and refilling the canister when empty. To this day the smell of a fresh can of coffee brings up precious, childhood memories.

The love of reading has been a hobby passed down through the generations of our family. My own family budget includes a reading allowance for both my son and I, and is especially important in this technological era which provides instant gratification through eBooks, Kindles and Nooks! As a child, my mother ensured I had an ample supply of books, and each night would read to me at bedtime. This tradition, no doubt, was part of her own childhood, and included in my son’s. It is no surprise, therefore, that my grandmother was an avid reader who introduced me to many classic novels as I advanced from children’s books to older reading material. Grammer constantly amazed me with her endless vocabulary and ability to solve even the hardest crossword puzzles. Like her father before her, Grammer loved to write poetry. With a wicked sense of humor (also inherited, no doubt), her prose contained puns designed to inspire laughter. Others, of a more serious nature, revealed a mother, grandmother, wife, animal lover. Thankfully, Grammer’s literary efforts and short stories survived the years and are included in my most precious family documents. They provide a glimpse into her life during a time when I was too young to remember or understand the thoughts and activities of the adults around me. They also demonstrate her exceptional talent. While I have inherited her love of the written word, I only wish I’d also been blessed with her artful skill in crafting words to capture the reader’s attention.

I credit my grandmother’s fascination with her own family history as the impetus for my lifelong passion for genealogy. Grammer would relate the countless hours she spent with her own grandmother’s ancient photo album, absorbing the history revealed with each old photo of her aunts and uncles, grandparents and other relatives saved on the album’s pages. Now quite weathered and worn, it is one of my most precious possessions. Grammer kept many other family momentos, items overlooked by most people but treasures to a genealogist. These, along with details my grandmother would share with me about our family’s heritage, provided the basis for my earliest genealogical research. Before the days of the internet, I’d spend hours at the National Archives or Family History Centers while Grammer would babysit my son. Returning back to her home, we’d go over that day’s finds and form our theories of how the various individuals discovered on censuses fit together and were related. She seemed to enjoy my hobby as much as I did; I know for sure that having her to share it with made my research all the more special.

Grammer was sharp as a tack, even at the end of her life. She had accurate details that were verified on her mother’s side of the family, and thirty years after her divorce was able to conjure accurate recollections on Harold’s family to help me begin to research his lineage! Therefore, it is quite puzzling how she changed her perception of her own ancestry sometime during her mid-life. Four years after her father’s death, my grandmother recorded Ernest Simpson’s birth as Clark County, Wisconsin, a fact which was verified years later as I studied censuses, her father’s pension requests, and other documents which he personally drafted. (He was never able to secure a birth certificate –not unusual for those born in 1869.) One of her many stories she wrote circa 1960 about her family and childhood included a small but important detail – she described her father as having Welsh ancestry. Sometime in her later years, however, Grammer was adamant her father, Ernie, was born in South Dakota, the illegitimate child of an Indian woman who’d had an affair with her grandfather, George. She stated George had taken the baby home to raise with his wife, keeping his true nationality a secret due to the prejudice against Native Americans in that era. Whatever triggered this change in her perception of her ancestry was very real to my grandmother – she began to decorate her home with various Native American collectibles, proud of what she thought was her own Indian heritage. Unfortunately, however, I was the one to burst Grammer’s bubble. Census records and other documents show that George had been married since 1845 and was still married to Achsa, who appears from all documents to be Ernie’s biological mother. When I began researching Grammer’s father’s family, I quickly learned I’d need to keep those findings to myself, and let her hold on to her belief which had clearly impacted her own self-identity. Grammer, if she was still living today, would not be pleased to hear that my recent DNA test showed that our family has no Native American blood. I guess I would have kept that to myself, too!

As I reflect on my grandmother’s life, and decide on a fitting final paragraph in a tribute to the person who most influenced my life, I realize it is difficult to sum up one trait that I admire most. But then, after continued pondering, I realize it’s not so hard at all. My grandmother taught me many things – her love of coffee, cookies and sugar (okay, not so good!); love of books and reading and writing; a passion for history and family and a desire to know where I came from. However, the most important lesson was not so obvious. My grandmother has now been gone seven years. Two years after her death, my mother died, and last year, my father joined them both. The lesson my grandmother taught me through her life is not to be sad at what I no longer have, but to be extraordinarily grateful for the many years I was blessed with such wonderful family. My grandmother may not have been famous; she did nothing in her life worthy of memorializing in the traditions and annals of history; however, she gave me unconditional love and a foundation to take me through life. If everyone had a grandmother like mine, the world would undoubtedly be a better place.


Why Genealogy? And the pictures that started it all!

Posted by Laurie M on February 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

Last night I went to the Family History Center just long enough to order the microfilms I needed for Somerset County, PA – taxes, naturalization records, church records, etc. Yup, just a brief stop and then I’d head home and start my after-work chores. Well, lucky for me, two of the eight films I’d planned to request were there! I didn’t get any new info, but I was able to confirm info I’d found online at PA-Roots.org. (Needless to say, it is always exhilarating to see the original document, even though it wasn’t “new” information!) While wrapping up for the night, I was chatting with the volunteer who was manning the library. “So what go you interested in genealogy?” he asked.

Who is this handsome man?

Page 22 of Lavina Bursley Stanwood's photo album - is this Benjamin Bursley??

The thrill of solving these puzzles is what has me hooked and keeps me feverishly seeking answers to my family mysteries. But the feeling of “connectedness” to my family and to my ancestors is what inspired me to start. My grandmother certainly instilled a love of family history and ignited in me what has turned into a lifelong passion. She was also intrigued with her family history, and was given the photo album that had belonged to her own grandmother, Lavina (Bursley) Stanwood. The album is now quite worn, and I’m sure that my own grandmother added to the wear; she related to me her fascination with the pictures when she was a young child, and would often thumb through and study the photos. Unfortunately, her grandmother died before she was born, and there are quite a few pictures that present unsolved mysteries. The photo above is the one that has intrigued ME the most. I’ve always assumed it’s Benjamin Bursley, my great-great-great grandfather, but have yet to identify him positively. Whoever he is, he sure was handsome and had kind eyes!

Albert & Lavina (Bursley) Stanwood and family

Albert & Lavina (Bursley) Stanwood and family - Bottom row: Albert, Susan, & Benjamin; top - Lavina, Fred, Bert, Georgianna and Melvin

My grandmother gave me an original of this photo one year for Christmas. I had it touched up and framed where it hangs next to my “heritage cabinet” – the antique hutch (actually, I think it used to be a gun cabinet that we restored) where I keep my antique books, my grandmother’s autograph book, mom’s baby book, and other genealogical treasures. I especially love it as it’s Stanwood – my favorite family line. Someday I’ll have to write a post about Betsy Wasgatt Stanwood, my sixth great grandmother, and my favorite ancestor.


The Gene Bug that keeps biting!

Posted by Laurie M on February 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

It’s hard to believe that last year this time I was just putting together a sketch of my Uphouse family in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. Using the censuses, I came up with some hypotheses on relationships – and most have proved correct! When Henry Uphouse died, his kids seemed to be spread abroad throughout Somerset and Westmoreland counties, and while I was reasonably certain these kids were my aunts and uncles, I had no initial proof. One invaluable web site to assist in my endeavor is www.pa-roots.com. Last night I found a newly-posted, extracted obituary for William H. Uphouse on there. Actually, they had two of them. A quick email and by mid-morning today I had scanned copies of both!

William H. Uphouse Obituary

Father is H. Henry Uphouse? Yes, this appears to be correct!

Second Obit for William H. Uphouse

Second Obit for William H. Uphouse

Boy I love the internet! Not just one, but TWO obits! :-) The second one confirming that William H. is uncle to my Charles Madison Uphouse. I had hoped the obituary would provide a German city for William’s father’s place of birth, but at least I did get one additional detail: Henry Uphouse’s name appears to have been “H. Henry Uphouse” – confirming my suspicion that the “Herm Hein Uphaus” who resided in Damme, Oldenberg, Germany and sailed from Bremen to Baltimore on the Magdalene in March 1834 is MY Henry Uphouse. Additionally, by studying the list of passengers I’ve found several whose families also settled in Henry’s town of Middlecreek, Somerset county, PA. I do think I’m on the right trail! My poor husband has had to listen to me ad nauseum….such is married life!

One final thing to look forward to- the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree is coming! Just 3 1/2 months away! Yippee!


In the cloud – FINALLY!

Posted by Laurie M on February 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

My husband claims I’m a techno junkie.  While I banter back with mock shock and surprise and pretend his statements are outlandish, I of course know I’m completely and totally obsessed with almost anything that’s electronic.  Software, laptops, smartphones (iPhone, course!), and any new gadget that comes on the market are eyed by eager me.  When updates to software applications come on the market, I am often lured into purchasing.  Yes, I do get a thrill from technology!  So it is surprising that I have waited until now to join those who are backing up and syncing “in the cloud!”

I have been using Roots Magic for my primary genealogy program about a year now, and one of the really cool things about it is “Roots Magic To Go” – you can save your database, along with a version of the software, on a removable media device.  It’s great for taking your data from one PC to another, or operating on a PC where Roots Magic is not installed. Super cool! However, when I went to sync my desktop with the media device, I made a blunder and lost my most recent data, probably two weeks’ worth of data entry. (User error – not the fault of the software….)  ARGH – while it’s not a ton to recreate, it’s a pain and time consuming – and difficult to remember what I’d done and still needs to be redone.

So…I’ve decided it’s time start syncing my laptop and desktop as well as backing up into the cloud.  After reviewing several sync and back up options, I decided on SugarSync. My laptop is currently uploading files to the server, and then I will begin the process of uploading the contents of my many desk top files. And THEN – syncing the two devices together. It will be great to be able to access files from either computer, as well as from other online PCs, such as my desktop at work. Even better, next month when I get my new iPad, I can access my files from there too.

Yup, I’m definitely a techno junky. (Just don’t tell my hubby I agree!)

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