Thursday, March 31, 2016

Looking for ancestors or ghost hunting?

What is the difference?  Both hobbies are trying to accomplish the same thing.  They are trying to build a bond between the living and the dead; between the past and the future.  Sometimes I think the adversary uses one to focus on evil instead of focusing on messages from our angel ancestors.  That's just my opinion.

With searching for Ancestors, I've had a lot of great luck.  Learning about different sources, using technology, mingling family lore all together, we've been able to put together some pretty fantastic puzzles, bringing a lot of comfort to those who yearn for a link to the past.

One of the best tools a genealogist can use is - because unlike family lore and "...well, it's true because Grandma told us...", the data is right on the headstone.  So why all the rush to gather information off of headstones?  Blame it on the elements, acid rain, time, wrong type of stone for the headstone resulting in an disintegration of a  monument, something far worse is coming and Genealogists need your help to go to cemeteries and preserve the headstones with digital images.  Why?  When a cemetery runs out of room, it has been documented that they remove the headstones, and bury the next generation right over the top of them, saving space and making room for the "new" dead.  What happens to those headstones?  See below!

In 2010 several mud covered white headstones were found stacked in a stream from Arlington Cemetery were awaiting being ground up and recycled.

 In Texas, the following discovery was made:
 Texas cemetery lets families know before they recycle headstones
 However some people make their living recycling headstones and do not see the need to preserve them or restore them.  They try to put a positive spin on a genealogist's nightmare.  So now you see my ghost hunting nightmare - the necessity of volunteers is great to document the correct birth dates and death dates for our posterity to align their feelings with the ancestors of the past.  They can use those dates to look up what was happening in the town at that time, see the clothing worn, what tools they had to work with, and maybe, perhaps not feel so entitled.  Maybe they will feel grateful for the sacrifices their forefathers made for their lives.

 Some people try to put a positive spin on recycling headstones

So that brings me to reverse-forensic genealogy.  A friend had a picture of a family from the early 1900s but had lost track with the family 50 years ago.  She wanted me to find someone, a direct descendant to that family so that she could send them a picture of their family.  I traced the family back to Philadelphia and, using Ancestry, Facebook, and google,  within one hour was able to find a relative who was a descendant.  It got me to thinking.  I was able to give a family a picture - what If I was able to communicate with a spirit and bring their family a spiritual message?

So just for fun, we planned a trip to the Grand Hotel in Jerome, AZ.  This hotel has been written about in books, is talked about on television and youtube.  If I had seen this video taken by the travel channel, I may not have gone because, even though I am surrounded by my own ancestors and angels who would never hurt me when I am sleeping, I am not so sure that giving up my free agency in a purportedly haunted hotel is a good thing. 

It took a long time to get up there. On the 17 northbound, there was a truck on fire on the side of the road and all of the traveling Arizonians came to a screeching halt as if they were pouting they weren't invited to a marshmallow toasting party.  There were times my phone said "no service" but we got there safely.

 from my journal 3/25/2016.....

So apparently this hotel has been in Ghost Adventures and is the most active haunted place in America.   We did not encounter a scary ghost but quite a chatty one.  (She says sitting in the dark at 2:45 am because something or someone touched her foot and woke her up). Unfortunately, she was probably annoyed and bored with us because we were so completely amazed we would go blank at what yes and no questions we could ask.

We felt strange from the moment we entered the old fashioned manually operated elevator.   There is definitely a unique feeling like if you had too much caffeine.  Head felt buzzy, ears ringing, goosebumps all over from head to toe and kind of like 1 million indiscernible whispers in the ears ringing.  Took some pictures of our room. Old fashioned antiques meets Restoration Hardware. So basically a pretty nice room.  We had a garden room #37A. Which, since it used to be a tuberculosis asylum, it had  like a sunny glassed in garden with fake plants and upgraded outdoor yard furniture attached to our room with French doors.  Ted is a more sensitive to these things than I am and could actually tell when someone was close to him before the meter would go bezerk. I stepped out there and immediately felt the hairs stand up on the back of my neck then the goose bumps all over. I looked at him and he just smiled and nodded,"they're here!" In that creepy Poltergeist-esque singsong way.
We have a Youtube channel with a few of the videos on it....
I took several pictures out there and did see one orb float across my lens, of course, after the flash went off but then later I saw that I captured it.  So we got out our EVP meters and coincidentally both would register the same impulses of lights ranging on the inevitability scale from 2 or green, or "There's no ghosts and no such thing as a haunted house" to 20+ RED on the meter or "Ask her how Grampa is doing? How many holes in one has he achieved?"   What we gleaned from the experience is a resounding scientifically and fact based "Heck yeah there's ghosts here". 

We discerned that she was indeed a she and a former nurse here raised in this town who  liked to talk. We got several instances on video of red metered responses up to 20+ on the Gauss meter.  So we turned off the meter and crashed until now at 2:45 while I am sitting here texting you in the dark while watching the meter rainbow itself all over the room from green to red. My plan was to try to get a name and a message and find her family and let them see the documentation that she is in a safe wonderful place and happy.   Did not get a name.  You can't get a name from yes and no questions.  
 So I'll get one more picture or two before I have to get some more shut eye and bolster myself for a scary grandma Easter egg adventure with the grandkids tomorrow in Prescott.  There are definitely some strange noises here and always followed by some sort of light flash on the meter.  I asked her or it to turn on the flashlight to my iPhone and pointed to the button. Nothing happened so I went to the other side of the room and when I came back it was on. I have no explanation for that. 

We got some videos and pictures and I put them on our site -  or here is the one with the orb

This is our Channel:

let me know what you think.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

How would you be Remembered? Pay it Backward!

What in the world does this picture have to do with my Ancestors coming to America?  
Read on to find out!  I had a lot of requests to put this on the blog - I hope you enjoy it too!

What in the world does this picture have to do with my Ancestors coming to America?  Read on to find out!
When your family takes stock of your inventory when you pass, what will they find?  Amos Troutman possessions in his will stated 4 head of cattle, 1 gun, 1 oxen, 1 yoke, 1 bible, and 1 large marble.  Not the kind of marble you play with….not a big glass marble, but a slab of marble so that on his headstone, his final resting place would be marked and would tell the future generations that 1) he was here and 2) what he had accomplished.   How will you be remembered?  We all have ways of documenting our lives but having that slab of marble in our possession speaks volumes.  It says, “Don’t forget me”.
We are all at our ebb tide, which is poetry for defining and documenting the highs and lows in our life.   What if you were going through your relative's cherished box of memories and found something that they had done years ago.  They didn’t think it was all that special, but kept it for sentimental reasons. 
Now, this could be a picture they drew, music or maybe a novel they wrote. Because they didn't feel it was good enough, they never took that first step to have it published. I hope this touches your heart the same as it did mine.  Last week, Actor, Sir Anthony Hopkins finally got to hear the waltz performed that he wrote over 50 years ago.  He didn’t do anything with it because he said he was, “afraid to hear it.”  And yet, on you can see it being immortalized by a symphony performed by Dutch violinist Andre Rieul and his chamber ensemble.. 

This week think about something amazing in your family’s life and pay it backward. You can work with us to take a name to the temple and learn more about their plight in life in doing so.  You can write about the life of someone in your heritage and make it real for the next generation to appreciate.
Finding a name and taking it to the temple is just as rich an experience, and is a gift you are giving to your ancestor.  You are paying it backward.  You are doing something that they could not do.  Everything that has happened up until now has been orchestrated to make this an easier, fuller, and a more gratifying experience and one day, if you haven’t felt it already in your hearts,  they will greet you and welcome you home with gratitude in their hearts….or…as 
President Henry Eyring explained, “When you were baptized, your ancestors looked down on you with hope. Perhaps after centuries, they rejoiced to see one of their descendants make a covenant to find them and to offer them freedom. In your reunion, you will see in their eyes either gratitude or terrible disappointment. Their hearts are bound to you. Their hope is in your hands. You will have more than your own strength as you choose to labor on to find them.”   (Ensign, May 2005) This strength will bless you in all areas of your life.
Elder David A Bednar feels we should invite the youth to help us document history and capture it on film, and sound for all eternity.  This is a natural progression after searching for names for the temple, they can continue to honor the past with their knowledge of the present technology.
He said, “The Lord has made available in our day remarkable resources that enable you to learn about and love this work that is sparked by the Spirit of Elijah. For example, FamilySearch is a collection of records, resources, and services easily accessible with personal computers and a variety of handheld devices, designed to help people discover and document their family history. These resources also are available in the family history centers located in many of our Church buildings throughout the world.”
I can show you how to find a name, I can teach you about census data, and other corroborating data but you youth have a lot to teach us.  Already at your young age, you know the difference between a jpg file and an mp4. You know how to use a video recorder and know how to take photographs.  You know the difference between an animated gif file and a .wmv file.  Everything has been brought to this point to make it easier for you to help document your family’s history. 
During the recent Rootstech Conference we were joined by over 26,000 willing and eager hearts, and not all LDS, who cherish their families and want to honor them by preserving the past, through art, scrapbooking, music, video and poem.  I watched a video that you can see on called “My Mother’s Motorcycle.”  It was written by a young man who was not a member of our church and who was paying homage to his two grandfathers and what they contributed not only to his life, but others as well. Then he compared his life which paled in comparison and vowed to follow in their footsteps to make a difference.  He was paying it backward.  

Another way of documenting your family history is to use or create your own StoryCorps video.  They travel the United States with a sound proof trailer.  You bring your relative in and sit down with a sheet of questions.  You interview your family member then StoryCorp takes the story and creates an animated video that will capture hearts and endear them to their ancestor.  These are all things you can easily do.

So how do you get started?  First  get out your pedigree sheets.  Find a name and submit it to the temple, or better yet, take it yourself and experience first hand joy and gratitude showered upon you by your ancestor.  Then write down all the family stories you have heard.  Before it is too late, get a recording of a grandparent telling their stories of their grandparents, and the next time we look at a census sheet together, let me show you how you can make it come alive

To quote a Genealogist, Marsha Hoffman Rising, author of a book I’m studying called “The Family Tree Solver – tried-and-true-tactics for tracing elusive ancestors” , “Researching our Ancestors and overcoming brick walls means studying the time period and place where they lived as well as analyzing and interpreting fragments of information in surviving records.  But all of this must be done with an understanding of people and their typical behaviors for that era”
This is a great book and online at Amazon for less than 10.00 (used), Study the culture of the people and you will know their story in due time.  

By using the history channel, or even google, you can experience a little of what your ancestors experienced.  Looking at a census sheet you can tell if they were an entrepreneur, a self starter, or a field laborer, or chemist.  You can google the year and the town in google images and see what it looked like there at the exact time they were there.  Sometimes by looking in the left hand side of a census, you can see a street number and the name of their street.  By looking in the “street view” of google maps, you can get a feeling of their life as you stare straight into the front door of their home.  My family had always told of my great grandfather’s wanting to leave London and come to California in search of black gold.  He had been born during the blight in Ireland.  His family were farmers, living in the fields with thatched roof homes and clay floors.  They were evicted from the fields, and then began to build the Irish Railroad then when the Economical system crashed and the English Landlords went bankrupt.  It wasn’t a safe place to live, so they migrated to London to help complete the London Railroad.  I was able to see all of these stories come alive by typing in the year, country and the word “timeline” and cross checking it with census data and family stories. 

In 1883, several things happened.  He found out that Oil had been discovered in  Beverly Hills, CA.  That was in June and he thought about it all Summer while laying track and building Steam Engines for the England Railroad.   Suddenly, in August 27, 1883, the huge pyroclastic volcano in the Pacific named Krakatowa, exploded and disappeared off the face of the earth. 

 In it's tsunami wake, it delivered a lot of sushi and people to the beaches of Europe, specifically Norway where Edvar Munck immortalized the traumatizing event by later documenting a painting called the Scream which prior to putting this down on canvas, haunted him for 10 years.  These links discuss the 2012 analyzation of why and when he painted the picture.  

You probably recognize this painting.  It was written that the people of his town because of a lack of communication or knowledge of Tsunamis and Volcanoes, thought God was angry and ending the world.   A large exodus of people from Europe ensued - perhaps your family was inspired to come to America at this time.  

17 facts about Krakatoa - not many knew. (CLICK LINK)
For 9 months, it was documented on the History Channel, that the skies of the entire earth were dark orange and the people there where he lived, because they couldn’t communicate long distance, thought that God was punishing them and the world was ending.  It was at this time, that Michael Concannon took his little family and on a Steamer named the PARIS left during Hurricane season for America in September of 1883.  So laying out the facts, we know that Michael and Mary must have seen those dark orange skies for the entire journey to the United States.

 I kept looking for them on Ellis Island because it just said November 6, 1883 -  and then writing to a cousin who enlightened me that they had landed in Louisiana.   I am trying to imagine Mary and Joseph and their toddler living in Steerage and sharing one bed.  Trying to also imagine keeping track of a toddler on ship.   We know she miscarried on the boat from a famly story.  It is a miracle that they even survived because they went West on one of the first railroad trips to the California Coast in the Spring of 1884 when the routes opened from Louisiana to Texas to California.  The miracle is that so many of the people from Ireland and England, who landed in Louisiana died from Malaria as they went up the Mississippi.
Friday, November 16, 1883 – Times-Pacayune – Louisiana Passenger List

December of 1883 - This is a Ladies Home Journal Cover from that time.

Arriving in Los Angeles, he continued to make a living for his family as a boilermaker
When steam engines powered trains, Boilermakers built and repaired locomotives to carry freight and people across North America. With the advent of diesel engines by the mid 20th century, steam powered engines all but disappeared. Today Boilermakers are engaged in rebuilding wrecked diesel locomotives and restoring the few steam engines that remain.
Mary and Michael Joseph had 8 children in all in Los Angeles.  The family all had jobs and set money aside each week to invest in Oil Wells.  They had a good life in Monterey Park near Pasadena until my Uncle Johnny, the family accountant, who had a "strong desire for a bit o the drink", lost all the oil wells in a poker game. 
One of the daughters, Winifred Concannon, saved the family by using her talents as an artist for the Studios.  She would provide hand water colored invitations to parties for the like of Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbank’s Mansion Pickfair for Studio events for Twentieth Century Fox.

Winnie married W. Schremp and they never had children.  She Died in the 30s of Tuberculosis.
Again, All of these family stories have been corroborated by facts on Census sheets, immigration records, and online research on the timelines of American and World History.
No longer do you have to travel to a Temple Library and put in a written request for microfische only to wait for 3 weeks to find out you ordered the wrong films.  We can make it fun for you to get to know your families so that you can take their names to the temple, and find a creative way to preserve their lives for your posterity. 
So here you are at your ebb tide.  You have a chance to pay it backward for someone who lived a life didn’t even think their life was anything, monumental because they were so busy doing for others.  

I'd like to leave you with this poem that my, now 91 year old mother wrote on a rainy day during her life.  Right before my brother and father suddenly passed away, I went to visit them for a week.  I wanted to do something creative to save her poems.  I told her I wanted to help her write a book of her life through poems and stories.  We went around the house and looked through old purses, hat boxes from the 40s, jewelry boxes and found lots of poems written on little pieces of paper.  This book served as a healing tool when Daddy passed away.  Women's clubs invited her to poetry readings and it got her mind off of her grief of losing the love of her life and best friend for 60 years.  The one that touched my heart the most was, "How would you be remembered?" which we used as the dedication page.


How would you be remembered if you were called from Earth today? 

Have you helped the lives of your fellow man in any special way? 

Are your footprints made to be followed as you traveled across Life's road? 

Did you turn away or did you help to lighten a heavy load? 

Would it be for the time you gave to help a heart to mend?

Or for the time you found on a busy day to listen to a friend?

I'd like to take the time I've left to turn my life around and leave deep tracks tomorrow, on a very hard firm ground.

That I might be remembered as I watch the sun descend: I made the time and effort to be a special friend.

Find a name, learn more about your families lives, and document their life in a creative way for your future generations.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Would you like to see your Great Grandfather's handwriting?

I never knew my Grandfathers.  They died before I was born.  I do have a couple of pictures.  a picture is wonderful because you can look into your Grandfather's eyes and see his destiny - the reflection of all his hard work, sacrifice and love, is you.

What I wanted was to connect in a more personal way.  I wanted to see how he wrote.  A lot can be surmised by your ancestor's handwriting.  As my grandmother Dora got older, her handwriting got bigger and bigger and shakier until she just started typing letters by memory how to type.  Macular Degeneration runs thick and deep in my ancestors, so I can look forward to the same.  Seeing Gran's writing calms me and tells me that I will be able to be ok even when old and blind.

Seeing my Grandfather's handwriting on his World War I application, I see courage and strength.  He could not know that his life would be cut tragically short because of faulty gas masks in the Army.  The mustard gas disintegrated his intestines and they just sewed him up and waited for sepsis to take him.  He knew he was dying and invited my mother up to lay on his chest.  At 4 years old, she knew too. 

Signed Walter Riley Collins on the left.
Finding this document cleared up the correct spelling of his middle name. The family spelled it Walter Raleigh Collins for years and this helped the lineage progress back nicely to ancestral Cherokee tribes in Arkansas.

I hope you look for World War I and II registration cards and see what you learn.  
My great grandmother and grandfather's marriage license in 1898.  This is the oldest evidence so far of my German heritage.  Before researching my family I didn't know about any German heritage.  I am searching for more, but grateful to have this documentation.

So any document that requires a signature is considered correct corroborative evidence of ancestry.  There are other very correct evidences, but these are my favorites because they are so personal.

Write back and tell me what your feelings are as you find more things.  If you are having troubles, submit a question and I'll help you find it.
Everyone should know what their story is....

Looking for Death Records or Places of Death or Burial

Looking for Death Records or Places of Death

When searching for a Death Record, accept and use information in this order according to accuracy and chances for success.
Ancestry's documentation of these databases is exceptional.

  1. Social Security Death Index
  2. Death Certificates
  4. personal family knowledge

Karen, "Why do you put personal family knowledge last?"

For years this genealogy went on the dates provided by the grandmother.  She said that the person in question died on Thanksgiving Day in a certain year.   She just picked the 4th Thursday in a month a random "22" and put that date down with the "correct" year - 
The lineage all but stopped going back due to incorrect data

To verify the data, I entered this in google - 
Thanksgiving Day in 1919

It returned "November 27, 1919"

After inputting that data correction, suddenly the hints started flying and within 4 hours, I had corroborated, true data leading to the Mayflower in 1620.

Death Certificates

For Arizona - go to
This is a fantastic site where you can get accurate data and you don't have to pay for the death certificate.

In a death certificate you have a myriad of golden information.
Actual name 
(not one where someone guessed at their middle name,) 
real date of birth, 
birth place, 
real date of death, 
cause of death, 
the hospital 
where he was taken, 
the mortuary where the body was interred, 
The address of the decedent so you can google where he lived and see what it looks like now.
  His occupation, 
His wife's name, 

So with all this new information, I was able to get more accurate information, and the lineage continued.
What in the world is

This is a company who has a free service that you can actually donate your services to.  You go out to a cemetery and take pictures of headstones, then you put the data on the website for the families to claim and write a family history to honor them.

I think this tool is probably one of the finest additions to a Genealogist's portfolio for trouble shooting and achieving a more accurate result.

There are actually amazing stories from using this tool.  I got an email once from a gentleman, Nevada Bob, who was riding his ATV out in the desert was taking pictures of headstones in the abandoned desert cemetery.  He kept having the feeling he should stop at a certain place and every time he would go by he would get that same feeling.  When he stopped, he didn't see a headstone but he got off his ATV and moved a tumbleweed and there was the headstone for my Uncle Marvin.  Here's the (cue twilight zone music) interesting thing.....It was July 31 in 2013, I think,  now look at the data in the link below.

He didn't want to be forgotten.  I think he was urging the man on the ATV to find him.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

How does a Search Engine work in Genealogy?


 A search engine gives you fields within data that you can search for. It will ask you the:

Last name,
Date of Birth,
Place of Birth,
Date of Death,
Place of Death

 So if you give it the last name of Smith, YOB 1953, Arizona, it will return results of all people with the last name of Smith, born in 1953 in Arizona. more to come!

  1. Look at your Pedigree Sheet.  You can right click on this and print it out.
  2. Add every fact that you know for a fact - do it in pencil - 
  3. When you corroborate data, you find out that your family did not always have the facts.
  4. When you are searching always try using the "sounds like" or "soundex" option in case someone documenting their existence did not ask the correct spelling and just spelled phonetically.
  5. Now lets go to the first blank field.
  6. Enter what you know.
  7. Let's say you know your parents were married in Califorrnia.
  8. California has listed all the marriages for the entire state in up to the 80s at this time.
  9. See if they are listed in the Marriage, Birth, Death section.
  10. Create a family tree with your Ancestry Account
  11. then one by one, when you see a leaf, review the information and see if it makes sense.
  12. Sometimes you need to double check the oldest child's birthdate to see if the marriage could have taken place prior to that child being born.
"But I think my parents eloped"

Ok - check neighboring states like Nevada and in particular Las Vegas and Reno


There is no waiting period or blood testing required. Your marriage license is valid for one year. In other words, once you get your license you must have a wedding ceremony in Las Vegas within one year. Toget married in Vegas you must be at least 18 years old.


A male and female person, at least 18 years of age, not nearer of kin than second cousin or cousins of the half blood, and not having a husband or wife living, may be joined in marriage. Proof of age is required. Both parties must appear in person at the Marriage License Bureau, Washoe County Administrative Complex, 1001 E. Ninth St, Building A, Reno, NV 89512.
Blood tests are not required, and there is no waiting period.
Monday through Sunday 8:00 AM to 12:00 Midnight.
  Fee: $60.00 (cash, credit cards, money orders or travelers checks)
  1. In generations past, you had to wait 3 days between the marriage license ascertainment, and the marriage.  This allowed for the couple to get the proper blood tests.  It made the obvious search for the record in either of three places for California  if it was not found in CA - You would have probably found it in Nevada or Mexico.
In the generations of 1990 births trying to get married in CA NOW.....the rules have changed to allow anyone to get married immediately after getting their marriage license and there are no more blood tests required - This means that now in later generations you will have less places to look for your license because the restrictions have been lifted and CA is the obvious place going forward to look for Marriage Certificates.

Here is a website that gives the current waiting period status and qualifications for several states:

Sunday, March 6, 2016

What is coming out from in 2016? LLC Reports Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2015 Financial Results

— 2015 Revenues $683.1 million, Up 10.3% Year-Over-Year —
— 2015 Adjusted EBITDA $263.0 million, Up 16.7% Year-Over-Year(1)
— Subscriber base grows by approximately 150,000 in 2015 —
— AncestryDNA sells approximately one million DNA kits in 2015;
DNA kit sales more than double in Q4 year-over-year—

  • Subscribers — Subscribers of Ancestry websites totaled approximately 2,264,000 as of December 31, 2015, compared to 2,115,000 as of December 31, 2014.
  • Content - The Company added over 1.7 billion new records during 2015. New collections added in the fourth quarter included:

    • Mexico Civil Registration records - over 200 million records
    • US, School Yearbooks, 1880-2012 - over 63 million records
    • US, City Directories, 1822-1989 - updated with over 40 million new records
    • 4 million new international records from the U.K., Germany and Romania
  • AncestryDNA - AncestryDNA sold approximately one million kits in 2015 and now has a database with DNA samples from 1.5 million people.
  • New Offerings - Ancestry Academy, New Ancestor Discoveries and a beta launch of Ancestry Health were introduced in 2015.

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What a great activity! Escape from Crystal Cave

Successful Genealogy Activity! Part of the joy of creating a project is getting the feedback on how it enhances lives and gets people e...