Wednesday, January 15, 2020

First Codicil for Merritt Howell Jr

In two previous posts I have told the story of the life (The Life of Merritt Howell Jr) and have reported on the Will (The Will of Merritt Howell Jr) of my 4th great-grandfather Merritt Howell Jr.  Next there are three Codicils to his Will to look at next. This is the 1st Codicil:

(click on images to enlarge)

First Codicil     (19 March 1855)

Whereas I, Merritt Howell, of the town of Riverhead in Suffolk County have made my last will and testament bearing date the seventh day of February one thousand eight hundred and fifty three, in and by which I have devised to my wife Elenor Howell (now deceased) certain real estate during her natural life and after her death the same to go to my grandson Elbert H. H. Edwards and have given the care and control of such real estate to my daughter Sally Edwards after the death of my said wife until the said Elbert H. H. Edwards shall arrive at twenty five years of age, and have directed my son Hampton L. Howell to pay to the said Sally Edwards four hundred dollars for the said Elbert to build a house with, and have directed my Executors to pay thirty dollars a piece for tombstones for myself and my said wife. Now therefore will by this my writing, which I hereby declare to be a Codicil to my said last will and testament, and to be taken as a part thereof, order and declare that my will is that all the real estate which in my said will I gave to my said wife for her natural life, now that she is dead, shall go to and I do hereby give and devise the said real estate to my daughter Sally now the wife of David Horton in trust for the use and benefit of my said grandson Elbert H. H. Edwards until he shall arrive at the age of twenty five years as aforesaid then I do devise the said real estate to the said Elbert H. H. Edwards when he arrives at the age of twenty one years shall convey to his brothers and sister James H. Edwards, Serepta E. Edwards and Chauncey A. Edwards or to such of them as shall then be living all his interest in the estate of his father Hallock Edwards deceased_ And if the said Elbert H. H. Edwards shall die before he arrives at the age of twenty one years the said real estate shall go to my heirs at law_ But the devise of the real estate above mentioned is subject to the payment of six hundred dollars to my said daughter Sally, wife of David Horton, and I do hereby direct my Executor Hampton L. Howell to sell enough off of the North part of the west half of my homestead, at my decease to said the said sum of money and pay the same to her_ as for the sum of four hundred dollars to be paid the said Elbert H. H. Edwards by my son Hampton, my will is that the said Hampton shall pay out of his own money to the said Elbert the sum of four hundred dollars and deliver to him or his _ the back kitchen answered to the __ I have in with the store of the cellar under it, when the said Elbert shall devise to build a house on the lands above mentioned_ it is my will that my daughter Sally, wife of David Horton, shall furnish the said Elbert H. H. Edwards a home and support and ordinary schooling until he shall arrive at twenty one years of age unless he shall marry before that, and reimburse himself out of the income of the lands given to her for his use, and the said Sally may cut from the part of the homestead given to her in trust as aforesaid what firewood she shall need for her family, and also twenty four foot cords of wood annually for the purpose of obtaining manure to put on __ part_As for the tombstones for myself and my said wife it is my will that my Executor shall pay forty dollars for each and that he shall enclose one graves and that of my deceased child Elenor Ann with a substantial iron fence_My will is that the rightof way mentioned at the bottom of the second page of my said will shall begin at that part of the cedar swamp which Hampton may convey to Elbert’s land_And I do further give and bequeath the sum of one hundred dollars to the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, unless I shall have given that sum to that Board before my death and after the date of this Codicil_ And lastly it is my desire that this Codicil be annexed to and made a part of, my last will and testament as aforesaid to all intents and purposes_In witness where of I have hereunto set my hand & deal this nineteenth day of March in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty five.
                                                                                                 Merritt Howell L. S.

The above instrument consisting of one sheet was at the date thereof signed sealed published and declared by the said Merritt Howell as and for the Codicil to his last will and testament, in presence of us who, at his request and in his presence, and in the presence of each other, have subscribed our names as witnesses thereto. The word “dollars” interlined over sixth line of 2nd page and word “ordinary” intertwined over fourteenth line of same page_
     James H. Tuthill of Riverhead Suffolk County
     Ira Land of Riverhead Suffolk County

Some thoughts and questions:

  • Merritt’s wife Elenor died on 31 October 1854 so this may have been the first reason for him to add a Codicil.
  • Merritt makes sure there is money for tombstones for himself and Elenor. The money has increased by $10 for each. He is also requesting a fence around his, Elenor and deceased daughter Elenor Ann’s graves. I believe Elenor Ann died at the age of 15 in 1823.
  • Merritt’s widowed daughter Sally has remarried. Perhaps an additional reason for the 1st Codicil. Her son Elbert was 11 years old at the time of this Codicil. I wonder why Merritt was so concerned about Elbert having money for a home when this was not a concern for any of the other grandchildren? Was it because Elbert’s father had passed away and his mother Sally had remarried? It also sounds like there is an estate that Elbert will be eligible for from his father, so, that may be why he is then transferring some of his estate to Elbert’s brothers and sister. Sister Rosalie was not born at this time. I find this change interesting.
  • What is the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions? Merritt is leaving them a substantial amount of money ($100 then would be equivalent to about $3,000 today). After some research I learned that the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions was among one of the first American Christian missionary organizations. It was created in 1810 by graduates of Williams College. In the 19th century it was the largest and most important of American missionary organizations and consisted of participants from Reformed traditions such as Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and German Reformed churches. I am not finding Merritt in local Presbyterian records, so, I am guessing he may have attended the Congregational Church in the area?  What does this tell me about his religious beliefs?
  • There are new witnesses to this Codicil then in the original Will: James H. Tuthill and Ira Land.

Some major changes in life and interests have led to this first Codicil.  There are two more Codicils to learn from.  Merritt would live for two more years.  How will Merritt’s wishes change in the next Codicil?

If you have any corrections or additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,

Sunday, January 12, 2020

The Will of Merritt Howell Jr

When I gather documents about an ancestor it’s not just about gathering the information but about putting that information in perspective for that ancestor’s life. I can look at the events of their lives to try and understand what might have been important based on those events. I won’t know for sure but I can make assumptions about what they may have been thinking. If all I do is just gather information and not put it in perspective then all I am doing is gathering documents.

The Will for Merritt Howell, Jr. , my 4th great-grandfather, is a long one. (See post The Life of Merritt Howell, Jr. for more information on his life.) For a while now I have struggled to make this as meaningful to his life as I possibly can. I finally decided to break up the Will and Codicils with some comments after each section that help tell the story of what was happening at the time and some questions that arose for me as I was reading it. This helped me put some perspective on the Will and Codicils.

The Will was written 7 February 1853 when Merritt was 70 years old. He and his wife ‘Elenor’ (a different spelling then I previously believed) Howell had been married 50 years. Some of my information on the children is sketchy. At this time, I believe, he had the following children still living, 1 son and 6 daughters:

  • Sally (Sarah)
  • Jemima (my 3rd great grandmother)
  • Hampton
  • Betsey
  • Fanny
  • Harriett
  • Frances

Liber 6 pages 309-320, Suffolk County Probate

In the name of God Amen, I Merritt Howell of the town of Riverhead, County of Suffolk, State of New York, being of sound mind and memory do make, ordain and publish and declare this my last will and testament in manner and form following that is to say:

First, I give unto my beloved wife Elenor Howell the one equal undivided half part of my homestead North of the highway on the West side_Also one equal undivided part of one quarter of an acre on the East side of my land and meadow lying before my door South of the highway_ for the purpose of a Dock and Landing place_Also the West half part of my land and meadow lying before the door South of the highway after taking out the quarter of an acre above disposed of_Also one equal undivided half part of a tract of Meadow called Broad Meadows in the town of Southampton to use as she thinks proper during her natural life_likewise I give unto my beloved wife Elenor all my moveable property both outdoors and indoors_all my money and Notes_except such as are herewith otherwise disposed of_After paying all my just debts and funeral charges with thirty dollars for each of us tombstones_

Secondly-I give to my grandson Elbert H. H. Edwards all of the real estate above given to my wife during her natural life-on her decease with the condition and restrictions following towit:

I give to my daughter Sally Edwards the other undivided half tract of my homestead on the North side of the highway, during her natural life, then to go to her son Elbert H. H. Edwards and his heirs-After the decease of my wife Elenor I give to my daughter Sally Edwards the use and control of all my real estate above given until her son Elbert H. H. Edwards arrives to the age of twenty five years- then the real estate given to my wife Elenor she being deceased to go to him-If he should die before that time leaving no heir the real estate above given to my wife to go equally to my children_It is my will that the real estate above given to my daughter Sally Edwards during her natural life should go to her son Elbert H. H. Edwards and this heirs_But if he should die before her decease without heirs, it is her to dispose of as she pleases_I likewise give to my daughter Sally Edwards a certain mortgage and notes which I hold against her deceased husband-

I give unto my son Hampton F. Howell the woodland which I own in the thirty six Lot Quogue Purchase_also another tract of woodland containing four or five acres lying near the village of Riverhead between the Quogue and Flander roads adjoining the land of Charles Vail_Also one half part undivided of my land and meadow lying before the door, the balance after giving my wife as above directed_that is to say one equal half part of the quarter of an acre set off for a Dock and Landing and the Eastern half part remaining_Also one equal half part of Broad Meadows and one equal half part of my meadow at Muddy Creek_Also I give him the East part of my barn, with this condition nevertheless that my son Hampton F. shall give to my grandson Elbert H. H. Edwards three acres on the North End of the Cedar Swamp now owned by him and a right of way through gates and bars_likewise he must pay my daughter Sally four hundred dollars for Elbert when he shall have arrived to the age of twenty one years to build a house with if should want it_

I give unto my daughter Jemima Howell a certain note which I hold against her husband Daniel Howell and sixty acres of woodland a part of the Thousand acres so called during her natural life then to her heirs_

I give unto my daughter Betsey Smith a certain mortgage and Notes which I hold against her husband John R. Smith and sixty acres of woodland a part of the Thousand acres so called during her natural life then to her children_

I give unto my daughters Fanny B. Terry, Harriet N. Hallock and Frances N. Hallock each equally undivided all that tract or parcel of woodland lying near the village of Riverhead South of the Mill Pond adjoining the same containing one hundred and sixteen and a half acres_

I give unto my Grandsons hereafter to be mentioned as follows to Henry H. Howell twenty acres of woodland to Meritt H. Smith twenty acres of woodland, to Theodore B. Terry twenty acres of woodland, to my grandsons James H. Edwards and Chauncy A. Edwards each ten acres of woodland, all to be of the tract which I own called the Thousand Acres. It is my will that my daughters Jemima Howell and Betsey Smith take their sixty acres each making one hundred and twenty acres from the West part of my land called the Thousand Acres undivided_the Remainder Eighty acres to go to my Grandsons undivided as above written_

Last I give unto my beloved wife Elenor all of that tract of land lying North of the North Road called my “North Side” adjoining the Sound and lying between of Warren Young on the one side and Josiah Howell and Wells Howell on the other to dispose of as she sees fit_

I hereby appoint my beloved wife Elenor Executrix and my son Hampton F. Howell Executor of this my last will and testament, hoping that it may be executed according to the true intent and meaning thereof_

In witness whereof I have set hereunto my hand and seal this seventh day of February one thousand eight hundred and fifty three_
                                                                                                             Meritt Howell L. S.

Signed sealed published and delivered by the above Meritt Howell to be his last will and testament in presence of us who have subscribed our names at his request as witnesses in presence of the testator and of each other_
     Joshua L. Wells Jun. of the town of Riverhead in the County of Suffolk_
     Caleb Hallock of the town of Riverhead in the County of Suffolk

From the Will I know which children are living in 1853 at the writing of the will, what the married names of the daughters are and what grandsons there are:

  • Sally married an Edwards and had sons Elbert H. H. Edwards, James H. Edwards and Chauncy A. Edwards. Sally’s husband died in 1848. They had 3 sons and 2 daughters. I wonder why Elbert was given more in Merritt’s Will then the other 2 sons who were all fatherless at a young age? 
  • Jemima (my 3rd great grandmother) married a Howell and had a son Henry H. Howell
  • Hampton was Executor and no children listed
  • Betsey married a Smith and no children listed
  • Fanny married a Terry and had a son named Theodore B. Terry
  • Harriett married a Hallock and no children listed
  • Frances married a Hallock and no children listed

Color coding the children and grandsons really helped me. After I did that I noticed that there were only grandsons mentioned and began to wonder if there were granddaughters that were not mentioned? Some additional research said yes, there were granddaughters that were alive but not mentioned in Merritt’s Will. That’s interesting! I guess he did not feel that leaving them property, money or items was important?

I find it interesting that Merritt did leave 'mortgages' and 'Notes' he must have held connected with his daughters individually to them. Did several of his son-in-laws borrow money from him to buy property for their families? Was the land part of Merritt’s property that he sold to them? Interesting question for later research.

Were Joshua Wells and Caleb Hallock friends of Merritt and/or possibly related?

Stopping here to digest the information learned seems like a good thing to do.  I learned a great deal about Merrritt and his family from this will.  There are an additional 3 Codicils for the next post. What else will I be able to learn about Merritt from those?

Note: Up until the 1850s paper was made from recycled linen and cotton rags.  In the 1850s paper was beginning to be made from wood.  Pens with metal nibs that could hold ink began to be produced in the 1820s.  I wonder what ‘paper’ and 'pen' Merritt used to record this will?  

If you have any corrections or additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,

Saturday, January 4, 2020

2019 A Year of Genealogical Research

At the beginning of a New Year I like to take a look back and see what I have accomplished over the past year. I still work full time and can only do my genealogical research in little bits at a time. By taking the time to look back at the statistics and what I have been able to do I feel more of a sense of accomplishment then I might otherwise feel.

I use Legacy Family Tree software to maintain my family tree. I have trees in Ancestry and My Heritage but those are not the most up to date trees. (Sometimes in Ancestry and My Heritage I may collect information from hints and store them in my trees for future research and then discard them if the information is not correct. I use it as a ‘holding place’.)

From my Legacy tree:

A review of the statistics in my Legacy tree that I am most interested in:

I wasn’t able to add much new information to my Legacy Family tree in the past year but I was able to go more in-depth with the information I have found on people in my tree.

I decided to run my fan chart again this year. The last time I ran this was two years ago with my 2017-A Year of Genealogical Research. At that time I was missing 34/62 ancestors. I have now been able to locate and add the names for a total of 58/62 of my ancestors. With the exception of four 2x great-grandparents I have been able to identify them all. The four that I am missing will require searching in Luxembourg and German records. Hmm, what a great reason to travel abroad! Hopefully, one day in the future.

In 2019:

  • I completed 46 Blog Posts (my goal was 50) with an all time total of 98,188 page views.

I continue to connect with several new cousins and develop ongoing relationships with others:

  • The Warner Cousins continued their Christmas Luncheon get together for the 4th year and added two more cousins. Six of us share great-grandparents Carrie Terry and John B. Warner. So glad two more cousins were able to join us this year. More memories and perspectives to share! Special thanks to Marie for once again opening her home to us!

Me, Kim, Hollie, Kallie, Marie, Jane, Suzanne and Sophia

  • While I was able to prove my heritage and join the General Society of Mayflower Descendants last year, this year I was able to have a traditional costume made and wear for the San Diego Colony Thanksgiving luncheon in November.  (See previous post What Would Priscilla Mullins Alden Think?)

Kathy Hughes (on left) is the amazing seamstress who made my costume

Goals for next year:

  • My usual goal, to complete 50 blog posts.
  • I am scheduled to be a Co-Presenter, with Darlene Conner Sampley and Diane Gould Hall at the San Diego Genealogical Society on July 11th to talk about the Mayflower Society.  I enjoy presenting and hope to develop two more presentations around Wills and Land Deeds.  Stay tuned to find out when I will be presenting.
  • Meet some of the cousins I have only corresponded with to date.
  • Attend the Pilgrim 400th Anniversary Commemoration in Massachusetts in September.

In summary, I think it’s been a great year for research. I can’t believe what I have been able to learn about my ancestors beyond their names and dates of birth and death. Learning the history of the time period my ancestors lived has also helped me put some perspective on their lives. They have come alive as the courageous people who worked hard, loved their families and did the best they could. I owe so much to so many that have listened to my stories, read my blogs and helped me find the missing bits of information that added to my ancestors’ stories. As frustrating as my brick walls can be it’s remembering the people I have met along the way and the information I have found that make this so rewarding. A special thank-you for all the encouragement I get from my readers.  It truly is the ‘journey’ that is the reward! Off to another exciting year of research!

If you have any corrections or additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.

Enjoy the journey,

Sunday, December 8, 2019

The Life of Merritt Howell, Jr.

I thought I’d take a look this week at my paternal 4th great grandfather, Merritt Howell Jr. What could I find out about his life?

When Merritt was born on 10 November 1783 in Southold, Suffolk County, New York to Merritt Howell Sr. (1750-1818) and Sarah Luce Howell (1755-1824) America was just seven years old. Merritt was the third of four children and the oldest son.

At the age of nine Merritt, his parents, sisters Patience and Sally as well as brother Benjamin must have been living in the newly formed (13 March 1792) town of Riverhead which broke off from the town of Southold. Merritt’s father, Merritt Sr. was named as one of the Overseers of the Poor in the new town at the first town meeting held on 3 April 1792.

1800 US Federal Census Merrit (age 17) appears to be living in Riverhead with his parents, brother Benjamin (12) and sister Sally (19). Patience (23) was married.

Merritt, at the age of 20, married 17 year old Eleanor Luce in 1803. They would have 12 (?) children: Buel, Jemima (my 3rd great grandmother), Eleanor, Fanny, Hampton, Betsey, Sarah, Henrietta, Merritt, Frances, Eleanor and Daniel. Four of their children would die at a young age Buel (2 years old), Eleanor (1st) (15 years old), Merritt (1 year old), and Eleanor (2nd) (1 year old).

1810 U.S. Federal Census finds Merritt (27) and his wife Eleanor (24) living in Riverhead with children Sally (6), Jemima (4) and Eleanor (2).

12 November 1819 Merrit Howell purchased a tract of land in Halseys Manor in the town of Brookhaven from Abraham Luce, John P. Luce and David Hulse.

1820 U.S. Federal Census finds Merritt (37) engaged in Agriculture and living in Riverhead with his wife Eleanor (34) and children Sally (16), Jemima (14), Eleanor (12), Fanny (10), Hampton (8), Betsey (6), Henrietta (1).

1830 U.S. Federal Census finds Merritt (47), wife Eleanor (44) and children Hampton (18), Betsey (16), Sarah (14), Henrietta (11), Frances (4), Daniel (?), Eleanor L. (1) still living in Riverhead, New York. Living with them were also a free Colored male (age 10-23) and a free Colored female (age 10-23).

1840 U.S. Federal Census finds Merritt ((57) living with his wife Eleanor (54) and children Hampton (28), Betsey (26), Daniel (15-19), Frances (15), Eleanor L. (11). Also living in the home is a free Colored female (age 10-23). Three people in the household were employed in Agriculture.

  • *Up until 1850 in the US Federal Census records children are just listed by age. I am guessing at which children are still living with them during these census years based on their ages and the dates I have for their marriages and probably moving out of the home. If you know of any errors in my estimations above, please let me know so I may correct these errors.

1850 U.S. Federal Census reported on 5 September shows Merritt (66) still living in Riverhead with his wife Eleanor (63) along with Elbert Howell (6) and Priscilla White (12). I wonder if Elbert and Priscilla are grandchildren?? Merritt has listed his occupation as a Farmer and the value of Real Estate owned is listed as 20,000.

1850 September 5th U.S. Census Non-Population Schedules, Agriculture


  • Acres of Land-150 Improved, 850 Unimproved. Cash value of farm 20,000.
  • Value of farming Implements and Machinery-100.
  • Livestock-Horses-2, Milch [cow kept for milking] cows-4, Other cattle-15. Swine-9. Value of Live Stock (1 June 1850)-300.
  • Produce during the year ending 1 June 1850: Wheat, bushels of-50. Rye, bushels of-30. Indian corn, bushels of-250. Oats, bushels of-80. Irish Potatoes, bushel of-100. Butter, lbs. of-200. Hay, tons of-40.
  • Value of Animals slaughtered-60.

Merritt’s wife of 51 years Eleanor would die on 31 October 1854 just three years before he did.

Merritt died 4 December 1857 at the age of 74 in Riverhead, Suffolk County, New York.

I started with the basic of facts about Merritt and was still able by transcribing the information to determine a lot about his life. I have more research to do but this is a good start. Looking at the Census records from 1850 and the neighboring farmers leads me to believe that he had one of the most prosperous farms in the area. Now I would like to find out more about where his farm was and his land purchases that brought him up to 1,000 acres of land with a value of $20,000.

If you have any corrections, additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,

Saturday, November 30, 2019

4th Blogiversary of Debby’s Family Genealogy Blog

It's hard to believe that I have been doing this already for four years!  A look back at the last year:

Over the past year I have created and published 49 blog posts.  

Some of my Favorite Posts this year:
The series of posts I did on MM Coolbaugh; including MM Coolbaugh, Tombstone Tuesday with a Twist, Death and Obituary for MM Coolbaugh, Wedding and Anniversary of Betsey Granteer and MM Coolbaugh, Election Day-Ever Wonder if Your Ancestors Were Involved in Politics, etc. I seemed to just keep uncovering information.

A fun post was about discovering a hidden little cemetery I never knew about- How Many People Does it Take to Locate a Cemetery?

All time History Page Views- this year went from 54, 464 to 96, 989

Followers – this year went from 12 to 22

In Case You Missed Them, My Top Five Most Viewed Blog Posts Were:

What I’ve learned:

  • I appreciate finding out how my ancestors participated in the happenings of their times. How they became a part of history with the lives they lived whether it was being a soldier in the Revolutionary War, taking a ship across the Atlantic to start a new life, being involved in the politics that lead up to the Civil War, etc. Researching the time period they lived in adds to much to my ancestors’ stories and gives me a better sense of them. These also seem to be my most viewed posts as well.

My Frustration continues to be that there never seems to be enough time and money to do as much research as I want.

My goals for this next year:

  • Complete my edit of my great grandmother Carrie’s Letters in a digital format so that my cousins and others can easily access them.
  • To once again attempt to publish at least 50 posts while continuing to work full time.
  • Make the stories of my ancestors lives be more than just dry facts. Help the readers understand the time period better.


  • Three published years of my blog stories. How exciting to see all the research for a year published in to one place in a book format.
  • Write reviews of the Speakers who present for the San Diego Genealogical Society. I have enjoyed doing this and am able to ‘try out’ suggestions from the speakers and blog about it.

A VERY SPECIAL THANK-YOU TO ALL MY READERS!  I enjoy sharing what I have learned and appreciate the comments you make and/or questions you ask.  I’m always looking for new directions to search or information that is questionable and needs verification.

My updated Surname word cloud:

It has been another great year for me as a blogger.  On to new discoveries and new cousin connections.

If you have any corrections, additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.

Enjoy the journey,

Thursday, November 28, 2019

San Diego Colony November Compact Day

On Saturday the San Diego Colony of the Mayflower Society held their annual November Compact Day meeting and luncheon at the Green Dragon Tavern in Carlsbad, California in the:

This is the second time I have had the privilege of attending, this time as a verified Mayflower descendant. This was my first time wearing the ‘costume’, or period dress, of my ancestors. (See post What Would Priscilla Mullins Alden Think?)

Following an Invocation and The Pilgrim Pledge:

In the name of God Amen.
I pledge myself to help hold aloft the lamps of civil and religious liberty lighted by the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock; to recall and cherish the sacrifices and struggles made by them for the common good; to study their lives, deeds, faith, courage and character, and to draw inspiration therefrom; to emulate their spirit; to be loyal to the flag and institutions of the country whose founding was so greatly aided by their work and wisdom; to do everything within my power to deserve and preserve the heritage, and at all times and in all ways to profit by the Pilgrim example.

State Officials from the California Mayflower Society in attendance were introduced and new members were presented and welcomed in to the San Diego Colony.

Next was the exciting Pilgrim Roll Call. Each of the Mayflower passengers are called by name and the number of descendants in attendance are counted and recorded. Passenger John Howland had the largest number of descendants present at 24. My ancestor John Alden had 21 descendants in attendance this time. For a complete list of passengers and information about the passengers visit Passenger Lists Mayflower 1620 on Caleb’s website.

The guest speaker for this luncheon was Caleb Johnson.  Caleb is an author and historian with over 25 years of researching the Mayflower passengers and their voyage. His most popular book is Here Shall I Die Ashore about the life of Stephen Hopkins. Caleb’s website,  “ the Internet's most complete and accurate website dealing with the Mayflower passengers and the history of the Pilgrims and early Plymouth Colony can be found at

Caleb Johnson with Kathleen Loftman, San Diego Colony Deputy Governor, and William “Bud” Leef, San Diego Colony Governor

Caleb’s talk was entitled “Recent Discoveries in English Records concerning the Mayflower Passengers”. Caleb told us about some of his current research and discoveries on ancestors of several of the Pilgrim passengers. I always find it amazing to learn about documents that are still being discovered, almost 400 years later, that relate to the Mayflower Passengers and their ancestors. Some of the examples of the documents in old English handwriting were amazing to see. I wondered how long it took them to transcribe some of the documents due to the handwriting. What interesting information they have been able to uncover!  Caleb was a very interesting speaker with great examples of documents for us to get a feel for the work he has done.  Research that many of us would never be able to do on our own.

At the end of the luncheon they asked all of us in costume to stand up 

and later we had a picture taken of all of us that were in ‘costume’ together.
(click on pictures to enlarge)

I have Kathy to thank for making my 'costume'.

How amazing to see the variety of ‘costumes’ and colors. Everyone had a wonderful time and the food, as usual, was delicious. What a wonderful way for all of us ‘descendants’ to honor our ancestors and appreciate what they went through as they survived that first winter and embarked on a new life in this ‘new world’. I am very thankful for their perseverance in making their new life here in America.
What a great way to start the Thanksgiving Holiday!

If you have any corrections, additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,

Special thanks to friend and fellow Blogger Diane Gould Hall for many of the photos.  Hopefully, next time, it will be Diane's turn to be accepted into the General Society of Mayflower Descendants.

Be sure to mark your calendar for 8 November 2020 and set aside some time to visit the San Diego Colony Mayflower presentation in Balboa Park, San Diego, CA marking the 400th celebration for the landing of the Mayflower.

Monday, November 11, 2019

San Diego Genealogical Society Presents Lisa Alzo

On Saturday Lisa Alzo presented for the San Diego Genealogical Society. Lisa is writer, lecturer and genealogist. She is the author of 10 books, numerous articles and a blog entitled The Accidental Genealogist. Lisa is well known for her Eastern European Genealogy Research. I found Lisa to be a very informative, engaging speaker with great examples that shared her personal experiences. While I have no Eastern European heritage, to my knowledge, I was interested to see if there was a technique or a tool that Lisa talked about that might help me in my research and her presentations did indeed have some ideas for me to try out.

Lisa’s first presentation was entitled Ten Ways to Jumpstart Your Eastern European Research. In this presentation Lisa discussed her list of 10 ways to get started on your research. These 10 ways not only applied to Eastern European research but any research you are embarking on and included; talk to your family, plant your family tree online, map out your ancestral towns/villages, document your work, utilize Family Search, watch videos, try a new database or search technique, share your brick wall, attend a conference/workshop or seminar, and hire a pro.

  • Lisa talked about Videos available on Family Search under the Learning Center and I tried the following 15 minute video about Irish Research.

Whatever you are researching, no matter how experienced or inexperienced you are, these are both great ways to help you with your research and try out some new ideas. And the best part is these videos are available for free.

  • Lisa discussed the importance of keeping a Research Log. I like to try out different Research Logs recommended by speakers and from my own personal experience use different research logs for different purposes. I tried Lisa’s research log for an ancestor I have yet to really research or write about to see what I have already found, where my gaps are and what else I still what to search for:

(Click on images to enlarge)

Lisa reminded us to also attend ethnic conferences. I have attended two and learned a great deal about specific ethnic research and made some great connections with others researching the same ethnic groups.

Lisa also discussed the great advantage to Immersion Genealogy where you can bring your research full circle when you can visit an “ancestral homeland to walk in your ancestors’ footsteps, and perhaps meet up with long-lost cousins” as she has been able to do.

Lisa’s second presentation was entitled Crossing the Pond: Successful Strategies for Researching Eastern European Ancestors. Lisa discussed the importance of identifying your ancestor’s ‘original’ surname as it was before they immigrated, locating the ancestral village, information on researching in Eastern Europe, where to go to get help with reading and interpreting church and civil records in languages we are not familiar with, lists of websites as part of an Eastern European Genealogy Research Toolkit, and select websites for countries in Eastern Europe. Lisa also discussed the importance of making connections in various FaceBook groups related to genealogy in the areas you may be researching and for meeting cousins.

Lisa talked about the importance of learning the headings on documents in countries where you may not know the language. Family Search has Word Lists to help with this. I not to start researching my German ancestors in Germany and have hesitated because of the language barrier. I decided to start by looking for a word list and found the following Genealogical Word Lists at FamilySearch under the Help Center:

Lisa also informed us that Family Search and YouTube have language tutorial videos and that Family Search has Community Groups that will help with translations. I have been fortunate in the past to also find people willing to help with a translation in FaceBook groups. Read about my experience in my post Amanuensis Monday-A Will but…Whose Signature is That?.

What a great presentation and so many new tips that I can apply to my own research despite the fact that I have no Eastern European ancestors. Thank-you Lisa!

If you have any corrections, additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,