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.
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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,

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Election Day-Ever Wonder if Your Ancestors Were Involved in Politics

Recently, while doing some research on my maternal 3x great grandfather Marvin Milton Coolbaugh, I found the following information in that added yet more richness to MM’s life story and answered the question about an ancestor being involved in local politics.

On 30 July 1857 the Bradford Reporter reported the following:

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“It was Resolved, that a Republican County Convention to be composed of two delegates from each election district, to be held at the Court House, in the Borough of Towanda, on MONDAY evening, September 7th, 1857, for the purpose of placing in nomination a County Ticket to be supported by the Republican electors of Bradford County. They have appointed a Vigilance Committee in each election district, a list of whom is hereunto annexed, whose duty it will be to call primary meetings of the Republican electors in each election district, for the purpose of electing delegates to said Convention.”

The duties and specifics are called out in the article so it is clear what the delegates are required to do and when. And there it is, my ancestor was a delegate for Monroe Township.

On 11 October 1860 in the Bradford Reporter MM Coolbaugh was once again in the news:

(click on image to enlarge)

This time “I, THOMAS M. WOODRUFF, High Sheriff of the County of Bradford, do hereby make known and give notice to the electors of said county that a general election will be held in said county, on TUESDAY, the 6th of November, in the several districts in said county, to wit:”

(In Monroe boro', at the house of MM Coolbaugh)

Historical perspective: Abraham Lincoln won the election against Stephen Douglas on 6 November, 1860 and was inaugurated as the 16th President, and the first Republican president, on 4 March 1861.  Wow!  People voted for the President of the United States in my ancestor's house.  

  • 6 Weeks later on 20 December, South Carolina leaders declared that "the United States of America is hereby dissolved."

On 12 September 1861 the Bradford Reporter MM Coolbaugh is once again in the news:

(click on image to enlarge)

“Pursuant to the call of the Republican County Committee, a Convention of Delegates from various election district, of Bradford County, met a the court House, in the Boro. Of Towanda, on Monday evening Sept. 2, 1861.”

“The list of election districts being called, the following delegates appeared and offered their credentials:”

(Monroe boro'  M.M. Coolbaugh, S. S. Hinman)

From an article published in the Bradford Star on 23 January 1902 I know that MM Coolbaugh was a Constable in Monroe, Bradford County, PA in 1849. I wonder if being a Constable contributed to his becoming involved in local politics? Did he hold strong beliefs about slavery and state’s rights?

(click on image to enlarge)

Regardless of your political affiliations or beliefs, it’s always exciting to find out that your ancestors were part of history by taking part, even in a small way, in the shaping of our countries’ history.

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