Saturday, June 29, 2019

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Your School Graduations

Since I still have some energy left, I'll try to catch up a little on some posts.  This Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge was posted on June 22, a little more than a month ago.

Here is your assignment, if you choose to play along (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music, please!):

(1) Most of us graduated from elementary school, junior high school, high school, and perhaps college.

(2) What schools did you graduate from (and when, if you dare!), and do you have a photograph?

(3) Tell us about it in your own blog post, in a comment on this post, or in a Facebook post.

Well, I don't remember having any kind of "graduation" ceremony for elementary school or junior high school, and I definitely don't have any photographs of either.  But I do have something for high school and college.

I graduated from Niceville Senior High School in Niceville, Florida (yes, that is really a place) on June 1, 1979.  This photo was taken at our home in Villa Tasso before we left for the ceremony.  My grandmother came to every graduation in the family that she could.  I don't have any photos of me in my cap and gown.

Back row:  My mother, my sister, my grandmother; front row: me, my brother

I graduated from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles on May 13, 1983 with a Bachelor of Arts.  Technically my degree was in Humanities with an emphasis in French; functionally I was a French major with minors in Spanish and Russian (I created my own program for a foreign language major).  We were told we were the 100th graduating class of the university.  The program is actually available online, although I haven't found my name in it yet.  My mother, stepfather, and maternal grandparents flew to California for my graduation.

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Ellen's Questions, Part 1

I haven't been up to posting much lately on my blog, but I'm trying to get back to a regular schedule.  Lucky for me, this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun is something I can handle.

Here is your assignment if you choose to play along (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music, please!):

(1) Ellen Thompson-Jennings posted 20 questions on her blog this week.  See 
Even More Questions about Your Ancestors and Maybe a Few about You (posted 27 June). 

(2) We will do these five at a time, with questions 1 to 5 tonight.

(3) Tell us about it in your own blog post, in a comment on this post, or in a Facebook post.

Okay, here are my answers.

1.  Which ancestor had the most children?  It can be a couple or a single person.

According to a Saturday Night Genealogy Fun post from two years ago, the most children I have in my database for any of my ancestors is ten.  I have information on ten children for Thomas Kirkland Gauntt (1870–1951) and Jane Dunstan (1871–1954), my great-grandparents, and also for James Dunstan and Maria Hilton, my 4x-great-grandparents (for whom I don't have birth or death dates).

2.  How many years have you been working on your genealogy/family history?

I began working on my family history in 1975, so that's 44 years at this point.  I started off by interviewing family members to create a four-generation ancestor chart.  I still have that original piece of paper and the notes I wrote down at the time.

3.  Do you collaborate with other genealogists on your family history?

Not really.  I have met two relatives, both on my mother's side of the family, who were doing some family history research, and they shared their information with me.  To the best of my knowledge, neither one has continued to do so.  Occasionally I have a cousin contact me and ask about what I have found.  I share the information I have and then never hear back from them.

4.  Have you hired a professional genealogist to work on your family history?  Even if it was just a small branch of the family.

My brain is telling me that I have hired someone to do some specific research, but right now I can't remember what it was!  If I do eventually figure out what it was, I'll try to remember to come back to this post and update it.

5.  If you have family heirlooms, what’s your plan for their future?

I have only a couple of family heirlooms:  my great-grandmother's silverplate tableware and my grandmother's china.  I used to have a necklace that was made from the same great-grandmother's ring and a pair of her earrings, but they were stolen.  I also have a few century-old photographs.  That's about it for heirlooms from my family:  poor on both sides.  If either my niece or nephew is interested, I hope to pass these on to them, but that isn't a given.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Your Favorite Photo of Your Father

Yes, I'm a few days late on this, but I've been a little off schedule the past few months and am now trying to get back into the swing of things.  I figure a few days late is better than not at all, right?

So Randy Seaver chose this topic for the recent Saturday Night Genealogy Fun because it was the day before Father's Day:

Here is your assignment if you choose to play along (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music, please!):

(1) It's Father's Day in the USA on Sunday, so let's talk about our fathers.  

(2) Show us your favorite photograph of your father — the one that shows him in the best light possible.  Describe the occasion, the setting, and the people in the photograph.

(3) Tell us about it in your own blog post, in a comment on this post, or in a Facebook post.

This is hands down my favorite photo of my father.  He looks so adorable in his suit and hat!

Looking at the photo, it appears to be a mother and two children, right?  Nothing that straightforward with my family!  The people in the photo are my father, Lynn Sellers; his oldest half-sister, Ruth (Stradling) Appleton (the only other surviving child that my grandmother bore); and Ruth's daughter, Ruth Anne Appleton.  Although there was only a difference of less than six years between them, my father was Ruth Anne's uncle.

My estimate for the year of the photo is about 1943.  My father looks to be about 7 years old or so, and Ruth Anne looks about 2.  They're all dressed up, and Ruth Anne is wearing a bonnet, so I think it's Easter.  I really need to ask Ruth Anne about that to find out if I'm right.  Ruth isn't so dressed up, so I don't know if she was going to church with them or not (assuming my guess about Easter is correct).

I know the setting has to be in New Jersey, but I don't know where.  I guess that's something else I should ask Ruth Anne.  Maybe she will recognize the house behind them.

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Fishing with My Father

Today is National Go Fishing Day, which apparently is recognized every year on June 18.  I only read about it a few months ago and put it on my calendar to write about.  Coming only two days after Father's Day this year, it became more appropriate as a topic with the recent passing of my father, as he is the person with whom I primarily fished.

All of my fishing was in Florida.  We caught fish to take home for meals, fishing from the beach, a dock, or a small boat.  The very first time I went fishing, we stayed on the beach and cast out into Choctawhatchee Bay.  It took a little while for something to take my bait.  When it did, it fought pretty hard, and I had to work to get it to shore.  When I finally landed it, I was really excited and started walking toward it.

Suddenly my father yelled out, "Don't touch it!"  I turned to him to ask what was wrong and then looked back toward my catch — which was now gone!  It had bitten through the line and taken it back into the water with itself.

And that's when my father told me that what I had caught for my very first fish was a moray eel.  So much for eating that for dinner!

Since I barely got to see the eel before it retreated back into the bay, I don't know what type of moray it was.  There seem to be at least three that are found in the Gulf of Mexico off the northwest coast of Florida — blacktail, chain, and reticulate.  I found this photo of a reticulate moray which was caught in the Gulf of Mexico.  Maybe that's the type I landed that day.

"Juvenile reticulate moray (Muraena retifera). Gulf of Mexico."*

*Fish4333.  Credit:  SEFSC Pascagoula Laboratory, Collection of Brandi Noble, NOAA/NMFS/SEFSC.  Used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.  Image available at

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Father's Day without My Father

This is my first Father's Day without my father.  He died less than a month ago, on May 19.  He had been ill for some time, so it did not come as a surprise, but my world has shifted.  I am now a person with no living parents, and it feels different.

Surprisingly, my father, who outlived his first two wives, both of whom were younger than he, did not survive his third wife, who is older.  That's not how I expected it to happen.

When someone dies, there's an obituary.  Being the family genealogist, I was asked to write the first draft.  After some back and forth with additions and changes, one of the pieces of information that my sister added was that my father had served in the New Jersey National Guard for seven years.  After I thought about that for a little while, I realized it didn't add up right, based on what I knew of my father's moves to Florida and then back to New Jersey.  I told my sister about my uncertainty and that I did not think I could get verification in time for the obituary to be published.  She said she could just remove the reference; she was the one actually submitting the obituary.  When the obit came out, however, it was still there, albeit only as National Guard service, with no reference to New Jersey.

So then, as a genealogist, I was concerned that we had incorrect information in the obituary.  I had requested my father's records from the New Jersy National Guard, but, as expected, they arrived after the obit was online and in the newspaper.  I opened the envelope with a little trepidation, anxious to read just how long my father had been in the Guard.

You know how it's said that there's always something new to learn?  Well, that was the case here.  Daddy actually did serve in the National Guard for seven years — but only three of them were in New Jersey.  Four were in Florida!  Funny, he had never mentioned that when he talked about his time in the Guard.  But we only learned about it after he had died.

And little things like this help keep me distracted for a while.