Saturday, August 1, 2020

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Did You Or Your Children Know Their Great-Grandparents?

I'm going to broaden the scope of this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun question from Randy Seaver so I can have a more interesting post.

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music) is:

(1) Did you or your children know their great-grandparents?  

(2) Tell us in your own blog post, in comments to this post, or in comments on Facebook.  As always, please leave a link to your work in Comments.

As I've mentioned before, I have no biological children of my own, so if I restricted this question to exactly as asked, it would be a really short post.  Therefore I'm going to expand it a little.

First, neither I nor my siblings knew any of our great-grandparents.  The closest any of us came is the story that I was told not only by my mother but also by my father, that my mother flew with me to Florida when I was but a babe in arms so that her grandmother — my great-grandmother, Sarah Libby (Brainin) Gordon — could see me.  Unfortunately, there is no proof of this visit that I have yet found, even though my grandfather routinely took all sorts of family photos.  How he missed the opportunity to get four generatiosn of women together in one photo is beyond me.  One of these days (soon, obviously) I need to ask some of my cousins on that side of the family, who still live in the Miami area, if they remember this momentous visit.  Anyway, as it stands, it's a story with no documentation.

The only other great-grandparent who survived to when my two siblings and I were alive was my father's paternal grandmother, Laura May (Armstrong) Sellers Ireland, known later in life as Nanny Ireland.  After I began doing family history research, I discovered that Nanny Ireland had lived to 1970.  That was before my family moved to Australia.  We had made some trips back east to visit family, but it was always my mother's family.  My father was not close to his family, so we never visited them.  And that meant we did not meet his grandmother.  When I learned that we had missed that opportunity, I was a little annoyed, but it was way too late to do anything about it at that point.

Keeping this in my generation, I'm not sure if any of my sister's children met a great-grandparent.  The only one who could have would have been her son Garry, who was born in 1983.  My paternal grandfather died in 1985.  Stacy might have brought Garry with her on a trip to Florida, and he might have met Grampa.

But if we take it one additional generation, we have a definite positive.  Stacy's granddaughter, Natalie, absolutely met her great-grandfather — my father.  So by manipulating this challenge just a little (okay, quite a bit), I finally have one positive result!

This photo, from the family reunion/birthday party I coordinated in 2015, includes my father and my grandniece.  My brain seems to be mush at the moment, because I have blanked on how to draw circles around each of them using Photoshop.  My father is on the far left wearing the blue and white shirt.  My stepmother is to his right in the photo, wearing a yellow blouse.  My grandniece is behind her with her back to the camera.  So I have documentation of my story!

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Major News Events during Your Life

This week's theme for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun from Randy Seaver is certainly appropriate given what's going on in the world right now.

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music), is:

(1) What are the major news events that happened during your life that you remember where you were when you heard about them?

(2) Tell us in your own blog post, in comments to this post, or in comments on Facebook.  As always, please leave a link to your work in Comments.

Okay, here are mine.

• The first major news event that I remember where I was when it happened was the Moon landing on July 20, 1969.  As I wrote last year for the 50th anniversary of that, I remember my mother having us three kids sit and watch the Moon landing on TV, but I don't actually remember seeing the landing itself.

• The explosion of the Challenger space shuttle on January 28, 1986 happened during the day while I was at work in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the University of Southern California.  I don't recall now how we heard that it had happened, but when we got the news we found a TV set somewhere and set it up so everyone could watch the reports.  I remember that the office supervisor was extremely annoyed that people wanted to learn what had happened, and we had to turn off the TV after a short while.

• I had been living in Berkeley, California for only a few weeks when the Loma Prieta earthquake struck on October 17, 1989.  This became a major news event because it occurred just as a World Series game between the Oakland A's and the San Francisco Giants was beginning, and a lot of people call it the World Series earthquake.  The film footage that was seen the most in other parts of the country was the liquefaction in the Marina District in San Francisco, the collapse of the double-decker Cyrpress freeway structure, and the part of the Bay Bridge that fell, although the most damage and devastation were actually in downtown Santa Cruz.  I was in the house in Berkeley when the shaking started, and I could tell it was significant.  In the living room, three of the four tall bookcases collapsed into the center of the room and all the books spilled out.  We lost power and I couldn't make outgoing phone calls.

• On September 11, 2001, I was working at the Seismological Society of America.  Someone called to let us know about the collapse of the Twin Towers, and then we followed the news online.  I don't recall that we were allowed to leave work early.  I remember when I got home and turned on the TV, all the channels but two were showing the same CNN footage over and over.  The Food Network had a static slide expressing sympathy, and Comedy Central was running its regular schedule.  I watched The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and the guests were They Might Be Giants.  Then I gave up on TV for the evening.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Abraham Meckler, July 23, 1912–December 10, 1989

Today is the 102nd anniversary of the birth of my maternal grandfather.  Abraham Meckler (or possibly just Abe) was born in Brooklyn, Kings County, New York to Morris (sometimes Max) Meckler (later Mackler) and Minnie (originally Mushe) Zelda Nowicki.  I don't know the specific location because the lovely City of New York won't release birth records after 1909, even though it has been more than 100 years.  I read a statement once where someone from the city declared that as far as they were concerned, these are not public records in any way.

Meckler family in 1915 New York State census; next to last is "Abie"

From what I was told, Zadie (Yiddish for "grandfather") grew up in a very conservative, traditional Orthodox family.  The two photos I have of his grandparents bear that out, but the one photo I have of his father shows a man with short hair and no head covering.  I don't know if that photo was taken in Europe or in the United States, so maybe the photo was taken here and he became less observant once he immigrated.

I do not have nearly the number of photos of my grandfather that I do of my grandmother.  The earliest one is from his bar mitzvah, which presumably took place in 1925, when he turned 13.

Later in life Zadie had heart problems.  He contracted leukemia from a blood tranfusion he received after a heart attack.  His health slowly worsened, but he held on until he and my grandmother had celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, with a big family reunion in Las Vegas, where Bubbie and Zadie had lived for many years.  He passed away about a month later.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Photo Books for Everyone

The theme for this month's Genealogy Blog Party from Elizabeth O'Neal is "Create!"  That gives a lot of latitude.  There are so many creative things one can do to celebrate family history.

One creative thing I have been doing for several years is making photo books for family members.  Although I know how to use real desktop layout software, I use the Shutterfly site to put the books together, because it's so convenient and I can always find coupons for free books.  I'm still paying the "shipping and handling" fees, but the cost ends up being worth it.

In looking at my projects on Shutterfly, I discovered that I have created fourteen different photo books.  One of my favorites is the book I made to replicate my grandmother's photo album.

Only one person can have the original photo album (and that's me!), but I scanned the pages as they were in the original and made copies of the book for my brother and sister.  That way they can have their own copies of our grandmother's album.

In 2015 I managed to put together a small Sellers family reunion to celebrate my father's 80th birthday and 35th wedding anniversary (to his third wife), and my aunt's 90th birthday.  And then I made a photo book with the best photographs and gave copies to everyone who was there.

I created a book focused on my Gorodetsky family line and the city of Kamenets Podolsky, where my great-great-grandparents had a photo taken (they're on the cover).  I made a version for myself and then customized versions for my brother and sister.

I made a book for my stepsons' mother (which sounds less awkward than "my ex's ex-wife", I think) with photos of her grandchildren.

I've put together several books with photos of my grandchildren.  This is the one for my youngest granddaughter.

I even created a book with photos of my furred and feathered children.

These books are an easy but thoughtful way to create gifts for family members.  They are also a great way to share family photos.

And Shutterfly functions as a print-on-demand publisher.  Any time I need another copy of a book, I go to the site and order one.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: The Time Machine

What an intriguing idea Randy Seaver has tonight for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun!

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music), is to:

Determine which event in your ancestral history that you would love to be a witness to via a Time Machine.  Assume that you could observe the event but not participate in it.

(2) Tell us all about it in your own blog post, in a comment to this post, or in a Facebook Status post.

There are so many events I would love to witness with this time machine!  Marriages, births, so many end-of-line ancestors to wonder about.  But rather than focus on myself, I decided to broaden the scope a little bit.

I want to witness the adoption of Raymond Lawrence Sellers, the son whom my paternal aunt gave up for adoption in 1945.  My aunt will turn 95 this December, and she asked me a few years ago to help her find out what happened to her son.  I've tried, and I've posted about it several times, but New Jersey has closed adoption records, and no DNA matches have appeared in Ancestry, Family Tree DNA, 23andMe, MyHeritage, or GEDMatch.  So why not try a time machine?

If I can witness the adoption, I'll find out the names of the adoptive parents and maybe even what name they gave Raymond when they adopted him.  Then I can search for that name and find out whether he is still alive (he will be turning 75 this year if he is), married, had children, and more.  And I can tell him that his birth mother wants to talk with him.

No guarantees after that, I realize, but boy, what a boon that would be indeed.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Summer = Sunburns

It's the beginning of summer!  Most people have been looking forward to this time of year, but I dread it.  I inherited my mother's very fair skin, and I can get a sunburn by being out in the sun for as little as five minutes.

When I finished the 9th grade, I traveled to southern Florida to spend the summer with my grandparents.  They were well retired by that point and didn't have a regular schedule.  They mostly sat around and watched TV.  But their apartment complex had a swimming pool.  I was still enamored of having a tan and decided I would spend some time in the sun every day to work on it.  I managed to sunburn the bottoms of my feet (!).  My face was burnt so badly that the skin peeled off like a crispy mask.  And that was with having sunscreen on!

So much for that idea.

That was the last time I deliberately tried to get a tan.  I started avoiding the sun.

But every now and then I would get distracted and . . . forget.

Several years later, after I had graduated college, I was living in a big three-story Victorian house on the edge of East Los Angeles.  My landlord had a daughter from his previous marriage who came to visit during the summer.

One day, my fiance and I invited her to go to the beach with us and hang out.

We were having so much fun, I lost track of how long I had been out.

Big mistake.

If I remember correctly, we were there for about four hours.

When we left, I had just started turning a little pink.  By the next morning, however, my entire body was bright cherry red and hurt like . . . well, you know what.

I couldn't sleep at night.  I tosed and turned, but there was no position I could lie down that didn't hurt.

And then in the morning my skin was horribly dry, and I couldn't bend my knees or elbows.  Every morning, my fiance had to slather lotion on my arms and legs just so I could move.

At least that time I really learned my lesson.  I am vigilant now about how much sun I get and long I get it.

So to all of you sun worshippers out there, enjoy your time of year.  I'll be in my house, enjoying the air conditioning and working on maintaining my pale, ghostly complexion.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Your Father's Work History

As I expected, with today being the day before Father's Day, Randy Seaver has chosen fathers as the theme for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun:

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music), is:

(1) Sunday, 19 June, is Father's Day.  Let's celebrate by writing a blog post about your father, or another significant male ancestor (e.g., a grandfather).

(2) What was your father's occupation?  What jobs did he have throughout his life?  Do you know his work history?

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

I don't have a detailed work history about my father.  Unlike my grandfather, who created a chronological listing of every job he had held, my father didn't do anything similar (but then again, who does?).

What I do know is that most of the jobs my father held during his life had something to do with cars.  During his younger years, most of those jobs were as a mechanic.  While my family lived in the Los Angeles area, he owned at least one garage of his own, and I suspect he worked at more for other people.

While we lived in Australia, he was again a mechanic.  (In fact, that's part of the reason we moved to Australia, because they were looking for skilled tradesmen at the time as potential immigrants.)  I know the name of one place he worked:  Frank Woodham Ford in Maroubra Junction, a suburb of Sydney, New South Wales.  And I know that because a photo of my father working with a Sun 1120 Engine Analyzer (probably spelled Analyser in Australia?) was used by Woodham Ford in a newspaper advertisement, and my father saved a copy.  I used that photo with a blog post (coincidentally, one for Father's Day), and a fellow BART train operator recognized the machine.

When my family returned to the United States in 1973, my father was still a mechanic.  He had his own garage again by 1975, in Niceville, Florida, because that's where my family and my father's business partner sheltered during Hurricane Eloise.

As he started getting older and his arthritis became worse, he really couldn't do the mechanical work anymore.  I know he worked in at least one auto parts store for a while.  I think that was in Fort Walton Beach.

Part of the reason I'm having trouble remembering a lot of specifics was that my father's work history was apparently a little sketchy.  I remember him telling me when he hit retirement age that he was shocked to learn he had never worked more than five years at any job.  While that is not unusual nowadays, especially in the tech field, for someone born in 1935, it was not common.  He started selling stuff on eBay to help supplement his Social Security income; I don't know if that counts as a "job."

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Catching an Ancient Fish

June 18 is celebrated in the United States (well, by some people, anyway) as National Go Fishing Day, which I first wrote about last year as a way of commemorating my father, who had passed away only one month before.  I went fishing with him quite a bit, so I have several more stories I can share.

This year I decided to write about the most unusual fish my father ever caught:  a gar.  Before he caught one, we had never heard of it.  This was probably around 1976 or so.  At that time there was no ubiquitous Internet of things with information easily accessible at the touch of a keypad, so I don't know how he figured out that's what it was.

Somehow he did figure it out, and he made a point of telling us kids that gar were really ancient, as  in back to the time of the dinosaurs.  We had the impression that they hadn't changed very much over all those millennia.

The main thing I remember about it is that it was really, really big.  It was certainly the largest fish I saw my father catch.  I looked up gar on Wikipedia to try to figure out which species it was.  Based on the descriptions and the locations of their habitats, my best guess is a longnose gar.  The next possibility is the spotted gar, but I don't remember it having spots, just being big and long and green.

I know that Daddy had trouble getting the fish out of the water and to the house, because it was so big.  I don't recall the details of how he finally managed to do that.  I only vaguely remember something about it being lined up next to a dock while they figured out what they were going to do.

As it was such an apparently unusual fish for people to catch, we had a big party when we ate it, so everyone could share the experience.  I don't remember how the fish tasted, but I do recall that my mother tried making a wine sauce to go with it, and that the sauce really didn't work out well.  It wasn't one of her absolutely inedible disasters, but it did not rank among her best dishes either.

"Longnose gar (Lepisosteus osseus) at the New England Aquarium, Boston MA"*

Credit: Steven G. Johnson / CC BY-SA (

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Pauleen's Crazy Month of May Pandemic Meme, Part II

Randy Seaver told us last week that we would be splitting Pauleen's May pandemic meme into two parts, and indeed that is what we're doing tonight for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun:

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music here), is:

(1) Check out Pauleen Cass' blog post, Crazy Month of May 2020 Meme: Pandemic Experiences.  We did the first 10 prompts last week.

(2) Let's do the last 11 of the prompts this week.

(3) Tell us about your pandemic experience in your own blog post, in a comment to this blog post, or in a post on Facebook.  Be sure to leave a link to your work as a comment to this post and also on Pauleen's post.

(4) Thank you, Pauleen!!

And here we go!

11.  What have you found to be the strangest change to your life?

The strangest change has been that for three months when I was driving around, there were almost no other cars on the highways or streets.  It was almost like having the roads to myself.  (That has changed during the past couple of weeks, however.)

12.  Have you found the changes and experience stressful/anxious/worrying?

I don't think that's the right way to describe it.  Disconcerting is better.  No stress or worry, just having to get used to something different.

13.  How have the closures affected your local community?

Most businesses closed during the first three months.  I suspect many of them will not be able to reopen.  I was a little surprised at some of the businesses classified as "essential."

14.  Have in-person meetings been replaced with virtual meetings zia Zoom, Skype, etc.?

Absolutely.  I have participated in several Zoom and GoToMeeting events for genealogy, and Zoom and Slack for a few social meetings.  I've also been testing closed captioning capabilities on other platforms, such as Google Meet (excellent), Skype (decent but not as good as Google), and Webex (no automatic transcription; you need a live person).

15.  Do you enjoy the virtual meeting format?

Not really.  I would rather have in-person meetings and presentations.  Failing the possibility of that for the time being, however, I can deal with virtual meetings.

16.  Are you working from home instead of in your usual place of work?

Like Randy, home is my usual place of work, so no change there.

17.  Have your habits changed over the past months?

Not very much.  I'm keeping to the same sleep and eating schedule for the most part and watching most of the same TV programs (except for the ones that weren't able to wrap their seasons before lockdowns occurred, so no new episodes or ending their seasons early).  I didn't used to eat out a lot before, but that has been almost eliminated.  Where the biggest change has occurred is in the social events I used to go to but obviously haven't for the past three months.

18.  Have you had to cancel travel plans for pleasure or family?

I didn't have to cancel any personal trips, just four business trips.

19.  Do you think you'll be able to travel in 2020?

Probably not, but not necessarily due to the pandemic.  It looks as though I will finally be able to schedule my shoulder surgery for late summer, so that will preclude travel for several months while I recover.

20.  Have you/others been wearing masks when out and about in your area?

I think maybe about 75% of the customers I see at stores, etc. wear masks.  All store personnel wear them, and everyone in health settings does.

21.  Will you change your lifestyle after this experience?

Not much.  I didn't go out to eat very much to begin with, so that won't change.  I still prefer to shop offline, so I will likely return to that once it's possible to do so.  I think where I am most likely to change my habits is where I have no choice and the change is made for me, such as a lot of meetings staying in a virtual format.

The post with the first ten questions for this meme can be found here.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Loving Day

Hugh Stone and Robin Dane were married on November 5, 1978.

June 12 is Loving Day, when we celebrate the 1967 U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down antimiscegenation laws in the sixteen (Southern) states that still had those laws on their books.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Free Webinars on Weekends in June!

To complement MyHeritage offering free access to databases every day in June, Legacy Family Tree (which is owned by MyHeritage) announced that each of the upcoming weekends in June it will offer a themed track of Webinars, many of them brand-new presentations.  From the Legacy Family Tree Webinars site:

June 12–14, Technology
  • Metadata for Digital Images, Thomas MacEntee (NEW!)
  • Tracking Your Digital Breadcrumbs:  Bookmarks, Toolbars, Notes, and Other Applications, Cyndi Ingle (members-only webinar to be unlocked)
  • Google Drive:  An Office in the Cloud, DearMYRTLE and Russ Worthington (older Webinar which will be unlocked)
  • Top Tech Tips for the Technologist and the Genealogist, Geoff Rasmussen (older Webinar which will be unlocked)
  • Tech Savvy Scrapbooking & Journaling for Family History, Annie Bowser Tennant (older Webinar which will be unlocked)
  • Microsoft Word Series #3:  Formatting Tips and Tricks, Thomas MacEntee (older Webinar which will be unlocked)
June 19–21, Great Britain Research
  • Finding Your 18th Century Ancestors in England, Paul Milner (NEW!)
  • Finding Your 19th Century Ancestors in England, Paul Milner (NEW!)
  • Why Did the Welsh leave Wales?, Penny Walters (NEW!)
  • Black British Family History:  Research and Identity, Penny Walters (NEW!)
  • Foundations of Scottish Genealogy 1 of 12:  The Top 3 Resources, Bruce Durie (older Webinar which will be unlocked)
  • Foundations of Scottish Genealogy 2 of 12:  Who Are the Scots?, Bruce Durie (older Webinar which will be unlocked)
June 26–28, Black American Research (almost all new!!)
  • African American Genealogy Challenges: What You Need to Know!, Shelley Murphy (NEW!)
  • Grandma Said:  Verifying Oral History, Aaron Dorsey (NEW)
  • The Second Middle Passage:  Following the DNA Trails, Melvin Collier (NEW!)
  • Finding Calvin:  Following My Enslaved Ancestor through Multiple Owners, a Case Study, Renate Sanders (NEW!)
  • DNA Corroborates Oral Tradition about the Parents of a Freedman, LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson (NEW!)
  • African American Genealogy Resources at the Library of Congress, Ahmed Johnson (older Webinar which will be unlocked)
Register for the live introductory Webinar at, which will give instructions for viewing the presentations.

I'm surprised that the Black American research weekend wasn't scheduled the weekend before, which would have made it fall on Juneteenth.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Pauleen's Crazy Month of May Pandemic Meme, Part I

This week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge from Randy Seaver is all about genealogy and the Coronavirus pandemic.  I guess it's surprising we haven't done anything about the pandemic previously.

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music here), is:

(1) Check out Pauleen Cass' blog post, Crazy Month of May 2020 Meme:  Pandemic Experiences.

(2) Let's do the first 10 of the prompts and save the last 11 for next week.

(3) Tell us about your own pandemic experience in your own blog post, in a comment to this blog post, or in a post on Facebook.  Be sure to leave a link to your work as a comment to this post and also on Pauleen's post.

(4) Thank you, Pauleen!!

Okay, here's mine.

1.  What are you most grateful for during this COVID-19 crisis?

As far as I know, none of the members of my family, extended family, or family by choice have become ill during the pandemic.

2.  What have you missed most during the full or partial lockdown?

I miss my regular routine.  I miss seeing my boyfriend on a regular basis.  I miss seeing my grandchildren every week for movie night.  I miss having lunch with my stepson every week.  I miss seeing all of my friends at our weekly dinner get-togethers.  I miss going to my volunteer shift at the Gresham Family History Center (which is still closed).  I miss my genealogy society meetings (yes, even the board meetings).

3. Has your hobby sustained you during this time?

Unfortunately, not really.  Without a regular routine, I have gone adrift to a great degree and have found it hard to focus.  My blog, and Saturday Night Genealogy Fun in particular, is one of the few things for which I have been able to maintain some consistency.

4.  What changes have you seen in your life over May 2020?

Unlike Randy, I've lost weight.  I haven't had much of an appetite and often don't eat regular meals, just snack a little bit.  I'm not cooking as much as I used to.  I haven't paid as much attention to my birds.  One positive thing is that because I have been home so much, I've done a lot of cleaning, sorting, and rearranging of stuff in several rooms.

5.  Have you been exercising more or less?

Well, since I hardly exercise at all, it would be difficult to exercise less.  It's probably about the same.

6.  Has the refrigerator been your friend or foe?

It's been a friend in that I haven't been overindulging in food, but it's been a foe because the food I'm not eating sometimes goes bad while it's waiting for me.

7.  Have you been participating in virtual gatherings with friends or family?

A little.  I've had some online gatherings with genealogy friends as alternatives to meeting in person.  I've also had a couple of Zoom meetings with other friends.  I tried one phone chat with my grandchildren, but they were more interested in playing video games than talking with Bubbie.

I have been doing lots of phone calls and extended text conversations with friends.  That's been a reasonably effective way to stay in touch and caught up.

8.  Have you taken up any new hobbies during the lockdown?

Oh, hell no.  I already have enough hobbies.

9.  Are you cooking or gardening more?

Nope, doing less of both.  Since my appetite's off I'm not cooking much for myself.  I have actually managed to do some gardening, but really only the bare minimum the plants need me to.

10.  Have you shopped more or less?   Online or offline?

I've shopped much less.  I do most of my shopping offline, so I haven't really been able to do that.  I've done grocery shopping when needed, and I've been to the hardware store a couple of times, and I think that's it.

The post with the remaining eleven questions can be found here.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Free Records Every Day for a Month

MyHeritage is giving everyone a gift well ahead of the holiday season.  Every day for the month of June, a different subscription record collection on the MyHeritage site will be freely available to all researchers.

The databases that will be available are being grouped by country.  They have started off with an emphasis on Scandinavia.  June 1 was a Swedish database, June 2 and 3 Danish, and June 4 and 5 will be from Norway.

After that come eight days of U.S. record sets, then two from Canada.  Crossing the pond to Europe, we'll see records from France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Hungary, and Spain.  Then it's off to the bottom of the world — Australia!

After that it's zigzagging back and forth:  Israel, Brazil, and back to Europe for Greece and Germany.

That certainly covers a wide territory, and there should be something in there to please most researchers.

Each of the databases will be totally free to use on its given day, but you will need to create an account to sign in on MyHeritage.

The complete list of databases by date is posted on the MyHeritage blog.

Warning:  As I discussed in my Webinar about the MyHeritage newspaper collections, you cannot bring up a list of the newspapers in the Massachusetts, Florida, and Canada collections.  I wish you could, but you can't.  After you have made a search, you can look through the list of papers that show up in the results, but that's it.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Tell Us about Your "Last Ride"

This week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun isn't quite the light-hearted essay that most are.  This is Randy Seaver's challenge tonight:

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music here), is to:

(1) Check out "The Last Ride ..." on my other nongenealogy blog.  I thought it was beautiful and started thinking about my "last ride."

(2) Consider where you would go on your "last ride."  Where would you start, where would you finish, what stops would you make to live a memory?  What memories do you have about those places?  

(3) Tell us about your own Memory Lane in your own blog post, in a comment to this blog post, or in a post on Facebook.  Be sure to leave a link to your work as a comment to this post.

This was a hard one for me, because I have lived long periods in four different locations during my life, none of which is where I am living now.  So those areas have far more memories attached to them, but I'm planning to live in this area for the rest of my life, and if I go to hospice, it will likely be here.  In addition, I have been traveling here regularly since 2007, so that's another 10 years of memories to add to the 2 1/2 years of living here.

I think I'll start with my current residence, as Randy did.  That's in Gresham, a suburb to the east of Portland.  Since I arrived in 2017, I've been saying that I lived in my house in Oakland for 24 years, so I intend to do the same here.  By that time I'll be 79; maybe I'll be ready for hospice then.  But the hospice will be in Vancouver, across the river in Washington State, so that's where I'll end.

In Gresham I'll visit the apartment where my middle granddaughter lived with her father and his second wife.  I went there several times to visit.  And before leaving we can pass the school where my granddaughter used to go; I picked her up from that school once, under the watchful eye of teachers.

From Gresham I'll go south and west to Milwaukie, to the home of my friends KR and Jan.  They are members of my group of dinner friends, the first people I met in Portland when I started visiting.  For the seven years before I finally succeeded in moving up here from California, I stayed with them when I came to visit.  While in Milwaukie, I'll have the driver go past the Stone House, the former home of my ex, which he showed me on one of my first trips up here.  He loved that house so much he named his company after it.

Heading west from Milwaukie will take me across the Willamette River to southwest Portland and Brian's house.  He's another member of the dinner group.  I've been to the house many times for dinner and for gaming.  A few miles from there, also in southwest Portland in an area called Hillsdale, is where John and his family lived.  Another place of many dinners and games, and also of backyard barbecues.  One of my favorite photos of myself was taken there.

From Hillsdale we will head further west, out to Aloha (or Beaverton, or Portland; the name seems to depend on who is talking at the moment), where my older stepson lived for quite a while.  I helped him move in there, and I drove out several times to visit and have lunch with him.  Sometimes I dropped off my youngest granddaughter there when she was visiting; sometimes I picked her up from there after a visit.

After Aloha we'll go almost due north to North Plains, off of Highway 30, way up in the hills, where my boyfriend lives.  I haven't been able to visit much recently, but the house has lovely views of the Columbia River.

Next we'll head south and east, back across the Willamette River and into Portland, to the St. John's neighborhood and my friend Jody's condo.  That's another place where the dinner group has gathered, and I also visited many times outside of the dinners.

From Jody's place it's a little more east, just past I-5 and still in Portland, to the odd little duplex where my ex and his housemate currently live.  That's also where my ex was living when I first started coming here, so I know the house well.  There were many parties and barbecues, several of them with tandoori chicken cooked in the tandoor I gifted him for his birthday in 2007.  We used to cook a lot together in the small kitchen.

At this point we'll leave Portland and Oregon and head north on I-5 to Washingotn State.  I'll have two stops there, both in Vancouver, before going to the hospice.

The first stop will be where my daughter-in-law and my three youngest grandchildren live now.  Not only are there plenty of memories and many, many visits associated with them, but that's also where my younger stepson lived when I first came up here.  Many visits there to see him over the course of almost ten years.  That home and KR and Jan's home in Milwaukie were the first two places I learned how to get to on my own.

The second stop in Vancouver will be where my younger stepson lives now.  Not only have I visited him there many times, that was also the starting point for all of our driving lessons, when I taught him to drive.  I wasn't sure how well I was going to do as an instructor, but I couldn't have been too bad, because he passed the test for his license on the first try.

One of the reasons for making that the last stop before the hospice is because he has promised me that he'll take care of me when I get old (something I need to be concerned about, with no spouse and no children of my own).  So he'll probably come with the driver and me as we go to the hospice and help me settle in.  And I know he'll visit me while I'm there.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Share a Childhood Memory

Sometimes Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenges are great for sparking ideas for future blog posts as well as the one for that night.  Once I started thinking about childhood memories, several came to mind all at once.  So it seems that I'll have good fodder for future subjects to write about!

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music here) is:

(1) Have you written your memoirs yet?  If so, please share with us one story from your childhood.  If not, then start your memoirs!   The story could be a memory of your family life, your schoolwork, your neighborhood, etc.  It doesn't have to be a certain length, just something you recall.

(2) Tell us about it in your own blog post, in a comment to this blog post, or in a post on Facebook.  Be sure to leave a link to your work as a comment to this post.

The Sugar Ant Invasion

This incident happened when I was about 13 or 14, I think.  My family had already moved to Villa Tasso, a small setttlement (unincorporated part of Walton County, in the very southwestern corner) in a rural area of the Florida Panhandle.

Florida is a great place for bugs of all kinds.  I used to joke that if there was a bug anywhere in the world, there was at least one of that bug somewhere in Florida.  It's bug heaven.

My family lived in two mobile homes that had been connected by a custom-built addition between them.  Being out in the country, there was no citified sewage system, so we had a septic tank.

One day I was in the bathroom at the back part of the second mobile home, doing what one does in a bathroom.  After I finished my task, I stood up and turned around to flush the toilet — to see hundreds of big sugar ants swarming out of the toilet bowl!

You can be sure I beat a hasty retreat out of the room as I started yelling for my parents.

We discovered that a break had occurred in the line connecting the toilet to the septic tank, and the ants had been attracted to all the goodness leaking out.  I was just the lucky person who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

In writing up this little memory, I wanted to find a photograph of a sugar ant to accompany the story.  I discovered that sugar ants are properly a subset of carpenter ants.  I also learned that what we used to call sugar ants in Florida might not actually be sugar ants, as the information I can find seems to indicate that they don't occur in Florida.  What I remember is they were big and black and headed my way, and there were way too many of them.  They might have been black carpenter ants; this guy looks kind of familiar.

By Muéro at English Wikipedia.  Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons, Public Domain

Sunday, May 17, 2020

My Father the Photographer

While I absolutely adore finding (and identifying!) photos of my ancestors and other relatives, and that's certainly the direction that Elizabeth has suggested to celebrate National Photography Month for the Genealogy Blog Party, I'm not taking that tack.  Instead, I'm focusing on the most important photographer in my life:  my father.

Self Portrait, by Lynn Sellers

Daddy was what he called a semiprofessional.  He was really into it, and we even had a dark room in most of our homes while I was growing up.  He often competed (and won prizes) in contests.

He primarily worked in black and white, and that's the only type of photographs he developed at home.  He said that working with color was a lot more difficult.

I still don't have access to the vast trove of the photos my father took.  They were moved from Florida to Texas after he died last year.  Currently they're at my sister's house in San Antonio.  Her niece might be working on digitizing some, or at least that was the plan.  Being the family genealogist, I hope that at some point they will make their way out here to Oregon.  I want to (with any luck) make sure they're all identified and then store them archivally.

Before taking the containers of photos to my sister, my stepbrother found one photograph I was happy to see.

My father had stored the framed photo in a box.

That's me, sometime in the 1970's.  My father took the photograph.  I don't know if the photo or framing has any indication of the exact date.  The sepia tone might have come via my stepbrother's phone, with which he took a photo of the photo, or the original may have taken on some tint over time.

While going through one of my old photo albums — the kind that had sticky backing paper and plastic overlays, which we now know are so bad for photos, so I was carefully peeling off the photos and removing them all from the album — I found this photo, which I know my father took.

One of the many Sellers family Siamese cats.

Unfortunately, by the time I found this photo and asked my father about it, his health was very poor and he was forgetting things.  So he didn't remember which of our many Siameses this one was.  In fact, he wasn't even sure he had taken the photograph, although I am.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Your Maternal Grandfather's Matrilneal Line

When I saw the subject for this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, I knew I was not going to get as far as Randy Seaver did.

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music here), is:

(1) What was your mother's father's full name?

(2) What is your mother's father's matrilineal line?  That is, his mother's mother's mother's . . . back to the most distant female ancestor in that line.  Provide her Ahnentafel number (relative to you) and her birth and death years and places.

(3) Tell us about it in your own blog post, in a comment on this post, or in a Facebook post.  Please put a link to your post in the comments here.

See, my mother's side of the family is the Jewish one, and once you get past the most recent generations I don't always have a lot of information.  But I discovered that for this line it wasn't as bad as I expected.  I actually have a few generations AND surnames.

1.  My mother's father's full name was either #6 Abraham Meckler or Abe Meckler (1912–1989); I've been told both.  There is an Abraham Machler listed in Ancestry's New York, New York Birth Index, who appears to have a birth date of July 23, 1912.  If I could get a copy of that birth certificate from New York City (ha!), I might be able to verify that's him, but I'm pretty sure it is.  I called him Zadie ("grandfather" in Yiddish).

2.  Zadie's mother was #13 Mushe Zelda Nowicki, called Minnie in the United States (about 1880–1936), who married Moshe Meckler, Morris or Max here (about 1882–1953).  Mushe was born in the Russian Empire, probably in Porozowo, Grodno gubernia; married in the Russian Empire, probably in Porozowo or in Kamenets Litovsk, Grodno gubernia; and died in Brooklyn, Kings County, New York at approximately age 56.

• Mushe's mother was #27 Dube Yelsky, Dora in the United States (about 1858–1936), who married Gershon Itzhak Nowicki (about 1858–1948).  Dube was born in the Russian Empire, probably in Porozowo; married in the Russian Empire, also probably in Porozowo; and died in Brooklyn, Kings County, New York at approximately age 78.

• Dube's mother was #55 Frieda Bloom, which was probably not really Bloom, but it's the only name I have (about 1838–about 1898), who married Ruven Yelsky (about 1838–about 1898).  Frieda was born, married, and died in the Russian Empire, likely in Porozowo and almost definitely in Grodno gubernia.  Based on the scant information I have, she lived to be about 60.

And that's it.  I have no idea who Frieda'a parents were, and I'll probably never know, since Grodno gubernia is the black hole for Jewish records.

Unlike Randy's line, all these women probably started in the same place, Porozowo.  The two who immigrated to the United States both died in Brooklyn, which is likely the only place they ever went after their arrival at Ellis Island.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Your Favorite Genealogy Sites

Randy Seaver decided to go to town on superfluous quotation marks with this week's installment of Saturday Night Genealogy Fun.

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music here) is:

(1)  What are your "Favorite" genealogy websites?  What ones do you have in your web browser "Bookmarks" or "Favorites" bar or listing?

(2) Please list them in your own blog post, in a comment on this post, or in a Facebook post.  Please leave a link to your work in a comment on this post.

Perhaps we can help each other, and our readers, find some new resources!

I suspect that most people will have similar lists of favorites and not many new discoveries will be made, but let's see, shall we?

The only site I visit routinely that I go to from a bookmark or toolbar is  Most sites I access by going to the address bar, entering the first one or two letters, and clicking on the link as it pops up.

My short list:

• Chronicling America
• California Digital Newspaper Collection
• Old Fulton Postcards
• Wikipedia Online Newspaper Archives page
• Family Tree DNA
• 23andMe
• Legacy Family Tree
• Google Translate
• Google Maps

Since I rely primarily on the address bar and not bookmarks or the toolbar, I don't have a second quickie list.  Most of my regular sites pop up when I start typing (and I rely on typing because I'm a trained touch typist and that's the fastest thing for me to do).

Now, in my bookmarks, I'm like Randy in that I have hundreds more links.  I have one folder named Genealogy that has lots of saved links.  As with Randy, these are less used sites, although I wouldn't say I don't use them anymore.  It's more that they're for specialized topics, such as research on specific family lines or for other people, and when I'm doing that research I bring them up.  I have one folder just for Jewish research.  I also have close to 200 links in my general list that I haven't sorted and filed yet, and I know several of them are for genealogy.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Your "Where I'm From" Poem

Today for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, Randy decided to revisit a previous theme.

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music here), is to:

(1) Write your own "Where I'm From" poem — you can see a sample format at  But make it unique — yours!

(2) Share your poem on your own blog post, in a comment to this post, or on Facebook.  Be sure to leave a comment with a link to your poem.

Here's mine.

Where Is Janice From?

I am from constantly moving freeways, from slow country roads,
From skyscrapers and apartment buildings, from small churches and family homes.

I am from too many homes to remember,
From the city and the suburbs and the country.
From Southern California and Sydney and Florida,
From behind the sausage factory and from the trailer park.
From trees and trellises and bookshelves to climb,
From swimming pools and bayous to swim in.

I am from sagebrush and oleander, from honeysuckle and raspberry bushes,
From manicured lawns and rose bushes, from kudzu and live oaks.
From dogs and cats and gerbils as pets,
From cottonmouths and ground-dwelling hornets to avoid.

I am from Sellers and Meckler and Gauntt and Brainin,
From Armstrong and Dunstan and Nowicki and Gordon,
From Lippincott and Wynn and Yelsky and Blum.
From tall and short and thin and fat,
From misers and spendthrifts, frugal and gamblers,
From cheerful and dour and friendly and aloof.

I am from college and books, from mechanics and taxi drivers,
From bookkeepers and cashiers, from dressmakers and farmers.
From "You can do anything you want to do" to
"Why aren't you married and where is my granddaughter?"

I am from Lancashire and Baden, from Grodno and Podolsky,
From Cornwall and Courland, and maybe border rievers,
But not from John of Gaunt or Peter Sellers.
I am from La Puente and Pagewood, from Niceville and Villa Tasso,
From Los Angeles and Berkeley and Oakland.
I am from California, from New Jersey, from New York,
From delis and chili, from take-out Chinese and ham for Easter.

I am from Jews and Catholics, from Chanukah and Christmas,
From Quakers and Dunkers, from Lutherans and Separatists.
From a fervent Quaker witnessing from her knees,
From a cremated Jew who attended Midnight Mass.

I am from the Mayflower, from 20th-century immigration,
From the Depression and from the Holocaust.
From the free-wheeling West Coast, the intellectual East Coast,
And a little bit of hick from the South.

I am from photographs and jewelry and yarmulkes and silverware,
From dishes and menorahs and crocheted cups saved and treasured.
From family names remembered through the years
And reborn in the lives of descendants.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: What Is Your Birth Surname Henry Number?

Tonight for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun Randy Seaver has us poking around in our genealogy databases.

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music here), is:

(1) Do you know what a "Henry Number" is?  It is a descendant numbering system from a specific person.  The Wikipedia article for Genealogical Numbering Systems describes it as:

"The Henry System is a descending system created by Reginald Buchanan Henry for a genealogy of the families of the presidents of the United States that he wrote in 1935.[3] It can be organized either by generation or not. The system begins with 1. The oldest child becomes 11, the next child is 12, and so on. The oldest child of 11 is 111, the next 112, and so on. The system allows one to derive an ancestor's relationship based on their number. For example, 621 is the first child of 62, who is the second child of 6, who is the sixth child of his parents.  In the Henry System, when there are more than nine children, X is used for the 10th child, A is used for the 11th child, B is used for the 12th child, and so on. In the Modified Henry System, when there are more than nine children, numbers greater than nine are placed in parentheses."

(2) Go to your earliest known ancestor with your birth surname in your software program and calculate your Henry Number from that person.  Show each generation of your line of ancestors with your birth surname with their Henry Numbers.

(3) How did you calculate the Henry Numbers?  What do these numbers tell you?

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

2.  Well, my birth surname is the same one I have now, Sellers.  When I checked my database, I discovered that I have 575 Sellerses in there.  Going back in time from myself, the earliest ancestor I have with the name Sellers is only seven generations back, because before him the name was Söller (of which I have four generations in the database).  Here's my Sellers line:

1 John Sellers (1731–1783)
11 Abraham Sellers (1758–1831)
11X Peter Franklin Sellers (1800–1863)
11X1 Cornelius Godschalk Sellers (1845–1877)
11X12 Cornelius Elmer Sellers (1874–1918)
11X121 Bertram Lynn Sellers (1903–1985)
11X1214 Bertram Lynn Sellers, Jr. (1935–2019)
11X12142 Janice Marie Sellers (1962–living)

3.  I calculated the Henry Numbers manually.  I started with the first generation with the name Sellers and moved forward through time.  Not only is creating reports in Reunion something I don't enjoy, it didn't give me an option of using the Henry Number system.

Two things I had to contend with which are not described in the handy-dandy description that Randy quoted are an adoption and multiple marriages.  My grandfather was informally adopted by Elmer Sellers and was not his biological son.  Since Elmer was the only father my grandfather knew, however, and since neither my grandfather nor any of his siblings knew this was the case, I counted my grandfather as child #1.

My father was the first (and only) child of my grandparents, but he was my grandfather's fourth child, because my grandfather had three children with his first wife.  Since this system follows the father, I counted my father was child #4.

I was the first child of my parents, but my father and his first wife had a child before me.  Again, following the father, I am child #2.

4.  I have this blog post, a comment on Randy's blog, and a Facebook post!