Saturday, September 26, 2020

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Your "7 Generations in 1 Chart"

We're digging deep into our genealogy databases for this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun exercise from Randy Seaver:

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

1.  The DNAsleuth (Ann Raymont) created a 7-in-1 chart showing seven generations of ancestors on one page several weeks ago.  See her blog post at target="_blank".  In her post is a link to her Word document if you wish to use it.

2.  Linda Stufflebean's husband, Dave, took the concept a step further and created an Excel template for the 7-in-1 chart.  You can download Dave's file from my Google Drive at  Linda's completed chart is at (I opened it to "Editor" so you can download it and work with it).

Here is an image of the blank 7-in-1 chart:

As you can see, the left column is the generation number, and the other columns are for ancestors of Gen. 1 listed in columns for each grandparent.  So the chart covers Ancestors #1 through #127 in an Ahnentafel list or a large pedigree chart.

3.  The challenge tonight is to fill out your 7-in-1 chart and show it to us.  I used the spreadsheet, added the ancestor numbers while adding the names (starting with 1 = me, 2 = father, 3 = mother, etc.).   I added the names and birth/death years (if known) for the first seven generations.  Then I colored the boxes by birth place by countries and saved my chart as an XLS file.  I then saved my chart as a JPG by using the Windows Snipping Tool to create the image.  This task took me an hour to complete, so plan ahead!

4.  Show us your 7-in-1 chart in your own blog post or in a Facebook post.  Please leave a link to your creation in a comment on this post.

Well, mine isn't nearly as well filled out as Randy's.

I filled out the cells with names and birth/death years, as Randy did, but I have a lot more unknown names than he does.  I also color-coded the cells by country; my color code is at the bottom of my chart.  I made a screen capture of the image using the native Mac OS capability, which automatically saves the image as a JPG.  I'm not sure how legible the image is, though.

I was doing well through the 3x-great-grandparents, but I pretty much fell apart on the 4x-great-grandparents.  Notice the entire right side is full of unknowns?  The left side isn't much better.

Ah, well, just more inspiration to continue my research, right?

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Happy 75th Birthday, Cousin, Wherever You Are

Seventy-five years ago today, on September 23, 1945, my paternal aunt, Dorothy Mae "Dottie" Sellers, had a son whom she named Raymond Lawrence Sellers.  The father was Clarence Newcomb "Zeke" Lore.  This was Dottie's second child, and the second out of wedlock.  Although she had kept her first son, because of different circumstances in her life this time, she made the difficult decision to give Raymond up for adoption.

Dottie is currently 94 years old.  About the time she turned 90, she asked me if I could help her find Raymond.  She kmew she doesn't have too many years left on this earth, and she wants to reunite with her son if possible before she dies.

Raymond was born in Bridgeton, Cumberland County, New Jersey.  He was also surrendered for adoption in Cumberland County.

The state of New Jersey has closed all adoption records after 1940, and that's a hard-and-fast rule.  We have no way of gaining access to the file.  The only procedure available to us through New Jersey is to have Dottie register with the state and attest that she is open to being contacted by Raymond if he goes through the state's system to try to find his biological mother.  We've done that.

I have searched the Social Security Death Index and the Claims Index with Raymond's birthday, just in case someone who looked like a likely candidate would pop up.  No luck there.

The way a lot of connections have been made after adoptions is through DNA.  Mostly you hear about adoptees having DNA tests and looking for their biological families, but it happens the other way also.  We have all the major databases covered —, Family Tree DNA, 23andMe, MyHeritage, and GEDCom — with Dottie's DNA and/or that of Raymond's siblings, half-siblings, and first cousins.  So far still no matches on any of the sites.

We have no idea what happened to Raymond after his adoption.  He might have died as a young child or anytime between 1945 and now.  He might have remained single his whole life.  Or he might have married and had children.

At this point DNA appears to be the best, if not only, chance of finding Raymond.  I realize that in reality only a very small percentage of people have been tested, so the lack of a match does not mean he or his hypothetical descendants are not out there.  After all, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.  I just have to keep hoping that he or one of those hypothetical descendants decides to take the plunge and see what all the fuss is about DNA.

And I hope it's in time for Dottie.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Volunteer of the Month

I have been doing volunteer work for most of my life.  I started about the age of 12 at the public library in Niceville, Florida, where I used to shelve books and help people with basic questions.  Since then I've tutored at an elementary school, distributed food at a pantry, cooked dinners at an AIDS support facility, worked as a docent at house tours, been an usher and green room monitor at performances of various types, portrayed a historical character at museum events, and lots more, paricularly focusing on genealogy for the past several years.

As I'm sure is the case with most volunteers, I do it because I enjoy helping people.  It's always nice to be thanked, and most organizations do that routinely, so that their volunteers know that they are appreciated.  But sometimes you get a really big thank you that stands out.

Since moving to Oregon three years ago, I have become involved with the Genealogical Forum of Oregon (GFO), one of two state-level genealogy organizations here.  And for September the GFO board named me its GFO Star!

On the one hand, the cynic in me says that GFO probably cycles through its list of volunteers and everyone is named a Star at some point.  But I'm still proud to have been chosen.

The announcement was made in the September 17, 2020 GFO weekly e-news.  The short squib about me is about a third of the way down.

Thank you, GFO Board!  I'm happy to help and thrilled at the recognition!

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Moving On Out

It's Saturday, so that must mean it's time for Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun.  Let's see what tonight's theme is:

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

1.  Where did you go the first time you moved out of your parents' home?  Did you have roommates? Did you live by yourself?  Did you get married right away?  Tell the story — your children and grandchildren will want to know!

2.  Share your story in your own blog post, in a comment on this post, or on Facebook.  Please leave a comment with a link to your post here.

The first time I moved out of my parents' home was when I was getting ready to go to college in 1979.  But instead of going straight to college, I lived with my grandparnents in Las Vegas during the summer.

I don't remember now why that decision was made.  It could have been my desire to get the hell out of Florida during the summer.  My grandparents might have offered to have me visit.  I'm pretty sure, however, that it wasn't my mother's idea, because she didn't want me going to the other side of the country at all.

We made a big trip out of it.  I packed all the clothes I thought I would need for the school year.  My mother and I flew to the San Francisco Bay area first and visited my aunt and uncle (my mother's brother and his wife).  I think we stayed about a week or so and did a bunch of touristy things.  One place we visited was Pier 39, where we ran into one of those age and weight guessers.  I decided to take her on.  She went on about how "the eyes are the windows to the soul" and would let her know how old I was.  She finally wrapped up her shpiel by saying I was 27.  I told her that I was only 17, and it really seemed to throw her off.  She was very disconcerted.  I offered to show her my driver license, but she said it was okay, she believed me.  I don't remember what I won for stumping her.

After that visit, Mommy and I flew down to Los Angeles for my USC freshman orientation, which was a few days or so.  Walk around the campus, kind of figure out where things are, see the dorm.  Get blown off by the advisor in my academic department (yeah, I still remember that).  Nothing exciting.

Then we flew to Vegas, where I stayed and my mother then went back to Florida.  I don't remember if I had my own room or if I slept on a couch, but I had a lovely time staying with my grandparents, except for when my grandfather would kvetch that I wasn't getting enough exercise.  He kept telling me I should go out for a walk, so one day I did.  I walked around in 107° and came back after an hour, long enough for him to be worried.  He didn't complain about me not exercising after that.

I was still living with them when the annual Jerry Lewis–Muscular Dystrophy Association Labor Day Telethon was being broadcast.  Zadie (my grandfather) asked if I wanted to see the telethon in person, which I thought sounded fun, so we went to the Sahara Casino, where it was held, and watched for a couple of hours.  Then they shifted another audience group in.  The main thing I remember from that year's telethon is that Charo was a guest and was dancing with a just-barely-large-enough-to-completely-cover-everything tube top that then started sliding down bit by bit.  The cameras cut back and forth between Charo dancing and Jerry sitting off to the side sweating while he worried if the dancing would end before the top fell.  (It did.)

Before the fall semester started, my grandparents loaded me, my clothes, and a bicycle Zadie had found for me into the car and drove to Los Angeles.  They helped me get set up in my dorm room and headed back to Vegas.  And I've always found my own place to live since then.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Happy Birthday, Sissie-poo!

Today is the birthday of my older sister (technically half-sister), which I've decided to celebrate on my blog, just because I can.  Oh, the joys of having a blog devoted to family history!

Laurie is my father's daughter from his first marriage.  Because my mother was very family-oriented, my siblings and I probably would have known about her anyway, but we really got to know her and her mother because they used to live with my immediate nuclear family when I was a child.  We were very forward-thinking for the 1960's, I know.  There's even a photo of the four of us from 1968:

After Mary Lou and Laurie moved out of our house, they were in California for a while before moving back to the East Coast.  But I always stayed in touch with Laurie by writing.

When my family moved back to the United States in 1973 after two years of living in Australia, we also went to the eastern part of the U.S., albeit in Florida, and I continued to write to Laurie.  My brother and sister got to know her better than I because at different times they both ended up in her area and were able to visit in person.

Then, in 1991, plans were made for my mother, my brother, and me to visit San Antonio, where my sister lived, for a big family Christmas.  And my sister decided to surprise everyone else by having Laurie show up.

They plotted and planned.  The day I was scheduled to fly in, Stacy went to the airport to pick me up and had Laurie come along.  Laurie was waiting in the area through which passengers exited.

I was walking along, looking for Stacy, when suddenly someone I had just passed said, "What's the matter?  Don't you recognize your own sister?"

I turned and had to take a few seconds before I realized that Laurie was standing there in front of me.  She later commented with great joy about me standing there with my mouth hanging open.

She also mentioned that after this wonderful surprise had been planned, for several days she had been telling her coworkers, "I'm going to see my sister I haven't seen for 23 years!"  Which of course just begged for an explanation she was happy to share.

Because we had all four siblings together again, we commemorated the occasion with another photo, all of us in the same relative positions as in the one from 23 years prior.

Which is one of my favorite family photos that I have.

Happy birthday, Laurie!

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Grandparents Day

To celebrate National Grandparents Day today, here is a photo I recently found of my five children with my second (former) daughter-in-law.  It looks like they're having a fun, silly time!

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: What Was Your Childhood Home Like?

Somoetimes the theme for Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun is unexpectedly funny for me, through no fault of Randy's whatsoever.  This is one of those times.

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

(1) What was your childhood home like?  How big was it?  How many rooms did it have?  What facilities did you have?  What furniture was there?

(2) Share your response on your own blog, in a comment to this post, or in a comment or post on Facebook.

So the first thing I have to decide with a question like this is, which home?  While Randy was fortunate enough to have lived in the same home until he was 19, me?  Not so much.  A few years ago Randy's theme was the houses in which you have lived.  I had racked up 27 addresses, 21 of them by the time I turned 21.

I think I'll go with the house at 434 Randy Street in Pomona, California.  Not only was it a home from childhood, which I tend to think of as a younger age, but I can actually picture more of what it looked like than most other of our homes.

434 Randy Street in 2011

Going by the information on Zillow, the house is currently 1,190 square feet and has four bedrooms and two bathrooms.  That number of bedrooms sounds right to me.  I think all three of us children had our own rooms.  We had a living/family room and a kitchen.  I remember a back porch off of the living room and a big back yard off of that.  I think there was a door off the kitchen that went to the outside, probably the back yard.  There was a garage, possibly for two cars.  The house had a curved driveway and a good-sized front yard.  I think there was some sort of overhang over the front door.

On the right side of the driveway, where the phoot above shows a hard surface, it was still part of the yard and we had roses planted along the curve.

In the living room we had a floor-to-ceiling bookcase, which I used to climb up, which freaked out my mother, who was afraid of heights.  We had a credenza of some sort, probably that included a TV.  I remember on that piece of furniture was where my mother's status of a cobra with its hood spread out used to sit.  We had to hide the statue when my mom's sister came over, because she was morbidly afraid of snakes, even inanimate ones.  There was a big couch on the opposite side of the room.

There was enough space in the living room to accommodate a folding card table, because that's where my parents would set up the table when they had friends over to play cards, probably poker and pinochle.  My parents didn't play bridge; my father only picked up the game after marrying my stepmother.  Sometimes when their friends were over I would walk through chomping on an onion as though it were an apple.

I don't remember what any of the bedrooms or bathrooms looked like except that I had a window in my room.  That I remember because my cat, Velvet, used to go in and out that way.

For some time we had a pet snake — a green snake, I think — which lived in the garage.  It escaped three times.  My mother was able to retrieve it the first two times, but the third time it was gone for good.

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Time Capsule Fun

I've missed creating new posts for the past few weeks of Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, mostly due to repeated topics and my surgery, but I'm back this week!  I love magic computer tools that aggregate information in one place for me.

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

(1) Go to the dMarie Time Capsule Website:

(2) Select a date in your family history that you want to know about.  You might pick a birth date or wedding date of your parents or grandparents.

(3) Enter the date into the search form and select the news, songs, toys, books and other things that you want to feature.

(4) Share the date, why you picked them, and the results of your Time Capsule study on your own blog, in a comment to this post, or in a comment or post on Facebook.

I chose the wedding date of my great-grandparents, Joe Gordon and Sarah Libby Brainin, which was April 4, 1914, which I learned was a Saturday (and I realized when I chose it that my half-sister chose April 4 for her second wedding date, but she's my half-sister from the other side of the family, so that's just a random coincidence).

When I had an option, I chose events that occurred on that actual date.

The president in 1914 was Woodrow Wilson, and his vice-president was Thomas R. Marshall.

The top news headline for that day was that Perils of Pauline was shown for the first time in Los Angeles.

Of a few top songs for 1914, I chose "Play a Simple Melody" and "Land", both by Irving Berlin, because I thought there was a higher probability that they would have heard those songs.

1914 prices and numbers were:
Bread:  $0.06/load
Milk:  $0.36/gallon
Eggs:  $0.33/dozen
Car:  $500
House:  $4,800
Stamp:  $0.02 for first-class mail
Average income:  $1,055/year
DOW average:  75

Several top books were listed for 1914.  I know my great-grandfather was a Socialist in his political leanings, but I don't know anything about what he or my great-grandmother might have liked to read.  I picked Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm and The Promise of American Life by Herbert Croly as possibilities, mostly because the rest sounded less plausible.  Realistically, I would not be surprised if neither of them could read English in 1914.

And author Marguerite Duras (born Marguerite Donnadieu) was born April 4, 1914.