Gopher Genealogy by Susan LeBlanc provides information about research, lectures, published articles and book reviews, and Serendipity Moments that are the results of searching for ancestors both personally and for clients. The objective of the blog is for others to receive insight and inspiration in doing their family history research. It is an evolving method of communication and input from reviewers is welcome.
Thursday, January 12, 2023
Serendipity moment of the day - I finished sorting the collection of research materials I gathered for over 50 years. This work in progress has consumed my time since “Covid’ struck three years ago. Actually about a year before that I sorted all genealogy matter found in my office in preparation for this project. Since retirement and our move to the new to us house in 2015, things worked very slowly in this collection as I had health issues that at times brought me to a halt. In the beginning I read many books related to the families in question. Many people assisted me in gathering the information from the books and other materials. In the process I started writing the text of the book and added in items that I transcribed. Finally my wonderful friends challenged me to move forward to get the book published. What held me back was a large tote full of research emails, letters, family group records and pedigree charts, copies of many original records made from 2,000 and beyond. It is fun to see where my journey has taken me. All for one non-descript family divided into four lines from 1637-2023, for four individuals who have never met and yet pursue these people in tracing their history and putting perspective to their lives. The tote now holds a collection of nine notebooks which I accidently purchased in one of my few in person shopping trips. In the end they are truly a great way to sub-divide this collection. As I inch my way to publication, I can now put the words on paper so generations to come can know this unique family. Not so non-descript after-all!
Tuesday, November 22, 2022
Saints and Strangers
22 November 2022 Saints and Strangers is an amazing show. There are two parts. We descend from Stephen Hopkins through Daniel Tidd and Sarah Jane Eldridge, husband and wife. Stephen is nine generations out from Sarah and thirteen generations from me. The show really brings history to life. I am grateful for our ancestors and the sacrifices they made in coming to this country. The book Saints and Strangers is on my bookshelf and I need to read it again. We have ancestors from many countries who came in various time periods. What a blessing to have history to share with our descendants. Doing family history is so much more than names, dates and places. The past three years have been seasons of discovery. Each time period brought challenges for men, women and children. We have few stories from 1620 to 1720, when the focus was more on survival. From 1720 to 1820 was the period of establishment. They found ways to make everyday living easier and yet continued to be a support to family, friends and neighbors. Then from 1820 to 1920 the world of communication opened up and we could follow our ancestors more closely. The world also began to expand in intellectual pursuits. Genealogy enjoyed a period of awakening to an understanding of our forebears. We now are passing through 1920 to 2020. Our communications span the globe with internet connections. In fifteen years what will we be like? How will we impact the world around us? The United States of America, 1620 to 2020, 400 years of amazing development, what can we learn from those who took courage and crossed the ocean to prepare a place for us? What can we share with the future generations?
Monday, November 21, 2022
Gratitude for Animals
21 November 2022 I love wildlife. Not really so much up close and personal, but certainly in pictures. The birds have flocked to our backyard looking for a winter treat. The hummingbirds are my favorites. My next favorites are the small birds. I love to see a matched set, female and male. Then there are the days when the babies are fledging from their nests. My phone camera helps to capture them whether they are eating, dating or having a bird bath. I also enjoy pictures from our children of animals visiting their homes. The deer are amazing to watch. What I am most grateful for is how much our grandchildren love animals. They learn how to treat them, respect them and meet their needs. It is a great blessing to live in the country where many species of animals live.
Wednesday, November 16, 2022
Friends - Today, Tomorrow, Forever
16 November 2022 Today I am grateful for friends. Some I have known for forever and others I just became acquainted with. The best of them listen to my struggles and offer warm hugs when times get tough. The memories of sharing the experience of raising young children cause me to reflect on some very special friends. Those that have passed on are treasured. My life would not be nearly as meaningful without the compassion of some of the best people on earth. My prayer is that each of us can have many such people in our lives.
Tuesday, November 15, 2022
My Memories of My Mother
15 November 2022 My mother is a great blessing in my life and the lives of our family. Her family moved to Oregon in September of 1941 and she has lived here ever since. In that time she lived in Portland, St. John's Woods, St. Johns, Linton, Portland and Clackamas. Overall, for the majority of her life Portland was her home. At the age of twenty she married my father and together they raised two daughters and two sons. My siblings and I all married and settled in the Portland area. We are a close family and that is mostly due to my mother and the way she raised us. She is a great example of what a mother should be and do. In my youth she did some limited child care for others, but in our small home in the Cully neighborhood there was not much room for us much less other children. That is not to say that we did not have friends over, as the door was always open for us to bring friends home. Mom is a great cook and we all enjoyed delicious home cooked meals. One of her favorite changes to the house was when they remodeled the kitchen, turned the garage into a dining room, with a utility room off the back. The day the toaster decided to catch a towel hanging above it on fire was not so good, but it was repaired quickly. Another time the dryer decided to catch fire and the fire department came to rescue us. It was caught quickly, a new dryer was bought and things went back to normal. The only other fire that I remember is when we were very young and my brother and I decided to use an oatmeal box for a stove. We were standing at the top of the stairs, where our bedrooms were, and my brother threw the box down the stairs when it became too hot to hold. My parents' bedroom was at the bottom of the stairs and they were awakened by our screams. Our father quickly dowsed the flames and then gave us a stern talking to. Mom just looked on shaking her head. Our Mom always made birthdays and holidays special for us. For birthdays she would bring in special things like carousels and pony rides, and everyone in the neighborhood was invited. For holidays she would decorate the house and sometimes leave the decorations up until the next holiday. One year she had a flocked Christmas tree and just kept changing the decorations for each holiday. For Halloween we always had creative costumes and she would take us through the neighborhood trick or treating. In 1961 she felt we needed religious training and joined the Mormon Church. We attended the 6th and later the 14th ward. She was raised a Catholic, but felt that teaching children in Latin was not very helpful for us. In our childhood she worked in the Primary for many years, serving as the President, Secretary and taught various classes. Mom also was involved in the PTA and served as President. She worked in our Camp Fire, Girl Scout and Boy Scout activities. Baseball was a family event and she often worked in the snack shack. Mom loves to iron and did so for many other people. I can still picture her standing in the spare bedroom downstairs, which was used for a mini family room, ironing for hours. Then when she was finished she would often take us with her to drop off her work to the homes of these people. As I recovered from surgeries she would take my ironing home with her and bring it back all nicely pressed. At one time she had a mangle for doing sheets and other large items. It was a unique contraption not found in many homes. When we were young our parents bought property in Lincoln City, close to the beach. Together we built a small cabin and spent many weekends there. Later when our parents moved to Clackamas and their new home, they sold the cabin. Mom and Dad transformed a hilly, forested hillside into a beautifully landscaped retreat. We all love to wander through the yard to enjoy the flowers and wildlife that come to visit. They planted a garden, blueberries, strawberries, grapes, etc. For years we have worked as a family to harvest the grapes and produce quarts of the best grape juice. My mother's interests over the years included bowling, painting, hiking, golfing, square dancing, traveling, etc. Needless to say, she does not sit still for long. Sewing was the only thing that she did not seem to enjoy as much. She did make clothes for her children when we were young, but she turned the sewing machine over to me. Later when I upgraded to a newer machine, I returned the old Ward's machine to her for doing small repairs. I think it still sits in her closet. She probably bought it when she worked for Montgomery Ward's before her marriage. She also worked for the Hershey Chocolate Company. For a few years she worked doing payroll and billing for the family Pallet Repair Business. Later in life she worked briefly for Meier and Frank, and later for a square dance shop to help pay for her outfits. When our father was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor in 1986, she faced the worst horror of her life. It was a difficult time for all of us and she somehow held us all together. Dad died in 1988, leaving her with a lot of responsibility. Mom's father died in 1956, just after I was born and her mother later married a wonderful man who helped to strengthen our family. Now both he and her mother have passed on, but they played significant roles in her life. In 1990 Mom married her current husband. We enjoy spending time with them, usually eating and playing cards. One of Mom's closest friends was our neighbor. The two of them had a craft shop and worked on many projects together. They would go shopping at garage sales on Fridays. She encouraged Mom to raise birds, and we had finches for several years. Over the years she allowed us to have many animals, birds, cats, dogs, fish, guinea pigs and a rabbit. You might guess who did most of the work for the upkeep of the animals. Mom is a collector of things and her home is filled with many beautiful keepsakes. But, her favorite keepsakes seem to be her grandchildren (ten of them) and her great grandchildren (nine of them). She attends our family birthday parties and other celebrations. Mom was there to watch their graduations, athletic events, marriages, church events, etc. She always has a beautiful smile and warm hug for all of us. We enjoy our precious family time with her. She truly gave us a wonderful childhood, and helps us to appreciate our adulthood. So for this Mother's Day I want to pay tribute to her and thank her for being such a significant part of my life. Thank you Mom!
Monday, November 14, 2022
Our Father Who Guides Us Still
14 November 2022 Today would have been my father's 88th birthday and I am so thankful for the short time I had with him on this earth. He has been gone thirty four years. It seems like just yesterday we were kneeling by the bridge steps he was working on at their home, discussing the impact of his brain tumor on his life. The two years he spent fighting this disease were admirable, his courage to be productive as long as possible. He loved life, the outdoors, working hard and providing for his family. As a son he honored and sustained his parents. Following his example one can be on a sure path of happiness and peace in this life. It was a huge trial when he passed away after a two year battle with a brain tumor at the age of 53. Our family thinks of him and our mother every single day. He loved life, being in the out of doors and creating things with his own hands. When I was teenager he actually added on to the house over the garage so I could have my own bedroom. As a young child he made me a table and chair set, a kitchen counter set and probably other things I don't remember. As a young person he refinished several pieces of furniture that were long family treasures. He also built items for his grandchildren. He fought the good fight and lived to do and accomplish so many things. I am so proud to be his daughter. His genealogy goes back to the early settlers of New England. We are thankful that we are blessed to have him as the patriarch of our family.
Sunday, November 13, 2022
Family Members, New Discoveries, Private Stories
12 November 2022 Today I am grateful for my family. This includes my husband David, all six of our children, their spouses, our six grandchildren; my two brothers, my sister and their families. Then there are my two uncles and nineteen cousins (up from twelve). DNA has been a big factor of finding unknown cousins still living that we did not know. These are people who play significant roles in our lives even if we have never met or we do not see them very often. Families come in all shapes and sizes. Finding unknown cousins can bring a better understanding of the lives of our parents, grandparents, etc. Each generation seems to have unknown cousins and stories that are private and yet wanting to know their roots in a very key part of who they are.
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