Saturday, December 31, 2011

Genealogy Blog 80 - Beginning the New Year

This is blog post #80, and for my first year of having a blog, I feel this is one huge goal that I accomplished this year. Tonight we turn the page on 2011 and head straight into 2012. I like even numbers, maybe based on my birth date, so I expect this New Year to hold lots of wonderful experiences. I do have a few simple genealogy related goals, but they are more just reminders of the tasks that are on my to do lists. This year I made some progress with many of these, but then I had some setbacks that slowed me down a bit. They go more by order of what needs doing most, not necessarily what I will complete first.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity Moments - The Dash Between the Years

Yesterday I attended the funeral of a dear friend, Marv Giles. His wife Mary Ann and I have spent many hours working together to research the family history of her family. His family has been researched pretty extensively. In the course of the remarks at the service, one person spoke of the significance of the Dash between the years of our lives and referenced the following poem. It has been referenced in many blogs and read by millions. I share it again for those who have not read it before.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Family and the Christmas Experience

This has been a wonderful Christmas for our family. This signifies the culmination of week number one for our holidays. We had a birthday party on Friday night for our daughter born Christmas Day. It was held at her church and was a surprise party attended by family and friends. Everyone brought food and we played various games. The children had a blast running in the gym and playing with each other. Then on Saturday night we had our celebration at their Great Grandparents home. This is a time for eating good food, doing a fun gift exchange and visiting with each other. When we all work together it makes these get-togethers easier to do.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity Moments - Ordering Records for the Gates Family

The second blog post I wrote, on April 27, was on the experience of being sent information on the Gates Family, a vital resource for one of my husband's lines. Up until the past year I always said I would not work on his family history, as I have plenty of my own work to do. Then on my fourth post, on May 4, I wrote about an experience of connecting with another family genealogist for the LeBlanc line. These two contacts provided a great deal of documentation on the family research that saved us a considerable amount of time and financial costs.

Monday, December 19, 2011

It's A Wonderful Life - Three Years Later

LeBlanc family about 1996.

Three years ago at about this time I received the diagnosis of needing two brain surgeries, one on each side for repair of my ears, which were leaking spinal fluid. At the time my main focus was on all the things I have enjoyed in my lifetime and appreciating living in the moments of the Christmas season that year. I did not explain much to my family until after the New Year, as I did not want to dampen the spirit of our time together. Today I am a different person for those experiences. Recovery was good, but it has been slow. It had been just two years since our car accident that resulted in my having a rotator cuff surgery, which was another difficult recovery. Then in September when I fell, it felt like going through the recovery process all over again. It is strange how these events impact our lives and cause us to slow down and reflect on what is most important.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity Moments - Dreams and Visions

This morning Hannah was awake again at 7am. When a four year old is awake there is only one thing to do, get up! That is how it is at times when I am resting in bed after a long day and an impression comes to me about something that needs to be done, I have to just get up and write it down or I usually do not remember the thought later. To do lists in genealogy are a must for those of us who have memory issues. When one is researching several families at one time it is even more challenging.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Go For the Gold Day - Digging Deep in Hidden Sources

Yesterday I went back to work on the Post Office Ledger Books located at the Sherwood Heritage Center in Sherwood, Oregon. In the past few weeks I shared some of what happened in the process of discovering the books, organizing them and meticulously reading them for information on my ancestral family and the ancestors of Vicki Bonagofski. There had to be a limit of people being searched for, as there are eighty-four books, fifty-four of them with only postal tallies of the business and some loose papers, and thirty of them with lists of people as they conducted business with the Post Office.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity Moments - Christmas Cards, Emails and Phone Calls

Part of our collection from over thirty years.
The beaded Mr. and Mrs. Santa my husband and I made together
during an ice storm the Christmas before we married.

The day after Thanksgiving our first Christmas card arrived from my aunt Lois. Her's is always the first card that we receive. On the front were four festive penguins ready to start celebrating. My cards always seem to go out late, as I put off writing the family newsletter. It seems I need to be in a particular mood to write. I realize that not everyone enjoys the letters, but most people comment on how much they like ours. With six children and now four grand children, there will be plenty of news about the events of the year. The letter becomes the next page in our family album, now covering over thirty years. I will not send out a letter to all of my email or facebook friends, but if you want to read it let me know. My family pre-screens the letter before it goes public as a security check.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Heritage Center, Historical Society or Historical Museum

Recently I have been spending time in the Heritage Center of Sherwood, Oregon. The group that oversees this wonderful facility is the Sherwood Historical Society. In Oregon the term Heritage Center has become the socially correct way of identifying local facilities that collect and display community artifacts. It is truly a museum showcasing the early time periods of the city. The mission statement of this group is, ""The Sherwood Historical Society is dedicated to preserving and interpreting the history of Sherwood and Oregon, linking past events to an enhanced understanding of the present, and presenting it in diverse educational formats."

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity Moments - Details on Ledger Books Findings

Today I made my fourth trip this month to Sherwood, Oregon, to work on the Post Office Ledger Books kept in the Sherwood Heritage Center. The findings thus far are that there are a total of eighty-five ledger books from the old Sherwood Post Office covering some years between 1899-1935. I have taken on a project that seems to have a time frame of its own. The biggest difficulty is that the Center is only open two days a week, for three hours a day.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas Traditions - Making the Most of Family History

                                                     Christmas 1981

I am now in the mood for Christmas, the Holidays or whatever you want to call it. This is the time of year to light up the house as we enter the darkest month of the year. With the lights put up outside our homes to welcome the guests who enter into a comfortable, warm home with delightful displays of our family traditions. In our family we have several important traditions and many of them have been passed down from mother to daughter. In my collection in ten tubs of holiday decorations, I have items from both of my grandmothers and several things that my mother gave to me.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity Moment - Hertford, England DVD

Almost fifteen years ago I made a wonderful trip to Norway and England. It was exhausting and memorable at the same time.  We were in Oslo and Son for seven days, and traveled much of the route of my great grandfather's journey in 1914. Our relatives were very gracious and kind to us. We stayed in their family home, ate with several of the relatives and had a great time site seeing with some of them. From the moment they greeted us at the airport and to when they left us at the train station, they saw to our every need. From Oslo we went by train to Bergen and stayed there for two days. What wonderful places to visit.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving – A Debt of Gratitude

Within my stored holiday decorations I have tucked some special cards given to me by family over the years. Today I want to share a card from my father. These thoughts are always a pleasant reminder of why we celebrate these events in our lives. Some of our family will be coming to our home for Thanksgiving dinner. As we share the blessings and wonderful memories of our family we will reflect on those who are not with us.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity Moments and "The Wilsons of Wilsonville"

For this weeks serendipity moments I am including an article I wrote the year before with Vicki Bonagofski for the GFO Bulletin, published in December 2010. Vicki and I discussed using information she gathered in research on the Wilson family as a possible article. We collaborated and tried to piece together the family story. She continues to work on the family history and we discuss possible searches for information. In return she occasionally provides information about my ancestors who lived in the same town. Last week while doing some onsite research in a Heritage Center I came across some post office ledger books that contain information on our families. Imagine finding the Wilson family post office box rental record for box 23, looking across the room at the post office boxes and seeing that number. How many times in their lives did they visit this box in search of letters from loved ones? Later in the week I will share more of what we found in the ledger books, but for now I wanted to share this family story. In the pursuit of further knowledge some of the details of the article have come into question; such is the case in doing genealogy work. If you have information about the family please contact us.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Legacy Webinars and NEHGS Survey for Newsletters

We are so fortunate to have groups that provide online information and support for genealogists. This week I benefited from two very interesting learning opportunities. First, through Legacy Family Tree, Marian Pierre-Louis presented "Cracking the Case of Nathan Brown's Parents." It was fascinating to listen to Marian as she walked through the steps of researching and evaluating the ancestors of Geoff Rasmussen, the moderator of the webinar. The surprise at the end was wonderful, as he learns he is indirectly related to William Penn. The next day I found myself doing very similar research and seeing firsthand how well the process works. Since this presentation there have been two more webinars and seven more are planned. During the wintry weather ahead be sure to take advantage of these free learning opportunities.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Day - A Little Info on Veterans Day in the US

When I looked out the window this morning I noticed the boy scouts had placed the US flag beside our red leaf maple, which is in full glory right now. Then I read many posts on Facebook about Veterans Day and thought just how that might apply to our family. While many of our relatives and ancestors would not meet the official designation of a veteran, they did sacrifice on our behalf. Next I turned to Wikipedia and the US Veterans Administration to better understand the formal meaning of a US Veteran. Rather than rewrite what I found, I made a sampling of the information and placed it into a format for future refereance. That is what I am sharing with you today. For more information please go to the source link.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity Moments - Finding Books in Unexpected Places

This week I am posting two serendipity moments that occurred in the last two days. First, I will start with today's find at the Genealogical Forum of Oregon. I met this morning with a client to share the results of a current research project for her family. We had a pleasant meeting and it was exciting to see her appreciation of the information that was gathered. After we parted, I returned to the GFO for some reading materials I will be reviewing for our publication. Because her project intrigued me so much, I stopped to see if there were family histories in the books for two of the families.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Teaching Genealogy Classes

Teaching genealogy classes is always a bit challenging. While I enjoy putting together presentations, they require a lot of time and energy. PowerPoint makes it easier, but I always bring a back up print out of the slides in case there is a complication with the equipment. I so appreciate the wonderful participants who are very supportive and understanding of any glitches that arise. My worst experiences were when the computer shut down as the power cord was never plugged in and the battery was drained. Depending on the computer and place in the presentation, you either continue on or just finish the class without the visuals.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity Moment - Slavery

I grew up in Portland, Oregon and for the first few years of my life I had very little awareness of black people. African American might be a correct term, but the black population is from various backgrounds. Then I met my first African American friend when she joined a group of students who were integrated into our high school from another part of the city. After high school I attended a community college, in the middle of the African American community where my friend was from. I am sure others were frightened to be in "that part of town", but I felt very comfortable. When my youngest son was in second grade he asked me who were black people. We live in a community where there are very few shades of color in people. In our home we welcome people from many cultures.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Celebrating Fifty Years of Marriage in 1976

                                   Carl and Zella Olsen November 6, 1926

While I was living out of the country my grandparents Carl and Zella Olsen celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary. Since I wrote about Zella earlier this week I thought I would include notes from a speech given in their behalf at that event. It is especially endearing to me, as I could not be there. Special invitations were ordered, dinner was held at a favorite restaurant and family and friends gathered to honor this special couple. Next week on November 6 they would have been married eighty-five years. They were married at the home of her cousin Annie Hosmer Sherk in Sherwood, Oregon. So, for all those who love to read the details involving our ancestors, I am sharing this story with you.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity Moments - The Moment I Knew and Grandma Zella

Earlier this week there was a post by Lynn Palermo, of The Armchair Genealogist blog, about "The Moment I Knew", with regards to her getting started in Genealogy. Then she challenged fellow genealogists to post their experience in getting started. This is a thought that had crossed my mind during that same time period, so I decided to accept the challenge. This moment was certainly a defining occurence in my life, as I was all of fourteen years old. Now over forty years later, I feel very contented with the path that I have taken in genealogical research. Many experiences lead me to be a better genealogist.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Blog Anniversary - Six Months

Today I celebrate the six months Blog Anniversary of Gopher Genealogy. This has been an amazing adventure. Sharing my experiences of forty years from genealogy research is very helpful in my own journey. There have been almost 4300 page views, 50 google friend followers (my good friend JoAnne is the 50th), 4 networked followers, almost 300 out of 443 facebook connections, 122 googlo+ connections and 80 out of 128 linkendium connections.
Your comments, personal blogs and social connections enhance the feelings I have for genealogical research. Thank you so much for your encouragement, appreciation and support. I do this purely for the enjoyment it brings and that continues to grow each time I write. My broken wing is healing, I can use my right hand in typing and this blog was certainly a great contributor during my time of recovery. Again, genealogy is the best and sharing it with each of you makes it even better.

Genealogy - One Thing Leads to Another, sharing with others

Twice in the same week the posts by Ancestry Insider lead me to important information about my ancestors. On Saturday, after a very busy week preparing for and giving four lectures in a one-day event, I was very ready to relax and recover. When I work on presentations it can get rather intense. Last week a good genealogy friend contacted me in a bit of a panic. She was due to give the lectures for a one-day event, and there had been a death in the family and she would not be able to attend the event. As I was on my way out the door to present at another event some distance from my home, I looked at my calendar, which just happened to be open for that day. She was very relieved that I was willing to take her place.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity Moment - Pedigree Resource File Submission

Whenever I work with a client I encourage them to share their personal database in the Pedigree Resource File available at The free genealogy database is available for any one, not just members of the church. In my morning e-mail reading today I read a post by the Ancestry Insider titled "New Pedigree Resource File: Sources and Notes". This is something I had to check out as I submitted a file of my own to this collection several years ago.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Genealogy - Weekend Getaway at the Oregon Coast

This is the view from our motel room at Rockaway Beach on the Oregon Coast.

A few months ago I was asked to participate at a Family History Fair at the Tillamook, Oregon Family History Center. It is about a two hour drive from our home, so I asked my husband David to come with me as I don't like to travel too far from home alone. We wanted to spend the night, so I searched for a motel that would allow us to be right on the beach and had a good view. Due to my recent injury, I did not feel up to walking on the beach. This motel was a wonderful find. There were motels in Tillamook, but there were not any with a view of the beach.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, Genealogy Education - Enhance Your Research

Genealogy education is one of my past blog topics and in it I refer to the three nationally respected institutes. The opportunity to enter a contest for a free tuition to the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy in 2012 is a perfect opportunity for anyone wanting to attend one of the tracks. This is a very popular Institute and usually there is a race for a spot in the tracks. Several of the current tracks are filled and others have limited spots available. For further information visit their website at:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity Moments - Columbus Day Storm 1962

Friday, October 12, 1962 was an event that will long be remembered by those who were living in Portland, Oregon. Being only eight years old, my perspective of the event is still very clear, but limited. So, I called my mother to ask her a few questions. For her the event was more traumatic, being a young mother of four children ages 8,7,5 and 1. We lived in a small two-story house, with a living room, kitchen, bathroom, two bedrooms and a garage downstairs. Upstairs there were two dormer type rooms, where we children usually slept. We lived in a neighborhood of similar type homes, built as though from the same cookie cutter.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity Moments - What a Genealogy Week

Yesterday my blog reached the 4,000 mark in views. On October 21, I will have been blogging for six months. Now this might not seem like much to some of you, but for me it is wonderful. This will be my 53rd  post and I have 52 followers. Many of you have commented and shared your enjoyment of reading the posts. Thank you for taking the time to comment. For me the greatest benefit is that I am writing, on a consistent basis, about what I love doing most. Sharing stories that are stored in my memories is as important as any of the research that I do. So, for this week I am going to share some of my highlights, as I have finally been spending time with others.

Genealogy - Supporting Your Local Society

We are blessed to have a wonderful local genealogy research facility named the Genealogical Forum of Oregon, which was established in 1946. The change of membership is ongoing and this past month we experienced a unique opportunity for growth. When the local transit authority decided to demolish the building we were using, they assisted our group in locating a new facility and then provided some financial assistance in making the move. The old building was a wood structure and I always had a fear the place would go up in flames and we would loose a very valuable collection. With the move to the old Ford Building, a concrete structure built to withstand any natural disaster, our collection is better protected. It is located at S.E. 11th and Division in Portland, Oregon.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Genealogy - My Son's Story About Grandma Helen

In the collection found within the tub of Grandma Helen was a story written by my son Daniel for his high school history class December 7, 1998 entitled, "My Great Grandmother's Life During the Depression, Helen Haynes." In preparing to write the story he conferred with me for information and then interviewed Grandma Helen. Today I am retyping the story, as it is no longer found in my computer files. Somewhere in the change over of one of our early computers some things mysteriously disappeared. Just as mysteriously they sometimes show up, as I freely shared copies at the time of the things that were written.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity Moments - Grandma Helen's Personal Papers

I was blessed to have two wonderful grandmothers. They were two very different people who highly influenced my life in many ways. Helen Eloise Anderson Cole Haynes lived to age 95 and Zella Alice Straw Olsen lived to age 92. For this post I will focus on Grandma Helen as I have been sorting through a large plastic tub of her paper files. She passed away on 6 December 2005. My mother was her caretaker for the last years of her life, after her second husband died. I was her tax preparer, listed second on her power of attorney and second in her will as an administrator. Not long ago in writing a post for this blog I realized I did not have a copy of her death certificate. So, I asked my mother if she had an extra copy, realizing she probably ordered several at the time of her death.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Genealogy - When the Times Get Tough Push Through Them

This is going to be more of a personal blog post about the past two weeks of my life. On my way to a genealogy group meeting, at a local genealogy facility, I missed a step and that could dramatically alter my plans for the near future. As much as I wanted to attend the meeting the pain in my shoulder indicated that I needed to see a doctor. My wonderful friend, who was with me, helped me to get up off the concrete which had intensified my landing blow. Another wonderful friend happened by and helped me to my car. As my first friend drove me home, I called my family to alert them to the plan-changing situation.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity Moment - Howell Family in Oregon

Several years ago I was helping a friend research her Howell family ancestors. One day she asked if I would go with her to the Howell family cemetery outside of Salem, Oregon. It was a lovely spring day and it took about an hour to drive to the location of the cemetery. The only problem was we could not find the cemetery. The information was that the cemetery was just down the road from the intersection of Silverton Road NE and Howell Prairie Road NE. This was before the use of GPS and the Internet in general.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Genealogy and the AARP

Today is my mother's birthday. She is a key player in my life and for everyone in our family. For her birthday present she was sent three deer walking through her yard. It is a treat to see them, as they are easily spooked. I so appreciate all her love and support, especially when I am laid up. Whenever I see her she has magazines for me to read. As a genealogist I don't have much free time for reading, but somehow I find time to enjoy them. They include Reminisce, Country, Saturday Evening Post, National Geographics and AARP The Magazine. They often contain some genealogy surprises inside like pictures from ancestral locations or memorabilia from our past.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Book Review - Social Networking for Genealogists

Due to my recent injury I am posting a book review first published in June 2010 in the Bulletin, the quarterly of the Genealogical Forum of Oregon.
Drew Smith, Social Networking for Genealogists, Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, Maryland, 2009, 129 pages. ISBN: 9780806317953

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Luck of the Draw in Genealogy and 9/11/2001

The Luck of the Draw is said to be the results of chance, a gamble, or coincidence. These critical parts of our lives often happen when we least expect them. We can no more will them to happen or prevent them from happening. Randy Seaver in his blog two days ago wrote about Good Genealogy Luck. He shared the definition of "luck" as "the chance happening of fortunate or adverse events."

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity Moments - The Gold Mine Within Fold3

Yesterday I set off to the local family history center wanting to use one of their partner websites, Fold3. At home I had been researching on for more information on Samuel Reed and his wife Caroline, who I wrote about almost a month ago in the post on Pioneer Women. In that post I suggested that I should re-read the Civil War Widow's Pension Packet of 79 pages and the Compiled Military Service Packet.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Labor Day - What Type of Labor Did Your Ancestors Do?

Tomorrow is Labor Day. How do you plan to spend your day? Will you have some time to labor in your genealogy work? What made me think of this topic, other than it is a major holiday in the U.S., is I just finished reading "The Colonial Craftsman", by Carl Bridenbaugh. It was recommended on one of the email lists for understanding early New England occupations before the Revolutionary War.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity Moments - Neppl Family From Germany to America

The Neppl family is my focus this week as I am preparing a power point on German research and want to include them as a case study. My great grandmother was Louisa Clara Nepple, daughter of Franz Nepple and Mary Shaffer.
Franz (Frank) Nepple is noted to have come from Germany in 1875 and settled in Carroll County, Iowa. His seven siblings also came at variously noted times, but I never pursued looking for immigration information on any of them. Through census work I was able to validate some of the family information. The following published material is more focused on the Neppl descendents living in America from about 1867 to 1985.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Preserving the History of our Immediate Family

Dick Eastman posted a comment in his online Genealogy Newsletter on Monday August 22, 2011 about, " Where is Your Family Photo Album?" Every day I look forward to reading his newsletter. It helps me stay current in the genealogy world and provides food for thought as I process the day's events. I took this topic one step further and would like to discuss how we can preserve the history of our immediate family.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity Moment - Grandma Tessie and The Truth of the Matter

Grandma Tessie's information has often been fairly accurate. As a skeptical genealogist I often question the reliability of something she relates in her books.
In the moment I shared last week I included the following statement about John Hau:
"He landed in Baltimore, Maryland. Lived in Kersey and lived with relatives, one Andrew Hau. He later moved to Chicago, and went with a wagon train to Kentucky." This small piece of personal knowledge is an important connection. It totally changes the course of his travel in the United States after his arrival.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Genealogy Highlight of the Week

The number one highlight of this week was lunch on Saturday with the great granddaughter of my grandmother's cousin. We met through member trees and she lives only about thirty minutes away. This was the first she had heard of my grandmother and our family. She was a little cautious about meeting me, but by the time we went our separate ways two hours later we were fast friends.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity Moment - Grandma Tessie's Books

Before my trip to Utah I mentioned in the blog that we hoped to retrieve a copy of a book written by Grandma Tessie during our overnight stay in Idaho. We got to the motel late in the evening and then played phone tag with our connecting person. The person still in Portland was trying to facilitate the exchange, but it was just not working out. Even though we were stopping over at the same place a week later, on our way home, the family was reluctant to provide access to the book. Finally it was agreed that another family member would make a copy and deliver it to Portland.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Pioneer Women - Are there any in your family tree?

Last week I was helping on a book project for our Family History Center and on Tuesday a staff member brought in some books to share. I looked through the books and was intriqued by the book, Pioneer Women, Voices From the Kansas Frontier by Joann l. Stratton. It was published in 1982, so some of you may have run across it. The author's story is also fascinating, as her great grandmother Lilla Day Monroe collected eight hundred stories of pioneer women who settled in Kansas. The author discovered them in filing cabinets in her mother's attic. I am not sure where the manuscripts of this collection are today, but they would be a genealogist's gold mine.

My attraction to the book is anchored in the story of the wife of my Civil War ancestor. She is not in the collection, but the book will help me to place her in a time and locality of predictable circumstances. Caroline Shuey married Samuel Reed on December 13, 1855 in Sasona, Carroll County, Illinois. She was seventeen and he was thirty-two. Her husband appears in the voter registration in Kansas on March 30, 1855, so it appears that he visited there before his marriage. Caroline gave birth to her first child Barbara Elmira Reed on November 4, 1856 in Brookville, Ogle County, Illinois, where her parents lived. The midwife was Christine Bouman.

In the 1860 US Census taken on July 11,  Samuel, Caroline and Elmira are living with another family in Owl Creek, Neosho Falls, Woodson County, Kansas. It would seem that they had not been there long. There are thirty-nine families living there at this time. By September 28, 1861 Samuel was enlisting in the US Army in Humboldt, Allen County, Kansas. Samuel enlisted again on January 16, 1862. He must have returned home for visits during this time as his second daughter was conceived about February 1863. Almira Louise Reed was born on October 14, 1863 in Humboldt. Her birth was overseen by Dr. George A. Miller, and was recorded in his record book that was in the possession of his estate. There are two unknown children based on the 1900 census and they could have born between the births of these two children. On October 6, 1864 Samuel died of dysentery at Little Rock, Arkansas and is buried there in the national cemetery. Caroline remarried to John Solomon Straw on May 27, 1869. He assumed guardianship of the two girls.

There is so much history to this time and locality. I am left in awe when I picture a young wife age twenty-seven, with two young daughters in a place like Humboldt. The drought of 1860 when thirty thousand people left Kansas and the remaining sixty thousand survived by miraculous intervention would have been enough for me. The town site of Humboldt was established on November 16, 1860 and there were about three hundred people and fifty buildings. At the outbreak of the Civil War most of the men went off to fight. In September 1861 the town was robbed and in October rebels burned it. Not much was left of the town and there was little protection for the inhabitants. So, what became of Caroline and her two little girls while Samuel was gone fighting?

Lately I have felt a need to pursue this puzzle. The piece I most want to know is when and where was Samuel born. In ordering Caroline's Civil War Widow's Pension File I learned much of what I have shared above. His birth was listed only as Northumberland, Pennsylvania. His Military Service File also did not provide any further information about his birth or parents. So, now I am looking for other records that may solve this question.

Recently I stumbled on the record of what appears to be his service in the Mexican War in which he enlisted on May 10, 1847 and mustered out on June 24, 1848. The physical descriptions of the two men are identical and they were both listed as carpenters. This man is listed as being born in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.

Today I worked on land records from the website and found a land record for Caroline Reed and the heirs of Samuel Reed dated February 20, 1868, four years after he died. Does this mean she stayed in Kansas until this time or was the paperwork filed to settle the estate of Samuel? The bounty land warrant of Thomas Reeves for his service in the War of 1812 and his heirs is released to Samuel's heirs, seeming to indicate that this was finalizing the deed to the land ownership. It would seem that they occupied this land for several years prior to this date.

The work in glo records included the land in Ogle County, Illinois, with deeds for Samuel Reed. It appears that there is more than one Samuel Reed and this needs further study. As you can see it has been a full day of work on this family. I even did some sideways research on Caroline's sister Louisa. The last great discovery of the day was locating someone working on the family in the ancestry world tree project. Her latest entry was yesterday. I sent off an email in hopes of sharing our information.

My last piece of work was finding three microfilms from the Family History Library catalog on land and probate records in Allen County, Kansas. Maybe they will provide some of the further clues that I need. I think I should read the sixty-two page pension file and military service record again. New insight might help me understand things I previously overlooked.

This turned out much longer than I anticipated and I have veered off track some. That is the life of a genealogy researcher. I hope you are having as much fun as I am.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity Moment - The Cole Family Violin

In 2005 my husband and I went on an east coast history trip. We had a stop over in Kansas City, Missouri and I have some Cole family relatives who live in South Sioux City, Nebraska, about a five-hour drive away. One of these relatives is a cousin to my mother and he had some family artifacts he wanted to share. My husband agreed to make this side trip to pick up the item we had been offered. We even stopped at the halfway point in Omaha to visit another relative. For some reason the drive always seems longer than one anticipates. We finally made it to South Sioux City and checked into a motel for the night. After calling the relatives to let them know we had arrived safely, we made plans to meet early the next morning.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Local Family History and Genealogy Learning Opportunities

Last Saturday I attended the Tualatin, Oregon Family History and Genealogy Fair focused on "Do You Know Who You Really Are?."  The featured speaker was Anastasia Sutherland Harmon. In her keynote address she discussed, "The Real Story of You." She also presented two classes on "Getting Started on" and "Family History & DNA 101." For syllabus material on all conference classes see the website at

Friday, August 5, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity Moment - The Tidd Family Violin

Today I would like to share with you the story of the Tidd family violin. My aunt by marriage, who is no longer married to my father's brother, has remained very close to our family. She has generously shared with me several of the Tidd family keepsakes, which my uncle received from my grandmother Zella Alice Straw Olsen whose mother was Lucy Cordila Tidd Straw. I am not sure why she did not pass them on to her own children, but she knows I have a love for family history.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

BYU Conference on Family History & Genealogy 2011

The 43rd Annual BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy was a delightful experience for me. Now that I have been back in Oregon for two days I have somewhat recovered from the intense brain overload of so many classes in so many days. Even though I was exhausted when it was over, there was nothing that I would change. As I read through almost 400 emails (I took ten days off from my computer), I reflected back on the experiences and the renewal I feel from attending a conference with so many like minded genealogists. Susan Farrell Bankhead and James Tanner shared their gleanings from attending the conference in their blogs, and I enjoyed reading their comments. It was nice to read about the classes I could not attend. We all came away with a heightened sense of the rapid change of family history research and the tools that we work with.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity Moments - Cox/Hix Family

One of my long-term projects focuses on the family of James Harvey Cox and Medora Hix. They are the great great grandparents of a client who has become a friend. This client has given me things as ways of thanking me for this work. One of my favorites is a mug that she hand painted saying "Best Genie - Sue." When she introduces me to someone I am known as her Genie. One day she said, "I would give anything to have a picture of Medora Hix Cox." In the process of researching this family that week I made an amazing discovery.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Genealogist's Shopping List

Recently some genealogists were commenting about the back to school displays already showing up in what they felt was too early in stores. This week as I looked through the Sunday shopping ads in my local newspaper I noticed that they were offering some great sales on office supplies. Then I started thinking about what a genealogist needs as far as office supplies and important items in performing our work. I like to indulge myself in items that provide a feeling of luxury in my work environment. Like the boxes of Kleenex in my home that make me feel pampered after growing up using rolls of toilet paper as a child.
There are many items that make my work in my home office more efficient. So I have created a rather long list of items that I consider essential in the genealogist's workspace. As you read through them you might want to make a shopping list.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity Moments - Davis/Olsen Family

Today I am going to share a personal story about my great aunt and uncle, Ben Davis and Anne Olsen. She was the younger sister of my grandfather and she was the youngest of seven siblings. All of the children were born on a farm the family owned in Orenco, Oregon. Their parents were John Philip Olsen and Julia Brown, both of Norwegian born parents. As Anne's parents and siblings passed on, she and Ben would collect their important personal belongings, and crowd them into their four-bedroom house. They never had children of their own, but became very close to their nieces and nephews and their children.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Accreditation Process - APG Email Lists

I would like to share a letter I recently sent to the APG Public List in response to comments about the Accreditation Process for earning an AG through ICAPGen. Both this and the APG Member List are valuable resources for genealogists. One can post questions about research and the group will post their opinions in attempting to assist each other. As a member of APG I find this to be a wonderful resource for my research and potential clients. Another very helpful list is the Transitional Genealogists List. The digest forms of the lists are easy to scan for comments of interest to read and don't fill up the inbox as much.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Genealogy Serendipty Mosments Hau/Mayer Family

It is almost midnight and this should have been done yesterday. This week I have been working on writing a paper about the John Hau and Helen Mayer Family who were Germans that came to America in the 1850s. The purpose of the paper is to contribute a story to the local genealogical society quarterly. Now that it has grown to ten pages, it will probably have to be condensed for the publication. I do tend to become wrapped up in a project like this and want to be very thorough.
After the article is published my plan is to place the full article on this blog.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Very Hungry Caterpillar and BYU Conference Thoughts

This last week was eventful. My oldest grandson had his third birthday party on Saturday. All of my children and grandchildren were there, as well as great grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. The theme was the Very Hungry Caterpillar and there were games, cakes, foods and a piñata to match the theme. My mother asked me how it felt to have everyone together and if I was enjoying being the grandma. I can truly say this is a joyous time for me. In two weeks we will help my youngest daughter, son in law and two grandsons move to Provo, Utah. This will be a bittersweet time for me.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity Moments - Shepherd Family

Last week I decided to focus my research time on the Shepherd family. A dear friend of mine recently moved to a care center and currently does not have access to her family history work. We have worked on her ancestral lines for many years, having met about eighteen years ago. She is one of my kindred connections. Her family brought me a box of books and in it was a flash drive with her genealogy database. There was also an old ledger book printed in 1913, in which her father recorded their family history in great detail. This was truly a serendipity moment, as I don't remember seeing this book before.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Independence Day for Your Family

Independence Day the movie, of 1996, is a favorite for our family. The heroics of watching a handsome president join with his fellow citizens to lead the world in conquering alien beings with huge space ships carries symbolisms of our countries historic past. Just what makes Independence Day significant for your family?

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity Moments - Facebook

First, I want to thank my forty-one followers and all of you who have spent time reviewing my blog posts. In just two months I have had over 2000 page views. A special thank you to Randy Seaver for his two recent highlights of my posts. Geneabloggers by Thomas MacEntee, which has over 1900 genealogy blogs listed, also recognized Gopher Genealogy. As a newby in the blogging world I find it educational and a valuable resource in my growth as a genealogist.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Genealogy Education - Enhance Your Research

Genealogy Education - Enhance Your Research

Susan LeBlanc, BGS/FH, AG®[i]

In trying to understand the concept of genealogy education, we turn to the Merriam-Webster Thesaurus, which provides the following definitions of the words.
Genealogy: the line of ancestors from whom a person is descended.
Education: the act or process of imparting knowledge or skills to another.
In combining the two, we can develop a reasonable definition for the focus of this paper.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Book Review: The Twig

Lauren Kessler, Stubborn Twig, Oregon State University Press, Corvallis, Oregon, 2008, Pgs. 308.

Audience: Genealogists and Historians with an interest in Japanese immigration and assimilation in the United States around the time of World War II.

Purpose: This book addresses the experience of immigration to the United States and the racial hostility encountered by Japanese immigrants. As a secondary purpose, it is the history of a Japanese family and their experiences over three generations in Hood River, Oregon.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity Moments - Riggs/Craven Family

A couple of years ago I was working with a client and she wanted to find her grandmother's father. All she knew about him was that his name was William Craven, he was born in England and had abandoned his wife Martha Jane Anthony Craven and child Dora Craven, who was born in about 1868 in Oregon. Dora marries Joseph Alonzo Riggs in 1883 in North Powder, Baker, Oregon.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day Honors - Part 2

When our mother remarried after the death of our father it was a huge adjustment for my siblings and me. We don't really use the term stepfather, which I have never really liked the sound of. While he did step into a role in meeting the needs of our mother, we were not quite ready to have someone fill the role of our father. His twenty-one years of patiently guiding our lives has won him over to all of us, some more than others. For me this is kind of a turning point. I want to call him something more than the husband of my mother. Do you have any suggestions for such a title?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Father's Day Honors

My Father Roger Stanley Olsen

In honor of Father's Day I want to share a letter I wrote to my mother, brothers and sister three years ago (2008) on what would have been our father’s seventy-third birthday. I wrote the original and then sent it to my family asking them to add their thoughts. They added their personal thoughts, and then I resent it out as the collection of our thoughts. It is something that we need to continue.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity Moments - The Unvarnished Truth

In the course of doing genealogy research we occasionaly come across what might be considered unvarnished truth. Usually this can be a rather shocking surprise revelation about a family member we are not expecting. Many times when I am working with clients they like to tease me with tidbits of information and then let me discover what they already know. Today I will share a collection of these moments of revelation that lead to unexpected consequences.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Genealogist's Bucket List

Last Sunday, in the Parade section of our local newspaper, there was an article on America's Bucket List 2011. Reading through it helped me to realize that genealogists probably have a different focus on the items that they would include on such a list. The term "bucket list" supposedly originated from the term "kick the bucket" and is related to preparing to die. We all have an undetermined amount of time to accomplish all that we wish to do. Whenever I am faced with major surgery, I often realize there are loose ends that need to be tied up before surgery. Then I make a little progress and once again fall behind following surgery.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Book Review - Who Do You Think You Are?

Megan Smolenyak, Who Do You Think You Are? The Essential Guide to Tracing Your Family History, The Penguin Group Inc., New York, New York, 2010, 205 pages.

Audience: This book was written to compliment the television show “Who Do You Think Your are?” and is directed to people desiring to know how to go about researching family history. It is applicable to all ranges of genealogical researchers, providing key tools for successful research.

Genealogy Serendipity Moments - Family History Center Fun

This is a day late as I worked in our family history center yesterday and then on a project for my sister in law. This will be a two-part post, but they are interconnected. First, a brief explanation about the title of this blog. The name Gopher Genealogy relates to how I do genealogy research. We all do our research a little differently, but the way I research developed from practice and successful results. Often we must dig deep and hard to get the information we need. It requires a mindset of looking at the big picture.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

This Is The Face of Genealogy

My love for genealogy goes back to my high school years. I credit my paternal grandmother, Zella Alice Straw Olsen, with encouraging my interest in family history. She is shown above with her grandfather Daniel Tidd. My grandmother fed my interest by introducing me to family members who had information to help me in my search. She and other family members gave me family artifacts that helped me come to know my ancestors better. (For more on her ancestors read the Daniel Tidd story under research projects.)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

What To Do With a Sick Genealogist?

You know how it is; you wake up with the achy bones, sneezy nose and sore throat. Is it a cold or the flu or a combination of the two? In Spanish it is called gripe, in French influenza, in German grippe; but whatever you call it, it is miserable stuff. This has been through our house numerous times this spring and I managed to escape the evil curse until this week. For that I am very grateful, as I had several lectures to give and the last thing I wanted was to loose my voice.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity Moment - Drake/Hau Family

Part 3

Working on the Hau family we have had many pleasant surprises. The one we share today is my favorite. This one required that we be persistent and check every possible connection for this family. After doing the basic online research for the Hau family, we turned to online family submitted files.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day - Remembering Military Service

This is what we call Memorial Day weekend, but the true focus should be on Monday. We are not much for doing anything fancy, maybe only a small family get together. My mother and stepfather have already been to four cemeteries and decorated nine gravesites, including my fathers. At my grandparents gravesite there were already flowers, which indicates that my aunt and uncle had been there. I try to go later in the day on Monday to see if anyone else has been to visit the sites.

It is incredible that this observance started following the Civil War and yet was not made a federal holiday until 1971. Supposedly it was originally held on May 30th, as that was a day of no previous military battles. The change in the name of the observance from Decoration Day to Memorial Day began in 1882. Today the focus is on all deceased relatives, whether they did military service or not. Our family includes several relatives who served in various branches of the armed services. I would like to share a little about them.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity Moments - The Drake/Hau Family

Part 2

Last time I shared a story about the Drake branch of this family. In our research we covered the following surnames: Drake, Bates, Cox, Sallee, Croft, Hix, Lane, Sellers, Denny, Huisel, Tanzier, Hau, Meyer, Schute, Pohl, and Smith. Can you guess which ones are the German side of the family? Many early immigrants tend to stay within cultural/ethnic groups and it is not until a few generations later that the children start to marry people of other ethnic backgrounds.
Today I will try to answer for you the question, "Who were Joseph and Mary Howe who were buried in Chicago?"

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Family History/Genealogy - Why Do We Do It?

Why do we do family history/genealogy? That is a question that comes to my mind as I help people to search out their ancestors. What compels us to make the connections to those from whom we inherit and share so many things?

This week they ended up treating my knee with cortisone shots. Not the most wonderful of experiences. I just want the pain to go away. After the shot they sent me to the casting room for a brace. It took only a few minutes to get the brace. After the attendant asked me what type of work I do, and I said genealogy research, we had a lengthy discussion about why we do this type of research. The first attendant comes from an LDS background and has an extensive family history. The second attendant had researched back three generations and was looking for help. I provided research suggestions and a business card.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity Moments - The Drake Family

Part 1
The research for the Drake family began back in January 2010. The client visited our church nativity exhibit in December 2009 and had a quick tour of the family history center. When she returned in January she only wanted to answer one question - Who were Joseph and Mary Howe who were buried in Chicago? According to family information they worked in the Underground Railroad. This information had been passed onto the client by her grandmother on a little slip of paper that in the frenzy of moving was thrown away.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Medical Family Histories

Today, I am finally going in to have an x-ray taken of my knee that has been extremely painful for a month. After trying the basic pain reducing or eliminating options, it seems to not be changing much.
In reflection of this I thought we should discuss medical family histories. How much do we know about the medical conditions of our immediate family or those who have passed on before us? Do we have a way of maintaining such information?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity Moments – The Riggs Family

Writing this blog is a very compelling thing for me. Before I share the moment of the week, I want to thank those of you who have written to me with words of encouragement, advice and support. Thank you so very much.

It has been a fun week, spending five days on the Oregon coast, and then coming home to work on completing another major project. Each project I work on is unique and educational. Many of my projects are for people in their later years of life. Their desire is to tie up the loose ends of their family history and research, so their knowledge of their families will not be lost to future generations. Preserving this information in a format that can be passed on is a critical culmination to these projects.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mother's Day and the Art of Mothering

For mother's day I want to pay tribute to my mother and the women who practice the art of mothering.
My mother is amazing! Over the years we have shared a wonderful relationship that has influenced who I have become as a person. My siblings and I have been truly blessed to have parents who cared and sacrificed to provide for us a very balanced childhood. We were not rich in worldly things, but our needs were met and we appreciate the simple things in life. Thank you so much for everything you have done for me!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity Moments- The LeBlanc Family

This serendipity moment is about another of my husband's lines that I have done some work on in the past year.
The LeBlanc family ancestors were mostly unknown by his family. I had always said I had enough research on my own lines and would leave his to our children to do. Then for some random reason I started poking around for information, and the more I poked the more intriguing it became. The first record I sent for was the marriage record for Delphis LeBlanc and Roena Gates, his grandparents.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

British Culture and Ancestral Homelands

In honor of the royal wedding this week it is only fitting to reflect on the impact of British Culture and our Ancestral Homelands. Not everyone has English ancestors, but all of us have Ancestral Homelands. The culture of our ancestors living environments is part of our family history treasure. Becoming acquainted with them will help us to know our ancestors and the influence they have on us even today.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity Moments- The Gates Family

Serendipity moments occur frequently when doing genealogical research. My goal is to share some of these moments with you on a weekly basis, hopefully on Wednesdays. I would love to hear about your genealogy serendipity moments.
About a month ago I went to Sweet Home, Oregon to present four lectures at the Sweet Home Genealogical Society. During the day one of the local researchers approached me to mention a computer research file of the Chapin Family Tree. It was created from information gathered by one of their members, and scanned by their society on 8 June 2010.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Aging Gracefully

Today my oldest, a daughter, celebrates her 30+ birthday. Our youngest, a son, turned nineteen a few weeks ago. Now that we have four grandchildren I am in the process of aging gracefully. This is really a mis-nomer as I think there is nothing such as aging gracefully. We all have our bumps in the road and sometimes they are major pitfalls.