02 April 2017

Searching for Vernon Robinson Lee

I have been searching for Vernon R Lee off and on for awhile now. He is the maternal grandfather of some of my cousins on my Newman side. I have managed to develop a pretty good tree on our shared paternal side, the Newman side, but they know almost nothing about the maternal side of their tree.

My cousin, FN, has tested at 23andMe at my request. And his son, AN, tested on Ancestry at my request. This was to try and narrow down which side of my tree some of my matches fall. Basically I knew if they matched both myself and one of them that meant the match would be on the paternal Newman side of my tree.

Howevery, they both had a significant number of matches that don’t match me, and since I hadn’t done any research on the Lee side of their tree I had no idea how people who contacted me might connect with them. So I started searching.

I did manage to find the marriage record for FN’s maternal grandparents. I discovered that Helen Hartmann and Vernon R Lee were married 04 Jun 1930 in Clark County, Washington. But there was very little information on the certificate that would allow me to go further back in the records, especially on Vernon’s side.

The one hint I did find on the certificate was what town Helen had been living in. I decided to see if maybe I could find her as a child in the census which would allow me to discover who her parents were. Sure enough, I did find her as a child in that town with her parents. And that meant I was able to get a little more on her. Vernon however wasn’t showing up in the census records in Oregon or in Washington, so I was stuck.

Until this week when a DNA match that I had tried to contact previously finally answered. They said that yes, Vernon R Lee was on their tree! This person had a tree with good sources and documentation, so I think I can trust their research. They had Vernon’s family of origin, including his parents, both sets of grandparents and even a couple sets of his great grandparents! AND they including siblings at each level. I feel like I hit the mother lode because of this person’s hard and detailed work.

The problem is I can not find any record of what happened to Vernon coming forward. Like I said I have his marriage certificate, I know Vernon and Helen had 2 daughters, and there is a passenger list that has Vernon listed as single and heading to Hawaii a couple of weeks before the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

When and where did Helen and Vernon divorce? Why was he going to Hawaii? What happened to him after he arrived? Did he join the military? If so, why can’t I find a record of that? Did he ever remarry and have more children? When and where did he die? So far ancestry isn’t showing any easy answers.

I am hoping that someone who is a descendant of one of his 8 siblings might know something that will give me a clue to where to look for him. To that end I am sharing the Family Group Sheet with his parents and siblings. If Vernon or his family are in your tree and you have any information on any of them please contact me. I would love to be able to hand my cousins a copy of their family story on the Lee side.

Since I first wrote this a few days ago I have found a death date for Vernon of 1 Nov 1958 in Oregon, and the fact that he was buried in the Greenwood Hills Cemetery in Portland, Oregon. Also in looking closer at the Passenger list I found that the USS Chaumont was a Navy Transport ship that made regular runs from San Francisco, California to Manila via Honolulu. This leads me to think that Vernon was at that time in the Military, and probably the US Navy. Haven't found anything more about his military service. A thank you to Paul for replying to my message on FindAGrave.

22 March 2017


Well, I went on ancestry to see what records I could find for the missing two great great great grandparents. I hit the mother lode! Not only did I find them I found their parents!

The people within the red outline are the eight people I managed to add to my tree tonight

Of course it is now 10 pm and I haven't had dinner and my neck is getting stiff from looking at the computer. Time to stop for the day, get some food, some ibuprofen and soak in a warm tub. Have a good night all, and good luck in your hunt. I love days like this that go so well.

I love doing Genealogy, so why haven't I been doing any research?

I love doing genealogy. It is more than just a casual hobby it is a passion. I get such a thrill from research and finding new information. I love being able to share the story of our family with others. So, the question is, why haven't I been working on doing any research?

There are several reasons, or should I say excuses why I haven't been working on doing genealogy....

One, I managed to get all my papers gathered up and put in boxes to go through folders and papers one by one to start my Genealogy Do Over. I even came up with some of the other parts of doing the do-over. I have goals made, I have a naming plan for naming files, etc., and a few other of the exercises that Thomas MacEntee wanted us to do. The problem is I didn't have a clean organized spot to work on my genealogy research.

Everytime I start making progress on getting my "office" area set up life seems to interfere, and by the time I manage to get back to working on it I have managed to pile more stuff in that area that I now have to find homes for. Sometimes it feels like the old "one step forward, two steps back" dance when it comes to organizing my things.

It probably has something to do with organizing not being as much fun as other things, although I can do a really good job at organization (I have had numerous people compliment me on how organized I am). And I do really like the results of having things organized, but sticking with just one organization project until it is done and not getting side tracked is an issue for me. It is why I love books like "Side Tracked Home Executives" by Pam Young and Peggy Jones; "Sink Reflections" by Marla Cilley; and "Organizing from the Inside Out" by Julie Morgenstern. These books have helped me learn the "how-to" skills to be better organized, and also helped me recognize some of the ways I sabotage my efforts in getting organized. It still requires time and energy to do the follow through.

And time and energy brings me to the second reason, or excuse, for not spending more time doing genealogy. Because of my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome my energy is extremely limited. Within the past year I have been appointed to the Modoc District Fair Board, and for about the last 6 months now I have been spending a couple of hours a week working in the fair office, handling the bills. That doesn't sound like a lot until you also add in the fact that it is a 30 minute drive each way over Cedar Pass which is 6300 ft elevation (about 2000 ft higher than Alturas). Beautiful drive, unless the weather is bad.

I have also joined The American Legion. I have met some nice people by joining. It has added other responsibilities to my time too. I am District Chaplain, which really means just attending quarterly meetings and saying Opening and Closing prayers, I am now Post Historian and have had fun scanning some old documents for the post so we have digital copies of them. And then putting all the pages into page protectors and into a binder so people can actually see them, instead of having them stuck in a file cabinet. I am also in charge of making the website for our post and maintaining a facebook page for our post.

And if all that wasn't enough, I had surgery to have joint replacement for my right knee at the end of November! That has really set me back physically, between the actual surgery, and the physical therapy to help rebuild the leg muscles, my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is flaring up big time.

But I did go online recently and checked to see if I had new matches on either Ancestry DNA or 23andMe. As I reported in my previous blog, I did find a 2nd cousin match on my Newman line and was able to update the more recent generations in their family. So that was good.

This week I updated Family Tree Maker 14 to FTM 14.1 by the company who purchased the FTM software from Ancestry. So that was good, because in the process I also made backup files of all the different trees I have on my computer (now to burn those onto a disk just in case anything happens to my computer.). I also found I had FTM files in several locations on my computer. Now, all the most recent files for each tree are in one directory instead of scattered here and there.

I also did an update for Charting Companion which I find is a really neat software program for making specialized charts that you can't get in FTM. Because I do genetic genealogy one of my favorite is the X Chromosome Ancestor Fan Chart. It shows which relatives I would have received dna from on the X Chromosome. You might be asking, but don't we get dna from all our ancestors on each of the chromosomes?

No, we don't receive dna on the X Chromosome from all our ancestors. Men do not pass down any X chromosome DNA to their sons, instead they contribute the Y Chromosome to their sons. This is handy in eliminating ancestors from consideration when you have a dna match that shares dna on the X chromosome with you. On the chart, all the white spaces are descendants of sons of males. These are the ones I did not get any dna from on my X Chromosome, only those who are in Pink or Blue spaces.

You might wonder how that works in a real life situation. I have a dna cousin on 23andMe that shares DNA with both me AND my paternal first cousin. Of my 32 3x great grandparents I can eliminate the 16 on my maternal side, Then, because her and I share dna on the X Chromosome, I can eliminate the 11 other 3x great grandparents i would not have inherited dna on the X chromosome from. This leaves only five lines at that level for us to research to find our common ancestor(s). The problem is of those five possible lines, I don't have names for two of them. Time for more research! Wonder what new records Ancestry has gotten since the last time I looked for them?

14 March 2017

Made a contact!

I have not been doing much with Genealogy this year. I am on the Modoc District Fair Board, and have been appointed Treasurer. Even though I only spend a couple hours of week in the office and go to a monthly board meeting it really takes a lot out of me physically because of my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. If I ever thought that maybe I could get off of disability and get a full time job this is totally showing me it is not possible. I have also joined the American Legion. Meetings are once a month, and I come home and have to retire to my bed. I love being involved and being able to give back, but it really exacts a price on my health.

But this week I decided to hop onto ancestry.com and check my dna matches. Good news! I found that a 2nd cousin on my Newman side had tested since I last checked my matches. I messaged him and ancestry messaging system actually worked properly, I he contacted me back. We have been emailing back and forth updating each other with what we have found, and updating the information our our current generations. This gentleman is a grandson of my grandfather's (Frederick Newman) brother (Eric Newman). Fred and Eric were both born in London in the late 1800's. Something happened to their family because on the 1901 census mom was living with her sister and brother-in-law, Fred was living with his maternal grandparents. I have found someone by the same name as the dad living elsewhere but I am not sure it is the right person. I have also found someone with the name Eric Newman living elsewhere, but again not sure it is the right person. I do know that at some point Eric was sent to Canada, that mom emigrated to America and got remarried the day she stepped off the ship in Philadelphia, and that Fred came to America a few years later. Eric eventually also came to America and joined him mother and brother. Both brothers fought in WWI and became naturalized citizens. They both married and had families.

As a result of the depression my grandfather Fred lost his job. He was able to get a job from his former boss's son, but it meant moving cross country to California. Fred came first, and then my grandmother, aunt, uncle and father (who was only 6 months old at the time) traveled cross country via Greyhound Bus. The story is my dad made the trip in a laundry basket.

Eric and family stayed on the east coast. This means the families did not see much of each other, although I have vague memories of Uncle Eric and his wife Nan coming to California a couple of times to visit. And when I was and adult and had moved to Massachusetts for a couple of years I did visit Uncle Eric at his home on Cape Cod.

Jennifer, Linda, Eric, John (1984)

I guess the point of all of this is to keep looking, we just might suddenly find a relative that is also interested in genealogy and is also looking to make connections with family!

10 April 2016

Yes, I am still alive

Since it has been so long since I have actually posted on my blog some of you might have been wondering where I have been and what I have been doing.

First I now have a new website that I have been working on. It isn't done but it is online. The URL is: http://cawildflowr.wix.com/linda-family-tree. Come check it out, feel free to leave a message. One on the nice things about using Wix for my webpage is that I am able to link this blog to my webpage so that people can read the blog right from the webpage. That means you only need to bookmark my webpage to be able to see the webpage AND my blog!

This has been a rather tough week or so for family health news. A first cousin once removed on my maternal line has been diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, she is only eleven years old. Prayers for her and the family are greatly appreciated. A GoFundMe account has been set up to help with medical expenses: Prayers For Gracie.

On the other side of my family one of my cousins received the report back from his biopsy and it is Pancreatic Cancer. This is what my mom died of so it was devastating to hear this. Not only for my cousin's sake, but because it stirred up all the memories of what we went through with my mom. Prayers are greatly appreciated for him and his family. He has a sister that has been battling cancer for a number of years and last I heard had been given a year. If that proves true this may be an extremely tough year for our family.

Another cousin on this side of the family sent me an email this past week saying that he had had a heart attack while he was out at the mall three weeks ago. He says it was a good thing it happened while he was out and about because if it had happened while he was home he probably would not have survived it since he lives alone. He is home now and hopefully follows doctors orders so we can have him around for many more years.

With all this new family health news I am making sure I am updating my list to take to my doctor so he can include it in my file. Have you written your Family Health History for your medical provider? Prevention is usually more effective than trying to repair the damage, and our doctors are better able to know what to look for if they know our family health history. Don't put it off, write that list today.

Then there are my own personal health struggles. Fortunately nothing as major as cancer or heart attacks, but they still interfere with what I want to be doing. I still have to deal daily with the limitations that my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and Fibromyalgia (FM) put on me. Then I am scheduled to have the rest of my teeth pulled because I had no dental insurance for six years to take care of problems when they were small, now it means pulling them and getting dentures. After that is taken care of I will go back to the Orthopedic Dr and talk about joint replacements, probably starting with my right knee. Then to top it off the eye doctor told me last week that he could probably justify doing cataract surgery. Like the Garth Brook song says "Lord I’m much too young to feel this damn old" after all I am only 57!

But hopefully when those issues are taken care of my general health will improve and I can do more of the things I love and want to be doing. No it won't cure the CFS or the FM, but with less stress on my body due to these other issues maybe the symptoms will be less severe.

In the meantime I have started playing around with Genome Mate Pro which allows you to download data from the different DNA Testing Companies and puts it into one database on your computer. This allows you to track your matches, compare matches and try to find the most recent common ancestor (MRCA) by triangulating people who share dna with each other on the same chromosome segments. It also allows you to have multiple profiles within Genome Mate Pro so that if you manage tests for yourself AND other family members you can keep track of everything within one program.

So, I am learning about how to use Genome Mate Pro, the Chrome Browser extension AncestryDNA Helper , the Chrome Browser 529andYou (used for gathering data from 23andMe matches) and will also be learning about the program DNAGedCom

I had played with the older version of Genome Mate but there were limitations on how much data could be stored. If you used the old version or have never tried this program I urge you to consider doing so. There is a Facebook group for those who might want to talk with others about their experience using it.

16 October 2015

Writing My Life Story

I am working on writing my life story. In some ways that is what genealogy is all about; writing the story of the life of my family: where they came from, who they were, what happened to them in their journey. But what about my life, my journey? Wouldn't I be the best one to tell that story rather than some as yet unborn descendant?

My mom was also very interested in learning the history of her family, yet when she found out she was dying of cancer and I wanted to get HER story she wasn't interested in working on that. She felt it was no longer important. I would love to have her story in her words, not only for myself but for my children who loved her, and her great grandchildren who never had the opportunity to meet her. Only I didn't have the words to explain to her that it was important to me!

There are others in my family tree that I wish so much I had a written copy of their story. Sadly, I don't.

A couple of things happened this year that gave me the push to finally start putting pen to paper (or rather fingers to keyboard) and start writing the story of MY life. The first was Thomas McEntee's Genealogy Do-Over Project. I decided if I really was going to start over at the beginning, which means starting with me, I needed to write my story before it was too late. The other push was joining Camp NaNoWriMo in July. I ended up writing 50,000 words in one month. It showed me I could do it, IF I just sat down for an hour a day and typed.

Granted some of those 50,000 words are just a rough chronological outline with very few details. But it is 50,000 more words than when I started. Have I kept it up? Sadly, no. But I am trying to get back into routines now that the days are turning cooler, or at least the nights are. We have had some really beautiful days recently, more like Indian Summer than fall.

I have a lot more words to put down before I am ready to go back and start editing it. But I will get there, as long as God allows me enough days to get it done. But since none of us are promised tomorrow, I am trying not to put off those things that are important to me.

I thought I would share the introduction of my "story" with you, in hopes that it might encourage you to also write your story.

Who Am I?

By Linda D Newman

I have been putting off writing my story for our family history, after all who would be interested in me and my story? I am just a regular person. I don’t think I am anything special. I haven’t done anything extraordinary. Although, when sharing this introduction with my friend Rochelle, she scolded me for thinking I wasn’t anything special or extraordinary. She said, “You are special, you are extraordinary. The things you do and have done are extraordinary.” I do know that I am special in the sense that I am a unique individual created in God’s image, but beyond that I don’t stand out from the other more than seven billion people on earth (except to those who know me personally). I guess I will leave it you to you the reader to make your own judgments about whether or not I am extraordinary.

Then I think about what I would give to be able to read about one of my ancestors. Especially something they had written themselves so that I could get to know them as a person and not just know the names, dates, and places of their life. I would love to have them tell me about what they believed, the things they experienced, what a typical day was like, the important things that happened in their lifetime and their reactions to them.

So based on my desire to get to know my ancestors better, I figure at some point one of my descendants might say, “Who is this Linda person who is my great grandmother? What was she like? What was life like for her?” I hope that this piece will, at least in part, answer some of the questions my grandchildren and their children may one day have about me and my life. That I can flesh out my life for them, instead of just leaving the dry skeleton of names, dates and places.

This book will have several parts to it.

Part One will be a chronological telling of my life story.

Part Two will be my responses to the question “Who Am I?” which was a writing prompt I found on a website designed to help you write the story of your life. They said to ask yourself the question “who am I?” twenty times and write down your responses. That concept really stuck with me, and I thought it would be a good way to maybe explore parts of me and my life that might not get covered in a chronological style telling of my story.

Finally, Appendix A has an ancestor report, listing the basic facts of my ancestors. The names, dates and places of the major events of their life. To learn more about their stories you can read more about them in the different books about their branch of our family tree.

Yes, what I am doing is a major undertaking, but then I am a writer at heart. The way you decide to write your story is up to you, and even that decision tells people about who you are. If you are crafty maybe you will decide to tell your story with pictures in a carefully crafted scrapbook. If you prefer to tell you story using spoken words rather than writing, get a digital vocal recorder and start talking. When you are done you can always ask someone to transcribe it into written form, but the extra special part of leaving a digital recording is that your descendants will be able to actually HEAR your story in your own voice.

But whatever form you decide to use to share your life story I encourage you to start today so that one day your descendant aren't saying, "I wish I knew more about my grandparents and what their life was like."

Genealogy Do Over Week Two

Thomas McEntee's topics for Week Two are:
1) Setting Research Goals,
2) Conducting Self Interview
3) Conducting Family Interviews

In looking over my blog posts from January I see that I didn't blog anything about these topics. So let's see what I can manage to do this time through.

Thomas talks about setting research goals in Week Two, but what does he mean about setting research goals? In reading Thomas' blog I find that he is talking about making specific research goals to prove (or disprove) facts about an individual.

I find that I was ahead of the game on this part, a few years ago I had created a template for making research plans to help in my research. Now, I don't have research plans created for very many people at this point, but I do have one for my great grandmother and some of her immediate family, because I have a brick wall in finding her paternal grandparents. I have found my research plan is a great way to see what I know as well as what I don't know, then to plan what and where I am going to look next.

I think that doing one of those research plans on myself would satisfy the "conduct a self interview" part of this week's assignment. I am sure everyone will understand that I am not going to post that research plan online. The names, dates, and places it would contain would be giving away too much personal information on myself and my living family members. But I encourage you to also make a research plan with yourself as the person being researched.

I know many of us haven't fully written out our lives, even though when anyone is starting to work on their family tree the advice is always to start with ourselves. So we put our names, birth date and birth place, then we add our spouses, children, parents, siblings. But do we remember to add all the little things to our own profile that fill out the skeleton of names dates and places to make us a fully fleshed out person to those who will look at our work years from now?

I am taking the time now to start over and do this right. And that means starting with myself and putting in ALL the facts with proper sources and citations. And to do that I need to make a research plan for myself to remind me of all the documentation I need to find about my life.

I have a couple of maternal aunts and one maternal uncle still living, and the widow of my paternal uncle that I should interview before I lose those resources. I need to find a way to do that sooner rather than later. Two are active online so they will be easiest to chat with, the other two will take more effort on my part. I know I won't regret making the effort, I will regret it if I don't.

Here is a blank version of my research plan for your use, I have this in my word processing program which means I can type as much as I want under each heading: