Friday Serendipity

Next after U.S. Federal Census Records, I think that U.S. military records can furnish us much information from one source. Military records offer evidence of service rendered and family connections (pension collecting). Military records are most effective when correlated with other sources.

This was Rick Sayre’s advice for the final talk of the day at the 2018 Montana Genealogical Society’s conference in Great Falls. He stressed that we must (1) Know America’s wars; (2) Know the records; (3) Know the law (laws governing military service and pensions).

For a desktop visual aid to help keep the wars straight in your mind, here’s a help:

List of Major American Wars

  • The Revolutionary War (1775-1783)
  • War of 1812 (1812-1815)
  • Mexican – American War (1846-1848)
  • American Civil War (1861–1865)
  • Spanish-American War (1898)
  • World War I (1914-1918)
  • World War II (1939-1945)
  • Korean War (1950-1953)

There are many resources, both in books and online, to assist your personal education of the specific war your ancestor might have been involved in. You might start with the Wiki at FamilySearch:

Friday Serendipity

It’s not only geese that migrate in their famous “V” formations.

Our ancestors migrated, too, and from here to there and back again, over and over and over. Consider most of that early traveling meant walking, it’s a good think you and I weren’t born pioneers. (Well, me anyway.)

Pamela Sayre followed up her husband, Rick’s, presentation on Mapping the West by teaching us at the Montana State Genealogical Society’s 2018 conference in Great Falls about the various trails.

Missouri was a “jumping-off” place for travel west in the 1800s….. perhaps the reason why was the folks or immigrants could come upstream on the Mississippi, overland to the Missouri, and then strike out west on foot. This would include the Santa Fe Trail, the Oregon California Trail, the Mormon Trail, the Butterfield Trail, and the Pony Express.

If you think, or know, your ancestor traveled on a westward-heading trail, there are many references and resources available to you online. Go for it!

Friday Serendipity

Rick Sayre was the second principle speaker at the Montana State Genealogical Society Conference in Great Falls in 2018. One of his topics was “Mapping the West.”

The history of how maps of the American west came to be is a fascinating, stand-alone, topic. As we zoom along I-90 or I-70, we can barely imagine plodding along on a horse trying to map the vast terrain. (Watch Smithsonian Channel’s Aerial America where they fly over a state and narrate the history.)

Rick stressed the importance of using maps in genealogy: (1) locate and visualize ancestors in time and place; (2) locate boundaries, towns and geographical features; (3) locate and plat land parcels; (4) discover and follow family groups; (5) Identify migration routes; (6) discover the social context of our ancestors; (7) Organize and correlate disparate pieces of the puzzle.

This is “old news” to most of you, I’m sure. The “new news” is that “the variety of maps and map related tools available for research in the Western states include cadastral, topographic, fire insurances, military, gazetteers and atlases.”

Friday Serendipity

Pamela Boyer Sayre was a speaker at the 2018 Montana State Genealogical Society conference held in Great Falls. One of her topics was “Our National Treasure: The Library of Congress.”

She began with “even if you never visit Washington, DC, you should explore the holdings of the Library of Congress.” She continued saying that “the LofC is your library too, so use it!”

“The Library of Congress has diverse collections such as digital items, prints and photographs, sound recordings, manuscripts, maps, historic newspapers and much more…beyond just books.” And many of these items are available online. For free. Click to and check it out for yourself.

So far, the resource from the Library of Congress that I have used most is the newspaper site, Chronicling America ( This site provides FREE access to millions of pages of America’s newspapers.

Friday Serendipity

I’m a collector of thoughts as expressed in words. I enjoy finding images to depict these appealing words. Example:

Think of doing genealogy as weaving the story of your family’s life extending back generations. Each life is a colorful addition to the whole.

Friday Serendipity

Here in Spokane, our wonderful newspaper, The Spokesman Review, revived Dorothy Dean and her recipes from the decades ago. Some look yummy, some look weird and none would qualify as fast food. Some I might try; some I never would.

Take this one: Curried Tongue.

1 #3 pound beef tongue; 6 cups water; 2 1/2 tsp salt; 1 medium onion, chopped; 1 cup celery, chopped; 2-4 tsp curry powder; 3 TB flour; 1/3 cup water. Wipe the beef tongue with a damp cloth and place in cooker covered with the water. Add the salt and cook on high heat until steaming and then reduce heat to low and cook for 2 hours. Remove the tongue, skin the tongue and replace in the liquid with vegetables and curry powder. Make a gravy from broth, flour and water.

Do let me know if you’re brave enough (or desperate enough?) to try this.

Friday Serendipity

Time for some fun today!

Did you know the pedigree of Donald Duck is available online to you?? Click to , then HUMOR, and there it be. Along with other fun stuff.

Just learned that there are 1250 “Donna Phillips” in the U.S. but only 253 “Donna Potter” listings. And only one Donna Potter Phillips. Website is

Have an 18th century ancestor with the unlikely name of Bezaleel. According to, his name means “in the shadow of God.” (According to the Old Testament, Bezaleel built the wooden ark, as in Ark of the Covenant; he had siblings John, Mary and Elizabeth. Go figure.)

Did you know that there is a live feed from the ISS (International Space Station) on YouTube to which you can subscribe? Fascinating.

I lived at 311 Great Jones Street in Fairfield, California, in 1950. Using, I found a current photo of “my” house. Way cool.

Saved the best for last. You can go to and ask to see videos on anything you can think of (BE CAREFUL; UGLY THINGS THERE TOO). Ask for “10 minute history of America.”

Then spend the rest of your evening looking at other YouTube wonderful things. Enjoy.

Friday Serendipity

Diane Southard has a way of teaching and explaining difficult things with ease. At least to my eyes and ears. By way of a live webinar, she gave the presentation at the January 2019 meeting of the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society on the topic of DNA. While I understand very little about the math of deep-DNA-digging, I can grasp some simpler concepts.

One thing she said quite clearly was that “autosomal DNA works best only six generations back or closer. If your target is beyond six generations, try the other DNA tests.”

Diane taught us a bit about using Match Lists. “Your genetic relationship may not match your genealogical relationships.” Translation: You may not really be related to those grandparents, etc.

“You must really evaluate the online posted pedigrees and remember the further back you go, especially beyond 4-6 generations, the DNA connections are less.” Translation: You really don’t carry more than a microdot of DNA from your ancestor, Charlemagne.

“When evaluating matches, if you don’t recognize or see any matching surnames, look to match places.” Translation: If your Dingwhistle is from Teenytown, Ireland, so likely are all other Dingwhistles.

“Your DNA results should support, not supplant, your previous genealogical paper work. They work together, “proving” each other. Translation: You have a problem if you paper-online-database find you have a Mayflower ancestor and your DNA shows that G-G-G-G grandfather was born in Mexico.

Diane’s book, Your DNA Guide, available from her website, is a good study text if you be so inclined.

Friday Serendipity

Do you realize there are those with different kinds of German heritage? There are those straight from the “Mother Country” to America. And there are those whose ancestors came around 1900 to America by way of Russia. The story is a fascinating one.

My understanding is that Czarina Catherine the Great, in about 1800ish, wanted farmers for her land to produce income for her. Being of German ancestry, she invited German folks to come settle on free land without fear of conscription or taxation. And they could keep their churches. Win-win. And come they did.

By 1900ish, the climate had changed and revolution was in the air. These German folks were being just as affected as were the other Germans by the fires of change. So they determined to leave….. to emigrate to America.

Two organizations document these good ancestors:

The Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, housed in the North Dakota State University’s archives. This collection spotlights the “Volga Germans,” those who settled along the Volga River.

The American Historical Society of Germans from Russia has its headquarters in Lincoln, Nebraska ( This group mostly concerns with the so-called Black Sea Germans, those settling near the Black Sea.

There were other groups of German peoples who migrated from Germany proper to Russia during this time period. These are the two most prominent. Both of these groups have kept excellent records, sometimes going back to the village in Germany from where they first emigrated to Russia.

Friday Serendipity

Did you click on any of the links to help convince yourself that you really do want to make the easy drive to Spokane to hear Sunny Jane Morton?????

NEXT APRIL 6th for EWGS Spring Seminar

And who is Sunny Jane McClellan Morton, you rightfully ask?

Sunny Jane Morton is an internationally-known, award-winning writer, editor and speaker for the multibillion-dollar genealogy industry. She is a Contributing Editor at Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems Podcast, with more than 2.5 million downloads worldwide, and a Contributing Editor at Family Tree Magazine, the U.S.’ premiere publication for genealogy hobbyists. A popular speaker at events across the country (including RootsTech), Sunny is especially known for expertise in tracing U.S. ancestors, particularly in church records; her unique comparisons of the industry’s largest websites; and inspiring presentations on how to reconstruct and tell meaningful stories from the past. Sunny is the author of Story of My Life: A Workbook for Preserving Your LegacyGenealogy Giants: Comparing the 4 Major Websites and the forthcoming How to Find Your Family History in U.S. Church Records (working title), co-authored with Harold Henderson, CG. She is the Co-Editor of Ohio Genealogy News and winner of the prestigious NGS Newsletter Competition (2017) and writing awards from the International Society of Family History Writers and Editors. She holds degrees in history and humanities from Brigham Young University.

Stay tuned to for more information. That’s the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society in Spokane.