Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Tree

So I've seen these online many times and basically disobeyed one of the 10 Commandments "Thou Shalt Not Covet".  When my mom passed away she left a tiny inheritance for each of her three children and after spending a bit of money on the kitchen remodel, I had about $150.00 left over.  It sat in my drawer for nearly 9 months (no, I don't keep money in the house, but I did have this little wad).  So I kept trying to think of ways to spend it on something Mom would enjoy… and finally I thought about the trees I've been looking at for awhile… so I decided this is how the rest of the money would be spent.

The tree alone was $150… it's vinyl and the lady who created it lives in China.  I asked her to extend the trunk by 1 foot since it wasn't tall enough to go from baseboard to ceiling.  I already had the oval frames… they are SO AWESOME.  Yes, they are plastic and I bought them at the $1 store a few years ago… I bought a bunch, then when I went back, all they had were the GOLD colored ones but I bought them anyway and thought I could spray paint them black with Krylon's plastic paint.  So lest you think the most expensive part of the tree is the frames… NO NO.  You'd never guess they're plastic… even up close :}.   The Gold colored ones didn't paint up completely, but have a little bit of gold showing through on the filigree in the frame… SO PRETTY!

The wall is 8' tall and 10' wide.  Here's the tree before frames:

And with all the frames:

The most fun is watching my 3 year old granddaughter & 2 year old grandson look at the tree and say "My Family"!!!  I even get the step-ladder out so they can see the ones at the top!

I am a happy girl, and I think mommy would love it and think it was money well-spent.

Monday, September 7, 2015

An Epiphany… my light bulb moment!

My Last Entry here was just weeks before Connor’s death in Taiwan while serving a mission for the LDS church.  I haven’t felt the desire to blog, nor felt that anything was of value to share… until now!

      On August 30th 2015, we had a special Priesthood / Relief Society / Young Men / Young Women meeting in our 3rd hour of meetings.  {for you not of the LDS faith, it’s a combined meeting of Men, Women and youth age 12-18}.  It was mostly about Sabbath Day observance, but also some sprinkling of Family and Family History in there as well.

      David A Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke (In a video) of how to help families be happy at home.  He quoted Boyd K. Packer:  “Our ultimate purpose… is to unite parents and children in faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, that they are happy at home, sealed in an eternal marriage, linked to their generations, and assured of exaltation in the presence of our Heavenly Father.” 

      “In the Saviors Restored church on the earth today MULTI-GENERATIONAL families are a primary source of spiritual strength and continuity.”  ~~David A Bednar

We watched a video as he spoke:
“A tree begins as a small seed that germinates and begins to grow and becomes a small tree.  This, we often refer to as a small seedling.  Over a period of time a young seedling develops into a mature tree and produces seeds that fall to the forest floor.  As conditions are right, the new seeds germinate, begin to grow… and the cycle is renewed.  Interestingly, growing trees are nourished in part by the nutrients re-deposited into the soil by older and dead trees.  In a similar way, multi-generational families provide the spiritual nourishment and stability that greatly increases the likelihood of sustained faithfulness across the generations.” ~~David A Bednar

      This video brought to mind a quote from an obituary of one of my ancestors in 1908, it reads: 
      “She was a true believer in God and His power to save.”  This woman was not of the LDS faith… but nonetheless was a true believer in God… AND His power to save.  The heritage of faith in my ancestry puts me in awe!  Especially when, after studying their lives and documenting their journey through it, I realize that their lives were just as hard… if not harder than my own… and they still held to their faith in God!  I want to be just like her… YEARS later, have someone read my obituary or life story and say:  Gosh, she was strong… I want to be just like her.

      Some have commented about me or my family who were within the LDS faith, and even those NOT of the LDS faith who I come in contact with while working in Salt Lake City… Oh you’re so strong, how do you get through this.  I grin as I envision one immigrant from Cuba who looks at me and just shakes his head… trying to understand why I am not a pile of “jello on the floor”… all weepy and completely a mess!  I will explain as best I can in a minute…

      That same night after the Sunday School presentation, I watched my favorite show: Who Do You Think You Are… this one featuring Tom Bergeron.  One of his quotes epitomizes my feelings about Family History:

“It’s not an intellectual exercise… it’s an emotional experience.” ~~Tom Bergeron

Isn’t that so true, isn’t that what we all feel when we study the lives of our ancestors?  Whether you know it or not… you ARE emotionally connected to those who’ve come before!  And it’s the reason today for this blog… I wish to share some deep feelings about my 4th great grandmother and her influence in my life.

Tom Bergeron stated in the segment, memorialized in this meme: 

“Someone dead for over 300 years, if you’re willing to listen, can teach you things about what you are doing now.”  

      When he said that, my heart was touched and I knew EXACTLY where that extra strength had come from during our grieving of Connor!  YES, I have a testimony of Jesus Christ, of his Father and MY Father… His restored Gospel.  I have a testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and what it means to me and how it has application in my life… but I needed more… and it was there!  I just didn’t know it until the presentation in Sunday School and the segment on Who Do You Think You Are that it all came together that night… it all makes sense now…

      Let me tell you how…  My 4th great grandmother is Mercy Ann VanHorn.  She married Charles Booz about 1836 and began having children quickly and in rapid succession… a child every other year… for 30 years!  Yes, she was the mother of 15 children!!  12 of those children lived to marry, 3 of them died at varying times in their childhood.

Mercy Ann’s life shows some traits of physical and mental strength … as well as some spiritual strength.  She endured what, at the time, was a long journey from Pennsylvania to Ohio about 1839.  She was probably pregnant with her second child Amanda, at the time!  She lived through the Civil War, with her son (John) serving in that war.  She moved from Springfield Township to Newton Township in September of 1868 and only 4 years later lost her husband Charles to death.  His cause of death was “Apoplexy”, a term for what would now be referred to as sudden death.  This could have been a stroke, heart attack or any other cause that would be quick.  Since it was quick, it was probably shocking to Mercy Ann.  Her youngest child, Cora Belle, was not yet 5 years old when he died.

Mercy Ann also endured much sickness within her family.  On the 1880 Census, Lulu (aka) Louisa, had consumption also known as tuberculosis.  This disease seemed to have played a part in attacking this family.  Louisa survived it and went on to marry and have 5 children.  Another daughter, Amanda, contracted the disease as well and died from it in 1892. Within months Mercy’s son John also contracted the disease and died from it in 1893 and then Amanda’s daughter Lilly also died from it only months after her mother and uncle.  Mercy was “exposed” to TB at least three times, but more likely 5 times.  What mother wouldn’t visit a sick child (Amanda and John) while they lay dying?  Louisa lived with Mercy Ann in 1880 and Lilly lived with her in 1893. 

At the point in her life that we still know she was alive, Mercy Ann had lost a total of 6 children, and her husband!!  The most recent deaths culminated a series of deaths that occurred within a span of 8 months of loved ones close to Mercy Ann.  Her daughter Amanda died 21 Nov, 1892… Her son John died 29 Mar, 1893 and her granddaughter Lilly (Amanda’s daughter) died 16 Jul 1893.  Mercy Ann lived at least another 3 years!  I could hardly imagine her grief as I studied her hard life and I had great respect and reverence for her.  HOW, I wondered, could I love someone so much who died more than 160 years before I was even born??? 

I studied and found all these facts long before Connor’s death… and he knew about the discoveries as I shared them with him.

I love her, I love that her children attended church, raised good, God-fearing families who loved their families and from all accounts had happy and successful marriages for generations (except her youngest child whose marriage sadly ended in divorce, through no fault of her own).  It’s amazing to me that she raised that many children, and did it for the last 24 years of her life without a spouse living to help financially or physically.  Good Grief!!!  She was a tough chic!

So now I watch the “multi-generational” video by Elder Bednar, then I watch the segment with Tom Bergeron and his quote ”Someone dead for over 300 years… if you are willing to listen, can teach you things about what you’re doing now.”  and I come to the conclusion, I am NOT doing this by myself!!  I am not “left alone”!!  I have my “Father” and my Savior, my family, my church family, my friends and yes, even those “family” members… my “multiple-generational family” on the other side of the veil, who firmly declare to me… “YOU can do this”, “you can do hard things”… and I’ve shown you HOW!

God bless them for their strength and for sharing it with me!  I love you all so much!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Exciting New Find

Doing some research for a friend.  However, that research takes me to England and I'm not as familiar with England as the U.S. and until a month or so ago, only has the U.S. version of  So I went back to the research to see what else might be out there.  I got a little further… but this time I also included researching in  I use it frequently and almost as much as, but  THIS find was truly receiving help from the other side of the veil!

We know that Matilda Barbara Coggins married a John Oakes and that after his death in 1862 she married a man with the surname of Brown because she bore a son named David Brown who was born in 1864.  However, the name of David's father had not been known to the family probably since David was born.

I searched the surname of Brown (VERY common name) so I wasn't sure if anything might be found, added that the name of the wife was Matilda Barbara and left the surname blank as I was not sure how it might be indexed with a maiden name or her married surname.

What came up was a Hamilton Brown married to a Matilda Barbara Parkes… I ALMOST dismissed it, but the year time frame was right, so I thought what the heck.  The one that came up in Family Search was the transcribed text from the original document… it didn't have a digital version to view.

When I did find the digital version:

This is what was learned from looking at the actual document:
The person who wrote down Matilda Barbara's name must have HEARD Parkes, but if you look at where Matilda actually signed her OWN name… it's clearly OAKES.

We knew her maiden name was Coggins, but not who her parents were as she was not living with them in 1841.  But adding to the validation that this is "OUR Matilda" was the fact that THIS Matilda on the document has a father James Coggins… matching her maiden name.  So she WAS using her married surname on the document, but the secretary wrote it wrong, thus the transcriber transcribed it incorrectly.

We also NOW KNOW the name of David Brown's father:  Hamilton.
Also revealed is the name of the fathers of both Hamilton and Matilda… and David Brown appears to have been named after his grandfather, whose name was David Brown.

Matilda's father was James Coggins.  Both have occupations for the fathers are listed so this will help the research as we begin the next generation back.

How exciting to share this with Marcie… I called her after 9pm when I found it…. she was THRILLED and so was I!

Never assume that something is not the right document based on the transcription only… LOOK for the digital version and let your own eyes and heart decide if the document and information belongs to YOUR family!

Sunday, April 27, 2014


So the State vs. Frank VanHorn…

While trying to narrow down the marriage date a few years ago… I got closer and closer to their wedding date and then found THIS article dated April 24, 1914.  Guess this narrows it down a bit!!

Wow… a $15 fine… good Behavior?  Yikes!

Friday, March 21, 2014

My Grandma & Grandpa Smith's address in Peekskill, New York… 11 Gallows Hill Road…
While I was a kid, I never knew the significance of the name of the road.  Years later I came to understand … tonight I looked up HOW it got it's name … now I know:

Sunday, September 29, 2013

New Evidence....

         For the first time in a while, the information below really is stumping me.  When I wrote the book {The Booz In Our Blood}, I had 4 source records for Elsie Virginia Skinner-Huntsman… she is my 2nd cousin 3 times removed.

         The Sources were the Ohio, Deaths, 1908-1932, 1938-2007 
and 3 Obituaries:
News Journal, Mansfield, Ohio, Saturday, December 18, 1965
News Journal, Mansfield, Ohio, Sunday, December 19, 1965
The Times Recorder, Zanesville, Ohio, Sunday, December 19, 1965

         I thought this was pretty good EVIDENCE. 

         Well “think again”!  This week I got an email via Find A Grave regarding a death certificate for Elsie Virginia Skinner-Huntsman {}  from Cheryl Behrend (#39733792).

Though Elsie’s original records when the memorial was created show Elsie’s death as occurring in Ohio, Cheryl sent this update:

Elsie Virginia Huntsman, "West Virginia Deaths, 1804-1999"
Name:         Elsie Virginia Huntsman
Event Date:         17 Dec 1965
Event Place:         Newell, Hancock, West Virginia
Gender:         Female
Age (Expanded):         62 years
Birth Date:         06 Jun 1903
Marital Status:         Married
Spouse's Name:        
Father's Name:         Wm. J. Skinner
Father's Birthplace:        
Mother's Name:        
Mother's Birthplace:        
Occupation:         Housewife
Residence Place:         Mansfield, Richland, OH
Burial Place:         Mansfield, Oh
Burial Date:         20 Dec 1965
GS Film number:         858763
Digital Folder Number:         4229959
Image Number:         441
Affiliate Repository Type:         County Records
Reference ID:         Dist. 150, Ser. 300

         My reply to Cheryl:
RE: Regarding Elsie Virginia Skinner-Huntsman
How very unusual... how did you come upon this certificate as I hadn't even THOUGHT to look in WV since there was the Ohio death record and 3 obits?

It IS her, it does say that there was NO AUTOPSY performed on the WV certificate... but on this OHIO document it says there was:

Ohio, Deaths, 1908-1932, 1938-2007 about Elsie V Huntsman
Name: Elsie V Huntsman
Birth Date: 1903
Gender: Female
Race: White
Residence County: Richland
Residence State: Ohio
Residence Country: United States
Death Date: 17 Dec 1965
Hospital of Death: Public - Other
Certificate: 02095
Age at Death: 62
Certifier: Physician
Autopsy: Yes, used for certification
Marital Status: Married

Since Ohio Death Certificates are online FREE until 1958, anything later than 1958 would need to be ordered through Vital Check… as this cost is in excess of $30 and Elsie is a collateral line and not my direct line ancestor… I’m opting out as I already have a West Virginia Death Certificate.

Since this document was from, I can only copy the text for you.

ALSO there are 3 obituaries published and 2 say she died in East Liverpool, one says Lisbon, Ohio. Obits should not be part of the memorial... so I can't post them there for you to see.

I checked and East Liverpool is just 5.5 miles from the Racetrack where she died. I wonder if she was issued a WV Death certificate in that State, then taken to the East Liverpool hospital for an autopsy and this is what registered the OHIO Death record.

Now I wonder if the family was probably told she died where the autopsy was done to "Hide" the fact she was at a Race Track .... and betting? 

Thank you Cheryl for finding this record to add to our The Booz In Our Blood book files.....

Friday, August 9, 2013

Family History and Pioneers.

        I don’t have early pioneers in my heritage… but I do have Grandma Jane… 

I have something near and dear to my heart.  I don’t even know what it’s called, but I spent many hours with my grandmother sticking apples in the top and with a wooden pestle and a tripod of legs {neither of which I have today} we would spend hours squishing apples through these little holes {skin and all… which I later learned is why our applesauce was red}.

My grandmother was not a wealthy woman and other than her engagement ring that is broken and tarnished… this is my only other inheritance from her………..

Before they joined the church (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Grandpa George and Grandma Jane had some severe hardships… we have many photos of them… none of which Grandpa was ever smiling!

By 1940, Jane not only was raising two little children, but now had inherited her two siblings as well.  Her father died when Jane was only 14… and now her mother had died leaving her brother and sister orphans… Jane and George took them in and raised them.  Grandma Jane was now raising 2 families.  She was barely 21 years old!

When Rex Erwin, their forth child, was born in 1944… he had a hair lip and cleft palate… doctors told Jane and George to take him home and let him die!  Back then surgery to fix this birth defect was just in it’s infancy.  Because George made a decent living, He was able to afford a high quality surgeon for his son's cleft palate.  Today Rex is still living and quite healthy.

         One day she offered a prayer for her son Kenneth to stop smoking, when promptly after her prayer… the missionaries appeared at her door.  They returned to share the same message with Grandpa George… they both joined and it changed their lives and the lives of their descendants forever!

         One year after joining the church George and Jane and their 14 year old son traveled from Ohio to Salt Lake City to be sealed in the temple.  They returned to Ohio and for another year or so they continued to meet in Downtown Mansfield in the upper floor of a store for Sacrament meeting.

         Since George was a master carpenter and had built many homes and businesses in the area, Grandpa was the natural choice to hire to build a new building to meet in.  It was just down the street from the German Apostolic Church building his own father built.  While showing the inside of the building, which was not yet completed, Great Grandpa stepped backwards and off the 2nd story balcony… falling to his death.  Great Grandpa & Grandma Bogner were pioneers of their own family and had immigrated from Austria/Hungary in the early 1900’s.  They brought with them the skills of carpentry and upholstery and set out to make a living for themselves in that field.

         My grandfather’s special tool (I called it a compass, but I’m sure it was some kind of surveying tool) was lost by his granddaughter down the drain of the baptismal font in the Mansfield Ward building… I still have special memories of how upset he was… and yet so compassionate with a little girl who was just playing with grandpas “toy”.  I was only 3 at the time.

When the building was complete it was dedicated by then General Authority, Harold B. Lee (future president of the church). Bro. Lee went back to Salt Lake and told the brethren that George was the person they needed to go to South America and build chapels.

         Barely 6 years after joining the church… George and Jane accepted the call to serve a 3-year building mission in South America. 

                                          Jane & George with the work crew (3rd & 4th from right)

They left on their mission sometime in early 1964... They sold everything... including their home to finance their 3-year stay. During their time in South America, he built and repaired chapels in Porto Alegre, Brazil; Arica, Chile; and Soa Palo, Brazil and in other areas of South America. George became ill towards the end of his mission in 1967, and went to a doctor near the town of Porto Alegre in Brazil. It was determined he should go home immediately. On the plane, before it even left the runway, George Passed away... Jane was left with George until the coroner from Peru came and filled out the paperwork.

Jane came to back to Ohio after Grandpa’s death and My mother came back from New York after a divorce… and the two of them created a home for myself and my brother and sister… thus Grandma Jane began raising a 3rd family! 

Years later, as the 3 children grew Grandma Jane made sure she had her car warmed up and ready to go on bitter cold winter mornings to take all of us to Early Morning Seminary.  Over a span of 8 years, driving 40 minute round trip, 5 days a week, all 3 of us attained Grandma Jane’s goal and graduated from Seminary…

As we grew she helped send me on a mission (the first full-time proselyting missionary in our family).  My brother married and had two children, and my sister married in the Salt Lake Temple and moved to Utah.

My brother would divorce and have custody of his two children… and Grandma Jane began raising her 4th family… her great grandchildren.  How she lived to the age of 82, I’ll never know!

George and Jane gave they’re all and then some... Photos before they joined the church show 2 somber individuals… never smiling in the photos.  Photos AFTER they joined the church are quite different, mostly smiles.  I would have never discovered this gem of knowledge if it weren’t for my work in Family History.  It is amazing to see a physical change in their appearance after their baptisms.  They certainly were pioneers… giving up most of their families, selling all they had, leaving for a mission soon after joining the church… then dying while giving their all… Like the early pioneers, NEVER ONCE in all the time living with my grandma did she EVER complain about the sacrifices they made… in fact, she lovingly spoke of their time together building the kingdom in South America. 

Their descendants have a rich heritage... Our heritage and legacy lies in those who've come before us... They gave us the foundation of the Gospel to build on.

         My mom and Grandmother instilled in us the desire to do right, to obey the Gospel principles… I don’t remember them EVER  PREACHING this to us, they just did it by example!

         One of those examples was doing Family History… of course that was back in the day when the genealogy papers were strewn all over the kitchen table, the top of the dishwasher and even a little card table on the side.  These women were SERIOUS!!

         When I watched them, I was curious, but not too interested in joining in.  I didn’t “roll my eyes”, but I didn’t have much of a desire to research on my own, though I did enjoy the “genealogy trips” many of which were to Zanesville and to Athens, Ohio.

         There came a time when I felt the need to know more, so I got out the genealogy and family history stuff and started studying it.  What I realized was that there were just a bunch of names and dates… almost all of which were NOT sourced.  I had NO IDEA where mom & grandma got this information.  So I set out on a journey to document everything.

         What I came to know was that the work they did was extremely accurate… but I came to know for MYSELF who my ancestors were.  I came to know why I have some strengths, most of them inherited from grandparents & great grandparents.

         I came to know my ancestors and still am meeting new ones.  One is Mercy Ann VanHorn, my 4th great grandmother.    She married Charles Booz.   In 1838 they set out for Ohio from Pennsylvania leaving everything behind them…   She began giving birth to children in 1837 and had one child every TWO years… her last child being born in 1867…   30 years after her first child was born… YES, she was the mother of 15 children!!!!

         Mercy Ann’s life shows some traits of physical and mental strength… as well as some spiritual strength.  She endured what, at the time, was a long journey from Pennsylvania to Ohio.  She was probably pregnant with her second child Amanda, at the time!  She lived through the Civil War, with her son (John) serving in that war.  Her husband died in 1872, Since he died of “apoplexy”, a term for sudden death, it was probably shocking to Mercy Ann.  Her youngest child, Cora Belle, was not yet 5 years old when he died. 

         Mercy Ann also endured much sickness within her family.  In 1869, Esther Ann, her 7th child, died.  On the 1880 Census, Louisa, is shown to have had consumption also known as tuberculosis.  This disease seemed to have played a part in attacking this family. Another daughter, Amanda, contracted the disease as well and died from it in 1892. Within months Mercy Ann’s son John also contracted the disease and died from it in 1893 and then Amanda’s daughter Lilly also died from it only months after her mother and uncle.  Mercy Ann was “exposed” to TB five times and  lived on at least another 3 years after having watched 6 of her children and a granddaughter die.

         Her strength in pioneering a new life in Ohio has had a lasting effect on me as I have done her temple work and studied her descendants…

Nearly seven years before the pioneer exodus to the mountains of Utah, William Clayton wrote to his fellow Saints in England, urging them to come to Zion, not realizing that Zion would soon be in wagons and handcarts moving west. He wrote: “Although we are … distant from each other I do not forget you. … But to the praise of God be it spoken, all I have endured has never hurt or discouraged me, but done me good. … We have sometimes been almost suffocated with heat…, sometimes almost froze with cold. We have had to sleep on boards, instead of feathers. … We have had our clothes wet through with no privilege of drying them or changing them, … had to sleep … out of doors, in very severe weather, and many such things which you [have] no idea of. … [Yet] we have been … healthy & cheerful. … If you will be faithful, you have nothing to fear from the journey. The Lord will take care of his saints.” 1 CLOSED QUOTE

William Clayton would later pen the lyrics to “Come, Come, Ye Saints” (Hymns, no. 30) during the trek across Iowa. He and a host of others would learn even more intimately during the 1,300-mile exodus to Utah that there is “nothing to fear from the journey” if faith is your constant companion.

In his talk  “You Have Nothing to Fear from the Journey”  in April Conference in 1997, Elder M. Russell Ballard asked this question:
Is there a lesson in the pioneer experience for us today? I believe there is. The faith that motivated the pioneers of 1847 as well as pioneers in other lands and other times… was a simple faith centered in the basic doctrines of the restored gospel, which they knew to be true. That’s all that mattered to them, and I believe that is all that should matter to us. Our faith needs to be focused on the fundamental truths that God lives, that we are His children, and that Jesus Christ is His Only Begotten Son and He is our Savior. We need to know that they restored the Church to the earth in its fulness through the Prophet Joseph Smith.  CLOSED QUOTE

The path of the modern-day pioneer may look different, but it is no less difficult, I watched my grandparents do it and I watch my mother do it as a single mom… it presented hardships and required sacrifice, perseverance, and faith.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell has said, “… Church members did not become inactive while crossing the plains, when the sense of belonging and being needed was so profound.” 7 CLOSED QUOTE

Francis Webster, a member of the Martin Company, stated, “Everyone of us came through with the absolute knowledge that God lives for we became acquainted with him in our extremities.” CLOSED QUOTE (David O. McKay, “Pioneer Women,” Relief Society Magazine, Jan. 1948, p. 8.)

         What a powerful statement… do our “extremities” turn us away or make us bitter… or will you, like your pioneer forbears… come to an absolute knowledge that God lives, that this is His gospel, and that Jesus IS the Christ.

I hope that this priceless legacy of faith left by the pioneers of your family will inspire all of you to more fully participate in the Savior’s work of bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of his children. And to provide the Temple Work through Family History to make that blessing available to all your ancestors.