Wednesday, November 25, 2015

I Am Thankful 2015

I Am Thankful

What a year, what a year!

Besides 2015 flying by at the speed-of-light, there were so many changes, amazing opportunities, incredibly sad moments and day to day happenings that make up our dash that I do not want to forget.

Thanksgiving 2015 - Gift Thanks - Desperately Seeking Surnames

January started out with my promotion to Senior Operations Manager at the company I work for. My response, ok, let's do this! My business travel increased a bit, my management style was put to the test and my organizational skills saved me time and time again. Nearing the end of the year, no balls have been dropped, I have a great team around me and we are on track to exceed 2015 revenue goals. I Am Thankful. 

Online digital resources are my lifeline to genealogy


The added responsibility at work, has left me with less time to pursue my genealogy research. Actually, to be totally honest, at the end of the day I have nary a brain cell left to devote to my research. When I do find time and focus, Ancestry, FamilySearch and Find My Past are there waiting for me. In addition to those two main go-to resources, the Midwest Genealogy Center has remote access databases as does Missouri Digital Heritage. Online digital resources are my lifeline to genealogy. I Am Thankful. 

National Genealogy Society's Annual Conference


In May the NGS annual conference was held in St. Charles, Missouri and I was an attendee as well as an exhibitor for the Missouri State Genealogical Association (MoSGA). I was excited to act as Chair of the Exhibit Committee for MoSGA. This was the first time for the society to exhibit at a national conference and the board made the decision to make a statement. Booth traffic, interest in the society and new member sign-ups resulted from the hard work and money dedicated to the project. I Am Thankful.

Thanksgiving 2015 - MoSGA Booth - Desperately Seeking Surnames

Saying goodbye to a beloved family companion

The end of June brought sadness to our house. Our sweet, sweet Snowy Louise passed away in my arms. She was part of our family for 15 years and is missed everyday. Our animals bring so much to our lives and we become so attached. When they leave us such a void is present. So we must remember the unconditional love they gave us, the joy they showed us when we walked in the door and how sweet their puppy dog kisses were. Snowy was family. I Am Thankful.

Thanksgiving 2015 - I Am Thankful - Desperately Seeking Surnames

The Kansas City Royals #tookthecrown


Fall rolled into Kansas City and Kansas City turned royal blue. What an amazing team and year for my hometown Royals. The excitement, the nerves, the trash talk and the ballgames! I loved every minute of it. I attended three regular season sames, and Game 2 of the World Series with my Son. That was a fantastic experience. Winning, of course, was the icing on the cake. #foreverroyal  I Am Thankful.

Thanksgiving 2015 - I Am Thankful - Royals Game 2 of World Series

The Genealogist's Marketing Sourcebook


I am the Founder and Manager of The Genealogist's Marketing Sourcebook, a private Facebook group. The group is focused on helping solopreneuers, entrepreneurs, small businesses and societies learn, refine and implement marketing strategies and tactics to help grow their business. Just this month the groups members topped 400! I enjoy keeping up with current online marketing strategies and sharing with those they may help. This Facebook group provides me the forum to do so. Please join us if you have an interest by searching for the group on Facebook. I Am Thankful.

Thanksgiving 2015 - I Am Thankful - Genealogists Marketing Sourcebook

All in all, I have no complaints when I look back over 2015. I have great job, an immersive hobby I enjoy, a great family and an outlet for my interests. Last but certainly not least, I Am Thankful for those that read Desperately Seeking Surnames, comment on my posts and share with others.

I Am Thankful.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Veteran's Day - Brothers In Arms

Veteran's Day - Brothers In Arms


Remembering Those Who Served

I am very proud of all veterans in my family. I've highlighted, honored and share their contributions through multiple blog posts, see links below.

Vanderman_Brothers_WWII_Army_Veteran's Day
My Dad (left) and his two brothers during WW II

Military Service

  • Carol R. Vanderman - US Army 1005th Signal Co April 25, 1942 - September 14, 1945
  • Howard E Vanderman - US Army 246th Army Air Forces May 11, 1942 - February 23, 1946
  • Lionel E Vanderman - US Army Air Corps September 17, 1942 - unknown

Recap of posts dedicated to the veterans in my family 

Take the time to thank or honor the veterans in your life. 

Veteran's Day Remembering Those Who Served

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Spotlight On Audio & Video Content for the Genealogy Researcher

Helping you break through the noise

To help you break through the noise of the large selection of audio and video content available, I'm spotlighting podcasts and video content that has a high educational and/or entertainment value.

Watch Look Listen Audio & Video Content for Genealogy Research

In the spotlight audio content:

Ben Franklin's World Episode 49 - How The English Became American
 Follow my Pinterest board For Podcast Junkies Like Me for more podcasting goodness.

In the spotlight video content:

Starting From Scratch: Twitter For Small Businesses Part 1 - Marian Pierre Louis
Genealogy Weekly with Amy Johnson Crow - Amy Johnson Crow
Virtual Genealogy Fair: Day 1 of 2 -  U.S. National Archives
Virtual Genealogy Fair: Day 2 of 2 - U.S. National Archives
Tuesday's Genealogy Tip: Be A Reporter - Lisa Lisson

See my previous post in this series here.

Audio & Video Highlights for the Genealogy Researcher

Sunday, October 25, 2015

31 Days To Better Genealogy: Days 4, 5 and 6

31 Days To Better Genealogy Days 4, 5 and 6

My next installment in my 31 Days To Better Genealogy adventure, lead by Amy Johnson Crow. You can read my previous installment here.

Day 4 Explore Your Ancestors Religion

With the information I currently have for Anna, her religion is not readily apparent. I do not have her original marriage license or marriage certificate, I have an online index entry. Requesting the original records is going on the to-do list.

I have clue!  Maybe two!

For this exercise I spent time reviewing documents I have for Anna, her husband and her children Charles and Ora which is always a good idea. I found a clue. Actually, I found two clues. The following letter states that my Grandfather Charles Allen, Anna's son, joined the First Baptist Church in Huntington, West Virginia in 1912.

31 Days To Better Genealogy Charles Allen

There is a strong possibility that Anna was also Baptist and I now have a solid connection to Huntington, West Virginia a year before Anna's death. More research to do (I'm seeing a pattern here) to flesh out what the tie to West Virginia was.

Day 5 Explore The Family Search Wiki

Oh my, the rabbit hole the Family Search Wiki lead me down! I found Anna's obituary in a newspaper that also listed her place of death as Huntington, West Virginia. All information in the obituary confirms what I knew about Anna, or thought I knew. The obituary listed her one son as John Allen, not Charles. Time to review all documents I have and see if a John is listed in any other documents. I do not believe he is, but I need to conclude if that reference is valid or a misprint. My money is on misprint.

Day 6 Interview A Relative

In speaking with my only living Aunt on the Allen side, I gained little information. While she had photos of Anna with her father Charles, there were no stories. Perhaps someday I can connect with the Scott relatives and find out details about Anna's life before she married. This lesson can not be taught enough, ask questions, ask questions, ask questions now!

On to even more focused research.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

31 Days To Better Genealogy: Getting Started

31 Days To Better Genealogy


Amy Johnson Crow has started a movement to help focus and fine-tune our family history research process to achieve results. The timing isn't random, October is Family History month in the United States and what better way to celebrate than by digging in and uncovering a few new pieces of information on a stubborn ancestor.
31 Days To Better Genealogy Getting Started

This challenge has some heavy lifting. This is not 31 Days to Dabble in Genealogy, Amy has tasked us with doing better by guiding us through a series of exercises that call for review, analysis and contemplation of our findings. Here is how I started. 

Day 1 Decide What You Want to Find

I will focus on one ancestor, Anna Pearl Scott Allen. Anna is my maternal great grandmother. I've blogged about Anna here previously, isn't she lovely? 

I am curious about the outliers I have in Anna's information. Clark County Kentucky seems to be her home base. However, I have a marriage in Indiana and her death in West Virginia. More verification to do and original records to be requested.  

Day 2 Timeline

Anna's timeline is reasonable and I am able to include several key events in her life.

-- 1878 Birth Kentucky
-- 1880 Residence Blue Ball, Clark County Kentucky, Age 3
-- 1896 Marriage Jeffersonville, Clark County Indiana
-- 1897 Daughters Birth Kentucky
-- 1899 Son's Birth Winchester, Clark County Kentucky
-- 1900 Residence Winchester, Clark County Kentucky, Age 23
-- 1910 Residence Winchester, Clark County, Kentucky, Age 30
-- 1913 Death Huntington, Wayne County West Virginia
-- 1913 Burial Winchester, Clark County Kentucky

Day 3 Review The Census

I have located Anna enumerated on three US Federal Census documents: 1880, 1900 and the 1910.

-- 1880 Blue Ball, Clark County Kentucky, Age 3 with parents and siblings
-- 1900 Winchester, Clark County Kentucky, Age 23 with husband, two children and 
-- 1910 Winchester, Clark County Kentucky, Age 30 with husband, two children, sister
    and a boarder

The census did not reveal any new information or clues. The husband and children listed were as I expected them to be. The fact that Anna's sister is living with them in 1910 makes sense as she is listed as a widow. 

After the first three days (that took me a lot longer than three days) I have two takeaways for my research surrounding Anna.
  1. Request her original marriage license from Indiana
  2. Request her death certificate from West Virginia
Why do I have a sneaking feeling this list is going to get a lot longer?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Surnames And The Families Behind Them

Surnames I Seek

Surnames I Seek at Desperately Seeking Surnames

This is my cousin bait post. To all of my unknown cousins with any of the surnames I have unearthed in my family tree, this is my plea to you.


Contact me! Comment on this post, connect with me on any of my social media channels (listed on the top right sidebar) or email me. Whatever works for you. Whatever is most comfortable to you, is ok with me. I would like us both to further our family history research.

What makes me think you are out there and reading my blog to begin with? Your search terms. I can see the search terms that you used that directed you to my site. Yes, big brother is watching.

How do I know my cousins are looking at my blog?

So, we may not be cousins but there is a reason for your specific search terms. I saw that you searched for my Dad's name and his WW II unit. YES, that is my Dad and that was his unit in WW II! Why didn't you contact me? I have much more information than what I've shared in blog posts. I have photos, I have letters, I have the units movement documents. I will share them, I want to share them, but you have to reach out to me.

I saw that you searched for my Aunt in the county that I live in right now. I can help you! I can make clear that the Ancestry trees that have her buried in Florida are wrong. I was at her funeral and I was not in Florida.

Surnames I Seek Page

I set up my Surnames I Seek page in hopes of generating engagement from my blog visitors. My thought was if you were to see my surname, location and a year which coincided with your information that might prompt more contact.

If you landed on my blog and were unsure where to go to find the post that might be of interest to you, using the search function may prove helpful to you. The search is located right below the contact me icons on the right sidebar.



Welcome, check out my surnames, search my blog and connect with me. I love meeting and talking to other family history buffs even when it turns our we are not cousins. Also, I have Autosomal DNA kits at Ancestry, FamilyTree DNA and GedMatch, let's compare.



Friday, September 18, 2015

The Finds You Can Find Probate Gold

The Finds You Can Find Probate Gold

My previous post mentioned the roll-out of Ancestry's Probate and Wills collection. The availability of the collection was right before Labor Day. Perfect, a nice, long weekend to dive in, explore and find that genealogy gold. 

The Finds You Can Find Probate Gold

Over the Labor Day weekend, the collection was free to access for anyone. Those who hold an Ancestry subscription (that's golden just by itself) have been able to continue to search, review and share our findings, with much excitement.

As a sign of my disapproval of her course of life

The interesting little tid-bit I found right off the bat was that my 3rd Great Grandfather, Joseph Lucking, had an issue with his daughter Marie and how she had chosen to live her life. How great is that? Yes, it's sad that they obviously had issues, but without Joseph stating such in his will I would never have known that I needed to take a closer look at wayard Marie. What makes a daughter "wayward" in the late 1800's? Not sure, but I'm looking forward to finding out.

As soon as the records became available, my approach to searching the record set was all-in with both feet. And, that is ok, I mean, look what I found! I also found a 127 page probate file for my husbands 3rd Great Grandfather, Thomas Greenstreet. That probate packet is going to take some time to download and review, one page at a time. But it's all good. Without making this collection available who knows how many years it would be before I had access to this information.

Now that the initial excitement of the collection has receded, it is time to settle down and perform more focused research within the wills and probates. To me, new record collections are no different than getting a new phone. You start playing with all the bells and whistles to begin with, then get serious and start reviewing the manual.

The Probate and Wills collection is popular among genealogists

  • Crista Cowan, with, has created a video overview of the collection and demonstrates how best to search for maxium results. The video is titled Getting Started With Probate Records and you can watch it here.
  • Randy Seaver of Geneamusings has been blogging about the probate gold he has been finding. You can read about one winning search here.  
  • This blog post is not directly related to the Ancestry probate and wills collection. However, it is a very valuable read covering how you should approach researching in a new database. Amy Johnson Crow gives some great tips (all-in, with both feet doesn't seem to be one of them).

Now, it's time to get back to mining for more geneagold

Save me for later, using this image!

Finding Gold in Probate Records - A valuable resource for family history research


1. Probate Records; Author: New Jersey. Surrogate's Court (Essex County); Probate Place: Essex, New Jersey, New Jersey, Wills and Probate Records, 1656-1999 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: New Jersey County, District and Probate Courts.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Watch, Listen & Learn - In the Spotlight for September

Helping you break through the noise

To help you break through the noise of the large selection of audio and video content available, I'm spotlighting podcasts and video content that has a high educational and/or entertainment value for family history and genealogy researchers.

Listen Watch & Learn - September Sportline for Genealogy On the Aire and Online

In the spotlight audio content:

Two episodes from The Genealogy Professional Podcast with Marian Pierre Louis.
Episode 05 - Cinnamon Collins - Tennessee Genealogist
Episode 23 - Kathleen Brandt - Military Research

 In the spotlight video content:

Wacky Wednesday - DearMyrtle HOA with Cyndi Ingle

See my previous post in this series here. Follow my Pinterest board For Podcast Junkies Like Me for more podcasting goodness.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Free Genealogy Records From Ancestry and NEHGS

Free Records Access For Labor Day Weekend 2015
What does a genealogist love more than a three day weekend to devote to research?

Free records to access!!

Both and the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) have announced free records access for the 2015 Labor Day Weekend. launched their Wills and Probate collection, offering access to that collection as well as their birth, marriage and death records free of charge through Monday September 7th. You will need to set up a free account to access the records. Just think, in exchange for your email address you will have free access to these amazing collections.

NEHGS is getting in on the Labor Day weekend action as well. With access to their census, tax and voter lists you may crush that brick wall you are facing with your New England ancestors. Your free access to this collection is available until September 9th. Again, you will need to set up a user account but after that you will be off to the races.

I am looking forward to searching both collections. I wish you success in your Labor Day research endeavors. Let me know what you find.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Watch, Listen, Learn - Spotlighting Audio & Visual Content for Genealogy

Spotlighting Audio and Video Content


This Watch, Listen Learn series highlights audio and video content in the genealogy and family history world. Each year, more an more genealogy related education becomes available to us via improvements in and access to technology.

Watch, Listen, Learn - Spotlighting Audio & Visual Content for Genealogy

The amount of knowledge and entertainment that can be accessed from online audio and video content is growing daily. Search for virtually any topic and you are likely to find a Podcast or YouTube video on the subject. Webinars are a great teaching medium and many genealogy societies provide this service for free to members or for a limited time to non-members.

I spotlight podcasts I have listened to and found to be above the norm

To help you break through the noise, I will spotlight podcasts I have listened to that I found to be above the norm, YouTube videos that teach as well as webinars and livestreams I've watched. The episodes I highlight could fall into any or all of these categories.

  • Genealogy & Family History: for every genealogy enthusiast
  • Small Business Tips: for genealogy entrepreneurs and societies
  • Marketing & Social Media: for genealogy bloggers, societies and small businesses

You can listen via your desktop or through various apps available for your smart device


If you are new to podcasts, give them a try. I personally use the Podcast Addict app on my Android phone. Videos, livestreams as well as webinars are generally viewed through your desktop or via a mobile app. 

To assist with deciding which episodes may interest you, many publishers will provide show notes or time stamp the video for you. Often the show notes will include the links to sites that are discussed during the show. You can think of the show notes as a blog post which you may prefer to read if listening isn't your cup of coffee.

Print off the show notes or save them in Evernote for later reference

A time stamp, will allow you to start watching at a specific point in the video. This is helpful if you want to re watch a portion of the video that you found particularly interesting. I understand that the process of time stamping a video is time consuming and why many publishers do not do this.

Webinars generally provide an overall description of the content to be presented and may or may not come with a handout. The goodness in a handout is usually the URLs of the sources the presenter refers to during the webinar are provided.

In The Spotlight Audio Content:


This is a two-part spotlight from a 2010 episode of Genealogy Gems with Lisa Louise Cook interviewing Dr. Robert Leonard a forensic linguist.
Part 1: Episode 89
Part 2: Episode 90 

In The Spotlight Video Content:

Research At The National Archives
Take note that the content I am spotlighting is not necessarily the most current episode. These are episodes I feel are worth listening to, some from several years ago. I point that out as any breaking news, functionality and technology mentioned may have changed since the episode aired.

Visit my Pinterest board For Podcast Junkies Like Me to get a jump start on listening to episodes.

 Pin this post for later and please share so those that spend their time and effort creating this content for us can get more and more listeners and viewers.

Watch, Listen, Learn - Spotlighting Audio & Visual Content for Genealogy

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Top 4 Reasons To Attend MoSGA's Annual Conference 2015 Roundup

I hope to see many of you this weekend in Columbia, Missouri.

The 35th Annual Missouri State Genealogical Association's Conference is sure to be a success with Judy G. Russell, The Legal Genealogist, as our Keynote Speaker.

Liars Laws and Brickwalls MoSGA 34th Annual Conference

My 2014 Conference posts still apply. I hope you enjoy hearing a bit about what Missouri has to offer in the way of genealogy research. Read on for my top four reasons to attend.

Reason #1, Judy G. Russell:
The Legal Genealogist
Reason #2, If you are traveling from the west:
Kansas City
Reason #3, The Show Me State Capitol:
Jefferson City

Reason #4, MIZZOU!
If you failed to pre-register, no worries, you may register for the conference at the door Friday and Saturday morning. For more details visit See you soon!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Love/Hate Relationship with Online Family Trees

As much as I hate incorrect information and misdirected efforts, I love the potential for new information.

My Tree Of Rights Desperately Seeking Surnames

Those of you who have an uncommon surname may agree with me. You enter your surname in the search criteria, hit the search button and 10 records come back. It's so disappointing. Those are the same 10 records you've seen for the last three years you have been researching this particular line. Disappointment, frustration and weariness follows from the same lack of potential information that could help move your research forward.

How to combat using the same old search criteria and receiving the same old results?

Switch things up! Spell the names differently, enter a different year of birth, add or remove a middle name. Loosen your criteria and broaden your search area. Next analyze the additional records your new search parameters bring to light and enjoy the potential of finding a new record in your expanded list of records returned.

The search method I described above, I do that with my online tree at My online tree is my working tree. I work out the kinks, collect records, analyze, switch names, dates, and places around. Once I'm confident of my conclusions, I enter that information into Legacy Family Tree which is my tree of truth. That's my method that is how I choose to research and collect information.

Generally, I do try to go back and sync up my two trees but not always immediately. Sometimes, I'm busy with life and my career and daily distractions. Sometimes I get an email from a cousin or my Mother-In-Law asking about a different line and I start down a different path. So those dates I switched around may sit there a while.

Do I admire those that have pristine family trees? I absolutely do. Do I appreciate those that have fully sourced trees? I do and I appreciate your attention to detail. Do I respond to emails that question and/or correct the information in my online tree? I sure do! Thank you, thank you, thank you to my fellow researchers that have contacted me. If it wasn't for some of you, I would not be anywhere near as far along in my research as I am.

I know it annoys many of you to find incorrect information in online trees and feel that undocumented trees should be set to private. My biggest annoyance with online trees is the lack of communication from other researchers. Emails and comments on trees go unanswered. If they would collaborate, we could both further our research.

We all could take a step back though as our passion, our drive and our end goal is ours alone. We can't stamp our methods onto others, we each have unique drivers and motivators.


I state very clearly on my profile where I'm coming from.

If other researchers don't read that and understand what that means, that's on them not me. It's very similar to accepting the terms of service for a product without reading it then claiming ignorance of what they agreed to. I can't, nor do I want to take up any policing role in others research methods. I have left comments on information that I felt was attached incorrectly to an ancestor. Some reply, some don't. Again, one has to step back and accept that we all approach things differently and badgering and ranting won't change that.

Do we really want one perfect tree of truth? I sure don't, what would I do in my spare time? Would I like to find that one tree that has the information I need to get my past my stumbling blocks? Of course I would, we all would. Until that happens I will continue to work through these stumbling blocks as best I can, asking for help and educating myself along the way.

I hope my online tree helps another researcher. If they don't read my "terms of service" and blindly copy to another tree, oh well, that will just give someone something to post a rant about on Facebook. And we can't have too many rants now can we?

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Desperately Seeking Surnames Is Six

I'm Starting A Blog!

Six years ago today I sat at my kitchen table on my laptop figuring out Blogger. I remember my husband walking in the room and I said "I'm starting a blog!" His reaction was something to the effect of "oh, what are you going to do with it?" Of course I had no answer to that, I was moving forward full throttle just to get the blog set up. After that, you know, I would figure it out.

I have figured some of it out. I've figured out that blogging is a hobby for me and only a hobby. I do like the format. I do like having my own place to voice my opinions and share my genealogy related research, trials and tribulations. I also like that I no longer feel stressed or guilty that I haven't posted in a while. This is my outlet, not my job.

This Is My Deal I Can Do What I Want

It's taken me a long time to figure out what where I want to go with this blog and what my purpose is. I've decided my goal is to get my surnames out there. "Hey Google, Index Me!" I've spent a bit of time working on my Surnames I Seek page and then promoting those surnames with dedicated posts. I have more work to do, stay tuned.

I need to take the time (yeah, I have so much extra time) to dedicate more research to my surnames and focus on finding the origins and as many details on each that I can about each surname. I will say that what I have found so far has been very interesting. There is a wealth of surname information available, how accurate that information is, well that's up to you to decide.

Six years is a long time and a lot has happened. I've attended a couple of national genealogy conferences, a few state and local conferences and I've made some great GeneaBFFs that are now real life BFFs! I started documenting everything that has happened in the last six years that is related to my blog and genealogy research. Wow, I've come a long way.

What An Amazing World This Blog Has Opened Up For Me

I've met two distant cousins, through this blog and/or my online genealogy "presence," in real life, multiple times! I correspond with 3 more via email several times a year. I spent several years collaborating with a cousin by marriage who lives in Germany and was able to translate documents for me! It's craziness. I live in the Midwest and I have regular contact with family researchers in the South, Pacific Northwest, East Coast and Germany as needed.

Would all of this have happened without Desperately Seeking Surnames? Maybe. I feel (and this is the marketer in me talking for those of you know know me IRL) this blog gives me a platform and legitimacy. When I reach out to a cousin and say "hey I think we are related, check out the blog post I did on this family," that seems to give folks a feeling of comfort, this person is real and not some crazy stalker.

This Is Mine And I Am Proud Of It

I had one, previously unknown, cousin email me and said "I sat reading your blog posts with tears streaming down my face as I realized this was my family too." That's when it hit me, I don't have to reach a huge audience. I don't have to be first in Google search rankings, I don't have to make the top 10, 20 or any list, I just have to get my surnames out there, make the connections then welcome and embrace my entire extended family as I find them and enjoy the journey.

I hope you enjoy the journey as well. I appreciate each and every one of you that read, comment and share my posts. Now, let's all keep on #seekingsurnames!