Thursday, January 2, 2014

A New Year's Challenge

In 2013, bridal showers, weddings, Shutterfly, and trips occupied my time, and this poor blog took quite a hit.  Research on my family suffered even more.  Making New Year’s resolutions has never been my habit.  However, here on Day 2 of 2014 I resolve to return to something that resembles “normalcy.” 

In my effort to get back to a normal routine, I spent much of New Years day catching up on the blogs of my blogging friends who have been long-neglected.  One of them was Debi Austen’s “Who Knew.”   Her annual New Year’s post on her Top 10 Genealogical Finds shamed me into admitting I probably couldn’t claim even five finds.  But guess what – I think I can.  Sound the trumpets:

Top 10 Genealogical Finds of 2013:

10 – It’s not a great advance in my research, but I am proud of the creative thinking and circuitous clicking around the Internet that helped me find the family of Imogene Davis, my second cousin once removed.  By tracking down her husband’s obituary, I discovered that she had been married before.  Thanks to the inclusion of maiden names of the stepchildren, I was able to add quite a bit of information to my Davis database.

The back of the photo says
 "Bob sucks her thumb"
9 – The last name of two children whose pictures are the subject of a small album continues to elude me, but my search parameters have taken a sharp turn since I discovered that “John Jr. and Bob” are not BROTHERS but a brother and SISTER.

8 – A Sepia Saturday photo prompt sent me in search of information about the “Neptune Party,” a naval tradition associated with crossing the equator.  This gave me some new insight into the life of my maternal grandmother’s brother Ray Rucker.

Cousin Nell

7 – I was finally able to enter “Cousin Nell” in my database when I read some letters she had sent to my grandaunt Lillie Killeen.  Nell had sent her granddaughter’s engagement announcement which included Nell’s full name:  Ellen GLYNN Sullivan.  So it turns out Nell’s mother and Lillie’s father were brother and sister.   Knowing that helped me to identify some other pictures too.

6 – A signature in a wedding guest book plus a letter plus a few identified photos plus a “shaky leaf” on Ancestry equals Olive Williams, one of my grandaunt Velma’s best friends.  That led to a brief correspondence with Olive’s granddaughter who was in turn glad to be able to identify photos of Velma.  She even has the teapot Velma gave Olive as a wedding gift.  Connections like this give me hope that more connections will be possible through the Internet.
Olive Williams 1928

5 – The activities of my grandaunt Helen Killeen Parker have been the subject of several blog posts.  A casual comment by a reader sent me on a little hunt resulting in my discovery that Helen and her friends had ridden on a longboat through the Deep Creek locks in the Dismal Swamp.  Not an earth-shattering discovery, just a cute footnote in Helen’s life, I guess.

4 – I learned the truth about my grandaunt Velma Davis Woodring – she wasn’t the basketball star in college that we had believed based on the official team photo glued prominently in her college scrapbook.  Trying to flesh out the details of the 1924-25 season led to my discovery that the girl we had always thought was Velma was someone else.   Boy, they surely looked alike!

3 – I have found very few facts about my dad’s maternal grandfather and my great grandfather John Fleming Walsh, but research on some medals gave me a clearer picture of his life as a marine during the Spanish American War.

John Fleming Walsh

2 – Researching my 3g grandmother Mary Ann Armentrout Jollett  has always been difficult because of the invisible role of women in her time.  To make matters more challenging, she lived in a “Burnt County” whose records were largely destroyed during the Civil War.  But now I have strong reason to believe I have found her family – the Lingles.  YAY

1 – The most significant find in Jollett research has been the confirmation through DNA that William P. Boyd was actually William H. Jollett.  This is not MY discovery, but I am glad to have had a hand in it.

William H. Jollett
(aka William P. Boyd)

I'm looking forward to more great finds in 2014.

© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.


  1. I didn't feel like I had accomplished very much last year, but when I really thought about it, I realized that I did a lot more than I had realized. Isn't that how it always goes? Congrats on your accomplishments last year. I hope 2014 is a wonderful year for you!

  2. Congratulations on some satisfying finds for you in 2013! I share your hope in the power of the Internet to find further clues and even to make connections with distant family. Best wishes to you, Wendy, for a double portion in 2014!

  3. It is quite an achievement to find out about your ancestors in depth and the lives they led. Happy New Year to you.

  4. I am so proud of you and all your work! I am amazed at all the things you have discovered about our family. Looking forward to all your 2014 discoveries.

  5. I'd say you accomplished a lot in 2013 Wendy! Congrats!

  6. Yay - you did it! I had a hard time coming up with 10, as well, but once I put my mind to it I actually had to cross a few off the list. Here's to a successful 2014!