Saturday, December 31, 2016

Year in Review: 5 Top 5

As in years past, I like to wind down the blogging year with a look back. It is helpful for me to see what I accomplished and where I need to focus my research energies in the coming year. Frankly, what I see is rather pathetic. No surprise there. In particular, the last four months of 2016 have been the pits as my research came to a grinding halt. Even my beloved Sepia Saturday, my favorite meme for over 4 years, was woefully neglected. What’s more, my break from indexing lasted longer than I intended. Even my participation in the simplest activity like the Genealogy Photo a Day challenge on Instagram fell apart after a few days. What is wrong with me?  Never in my life have I been glad to see a year end.

As if the year itself is to blame.

I hope 2017 gives me a swift kick in the you-know-where to put me back on track.

Top 5 Blog Posts
See how sad this is. Four of the top 5 posts were from the A to Z APRIL Challenge. April! Month #4. The other was from early January. So after April, my blog views went downhill. Waaa!
  1.          H is for Handwriting
  2.          A Funny Thing Happened
  3.          F is for Friends on Frailey
  4.          B is for Baby Stuff
  5.          N is for Newton’s Nursery

Top 5 Personal Connections
1. While I was planning my blog about attending Newton’s Nursery as a child, I posted a request on a Facebook group for people who grew up in Portsmouth. I was looking for a photo of a Tom Thumb wedding. One person responded with a photo. I recognized her name immediately. It was Phyllis Carruthers, one of the daughters of my maternal grandfather’s cousin. As a child and teenager, I had met Phyllis and her sister Mary Lee several times while shopping with my mother, but ours was never a close social relationship. So when I sent Phyllis a message, I explained who I am. She called me right away. She and Mary Lee wanted to get together. It turns out they have been working on their family genealogy too, and they were hoping I could help them with some of their questions. Unfortunately for me, they are more interested in their father’s side because his story is so full of holes and mysteries. Still, it was a fantastic meeting. They brought pictures and cleared up some questions I had about their grandmother, one of the sisters of my great-grandmother Mary Frances Jollett Davis.

2. Probably most of us have some vague shadowy recollection of a person from the past, someone at an event, someone who seemed always to be at Aunt So-n-so’s house but we don’t know why. Who was that person? A relative? A family friend? Well, my shadowy recollection contacted me after Googling his grandmother’s name and finding my blog. It is Cliff Reeves, grandson of my grandaunt Mae Killeen Holland. I remember being at his wedding reception hosted by my grandaunt Helen Killeen Parker, Mae’s sister. Cliff did not really remember me, but he had those vague shadowy recollections of my parents and grandparents. He has pictures to share – can’t wait to see them!

Some very brief connections brought big results.
3. Sandi Craig sent me a copy of the will of our shared ancestor, Edward Herndon.

4. Doug Jenkins has studied the Wilsons of Rockbridge County extensively. While he did not have precise information about my 2X great grandmother Martha Ann Wilson Davis, he offered a clue. One of the bondsmen for her marriage to Mitchell Davis was Daniel Hileman. Doug proposes that based on the 1850 census for Daniel Hileman, our Wilsons were likely related to Nathaniel Wilson who died in Rockbridge County in 1818. Now let me see if I can connect some dots from Nathaniel to Martha’s father Samuel.

5. Joe Glynn alerted me to a child I had missed. Actually I am not related to the Glynns; they are descendants of the sister of John Joseph Killeen, my great-grandmother’s first husband. But I collect Glynn names and facts in the hopes they will further my research on the Sheehans and Walshes.

Top 5 Genealogy-Related Activities
  1. Serving my third year on Thomas MacEntee’s Geneabloggers MIITY team (we interview other bloggers for the “May I Introduce to You” series)
  2. Being inducted into the DAR and jumping right in by agreeing to serve as Registrar
  3. Indexing the day books of tailor Joseph Hamm for the Greene County Historical Society
  4. Participating in Amy Johnson Crow’s 31-Days to Better Genealogy
  5. Meeting the 30-day Genealogy Photo a Day challenge on Instagram for October and most of November (but falling WAY short in December) 

Top 5 Discoveries
1. It’s hardly MY discovery, but with the help of Dara at Black Raven Genealogy, I have learned more than I ever thought possible about my Sheehan family who emigrated one daughter at a time from Ireland to New York in the late 1800s. I sent Dara what I knew – or thought I knew – about Mary Theresa Sheehan and her sisters and brother. She found their birth and baptism information. Finally I had their REAL names, not nicknames, and not faulty guesses. Research was productive. Names signed to greeting cards in Mary Theresa’s scrapbook began to make sense.

2. An inquiry about Union camps in Jollett Hollow sent me looking for answers. One source led to another source which led to another and before I knew it, I was looking at a Revolutionary War-era ancestor: Frances Jolly/Jollett and Richard Gaines. Frances had been a question mark in my Jollett timeline for many MANY years. While I do not yet know how she is related, I have found her descendants and some leads to push back another generation or two.

3. During the 31 Days to Better Genealogy challenge, Amy Johnson Crow recommended we look at Linkpendium. Not expecting much, I typed “Jollett” into a worldwide search. One of the hits was the Kanawha County (West Virginia) Family Tree Project. Kanawha?? I didn’t know of any Jolletts in Kanawha. But there they were! Melinda Jollett and her husband Thomas Marsh, aka MASH. Now I know why I could never find them after 1850. I imagined they all had been massacred. No. Just a lazy southern drawl lost the “r.”

4. A death record released last year in Virginia for Julia Booton Keane named Reuben Booton as her father and Mary Jollett as her mother. I was all excited about researching a NEW ancestor when I received an email from a descendant of L. L. Kean, the informant on Julia’s death certificate. Marriage records show that Reuben was married to Mary Anderson, not Mary Jollett. The descendant has a note next to Mary’s name saying “Adopted by aunt Miss Sampson.” So WHO exactly was adopted by Miss Sampson? And who was Miss Sampson? And why did Lonzo Kean think his grandmother was Mary Jollett rather than Anderson? This discovery is yet to be completed, but it is nevertheless a discovery.

5. When I decided to work on a Jollett Family Reunion book, I planned brief biographies of James Franklin Jollett’s wives and children. That led me to learn how the Jolletts came to live in Harriston in the first place. It also revealed the many children Frank and Eliza informally adopted as well as their long-term care for adopted son James Ira Sullivan. I researched his birth family too.

Top 5 Best Money Spent
  1. DAR courses in preparation for my new role as Registrar for the Fort Nelson Chapter
  2. Boston trip to see the exhibit of my father’s Coast Guard photos
  3. Fold3
  4. Ancestry
  5. Newspaper Archive

I have lots to do in 2017. Let’s get this party started!

© 2016, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.


  1. Wendy, let me tell you, after reading this post, I can see you really got a LOT done in 2016. Give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back. New photos and death records uncovered, writing a book, DAR induction and participation, "May I Introduce" interviews...what a year. Sending you warm wishes for a happy and productive 2017! So many ancestors, so little time :)

  2. Wendy it's been a pleasure meeting you and reading your posts this past year. You have certainly been busy! I know from experience that the more we do, the more we DO.. haha.
    Happy New Year to you and yours.

  3. This is good, really good. I, too, feel like I haven't accomplished much this year and am having trouble finding 10 things to highlight in my annual Top 10 Genealogical Finds for 2016. And now that I've read annual review, I feel like even more of a loser. LOL!

    Here's to more finds for both of us in 2017!

  4. It really has been a big year for you with lots of new discoveries and accomplishments. I can't wait to see what 2017 will bring!

  5. Happy New Year to you and yours for 2017.

  6. You had a very impressive 2016 as far as I can see, congrats. All the best for an even better 2017!

  7. Happy New Year, Wendy. That is one impressive list of accomplishments for 2016! Wishing you many more discoveries in 2017.

  8. Wendy - you have given us a very impressive analysis of what you have achieved in 2016. I look forward to reading your posts in this new year.

  9. Wow!!! Contrary to your 'pathetic' analysis of 2016, I can only say...Ah NOOOO!!! Great review, and a whole list of accomplishments for your blog and your personal genealogical growth. You are inspiring, and I need that to get back to my Ancestor Tracks this year!!! I said that all of 2016, but was sidetracked so often that, both of genealogy blogs truly fit the 'pathetic' category. Okay, so forward for the both of us! Happy New Year, Wendy!
    Sue at CollectInTexas Gal

  10. I love your year in review. What a terrific year! I'm working on a "top 10" list of discoveries for the year, but I like how you added quite a few categories. I might have to try a post like this! (I'm behind because I was traveling during the last part of December & first part of January...)