Sunday, December 31, 2017

Year in Review

Gracious mercy me. I blogged less in all of 2017 than I did in 2011 when I started my blog in AUGUST! What can I say?  A number of home improvement projects and travel certainly took up a lot of time, but the worst offender was completing my Jollett book. What a peculiar paradox - a genealogy project taking me away from genealogy. Still there are some good things to celebrate. Let’s look back.

Top 5 Blog Posts
When I went through my stats, I was SHOCKED to see the high numbers on some of my blogs. It would be nice to think my little stories were attracting interested readers, but I suspect the high number of page views is not from legitimate traffic but instead a sign of bot or spider behavior. Oh well, here they are nonetheless:

Top 5 Personal Connections
  1. My dad’s side of the family rose to the top this year. My sister and I enjoyed a lovely lunch with our second cousin Gayle, daughter of one of Daddy’s cousins. We had met many years ago but were never close; in fact, we probably could not recognize each other in the grocery store. Apparently Gayle and her daughter Jacquie have been reading my blog and finally decided to get in touch. It was fun comparing notes on the Sheehan-Killeen-Walsh lines. They shared stories we had never heard and we told ones they had not heard. The best part of the visit is that through sharing what mysteries we would love to solve, we might have actually solved one. However, since people involved are still living, I’ll save that story for another time.
  2. My dad’s sister gave me a photo of Aunt Helen Parker’s husband Herbert as a young boy with his father. On the back was written “Ephraim Dick Parker and Herbert.” Captain Dick! Photos of “Captain Dick” and letters making reference to “Captain Dick” had always been a mystery. Who was Captain Dick? Now we knew. But we still wanted to know the story behind the nickname. I like to check the family trees on Ancestry for the family member who seems most knowledgeable about a particular line. I found Joe Parker of Maryland who is the self-proclaimed expert on all Parkers of Portsmouth. While he was quite familiar with Ephraim Parker and family, Joe had never heard the nickname. In multiple emails, we shared quite a bit of information, but the mystery behind the nickname remains just that - a mystery.
  3. When I stopped by the Harrisonburg-Rockingham County Historical Society to donate a copy of my Jollett book, I was greeted by the volunteer. He looked at the title and said, “Oh, Wendy Mathias has written another book.” What? Did he actually remember the first one? Then he asked if I were “Wendy Mathias.” OK, so I had to confess, yes, I am. He introduced himself: Kevin Frazier. We had never met but have emailed one another for years and collaborated on Frazier research.  Our 4X great-grandfather was John Frazier of Greene County, Virginia. It was a thrill to meet in person. Kevin gave me the grand tour, introduced me to the head genealogist of the historical society, and introduced me to a couple other volunteers who told me they follow my blog. Please, don’t make me blush. (I guess they are the REAL readers, not those bots and spiders skewing my page views.)
  4. Two more interesting connections are both women who were adopted. Sadly, one has been rejected by her new-found family, so she is searching for more information through my blog. The other was given information by her birth-grandfather, and she too is comparing her information with what I have.

Top 5 Genealogy-Related Activities
  1. I completed a project for Greene County Historical Society in which I transcribed and indexed 4 volumes of Joseph Hamm’s day books dated from 1856-1871. He was a tailor. It was a thrill when I came across one of my family members placing an order.
  2. I participated in several Photo-a-Day Challenges on Instagram (but I ran out of steam when I got busy with other things). I hope to be a better participant in 2018 because the challenges are fun and visiting others has been as well.
  3. When GeneaBloggers Tribe stepped in to fill the void when Thomas MacEntee shut down GeneaBloggers, I assisted with the transition. Along with the others who comprised the former “May I Introduce to You” team, I helped update the roster of blogs.
  4. As Registrar of my DAR chapter, I have stayed busy assisting women with their applications for membership. That means I often conduct research to prove their lineage.
  5. I finished my book, Jollett Reunion, a collection of stories and photos about the children and families of my great-great grandfather James Franklin Jollett. I donated copies to several historical societies and libraries.

Top 5 Discoveries
  1. While working on my Jollett book, I took the time to update information, fill in missing dates, and generally just scout around the internet to see if there was anything new. My GenealogyBank subscription paid for itself when a simple search for “Jollett” in the state of Virginia resulted in learning that Charles M. Jollett had a wife and child BEFORE the wife and children I knew about. The first wife was Eliza Watson.
  2. Learning about Eliza Watson lead me to their child Mary Alice. That was my saddest discovery ever. Mary Alice was institutionalized as a child. She lived the rest of her life in a place that began with noble intentions but deteriorated over time.
  3. One of my paternal grandmother’s cousins became a nun. I used photos of Sadie Byrnes in her habit to learn more about her life but I did not make much headway until I found her obituary. It was just a snippet; if I wanted to read the whole thing, I would have to buy a subscription to the Journal News of White Plains, New York. Not wanting to pay the $60, I turned to the New York City Genealogy group on Facebook to ask if there were another way to see the obituary. In minutes a genie angel posted the full obituary which included details of her teaching career in the Dominican order.
  4. A Sepia Saturday photo prompt made me take a closer look at my granduncle Woody Woodring. He played professional baseball in the early years of professional baseball, but he had a card. I noticed the word “Portland” printed below his name. That did not fit with what I knew of his career in Shenandoah and Martinsburg. My newspaper subscriptions paid off again with a few articles about his strength as a catcher for the Portland Beavers, a farm team for the Philadelphia Athletics. 
  5. An email requesting more information about Fannie Jollett prompted me to look again at a chancery cause that I had saved years ago but did not read fully. Fannie was being sued for non-payment on property she bought near McGaheysville in Rockingham County, Virginia. Included in the file were depositions of both Fannie and her cousin Columbia King Marsh. What a thrill to read their very own words. 

Top 5 Best Money Spent
  • Fold3
  • Ancestry
  • Newspaper Archive
  • GenealogyBank
  • Blurb for my book, Jollett Reunion

2017 kicked my derriere. Come on, 2018, be nice to me!

© 2017, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.


  1. I enjoy reading your well-researched and documented posts...and this review is another one! What outstanding achievements to mark the end of a year! Thanks for keeping up the blog!

  2. It looks you've been busy enough with genealogy this year. I have missed your posts, Wendy. Looking forward to reading more in 2018. Happy New Year!!

  3. Blogging may have gone a little by the wayside, Wendy, but you were sure busy in plenty of other areas. It's reads like a great year!

  4. Happy New Year, Wendy! You had a busy 2017. Your blogging posts may have been down but your genealogy work was not. I would not worry about the number of posts you create in a year. I think a book is more long lasting than blog posts. I'm sure your family loves it. May you have many new family discoveries in 2018!

  5. I'm so glad to know you've just been busy with other things - I was worried about you! Happy New Year, Wendy!