Memorial Day 2017 – In honor of Herman E. Maurer (1923 – 1944)

memorial day stampIt’s Memorial Day weekend.  I planned to continue with a post about using research logs and genealogy.  That post can wait.  I am going to write about my first cousin once removed, Herman E. Maurer,  who was killed in action during World War II.

As I reviewed my other blog posts, I realized that I have been doing more teaching and not so much reflection.   I am a nurse for over 40 years now and 25+ years of that time was spent in education, teaching men and women how to be nurses.   One of our teaching tools is journaling – having the students reflect on their clinical experiences.   I remember telling them to write more than just a list of what they did.  What did you do today?  How did you feel about giving a shot or watching a baby being born?  Nervous? Confident? Frustrated? Awed by the experience?   What did you learn? What or who helped? What or who didn’t help?  Suggest ways to make the next clinical day better.   So, starting with this post, I am going to take my own advice and do more reflecting.

What memories do you have of Memorial Day?  When I was in grade school and middle school in northern Kentucky,  Memorial Day meant that the school year ended.  I don’t remember doing anything special as a family.  Dad was an airline mechanic so he often had to work on holidays.   As a nurse, I, too, often worked on this holiday.  On the other hand, my husband’s family usually got together and had the first family barbecue of the summer season.

As an older adult, I began to appreciate the significance of this holiday.  Memorial Day, formerly called Decoration Day, honors those who have died in battle defending our country.  It is a uniquely American holiday.  American flags are placed on the graves of veterans, whether or not the veteran died during war time.  Facts:

  • The idea began after the Civil War. “It [Decoration Day] was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11. “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,” he proclaimed. The date of Decoration Day, as he called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle.”[1]
  • General James Garfield made the first Decoration Day speech at Arlington National Cemetery. “About 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there.”[2]
  • Originally, Memorial Day was on held on May 30th. [3] In 1971, Congress passed the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 – 363) and made Memorial Day the last Monday in May. Controversy about the 3-day weekend versus May 30th continues to the present.
  • Several southern states honor the Confederate war dead on these days: January 19th in Texas; April 26th in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10th in South Carolina; and June 3rd (Jefferson Davis’ birthday) in Louisiana and Tennessee.

The Memorial Day website has more information about this holiday.

Now, remembering my first cousin, once removed, Herman E. Maurer.   Herman was born on July 13, 1923, in Brooklyn, New York. [4],[5]   to Herman Charles Maurer and his second wife, Elizabeth Veronica Major.   By 1925[6], the family moved to Huntington, Suffolk county, New York, where other members of Herman’s family also lived.  Herman E. enlisted in the Army Air Corps on November 25, 1942.[7]  Assigned to the 485th Bomber Group,  828th Bomb Squad and trained as gunner, he was quickly promoted from private to staff sergeant.  Herman was a member of Crew #17 with pilot, Hudson Owen.

On June 26, 1944, Herman Maurer flew with Parke Bossart’s crew.  Unknown is whether Herman volunteered to fly with a different crew on this day or whether he was assigned.  The B-24 Liberator crew of 10 was assigned to bomb  an oil refinery near Florisdorf, Austria.  About 9:30 am, they engaged  Germans in an air battle.  According to one document in the file, [8]  Herman had flown about 24 missions.  During the attack, Herman was wounded and reported “enemy planes coming in at tail.”  One crew member reported  last seeing Herman as he entered the tail turret.  Herman was the only crew member who died that day.  The others were captured and interred at Dulag Luft. [9]

Herman was initially buried at the Pressbaum Cemetery, Pressbaum,  Austria.[10]  His body was later returned to the United States.  On May 18, 1949, Herman E. Maurer was laid to rest in the Long Island National Cemetery in Farmingdale, Suffolk County, New York.[11]   Herman E Maurer gravestone

The pilot,  Parke N. Bossart,  later filed this report: [12]

“One of the other officers in my crew (I’ve forgotten which one) was shown Maurer’s dog tags by his interrogater [sic]  in Frankfurt and told that the tail gunners’ remains were found in the wreckage. Reports of the other member of the crew indicate that Maurer destroyed either two or three of the German fighters who made the final attack on our plane and was presumably killed by them. He should be posthumously cited for this, but since my return, I haven’t found anyone sufficiently interested to do anything about it – or even take a report on it.”

air medal_memorial day 2017

United States: Air Medal.  Picture copied  from Project ww2awards website

Herman did receive two posthumous medals —  Purple Heart and Air Medal.[13]  The Air Medal , established in 1942, ‘is awarded to any person who, while serving in any capacity in or with the armed forces of the United States, shall have distinguished himself by meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight”.[14]

Being an avid researcher and probably OCG (obsessive-compulsive genealogist), I wanted to know more.  I googled ‘485th bomber group World War II’ and found a website[15]:      I followed the 485th Photos button to the ‘Photos of the 828th Squadron Crews’ button and down to Bossart crew.   Parke Bossart was the pilot.  There, in the picture, third from the right, was a man without a name, listed as ‘unknown’ on the picture legend.  All of the other men were identified by name.  Could this man be my cousin, Herman E. Maurer?  Further down on the website was a picture of the Owen crew and Herman is named.    But, there are only 4 men on the back row and 5 men are named.  So, which one is Herman?  I am waiting confirmation from the webmaster.


Owen Crew_Herman Maurer named here

Owen crew – 828th Squadron – Original crew #17
Front Row, L – R:  Joe Coker, Engineer/Gunner; William Roberts, Co-Pilot; Hudson Owen, Pilot; Jerry Durden, Bombardier; Perry Monroe, Gunner.
Back Row, L – R: Alfred Aborjaily, Radio Operator/Gunner; George Mack, Gunner; Kenneth Ponte, Gunner; Herman Maurer, Gunner; Fales Holcomb, Navigator. 
The assigned plane for this crew was “My Brother and I”.  Fales and Durden were killed flying with Thomas Baker’s crew on 7/20/44, when the plane was shot down by fighters on the Friedrichschafen mission.  Maurer was killed while flying with Bossart’s crew on 6/26/44 and Mack became a POW, also flying with Bossart’s crew on the 6/26/44 Vienna mission.  Several from this crew were wounded when they crashed while landing at Bari on 6/28/44.  

Picture and narrative retrieved 26  May 2017:

By this time, I am in tears.  The picture of Herman will be put with the story and other documents.   He was 3 weeks shy of his 21st birthday and a year younger than my youngest son.  Thank you, Herman, for your sacrifice!

 Before you ask, yes,  I sent an email with copies of all  information to the contact person on the website.   After I dry my tears , I will fill out a research log.

Reflection on this experience:   Today, I learned about the history of Memorial Day, formerly Decoration Day.  Most exciting thing was possibly finding a picture of my cousin who died in World War II.  The emotions almost overwhelmed me.  I used the internet effectively to find out more about my cousin’s military service.  What didn’t help was that I did not have complete sources for several documents that I downloaded five years ago.  I felt frustrated when I couldn’t quickly access those documents again so I could get the source.  Ultimately, I did find the documents again and now have the complete sources.  As I write these blog posts, I am using skills that I am learning as part of my Genealogy Do-over, specifically documentation (using research logs) and source citation (using templates).  Primary challenge remains  slowing down and taking time to review/ analyze information, as well as documenting sources and my thought processes.  I am still a novice when it comes to use of research tools.

[1] Memorial Day (  : accessed 24 May 2017), “History.”

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid., “Date Restoration.”

[4]  Department of Veterans Affairs, “Nationwide Gravesite Locator,” database, National Cemetery Association. (   : accessed 24 May 2017), entry for Herman E. Maurer (1923-1944), Long Island National Cemetery, Farmingdale, New York.  

[5] 1940 U.S. census, Suffolk County, New York, population schedule, Huntington, Enumeration District [ED] 52-102, p. 7A (penned), household # 106, Herman Maurer: digital images, ( accessed 25 May 2017); from National Archives microfilm publication T626, roll 1651, image 1014.0.

[6] 1925 New York state census, Suffolk County, population schedule, Huntington, p. 44, dwelling [blank],  for Herman E. Maurer in Herman C. Maurer household;  digital images, ( accessed 25 May 2017), citing State population census schedules, 1925. Albany, New York: New York State Archives.

[7] “U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946”, database and images,  ( accessed 26 May 2016), record for Herman E. Maurer , enlistment date 25 Nov 1942, New York City, New York; citing Electronic Army Serial Number Merged File, 1938-1946 [Archival Database]; World War II Army Enlistment Records; Records of the National Archives and Records Administration, Record Group 64; National Archives at College Park, College Park, Maryland.

[8] “Missing Air Crew Reports (MACRs), compiled 1942-1947,” database and images, (   : accessed 25 May 2017), Report No. 6822 (36 pages), Serial No. 41-29291, Year: 1944; Record Group 92: Publication No. M1380, Roll 02401-02500,  National Archives Catalog ID 305256.  National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.

[9] “Missing Air Crew Reports (MACRs, compiled 1942-1947,” database,  Report No. 6822, Year: 1944.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Dept. of Veterans Affairs, “Nationwide Gravesite Locator,” database entry for Herman E. Maurer (1923-1944).  

[12] “Missing Air Crew Reports (MACRs, compiled 1942-1947,” database Report No. 6822, Year: 1944.  Individual Casualty Questionnaire completed by Parke N. Bossart, pilot.

[13]“U.S. National Cemetery Interment Control Forms, 1928-1962”, database and images, ( :  accessed 25 May 2017),  entry for Herman E. Maurer,  serial no. 12189684,  citing Interment Control Forms, 1928–1962. Interment Control Forms, A1 2110-B. Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, 1774–1985, Record Group 92. The National Archives at College Park, College Park, Maryland.

[14] Project, (  : accessed 25 May2017), “United States: Air Medal AM.”

[15] 485th Bomber Group Association, (  :  accessed 25 May 2017),  “485th Photos, Photos of the 828th  Squadron Crews.”

Reflections on Mother’s Day, 2017

Today, I decided to focus on my grandmothers.  No special reason, it just seemed like the right thing to do.  I realized that I had few pictures of either one of my grandmothers.  I went to a small brown trunk and a red cardboard box of pictures.    I found a 1954 picture of my dad’s mother and a 1955 picture of my mom’s mother.

Jennie Amelia Richards (paternal grandmother)

Jennie Amelia Richards was the daughter of Ostrander Richards and Amelia Magdellene LaCoe.  Jennie was born on January 15, 1884, in Ransom Township, Lackawanna county, Pennsylvania, the youngest of seven children[1],[2].   Her father was a farmer.   Two of her siblings died before Jennie was born – Mary Amelia Richards, died in 1878 at age 11[3], and William Ostrander Richards, died in 1883 at age of 13[4].  A third sibling, Ora Nathaniel Richards, died in 1893[5].  One of her brothers, Leslie Frank Richards, was known as “progressive truck farmer” in Lackawanna county. [6]  The family was still living in Ransom Township in 1900.[7]  Jennie married John Ray Posten, a fireman from West Pittston, Pennsylvania, in September , 1910. [8], [9]  Six children were born to Jennie and John:  Lester Joseph (b. 1911); George Ray (born 1913); Grace Amelia (born 1915); Daniel Richard (born 1917 – my dad);  Martha Gertrude (born 1920) and Mary Elizabeth (born 1923).  According to Aunt Mary[10], “we moved around a lot” and  lived on small farmsteads outside of city limits.

Grandma Posten 1954_ver2

Jennie was very religious and regularly attended church , usually walking to services.  She had a ‘green thumb’  (which my dad inherited) and was very proud of both her vegetable and flower gardens.  As the United States entered World War I, John and Jennie owned a farm on Russell Hill, near Tunkhannock, Luzerne county.   According to Aunt Mary[11],  John chose to work  the farm and raise food for the soldiers rather than serving in Europe.   They lost the farm during the depression.   However, Jennie was frugal and a good manager, so the family always had food.  The boys hunted and provided meat in the form of squirrels and rabbits.[12]  Pancake batter made from sourdough was also a staple food item.

In 1940, Jennie became the main provider for the family as John suffered health issues  and was hospitalized.   John died in 1948 and Jennie went to live with her son, Lester.   I remember going to Pennsylvania every other year.  Jennie, aka Grandma Posten, always seemed quiet and withdrawn.  She knew Dad and had to be re-introduced to us, her grandchildren, each time.  This could have been simply because we visited so rarely.

How little I know about Jennie’s early life beyond the events listed here!   Being a farmer’s daughter, she probably worked on the farm from an early age.  She completed 8th grade[13].  I recall Dad saying that she insisted on each of them attending high school, showing that she valued education.  Pride in a flower garden indicates that she also enjoyed the beauty of nature, perhaps appreciating it as a gift of God.

ImageJennie died peacefully on June 25, 1964, at the age of 80.[14]  She was found sitting on the floor, with a sandwich and a glass of milk next to her.  Cause of death was probably a massive heart attack.  Aunt Mary and Aunt Grace said that I look like her.  Unfortunately,  I did not inherit her green thumb!  But, I do enjoy a small herb garden and a few flowers.  After Dad died, we had a small vegetable garden for several years.  Digging in the soil helped me feel closer to Dad and, without recognizing it at the time, his mother.   Thank you, Jennie!

Amalie Charlotte Maurer (maternal grandmother)

Amalie Charlotte Maurer  was the daughter of George Hermann Maurer and Anna Klee.   Lottie, aka Gram, was the granddaughter of German immigrants; her grandfather came to the United States in the 1850s. Lottie was born in Brooklyn, Queens, New York, on May 26, 1892, [15]  the fifth of nine children.   She married Esbon Jeremiah Tucker of Greene County, New York, on June 3, 1917.[16]   Lottie and Esbon had 4 children:   Esbon Herman , born 1918; Eunice Bertha, born 1919 (my mother);  William Burde, born 1923; and Mercedes Viola, born 1925.  After the death of their parents , Lottie’s sister,  Viola Blanche Maurer, came to live with Lottie and Esbon.

Huntington NY May 1955 names_ver2

By 1910, Lottie’s parents  had moved to Huntington, Suffolk county, New York[17], which is on Long Island.  Herman was a brass worker, which means that he may have worked in a smelting factory.  Lottie and Esbon remained on Long Island for the rest of their lives.   Gram spent all of her life in urban and suburban areas.  Like many suburban families, she  had a small garden for personal use.  However, they family did not rely on this garden as a primary source of food.  My grandfather, Esbon, worked for the phone company and apparently did not lose his job during the depression.  Although money was scarce, they had the necessities of life and, because of Pop’s job, were a little better off than many other families.

Gram & Pop's house Spring Street ca 1957_ver2

I also know little about Lottie’s life beyond the facts and events recorded here and my own memories.  Lottie collected salt and pepper shakers, which were stored in a wood cabinet in their musty basement on Spring Street in Huntington.   I am not  sure what church they attended.  Both Gram and Viola knew how to knit and crochet; they taught my mother, who taught me.  I continue to enjoy these crafts.   Gram’s kitchen was very small and a 1950s style kitchen table made it even more crowded.   However, the amount of food that came out of that kitchen was always remarkable!

Lottie and Esbon lived in their own home throughout their  57 years of marriage.  Lottie died on April 9, 1974 in Huntington, Suffolk County, New York at the age of 82.[18]  My grandfather died 10 years later. Thank you, Lottie!

Reflecting on my grandmothers, I realize that I am, indeed, a composite of both.  From Grandma Posten,  I inherited physical characteristics and an appreciation of growing things, although not her green thumb.  Her daughter recognized Jennie’s ability to manage;  for the last 18 years,  I have been in a mid-level administrative/ management position.    From Gram Tucker, I inherited needlework skills and a love of cooking, especially German food.   Canning and preserving food was a necessity for both grandmothers.  I enjoy the process and results although I do not have to raise the food.   Hopefully, I inherited the longevity genes from both and can expect to live 80+ years.

So, on this Mother’s Day, I honor my mother’s mother , Amalie Charlotte Maurer Tucker, and my father’s mother, Jennie Amelia Richards Posten.  Both contributed unique talents and values to their children who, subsequently, shared those same talents and values with me.

Genealogy to-do list for today:  Scan pictures pulled from boxes.  Add items to Research Logs:  Mary Amelia Richards – confirm death date & location;  William Ostrander Richards—confirm death date and location.  Marriage certificate and death certificates for Esbon Tucker and Charlotte Maurer Tucker were ordered  in March, 2017; should be arriving soon!

[1] J.B. Stephens, compiler, History and Directory of Newton and Ransom Townships, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania (Montrose, Pennsylvania: J.B. Stephens, 1912),  216; digital images, Pennsylvania State University Libraries Digital Library Collections,    (  :  accessed, downloaded & printed 8 June 2010.

[2] Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Health, death certificate no. 062881-64 ,  Jennie Richards Posten (1964) ; Division of Vital Records, New Castle, PA.

[3] Unknown, IGI Family Group Record, Family Group record # 34426625.

[4] Unknown, IGI Family Group Record. No other information listed.

[5] Find A Grave, database with images (   : accessed 14 May 2017), memorial 73363200,  Ora Richards, Milwaukee Cemetery, Scranton, Lackawanna county, Pennsylvania; gravestone picture by JGordon24.

[6] Stephens,  History and Directory of Newton and Ransom Townships, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, 215-216.

[7] 1900 U.S. census, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, RansomTownship, Enumeration District [ED] 40th, sheet no. 10A (penned), 225A (stamped),  dwelling 133, family 137, Jennie Richards, daughter: digital images, Ancestry ( : accessed 14 May 2017); citing National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.  microfilm publication T623, roll 1419.

[8] Stephens, History and Directory of Newton and Ransom Townships, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, p. 216.  John and Jennie’s marriage date is recorded as September 21, 1910.  Their marriage license was issued on September 21, 1910 per county records.

[9] “Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, Marriage License Docket, 1907-1918”, John R. Posten-Jennie A. Richards, 21 September 1910, license no. 56312; image, “Pennsylvania, County Marriages, 1885-1950”,  FamilySearch (   : accessed 14 May 2017).

[10] Mary E.  Button Posten (Luzerne County, Pennsylvania), telephone interview by Susan M. Posten Ellerbee, 21 Jan 2011;   transcript privately held by Ellerbee,  [address for private use, ] Yukon, Oklahoma, 2011.  Mary, a daughter of Jennie, spoke from personal knowledge of her mother.

[11]Mary E. Posten Button, interview, 21 Jan 2011.

[12] Daniel R. Posten (Bryant, Saline County, Oklahoma), information given to Susan M. Posten Ellerbee,  ca. 1975,   no transcript available, information  privately held by Ellerbee,  [address for private use, ] Yukon, Oklahoma, 2017.  Daniel, a son of Jennie, spoke about his childhood.

[13] 1940 U.S. census, Wyoming County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Tunkhannock Township, Enumeration District [ED] 66-23, sheet no. 14A (penned),  family 236, Jennie Posten: digital images, Ancestry ( : accessed 14 May 2017); citing National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.  microfilm publication T627, roll 3640.

[14] Pennsylvania death certificate no. 062881-64  (1964), Jennie Richards Posten.

[15] New York City Department of Records and Information Services,  birth certificate no. 5947 ,  Amalie Charlotte Maurer (1892); Municipal Archives, New York, New York.

[16] Viola Blanche Maurer Tucker, “Maurer- Tucker Family History.” (Handwritten notes. Huntington, New York, ca. 1975-1980), Esbon J. Tucker, p. 2;  carbon copy  privately held by Susan M. Posten Ellerbee, [address for private use,], Yukon, Oklahoma, 2010.  Transcribed by Ms. Ellerbee in 2012. Ms. Ellerbee is the granddaughter of Amalie Charlotte Tucker and great-niece of Viola Blanche Maurer Tucker.

[17] 1910 U.S. Census, Suffolk County, New York, pop. sch., Huntington, enumeration district (ED) 1367, p. 2B, Family #26, Herman Maurer (head); digital images, ( : accessed, viewed, downloaded 31 January 2017); National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T624, roll 1083.

[18] Charlotte A. Tucker funeral card, Huntington, New York, privately held by Susan M. Posten Ellerbee, [address for private use,], Yukon, Oklahoma, 2017. This funeral card was among papers that belonged to Eunice Bertha Tucker Posten, daughter of Charlotte Maurer and Esbon Tucker.

Research plans and BSOs

Research?  Really?  That’s what I’m doing when I’m ‘doing genealogy’?  Answer:  Yes.  The term ‘research’ often brings up images of laboratories, white coats, and persons with no interests beyond that laboratory.  As an amateur genealogist, my family sometimes wonders if I have any other interests.  Housework versus searching census records for an elusive ancestor?  The census record search will win every time!  At least, until the laundry hamper is overflowing and my stomach is growling! Then, the census record search is only deferred for a few hours.

research dictionary.jpg

As promised,  in this blog, I explore more of my not-so-wonderful research practices, specifically “going wherever the research leads me” and “following rabbit trails (aka BSOs or bright shining obects)”.  At first glance, these look like similar items.  And, in some ways, they are similar.  Both practices are inefficient and waste time and resources.   Here’s an example:

Current practice Improved practice
Going wherever the research leads me Tracking census records for one family back from 1920s.  1900 census listed 3 children living with parents.  I click on each child’s name and trace them , and their children, as far as I can.    Sometimes,  I go to other sources but not on a regular basis.  Child #2 is my direct ancestor.   Write basic information on piece of paper (only source notation is 1900 census).   Make mental note of what additional info is needed and/or questions.  Follow BSO for other children. Before ending session:

  • Enter names of spouses, marriage date & location, death date & location on Family Group Sheet for parents.  Use pencil if still needs to be verified.
  • Enter information to genealogy program on personal computer.
  • Add information to research log, including complete citation.
  • Create  item, with note, on To-do list, as needed.
  • End session.  If time permits, begin another item on To-do list or go to another person’s To-do list.
Following rabbit trails (aka BSOs) Two of the 3 children are not my direct ancestor.   Spent about 2 hours (after midnight) clicking on every hint.  Finally ended session when I was going after the parents of mother-in-law  of  Child #3’s son.  Did not meet that session’s goal of tracking my family before 1900. Ask:  Is this information relevant to my current line of research?  If not,  STOP!  If potentially relevant, enter on research log and  to-do list. Include questions to be answered.   Continue with current plan.

Note:  I like tables to compare information.  Creating a table helps me to put things in perspective rather than slogging through several paragraphs.  My co-workers often rolled their eyes when I presented them with another table of data!  But, I learned to accept the fact that not everyone sees the world in the same way.

Genealogy research is a process.  Most of us (including me)  probably just have a mental plan when we do genealogy.   If you have problems staying focused, write out a plan at the beginning of each session.  A research log can be the place to document your actions and findings.

  • Goal/ expected outcome/ proof point: What are you looking for or trying to prove ? What questions do you have about the person or family?
  • Assessment: What information do you already have?
  • Plan of action: What specific items are you looking for?  Where will you look ?  How much time do you have?  If you have a long list of items,  set priorities.
  • Actions taken: Check off each item as you locate and review it.  Be sure to write out complete citations or transcribe immediately to your computer-based research log.
  • Effectiveness of actions/ analysis:  Write down what you discovered.  Analyze your findings.  Were  your questions answered?  If not,  what are your next steps?  Add  next steps to To-Do list.

Here’s an example:

Goal/ expected outcome/ proof point:    Prove parents of James D. Posten.

Assessment:    Typewritten lineage from great-aunt (now deceased), courtesy of cousin [1]

typed Posten lineage.jpg

James D. Posten, born 1829 and died 1914, buried in Pittston City Cemetery, Pittston, Luzerne county, Pennsylvania.[2].  1850 census, Monroe county, PA:  James Portons, 19, with Thomas Portons, age 68 (as transcribed).[3]

Plan of action:  Obtain death certificate for James D. Posten.

Actions taken:   Requested death certificate from Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Effectiveness/ analysis:   Received copy of death certificate[4] about a month after making request.    Names of parents reported as Thomas Postens and Esther Brown.   James’s birthplace recorded as Monroe county, Pennsylvania.  Goal met.  James’ birth date recorded as Aug. 11, 1829.  From 1850 census, James’ birth year about 1831. Could still be same person.   Next steps:   Search 1830/ 1840/ 1850/ 1860 census records for Thomas and Esther.  Focus on Monroe county.  Continue search of census records from 1860 to 1900 for James Posten.  Search 1850 census for James Posten  birth year about 1831 with focus on Monroe and surrounding counties.

I have lots of handwritten notes on printed census records and other documents.  As I continue to work through the various generations, I plan to create research logs,  a tool that I have rarely used.

No, I did not actually write out the initial plan!  But, I did have it (sort of ) in my head.   This is my typical way of doing things. Then, I let the information take me wherever.  Two (or five) hours later, I have followed numerous BSOs and still may not have what I was looking for.  At this point, I usually am not even sure about what I found that didn’t help, those ‘negative findings’.  So, I look  at the same material again and still find that it doesn’t answer my question.

What if you don’t find what you expected?  Set a new goal and develop a new action plan. Keep track of what you searched for and what you found, or didn’t find.  Further research showed that the next two generations in the line (James E.  Posten and Mary Dean, Jacob Posten and Anna Burson) are not my direct ancestors. That is a story for another day!

Want to know more about the genealogy research process?  Try these links:

Next blog:  My experiences with research logs.


[1] Posten family traditions regarding ancestors of John Posten (born 1887), Ruby Grace Gardner, compiler (Pedigree and notes privately held by Susan Posten Ellerbee, [address for private use,] Yukon, Oklahoma) as reported by Vera Posten Brooks, ca. 1989.  A handwritten note on the document states “I don’t know how accurate it is.”

[2] Find A Grave, database with images (   : accessed 3 Mar 2012), memorial 5613463, James D. Posten, Pittston City Cemetery, Pittston, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania; gravestone picture by sharleenp.

[3]1850 U.S. census, Monroe County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Hamilton Township, p. 17B (stamped), dwelling 220, family 220, Phebe Bertyman [Brutzman]; image, (    :  accessed 3 Mar 2012); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M432, roll 789

[4] Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Health, death certificate no. 118955 , James D. Posten (1914); Division of Vital Records, New Castle, PA.

Genealogy Do-Over: Months 2 – 5

It’s May 1 and Month 5 topics for the Genealogy Do-Over have just been posted.   Oh no!  I am only about halfway through Month 2!  However, I did work ahead.  This is where my pessimism—the glass half-empty rather than half full—kicks in.  I feel so overwhelmed!  Stop!  Take a deep breath!  Slow down!

Get out my Genealogy Do-Over notebook.   Check goals.  Were the goals realistic?  Too many goals?  Think positive – what have I done since January?  List goals that have been met:

  1. Color coded paper files. Identified color scheme for direct lines, collateral families, and possibly related families.  Placed documents for direct lines in appropriate color files according to plan.  (month 1 goal – completed month 4)
  2. Reviewed documents for 60+ families,  14-18 families for each set of parents.  Filled in research checklists & biographical outlines for  direct ancestors and their spouses.  Completed family group sheets for many siblings of direct ancestors.  (see #1).
  3. Identified, in writing, research practices to be improved. (month 1)
  4. Created folders for myself, husband and each parent. Located & filed BMD certificates. (month 2)
  5. Created family group sheets for my brother & sister, husband’s sister, our parents.  (months 2 & 3)

Insight – creating group sheets for self, siblings & parents.  This seems like such a ‘I should have had a V-8’ moment!  V8 juiceI have documents.  I enter information in my RootsMagic program on a regular basis.  But, the documents were not well organized.   And, sources?  Inconsistent.

  1. Adopted research log format (focus of Month 4).  Started 11 research logs.  This topic is subject of a later blog post.
  2. Bought items to help with organization, note taking and source citation. (months 1, 2, 4, 5).
    1. Evidence Explained book[1]
    2. Evernote computer program and book[2], [3]
    3. Forms template CD[4]
  3. Ordered selected documents based on review (see #2). Priority: 1 generation at a time!
    1. Maternal grandmother – birth, death, marriage. Birth certificate received on 14 April 2017.  See Month 2, Part 1 for details.
    2. Maternal grandfather – birth certificate already in file. Ordered death certificate.
    3. Obtained BMD certificates for husband’s grandparents in 2013 during genealogy field trip to Texas.
  4. Started a blog (suggested month 1; done month 4).

To be done:

  1. Fill in research log for self, husband, parents, parents-in-law. If time permits,  research logs for grandparents (if needed, defer  to next month).
  2. Set up notebooks for originals of documents. Includes dividers.
  3. Scan documents sent by 2nd cousin.  Place originals in notebook.
  4. Order vital records, as needed & available, for grandparents & great-grandparents.
  5. Conduct interviews: self, husband, mother-in-law, father-in-law, sister (from Month 3).
  6. Identify specific proof points needing source for grandparents. Create master list for quick reference.   When done, do same for great-grandparents.

Ongoing goals/ non priority items:

  1. Place documents for collateral families and possibly related families in appropriate color files. Include family group sheet, research checklist, individual worksheet and biographical outline.  Start with brother-in-law, then nephew.
  2. Digital files: Rename media using standardized format.  Link media to events and facts.

Deferred Goals:

  1. Digital files: Cite sources  using standard, accepted format.  Focus for Month 5.

Now that it’s all on paper, I can see progress!    This brings me back to my reason for participating in the Genealogy Do-Over program.   Slow down!  Take your time!   Change what hasn’t worked!  Learn something new!

[1] Elizabeth Shown Mills. Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace. Third editon.  (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2015).

[2] Kerry Scott. How to use Evernote for Genealogy (Cincinnati, OH: Family Tree Books, 2015).

[3] Evernote Corporation, Evernote for Windows ®,  2017.  (  : accessed & downloaded 10 Jan 2017)

[4] Family Tree Magazine. Essential Family Tree Forms Library CD (New York City: F & W Media, 2014).