End of year report: Genealogy Do-over

Recently, Colleen Boyle posted about her accomplishments for the year on the Genealogy Do-Over Facebook group. [1] At times during the past year, I, too, felt overwhelmed by the enormity of my task.  Four family lines (my parents, my in-laws) comprise the bulk of my research efforts, with 300-400 persons in each family tree.   Families of my brother-in-law, my nephew’s father  and other Posten families who may be related to dad’s family are also part of my research.

When I compare the status of my digital and paper files in January, 2017 to their current status,  I have made a lot of progress.  Here’s my accomplishments for 2017:



  1. Color-coded paper files for each family line – parents, parents-in-law + others.
  2. Recorded complete information in paper and digital files for both sets of parents + 2 generations.
  3. Adopted standard record-keeping system for individuals and families. Completed forms for all of Dad’s direct ancestors (my focus for 2017).  Partially completed forms for some individuals not in his direct line and for some individuals in other lines.
  4. Started notebooks for BMD certificates & records. Dad’s line:  BMD records for 5 generations placed in archival quality sleeves  + several  other people , including originals sent to me by  husband of 2nd cousin. notebooks2
  5. Obtained birth, death, marriage certificates for maternal grandparents (both born 1892, d. 1974 & 1984 respectively, married 1917). Originals placed in archival quality sleeves & appropriate notebook.
  6. Digital copies of original BMD certificates & records complete for 2-3 generations of direct ancestors in each family line.
  7. Created blog to describe experience and tell family stories. Made posts 2-3 times per month.  Connected to 1st cousin who I haven’t  talked to in years after she found my blog!  Added pedigrees for each major family line (Posten-Richards, Tucker-Maurer, Ellerbee-Simmons, Johnson-Reed)  to blog.
  8. Began using research logs on template created by Thomas MacAntee. Made a few changes in log format.   36 logs created to date.
  9. Bought Evidentia & Evernote.  Used each one 5-6 times. Continuing to explore how to use these tools.
  10. Bought Evidence Explained  book.  Using this extensively.
  11. Bought ‘Ancestry citations’ cheat sheet. Using this extensively.
  12. Created digital Research Toolbox.  22 websites/ blog posts added.
  13. Attended two online webinars – New York Vital Records (mom’s family) and Writing a family history. Now have specific plan for revision of Posten family history written in 2010.
  14. Genealogy research trip to Pennsylvania (dad’s family). Met with 90+ year-old aunt and other relatives, tramped 14 cemeteries, visited 2 county historical societies.  Found and photographed grave of my paternal grandparents!  Note:  paternal grandparents listed online as buried in 3 different cemeteries.  Placed them in correct cemetery on FindAGrave website.   Sent corrections to online cemetery managers.  Posted about this in blog.


    LaCoe family reunion,  August 13, 2017.  Newton, Pennsylvania.

  15. Attended LaCoe family reunion in Pennsylvania. Dad’s maternal grandmother was Amelia Magdelenne LaCoe.
  16. Connected with 2nd cousin and her son through DNA testing. Used  skills & tools to help them search for her father’s family.   Convinced my brother to have his DNA done.
  17. Opted to stay with Roots Magic software.
  18. Began more extensive research on siblings of parents and grandparents. Almost complete for Dad’s siblings through their grandchildren.
  19. Created naming convention for digital media files. Changing file names as I work on each person/ family.
  20. Joined three facebook groups – Genealogy Do Over, Early PA families, Pittston PA families.  Already member of RootsMagic facebook group.
  21. Implemented data back-up plan for files – home computer, external hard drive, cloud servers x2, paper copies.  Discussed future with oldest son.
  22. Expanded list of online sources regularly used to obtain information.
  23. Still following BSOs at times.

  2018 Goals:

  1.  Continue  paper & digital file clean-up.  Focus on mom’s family as Dad’s family files are now fairly clean.
  2. Submit at least one article to a local genealogical society for publication in their newsletter. Use information from 2010 Posten family history.
  3. Revise at least 4 chapters of Posten family history book. Explore publication options with expected publication in 2019.
  4. Send copies of grandparents’ BMD certificates to cousin.
  5. Send for at least 6 BMD certificates. If budget permits, request one certificate per month.
  6. Blog-related goals:
    1. Post on more regular basis, optimally every 2 weeks.
    2. Expand to husband’s family, at least 4 stories about his family during the year.
    3. Explore options for posting family trees to blog.
  7. Learn more about DNA testing.  Join DNA Do-over Facebook group.
  8. Assist nephew to combine family trees of his parents (his mother is my sister).


Organization of paper and digital files greatly improved over last 12 months.  I learned new technical skills while creating blog.  Reconnecting with a cousin as direct result of my blog is an unexpected benefit.  Genealogy research trip was more organized than would have been otherwise. With limited time there,  I identified specific goals for the trip and met most of those goals.  Husband wants to plan a trip south (southern Georgia & Alabama) to explore his family lines.  I am more consistently using varied sources for online research.  Appropriate documentation of all sources is more consistent.

Blog itself changed.  Initial entries focused on tasks and results for a specific month of the Genealogy Do-Over.  Later entries apply lessons from Genealogy Do-Over as I tell the stories of various family members.  The informational/ educational posts include examples from my genealogy work.

Another way to look at the process:  “Give your genealogy an annual checkup”

To paraphrase a recent ad campaign:

Colored file folders, notebooks, ink for printer  = $159.00

Photocopying forms at office supply =  $79.50

Genealogy reference books & programs = $156.00

Backup external hard drive + subscription = $36.00

Continuing education = $129.00

Improved genealogical research skills + future-proofing  = priceless

[1] Colleen Boyle, “Genealogy Do-Over Group,” Facebook (https://www.Facebook.com/groups/genealogydoover  : accessed 10 December 2017), posting “I tend to set unrealistic goals. . . . “, 8 December 2017.

Posting [my] family roots – Welcome

Welcome to the ‘Posting family roots’ blog!  My name is Susan Posten Ellerbee and I am the designated family genealogist.  I have been doing genealogy for 20+ years.  My primary research focus has been on the families of my parents and my parents-in-law, specifically:

  • Posten (dad’s family) – Northeast Pennsylvania & New Jersey with French origins on his mother’s side.
  • Tucker (mom’s family) – New York with German origins on her mother’s side.
  • Ellerbee (father-in-law’s family) – Texas, Alabama, Georgia with English & Scandinavian origins.
  • Johnson (mother-in-law’s family) – Texas, Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, with English & Irish origins.

I am starting this blog to catch up with my Genealogy Do-Over, hosted by Thomas MacAntee,   http://www.geneabloggers.com/tag/genealogy-do-over  

After 20+ years of genealogy, my files (both digital and paper) are a mess!  Re-organization and improving research techniques are the overall goals for the next year. 

My history as a genealogist

Like most of us, as a child, I heard family stories from mom, dad, grandparents and other relatives.  And, like many, I acted like I was interested then went on to other things.  As an adult, I had a unique opportunity when I decided to attend graduate school at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.  I attended a beginners’ genealogy class between formal courses and classwork.  I bought an early version of the Personal Ancestral File (PAF) program on a floppy disk for use on our now archaic 40 MB home computer. 

Finally, I began really listening to my parents and writing it down.  I also began tracking information from my in-laws.  The result was 4 notebooks, multiple pedigree charts and family group sheets.  The internet opened a entire new world of information and contacts.  Two children meant that genealogy work was intermittent, at best, during the next 10-15 years.  My parents’ deaths ( in 1998 and 2007) temporarily closed those sources of information.

In 2008, I asked for, and received a copy of Family Tree Maker software program.  At about the same time, I discovered the Ancestry online website.  My research became a little more organized.  Then, in 2010, a chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution was formed in our community.  Family oral history from my dad’s great-aunt showed a Revolutionary War patriot ancestor.  This would be easy!  Well, the named ancestor, Jacob Posten, might be related but I am not directly descended from him. That is a story for another time!  I was able to trace lineage to another Revolutionary War patriot through dad’s mother’s grandmother and I became an official Daughter of the American Revolution in 2011.  A first draft of dad’s family history was written and sent to his youngest sister, the last of the 6 children still alive.  (Note:  This history needs serious revision!)

Genealogy then turned to my in-laws, to fulfill a promise made to them.  The results were scrapbooks for each of them — a new hobby found!  I traced my father-in-law’s mother’s family to North Carolina in 1780s.  Branches of my mother-in-law’s family were traced to early 1800s/ late 1700s Maryland.

My research techniques became sloppy and scattered.  I relied mainly on one or two online websites and did not routinely check sources for consistency and reliability.  Research logs?  Practically non-existent.  Searching at 2:00 am for the father-in-law of  the stepson of a 3rd cousin?  Been there, done that!  Need a copy of a census record? Just print it, then discover that I already have 2 copies.  Which brings me to one purpose of this blog – to document progress in my Genealogy do-over.  

In my next blog, I will start with Month 1 activities.  See you then!