Midyear review, June 2020

Time for midyear review of my 2020 genealogy goals. My overall assessment?  Distracted. Minimal focus. Why? Multiple factors but nothing specific. I feel like I am in a rut. I have run out of steam to complete various projects.  Due to possible impact of Corona virus? We are blessed that none of our immediate family here have been directly affected. One of my second cousins, who lives in another state, contracted the virus but isolated at home. An elderly relative suffered other health problems and the doctor deferred hospitalization due to Corona virus.  She required 24/7 in-home care for several weeks.  

I feel overwhelmed by the constant negative reports on the news. Perhaps that negativity bubbles over into my genealogy work?  I continue to do some genealogy every day but lack momentum. Current work seems rote and routine – complete family group records, create and fill in research logs, clean up paper and digital files. Yet, these tasks are necessary to leave a coherent trail.

As I review my 2020 goals, I have made progress. I completed some goals quickly- copying BMD certificates from a Posten relative and responding to cousin requests for Tucker family.  I sent my DNA to a third company based on request from a possibly related Posten descendant with Pennsylvania ties. Result? No shared DNA. But, we are still hopeful for a common ancestor!   

Family cookbook project is almost done. So far, about 1/3 of total recipes are desserts. Shows obvious preference of our family and friends!

I received death certificate for Mom’s great grandmother, Anna Wolf Klee Mϋller/ Miller.  Anna died in 1883 at New York City. I plan to write a blog post about the process and information on that certificate. Two death certificate requests, both from New York, are still pending. New York state has so many other issues than responding to genealogical requests!  Because of Corona virus, I will defer making any more requests this year.  

I started work (again!) on revising Posten history, initially written in 2012. Last year, I took an online genealogy writing course and revised outline for book. I realized how sketchy much of the information is. I am still looking for Thomas Postens in 1830 and 1840. This entails page-by-page search of those census records because Ancestry and Family Search yield no hints, even when I use variations and asterisks. No results found in Northampton, Monroe or Pike counties, Pennsylvania. Expanding search to nearby counties- Bucks, Chester, Luzerne, Wayne.  I carefully document my search efforts and results.

I admit to following some rabbit trails in this search. I found some leads about Richard Postens and William Postens, either of whom could be Thomas’ father.  I may have found three daughters of Richard Postens – Elena (baptized 1774), Jane (born 1785) and Elizabeth (born circa 1795-1802).

Last week,  I followed a rabbit trail for Cornelius Postens who lived in Huntingdon county, Pennsylvania. Huntingdon county is in western part of the state. Cornelius was born about 1778 in Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Rachel, had at least three children- John, James and Charles. Cornelius died about 1852. I am still piecing their story together. The Huntingdon County branch could be related to Dad’s family.  

I am keeping a personal Corona Virus diary that I do not plan to publish. Daily entries have been reduced to once a week, or even less. I scanned and added articles from our local newspaper.  Perhaps one of my descendants will find it interesting.  I will probably print it and place with other personal papers at some point in the future.

To review, perhaps I have made more progress than I thought. My initial feeling of inertia is gradually being replaced by slow and steady.  Daily research efforts aren’t totally without focus but have been scattered between different families. My original set of 26 goals now seems too ambitious.  I continue to forge ahead.

As usual, writing my blog post helped. I see where I’ve been and the progress that I’ve made.  Emotionally, I still feel overwhelmed but less so. What did I learn from this reflection?

  • Recognize the challenges to identify family members who lived in late 1700s and early 1800s. 
  • Re-focus, set a specific research goal for each session.
  • Work in short spurts – maybe only 20-30 minutes at a time instead of hours! 
  • Keep extensive notes.
  • Review information already in files before each session (i.e., avoid duplication).  
  • When a specific goal seems unattainable or gets me bogged down, take a break then work on another question.

Apparently, others are experiencing similar issues.  Read Thomas MacEntee’s “10 Ways to Jumpstart Your Genealogy”, posted 4 June 2020. https://genealogybargains.s3.amazonaws.com/10+Ways+to+Jumpstart+Your+Genealogy.pdf

Blog posts that I found helpful:

Amy Johnson Crow, “Avoiding distractions in our genealogy”, blog post, 19 August 2019, Modern Genealogy Made Easy  (https://www.amyjohnsoncrow.com/avoiding-distractions-genealogy/  :    accessed 4 May 2020).

Amy Johnson Crow, “Genealogy Research:  The WANDER Method,” blog post, 17 January 2020, Modern Genealogy Made Easy  (https://www.amyjohnsoncrow.com/genealogy-research-process-wander-method/  :  accessed 4 May 2020).

“The Shiny Object Syndrome in Genealogy and How to Cure It,” blog post, 28 January 2019, Family History Foundation (https://familyhistoryfoundation.com/2019/01/28/shiny-object-syndrome-in-genealogy-how-to-cure-it/  : accessed 8 June 2020).

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2020

White carnations on Mother’s Day 2020

Mother’s Day 2020.  A bittersweet day in the midst of the Corona virus pandemic.  With social distancing, many mothers receive only virtual hugs from their children.  For others, like myself, I wish that I could even do that. My mother died in January 2007. My image for the day is carnations, honoring mothers.

Facts about Mother’s Day:

  • 1914:  Woodrow Wilson signed law recognizing 2nd Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. Anna Jarvis is honored as the woman who began the tradition of wearing flowers to honor our mothers.  Source: “Mother’s Day 2020”, https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/mothers-day)
  • Carnations are associated with motherhood traits including faith and charity. A red flower shows  respect for a living mother.  A white carnation remembers a mother who has died. Some people prefer pink as a sign of gratitude.  Source: Tradition of Red & White Flowers on Mother’s Day  (https://www.proflowers.com/blog/red-white-flowers-mothers-day )

I am also thinking about all of the mothers in my family tree.   Women who bore sons and daughters and eventually became our ancestors.  Our family’s heritage reflects the diversity that is America.

  • My mother’s mother, Amalie Charlotte Maurer, granddaughter of German immigrants.
  • My dad’s mother, Jennie Ash Richards, granddaughter of a woman who died a week after giving birth to her only child, a son. The woman’s ancestors included early Dutch settlers of New York.
  • My mother-in-law’s mother, Mabel Venette Reed, descendant of a Revolutionary War Patriot whose family originally came from England.
  • My father-in-law’s mother, Clara Doris Simmons, great-granddaughter of Georgia planters with English and Irish origins.

 I don’t have any famous women in my family tree. But, each was famous in their own right. Without each of those women who became mothers, I and my husband would not be here.  I believe that all of my fore-mothers showed a strength of spirit and endurance.  They cared for the daily needs of their family and looked to the future.

To finish, I’m reminded of an old poem written by Rosemary Benet, “If Nancy Hanks came back as a ghost”. Nancy Hanks, Abraham Lincoln’s mother, died when Abe was 9 years old.

So, I salute all mothers and tell them that their children did, indeed, “get on”.

“White carnations on Mother’s Day 2020,” Blog post, Posting Family Roots, 11 May 2020