Genealogy priorities & short life expectancy

How would your genealogy goals change if you only had two years to live? What kind of genealogy legacy will you leave? This is what now confronts me as I have been diagnosed with a progressive neurologic disorder and a life expectancy of 2 to 5 years.

 Thirty years ago, my goal was to find all original immigrants. On my dad’s side, one immigrant, Anthony Desire LaCoe/LeCoq (1778, France – 1883, Pennsylvania) was identified by others. Mom’s oral history suggested, and since been confirmed, one immigrant, Valentine Maurer (1800, Germany – 1898, New York). Immigrant origins for my husband’s family remain speculative as British with Scandinavian roots have been  identified through DNA. My research identified one more on dad’s side (surname Ostrander from Holland) and one on mom’s side (surname Traver from Germany).  Another researcher discovered a French ancestor, surname Fayard, for my father-in-law. For my mother-in-law, a German ancestor with last name Krueger/ Creager seems likely. So, six immigrants out of at least 32 family lines.

 Now, given time constraints, I have to focus on more realistic goals.  My legacy plan now includes leaving more copies of each scrapbook, especially the paper scrapbooks.  Two copies of Ellerbee-Simmons books exist, i.e. the original and copies given to Papaw’s sister in July 2019.  Two copies of Johnson-Reed scrapbook exist, i.e. original and copy given to sister-in-law last year.

I have two print copies of the Posten narrative history written in 2012, with all of its flaws. But, the framework is there.  Five relatives received copies of this document. Digital copies of all reside on my computer and are saved to the Cloud.

 I focus again on the paper scrapbooks with these new goals for the rest of this year: 

  1. Make two copies of the Ellerbee- Simmons scrapbooks. One copy for sister- in- law and one copy for youngest son. Original scrapbook stays with  my oldest son.
  2. Make one copy of the Johnson -Reed scrapbook for youngest son. Original scrapbook stays with my oldest son.

In previous post, I outlined the specific steps needed before re-submitting article about mom’s family. Similarly,  goals for the paper scrapbooks require specific steps:

  1. Buy five 12×12-inch scrapbooks from local hobby/craft store. Wait for a sale! Prefer scrapbooks that come with 25-50 plastic sleeves.
  2. Buy additional archival quality plastic sleeves as needed.
  3. Buy 1 ream acid-free white paper from office supply store.
  4. Choose dominant color or decorative theme for each scrapbook.
  5. List sections for each scrapbook. Choose one design for the section dividers.
  6. Use personal scrapbook supplies (paper, labels, stickers, decorations, etc.) before buying more. FYI: I have 8 boxes and numerous pads of paper, lots of themed decorations.
  7. Enlist husband’s help as needed with cutting out designs.

My next goal –  create scrapbook/ memory book of Tucker-Maurer family including photos and documents. As of today, my plan is to use  a book format,  then print professionally. I created a short (20 page) version for my brother two years ago. This version includes more information.

Specific steps include:

  1. Outline specific information, such as family group sheets, to be included.
  2. Review blog posts; revise posts as needed and use in this memory book.
  3. Write family/ individual stories as needed.

I discussed all of this with my husband. He asked, “How important is it, really, to get published in a genealogic journal?” I submitted one article and received appropriate feedback from the editor. I will continue to collect birth, death and marriage certificates for that family line.  Those acquisitions strengthen my legacy. However, I also accept that I may not have time to fully address genealogic standards as required by the journal. I can continue to publish via my blog.

The last few months have been an emotional roller coaster. Rethinking my genealogic priorities is only one thing that we have to do. I cannot say enough how much I appreciate my husband and sons. FYI- yes, I have begun the process of getting my genealogical files and items in order. More about that later.

As I work on preservation rather than expansion, the character of my blog posts may change. There are many family stories to tell within the boundaries of my current work.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and  Posting Family Roots blog, 2021

One goal met; reset other goals

I did it! I finally submitted an article for consideration to a genealogic journal. My article was not accepted, but I am OK with that. The editor gave lots of great feedback with clear directions on how to proceed. I plan to work on revisions for that article. Over the last few months, priorities have changed for my genealogy work. In this post, I describe reasons for these changes.

In March 2021, I was diagnosed with a chronic, progressive disease and a life expectancy of two to five years. The disease eventually will disrupt my ability to write or use the computer. I already have limited use of my right arm and hand. This totally changes my genealogy goals. Article submission has been a goal for the last several years. Please note that I didn’t say “published,” although that would be nice! Now that the article has been submitted and reviewed, I can seriously reconsider my other goals. What is most important to finish? What is OK to leave for others?

My broad goals, i.e., to completely redo four different family lines, now seem unachievable. Some things will be left for future generations to do! Writing this blog has helped with cleaning up parts of every family line. I will do my best to continue my blog on a regular basis.

One specific project comes to mind. I haven’t specifically addressed this in my annual goals because I thought I had lots of time. But, with my current diagnosis, this project (actually a series of projects) becomes more urgent. The project involves scrapbooking.

Beginning in 2013, I created six genealogical scrapbooks– four in a traditional paper format and two in a digital format. Two paper scrapbooks were for father-in-law (Ellerbee and Simmons families). After Papa died, I made copies for Papa’s sister.  One paper scrapbook was for mother-in-law (Johnson-Reed families combined).  Last Christmas, Nana and I collaborated on a copy of that book for my sister-in-law. Fourth paper book was for my brother-in-law. One digital book was for my dad’s youngest sister about the Posten family. The second digital book was for my brother about our maternal grandmother’s family (Maurer).

As part of my legacy, I want to leave more than one copy of these scrapbooks, especially the paper scrapbooks. I already have two copies of the Posten narrative history that I wrote in 2014, with all of its flaws. But, the framework is there.  So, I change focus and reset my goals for the rest of this year.

New goals for the rest of this year: 

  1. Make two copies of the Ellerbee- Simmons scrapbooks. One copy for sister- in- law and one copy for son. Original scrapbook goes to my other son.
  2. Make one copy of the Johnson -Reed scrapbook for son. Original scrapbook goes to my other son. My sister-in-law received a copy of that scrapbook last Christmas.
  3. Create scrapbook/ memory book of Tucker-Maurer family including photos and documents.   Four to six copies – one for each son, one for my brother, one for nephew;  possibly copies for two cousins. Use blog posts as base.
  4. Contact lawyer and write will, including a specific genealogy will. My oldest son agrees to be caretaker of my genealogy work.
  5. Using editor’s suggestions as base, revise article about Maurer family. I will address specifics in another post.
  6. Resume work on other goals as time and energy permit.
  7. Tentative: Send copy of Posten-Richards book to Internet Archive for digital archiving. Note: I have two print copies of the Posten-Richards book that I wrote in 2014. I began a much-needed revision but seem to get easily distracted. I have new information to add. The citations, especially, need re-doing. I may have to leave the clean-up to someone else!

When those projects are done, I will look at my overall goals again and set priorities. No matter how much or how little I get done, genealogy paper and digital files are certainly in better shape than they were four years ago when I started the Genealogy Do- Over!

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots  blog, 2021