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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Liberty Awaited Them

As I look through my list of ancestors who immigrated from Ireland and Germany, I can pick out a few who likely saw the Statue of Liberty while sailing into New York Harbor.  While many of my ancestors were already in the United States by 1886, I often wonder if my great grandparents', Patrick Hickey and Johanna Coughlin, first glimpse of the statue moved them.  They would definitely have seen her upon their arrival in 1904 and 1905 to New York City.

Some people including New Yorkers say that the statue is just a tourist trap.  I have heard this on more than one occasion from a New York City or Long Island resident.  For many of these people, the statue is something that they take for granted.  There are many a resident of New York who have never been to Liberty Island.  In their defense, when something is in your backyard, it is sometime considered the usual story of the day.

As a Californian with several New York City relatives in my past and a few trips there, I have ventured out to Liberty Island.  As part of the collection of tourists, I did get to see Lady Liberty on at least three occasions.  In 1980, I made it up to the pedestal and, in 1990, I made it to the top, the crown.  My 1984 trip to New York found me looking at her from a far with scaffolding surrounding her during the renovation.  I also went there in 1986 and can't remember going anywhere near lower Manhattan.  I might need to go back and check my photo albums.

So why do I bring all of this up now.  I was recently watching a show about wonders of the United States.  It included Yosemite, Yellowstone, and the Grand Canyon.  In relating this to my ancestors, I thought, "Those national parks are places that the majority of my ancestors never saw.  What wonders did they see?"  That's when the Statue of Liberty popped into my head.  It is a common "wonder" that many immigrants saw as they entered New York Harbor upon their arrival in the United States.

My own experience of awe for the Statue of Liberty was first felt as we rode the ferry out the island and saw her looming in the distance.  That is an amazing sight.  While I have been up in the statue and to the crown, the best view of her is standing at ground level looking up.  I got some amazing photos back in 1990.  I hope that I still have the negatives somewhere.   Here is one of the photos:

Copyright 1990, zelsersk

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

 "The New Colossus", by Emma Lazarus

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Was Castleconnell ever within the boundary of County Clare?

In researching my ancestors on the west coast of Ireland, I have found some interesting quirks along the way.  Whitegate, County Clare used to be in County Galway.  After the Griffith's Valuation was completed in and around 1869, the county line was laid out and Whitegate was then within the boundary of Clare.  With that appears to have come a shifting or name change to the Roman Catholic Parish that also contained this location.  In order to find records for the 1800s, you have to ask both the Clare Heritage Centre and the Galway counterpart to research your family line.

The above scenario is the case for researching my Hickey's, Minogues, and the other family surnames who's origins hug the border in the northeast corner of County Clare.  This makes research rather tricky.  Is this similar phenomenon what has transpired in Castleconnell, County Limerick for my O'Brien's?  I need to find out so that I know where to look for my family tree.

Last Fall 2010, I received a response to a message board post.  Someone had looked up RC (Roman Catholic) church records for County Limerick in Castleconnell.   They seemed to have found my great great grandmother's, Catherine "Kate" Mary O'Brien, birth/baptism record but indicated the most of the other records had not survived.  I have been thinking lately that the older records my be with County Clare.  Afterall, Kate indicated that she was from Castleconnell, County Clare, Ireland.  So, did I find another county line shift?   Does it have the same drastic impact to my research as that Clare/Galway line shift?  I wonder.   Am I looking in the right place?

When I look up Castleconnell in Wikipedia, I find it in County Limerick, along the River Shannon, and about 7 miles from Limerick City.  I have to pause here and take that in.  Mind you in 2004, I travelled through Limerick City, walked the streets, and had no idea that my ancestors had lived so close.  That is to say, close by today's stands.  In 2004, I knew little of where my Irish ancestors originated in Ireland, except for my Flanagan's in Louth.

Back to Castleconnell......Was it ever in County Clare?  When I look through the information on "Wiki", it doesn't say.  It does say that the village has a bridge that connects Limerick and Clare.  The historical information also mentions John FitzGibbons, the 1st Earl of Clare.  That's a lot of mention about Clare when you talk about Castleconnell.

In all seriousness, when I look at Castleconnell on Google Maps, I have to wonder if the village should be considered in County Clare.  It certainly looks that way.  I, however, am no authority on this subject but seek some truth in the matter.

A sheer Google search of "Castleconnell Clare Border" produces some genealogy discussions online about locating ancestors in county border towns of Ireland.   The overall suggestion is to check in both county's heritage centers.  It is possible that while your ancestors may have lived in one county, they spent their time in the town or village in the adjacent county for church and social events.  However, they would have been registered in the county in which they actually lived.

You've got to love those "border town ancestors".  I have two family lines who lived in border town/villages in Ireland.  It can make researching these lines even more interesting.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The O'Brien's, My O'Brien's

Recently, I received an email as a result of one my posts on   The message came through via RootsWeb which is apparently the precursor to the current Message Boards.  The person spotted my post about Edmund and Anne O'Brien, two of my 3G grandparents (that's great, great, great!).  The person was looking for Anne O'Brien.  His or her email was scant and did not indicate if they were looking for Anne O'Brien with O'Brien as her maiden name or not.

While I find these message board type emails to be quite random, I still respond to each and every one of them with the understanding and knowledge that I may never hear back from the person.  As a prudent move, I have started posting my email responses right here on my blog.  Below is my email response about my O'Brien's.

By the way,  I must express my intense dislike for researching passenger lists.  The email below included my one-by-one lookup of each O'Brien who arrived on the same date, ship, and location.  It was not an easy search but once I nailed it, I was able to figure out all of the O'Brien's who traveled together on that particular journey.  Did I find my correct O'Brien's?

The following is my email...............

Great to hear from you and I too am seeking more information about my O'Brien's.  They went from Ireland to Melbourne Australia in the 1850s!  

I have a little bit of information about my O'Brien's.  Where should I start?  My Ann O'Brien was born Ann/Anne Gleeson/Gleason.  She married Edmund O'Brien.  They were from an area near Castleconnell, Ireland or in Castleconnell.  They left for Australia in 1854.   This information was provided by my great great grandmother, Kate O'Brien Flanagan to her children and grandchildren.  Luckily, the information was retained by her oldest grandchildren, my great Aunt Ellen and Aunt Kay.  They in turn, shared this information with my grandfather, their brother, Richard J. Flanagan. 

Now, my great great grandmother, Catherine "Kate" Mary O'Brien (her married last name was Flanagan) always indicated that she was from Castleconnell, County Clare, Ireland.  She was born on May 19, 1843, immigrated to Australia with her family in 1854, and immigrated with her future husband, Patrick Flanagan (who was originally from Termonfeckin, Louth, Ireland) to San Francisco, CA in 1870.  From what I can gather, the rest of her O'Brien family remained in Australia, most likely.  Pat and Kate Flanagan lived in Napa, CA.  Kate died in 1928. 

When I look at Castleconnell, I find it in County Limerick these days.  I have not done much research on a possible county line shift which may have occurred around the completion of the Griffith's Valuation circa 1869.  I found another County Clare line shift in the northeast corner of Clare along the Galway border for another of my Irish Family lines.  I bring this up because the county line shifts (which appear to be slight here and there in Ireland) do make a difference when you go to hunt for information.   If you have anything about this, feel free to share it.   Castleconnell is a definite place to find O'Brien's (and a lot of them) in Ireland.  There is apparently a bridge there called O'Brien's Bridge. 

I have tried to trace my Edmund and Anne O'Brien in Australia but have found much difficulty because I am challenged with the geography there.  In other words, I know little about geography in Australia and New Zealand.  I live in Northern California near Sacramento.  I have some scant references to places in Australia and New Zealand in several letters including some written by my great great grandmother, Kate O'Brien Flanagan.  My great great grandfather, Pat Flanagan, was there for the "Gold Rush Down Under".  He went all over mining and wrote letters to Kate.   I think that I found the O'Brien's on a passenger list into Melbourne.  I think that I found Edmund with his wife Ann and his brother with his wife and each couple's children but I'm not sure which children belong to each couple.  See below....Sorry that it might be hard to read.....copy/paste did not work so well.

I have three photos of Kate O'Brien and a possible photo of a brother named Peter O'Brien.  I'm not sure about Peter though.   I've determined that the "Uncle Peter" in the photo that I have is not a Flanagan, so he must be Kate's brother Peter.  I have a letter referencing when a brother of hers visited her in Napa, CA from Australia. 

I hope that this is not all that there is to find.   I haven't gotten further with my research on my O'Brien and Gleeson line.  By the way,  Kate herself indicated that her mother's name was Anne Gleeson.  I hope this helps some.  Let me know what you think.  Thanks.

Victoria, Australia, Assisted and Unassisted Passenger Lists, 1839–1923
Immigration & Travel View Image Preview Name:
Michael Obrien Estimated birth year: abt 1811 Age: 43 Arrival Date: 9 Jun 1854 Arrival Port: Melbourne, Australia Departure Port: Plymouth Ship: Parsee Nationality: Irish and Scottish Take a look at the picture to see even more. See more Name: Michael Obrien Birth: abt 1811 Departure: Plymouth Arrival: 9 Jun 1854 - Melbourne, Australia Victoria, Australia, Assisted and Unassisted Passenger Lists, 1839–1923 Immigration & Travel View Image Name: Edmund Obrien Birth: abt 1812 Departure: Plymouth Arrival: 9 Jun 1854 - Melbourne, Australia Victoria, Australia, Assisted and Unassisted Passenger Lists, 1839–1923 Immigration & Travel View Image Name: Bridget Obrien Birth: abt 1816 Departure: Plymouth Arrival: 9 Jun 1854 - Melbourne, Australia Victoria, Australia, Assisted and Unassisted Passenger Lists, 1839–1923 Immigration & Travel View Image Name: Run Obrien -- ANN Birth: abt 1816 Departure: Plymouth Arrival: 9 Jun 1854 - Melbourne, Australia Victoria, Australia, Assisted and Unassisted Passenger Lists, 1839–1923 Immigration & Travel View Image Name: Margaret Obrien Birth: abt 1841 Departure: Plymouth Arrival: 9 Jun 1854 - Melbourne, Australia Victoria, Australia, Assisted and Unassisted Passenger Lists, 1839–1923 Immigration & Travel View Image Name: Ella Obrien Birth: abt 1842 Departure: Plymouth Arrival: 9 Jun 1854 - Melbourne, Australia Victoria, Australia, Assisted and Unassisted Passenger Lists, 1839–1923 Immigration & Travel View Image Name: Catherine Obrien -- KATE Birth: abt 1843 Departure: Plymouth Arrival: 9 Jun 1854 - Melbourne, Australia Victoria, Australia, Assisted and Unassisted Passenger Lists, 1839–1923 Immigration & Travel View Image Name: Eliza Obrien Birth: abt 1844 Departure: Plymouth Arrival: 9 Jun 1854 - Melbourne, Australia Victoria, Australia, Assisted and Unassisted Passenger Lists, 1839–1923 Immigration & Travel View Image Name: John Obrien Birth: abt 1845 Departure: Plymouth Arrival: 9 Jun 1854 - Melbourne, Australia Victoria, Australia, Assisted and Unassisted Passenger Lists, 1839–1923 Immigration & Travel View Image Name: Michael Obrien Birth: abt 1845 Departure: Plymouth Arrival: 9 Jun 1854 - Melbourne, Australia Victoria, Australia, Assisted and Unassisted Passenger Lists, 1839–1923 Immigration & Travel View Image Name: Susannah Obrien Birth: abt 1847 Departure: Plymouth Arrival: 9 Jun 1854 - Melbourne, Australia Victoria, Australia, Assisted and Unassisted Passenger Lists, 1839–1923 Immigration & Travel View Image PreviewName: Michael Obrien Estimated birth year: abt 1849 Age: 5 Arrival Date: 9 Jun 1854 Arrival Port: Melbourne, Australia Departure Port: Plymouth Ship: Parsee Nationality: Irish and Scottish Take a look at the picture to see even more. See more Name: Michael Obrien Birth: abt 1849 Departure: Plymouth Arrival: 9 Jun 1854 - Melbourne, Australia

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 - A Moment, A Memory, A Memorial

Recently, I was looking through some old photo albums trying to decide how best to preserve the photos.   After many years, some of my photos are diminishing, if not degrading more than I'd ever expected.  My visit to NYC in 1990 is no exception.  The photos still look pretty good but I can see where they are starting to fade.

Below is a ground level shot of the World Trade Centers that I took on my trip.  I know that I had photos from up on the roof platform but I just don't know where they are right now.

In honor of the day, I have this photo.

The Twin Towers of the World Trade Center 1990 C. zelsersk

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Gartlan and Fox Family Research

I do love when someone contacts me about one of my family lines, especially, one that I am familiar with and actively researching.  Recently, someone contacted me about Thomas Fox and his family line out of Newport, New York.  It got me thinking and digging a bit.  Below are some notes that I quickly put together for my new contact.  By the way, Thomas Fox (of the Irish Settlement in Newport, New York circa 1820s-1858) is my 4th great grand uncle.  His sister, Hannah, was my 4th great grandmother.
It seems apparent to me and several other McLaughlin researchers that the Gartlan and Fox families from the Irish Settlement in Newport, New York had close family ties even back to Ireland in County Monaghan.  I can honestly say that my Fox and Gartlan research has been gathered from a few others who dug deep looking for my McLaughlin's and Gartlan's of Newport, New York.  They could not help but find the Fox's there but did not do too much extensive research at the time on the Fox and the Gartlan Lines.  Much of the research was from Roman Catholic Church records, U.S. Census, and immigration paperwork.  I do not actually have all of those source documents but I do have the family tree information. 

So here is what I know...........

1.  James Gartlan (b. 1777, Carrickmacross) and his wife, Hannah Fox Gartlan (b.1785, Clontibret) were married in Ireland and then immigrated to the U.S. via Quebec, Canada to the Irish Settlement in Newport, Herkimer County, New York in the 1820s.  Hannah is scarcely indicated  in Newport, New York because the U.S. Census only indicated the head of the household (the man in the family) until 1850.  Hannah died before the census in 1850.  She died on 9 Feb 1850 and is buried in the Irish Settlement Cemetery.  James Gartlan lived a long life and it is fairly easy to locate him in Herkimer County until he passed away.  I can pull U.S. Census and find him except in 1860.  For some reason that year evades me.  

2.  The 1830 U.S. Census is very interesting while it is brief with information.  Page 23 of 26 for the New York, Herkimer, Newport, 1830 U.S. Census, has 7 of my ancestors listed all on the same page.   What you might find interesting is that James Gartlan (his wife is counted here - Hannah Fox) is immediately followed by Thomas Fox and Michael Fox on the census.  Coincidence?  I really don't think so.  Based on information that I have gathered, Hannah, Thomas, and Michael Fox were siblings.   They are all buried in the Irish Settlement Cemetery with Hannah indicated by her married name, Hannah Gartlan.  Women do seem to get lost in history, don't they?

3.  James Gartlan and Hannah Fox's children were Mary Ellen Gartlan, Francis "Frank" Gartlan, and Hugh Gartlan.  Those children were all born in Ireland.  I actually have a photo of Mary Ellen Gartlan McLaughlin.   James Gartlan and Hannah Fox are my 4G great grandparents and Mary Ellen Gartlan McLaughlin (spouse was James McLaughlin) is my 3G grandmother.  I also have Mary Ellen's obituary.

4.  The 1850 U.S. Census for Newport, New York (page 32) had James Gartlan with his two son's (Frank and Hugh) living with them but also a James Fox (age 20) and a Margaret Fox (age 15).   I'm thinking they are James and Hannah's niece and nephew but I'm not sure.  Mary Ellen Gartlan Mclaughlin is indicated on the same page with her family.  It seems to me that the Gartlan's and Fox's stuck pretty close together in the early generations that immigrated.

5.  When Thomas Fox died in 1858, Hugh Gartlan helped his aunt, Nancy Davis, in settling his will/estate.  That information did come from another Fox or McLaughlin researcher. 

I was recently sent information of where one of the Gartlan's children was born but I need to find that email.   I've been thinking that if I find the Gartlan's in Ireland, I'll probably find the Fox's, or vice versa.  Gartlan is actually an incredibly common name in Carrickmacross, County Monaghan, Ireland.  I wonder if it might be easier to find the Fox's in Clontibret which is just up the road!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Gartlan's of Carrickmacross, Ireland, and Newport, New York - Part 2

It is incredibly wonderful and interesting when research leads you to somefacts and photos about and of ancestors.  My own research has led me to other researchers who probably spent hours traveling and locating our ancestors.  I thank them for their leg work and hope that their travels were fun and exciting.  The thrill of "discovery" is very rewarding.  My best discoveries as of yet have been in person but online works well too.

One fulfilling discovery moment was receiving a photo of Mary Ellen Gartlan who was the daughter of James Gartlan and Hannah Fox.  Her brother's were Hugh and Francis Gartlan.  Mary Ellen's uncles were those Fox brothers including Thomas Fox.  Mary Ellen Gartlan was my great, great, great grandmother who married James McLaughlin of Newport, New York at the Irish Settlement.  If anyone recognizes these names, you must contact me if you haven't already.

The following is Mary Ellen Gartlan McLaughlin's photo, courtesy of Paul T. McLaughlin.  Again, Paul is fine with being revealed here in my blog.  Thank you Paul!


For my own direct line, she was the mother of my great great grandfather, Thomas Michael  McLaughlin.  For Paul's line she is the mother of his grandfather, Maurice (Morris) McLaughlin.

Another bit of information that I've run across in gathering my research is that of one Hannah Gartlan.  She was the daughter of Hugh Gartlan and Mary Ann McLaughlin Gartlan.  While there is no record of her getting married or having children, she was a school teacher, school superintendent, college dean, and a mystery writer.  She was a first cousin to my great great grandfather, Thomas Michael McLaughlin.

In some recent information gathering, a Gartlan researcher sent me the birth record information for Hugh Gartlan (son of James Gartlan and Hannah Fox).   Hugh was born 3 Dec 1822, Ballyfery, County Monaghan, Ireland.  I must admit that this is the first that I've seen of a more exact location for my Gartlan's in Ireland.  Unfortunately, there is no such townland in County Monaghan,  I can only guess that it was the address or title of the property where the Gartlan's lived in and around Carrickmacross.

I do now have access to a general group of Gartlan researchers.  While they may or many not be my direct line, they are Gartlan descendants from a few different James Gartlan's of Carrickmascross, County Monaghan, Ireland.  I follow a blog which has proven to be a good read for me in understanding the Gartlan line in general.  It is as follows:
Gartlan Families from Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan, Ireland

At this point, I conclude my blog post to summarize my Gartlan research.  I do think that I am far from concluding this research, however.  I hope to find more about James Gartlan and Hannah Fox.  Waiting a while might help some new information show up.  It's worked in the past!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Gartlan's of Carrickmacross, Ireland and Newport, New York - Part 1

In my quest to trace my family tree, I have pursued my Gartlan line on occasion.  After all, James Gartlan, one of my 4th great grandfathers, is easy to find on census based in the Irish Settlement from 1830-1870.  The page of the 1830 U.S. Census, where he is indicated as living in Newport, New York, also includes Michael McLaughlin, another one of my 4th great grandfathers.  He is listed four lines above James on the same page.  There are also other McLaughlin and Fox relatives of mine listed on that very same page.  I have to wonder if Martin Gartlan, who is listed directly above James, is another Gartlan relative.  Talk about a small town and community.....That definitely describes Newport, New York.

I could reiterate and rehash my information about the Irish Settlement right here in this post but my real desire is to push back further in time on my Gartlan line.  It seems clear and obvious to me that if I can find my Fox line in Ireland, I will probably find the correct Gartlan line there too.  James' wife was Hannah Fox.  They married in Ireland before they immigrated to the U.S. in the 1820s.  The best information that I have about their location in Ireland is that James was from Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan, Ireland and Hannah Fox was from Clontibret, Co. Monaghan, Ireland.  Is that all I've got?  I might have a little more.

Researching female ancestors presents a challenge at times.  This why you've got to build your research around a location, community and the family unit.  While James Gartlan and Hannah Fox Gartlan immigrated to the Irish Settlement, Newport, New York in the 1820s, it would appear that they were not alone.  Did a Martin Gartlan come with them or end up there?  Thomas Fox ended up there.  He was Hannah's brother.  I have a tidbit to share in the minute.  There is also a Michael Fox buried in the old Irish Settlement cemetery where Thomas Fox and James Gartlan are buried.  Hmmmm.....I think I found the location, family, and the community.  Can I track these people back to Ireland?  At least I have more than one person to look for.

According to another Fox researcher, when Thomas Fox passed away in 1858, Hugh Gartlan (James' son and Thomas' nephew) helped Thomas' wife, Nancy Davis, handle the will/estate.  It would appear that the Gartlan's and Fox's were close.  The Gartlan's are also very much linked to the McLaughlin's of Newport, New York but that appears to have originated in Newport, New York as opposed to Ireland.

I would like to try and find my Gartlan's and know that the Fox's are a lead for me in that respect.  I may need to track my Fox ancestors first to find the Gartlan's.  Fox is somewhat of a common name but Gartlan is even more common in the area of County Monaghan, Ireland that I seek.  I have found numerous people online researching at least five to six James Gartlan's from the Carrickmacross area.  They may all be related.  Those darn naming patterns seem to have kept the "James Gartlan" name going in numbers.

How close am I to finding my Gartlan and Fox ancestors?

To be continued.......................

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Status - My Family Tree Lines

Here's a quick status of my family tree research.

Recent Research:

(Currently reviewing these trees.)

On a break:
1-McGuire (includes McGrath)

Haven't started:

Always in pursuit:
(I am reviewing these trees too.)

Have more to read and research:

That kind of sums it up for now.  It can change at any moment as information presents itself!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Genealogy and Computer Advice

About a month ago I started updating my genealogy research online, saving photos and documents onto a separate hard drive, and scanning anything that I have in paper form.  Am I done?  Not exactly.  While this is quite the task, there is another task that interfered with my progress of organizing, simplifying, and backing up my family tree research.  The interfering culprit was the computer itself.

Around the beginning of August, we decided that the whole system needed to be backed up onto an external hard drive because the computer had been "acting funny".  By the way, the computer that I am talking about is a rather "sup'd up" system with a quad four processor and some other goodies.  I'm not really a computer tech but my hubby is pretty well versed in these things.  He's an architect and his systems at work and home need to be able to run AutoCAD and Revit.  Let's just say those programs require "a lot" of a computer.

We did avoid the computer crashing but not without having it only backup about 98% of the information onto the external hard drive.  Let's just say that the 2% appears to my husband's stuff and not my genealogy.  That backup still exists but I have a much more organized external hard drive that houses all of my photos and genealogy research.   I spent a number of hours moving all of my research off the main "C" drive of the computer.  By the way, it was the "C" drive that was going bad.  As I wiped it clean of my information, I found some good things along the way and hope I found everything.  Only time will tell if I missed something.  I've still got that other backup but dread having to filter through it to find any missing information. 

In the hopes of retaining all of my research, and am not sure that I have, I am happy to say that I do have some redundancies of stored information and some advice to offer.  Here's my list below:

1.  Don't store information in Outlook.  This is a lesson learned by many time and time again.  Starting back in 2004 or so, my previous employer limited the space and time frame of available emails in Outlook to discourage people from storing information in that program.  I should have known to carry over that practice to my home computer.  My husband has indicated that Outlook will crash and lose data if it hits 2GBs.  Watch out for this because you can lose your address book too.  My husband exports and saves our address book every couple of months so that we don't have to "recreate the wheel" and find people's emails all over again.

2.  Back-up, Back-up, Back-up.  It is always prudent to back-up your computer.  You should do it weekly for personal information and businesses should do it every night at the end of the work day.  Does everyone do this?  No and I forget to also.  Having a redundant location for information is a good idea including storing it online like on a blog, a photo sharing site, or even on a website designed for storage.   There is also the option of storage disks including CDs, DVDs, Blu-Ray, and hard drives.  I suppose you could also print or publish the information but that kind of defeats the purpose of saving paper, the environment, and shelf space.  I am all for books but all of the "nitty-gritty" that was gathered to get to the final family tree does not really need to be published in paper form too!

3.  Family Tree and the Computer.    While maintaining your family tree on your computer with the appropriate software is the preference of many,  I prefer to maintain it online.  I think that is a bit of a personal preference.   At some point, I will download my tree off and save it on a disk but I need to be in a good "finished" place for a specific line to do that.  I enjoy having my tree on because it is a living document.  There is no pun intended by saying "living" while most of the people have passed on and are my ancestors.  By "living document", I mean that it can be changed, updated, and added to at any time.

On point three, I'd love to hear what people's opinion is.   Also, I'd really like to know what people do to save their blog.  My blog exists only online and I need a solution to back that up.  I don't want to lose the information and all that I've written in my online genealogy diary.