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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Happy Winter Solstice

In 2004, I had the opportunity to visit Newgrange in Ireland.  It is the "mound of the Winter Solstice".

Newgrange is located at what is now called The Brú na Bóinne, World Heritage Centre in Ireland.  It is at least 200 B.C. and there are indications in the area that is much older.  So, a little ancient Irish history is called for today, a day of the Winter Solstice.

Link to:  Newgrange

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Life and Genealogy

It has been a while since I posted to my blog.  I haven't worked much on my own family tree but have been keeping my research skills up, especially when it comes to

At the end of August and the beginning of September, I spent a few weeks working on the family tree belonging to a friend.  She was specifically seeking her mother's side of the family.  There's a mystery grandmother who's story still remains a such for now.  I was able to trace her grandfather's line back to a great great grandfather who was in the U.S. Marines during the Civil War.  Also, on her grandfather's side, I found her great grandparents who definitively immigrated from Ireland. We just aren't exactly sure where they were from in Ireland.

About 15 hours of work later, the research on her mother's line was evident for her grandfather while still a bit of a mystery for her grandmother.  I could probably keep right on going with her grandfather's line but the information would not come as quickly or easily.  Other research sources would certainly need to be sought after too.  At the point of her great great grandfather, I got the impression that her interested waned a bit.  The excitement that I glean from the discovery process is sometimes hard to pass along.

My other point in researching this friend's line was my belief that there was some disappointment in lack of actual findings on the grandmother's line.  The family had sketchy information about the grandmother.  They were thinking that a certain aunt raised two of the girls while they could not figure out where the grandmother was located.  I found the grandmother located with her girls, the aunt (her sister), and they were living with another aunt by the same first name (Mary).  It is not exactly clear who the older aunt is in the records.  She is, however, indicated as the parent on one of the girl's death record, despite the mother being in the picture during what appears to be a lot of her childhood and adulthood.

Records can be confusing.  What motivation did the one daughter have to indicate her mother as the old aunt on her death record rather than her real mother?  She must have told her children the name of her mother, right?  The information that I provided, which is source document facts, is probably still being digested by my friend.  She may even find it hard to weed through to make sense of things.

There are three city locations in Northern California where I'm sure more information can be found. A visit to a few a cemeteries and the local libraries would probably gain some specific information.
I definitely suggested a stop at a specific cemetery as the first place to try.

At this point, I can say that I have researched family trees for 4 different people besides myself with varying degrees of delight and interest from the person who requested the search.  As usual, some of the research results create more questions.  From County Galway, Ireland to Italian immigrants, I have enjoyed seeking out family roots for others.  Maybe I'll get a chance to do it again someday.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Where's Fall - Seems Like Summer Here!

My children started back to school on August 14th.  Between Fall Swim, soccer, Girl Scouts, tutoring (for my oldest), volleyball, yearbook (my volunteer job), and Sunday "church school", my children and I have been busy.  I can't forget to mention homework in there and a field trip or two.  It has been warm here in Northern California with very few days below 85 degrees for the mother of September or the first half of October.  It has been a bit unseasonably warm this year.

I will be carving out some time in November to work on my family tree.

Here are a few photos of what we have been up to.......

Students getting ready to pan for gold in Old Sacramento:

Fall Swim for my oldest girl...driving in:

Girl Scout Meeting:

Volleyball time:

Lassen Volcanoes National Park with 4th Grade:

Soccer time:

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Ice Buckets and ALS

The internet has powerful social media.   Kudos to the marketing prop known at the "Ice Bucket Challenge".  It has earned millions in support of finding a cure to ALS.  What more could you ask for?  I think the donations are appropriate.  The buckets have been very entertaining but lots of people have been called out.  Is this getting old?  Some are not into the physicality of getting wet, let alone with ice water.  Others have indicated that during a severe drought in California, we should not be wasting water.  What do I think?  I think we need to find a cure for ALS.  It hit so close to home in my family, even before I was born........

I can still see my grandpa sitting in his easy chair in his small mid-century bungalow in Napa, California.  He was reminiscing about his own father, Jack Flanagan.  John Francis "Jack" Flanagan was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease).  He passed away from it at his home (The Flanagan Ranch, Carneros District, Napa, California) on 20 May 1936.

My grandpa said that word was sent him while he was on the road playing baseball.  He played minor league in California at the time.  He returned home as quickly as possible.  The family said that Jack held on until he got there so that he could say goodbye to my grandpa.  Jack passed shortly after he said his goodbyes.

At the age of 58, Jack Flanagan (known in his family as Frank or Francis as a kid) passed away of this terribly, debilitating disease.  It attacks the body while the mind and memories stay sound.  It is unforgiving as it progresses.

Jack went from being a strong man to weak.  He was a farmer, auto mechanic, inventor (patented a plow implement), and loved to fish and hunt.  He was a total outdoors man but also held a certificate in mechanical engineering.  In fact, he was the service manager at a car dealership when cars were just starting to catch on at the turn of the century.  He even taught people how to drive.

So, in his memory and with all of the "bucket" challenges.  To Jack great grandfather.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Earthquake Hits Napa, CA 2014

Generally speaking, Californians are not too surprised when there is an earthquake.  A little shake here and there has been said to relieve some of the pressure in the ground near various fault lines.  While mother nature adjusts and moves, sometimes she shifts a little more than expected.

This past Sunday, August 24, 2014, there was a pretty significant earthquake in Napa, California.  The epicenter was in the marshland area near the Napa River off Milton Road, just west of the Napa Airport.  My mom said that's where my grandfather (Richard J. "Dick" Flanagan) used to go duck hunting.  There is a known fault line in this area.   It was a big shake at 3:20am and 6.1 on the Richter Scale.

So, how bad was that?  Well, for the 100+ year old buildings in downtown Napa, it was not so good.  It will take a lot time, money and effort to clean up the mess.  Some of the buildings will be repaired and retrofitted while some have been red tagged beyond repair.  There were lots of surprised people to see damage to buildings that had already been earthquake retrofitted.   However, those buildings might have actually fared a lot better than the broken windows and facades make them look presently.  Still, this will have a lasting impact on Napa.

While the downtown area struggles with damage to old historic buildings, my own relatives were just a little shaken.  My grandma's youngest sister (on my Borches - Vienop side) said her house was a mess.  Everything was on the floor and out of cabinets.  Just after the shaking stopped, she and her neighbors met out in the street to check on each other.  No one was hurt.   She was not looking forward to cleaning up all of the broken things inside her house.  Mind you, her house is spotless and she does not have clutter at all.   I would imagine most of the mess is in her kitchen.  She will be bummed to throw out some treasured kitchen wares for sure.  I am just very happy she is okay.

My grandma's other sister and her husband are in the late 80's and live just a short drive from my other aunt. My uncle was tossed out of bed during the shaking.  Their car in the garage moved about 2 feet and push a support beam off its mark.  They also had lots of broken glass.  Luckily, two of their sons were up for the weekend.  They had a garage sale the day before and the guys stayed the night.   Their guardian angels must have been watching over them.  They were able to clean up 15 buckets of broken glass and put it in the trash.  My aunt lost her stemware as they had crashed to the floor from the cabinet above the refrigerator.  They are just happy to be safe and sound.

The news continues to say that this is not the "big one" that is expected someday in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Who knows when that will happen.  Let me get out my crystal ball.  There is not senses waiting for it as it could take years or happen well have many of us have left this earth.

Anyway,  I wish the best for my Napa relatives and the community as a whole.  They seem to be taking it in stride.  Many people in this part of Northern California are pretty laid back after all when it comes to crisis and working through things.  Maybe the wine helps.  I hope that there is still plenty to go around.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Summertime 2014

I have fallen flat on my face with blogging about my genealogy.  I was hoping for lovely mornings this summer where I could wake up early and walk down the hallway into our home office and spent a few hours working on my family tree projects and sharing my discoveries here with anyone who actually reads my blog.

Well, the summer has proven to be a busy time.  I do dislike the word "busy".  People over use the word.  Being busy is all relative.  Let me rephrase things.  I have been preoccupied with my children's activities and having equal fun to my hobby of genealogy.

In addition to the full load of kid activities, I have witnessed a few milestones for various family members.  I had the privilege of attending a high school graduation party for my cousin (Borchers/Vienop side) and my in-laws 50th wedding anniversary celebration.

On a sad note, we lost my uncle on July 7th.  Attending his memorial service was a wonderful way to honor his memory.   Several people spoke about him.  He had the family passion for genealogy.  In fact, he had picked up the torch to blaze the trail in search of our Borchers and Vienop roots.  His successes live on in many boxes at his home and also online.  The real loss is that we will not see him again.  At the age of 80, Herb Borchers, Jr. has passed on.  Rest In Peace, Uncle Herb.

So, I share photos of the living, those who have passed, and the activities in my life this summer.  I am very grateful for my close friends and family.

My Kids swimming at their championship meet..............

Girl Scout Day Camp....I was the official photographer and both my girls attended......

Vacation in the desert with lots of swimming and some tourist stops.........

A mini-family reunion at my cousin's graduation party.......

Celebrating 50 years of marriage on the Elser side.............

Remembering Herb Borchers, Jr.........

Rest in Peace

Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - Saying Goodbye for Now.

It is time to let go.  I have exhausted the information search in this tool.  I almost think that I should keep my subscription going but then remind myself that I have not used it in over six months.  So, must go.

Instead, I have purchased Family Tree Maker and downloaded all of my various family trees from  I can't wait to start my clean up of these trees offline and utilize the publishing features within this software.

I have a few more weeks of my subscription.  I will probably take some time to make sure that the information that I've downloaded is complete.  After that, the trees I have online are what they are.  I have set the privacy settings on them to private and not searchable.  That does not mean my profile won't be found.  My profile has my email address with it.

My new project will be to embark on a more personalized family tree.  We will see where it takes me.  This blog will still be my portal to connect with others and distant family.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Year 4 of MYOG

This is year 4 of my blog!  I leave you with my first post ever below originally posted on June 14, 2010:

It begins with where you came from.

It begins with where you came from. Right? Well sure. You came from your parents after all. Where did they come from? The simple answer might be "their parents". As we all know this builds on itself and follows a line backward in time. The line also splits off to others, creating more branches. I suppose that's why it's called a Family Tree. Genealogy is more than that. In my opinion, it is the network of family histories that builds on each other. It can allow us to discover our national origins and others who are distantly, or not so distantly, related to us.

I am seeking to discover not just my family tree but a network of family who may be scattered across the United States and beyond, or who might be living in my neighborhood. Sometimes it disappoints me how family can lose touch over time. In another instant, I start to think about my own situation and how "busy, busy, busy" I am in my daily life. I run out of time to keep in touch, I suppose. Or is it a choice? Personalities can sometimes interfere as can life's experiences some of which are not so kind. They can really split up a family despite individual's best efforts to remain close. I see that in my own family line going back and find that some days I am confronted with it in my own expanded family dynamic.

Anyway, I thought I'd start a blog of sorts about genealogy called "Mine, Yours', and the Other Guy's Genealogy". I've been working on my family tree off and on since about 1990. In the past, whenever I had an opportunity to grab onto to some information, I took it. At the age of 19, I recall sitting at my grandparents dining room table in Long Island, New York, asking them about their parents and on up the line. I wrote the information down as quickly as I could on one sheet of paper. I remember my grandmother correcting my granddad on facts of his family line. It was pretty funny to witness. They knew each other very well along with all of those family members which they really weren't in contact with any longer. For various reasons, everyone seemed to have gone their own way. Maybe some individuals or families moved away, passed away, or just got "busy, busy, busy".

My mother recently gave me the sheet that she'd held onto for the past 20 years. It had some definite "hints" on it that I'd forgotten. I only wished that I'd asked for more information and written more down. On that day in the summer of 1990, I did receive a gift though......a gift of finding out where my dad came from. At least it was a start.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Ready, Set, Go!

I think that I am ready to jump back into my genealogy.  My only concern is where to start.  I have lots of loose ends to tie up and/or re-investigate.  I also have lots of photos go to through.  Additionally, my work will be at a slower pace.

A decision on whether to keep my subscription going or allow it to expire needs to be made.  Even if it expires, my family trees will continue to live online.  Some have mistakes and need fixing.  I have to decide what to work on next before the expiration.

Photos are my priority.  My grandma's photo album is not getting any better in the state that its in.  My mom's photo album seems to be in worse shape than the aforementioned.  Scanning of photos and building a private photo sharing site seem to be a priority.

Creating a second Shutterfly book about my family for my children is also on the list.  That can probably wait until the Fall.  I'd like to present the book as a Christmas gift.  It will be the second volume.  The first book was designed to be more of an introduction to our ancestors.  It easily shows the connections of family from one generation to the next in photos.  I may have more challenges on my father's side as there are fewer photos.

My blog...This blog could use some cleaning up.  I've got old posts with outdated information that seem to hit people's search engines before more updated blog posts show up.  This concerns me.  I began posting in 2010 when I knew little information about my family lines.  By 2012, I had more complete information about all of my family lines and started making posts with complete and corrected information.  I should archive my older posts and call it day.

As you can tell, I have some work ahead of me.  Photos will ultimately take first priority.  I am faced with the reality that my living relatives will not be around forever and the photos of the past delight people.  A picture is worth a thousand words.  It really is more than that.  A photo can stir memories of a time, a place, and people that we had forgotten.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Angel Island 2014


A view of the Golden Gate Bridge from Angel Island 

City by the Bay - What a view!

On Angel Island

San Francisco from Angel Island 
Ayala Cove Angel Island 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Pt. Reyes Lighthouse

We took another trip to Point Reyes National Seashore.

Pt. Reyes Lighthouse and surrounding area.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Fun in Northern California

Here's what I've been up too......It is field trip season at my children's school.

Pt. Reyes National Seashore:

Point Reyes Bird Observatory, Bolinas, CA

Earthquake Trail, Bear Valley, Pt. Reyes Station, CA
The shifted fence from the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake.

Limantour Beach, Pt. Reyes National Seashore.

Morgan Ranch at Bear Valley, Pt. Reyes National Seashore

Morgan Trail, Bear Valley, Pt. Reyes National Seashore 

At Divide Trail, Bear Valley, Pt. Reyes National Seashore

Duxbury Reef Tide Pools, Bolinas, CA 

Octopus, Duxbury Tide Pools 

Duxbury Reef at low tide 

Bear Valley Visitor Center

Pierce Point Ranch - Tule Elk
Reserve at Tomales Point 

Heart's Desire Beach, Tomales Bay State Park, Inverness, CA 

From Indian Beach, Tomales Bay State Park, Inverness, CA