Sunday, September 28, 2014

Visit to San Bruno NARA

Last January, through my genealogical society, Livermore-Amador Genealogical Society, I organized a trip to the San Bruno National Archives for four of us. Although I contacted them early, due to budget cuts, they no longer do tours and had limited help for us that day. Rather, they sent plenty of information for us to do our own homework and order what we needed before our trip.

The Archives opened at 7:30 a.m. on the chosen day, but, as we come from the East Bay, we decided to leave much later and arrived around 10 AM. While we all looked through the catalog before our trip, only two of our group located items in the online catalog and called ahead to have it ready.

Because they'd called ahead with the information, when we arrived, their items were waiting for them in the secure room. They hit jackpots, while my non-lucky partner and I learned that all we really had to do that day was use Ancestry, Heritage Quest, and Fold3 on the public access computers. There isn't much available if you don't have special catalog items.

The two who were lucky were able to use the special secure room and make copies of the immigration files they found. When they were done, we left for lunch and decided there was no need to return after. There is a mall with a restaurant (BJs) right down the street. We ate there, discussed our finds (and non-finds) and then drove back to our side of the Bay.

While I wasn’t successful in my trip to the Archives this time, I do know that the Archives in St. Louis has a treasure trove for me. So the tools I learned for this trip will help me in my someday trip to St. Louis.

The San Bruno National Archives has a self-service microfilm-to-paper copy machine at $.60 per page. The paper-to-paper copies are $.25 per page. Payment can be made by cash, check or credit card after you complete your project. There is a two-hour limit when people are waiting.

Here is a link to make your trip more successful that our group used: 

The catalog link is here:

And here is a list of some of the holdings:

Holdings include:
  • Records generated by Federal courts and agency field offices in California (Northern and Central), Nevada, Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, former Trust Territory of Pacific Islands (Marchall, Caroline and No. Mariana).
  • Records of U.S. Navy bases on foreign territory in the Pacific and Far East.
  • Asian-Pacific immigration
  • Environmental and natural history
  • Naval and military activity in the Pacific
  • American Indian experience
  • Federal population censuses for all States, 1790-1930
  • Indexes for the 1880, 1900, 1910, and 1920 censuses (indexes are not available for all census years and all states)
  • Censuses listing residents of American Samoa and Native Americans in California and Nevada
  • Records documenting the removal of Cherokees and other tribes included in Oklahoma Removal, ca. 1900
  • Passenger arrival records for the port of San Francisco
  • Indexes to naturalization records from Federal courts in Honolulu, Reno (NV) and San Francisco
  • Maritime records for San Francisco and other ports
  • Revolutionary war military service records
  • Early pension and bounty land warrant applications Galveston, Philadelphia, and San Francisco
  • Naturalization records
  • Chinese Immigration and Chinese in the United States

If I were to go again, I'd do the following:
  1. Take BART.  It was fine to drive, but we did have a bit of traffic.
  2. Have a plan, including calling ahead to make sure that they had something I needed.
  3. Have another place to visit.  I don't think it required all day, so a visit to Sutro on the same trip would have made it a full, productive day.
  4. Unless it's St. Louis, as I know I'd have enough to spend a full (few) day(s) there.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Great Grandparents

Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings posted this week’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun. Usually I don’t get to play along because of the 804 things that we do on Saturday’s but today I’ve been procrastinging doing genealogy research (because I don’t seem to remember how) but doing things like updating my iPad and iPhone, Feedly blogs, etc. I saw this come through and decided to jump in, since these are my favorite pictures.

From Randy:
Here is your assignment if you choose to play along (cue the Mission Impossible music):

1)  Dana Leeds on the Enthusiastic Genealogist blog asks "
Did/Do Your Children Know Any of Their Great-Grandparents?"

2)  I thought that would be a great Saturday Night Genealogy Fun question - so please share your response with us in a blog post of your own, in a comment on this blog post, or in a Facebook or Google+ post.

3)  For extra credit, or in case the answer is "No," then please answer the question for yourself, or your parents.
Signa and William both still have a great grandparent alive and both know and love him. My grandfather, the title star of my previous book, The Duke of Mixager, is alive and well. I’m sad to say that none of my other grandparents were alive to meet my children, though.

For me, however, I am lucky enough to have met my 2nd great grandfather and to have known two great grandparents very well. I’ve featured their photos several times before, but here they are again:

Orville "Tom" Conner and Anna Konst Conner (my great grandparents)

I have a photo charm bracelet with my dad, my grandpa, my great grandpa and my 2nd great grandpa and then this photo of all of us:

Pierre Conner (my grandfather), Orville "Tom" Conner (my great grandfather), William Mason Conner (my 2nd great grandfather, Harry Conner (my dad), and me.

William Mason Conner (2nd great grandpa) and me

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

New Website
A few weeks ago I took an online class about blogging via Hack Genealogy. It really sparked me to do something I’ve been only contemplating for over a year. REDO MY WEBSITE. Not really the website, but the structure and organization. I still have a ton to do, but here is what you will now find…

If you visit my usual home page (, you will get to my main site, which now actually leads somewhere! All my blogs and information are drilled off of that. This has helped me so much, as I didn’t have a ground before. I had my family webpage and my genealogy one and then wanted to do a homeschool one, as well. But it was disjointed and made me not want to do any of it.

So now you can visit and get to my family blog (, my genealogy blog (, and to my homeschool blog ( In doing this, I’ve also changed the structure of the sidebars and other items. I think it’s much nicer and easier to work with. And easier to write on, as well! So expect some posts.


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

I Was on Best of... !

I'm so thrilled and honored! Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings named my blog post about Serendipity and Dad and Vera's Chicken Wings and Peas in the Best Of last week! Seriously! Me! Mentioned by a famous person!

I did a little dance.


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Serendipity. Or Thanks, Dad.

Dad called me on a Wednesday evening.  Wednesday, August 22, 2012 to be exact.  He told me that he’d decided to stop his dialysis treatments.  We all knew this meant not only limited time, but marked time, so my brother and I jumped on a plane to Oregon that Friday.  We stayed the weekend and had a wonderful time.  He was in the best spirits and absolutely unafraid.  He was happier than I’d seen him in years and we talked about “after.”  Having not grown up with many beliefs, this was a new topic for us.  We also talked about genealogy, which was not a new topic for us.  My dad and I were the genealogists of the family, often emailing for hours over our findings.  I asked him to look up Miles Price when he “got there” and find a way to send me his parents’ names so that I would know it was from him and know he was okay.  He laughed and said he’d do what he could.  I knew that if I found something on Miles, it would have to be from another realm, as that information is just not here on this planet!

I left Dad on Sunday, with plans to be back for the remainder of his time that next Friday.  On Monday afternoon, the mail brought me Miles’ death certificate.  I’d ordered it over a year before along with two others.  I got the other two instantly, but Miles’ didn’t arrive.  Until that Monday.  And it had Miles’ parents’ names listed (Jacob and Rebecca).  Genealogical serendipity.

At first I was a bit upset.  NOW how was I going to know Dad was okay?  Then it clicked to me.  Maybe, if I believed this stuff, this was Miles’ way of saying, “Of course he’s going to be okay, you idiot third great granddaughter!  We’ve got him covered.”  Regardless, I still didn’t have anything specific to ask Dad for now.

I called Dad on Monday night to tell him and we laughed together.  He said, “Shorty, if I can find anything when I get there, I’ll pass it along.”  I talked to my step-mom on Tuesday night to see how she was doing.  I talked to Dad Wednesday night just to say goodnight and I reminded him that I’d be there Friday and I was staying.  “You’ll be stuck with me for awhile, Dad.”  “Well, Shorty,” he said, “I don’t imagine there is anyone better to be stuck with.”  Those were the last words I heard (out-loud) from him. 

Now comes more serendipity.  Thursday morning as I was checking my email for my updated flight information, I got an email from a woman named Penny.  She was doing some research for her best friend and had microfilm from Salt Lake City.  She Googled her friend’s family and my information on a blog posting from over 2 years ago came up.  She wanted to correct some of the information I had.  Oh, and by the way, did I want copies of the baptismal records from Germany and Wisconsin for this part of the family?  And since she had them, would I like it for the paternal line that didn’t coincide with her friend’s?  She’d be happy to make copies for me.  And also, it’s all in old German script.  Would I like it translated, since her college major was German with a concentration in old German script?  I received three full manilla envelopes of trees and original records. 

Later that day, as I waited for my transfer flight in Seattle, I received another email.  This time from a gentleman noting that he’d found a note I’d made in 1999 on a forum asking about Mr. Fisher, my husband’s birth father.  Did I still need information about him?  Did I have these photos of his parents?  These were the first photos my husband ever saw of his paternal grandparents.

I stayed in Oregon with my step-mom for two weeks and every single day I got new genealogical information from all parts of our family- maternal, paternal, birth, adopted, from EVERY PART IMAGINABLE.  As I got in Dad’s car (that is now mine) to drive the long drive home, I put my hand on the shifter to hold his hand, a habit I still continue, and said, “Dad, I love having this connection to you, but I really think I’m going to need a focus.  Can you send me something that you would wish I would focus on?”

When I got home and emptied the car, I found the plastic file folder holder that Molly and I had emptied and I decided to keep for one of my many failed organizing projects.  Stuck inside was a moldy torn photograph. 

I can almost promise that this was not there when I said I’d make good use of the file folder.  Who are these people?  Over the next month or so, I sent the photo around to family and no one recognized them.  A few weeks later, Google Alerts sent me a notice that my ongoing search for “Mariani” AND “hardware” had a match.  I clicked the link and this is what popped up:

I decided that was my focus.  And a mere two years later, this is the result:
 Thank you, Dad.  I can’t believe it’s been two years since you passed away.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Goal Check-in

Time for A Goal Check-in

Here are the things I planned to do in 2014:

·         Write a book about the Mariani family.- DONE
·         Update my website with all new features. – DONE
·         Visit Sacramento- 1) 2nd great grandparent's house; 2) Roots Cellar Library. – I am planning to attend the Sacramento Archives Crawl in October.  This will get me to #2 and I’ll research before then on where the Hulse House is located.  Perhaps combine those OR just visit Hulse House during a business trip.
·         Write a book about my dad and my personal history.- This will be a multi-year project.  I want to get all the writings I do have into Scrivener the remainder of this year.
·         Take classes at National Institute for Genealogical Studies.  This requires money.  Once I have enough to spend, I will continue my classes.  I took one class so far this year.  I hope to take a lot more next. Moving this to 2015.
·         Write a book about Miles Price.- I am moving this to 2015.  I have the pension file to transcribe and I just don’t feel like it this year.
·         Find out more about Miles Price’s parents. – Not sure where to start on this one.  Putting it to 2015 for now.
I’m adding one, since I’ve put off a few. 
·         Organize my home office, including working in Scrivener, getting Dragon Naturally Speaking to work, and putting items in boxes away to files and scans.


Debbie’s Master List of Genealogy Things to Do

Lucas County, Iowa where my Conner and Price families lived
Capa, South Dakota where my grandfather lived.  Preferably WITH my grandfather.
Haakon County, South Dakota where my 2nd great grandfather had a homestead
Sacramento- 2nd great grandparent's house
Sacramento- Roots Cellar Library
Massachusetts- New England Historic Genealogical Society
Massachusetts- Plymouth again
Indiana- Allen County Public Library again
San Francisco- Sutro Library
Salt Lake City- Family History Library
Motor home the Civil War route that Miles’ took
Carluke, Scotland
Go on a genealogy cruise

Write a book about my dad- in progress
Write a book about Miles Price
Write a book about the Mariani family- in progress
Complete a genealogy scrapbook
Enter footnotes to Duke’s book
Write a 5-generation book of the kids' ancestors
Write my personal family history book- in progress
Picture book of Christmas decorations
Revisit blog posts and update to provide source info

Roots Tech
FGS conference
NGS conference

Find out more about Miles Price’s parents
Take classes at National Institute for Genealogical Studies
Learn to do presentationsOngoing
Learn Photoshop
Learn inDesign
Learn how to do a for-family podcast
Update my website with all new features
Map and pin where ancestors were from and lived

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Who is Vera and Why Did I Write About Her Chicken Wings?

A lot of people are asking me what my book is about.  Is it about ancestors?  No.  Is it about cooking.  No.  So what is it about?

On July 10, 2011, I wrote this for this blog:

In my recipe box, there is a recipe of Vera Mariani’s called, “Mrs. Scott’s Delicious Cake.”  I remember Vera making this cake many times.  It strikes me as prophetic that the cake I think of as Vera’s is actually Mrs. Scott’s.  Who was Mrs. Scott? When did Vera taste her cake, find it delicious, and get the recipe?

As I pondered on this one day, I realized that there may be a day far in the future when my children’s children’s children see my recipe for “Vera’s Tuscan Chicken” and wonder who this Vera was.  There isn’t a Vera to be found in our family tree, so they will wonder about this Vera, just as I do about Mrs. Scott.

I then wrote a short two or three paragraph story about Vera, with no intention of taking it further.  I just wanted a note in my recipe box so that there would be no unanswered questions.  However, after writing those paragraphs, I figured I should tell how I knew Vera.  That made me tell the story of the Mariani Ranch.  Which made me tell the history of Vera's dad.  And brothers.  And then their children.  And so on until I had found Louise Mariani and written a book, which I was able to present to her on her 100th birthday: