Summer Schedule

Summer is the perfect time to be in the northern climates, so I’ll be spending it in Pennsylvania, upstate New York and Vermont, researching both sides of my family.


Summer 2017 Route – goes from Bucks County (E), to F, G, H, I, J, and then Pittsburgh (B) and Butler, Ohio (C).

In my Spring Schedule post, I wrote about my plans for the month of June in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  I’ll meet a second cousin for the first time, visit my parents’ and brothers’ grave and see their newly installed gravestone, research my mother’s extensive family in the area, and attend the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh the last week in June.

I’ll stay in Pittsburgh through the 4th of July, and then head up to the Rochester, New York area where I’ll visit with friends of my brother Jamie.   Jamie died in 2005 at the age of 44, unmarried, but with a passel of very dear friends, many of whom live in Rochester where my brother spent seventeen years of his life.  My father, Jamie and I all attended the University of Rochester, so the place has deeper family ties as well.  I’ll visit familiar places and enjoy the company of all the special people who also loved Jamie.  I’ll be staying at a state park campground on the shores of Lake Ontario for five days, so I’m planning to take a break from the research and enjoy some swimming!

On to Copenhagen in Lewis County, New York, researching my father’s family, the Goodenoughs and others.  My kids attended a Unitarian Universalist summer camp very near there for several years, so I know it’s a beautiful and remote area.  It’ll be fun imagining what it was like when my ancestors were among the first settlers there around 1800.

From there, I’ll head to Rutland County, Vermont, where I’ll stay for the last two weeks of July.  My father and Jamie researched the Goodenough line – but they only did the men!  The parents of one of the Goodenough wives came from this area of Vermont, so I’ll be researching the Abbotts, the Crouches, and the Jennings families there, back into the 1700’s.  I’ve NEVER been to Vermont in the summer, so I’m excited to see it!

Next, I’ll spend a month in the Albany area.  Both my maternal and paternal lines have numerous New York ancestors, and I’ve wanted to get to the New York State Archives in Albany for at least the last five years.  In addition to ancestors in other parts of the state on both lines, I’ve got a big brick wall on one of my mother’s lines in the Albany/Troy/Sarasota County area, so I’ll do local courthouse/town research as well as state-level research.

After Albany, I’m heading back to Pittsburgh for the Federation of Genealogical Societies’ annual conference.  It’s one I’ve wanted to attend for years, but never could work it in to the few weeks of vacation I had while working.  I formed the Bucks County Genealogical Society in 2012, so I’m very interested in learning best practices from other groups.  When I eventually settle down somewhere, I’m sure I’ll be active in my local society.

On Labor Day, I’ll head to Butler, Ohio for two weeks, which brings me to the end of summer.  My Dad’s ancestors were very early settlers and prominent citizens there.

In the fall, I’m generally traveling west, via Wisconsin, Illinois, and Missouri.  I’ll be in Arizona by Halloween – the map below is my planned route from April through October.  So much to look forward to – I’m excited about every single stop!

2017 Route April through October

A Week at the Spa

I spent last week at my cousin Betsy’s, which was almost like a week at a spa.  We ate luscious, healthy meals, lounged around the pool, slept late, drank wine on the peaceful front porch, enjoyed the bucolic views of the sheep and horse pastures, and read novels.  And I gave myself a pedicure.  I literally felt like I was at a fancy resort!

The pool and hot tub from the back porch

Betsy is a shepherd, and her sheep gave birth collectively to about 20 lambs earlier this year.  She also has chickens, so we had farm fresh eggs every day.  Here’s a picture of the smallest lamb, “Tom Thumb”:

Tom Thumb, a three month old lamb
The barn – you can see my RV in the driveway!

The companionship with my cousin was the best part – we talked for hours on end.  We realized that we’ve spent very little time in the past being together, just the two of us.  Usually we’ve had family all around, but this time, her wonderful husband was away most of the week, and we had a real girls week.  It’s such a treat to be with family and to reminisce with someone who knew and loved my parents and brothers.  I love Betsy like a sister!

View from the front porch

I did all that fun stuff, but it actually wasn’t all pampering and relaxation.  I had an agenda (as I usually do!) of tasks to complete:  did several large loads of laundry, got Betsy’s DNA sample and mailed it in to Ancestry, bought three turkey breasts to roast and freeze in serving size bags (my RV has no oven and I like to use real roasted turkey in sandwiches and salads), completed my scanning of two tubs of genealogy files so I can leave them in storage, and washed both the car and RV.  My online genealogy classes were on the list, but I never got to those this week – and that’s fine.  My new motto is “No Stress”, so if I don’t get to it, I don’t get to it.

I’m so lucky to have this little oasis to visit when I’m traveling up and down the east coast! Now I’m in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, my former home, for two weeks of socializing, going to doctor appointments, and re-shuffling stuff in and out of storage – more on that soon!

NGS Annual Conference

It’s an incredible feeling to be in the same room with 2,000 other people who share your obsession with genealogy. The first time I attended the National Genealogical Society’s Annual Conference was in 2011 in Charleston, South Carolina, and I remember very clearly the initial thrill of being with so many like-minded people.

The following year, in 2012, I chose to use my vacation time to go to the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh instead.  In 2013, I was taking care of my sick brother.  In 2014, I attended the NGS Conference in Richmond, Virginia, which was also fabulous. In 2015, my mother had just died and I was putting the house up for sale. In 2016, my son was graduating from college the same weekend as the conference.  So I spent this week in Raleigh, North Carolina in 2017, attending my third NGS Annual Conference, and I’ve been extremely happy to be here!

National Genealogical Society’s 2017  Conference Banner

The four day conference was jam-packed with classes from 8 in the morning till 5 at night, with visits to the Exhibit Hall in between.  There were lots of options for group luncheons and dinners, but I didn’t sign up for anything extra (frugal me).  I would have enjoyed them I’m sure, but they’re pricey and could easily double the cost of attendance.  I have my cool little pink lunchbox that I take with me on research trips, so that’s what I did here, too!

Raleigh Convention Center

J. Mark Lowe presented the Opening Session, which was extremely inspirational and moving.  Among other things, he spoke about his work with a high school history class.  These kids did genealogy projects which involved creating presentation boards, including QRC codes to access recordings of the students telling their favorite story in their own words and voices.  It really inspired me to consider working with young people in the future.

Lately I’ve preferred taking classes which involve technology because I feel that’s where I need to learn the most – DNA, using Google maps, scanning and organizing digital photo files, and that sort of thing.  I also like to attend presentations by nationally known speakers, including top genealogists Elizabeth Shown Mills, Thomas Jones, and Judy Russell.  And depending on the other choices in a particular time slot, I attend lectures on German research, since I have generally avoided those branches of my family tree!

I have to say that the conference overall was nothing short of incredible.  The choices of high quality lectures made it difficult to choose just one to attend.  It always amazes me how many extremely intelligent people are involved in genealogy – many of the speakers had PhD’s or were Certified Genealogists.

I think the sessions I enjoyed the most were the DNA lectures with Blaine Bettinger, Judy Russell, and Diahan Southard.  They all packed the room – I think DNA was the most popular topic at the conference!

I’ll miss next year’s conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan, because I’ll be over in England for the winter and early spring (more on that later).  In 2019, the conference will be held in St. Charles, Missouri, the same place it was held in 2015.  They say it was a great location, and that’s why they’re holding the conference again there so soon.  I’ll definitely plan to be there, especially because for years, I’ve wanted to go the St. Louis NARA location, where all the military records from World War I and II are kept – at least those which survived the 1973 fire.  It’s on my extended calendar!

It was NOT a great week from a camping perspective.  The closest campground to the downtown Convention Center was at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds.  It was just not a very attractive place.

My site at the North Carolina State Fair Campground

There was virtually no shade, and I wasn’t able to get my awning to work to create some.  Fortunately,  I wasn’t “home” very much, the weather cooperated by not being too hot,  it was a terrific location for my daily commute to the conference, and the price was right at $210 for the week (versus the cost of a conference hotel at $120 and up per night), so it absolutely served its purpose!

Tomorrow I’ll drive about 200 miles to my cousin Betsy’s house near Richmond, Virginia, where I’ll stay a week in her beautiful home, and have some much-needed “sister time” – can’t wait!!

Time for some fun!!

I truly love being able to spend loads of time doing my genealogy research. Mostly, I’m either researching on-line, at a courthouse or an archive, at a cemetery looking for gravestones, or I’m on the computer processing digital images from the courthouse or the cemetery, or taking online genealogy classes.  I’ve spent many, many days doing nothing but these activities.  I love it, but there are two major downsides.

The first is that, too often, I’m on the computer all day long.  And the second is that I’m alone.  Even though I enjoy it tremendously, sometimes it feels more like work than fun.

So, when a friend let me know that she and her husband were heading to Georgia in their RV, I was more than thrilled.  I met Sandra when we both lived in California, while taking our babies for a walk in their strollers around the neighborhood – and our daughters are now 27 years old.  In a complete coincidence, Sandra and Bob also retired last year and began living in an RV, and they’ve finally made their way to the east coast.

I didn’t even realize how much I was missing being with friends until they arrived.  They stayed at my Georgia campground for three nights, so we had two full days together.  We went out to eat (which I don’t do by myself), went on a couple of lovely hikes, had dinner and wine together at the campground, and sat out at the picnic table until after dark.  It was fantastic!!!

My campground was planning to move me to a much less desirable campsite for the last 5 nights of my month there, so instead, I decided to leave Georgia early, and meet Sandra and Bob in South Carolina.  I had to give up some of my Georgia research time, but frankly, I needed a break!  It was wonderful to be away from the computer and spending time with these very dear friends instead.

It was just a two hour drive on a gorgeous sunny day up to South Carolina’s Table Rock State Park, just near the North Carolina border and about an hour away from the artsy mountain town of Asheville.

My rig arriving at Table Rock State Park, South Carolina
View from the Visitor’s Center, Table Rock State Park, South Carolina

We set up camp in wooded, adjacent sites.  Bob and Sandra are avid hikers, so that was the primary daily activity.  On TWO of the next four days, we hiked TEN MILES each time, and I capitalize those words because I’m amazed that I was able to do it TWICE!  One of the long hikes was particularly difficult because there was a long uphill climb.

A waterfall along the way
The view at the top was worth it!!

We had fabulous dinners together every night, played Cribbage in the evenings, spent a day in Asheville, and even had S’mores over a campfire one night!  We also went to a local seafood buffet (think frogs legs and catfish) with a live gospel band – the whole experience was extremely entertaining.

It was a terrific break “off the grid” – there was no cell service or internet access there – and I loved being with Sandra and Bob.  We’ll be planning to rendezvous again soon, as we make our way up the east coast this spring, and around upstate New York and New England this summer.

Back to my serious genealogy world this week, as I attend the National Genealogical Society’s annual conference in Raleigh, North Carolina – lots of fun in a different way!