Monday, January 31, 2005


Today I played Scrabble at lunchtime. Nothing unusual.

I lost: 297 to 306. Nothing unusual about that, either. Generally the difference in scores is much greater. My normal goal is to break 300. So I got close.

Well, we counted tiles when putting the game away. 99. We counted again. 99. Still, we re-checked. 99. The number of tiles in a standard Scrabble game is 100. I'd lost a tile. We did a visual check. I'm missing the second "C" tile. Irksome. A little thing. Nothing to compare with what others have lost in the past few weeks and months. Irksome, nonetheless.

It was a good set: lasting just over a year, with an average of 1 to 2 games a week. I used it much more than most games I buy these days.

Thursday last I stayed home from work. I slept in extra long, took mega-doses of Vitamin C and other herbs. Caught an incipient cold before it got bad and had opportunity to take care of my wife for the day. She was still suffering from the lingering effects of what we thought was a cold or flu, but now appears might be whooping-cough. I made her eat. I made her take vitamins and other natural remedies. I made sure she was warm and slept.

While home, I cranked up the scanner again. Finished scanning my 1998 journal. I decided to take a break and scan some of my wife's stuff. So I scanned her 1975 diary and 1977 journal. When those were done, I scanned my grandmother's mission journals from 1919 and 1920. A full day. One that wasn't full of lost minutes spent in front of a television.

Saturday I lost another day to the scanner. The scan-a-thon continued as I began scanning negatives from my father-in-law's family. His sisters were going to throw out the negatives last year as they settled his mother's estate. My mother-in-law rescued them. She scanned what she could, mostly the standard 35 mm film. She gave me a stuffed manila envelope with a request for me to scan the rest.

These are old non-standard size negatives. I end up taping them to the negative scanner, trying to include the best parts of the picture. We've found some treasures.

The day wasn't completely lost, I guess. I cleaned a sink full of dishes, midday, and went grocery shopping in the evening. By day's end, I'd scanned and enhanced 196 images. I've hardly made a dent in the pile of negatives. Lots to do. Preservation of a family's smiles is always worth the effort, though.

I wonder if my parents have old, lost negatives somewhere.

Friday, January 28, 2005


There it was.

For years I've wondered.

Did anyone else call it Sugarloaf?

On all the maps I've seen, in all the promotional pamphlets I've read, the volcano is listed as "Pahvant Butte". On the other hand, my whole life I've heard it referred to as Ol' Sugarloaf. My dad called it that. My grandpa called it that. My uncles called it that. But outside of the family it's "Pahvant Butte".

Grandpa even took us up there to see the project he helped work on in the 1920's: a huge wind-powered electric generator. They barely got the barracks and the footings for the windmill completed when the backer ran out of money.

During the past few years the question has bothered me. Family members are passing away. I've even conducted an informal poll, asking folks from Millard County what they called that extinct volcano...

Pahvant Butte just seems a little bland, Ol' Sugarloaf much more descriptive. In my mind anyway. Sugarloaf as a name connects me to my grandpa.

Well, Wednesday afternoon there it was, in print. A history of Clear Lake, Utah has a chapter on Sugarloaf. Ah ha! I'd found it! Yup, there were photographs and the story of the ill-timed wind-mill project. The source for the information in the chapter?

My grandpa.

So, the question remains.Does anyone outside of my family refer to Pahvant Butte as Ol' Sugarloaf anymore?

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

It was tough


Thank heavens it's over.

By work-day end I was weary. I couldn't think anymore. I had no ideas for follow-up research. I was done.

Looking back, several points came to mind that might have contributed to the state I ended up in:
  • I looked at a film listing the Descendants of John Decker Robison. It included a good synopsis of information about his ancestry. Data I'd gone through before. Stuff that we can no longer connect with. The bulk of the film images (600+) were family group records of people who might be cousins. But I can't yet connect. And I have no opportunity at this point to really dig in and build the bridges needed.
  • I found out that the Mission President for whom I finally created a data file was released last week. Late again...
  • A good headache and low-grade fever visited me in the late afternoon.
  • I got stomped at Scrabble during lunch time.
  • I forgot the portable 40-gig drive that has my stuff on it. Left it home. Goodness.

Last night we went out to Applebee's for Family Home Evening. Apparently that's what most folks do. I didn't know that was on the list of suggested activities. We went out for a change of pace, scenery and temperature. Good Dinner. It revitalized me.

When I got home I worked through the obits I'd found, adding them to the database. That done, I returned to the Callister Collection and worked through more family records. I established the rules that determine whether I'll add a record to the database:
  1. The family members are related to me. ~OR~
  2. A family member lived in Millard County.

Those are pretty much the rules that govern my obituary searches, too. That cuts down on the number of records I have to add from the Callister Collection, so I've been going through more documents and putting those not meeting the above criteria in a different folder.

By bed time I was through with my slump.

I hit the ground running today. A little bump when the entire system went down - employees and patrons, both - for well over an hour. Still, I got the 1880 and 1900 census records for Millard County copied.

A patron came up to me and said, "I want the newspaper from Gainesville, Georgia." I looked it up in the FHLC.

"We have no newspapers from that town in our collection," I answered.
"I want the phone number for the newspaper in Gainesville, Georgia." he responded, irked that I hadn't read his mind.

I did a business search for him. 7 records in the result set. He declined the phone number for Poultry & Egg News and Mexico Lindo, but copied down the information for the Times.

He wasn't happy when he found out that we only have death records thru 1916 for that county.

"I want to find out when my cousin died, there," he stated. "I guess I'll just have to get the obituary from the newspaper."

I'm glad that I won't have to answer his call.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Beginning, again

Last night I distributed the new Beginning Family History sheet to the bishops attending the monthly Bishops Training Meeting. There was no noticable hint of enthusiasm as I went around the room. The sheet is as simple and helpful as possible. But who wants to know how to start? Just another reminder that we aren't doing everything we're supposed to, isn't it?

I haven't walked in beginners shoes for quite some time. Yes, I have opportunity to speak with a few during my regular reference counter shifts. I do my best to get the beginners on a successful track, and I've seen that wonderful bright emotional explosion when they find a document and CONNECT!!! with grandpa for the first time.

But I haven't gone through the paces myself for many, many years.

Today as I waited for lunch, I dusted off an old non-assignment: a cousin's husband is a Mission President. I gave my cousin a copy of my data almost a year ago. She showed it to her husband and later he suggested that it would be nice to have all their genealogy in one file...Well, I happily volunteered for the project and shelved it.

It's been on my mind for quite a while, so today I got going. I figured it to be a no-brainer: copy my data into a new database with him as person number 1; grab his ancestry from the Ancestral File; do some match merging and Viola!: a "complete" genealogical file. He's a Mission President, surely his stuff would all be easily accessible.

Not quite.

He's not in the Ancestral File. Neither are his parents. My genealogical juices began to flow. I began searching for bits and pieces to put together. The process took me back. Wonderfully, with computers, the process is much quicker than it has been in the past. A few hours later I have the file put together. I'll burn them a CD and deliver it next week.

There's nothing better to help you forget an empty stomach than a fun genealogical problem. (In this case, fun means questions that get answered after some warped thought and deliberation.)

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Hanging around

There they were again. I'd seen them yesterday when I went to cash my check: hanging from the top of the 20 story office building. They were each sitting on a board, attached to a single rope strung from the building top. Cleaning supplies strapped on, squeegee in hand and a double suction-cup handle to help them. The sidewalk below was roped off to prevent pedestrians with earthbound gazes from walking into falling water.

Gotta hand it to them. They make it look fun. And graceful. Not only were they cleaning the windows, they were washing the entire building. Oh, my! Talk about not-quite-spring cleaning. You couldn't pay me enough to hang from a rope to clean a building. I wouldn't mind the cleaning part. It's the hanging around that gets me...I hope they're paid enough.

Meanwhile, last night I spent some of my earnings from teaching genealogy classes last week. I bought a desk like hers, after tracking one down, and got it put together in the front room. Now we can compute, back to back, in the front room. No longer will we have to walk back and forth, up and down stairs to talk to each other as we compute.

We also had dinner at Tony Roma's. Now I know why they're famous for ribs! They convinced me.

My database didn't grow yesterday. The first thing I did after setting my computer up on it's new desk was lose two games of scrabble. Hmm. I did copy the census returns from 1870 and 1910 for Millard County. Why copy the 1870 census, when I've already made a transcription? Reference. Did I transcribe everything that could be a clue? Doubtful. So, now I have digital images of the 1860, 1870, 1900 (poor), 1910, 1920 and 1930 census returns. Good stuff.

As I trolled the obits today I ran across the following in the Southern Utah News which reminded me that miracles still happen. Looking at the picture of Dallas and her lamb, I could see remnants of her tears of concern and her relief that prayers are answered. The poem by her grandma touched me:

The Miracle
By Myrna Cox

He walked through the front door
With a lifeless little lamb.
Placed the creature in our care,
Said, “ Save him, if you can.”

“He was born about an hour ago
On a heap of frozen clay
I suspect he will not live,
But - try to save him, anyway.”

Oh, the faith of a little child
Expressed in her voice today
“What about a blessing dad?”
“Do you think we ought to pray?”

So amidst the remedies
A simple prayer was said
A miracle revealed today!
As he raised his little head.

When you’re older, little girl
Remember, if you can
The miracle of faith and prayers
That saved - your little lamb.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005



Got the front room done. She said before I put the books back on the shelves to get the dust off the tops of 'em. So I vacuumed. Then I decided to vacuum the rest as I took them off the shelves rather than as I put them back. Prep time increased dramatically. The time it took to paint the wall was insignificant in comparison to cleaning the books, moving the books, moving the shelves, taping the drop cloth and door frame. But it's done. None of the other rooms have that many things to move before re-painting...

So I got back to my computer in the late afternoon. Continued my walk through the Callister Collection. By the time I called it a night, I'd gone through about 180 documents and had added or updated records for 369 people. Only 894 documents left. Another good project to do in my spare time. Another rock on the pile.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Easter Eggs

I've had a good two days to begin going through the papers in the Callister Collection. My arrogance notwithstanding, I have been able to add several news families to my ancestral database. Granted most of the records date from 1963, but that is still 20 or forty years closer to "up to date". Mostly I've been able to fill in blank spots: middle names, birth dates and places.

Every time I find records of new cousins it is a holiday.

Of course, the majority of records I add to the database connect up with my Millard County collection: folks who lived or died in that area. These are valuable papers, adding significantly to my knowledge and understanding of the folks surrounding my ancestors.

Saturday I did begin to paint the front room. That cut into my search time significantly. I was able to get three walls done. I only had to move three bookcases to do the work: one small and two large. This morning I need to reshelve the books from the two large cases, move the loveseat, empty the remaining three large bookcases, move the bookcases, vacuum, put down the drop cloth and paint. No biggee. Thank heavens for days off. Getting back to my database is a strong motivator, though.

Saturday also began a battle with a cold/flu. I've been upping my vitamin C intake, supplemented by Echinacea, Golden Seal and plenty of rest (which also cuts into my database time...). I did attend most of my church meetings yesterday, including 6 hours with the Stake Presidency. They only had to put up with a couple sneeze sessions from me. I'm still not 100%, but it hasn't put me completely out yet.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Catch-up time

So much happening. So little time to write.

I taught three classes at the Institute of Genealogy this week. They were well received. Or so it appeared to me.

A possible distant cousin spoke with me after class yesterday. His wife shares my last name. He told me a familiar story of the original clan grandfather in old New York. His wife can't prove her connection to that grandfather, but highly suspects the connection. I can't prove (family has proven and dispoven the connection-I might have a go at re-proving it soon) our connection with that possible ancestor, either. The student, a former librarian from Oregon, was receptive to the idea of a family organization whose goal is to sort out that whole ancestral mess. More organizational work that I need to do...

Meanwhile, I continue to try to add to the total number of members that I've identified as part of the family. That total is a little over 29,000 at this point. Today I chipped away at the effort by doing a little census research. That was augmented this afternoon when I found a new two-CD set of scanned family information about the Callisters. I copied all of the documents to go through at home.

It appears that the documents were created in about 1964-5. I have most of the information about that corner of the family already, so I have little faith that I'll find many new names to add to the file. On the up side, it appears that there are a lot of dates and places included in the documents that I can use to build the database. Many of the documents include brief autobiographies, physical descriptions and occupational listings. Most of the documents also contain 40 year old addresses. Anyway, it'll be fun to go through the stuff.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Life goes on

The question on my mind is: How long do you wait after an obituary is published before you call to ask for genealogical details?

I've got a recent obit that mentions the spouse of the deceased, but doesn't give enough information to link it to my database. I've got a cousin with the same name as the deceased's spouse, but no other information. Just enough information to make a poor leap...

My genealogical itch has been triggered.

Can I keep that itch in check long enough to allow an appropriate mourning period?

How long is long enough?

A good thing today, though...I did look for and find census records for Fred McQueen and Mary E. Gonder. I found they had at least four children. Fred died sometime between 1910 and 1920. It was a fun search. I had to return to microfilmed census records, because the 1910 census returns for Nevada were a bit screwy on this morning. But I did find them...