52 Ancestors Challenge 2015: Week 15 Recap

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52ancestors-2015-15The optional theme this week was “How Do You Spell That?” There was no shortage of usual and hard-to-spell names!

Cheryl Biermann Hartley of My Search for the Past documented the numerous names assigned to her great-great-grandmother, all of which are hard to spell. Elizabeth Handler of From Maine to Kentucky raises a good point about variant spellings being a clue as to how the family pronounced the name.

I’ve long been a fan of Roberta Estes and her blog, DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy. Last week, Roberta wrote “Luremia Combs (c1740-c1820) and the Revolution on Her Doorstep (52 Ancestors #67).” I enjoyed reading not only about Luremia, but also Roberta’s research process. I think many of us will understand why Roberta said she was drawn like a moth to a flame to her ancestor’s land!

My 52 Ancestors post this week was about Laurestine U. Dinsmoor Debolt, sister-in-law to my 3rd-great-grandmother Matilda Debolt Skinner Crossen Brown McFillen. I’m guessing that Laurestine had to spell her name for people more than once in her life!

It’s Your Turn

Who did you write about last week? Leave a link to the post, along with the name and a little bit about the ancestor, in the comment below. While you’re here, take a look at the posts from Week 14. There are a lot of fun posts, including ones who followed the optional theme of “Favorite Photo.”


Upcoming Optional Themes:

  • Week 16 (Apr 16 – 22) – Live Long
  • Week 17 (Apr 23 – 29) – Prosper
  • May themes

Remember, the optional weekly themes are just that — optional. Feel free to use them or not! The point of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks isn’t to follow the themes. The point is to write more about our ancestors. What you write about is up to you!

How Do You Spell That? Laurestine Dinsmoor Debolt (52 Ancestors #15)

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Hello-my-name-isNames go in and out of fashion. When I was in kindergarten, there were 3 Amys; we all sat together and drove the teacher crazy. But Amy isn’t a name you hear very often with children today. By the same token, I didn’t go to school with any Brittanys, Morgans, or Madisons.

Then there are names that have never been popular. Names like Calista and Esmerelda…. and this one from my family tree: Laurestine.

Laurestine U. Dinsmoor. (I don’t know what the U. stands for.) Seems like she got the short end of the stick when it came to names. Think of all of the possible ways to spell either name (and pronounce them, for that matter). Laurestine was born in Canada. Depending on the source, she was born in 1843, 1846, or 1853. (At least all of the records seem to agree that she was born in Canada.)

She became the second wife of Rezin (or Reason) Debolt on 12 October 1869 in Linn County, Missouri.1)Missouri, Marriages, 1750-1920,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:V28G-KJ1 : accessed 15 April 2015), R. A. Debolt and Laurastine U. Dinsmoor, 12 Oct 1869; citing Linn, Missouri; FHL microfilm 1,009,871.

By 1870, Laurestine, Rezin, and Rezin’s children were living in Grundy County, Missouri.2)Rezin Debolt household, 1870 Federal census, Trenton Twp., Grundy Co., Missouri, p. 373, nos. 120/120.

Obituary of Laurestine Dinsmoor Debolt

San Bernardino County Sun, 7 January 1933, p. 12, Newspapers.com.

Despite what her Find A Grave memorial and several online trees say, she died in Los Angeles County, California on 31 December 1932.3)California, Death Index, 1905-1939, Ancestry.com. Digitized image of the California Death Index. (Find A Grave and the trees have her death date as 5 January 1933. My suspicion is the January date is her date of burial.)

Laurestine’s husband, Rezin/Reason Debolt, was the brother of my 3rd-great-grandmother Matilda Debolt Skinner Crossen Brown McFillen.

References   [ + ]

1. Missouri, Marriages, 1750-1920,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:V28G-KJ1 : accessed 15 April 2015), R. A. Debolt and Laurastine U. Dinsmoor, 12 Oct 1869; citing Linn, Missouri; FHL microfilm 1,009,871.
2. Rezin Debolt household, 1870 Federal census, Trenton Twp., Grundy Co., Missouri, p. 373, nos. 120/120.
3. California, Death Index, 1905-1939, Ancestry.com. Digitized image of the California Death Index.

May 2015 Themes for 52 Ancestors

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It’s hard to believe that in a few days we will begin the 5th month of the year. Is anyone else astonished how quickly this year is going?

For those of you who like to work ahead a little bit, here are the optional weekly themes for May 2015:


Week 18 (April 30 – May 6) – Where There’s a Will: Do you have an ancestor who left an interesting will? Have you used a will to solve a problem? Or, what ancestor showed a lot of will in his or her actions?

Week 19 (May 7-13) – There’s a Way: What ancestor found a way out of a sticky situation? You might also think of this in terms of transportation or migration.

Week 20 (May 14-20) – Black Sheep: Each of us has an ancestor who was the troublemaker or the ne’er-do-well. This is their week.

Week 21 (May 21-27) – Military: This week, the United States will be observing Memorial Day. Do you have any military ancestors? Were any ancestors affected by the military or by war?

Week 22 (May 28 – June 3) – Commencement: Countless schools will be having their commencement ceremonies around this time. Think not only about school, but also about commencement meaning “a beginning.”

The weekly recaps will be posted on Thursdays; you can add your links to those posts when it’s time. I look forward to seeing your posts!

52 Ancestors Challenge 2015: Week 14 Recap

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52ancestors-2015-14Hard to believe we’re in Week 14 already!

With the week’s optional theme being “Favorite Photo,” I knew it would be an even more interesting week than usual. (And that’s saying something!)

Melody Lassalle of The Research Journal shared a photo of the 8 Pacheco brothers, taken circa 1905 in Kauai, Hawaii. (By the way, Melody, you weren’t the only one to ask how you were supposed to pick only one!) Amy Wood Kelly of Shaking My Family Tree showed Molsie Jane Talbert Litaker and gave a brief history of tintypes. Brenna G. of Green Family Archives posted a really cool photo of the Twin Doctors Green — neat photo from med school!

My contribution this week (also combining with Week 13, with a passing reference to her husband), was my great-grandmother Clara (Mason) Young: “Great-Grandma Young Wasn’t Always Old.” It’s one of my favorite photos, and it also got me to think about how our mind’s eye can warp our perceptions of people.

It’s Your Turn

Leave a comment with a link to your 52 Ancestors post from this week, along with the ancestor’s name and maybe a bit of context. Also take a look at the entries from Week 13. There are a lot of “different” posts there!


Upcoming Themes:

  • Week 15 (Apr 9 – 15) – How Do You Spell That?
  • Week 16 (Apr 16 – 22) – Live Long
  • Week 17 (Apr 23 – 29) – Prosper

The April themes post has ideas for ways you might think about the optional weekly themes. The optional themes for May will be posted on April 15. (It’s definitely more fun than Tax Day!)

Great-Grandma Young Wasn’t Always Old (52 Ancestors 13 and 14)

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The mind’s eye can be like a funhouse mirror. You know that there’s a “normal” person standing there, but the reflection is twisted and turned into something not quite real. So it was in my mind’s eye with my great-grandmother Clara (Mason) Young.

Great-grandma Clara (Mason) Young and me. Photo taken in my grandparents' (Stanley and Adah Young Johnson) back yard.

Great-grandma Clara (Mason) Young and me. Photo taken in my grandparents’ (Stanley and Adah Young Johnson) back yard.

My family doesn’t have many ancestral photos. We’re pretty thin in that department until the 1960s when my dad started taking slides and Polaroids. Though I met Grandma Young, I don’t remember her; she died when I was 3. Growing up, there were lots of photos of her. In all of them, she was an old woman with thinning white hair who wore simple dresses. She was usually sitting and often surrounded by her great-grandchildren.

My young brain tried to fill in the gaps and used the information at hand. Great-grandmother + white hair + frail = OLD. When thinking of Grandma Young, my mind’s eye would fill her in as an old woman.

But there’s another photo of Grandma Young, one that sits on a shelf behind my desk. It’s from around 1903, when she married my great-grandfather Robert Young. In this photo, she is anything but old.

Clara (Mason) and Robert Andrew Young. We believe this photo was taken around the time of their wedding in 1903.

Clara (Mason) and Robert Andrew Young. We believe this photo was taken around the time of their wedding in 1903.

Instead of a simple house dress, she’s wearing something stylish. She has a bow in her hair and a brooch on her blouse, Her eyes are big; her hair is thick. She looks determined, yet gentle.

She hadn’t yet experienced the birth of any of her 10 children… nor the loss of a 2-year-old son. She hadn’t yet seen her home swept away in the great flood of 1913. She hadn’t yet moved from town to town as her husband looked for work.

The mind’s eye can play tricks on us. It’s good to get a different view to get a clearer picture.

Linkpendium: The Best Genealogy Link Site That You’re Not Using

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Even in these days of Google, Bing, and search engine optimization, there’s still a place for a really good curated link site. Not only can they pull together the best-of-the-best, but they can also highlight the gems that otherwise would have remained hidden. For genealogy, my “go to” link site is Linkpendium.

Linkpendium has more than 10 million links to locality and surname site. It is the brainchild of Karen Isaacson and Brian (Wolf) Leverich, the founders of RootsWeb. (So, they’ve been doing this online genealogy thing for quite awhile!)

Linkpendium home page

Linkpendium home page

Locality Section

The site is arranged very logically. I recently started a project that took my research to Washington County, Pennsylvania. I clicked “Pennsylvania genealogy,” and then scrolled down and clicked “Washington County.” (I’ll also want to explore the page with the 882 “Statewide resources” for  Pennsylvania.) Here is a very small portion of what I found:


A very small section of the Washington County, Pennsylvania page on Linkpendium.


It has the usual suspects, such as databases on Ancestry and FamilySearch. But it also has those wonderful hidden resources that we’re always hoping to find. Things like “Telephone Directory of Bellaire, Bridgeport, Martins Ferry, St. Clairsville, Ohio, 1934″ and “Livingston’s Law Register, 1851.” Sure, I might have found those in a Google search…  had I known they existed or thought to look for such a thing.

Surname Section

Be sure to go through the surname pages on Linkpendium. Not only do they have links to websites and blogs about specific surnames, but also links to sources you should be checking out anyway, like the RootsWeb mailing lists and WorldCat. It makes for a very convenient way to cover all of those bases.

Here’s part of the DeBolt page:

Part of the DeBolt page on Linkpendium.

Part of the DeBolt page on Linkpendium.

linkpendium-searchThe Genealogy Search Engine

As if having more than 10 million links wasn’t enough, Linkpendium also has a genealogy search engine that covers 2.6 million web pages. (Those aren’t just any ol’ web pages. Those are web pages that have genealogical information.) On the Linkpendium home page, click the link on the left side of the page that says “Try our new state-by-state search engines.” On other Linkpendium pages, look on the right side of the page.

You can search the entire United States or narrow it to just one state. Search by full names or just the surname.

  • Smith will find pages with Smith
  • John Smith will find pages with John OR Smith
  • “John Smith” (with the quotes) will find pages with John NEAR Smith (handy for pages that have something in between, like a middle name)
  • John -Smith finds pages with John, but NOT Smith

I have noticed that if you’re looking for two surnames on the same page, it’s best to do two searches: once with the quotes and once without.

Results for Debolt in Illinois

Results for Debolt in Illinois

Links sometimes die. The link above for the Labette County, Kansas history is no longer working. But I can see a saved version of the page by clicking on “cached.” Though the links on that page no longer work, I can see that there are several Debolts in History of Labette County, Kansas and its Representative Citizens, ed. & comp. by Hon. Nelson Case. Pub. by Biographical Publishing Co., Chicago, Ill. 1901. I can go look for that book on Google Books and WorldCat.


A curated list of more than 10 million genealogy links should get our attention! Linkpendium provides genealogists with a convenient way to find sources applicable to their research. Even if you don’t use the link section of Linkpendium, run some searches in the search engine. You never know what you might turn up!

How Genealogy Is Like Decorating Easter Eggs

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When I was growing up, decorating eggs was my favorite part of Easter. Mom would get out a glass bowl and fill it with cold water. With a little bit of vegetable oil, the food coloring would float on top. (Science!) Add a few drops of red, blue, yellow, and green, and we had our own floating tie-dye pattern.

My sisters and I would take turns dipping the eggs. This wasn’t done willy-nilly. No, we had to examine the swirls on top of the water, maybe blow on it to mix up the colors a little bit more. We’d look at it from different angles, trying to figure out the very best place to submerge the egg.

Every now and then, an egg would turn out exactly how we envisioned it. But more often than not, we’d be surprised at how it ended up. Sometimes we would be pleasantly surprised… and sometimes not. Occasionally, there would be an egg that just wouldn’t turn out at all.

So it is with our genealogy.

We look at our ancestors and we start to dig into their lives, looking through the swirls of records they left behind. We often have ideas about what we’re going to find. We envision them living in a certain place, associating with certain people, engaging in certain activities.

Sometimes we’re right. Sometimes an ancestor will be exactly as we envisioned. But more often than not, we find something surprising. It can be a good surprise or bad surprise. And, occasionally, there are those ancestors that we can’t seem to “decorate” at all.

The afternoons spent coloring Easter eggs with my sisters are some of my favorite childhood memories. We’d laugh, we’d help each other, we’d bicker. Even though the eggs rarely turned out exactly as we envisioned, we enjoyed each other’s company and it was a lot of fun getting there.

Just like genealogy. Our ancestors are rarely exactly who we envision, but we feel more connected in the process. And we have a lot of fun getting there.


52 Ancestors Challenge 2015: Week 13 Recap

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52ancestors-2015-13Week 13! Thirteen isn’t usually seen as a lucky number, but I think there’s a lot to be said for Week 13. It marks the 1/4 mark in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge!

Eileen Souza of Old Bones Genealogy wrote about her black sheep relative William T. Meisberger, who gave a lesson on why you should look at out-of-town newspapers. Caroll Budny of Trace Your Genealogy wrote about “Frisky! Alex Rusenko and Nervous Nellie.” You’ll want to see what was written on Alex’s border crossing record. Elizabeth Handler of From Maine to Kentucky wrote about how differences between spouses might account for the many divorces of her grandfather Charles Pyle.

The optional theme in Week 13 was “Different.” You could say that I followed the theme by doing something different. I didn’t write about anyone in my family tree. I might “catch up” next week…  or I might not. Remember — this is supposed to be a “low stress” challenge :)

Your Turn

Who did you write about last week? Also, while you’re waiting for the Easter Bunny to show up, take a look at the great writing from Week 12.


Upcoming Themes:

  • Week 14 (Apr 2 – 8) – Favorite Photo
  • Week 15 (Apr 9 – 15) – How Do You Spell That?
  • Week 16 (Apr 16 – 22) – Live Long
  • Week 17 (Apr 23 – 29) – Prosper

The April themes post has ideas for ways you might think about the optional weekly themes.

Relaunching Amy Johnson Crow Professional Genealogy Services

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I am happy to announce the relaunch of my website Amy Johnson Crow, Professional Genealogy Services at www.AmyJohnsonCrow.com.

If you’re in need of genealogical research, a speaker for your next event, or someone to tackle to job of writing your family’s history, I’m here to help.

What This Means for No Story Too Small

No Story Too Small is NOT going away. Neither is the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge. I’ll be blogging over here like I’ve been doing. This is simply a relaunch of my website and a refocus on providing quality genealogical services to those who need them.

I will occasionally announce my upcoming events and other projects here. Don’t worry, though. This blog isn’t going to turn into a “sales-y” site.

If you have any questions or if you are in need of any of my genealogy services, please feel free to contact me.



Caring for Baby, 1916 Style

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our-babies-booklet-1916Fear is a great motivator for new parents. That’s probably what the Illinois State Board of Health was counting on in 1916 when they published “Our Babies: How To Keep Them Well and Happy – A Booklet for Mothers.” It’s filled with tips that were sure to scare most parents (not to mention scaring readers a century later!)

On Fresh Air:


On the Regularity of Feeding:


And if you ‘re not sure how much to feed your baby, they’ve included this handy chart:


On Registering Your Child’s Birth:

As a genealogist, I applaud Illinois’ push to get parents to record their child’s birth. But, good grief, talk about scare tactics! (Click the image to enlarge it. You’ll want to read every over-the-top caption.)


“The Young Man: I have no birth certificate. The lack of it has been the greatest handicap of my whole life.”

Wow. The only thing that would have made it better would be a panel showing genealogists a hundred years later spitting on his parents’ graves, cursing them for not registering his birth.

You can read “Our Babies: How to Keep Them Well and Happy” and all of its spine-chilling tips on Internet Archive.