Another Genealogy Friend Gone

This week, I’m pausing my discussion on county histories to remember a friend with a shared love of genealogy that we lost too soon.

My good friend and genealogy buddy, Annette Sands Botello died on 17 November 2022 at about 1:30 in the morning. I was able to visit her on the 16th in her hospice bed. She was not really “there” though she looked at me once, accidentally kicked me when she moved her leg and she uttered a “sorry,” and smiled occasionally as I chatted with her husband Ys about good times we’ve had and our fond memories. It was only about four weeks between diagnosis and her death. It was quite sudden and none of us were prepared for it.

The last trip Annette and I took to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City in 2018.

Annette and I took a couple of genealogy trips together, usually to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. We would research all day, take a sack lunch to eat outdoors in the beautiful gardens of Temple Square, and work on our findings in our room at night. One time, we went to Charleston, South Carolina for an NGS Conference. One afternoon we played hooky and took a little drive to visit some ancestral lands of some folks she was researching. We also stopped at a beach and put our toes in the ocean.

Just two girls from Colorado with our toes in the Atlantic.
Annette with her feet in the ocean.
Annette on the wooden walkway that leads to the ocean.
Annette and I on one of our many visits to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.
From left: Henrietta Christmas, Denise Miller, Me, Ruth Ratliff, and Annette Botello. At one of our trips to the Family History Library, this time in June 2010.

Annette was very passionate about her family history. She gave several fantastic presentations here in Colorado, usually case studies on the work she’d done with her ancestors. She facilitated a Mexico genealogy group in Denver and helped many learn how to work on their genealogy. She always had time to meet up at a coffee shop and talk genealogy. Most recently we met up at Starbucks on a warm summer day and she shared with me her plan for an upcoming trip to West Virginia to meet up with many cousins she hadn’t seen in a long time. She really wanted to find a particular cemetery and conducted all of this research in old and modern maps to locate it. She had a fantastic trip and shared her stories with our little genealogy group when she returned.

This is our little genealogy club at our favorite coffee shop. From left: Annette, Deb, Me, Birdie, Denise, and Ruth. This was taken in February 2010.

I met Annette near the same time I met Birdie Holsclaw. Most of us attended the Boulder Genealogical Society. Denise Miller wanted to start a “support group” for those of us interested in getting our genealogy certification. Our group consisted of Birdie, Denise, Annette, Deb Skoff, and Ruth Ratliff. We met about once per month at a little local coffee shop. We did that until I moved to Texas for a while. During that time we tried to do Skype calls but it was too noisy in the coffee shop and the internet wasn’t great so it was a bit frustrating for myself to try to attend remotely. Then came the pandemic and we all started meeting on Zoom and our group was restored! It may be the only great thing that came out of the pandemic, me getting to meet with these ladies on the regular again!

I know for a fact that Annette was not “done” with her genealogy, nor was it in a state to be left for others to pick up. She was always working on it. She always had plans for more. And she thought she had more time. I am taking this as a sign that I need to get my genealogical affairs in order so that if the end came suddenly for me, all of my hard work would be in a reasonable state for someone else to take over or benefit from the work I’d done.

Annette hasn’t only been a genealogy friend. Her family has been so welcoming to my family over the years. Her husband Ys helped my son one school year with his math class when he did homeschooling. My son was not really a math person and having someone other than mom help him with a difficult subject seemed to do the trick. I’m forever grateful for Ys helping us through that year of school! When we moved back to Colorado in August 2020, we moved in two stages. Our daughter Ellie and I came to Colorado so she could get started in school while my husband stayed behind in Texas to get the house ready to sell and to pack up the remainder of our stuff. We lived in a rental for the first part and we kept our lawn mower in Texas so Seth could keep the yard looking nice. Ys kindly came once a week to lend his mower and his labor to help us keep the rental house lawn mowed until Seth got there. I got to know their daughters and have watched them grow from young teens into fine young women each with their own interesting path, yet always a close and loving family. It was a real blessing to have the Botellos in our lives. As they move into this new phase of their lives, I can only imagine the hole they must feel without Annette by their sides. And I know they all had a very strong faith and know she is in a better place.

I just imagine her hanging out with Birdie again, taking genealogy and movies and technology, and it makes me smile.

You will be missed, Annette.

There is a fundraiser to help the family with expenses, if you are so inclined.

County Histories: Looking at Census Leads

When looking at the details found in Samuel C. Dimick’s biographical sketch, let’s start with a basic one. Let’s look at him in the census. For each of my research subjects, I try to find them in every census they should be in. For Samuel, we will just look at a couple that I focused on because I primarily wanted to know why he came to Ohio from New Hampshire. We can’t always answer ‘why’ questions in genealogy but we can make some good educated guesses if we find the right information. So, I wanted to figure that out if I could.

1870, Lyme, Grafton County, New Hampshire

In 1870, Samuel was living with his wife Mary in Lyme, New Hampshire. He was 34, she was 35, and they had two sons, Marshall, age 2, and Burton, age 6 months. Samuel’s occupation is hard to make out, but it looks like “R.M. & Tin Plate Manuf.” I only knew he was a farmer from my earlier research.

1880, Center Township, Wood County, Ohio

By 1880, he was living in Center Township in Wood County, Ohio, which is near Bowling Green. He is listed as a farmer.

These two censuses at the bookends to his migration to Ohio. Sometime between 1870 and 1880 he and his family made the move. We will continue to look for clues about his life in the county history and see what more we can learn.

County Histories: Follow Every Lead

In the last blog post, we looked at the general family information we found in Samuel C. Dimick’s biographical sketch. Now let’s discuss all of the minutiae and details that we (and by ‘we’ I mean I) might gloss over the first (or second, or tenth) time we read a biographical sketch.

When I began researching Samuel, I didn’t know anything about him, of course, so the details that were important to me at that time were the main biographical points we looked at in the last post. However, as time moved on, I gained more experience, and I wanted to know more specific information about him and his family, I started focusing on some of that minutiae. Sometimes we just aren’t ready to absorb information from a source. And that’s ok, as long as at some point in your process (this could be many years later), you go back and review your previous research.

After really digging into the details, I was able to compile a list of other sources I needed to examine to verify those details and get more information:

  • Census Records
  • Newspapers
  • Obituaries
  • Land Records
  • Land Ownership Maps
  • Vital Records
  • City Directories
  • School Records
  • Agricultural Census
  • Indian Reservation Records
  • Revolutionary War Records
  • Expand search to other states mentioned in the sketch: New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Minnesota

Over the next several posts, we are going to look at some of these in detail. I won’t go over each and every one, because, well, that could get boring. But, there are some highlights I want to hit that really opened some new research avenues and helped me understand Samuel’s life better and in more detail.

County Histories: More Details on Samuel Cook Dimick

“We now come to the personal history of our subject, who, after attending the district schools of Lyme, entered the high school of Orford, N. H., where he completed his education. After working on his father’s farm for a time, he removed to Wisconsin, where he was in the lumber business for a year, and, on the expiration of that time, went to southern Minnesota, where for a year and a half he had charge of a government farm on the Indian reservation…

“In 1875, we find him a resident of Center township, Wood county, where he purchased 120 acres of the old Williams farm, and has here since made his home. He has one of the best orchards in the township, and his excellent farm has been brought under a high state of cultivation by industry and good management, with its attendant hard labor…

“Mr. Dimick was married at Lyme, N. H., in 1860, to Mary Marshall, who was born in 1835, and they became the parents of two children, the younger of whom, Burton C., born November 4, 1869, died July, 1889…

““…Marshall C., born December 13, 1867, was educated at Toledo and Bowling Green, and now has a half-interest in the homestead farm, to the cultivation and improvement of which he now devotes his energies. He is a young man of good address, genial and industrious, and is one of the most enterprising and progressive farmers of Center township…”

I only shared some of the most vital or interesting bits about Samuel in the quotes above. In the full sketch, some of the things we learned about him include:

  • Born: 23 June 1835, Lyme, New Hampshire
  • Married: 1860, Lyme to Mary Marshall
  • Children: Marshall Chester and Burton Cook
  • Occupations: Farming, lumber, hardware store, can manufacturing
  • Other locations: New Hampshire, Minnesota, Wisconsin
  • Land ownership: bought 120 acres of the “Old Williams Farm” in Wood County, Ohio
  • Extensive details on Mary Marshall’s family background

We have also been able to reconstruct family groups from this biographical sketch. Here is what we learned about Samuel:

We were also able to reconstruct his wife’s family:

Next time, we will start looking at some of the information in more detail and discuss following every lead from these sketches.

County Histories: Samuel Cook Dimick

Biographical Sketch of Samuel C. Dimick in the county history for Wood County, Ohio.

I know this image is incredibly tiny and I’m not expecting you to read it. I’m going to share some of the main points and highlights and some things I’ve learned and some things I’m still working on from this particular biographical sketch. If you want to read the sketch in its entirety, click here.

Samuel Cook Dimick is one of the ancestors I focused on early in my genealogy-hood. My paternal grandmother, Marge, was a Dimick. She was very interested in the Dimick family history and we were able to take her on a trip to New England to visit some ancestral towns and cemeteries. She had a copy of this book in her possession. So this was a book I was familiar with early on. This biographical sketch shares so much information about Samuel C. Dimick and alerted me to things I had not found in other records.

The sketch contains many of the usual things you would find such a general genealogical birth, marriage, death information.

“Samuel C. Dimick is the proprietor of one of the most noticeable homesteads in Center township… He comes from sturdy New England stock, and was born in Lyme, N.H. on June 23, 1835… “His father, Chester Dimick, was also there born July 6, 1802, and was a son of Samuel Dimick, a native of Dorchester, Mass. The latter aided the Colonies in their struggle for independence, and was married in the Bay State to Abigail Cook, who was born August 12, 1767, and was a daughter of Samuel Cook, of Vermont, who was also one of the heroes of the Revolution. This worthy couple passed their last days in Lyme, N. H. and to them were born twenty-one children.”

Pretty typical of general biographical sketches in county histories. This one traces ancestor back to the Revolution. The county histories generally were a celebration of our immigrant ancestors the formation of the country. We will continue exploring this sketch in future posts.

County Histories: What’s In Them?

If you haven’t used a county history or found your ancestors in one, I encourage you to look. Later in this series we will get to some search and locating techniques. Let’s discuss what you might expect to find in a county history.

Many county histories have two parts, even if they are not formally called out. Generally speaking, there is the part that discusses the history of the county, of the place, itself. This section will contain information on topics such as: early geography, geology, Native American tribes in the area, early settlers, the first towns in that county, the first government officials, the first churches, schools, and so on.

Table of Contents from the Wood County, Ohio county history.

From the table of contents for the history from Wood County, Ohio, you can see several topics just from this one section of the page that would be of interest to genealogists: newspapers, medicine, military, churches, schools, early pioneers, agricultural societies, etc.

You might find more modern publications such as Patterns and Pieces from Lyme, New Hampshire. As you can see, many similar topics are included.

Title page from Patterns and Pieces.

Then there is the second section, the section with the biographical sketches of our ancestors. These biographical sketches usually followed a male and his lineage back to the immigrant ancestor. Sometimes you will also get a lineage from his wife back to her immigrant ancestor, usually along her father’s line. If you are lucky, you might find a photograph or a sketch of your ancestor (I have not been that lucky yet.)

Next time, we will look at one of my favorite biographical sketches.

County Histories: A Valuable Resource

County histories have been a huge help to my research over the years and so I wanted to take some time to discuss them. There are definitely pros and cons when it comes to working with county histories. Big pro, often they were informed by family members, people who should know the data being published. Big con, there are rarely citations, well because of the previous “pro” mostly. Why would you give a citation for something you know from firsthand knowledge or at the very least, family lore?

The author’s copy of the county history for Wood County, Ohio.

County histories are, well, histories of a particular county. You may also find regional histories that encompass several counties in one. Primarily, they provide a history of the area and sometimes biographical sketches of many of the citizens of that county. They are sometimes called “mug books” or “vanity sketches.” Traditional county histories were published by companies who sold “subscriptions” to the book in order to have a family’s sketch included. You may also find county histories that were funded as a project by a county or town for an anniversary, or by a historical or genealogical society in that town.

Generally speaking, county histories became popular around 1876, at the centennial of the United States, and typically followed the lineage of that family back to their immigrant ancestor as a way to celebrate the growth of the nation. These books were published for about a 45-year period until about 1920. You may also find some books that could be considered county histories published near the bicentennial in 1976. Some of these later publications may be in the form of oral history interviews and recollections.

These county histories are not just an excellent source for a large amount of information about a family, they also contain valuable information about the formation of the county or region as well. Over the next several weeks, we will look at county histories, many as they related to personal research projects and how they guided my research.

Plans for the rest of the year and some for next…

Before I start the next series of my blog, I just wanted to give a quick update for me and the rest of the year and some exciting things starting next year.

First, the last Mastering Genealogical Proof study group for 2022 is starting next week. You only have a few days left to register if you are interested. (The 2023 schedule is still being formed for both MGP and MGD so stay tuned.) You can check the webpage for all class schedules or follow my Facebook page or subscribe to this blog to be kept up to date. (At the bottom of each page is a place to enter your email address to get updates to my blog.)

Scroll to the bottom of this page to find the location for getting emails when a new blog post is published.

Second, I am starting a new group focused on WRITING in 2023. It is called the “Writer’s Workshop Group 2023” and will be held once per month to allow for attendees to work on various aspects of their writing. More information and registration can be found here. The class size is limited so do not wait to sign up!

Third, Cyndi Ingle (of Cyndi’s List) and I will be holding our NGSQ study groups again next year. If you have not participated, but would like to be notified when registration happens, please sign up on the waitlist here.

Fourth, I will be participating in the Ohio Genealogical Society Conference in April 2023. I am going to present the keynote on Thursday titled “The Virtue of the Great Lakes: Contributions to Westward Expansion,” as well as several other lectures.

Fifth, I am excited to be coordinating our Great Lakes course again at GRIP in June 2023. The instructors are myself, Cyndi Ingle, Paula Stuart-Warren, and Judy Russell. We had a blast last time and many good comments so we are excited to do it again. It is one of my favorite topics.

I am always providing webinars throughout the year. Between living through the pandemic and now having a full-time job, I have decided to limit my in-person speaking. So, I will mostly be found at online events. (No gas money, driving through stressful traffic, not to mention the time commitment for travel. Not only is that easier for me and less expense for the societies I’m speaking to, it is better for the environment.) My speaking calendar can be found at the bottom of my webpages or click here. I hope to see you at any of the events above.

Next Round of Mastering Genealogical Proof Study Groups are Forming!

Our next round of Mastering Genealogical Proof study groups is forming! We are studying the book by Tom Jones and working through the workbook questions. These two groups will be lead by Cyndi Ingle (of Cyndi’s List). Here are the details:

  • There will be two sessions: Wednesday daytime at 3pm Eastern, and Wednesday evenings at 7pm Eastern (so adjust for your time zone), both being led by Cyndi Ingle. Beginning October 5 – November 16, 2022 (7 weeks, plus optional 8th week). Each class will be about an hour.
  • We will meet on Zoom.
  • Cost for the course: $75
  • You will need to have the book, Mastering Genealogical Proof by Tom Jones. It can be purchased on Amazon or through the National Genealogical Society if you don’t already have it.
  • There are questions in the book that we will use to guide discussion. Reading the chapter and answering the discussion questions will prepare you for each week’s class.
  • For first half (or so) of each class session, we will present/recap the principles for that week (we’ll have slides).
  • The second half will be going over the discussion questions.
  • There will also be a private Facebook group for this class only so you can ask questions and discuss issues in-between class sessions.
  • Class size is limited to 25.

Choose either of these two times, click the link to register:

We look forward to studying with you!

If this session does not work for you, we will be holding the next session in 2023. To be notified when registration opens for the next session, please click this link to sign up for the waitlist. (This waitlist is just a way for us to collect your email so we can notify you of registration and is not a guarantee of a seat in the class.)

Why You Should Use Cyndi’s List: Words from Cyndi Herself

Since I wrote a blog series about using Cyndi’s List, I thought I’d ask Cyndi some questions that had been lingering after writing about her website. Here are the words straight from the desk of Cyndi. Enjoy!

Give a brief origin story for Cyndi’s List. How’d you get started? What made you want to turn this into a business?

I’m a member of the Tacoma-Pierce County Genealogical Society. Every summer we take time off, but in September we get back together and do a show-and-tell. In September 1995 my show-and-tell was that I had bought a new computer and started exploring the Internet for genealogy. I made a list, a whole page long, of everything I could find online for genealogy. The quarterly editor cornered me and asked if I could make it into a longer article, maybe 5 to 6 pages long. I told her I could, but I would have to probably categorize the links. It was published that fall. And in January 1996 I started teaching myself how to write HTML and put up a rudimentary personal web site on 4 March 1996 that included this little side-page with a list of links from that article. It was never intended to be a business. But by 1997-8 it had gained notoriety online and the various genealogy companies came knocking. I had sponsorship from Sierra Online for about 3 years, started running ads on the site and before I knew it, it was a business.

What has been the biggest frustration of running the website? What’s the biggest misunderstanding of what you do or how the site works? (Or both?)

There are several frustrations throughout the years. In general, it comes down to people and their perceptions of the web site or of me running the web site. I have had people insist that I add links to their sites within their timeline. I have had people argue that Cyndi is not a real person and that there is a team of people who run the site. I have had people copy my work and slap their own name on it. I have had people assume a lot about me, about the contents of the site, and about what I do and how I do it. Most of the time that assumption is that things must be automated, and the site run by many.

First, it really is just me. I have had some help here and there throughout the years, but it is a one-woman show. I do need to sleep and eat sometimes. And I do have other obligations. I do my best to keep up with the requests for links and the broken link reports. But I’m only human. And all this work is done manually, one at a time. I am a genealogist with 42 years of experience. I use that experience and my tech abilities to track down everything I can find for genealogical research. Then I determine ways to categorize and sub-categorize the links to make it as easy to find as possible. I try to outthink my fellow genealogist by cross-referencing whenever I can. And I spend a lot of time educating myself on new topics to build new categories or to improve on old ones. As one person, I would greatly appreciate patience and kindness from the people who use the site.

Probably one of the most frustrating statements I hear is that the site is just too big. That’s like saying there are too many books in the library. What it means is that the general user doesn’t know how to focus their research when using the site. You don’t use the entire site if you only need to look for resources in Ohio. You just browse to the U.S. and then Ohio.

And another frustrating statement I hear, “I used to use Cyndi’s List. Now I just use Google.” Well, if you don’t know that something exists in the first place, how would you know to Google for it? That’s my standard answer and it fits. Browsing Cyndi’s List and the categories, sub-categories, and links is the strength of the site. Finding things that you didn’t know were out there. Or things that Google cannot reach or didn’t reach and bring back in your searches. Please trust this experienced genealogist to find them for you.

And last, I wish wish wish that people would let me know when they change their sites or move their sites. I often get a lot of communication from people who want me to add a new link to their website. But, after that I don’t often hear from them again. I don’t think it occurs to them to let me know when I need to update those links. But, a broken link to their site is not great advertising for their site. And I don’t know when links break unless I physically check them myself or when someone else informs me. 

How do you make a living?

The site is free for everyone to access and to use. It costs the visitor nothing. But the site costs money for me to maintain and to run. And my 12-hour workdays mean this is a real-live job. My income from Cyndi’s List comes from advertising and affiliate links. You will see graphic ads around the edges of every page – along the top, sides, and the bottom. Google AdSense is also inserting some new ads that popup and sometimes get inserted in the text (not yet sure how I like those, but the Google ads are necessary). And some of the commercial text links in the site are coded for affiliates. Viewing these ads, clicking on these ads and links, and sometimes even making a purchase after you have clicked, will help to generate commissions for Cyndi’s List. It costs you nothing, but it helps to support CL. After the last major upgrade of the site in 2011 I also added a PayPal Donate button. It took 5 years, but users of Cyndi’s List helped me pay for that upgrade in whole. You can shop using any of the affiliate links here: https://www.cyndislist.com/shop/

How do you handle broken links?

Broken links are the biggest issue online. It is the nature of the Internet. Links will break on Cyndi’s List, on Google, and everywhere in between. I have some links from 1996 that still work, and I have links that are only a year old that have already become broken. Every time a web site is rearranged, the URLs get changed and links break. I spend at least half my time updating broken links, if not more. People can use the purple tab on the left side of the pages to Report a Broken Link to me. I will do my best to fix the link and will likely email you when I do. And often if you report one broken link to me it means that I will fix multiple other links that relate to that one. Sometimes I also find new links to add to the site while I’m busy locating a fix for the broken link. Overall, it is a win-win for everyone if you report just one broken link to me. I don’t know that a link is broken unless you report them to me or if I happen to click on one myself. I really appreciate any help you all give me by letting me know about them.

What has been the best thing from doing the website?

One of the best things ever is hearing of success stories because someone used Cyndi’s List. I love knowing that it has helped people in their research. I learned early on that Cyndi’s List helped people learn how to do research too. Browsing the categories gives them ideas for new research avenues to follow. It teaches them about new topics and methodology. Using the site helps them become better researchers. I’ve also been incredibly lucky that something I love to do has also served as my job and a way to earn an income from home as I raised my son and now care for my mother.

Is there anything else you’d like the world to know?

I’m incredibly proud of what I created. It started as a small way to help my local genealogical society and ended up as a massive way to help genealogists all around the world. I want the world to know that I’m still here and I’m still happy to help. Please submit a new link or report those broken links and we will keep plugging away together!