Sunday, December 27, 2015

52 Ancestors #52: Genealogy Resolutions

I didn't used make resolutions on New Year's. I believe self-improvement is a continuous process. When your recognize something about yourself that doesn't please you, start fixing it right away. Don't wait for the new year. Sometimes you fail, have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try again. Other times you can take a victory lap. Trying to become a better person is a never-ending process.

But on 1 January 2013 I made one resolution and that was Dad's 20+ years of genealogy research would not die and would continue and be shared with others.

I'd always been intrigued by family history from the first time I sat with Dad in his home office helping him with data entry into his Family Tree Maker database and listening to his stories. Since he was working on his and Mom's family, I would work on my husbands'. His grandparents all emigrated from eastern Europe and progress was slow to nonexistent. I would stop for years at a time, start again, find a tidbit, and hit another brick wall.

Trakai, Lithuania, where my husbands' paternal grandfather was born. It
took 10 years to locate the name of this city; photograph courtesy of

But in 2012, I brought back all Dad's genealogy files and software because his health did not permit him to continue and became obsessed!

One night I realized I was making interesting discovery after interesting discovery and without much thought started blogging about them. Who wouldn't want to tell people that Charles Dickens' Bleak House was written about their family? Or that the 1st Lord Howe had to forcibly toss someone out of the window to enforce his claim to a Jennens inheritance? Or about the quack doctor who likely killed Jonathan Hiller's first wife?

However, I quickly ran out of steam. I was writing all the time and no longer researching. Soon I had no more material about which to blog. After a month, the blog almost died. I stopped thinking about it and started researching in earnest again. And, of course, started finding interesting stories. After five months I resumed blogging and learned to pace myself. I don't have to post every day. I came up with a schedule that works for me -- usually three or four posts a week -- if it's less, that is okay, too. When I have an idea I made a placeholder post, schedule it and include the link to the person in my tree and a brief description of what I want to write about. I've got ideas through 2018 now!

On 1 January 2014 I made another New Year's resolution, I would write a book about Dad's one immigrant line from Scotland -- his mother's paternal Muir line. He didn't know much about his Muir ancestors because when he was researching he had no access to Scottish records. Using ScotlandsPeople, I do.

East Kilbride, Scotland, Parish Church, built in 1774, where my great great
aunt, Martha Muir married John Riddell in 1852; photograph courtesy of

After several false start starts, I started writing the book as a blog in October of 2014. When completed, it will encompass eight volumes -- one for every child of my Muir three times great grandparents who lived to adulthood and had children. When I finish the descendants of one child, I make an electronic book and post a link, making it available for download to anyone who is interested. After the second volume was completed I skipped ahead to my two times great grandfather, James Muir. And hit a wall when I got to my own grandmother. I found it very difficult to write about people I actually knew.

So I am making another New Year's resolution in 2016 -- I will start writing this book again, darn it!

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 ancestors in 52 weeks challenge optional theme Resolution.

Writing a Family History
Hello from the Old Dominion


  1. I enjoyed reading your thoughtful post, Schalene. I too reached a stage when I was blogging so much that I was doing very little research - compounded by the fact I am now heavily involved with the blog launched this year for my local heritage group. I still think you are doing marvellously to post 3-4 times a week. I have resolved to pull out of blogging on Worldwide Genealogy Collaboration, which hopefully may free up some of my time. I wish you well with your plans for writing up your Scottish research and look forward to reading about it on your blog.

  2. ScotSue, I'll miss your World Wide Genealogy Collaboration posts. I learned so much about Scottish research from many of them. I will continue to follow your blog and that of your local heritage group. Thanks!

  3. I enjoyed reading about your genealogy and blogging process; it's always helpful to learn how others go about things. I noticed you had a James Muir in your story. My daughter-in-law has a James Muir from Maryhill in the Glasgow area(1916-1993) in her tree; this James Muir's father was another James Muir - I cannot help but wonder if there's any connection?

    1. Joanne, "my" James Muir was born in 1848 in East Kilbride and died in 1926 in Mystic, Iowa. He was my great great grandfather and son of Robert Muir (c1800-1869) and Henrietta Brown. He was one of 12 children and several of his siblings and their descendants named a son James. I haven't traced them all yet. Muir is a very common Scottish name, however., but perhaps I am related to your daughter-in-law.