Pillowcases, Doilies, and Hankies – Oh My!

When Aunt Elaine passed away in February of 2019, her daughter, Elan (my sister/cousin), sent me home with Aunt Elaine’s embroidered and crocheted pillowcases and a few doilies. I also had a stack of vintage tablecloths, but that’s for another post!

connie ward girl with a past family history genealogy heirloom quilt ancestor Elaine Shuman Elan McMahan pillowcases vintage linens hankies doilies

Elaine and Elan, two of my most favorite people in the whole world

I had no idea what to do with these treasures, but after some online snooping, I had a plan. And that plan now hangs on my bedroom wall.

connie ward girl with a past blog genealogy family history heirlooms pillowcases vintage linens Elaine Shuman doilies hankies

Heirloom quilt made February 2020

You can see pieces of pillowcases, lace, hankies, doilies, and pot holders, all made by four generations of women: Emma Anderson Ohman, her daughter Elna Anderson Hunsaker, her daughters Edith Hunsaker Bronson and Elaine Hunsaker Shuman, and Edith’s daughter Connie Bronson Ward (me!).

It definitely was a little scary to make that first cut in a pair of heirloom pillowcases that looked brand new, but as the project developed it was fun to figure out how best to display these items in the 8″ hexagon shape I had chosen.

connie ward girl with a past family history genealogy heirloom quilt vintage linens pillowcases handkerchiefs doilies

All of the important historical information is written across the top of the quilt.

My wonderful friend, Deb, is the “finisher” of my projects and this one was no exception. She makes everything look beautiful.

connie ward girl with a past family history genealogy heirloom quilt Debra Holmes pillowcases vintage linens doilies hankies Elaine Shuman Elna Hunsaker Edith Bronson Emma Ohman

Freshly quilted, ready for binding.

My 98-year-old mom was so happy to see these heirlooms preserved forever (many were made by her).

connie ward girl with a past family history genealogy heirloom quilt vintage linens pillowcases doilies hankerchiefs Edith Bronson

Connie and mom, Edith Bronson

The quilt was so much fun to design and sew. I showed it to my two sisters and ended up with more boxes full of vintage linens from their cedar chests. So two more quilts are almost finished in record time, thanks to COVID-19. I will post pictures after they are quilted.

What to do during quarantine? Gather up those vintage linens from your family and let your imagination run wild!


Takin’ It To The Street

I had such a great time the past couple of weeks taking my Mountain Genealogy Retreat to California. I taught two-day seminars in San Clemente and Carlsbad with 15 fantastic people. We laughed, cried, learned and shared and it was so much fun.

connie ward girlwithapast blog genealogy family history retreat class seminar california

San Clemente Seminar with Alicia Anderson, Terri Chapman, Lisa Davis, Pam Stark, Bill Chapman, Elizabeth Puckett, Kimi Encarnacion, Julie Beutler, Cindy Lang

If you would like the Mountain Genealogy Retreat to come to you in the form of a 2-day seminar, here’s what you do:

  1. Coordinate a date with me
  2. Host the event at your home – two 8-hour days
  3. Enroll 7-8 friends at $150 each (no charge for you)
  4. Plan and prepare the meals – brunch and linner each day with snacks
  5. I provide all the materials, my 45 years of genealogy experience, inspiring stories, one-on-one research education and help, and I teach everything you want to know about journals, personal histories, organizing pictures and documents, heirlooms and traditions, and my research process using FamilySearch and Ancestry
  6. At the end of the second day I will spend as much time as needed with you and/or your family answering questions and helping you with research problems

It’s a great deal, right??? And bringing the spirit of family history to your home through friends and inspiring stories is priceless!

Contact me soon for more information!

Mountain Genealogy Retreat

Last year I started something new – a monthly overnight genealogy retreat held at my home through the good weather months.  I love to teach genealogy, so this was so much fun for me.  There were 30 women and teens who joined me in groups of 3 to 12!

Connie Ward girl with a past genealogy retreat Eden Utah journaling life story family history research organization

One of our retreat groups taking a break!

I edited and refined the materials until I was able to present the important basics of everything pertaining to genealogy in a short period of time.  I taught organizing documents and pictures, writing journals and life stories, researching and navigating mega websites, understanding census records, telling and recording stories, and much more.  By the time each event was finished and the last guest had walked out the door, I was exhausted, but sad to see it end.  We shared incredible life lessons through our stories, we laughed and cried together, and we each left with a desire to connect with ancestors and loved ones.  Everyone went home with a binder full of printed information on everything that was taught.

This summer’s retreats are filling up, but I still have a few openings for June 22-23 and I could take two or three more people on August 31-September 1.

I am also willing to set up other weekends if you have a group of friends who want to attend together.  So if you live in decent proximity to Eden, Utah (or even if you don’t – I have had guests from Texas and California), and you would like to jump start or fine tune your genealogy yearnings, please contact me and let’s do it!  The cost for materials,  comfortable beds and good food is $150.  The friendship, laughter, and tears are free!

Since we never purchase anything without reading the reviews, here are a couple:

This is a wonderful opportunity, so glad I was able to attend the last one. Connie’s hospitality and knowledge of the subject are off the chart!! – Marianne

I was lucky enough to attend the first retreat. Wonderful information by an incredible mentor and friend. – Dixie

What’s Black & White & Read All Over?

Old Fulton New York Postcards

If you have ancestors from New York, fultonhistory.com is a magical website!  It is set up in an unusual way and takes some time to get used to the search format, but once you have it down, you can uncover some fabulous information and unlock hard research problems. fultonhistory-com

It seems like my whole family, almost without exception, ended up living in New York at some point.  Case in point is the Penny (or Penney) family.  Along with the Towners and the Crosbys, this huge family lived and died in Putnam County, which should make research easy, but I still ran across unanswered questions – which eventually were solved by looking at fultonhistory.com (or Old Fulton New York Postcards).

Right now I am stumped by a problem that was actually created at fultonhistory.com!  Here it is in a nutshell:


415 West 147th Street, Manhattan, NY where the Roe family lived.

Sarah Antoinette Penny (1865-1962) married Joseph Brewster Roe (1861-1933), a successful attorney in Manhattan.  The two of them lived on 147th Street and participated in the social life of New York City, so I found many newspaper articles about them at fultonhistory.com.  Antoinette and J. Brewster raised his daughter by his first marriage, Ruth Roe (1894-1958).

I found very little information on Ruth until a search on fultonhistory.com found this from The Bridgeport Post, Friday, October 3, 1958:

“Danbury, Oct. 3 – Services for Mrs. Ruth Roe Roosevelt, 64, wife of Andre Roosevelt, a resident of Petionville, Haiti, who died Wednesday in Newtown took place today in the Hull funeral home.  Burial was in Milltown cemetery, Brewster, N. Y.  Mrs. Roosevelt was born in New York City, and had lived in Brewster.  She is survived, in addition to her husband, by her stepmother, Mrs. Antoinette Pinney [Penny] Roe, of Danbury.”


Andre Roosevelt


Andre Roosevelt in 1936


Of course I was curious about who she had married and why he lived in Haiti.  A Google search of Andre Roosevelt and Haiti brought me to this information, mostly from Wikipedia:


“Cornelius Louis André Roosevelt (April 24, 1879 – July 21, 1962) was a French-born American filmmaker and resort hotel manager of American origin.

He was born in Paris to Cornelius Roosevelt (1847–1902), a cousin of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, who married a French actress Anna.

He married first Adelheid Lange in 1905, then after a divorce, Alice La Fontant in Haiti. Roosevelt was an adventurer, traveling to Bali in 1924, attempting to develop the tourist market but at the same time preserve Bali’s cultural integrity. He and Armand Denis (who married Andre’s daughter Leila) shot Goona-Goona, An Authentic Melodrama (also called The Kris). It was released in the United States in 1930 and started an American craze for Bali. He was also known for his 1938 film Beyond the Caribbean. He died in July 1962 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.”

Andre Roosevelt – interesting guy with a famous pedigree – but notice that nothing is said about a wife named Ruth.  How many Andre Roosevelts could there be living in Haiti in 1958 with a wife named Ruth???  The Connecticut Death Index on ancestry.com also lists Ruth Roosevelt’s death date, place, age, and spouse’s name Andre.  These are the ONLY two documents I can find linking Ruth Roe to Andre Roosevelt.

Sometimes these fabulous websites just create more questions!!!!  If any of this information sounds familiar to anyone out there, please enlighten me!  And in the meantime, remember that old newspapers are a MUST in genealogy research:

GenealogyBank, ChroniclingAmerica, Newspapers.com, NewspaperArchive.com are a few of my faves.

Peek a Boo, I See You: Inspire Someone

Only minutes ago I settled myself on a comfy chaise lounge on my back deck overlooking the beautiful valley where I live.

Connie Ward girl with a past journal genealogy Nordic Valley Utah Eden sunset

I was excited to begin reading “Strange Fits of Passion” by one of my favorite authors, Anita Shreve.

Anita Shreve Strange Fits of Passion novel

I was only a couple of paragraphs into the story when I was again reminded of how very important the written word is.


I have wanted to do more posts on journal writing and Anita Shreve’s first few pages made me jump right up and come in the house to start constructing a blog post.  This will be short, mainly just an introduction to what will be coming in this series about journal writing.

Why is it important to write in a journal?  Or is it?  I will give a few examples from my life, beginning with my daughter, Kimi, who left home right after high school and moved to Southern California to figure out what she wanted to be when she grew up.  And if you are interested in what she became, just click here and be pleasantly surprised (and no, she is not into genealogy!).

connie ward girl with a past blog genealogy family history Kimi Encarnacion HoneyofCalifornia

But, back to my post.

At one point in Kimi’s journey, she went through a patch of time where not everything was easy or fun and she had questions.  If you are a parent, you are familiar with those times when your kids have to find out for themselves and make their own decisions.  There wasn’t much I could do, being 10 hours and 700+ miles away, but for some reason I decided to remind her of the good/funny/crazy times of her childhood.  I thought it might ground her and put her mind on something light for a change.

Luckily I had kept a pretty regular journal from the time Kimi was about 8 or 9 years old, so I started reading through those journals and pulling tidbits that involved her.  It was actually pretty fun and served to remind me of those fun times when my girls were in elementary school.


I continued to email her these quotes from my journal, and although she remarked on some of them, I didn’t know if they were helping until a few months later when I received an email thanking me and telling me that being reminded of who and what she was at that age really helped her to come to grips with who and what she was as an adult.  Sadly, her reply didn’t find its way into my journal at the time, but I still remember what she said.

So, there ya go – my first reason for writing in a journal – you never know who may need the words you have written!  And now – back to “Strange Fits of Passion!”

connie ward girl with a past blog genealogy family history photo display magazine file organization sheet music ancestor pictures vintage frames


Lost and Found: Organizing Digital Documents

I sort of took the summer off from genealogy to do more house organizing and family adventures, but here it is November and I think summer is over judging by the scene outside!


I saw my wonderful friend of 60+ years this week (Marianne) and she was preparing to scan her genealogy documents so her sister would have access to them.  She asked my advice on how to best handle the situation.  That reminded me that I haven’t yet shared one of my best genealogy organization tips, so here it is.

When saving documents you find at the library or online or at Grandma’s house, or really anywhere, this is the method I learned while serving as a missionary at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.  I was skeptical at first, but I love this method and use it consistently – and CONSISTENCY is the key.

  1. Save the document with the source material included, if possible, or attach the source material to the document by adding a text box at the bottom or at the very least a separate document listing the source.  I use a free software download called Irfanview, which makes it easy to add text to the document (but that’s yet another blog post!).
  2. For male ancestors, save the document by their last, first, and middle names, then their birth date in parenthesis, then the type of document and year.  Make sure the year stays at the end (easier to see at a glance and keeps census records in order).

Smith John Wesley (1841) census 1870

  1. For female ancestors, save the document by their maiden name, first, middle, then married last name in parenthesis, birth date in parenthesis, then the type of document and year of document.

Jones Margaret Ann (Smith) (1845) death cert 1910

  1. If the female has been married more than once, include all married names beginning with the first marriage.

Adams Belinda (Davis) (Green) (1890) news 1928

  1. Using punctuation just complicates matters and messes with the sorting as far as I’m concerned.
  2. Consistency is the key so that when you end up with hundreds of documents, each person’s documents will be listed alphabetically together and in year order.
  3. Abbreviate words like certificate (cert) and newspaper article (news) and picture (pic) if you like, but just be consistent for every document.
  4. You can keep all documents in one big folder or you can separate them into your four family lines.  I don’t separate them any further than that, however, because then I would have to remember which family they are in!  I only divide my documents into the four family lines because I am never working on more than one at a time.  So my documents are all in a folder called ALL FAMILY FILES and are separated into four folders:  Anderson, Hunsaker, Wilcox, and Bronson.
  5. If you are using a flash drive away from home, save everything in the same way and then just transfer all documents to your hard drive.
  6. And, as a last tip, if you copy those genealogy documents to Evernote,  you can access them on all your devices and on public computers with your log in and password.  And it is always in the cloud!

Here is a snapshot of how this looks when I open my genealogy documents folder:

screen shot 1


Notice the long one – I often name pictures with all the people in case I lose the original.

I hope this works for you.  If you have particular questions, please ask!

Cemetery Road Trip: tradition!

M. Russell Ballard said, “Create meaningful family bonds that give your children an identity stronger than what they can find with their peer group or at school or anyplace else. This can be done through family traditions for birthdays, for holidays, for dinnertime, and for Sundays.“

I am a firm believer in this philosophy.  Traditions are what keep our families strong, united, and glued together.  We have created many family traditions in our 48 years of marriage, but the most important for me is one carried over from my childhood – Memorial Day.

memorial day

For our family, this is not a day to go boating or camping or doing yard work, etc., but it is a day to honor our deceased family members, especially those who served our country.  When my dad returned from World War II, he joined the Borgstrom Brothers VFW Post in Tremonton, Utah, and began a life of service to others.

You may have heard of the Borgstrom Brothers.  “World War II took the lives of many Utahns, but no family in the state sacrificed more for the Allied cause than Alben and Gunda Borgstrom of Thatcher, Box Elder County. Four of the five sons they sent off to battle died within a six-month period during 1944. ‘Few families in American history have been called upon to make such a tremendous sacrifice for the cause of freedom and liberty,’ one speaker noted at ceremonies honoring the Borgstrom brothers in 1946.”

The four Borgstrom brothers from Thatcher, Utah

The four Borgstrom brothers from Thatcher, Utah

LeRoy Elmer Borgstrom, born April 30, 1914; drafted into the Army on November 7, 1942; served in medical unit of the 361st Infantry, 91st Division; killed in action in Italy on June 22, 1944.

Clyde Eugene Borgstrom, born February 15, 1916; enlisted in the Marines on October 14, 1940; killed in action on March 17, 1944, at Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.

Rolon Day Borgstrom, twin, born May 5, 1925; drafted into the Army on July 7, 1943, two weeks after High School Graduation; shipped overseas in June 1944 as an aerial gunner; died in England on August 8, 1944 of injuries suffered during a bombing mission over France and Germany.

Rulon Jay Borgstrom, twin, born May 5, 1925; drafted into the Army on July 7, 1943, two weeks after High School Graduation; also a gunner on a heavy bomber; killed in action on August 25, 1944, two and a half weeks after his twin brother Rolon.

Boyd Carl Borgstrom, born July 21, 1921, in Thatcher; had enlisted on October 14, 1940, with his brother Clyde; shipped from the South Pacific to Camp LeJeune, North Carolina, after his fourth brother was missing in action; discharged on October 7, 1944.

Riverview Cemetery in Tremonton, Utah

Riverview Cemetery in Tremonton, Utah, where the Borgstrom Brothers are buried within steps of our family plot.

For me, the most important of the VFW service projects took place on Memorial Day.  I was thrilled as a little girl to watch my dad and the other veterans march into the cemetery in full uniform, carrying their rifles.  I got chills when I watched them raise the flag and then in almost fearful anticipation waited to hear that 21-gun salute.  It was loud, but it thrilled me to the core.  That picture is forever etched in my mind.

21 gun salute

As soon as we returned from our seven years in California, my husband and I started taking our little girls to the cemeteries on Memorial Day to place flowers on the graves of grandmas and grandpas.  It was a great way to introduce our children to the people they had never known, but had been very important in our lives.

Yesterday (May 25, 2015) marked the 40th anniversary of that family tradition for us.

connie ward girl with a past genealogy blog family history memorial day riverview cemetery tremonton bronson

As each of the girls married, I informed their husbands that Memorial Day was sacred in our family and that our holiday would be spent performing the service for which it was intended.  Those boys like to mumble every year just to get a reaction, but they have not missed a year of decorating graves with us. I appreciate that more than they know.

A few years ago, I made a book for each family to read as we went from cemetery to cemetery with an explanation of why the holiday is so important to me and a short history of each person we honor, both friends and family.

A sampling of pages in the Memorial Day book

A sampling of pages in the Memorial Day book

Also included are Memorial Day word search puzzles and some trivia to keep the grandkids busy during the 80 mile drive.  In the back of the book are pictures taken at the cemeteries each year.

connie ward girl with a past blog genealogy family history memorial day cemeteries headstones family

connie ward girl with a past genealogy blog family history memorial day grandchildren veterans cemeterySo if you haven’t already, start some family traditions that have deep meaning, traditions that teach, traditions that keep the family together.

Peek-A-Boo, I See You: a life that will live forever

My mom is now 93.5 years strong.

connie ward girl with a past blog genealogy family history biography mother legacy

She was the quintessential farm wife, keeping the home fires burning while keeping two mischievious and inquisitive boys from burning down the house.

connie ward girl with a past blog genealogy family history biographies legacy farmconnie ward girl with a past blog genealogy family history biography legacy brothers

She cooked big midday meals in between growing a garden and plucking chickens.  She did piles of laundry and then ironed all the tablecloths, pillowcases, dishtowels, handkerchiefs and anything else that was flat.  She encouraged her three daughters to design their own clothes and then bought the fabric and sewed it up just right (including prom and wedding dresses).  She budgeted the small amount of farm income while providing wonderful birthdays and holidays, not to mention the most amazing Christmases.  AND she was the constant companion to her equally hardworking husband. connie ward girl with a past blog genealogy family history biographies legacy parentsThe list goes on and on, and I don’t know how she managed to do it all.  Oh, and did I mention that she worked as a bookkeeper for several businessmen in the area?

connie ward girl with a past blog genealogy family history biographies mother legacy

She raised five children.

Bronson Reunion 2006 054

She was an attentive sister to three siblings.  She was a loving and dedicated daughter.

connie ward girl with a past blog genealogy family history biographies legacy siblings father family

She gathered her big extended family together each year for a Labor Day reunion.

connie ward girl with a past blog genealogy family history biographies family reunion

And yet somehow in the middle of that very busy life, she managed in a 2-year period in her early 70’s to write the histories of her mother, her father, her grandmother, herself, and the Bronson, Lyon, and Wilcox families.

connie ward girl with a past blog genealogy family history biographies legacy histories

After dad died in 2002, she added to the history she had encouraged him to write and had it printed for all of us.  She wrote seven books in all, beautifully written and including pictures and documents.  This is what I call leaving a legacy!

connie ward girl with a past blog genealogy family history biographies histories legacy

What does she do now?

She blesses teenage girls with her musical talents and her love.

connie ward girl with a past blog genealogy family history biographies legacy history service talents music

She serves and cares for her neighbors, crochets beautiful gifts, still makes bread every week, and is the matriarch and example to her family of 75+.

connie ward girl with a past blog genealogy family history biographies descendants legacy

Mom is not one of those people who will be forgotten. She has created a lasting legacy, not only in what she has accomplished, but in who she really is.

connie ward girl with a past blog genealogy family history biographies legacy history talents

Peek-A-Boo, I See You: 1000 words

Does a picture really paint a thousand words?  For me, a picture paints a thousand memories.  There are many things that I only really remember because I have pictures to document.  I saw some pictures in my daughter’s album Sunday of 10-12 of us seated around her dining table with Mad Hatter hats made from paper bags that we had created and decorated.  I looked at that picture (and I was in it) and realized I had absolutely no recollection of the event!  She was the only one with a picture.  It made me wonder how many other wonderful and crazy events in my life are missing from memory because I was not carrying a camera.

After all, isn’t that why we take pictures?  To remember?  We all have a few pictures of ancestors we never met, and priceless those are to us.  I have two favorites, one of my Grandma Bronson who I knew well, and one of my Great-grandma Wilcox who died before I was born.

Marguerite Wilcox Bronson with baby, Beth

Marguerite Wilcox Bronson with baby, Beth

Not only is this a precious picture of my Grandma Bronson taken in about 1913/14, but it has an interesting story.  We have pieced together the information that was handed down, but only Grandma knows all the facts, and she has been gone for over 40 years.  Bottom line, she was young when she had this baby, and the baby was raised by Grandma’s parents.  My dad didn’t even know of the existence of this older sister until he was almost an adult.

Eliza Snow Lyon on the right and her sisters

Eliza Snow Lyon on the right and her sisters

Grandma Bronson’s mother was 20 years old, living at home with her family in Salt Lake City in the late 1800’s, when a young man from Omaha – Charles Emery Wilcox – came to Utah to work on the new streetcars.  Eliza’s brother had a rooming house and Charles was staying there.  Who wouldn’t be smitten by this beautiful young lady?  And of course the rest is history.

Now with everyone packing a cell phone, we have no excuses for having no pictures – unless you are like me –  the one taking all the pictures.  And I don’t do selfies – short arms, big head, short neck – these all shout “say no to selfies.”  So if I am going to be remembered through pictures, I have to make sure I hand off the phone/camera to someone else occasionally.  I think through the years I’ve managed to capture the real me!

A glimpse into my life through picture - the good, the bad, the dorky!

A glimpse into my life through picture – the good, the bad, the dorky!

But one of my pet peeves is that with all the digital photos, most are on a phone, a computer, or a backup system.  They are often not printed out and put in books anymore – and I think that’s a shame!  I love when my grandkids gather around my photo albums to laugh, chat, and remember.  After all, that’s what photos are for, right?

Peek-A-Boo, I See You: hobbies that live on

connie ward girl with a past blog family history genealogy keepsakes crochet hobby baby blanket supplies yarn

My maternal grandmother died when I was 11.  My sisters were only 5 and 3.  We lived next door to Nana, so I saw her almost every day of those 11 years.  I know that a lot of what I remember about her is because of pictures.

Elna Katherine Anderson Hunsaker, 1901-1957

Elna Katherine Anderson Hunsaker, 1901-1957

My mom knew it would be hard for us to remember Nan, so she kept some very important reminders so we would never forget her.

connie ward girl with a past blog family history genealogy keepsakes antique hats recipe box

My mom kept lots of Nan’s things – dresses, hats, purses, household items, sewing basket, recipe file, button box, etc.

Nan could crochet like none other.  My sisters and I treasure the items she made and left behind for us – hankies, hot pads, pillowcase lace, doilies, purses, pin cushions.

My baby sweater and bib, hankies, hot pads, purse

My baby sweater and bib, hankies, hot pads, purse

My sister, Rita, inherited Nan’s talent for crochet, and although I do not crochet nearly as meticulously and beautifully as either of them, I have found my niche in making baby blankets.  I have a hard time sitting idle, so I crochet these blankets in the winter evenings while watching television.

My crochet basket usually has 2-3 ongoing items in it.

My crochet basket usually has 2-3 ongoing items in it.

I won’t divulge how many I have made over the years, but let’s just say that my great-grandchildren will be able to pass some crocheted baby blankets down to their kids too!

connie ward girl with a past blog family history genealogy keepsakes crochet baby blankets

So, pick something you like to do and use that talent to store up some hand-me-downs for the grandkids, etc.  It will be a piece of you they will treasure and pass down to their children.  You can live on through your hobbies!

connie ward girl with a past blog family history genealogy keepsakes crochet hooks