Peek-A-Boo, I See You: look inside my life

Several years ago, my good friend and neighbor, Gary Petersen, told me that his journal contains everything, not just his words.  After he explained his concept to me, I took it to heart and have made my journal a combination scrapbook, memory book, keepsake album, and journal.  In fact, the only things that don’t go in my journal are pictures.  I knew long ago that there was not enough time in this life for me to keep cute little scrapbooks of all the memorabilia, so my yearly journals take care of it all!

A small sampling of my journal pages

I keep my journal in – OF COURSE, a binder!!!  I can usually squeeze the whole year into one binder, but there was one traumatic year in my life when I needed two!  I use sheet protectors so odd-sized items can just be slipped right in and so I can see both sides of the cards I save.  I start the year with an empty binder, fill it with sheet protectors, keep the binder right by my desk, then put things inside as they happen.  When the year is over, my life is in the binder chronologically – and it is so easy!

I began this new way of journal keeping in about 2000.

I began this new way of journal keeping in about 2000.

So I picked a random journal from my shelf (2004) and besides my written journal, here is a sampling of what was in it:

The printed monthly calendar from my computer with appointments, etc.

connie ward girl with a past blog genealogy family history journal card memories scrapbook calendar

My goals for the year – interesting to read, as they are always variations on the same theme

A heartfelt note from my California daughter thanking me for Christmas

A weekly update of events when individual days were a little too boring to write about

Closeup of a scarf my daughter made for meconnie ward girl with a past blog genealogy family history journal keepsake memories scrapbook

An email from a friend about growing old

A certificate of achievement for completing a Power Point class

Thank you note for a genealogy presentation I gave to a group

Artwork the grandkids left in the playroomconnie ward girl with a past blog genealogy family history journal keepsake memories scrapbook artwork

A newsletter announcing our family reunion

The schedule from BYU Women’s Conference

Mother’s Day cards from my girls

A bridal shower invitation for a special young friend

connie ward girl with a past blog genealogy family history journal keepsake memories scrapbook invitation

A map of Sun Valley, Idaho from a getaway weekend with my husband

Confirmation itinerary for a flight to California with a daughter and granddaughter

The lab results from my blood test confirming low thyroid


A list of 12 items my oldest granddaughter requested for her birthday dinner

connie ward girl with a past blog genealogy family history journal card memories scrapbook note

The “to do” list for an especially hectic week

Notes for my husband’s talk at the funeral for our friend, Mavis

connie ward girl with a past blog genealogy family history journal notes memories scrapbook


A thank you note and picture of the VISA card a coworker gave me for Christmas


The playbill and ticket for Wonderful Town seen in New York City with my cousin and my daughters

connie ward girl with a past blog genealogy family history journal keepsake memories scrapbook playbill

A “sorry” note from 3 grandkids after they accidentally pulled a curtain rod off the wall

connie ward girl with a past blog genealogy family history journal note memories scrapbook





A note entitled “Grandma’s Apron” that accompanied a Christmas gift from a friend

connie ward girl with a past blog genealogy family history journal keepsake memories scrapbook gift

The top news stories of the year in Utah and another list for the nation

connie ward girl with a past blog genealogy family history journal keepsake memories scrapbook news





Just looking through that one binder brought back a flood of memories, some good laughs, some tears, and several “ahhhs.”  But I still think the most important thing to put in a journal is your own word – your thoughts, feelings, joys, sorrows, what makes you YOU!  Your journal won’t be anything like mine because our personalities are not the same — and lucky for you!  But at least this gives you a hint of what’s possible.  Leave a record of your life so you won’t be forgotten in 50 years (or less)!




Peek-A-Boo, I See You: get a life

I heard a quote that within 50 years after a person dies, there is no more record of them.  I have thought about that a lot.  What will my great-grandkids know about me, if anything?  What will my grandkids remember about me?  What do I wish I knew about my great-grandmothers?  If everyone had left a record of their life, I wouldn’t have so many unanswered questions, right?

So assuming most of you are commoners like me, I am going to do some posts related to things we can do so we will be remembered, starting with journals.

Modern journals can be purchased for as little as $3

Modern journals can be purchased for as little as $3

When he was called to be President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1973, Spencer W. Kimball had 33 black binders on a shelf that contained his journals.  He promised that if we kept journals and records, they would be “a source of great inspiration to your families, to your children, your grandchildren, and others, on through the generations.”

I took his advice to heart and in 1976 started writing in a journal.  My journals have contained different things at different times in my life.  Sometimes they are a way for me to work out problems.  At other times they are spiritual records.  And sometimes they are just normal or unusual events of my everyday life.

I write my journal on the computer, then put the pages in binders

I write my journal on the computer, then put the pages in binders

I have had occasion to refer back to them to give someone inspiration, to settle an argument, or to recall a tender moment.  President Kimball said your journal is your biography.  “What could you do better for your children and your children’s children than to record the story of your life, your triumphs over adversity, your recovery after a fall, your progress when all seemed black, your rejoicing when you had finally achieved?”

And what do you write in your journal?  According to President Kimball, you should record “your goings and your comings, your deeper thoughts, your achievements, and your failures, your associations and your triumphs, your impressions and your testimonies.”

I keep my journals in binders of course!

I keep my journals in binders of course!

Can you even imagine if you had the journals of your grandfather who was born in 1757 in England, came here to fight in the Revolutionary War, and lived until 1839?  Or what if you could read the journal of your grandmother who lost her husband in 1883 and raised her eight children alone in the western wilderness?  Yes, some of those amazing stories do remain, but most are long lost, or have been retold so often that most of the facts are twisted.

Some old journals that I have inherited.

Some old journals that I have inherited.

So, genealogists especially should know better than to leave this earth without leaving a record.  And if you haven’t done it yet, it is never too late to start!  Now that you have had your pep talk, the next post will give you some ideas of what might go inside a journal.

Looking for Lucy: a bible full of genealogy

My 3rd great grandfather, Amos Betts Andrews, came west with the Mormon pioneers in 1848.  He had left his home in New York and met up with the body of the church in Ohio, then on to Nauvoo, Illinois, then to Salt Lake City, Utah.

connie ward girl with a past genealogy blog Mormon pioneer

He left four brothers, five sisters, and both parents in Pompey, Onondaga, New York, and as far as we know did not see them again.  The only documentation we had of his family was his father’s will dated two years before Amos reached the Salt Lake Valley, which named all of the brothers and all of the sisters by their married names.

connie ward girl with a past genealogy blog Andrews will research

After I had many years of research under my belt, I saw that no one had identified the families of these siblings, and I decided to take on the project.  After many hours of looking through records at the Family History Library and a few trips to New York and Michigan, I ended up with 3” binders full of documentation for each sibling of Amos Betts Andrews.



The last sibling to be documented was the youngest brother, Lewis Andrews, who stayed on the family farm until both parents had died.  I knew from census records that his wife was Lucy, but could find no mention of her maiden name.  But living with Lewis Andrews and his wife Lucy in 1855 was Benjamin Grover, his wife Phebe, and their son.  I wondered if Benjamin was Lucy’s brother or if Phebe was Lucy’s sister.  After the death of Lewis’s mother, Betsey Andrews, Lewis and Lucy moved to South Otselic, Chenango, New York.  I was not aware of any other members of the Andrews family living in this county, so wondered if this was where Lucy had grown up.  Then I found that Benjamin Grover’s family had moved to South Otselic also.  I researched Benjamin and Phebe and found that she was the daughter of Tyler and Chloe Potter.

A short time later I saw a webinar by Thomas MacEntee where he mentioned the website “Old Fulton Postcards,” a genealogy research gem I had forgotten about.  I did some looking there and found a newspaper article stating that some relatives of Lucy Andrews had visited her.  One of them was a Potter.

connie ward girl with a past genealogy blog Potter newspaper

I started researching the descendants of Lewis Andrews and Lucy and made phone contact with three of them.  One told me that her cousin, Kenneth Baldwin, living near Boise, Idaho, had a family bible.  Kenneth was Lewis and Lucy’s great-grandson through their daughter, Emma Marie Andrews Baldwin, and he was 89 years old.  I called Kenneth and asked if he did have an Andrews family bible and his answer was “yes.”  I then asked if he could look in it to see if Lucy’s maiden name was recorded.  He said, “No.”  And then he followed with, “But you can.”

Over a year went by until we had the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with friends who lived about 15 miles from Kenneth’s home.  The morning after we arrived in Idaho, our friends, George and Brenda Foster, drove my husband and myself to Kenneth’s home.  Spread out on a big round kitchen table were so many documents and newspaper clippings that my head was spinning.  And in a prominent position in the middle of the table sat two huge bibles.  I had the feeling that those documents had been sitting on the table for over a year, since the first time I called!  Kenneth said his vision wasn’t very good, but I was welcome to look at everything.  Luckily my husband (we refer to him as “the talker”) was with me and he engaged Kenneth in man talk while I got to work.   Brenda sorted through loose papers on the table while I went through the bibles bulging with newspaper clippings and scraps of paper.  George took pictures of anything pertaining to Lewis’s descendants.  We ended up with a lot of genealogy on Kenneth’s grandparents, but nothing about Lewis and Lucy, and especially nothing stating Lucy’s maiden name.  Finally I announced that I was going to go through the Andrews bible again, one page at a time, because I was just sure Lucy’s name was in there someplace!  I felt like we should get comfy and order take-out – we were going to be a while!  I picked up the bible and put it in front of me on the table, sat down to get comfortable for the duration, and then I did something I rarely do – I started at the back!  I opened the old, cracked, leather cover, turned back the end leaf, and there at the top of the last page was this:

POTTER Lucy (Andrews) (1818) Bible heading on back page

“Mammas Mothers name was Lucy Potter before she married Lewis Andrews she was born in Lincklaen County Sept 7, 1818 she died 90. Lewis Andrews was 78 at his diath”

George took about a dozen pictures because he couldn’t believe it!  I turned to Kenneth and announced that his great-grandmother was Lucy Potter.  He wasn’t too concerned about that – he was just grateful for the visit!  This little miracle note in the bible is still the only place where Lucy’s name is given as Potter, but other records do point to Lucy being a daughter of Tyler and Chloe Potter and a sister of Phebe.