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


Try My Tricks: taking advantage of cousins and classes

The first “Genealogy Miracle” I posted contained some great genealogy lessons.  They are tricks I have learned through the years and use frequently.

  • Genealogy research trips are fabulous adventures and should be undertaken as often as possible, both for research and for nostalgic value.  I have some great stories about research trips and new cousins that I will post in the future.
My daughter, Kimi, and I on  a Michigan research adventure trip.

My daughter, Kimi, and I on a Michigan research adventure trip.

  • Notice if a particular family seems to show up wherever your family lives.  This is a good indication that they are more than friends!
  • If the family moves to a nearby county, it may indicate that other relatives live there.  It is a good place to look for the wife’s family.
  • Another great trick is to stop and research a family that appears to have no connection, but keeps showing up on your family’s records.
  • Take advantage of webinars and online classes.  We can’t remember everything forever, so it is good to be nudged once in a while by a good class.  There are fabulous webinars out there.  Some of my favorites are those offered by Legacy Family Tree.  And classes taught at seminars such as RootsTech are always good.
  • Newspapers hold a wealth of information.  I located an entire family in Omaha, Nebraska and found out everything I needed (and more) because the complete Omaha World-Herald is available at  I have found dozens of events and dates in newspapers that I could find nowhere else and have been able to put whole families together just from newspaper clippings.
You never know what information will show up in the newspaper.

You never know what information will show up in the newspaper.

  • Descendancy research is the gem!  This is one of the best tricks of research.  Not only do I meet wonderful cousins that I didn’t know existed, but they are usually able to fill in the gaps and give me important information.  And as years pass, the older existing descendants get fewer and fewer, so don’t hesitate!  Phone calls are great, but meeting these cousins is an extra bonus.  Sitting with them in their living room jogs their memories and brings out the old photos and stories.
This is a sampling of the cousins I have found in Michigan and New York.

This is a sampling of cousins I have met across the United States while researching.

  • Be persistent, patient, and thorough.  Someone once said that if a document survives, you can find it.  Go with your gut feeling.
  • It’s good to have research helpers – someone to take photos, someone to help sort through papers, and someone to bounce your ideas off and to give you encouragement.

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.