Thursday, September 30, 2010

Central Coast Genealogy Calendar: October 2010

"October is nature's funeral month. Nature glories in death more than in life. The month of departure is more beautiful than the month of coming - October than May. Every green thing loves to die in bright colors." ~Henry Ward Beecher

Saturday, October 2
San Luis Obispo County Genealogical Society
12:30 - 1:00 PM - Research Class: "Probate Gleanings" – Barbara McCallum
1:00 PM - Business Meeting
1:15 - 1:45 PM - Social time, book and drawing sales, snacks, coffee and tea
1:45 PM – Main Room - "Fantastic Family Finds" – Members of SLOCGS describe the most amazing document or item of interest they have found in the past year and explain how they tracked it down.

Monday, October 4
Jewish Genealogical Society of the Conejo Valley and Ventura County
7:00 - 9:00 PM
Vincent Brook "Ost Meets West: Immigrant Film Moguls, Émigré Directors, and the Rise of Film Noir"

Thursday, October 7
Monterey County Genealogical Society
7:00 PM (Doors open at 6:00 PM)
Madaleine Laird - "Social Networking for Genealogists -- Facebook as a Research Tool"

Tuesday, October 12
Conejo Valley Genealogical Society
7:00 - 9:00 PM
Computer Interest Group Meeting
Delores Pedersen - "Using Heritage Quest"

Saturday, October 16
Santa Barbara County Genealogical Society
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Saturday, October 16
Ventura County Genealogical Society
32nd Annual Seminar
8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Featured Presenter - Barbara Renick

Tuesday, October 19
Conejo Valley Genealogical Society
5:30 - 6:30 PM - Genealogy Tools - TBA
6:45 - 8:45 PM - General Meeting
Tom Underhill - "Finding People... Before They've Died"

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Please send me an email if you would like to have your event included in this monthly calendar series.

Copyright © by Elizabeth O'Neal

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Win 2 Tickets to the California Family History Expo!

I'm attempting to write this with a head full of cold medicine, so please forgive me if I'm not completely clear.

The California Family History Expo will be held October 8-9, 2010, at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton, California. Would you like to go, but still need tickets? If so, I've got two tickets to give away!

To enter, please share a creative way to share family history with children. Please send your response via email to or post your answer on your own blog, leaving your post URL in a comment here or send via email.

Entries must be received by 11:59 PM PDT on Saturday, October 2, 2010. You may enter more than once.

Thank you - I look forward to reading your ideas, and to seeing you at the Expo!

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The Fine Print: The winner will be selected by me - and possibly my 4 year-old daughter - at my/our sole discretion. All decisions are final (even the ones made using cold medicine). Transportation to Pleasanton and accommodations while there are not included. Void where prohibited by law. I am not employed, or otherwise financially compensated, by Family History Expos. Yada yada yada.

Copyright © by Elizabeth O'Neal

Wordless Wednesday: Parasol Girls

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"Parasol Girls." Digital image. Undated. Original photograph privately held by [NAME AND ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Benton Co., Washington. 2010.

About Wordless Wednesday.

Copyright © by Elizabeth O'Neal

Friday, September 24, 2010

Where, Oh Where, Has My Genealogy Time Gone?

This has been another one of those crazy-busy weeks that included little, if any, time for genealogy. This continues to disappoint and frustrate me, week after week, but there's just not much I can do about it at the moment. Other commitments are keeping me buzzing!

So what did this week entail? Here's a small sampling:
  • Published a 16-page newsletter for an organization.
  • Published a 4-page newsletter for another organization.
  • Proofed a 26-page newsletter for yet another organization.
  • Daily updates for a national web site.
  • Worked on plans for an upcoming conference.
  • Developed a new web site (not finished)
  • Answered a zillion emails
  • Oh, and homeschooled my daughter and took care of my family!
And... today I'm leaving for a conference! 2 weeks ago, I attended the northern California version of the DAR Fall Council meetings, and this weekend we'll do it all over again in the south. If any of you will be at the meeting in Irvine, I hope you will stop by the C.A.R. table and say hello!

Please tune in next week, as I'll be giving away 2 tickets to the California Family History Expo. I'll give you a hint: start thinking about how to share genealogy with kids. But shhhhh! Don't say anything here yet! Details will be available next week.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Copyright © by Elizabeth O'Neal

Friday Fun! Cookie Monster in the Library

I don't know why, but this always cracks me up. Perhaps Cookie Monster just has a way with words.

Copyright © by Elizabeth O'Neal

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Have You Heard? Inc. to Acquire iArchives/

If you are one of the few people in the genealogy world who have not yet heard the news (or you're a west-coaster who has to feed a kid before turning the computer on, like me), today's big news is that will soon be the proud parent of Inc. (Nasdaq: ACOM) announced today it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire iArchives, Inc. and its branded Web site,, a leading American History Web site, for approximately $27 million in a mix of stock, cash and assumption of liabilities. This acquisition will provide the company with a complementary consumer brand, expanded content offerings, and enhanced digitization and image-viewing technologies.
 I'm not going to repeat the entire press release here, since you can read it on just about any genealogy blog that you happen to land on this morning. Plus, I haven't actually received it in my inbox just yet (I always receive these things well after everyone else... must be a west coast thing). I saw it first on Geneabloggers.

As I'm still processing my first cup of coffee, I don't think the full impact has hit me yet. Those of you who have had some time to chew on this... what do you think? What will it mean for the records-digitizing industry? What will happen to our already-paid-for subscriptions? Thoughts?

Copyright © by Elizabeth O'Neal

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday Fun! Upcoming Civil War Reenactments and Events in Southern California

The following Southern California-area Civil War reenactments and events are coming up this fall:

Boy Scout Jamboree
October 16-17, 2010
Hansen Dam Recreation Area, Lake View Terrace, CA

The Western Los Angeles County Boy Scouts of America invites you to their Civil War reenactment at their 100th Anniversary Jamboree. This is scheduled to be a huge event with over 15,000 Scouts and family members attending. There will be two battles on Saturday and one on Sunday. There will also be a reenactor Dance on Saturday night. More information here.

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Civil War Ball
October 22, 2010
Grace Church, San Luis Obispo, CA
6:30 - 10:30 pm
Featuring live music!
Tickets are $12

Raising the bar in social activities in a world where good wholesome fun is hard to come by, these Civil War Balls are full of excellent historic value, complete with proper etiquette, dance instruction, and memories to take home that will last a lifetime. Fun for all ages, and no experience is necessary! Guaranteed to be one of the more memorable things you ever do. More information here.

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The Blue and the Gray – The Gallant Custer!
November 13-14, 2010
Tierra Rajada Ranch, Moorpark, CA

Sponsored by the Moorpark Rotary Club, and hosted by the Richmond Howitzers, this event is the largest Civil War reenactment in Southern California, and the largest Civil War reenactment west of the Mississippi. There will be three battles on Saturday, and two on Sunday, with all proceeds going to worthy causes. The Rotary Club has invited Steve Alexander, the country's premier impersonator of Maj. Gen. George Armstrong Custer, to perform in this role. Interesting tidbit: Steve actually owns and lives in Custer's home in Monroe, Michigan! More information here.

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More information about Civil War reenactments in Southern California is available from the Civil War Alliance.

Copyright © by Elizabeth O'Neal

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Pretty Girls All in a Row

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"Pretty Girls All in a Row." Digital image. Undated. Original photograph privately held by [NAME AND ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Benton Co., Washington. 2010.

About Wordless Wednesday.

Copyright © by Elizabeth O'Neal

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Visit with an Educated Blogger Buddy

Sheri Fenley, Me, and the Little General. Yes, we're that tired.
On Saturday, September 11, I had the pleasure of visiting with my friend and "DAR Sister" Sheri Fenley, author of The Educated Genealogist, at the California DAR Northern Council meeting in Walnut Creek.

Are we as tired as we look in this picture? Absolutely. I had spent 4 hours on the road with my daughter the day before, followed by a night of NO SLEEP because my daughter refused to stop talking and go to sleep. I was up at 4:30 a.m. for the early drive from San Jose to Walnut Creek, again, with my daughter in tow. Poor Sheri got stuck in traffic and spent about 4 hours making what should have been a 1.5 hour drive (we love California freeways, don't we?). Add to this a day of meetings, workshops, and staffing a busy C.A.R. sales table, and yes, we were exhausted. And I needed to get back on the road for the 5-hour-long haul home!

Anyway, I had a wonderful time visiting with Sheri. She's the mother of sons, and I think she secretly enjoys playing with my daughter. I found out later that they were "make-upping" when I wasn't looking, which explains the unusual pinkness of my daughter's lips. ;-)

I'm looking forward to visiting with Sheri again next month at the California Family History Expo. We will both be featured as Bloggers of Honor, along with our good friend Craig Manson, and Leah Allen, who I look forward to meeting.

I really hope the Blogger Booth comes with a babysitter (just in case).

Copyright © by Elizabeth O'Neal

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sentimental Sunday: Grandparents Day

Click to enlarge.

All of my grandparents are gone now, but they are not forgotten.

Lee and Reba (Dunn) Swanay are my paternal grandparents. They both passed away in the late '80s.

Mary "Maura" (McGraw) and Marvin Dagle are my maternal grandparents. Maura passed away about 6 years ago; Marvin died when my mother was only 9 years old, so I never knew him.

They are all missed, today and everyday.

Copyright © by Elizabeth O'Neal

Saturday, September 11, 2010

September 11, 2001: Not Just Like Any Other Day

This was originally posted on September 11, 2008. It would be much too difficult to write about this terrible tragedy again.

About a month and a half before the terrible events of September 11, 2001, my mother died unexpectedly. Still consumed with grief, I was having an extremely difficult time coping with life, work, and people who didn't understand my pain. I was certain that nobody else in the world felt the way I did.

And then the world changed.

Just like that, thousands of people joined me in grief. Suddenly, we were all comrades in shock: we were all missing someone, we were all in pain. It was overwhelming, but on some level it was also comforting.

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It sounds twisted now, but seven nine years ago it all made sense.

At the time, I was divorced, living alone, and working as a 1st grade teacher at an elementary school in Lancaster. As I'd done on so many other mornings, I poured a cup of coffee and sat down on the couch to watch the morning's news.

It was about 6:00 a.m. on the west coast. Half-listening, I heard Charlie Gibson talk of an airplane hitting one of the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York.

It took a few moments for my brain to register what had happened. "What a terrible accident," I thought. I was under the impression that some small plane had veered horribly off course and met with a tragic end.

As I tried to process the bizarre images on TV, the unthinkable occurred: the camera panned away from the burning tower to show a large aircraft headed straight for the World Trade Center. Charlie Gibson was stunned... we were all stunned, and we watched in helpless horror as the plane continued on its course and slammed into the second tower.

Twice in one morning? This could not possibly have been an accident.

I remember holding my coffee cup as if to take a sip, but I couldn't move. I just stared in disbelief.

Checking the time, I hazily remembered that I had to get myself together for work, a task that I dreaded each day. Today, that task seemed insurmountable.

I turned the TV on in the bedroom to try to follow the events as I went about my morning routine. When I got out of the shower, another plane was off course and apparently heading straight for the Pentagon.

What the hell was happening? Had the world gone mad while I was asleep?

The Pentagon was hit. Panic started to set in. My father took periodic business trips to the Pentagon, and I hadn't heard from him in a while. Was it possible that he was there? No... he couldn't be. I would have heard something. But that nagging thought remained in my head.

I continued to watch the horrific events unfold as I went through the motions of getting ready for work. A fourth plane, thought to be headed for the U.S. Capitol Building, crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Both towers of the World Trade Center collapsed. Thousands were thought to be dead.

How did this happen? How do commercial jets get hijacked in 2001?

As I drove to work, I frantically called my father's cell phone. Was I going to lose both of my parents within 2 months of each other? No answer. No answer at work, either. I finally called his house and reached my stepmother. No, he wasn't on a business trip. He'd gone to work, just like any other day. His employer was sending everyone home, so he was on his way back to the house. They were all in shock.

Arriving at work, I was stunned to find everybody going about their business as usual. Didn't they know what had happened? Didn't they know we were under attack? Shouldn't we send the students home to their parents?

Apparently the school's philosophy was that unless we were directly under attack, classes would proceed as if all was right with the world.

In retrospect, it was probably for the best. Best for the students, I mean. They were allowed to be children - kept away from adult worries and fears - for one more day. The teachers smiled and pretended everything was fine. We laughed and played games, but our hearts were heavy.

The world as we knew it had changed. This was not just like any other day.

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For the months that followed, I have almost no recollection of my days at work. What I do remember is coming home, turning on the TV, and feeling the strange, surreal camaraderie of a nation in mourning. Night after night, I wrapped myself in it like a warm, comfy blanket.

I was no longer grieving alone.

It wasn't healthy; I know that now. That warm, comfy blanket was suffocating me. But grief is so hard to let go. As long as we hold on to our grief, it's almost as if we can still hold on to our lost loved one.

Even today, watching the events of September 11th unfold once again on TV, I was transported back to 2001. The familiar pain washed over me like a tidal wave. I wanted to hold on just a little bit longer.

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If only it had been just like any other day. I wonder what today would have been like.

Copyright © by Elizabeth O'Neal

Friday, September 10, 2010

On the Road Again!

This has certainly been the summer of travel for me. And it looks like Fall is going to bring more of the same! Unfortunately, I've been so busy that I haven't had a chance to write about all my travels yet.

This afternoon, my daughter and I are headed to northern California for the DAR Northern Council meeting, which will be held in Walnut Creek on Saturday. If you happen to be there, please say hello!

If we don't see you, I hope you have a wonderful, genealogy-filled weekend!

Copyright © by Elizabeth O'Neal

Friday, September 3, 2010

Book tv to Feature Author Gordon S. Wood

If you're a history buff interested in the American Colonial Period or the Revolutionary War, you may want to tune in to Book tv on C-SPAN2 tomorrow, Saturday, September 4. Author Gordon Wood will be featured live on the program In-Depth at 12:00 PM (ET).
Gordon Wood is the award-winning author of several books including "The Creation of the American Republic 1776 - 1787," winner of the Bancroft and John H. Dunning prizes, and "The Radicalism of the American Revolution," which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1993, and most recently, "Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815." Gordon Wood has taught at William and Mary, Harvard, the University of Michigan and Cambridge. He is Alva O. Way University Professor Emeritus at Brown University.
The program will be aired again on Sunday, September 6, and Saturday, September 11.

For more information, and to submit questions for the author to address on the live program, please visit Book tv on C-SPAN2.

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Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with C-SPAN2, Book tv, or the author. I am, however, an affiliate of

Copyright © by Elizabeth O'Neal

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Life Stories of Ellis Island Immigrants Now Available Online for the First Time at

Immigration Collection

I received the following announcement this afternoon from

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More than 1,700 first-hand audio recordings now available for free online

PROVO, Utah, September 1, 2010 /PRNewswire/ .- announced today it has launched a collection of more than 1,700 recorded oral histories from immigrants who arrived in the United States through Ellis Island. This is the first time this collection of poignant recordings has been available online. To celebrate the new addition, is making its entire U.S. Immigration Collection free through Labor Day.

"As immigrants created new lives in the U.S., the stories of their homelands and their remarkable journeys to America were often lost," said Christopher Tracy, senior vice president of global content for "We are thrilled to offer people the opportunity to hear the voices of their ancestors sharing stories of their lives."

Ellis Island was the gateway for millions of immigrants between 1892 and 1954. The oral histories were captured by the National Park Service starting in the 1970s, and contain uniquely inspiring first-hand accounts recalling the lives these immigrants left behind, their reasons for leaving and their incredible and often-trying journeys to America. These recordings are housed at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum and until now could be heard only by visitors to the Island itself. In addition to oral histories from immigrants, the collection also includes recordings from military personnel who were stationed on Ellis Island and former Ellis Island/Statue of Liberty workers.

"To our family it is important that we in the U.S. know the origin of the people who came to this country, settled here and made it what it is today. It makes us very proud to know that our mother was part of this," said Yvonne Rumac, daughter of oral history participant Estelle Belford, who immigrated to the United States from Romania via Ellis Island in 1905.

Other Records Added to the U.S. Immigration Collection: The Ellis Island Oral Histories are the latest addition to, which boasts the world's largest online collection of U.S. immigration records. Comprised of more than 170 million records, the U.S. Immigration Collection includes lists of passengers who immigrated by ship to America between 1820 and 1960, including those who came through Ellis Island; more than 7 million citizenship and naturalization records; border crossings, passport applications and more to help reconstruct our ancestors' journeys and early lives in America. has also added nearly 2 million new U.S. naturalization record indexes, thanks to the many individuals who are part of the World Archives Project ?a community effort aimed at transcribing historical records. The indexes span 11 states (AK, CA, CT, HI, LA, ME, MT, NY, PA, TN, WA) and will provide Americans greater opportunity to learn more about their ancestors' citizenship experience.

In addition, has added nearly 2 million records documenting crew members on ships who arrived in the port of Boston. The records were added to an existing collection of over 3.8 million records from Boston Passenger and Crew Lists, 1820-1943.

To honor our nation's immigrant heritage, has opened up its entire U.S. Immigration Collection so that it can be searched free through Labor Day. The Ellis Island Oral History Collection will remain permanently free on

To begin exploring your family's journey to America, visit

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Disclaimer: I am an advertiser for products and could possibly make a couple of coins if you decide to sign up for their services. I use and pay for their services with my very own (husband's) money. No one has paid me to publish this announcement.

Copyright © by Elizabeth O'Neal