Category Archives: Discovering Your Past

Discovering Your Past Episode 3

The third episode of Discovering Your Past is available today. This episode highlights the benefits of the Family History Center. Dan interviewed the past and current managers of the Nashua Family History Center. Check out the episode for some great tips for genealogists of all skill levels.

Copyright © 2016 Deborah Sweeney

2015 in Review

007It’s that time of year! I have already seen several posts from fellow genealogists and societies, and even some from family members. Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve and everyone is looking forward to 2016. What new experiences are you anticipating? Many of these posts recommend setting goals (instead of resolutions). My father, a retired career coach, advocates making a few attainable goals and then sharing them with friends and family as a way to keep yourself accountable and on track. It doesn’t help to make impossible goals, a guaranteed set-up for inevitable failure.

Dear Mother, Love Daddy coverFor me, looking back, 2015 has seemed impossibly long and short at the same time. A veritable blur of genealogical activity! I am surprised to recall all the genealogy related events and projects I did accomplish. These are most of the items I can remember….

  • Published Dear Mother, Love Daddy
  • Completed my ProGen studies
  • Attended my first large genealogy conference (SCGS Jamboree)
  • Attended my first all day genealogy seminar (Sacramento Roots Cellar Spring Seminar)
  • Continued to post one WWII letter every single day (for the third year in a row)
  • Wrote over 20 Fashion Moments posts
  • Researched, transcribed and posted over 60 newspaper articles about the smallpox epidemic in the year 1900 in Indiana
  • Transcribed and posted over 70 postcards written to my 2X great aunt Lena Hackleman
  • Had two published articles in the Sacramento Roots Cellar Preserves newsletter
  • Appeared in two episodes of Discovering Your Past
  • Started a volunteer genealogy program at my local library branch
  • Presented my first genealogy lecture
  • Engaged 3-5 paying clients for the year
  • Recruited 3-5 relatives to DNA test
  • Scanned several hundred family slides taken by my grandparents, Roscoe & Gladys, during the 1960s-1970s
  • Reviewed four genealogy/family history related books
  • Wrote five online articles for
  • Began publishing a periodic newsletter as well as monthly updates on the blog
  • Connected with and started some great working relationships with several genealogists around the country
  • Submitted preliminary application for the Mayflower Society

A few items that I wish I had accomplished (but after looking over the above list of things I did achieve, I don’t feel too badly):

  • Publish an article in a national or state level periodical. I keep getting hung up on the whole reasonably exhaustive search aspect of genealogy, and want to keep researching. I need to learn to feel more comfortable writing what I have now.
  • Find a genealogy/writing job which will fit into my teaching and personal writing schedules

Goals for 2016

  • To publish the second volume of WWII letters, currently titled So Solong, Love Daddy. This volume will cover the letters from October through December 1942. I am currently behind on this project. I had hoped to accomplish more during my December vacation. My son has been on vacation with me so I have chosen to spend more time hanging out with him instead of sitting for hours in front of the computer screen editing text. This time around, I have lost my team of editors and proof-readers. I will need to recruit some new help. My goal is to publish the book by Memorial Day, if not sooner.
  • One of my goals from last year that was not accomplished – to publish an article for a state level society or national genealogy periodical. I see this as a goal to work on after the book is published.
  • Seriously begin planning for certification! I want to have preliminary projects started/plotted before I go on the clock. I really have no more excuses at this point since I have completed both Boston University’s genealogy research certificate program and ProGen. I want to have a plan in place by the end of 2016.
  • Continue to work on my skills as a genealogy lecturer. I have two more presentations scheduled this spring; the next one in only three weeks.

Other odds and ends….

Fashion Moments by Deborah SweeneyI want to continue writing Fashion Moments’ posts but I am moving away from the weekly format, perhaps to once a month. It has been hard at times to find material that I am interested in writing about. I would love more feedback from readers and suggestions for future posts so feel free to send me questions or photographs.

This year will likely see the end of the WWII letters. Over the next week, Roscoe will begin his journey home to the United States. He continued to serve through the end of the war, but his duties were stateside. One of his postings allowed Gladys and the boys to live with him. The remaining letters will jump ahead months and weeks at a time with the majority being written by Roscoe. Another large block of the letters were written by people other than Roscoe or Gladys, by people who served with Roscoe, like Dr. Edmund T. Lentz. I definitely feel that the letters are moving into a new phase for 2016.

Eugene B. Scofield (watermark)

Rev. Eugene B. Scofield

Looking ahead to after the WWII letters (I know it is very hard to believe!), I have an extensive collection of letters that were written between Gladys and David in the 1960s and 1970s. At that time, David was a young adult moving away to college, getting married and relocating to Massachusetts. These letters provide another fascinating glimpse into the world of the Yegerlehners during the mid-twentieth century. In addition, my collection of family memorabilia contains letters from the late 19th century. The Reverend Eugene B. Scofield, a brother to Lena Hackleman, was a traveling minister for the Christian Church in Indiana in the early years of his career. While he was away from home, he wrote many letters to his family.  So even though the WWII letters may be running out, I still have a lot of transcribing and preserving to do.

Have a Happy and Prosperous New Year! And may you find all your elusive ancestors in 2016!

© 2015-2016, Deborah Sweeney
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Monthly Update – September

It was been a very busy month for me! School started last month and I am juggling lots of responsibilities at school, including being in the classroom for the first time in almost ten years. Because of my heavy workload at school, I am not taking on any new clients until November 1st when one of my assignments ends.

Dear Mother, Love Daddy

Dear Mother, Love Daddy coverBook sales continue to be slow and steady. I just received a large shipment of books. I ordered extra books in anticipation of my upcoming lecture this week. The books arrived last week and I was heartbroken to realize that the whole lot was badly printed. The pictures were all streaked and grainy. I even received one book that had been printed with an extra 50 pages. Fortunately, CreateSpace really stepped up. Within 24 hours, the company emailed me back to notify me they were sending a new shipment, and all I had to do was print a label and drop off the messed up books at my nearest UPS store. The new shipment of books arrived yesterday and today, and they look great.

I am looking forward to November when I have scheduled to begin work on the second volume of letters. I anticipate publication of the next volume in February or early March. I think I may have settled on the name of the book, but I am not quite ready to announce the new title.

If you are interested in purchasing an autographed copy of the book, send me a private message through the contact page. Or you can follow the link on the sidebar to purchase a copy from Amazon. For anyone who has read the book, I invite you to post a review on Amazon. I currently have seven reviews and I am trying to reach twenty to boost my rankings.

Sacramento Library

Genealogy Program Why GenealogyThis weekend is my big speaking debut. I am presenting my first lecture at the Franklin branch of the Sacramento Library at 2:00. My presentation is titled Why Genealogy? I will discuss six reasons why everyone should be working on their own genealogy now. Once I survive this presentation, I have several other lectures that I would like to prepare. I am working on fine-tuning my speech this week, and trying not to wander off-topic! I do so much better when I stick to my script.

As for future speaking engagements, I took the plunge and submitted a proposal to next year’s Jamboree in southern California. I am looking for more opportunities to speak in Northern California over the coming months. Contact me if you are looking for a new speaker for your society or group.

My monthly Ask A Genealogist sessions are also going very well. In August, I helped a patron find resources for Italian genealogy, assisted another patron with identifying dates for her collection of photographs, and jump-started another patron on her online tree research. I am having so much fun meeting fellow genealogy enthusiasts and researchers! To sign up for an appointment, contact the Franklin branch of the library.

Discovering Your Past

The second episode of Discovering Your Past premiered earlier this month. Dan conducted a family interview with his mother, and discussed tips for setting up a successful interview.  I talked Sue through writing a research plan for her Noble ancestors in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The video on my end was a little wonky, and I made a slight error in my Revolutionary War history. See if you can catch it! I can’t wait until we start working on the next episode. In the meantime, Dan and Sue did some exploring in North Berwick, Maine, to discover where some of Sue’s ancestors were buried. Check out Dan’s blog for the first part of their cemetery adventure.

Fashion Moments

Fashion Moments by Deborah SweeneyI have written over a dozen Fashion Moments posts this summer. I am amazed by the popularity of these posts. I will continue to write this weekly series because there definitely seems to be a need for fashion education for genealogists. I welcome any ideas or suggestions for future posts.

To view previous Fashion Moments posts, check out my board on Pinterest. I have boards for every decade of the nineteen century with examples of real clothing. Or go to the Blog tab at the top of this page, and click on the sub tab for Fashion Moments.

Personal Research

My own research has slowed down quite a bit this month. But I have taken a little time to explore Ancestry’s new will and probate databases. I have found some great documents but have also been disappointed by many of the gaps in coverage.

Some more family videos have been digitized, including more of Gladys and the children during WWII. The following video is about ten minutes long and includes snippets from 1942-1944. Amazingly, these clips are in color! There is even a very, very short clip of Roscoe and Gladys together at the very end!

May the genealogy and ancestral winds be in your favor this month!

©2015 Deborah Sweeney
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Episode II

The next episode of Discovering Your Past is now available for viewing on YouTube. Dan, Sue and I discuss conducting family interviews and making a research plan. New to this episode, Dan added a section called Quick Tips where he gives some helpful advice for recording audio, especially when interviewing a family member. Due to some technical difficulties during my Skype interview there is a little bit of audio delay, and I made a tiny little historical error. See what happens when people let me talk off script! Can you see if you can find it?

I hope you enjoy episode 2. Stay tuned for updates about episode 3.

©2015 Deborah Sweeney

Monthly Update – August

My brain is currently scrambled. The last month has been crazy. This year I accepted a position to share a contract with another teacher in a fourth grade classroom. It has been almost a decade since I was actually responsible for a class of my own! Last week was the first week of school. I survived three teacher in service days and two days in the classroom. Lots of new faces, new rules, and beginning of year assessments. And of course, this year my school is implementing a new reading/language arts program so everyone is super crazy trying to figure out what it is exactly we are going to do! My genealogy writing has been put on the back burner for a few months, but I am still managing to work on several projects.

Dear Mother, Love Daddy

Dear Mother, Love Daddy cover

Book sales have been slow and steady this summer. I am about to order a new shipment of books in anticipation of my lecture in September. I have three copies left if anyone wishes to purchase an autographed copy directly from me. Please use the contact form to message me privately.

Looking ahead, I am beginning to focus on the next volume of letters. One of the first steps is to come up with a name for the second volume. I like the idea of using some of the common phrases that Roscoe used to sign off his letters. A couple possibilities are So Solong, Love Daddy and Lots of Love, Daddy. Feel free to offer suggestions in the comments! Bear in mind that there will be several volumes of letters so I could use more than one suggestion.

Sacramento Library

Genealogy Programs Summer Sac LibraryLast month, I attended the lecture by Jim Walton on Understanding the Logic of Genealogical Research. Despite a bit of technical trouble at the beginning of the presentation, Jim did a great job breaking down the research for his article that appeared in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly (which was published earlier this year). I missed the lecture on August 2nd, but there is still time to attend the third lecture in the series on September 13th. Genealogist Melinda Kashuba will discuss using digital maps for tracking the migration patterns of our ancestors.

My Ask A Genealogist session at the end of July went well. I helped three library patrons explore their Chinese, African American and Mexican roots. Two of my three time slots for August are already booked so if you are interested in signing up, don’t delay!

The weeks are getting shorter and I am still trying to put together my presentation on Why Genealogy? The presentation will be on September 19th at the Franklin branch of the Sacramento library. Depending on how well the presentation goes, I would like to do some future presentations, including one on DNA research and/or identifying time periods in old photographs. Right now, I have to write a paragraph for the advertising blurb for my upcoming lecture!

Discovering Your Past

Discovering Your Past - Episode 1I have been informed that the next episode should be forthcoming. Maybe by the end of the week?!?! Due to a technical glitch during filming, I was unable to see my co-host! I basically talked to a blank screen while I heard a voice in my head (through my headphones). During my segment, we talked about putting together a research plan. If you missed the first episode, it is available on the Discovering Your Past YouTube channel.

Genealogy Lady Newsletter

I managed to write a second newsletter this month. If you are interested in signing up, there is a sign-up button on my Facebook page. With my new schedule at school this year, I am not sure how often the newsletter will be published. Generally, the newsletter will feature popular articles from my blog, and other events or happenings.


1079809-Clipart-3d-Green-DNA-Crop-Gene-Modification-Helix-Plant-Royalty-Free-Vector-IllustrationI had some GREAT DNA news this month. My son’s DNA results were finally processed at 23andme this week. It seems like my daughter’s results were done in less than three weeks, but my son’s stretched on for two months. The most fascinating part of doing my children’s DNA is seeing what and how much they share with their grandparents. We are all taught that a person shares 50% with each parent, and 25% with each grandparent, etc. But in reality, past the 50% with each parent, the rest is completely random and does not always follow statistical probabilities. It makes me wish even more that I had been able to test my grandparents. My son shares between 28-29% of his DNA with his maternal grandfather. He inherited his X chromosome from me, completely un-recombined, straight from his maternal grandfather, which means, that my son has Gladys’ X chromosome. It is so neat to really realize that my son has this chunk of my grandmother in his DNA.

The second amazing DNA discovery this month was a new match in my father’s match list. We now have a confirmed 4th cousin descendant of Alfred M. Dicks from one of Alfred’s siblings who did not leave North Carolina. This has been one of my DNA goals. To prove that Alfred M. Dicks was a descendant of Nathan and Eleanor (Leonard) Dicks. Since I published my book on Alfred last fall, I acquired a DNA match with a descendant of Achilles Dicks, who I theorized was Alfred’s brother. Because the Quakers were a relatively endogamous population, I have been nervous about claiming that my proof was completely solid. Having this additional DNA evidence makes my argument even stronger.

Personal Research Update

I have had SO many amazing discoveries this summer. I really am saving the best for last. In the WWII letters, Floyd Yegerlehner made many home movies. My father and I have both wondered if the movies still exist. The answer is YES!!! Floyd’s son, Steve, is in possession of many of the films. We were all curious to see whether they survived 70+ years without being degraded. Some are more so than others. Steve has been working hard this last month to digitally transfer some of the films. So far four have been completed. They are all posted on my YouTube channel. This clip was made in December 1942, and is mentioned in the letters that will appear in the next book.

These videos are a great example of how families can work together to save their shared history. Have a great month of genealogical adventures!

©2015 Deborah Sweeney
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Monthly Update – July 15, 2015

The last four weeks have been fairly laid back. Both of my kids were out of school for part of the month. My son attends a year round school so he doesn’t get much of a summer break between school years. My daughter attended a summer school enrichment class. We took a couple day trips and spent 4th of July weekend in San Francisco. But school started up for my son this week and I will head back to my day job as a part time elementary school teacher in a few more weeks. Summer is ending way too quickly here in Northern California although we are looking at over 100° temperatures for tomorrow.

Dear Mother, Love Daddy

Dear Mother, Love Daddy coverThe book is officially part of the collection at the Sacramento Public Library. Anyone in the region can request it and check it out. I imagine it is possible to obtain the book through interlibrary loan as well. Now that the catalog entry for the book is complete, I love seeing the Subject headings. Here is the list:

Sacramento area author
Yegerlehner, Roscoe Schiele, 1904-1989 – Biography
Yegerlehner, Gladys Ruth (Foster), 1905-1998 – Biography
World War, 1939-1945 – Letters (Correspondence)
Military spouses – Correspondence

Dear Mother, Love Daddy is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble online. If you live in the Sacramento area, Trent’s Bookshelf in Elk Grove also has copies available for sale. I have a limited number of copies available for sale (with a personalized autograph). Contact me through this website or send me message through my Facebook page.

Sacramento Library

Genealogy Programs Summer Sac LibrarySince we are on the subject of the Sacramento Library, I conducted my first genealogy consult at the library at the end of June. The main branch of the library has a team of genealogists available for free consults, but who wants to drive downtown? Not me! So I approached my local branch with the idea of running a similar program in Elk Grove. I only had one consult my first Saturday, but it was fun. I am available from 1-4 the last Saturday of every month at the Franklin branch. I will meet individually with 3 patrons for about 45 minutes each. An appointment is needed so inquire at the help desk. I know the next Saturday in July is already booked!

I am still tentatively scheduled to give a short lecture at the branch in September. I am currently working on a program called Why Genealogy?.

This weekend, on Sunday, there will be a free lecture at the main branch of the Sacramento Library. I hope to see you there!

Other Sacramento Events

The California State Museum is having a Family History Day this Saturday from 10:00-2:00. Admission is free with limited free parking at the lot on 10th & O streets.

Discovering Your Past

Discovering Your Past - Episode 1If you missed the first episode to this new genealogy show, you will find it on YouTube on the Discovering Your Past channel. Don’t forget to watch the follow-up episode! The first episode featured an interview with me as I discussed my book Dear Mother, Love Daddy. Host Dan Young helped me with a research problem at a cemetery in Nashua, New Hampshire.

After lots of messages back and forth this month between Dan and me, we are ready to film our next episode. Not to give away any secrets but this month we will be discussing something every genealogist should have and do regularly. Stay tuned for updates and links to the next episode.

Genealogy Lady Newsletter

After Jamboree, I realized that I really need to start publishing a newsletter in addition to my blog. So far I have published two newsletters. Due to the type of WordPress account I have, I am unable to post a link to sign up from this website. There is an app to sign up on my Facebook page, or try this link I am not going to guarantee that it will work but I am crossing my fingers. If the link works, you should be able to click the subscribe button in the top left hand corner. If you haven’t been successful with either of the above two methods and still want to receive my newletter, kuddos to you for sticking with me! Send me a message through the contact form and let me know that you want to receive the newsletter. I can sign you up manually from my end.


1079809-Clipart-3d-Green-DNA-Crop-Gene-Modification-Helix-Plant-Royalty-Free-Vector-IllustrationAnother goal after Jamboree was to DNA test both my children. Since the bulk of my family members have tested at 23andme, this is the company I used. I like their tools a lot. Because both my children are minors, I also like that 23andme has several layers of anonymity. You don’t have to share your genome if you don’t want to. Of course, this can also be frustrating when you want someone else to share with you!

At this point, the results from my eldest child have been processed. It is fascinating to see which segments she has inherited. As an example of the complete randomness of DNA inheritance, she shares 27% of her DNA with her maternal grandmother, but only 23% with her maternal grandfather. While close to the predicted 25% from each grandparent, the inheritance was slightly lopsided, even down to specific chromosomes. In theory, she inherited one X chromosome from her father and one from me. My X chromosome should have been a combination of the two X chromosomes I received from each of my parents. My daughter inherited her maternal X chromosome completely un-recombined from her maternal grandmother.

Gena Philibert-Ortega and the San Joaquin Genealogical Society

The San Joaquin Genealogical Society sponsored a free half-day seminar with Gena Philibert-Ortega this week. Gena gave two lectures: 50 Websites Every Genealogist Should Know and Newspaper Research for the 21st Century. Even though I am a professional genealogist, I love hearing my colleagues speak. I always end up learning something new. I gave Gena a copy of my book and she should be posting an interview with me in the near future. It was a good day for connecting with new friends from Jamboree, and I am looking forward to attending a regular society meeting when they start up again in the fall.

My personal research update

Rosina (Yegerlehner) Wolfe

Rosina (Yegerlehner) Wolfe

I received a packet of materials from the Indiana State Archives. They recently posted a new index on their website for the Central Indiana Hospital of the Insane Admission books. Three of my 2X great aunts ended up in the asylum system between 1893 and 1911. I have always wanted to learn more. And boy, with the packet I received, did I ever!

The person I wanted to know the most about was Rosina (Yegerlehner) wolfe. She was the sister of my great grandfather, John Henry Yegerlehner. She spent almost 40 years in the state system. She was also one of the transfers from the Indianapolis hospital to the new hospital in Madison in 1910. She was judged insane in the early 1890s but was released twice. The third time, she was sent away for good. While in Madison, she worked as a laundress. Rosina’s photograph was included in the documents as well. It will take me a while to process the new documents I received, but I plan on writing a more thorough history of Rosina in the future.

Until next month! May you find the genealogy documents you are looking for!

©2015 Deborah Sweeney
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Extra! Extra!

My friend Dan was very busy this weekend; he finished editing his brand new show Discovering Your Past. The show is all ready and it premiered this morning on YouTube. He conducted an interview with me for the first half of the show, and then I sent him out on a genealogy treasure hunt. Each episode of the show will be about 30 minutes long. In each episode, he will discuss different research problems and our adventures trying to find answers.

So sit back and enjoy the first episode!