Family Reunion Book Awesomeness

Great Grandchildren of Ronald & Margaret

Great Grandchildren of Ronald & Margaret

At the end of June, my family gathered for a four day reunion in Bear Lake.  Our reunion began on the 65th anniversary of my grandparent’s wedding day.  You would think that was intentional.  It wasn’t, but a lovely way to start our gathering nonetheless.

There were a bunch of us – 57 I think – all descendants & spouses of my grandparents.  Only six couldn’t be there.  It was awesome to be together.  When I look at this photo of the great grandchildren I am delighted.  What a big bunch of happiness sitting on those steps!  My grandparents have 27 great grandchildren (with one due in November and plenty more yet to be).  My grandparents died too young.  Grandpa only met one of his great grandchildren before his death.  Grandma lived several more years.  She was able to meet nine of her great grandchildren.  I know they would be so proud of this big, rowdy group.  In fact, they probably are.

Grandchildren of Ronald & Margaret

Grandchildren of Ronald & Margaret

Grandma & Grandpa were blessed with 17 grandchildren.  Here are 14 of us – in age order.  My two brothers couldn’t attend, one cousin had to leave before we took photos and another cousin is currently serving a mission in Germany.  I love my cousins!  It was so great to spend four days together.

This year I prepared a book for our family reunion.  I geared it towards the great grandchildren, but it turned out to be a hit with everyone.  It was a workbook based on several generations of our family.  I had a tub with prizes.  The first day I told everyone they could earn one prize for completing five items in the book.  On the second day they could earn two prizes, five items per prize.  The third and fourth days were unlimited prizes, still five items per prize.

A good group of Family History Detectives

A good group of Family History Detectives

It was a hit!  At first the kids were participating for prizes.  As the days passed many family members were really interested in learning and talking about our family.  I loved hearing my cousins and their kids asking the uncles/grand uncles questions from my book.  There were some cool discoveries and conversations that helped us all feel a greater connection with our family.

The book has several sections:

  • A simple four generation pedigree for names only
  • Pages about Grandma & Grandpa with pages for four photos.
  • Pages about their four children.
  • Pages about their 17 grandchildren.
  • Pages about their 27 great grandchildren.  The big hit in this section was matching the ggrandkids to their parents.
  • Guess the ancestor section with facts and stories about ancestors with a space to write their name.
  • A map to color in the countries our ancestors came from with an adjoining page to list our immigrant ancestors by name.
  • A puzzle section.

The front and back cover were printed on card stock and the book was bound with a small spiral binding.  The book is 42 pages long.  You can view an altered pdf version here – booklet pdf .  I took out or changed names.  The actual book was a bit more clear with full names and names where it now has some blanks.  If you are interested in creating your own book for a future reunion here is my word doc – booklet doc.  I printed these at home and had them bound at a local print shop.  I brought two tubs, one held the books, a bunch of pens, a few glues sticks, and copies of four photos for every book.  The second tub had small prizes.

This project was a fabulous way to share my knowledge and love for my ancestors with my family.

I love reunions, my family, and my heritage!


Does your family hold reunions?  How do you honor your ancestors at your family gatherings?


Photograph Showcase: Back to School Best

vicki and craig costello, sept 1958

My Aunt Vicki & Uncle Craig, ready for school. My mom is peeking through the screen door.

Back to School pictures have been flooding my Facebook news feed for days now.  These precious first day photos have been a long tradition in my family.  I love this one of my aunt & uncle.  That Zorro lunch box is pretty awesome.  My poor mom is looking disappointed to be left out.  You can see her peeking through the screen door.


Who Do You Think You Are? – Minnie Driver Love

I really love the show Who Do You Think You Are?

I love the full circle, Hollywood style, tell us the story in a condensed format, emotion packed journeys.

I especially enjoyed Minnie Driver’s episode from this past Wednesday.  I was transfixed by her story.  There is a haunting beauty to her journey.  She has the kind of story that breaks researcher’s hearts.  Secrets, hidden truths, tragedies, stories lost when a loved one dies.  Her journey uncovers many of those secrets and hidden truths.   She is able to find amazing connections with her past.  It’s simply lovely.

If you haven’t been watching Who Do You Think You Are? you can watch full episodes at TLC.  You can also find UK episodes on youtube.  Past seasons of the America show are probably somewhere, I just don’t know where.  :)

“I think it’s powerful, knowing where you come from.”  -Minnie Driver


Ancestor Story – John Boles, the disappearing man – 52 Ancestors


©Norman McNamee, photo of the cemetery surrounding the Manse of Dalserf, photo used with permission. Dalserf, Lanark, Scotland – I wish I could pop over and read those headstones! Maybe I would find some family members.

John Boles is my 3rd great granduncle.  He is the younger brother of my 3rd great grandmother Catherine Boles.  I really enjoy researching the Boles family.  I feel quite a connection to them.  John in particular fascinates me because he, his wife, and his seven children seemingly disappeared into thin, Scottish, air.

Here’s the skinny on John:

  • Born about 1852 in Carluke, Lanark, Scotland.
  • 1861 found John living as a young scholar in Carluke.
  • By 1871 he was a miner, still living with his family in Carluke.
  • 20 Feburary 1874 John married Christina Montgomery in Carluke.
  • Between 1874 and 1889, John and Christina had ten children.  Three of those children died before 1890.  All births and deaths occurred in Dalserf up until 1887, from 1888 to 1890 the births and deaths occurred in Holytown.
  • 1881 found John, Christina and five children living in Dalserf, John was a coal miner.
  • The last trace I have of this family is found in their son John’s death record.  John died 18 February 1890 in Holytown.  His cause of death was whooping cough, he was four and a half years old.

And then poof!  The ENTIRE family disappears just like that.

I have tried tracing them each individually.  I have searched in Scotland, Australia, and Canada specifically.  I have searched generally in ancestry and familysearch hoping to pick them up somewhere, anywhere in the world.  No luck.  At.  All.

John and his family are a mystery to me.  Did they get tired of life?  Tired of mining, tired of their children dying?  Did they decide it was time for a change?  Time to strike out into the world and leave Scotland behind?

I don’t know.  I hope I figure it out.  Maybe one of John’s descendants will see this and email me.  I hope so!


Records I have for John:

  • 1861 Census
  • 1871 Census
  • 1874 Marriage Record
  • 1881 Census

Records I can’t find for John:

  • Birth record in the Scottish OPR
  • 1891 Census
  • 1901 Census
  • 1911 Census
  • Death Record

Here’s the scoop on John’s family:

  • John Boles, born about 1852 in Carluke, Lanark, Scotland
  • Christina Montgomery, born about 1855 in Carluke, parents – William Montgomery, Agnes Smellie
    • Agnes Boles, born 9 April 1874 in Dalserf, died 24 July 1888 in Holytown
    • James Boles, born 2 August 1875 in Dalserf, died 23 March 1876 in Dalserf
    • Isabella Boles, born 26 December 1876 in Dalserf
    • Christina Boles, born 1 October 1878 in Dalserf
    • William Montgomery Boles, born 24 July 1880 in Dalserf (How sad that his older sister Agnes died on his 8th birthday!)
    • Helen Boles, born 8 May 1882 in Dalserf
    • Elizabeth Boles, born 19 January 1884 in Dalserf
    • John Boles, born 26 October 1885 in Dalserf, died 18 February 1890 in Holytown
    • James Boles, born 11 October 1887 in Dalserf
    • Agnes Smellie Boles, born4 July 1889, Holytown


Image found here.


My thoughts – FamilySearch Indexing Day

WorldwideIndexingBadge_EnglishDid you participate in the Worldwide Indexing Event hosted by FamilySearch?

My teenagers and I did.  I was honestly surprised that they were willing to join in.  This is not something they have an interest in.  They know what indexing is.  They have participated in helping index a batch or two on Family Night, but that’s it.

So why were they willing?

Well, FamilySearch did such a good job pushing this event.  It was announced repeatedly at our church.  The day the event began there was an especially detailed announcement at church.  Something about being challenged to participate by someone other than mom or dad softened them up.

After church the boys said they were willing to give it a try.  I went in before the event began and downloaded ten batches for each of the three of us so we could work offline if the system had trouble with volume.  Thank goodness I did!  The first several hours were rough on the system.  But we got work done anyway.  For a few hours we rotated turns on the computer and each of us indexed several batches.

I discovered something.

My 13 year old is a natural!  That kid was able to read almost everything on every record.  He would call me over occasionally to look at a name or a place.  Most of the time he already had a guess that was correct.  There were only a few names I had to spell for him.  I was very impressed.  Now if only I could figure out how to get him hooked on some form of genealogy.  :)

The final numbers for the event are impressive.  5.7 million records were processed during 24 hours by 66,511 participants.  Amazing!  You can read more about the final numbers here.

What a fabulously successful event.


The number of records on FamilySearch is growing much more quickly than they are being indexed.  The FamilySearch blog recently had a post detailing some of the changes in the new indexing program that will launch soon.  This paragraph is eye-opening:

“FamilySearch recently reached a significant milestone: one billion images of historical documents are now viewable on That’s one billion pictures of documents. Of those images, how many would you say are indexed and searchable by name? All of them? Half of them? Would you believe less than 22 percent?”

The article goes on to explain ways the new system will streamline things to allow for indexing and arbitration to be accomplished more quickly.  You can read more about that here and here.

One billion images?! 


But only 22% are indexed?

We have work to do my friends!  Some good indexing work is in order.

And FamilySearch?  How about making that Worldwide Indexing Event a regular thing?  Like maybe quarterly, or even better – monthly.

Because it seems that - If you plan it, they will come.  All 66,511 of them.


Back to School Sales Make Me Happy


I love this time of year!

School is one of my favorite things.  Fresh pencils, crisp paper, smiling students and teachers, routines & structure, learning – all things I love!

I also really love Back to School sales.  I can’t resist buying boxes of crayons, colored pencils and markers to add to my stash.  But the best item to buy this time of year has to be notebooks and composition books.  The prices are lower and there is a larger selection.  I like to stock up.

Why my love for notebooks?  Well, when I am working on something I like to use a notepad of some sort to jot things down.  Those notebooks end up being filled with great gems.  Some are used for interviews, others for tracking microfilm, sorting out complicated families and on and on.  Because I am generally using several notebooks at one time, I like to try to buy notebooks that have some sort of design so I can easily tell them apart at a glance.

This year there happened to be a very large selection of designs for a nice, low price.  So I stocked up!

What supplies do you consider essential when you are researching?

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