She was a beautiful, young Irish maid, working in a wealthy English household. Her employer’s oldest son fell in love with her. When he announced intentions to marry her, his parents said they would disown him. He married her anyway. Then, bride and groom ran away to live happily ever after. “Her name was Mary Cordial,” my maternal grandmother Marilyn Matilda Dietz told me, that distinct glimmer of pleasure in her eyes—the one she always had when she retold this story. “And you are her legacy.”

This blog is a resource for those who want to--have to--find out more about who they came from.

Friday, April 13, 2012

A Wicked Discovery

Just want to share a link to an article I wrote this past week about my ancestor, Rebecca Elsing Mudge Greensmith, on Yahoo! Voices. Given the 700 word limit, I wasn't able to go into too much detail about how my 10th great grandmother suffered while in the custody of her accusers, but I hope to write a more descriptive account for my forthcoming genealogical memoir. In the meantime, please read and enjoy:

Hooray for 1940!

My grand-aunt and grandmother, 1940s 

Armchair genealogists across the country are rejoicing over the news that the 1940 United States Census was released on April 2nd, providing those with more recent brick walls to blast through yet another opportunity to shake their family trees and watch some reluctant relatives fall out.

Below are some helpful links to get interested researchers started:

     Wikipedia: 1940 United States Census outlines what exactly you'll find out.

It's going to be a while before 1940 is fully indexed, so unless you know exactly where your relatives might have lived (perhaps the same house as in 1930?), you may need to do a "census crawl"—meaning you'd go page by page, looking for your relatives in the city or town you suspect they lived in—in order to find them. Or you can wait, like I intend to do. In any case, happy hunting!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Don't Be A Bunny (Good Advice, Worth Reposting)

I want you to take a good look at the man above. His name is Bunny, and he is the poster boy for what happens to people who don’t write their full names on the backs of their photographs.

According to Grand-aunt Jeanne, Bunny was Annie Bullock’s boyfriend back in the day. There is a second, undated picture of the couple standing together in the yard, although you could not tell by their expressions or postures that they are romantically linked.

Annie Bullock and Bunny

Apparently, Bunny gave a single copy of the professional photograph at the top of this post to his sweetheart Annie but didn’t sign the back (which is understandable—she knew who he was). But time marched on. Jane retained the photo after her sister Annie moved away or died (Grand-aunt Jeanne doesn’t know Annie’s ultimate fate), and the picture later passed on to my fellow researcher Charlie Dietz’s parents. Thanks to Charlie’s mother, who wrote “Bunny” on the back of his photo, we know at least that much about him. But that is all.

I wonder what Bunny’s real name was. I wonder if he and Annie married, or if they broke up and moved on, or if one of them died, tragically ending the relationship. I will wonder forever. Why? Because I can’t track Bunny down with just his nickname as a clue.

If anyone knows what became of Bunny, I’d appreciate you dropping me a note. I can be reached at

Today’s lesson: Don’t be a Bunny! Write your full name on the back of all professional photos, and try to give some sort of info on the backs of the rest. Your descendants will appreciate it!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Quote of the Day

"Time is the fire in which we burn." – Soran (played by actor Malcolm McDowell) in the motion picture "Star Trek: Generations"