2015: Year in Review

2015: My Genealogical Year-in-Review

This year has been amazing for my genealogical research, my genealogical connections, and my telling my family history. My most popular blog post from this year, in terms of pageviews, was “My Response to Ancestry’s Business Decisions,” which is my rant regarding Ancestry’s decision to drop Family Tree Maker. It is also, by far, the blog posting that have received the most comments regarding. My most popular post of all time remains my 2013 review of Family Tree Maker Mac 3. In light of Ancestry’s decision to drop Family Tree Maker from its product line, it is also my most embarrassing post.


I was blessed by guest blogger Jenne M., whose incredibly interesting articles I began posting. I thank Jenne for her work and for sharing her family’s history with us.
I also continued my research into the life of my grandmother Madonna Montran and her vaudeville days. In particular, I followed her “Chin Chin” experiences through several articles.
Jacob & Bertha (Trümpi) Huber
Regarding my Howell/Darling research, I posted several biographies and documented my brick wall regarding Jacob Huber.


In February, I wrote an unpopular post regarding my great-grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Manning Brown. It was “unpopular” because I laid out why I believe she was born in 1878 and not 1876, thus her family jumped the gun when they celebrated her 100th birthday in 1976.


My social networking activities resulted in a treasure trove of photos from a newly found cousin. The photos included definitive proof that my grandfather was in Panama about the time my grandmother was also in Panama, thus confirming family oral history. There were also hundreds of scanned imaged included in a disk from my cousin as well as some original poems written by my grandfather. The photo images I received included dozens of my direct ancestors that I had never seen before. It was an amazing sharing of information. Thank you so much to my cousin Beverly.
Arthur & Mary (Manning) Brown


Again, thanks to social networking I was able to share memories of a cousin, this time from my late cousin, Sharon Huffman. Sharon wrote about her grandparents, my great-grandparents, Arthur and Mary Brown. Much of what she wrote I have verified in independent research, such as great-grandfather Arthur dying of cancer. But more importantly, her shared memories provide texture to the lives of Arthur and Mary and insights into their personalities. Thanks again to Tim and Julia for sharing the stories with me.


Besides expanding upon my grandmother Donna’s time in Panama as a “Cabaret Girl,” I wrote an extensive post regarding searching newspapers and the process I use for using them in my research.


I was able to take the time to volunteer for Find-a-Grave by going to an old cemetery in nearby Gorham, Maine, and take photos of several markers that weren’t on the site already. It can provide a great way to help the genealogy community and get outside.


I put the final changes on a presentation, Social Networking for Genealogy. It was the first genealogical presentation I’ve given since moving to Maine. I gave the presentation at the August 1st meeting of the Greater Portland Chapter of the Maine Genealogical Society. I will be giving the presentation again to the Scarborough Historical Society on January 6th, 2016.
My research also uncovered what I believe to be a new cousin on the Montran line. I am pretty certain that her ancestor, John F Montran, and my great-grandfather, John F Montran, are the same person. I exchanged several emails with her but seem to have lost contact since an original flurry of correspondences. I hope she is okay.


I continued my research regarding the Montran line with articles about John Montran and Ruth Grace Montran.


I attended the Maine Genealogical Society’s annual conference in Brewer, Maine. It was an excellent experience
Another guest blogger, Melody Pettus, wrote about her second great-grandfather, Shadrick. I give my thanks to Melody for sharing her research and some of her family’s story.
I attended the Scarborough Historical Society’s September presentation about yearbooks. It revolutionized my thinking about yearbooks and some of the not so obvious things you can learn from them, so I posted about both the presentation and what I learned.


Ancestry.Com added “Wills and Probate Records” to their multitude of databases. Using the database, I was able to learn much more about my wife’s great-grandmother, Annie D (Long) Hobbs. It is one of the most significant databases that Ancestry has provided access to in quite a while.  
I was also able to discover new details about my grandmother’s biplane flights. She was an incredible woman.


Randy Seaver’s blog, Genea-Musings, often suggests topics for consideration. He often inspires me to think about my research and some of the fun facts you can learn. One such topic included my most recent immigrant ancestor. I hadn’t thought about whom it might be until after I read his blog.


Crumbling Brick Wall” by John Schneider
(CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
The biggest genealogical breakthrough I had this year was figuring out who my biological father probably is. Through a combination of both Y-DNA and atDNA tests and analysis, I feel about 75% certain that I have the name of my biological father. It isn’t a “slam-dunk,” but it is the best lead I have ever had. I really opened a completely new area of research for me.
The above is only a sampling of the 103 blog articles (including this one) I wrote this year – nearly two a week. I have written about my three major research areas, Brown-Montran (my maternal line), Darling-Huber (my wife’s maternal line), and Howell-Hobbs (my wife’s paternal line). I have had a “Roberts Notional” project for several years; however, now I’m almost ready to change it to a new, Roberts-Barnes, research area. I also have two secondary research areas, Donna Montran – her show-business life is fascinating, and DNA Research, which augments all my research areas and several of my projects.
For other projects, I have several. They include Adair, Angley, Burlison, Middleton, Mowbray, Rode, Schlotterbeck, and Whitten. In addition, I am encouraging others in their research that has resulted in guest blogger postings. I also review books and software and write general genealogical interest articles. So, I am keeping busy.

My Goals for 2016

Brown-Montran – Prove the connection between my grandmother and a potential a half-sister.
     Determine the biological father of my half-sister, Glennis.
Darling-Huber – Determine the connections and family unit for the Bernhead Trümpi household.
Howell-Hobbs – Determine who “M,” George Hobbs’ wife was.
     Determine who Peter M. Howell’s father is.
Roberts-Barnes – Prove the connection to a paternal ancestor.
Donna Montran – Continue research and detail at least 12 of her vaudeville shows.
DNA Research – Continue using DNA in my research for all my research area and my Adair and Angley projects.
Continue supporting the Scarborough Historical Society and the Scarborough Museum.
Continue supporting the Greater Portland Chapter of the Maine Genealogical Society.
Take at least 104 hours of genealogical training (2 hours every week). I could do even more.
Finally, I want to post at least 121 blog articles (one every three days) in 2016. I expect 2016 to be a busy and fruitful year.

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