. Okay, make that BELATED Happy 5th Birthday.
I would like to make a toast to YOU–Thank you for reading Ancestors in Aprons. Thank you for commenting on posts. Thank you for reading the newsletter and for passing on information about Ancestors in Aprons to your friends on social media or IRL (in real life). Readers comprise “the better half” of this blogging enterprise.
Here I am with my parents at Five Years Old in 1944–the year my brother was born, changing my status from only child to older sister. I grew a lot in five years and learned a lot. Just like Ancestors in Aprons on its 5th birthday.
This site actually launched on April 27 2013, when I published three posts–about my memories of grandmother Vera Anderson, thoughts about Family Photos, and a food post about leftovers. Looking back, it seems that those three topics did a good job of setting the tone for what would follow in the next five years. Family Stories, Photographs and Heirlooms, and Food and Recipes.
As of the 5th birthday (plus a couple of months), Ancestors in Aprons has brought you a total of 523 posts. (I added 85 this past 14 1/2 months.) Readers particularly like the recipe posts, returning to them again and again.
Food and Recipes
I noticed this 5th birthday year that many times when I am looking for a particular favorite recipe, rather than open a cookbook or my computer I look at one of the recipes I have published on Ancestors in Aprons. Those specific posts now total 158 recipes that have been identified by category, and that’s a pretty fair-sized cookbook! An additional 40 posts focus on some aspect of food as it relates to our grandparents or great-great grandparents without presenting a specific recipe.
As the content grows, the readership grows–more people each year discovering Ancestors in Aprons, and more people each month signing up for the weekly newsletter.
Ancestors By the Numbers
(This is the nerdy stuff, by which I measure progress in research, so feel free to skip!)
In 2016, I wrote this:
Ancestry.com says I have 1,241 people in my tree. Not all of those people are “people” yet. A birth date, death date and place of birth does not a person make. Family stories bring them alive. Some of those names on the tree are just names, and some are unconfirmed names.
As Of July 2018, more than 3000 names appear on my tree on Ancestry. The same caveats still apply. Ancestry recently launched a hint that suggests parentage, and if I followed their hints blindly, I would immediately add another 30 or 40 people to my direct-line ancestry and hundreds to my tree. However, those suggestions just suggest a lot of work to me. Every one must be confirmed with solid facts rather than “somebody else has this person on their tree.”
Looking at the Pedigree Chart provides a more accurate measure of how my knowledge of ancestors has grown. The first five generations (from me through 2x great-grandparents) provides a possible 16 people. I have all sixteen, although one 2x great-grandmother persists in hiding behind her tombstone. The tombstone says Lucinda–but I have not been able to find her maiden name or more information about her.
Last year, I counted 19 3x great grandparents (out of a possible 32). This year I am counting more rigorously, and only claim to have 15 verified 3 x great-grandparents, plus four with incomplete information.
The cautious approach, however, still yields a total of 152 of a possible 1023 direct line ancestors at ten generations. And I have turned up ancestors in each of the following four generations, so my number of direct line ancestors through 15 generations now totals 228 direct ancestors (plus 17 with incomplete information) compared to 153 two years ago. Definitely progress. And definitely much work to be done.
Matching up information through DNA matches provides endlessly fascinating detective work. Fortunately, many DNA matches have contacted me, or responded to my messages to them, and I have been able to add many aunts, uncles and cousins to my tree. Unfortunately, these DNA matches seem to struggle with the same brick walls that I do, and have not shed light on the earlier direct line ancestors, particularly in the Kaser and Anderson lines.
DNA matches have inspired a few posts on people I had previously ignored, but other than that, the DNA research information stays on the Ancestors in Aprons Newsletter rather than here on the blog. I have decided that my main objective here is to bring ancestors to life through story-telling, not to get into the nitty-gritty of hows and whys of research. If you feel that you are missing something, do subscribe to the weekly newsletter by following this link :
What Happened in the 5th Year?
This year saw my husband and me move to an apartment and organizing, downsizing, packing and unpacking got in the way of posting last summer. The upside, as far as Ancestors in Aprons goes: moving means discoveries. As I unpacked, I found heirlooms and photos that I had forgotten about–things to jog the memory and inspire some further research and writing.
Then you witnessed my terrible mistake as I climbed far out on a limb that I eventually had to saw off. I discovered that a source listing my father’s 2x great grandparents had it wrong, and I paid the penalty for trusting without verifying. Much research, and several blog posts later, I was back to not knowing one of the important branches of my father’s tree.
My Favorite Posts In 5th Birthday Year
Just in case you missed them, here are some of the posts that I personally enjoyed the most between April 2017 and June 2018 in order of their appearance.
“Remember Me”, Heirloom Autograph Books. These beautiful books, belonging to my grandmother and her sister, led me to exploring some of their cousins I had not known before.
“Tragedy at Sea”. Agnes Bent’s story made up just one of the fascinations of my New England ancestors in the Bent family.
“Lively Letter from Teen Makes Me Sad”. Nothing brings people to life more than their personal letters. And because my father’s younger brother died young, this precious letter remains the only clue I have to his personality.
I wrote about pictures that I discovered in the move–among them this one of my grandmother as an athlete and my grandfather looking quite the man about town.
When we moved, the find that excited me most–family letters–threatened to consume all my time. I wrote a series based on my Grandmother’s letters to my mother during World War II. Other letters include a note from my Grandfather Anderson and a rare letter from my great-grandmother Hattie Stout. My all-time favorite letter, however, was one written by a naughty little girl to her grandmother. My grandmother Vera Stout (Anderson) wrote to HER grandmother, Emeline (Cochran) Stout.
“Letters from the Front” these from an uncle to a nephew spanning in both World War II and Vietnam also reveals the service of those nephews and how war continues to dominate our personal history.
“Bent’s Fort”. Review of a book that tells the fascinating story of more distant relatives, the Bent family. The Bents gained fame as traders,explorers, leaders in the development of the Rocky Mountain region.
In the kitchen of Ancestors and aprons, I presented many German recipes this past year. I am enjoying introducing German sausages in a still-ongoing series. I’m also enjoying discovering other new-to-me German dishes. However, when I decided to make a German Black Forest Cake, I narrowly averted tragedy.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this look back at the past 14 months, and that you are looking forward as much as I am to the 6th year of Ancestors in Aprons. Who knows where we will go? What ancestors will divert our attention with their amusing, unusual, or tragic stories? Stick around and find out.