First Day of Fall

Happy Autumn, to all!  One of the purposes for my blog is to share topic ideas for writing one’s life story. I think it can be overwhelming, intimidating even, to sit down in front of a blank computer screen or a blank piece of paper and try to write your entire life story from your earliest memory to the present. Writing in chunks is easier, and writing prompts can aid in that writing. So… as today is the first day of fall, what are your feelings or memories about this season? Which season is your favorite? Why?

Fall is my most favorite season. It signals the end of summer’s unrelenting, unbearable heat. (Hallelujah!) It means that school is in session. (I am one of those people who always looked forward to school.) It brings to mind all the days when I walked or rode a bus to school as a child, driving my car to high school, college days, and all of those First-Day-of-School feelings I had when I met my students for the first time each year. I love the changing of the colors on the trees. I love to watch the leaves drift down to the ground in a light autumn breeze. I love the breeze! I love the crunching sound as I stomp on piles of leaves that collect on the road. I love the musky smell of the dew in the mornings. I look forward to Thanksgiving and the special way it has of bringing families together, one way or another. I enjoy the warm, aromatic tastes of fall foods–fresh-baked breads and cookies, soups and stews, roasts in the oven. Autumn is definitely a sensory experience!

I hope this inspires you to Show Your Tale!

Proving Our Mayflower Descendants

Shout out to all my Olson/Church cousins! With the approach of the 400th anniversary in 2020 of the Mayflower landing, I decided I would work on my lineage papers to the Society of Mayflower Descendants. The New England Historical and Genealogical Society (NEHGS), of which I am a member, is making every effort to help the thousands–nay, millions–of descendants  of Mayflower pilgrims identify and verify their descendancy. Since my DAR application has already been verified and accepted, I didn’t see the link to our Mayflower ancestor, John Howland, as being much of a stretch. I submitted my Preliminary Review Form and my Preliminary Application to the California Chapter of Mayflower Descendants.

I am happy to report that I have received my official Application for Membership to the Society of Mayflower Descendants completed for the first seven generations, through our ancestor Solomon Lewis (1750-1839). Generations 8-13, from Lydia Lewis (1785-1873), wife of Asa Church (1788-1857),  to me, comprise the research and references I used for acceptance into DAR. I have the documents and references for all the vital events of each generation, some more derivative than others. With any luck, I will be able to use the same documentation for proving our Mayflower connection and satisfy eligibility requirements for the Society of Mayflower Descendants.

It makes me chuckle every time I think of my mother’s answer to my queries as a child about her ancestors. “Oh… we’re Heinz57,” she would always say, and end it at that. Well, I am finding out we are much more, and I am proud of our ancestral heritage. I have always loved this country, but knowing more details of the role our ancestors played in its early days increases that feeling ten-fold, at least.

As I learn more about my ancestors, their trials and sacrifices, their successes and celebrations, I am more and more in awe. We come from great stock. People of the land, mostly, but proud, courageous, patriotic people who helped make this country great. Those qualities are inherent in every one of us, my dear cousins. Our ancestors are a part of us, and we are a part of them. I LOVE GENEALOGY!!

The Simleness Family’s Oakland Connection

Today, as I get ready to head down to Oakland, CA, for a conference on Saturday about The Great Migration, I am thinking about the members of the Simleness family who made Oakland their home for so many years.

The immigrant ancestors of the family, Ole and Britha, arrived in America from Norway in 1889/1900, and they settled in Hayward, Freeborn County, Minnesota. They followed their first-born child, who made the journey about six years earlier, and  were accompanied by five of their eight other children. The last three immigrated later. This couple’s youngest child, Isaac Simleness, my husband’s grandfather, was the only child to be born in the United States, just a few short months after his parents’ arrival.

About ten years later, Ole died of lung fever. All except the two youngest were out of the home. By the early 1920s, Bertha, along with four of her children and their living spouses, moved to the Piedmont area of Oakland, California, leaving behind forever the harsh, cold winters of southern Minnesota. Isaac Simleness and his wife Josephine were among them.

Isaac and Josephine raised two children in Oakland–Everett and Janet, both graduates of Piedmont High. Everett enlisted in the navy after Pearl Harbor was bombed, not yet eighteen years of age. He was stationed at Humboldt Bay in Northern California. There he met, fell in love with and married the love of his life, Peggie Jean Hibbert, on 19 June 1943 in Eureka, Humboldt County, California. After discharge, Everett and Peggie moved back to Oakland where she gave birth to their first two sons in 1948 and 1949, barely over a year apart.

Over time, members of the family either died or moved away, but the family’s connection to Oakland still exists in the history of the Piedmont area and in the memorials  to those who lived out their lives there. Bertha Simleness, Sina and her second husband Alex Milton, Mary and her husband Peter Fosse are all buried in Oakland’s Mountain View Cemetery.  The ashes of Jan and her husband Bill Pray are interred in the Columbarium near the cemetery.

It has been a while since I have been in Oakland. I hope to be able to pay my respects to my husband’s ancestors while there.



2019 IGGP Conference Update

Great progress has been made in the planning and preparation for this international German genealogy conference, “STRIKE IT RICH! with Connections 2 Discoveries,” to be held in Sacramento June 15-17, 2019. Top-notch speakers have been selected, including Dr. Frit Juengling, Dr. Michael Lacopo, and Dr. Roger Minert. Presentation tracks have been planned, including Advancing Your Research, Regional Focus, DNA/Technology, History and Culture, and Eureka! (a variety of other topics relevant to researching German ancestors). Creation of the preliminar program is well underway. Hospitality is busy organizing special events for our visitors. And… Registration is only a few weeks away–November 1!

For more info about IGGP and this golden opportunity, visit the IGGP website: