Category Archives: genealogy

Genealogy and Diversity

I have had two work projects where I have been able to combine by hobby (and passion) of genealogy with my career (and love) of Meteorology.  One project was a year ago where I used genealogy investigation skills and resources to identify fatalities or survivors of historical Pacific NW tornadoes. The second project was very recently, when I was asked to answer a few questions on how genealogy relates to diversity on video.  My friend (a fellow employee with the National Weather Service), Brooke Bingaman edited this lovely video of me and a fellow Meteorologist/genealogist, Ken Waters. Ken is a genealogy blogger too.

What do you think genealogy can teach us about diversity? Please provide your ideas in the comments.

Are we related?

Family Search just released a new website, that allows you to see if people in your surrounding area are related to you.  I used it this past week at RootsTech, the world’s largest genealogy conference, and saw that there were distant cousins of mine in the same room as me, or  across the street, or down the hall.  It was really fun to see my family tree in action.  Not only can you see cousins in the area, but it will show you how you are related.

Continue reading Are we related?




“Roots” by Heidi Renee Mason

Deeply embedded

Inside the earth,

Twisting, turning

In every direction;

The source,

The beginning,

The origin of all;

Firmly established,

Gripping tightly,


Securing our existence;

A network of viability,

Our roots


The genesis of life.

Clues into Frank McCourtney’s Mysterious Past

Resting spot for Frank L McCourtney at Rose City Cemetery in Portland, Oregon. Photo taken March 2016.
Resting spot for Frank L McCourtney at Rose City Cemetery in Portland, Oregon. Photo taken March 2016.

Frank L McCourtney is one of the most mysterious ancestors that I have researched in a long time. His name came up at a dinner conversation last Christmas, when my Uncle in Law commented that he knew very little about his grandfather, Frank. My uncle had done his own genealogical research into his grandfather, but could not find who his parents were.  Further conversations with other family members about Frank McCourtney made him even more intriguing.  This man did not speak of his past much, at least with his grandchildren, and the varying stories that they had of his youth inspired me to want to find factual sources to get the story straight. Continue reading Clues into Frank McCourtney’s Mysterious Past

Giving back to Find A Grave

Tombstone of Verna May Smith (1895-1929). Photo taken in the Rose City Cemetery in Portland, Oregon on March 1st, 2016.
Tombstone of Verna May Smith (1895-1929). Photo taken in the Rose City Cemetery in Portland, Oregon on March 1st, 2016.

Almost all of my genealogical research has been for ancestors that live in other states than my current state. I recently began working on my husband’s lineage, and was happy to discover that he has a lot of roots in and near where we live in Vancouver, Washington. Since today is #TombstoneTuesday, I decided to visit his great grandparents burial site at the Rose City Cemetery in Portland, Oregon, snap a few photos, and make my first submission to the Find A Grave website. Continue reading Giving back to Find A Grave

Evolution of the Milhoan Surname



In research, you will often find various spellings for the same last name. While this can make your research a challenge, it is not impossible to track the changes. I came upon this issue when tracking my maternal grandmother’s maiden name, Milhoan.

I have seen Milhoan spelled many different ways, including Milhorn, Melhorn, Mulholn, and even Mulholland. With the variety of spellings, some extremely different, it isn’t always easy to tell whether or not you are on the trail of the correct ancestor. Continue reading Evolution of the Milhoan Surname

Honoring Mothers – Part II

Shirley Anderson around 1942
Shirley Anderson around 1942

My grandmother, Shirley Mae Willard (nee Anderson) did not talk much about her past.  She had a falling out with her parents after their divorce in 1942 when she was 20 years old. Shortly after, she moved from Detroit, Michigan to Chicago, Illinois to attend Secretary School.  World War II then erupted and she moved to San Francisco, California to work for the U. S. Navy.  Shirley’s mother died soon after she had moved to California, before they had made peace, and I am sure this is at least partly why my grandmother did not like to talk about her mother.   As my grandmother aged she became more willing to speak of her past, and her eyes always lit up with love when she mentioned her mother. Continue reading Honoring Mothers – Part II



Tomorrow night, people of Celtic ancestry across the world will be observing the Gaelic festival of Beltane. Celebrated on the last night of April, Beltane is a fire festival, welcoming the beginning of summer and open pasturing. Continue reading Beltane

Fun Facts…



Resurrecting Roots, a genealogy blog written by Treena and Heidi, has been going strong for the past four months, thanks to you, our loyal readers. We started this journey with a passion for sharing our genealogical research, and we have enjoyed it! Continue reading Fun Facts…

Honoring Mothers

My grandmother, Shirley Anderson with her mother, Bertha Hazil Laumond.
My Grandmother, Shirley Anderson with her mother, Bertha Hazil Laumond.

A couple of years ago, I decided to give my mother a compilation of her direct maternal lineage for a Mother’s Day gift.  After spending years researching my historical mothers, I displayed pertinent records and newly found photos in a printed  photo book.  Not only did the gift bring my mother to joyful tears, but it sparked her own interest in genealogy. She is now a  member of the Santa Barbara Genealogical Society, and frequently attends genealogy classes and workshops.  It was the gift that keeps on giving.

Tracing a maternal lineage is quite challenging, and I had to overcome a few obstacles to create this gift.  Female ancestors are especially difficult to find in cultures where women take their husband’s last name as their own. There have been times in history where women were not allowed to own property, pay taxes, vote, or go to college.  Finding maiden names in these time periods could be near impossible. But it is not only the maiden name that can be hard to find, sometimes even the first name can be masked by the formality of addressing a women only in regards to her husband, like Mrs. Dwight Willard instead of Mrs. Shirley Willard. Continue reading Honoring Mothers