Sunday, January 8, 2017


Ever since I started researching my family history on a regular basis (probably in the early 2000's) I have longed to visit the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.  With their vast resources, of course, it was near the top of my "Genealogical Bucket List".  While I longed to visit the Library, it almost felt like a daunting task.  How could I prepare enough so that I wouldn't waste that golden opportunity?  What if I spent a few days there and really didn't accomplish anything but later figured out I should have done things differently?

I decided to register for a trip with a group -- Ancestor Seekers.  They would make the hotel arrangements and provide some direction and hopefully lots of assistance!  I felt like this would give me a safety net -- people to help me navigate the largest genealogical library with its massive book collection.  Ancestor Seekers had people who could help with British Isles, Irish, German and American research.  It sounded like the best plan for me.

But I still needed to plan for my research.  I couldn't just show up and hope they could help me.  I registered for a "Preparing for the FHL Visit" webinar, which reinforced the idea that I needed to plan and actually perhaps have a few alternate plans.

So my big question was "who do I research while I am there" and "what do I research about these people"?   Before deciding who to research, I decided to find out what resources were available at the library  -- that might help me to decide what were my best chances of finding information.  I decided that I would focus on my Irish ancestors and then if time allowed, I would do some research on some specific German ancestors.

I made a list of the books that I wanted to peruse while I was there, as well as, which microfilm to look at.  I created some problem sheets which would focus on specific problems and individuals that I was hoping to solve.  Each problem sheet contained the following information: problem, background information, sources checked and plan.  [I will discuss each of these problem sheets in a future blog post].

After doing all of this, I met with a mentor -- someone who has taught several Genealogy classes that I have taken.  We met for lunch and discussed all of my problem sheets and my approach for my visit to the FHL.   After a few months of preparation, I felt like I was finally ready to visit the Family History Library.


Last week, my daughter and I went to the movies to watch "Lion".  According to my Google-employed son who told me about the movie, it was about a guy using Google Earth to find his birth home and village and more specifically his family.  It was a very touching movie!

The movie got me thinking on how many times I have used Google Earth for my genealogy research.  Some of my more memorable searches include the following:

1. Locating parcels of land where my Great Grandmother Bridget Chambers spent her childhood in the townland of Letter, Islandeady, County Mayo, Ireland. [If I had used Google Earth while on the road in Ireland I might have been able to see the land with my own eyes]

2. Trying to match a house that I have in a 1960 photo (the childhood home of my Great Grandfather Bryan Sherlock in Demailestown, Meath, Ireland) to see if it still exists today.  [Sadly I had no luck with my search but considering how old that house would have been -- he lived there in the late 1800's -- it probably has been torn down and a newer house built.]

3. Locating the following churches -- Katholische Maria Himmelfahrt (Helferskirchen, Rheinland, Germany), Saint Boniface Church (Wirges, Rheinland, Germany) and St. Laurentius Church (Dernbach, Germany).  [This helped with my visit to see them in 2015]

4. Trying to see what the house my Grandmother Theresa Nebgen Sherlock grew up in Chicago, looks like today.

5. And of course, looking at my Google Earth photos of my childhood home in Southern California. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016


For the past 15 years, I have printed copies of my genealogical research -- birth, marriage and death records, census forms, and immigration and military service records -- and then filed them in notebooks.  Before filing them, I would create an "Individual Research Record" that would include all of the pertinent information about that individual, including sources,  in a concise form.  I even printed that record sheet on fuchsia paper for the females and aqua paper for the males. It served as my cover sheet for the individual's documents.

As a visual learner, this paper and notebook system worked well for me.  I could actually see the information in my hands and filling out the individual research record helped me digest and analyze the information.  Of course, it also took up my time.  Time that I was filing and filling out forms could have been time that I should have been researching or entering my research into my Roots Magic computer program.

As time went on my research documents and notebooks seemed to expand exponentially.  The good news was that the kids went away to college so there was more room for my now 25+ large notebooks.  The bad news was how large was this going to get? How many rooms can I devote specifically to genealogy research and storage?  Can you be a genealogical hoarder?

So, last week I made a huge decision -- it was time to digitize my genealogical research!  Time to slowly get rid of my 25+ notebooks -- well after those records had been digitized.  I guess I could have researched the best way to go digital but while I read some of those articles in the past, once again I needed to find a system that would work the best for me.

I created folders on my computers for each of the family branches -- Homrich, Sherlock, Chambers, etc.  Then within each of those folders are sub-folders for the individuals that I have already researched.  Going through each notebook, I then digitally save the documents as well as the fact sheet about the person on Ancestry.  I also have created an Excel spreadsheet for each of the family branches with the names and documents saved so that at a quick glance I can see what I already have and what I still need to look for.

I know that this digitization project will not only take some time (probably several months) and also be probably rather monotonous at times but it will be worth it in the long run.  I will not only have a lot more time to do actual research but will actually have rooms in my house that can be "guest rooms" instead of storage rooms!

Sunday, July 10, 2016


After two visits to Ireland, I have now refined my bucket list for any possible future trips to the Emerald Isle.  While Dublin is a nice place to visit, I want to spend any time I have walking in my ancestors' (no matter how far back) footsteps.  So here is a listing of places I would like to visit --

1. Townland of Letter in County Mayo -- I got so close but not close enough to the home town of my Great Grandmother Elizabeth Chambers,  Perhaps I will get the opportunity some day to see the actual land where her father Thomas Chambers farmed and raised his family.

2. The townlands of Demailestown and Lady Rath in County Meath -- I have learned that what is called townlands in Ireland may be no more than a neighborhood or housing complex.  I would love to see the actual area that my Sherlock ancestors (my great grandfather Edward and his parents Bryan and Margaret Kilroy Sherlock) called home.

3. Clew Bay Heritage Center -- Situated in a 19th century building in Westport on the shores of Clew Bay, it would be wonderful to see the artifacts, photos and documents of the history of Westport and the Clew Bay area.  (

4. Museum of Country Life -- I wish we had the time to visit this museum, located in Turlough Village (northeast of Castlebar in County Mayo) while we were in Mayo last August.  The museum tells the story of country life in Ireland from 1850 to 1950.  It would have given me a better understanding of the daily lives of my Irish ancestors.  (

5. Scurlogstown -- I would love the opportunity to visit Scurlogstown in County Meath or one of the other towns in Ireland named after my Scurlog ancestors.  I need a picture next to the sign!

6. City of Limerick in County Limerick -- Recently I have discovered that Limerick was the home town of my 5th Great Grandfather Zachary Myles and 5th Great Grandmother Katherine Conyers as well as their daughter Elizabeth Myles, my 4th great grandmother. Limerick was also the birthplace of my 6th Great Grandfather Thomas Myles.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016


So, for the final part of my trip to Ireland I was hoping to visit the townland of Scurlogstown in County Meath.  My ancestor William de Scurlog received some land grants in County Meath where he built a castle in 1180.  A town was then formed near the castle and was called Scurlogstown.  Of course, I would love to see a town that was named after my ancestor and my dream would have been to visit a castle built by or named after an ancestor.

There were a few problems with this dream, however -- even in the 1800's only ruins remained of this castle. Then years or so ago, some ruins were uncovered when they were building a business park in Scurlogstown.  That would be my luck -- a business park rather than a castle!  So, I didn't get to see the castle or even a sign with the name Scurlogstown.

We did end up 3.5 kilometers east of there at the location of the Trim Castle. I was getting to the point that any castle would have to do.  However, this castle is very special too.  Trim Castle is the largest Norman castle in Ireland and is located on the south bank of the River Boyne in Trim.   This castle was built by Hugh de Lacy (who my ancestor William de Scurlog accompanied to Ireland) so perhaps it is practically like family!

I did try to persuade my family (husband, son and daughter) who had accompanied me to start a coup and capture Trim Castle as our own family castle but alas, I had no followers!

Reference: "The Sherlocks of Ireland" by Arian E. Collins, c 1993, San Diego, California

Monday, June 20, 2016

Visiting County Meath

While my Chambers and Kilroy ancestors are from County Mayo, my Sherlock and Caffrey ancestors are from County Meath.  Since I visited Islandeady (in County Meath) in both 2012 and on the current trip, I wanted to make sure that I also visited County Meath.  Perhaps, I could see the townlands of Lady Rath and Demailestown, the hometowns of my great Grandfather Edward Sherlock.

In 1961, Grandpa Charlie visited the site of his father's (Edward Sherlock) childhood home in Demailestown.  Above is a photo of him at that house.

Demailestown and Lady Rath are very close to one another.  While they are listed as townlands, they are more like housing developments.  So, think of a housing development in a rural setting with a few houses.  Demailestown and Lady Rath are west of Drogheda, east of Kells, and north of Navan and Kilmessan.  I looked at both Demailestown and Lady Rath on Google Earth and couldn't find a house like the one in the photo above.  Of course, this photo was from 55 years ago and the house very likely could have been torn down and a new one built.

According to Grandma Theresa's diary, they visited Pat Sherlock's home and his cattle. They also visited the Carey's and Agnes Sherlock -- I am not sure which town-lands they lived in 1961.  Then they visited Mary Glacken in Navan.

Trying to find these town-lands in Ireland in person is a lot harder than trying to locate places on Google Earth.  Oh, if it could just be that easy!   Of course, it didn't help that we didn't have GPS so it was rather like looking for a needle in a haystack!  The roads were tiny rural roads and did not have a lot of signs.  We drove past Lobinstown, Wilkinstown, Slane Castle and Navan.  Lady Rath & Demailestown is to the east of Wilkinstown.  So, alas, I did not actually get to see Lady Rath or Demailestown despite our efforts.  Perhaps the only way this will ever happen is with a native guide who is familiar with these tiny town-lands.

Thursday, May 5, 2016


Soon after my trip to Ireland in 2012, I learned about Grace O'Malley (Grainne Ni Mhaille) who was known as the Irish Pirate Queen or "The Sea Queen of Connacht",  I read the book "Ireland's Pirate Queen - The True Story of Grace O'Malley" written by Anne Chambers.  I am still hoping to discover that I am related somehow to both Grace O'Malley and Anne Chambers.

The Westport House is a beautiful historic home built in 1650 by Colonel John Browne and his wife Maud Burke (Grace O'Mallley's great great granddaughter).  It was built near the site of the O'Malley Castle.

I missed seeing the Westport House in 2012, but decided it was a "must see place to visit" on my latest trip to Ireland.  Although the Westport House property also contains a Pirate Adventure Park and campgrounds, our sole focus was the historic house.;  The house is located in parkland setting with a lake and terraces.  It also has a view of Clew Bay and Croagh Patrick.  It is definitely a must see on anyone's trip to Westport!