Thursday, November 13, 2014


Merlin Nicholas Schuster (my 8th cousin), the son of Emil Schuster and Elizabeth Hoefer (descendant from the Hober line), was born on 25 Nov 1923 in Farley, Iowa.  He joined the service on 18 Jan 1949, after working on his family's farm in his teen years, and was discharged a year later.  Merlin, however, was called back as a reserve on 27 Sep 1950 (due to the Korean Conflict) and was sent to Korea in November of 1950.  Merlin was a radar man for the 82nd Anti Aircraft Artillery Battalion and 2nd infantry division.

On 13 Feb 1951, Merlin was taken captive as a Prisoner of War by the North Koreans while he was fighting near Hoensong, South Korea.  PFC Merlin Schuster died a few months later, on 6 Jun 1951, while he was a prisoner in a North Korean camp.  Merlin was awarded the Prisoner of War Medal, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and the Republic of Korea War Service Medal.

Sources: WWI, WWII & Korean War Casualty Listings (
               US Korean War Casualties, 1950-1957

Note: I truly believe that it is important that we don't lose the stories of our family members, living and those that have gone long before us.  To that end I think that telling these stories and creating books with these stories will hopefully preserve their memories for generations to come.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Every Veteran's Day, I think about my Dad and his two older brothers who served in the Armed Forces.  According to family history, Charles (known as Chuck and 2nd from the right) served in the Air Force while Eddie (with the white sailor hat) served in the Navy during World War II.  My dad Donald (on the far left) served in the Korean War from 1951-53.

My Dad never spoke with us kids about his time in the military.  Interesting enough, I probably have more photos of my Dad from 1951 to 1953 than I do from the rest of his life.  Every time I look at this photo, I have to laugh because my Dad probably wanted his photo taken with this sign not because it was on the border of North Korea but because it said Notre Dame on it.  My dad was a huge Notre Dame fan!

So, to my Dad, Uncle Eddie, Uncle Chuck, several of my cousins and 2 of my nephews as well as all veterans -- thank you so much for your service, we owe you a debt of gratitude!  Happy Veteran's Day!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


As a child, I remember waiting with much anticipation for the arrival of the Sear's Christmas Catalog. My siblings and I wore out the pages of the catalog, looking at all of the toys and making our lists after perusing that catalog.  

Imagine my surprise when I read Anton Vincent Hoefer's (a 6th cousin 3 times removed) obituary which mentioned the purchase of a house from the Sear's catalog.  What?  I had never heard they sold real houses!   "Florence and Frank (2 of his children) were born in the house that Anton bought and built from a Sear's catalog".  Then he later built another house -- this time it was a 2-story square house.

So, of course, I had to research this practice of "purchasing a house kit from the Sear's catalog.  How do they delivery it?  Who builds it?  I found out that 70,000 of these ready-to-assemble kit houses were sold through the mail order from 1908-1940.  These kits contained 25 tons of material with 30,000 parts and were shipped by railroad.

I wonder how many pages there were in the instruction booklet for these house?  Is planning on offering these house kits anytime soon?

Saturday, August 9, 2014


What are the origins of the surname "Kilroy"?  According to, Kilroy is the anglicized form of the Gaelic "Mac Giolla Ruaidh".  "Mac" means son of.  "Giolla" means servant or youth and "Ruaidh" means red-haired.  So basically, Mac Giolla Ruaidh means "son of red-haired youth".  Other equivalents of this surname are Mac Elroy, McElree, Gilroy and of course, Kilroy.

According to the "Kilroy Connection" by Hugh McGough, in the 1890 birth records the most people with the surname of Kilroy were found in County Mayo (47) followed by County Roscommons (with 34), County Galway (with 25) and County Cavan (with 19).

I read recently that you can tell which county/counties a person came from in Ireland by their surname.  Well, back to researching my Kilroy ancestors!

Thursday, August 7, 2014


Until the middle of May of this year, the only Kilroy ancestors that I knew about were my 2nd great grandmother Ann Kilroy Chambers and her brother James Kilroy.  It is hard to build a family tree with only 2 people. I had hoped that one day I would find more Kilroys but it seemed like my research methods never yielded me any Kilroy results.  Then I received a message from a fellow member of one of my Irish Facebook groups, asking me if we were related.  I, of course, had zero idea if we were so I did the only thing I could think of -- email my cousin Betsy who has more information than me.  She answered "we probably are" and then sent me information on the Kilroy family.  

We can now trace our Kilroy family back to the patriarch Patrick Kilroy, who lived from 1730 to 1818.  Patrick was married to Honor McLoughlin (who lived from 1730 to 1790).  They had 6 children -- Edward, Peter, Patrick, James and 2 daughters.

James (and a spouse to be named later -- still looking for that information) were the parents of 6 children.  I am noticing a pattern here.  Their children were Patrick, Nora, Bridget, John, Peter and James.  The last child James and his wife Barbara Dever were the parents of my 2nd great grandmother Ann Kilroy Chambers.  

So, now, (thanks to Betsy) instead of 2 lonely Kilroy leaves, I have an actual Kilroy family tree.  I have lots more names for this tree and will talk about some of them in future posts.  

Monday, July 28, 2014


When we were planning our trip to Austria and Germany last fall, I remember my mother-in-law telling my husband that there was a German deli in Carlsbad, California (about a half hour from where we live).  Fast forward to Saturday when I was cleaning out our garage and I started thinking about that German deli.  Of course, why then?  Who knows?  So, I asked my husband about the deli and he remembered there being one but not the name so I did some research online.  I found out the name of it is Tip Top Meats.  Okay, that doesn't sound very German to me but I was assured that it was a German deli.  I looked at the menu online and still wasn't totally impressed but decided we would give it a try yesterday for lunch.

Wow, I certainly have been missing out on some good German food all these years -- right in my own "almost" backyard.  I ordered the cold roast pork sandwich with German potato salad.  I was deciding between having the whole sandwich and the half sandwich and selected the whole sandwich.  Only at this place, does 3 halves make a whole.  It was literally 3 halves of a sandwich.  I don't know why more places don't serve cold pork sandwiches.  Lots of places serve cold roast beef!
As I was sitting there eating my delicious sandwich and the best tasting German potato salad ever and of course a German beer (one needs the full experience), I was transported back to the village of Hohenschwangau (where the Neuschwanstein Castle is located) and to the Jagerhaus Restaurant where I had ordered the Krustenbraten mit kren (cold roasted pork with horseradish).  They served it with sauerkraut and King Ludwig bread.

Of course, back to reality, the amount of food that you are served is enough for two meals and I ordered just the sandwich.  So, guess what I also ate for dinner last night?  We also checked out their little market which has all kinds of fun German food.  Now, I am hoping that we will be able to prepare the food since all the directions are in German but hey, isn't that is what Google Translate is for?

My one regret is that we were so stuffed we didn't even look at the desserts -- my favorite part of any meal.  I am thinking a return trip to Tip Top Meats is definitely in my future!

Sunday, July 27, 2014


Twenty thousand people climbed Croagh Patrick today to celebrate the annual Reek Sunday pilgrimage.  The large group of hikers was led by the Archbishop of Tuam.  According to the legend, Saint Patrick climbed this mountain in 441 and fasted for 40 days.  This is also the spot, according to legend, where he drove the snakes out of Ireland.

In 2012, was the first time that I saw Croagh Patrick.  I was standing in the parking lot of the old Islandeady Cemetery and could see it to our west.  Let me give proper thanks to my brother Danny for not only pointing it out at the time but also giving us a brief  history lesson about the mountain and St. Patrick.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


In 2012 when I visited Ireland and more specifically the city of Castlebar, I wasn't sure if any of my ancestors were actually buried in the Old Cemetery in Castlebar so I told my 3 traveling companions to just take photos of any tombstone with the following surnames -- Chambers, Kilroy, Lynch or Feehan.  Later when I looked at the photos they had taken, I think they actually were taking ones of any surname starting with C, K, L or F.  Of course, some times in these old cemeteries you need to take photos of some of these gravestones regardless if the person is related to you or not.  

I love this setting of 3 gravestones in the photo above.  Of course, I love these monument type of gravestones.  Now, that is celebrating some one's life!

Saturday, July 19, 2014


I have often thought that even though my Sherlock ancestors lived in Ireland that I would not be surprised to find out that the Sherlock name had its origins in England.  However, I was more than a bit surprised when my cousin Woody sent me some information on the Sherlocks in antiquity.

According to "The Family of Sherlock" (notes by Rev. Canon French in the Journal of County Kildare Archaeological Society), the Scurlags (later known as the Sherlocks) settled in Gower in Southern Wales in 1099.  The first known member of the family was known as Godinet Scurlag (living in 1155) and it was he who had the Scurlag Castle built in Gower.

William de Scurlag (or Sherlock) received grants of land in Meath where he built a castle in Scurlogstown.  There were 3 branches of the Sherlock family --
1. resided in the Meath and Wexford area
2. resided in Waterford and Cork
3. the family of Sherlockstown in Kildare

I found it interesting that the close similarity of the coat of arms (with only minor differences) is what gives better proof that these 3 branches are related rather than the common surname.

So, my branch of the family was the one that originally located in the Meath area.  Maybe, I need to change the name of my blog to the Home of the Scurlags, to be more historically accurate.   Wonder what my Grandpa Charlie's reaction would be to finding out we came originally from Wales?

Friday, July 18, 2014


Okay, it was more than a little help that I received from several of my "genealogy aficionado" cousins that helped me make some great discoveries in the past few months.  I can now answer or at least partially answer the following questions --

1. Where did the Sherlock name originate?

2. Who are the other Kilroy's besides my 2nd great grandmother Ann Kilroy Chambers?

3. Could we be related to General Michael Kilroy from the Irish Revolution of 1920-1922?

4.  Where does the Kilroy name originate and what does it mean?

5. What is the relationship between Adolph Nebgen and my Nebgen ancestors?

Well those are the questions that come to mind quickly.  I will address each of these questions with their answers in future blog posts.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


My great granduncle Michael Chambers was born in August 1858 in Islandeady, County Mayo, Ireland.  He immigrated to the United States in 1880.  His brothers Patrick, Thomas and Charles were also in the United States and more specifically in Chicago.  According the 1900 US Census, he was living with his brother Charles who was married and had a family.  Michael's occupation was listed as teamster on the 1900 census.

On 15 Jun 1904 in Chicago, Michael Chambers married Winnifred Callaghan who was born in Rahoma, Antrim, Ireland but immigrated to the US in 1902.  Michael and Winnifred had 5 children, one of whom -- Patrick only lived for one day in 1917.  Their oldest child was a daughter named Mary (probably named after Winnifred's mother Mary).  Next was a son Michael.  We can guess who he was named after!  Then came Patrick (who was probably named after Michael's brother.) After Patrick, a son named Charles (probably named after another of Michael's brothers) was born.  The youngest child was Thomas, who was probably named after both Michael's father and Winnifred's father.

The above photo is from Michael and Winnifred's wedding day.  Michael is seated in the middle and Winnifred is standing to the right of Michael.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


In my last post, I talked about how half of the interments in the Katholische Friedhof Wirges cemetery in Wirges, Germany are either my ancestors or spouses of my ancestors.  I wondered how many I would find in the nearby (about 4 miles) cemetery called Katholische Maria Himmelfahrt in Helferskirchen, Germany.

Well, I did not have the same luck as I did with the cemetery in Wirges.  According to, 580 interments are listed for the cemetery in Helferskirchen.  I found 40 ancestors in that 580 listing and 19 spouses.  Of note, I did find, my 6th great grandparents Anna Catharina Zirfas and Mathias Bast.  I also found Anna Catharina's parents (my 7th great grandparents) Elizabeth Zirfas and Valentin Zirfas.  There were also a few Hobers listed there.

The church shown in the photo is the Assumption of Mary Catholic Church.  The cemetery is located next to the church.  I am thinking that this will be another stop on my genealogy trip down the Rhine River.  Hopefully I will be able to locate my 6th and 7th great grandparents' graves as well as take a tour of what is commonly referred to as one of the most beautiful baroque churches in this region.


In my June 8. 2103 post on this blog, I discussed the cemetery Katholische Friedhof Wirges which is located in Wirges, Germany.  According to, there are 212 interments. I reviewed the names again today and found that of the 212 interments, 72 belong to my ancestors and another 43 are spouses of my ancestors.

My 3rd great grandparents Anna Catharina Heibel Hommerich & Johann Adam Hommerich are buried there as well as my 4th great grandparents Christian Hommerich & Anna Maria Bast Hommerich.  Christian's parents (my 5th great grandparents) Anna Christina Hober Hommerich & Christian Hommerich are also buried there.  Anna Christina Hober's parents (my 6th great grandparents) Johann Adam Hober & Sophia Maria Sabel Hober are buried there along with Johann Adam's parents Gregarin Hober and Maria Hober (my 7th great grandparents).  Gregarin's parents Oster and Afra Hober are also buried there.  I think this place qualifies as a "family cemetery".  I just wish there were photos of the gravestones on Findagrave.  I guess that is too much to ask.

In addition to all my great grandparents, this is also the burial site for numerous of my 5th through 7th great aunts and uncles and various cousins (from 1st cousin 8 times removed to 5th cousin 4 times removed).

I have already warned my husband that is a "required stop" on any Rhine River cruise that I may take in the future.  There is also another cemetery not too far from this one in the town of Helferskirchen, named Katholische Maria Himmelfahrt.  It is time to research my ancestors in that cemetery.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Here is a photo of my Grandpa Charlie at work -- the movie is "The Boys from Syracuse" made in 1940.  Charlie played a "Secretary" and is in the darker garb.  I am not sure who the actor is in the lighter garb.

The movie is about two boys from Syracuse who search for their long lost twins in Ephesus in ancient Asia Minor.  It stars Allan Jones, Irene Hervey and Martha Raye.

I haven't been able to locate a copy of this film so I haven't seen it yet.  I am still on my quest to watch as many of Grandpa's Charlie's films as I can get my hands on!

Monday, June 16, 2014


Last night I was researching Donald Smith, who was my 7th cousin once removed. He was born in Hopkinton, Iowa in 1929.  I found his obituary in the US Cemetery and Funeral Home Collection. It said that Donald served as an Army medic during the Korean War and that he was discharged in 1953.  Donald Smith died on 19 July 2007.

My father Donald Sherlock (in the above photo) was also born in 1929 and served as an Army medic during the Korean War.  He served in Korea from November 1952 to October 1953.  My dad died in 2001.  I wonder if my Dad ever met Donald Smith in Korea.  If so, I bet he would be shocked to find out that he was related to him.  How many people even know who their 6th or 7th cousins are?  I am thinking that perhaps some genealogists do!

Since I have begun finding distant cousins, I often wonder while I am researching will I find someone I already know in my daily life (through church, school, neighbors) are distant relatives of mine.  Are there people that I pass by at the store, at football games or in restaurants that are related to me and I have just not discovered it yet?

Here's a salute to the 2 Don's -- Donald Sherlock and Donald Smith!  Happy Belated Father's Day to both of them too!

Sunday, June 8, 2014


I was excited to attend my 1st Southern California Genealogy Jamboree on Friday but also had some concerns? Would I be able to attend my first choice sessions or would they be too crowded? Would I learn a lot from the speakers?  How would I fare as a volunteer room monitor?

I am very happy to report that the speakers were very informative.  I attended 2 sessions on Legacy Family Tree presented by Geoff Rasmussen. Not only did I learn a lot of "tricks" about Legacy but Geoff was very entertaining too!

I attended sessions on both Eastern Europe research and Irish research. I learned some specific tips and lots of websites to visit for help with my research.  I can't believe how much information was presented in the Irish research session.  I think I have enough tips to keep me busy for at least a few months!

I was very happy to see that while the Jamboree was well attended, it wasn't too crowded. I got into all my 1st choice sessions.  It was very easy volunteering as a room monitor.  I would definitely do it again.

I would definitely recommend to those who are passionate about genealogy and have never attended the Jamboree to take the plunge next year.  You will be happy you did!

Oops! I need to give credit to the speakers of two of the sessions I talked about in this post.  Lisa Alzo taught the very informative "10 Ways to Jump Start Your Eastern European Research".  Dr. Maurice Gleeson presented the information-packed "Researching Your Irish Ancestry Online and at Minimal Cost".  I will be very busy following all of their tips!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

SCGS Genealogy Jamboree

For the past several years, I have contemplated attending the Southern California Genealogical Society's Genealogy Jamboree.  Two of the years, the dates of the Jamboree coincided with the day that I was supposed to pick up my daughter from college for the summer and one of the other years, it was the week prior and I didn't know if I wanted to drive from San Diego to Los Angeles two weekends in a row.  Well, this year, I decided to "bite the bullet" and attend the conference.  Yes, I still have to drive up to LA next weekend to get my daughter, but this weekend is about me and my passion for genealogy.

I am very excited about attending this event that I have heard so much about.  I am trying not to have too high of expectations.  Instead, I would like to just "soak up" the experience and gain whatever I can.  I have decided to volunteer for a few hours each day, too.  Besides, that I am known for my "raising my hand" to volunteer, I thought this would not only be a way to give back but also to be more involved.  I think it is rather symbolic that the conference is held in Burbank (which is located in the San Fernando Valley) since I grew up not far from there in the town of Van Nuys.  My dad worked in Burbank for most of his adult life at Lockheed Aircraft.

So, my adventure begins tomorrow ... stay tuned to hear how it goes!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


I always assumed that my Great Grandpa Edward Sherlock left for America from Queenstown, Ireland.  Well, today, I located a document -- Passenger Lists Leaving UK 1890-1960 -- that tells me differently.

According to this document that I found on, Edward Sherlock departed from Liverpool, England on 21 Oct 1891 for New York.  I guess he could have still left from Queenstown but went to Liverpool first.

Edward Sherlock, who was 21 years old at the time, sailed on the ship Majestic.  He was one of 1181 passengers.  The SS Majestic made its maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York in April 1890.  The trip took 6 days and 10 hours to complete.  On a west bound trip back to Liverpool, it set a record for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic.  The record was short lived when a sister ship completed the crossing faster 2 weeks later.

Monday, April 21, 2014


I have finished reading "Ireland's Pirate Queen" -- The True Story of Grace O'Malley -- by Anne Chambers. I found it fascinating -- not only the fact that Grace played such a strong role during a time of  male dominance (and to think that she was such a fierce woman commanding a fleet of ships)  but also the location where it took place.

A lot of the story took place in County Mayo (the ancestral land of my own Chambers) and specifically mentions Croagh Patrick, which can be seen from the town of Islandeady.  Clew Bay, which is about 15 minutes west of Islandeady, plays a large role in the story.  I visited the town of Westport on my trip to Ireland in 2012 but was only there for lunch and a little shopping and totally missed the Westport House.  After reading this book and about the Westport House on the internet, it is now on the top of my list when I return to the Emerald Isle.

After the reading the book, I was hoping that I could find some family link between Grace O'Malley and my family but as of yet, I can find none.  I am still hoping that perhaps Anne Chambers is related to my Chambers family.

Saturday, April 19, 2014


While I am getting somewhat proficient at researching my ancestors in the US, I still run into a lot of problems when I try to research those in Europe (Germany, Ireland and Poland).   While Ancestry has some German records, typically my ancestors are not found in those records.  Find A was a huge resource where I discovered records on many of my German ancestors.  However, my greatest resource has been my German cousin's wife Susanne.  I know I have mentioned her in other posts, but she is definitely worth mentioning again and again.  In fact, I have decided that she may be my "Guardian angel for German genealogy".

Last week, she sent me a birth certificate for one of my 2nd great uncles and also the link to  Susanne thought that I was already familiar with this site, but she gives me far too much credit.

My fifth great grandmother Anna Christine Hober was born in Staudt, Germany in 1725.  Her father, grandfather and great grandfather were also born there.  So from 1625 (when my 8th great grandfather Oster Hober) was born in Staudt until sometime after 1725 (probably when Anna Christine got married and moved a very short distance to a neighboring town of Wirges) did my ancestors live in the town of Staudt. So, imagine my glee when I followed the link to  Besides giving information (including a short history), it also lists genealogical information.  What can be better than that?

Staudt is located in the Southern Westerwald region of Germany, near the towns of Montabur and Wirges (more about my Wirges roots in another post).  It is a 20 minute drive to Koblenz.  Yes, I am already planning a side trip when I some day take my dream trip -- cruising down the Rhine River.

What I found interesting about the history of Staudt is that there were 18 families in Staudt in 1605 but that number decreased to 9 in 1684.  The Hobers were one of those 9!

This site ( also gives a listing of births (1700 and 1800's).  In addition to the baby's name, it also lists the parents' names.  Yes, my Hober's were among those listed!

German genealogy is definitely easier with a little help from a friend!  Thanks, Susanne!

Sunday, April 13, 2014


Since my first trip to Europe in 2011, I love visiting old churches -- the older, the better!  Being raised a Catholic, I was taught as a child to make a wish each time I visited a church for the first time.  So, as you can imagine, I am making lots of wishes!

While on my trip to Ireland in 2012, our tour group made a "comfort stop" in the little town of Ballyvaughan on the Burren.  After getting a cup of tea at "The Tea Junction", I headed towards the nearest local church, St. John the Baptist.  The photo above shows the gothic design of the church.  According to its history, the church was built in 1858.  A storm knocked down the building in 1862 and again in 1863.  Reverend Forde collected money both in Ireland and Australia to re-build it in 1866.  I love also reading the history of these churches.

Look, how nice and sunny it looks in these two photos.  One would never have imagined that a short while later, there would be heavy rain and wind on the burren.  Good thing I said my prayers while I was visiting that church!

Saturday, April 12, 2014


I am finally creating a scrapbook of my trip to Ireland in August of 2012.  I noticed that the ticket that I saved from trip to the Cobh Heritage Center had the following wording on it -- see above photo.  It was a reproduction of a ticket from 1892 from Queenstown to New York.  I had never noticed that before.  Of course, it is now going in my scrapbook.

So, if I had taken this imaginary trip in July 1892 what would I have found?  Well, you know what that means, yes, stopping the scrapbooking and doing a bit more research.  And I wonder why my scrapbook is not completed!  In my research today, I found 2 more documents for my great grandparents Edward and Bridget that I hadn't seen before.  Good thing I did the research!  

According to the documents, Edward Sherlock actually left from Liverpool, England and not Queenstown, which makes sense since he was in County Meath at the time. He departed on 21 Oct 1891 from Liverpool aboard the ship Majestic, headed for New York.

Bridget Chambers left Queenstown, Ireland in 1892 aboard the ship Samaria and arrived in Boston, Massachusetts on 10 May 1892.  Her brothers were already living in Chicago so I am guessing she decided to join them there.  Why Edward went to Chicago vs. going to Boston (where his brother was) is a mystery to me, except perhaps since Edward was a butcher he thought there would be more work there.  It is a good thing he did go to Chicago because there he met Bridget and as they say "the rest is history"!

Monday, April 7, 2014


The above photo shows my Dad (while serving in Korea during the Korean Conflict) standing in front of the Yokohama Fire Station.  At the time, my Dad was on R&R (rest and relaxation) in Yokohama, Japan.  Since I have not served in the military, my guess is that while serving in a conflict, you get some time off (a week perhaps) and they take you to a designated place that is removed from the conflict but not too far away as to cost a lot of money.

According to Wikipedia, Yokohama was a major transshipment base for American supplies and personnel during the Korean War.  I wonder if he also stopped here on his way to Korea or on his way home from Korea when his tour was concluded.

One observation I do have is regards to the quantity of photos I have of my Dad.  I have a lot more photos of him in the service and specifically in Korea, than I do for the rest of his life.  Now once you have children, you become the person behind the camera instead of the subject of the photo.  Perhaps, too, since he was sending these photos home, it was his form of communication with my Mom (the days before email and social media).

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Growing up we always celebrated St. Patrick's Day by wearing green (after all who wanted to get pinched) and by eating corned beef and cabbage.   I liked wearing green but the truth be told I never much cared for corned been or cabbage (unless it is raw).  As the years went by, I thought perhaps if I cooked it like a roast vs. boiling it, I would like it better.  Well, there was an improvement but not enough.  Then I thought perhaps I could just cook a roast (not corned beef) and my sister gave me a recipe for fried cabbage.  Again some improvement but not quite what I wanted.

In 2012 I visited Ireland and learned a few things.  First, I saw Crough Patrick where St. Patrick supposedly chased the snakes out of Ireland.  I was thrilled to see this mountain from my Great Grandmother Bridget Chamber's town of her birth, Islandeady.  Second, I ate in restaurants for an entire week and didn't run across any corned beef.  Who started this tradition?  Well probably someone in America!  I decided I would start my own tradition for St. Patrick's Day that didn't include corned beef or cabbage.  So, at my house we now have Guinness Stew (I think yesterday's recipe was the perfect one -- of course, most things taste better with bacon) with Guinness bread (also very tasty) and then for dessert we have banofee pie.  Banofee pie has a shortbread or sugar cookie crust and is filled with bananas, caramel syrup or dulce las leche and whipped cream.  What is not to like about it?

I have been thinking that perhaps I ought to celebrate St. Patrick's Day or at least my Irish heritage for more than one day.  A few weeks ago, I happened to be in a real life bookstore (I say that because I now tend to get most of my books through Kindle but still love bookstores!) and saw that they had a table set up with Irish books. The fact that they had marked them down in price only made me want them more!  So, I bought a book titled "The Secrets of Ireland" by Kevin Eyres that contains gorgeous photos of Ireland.  While my daughter was picking out a book about Irish Scary Stories (I hate scary stories) for me, there was another book that caught my eye -- "Ireland's Pirate Queen: The True Story of Grace O'Malley" by Anne Chambers.  Now, this sounds like a very interesting book (and I guess I am way behind since the original was printed in 1979) and perhaps, Anne Chambers and I even share some common Chambers ancestors!

I have just started reading about the Pirate Queen and will talk more about it in a later post.

Monday, March 3, 2014


Yesterday (March 2nd) would have been my Dad's 85th birthday had he still been alive.  Donald Joseph Sherlock was born on 2 March 1929 in Chicago, Illinois and died 16 May 2001 in Chatsworth.  At my genealogy class on Tuesday night, we learned that the emphasis now on genealogy is not to collect just the dates of births, deaths, etc but to collect the stories of what happened in between the birth and death.  There is a saying that what matters most is the dash between the birth year and death year.

So, with that in mind, I wanted to talk about my Dad and the things that he enjoyed doing.  My dad was an avid Notre Dame fan -- about as avid as I have ever seen.   In the days before the internet (my childhood), my Dad would subscribe to the South Bend Tribune and have it delivered to our home in Van Nuys, California.  Of course, this would require it going through the US Mail and our poor postman O'del having to walk the route during football season and spring practice with Dad's large newspapers in his bag. Of course, the Sunday paper was quite large!

My Dad was the one who planned where we would go on our summer vacation.  Typically, we would take our small trailer and go to one of the State Parks in California -- Carpinteria, Pismo and Sea Cliff were our usual destinations.  One year, though, Dad came up with the idea to go to San Felipe, a small fishing village in eastern Baja California.  I am not sure where he got the idea from but he told us all that all we needed were our swim suits.  Of course, my Mom knew better and so we packed other items of clothes in addition to our swimsuits.  Well, it was a good thing that we did -- because as our car was driving through Beaumont, California, the engine blew out and we spent the next 2 days in Beaumont while another one was installed.  It was also a good thing that my grandparents had accompanied us on that trip with their own car.  At least now we had some transportation except that all 9 of us couldn't fit into it at one time.

We did finally get to San Felipe and it was amazing -- water that was 80 some degrees and was so clear that you could see the fish swimming around and then jumping out of the water.  At low tide, the entire bay had no water and the boats were stuck in the sand and at the highest tide, the water came into the streets of the town and the little children played in it.  But Dad was right, when we were in San Felipe, we only needed our swimsuits with the 100 degree temps!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAD -- We love you and we miss you!

Friday, February 14, 2014


As a child, I loved giving as well as receiving valentines on February 14th.  No one I actually knew though had the name "Valentin".  In the past few years, I have learned that a few of my ancestors did have the first name of Valentin.  How romantic is that?

In my German roots, there are two male relatives named Valentin -- Valentin Hober and Valentin Zirfas.  Valentin Hober was my first cousin 7 times removed.  He was born on 20 Jan 1733 in Staudt, Germany and died on 26 Mar 1897 also in Staudt, Germany.  Staudt is near Cologne and the Rhine River. Valentin married Katharine Kleibusch.  Valentin and Katherine are buried in Katholische Friedhof Wirges in Wirges, Germany.

My other German "Valentin" is Valentin Zirfas, who was my 7th great grandfather.  Valentin Zirfas was born in Helferskirchen, Germany in 1665.  He is buried at Katholische Maria Himmelfahrt.  His wife's name was Elizabeth.  Valentin and Elizabeth had four children -- Johann, Christian, Anna Catharina (my 6th great grandmother) and Peter.

Happy Valentine's Day to my two German Valentin's!  Looking forward to March 17th , I am wondering how many Patrick's are in my family tree ...

Thursday, February 6, 2014


      John Jacob Wolf (1808) and his wife Maria Anna Lauf (1811) had three sons -- Jacob, Baltas and Peter. What is amazing to me is how many times Jacob and Maria's grandchildren married into my family of Homrich and Simon.

        Jacob (the eldest son of John and Maria) married Eva Debri and they had 4 children -- Emma, Helena, Peter and Katherina.  Jacob's son Peter (1877-1932) married Elizabeth Homrich (1991-1978). Jacob was the only one of his siblings who married into the Homrich family.

     The middle son of John and Maria Wolf was Baltas (1848-1923), who married Mary Miller (1858-1918), and they had nine children.  Four of the nine children married either a Homrich or a Simon. Adam Wolf (1890-1975) married Emma Homrich and they had 5 children -- Bernard, Matilda, Cleo, Raymond and Delores.  Then John Wolf  (1883-1969) married Oleva Marie Homrich and together they had 8 children -- Genevieve, Albinus, Clara, Bertha, Richard, Kenneth, Marie and Elmer.  Baltas Wolf, Jr. (1885-1949) married Katherine Simon (her mother was a Homrich and her father was a Simon [my 2nd great grand uncle]).  Together Baltas and Katherine had 4 children -- Leo, Geneva, Nicholas and Neola.  Then Christian Wolf  (1888-1963) married another Simon -- Caroline Marianna Simon (who was the sister of Katherine Simon) and they had a lot of kids -- 13 to be exact -- Edwin, Lawrence, Dorothy, Walter, Isadore, Norman, Roger, Sylvester, Viola, Redeatha, Rita, Genevera and Christian.

     Now, the youngest son of John & Maria, is Peter Wolf who married Catharine Meyer.   Peter and Katy (as she was known) had 8 children and so far I have found that 3 of them married into the Homrich family.  Emma Marie Wolf married Quirin Homrich (my 2nd great grand uncle).  Margaretha Wolf married Christian Homrich (son of Anton Homrich).  The youngest child Joseph married Katharina Homrich.  Now to add just a bit more to the confusion (if your head is not already spinning -- I think mine is!) Joseph and Katharina Homrich Wolf had 5 children -- Florence, Frank, Veronica, Matilda and Lorene.  So now these kids are the great grandchildren of John and Maria.   Well, two of these kids -- Veronica and Matilda -- also married a Homrich.  Veronica Wolf married Edmund Homrich while Matilda Wolf married Leander Homrich.

See how much fun my genealogy research is!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


My 3rd Great Grandfather Joseph Simon (born in Prussia in 18118) immigrated to the US in 1852.  The earliest records I have been able to locate on Joseph is the ship manifest on his trip from Liverpool, England to Boston, Massachusetts.  He sailed on the ship Tirrell and arrived in Boston on 29 Nov 1852.  He traveled with his wife Catherine (Schneider) and children Philip, Mary [Anna], Matthias and Peter.  Anna Maria Simon (born in 1844) is my 2nd great Grandmother.

What I find interesting is in the 1900 census it asks 3 of my favorite genealogical questions -- How many children have you given birth to?  How many children still survive?  How long have you been married?  You wouldn't believe the information I have learned from those simple questions!  Okay, back to my story -- Catherine answered that she had been married 50 years, which would mean that Joseph and Catherine got married in 1850.  This would have been after the births of Philip (1843), Anna (1844) and Mathias (1846).  No, of course, that doesn't rule out Catherine as their mother but the next little nugget of information does.  Catherine answered that she gave birth to 7 children but only 2 survive.  At first glance, it looks like she could be the mother since in addition to Philip, Anna and Mathias, there were also younger children -- Peter, Nicholas and Mary.  However, the answer to how many survive throws "a big wrench" into the situation.  In 1900, Anna, Mathias, Peter and Nicholas were all still alive with Philip dying in January of that year.  So, what makes sense and backs up my theory is that Catherine was only the birth mother of Peter and Nicholas and Mary (who died in 1874).  This means that Joseph had been married before (while in Prussia) and probably the birth mother died before he married Catherine.  Catherine is listed on some of the documents as their mother but this is a common occurrence when the birth mother dies when the children are very young and the father remarries.

So what is the mystery?  What is the name of the birth mother of Anna Simon and who are her ancestors?  That would open up an entire new branch of my family tree.   Some times I don't feel like I am just hitting a brick wall, I feel like I am in a maze -- where there is wall after wall after wall!

Thursday, January 23, 2014


I'm sitting in my first session of a "Learning German" class and am wondering "what was I thinking?" The last time I learned (okay, tried to learn) a foreign language was 42 years ago when I was in the 9th grade.  Maybe it is too late for me to learn another language!

So, why am I doing this?  Well, it did seem like a good idea at the time I registered for the class. I thought that it would be nice if I knew at least a few words before my next trip to Germany.  In October, I visited the city of Munich (Munchen) for a day where I attended Oktoberfest and met my cousin Bernd and his lovely wife Susanne.  Most of the rest of that trip was spent in Austria, where they also speak German.  It would have been nice to know some of the words on the menu without having to read the sub-titles.

With a quarter of my ancestors being of German descent, it would also be nice to know some German for my family history research.  The birth, marriage and death records from Germany are all in German -- imagine that!  Plus, unlike the menus they don't come with English subtitles.

So, for those two reasons, I decided to try and learn some German.  Time will tell if an old dog can learn new tricks!  I am thinking I need to make some flash cards.  I will keep you informed about my progress in learning this language but for now

Auf Wiedersehen!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


How did my Great Grandma Bridget Chambers meet my Great Grandfather Edward Sherlock?  Why did my Great Grandfather Joseph Peter Nebgen immigrate to the United States while most of his siblings stayed in Germany?  I have tons of questions about my ancestors.  Perhaps if they had recorded their life journey in even a small way, I would have some of those answers.

Keeping a daily journal, writing about lessons learned or stories about their travels, or videotaping a person telling stories about their past are all ways to record life's journey.  I have written in a journal, now am word processing in an online journal for many years.  My kids call it "my memoirs".  It helps me to remember the details of events.  Some times I use that information when I am creating a scrapbook, conducting family history research or even having a friendly argument with a family member about a certain event.

I kept a diary when I was in the 5th through 9th grades of school.  I re-read it a few years ago and found the dates of the deaths of a few of my great aunts.  Yeah, it did seem like we went to a lot of funerals around that time!  I then verified the information with the actual records.

My Grandma Theresa wrote in a travel diary when she went on her "Grand European Travel Adventure" in 1961.  I have not only read her diary, but took notes so that I when I travel to those same places, I can "re-trace" her footsteps and perhaps "see it through her eyes".  I had one of those moments this past October in a church in Innsbruck.  It was rather awesome!  I hope to visit many more of those places in the coming years -- Switzerland, Assisi and Siena in Italy, County Meath in Ireland -- just to name a few!

Who knows some day, maybe one of my grandkids or great grandkids will read the memoirs of "my life journey" and will try to re-trace my footsteps!

Saturday, January 18, 2014


I think the term "life long learner" describes me perfectly.  I love taking classes on a variety of topics and always have!  In elementary school (probably the 4th grade), I joined the Great Books program where I attended sessions on Saturday to discuss famous literature that we read.  Who does that?  Then when I was in college at UCLA, one quarter I took a class at my local community college in addition to my college classes at UCLA.  I did it because the course on health allied careers sounded interesting.  Really?

So here I am 30 some years later and I am still taking classes.  This past week I attended classes for 4 different courses.  Yes, I am an overachiever and yes, they were in some way related to my family history research.  The class that was the most related to family history research was a class that discussed Family  It was offered by my local school district's Adult Ed Program.  We focused in that class specifically on creating family trees on Family  Luckily, I brought enough of my information to that class so that I was able to create a tree. Now, since I already have several family trees on and also keep a private family tree on Legacy software, time will tell whether or not I continue to add information to the Family Search one.

I also attended my first of four sessions of a Photoshop Elements class. I am hoping that this class serves two purposes:

1. To help me organize my tons of photos on my computer -- both my travel photos and my collection of ancestors and relatives photots.

2. To help me edit those "less than perfect" photos  (okay, some are downright bad!)  Who created that film that we used in the 1970's and early 1980's?  It was awful?

My two other courses I will discuss in future posts, but I will tell you the topics now -- "Recording Your Life Journey" and "Learning German".   Well, I need to go practice my rudimentary skills that I learned in my Photoshop class so it at least looks like I know what I am doing next week in class!

Friday, January 10, 2014


Recently I was told that there was a branch in my Sherlock-Caffrey family tree that was named Everard.  Well, I love finding new branches in my family trees.  In fact, I wished it happened more often!  So, I began some researching.

I found a Mary Ann Caffrey (born about 1847) who married James Everard (1837-1909).  They had eight children -- Patrick, James, Edward, Bridget, Thomas, Peter, Richard and Maggie.  They resided in Navan in County Meath from 1901 to at least 1911.

My 2nd great grandmother is Margaret Caffrey and she married Bryan Sherlock.  She had a sister named Bridget Caffrey, who married Peter Beggan.  I don't have exact birthdates for Margaret and Bridget but it was about 1835.  On the other hand, Mary Ann was born about 1847.  I can't find out who Mary Ann's parents were to see if she was the sister of Margaret and Bridget.  Some times this Irish research gets a bit frustrating.  Until I can figure out for sure the family connection I will have two trees - one for the Caffreys/Sherlocks and another for the Everards.  Here 's to hoping that the two can become one some day soon!

Friday, January 3, 2014


Now, that Christmas and New Years is over, I have run out of excuses for not creating new posts on this blog. How can I best juggle blogging, researching relatives and organizing my findings, photos and records?  I keep thinking if I can come up with a list of topics for my blog posts that will solve my blogging problems but then again is that too staged and stifling to my creativity as well as any discoveries I may find along the way? I need to be doing my research because how else can I find more information on my ancestors and all their descendants?  Do I even dare ask the question of when is the proper time to find to file my records, should I go to all electronic data keeping and will my office area ever really be as organized as I dream about?

So, after much thought and some analysis, here are my goals for at least the first few months of 2014

1. Research on a regular basis -- I believe that through research will I not only find answers about my ancestors but will also discover topics to write about on my blogs.

2. Enroll and complete some genealogy classes -- my local school district is offering some classes on Family History Research as is OASIS (classes for the over 50 crowd).  Even if I know a lot of the material that they are discussing I love interacting with others who are just as enthralled with genealogy as I am.  Yes, those people get me!

3. Organize my drawers of genealogy documents and information so that I don't spend needless time looking for a specific item.

4. Keep updating my Family History Research Journal which will help when I start writing my Family History Stories.

5. Evaluate my progress at the end of March to see how much I have accomplished and whether or not it is working!  Do I need to narrow my focus or spend time doing a variety of things?

Now that I have publicly stated my goals, maybe this will make me more accountable.  Time will tell!