My Genealogy Interest and

I have been a genealogist off and on since 1969 when my grandfather's cousin, Opal Hanson published the civil war diaries and letters of Oliver S Robinson a great great grand uncle of mine who was killed at Vicksburg during the American civil war. Opal included what she knew about  the genealogy of our family when she published the book. I began corresponding with her  and I even helped a little in the research for her subsequent book The Family History and Genealogy of Sarah and Munson Robinson.

Genealogy research has changed a lot since 1969. For instance when I used to search for my family in the census records I would request the microfilm from the library and then when it came in I would sit at a microfilm reader and search. When I found the family of interest I would copy down what I found. For instance when I searched for and found the Joseph Erb family (my great great grandfather) in the 1880 census in Story County Iowa I created the following extract.


Today when I searching for the family I can just go to the 1880 census on line, search, and there the family is.


I have recently been listening  to genealogy podcasts like Family History – Genealogy Made Easy by Lisa Louise Cooke. In a recent podcast she recommended a site called Lost Cousins. Lost Cousins is so cool. The premise is that if you can specifically identify your ancestors then you can find distant cousins who have also done the same. If you think about it, it is difficult to specifically identify ancestors. What Lost Cousins does is use the exact census page number and the exact census spelling of the name to specify allow you to claim an ancestor.

So I registered that Joseph Erb is on page 343  of the 1880 census and I identified him as a my ancestor. Lost cousins then tells me if anyone else has claimed Joseph as an ancestor. In the case of Joseph no one has. But in the case of another ancestor, Joseph Armitage, I did find a distant cousin who is also researching the family.

Finding all my ancestors in the 1880 U.S. census and in the 1881 Canadian census was really fun. Maybe it is the history geek in me but I love doing historical research and the fact that I was able to find 1880 census entries for 26 ancestors including all but 3 of my Great Great Grandparents was really exciting.

Lost Cousins is a British company. Their web site is Usually registering your ancestors is free but connecting with your cousins requires pay an annual fee of less than $20. But between Christmas and New Years Lost cousins is completely free!!

As I start getting back into family history research I think I am going to create a new blog that you will be able to access
from the bar across the top of the page. It will include bios of my
ancestors that people can find if they do a Google search for one of my
ancestor's names (something genealogists do a lot). My current thinking
is to not include these family history posts as a part of this blog
because family history may be very interesting to the person whose
family it is but it is almost always supremely uninteresting to
everyone else.

My Mom – Margaret Helen Gibson Robinson – 1924 – 2007

My Mom died Friday morning July 27. She died at home as she wanted to. We had the services for her on Wednesday, August 2.

Even though she was ready to go it is very hard for those of us she left behind. We will all miss her so much. I can honestly say that I am who I am today because of my Mom. She gave me so much.

Here is the eulogy that I read at her funeral:

Mom was born in Vancouver British Columbia,  Canada. She grew up in Jasper, Alberta in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. She loved the mountains. Her Dad was an train engineer for the Canadian National Railroad. He drove the  steam engines that were  used to pull trains over the mountains. Mom said she always remembered being a little bit scared of the giant noisy engines. She had memories of her Mom taking Gordon and her down to the station to visit her Dad when he was working. She also remembered one time She and her mother rode the train to a remote mountain meadow where he stopped and let them out. They camped, spent the night and picked blueberries. The next day the train stopped and took them home

When Mom was 13 her Dad died suddenly. Mom and her Mother and Brother emigrated to the U.S. to Spokane Washington where my Grandma started a nursing home. Mom graduated from High School in Spokane. She went to Washington State University where  she received a bachelors degree in Nursing Education. One of her first nursing jobs was in Los Angeles where nurses were needed to help with the polio epidemic that was then going on. Mother worked at a few different nursing jobs for about a year and then
decided that nursing wasn’t for her. She enrolled at Iowa State University and received a BS in Home Economics education.

At Iowa State Mom met my Dad on a blind date in about 1947 (60 years ago!). They were married in 1950. Their first home was in Hibbing, Minnesota. Ironically in Hibbing married women were not allow to teach so although Mom  was a qualified teacher she went back to work as a nurse until I was born. Eventually Mom and Dad moved to Bismarck, North Dakota where Barbara, Betsy and Charlie were born.

In 1964 when the opportunity presented itself Mom urged Dad to apply for a position helping to build a new oil refinery in Brisbane, Australia. Dad got the job. Mom and Dad packed up the whole family and we moved. We lived in Australia for 5 years and then moved to England, then Wales and finally Zaire. In Zaire Dad was heading a project to build a new copper mine in a remote area. There were no schools for the American and European children so Mother started the school and was the superintendent as it

Mom was always an excellent shopper. She loved a bargain and always got value for money. During our time in Australia, England and Wales Mom began to collect antiques. Mom and Dad’s home is decorated with beautiful and interesting antiques that she bought on their travels. There are biscuit barrels, a bed warmer, bellows, chamber pots, writing desks, candle sticks, tea caddies and several clocks and that is just the beginning. In England Mom visited the china factories and collected all the china that the whole family uses today.

When Mom and Dad finally moved back to the US Mom again became active in PEO, started Bible study and continued knitting, sewing, doing needlepoint and smocking. Mom continued to love to travel. In the last years she has visited the Holy land, the Galapagos islands, Russia and many other places. Within North America Mom and Dad explored Alaska, Prince Edward Island where Mom’s family came from, the Canadian
Rockies where Mom grew up and the Tetons where we vacationed when we
were young. Dad says that Mom recently told him that she wished she had
even traveled more

When I think about Mom and all she did with her life, what stands out and what I am certain was her proudest accomplishment was our family. Being a mother defined her and she was the best mother ever. She encouraged us, she taught us, she led by
example and most of all she loved us.

To Mom family was everything and her faith was overarching. Her faith was the rock on
which she built her life. She was an amazing woman and I think all four of her children can say we are who we are today because of our Mom and her encouragement of us and faith in us. Although she is gone I know that she will live in our hearts and we will never forget her.