The New England Regional Genealogy Conference begins tomorrow[1]It technically began on Wednesday with some special interest items but we were not able to attend. and I can’t wait! 

We arrived earlier this evening and took a walk to get the lay of the land. The conference will be held at the Mass Mutual Center in Springfield, MA this year (pictured above.) 

Tomorrow I have signed up for a workshop on Palaeography by Edwin W. Strickland II. That is the fancy word for ‘reading old handwriting’. Something I need a lot of help with (as well as those trying to read my handwriting, but that’s another story.) 

As official bloggers, we will also be attempting to broadcast live from the event with interviews, new products and more. Be sure to head over to our YouTube page and hit subscribe, to keep up on the latest.


If your at the conference and you see us, don’t be a stranger either. We would love to meet you!

Notes   [ + ]

1. It technically began on Wednesday with some special interest items but we were not able to attend.

Episode 4 – French Canadian Sacramental Records

In our long-awaited fourth episode,  Denise Picard Lindgren joins us to chat about French Canadian Sacramental records. She will be speaking at the upcoming NERGC Conference (New England Regional Genealogical Consortium) April 26 – 29, 2017.

Speaking of the NERGC Conference, we talk with blogger Heather Wilkinson Rojo a bit about the conference itself.

More details about the conference can be found at

Oh – and here is the Episode itself!

Other Links mentioned in this Episode:

New England Regional Genealogical Consortium –

Massachusetts Society of Genealogists, Inc. –

Nutfield Genealogy –


American-Canadian Genealogical Society, Manchester, NH –

American-French Genealogical Society, Woonsocket, RI –

Vermont French-Canadian Genealogical Society, Burlington, VT –

New England Historical Society Catholic Records –

The Catholic Heritage Archive at Find My Past –


Dear Myrtle –
Ancestry.Com –
Family Search –

Produced with the help of Access Nashua, It’s your station –

Dateline: Camden, New Jersey – June 1895


1201 Liberty St, Camden, NJ Today – Home and Business of Bernhard and Mary (Lenhard) Oberst in the late 1800’s – [1]Google Maps Streetview – Jan 15, 2017

Following my quest to clean, expand, and document the tree, late last year I worked a strategy to just pick one branch and work solely along those leaves. I am first to admit that I get sidetracked easily (Squirrel!)  This month I am working back from my Mother’s Maternal Grandparents and I wanted to share a quick story on why I enjoy Discovering the Past.

My Mother’s, Mother’s, Mother’s Parents – Bernhard and Mary Oberst owned a small liquor store in Camden, NJ. In looking for obituaries in Philadelphia Newspapers last night on I stumbled upon these three short notices in the following order.

Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)[2]Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), Vol 132, Issue 156, 159 and 155, 1895;
Wednesday, June 5, 1895
‘Over in Camden’
Bernard Oberst, of Louis and Liberty streets, was held in bail yesterday by Mayor Westcott for trial next Friday on the charge of selling liquor on Sunday.
Saturday, June 8, 1895
‘Over in Camden’
Saloonkeeper Bernard Oberst was acquitted yesterday before Mayor Westcott of a charge of selling liquor on Sunday.
Tuesday, June 4, 1895
George Jordan was fined $8.67 yesterday by Mayor Westcott for kicking in the door of Saloonkeeper Oberst, of Liberty Park, when the latter refused to sell him beer on Sunday.
It can be hard sometimes to find ‘free’ newspaper archives, they are out there.  Local libraries usually also have subscriptions to sites as do the LDS Family History Centers (I believe.)  Google keeps a newspaper archive [Link] as do some of the actual newspapers themselves.  I am trying to keep a list as I come across them on the Toolkit Page of this site.
The search functions on these papers can be somewhat sketchy though depending on the quality of the scan.  I believe most of these are indexed using Optical Character Recognition and I have spent time flipping day to day looking for a particular obituary.
It is these types of stories that make our ancestor’s real people and not just another date or place. If you are not looking in newspapers for these types of stories, I can not begin to tell you how rewarding it can be.

Notes   [ + ]

1. Google Maps Streetview – Jan 15, 2017
2. Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), Vol 132, Issue 156, 159 and 155, 1895;

August 26, 1943 – Merton’s War Diary

Aug 26, 1943
Gave eskimo woman a suit of long underwear and two cakes of soap to do my laundry.

An Inuit family (1917) – “AN ESKIMO FAMILY. Tenderness and responsibility in their treatment of children is a virtue of the Eskimo which binds them closer to the brotherhood of civilized peoples.” [1]National Geographic Magazine, Volume 31 (1917), page 564 – Wikipedia Link

In reading this entry of Merton’s journal, I could only picture the poor woman leaning over into the frozen river with a washboard.  Probably a far cry from the truth but good for those ‘cold wash only’ items.

This is an interesting case in how learning about the past brings an ‘Ah Ha’ moment to the present.  There are a few ‘chores’ that if I could avoid them, laundry would indeed be one of them, though I believe that my wife would think that I would choose to avoid ALL of them.  Perhaps two chocolate cakes might do the trick.

The flip side to this argument however, is that my Mother loves to do laundry… and ironing.  I guess I take after my Grandfather more than Mom.




Notes   [ + ]

1. National Geographic Magazine, Volume 31 (1917), page 564 – Wikipedia Link

Two new books for the Library

This afternoon, my boss at the TV station placed two books on my table to add to my library.  New Jersey Marriage Records 1665-1800 and New Jersey Patents and Deeds 1664-1703 are both edited by William Nelson and published by Genealogical Publishing Company Inc, Baltimore MD, 1982.

‘Patents And Deeds And Other Early Records Of New Jersey, 1664-1703’ was originally published in 1899 under the title ‘Documents relating to the colonial history of the State of New Jersey, Volume XXI. Calendar of records in the office of the Secretary of State.  1664-1703’.  I find it interesting that the table of contents lists not only what the chapter covers, but the description of the work itself.

Salem Deeds, Liber B:  [pg] 565
A small thin folio of 175 pages, containing patents from Fenwick, and deeds for the same, 1672-1702[1]Nelson, William. Patents And Deeds And Other Early Records Of New Jersey, 1664-1703. Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co., 1982. Print.

The book on marriage records was originally published in 1900 in the same series as the Deeds book as Volume XXII – Marriage Records, 1665-1800.  An interesting addition to this volume begins in the first part entitled, ‘The Early Marriage Laws of New Jersey, and the Influences Bearing upon their Formation’ – or a history of the marriage laws of New Jersey and how they were built upon the Romans, Dutch, Swedes, etc. It can be very important at times to understand the culture of the time period you are researching especially if you are running into a problem, and this offers a unique history lesson indeed.

It also happens that just last night I was trying to research some records from 1887 – so a bit outside this time frame for these two books.  My first go to place when I am looking for something new – the Family Search Wiki.  It can be your source to learn everything about an area, where to look, what to look for, etc.

In looking at the Wiki last night [Link], New Jersey Vital records seem to be mostly index only online through Family Search and Ancestry.  Hard copies however can be ordered relatively easy through the state for genealogical purposes.

Genealogical Records (family history research) are: [2]From the New Jersey Department of Health Website [LINK]

  • Birth, death and marriage records for people who are deceasedAND where
  • the birth occurred more than 80 years ago
  • the marriage occurred more than 50 years ago
  • the death occurred more than 40 years ago

Your request cannot be processed as a genealogical request if the person named on the record is still living or the event was more recent than listed above.

I have not ordered any records from the State of NJ yet but I will and be sure to let everyone know how it goes.



Notes   [ + ]

1. Nelson, William. Patents And Deeds And Other Early Records Of New Jersey, 1664-1703. Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co., 1982. Print.
2. From the New Jersey Department of Health Website [LINK]

August 22, 1943 – Merton’s War Diary

Aug. 22
Slept ashore for first time in sleeping bags on the rocks.

I can remember as a kid missing out on Cub Scout camping trips for one reason or another but to make up for it, Dad and I would ‘camp’ in the slightly wooded back yard.  There was a slight hill and the sleeping bags would slowly slide down the plastic tarp we would place on the ground to keep the moisture out.  We didn’t have a tent and it was just open air.

View on Scoresby Sund, East Greenland – by Hannes Grobe, AWI[1]  Interestingly, the metadata for this photograph shows that it was captured on August 25th, 2007 so we are looking at the same time of year as the diary entry.

Later in life, Sue and I would go camping on some of our reenactment trips.  I used to enjoy the experience a lot and we had many convenience items such as air mattresses hidden away in our very non-authentic tents.  Sleeping on ‘the rocks’ sounds like it would be the opposite of fun.  Well, it just so happened that one night in July (possibly August,) while on a camping trip in Wahnapitae Ontario, Sue and I learned just how uncomfortable the air mattress could be when a cold front came in.  Like a Thermos, the air mattress retained all of the cold air and ‘insulated’ us from any warmth the ground could offer.  The remainder of the weekend we ended up in a hotel with the hopes of warming our bones.  I do hope for my Grandfather’s sake, the rocks and bag provided some form of comfort.

In 1943 and 1944, my Grandfather, Merton Young, traveled to Greenland while working for the Merritt-Chapman & Scott Company. He wrote a brief diary of his journey and this is a piece of that story.

Notes   [ + ]


Welcome to 2017

Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.
– Douglas Adams

Image by user Monoar –

Well, the ball has dropped and another year has passed.  Like many others, 2016 was quite a struggle and it was difficult to get some things done.

I have a pretty fantastic (I think,) announcement for this year which you can read below, but first I want to cover three items that really stood out as accomplishments last year for Discovering Your Past and my own genealogy.

In March I had the honor of presenting to the Hudson, NH Genealogy Club, “Our search for the Grave of Moses Noble of Berwick, Maine.” This talk covered how Sue and I went about our search, using Google Earth and Google Maps, the advantages to speaking with local residents, and some ideas to help record information when you do find something, even if it is not what you were looking for.  I hope to follow up on that talk this year and create an episode of the show from it.

Speaking of episodes, in April, we were able to release the third episode of the show [link] in which we interviewed the past and current directors of our local LDS Family History Center.  We learned a lot about the resources offered, as well as some genealogical hints and, made some new friends.

On my own genealogical endeavors, I dove into the Simmons / Pitts branch of my family from the Dighton, MA area with the help of the Rhode Island Genealogical Society and the fantastic information they were able to send me after we had met them at PBS’s Genealogy Road Show.  I discovered my love for using Google Drive and Google Sheets to store images and documents gathered from online sources as well as Microsoft One Note as my research journal.  I also have begun using Roots Magic version 7 with this project.

On to the New Year…I have a few projects in mind for 2017 including some live streaming, furthering the blog, and of course recording more episodes.

This April, the New England Regional Genealogical Consortium, or NERGC for short, is hosting its biennial conference and I am pleased to announce that Discovering Your Past has been chosen to be one of the official bloggers!

I will be providing some coverage from the event itself and interviewing an NERGC 2017 speaker or workshop lead this coming month.  So I better get practicing!

For more information on the New England Regional Genealogical Consortium 2017 Conference, visit their website at and if you think you too would like to become an official blogger and join in on the adventure, send your name, blog URL and a brief bio to

We wish you a very happy, and prosperous New Year!

Dan and Sue – Discovering Your Past


Passports from Hungary

A while ago this link to Hungarian Passport photographs crossed my path.

What is absolutely amazing about Flikr user mákvirág’s photo stream is the sheer number of historical photographs they have.  Over 23,000 as of this writing covering not only Hungary but India, China, Lebanon, Morocco, Japan and Sweeden just to name a few.

Several of the galleries have descriptions and names of the people in the photographs as well and all are a pleasure to look at.


[1]Photo: Flickr user mákvirág, From Album – “Passport from Japan 1917-1918, pt. 2 – Photos from “Emergency Passport Applications, 1917-1918: US Consulate in Tokyo”” at (accessed 10 Dec 2016)

While I have only viewed some of the images, many of them seem to be courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration and I don’t see a great way to search them (though I am not a Flickr user and that may make a difference.

I’d love to know if you locate one of your relatives in these photos.  Leave a comment below if you do!


*** Addition ***

After posting the link in this article, I was contacted via the comments (read in full below,) by the author himself, Louis Takács aka mákvirág.  Among other insights, he let us know that the images are indexed on  There is another way to search through the images.

Unfortunately, searching for names/terms is a bit tricky. You have to open another URL:

and add your search term (surname, village name, etc.) in the search box. Flickr no longer provides a direct link in the interface.

Thank you Louis for the fantastic updates.




Notes   [ + ]

1. Photo: Flickr user mákvirág, From Album – “Passport from Japan 1917-1918, pt. 2 – Photos from “Emergency Passport Applications, 1917-1918: US Consulate in Tokyo”” at (accessed 10 Dec 2016)

Two new books – Letters from WW2 and DNA

Two new books arrived on my shelf this week, both courtesy of the wonderful Deborah Sweeney, author of the blog at and our guest from Episode 1.


The first of which is Deborah’s latest book, ‘Lots of Love, Daddy: The World War II Letters of Roscoe and Gladys Yegerlehner: October 1942 – December 1942 (Volume 2)’.

This book contains more letters written during World War Two, between Deborah’s Grandparents.  It is an amazing glimpse into the daily lives of a Naval Doctor stationed in the Pacific, and his Wife at home in Indiana.  Historians will appreciate the small details that these letters will often divulge from bank account balances, cost of living, meals, mail schedules, and more.  Deborah has slipped numerous footnotes throughout the book, as well as some great family photographs as well as photographs of several of the letters themselves.

Most of the letters have a very day to day ‘diary’ feel to them;  Today I went to the store, traveled to Lafayette, 3 bunk mates moved out and 2 moved in however one letter from Roscoe to Gladys written  October 30, 1942 stuck out.

… My tent mate asked me the other day while I was writing a letter if I told you I loved you and I said “no” she knows that and really it isn’t necessary because you are well aware of that fact and know that it will always be that way. It’s not the beer that is affecting me because I’ve only had two bottles, and that won’t affect me that way. You know how much you are missed and I know that the same is true in this direction and that makes things easier, but when one goes to bed at night and thinks it really makes one yearn for home. And sooner or later will be there. So much for that…[1]Deborah Sweeney, Lots of Love, Daddy: The World War II Letters of Roscoe and Gladys Yegerlehner: October 1942 – December 1942 (Volume 2), (Self Published – CreateSpace and Amazon.Com Company, 2016), p.118

I will have to skip ahead now to find when Gladys receives this letter to see how this all plays out.

Among the letters between husband and wife are a few from other relatives and neighbors as well as a very special Radiogram from the American Red Cross to Roscoe – announcing the birth of his son David.

For more information on this book, and where to find it, check out [2]For the sake of transparency, I did assist Deborah in the design and creation of the cover of both this book, and Volume 1

The second book Deb sent me is ‘The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy’ by Blaine T. Bettinger.  While I have not had a chance to read through this book yet, chapters include; genetic genealogy basics, ethics, selecting a test, the various types of tests, and analyzing the results.

Like other Family Tree Books I have seen, this one is full of color diagrams and illustrations which (should) make the subject of DNA testing easier to understand.  Sue has had her DNA tested through and we have barely scratched the surface of the results and I am hoping to do mine by the end of the year.

For more information on ‘The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy’ by Blaine T. Bettinger – check out

Notes   [ + ]

1. Deborah Sweeney, Lots of Love, Daddy: The World War II Letters of Roscoe and Gladys Yegerlehner: October 1942 – December 1942 (Volume 2), (Self Published – CreateSpace and Amazon.Com Company, 2016), p.118
2. For the sake of transparency, I did assist Deborah in the design and creation of the cover of both this book, and Volume 1

Update Your Links – We’ve switched to a self hosted site!

Exciting news, our new home is so please update your links.

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

On the back end of things, I have moved the Discovering Your Past Blog to a self hosted WordPress website.  What does that mean?  While the old blog at will still be there, all of the data (should) have been transferred over.  There may be some subtle changes here and there. Please do let me know if you find something out of place.

For any blogger that wishes to switch from a WordPress hosted to a self hosted, it is actually a pretty easy process.  WordPress itself has a built in tool to help you export your posts, pages, and comments as well as an import tool to get them back into place.  The troubles I ran into were somewhat minor, but I have some knowledge in HTML and CSS coding.

When you import your data file, I noticed that it had a limit on the file size and while mine came no where near that you may want to look up what that size is. (I honestly don’t remember what it was and I should have take a note but to me the size seemed small.)  This file though is only text items.  Your images and such are imported from your existing WordPress hosted site.  You do have the option to not import them as well.  The import module allows for Blogger, Blogroll, LiveJournal, Movable Type and TypePad, Tumbler, and an RSS Feed

This site has but one blogger (for now.)  In order to set up the initial WordPress installation, I needed to create an admin account.  When you import your data from your previous blog, it assigns any former user (in my case myself,) be they editor, author or admin, to with the role of ‘Author’ and you need to remember to change your main account over to ‘Admin’.

The most difficult problem for me was with my theme.  I had chosen the ‘Fictive’ Theme [Link]  from the site however I did not have the color choices that I had before under settings.  I found that I had to delve into the CSS coding of the site with the help of a friend of mine Dave Seah [link] and the WordPress forums.  Other themes I am sure behave different, and I would do a bit of research on the one you use currently.  For me, the theme customization took longer than the actual importing of the data.

Self hosting a WordPress site opens up other options one of which is plug ins.  I have installed a plugin called ‘footnotes’ [1]Here is a sample – that allows me to create them inline as I type by adding a double set of parenthesis around text so they will show up below.

I should now go back through old posts and just double check everything and look for any mistakes and format them as needed for the Footnotes plugin.

If you do switch to a self hosted site let us know how it went and don’t forget to update your links.

Notes   [ + ]

1. Here is a sample –