Upward and onward: Sixth Blogiversary! #AtoZChallenge

Sepia Saturday 517. U is for Upward and onward: Sixth Blogiversary! Twenty-first of twenty-six posts in the April 2020 Blogging From A to Z Challenge on the theme “Endwell: My Elementary Years”— where my genealogy journey germinated. Wish me luck!

During my elementary years, I could not have imagined writing a genealogy and family history blog, much less blogging every week — and even daily in April during the annual A to Z Challenge!

Yet as a child in Endwell, N.Y., I kept a somewhat-daily diary of local goings on. And at thirteen as my journal turned to more serious topics, I first had the idea of writing as a calling.

Dec. 2, 1963. I’ve decided to be a writer. I was talkin’ to Dad & he said the ideal profession was writing! I could work for a newspaper! Maybe I could even write about JFK!!

Sixth Blogiversary! Completing year six means I have beaten the five-year curse — the point when many bloggers stop posting. Artwork: Pixabay

How prophetic! Today I am retired from a long writing-editing career and blogging away on Molly’s Canopy — sharing ancestral stories and research techniques one blog post at a time.

Beating the five-year curse

I am particularly happy to be writing today’s post because some industry surveys have indicated that on average bloggers hit the wall and stop posting at year five. Yikes!

Admittedly, there were points after my Fifth Blogiversary when I wondered whether this might happen to me. But new genealogy research and a pivotal summer road trip saved the day — and renewed my enthusiasm for making family history discoveries and blogging about my ancestors’ lives.

The Blakeslee saga

The Lovers by William Powell Firth (1855). Sometime between 1854-56, my great-great grandmother Mary Elizabeth Blakeslee of Brookdale, Penna., met and got engaged to my great-great grandfather Arthur T. Bull of Corbettsville, N.Y. Writing her Blakeslee family’s  story led to one of my longest blog series. Image: Art Institute Chicago

My renewal process began in February 2019. Wanting to learn more about my second great-grandmother Mary Elizabeth (Blakeslee) Bull — wife of Union Army veteran Arthur T. Bull and later a Civil War widow — I wrote A bewildering Blakeslee saga bemoaning what little I knew about her family line.

Mary’s back story led to her parents’ story and one of my longest ancestral series to date — pieced together week by week as I researched then wrote about my findings.

A surprise divorce

By last summer I had made the surprise discovery that Mary’s parents — my third great-grandparents Zebulon and Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee — were divorced in Pennsylvania in 1866! After she left him in 1858 and moved to New York State!

Blakeslee divorce decree made the papers. Montrose Democrat, 28 Aug. 1866, p. 3. Source: panewsarchive.psu.edu

That bit of breaking news prompted a summer 2019 trip to the Susquehanna County Courthouse in Montrose, Penna., to unearth the Blakeslee divorce records.

Happily, my genealogy journey was a success — yielding 15 pages of divorce filings and testimony and the details of Zebulon’s second marriage after his divorce petition was granted. Genealogy research doesn’t get much better than that!

1882: Going into the World by Evert Jan Boks (1838-1914). My third great-grandparents Zebulon and Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee were divorced in Pennsylvania in 1866 — after she left him in 1858 and moved to New York State. Image: mimimatthews.com

So I blogged about the Blakeslee divorce through the end of the year — building a circumstantial case that might explain why Hannah left Zebulon, since she did not respond to subpoenas to testify.

Albany research trip

As the Blakeslee series wrapped up, I went on a research trip with the N.Y. Genealogical and Biographical Society to the New York State Archives and Library in Albany, N.Y. — a journey that also sparked a series of blog posts.

My ancestor’s listing in the GAR roster. My great-great grandfather Arthur T. Bull is number 30 on the list, enrolled as “A.T. Bull.” He was not a founding member of Nathan Crosby Post 550, but joined soon after moving to Salamanca, N.Y., from the Adirondacks region. Photo: Molly Charboneau

While in Albany, I accessed records and artifacts about my Civil War ancestor’s 6th N.Y. Heavy Artillery Unit and the Grand Army of the Republic veterans group he belonged to.

I also researched my Broome County fourth great grandfather Waples Hance in early 1800s tax records and identified a neighbor David Chapman as the possible father of his wife Rachel (Chapman) Hance — and my possible fifth great-grandfather!

Portrait of Andrew Stoutner Sr. –– my maternal German immigrant great-great grandfather of Gloversville, Fulton County N.Y. (circa 1890). Scan by Molly Charboneau

My Fulton County ancestors

And I began researching my maternal German and Italian ancestors in Fulton County, N.Y. city directories — creating a timeline of their first listings and commercial ads and learning about previously unknown family addresses.

My discoveries prompted a new series earlier this year — to be continued — on my German-immigrant Stoutner ancestors of Gloversville, N.Y.

Resuming the A to Z Challenge

Finally, the surest sign that my blogging energy is back is my participation in this year’s A to Z Challenge. I did my first challenge in 2016 writing on Ancestors A to Z– and learned a lot about how to do marathon blogging and support other participants with visits and comments on their posts.

Me and my brothers circa 1955. Adding my own story to the ancestral mix is a way of leaving the type of diary we wish our ancestors had left for us. Photo: Norman J. Charboneau

I had so much fun, I was back at it for the 2017 A to Z Challenge chronicling my own life in Whispering Chimneys: My Altamont Childhood — adding my story to the ancestral mix as a way of leaving the type of diary we wish our ancestors had left for us. Which prompted my sequel in this year’s challenge — Endwell: My Elementary Years.

My blog Molly’s Canopy has been a particularly welcome refuge for me this year — as we shelter at home during the coronavirus quarantine and face an uncertain short-term future. As I enter my seventh blogging year, I believe my family history blog will continue to keep me going — with many more ancestral stories still to tell!

Up next: V is for Vacations and visiting relatives. Please stop back! Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here

© 2020 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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44 thoughts on “Upward and onward: Sixth Blogiversary! #AtoZChallenge”

  1. Happy Blogiversary! I hear ya about the 5-yr curse. I worried too, but here I am in year 9. I experienced a big slow-down after year 5 and I’m still slow to report anything new, but here and there I find a nugget. I had a few research trips planned but then along came the Coronavirus and spoiled it all. Maybe in the fall? Maybe next year?

    1. Glad to hear this! I do take more breaks, here and there, than I did during the first couple of years. Glad to know you got past the 5-year-point as well!

  2. I started out blogging for one reason, but found it opened up a whole other world for me – like “Sepia Saturday” for one. I really should get back to my original reason for blogging, though – about a city girl marrying a forest ranger & moving off to the woods and mountains to raise children in the wild. 🙂

    1. You have hit on something here. It’s easy to get lost in the weekly blogging grind. Important to remind ourselves why we bagan — and get back to our blogging roots.

  3. Molly,

    I miss spending time with you at the monthly meetings, but am so glad to be able to keep up with you through the blog. I hope you are doing well. Say hello to the group for me.

    1. Hi Mike! Hope you and family are well. We miss you, too. Will send everyone your regards — and I will let you know when we have a virtual meeting, which would be easier for you to attend. Stay safe!

  4. Congratulations! Writing is tough, especially when your subjects don’t always leave a lot of personal information behind. But your blog is always rich with details that put your family’s history into the context of their time. I often recognize fascinating similarities with the characters in my photo collection or even my own family. It’s bloggers like you, Molly, who have transformed genealogy from being about compiling dry lists of names and dates into collecting compelling stories about real people. I look forward to many more tales of your family research.

    1. Thanks so much, Mike! One of my overriding blogging goals was to breathe life into my ancestors’ stories. Appreciate hearing that I have succeeded. Gives me energy to keep going!

  5. Congratulations on your 6th Blogiversary Molly. How wonderful that you made so many great discoveries to inspire you to keep writing. I was surprised about a divorce at such an early time.

    1. Thanks, Pauleen! I was also surprised by the mid-1800s divorce! And that she left him — which was a bold move at that time. Still researching to see what supporting info may be out there.

  6. You have a real talent for writing, Molly. I always find your blog posts interesting. And especially appreciate the family ones.

    1. Thanks, Jan! And great having a Stoutner cousin on board. I hope to write more about our mutual ancestors in a future series as I unearth more details about their lives.

  7. Dear Molly:

    Congratulations! What an accomplishment…and I am so happy to have been a small part of your journey! You inspire me and I love reading your posts. Keep adding to the record…one thing about all this that makes me personally very happy is that, way back, when I only knew you by reputation, and used to refer to you as my “French connection,” then finally got to meet you through an event at Metro, and then even better, to work with you at the union, thereby forging a wonderful friendship. Write on, my friend!

    1. Thanks, Jane! You were there for my first blog posts during the U.S. Civil War reenactment we went to in Virginia. Glad we sent from acquaintances to colleagues to friends and now mutually supportive writing partners. Let’s both keep at our literary work!

  8. Happy Blogiversary! I’ve enjoyed your writing style and the stories of your ancestors. The Blakesee could be a movie or television series. I know I enjoyed “tuning in” each week. I’m glad to have discovered your blog via Sepia Saturday.

    1. Thanks, Susan! And FYI, I am still considering how to expand on the Blakeslee saga in some way — book, script, TV series? Who knows!

  9. Hi Molly and congrats! I have so enjoyed your retelling of childhood experiences and memories. It sends me back to my childhood neighborhood and all those good memories. Keep writing and blogging because it makes us all feel so good!
    Your cousin Barb. ( from the Dempsey clan )

    1. Thanks so much, Barb! Love having you and the other Dempsey cousins as readers. Hoping to have time in year seven to write more about our Irish immigrant ancestors.

  10. Hi Molly
    I always enjoy reading your blog. Maybe at some point more information will turn up about our Dempsey cousins. Maybe more information will be found about William the Blacksmith’s brother, John or william’s life in Canada with his first wife. It’s a puzzle waiting to be finished.

    1. Thanks, Carolyn! And yes, a puzzle it is — so many clues, but how to hook them together? Hope to write more on our Irish immigrant ancestors as their story becomes clearer.

  11. Congratulations, Molly! On your blogaversary and your blogging. It’s always fun to read your posts and hear more about your genealogy journey . Upward and onward indeed!

  12. Happy Blogiversary! We are related!! I found some family history of my own in your blog. The Charbonneau Reunion! My great grandfather was W.D. Charbonneau, the Douglas you mentioned was my uncle and the little boy “Billy” was my father. I have fond memories of the farm on Moose River Road. Dad’s Aunt Helen (Mrs. Karlen in the blog) lived there. She was a well known antiques dealer and restored the home beautifully. Just down the road on the river was their fishing camp. (I was born in 1950.)

    1. Welcome, Renee! And thanks for this info. Always great to have a cousin on board. When the challenge is over I will be in touch as I would like to identify all of our relatives who are listed in the news clip I posted.

  13. Happy blogoversary! Blogging has been a kind of refuge for me, too, as has been reading old favorites and discovering some new blogs through this year’s A to Z. I haven’t done as much visiting as I should – some days it’s like my mind just wants to shut down, plus I still work, although I retired in the past week. I’m happy to have read and enjoyed some of your Endwell memories.

    1. Thanks, Alana — and I know what you mean about the mental shutdown. I am also playing catchup with my visiting and comments. But we only have four posts to go — so I have no doubt we’ll reach the finish line. Have enjoyed your posts as well!

  14. Wishing you a very happy blogiversary and many more discoveries in the years ahead! You’ve made so much progress in your family history!

  15. Great photos and such an adventure! You’ve done quite a lot of work on your blog and it’s paid off. Congratulations on your Blogiversary!

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