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!!
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
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.