Comfort Laps: Writing Challenge

Our reminiscences are important parts of who we are. As we stitch them into narratives they connect us to our ancestors, sometimes in unexpected ways. I urge my readers to not shy away from writing about uncomfortable and challenging topics.

My mother, for reasons that remain somewhat of a mystery, did not like to be touched. Whether she was mildly autistic or physically or sexually abused or some combination, we never knew for sure ( and it wasn’t for lack of asking). However, I was programed to seek and need human touch. Yes, an extraordinary bad combination. I can remember as a very young child trying to climb up into Mom’s lap and being rebuffed. And yet my mother delighted in repeating a story of how I climbed into the lap of a black woman as we were waiting in a Kaiser hospital waiting room in Richmond.

Mom would recount this as evidence of the lack of racism with which I was raised. I always felt it was so much more. This would not be the first time I would seek comfort in a lap of a black woman. For a short period of time we had a housekeeper named Sylvia. She had deep ebony skin, and a powerful personality and how she could clean. Even my mother bent to her will. Before long our house which had looked like an episode of the television show Hoarders, now sparkled. It was Sylvia who taught me how to iron, beginning first with my Dad’s handkerchiefs. (Yes there was a time when they had to be ironed!) It was Sylvia’s hugs which enveloped me in warmth. It was Sylvia who had the house clean enough to open the drapes and “let the sunshine in!” When she left, the darkness returned. I thought of Sylvia when I read the novel Yellow Crocus by Lalia Ibrahim. The story is about Mattie an enslaved wet nurse who takes care of Lizbeth, a white woman’s infant, while forced to relinquish her own son. Why am I drawn to black women’s stories?

This is a photo of my first birthday party. I am the one being held up by my mother—I always felt this photo (and the ones taken along with it) is particularly unnerving. My mother is not holding me like Ruth is her son, of about the same age. Maybe I am being too sensitive or critical—but it does speak to me even now. Is she just playing the part of a mother? It sometimes felt that way.

Kelly being held up by her Mom

Half way through my high school career I opted to attend the majority “black” high school rather than the “white” high school I had been attending. And perhaps it would shock you to know I felt very comfortable there. A page from my yearbook:

Kelly Lower Left

And then back in 2011, as I have mentioned before, I was browsing books at my library’s book sale and came across Pearl’s Secret: A Black Man’s Search for his White Family by Neil Henry. It was to be a foreshadowing of things to come. (Although mine was in reverse.) A few weeks later my autosomal results revealed that I had two African segments. I was surprised, but not disappointed. And ever since I have been looking to discover who was my African ancestress. I suspect it was a female that was the first who had African heritage in my tree. I go back to her a thousand times and wonder if these yearnings are some how callings from my DNA. It’s not much in percentages (depending on the DNA company .6%-2.8%) but likely a 3rd or 4th great grandparent.

The part of my tree where the secret resides

Was it Eleanor BROOKS born about 1731, Elizabeth wife of Thomas SPARKS born about 1689 or Agnes wife of John BARNES born in 1737? A few hundred years ago and my ancestry takes a different path. I know she comes from this part of my tree because of who matches these segments and how I match them. It may well be on the SPARKS line as I have pedigree collapse here and matches indicate a HENAGER with SPARKS ancestry which matches the SPARKS here. To date I have not a single African match on these segments, but it does not keep me from hoping I will find her someday. We talk of the rainbow bridge for our deceased pets. For me the rainbow bridge includes—-a yearning for a long lost great grandmother’s lap. Perhaps a strange sort of yearning for a mostly white woman, but it has been with me for a very long time. A feeling of connection in an unexpected place.

It was my paternal aunt who confirmed that there were rumors about my grandmother having mixed race ancestry. My DNA bears that out. When I first got my atDNA results I corresponded with an African American woman in her 70’s. She told me in high school she took German. Her friends couldn’t understand why. She was attracted to all things German and when her husband was stationed in Germany she sang in a German choir. It wasn’t until she tested her DNA she realized she had German ancestry. It always makes me feel as if our ancestors have a pull on us whether we are aware of it or not. And so it goes.


  • Pick a vivid memory, that speaks to you
  • What echoes can you identify that memory with?
  • Could be a book someone read, a movie you saw, or an incident
  • Flesh out whatever you can whether it makes any sense or not
  • Wait a few days or weeks and let it percolate
  • Revisit and see what comes up

Sometimes it is only in the writing that the pieces knit into place. Its okay to have lots of little vignettes like the one above. Not quite a full story—more of a question.

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

Rainer Maria Rilke

Kelly Wheaton © 2022 All Rights Reserved.

Genealogy Intersections: Revisiting the 1719 Deed of Little Packington in Warwickshire

Little Packington

You can’t do genealogy for long before you realize what a small world we live in and how everything and everyone seems to have some sort of relationship. I call these genealogical intersections and they often crop up when doing gophering. I wrote about a very important one in my story of A Tale of Two Soldiers. Quite a few blog posts ago I wrote Who Should own Historical Documents about an Indenture I purchased between George SHAKESPEARE of Coleshill and Waldive WILLINGTON of  Kingsbury (both in Warwickshire). This involves a Messuage or tenement and lands, meadows etc in Cliffe in Kingsbury Parish and a Messauge & lands known as Fisher’s Farm and Bromefields in the parish of Little Packington. So I thought I would take a little closer look at some of those names and some interesting intersections.

I find this kind of research quite rewarding and I highly recommend it even if it appears to have no connection to any of your own families, you just never know what might turn up. I know I have many families in Warwickshire. And I know of many families that intermarried with the SHELDONS of Warwickshire. To date I cannot connect my SHELDONs to those of Warwickshire but I suspect they do connect. Let’s do a little Kevin BACON 6 degrees of separation. The document I purchased:

The Indenture with George Shakespeare’s seal dated  1 April 1719

For those who might be interested here is the transcription. Feel free to scroll through. (the hastags are in the original):

This Indenture made the ffirst ####### day of April### in the ffifth year of the Reigne of our Soveraigne Lord Georg of Great Brittain ffranc & Ireland King # defender of the faith & Anno Dui One Thousand Seaven hundred and Nineteen. Between George Shakepeare of Coleshill in the County of Warwickshire of the one part & Waldeve Willington of Kingsbury in the said County ow Warwick Gent of the other part Whereas in and by one indenture triparte bearing date the sixth day of September in the one and twenty of year of the Reign of our late sovevainge Lord King Charles the second and made between John fflamstead of Little Hallam in the County of Derby Gent Robert Dix[ie] also Repington of Cliffe in the sd County of Warwick Yeoman of the first part Thomas Coton of Coton Bridge in the County of Warwick Gent Samuell ffrankland of the Citty of Coventry Gent and John Ensor of Whateley in the said County of Warwick Yeoman of the second part and Alice Ensor of Whateley aforesaid widow of the third part the said John Fflamstead for the consideration of the sum of one hundred fforty six pounds therin mentioned did grant bargain & sell release infeoffe and confirme unto the said Thomas Coton Samuell ffrankland and John Ensor their heires All that messauge or tenenment with the appteuments scituate standing and being in Cliffe in the parish of Kingsbury in the said County of Warwick with the barnes & buildings gardens orchyards abd backfields there unto belonging to have and to hold the same unto the said Thomas Coton Samuel ffrankland and John Ensor their heirs & assignes forever And afterward & by Ind. Bearing the date the sixth day of october in the said one & twentieth year of King Charles the Second Renteing the said indenture of ffeoffement the sd Thomas Coton Samuell ffrankland John Ensor & Alice Ensor did declare that the said dum of one hundred fforty six pounds in the siad indenture of ffeoffement mentioned to be paid by said Alice Ensor to the said John fflaumstead was not all the said Alice Ensors proper money only part there of viz of Ninety pounds & that twenty pounds other part thereof was the money of George Repington son of the Robert Dix[ie] & als Repington & grandSon of the said Alice Ensor ## and thirty pounds residue of the said One hundred fforty six pounds was the proper money of Isabella Repington daughter of said Robert Repington and grandDaughter of the sd. Alice Ensor therefore ##the said Thomas Coton Samuell ffrankland & John Ensor declare their names to be used in trust for the said George Repington Isabella Repington & John Ensor for the raising Severall sums of money out of the rents & profits of the premises and offer uses there in mentioned And it is by the same Indenture declared that the said trustees and heir heires shall stand seized of the premises to the use of the said George Repington and the heirs of his body Lawfully to be begotten and for want of his issue to the use of Isabella the daughter & the heirs of her body Lawfully to be begotten And it is by the Same Ind. # further declared that if the sd. George & Isabella both dye without issue then if Robert Repington his heirs or assignes pay Alice Ensor Ninety pounds then the trustees shall be seized of the premises to the use of Robert Repington his heirs and assigns forever. And Whereas the sd. George Repington son of the said Robert Repington Long since dyed without issue and the said Isabella survived ## and marryed to Thomas Knight of Nether Whitacre in the County of Warwick Gent while Isabella is since dead Leaving issue two daughters Jane the now wife of the said George Shakespeare party to ## kepe Payents and Mary now the wife of Thomas Swift of Hinckley in the County of Leicester Yeoman The said Thomas Swift & Mary his wife by lease & Release bearing the date the ninth and tenth dayes of October in ## the year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred & Nineteen made or eclipsed to be made between the said George Shakespeare and Jane his wife of the one part and Waldive Willington of the other part for the consideration in that Release mentioned Did convay all the said mesuage or tenement with the closes lands meadows pastures grounds & premises with the apptentues there unto mentioned to the said Waldive Willington and his heires. Now The Indenture Witnesseth that the sd. George Shakespeare for the consideration in the said in part impart rented Indenture of Release mentioned and for the better ## securing the said mesuage or tenement closes lands meadows, pasture grounds & premises with their apptennmens therein mentioned to the said Waldive Willington & his heirs free & cleare from the clayme Of any person whoever by vertue of the said in part willed Deed of trust Hath demised rented bargained & sold lett & to farme lett and by those presents doth demise grant bargan lease lett and to farme lett into the said Waldive Willington his { Etes Adm. Es and assigns Ass those two closes of pastures pacells or enclosures of Land with their ap#purtements lyeing and being in Little Packington in the sd. County of Warwick comonly called and knowne by the names of the Broomefields contayning by estimation thirteen acres of land (be the same more or less) and are parcell of a farme of his the said George # Shakepeare there commonly called or knowne by the name of ffishers farme are now in the tenure or outbarow of Richard ffalkesbridge and # his assignes or undertenants togeather with all woods underwoods wayes waters watercourses commons here ditam ts & apptenueumens whatsoever to be the said two closes of pasture grounds & premises belonging or in any wise appurtaining or there witnsesed or injoyed # To have and to hold the said two closes of pasture grounds & premises with their appt#en#es unto the said Waldive Willington his { and et es & assigns from the day before the date of these p’ymentsfor & during and unto the full end & terme of ffive hundred years from hence eo & Feusueing fully to be compleate and ended Yielding and paying herefore yearly & eny year dureing the said terme ## unto the said George Shakespeare his heirs or assigns the yearly rent of one peper due att the ffeast of St Michaell the arc Angell (if the same be lawfully demanded &) Provided always Nevertheless ## and upon this p’ys conditon abd ut is the true intent and meaning of those pYents & of all parrtyes here unto thay is the said mesuage or teneme. And ffarme with the Closes Lands meadows pastures & apptenuences there unto belonging and only part there if the said in part writed Indentures of Lease & Release men’oned & are lyeing and being in Cliffe in the parish of Kingsbury aforesaid and granted bargained & sold # to the said Waldive Willington and his hers doe & shall from time to time & att all times hereafter be remaine & routine unto said Waldive Willington or his heirs and assignes forever free and clear and freely and # nearly acquitted & disaryed or herewise we & huely lar’d harmless and kept indemmifyed by the said George Shakespeare his heirs assignes of & from the Lawfull entry clayme & demand wilsoever of # the heirs or assignes of the said Alice Ensor Robert Repington George Repington Isabella Repington or any person claiming or to clayme from by or mq or them or any of them by vertue of the said in part # writed deed of trust and from all costs or damages that may arise or happen in here upon that thou his pYent indenture of Lease & every Coven clause & ayreemt herin contayned shall lease end determine and be # uttelry bound frustrate & of none effort in the Law Any thing herin contayned to be contrary there of in any wise not withstanding AND the said George Shakespeare for himself his heirs & et es and Admin es. Doth # herby covenant ? Puise and grant to & with the said Waldive Willington his E er es. Admin es & assigns that he the said Waldive Willington his er es. Admin es & assigns shall & may imediately after breach of # the said proviso peaceably & quietlly have hold possess & injoy the said two closes called the Broomfields with their ap#ptu#mes hereby demised & for the said terme of ffive hundred years without the lawfull lett suits trouble hinderance molestaton or disturbance of the said George Shakepseare his heirs and assignes quietlly and peaceably to have hold & injoy he herby demised pLinjes with the said George Shakespeare his heirs and # assignes that it shall & may be lawfull to & for the said George Shakespeare his heirs and assignes quietlly and peaceably to have hold injoy the herby demised pLinjes with their ap#ptu#mes until the Premisses in the # said in part rited & Indentureds of Lease & Release mentioned or any part thereof shall be legally entered & upon claymed & demanded by the heirs of Assignes of the Said Alice Ensor Robert Repington George ## Repington or Isabella or and of them by vertus of the said Deed of Trust without the Lawfull lett suite trouble hindrance molestation or disturbancce of the Said Waldive Willington his E er es. Admin es & assigns or # any other person by his or their Act Deed means title covnent or purement those Pyents or anything here in contayned to the contrary here of in anywise notwithstanding In WITNESS where if the parties above named to these pYent [present] indentures interchangebly have putt their hands & seales the day and year first above written #

St. Bartholomew Little Packington Reproduced from the “Our Warwickshire” website under CC

One of my Warwickshire ancestors is Nicholas BROME (1450-1517) my 13th great-grandfather. In an obscure thesis I find reference to the Manor of Little Packington which originally belonged to the cathedral Priory but was then at the dissolution granted to William WILLINGTON and William SHELDON. This is William WILLINGTON father of Mary WILLINGTON (1502-1553) who married William SHELDON (c1495-1570) of Beoley son of Ralph SHELDON of Sheldon tapestry fame. And just a few years later it is in the possession of Thomas BROME and his wife of Woodloes. Thomas BROME is the great grandson of Nicholas BROME [my 13th great grandfather] of Baddesley Clinton and Woodloes. In 1653 the manor was sold to Thomas Fisher and it has since generally followed the descent of Great Packington. What is interesting is that the Indenture contains both a Brome fields and a Fisher’s farm. The parish church of St. Bartholomew Little Packington is no longer a church but has been turned into a residence. George SHAKEPSEARE in his  will dated 30 May 1719 gave to the churchwardens and overseers £10 to be laid out in land or secured, in order to lay out 10s. in bread yearly to the poor of Little Packington. (on map below it is shown as Pakington parva. Also Bermingham=Birmingham; Colshill=Coleshill)

Map of Hemlington Hundred in Warwickshire by Robert Vaughn 1656

At this point I do not know of any SHAKESPEARE’s in my family tree—although my cousin Dale SHELDON has some. The George SHAKESPEARE of Coleshill and of the indenture, was born to Thomas and Grace (HARBERT) SHAKESPEARE and baptised 9 January 1657 at Little Packington, Warwickshire. Thomas was born 26 April 1610 at Little Packington and married about 1645 to Grace HARBERT who was born about 1624, making his mother about 33 when George was born but his father 47.

How these SHAKESPEARE’S relate to the famous William is yet to be discovered. But the deed is connected to my BROME family and perhaps to my SHELDON family. And whether the deed’s George SHAKESPEARE shares an ancestor with the scribe William SHAKESPEARE, who knows. And there are the surnames COTON, FRANKLAND REPINGTON and ENSOR which could lead in many directions. All good fun following the gopher holes.

Kelly Wheaton © 2022 All Rights Reserved,

ANCESTRY DNA’s Beta Chromosome Painting

This one sneaked up on me—I didn’t know it was there! It’s a new feature at ANCESTRY DNA currently in BETA. If you have tested there you should check it out. My favorite part was probably the questionnaire where it asked whether I would want to see the segments of my matches? HELL, YES! We dedicated genetic genealogists have been begging for this for many years. So PLEASE do me a favor and tell them you want this feature.

ANCESTRY DNA Beta Chromosome Painting


If you followed my earlier posts on Ethnicity/Ancestral breakdowns at Ancestry you have heard my complaints about the assignments. The assignments have not changed but the painting of the assignments onto your chromosomes is new. So first off the Finnish on Ch 19 is actually Norwegian at least back to the earlier 1600’s. I know this from Chromosome painting at DNA Painter which shows that all of the segments on my mother’s side of chromosome 19 are Norwegian matches. And since I have this family well documented back to the 1500-early 1600’s I am confident this isn’t Finnish, at least not in the last 500 years. The next thing I looked at was the Germanic Europe segment on Chromosome 8. This one is a bit more intriguing. So at Ancestry it shows one half of chromosome 8 as Germanic Europe. The other half as Scotland with a bit of English Unassigned on the right most tip.

There’s many things I want to draw your attention to and scrutinize. First the 2 gray segments on Chromosome 8 & 10 are actually assigned at 23andMe. These are my African segments and neither of these chromosome paintings show them correctly! They are actually on my PATERNAL side.

The PATERNAL side of Chromosome 8 includes mostly matches on my German lines of HENAGER and REMSBURG (RAMSBURG, RIEMSBERGER) and on my English SPARKS/BARNES lines. The segment shown as Ghanaian at 23andMe and Unassigned at Ancestry is from matches on the SPARKS/BARNES line which is from my father’s side so the painting is showing part from my Mom and part from my Dad on the same side of the Chromosome. Known of my MATERNAL matches on the Scandinavian (23andMe) or Scottish (Ancestry) has any African DNA. Furthermore the part of my tree in question had ancestors who were enslavers so my guess is somewhere a child was born between the Master or male relative of a plantation who later passed as white. (Another mystery yet to be resolved). One of the people in the tree below is likely responsible for my African segments.

Part of my ANCESTRY tree where my African Ancestry lies

The second African segment on Chromosome 10, I have no segment matches for. However the segments on either side of the African segment are both related to matches on the SPARKS/BARNES lines.


Let’s take a look a closer look at Chromosome 1 from Ancestry. Basically it shows MATERNAL side on top with mostly Swedish/Danish and a bit of Norwegian on Right Tail. On my father’s side it shows England and Northwestern Europe.

Let’s compare with the 23andme version:

In this matchup Ancestry wins. My maternal side shows matches just as shown with the bulk Swedish and some Norwegian on the right end. On Paternal side it is similar to the bottom half of what 23andME shows. SHould read Scottish/English/German/English which the broad Ancestry tag encompasses.

So what does this all mean? It means that all of these tools must be taken with a teaspoon of salt and yet there is important data to be mined here. To date none of these tools gets things precisely right—but as you can see they are useful. Particularly in trying to sort out where segments come from. Here is the major CAVEAT: Anything Northwest European can be mistaken ie Scottish might be Swedish, Swedish might be British and Finnish may be Swedish. If you are lucky enough to have some more DNA outside the NW European Bucket the accuracy of these predictions can go up.

If you are not already doing so keeping track of matches on DNAPainter is what allows me to know where individual segments come from. I highly recommend this tool.

Check it out and feel free to share your Opinions here or on The All Genetic Genealogy Facebook page.

Kelly Wheaton © 2022 All Rights Reserved.

Serendipity Strikes Again!

Most every Sunday, sponsors a free Zoom chat, where anyone with SHELDON ancestry around the globe can join in to exchange information or get help on their SHELDON genealogy. Well this weekend we were joined by Steven SHELDEN who told a story about his grandfather and great uncle being surrendered to a VFW home in Eaton Rapids, Michigan, after their mother died and their father was unable to care for them. Steven belongs to the Godfrey line of SHELDONs which traces back to Derbyshire, England and I to the unrelated John SHELDON of Kingstown, Rhode Island, speculatively from Warwickshire. I have never been to Eaton Rapids, but knew the place immediately. The VFW home is located on a farm previously known as the Grand River Stock Farm. I found this plaque (sold) on Ebay—another touch of serendipity.

The plaque as found on Ebay

The 472 acres was originally acquired from the government by Matthew La “Rue” Perrine in 1838. At Perrine’s death in 1894 it was purchased by my great grandfather, Justus Warren SHELDON. Where according to the book The Only Eaton Rapids on Earth by W Scott Munn c 1952 Uncopyrighted: ” J Warren Sheldon, [who] erected a commodious farm house, a mammoth barn and outbuildings and it became known as the Grand River Stock Farm.” (p352). It was later purchased by Corey J Spencer who was instrumental in making the VFW Home a reality.

The farm which was originally timbered was the source of the oak that was used to build Justus Warren Sheldon’s Home in Eaton Rapids. More on that in a later post. Here is a colorized photo of my great aunt and great grandmother on the farm.

Louise and Lois Eurette SHELDON on Grand River Stock Farm (note the large barns)

There are 2.43 BILLION acres of land in the US. What are the odds that two people would have knowledge of a 472 acre plot of land with connections to two different SHELDON families? Things like this happen everyday in the genealogy world. I guess that’s what I love about genealogy.

And a further bit of serendipity was shared by Steve SHELDEN. He had posted in a local Facebook Group in England where the Derbyshire SHELDONs hark from and lo and behold there are still SHELDONs living there! The first ones were in the 13th century!

Kelly Wheaton © 2022 All Rights Reserved. Also published on

Writing Challenge: What Did You Want to be When You Grew Up?

This is a common question we ask young people all the time. It is a question fraught with pitfalls. As a high school counselor, I devised a strategy for my students. I told them “Just figure out a school and some major or aspiration you ‘might’ want to accomplish.” Adults want nothing more than to tell you what you “should” do. Deny them this opportunity by answering them with a thoughtful, plausible path forward. Feedback suggested this strategy was very effective. We used to say people might go through as many as 8 major job changes in their lifetime. What used to be a decision that might last a lifetime is seldom so today. Many of the jobs that will exist for students in the future, don’t even exist today. The idea that we need to have a clear path from point A to point B is silly. We are always self correcting with life’s experiences informing where we end up.

“You don’t need to figure you what you will do for a lifetime, just figure out what you will do next”

Ron Logsdon III

So what did I want to be when I grew up? I did not have a clue. I liked doing miniature sculptures and jewelry making. Since, I liked working with small things my parents planted the idea that I should become a dentist. This failed to take note of the fact that I HATED going to the dentist. I can think of not a single thing associated with people’s teeth and gums that appeals to me. And then there was that time that I lost consciousness when the dentist convinced me it was a little cavity and didn’t need novocaine and I woke up with a mask on my face and people standing all around me… I hate the smell of grinding enamel, the unnatural angle that one lays while having your teeth worked on, the intimacy of having someone trompsing in my mouth. Nope never going to be a dentist.

Next, I was to be a protozoologist. Again I did not have much input into my new career path, parents idea, again. I did like biology, but that is not where I was headed. In high school I took the bull by the horns and bombed my PSAT test and after that refused to consider taking the SATs. The truth is I chose a traditional career path during a very untraditional time. I was a housewife and then a mom. I took a career class at the local community college and the counselor said, “not surprising you don’t know where you are headed as you have clearly outlined being a mom is your most important role.” Good validation there. I really appreciated that.

It wasn’t until my children were in High School that I started college in earnest and eventually got my BA and then a Masters. It was a visit by two Counselor’s from the University Career Center that started me on my path to an advanced degree in Counseling with a Education emphasis. My mentor and dear friend Ron Logsdon III was my inspiration. In reflecting why I ended up there—I think it had a lot to do with having a difficult childhood and yet the schools I attended and the counselors I had never really noticed. I thought perhaps I could be the person for someone else, that I needed back then. And although my career was not a super long one I have had enough students come back and tell me what a difference I made for them— It seems I made the right choice.

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Write about your own career path or one of your ancestors

What to include

  • Any childhood ideas of what you wanted to be?
  • Any career paths you took and where they led?
  • Any brick walls or detours you took along the way?
  • Funny stories about what led you where you ended up?
  • Who inspired you?
  • Anyone else in the family that did something similar?
  • Did you end up in the career you set out to be in?

Kelly Wheaton © 2022 All Rights Reserved.

The Circle Game: Loss and Healing

Dear Readers you may be wondering where I have been. I have been wondering that too. If one has lived a half century or more one has endured loss. Sometimes the losses are monumental like death or war, and sometimes so subtle we may hardly notice them. Then one day you wake-up to the passage of time and realize all the things that have slipped away… Everyone who has lived through the last two and a half years of the Covid-19 pandemic has lived through unspeakable loss and yet we hardly let it register in our consciousness. There have been 6.4 million deaths from Covid-19 world-wide; well over 1 million in the US. Many fundamentals of the way we live have shifted, and yet we barely take note.  We may telecommute, shop more online and attend more meetings remotely. and only in reflecting back three years ago to the summer of 2019 do we realize how different life was then—to what it is today. Within that backdrop, I have lost my 98 year old neighbor, friend, and mother/grandmother figure. I have become estranged from a child and I have lost a previously dear friend.

I have dealt with personal demons involving a prescription drug taken occasionally to help me sleep that turned into a nightmare. It took months for my to realize what was happening. It was only by keeping careful notes did I realize the drug was causing anxiety, sleeplessness, and other issues— which was why I was taking it in the first place! The reason it was hard to figure out was that it has such a long half life it’s a few days after taking a dose that the rebound or withdrawal happens– so no easy cause and effect. We all make missteps. No one gets by unscathed.

I find comfort in my ancestors like my 2nd great grandmother Catherine Adeline STEWART MOSIER who endured more loss than seems possible in one lifetime. And of course I have (with my cousin’s help) transcribed and illustrated my great grandmother, Mary “Lulu” PADEN MOSIER ANDERSON’s diary which covers the years 1913-1922 that are to be found as chapters of the Soprano’s Aria. After a recent trip to the library I happened upon the new novel by Isabel Allende, “Violeta.” And finally I have just finished the novel, “Lemons in the Garden of Love” by Ames Sheldon, who as it turns out, is my 5th cousin once removed on my SHELDON line. And what all these stories have in common are strong women, who have faced loss and yet they had meaningful lives. As Friedrich Nietzsche said: “What doesn’t kill me –makes me stronger.” We age, discovering new pains and new strengths, and things about ourselves that were previously unrealized.

In an age of the constant drone of helplessness and the futility of hope– it’s nice to be reminded that our kin have trod these paths before us. One of my favorite quotes:

We are all just trying to make the best of a crazy situation.

Ram Dass in “How Can I Help”

I think that sums up life rather nicely, don’t you? Over time the world keeps speeding up. Getting crazier and crazier and we humans feel we can’t cope. Climate change, Covid-19, deep political divisions tearing families apart, gun violence in the US; and an increase in fascism around the globe with a concordant contraction of personal freedom. And here in America, especially for women, a turning back of the clock that our mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers worked so hard to achieve. Equality and body autonomy just ripped away, couched as a religious right to life, is really the destruction of freedom for all those born female. As a woman, the world looks more and more like the dystopian world of Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale.”  

While we have never had more women on the US Supreme Court; we also have never had a Supreme COurt justice who was also a member of a religious pseudo-christian cult like the “People of Praise”. Founded in 1971 the People of Praise teach “that men have authority over their wives.” I cringe as I write the words. It is groups like the People of Praise that inspired Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” first published in 1985. Ames Sheldon credits a dream about her grandmother’s aunt in the early 60’s as the genesis of her novel “Lemon’s in the Garden of Love” which tells the fictionalized story of Blanche Ames and her work in the early 20th century for Women’s Rights especially in regard to women’s reproductive rights. The regressive movement towards earlier times, when females could not vote, had no access to birth control and males held all institutional power is not something I can sit by and idly mourn, as just another loss. A recent Emerson University poll found among women “a 10-point swing for those saying they were much more interested in voting in the midterms because of the Supreme Court’s decision compared to September. Among women aged 18 to 29, the swing increased to 20 points.” There is palpable anger and determination.

In Amanda Ripley’s recent opinion piece in the Washington Post titled “I Stopped Reading the News” (published July 8 2022) she identifies 3 things the News lacks: Hope, Agency and Dignity. It’s well worth a read. All of us, are in need of more hope, agency and dignity. Reading my great Grandmother’s diary I see how what began as the American Women’s League, an organization where women sold magazine subscriptions, led to a national network of women joined together to fight for the causes that mattered to them. Foremost was the right to vote, followed by the right to birth control. I came of age in a time when “the pill” was widely available to young women and that was followed in 1973 by the Supreme Court decision in Roe vs Wade that until recently made it possible for women to have autonomy over how and when they chose to have children. This allowed many women to escape poverty and abusive relationships. As you can read in my great grandmother’s diary, how she became a “divorced and emancipated women” at a time when a huge social stigma was attached to women choosing this path in life.

As a teenager Joni Mitchell was my favorite artist. I listened to her songs hours on end. Someone recently posted a video from the Newport Folk Festival of Joni singing the Circle Game. The chorus is worth sharing.

And the seasons, they go round and round

And the painted ponies go up and down

We’re captive on the carousel of time

We can’t return, we can only look

Behind, from where we came

And go round and round and round, in the circle game

Joni Mitchell

Putting difficult experiences in writing; that is hope and agency. In writing, we give ourselves and our readers their dignity. There is so little in life that is not bettered by the collective experience– the knowing that others feel the same way, that our paths are not new. That is the reason to explore the lives of our ancestors and actively work in the present– to prepare for the future. Women’s greatest successes have been accomplished via their natural talent for networking, collaborating and shared sacrifice. We can meet each loss with the mourning that is its due—but then we must pick up our hope AND our agency and get to work.

A recent example is a teen named Olivia Julianna, 19, who heard Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz’s speech arguing “women who are worried about dwindling abortion access are too unattractive to become pregnant.” She used it as an opportunity to raise $1.9 million and counting for the Gen-Z for Choice Abortion Fund. ( This fund splits all donations evenly among 50 local abortion funds across the United States.) The organization is a “youth-led nonprofit working to educate our generation and create tangible change on issues that disproportionately affect young people.” That is Agency! That is Hope! Give women their Dignity! Things may look bad—but we CAN make it better.

Kelly Wheaton © 2022 All Rights Reserved.

A Love Letter to Young Genealogists

Dear Young Genealogist,

Once upon a time I was you. I always had an interest in the past and unlike many of my peers I enjoyed hanging out with old people (gray haired retirees). I liked their stories and their points of view. I tried to imagine living through life without cars and planes and coming from places far away beyond American shores. Other than looking at old photographs and family heirlooms my earliest recollection of a true genealogy pursuit was in 6th grade when we were asked to create a family tree and then later to do a report on a country from which our ancestors came. Mine was on Sweden, but at the time I had no idea exactly where in Sweden my ancestors were from. But I also remember feeling uncomfortable for my younger brother who was adopted and did not know his true family tree. Always be sensitive to those with less information than you. We all start in different places on our journeys.

My real pursuit of genealogy happened when I was 17 and read a Family Circle magazine article. And that was over 50 years ago. I have written about that previously here.

Copyright Family Circle Magazine Nov 1972

Recently a very dear friend and I exchanged letters beginning over 50 years ago. Reading this one I wrote back in 1984 is very interesting regarding genealogy.

“I’ve been working on the genealogy a bit lately. Well last week I got 4 letters from my relatives giving me lots of information. One from Ken, my grandmother Carrie’s brother. He traced the HENAGERs back to the 1600’s in Germany. He hasn’t given me all the details as he isn’t sure which if two brothers is his grandfather. He also gave me a lots of dates and things working back to a Josiah FRANKLIN, which might be the son of Josiah FRANKLIN, Benjamin FRANKLIN’s father.” [Although this turned out not to be true.]

“Also got a letter from my great aunt and uncle (my grandfather Milo’s brother). Anyway they sent a lot of things…a copy of a letter which traces the ALLEN’s to my great-great grandmother Lucinda Mary ALLEN who is quite closely related to Ethan ALLEN.” [Also turned out not to be true].

“Also my great great grandmother Catherine (STEWART) MOSIER. She told her children that she was descended from Mary Queen of Scots. When Catherine was living in Lincoln, Nebraska she received $3,000 from a lawyer who had been searching for her. He also gave her a book on the history of the STEWART family. Eilene said her grandmother always had that book with her but unfortunately it has been lost. Anyway, I never thought that delving into my family’s past would bring up such possibilities, even if they aren’t true, which quite possibly they aren’t, it sure is fun working on the whole thing. I guess you can tell I’m excited about it.” While its not shown that we are descended from Mary Queen of Scots YDNA has proven that we are descended from the Royal STEWARTs through Sir John STEWART Bonkyll. So of these early claims half turned out to be partly true.

So that is a cautionary tale for young genealogists. Some things, especially back then, turned out to be nothing more than wishful thinking. But whether fact or fiction or something in between when you start a genealogical journey expect to be surprised, confounded and amused. If you aren’t having fun, then please reevaluate your action plan. If you are running into stuffy old gatekeepers and curmudgeons, keep reaching out until you find the relatives and genealogists willing to help and maybe even mentor you. They are a godsend. Please remember to say thank you. It goes a long way and is sometimes forgotten in the age of instant gratification.

Your relatives and progeny will appreciate your journey as you discover your family’s past. Don’t forget you are part of a very old story. And I am sure young genealogists have lots to teach us oldsters, as well. We bridge the age gap and make the world a better place. And if you indulge me just a bit more—please focus on the stories. They are the most important things you may hear—you may not know it at the time—but trust me every one you record will be a gift to future generations.

Love to you all—and may you be blessed with many stories…Special hello to Daniel Loftus and Gen_Z Genealogy.

Kelly Wheaton © 2022 All Rights Reserved.

Mundane to Profane: Writing our Own Stories

“Sadness is but a wall between two gardens.”

Kahlil Gibran

I have suffered in my life, but I have always diminished that suffering by comparing it with that of others; finding it not so bad as theirs and not worthy of memorializing. The truth is when we tell our stories it can make our friends and family uncomfortable. It can make us uncomfortable. That’s why we tend to shy away from immortalizing those stories. Yesterday, while talking to genealogy friends we were talking about all of the stories that are lost because no one records them. From the mundane to the profane, history forgets. And these days we have such short memories. Whether blessing or curse my memories and the stories I tell about them have become a curse. Perhaps not rising to the level of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but certainly on the spectrum of trauma that sets you up for lifelong triggers and maladaptive responses. But all stories can be re-written.

The latest shooting of children by a gunman in Uvalde, Texas makes me think of all the children and families which will relive that day every time something triggers that memory. Every person alive will respond in different ways to National tragedies like the shooting of President Kennedy, the Challenger disaster, 911 or the latest mass shooting. Each of these traumas affects us depending on our temperament, our proximity and our ability to compartmentalize tragedies that are beyond our control. Today is Memorial Day. The day to remember those that died in the service of their country. It has morphed into a remembering of all of our dead. Perhaps that makes it more palatable, not to remember specifically those slaughtered in war, but to remember all that we have lost.

I wrote about my name and the process I had gone through to reframe the discomfort it caused. Writing can be a process of healing. We take something tragic and try to find a way to bring something good to come out of it. With all that is threatening us in the world from the War in Ukraine to global warming, it becomes increasingly more difficult to find peace and happiness. We focus on the positive, on what we can control and the goodness we can find, whether a flower pushing itself up through cracked pavement or the delight of watching young squirrels chase each other round a tree trunk. Life goes on in spite of unspeakable tragedy. Writing is a way of recording the past but it can also be an instrument of healing.

“We read to know we are not alone”– William Nicholson wrote in his play Shadowlands. We write to connect our past with our present, and perhaps to touch someone in the future. It is our act of hope that something we record will resonate with someone who needs to read it. I told this story to a couple of friends just yesterday. It records a painful incident from twenty years ago that was echoed in something that happened a few days ago. It is a small thing but emblematic of how sometimes it’s family that strikes the cruelest of blows.

I was reminded of a time after my Dad died and my mother had returned from a trip to Costa Rica. My brother was at her house and I had brought her flowers. My Mom says to me, ” Kelly, put them in that vase right there.” Then she adds, “Isn’t that a beautiful vase is that your brother gave me.” I say, “Mom, I gave you that vase for Mother’s Day. I bought it at Macy’s when I was shopping for a wedding gift” She argues with me and I take and turn the crystal vase upside down and it still has a Macy’s sticker on it. Silence. My brother does not say, “Mom I didn’t get that for you.” My Mom does not say, “I am sorry I forgot.” Then Mom says, “Kelly get me the paper bag on the dining table, which I dutifully retrieve. Then she directs me to give it to my brother which I do. Inside are gifts for my brother from Costa Rica. There is nothing for me, and that is her point.

So why share something so personal and painful? Why hang out our dirty laundry for the world to see? For me it is many things. It is an act of courage and defiance. While I have relieved that painful memory recently when something similar caused it to resurface I can choose whether to tell the story as the victim or as a badge of courage. Nietzsche wrote “Out of life’s school of war—what doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger.” We hear the shortened version often.

“What doesn’t kill you makes me stronger.”


None of us gets through life unscathed. Luck, circumstance, genetics, trauma— the cauldron of life is not the same for each of us. Sometimes life is unspeakably cruel in ways that are difficult to give voice to. From seemingly random tragedies, like gun violence, to the ravages of cancer or chronic illness. We cannot make sense of it. But I do know, at pivotal moments we have an opportunity to record the comedies, histories and the tragedies of our lives and those that came before us. They will not always be pretty and they may sometimes be painful, but they are the authentic stuff of life. The more we uncover the family stories of our ancestors–the more we realize we are not alone. Families are messy. They are full of joy and sorrow. And for many they do not appear in equal measure and yet we endure, we survive and occasionally we triumph. I think of the movie: ” As Good As it Gets” and I have to smile. Sometimes just being able to tell a painful story or step on a crack makes us the hero of our own story. For me there is a release in setting the story free. I don’t have to remember it and I can change it as I see fit. I invite you dear reader to do the same. Whether you share your stories or not, write it down. Give it a voice.

Kelly Wheaton ©2022 All Rights Reserved

Can Ancestry’s Ethnicity Breakdown get any Worse?

Sadly the answer is yes, for me. You may wish to look at this blog post first, that I did back in April 2022. First off let’s look at April’s version versus the new one.

Compare that with the newest one two month later

First off they have changed the colors so that may make it tough to follow. I have ascribed the maternal side as the green (Sweden Denmark) Teal (Norway). Now the purples are showing as German and Finnish. Okay on paper this is my paper ancestry:

55% British, Scottish, Irish

18% German, French, Swiss

19% Swedish

6% Norwegian

2% Other

I, as I have often explained have one 100% Scandinavian grandparent who is 3/4 Swedish and 1/4 Norwegian. And yet my Ancestry DNA “estimate” shows my total Scandinavian as 48% of my DNA. Which means I only got 2% of my DNA from my maternal grandmother which I know via matches and segment painting is false. So I am here to remind you again to take these estimates with a pound of salt.

Furthermore, My Maternal side is not where my German comes in, that’s heavily from my father’s side and I have the matches to prove it. In actuality the first iteration is closer to the truth than the second. And neither of them give me any confidence at all in these new “estimates” which are at best parlor game material. My guess is they are highly influence by most recent ancestry from an area. My Scandinavian ancestors immigrated to the US in 1850-1870’s. My English as far back as 1620. Most of my German ancestry is from the early 1700’s. It just isn’t possible for these wide swings in ancestry to be real. There is something seriously wrong with the algorithms. If we have had some swings and misses Ancestry struck out here. Below is my breakdown from 23andme which is much closer to reality.

23andme’s breakdown

Remember you mileage may vary. Often these estimates get better over time but for me Ancestry just gets worse and worse. I really couldn’t believe how bad this was….

Kelly Wheaton ©2022 All Rights Reserved.

Heirlooms: The Family Bible & a Lundberg Coincidence

Early on in my genealogy career I sought after the family bibles of various members of my family and my husband’s as well. I was able to photograph a couple and there were a few more whose existence was talked about, but they had mysteriously disappeared. The ones I did photograph– were over 50 years ago– before I had much idea what I was doing. I am glad to have what I have although where those bibles ended up, I am not sure.

Roys Sidney Sheldon’s Confirmation Bible

I only have one Bible that previously belonged to a family member [photo above] and it was pictured in my last blog post. That’s what got me thinking about bibles and the treasure that they are. The one I have belonged to my grandfather Roy Sidney Lundberg and as it turns out it was given to him by his paternal grandparents Johan Solomon Lundberg and his wife Anna Olofsdotter who immigrated to America in April of 1880 with their five children. This family is my most recent immigrant family.

23 Apr 1880 Gothenburg Sweden Passenger Departure List

The following is a photo of the inscription of Roy’s confirmation Bible. The date of publishing is 1903 in Orebo, Sweden and as you can see given in 1905.

Inscription from Roy’s Bible

Transcription: Ett minure från farfar och farmor till Roys Sidney Lundberg På hans confirmation day 11 Juni 1905 i Bethania Kyrken af 22nd gatan & 36th ave söder Minneapolis Minn. Lâs flitigt i desna bok. Sôk först efter Guds rike och hans rättfärdighet så faller diy allt annat till.

Translation: “A token from [paternal] grandfather and grandmother Lundburg to Roy Sidney Lundberg on his confirmation day 11 June 1905 in Bethania Church corner of 22nd street & 36th ave south Minneapolis Minn. Read this book frequently. Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. Everything else will fall into place when the timing is right.”

Well just after I started this blog post i got an invitation from a distant cousin in Sweden Casja Lundburg to a new group for our Lundberg family on Facebook. Whereupon another cousin posted this lovely painting that was likely done in remembrance of Johan Soloman Lundberg’s Parents Johan Petter Lundberg and Catharina Jacobsdotter’s marriage. They the great-grandparents of Roy Sidney Lundberg and parents of his grandparents who gave him the bible!

Photo of Painting by Erik Feldt used with permission

A heartfelt thank you to Erik Feldt who not only gave permission to use the photo but also provided the following transcription and translation:

The text in archaic Swedish:

Jag eder ständig wälgång önskar

O må ni allltid lycklig bli

Må eder framtidsbana grönska

Och gledje blomsterstrå er stiga

Må ni många sälla dagar levfa

Med lugn och gledje intill varandras bröst

Och älskade barn er ömt omgifva

Med gledje uppå åldrens höst

In English it should be something like this:

I wish you constant prosperity

And may you always be happy

May your future path flourish

And joy like flowers rise

May you live many cheerful days

With calm and joy next to each other’s chest

And surrounded by beloved children

With happiness in the autumn of your age.

Rebuilding a Family History

It drives home the point that we all have bits and pieces of the family puzzle that get passed down through various branches of a family. Sometimes when we are lucky those pieces are shared and we all become the richer for that sharing. In that regard my earlier piece on the Misattributed Heirloom is another part of the story.

Kelly Wheaton © 2022 All Rights Reserved