Category Archives: New York

Long Island, NY: A Unique Perspective

In April of this year, I had the pleasure of visiting Long Beach, Long Island, NY. It was for a reunion with an old Army Buddy from my Desert Storm Days. WE had not seen each other for almost 25 years. It was a great feeling to see my friend and to her delight she could not wait for me to see her beautiful town that she resided in called Long Beach. She took such pride in showing me around and giving me the “grand tour” of the area. Neither of us thought that only 6 months later, the whole area would be devastated by Hurricane Sandy. Please enjoy these photos from my Panasonic DMC-ZR1.
May God Grant You Peace As You View My Photos Knowing God Repairs and Heals The Broken Hearted.

Have Ship Will Travel

Coasting along an ocean and going away to a place far away.  This has got to be one of the wildest rides a person could ever experience.  Yet that is exactly what so many folks did when they emigrated to the United States.  While America was yet in its infancy, we had open ports bringing  people that would make this the greatest nation on earth. I have a photography collection of some of those ships that came into our harbors and brought with it my ancestors.  I thought you might  like to go for a ride with me and enjoy my photos.  I collected the pictures because they made me imagine what it must have been like to have been on one of them. I was able to feel my ancestors’ stories as I gazed at these ship photos.  It was like the TITANTIC movie in my mind, but my ancestors were on these various ships and their stories came alive within the imagination of my mind:






I hope you could imagine  those  sailing away and going out to sea as you looked upon these photos. Until my next installment I guess I will say BON VOYAGE! Please make sure you take a moment also and go see my Facebook Page on my ancestors.  I named it in honor of one of my gramps!  Consider liking the page so you can get my posts in your facebook newsfeeds:

Primary Source

Today’s installment will begin with an update.  If you have been following along , you know that my stepdad Roy requested me to find his family.  It was a huge success.  I am now committed as a faciltator in bringing them together after an an amazing 78 year lapse. I have communicated personally with Roy’s half brother and sister and also cousins that are now interested in a reunion. They have never met each other.  All of this was made possible by my research from the 1940 census and .  As you can imagine they are very interested in meeting yet there are jitters in regards to finally coming face to face with  relatives you have never met.  Communication is much different for their  generation than ours.  As my 90 year old step dad Roy would say, “We are not used to things so fast like the current generation.”  So for now as of this writing a first meeting is set up for October.  What’s a couple of months? Right?  I will just say I am chomping at the bit!

Below is a picture of their  grandfather Will Fulmer from Alabama who died in 1901:

Will Fulmer. He was married three times and managed to outlive them all and still died a young man in his 40’s.

Here also is a link to Roy and his siblings’  father who died in 1967 with additional pictures that I posted on his memorial–

My second update is on my Dunbar line from Kentucky.  This particular family line is from my father’s maternal side.  My cousin Sandra who lives in Kentucky and myself have been conducting a thorough study of our Dunbar ancestors.  We have run into road blocks along the way, but recently discovered a  primary source document from our cousin Linda. Primary source documents are papers that were created at the time of the event.  Linda volunteers her time in studying her ancestors as well as helping others.  In some loose papers that originated in what we believe to be the Caldwell county courthouse in Princeton, Ky where my ancestors were from some of their naturalization paperwork was found.  We are still working to corroborate the information but it indeed looks like citizenship paperwork for our great great great grandfather and his father.  I know the Dunbars came from Ireland, but this is the first time we have been made aware of their port of entry. It appears that the Dunbars actually came through Buffalo, New York in 1830!  In researching this incredible find,  its possible the actual ship that they were on may have come through a  port in Canada.  They would have then had to walk to America by way of  Niagara Falls across a bridge.  In the 1830’s there were no “borders” where you would have your passport checked.  YOU just walked until you got where you wanted to go.

As you read the following document be aware that Ireland was under Great Britian’s rule and my ancestors had to renounce any obligations to the monarchy at that time who just so happened to be Queen Victoria:

This document appears to be written by someone in the court system in Kentucky and then signed by my ancestor.

As I read through this important document many more questions popped into my head.  I have a ways to go to fully understand my Dunbar line and some of these thoughts came up and I believe if you are a family researcher yourself you might find  this to be helpful:

1.  After obtaining such documents as above-make notes and evaluate the results of this new information.

2.  Ask yourself does this new information answer original questions for you or does it conflict with what you may all ready have or know?

3.  If new information conflicts with existing information, you will have to decide which, if either, piece of information is more likely to be accurate. Is one from a primary source and the other from a secondary source? Is one from a more authoritative or believable source? The more time you spend doing genealogical research, the more skillful you will become in deciding these difficult questions.

A third update comes all the way from Belguim.  My husband’s family members have all shown interest in the studys I have conducted on their ancestors in particular two cousins of my husbands. They emailed me that they were going on a business trip to Europe and indicated to me that they may look for their grandpa’s home.  Their gramp DeSomer emigrated at the age of four with his family from Belgium to Ellis Island in 1913.  We found primary source emigration documents that revealed an address in Antwerp, Belguim that could lead to a 100 year mystery of where my husband’s grandfather’s family lived.  It was all a long shot for sure.  Here are the documents that our cousins had in their possession:

You will see on line 27 our grandpa Alexander DeSomer who was four years old and if you look straight across above to line 20  where Alex’s dad’s name is which is Alfred, you will see his fatherinlaw’s address written.  It was quite a surprise to me that this was on the document, but there it was to my delight.  In followup with my husband’s cousins they were able to make it to Belguim but ran out of time to really conduct a thorough research of this area.  In my mind though it is just such a success that they made it to Belguim to see the countryside that they originated from…What enjoyment and deep satisfaction there is in walking on the soil of where some of your ancestors came from.  I appreciate the fact they contacted me and had a heart to make the attempt to follow through.  I do want to make a shout out to them on here: Adam and Bob you made my day in just contacting me on your expressed desires to find your ancestors.  Bob is the editor of Arizona Highways if anyone of you readers enjoy great photos and stories follow along with him at  .

Here are a few pictures of the ship that gramp DeSomer came on called the U. S. S. Finland:

USS Finland in all its glory.

Here is a second shot of the U. S. S. Finland after it was utilized in WWI and damaged:

As I love the storys of emigration and the great ships that our families came on I also would like to share with you a great family adventure you could have if you live near an area that does this.  The Navy is known for showing off its ships in different areas of the country..Here is a link to check this out and if you live in Seattle or Milwaukee you definitely want to look at the dates for this:

As I close out today’s blog entry I want again to thank you for following along and reading.  I hope you have also enjoyed the actual documents and pictures I have shared with you . Until next time here are a few more ships our ancestors came on:

The first ship is the Rhatia that great great Opa Voy travelled on from Germany and the second ship is the sailing ship the Dorette that our great great grandpa Kreklow travelled before he moved to Fort Atkinson, WI. Grandpa Voy also live in WI as well as Chicago, ILL.

I want to thank my resources that are my genealogical buddies throughout the country,my family, and the armed forces, and you my readers who follow along with me on my journey.  Until next time..

I took this picture in April 2012 after my recent New York trip. This is in the cemetery of St. Paul’s Church-one of the oldest churches in Manhattan.

Saving SGT Vandorsten

In a recent visit to New York, my girlfriend and I were riding a bus in lower eastside Manhattan back to our hotel. We met two elderly women that voluntarily discussed the history of New York with us. Without constraint, they seemed to be in a dueling match for our attention. It was without a doubt the best 30 minutes I had ever spent on a bus ride. We were in attendance of a Joe Frazier/Muhammad Ali–esque moment characterized by two passionate and knowledgeable women talking about their beloved city.

It was a whimsical time with these two elderly women. My friend and I made subtle glances to each other enjoying the ladies trying to out do the other on their vast knowledge of New York. We benefited immensely from the experience. At one point we passed a university that one of the women excitably said, “thats Cooper Union!” I immediately gazed at the building in uninformed wonderment.

Cooper Union was established in 1859 by Peter Cooper. Mr. Cooper made sure if you were a student at his college, you attended free. He went one step further and opened it to women and people of color. He was a stong opponent of slavery and also had a great love for native American Indians. In fact , Cooper Union University played a pivotal role in Abraham Lincoln’s quest to become president. The Great Hall in the basement of Cooper Union was where President Lincoln laid down the ground work for his view against slavery. It was also the place where Senator Stephen Douglas spoke that states should have the right to govern themselves in respect to slavery.

As we all ponder the studies of this time period we all learned as students in school about many unnamed young men who volunteered 150 years ago for the civil war. Most people today don’t know personally of a family member that fought in that war unless you have studied your roots. In my genealogy research, one of my biggest breakthroughs came when I found a great great uncle of my father in laws that fought in this war.

This gentleman was First SGT Cornelius Vandorsten who was in Company E of the 120th Ohio Volunteer infantry. Cornelius lost his life in Louisiana killed in action on August 10, 1864. This army was one of many volunteer armies that President Lincoln called for to bring about the end of the war.

It was through finding and saving SGT Vandorsten’s legacy that I was empowered. It was then I was able to unleash my resources to find my connections in our family. You see Cornelius was the link between finding his brother our great , great grandfather and then their father. We were lost in our study of family and had not had a breakthrough if we had never found SGT Vandorsten. The records of the civil war made it possible. It was through his volunteerism and his loss of life, we found many other family members.

All of this goes to say how important volunteerism is on many levels. The genesis of my blog began with two women sharing their stories freely about New York, then to finding out about free education in New York at an amazing university. This then led to discovering our ancestor Cornlius Vandorsten who fought freely in the civil war. The story does not end their because when we found our civil war veteran, we found many other family members from his time period. May we never forget how to give freely of ourselves as so many before us have done so that we can live the life we lead today.

Here are the links that document our ancestory SGT Cornelius. Why don’t you go now to read about him and discover a part of history that has come alive for me:

then the following link is more documentation of saving SGT Vandorsten’s legacy where he is buried at:


This ends my third installment. May we all remember our fallen heros – our soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice….

I also want to give special recognition to my friend and expert genealogist , Janice Smarr,  who has helped me with a majority of my research.  She has taught me so much and I consider a privilege to call her my friend.