A New Milestone for Opening Doors in Brick Walls

It’s been an amazing journey – this blogging thing. I’d been doing family history research for about twenty years when I took up Amy Johnson Crow’s challenge to write about my ancestors.

It took me until week 3 to decide to start a blog. I already had a name I’d been using for my online family tree and for my Facebook page.

I don’t know how many pages of material all of my blog posts cover. This is post #559. Ninety thousand visitors have dropped in and viewed my posts over 168,000 times during these five years.

Although the majority of my articles have been about my children’s ancestors, visitors to my blog have been more interested in other content.

All-Time Top 10 Posts and Pages

6 AncestryDNA Notes for Easier Comparison – October 2016

How I Got My MISSING AncestryDNA Circles Back – April 2018

Dear Cousin ~ We Have a DNA Match, Now What? – March 2018

How I Use and Manage AncestryDNA Notes – October 2016

James SIMS (1754-1845) Pioneer of Nicholas County, West Virginia – written in 2002 and at home on my blog since 2014

Old Photographs Saved From Trash Can – since April 2015, a page linking all posts from the series by the same name

Step by Step Guide to Accessing Browse-only Records on FamilySearch – July 2017

The Ancestors, a page linking all of my children’s ancestor posts written in the past five years, mainly for the 52 Ancestors series

52 Ancestors: #47 Johnny CASH’s 1C5R ~ Kesiah LIVELY – November 2014

About Cathy Meder-Dempsey, my “about page” last update in November 2017. Maybe I should refresh it a bit.

My Least Viewed Post

This young man was featured in Old Photographs Saved From Trash Can ~ #36 Otterbein E. PADDACK 1874-1942 on New Year’s Eve 2015 and has gotten the least amount of views of all of my posts. A grand total of 47 views compared to the 1,649 to 2,798 for the top 10 above. With a name like Otterbein Paddack, no wonder he hasn’t been Googled.

Search Terms

What brings traffic to my blog if they didn’t drop in by clicking a link shared on social media? Search terms are no longer a precise way of determining what people are searching for as they are often encrypted on the search engines. But the ones which do make the list are fun to look at.

The top search term over the years has been the blog name followed by Johnny Cash family tree. Number 3 was Verwurelter. If you don’t know what Verwurelter are then take a moment to read the only recipe post I’ve written: Family Tradition: Berliner and Verwurelter.

Luxembourg and German towns names, as well as all those surnames of ancestors, have drawn readers to my blog. One search might not have helped the person interested in a dempsey in prison in beckley wv. It makes me want to do the same search just to find out if there was a Dempsey in prison in Beckley. I’m always willing to solve a puzzle.

The person who visited looking for a naughty 50-something mother in the countryside was probably not very impressed when the search criteria turned up: 52 Ancestors: #50 My Naughty Mr. and Mrs. DEMPSEY.

Setting Goals for Year 6

As I mentioned in my first post in 2019, I’m taking things as they come this year. I’ll be working on whatever needs to be researched, reviewed, or updated. No resolutions and no promises.

Not all of my time is spent researching and writing for my blog. Three years ago the president of my genealogy society, Luxracines, asked if I would be interested in joining the committee. It’s not much work, he said.  It was more time consuming than I had thought but I will be offering my candidature for another three years when our annual meeting is held in March.

Along with spending time with family and friends, I also have a retired husband who wants to share his passion for cycling with me. He keeps me healthy since research and blogging are sedentary tasks. Riding 5,300 kilometers (3,293 miles) last year took 210 hours and that doesn’t include preparations time and after ride clean-up.  And I get my eight hours of sleep at night.

And now it’s time to light the candles.

Happy 5th Blogiversary to Opening Doors in Brick Walls. Thanks to all of you for making this such an enjoyable journey. © 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Fourth Blogiversary!

If it were not for Amy Johnson Crow and her 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge I may not have started blogging in 2014. During my first year, I wrote about my American ancestors on the paternal side of my family tree. In 2015 I wrote about my children’s European ancestors, from their grandparents to their 4th great-grandparents and continued with their 5th great-grandparents in 2017. In my last post, I finished the endeavor just in time to celebrate my 4th Blogiversary.

Four years! Sometimes it seems like yesterday and then it feels like I’ve been blogging forever. 2017 A Year in Review and What’s Coming in 2018 took care of the statistics for the past year but I left my readers hanging with the What’s Coming in 2018 question.

Although the majority of my articles have been about the ancestors, visitors to my blog have been interested in other content.

All-Time Top Posts and Pages

6 AncestryDNA Notes for Easier Comparison
James SIMS (1754-1845) Pioneer of Nicholas County, West Virginia
Old Photographs Saved From Trash Can – page
52 Ancestors: #47 Johnny CASH’s 1C5R – Kesiah LIVELY
How I Use and Manage AncestryDNA Notes
Black History Month: The Slaves of James SIMS, Part 1
Step by Step Guide to Accessing Browse-only Records on FamilySearch
About Cathy Meder-Dempsey – page
Using the Back Door at FamilySearch for Missing Records
52 Ancestors: #36 William JOHNSON Jr. 1793-1845

Top posts show people are being drawn to my blog for the how-to posts: DNA and FamilySearch. My About page, which I hope everyone visits, was updated in November 2017. James SIMS is on the list twice and – his son-in-law William JOHNSON Jr. just made it into the top 10.

What projects do I have for 2018?

Continuing Themes and Tying up Loose Ends

The Slave Name Roll Project posts will continue in 2018.

The Old Photographs Saved from Trash Can series came to an end after the last nine posts in January through March 2017. A final post, a synopsis of the family connections made during the process of writing about each of the over 150 photos was pushed off to the back burner but not forgotten. I want to get this done during the year. I have this mind mapping idea to show the connections using text and images but still working on the how to do it.

Spring Cleaning

A New Look for Opening Doors in Brick Walls in December 2016 brought a fresher look to my blog. Unfortunately, with all the research for the posts in 2017, I did not find the time to go through and fix formatting which didn’t conform to the new theme. I want to go through the old posts, fix images (too large, not centered), add footnotes to early work, add Genealogy Sketch boxes to the ancestors’ stories, and fix links in earlier posts. I am always linking back to older posts but sometimes forget old posts can also be linked forward to new content.

I’m hoping to come up with a few ideas for future posts when I check and fix the older posts.

In my last post 52 Ancestors: #47 Michel Trausch and Catharina Hames of Mamer I started using Markdown to format footnotes. This is going to be a real timesaver in future posts. I plan to go back and re-do the ones in previous posts.

DNA Discoveries

I’ve managed my brother’s DNA on Ancestry for a little over a year and a half. I’m not in the league with the genetic genealogists but I think I’m grasping it better by reading as much as possible. For the past six months a few hours a week, I’ve been setting up profiles and importing chromosome data to Genome Mate Pro. Going slow and getting it done right the first time.

So far it looks like the family tree data is matching up with the DNA results. I’m still waiting to make an earth-shattering discovery in my tree – and not in someone else’s. Why is it so easy to see the connection when it’s not your own tree? I’m not committing but I hope there will be a few DNA discoveries I can write about during the year.

Evergreen Content to be Updated

For nearly 18 years the SIMS family has fascinated me. I worked with a group of SIMS descendants in 2001-2002 per email. Everyone shared their information, photos, and documents. The result was the biography of James SIMS, Pioneer of Nicholas County, (West) Virginia, written in early 2002 with a revision in 2013. The original version has been attached to hundreds of trees on Ancestry.com.

James SIMS was the only child of Jeremiah SIMS of Culpeper County, Virginia. Many family historians have tried to prove the parents of Jeremiah were Thomas SIMS and Rebecca PETTY. But not Rose Mary Sims Rudy, one of the original members of the SIMS research group, who sent me 25 pounds of books and papers several years ago. It’s time to go through the research material to see what may have been overlooked. It’s also time to lay out and test a hypothesis Rose Mary shared with me concerning the ancestry of Jeremiah SIMS.

This should get me through the year.

Thank you to all my followers for the visits, views, likes, and encouraging comments that motivate me to continue.

© 2018, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Third Blogiversary!

ballonsodibw3rdis three years old today!

This is post #425 since I started blogging on 23 January 2014.
Over 43,000 visitors have viewed my blog 85,500 times.

congratulationsThank you very much to all my followers for the visits, views, likes, and comments that motivate me to continue.

bestwishescathy1© 2017, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.













Time Out in the Black Forest


Äuszäit ✿ Time Out ✿ Auszeit

I’ve been blogging weekly and bi-weekly since I started my blog in January 2014. One blogger I follow let her readers know she was taking a Blogpause. Another completely disappeared for several months and returned to blogging by writing a moving post about genealogy addiction. I chose to take some time off and come back with a selection of photographs from the wonderful time we had on our vacation in the Black Forest.















blackforestcollage2016Doesn’t my husband take the best photographs?


© 2016, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.











Second Blogiversary for Opening Doors in Brick Walls!

Opening Doors in Brick Walls is two years old today!

blogiversaryThis is post #306 since I started blogging on 23 January 2014. Nearly 23,000 visitors have viewed my blog over 48,600 times. Getting close to the 50,000!!

The top three countries visitors are coming from are USA, Luxembourg, and Germany.

stats2015 Thank you very much to my email followers (45), WordPress followers (135), or however you follow, for all the views, likes and comments that motivate me to continue.

© 2016 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

2015 in Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for my blog. Let me give you a few statistics first.

Total Views

Total views on my blog were about 28,000 compared to 19,000 in 2014.

I hit my all-time high of 395 views in one day on December 6th with my post Happy St. Nicholas Day – de Kleeschen kënnt op Eechternoach.

Viewers came from 84 countries compared to 68 in 2014. Most visitors came from the United States with Luxembourg and Germany not far behind.


Thank you, Amy Cohen of Brotmanblog: A Family Journey for being my most active commenter.


I now have 126 WordPress and 45 email followers.

My top 5 posts during the year

  1. Black History Month: The Slaves of James SIMS, Part 1
  2. The New FamilySearch – I’m loving it!
  3. James SIMS (1754-1845) Pioneer of Nicholas County, West Virginia
  4. Happy St. Nicholas Day – de Kleeschen kënnt op Eechternoach
  5. Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING Judy, Beck, Dick, and Mourning

It was no surprise my top post for 2015 was the first of three parts on the slaves of my ancestor James SIMS for Black History Month.

Surprisingly two posts written on a whim and at the last minute, post #2 about my loving the new FamilySearch and post #4 Santa Claus’ visit to my hometown, were in the top 5. The first got most of its traffic through Twitter while the second made our local newspaper site which linked to my post. The report asked permission in an unexpected phone call. 🙂

Post #3 is a piece I originally wrote in 2002 and added to my blog in 2014, backdated to 25 August 2013 when it was last updated.

Top 5 search terms

  1. william clonch was gunsmith in wv 1860o
  2. opening doors in brick walls
  3. why did william wilmore leave amherst county virginia in 1805
  4. wood family of monroe, greenbrier & fayette county
  5. mcgraw family of fayette county wv

Johnny Cash brought traffic to my blog with these search terms

  • johnny cash family tree
  • did johnny cash have a coisin named dodlrothy
  • who was johnny cash’s great grandfather
  • johnny cash ancestors
  • ancestry of johnny cash
  • johnny cash’s family tree
  • johnny cash 4th cousin
  • who are johnny cash’s ancestors
  • johnny cash geaneology
  • johnny cash’s relatives
  • johnny cash’s ancestors
  • johnny cash ancestry
  • johnny cash paternal ancestors
  • johnny cashs grandmother
  • johnny cash genealogy
  • johnny cash ancestors on line
  • johnny cash cousins

Click here to see the complete report.

Thank you to all my followers was making 2015 such a great year!

© 2016 Cathy Meder-Dempsey


First Blogiversary!

Nearly 20,000 views since starting to blog on the 23rd of January 2014. This will be my 160th post. [All were posted during my first year blogging but 40 were written in 2000(1), 2012(4) and 2013(35) and are seen in the archives under the date written instead of posted.]

All I wanted to do was write about my ancestors for my cousins and for Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

Thanks to everyone following my blog and those of you who have posted so many encouraging comments.blogiversary© 2015 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

The One Lovely Blog Award – I’m flattered

My first blog award! I’m flattered that I was nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award by Beverly McGowan Norman of Roots, Branches, and a Few Nuts.

Here are the rules for this award:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and link to that blog
  2. Share Seven things about yourself
  3. Nominate 15 bloggers you admire (or as many as you can think of!)
  4. Contact your bloggers to let them know that you’ve tagged them for the One Lovely Blog Award

Villmols merci, danke schön, merci beaucoup, thank you Beverly McGowan Norman of Roots, Branches, and a Few Nuts.

Seven things about me

  1. Most of the time I speak only Luxembourgish, write in English, watch (listen to) German TV, and read French and German as fluently/fast as English.
  2. I’ve logged in 5,116 kilometers (3,179 miles) on my racing bike since the beginning of the year. That’s 183 hours in the sattle! I do this to stay healthy and share a hobby with my husband.
  3. I have over 75 cookbooks. I enjoy planning and preparing 4-5 course meals. Secret to success is use the same plan several times during the year just as long as the guests are not the same!
  4. I’d have done anything to get out of physical education class in school. I’ve never been an athletic person. They put me out in right field (spot for the less talented) when my Dad talked me into joining the softball team when I was about 13. (See #2)
  5. I went to 7 schools in 4 different countries in 13 years.
  6. I love reading. I finally got a Kindle last year and it is packed with free books. As long as it is well written and interesting, I’ll read it. And the not so well written teach me not to make the same mistakes!
  7. I was a stay-at-home Mom for my two children. People did not understand how I could do such a boring thing. I get the greatest compliments about my children and it was worth it. It wasn’t boring and when they grew more independent I found more and more time for my family history.

15 Bloggers I Admire

I thought this is going to be easy but it didn’t turn out that way. I’m a new blogger and blog follower. Several are German blogs that are really worth looking into. I’m always waiting for Friday to come around for Jana and Julie’s blogs. Several of these have already been nominated by other bloggers. I didn’t see a rule about double or triple nominations so here it goes, in no particular order.

  1. The eLuceydator by Dave Lucey
  2. Jana’s Genealogy and Family History Blog by Jana Last
  3. Barbara Schmidt by Barbara Schmidt
  4. TheGenealogyGirl by Amberly
  5. Genealogy with Valerie by Valerie Hughes
  6. Julie’s Genealogy and History Hub by Julie Cahill Tarr
  7. Heart of a Southern Woman by Helen Youngblood Holshouser
  8. starryblackness by Lynne Black
  9. Vorfahrensucher by Karen Biesfeld
  10. Ahnenvorschung in OWL by Angela Schwentker
  11. We’re All Relative by Cynthia Berryman
  12. A Southern Sleuth by Michelle Ganus Taggart
  13. Bernfeld Family of Galicia & More by Rose Bernfeld’s great-granddaughter – this blog has some beautiful photos and my favorite is the header photo!
  14. DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy by Roberta Estes
  15. Michigan Family Trails by Diane Gould Hall

Contact Bloggers

I will be contacting the fifteen bloggers on my list, unless they see this post and contact me first.

Thanks again Beverly for the nomination! I’m flattered!

© 2014 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

A Family Bible, An Application for DAR, and Genealogy Networking

Rupe Bible 4
Crockett Rupe Family Bible. Photos used with permission. © Michael McGrew

For me genealogy is about sharing, giving credit and payback! This time payback went full circle with the help of social networking.

Fourteen years ago, when I first began using the internet for my genealogy research, the work done on the family of my immigrant ancestor Johan Jacob RUPP and his wife Maria Barbara NONNENMACHER appeared to be the most thoroughly done. In time I learned that there were several persons responsible for the large amount of work on the family. One of them was my friend Everette Llavon McGREW (1923-2008).

He sent me a copy of his book My Mother Was A Rupe (revised August 2000) in February 2002 to thank me for sharing information and photos of my visit to the RUPP family’s village in Northern Alsace in December 2001. In the introduction he wrote:

I must give some recognition to Linda Dickey Roop….She had done some research and we made the decision that she would, with my help, write the book. So I sent her copies of all that I had pertaining to the family…..she sent me a rough draft for me to read, update, correct and comment. I did that immediately and returned same to her. Linda died in September 1994 from a fast growing cancer at the age of 51, without publishing the book, so I am attempting to take it from there.

So much of the history and genealogy have been lost forever, and I have not found another book written about our family, are the reasons that I am trying to write this book in order to preserve the small amount that I have found. Yes, there will be errors and omissions and I welcome each and everyone who sees something wrong to please let me hear from you in order that I can place it in an addendum to the book and make it a more complete product. I would love to spend the remainder of my days trying to make it perfect, but since we never know how many days we have left in this life, I think it is time to publish and get something about our family before the public now. I am not copyrighting this because I want to share and make available to all; therefore, if you feel the urge to take any or all of it in order to publish a more complete book, lots of luck.

Also my wife should be given some credit for the book because she allowed me to make trips (mostly to Virginia) to gather data from other Rupe descendants, libraries, courthouses, and cemeteries. She also let me spend many hours in my “computer room” when I really should have been going for groceries, digging in flower beds, running the sweeper, etc., because she had polio in 1950 and has been in a wheelchair ever since that time.

Everette loved his family. He was so thrilled when his first great-grandson was born in 2006 on his wife’s birthday and saddened that she did not live to share his joy. When his second great-grandson was born in 2007 he wasn’t disappointed that his birthday was missed by a few days. He had two great-grandsons to keep the McGrew name going and he was happy.

This year I got the chance to pay Everette back for sharing his research with me.

In April Anita Lavender Daniel messaged me through ancestry.com. She was assisting her best friend Patty Meyers Royal with documentation required to join the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) on the service of her 4th great-grandfather William McALEXANDER. They had most everything she needed with the exception of the generation of Isabelle RUPE, daughter of Crockett RUPE and Poratha McALEXANDER, and husband J. F. JOHNSON.

Anita wanted to know if Isabell’s date of death was in “my” Rupe Bible. She had seen the following statement in my gedcom file:

Crockett Rupe Family Bible. Photos used with permission. © Michael McGrew

My mother….gave me the large, crumbling Rupe Family Bible (1875 Edition) which contained data on her grandfather, Crockett Rupe, and his children. I never asked her where she got it.

I hadn’t worked on the ROOP/RUPE family for a while but knew that my friend Everette Llavon McGREW (1923-2008) was the only person who had ever mentioned a Bible to me. Unfortunately Everette had passed away and I didn’t have a contact address for any of his children.

After a week of trying to find an address or email address I took more drastic measures – I friended Mike McGREW and his daughter Erin on Facebook and hoped that one of them would accept. Everette was such a kind man, I was sure that his children and grandchildren were the same and would help if only I could get in touch.

Erin was the first to send a message asking how she could help. I explained that I was acting as a go-between for a genealogist who was interested in her grandfather’s family Bible. She didn’t know anything about it and passed the message on to her Dad. I hoped that the Bible hadn’t gotten “lost” after Everette’s death.

Within two days I had four new friends on Facebook.

Anita wrote, “DAR will accept scanned copies of Bible pages if they are readable and submitted with a copy of the front page of the Bible that shows date of publication.”

Mike messaged me, “Unfortunately the cover and title pages are missing. I’ll take pictures of the Bible and maybe that will suffice.” Mike scanned and photographed the Bible, emailed the files to me, and I forwarded them to Anita and Patty.

Rupe Bible 1
Crockett Rupe Family Bible. Photos used with permission. © Michael McGrew
Rupe Bible 2
Crockett Rupe Family Bible. Photos used with permission. © Michael McGrew
Rupe Bible 3
Crockett Rupe Family Bible. Photos used with permission. © Michael McGrew

“I think these pages along with what I already have will give me enough proof to link all the generations.  I know Patty appreciates it as well.  I will be seeing her soon and will give her a copy of the Bible pages.  This will be a treasure to hand down to her grandchildren,” Anita wrote and thanked me for all my help.

Patty’s application was submitted after the chapter board met in late June. On August 19th Anita let me know that Patty’s DAR application was approved and she was awaiting assignment of her national number to make it official!

Everette Llavon McGrew and Patty Meyers Royal are 2nd cousins 1 time removed.  Their common ancestors are Crockett RUPE and Poratha McALEXANDER. Everette who had a deep appreciation of his ancestors’ lives would have been proud to be a part of helping his cousin Patty in her endeavour to prove her lineal, bloodline descent from their common ancestor William McALEXANDER (1744-1822) who assisted in achieving American independence.

Crockett Rupe Family Bible. Photos used with permission. © Michael McGrew
Crockett Rupe Family Bible. Photos used with permission. © Michael McGrew
Crockett Rupe Family Bible. Photos used with permission. © Michael McGrew
Crockett Rupe Family Bible. Photos used with permission. © Michael McGrew


















© 2014 Cathy Meder-Dempsey