2017 A Year in Review and What’s Coming in 2018

I can’t resist numbers and statistics. On June 8th I reached a milestone when the counter on my blog reached 100,000 views since I began blogging in January 2014. Another milestone came in December when I published my 500th post.

Content in 2017

The year 2017 was dedicated to my children’s 5th great-grandparents who were featured under the theme of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – a challenge initiated by Amy Johnson Crow in 2014. If you’ve been wanting to “do something” with your genealogy, but it feels overwhelming, Amy will be sending out prompts in 2017.

As these ancestors were for the most part from Luxembourg, hundreds of civil and parish records were consulted. Because of this time-consuming research, I did not fulfill my goal of completing the series in time for the New Year. Three sets of great-grandparents’ stories will be written during the month of January 2018.

As a service to the African American community, I met my goal of writing one post a month for The Slave Name Roll Project.

The Old Photographs Saved from Trash Can series came to an end after the last nine posts in January through March. 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 where it is still simmering. 😉

There were also miscellaneous posts written to help other researchers including a post about Luxracines’ visit to the State Archives in Arlon, Belgium.

I wrote about one third fewer posts in 2017 as in 2016, 88 compared to 129. During 2017 the quality of the content was considered more important to me than quantity.

Total Views Remained the Same

20,442 viewers visited my blog during 2017, 58 less than in 2016 when the number was 20,500. Total views were down by a very small 263 as compared to the total of 36,782. These numbers are not the most important statistics. Nearly twice as many people are following me. An increase from 203 to 397 – which amazes me.

Top 10 Countries

Visitors came from 122 countries compared to 98 in 2016. The USA and Luxembourg remained in 1st and 2nd place. Germany and Canada switched 3rd and 4th places, Brazil moved up from 7th to 5th place, and Austria slipped by Ireland to make 10th place.

Top 10 posts during the year

  1. Step by Step Guide to Accessing Browse-only Records on FamilySearch
  2. Using the Back Door at FamilySearch for Missing Records
  3. Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: William, Mary, and Orange
  4. A Latin Rule You May Not Have Known
  5. Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING Letty, Cyrus, and Nelson
  6. Source Citation Trick for WordPress.com – HTML Code
  7. Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: Evaline (formerly seen as Evoline)
  8. Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: Mark, Mary, Jane, Dick, and Eliza
  9. Extra! Extra! Read All About It! The 1766 Luxembourg Census is Online!
  10. Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING Matt, Egg, Judge, Jinny, Jack, Rachel, Mose, Mary, George, Franky, and Wilson

Posts on finding records on FamilySearch were popular as can be seen by #1, #2, and #9 in the Top 10. Thanks to people sharing on social media, half of the Top 10 were posts for the Slave Name Roll Project. None of my 52 Ancestors posts made the Top  10. This was not a big surprise as I knew from the beginning that they were for my children and family and not intended to draw views although they received many likes and comments.

What’s Coming in 2018?

I’m going to leave this question open until my Blogiversary on January 23th. I want to finish up the planned posts on my Frisch-Huberty family of Capellen, Majerus-Cornely family of Strassen, and Trausch-Hames family of Mamer. As many of my readers know, I will be spending more time on DNA results. I am still mulling over a few ideas.

Happy New Year to all my readers!

Thank you to all my readers and followers for making 2017 such a wonderful year! Wishing you success in your genealogy research and blogging, joy and happiness in your lives.

Happy New Year 2018 and may you find new keys to open the doors in your brick walls!

bestwishescathy1© 2018, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.







2016 A Year in Review and What’s Coming in 2017

I love numbers! Once upon a time, I wanted to be a math teacher and worked as a credit analyst for a few years before becoming a stay at home Mom. I still get to play with them, in genealogy and when analyzing the stats on my blog.

Total Views

Exactly 20,500 visitors came to my blog during 2016. Total views on were 37,046 compared to 27,673 in 2015. The increase was about the same as from 2014 to 2015. If all goes well I will be celebrating 100,000 total views since I began blogging by mid-2017.

Viewers came from 98 countries compared to 84 in 2015. Below are the top 10 countries.

2016mapviewsMy top 10 posts during the year

  1. 6 AncestryDNA Notes for Easier Comparison (I reached my all-time high of 1,198 views in one day on 3 October 2016 when this was posted)
  2. How I Use and Manage AncestryDNA Notes
  3. How to Find Your 18th Century Immigrant’s Signature
  4. Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING Amy, Addison, Henry and his Enslaved Family
  5. James SIMS (1754-1845) Pioneer of Nicholas County, West Virginia (originally written in 2002, updated and re-posted in 2013)
  6. Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING Cato, Sold on Christmas Day 1821
  7. Henry RUPE’s Estate and his Widow Catherine’s Last Days
  8. 52 Ancestors: #47 Johnny CASH’s 1C5R – Kesiah LIVELY (from 2014, this posts gets lots of hits due to my famous cousin)
  9. Where I Found the Land Records of my RUPE Ancestors in Maryland
  10. Here We Go Dancing ’round the Hill

I don’t know if I should be surprised or not with the success of my two top posts. Writing posts on DNA, a subject I have only started learning about, was not planned. I haven’t done the test but have been administering my brother’s DNA results for the past seven months. There is so much I need to learn about DNA and how it will help in my genealogy research. I’d like to be able to write at least one post in 2017 about a great discovery made through DNA. Don’t we all?

The success of my posts for the Slave Name Roll Project helped me to continue searching for more names to write about each month and this will be continued in 2017.

The Old Photographs Saved From Trash Can series will soon be coming to an end. Fifty posts were written in 2016 from #37 to #84 with a couple being done in two parts. Each week I learned more about vintage photography and fashion of the era. I think this shows in the latest posts I’ve written. Before completing the series I may re-visit some of the earlier photographs which did not include descriptions.


200followersDuring the last few days of 2016, my WordPress followers went over 200. At the end of the year, I had 203 WordPress followers (compared to 126 in 2015) and 77  email followers (compared to 45 in 2015).

Top 5 Referrers

The top five referrers were Facebook, search engines, RootsWeb, Tangled Roots and Trees, and the WordPress Reader. #1 Facebook is not surprising as I use it to promote my blog. #3 RootsWeb reflects how often people view my GEDCOM file and then visit my blog. #4 is Schalene Jennings Dagutis’ blog. Without her, we would not have the Slave Name Roll Project. I get a lot of traffic from her blog since she mentioned my blog in her introduction to the project.

Search terms

Not all search engines reveal search terms due to privacy, however, it is still interesting to see what may have brought people to my blog. Many search terms are places and ancestral names.

What’s Coming in 2017?

I began blogging in January 2014 when I joined Amy Johnson Crow‘s challenge 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. In 2015 I did the 2015 Edition and by the end of the year, I had written about my children’s ancestors from their grandparents to 4th great-grandparents as well as 1/4 of the 5th great-grandparents. During 2017 I am going to do a NEW SEASON of the challenge, working on the rest of their 5th great-grandparents and posting on Fridays instead of Mondays.

Once the Old Photographs series has been put to bed, I plan to get back to doing the heirloom posts, Tuesday’s Child’s Family Heirlooms.

Happy New Year to all my readers!

Very special thanks to Amy Cohen of Brotmanblog: A Family Journey for being my most active commenter for the past two years.

Thank you to all my readers and followers for making 2016 such a great year! Wishing you success in your genealogy and blogging, joy and happiness in your lives. Happy New Year 2017!

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






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


A Résumé of Family History Month

October has been a busy month at Opening Doors in Brick Walls. A record breaking  total of 3,345 views and 1,651 visitors to the site during Family History Month. Total views since I began blogging in January 2014 went over the 40,000 mark this morning. It was a lot of work to put out 23 posts but it was worth it.

stats52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks (4 posts)

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – 2015 Edition went into the last quarter at the beginning of the month. Now three-quarters of the stories have been written and, at the same time, I’ve cleaned up my database and added sources and images for each person I wrote about.

I added a new page with a list of my children’s ancestors. I’ve written about their ancestors for the 52 Ancestors Challenge in 2014 and 2015 from generation 3, their grandparents, to generation 7 which will be COMPLETE at the end of the year. What a wonderful feeling it is to have done all of these posts in only two years.

Blogger_lu Featured My Blog During October

During the entire month Blogger_lu featured my posts on their Facebook page as part of their “Society & History” month. On Saturday the 10th my blog was introduced on the Blogger_lu Facebook page:

Opening Doors in Brick Walls is Cathy Meder-Dempsey’s digital stepping stone to share and preserve her family history research. Cathy has been blogging since January 2014, sharing weekly posts on American and European ancestors, telling the stories using documentation and photos, with the focus this year being on her families in Luxembourg. As a member of Luxracines, she has written several blogposts about the genealogy excursions taken with the club. She is especially proud of her three part blogpost on an ancestor’s slaves as it prompted the creation of the Slave Name Roll Project which has been well received by descendants of slaves and allows descendants of slave owners to share without shame or judgment the documents they find with names of slaves. With her new weekly series, Old Photographs Saved From Trash Can, she is learning about early photography and looking forward to connecting with descendants of the persons featured.

Slave Name Roll Project (7 posts)

For Family History Month I chose to do more than my once a month post of the slave names for the Slave Name Roll Project. In 7 posts I shared the names of 54 slaves, a will, 7 bills of sale, and a conclusion which I hadn’t dared come to until I had read the entire 127 images of the Chancery case in which the documents were found.

Luxracines Activity (2 posts)

Early in the month I helped my genealogy society move a library from Germany to Luxembourg and worked at the Luxracines stand during the JNGH 2015.

Old Photographs Saved From Trash Can (6 posts)

In the past month I finally got into a rhythm of posting the Old Photographs at a weekly rate. My cousin Joe Rooney sent me the entire collection and I wrote a post when I unpacked the package that came in the mail.

How To Posts (2 posts)

I love seeing “How To” posts on other people’s blogs. I’ve been using RootsWeb WorldConnect for 15 years and tried my pen at writing a How to Upload and How to Manage your family tree on the site.

More Presence in Social Media

I joined Twitter and was interviewed by Wendy Mathias for GeneaBloggers’ “May I Introduce to You.”

Just for Fun

Going full speed during October, I still had time for a just for fun post on Halloween.

What’s to Come?

I’ll be going back to regular speed until the end of the year. 52 Ancestors and Old Photographs will be coming weekly as well as a new series. Jeanne Bryan Insalaco of Everyone Has a Story suggested writing daily or weekly posts on family heirlooms and I’ve taken up her challenge to write once a week. First post will be on Tuesday.

I received Amy Johnson Crow’s 31 Days to Better Genealogy emails during the month and saved them to work through in January. I want to be able to give each day my full attention. To sign up for the daily emails please check out Amy’s post – they’re FREE!

31daystobettergenealogyWas October and Family History Month as busy for you as it was for me? I’d love to hear about it!

© 2015 Cathy Meder-Dempsey