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.

2018 A Year in Review and What’s Coming in 2019

I had great plans for 2018.  I finished up the last three sets of 4th great-grandparents’ posts which I had started in 2017 under the 52 Ancestors banner. I continued to do my monthly posts for The Slave Name Roll Project up until my much-needed break in October.

I took on the huge project of analyzing the census record of my 5th great-grandfather James SIMS and each of his sixteen children. The project became Rewriting the Biography, an ongoing theme for the rough draft notes of a new/updated biography of my 5th great-grandfather James SIMS (1754-1845) of Nicholas County.

I’ll continue the theme during 2019 although likely not regularly. I have not even begun to work with the huge collection of books and papers which were sent to me several years ago by Rose Mary Sims Rudy.

Posts in 2018

I wrote only 50 posts during 2018, down from 88 in 2017 and 129 in 2016. An average of about a post a week. This did not, however, have a negative effect on the stats for the year.

Total Views Increased During 2018

Traffic on my blog since I began blogging in 2014.

25,584 viewers visited my blog during 2018, a little over 5,000 more than in 2017. Total views were 44,453 up from 36,782 in 2017. Followers have increased from 397 in 2017 to 463 at the end of 2018.

Graph of 2018 by months

Views by months show a constant above 3,000 viewers per month except for November and December when I was on my break. The three best months were March, August, and October when sharing of posts in social media brought extra traffic.

Top 10 Countries in 2018

The USA remained in 1st place in 2018. Canada took 2nd place (up from 4th) and Germany remained in 3rd place.  The United Kingdom jumped up from 7th to 4th place. Luxembourg which had been 2nd every year since I began blogging in 2014 dropped down to 5th place in 2018. Australia remained in 6th place. Brazil moved back down to 7th compared to 5th in 2017 but the number of viewers is still amazing. France remained in 8th place. Ireland is new to the top 10 list of countries at 9th place pushing Belgium down to 10th place. The Netherlands is up and coming, doubling views from 2017 to 2018, but missed tying up with Belgium by 9 views.

Top 10 Posts for 2018

#1. Dear Cousin- We Have a DNA Match, Now What?
#2. How I Got My MISSING AncestryDNA Circles Back
#3. Rocking the Shared Matches on AncestryDNA
#4. How DNA Results Helped Discover Luxembourg Emigrants
#5. A Visit to the Kreisarchiv Bitburg-Prüm in Germany
#6. The Tragic Death of Phebe Sims

#7. Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: Jordan, Winny, and Thomas

#8. SOLVED – The Mystery of James C. Crouse Sr.’s Grave Marker

#9. Jordan N. PETERS’ War of 1812 Pension File is Online!

#10. Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: Hannah

It wasn’t surprising to see DNA as the subject of the top 4 posts from 2018. I was happy to see at #5 a post I wrote about visiting a German archive with my genealogy society, Luxracines. I’m especially proud of #6. My first attempt at storytelling based on facts:  a fictional version of the last day in the life of my 5th great-grandmother Phebe SIMS along with the coroner’s report which gave me a glimpse into the day. And as in previous years, two of my Slave Name Roll Project posts made the top 10. The list was rounded out with a solved mystery and an 1812 pension file.

What’s Coming in 2019?

Should I set goals for genealogy research in 2019? I think not. I’m going to take it as it comes, working on whatever needs to be researched, reviewed, or updated. No resolutions and no promises except first up will be a post on why I’ve been missing in action since end October.

Happy New Year to all my readers!

Thank you to all of my readers and followers for making 2018 a great year! I loved seeing traffic to my blog even when I was not blogging during the past two months.

Happy New Year 2019 and, as always, may you find new keys to open the doors in your brick walls!

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

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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.