Hitting the Lotto – Family History Style

Over the last several years, I have reconnected with many of my Montoya uncles, aunts and many cousins.  Most of them I barely know – some of them I have never met – most live in Utah and California.  One of my younger cousins (everyone is younger than me these days), Syndi, set up a family group page for us on Facebook.  There we have shared our lives with each other – told family stories – and exchanged family pictures.  We are all the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Jose Celestino Montoya – and we share his common ancestry.  In this family line there is a real interest in learning about our family heritage – I wish it were so easy with every family line!  I am planning a trip to Utah next year where we are hoping to organize a family reunion.  Really looking forward to that.

This brings me to the point of this short little entry – you just never know when a brick wall will fall, when you find a new document or story, or when a new and spectacular photograph of your ancestors will surface.  While cleaning and sorting through some things at her mother’s house, my cousin, Melissa, found this old photograph tucked away in the pocket of an old jacket.  Thinking perhaps that the younger man was our grandfather, Joe C. Montoya, she posted it on the family page on Facebook for identification.  I immediately recognized the woman as being Juana Martinez Montoya, my great-grandmother.  Sure enough – according to the writing on the back of the photo the people in the photo are:  Juana Martinez Montoya and Maximiano de Herrera Montoya (my great-grandparents) and their youngest son, Raymundo Montoya.  Raymundo died in 1939 at the age of 20 years – which dates the photo prior to 1939 (probably taken in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico).

I love this photo so much because it is only the second photograph that I have seen of my great-grandparents.  As my father aged, he looked just like Max does in this photo. (I inherited those great big giant ears too.)  When I look at the face of my son – I see these men in him.  After receiving the photograph – I walked around with a giddy grin on my face for days.

A huge thank you to my family – and especially Melissa – for your willingness to share what you know and what you have.  Together we are weaving our family story.


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Posted by on August 22, 2015 in Montoya


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~ Husbands Coming out of the Woodworks ~

One of the lessons that I’m learning in my family research is that you never really know everything there is to know about an ancestor – and you cannot make assumptions! And just when you think you know it all – a new record collection pops up on line to shed new light on the life of someone that you’re researching.

Sallye Emeline Curbow – photo perhaps taken at Sanatorium

And so it was recently with my husband’s great aunt, Sallye Emeline Curbow.   Sallye is the daughter of Charles Franklin Curbow and Ida Bell Howard. She was born in Denton County, Texas in September of 1913. Once her parents divorced, she can be found with her father Charles working at the Texas State Tuberculosis Sanatorium in Tom Green County, Texas.   I was unable to locate a Sallye Curbow in the 1940 census – but suspected that she would be near her father Charles – who was still in Sanatorium during that time period. Going through the census for Tom Green County, line-by-line, I did find a Salle E. Ivie employed at Sanatorium. She is 26 born 1914 in Texas; she is married to John H. Ivie; living in Dorm 2 of State Tuberculosis Sanatorium. I had long suspected this was Sallye Emeline Curbow; however, I had no proof of it.

Enter the new collection on   U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 which provides information filed with the Social Security Administration through the application process and sometimes provides valuable details for researchers.   In Sallye’s application, I hit the jackpot because when she applied for a Social Security card in August of 1943 – she did so as Sallye Emilline Ivie. Bingo! By June of 1953 her name had been changed to Sallye Emilline Lawson.

Once the marriage to John Henry Ivie had been established, I began scouring the newly updated Texas, County Marriages Records database on and lo and behold, I found not one marriage record – but two marriages for Sallye Curbow prior to her marriage to Frank Floyd Lawson (the only known husband to date).

  • Sallye Curbow was 17 years old when she married 23 year old Sam Barton Collier on 11 Sept 1930 in Tom Green County, Texas. Since she was a minor, her father C. F. Curbow gave permission for the marriage to take place.   This couple did divorce – and Sam B. Collier married his second wife, Mary Velma Lewis, on 2 Sept 1936 in Tom Green County, Texas – so the divorce took place prior to that date – and probably in Tom Green County, Texas. Mr. Collier was also present at Sanatorium and working as a painter during the 1930 census period, and this is presumably where he met Sallye. Mr. Collier was born to William Christopher Collier (1859-1932) and Virginia Lee (b. 1871) on 16 Jul 1907. He died 23 Aug 1968 in Dallas County, Texas. Sallye and Sam had no children.

Marriage Certificate: Sallye Emeline Curbow x Samuel Barton Collier


  • Sallye Curbow was about 26 years old when she married 18 year old John Henry Ivie on 18 Jan 1940 in Tom Green County, Texas. Likewise, this couple also divorced. When Sallye applied for a Social Security card in Aug of 1943, she did so as Sallye Emeline Ivie. John Henry Ivie marries his second wife, Dortha B. White on 2 Apr 1945 – so the divorce would have taken place prior to this date – probably in Tom Green County, Texas. Mr. Ivie was also present at Sanatorium during the 1940 census period, working as a waiter, and again, this is presumably where he met Sallye. Mr. Ivie was born to Knox Bell Ivie (1894-1978) and Mary Cammie Conner (b. 1897) on 14 Oct 1919 in Angelina County, Texas. He died 18 March 1985 in Tom Green County, Texas. Sallye and John had no children.

Marriage Certificate: Sallye Emeline Curbow x John Henry Ivie


The photo comes from researcher Ronald James Rodgers. He states that John Henry Ivie was his uncle. His family told him that the photo is John with a “girlfriend” named Lola (last name not known). I strongly believe the woman in the photograph is Sallye Emeline Curbow. What do you think?!


This picture (though not great quality) was originally thought to be Sallye with her husband Frank Lawson. Now I feel like it’s probably young Mr. Ivie. What do you think?

  • Sometime prior to June of 1953, Sallye married her third (and final) husband, Frank Floyd Lawson. The date of marriage is only an ESTIMATE – based on Sallye’s U.S. Social Security application where in Jun of 1953 her name is listed as Sallye Emilline Lawson. When Mary Curbow interviewed Bob and Evelyn Horton Stone (close friends of Sallye’s) some years ago, they stated that Sallye and Frank married right after World War II. On Frank Lawson’s U.S. Army enlistment papers – dated 6 Mar 1942 – he lists himself as “married,” this however, could be referring to his first wife, Josephine.  The location of the marriage is not known – no record has been located.  If the marriage took place in Tom Green County, Texas then it is not appearing in the database with the other two marriages.  The more likely scenario is that they met and married in Pecos, Reeves County, Texas – where Sallye is living at the time of her father’s death in August of 1955.   Mr. Lawson is the only husband that is not located in Sanatorium, Texas – which also leads me to believe she did not meet him there. Mr. Lawson was born to Frank Isaac Lawson (1888-1973) and Annie Josephine Drake (1895-1982) on 24 Mar 1915 in Bell County, Texas. He died 22 Nov 1980 in Temple, Bell County, Texas. Sallye and Frank had no children.

Sallye Emeline Curbow with third husband Frank Floyd Lawson and nephew

Kudos to and for all the work they do for the genealogy community!


Posted by on August 2, 2015 in Curbow


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Legends and Myths

Do you remember playing the childhood game called “telephone” – the game where the first person in line whispers a phrase into the second person’s ear, and the phrase is then repeated down the line? When finally at the end of the line, the phrase almost always ended up being vastly different than what it was at the outset. And so it goes with family stories – sometimes they are true, but many more times, they are simply family legends and myths.

I receive weekly contacts and inquiries from other genealogy enthusiasts who are hunting the same family lines that I am. Nearly everyone has a story to tell – a story that has been handed down through the generations about their ancestors. Some of the family stories that I hear most often include:

Our family has Native American ancestry. Our great-grandma was a Cherokee Indian Princess.” This story never varies – it’s always a Cherokee – never another tribe – and it’s always a female princess – never a male king, prince or chief. :)  The majority of the Curbow researchers that have contacted me have made this same assertion. I have done extensive research on several Curbow lines and have never found proof of Native American lineage and there has been no Cherokee Indian Princess lurking among the ancestors! From the Cherokee Museum: The Cherokee never had princesses. This is a concept based on European folktales and has no reality in Cherokee history and culture.19041452

Our family is related to Jessie James, John Wesley Hardin, Billy the Kid, Kit Carson, Daniel Boone , etc., etc., etc.” Of course, it’s only human nature, to want to lay claim to one of these American legends and place them in our family tree. It is also true that not everyone with the surname James can be traced back to Jessie James – and not everyone named Boone can trace their roots back to Daniel Boone. Such a relationship can only be proven by diligent research and proper sourcing.

Our first American ancestors were three brothers who came to America…..” I ponder the fact that it’s never five brothers or six sisters – always three brothers!!! I hear this family story very often and so it was with our Curbow family. When I first seriously began researching the family all I had heard was: “Three brothers came to America from Ireland.” None of this proved to be even close to the truth. Do your research!

I’ll share a few of our own family stories that l have been researching:

Brothers, Joseph Curbow (1755-1850) and William Curbow (1757-?) were both Revolutionary War soldiers. The family story states that both Joseph and William were present at the British surrender in Yorktown in 1781. Fact or fiction?

Lieutenant-Colonel John West was said to have committed adultery against his wife and left her to live with Cockacoeske – Queen of the Pamunkey – and purportedly a cousin to Pocahontas. Fact or fiction?

One of the “Curbo girls” married into the John Wesley Hardin family. The “Curbo boys” ran with the gang and are responsible for burning down the Courthouse in Hill County, Texas in the late 1870s. Fact or fiction?

With all this said, I do believe that most family stories begin with a smidgen of truth. In other words, where there is smoke there might be a fire. Take it all with a grain of salt and do your own research being careful to source every fact.  The family story that has been passed down to you may be a starting point that leads you to breaking through a brick wall and compiling a very successful and interesting family tree.

Happy Hunting !


Posted by on February 18, 2015 in Odds and Ends


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Was Grandma Elsie a Bigamist?

For some time many years, I have been on the trail of my great-grandmother, Sarah Elsie Gardner. Young, attractive and melancholy, by all accounts, Elsie had a difficult time settling into life as the wife of a sheep farmer.

Sarah Elsie Gardner was born 4 July 1882 in Indianola, Utah, the daughter of Henry Erastus Gardner and Mary Rosetta Patterson. Her parents were members of the Latter Day Saints (Mormons), and her father Henry was a polygamist – two wives and 23 children. While polygamy was openly practiced in the Utah Territory it was frowned upon by the rest of American culture. Utah at that time was vying for statehood, and under pressure from the United States government, the then president of the LDS Church had an alleged “revelation from Jesus” one night in 1890 which commanded that the church should cease the practice of “plural” marriage. Not surprisingly, statehood was granted to Utah shortly thereafter in January of 1896, and the United States government began rounding up and prosecuting practicing polygamists. During this time period many men went on the run and into hiding, and this included Elsie’s father, Henry Gardner.

Sarah Elsie Gardner

A Young Sarah Elsie Gardner – from the collection of Baine Spencer

In the absence of her husband – Elsie’s mother, Mary, was forced to supplement the family’s income. From the 1900 census, it is not altogether clear whether Mary worked at a boarding house or whether she opened her own home to boarders. Either way, as the oldest daughter in the household at that time, Elsie’s life was undoubtedly one of hard work and very little free time. It is likely that Mary depended on Elsie to perform household chores and cooking tasks – which were laborious at the turn of the century. In addition to this, Elsie was more than likely responsible for the care of the younger children still in the household so that her own mother could work (Amy, 16; Eva, 14; Millie, 12; Daisy, 9; Bertie, 1; and Silvie, 3).

Four months after the 1900 census was enumerated, on 22 Oct 1900, eighteen year old Elsie married 30-year old George Francis Spencer in Manti, Utah. George was the son of John Henry Spencer and Lucy Lodica Elmer. George was also the product of a polygamist family – his father had two wives and 24 children.

George and Elsie made their home in Indianola, which was settled in 1871, for the first five to six years of their marriage. Indianola is a small community located in Sanpete County, Utah – east of Route 89 at Thistle Creek. By early 1907, the family had moved to George’s birthplace, Payson, Utah. Payson, being more established, was settled by Latter-Day Saints in 1850. While Elsie “kept house,” George established a small sheep herding/farming business. According to statistics taken from the 1900 census, the average wage was $449 per year – George being a farmer and a sheep herder in a small rural community – probably profited much less than this.

Elsie and George had five children over a period of fourteen years (Earl Francis in 1903; Mary Lodica in 1905; Ernest Richard in 1907; Elmer Bert in 1908; and finally my grandmother, Pearl Eva in 1914); however, based on the records located and the family stories told, Elsie and George did not live happily ever after. It is unknown whether the couple ever formally divorced; however, in the 1920, 1930 and 1940 census for George Spencer, he is indexed as being divorced. George never remarried. By the 1920 census Elsie is present in the mining community of Mammoth, Juab County, Utah with a man indexed as her husband, Carl Person. Conflicting information extracted from that census leads me to believe that there was upheaval and confusion within the family – the children (with the exception of Pearl) were indexed twice – once in Indianola with their father; and once in Mammoth living next door to their mother and new husband.

Elsie’s granddaughter, Bonnie Allias Mortenson (daughter of Mary Lodica Spencer), confirms that Elsie did leave George and the children on multiple occasions. Bonnie additionally stated that when Elsie’s youngest child, Pearl, grew older, she was often left in the care of Elsie’s oldest daughter, Mary Lodica. Bonnie’s mother never spoke of her parents divorcing or her mother remarrying – only stating that, “Elsie grew weary of being poor all the time.” We cannot presume to know what led Elsie to abandon George and the children. One can only speculate that the burdens of her childhood, the marriage at 18 to a much older man, and the dreary day-to-day responsibilities of a poor farmer’s wife became more than the young woman could manage.

A more mature Sarah Elsie Gardner - from the collection of Margie A. Montoya Hensel

A more mature Sarah Elsie Gardner – from the collection of Margie A. Montoya Hensel

Today, 115 years after Elsie’s marriage to George, I have confirmed that Elsie did in fact marry again. (As an aside, I am forever grateful to all the many indexing volunteers at both and Because of their efforts new collections are coming online almost weekly, which is how I discovered Elsie’s second marriage in the Montana County Marriages database.)

 Elsie married Carl Person on 17 May 1918 in Butte, Silver Bow County, Montana. On the marriage license she describes herself as being the daughter of Henry E. Gardner and Mary R. Patterson Gardner having been born in Basin (Payson) City, Utah. Interestingly, Elsie further indicates that she had never been married and that she was 35 years old. Carl Person states that he is the son of John Person and Emma Johanson Person; that he is 39 years old; and was born in Halmstad Sweden. He also indicates that he has never been married. From other records we know that he was an ore miner employed at the Mammoth Mining Company.  Butte, Montana sits high in the Rocky Mountains and was settled in the Silver Bow Creek Valley as a mining town in the late 1800s.  First gold and silver was mined there and later the area became known for its abundant copper.  The small town was often called “the richest hill on earth,” and was the largest city for many hundreds of miles in all directions.  A very different life from what Elsie had been living in Indianola.

Marriage License - Elsie and Carl Person

Marriage License – Elsie and Carl Person

Seven years later, on 16 Feb 1925, Elsie died at the young age of 42 years. A majority of the public member trees on indicate that she died in Redlands, San Bernardino County, California; however, no one seems to have a source for this. I am researching a San Bernardino death record for an Elsie “Pearson” with matching dates to our Elsie; however, it is not proven that this is her.

My great grandmother, Sarah Elsie Gardner Spencer, is laid to rest in the Gardner plot at Payson City Cemetery. Her tombstone inscription – Mother – Sarah Elsie Spencer.

Sarah Elsie Gardner Spencer - Headstone - Payson City Cemetery in Gardner Plot

Sarah Elsie Gardner Spencer – Headstone – Payson City Cemetery in Gardner Plot



Posted by on January 17, 2015 in Elmer, Patterson, Spencer



Will the Real Frank Miller Please Stand Up?

When researching an ancestor with a common surname such as Jones, or Smith or Miller it often quickly becomes a tangled and confusing mess. If you combine that common surname with a common first name such as Joe or Bob or Frank – it can be enough to make you want to pull your hair out! And so it has been with our Frank Miller, son of Elijah Spencer Miller and Harriet Curbow. Basically, when performing family history research you will run across clues about your ancestry – you will dig a little deeper – and if all goes well you find some answers to your family mysteries.

Frank Miller was one of those mysteries. In the beginning, the only thing that we knew for certain about Frank Miller was information provided by the 1880 census where we find him living in McLennan County, Texas with his father Elijah Spencer Miller (age 31 born in Mississippi) and mother Harriet Curbow (age 26 born in Mississippi). “Our” Frank was about 6 years old having been born in Texas in 1874. Also in the home is Frank’s grandfather, Tilman P. Curbow, who is 55 years old and who is a widower. Frank has three siblings: Thomas, Jesse and Minnie.

Fast forward to the turn of the century – 1910 to be precise –and we find Elijah Spencer Miller living in Akers, Carter County, Oklahoma. Harriet has died – Elijah has remarried – and Frank is nowhere to be found – or so I thought.

While researching the children of Elijah and Harriet, I met Tom Hedges, a great-grandson of Elijah Miller and wife Harriet (through their daughter Lou Ida Belle Miller) – and we’ve been trading information on the Miller/Curbow family ever since. Tom advised that he believed our Frank ended up out in California. With this lead, Tom and I started tracing a gentleman named Frank Miller who was born in Texas in July of 1873 and whose parents were both born in Mississippi (locations and date matched!). Over the ensuing months (years??!) – I had further contact with the descendants of the “California Frank” Miller. These family members indicated that he was from Nocana, Montague County, Texas, and that his family was from Indian Territory and had come from Mississippi. (Again – basic facts matched!) We learned that he had married Frances Mary Mehn and had two sons, one of whom was still living. We happily exchanged family photos, stories and documents. Tom and I felt certain that we had the right Frank Miller family. But not so fast!

I made contact with “California Frank” Miller’s grandson, who is also named Frank Miller (you see how confusing this could get?!). Mr. Miller told me that his father had no recollection of the surname Curbow. Further, his grandfather’s death certificate (which I have seen) indicates that his mother was Sarah Jane Clinton – not Harriet Curbow. Further, in the 1910 census he is not yet in California – rather living in Montague County, Texas with his mother. So basically – the way it looks – we have three Frank Millers – one in Oklahoma (ours); one in Texas; and one in California!  I was deflated – time to take down all the lovely photographs and records from the website – which belonged to a Frank Miller that was not ours. So now we’re back to square one when it comes to Frank Miller.

Fast forward to February of 2014 when I received an email from Tom Hedges outlining his recent work on the Miller family. The death of a cousin – Alta Faye Miller Porterfield – prompted Tom to take another look at his Miller family genealogy. Tom found Alta’s memorial on Find-a-Grave which confirmed that she was the daughter of “Monk” Miller. Tom knew that “Monk” was a son of “Our Frank” Miller. After I made contact with the creator of the memorials, David Miller, we all felt like we had made a connection. David subsequently ordered “Frank” Miller’s death certificate, and it is confirmed that he is the son of Elijah Spencer Miller.

“Our Frank” Miller is William Franklin Miller who was born in Texas on 17 Sept 1874. He left Texas and went to Oklahoma with his parents and lived his entire life in Carter County, Oklahoma. On 4 Dec 1904 he married Rachel Bondurant in Carter County. This is the same day that Elijah Spencer Miller married his second wife, Rosa. Frank and Rachel had six children that I am aware of: Tulle (1906); Jesse Eugene (1911); Roy Franklin (1914); William Columbus (1916); Cleva Bell (1921); and Annie Belle (1923). These names are also very prevalent in the Curbow family genealogy. It appears that Frank was a farmer all of his life. He died 2 Apr 1948 in Milo, Carter County, Oklahoma, and is laid to rest in the Milo Cemetery.

The search for “the real” Frank Miller has been an invaluable lesson to me not to jump to any hasty conclusions. I am glad that the correction has been made – and a big thank you to Tom Hedges and David Miller for untangling this Miller web!
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Posted by on March 2, 2014 in Miller


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2013 – The Year in Review – and Catching Up!

While pondering my genealogy goals and “to do list” for 2014, I contemplated writing a Year in Review blog post – and then I was completely caught off guard and stunned to realize that I had not written one single blog posting since July of 2012.  What a slug!  And – the excuses start right now – I’m still working a full-time job (and probably will until some attorney annoys me into a heart attack and early death) – and so I can’t ever squeeze in all of the things that I have to do much less the things I want to do.  I will endeavor to do a better job in 2014!

All was not lost though – given the fact that I’ve not posted anything new this year – we still received 54,852 hits on the blog!  I’ve been consistently busy behind the scenes – and below are a few highlights of the year.

My family history website ( is now fully documented and sourced as it pertains to my son’s Curbow line all the way through to his gggg-grandfather Tilman P. Curbow.  While we didn’t have any major breakthroughs, and many questions still exist – I did add an obituary here and a death certificate there and these small details continue to flesh out the specifics of who these people were.  In 2014, I plan to broaden the Curbow base by concentrating my research on the next generation (Henry B. Curbow).  Henry interests me because I believe him to by my son’s fifth great-grandfather, a Texas pioneer, who was present in the Republic of Texas by 1846.

Last July I made another trip to Waco, Texas – where Tilman settled “east of the Brazos River” after the Civil War.  My Curbow research partner, Jan S., met me there.  Jan and I had been corresponding for several years via email, and as such, it was so special to meet her in person.  On a previous trip to Waco, I had met John K., a retired McLennan County surveyor.  John was our tour guide for the day.  He loves genealogy, history, and he knows McLennan County like the back of his hand.  The day was amazing and inspiring.  John, through old maps, plats and surveys, took us to the land that Doss Bedwell used to own – and the land that Tilman P. Curbow leased, farmed and ranched.  While viewing the general area we also drove past the Storey Ranch and the land once owned by Elijah Miller’s father.  It was so beneficial to see where the families lived in proximity to each other.  While we didn’t find the Bedwell Cemetery, as we had hoped, it was nonetheless so remarkable to see the land that our ancestors lived and toiled on.  We also visited the historic First Street Cemetery and several others, all the while reaping the benefit of John’s unending knowledge of historic Waco.  We also had the opportunity to spend some time at the McLennan County Courthouse, where Jan and I were just astonished that we were given free rein to hold and handle wills and estate papers that were 125+ years old.  While there I joined the Central Texas Genealogy Association.  I have enjoyed their quarterly newsletters – and hope to be a contributor at some point.  We topped the day off by eating fried chicken in a parking lot in sweltering Texas summer heat.  I wouldn’t have it any other way !

When you marry a man from the South – you are going to find Confederate veterans in the family tree – and I have found lots of them!  This year my son, Ryan, was inducted into the Descendants of Confederate Veterans – a Texas Confederate Historical Society – based on the service of his gggg-grandfather, Tilman P. Curbow.  His wife’s uncle serves as the president of the Austin Chapter.  I was invited to attend the November meeting to tell the story of Tilman and his Civil War service.  I was super nervous. Genealogy is my passion – and I can talk a lot about it – but I am not a public speaker !!!  However, it was such a welcoming and receptive group that I got over myself pretty quickly and thoroughly enjoyed having the opportunity to tell Tilman’s story.  In 2014, we will start working on Ryan’s membership in the Sons of the American Revolution through his gggggg-grandfather Leonard Miles (1760-1835) who served out of the Fairfield District of South Carolina.

In 2014, I will shift some of the focus off of the Curbow family lines and focus on my Montoya/Spencer family lines.  These families are each unique and fascinating, and I am very excited to dig in a little deeper.  My father always told me that his great-grandfather emigrated from Barcelona Spain.  This oral family history story is partially true; however, we now know that the Montoya family came to New Mexico many generations prior to that.  Our emigrating ancestor was more than likely Bartolomé’ de Montoya – a Spanish conquistador  who was born in about 1572 in Cantillana (province of Andalucía) Spain.  He emigrated to Mexico City where he met and married María de Zamora.  This couple with their children and servants later traveled to New Mexico with the Onate Expedition.  Thus the Montoya surname is firmly established as one of New Mexico’s first families.  Most people who carry the Montoya surname today are descended from Bartolomé’s son Diego de Montoya.  Here is an article on the Montoya surname in New Mexico written by Jose Antonio Esquibel.

One very exciting development as it pertains to our Montoya family is the development of a family group Facebook page.  Thank you Syndi Montoya Miller for this great idea – and for getting it implemented !!  It has been a lot of fun reconnecting, and in some instances, meeting new family for the first time.  (Yes….we are a very large family!!)  We have had a lot of fun exchanging stories, memories and photographs of our loved ones.  I’m especially pleased to learn more about my Uncle Pete – and his family.  My father always spoke fondly of Pete and David – his older half brothers.  Additionally, a picture of my grandmother Pearl Spencer was shared by Syndi that I had never seen – and it is such a treasure – because there aren’t many pictures of her.

Lastly, I was really thrilled to receive a phone call from my Aunt Margie out-of-the-blue one day earlier in the year inviting me to coffee “to meet a Montoya cousin.”  It was none other than Sam Montoya – who lives less than 10 minutes down the road from me.  We met at Starbucks, and I didn’t even have to look for him.  I spotted him as a Montoya right away!  There’s been a little bit of talk about a family reunion.  What crazy fun would that be?!

Here to more happy genealogy hunting in 2014 !

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Posted by on January 7, 2014 in Odds and Ends


And We Have a Winner !

Today we held the drawing for the prize package winner!  Congratulations to Jan Shaffer of Dallas, Texas!  Courtesy of, Jan will receive a 6-month U.S. membership and the 2012 version of Family Tree Maker.  Thanks to everyone who took the time to enter.

In her submission, Jan shared as follows:

One of my favorite pastimes is researching my family tree.  Being a history buff I have enjoyed finding exactly where my forefathers fit within history.  I first began when I had my first child and one had to write letters and spend hours in libraries looking at microfilm for information.  The forward movement was very slow and I made very little progress.  When my father died I connected with one of his (mine too I guess) cousins who was the keeper of the Smith family history.  She shared much of her written records with me.  Of course, we didn’t have a copy machine so there was a lot of hand scribbled notes during long distance phone calls from Dallas to Tucson. She has since died and her research I assume is with her children.  Next I purchased a little software package called Family Tree Maker that helped organize the information on my tree.  At this point I was on my way to something that could be passed down to my descendants.  This was when I got hooked; but, the big breakthrough was when was launched.  I had data at my fingertips that I never knew existed.

My big brick wall was finding the parents of my maternal grandfather.  My grandfather Bedwell died when my mother was one year old.  As my grandmother had passed away my mother couldn’t even tell me her grandparent’s first names.  I found a hand full of pictures when my mother died but did not know who they were or to which side of the family they belonged. I connected with other researchers through and by comparing pictures the other researchers owned, found I had a picture incorrectly identified resulting in having a young picture of my great-grandmother and a more mature picture shared by another researcher. Another researcher was able to provide the father, to who we now know is Belle, and she came alive for us.  Belle has been the fuel for my continued research and now I have over 2,000 people listed in my tree.

I have also learned from my fellow researchers how important documentation of your facts is for your research.  The experienced researchers are happy to guide one through the brambles of information and at the same time teach good habits of research.  As a result when someone contacts me for information I pass along the kindness and experience others have shown me.  I consider some of my Ancestry connections personal friends.

The latest option I have taken advantage of is the DNA testing.  I never knew where my ancestors immigrated from and having grown up as a Smith I could have come from anywhere.  Now I can say I am mostly from Great Britain with a little Eastern and Southern European thrown in and as a result I am planning a trip to Great Britain this fall.

Jan Shaffer
Dallas, Texas

Congratulations to Jan !!

And to all of you:  HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY !!!!!!
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Posted by on July 4, 2012 in Bedwell, Odds and Ends


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