Magnificent Obsession


I have been searching for my ancestors for almost 20 years. I wish I had started before then. People who do not seek their heritage wonder why those who do are so intent on their search. I never wonder why I do it. The search is compelling. Why did my ancestors live where they lived? What happened to them? Were they famous? Am I related to Royalty? In my case, no. At least I haven’t found any Royalty in my family. But I did find a multitude of Royals in my granddaughter-in-law’s ancestors when I did her family tree. She has a rich heritage to pass on to her son as he grows.

But what is it that lures us into the past, years beyond years, wishing we could be there, wishing we could talk to them, wishing we could ask questions? We are haunted by our ancestors. They are in our souls. We want to know more, plain and simple.

I just recently discovered why my late husband’s middle name was Freeman. His father did not have that name, but his grandfather did. It turns out that his great-great grandmother’s name was Mary Anne Freeman. She lived in Deptford, England and her father was James Freeman, the same as my husband’s first and middle names. Now I wish that I had learned this many years ago when I visited England. I was within driving distance to Deptford and could have seen their homeland.

The question is what will happen to my research when I die. Who will continue the search and record all the links? Will anyone else in the family care as much as I do? Probably not.

However, if they pursue it or not, I have benefited from and enjoyed the search and the discoveries I have made. I have connected with my ancestors and felt their joys and sorrows. I just wish I had the time, money and energy to continue the travel to other places and possibly find more of them.


My first girl friend lived down the street from me.  Her family had horses and we would take them out and ride up into the hills above Ventura Blvd. in Tarzana, CA. That area was all green with a little stream running through.  Those days were so long ago when I was in Elementary School that I have forgotten her name.  I lost touch with her after I graduated.  That area today is fully populated with very expensive homes.

When I was in High School in Canoga Park I had several girl friends. There were 4 of us who hung out together, Donna, Gene, (spelled like a boy), and Mary Lou, who spelled her name in 2 words, mine in one.  We used to go to the beach together.  And one summer afternoon we all bleached our hair blond.

My other friend in High School was Norma.  She wanted to be an actress and took classes in acting and diction which caused her to speak differently from the rest of us.  But she was talented.  I remember she married a Mexican boy who carried on his family’s traditions in which the male was King and the females obeyed the King’s desires.  That marriage didn’t last, there were no children, and I lost touch with her after I married.

All of my friends of those years drifted away when I entered UCLA and we all got married.

Then, after my first child was born I became interested in joining the Native Daughters of the Golden West.  I was one, after all.  I met Betty on the night we were initiated and we clicked immediately.  She was shy, as was I, and she was a talented artist.  She created all sorts of things and urged me to develop what ability I had.  She suffered from Shingles and tried to alleviate the pain by sitting in a bath tub full of warm water and baking soda.  Her marriage was not a happy one and eventually she left her husband and married the man across the street who had been in love with her for years. They moved to Carson City, NV.  Betty was my friend for more than 50 years.  We corresponded and often spoke on the phone.  Each time we called it was as if we had just talked the previous day.  Betty died of lung cancer.

Then my husband and I began playing contract bridge and we met several people who became friends.  One couple in particular was our partners in team games and although we played in tournaments together we didn’t socialize in other ways.  Then my husband died and they were my comfort through the worst of the next few years.  But they separated and divorced.  I still see Eve, but not often. We have known each other for more than 40 years.

Another group of friends I made during my years in the bridge world were Kay, Serene, Louise and Judy.  They had all been BFFs for a long time so if I was included it was with all 4 of them.  We had parties, including the husbands and my current date, went on rallies, and shared creative activities.  I was closest to Kay.  She and I would have a puzzle weekend occasionally.  She would provide the jigsaw puzzle at her house on a Saturday afternoon, we worked on the puzzle, had dinner with wine, gabbed, and I would spend the night there.  We could finish the puzzle on Sunday and I would go home.

When the 1994 Earthquake hit I was living within a mile of Kay’s home.  My townhouse was intact, but I was afraid to stay there alone so I spent 3 days at Kay and her husband’s home.  They had another couple also there for 3 weeks when their mobile home was burned to the ground and they had to find another place.

Kay introduced me to genealogy and helped me get started on searching for my ancestors.  This turned into an obsession which still occupies my life.  Kay and I began making yearly trips to Salt Lake City to do research and each time shared a room for a week.  Then others joined us so that we usually had a group of 10-15 people who all helped each other with their research.  We realized that all of us loved reading so we began meeting once a month for brunch and to exchange the books we have read and liked.  This group is still ongoing.  But I only see them once a month and have no other contact with them except an occasional email joke.

Some of the friends I met through bridge and genealogy are no longer living.  Judy was the first to go from lung cancer.  She was beautiful, extremely talented, generous, fun, and married to a bookie.  Louise was intellectual, very active in the bridge world, and married to a man who had extreme food dislikes.  Louise died from lung cancer.  Serene, also a bridge player and married to a bridge player died from lung cancer.  And my best friend, Kay, died from lung cancer.

I have no BFF.  I do not have lung cancer.  I am 86 years old and have outlived all my BFFs.  I have a few new friends that may develop into BFFs, but I doubt it.  I have a busy life, I don’t like to drive anywhere, my legs are weak, and my back hurts all the time, so I am content to stay home except for the 3 times a month when I meet with the book group, the games and movie group, and one new gathering of 4 of us who play cards.  It’s enough.  My BFF is my computer.

New Denyer Family Information

I just found out with a lot of help from a wonderful lady in England why the Denyer males in my late husband’s family had the name Freeman, either first or middle.  It made no sense to me.  I just listed it in my data base and went on to other ancestors.  Then I saw a message on my Cornwall list that Janie, in England, was from Cornwall and offered to do research there.  I couldn’t wait to contact her.  I do not have access to International resources so this was an offer I couldn’t resist.


I told her what information I had, not asking about Freeman, just looking for more info on my husband’s family.  She responded the very next day with the Freeman source. I was astonished.   The name came from my husband’s grandfather, Freeman Wm. Valentine Denyer’s grandmother, Mary Anne FREEMAN.  This wasn’t all.  She listed 3 links to information on the birth date and place of Mary Anne’s daughter, Amelia, Freeman’s mother, which I didn’t have and the misspelling of her last name.  I had Penglaze and it is Polglase which may be why I hadn’t found the information earlier.    She said the Cornwall language, including names, is often misspelled or mispronounced.


Needless to say, I was thrilled.  I emailed all the Denyers and passed on the good news.  I know my husband didn’t know, or cared, why he had that middle name, nor do my son or grandson, who have the same middle name.  To my knowledge no one in the family, now deceased, had ever questioned the source of that unusual first name.


Further research linked Mary Anne to her husband, the marriage date, her husband’s occupation, coalminer, and her parents.


I love doing genealogy and the people who pursue it.  They are, without exception, generous to a fault, and eager to share information and pictures when available.  I have made many friends in far away places in this quest and offer my help whenever asked.  It just so happens that today is my late husband’s birthday.  He would have been 86.

Freeman William Valentine Denyer b 14 Feb 1857


James Freeman Denyer 1972


I just pinned some new things on my Pinterest site.  My genealogy board was empty because I couldn’t decide what to put there besides old pictures.  So I put up the pedigree charts for both my late husband and me.  Maybe one of my  viewers might see a familiar name and contact me.  Wish, wish, wish.  That would get me back into researching.  I did get a query from a lady last week asking about one of our mutual ancestors.  I went into my records and found lots of information to send her.  Also I have some pictures to send her that she wanted.  So I feel good about that.

Then, I pinned a board featuring necklaces that I have made.  There are quite a few of all kinds.  I have been busy making these and keep coming up with new designs.  I have ordered some beads that I can’t wait to get.

My Pinterest site has boards for all black jewelry, pearl jewelry and now necklaces and earrings.  I intend to make boards for  red items, green items, vintage items and a miscellaneous board.   I love Pinterest.  I get caught up with looking at other people’s boards.  It’s fascinating.   You should try it.

You can see my site at



Who do You Think You Are?

I just saw an article about how NBC picks the celebrities they feature on their show, ”Who Do You Think You Are?”  It‘s very interesting.  They do a great deal of research before picking someone who has an interesting story and they can take the ancestry back several generations.   Not everyone who would like to be featured is chosen.  Sometimes the researchers  hit a dead end or it isn’t interesting enough to get the attention of the viewers.  In fact they turn down more than they choose.  You can read the entire article at

The program has its detractors.  Read the comments after the article.  A program like this is not going to satisfy everyone and the comments are valid.  I would like to know that NBC and Ancestry read them, but have doubts that they will.

I watched all of the first 2 seasons and eagerly looked forward to this season.   I’m glad that Ancestry is doing this series because I think it encourages more people to seek out their heritage.   The program provides well known people who don’t have much information, or sometimes wrong information, about their ancestors with dates, places, names, interesting events and lots of travel.

It would be nice if your average genealogist had the means to travel all over the world in search of his or her family, not to mention meeting with the professionals who always magically produce documentation on the family.   NBC and Ancestry does all that research and then selects people who will have a large amount of original documents taking them back several generations.

This makes the program interesting because we get to see how the chosen few find the information that they have been looking for.   Unfortunately the majority of people doing genealogy don’t have that opportunity.  They have to work for each little item they find.  If they get lucky it sometimes leads them to another ancestor they didn’t know they had.  This is what makes the research so fascinating and addictive.

Almost every genealogist will have a “brick wall”, a person who has no information beyond a certain point.  But we keep looking, because we are hooked.  But we won’t appear on “Who Do You Think You Are?”

Genealogists: Mark your calendar

April 2, 2012 the 1940 census will be released!  We’ve been waiting 10 years for this one.  You will be on it if you were born before 1940.  I was.   I am sure  it will be available on at no charge  and on for those who have a paid membership.  There is a good chance that it will be free on other sites as well, but I don’t have that information yet.  When I find out I will post it here.  I hope it will help all of you who are researching your family history.

What is the Source of Your First Name?

Your parents may have given you a name that belonged to another family member, or someone they admired, an unusual name, a combination of other names, or maybe just something they liked.  Now you might be able to find out more information about the name they gave you.


I just found a great site I didn’t know about.  It is and contains information on the origin of first names, thousands of them.  You click on the first letter of your name and it brings up a list of names.  Scroll down to your name and click on it.  You will see the origin of the name, the various versions of it, the history of the name and sometimes the ranking of the name in the United States and other countries.  Be sure to click on the “Family Tree” and “See All Relations”.  They show fascinating information.


My oldest daughter has a name of Greek origin, Circe, and I already knew the history of her name before we gave it to her, but her father’s name, James, came up with a huge amount of history, not unexpected.  I am going to check out the rest of my family and suggest that they research their own name and that of their friends.  It makes for very interesting reading.

I don’t think my daughter would object to the information on her name below.

I would love to hear your comment on this.



GENDER: FeminineUSAGE: Greek Mythology (Latinized)

OTHER SCRIPTS: Κιρκη (Ancient Greek)

PRONOUNCED: SUR-see (English)   [key]

Meaning & History

Latinized form of Greek Κιρκη (Kirke), which possibly meant “bird”. In Greek mythology Circe was a sorceress who changed Odysseus‘s crew into hogs but was forced by him to change them back.

Related Names

See All Relations
Show Family Tree


Related Names


Important Genealogy tip

Today’s message is for those of you who are beginning the search for your ancestors.


One important thing you must not forget to do.  When you find information or are listing what you know, make a note of where it came from.  If it’s from a book copy the title page, from a film enter the film #, from a relative, make note of the name, from an online reference, note the source.  And include the date that you got the info.  I didn’t do this when I started and later on had to try to find the source, and sometimes couldn’t.   Trust me, sometime down the road you will have to prove your information, so the source becomes important.  It only takes a second or two and you will be glad you did it.


I want everyone to enjoy the satisfaction, wonder, delight, frustration and addiction that I have.  So get started and join the addicts.


Don’t hesitate to ask me any questions.  If I don’t know the answer, I will do my best to find it for you.  Everyone helps everyone else.  So, don’t be shy.  And check out my CD for beginning genealogists.  It has valuable information you won’t find elsewhere.

Happy hunting.