Monthly Meeting – Dec 2, 2021 – “Working on My Waterburys” by Gail Burk

Thursday, December 2, 2021 7:00 PM

Guest Speaker: Gail Burk

Working on My Waterburys

For more than 40 years, Gail has been trying to find the parents of her second great-grandfather, the elusive James Foster Waterbury. She has finally made a bit of recent progress in cracking this brick wall through the slow amalgamation of clues gleaned from many diverse sources. Gail uses a multi-faceted approach that combines traditional genealogical research with DNA analysis. This presentation outlines some of the strategies she has employed in the process of working on her Waterburys, and will focus on the many tools available at

Gail Burk is a long-time member of the Genealogical Society of Santa Cruz County, where she has served in a number of Board positions, including President. Gail graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara, where she majored in art, and minored in history. She has been an active genealogist since 1977. For many years, Gail also participated in a weekly writing group and a monthly sketching group. During the pandemic, she has devoted much time and effort in attempting to break down some of her genealogical brick walls. As Gail’s granddaughter says, Gail has become very “sleuthy.”

The Zoom meeting will start at 7:00 pm sharp. Zoom meeting details will be sent by invitation only. If you are not a member and wish to attend, send an email with your email address to our Membership VP, Marilyn Ruccello.

If you are not familiar with Zoom, click here.

”The task is not so much to see what no one has yet seen; but to think what nobody has yet thought, about that which everybody sees.” – Arthur Schopenhauer

Why We Came To The USA

The following is by Dick Eastman, find credits at the end. His ancestry is Northern European, so this is heavily biased in that direction. The New World is composed of immigrants from everywhere. But the conditions described are historically interesting.

I learned in school that our ancestors came to the New World in the 1600s in search of religious freedom. While I still believe that to be true, I now believe the full story is a bit more complex than the reasons given in grammar school textbooks.

Religious freedom was a motivation for Puritans, Pilgrims, Quakers, and others, but thousands of other immigrants were members of the established church in England and had no interest in other theologies. What motivated them?

Perhaps the simplest answer is that living in England was very difficult at the time. The upper classes lived comfortably, but the majority of citizens had difficulty eking out even a mere subsistence. Starvation was not unknown, and even those who did eat regularly had diets that most of us today would reject. Without refrigeration or modern canning techniques, even those with some financial security had monotonous diets in the winter and early spring. The thought of eating turnip soup three times a day for weeks on end seems appalling today but was common in the 1600s. The Irish more likely ate potato soup.

Fish and meat were available but often at prices that were beyond the reach of most city dwellers. Their country cousins perhaps had a slightly better diet of meats and vegetables that they produced themselves, but country dwellers typically lacked other comforts of life. In the winter, there was no available fresh produce, regardless of where you lived. The only vegetables that were available were the root crops that could be stored for months: potatoes, turnips, carrots, etc. Cabbage, while not a root crop, also stores well and was frequently available.

Perhaps today we do not appreciate the appalling conditions under which our ancestors lived. Imagine, if you will, a city on a warm summer day in which there were no sewers and no source of fresh water. The primary mode of transportation was by horse-drawn carriages and wagons, so horse manure was everywhere in the streets. Even so, the odor from human wastes must have been far stronger as chamber pots were typically dumped into the streets and alleyways. Most residents did not bathe regularly, did not wash their hair, and never brushed their teeth.

Of course, modern medical care was unknown, and medical ignorance was universal. These people did not know why they breathed air, how the digestive system worked, why brushing one’s teeth was important, or why clean water was desirable.

Most of England’s water was heavily polluted, and there was relatively little in the way of forests as they had been cut years earlier for timber and for firewood.

Without proper food preservation techniques, we can assume that most of the food our ancestors consumed had a high germ count. Without clean living quarters or clean water, we can also assume that most of our malnourished ancestors were ill a high percentage of the time. It’s a wonder that any of them survived and had descendants!

Speculators and adventurers of the time wildly advertised living conditions in the New World as a Utopian experience. While the claims were partially true, those with a financial interest in attracting new immigrants were quick to embellish the facts. After all, there were no “truth in advertising” laws at the time.

We now know that many of the early settlers starved to death or died of diseases linked to malnutrition. Yet the reports sent back to England spoke glowingly of fertile fields and forests that were full of game for the hunter. The seas were described as full of fish available to anyone.

William Wood in his 1634 book, New England Prospect, wrote:
Unlike England’s undrinkable water, New England’s is “so good many preferred it to ‘beer, whey, and buttermilk and those that drink it be as healthful, fresh and lusty as they that drink beer.'”

Winters, he claimed, were milder than in England, summers hotter but “tolerable because of the cooling effect of fresh winds.” Oh, and food was plentiful: “deer, available for the taking; raccoon, as good as lamb; grey squirrels, almost as big as an English rabbit; turkeys, up to 40 pounds.”
Hmmm, have you ever eaten raccoon? To the semi-starved residents of England, it must have sounded like a feast.

You can read the first few pages of a modern-day reprint of William Wood’s book, New England Prospect, on Google Books at:

I have focused on the people and the lifestyles of England simply for convenience; those records and books are easy to read for modern-day English speakers. However, the lifestyles and the motivations were similar in Ireland, Scotland, and all throughout Europe.

In fact, some of our ancestors made the difficult trip over the Atlantic for religious freedom. However, probably a much larger number made the trip for adventure and for greater financial opportunities. After all, life was none too pleasant in “the Old Country.” Many believed that life would be much better in the New World.

I certainly am glad that they made the trip!

The above article is from and is copyrighted by the Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter at Many thanks go to Dick Eastman for his continued support of the genealogy world.

The Chosen

By Darlen Denton

From the Cross Timbers Genealogical Society of Cooke County, TX

We are the chosen.  In each family, there is one who seems called to find the ancestors.  To put flesh on their bones and make them live again.  To tell the family story and to feel that somehow they know and approve.  Doing genealogy is not a cold gathering of facts but, instead, breathing life into all who have gone before.  We are the story tellers of the tribe.  All tribes have one.  We have been called, as it were, by our genes.  Those who have gone before cry out to us:  “Tell our story.”   So, we do.

In finding them, we somehow find ourselves.  How many graves have I stood before now and cried?   I have lost count.  How many times have I told the ancestors, “You have a wonderful family; you would be proud of us.”   How many times have I walked up to a grave and felt somehow there was love there for me?   I cannot say.   It goes beyond just documenting facts.   It goes to who I am, and why  I do the things I do.  It goes to seeing a cemetery about to be lost forever to weeds and indifference and saying – I can’t let this happen.   The bones here are bones of my bone and flesh of my flesh.  It goes to doing something about it.

It goes to pride in what our ancestors were able to accomplish.   How they contributed to what we are today.   It goes to respecting their hardships and losses, their never giving in or giving up, their resoluteness to go on and build a life for their family.  It goes to deep pride that the fathers fought and some died to make and keep us a nation.   It goes to a deep and immense understanding that they were doing it for us.  It is of equal pride and love, that our mothers struggled to give us birth, without them we could not exist, and so we love each one, as far back as we can reach.  That we might be born who we are.  That we might remember them.  So we do.  With love and caring and scribing each fact of their existence,  because we are them and they are the sum of who we are.

So, as a scribe called, I tell the story of my family.  It is up to that one called in the next generation to answer the call and take my place in the long line of family storytellers.   That is why I do my family genealogy, and that is what calls those young and old to step up and restore the memory or greet those who we had never known before.


A generation is defined as the average time between a mother’s first offspring and her daughter’s first offspring. The generation length is 25.2 years in the United States as of 2007 and 27.4 years in the United Kingdom as of 2004.

“Imagine a dinner table set for a thousand guests, in which each man is sitting between his own father and his own son.  At one end of the table might be a French Nobel laureate in a white tie and tails, and with the Legion of Honor on his breast, and at the other end a Cro-Magnon man dressed in animal skins and with a necklace of cave-bear teeth. Yet each one would be able to converse with his neighbors on his left and right, who would either be his father or his son.  So the distance from then to now is not really great.”  (From Bjorn Kurten, Singletusk: A Story of the Ice Age, 1986)

The above passage intrigues me — there are only a few generations in our family known to us.  Yet we are all somehow connected.  If we could only speak to each person on our left and right…. So what is the average length of a generation in your family?  

Off the Charts : Presenting Ancestors’ STories (PAST) meets 3rd Wednesdays via Zoom @ 1:30 pm

We are a genealogy group for people who like to think outside the box and beyond the chart. We exchange support for our work and excitement about how we’re sharing it. Our meetings include topics and speakers on writing, crafts, photo projects, organization, trips, reunions, issues, and much more.

Wednesday November 17th @ 1:30-3:30 ==> Contact Kathy or Karen 917-2042 for Zoom meeting details.

This Month: “Sandy Peterson”

This month Sandy Peterson will be our guest speaker. Sandy is not only a genealogist; she is an artist. She creates graphic art collages from photos, documents, maps, and other interesting items from her family history. She has also been the Santa Maria Family History Center director and president of the Santa Maria Valley Genealogical Society. She’ll be showing her art and showing us how to select materials and arrange them for a collage, touching on printing and documenting as well. We may have time for a brief show and tell, so bring your own artistic or craftsy project/gift along. This will be a fun one! .

Every meeting includes a chance to connect, ask questions, and update genealogy friends on your latest discoveries or roadblocks. We also have an opportunity to receive inspiration from others and to help.

Junel’s Handout about using the Courthouse is here

Last night, Junel Davidsen gave a talk at the MoCoGenSo General Meeting via Zoom. A handout was distributed to those in attendance. The talk and handout are about using Courthouse records to further your genealogical searching.

Junel has made the handout available for downloading temporarily (6 months) by all. Having this file, which is full of hot links, is almost as good as having been there!

To get the file, Click here.

If you see Junel or talk to her, give her a big thanks.

For the frugal genealogist who wants to do a DNA test

Have you ever been curious about whether you’re descended from kings and queens, lords and ladies, or perhaps somebody famous? The 23andMe DNA test kit is just the way to find out wherever you may have come from, as well as to get a better grip on your health. It’s on sale at Amazon right now for $99, a $100 discount from its regular price of $199. Dive into the adventures of ancestry and health by grabbing a 23andMe DNA test kit while this offer from Amazon lasts.

There is a $79 kit, but that is Ancestry + Traits only. Look for the $99 kit, which is the full Health + Ancestry package.

This post is for our wanna-be DNA Discussion friends.

DNA Discussions – zoom at noon on Wednesday – November 3rd

MoCoGenSo’s DNA Discussion Group will be meeting Wednesday with an open forum. Join us via Zoom. Feel free to drop in for conversation and stay for lunch.

Check out this great page full of information for newcomers to genetic genealogy

This meeting will start with Maria Mueller bringing us up to date with her desire to get DNA from the back of a stamp that had been used by her father. Then we will move on to your topics.

Click to Join Meeting: Zoom Link

Meeting ID: 897 1823 5118
Passcode: 738495

Things to ponder until then:

Roberta Estes: The hair of Sitting Bull

Copying atDNA from one testing company to another

The best websites for DNA family history research/

Roberta Estes: Genetic Affairs new AutoKinship tool

My ancestors are so hard to find, they must have been in a witness protection program! 🙂