Genealogy Goals for 2019

I’ve never been one for rigid goal-setting, or resolutions. (Hey, my Myers-Briggs type is INFP — and we “P” people like to keep our options open!)

That being said, I’m in a fairly unstructured time in my life right now; a little structure will keep me focused. And the cherry on top is to post my plans here.

Here’s to an awesome 2019! Happy New Year!

Education and Development Comments
BU (online class) for Certificate of
Genealogical Research
completed Dec. 2018
IGHR (Athens, GA) week of July 21, 2019;
registration opens 2 Mar 2019
Texas Institute of Genealogical
Research 2019
week of June 9, 2019
Legacy Tree webinars focus on BCG-sponsored
Community and Colleagues  
join Assn of Professional
renew Indiana Genealogical Society membership done!!
renew NGS membership done — 2 year renewal
join Tx State Genealogical Society done!!
start attending DGS meetings and
DNA SIG meetings
attend meetings regularly in 2019
Writing (high-level)  
Evaluate: what do I know and
how do I know it?
for key (aka “brick wall”) ancestors
Formulate a research question and a research plan for each of the
“brick wall” ancestors (above)
Write up GPS proof summaries (or narratives) for each research question I’ve asked (and think I’ve answered) re: my ancestors’ lives  
Continue mapping my
my favorite thing!
Copple (family line) project  
Ask other cousins if they will
consider testing
submit my lineage to Sonoma
County Genealogical Society for a
certificate (if approved)
by the end of 2019
submit an article to NGSQ this is at least a year away
get my CG designation — or my AG designation this is at least a year away
enroll in and complete ProGen
study course
typically a 6 month wait list, after
you enroll. Offered 3 x a year.

Jacob Copple and Margaret (Blalock) Copple… Data Viz of their DNA-tested descendants

My Copple line was one of my “brick wall” lines, meaning I did not know the identities of  my great-great grandmother Libbie (Copple) Englehart’s parents, not to mention the fact I did not know for certain Libbie Englehart was even a Copple!  Thanks to DNA testing, it appears that the family oral history that Libbie was in fact a Copple appears to be true.

Below is a chart which shows Libby’s likely paternal grandparents Jacob and Margaret (Blalock) Copple, her father Ben and some of his siblings who have living descendants who have DNA-tested AND who match my mom.

I say “likely” paternal grandparents, meaning they are the best possible candidates for her grandparent

This particular data visualization is called the “McGuire Method” after Lauren McGuire, who developed it; her explanation of the chart can be found here.


What does this chart tell us?  It gives us an straightforward visualization of how the various descendants of Jacob and Margaret, my 4th great grandparents, relate to my mother and to me.

Jacob and Margaret are listed at the top, and are shown as the parents of Ben F Copple, Sarilda Copple, Jacob W Copple, and Sanford H Copple.  (Jacob and Margaret had 5 other children who reached adulthood, but those children either don’t have any descendants alive today, or don’t have descendants who have tested AND match my mom.)  Matching my mom is critical, if we are to use the DNA matches to validate the “paper trail” of documentation for the ancestors back to Jacob and Margaret.

Ben Franklin Copple is my 3rd great-grandfather, and the eldest son of Jacob and Margaret.  He was married twice — first to Phoebe Harvey, the mother of his 4 (possibly 5) daughters, and then to Susie, the mother of his 3 sons.  Libbie, my great-great grandma, and her sister Mary have descendants alive today who have gotten their DNA tested and match my mother and me.  In addition, a descendant of Ben’s son Nathan has tested and matches my mom.

Ben’s sister Sarilda has a descendant who has tested (called “M” on the chart), as does Ben’s brother Jacob Washington Copple.  Ben’s brother Sanford Howard Copple has numerous DNA-tested descendants, not all of whom are shown here.  Tested matches include descendants of Sanford’s daughter Margaret and Sanford’s son William. 

The two lines at the bottom of the chart are the key to the “McGuire Method” of visualization.  The first line shows the amount of DNA (in total centiMorgans) that my mom “A” shares with the tested cousin(s).   What is a centiMorgan?  The most simplistic explanation is that it’s a logical — not physical — unit of length of an unbroken sequence of the bases (adenine (A), thymine (T), cytosine (C), and guanine (G)). 

Your longest unbroken string of base sequences for each of your chromosomes would be shared with your mom and your dad — that is, from one end of each chromosome to the other.  More distant relatives, like 3rd cousins, may share only one or two segments of DNA — or none at all.   (For more detail on centiMorgans, see here, here and here.)

Amounts of shared DNA highlighted in yellow on this chart are based on the AncestryDNA test; amounts highlighted in purple are based on FamilyTreeDNA’s test.  Below the centiMorgan (cM) amounts is the relationship (e.g., “4C” = 4th cousin, “2C1R” = 2nd cousin one generation removed).

Below my mother’s shared DNA amounts is my own shared amounts with those same cousins.  With certain matches, I inherited less than half of mom’s shared DNA; in other cases, I inherited essentially all of it.

Since I first created this chart, a descendant of another of Ben Copple’s sons — brother to Nathan shown on the chart — has had their DNA tested and shares DNA with my mom.  In addition, at least one descendant of a third child of Ben’s brother Sanford has tested, and they, too, are a match.   As additional descendants test — and match — my mother, this strengthens the case I am making (based on the paper trail) that this is Libbie (Copple) Englehart’s family — her dad, her paternal aunts and uncles, and her paternal grandparents.  And hence my mother’s family and my own as well.


James Diamantini: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, #2

My granddad was the youngest of 3 sons, born to Giuseppe Diamantini and Maria (Bolognesi) Diamantini in Sonoma County, California, on 16 October 1914.   My mother — his daughter – always said he was born in Calistoga, which is in Napa County, or in Mark West Springs, which is in Sonoma County.   The California Birth Index lists the county as Sonoma; I still (!) need to order the actual certificate, so I guess we’ll see.   

The U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936 – 2007, database online at lists Grandpa’s birth place as Santa Rosa South, and his name as James Diamantine.  He made his application in 1942, and at this time, he and his brothers were Anglicizing their name from Diamantini to Diamantine.

I knew my grandfather’s name to be James Eugene, but I do not know the name he was born with.   According to the California Birth Index, a first name for my grandfather is not listed on the birth certificate.  However, on the 1920 census, his name is given as Trenton (which doesn’t sound very Italian to me, nor is it a family name that I know of.) 

1920 census, Sonoma County, California (click to zoom in)

My granddad’s two older brothers were Gaspare Antonio (aka “Gilbert”), born in 1904, in Italy, and Francis Angelo (known as Frank), born in January 1909, in Healdsburg, Sonoma, California.   Although the State of California required registering births as of July 1, 1905, there is no certificate for Frank.  My great-grandparents,  just recently in the U.S. – they arrived in 1908 – likely did not know “the routine”.     However, I do have a copy of Frank’s Social Security Application, on which he states his date and place of birth.

 I have not been able to find the family on the 1930 census (yet), but presumably they were living near Healdsburg, as my grandfather attended Healdsburg High as a member of the Class of 1934.   

While in high school, my granddad played football, and also met my grandmother, Elizabeth.

my grandparents

James and Elizabeth married on 22 November 1934, in Healdsburg, and then went to live in Tracy, California, where they worked at the service station owned by James’ older brother Gil.  My mother was born within two years of their marriage, and life was good, until Elizabeth died in 1940, after giving birth to a stillborn daughter.

my grandparents’ marriage certificate

After my grandmother’s death, my grandfather came back to the Hayward area, where his parents were living.  They fixed him up with an Italian woman his age who lived down the street from them, and the two were married in May 1941.  James and Jean (“Nonna”) had 6 children in the next 10 years.  

Grandpa worked in the shipping yards during World War II, and later worked with his brothers, who owned a lumberyard.   He was also a beekeeper, and, in the early 1970s, he and Nonna moved out to Manteca, California, where they had a ranch, and where he cultivated a vineyard.

But Grandpa began to suffer from Parkinson’s during the late 1970s, and so he and Jean decided to sell the Manteca property, and move back to Hayward.  I only saw my granddad a few times when I was growing up, and didn’t go out to California to see my mom’s relatives at all for a period from about the age of 10 to the age of 25.  

Grandpa’s Parkinson’s got worse over the years, to where he could barely walk and talk.   He died in May 1995, at the age of 80, in Hayward, and is buried at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Hayward, near his parents and his brothers.


Social Security Administration, “U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007,” database, ( : accessed 11 January 2016), entry
for James Diamantine, 1995, SS no. 567-24-6586.

Social Security Administration, “U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014,” database, ( : accessed 11 January 2016), entry for James Diamantine, 1995, SS no. 567-24-6586.

1920 U.S. census, Sonoma County, California, population schedule, Enumeration District 152, Santa Rosa, sheet 4, page 12B, dwelling 83, family 84, Joe Diamantini household; digital image, ( : accessed 20 December 2018); citing National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) microfilm publication T625, roll 151.

“California Birth Index, 1905-1995,” database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 7 July 2016), Diamantini, 16 Oct 1914; citing Sonoma, California, United States, Department of Health Services, Vital Statistics Department, Sacramento.

Aunt Nellie’s Nutmeg Coffee Cake — great for the holidays!

My mother received this recipe as part of a wedding gift from my father’s Aunt Marie, who, before she died, told me it was not her recipe but rather her Aunt Nellie’s recipe (my great-grand aunt). So it’s been in the family for a number of generations, and we love it. Typically, it’s all eaten in one day. (Which is just as well; it doesn’t taste as good reheated in the microwave.)

** Since this is a genealogy blog, alas, I can’t help but note that it turns out my grand-aunt Marie did not have an or a grand-aunt named Ellen (aka Nellie)!  She did have a sister-in-law named Nellie, and at least one cousin named Nellie.  **

So, here’s the recipe: 

2½  cups cake flour ¾ cup granulated white sugar
1 cup light brown sugar 1 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly ground
1 teaspoon salt ¾ cup vegetable oil
1 egg 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Butter a 10-cup Bundt or 9 x 2 inch square pan.  Dust the pan with flour, and shake out any excess flour.

Sift together the flour, white sugar, brown sugar, nutmeg and salt.

Combine the sifted ingredients and cooking oil in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment or use a large mixing bowl and a handheld electric mixer.  Cream the mixture at medium-low speed until it is the texture of fine crumbs.

Remove 1 scant cup of the crumb mixture and set aside.

To the remaining mixture, add the egg, baking soda, baking powder, and vanilla extract.  Beat 30 seconds.  Reduce the mixer to low speed.  Add the buttermilk, mixing only for a few seconds just until blended.

Pour the batter into prepared pan and spread the top evenly with a spatula.  Sprinkle the crumb mixture evenly on the top of the cake.  Place the cake on the lower oven rack and bake for 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven, place on a wire rack, and cool in the pan for at least 20 minutes.

Note:  In a pinch, you can use 1 cup of milk (soured with 1 tablespoon white vinegar) if you don’t have buttermilk, but buttermilk is preferable in creating a velvety texture for the cake. And fresh ground nutmeg beats the canned or bottled stuff, hands down.

For the streusel mixture, I have found that a Kitchen Aid stand mixer is too powerful, even at the lowest speed; you won’t get the fine crumbs you need. A hand-held mixer or a fork is preferable.

Woo-hoo!! Just finished!

I just completed the Boston University online class for the Certificate of Genealogical Research!  Turned in my research report on Sunday the 16th, and the grades for both the report and for the final module (“Professional Genealogy”) were posted yesterday.  I have done well enough in the modules (all graded) to get a certificate.   I will be looking for it to arrive in the mail within the next few weeks.

When it arrives, I will post a photo — AND my review of this course.  The books used were changed for the Fall 2018 session and the course was modified (somewhat) dropping the number of modules to 4 (from 5).

The registration deadline for the next class, starting in January 2019, is tomorrow!  More info can be found here.

(For a certificate, your grade for each module must be a “C” or better AND the total grade average for all 4 modules must be “B-” or better.)