Nov 26, 2009

2009 Family Thanksgiving

We are back from a quick auto trip to the Bay Area for a family Thanksgiving with our Northern California kids and seven grands. 1690 miles in five days! It was great to see the kids again, even though California treated us to rain and chilly temps. Here are the grands at Mark & Sam's home in Mill Valley, California.

Oct 4, 2009

Returning to My Roots - Piano, That is!

Can you imagine playing a baby grand for church services after a 30+ year hiatus? It's happened to me - with God's help (and He had everything to do with it every step of the way) as today was my first day tickling the ivories at Calvary Chapel. I played MANY years ago for my small church in LeMars, Iowa where I grew up, and then for several years in a large church in Los Angeles. Once I moved away from SoCal, I attended churches already set up with organists and/or pianists and orchestras, so I've had quite the vacation. I no longer have my piano since it was loaned out once we downsized, so I've been alternating between the SunRiver community center ballroom's grand piano and the church's baby grand, recently donated by a very generous donor, for my practice time. I must admit, I love every minute of the practice and the playing. It shows me how much I've missed my piano for worshiping in hymns and gospel songs.

Oct 1, 2009

Grandgirls Jenna and Juliette

Dear Grammy and Boppa: We miss you a lot so we are going to send you this picture. We love you!
Love, Jenna and Juliette

Who wouldn't love a card like that???

Aug 5, 2009

Tooles and the Military

Bill formed the Utah Dixie Marine Corps League Detachment in St. George. There are many retired Marines who live here and we've made some wonderful friends from that Marine Corps community. He's also involved with the Veterans Coalition of Southern Utah and very much enjoys his military contacts. We've also been involved with the Devil Pups program which Bill has brought to the Southern Utah community. Here we are at a Dixie State College ROTC program at the Courtyard by Marriott Convention Center Spring of 2009.

Jun 27, 2009

Grand Girl Visit June 2009

My daughter and two grand girls (Grace, 12, and Claire, 8) were here for four days for a little vacation time for them and to help me celebrate my 39th birthday. I'm officially older now than both my children! Gracie's only request, other than going to Tuacahn Theater to see Footloose, was one or two trips to one of our favorite restaurants, Chuck-a-Rama. The reason it's a favorite?? The home made yeast rolls. This photo says it all.

We took in a bread baking class at Leavitt's kitchen shop, shopped the mall and the outlets (scoring big at Eddie Bauer), made sure we hit all the best restaurants, swam at Sand Hollow Aquatic Center, got Claire's car sickness tendency eliminated by the local NAET doctor, Dr. Pinkston, took in the dinosaur museum (real footprints and impressions of dinosaurs found here in St. George), and saw the most awesome production of Footloose. Thayne Jasperson (So You Think You Can Dance, High School Musical, etc.) played the lead. What an incredible dancer and entertainer. There was even a surprise puff of smoke during the song I Need a Hero when Superman flew across the stage on the high wire. The girls were thrilled with the production and we felt it was the best we've seen yet at Tuacahn, the most gorgeous outdoor theater in the country, tucked into a natural setting of red rock cliffs. The girls are now in SoCal visiting some friends before heading home this weekend to Auburn, California. It was good to have them visit in June. In past years, they have only been free to visit in August - a very ugly hot and humid month for St. George.

I can assure you that it's easier to have kids in your 20's and 30's than it is to have grandkids in your . . . ummm . . . late 30's, so I'm off now to rest.

Photos from Footloose

Claire and Grace with "Urleen" and "Wendy Jo." Incredible singers and dancers!

"Willard" was one of our favorites.
His personality popped on stage
and he was delightful to talk
to after the show.

Jun 3, 2009

Burrill Relatives

While searching for Burrill ancestors, I came across the website of Dan, a third cousin. On his website were photos of my great grandfather and his siblings. Dan’s ancestor, Sadie Burrill, was my great grandfather’s sister. I was able to locate Dan in Washington state and eventually made contact with him and his sister, Leslie, and more cousins, Sally Jean and Margaret Ann. What a wealth of information went flying back and forth!! Thanks to them I have much more of a background on the Burrill descendants. One of the joys of genealogy is locating cousins and then finding out what great people they are. :)))

Sadie's 75th birthday. (She looks so
much like my Grandma Faye!)

Apr 25, 2009

Northern California

During our last trip to NoCal, we had some family time with my two kids' families. We met on a rainy, windy night in Davis, California at Bistro 33 located in the old City Hall building.

Here we are. Front row, L to R:
Claire and Grace Breckenridge (Shannon & Paul's girls)
Juliette and Jenna Ingram (Jay & Jill's girls)
Boppa (aka Bill Toole) in the middle.
Back row. L to R: Shannon, me, Jay, Jay's wife Jill and Shannon's husband Paul Breckenridge.

Mar 27, 2009

Fun in Northern California

We have just returned from a quick trip to the Roseville, Fairfield, Auburn, California area. Bill had a liaison meeting for the youth program his Marine Corps League sponsors. It was in Fairfield (the home of the Jelly Belly Factory). We had the pleasure of having dinner with both of my kids and their girls. Here they are: Grace, Jenna, Juliette and Little Ham Claire. After a great dinner at a restaurant in the old City Hall building in Davis, California (half way between Jay's home in Alameda and Shannon's in Auburn, we were talked into a visit to the local Ben & Jerry's where the girls assumed the expected sugar high. On Monday, Shannon and the girls, Grace and Claire, took Grammy to the Roseville Galleria. We did our part for the local economy! It was rainy in NoCal so we expected to get warm again once home in our desert outpost of Southern Utah. Not so! We're chilly here, too!

Feb 28, 2009

Family History Expo in St. George

Wow! This was a big day for me at the Family History Expo this weekend in St. George! I spent all day yesterday, went early today and stayed till the prizes were awarded at 5:15 this evening! My English genealogy records classes were great. I learned a few more tips while viewing the censuses, and tried to take classes to cover the areas I'm working on now. I was able to work in 11 classes over the two-day expo.

My Google classes (took three that incorporated Google in some way) were awesome. I already have a gmail account for this blog but didn't know there was so much that can be done with it - including a telephone account where Grandma can call you and leave a VoiceMail which you can hear on your computer and even download as an audio file into your family tree software. Here's just one of the many tips I learned today to whet your appetite for the next genealogy expo in your area.

To search for only your target on a particular website, type the target name, then the word "site": (with the colon behind site) and the URL. For example:

Burrill site:

"James Parks"

I think the "hits" are better than Rootsweb's own search feature. You can use this on any website for any subject or topic, and it saves search time.

I very much enjoyed the speaker on Virginia. What an expert she is!! Apparently Virginia is one of the, if not THE, hardest state for research, mainly I believe because it was originally much of the east coast except for Maryland and NJ. Later it split up into Kentucky and Tennessee and West Virginia, etc. so finding the records is tedious and most are not online, more’s the pity. Wouldn't you know James Parks was born in Virginia! But I have this professional genealogist’s name now and if we need her once we find just where in Virginia James Parks was born, I know where to go for the answer. [I hope we won't need her because research there is so tedious and time consuming that it's expensive.] She has compiled several books from her years of gathering records, but they were expensive and I don't yet know just where in Virginia we're headed. Maybe one day it'll be something to think about - certainly less expensive than flying back to Virginia and trying to find all the various courthouses and historical societies that might or might not have information for us.

One of the interesting things she said was, if you have ancestors who settled early on in Virginia, then they’re likely from wealthy families. Frequently 2d, 3rd and 4th sons, etc. of the wealthier Scottish and Irish families who did not inherit the family property came to Virginia where they had large spreads, some with slaves, some big in tobacco farming, etc. Virginia was settled by people of means. So that’ll be interesting. Maybe our Parkses only hit Virginia on their migration path, but they were at least there when James was born around 1790.

My last class of the expo was on identifying old photos and it was a hoot. The speaker has written books, and has good stories on a lot of photos. She did a PowerPoint presentation with quizzes for us on how to look for clues. I had purchased a couple of books on identifying old photos from one of the vendors as that’s an area where I need to do some studying.

Last, but certainly not least, I won a prize in the final drawing that apparently amounts to about $160! I got a full annual membership to World Vital Records and a copy of the book on Google advertised on their home page. They were out of the copies they'd brought to the expo because it sold so well, so they will mail me a copy of the Google book, and my subscription to the website should start on Monday. Here’s the site:

I don’t know much about the site yet, but I’m hoping it will be really helpful in pulling up records over the next year while I search for BMD [birth, marriage, death] records on Parkses and maybe even find more on my Burrill ancestors. All in all, though, we frequently heard speakers say: "the records are on Ancestry," and I do have a world subscription to Ancestry.

All in all, it was a very satisfying day, after which I had dinner out with my hubby at the Parrothead Island Broiler, always a yummy place to go. :))

Feb 22, 2009

Parks Genealogy

I'm stuck - serious brick wall. I cannot find James Parks further back than the 1850 U. S. Federal Census for Blackford County, Indiana and 1860 census for Delaware County, Indiana. He is my great great grandfather. James gives Virginia as his birthplace in both censuses, and his given age would indicate he was born about 1790-1791. We have DNA posted at FamilyTreeDNA and the results are also posted on We belong to the Western Atlantic Haplogroup and indications are James' family was from Ireland. This is my mother's father's family.

Phelps Genealogy

My Grandma Parks (Mom’s mom) was a Phelps. I believe I’ve traced the Phelps to Richard Phyllyppe, born 1479 in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, England. There is a wealth of information online about the Phelps family, a very old, well established family after William Phelps, 1599, immigrated on the Mary and John from Plymouth, England Mar 20, 1630, landing at Nantasket Point, at the entrance of Boston Harbor on May 30, 1630. He settled in Dorchester, Massachusetts, and died in Hartford, Connecticut in 1672.

Mom had a family history of the McDougall family dating back to the 1100's. Tradition has it that Somerled, a daring and courageous Norse mariner, sailed his Viking ships over to the Southern Isles of Scotland, led his warriors to the Roman Castle of Oban, scaled the walls, put to death his ancient enemy, and in the year 1120, laid claim to the Southern Isles of Mull, Jura, Kintyre, Islay, Arran and Lorne, all a part of Argyll. A descendant of that McDougall family, Persis McDougall, born 1841, married into the Phelps family in 1865, marrying Anson D. Phelps who had settled in Wisconsin.

My great grandfather Phelps married a Libby, whose mother was Angelina Riley, and I believe Angelina brought to the Parks family its coloring, the olive skin and dark eyes. Aunt Bonnie provided this photo of GG Angelina. I have some tracing of the Rileys to do yet. I’ve only gotten them back as far as Maine in the early 1800's. With a name like Riley, we may have another generous dose of Irish in the Parks family.

Angelina P. Riley, 1832-1907

Burrill Genealogy

[Great Grandparents George and Mary Jane Tullis Burrill]

Burrill genealogy is coming along nicely, due to the research talents of Vivien, my “Dempster” cousin Duane’s wife. The Burrills are my dad's mother's family. Burrill was my dad's middle name. I’m trying to add the English branch to the tree and it seems I have located George D.’s parents with the help of Barbara, another cousin. Those parents are George and Mary Carter. I believe George D.’s grandfather to be Henry, born 1742. At the times of most of those births, the family was in Bedale, Yorkshire, England. Grandma Dempster believed she was related to the Burrills of Massachusetts, and I’d like to find evidence of that yet. Since the Massachusetts Burrills were here in America long before George D. arrived, it is possible that one of the Burrills went back to England - or that the connection is much earlier in England.

Grandma Mary Faye
Burrill Dempster Eyres

Dempster Genealogy

The John Dempster Family

My Dempster genealogy is in a holding pattern right now. I’ve gotten the Dempsters back through my dad, Grandpa Henry and Great Grandpa John to Scotland and my 4th great grandfather Andrew Dempster, born 1738. In the process of Scottish research, I met a fourth cousin, Jill, whose Dempster ancestors settled in Michigan. She now lives part time in Michigan and part time in England where her husband has a home. She has sent photos of the Lesmahagow area of Scotland where our Dempsters originated. She’s a delightful person and very giving with the research she has completed on her branches. She is, after all, a Dempster!!

Another friend and special cousin I’ve met during Dempster research is Emerson who lives in Canada. His Dempsters came in through Canada and most of them stayed there. We have not made the connection with absolute proof, but it looks like one of Andrew’s sons, Samuel born about 1772, is his ancestor. Samuel would be my third great grand uncle and, thus, Emerson would be my fifth cousin. He works for Michelin Tire and lives just outside New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. One of his Dempster ancestors went to Ontario, Canada, and was credited as a baker of fame that eventually opened a very large company that is very well known in Canada and northern USA for their Dempster bread. The mystery of why I like bread so much has been solved!

Feb 21, 2009

The Grands

Here are seven of the 12 grands at an early Thanksgiving celebration in Auburn, California in November 2008. Aren't they grand??? (They take after their grandparents. . .)

[Carly, Juliette, Claire, Aidan, Grace, Jenna, Ellie]

And here are the others who didn't make the above photo:

[David and Will Toole, New Brunswick, NJ]

[Amy Scott, Massachusetts]

[Taylor Scott, Massachusetts]
and last, but not least . . .
[Kendra Winhall, Spring Valley, CA]

Feb 20, 2009

Grammy & Boppa

Grammy has just entered the world of blogging! It's going to be mostly for genealogy, but it might keep our family and friends up to date on our happenings, too.

[Me at 6 months!]

Life is good, retirement is good, and it's definitely enjoyable to be able to indulge my genealogy and scrapbooking hobbies. I'm currently working on my own family history albums, from my dad's side (Dempster -Burrill) to my mother's side (Parks-Phelps).

I'm currently web sergeant for Bill's Marine Corps League detachment and two clubs at SunRiver St. George. I'm enjoying the HTML learning curve.

Bill has had a full two years as founding Commandant of the Utah-Dixie Marine Corps League Detachment. It's been a wild ride but very satisfying. From only a few months after formation, his detachment has been the largest in the State of Utah. His term will be over June 09 when we hope to relax and "get back to business." He's also been involved in a coalition of veteran groups in Utah, so no grass has grown under his feet since we've "retired." Well, maybe not grass - desert rocks??

MCL Blog:

[Our view of Pine Mountain
on a warm fall day]