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Top family posts of the year

Here we are, in the last days of 2019, and The Legal Genealogist is continuing to take a chance to think back and reflect.

It’s Saturday… the day I usually focus on my family here in the blog. And it’s in the heart of the holiday season when most of us try very hard to keep the focus on our families.

So here on this Saturday, I’m taking a moment to look back on a year’s worth of just-about-once-a-week blog posts about my family… the blog posts that mean the most to me individually — and that often resonate deeply with readers.

Sometimes, a family post will break into the top posts overall for the blog for the year — and one did, this year — but more often they’re simply the ones closest to my heart.

top 10 family 2019

And so I take this opportunity, on this last Saturday of 2019, to share with you the top family-related posts of the year. Without further ado… and starting at number 10 for the year:

An open letter (August 8)
“To the members of the Abandoned Cemetery Association of Parker County, Texas: Ladies and gentlemen, The Legal Genealogist doffs her hat to you. And offers you a family’s thanks in general — and this descendant’s thanks in particular.”

David Fred Cottrell, 1928-2019 (July 13)
“They were 12 in number, born between the First World War and the early years of the Second World War. The children of Clay Rex and Opal (Robertson) Cottrell, The Legal Genealogist’s maternal grandparents. Ruth Marie, the first-born. Born in Tillman County, Oklahoma. Tiny, perfect, perhaps too perfect. Taken at the age of six months. A failure to thrive baby.”

Baker serendipity (September 30)
The Legal Genealogist often uses one particular branch of the family as examples in lectures: the Bakers of Virginia-North Carolina-Texas. … I use this family for so many reasons: they’re — sigh — a great example of family stories that turn out not to be true in the least; they’re also — double sigh — a great example of the need to do burned county research; they have all kinds of same-name-same-guy questions, and so on… And every so often when I’m talking about the Bakers, serendipity strikes.”

Birthing a cousin (March 2)
“She was born 110 years ago today in a little town in Wichita County, Texas. Or maybe not. And The Legal Genealogist is getting really annoyed at finding these gaps in the research files…”

In their footsteps (June 8)
“The foundation was laid before the year 1000. The chancel dates from the 13th century. The main building itself dates from the 15th century. Once known as the Church of the High Seas, it still flies the Red Ensign, flag of the British Merchant Navy.”

Visiting William (February 2)
“William Wiseman was The Legal Genealogist’s 5th great grandfather. And, according to published family histories, he was born 282 years ago today, on the second of February 1736. So when that popped up in my On This Day program, you know I was going to think to myself, what better day than today, Saturday, the day on which this blog focuses on my family, to visit William and share a bit of his story?”

Discovering fiction (September 16)
“So The Legal Genealogist opened the email program this morning and there it was. A personal discovery, just for me, according to the automated system notice from one of the big genealogical companies. Another user had traced one of my nemesis ancestors back further in time than I’ve managed, and I can ‘add an entire branch to (my) family tree with 12 people, in just a few clicks!’”

An uncrossable divide (May 4)
“In the ordinary course of things, in a genealogist’s life, getting a copy of a vital record is a cause for rejoicing. But sometimes there’s a story behind the record… And so it was for The Legal Genealogist late yesterday when a copy of a California death certificate came in by email.”

A long overdue apology (January 12)
“The Legal Genealogist‘s first cousin once removed just couldn’t understand the whole notion of genealogy when it came up in a conversation years ago. He could not for the life of him wrap his head around the idea of wanting to get to know distant family members … or what he thought of as ancient family history.”

How do we know? (April 6)
The Legal Genealogist doesn’t generally go ballistic while poking around on Particularly when reviewing somebody else’s family tree, I understand that what I’m looking at is generally at best a hint, and often one that will not pan out.” (This one made the top 10 overall — not the norm for a family post!)

On to 2020… with the other usual sidetracks into other top-post lists for this year…

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “2019 top posts: family,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 28 Dec 2019).

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