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Recommending RootsTech 2014, SLC

Dennis Brimhall's story of his Father in WWII  .

Dennis Brimhall’s story of his Father in WWII .

I had such a great time at RootsTech in 2013 that I can’t wait to see what’s coming in 2014. Last year, Dennis Brimhall’s Keynote speech blew me away.  He gave the ultimate Family History story and experience. His daughter had done the research on his father’s (her grandfather’s) experience in the War (WWII) and even published a book of the story – now captured forever.  Dennis’ father had been in the U.S. Army Air Core in 1943 and was a co-pilot in a B 24 assigned to bomb Germany. In their ninth mission they had a good position in the formation as they took off but nevertheless were shot down. Dennis’ father and one other man were able to parachute to safety – the only survivors.  Dennis even included actual photographs of the horrific experience of the attack on his father’s plane. It just left me wanting more for my own family ties.

The classes I attended were very helpful. I found encouragement on how to start using WordPress to blog and since then I actually started one!  Another class I benefited from was  about “free photo-editing websites”. It got me (and the rest of the audience) very excited about trying out some of the features. The teacher reviewed the basics and explained those funny looking icons for photo editing.  Now I understand what I can do to improve my pictures! What she taught us is free online! Wonderful!  Other classes I took encouraged me in my family history research which is always helpful. They rekindled the fire and gave me new direction.

I, like so many others, am a shopper, which made the Exhibit Hall a candyland for me. I picked up RootsTech 2013_Saturday-61_thumbnail (1)materials from Stampin’ Up and new software called Evidentia – it’s supposed to help me track my research and make better conclusions about my discoveries. I appreciated the help I received from Pictureline concerning old photos in my collection that are stuck together. They advised me on the solution I need to fix the problem. I’m still getting up courage to do this one.

So my experiences from the past RootsTech just gets me excited to see what’s in store this year. It will be in a much bigger space at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City. In this case, bigger will be better. And don’t forget, part of the fun is seeing your friends there who have the same passion you do!

Go to for lots more information


Have You Tried a Probate Search in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania? Historical Record Collection has a fabulous collection for Probate Records in Pennsylvania for 1683-1994. That’s the good news. If you’re searching for a will in Allegheny County, that may be the “bad news” because it’s easier said than done.

Actually there is a process that is successful when followed carefully. You’ll want to know it before you attempt such a search. The Pennsylvania, Probate Records, 1683-1994 collection at is a browsable collection which means it is not indexed. You will have to search through the collection much like turning a microfilm on a reader. It’s not as hard as it sounds. Begin by clicking on “Browse through 3,201,289 images” and select Allegheny County.

It takes 3 steps to get to a Will (if there is one) in this county. The first step is to look in the Allegheny County Estate Index for an individual’s listing. Just choose the link according to the surname and first name you are looking for. Click and browse. You must learn the Russell Key Index System at the front of each volume. It will give you the page to go to in the collection. Now start browsing.

Once you’ve found your person in the index, you must use the information (i.e. volume, page and block) to take you to the “Proceedings Index”. (The “block” number is for one of the “squares” on the index page.)  See below: the name, death date and place, the Executrix, and the volume #, page # and block #

Allegheny Co. Estate Index

“Where are the Proceedings Indexes?” you may ask. Well the listings under Allegheny County in the “Pennsylvania Probate Records, 1683-1994” is very extensive and covers a variety of record types. They are listed alphabetically so scroll down the page (from the Estate Index that you’ve been in) until you come to the Proceedings Index 1788-1971. Choose the Volume you need (volume 1 through 95) and click. Example: Volume 36.

Follow the volume and page and block number previously found in the Estate Index. You will be successful if you are precise in following directions.

Allegheny Co. Proceedings Index

Once there, you will find what papers are contained in the Probate packet. If there is a Will (WB = Will Book), make a note of the volume, page and will numbers and go to the next collection – Wills.

“Wills” are found at the bottom of the Record listings for Allegheny County. Simply click on the volume you need and go to the page number. Voila!

Allegheny Co. Will

Give it a try.  There is amazing information in wills that can enlighten you about your ancestors and their relationships!

My mother, Jane Frances McGraw Brennan

ImageThis is my mother, Jane Frances McGraw Brennan, when she was a young girl. I suspect she was 12-14 years old at the time. It’s only fitting that I begin a blog with my mother since it is her family, the McGraws of New York and Michigan, that has given me countless years of research pleasure. I have had the privilege of collecting many documents, stories and photos of these families. It’s odd that I have had very little contact with actual family members about these families. I have been in touch with a few second cousins but none from the Michigan branch, some of which extended down into California, mainly the San Francisco area.

My trees are on Family Tree at and I encourage you to take a look if you think you might be related. I hope to post many stories and documents there as time goes by and the site develops stronger features.

Back to my mother. I just posted a simple story about my mother on Family Tree that you can easily get to at the link: