Memorials -A tribute to lost ones and preserving there memory

For todays blog, I decided to talk about memorials and a way that we can in our own way give back. Not too many people know that I create memorials on Find a grave.  During my research on my Rios and Reza side, I did not see any reference about my family on this great site (FREE by the way) that can preserve the memory of our lost ones. I searched for my great grandparents and great great grandparents and nothing.  Find a grave can assist the amature genealogist or family historian in so many ways.

Now, I normally add photos of grave markers to a memorial if it needs one and if I do have the photo to begin with. I recently took a trip to Parsons, Kansas and on the way back we stopped at the Mount Hope Cemetery Galesburg Neosho County Kansas cemetery one, so that my better half Deb could pay her respects and to take photos of the grave markers two, although I aided Deb in her quest, I also took several other photos on this windy ice cold day running back to the car to warm up a bit then back at it. I am still in the process of uploading those photos.  Why is this site so important, I will give you my reasoning and opinion. Imagine a relative, a close friend that simply can not make the funeral weather due to finances, health or other factors this is great way for them to view their lost one, leave virtual flowers and a few kind words so that they can pay their respects, lets face it most of our families our scattered across different states.


Photos -looking into the past

What can I say about photos? Photos are a gateway to our past and is part of genealogy studies.

In 1971, I was about four years old when our parent had my brother and me sit for a photographer. The photo has been around for a long time and received more than its fair share of abuse from the sun and other elements. Years ago, I took this photo to my local Walmart when they had the Kodak system to repair photos. The photo came out beautiful but they would not let me have it. They wanted me to get permission from the studio first prior to handing me the photo. I searched for the company that was printed on the back of the original and the person nor the studio no longer existed. I was very depressed and discouraged. So, one day I started to research on how I could repair the photo myself. I do believe I made good attempts at repairing this one photo and several others.  Granted it did take me several tries and pounding my head on the keyboard and before long I started to get the hang of it.

Once I felt that I was getting fairing good at repairing some of my photos, I moved on to others that I found posted from family members and friends that I have on my Facebook page and some that I found on Ancestry, after fixing the photo I contacted the person that had the photo in their tree to let them know I repaired it but I did not get a reply back.. There were some that took me several hours to fix, infact one took me the entire day. I am by no means a professional yet several of my family claim that I have a knack for it.  I will let you the viewer be the judge of that. As, I stated the photo to the left of my brother Roy and I is the first one I experimented on and I must admit I did not do a bad job for being an amature at repairing photos for myself.

If I get encouraged enough, I will make some videos on how I restored these photos. So please leave me a comment.










First contact of many

Yesterday, I said I would make it point to call a first cousin once removed that resides in Stockton, CA. I have never met this person or knew that she existed. The only things that I knew about her was that she was born in Minnesota and moved to the San Joaquin area and that she was born in 1940 the daughter of Anatalia Reza and Fausto Gonzalez and few siblings. I opened up my family tree so that I would have information on the spot.

I made the call despite my hands becoming sweaty from nerves. The phone rings a male voice answers the phone. I ask for Mrs. Cline, I hear in the background the mail voice saying for you Margaret. I silently clear my voice hoping Mickey Mouse does not come out. I introduce myself and explain the connection I have with her cousin Crestina Reza. Cousin Margaret was surprised to hear from me, we discussed the linage and how I was connected to Refugio and Refugia who are my great grandparents. That is when it started to click for her. We talked about Uncle Manuel that lost his leg. Margaret did not know that he passed in 1982 so I had to inform of that fact. Off the track a bit, sometimes when I make these calls, I feel like an Officer or Detective informing a loved one that a person is no longer with us. Ok, back on the train. Then she asked about her cousin Teresa sister to my Aunt Cris. I had to inform of her passing as well.

Although, Margaret did not have any information about the family except for some that I had already knew, she gave her childrens names so that I could put them on the family tree. I also learned that she was babysat by my great grandmother Refugia Flores {Reza}. I also learned that once my great grandmother Refugia died that the family split up in different direction. With that information, I am now able to paint a picture as to why the family are scattered in every direction. I was not disappointed in the call I made, I made a new connection, found a little more information about her children that I did not have and she even offered me a place to stay in the event I am able to go to California and visit with them. That was sweet of her since she barely knows me, but family is family. She collected my contact information, told to call any time and the call ended…Contact made.

Two post in one!

March 3, 2015, I decided to give this one person in my family tree a call yesterday evening. Not long ago, I was sent some information from one of my cousins that lives in Phoenix, Az and with that information was a letter from these people Vincent and Lois Reza with their contact information at the bottom. I made the call the phone rang and went to voice mail. I started to leave the message but as soon as I said the names Refugio and Refugia Reza a woman answered the phone. We spoke for a few minutes on how I was related to Refugio and Refugio father Nicolas Reza. The woman turned out to be Lois Vincent’s wife that does the genealogy stuff (as her husband put it). Lois informed me that Vincent was out and about at the moment. Frowny face that Mrs. Reza could not see, but I still spoke to her for a while and then her husband walked in the door and she explained who I was. Vincent got on the phone who is eighty-one years strong by the sound of his voice. I was not sure but I could of swore I heard or sensed a military background in his voice. I only say that because I used to work as a Tech Support technician and when you learn the tones you can hear someone smiling or ready to crack you with a whip. I called this person for a few reasons, one to make the connection, two, to find out where he obtained a portrait of my great grandfather Refugio and to let them know that there are other relatives that are alive. I must admit this gentleman had some information that I was not aware of. Vincent explained to me how he got the Portrait, turns out that back in those days there were traveling salesmen that would go camp to camp and offer their services and one of these salesmen offered to take a portrait of Refugio claiming that it would be like a photo. Now back in those days from what I was informed by Vincent is that cameras were a rich mans game and back then during the depression era salesmen did not care about the color or race of a person to offer said service. I can believe that because during the depression era my dad told me that some restaurants would charge a person for water, things were tough during that time frame and that is putting it mildly. Vincent even talked about the Japanese during the WW II that my Dad was in.

Refugio RezaThis is a copy of the portrait that Vincent obtained so many years ago. They originally shared this with one of my cousins that lives in Phoenix, Az. When I saw this portrait on my cousins family tree, I was shocked to see what my great grandfather look like, I never got to met the man he died way before I was born.

Vincent and I exchanged contact information and the call ended. I went to my tree in Ancestry to search for millitary records because that was an itch that needed to be scratched like the ones you might get on your back and no matter how you try to ignore it it just won’t go away; just like that, I had to solve this to see if was a soldier at one point in his life. After about ten minutes of digging, I found it. Turns out that he was a Marine.

Name: Vincente Reza
Muster Date: Oct 1954
Rank: E2
Station: Co E 2Ndbnreinf 2Ndmar 2Ndmardiv Fmf,Mri 2 Camp Lejeune N C

Source Information U.S. Marine Corps Muster Rolls, 1798-1958 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2007.
Original data:
Muster Rolls of the U.S. Marine Corps, 1798-1892. Microfilm Publication T1118, 123 rolls. ARC ID: 922159. Records of the U.S. Marine Corps, Record Group 127; National Archives in Washington, D.C.

U.S. Marine Corps Muster Rolls, 1893-1958. Microfilm Publication T977, 460 rolls. ARC ID: 922159. Records of the U.S. Marine Corps, Record Group 127; National Archives in Washington, D.C.

I had a very productive two days and now I think I will give my eyes a rest from this and turn to the boob tube.

Interesting conversation

AuntCrisI decided to give my Aunt Cris a call since I was having some issues with writers block, we talked for eighty-one minutes today. Ancestry one of the tools that I use tells me that she is my and I’ll quote from the software “Your 1st cousin 1x removed”, now growing up we were told to call our elder relations aunts or uncles and that is why I call her Aunt Cris to this day. Aunt Cris used to babysit us as children and I do have fund memories of those days of what I can remember that is. During our conversation, I encountered some gems being contact information to a first cousin that lives in Stockton, Ca I believe I will call her Aunt as well.  I plan on calling Aunt Margaret tomorrow. The second surprise I got was that I was researching a Manuel F Reza born July 26, 1914 in Texas who my Aunt Cris calls Uncle Manny. I asked her if this person ever lived in the Stockton area. I asked this question because as a child I remember Dad taking us to see this couple that we called Uncle Manuel and his wife Jean. I began to describe certain events that I remembered to Aunt Cris and I was shocked to know that this was the same person that I was researching.  Now, Uncle Manuel like to fiddle with car parts and he had a male bad habit of laying the parts on the kitchen table. His wife would be furious with Uncle Manuel for not cleaning up the mess. Jean as I remember my mother telling me that she was a very meticulous immaculate housekeeper. I remember one time after Uncle Manuel stepped on a rusty nail and gangrene set in which led to the removal of his leg and confined him to a wheelchair, during that time frame that is when Jean lost her touch for house keeping because the last time I remember visiting them their place was not well kept. Catching up on old times did my soul good today which also prompted this post. So, I am into genealogy as some of my family and close friends know, I have been working on Aunt Cris side for some time now. What started the quest was that Aunt Cris spent a lot of time trying to find her Mothers’ death record. I took the challenge and I will admit I was getting frustrated beyond believe. I was pulling my hair literally, throwing my hands up much like a gamer would when someone kiss his avatar -virtual entity.  The fifth or sixth day into the search, I was about to give up but I still plugged away, playing with birth years, demographics leaving the birthplace off. I then spent some time on as well. But, on that sixth day on Familysearch and I still don’t remember what I did but I finally found Aunt Cris’s mothers’ death record.

Death CertificateThe third gem that I was not expecting is that she has a photo of her Mother and Uncle Manuel’s son Robert. I was excited like someone saying let’s go to Disney World my treat. All this time I would think that I would be able to place a photo on the tree that I am working on and the resource was there all the time. I never thought to ask or when I would call I would get wrapped in to what was being discussed at that moment that I would simply forget.  I love this person I call Aunt Cris very much-she is an angle that blesses her loved ones everyday……

Fishing analogy -patience is a virtue

I started using in February 19, 2014 and after sevearl months I felt like I was getting nowhere. My mother rest her soul gave me a task to find her sisters and I have been searching since 1994. The information I had were the names of her brothers, sisters and her biological parents, I had no birthdates no married names for my mothers sisters. During the 90’s, resources were limited meaning using a phone book, making calls and writing letters. To no avail I was powerless and my efforts were fruitless. At that time frame, I was living in Willows Ca which is eighty miles north of Sacramento, Ca. I would make trips to San Francisco, Ca which was the last known place for this Bradford family, but no success they were long gone by that time. The idea of placing an ad in the Newspapers was a romantic notion, our Dad recently passed in July of 1993 and we were still going through the healing process; funds were limited at the moment.

In February of 2014, I created an account with and added the basic information that I had.  I started to find Census records from 1940 that had my mother listed as one year old. I got excited finding this record and then I found others 1930, 1920, to 1880 when my grandfather was one year old. Infact that is how I found out who my great grandparents were. The sensation of finding these treasures brings a sense of accomplishment. I then moved over to my biological Uncles and started to conduct the research on them. First, I found Dennis F Bradford, I then found his death record buried with his parents. My grandparents and their son Dennis were buried at the Golden Gate National Cemetery San Bruno San Mateo County California, USA. Uncle Dennis is located at Plot: Section R, Site 2837. I then moved over to the other uncles, and more death indexes. I found all my uncles no longer living. I was getting discouraged finding valuable information but not the information I was hoping to find. I wanted to find phone directory listing the last known place of residence, but that will not happen for  all the male descendants are deceased.

May of 2014, I started researching my mother’s sisters. I will tell you you really need the married names because this part became the preverbal looking for the needle in the hay stack. I spent months researching possible leads but no success not even a nibble. I decided to give that part of the tree a rest and moved on to my great grandmother Rebecca Ann Street born 20 Apr 1858 in Tennessee. I already had some basic information I retrieved from my Library visits but I wanted to get further in the past. I then went back to visit the sisters of my mothers still nothing to be found. The frustration was building. I then thought, what about creating a smaller family tree using another site. I found and luckly it was free to create the small tree for free. I created this in September 5, 2014. I am an avid fisherman and I thought to myself what if I throw out a line with the bait being my family just dangling there in this gigantic pool of information. So, now I have two lines out in the water so to speak. Two months went by with the information on and nothing. I had to get in a different mind frame to not get discouraged because most great things in life do not happen overnight. While the line was still in the ocean, I continued my research on my family tree I had on Ancestry. Then one day I get this email from, I was taking by surprise and bewildered at the same time. I had a follower, it provided me with the persons name that I did not recognise. That was January 9, 2015. I was ok, move on thinking nothing of it. Then, I get another email the same day but later in the evening, but this time said I had a message left by this person the same person that followed me earlier. I go to my Geni account and read the message that came in at 8:29 pm. I was shocked, stunned my heart was racing a million miles. The information within the message could only be by a family member that knew that truth, no one else would know that.

The message, “I am looking for your mother if her maiden name is Bradford. My mother, Patricia, is her sister. She has 4 sisters living and never forgot their sister Virginia who was adopted by the Dixon family when she was 10 years old. Please email me with information.

I had to compose myself, I thought that I would never make that connection become a reality. Now granted, winning the Lottery is a goal of mine as well but this was just like getting all five numbers with the power play. I was on a roller coaster of emotions. When this person gave the family name of the Dixons, I will admit I was beyond shocked because only internal family members would have that information. There are no records, it was not an adoption by regular means.

MOMDAD02Once I composed myself, I wrote an email to this person later on in the evening. I attached a photo of my mother. We arranged a time to have a phone conversation. We shared information and I had to inform my maternal first cousin that resides in Auburn, Ca that my mother had passed away in May of 2002.  We are still in contact with one another to this day and I have made calls to my aunts as well. I only wish that my Mother was still alive so that she could reconnect with her living sisters.

The moral of this post: Do not get discouraged when it feels like you are getting nowhere in your search. Searching for living family members is not like finding records of a deceased relative that at times can be easily found when using the right tools of the trade.  I read a post one day in the message boards of Ancestry and the person that was giving advice said that you have to think differently when locating records. The same can be said when trying to find living family members. I used my fishing tactics to lure the biggest fish in yet to date. So, throw your lines out two or more, this is one place that one cannot be fined for having too many poles out in the water…..

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