Reconnecting with Family – Under A Sad Event Part 2

Tuesday July 14, 2015 around 3 PM

I left off with meeting my first cousin Karin and Aunt Patricia. If you wish to review that post then please read: Reconnecting with Family – Under A Sad Event Part 1.

Around 3pm  or a bit after, my cousin Bob picked up his grand nephew and me. While Nicholas ( grand nephew) was swimming, I got to enjoy a one on one conversation with Bob.  We caught up with our current lives and reminisced of old days-it was a blast. Here is one kicker, for the past twenty-three years he has been employed as a Computer System Administrator, and me having a fondness for computers obtained an A.A.S  Degree in Network Systems Administration.

Five O’clock and on.

Williams CaliforniaThe most part of the time I spent in California was setting around, small light conversing and meeting new cousins I have never met. I am the one with the camera around my neck.

I will say the heat in California since I have been away for some time, was HOT! Eight in the morning and sweat would be pouring off you. Hell my balls were yelling no more! The nights while sleeping even with a wall ac running reminded me of -the nights of past of waking up with the pillow soaked from your sweat.  My body temperature I do believe has acclimated to South Dakota.

Wednesday July 15, 2015 the day of the service.

Me lighting the candle of life and remembrance.

This was the rough day. When my mother past in 2002, I had thought all tears were gone from that point on…. I was wrong. First was the lighting of the candles by family members then friends. I was strong, I was doing good I had thought-no tears and throat not choking.  But, when I placed the candle on the table next to the other lit ones, that is when it hit me. She is gone! My throat was closing up as I fought back Niagra Falls.


Family dynamics -A candid look into my Mother’s life

Family dynamics are the patterns of relating, or interactions, between family members. Each family system and its dynamics are unique, although there are some common patterns.



science_archaeologistGenealogy is not just about amassing dates of birth and deaths on yours or someone else’s family tree. Genealogist dig for information like an Archeologist would unearthing the past by finding clues or evidence that link us to the present, the stories discovered helps to solve the family structure as a whole look at it this way. You and I are individuals with our own beliefs and opinions but, we come from a family unit that helped bridge our own way into the vast world of adulthood, now let’s think back to our great grandparents day, how they lived, what was an average day like for them, how did they survive during that time frame and most important, how did they react to one another within the family and as a whole. That is family dynamics the study of individuals interacting with one another and the family as a whole.

Think back when you were a child reacting with your siblings, parents and cousins, some will be fond memories while others will not be so pleasant to remember and it maybe like digging up old wounds for some. Now let’s expand this concept to our parents and other ancestors. How did they get along with their siblings and other relations, what was the communication link between them if any?  Through these discoveries, the complexity of the unknown can shed some light on our families and their history, granted if we do not have at least two elder relatives to help unearth information we seek to learn, then we use Census records to gather the geographical pattern of migration, land deeds if any to determine how wealthy and newspaper clippings for a brief look into a moment of their life, marriage records can also shed some light especially when one partner is twenty years their junior. A person in their fifties will not think the same as a twenty year old and vise versa.

My Mother rest her soul, always had this nervousness about her for as long as I could remember, I never know why or understood what made her so nervous but, today I think I can put the pieces of the puzzle together and form a partial imprint of the larger one waiting to be developed one day.  Earlier in my youth, my mother would tell me stories of how her bicycle was stolen while slap-clipart-slapresiding in San Francisco, Ca, she was surrounded by five other girls and one was rather on the large side, they taunted her-shoving her around and one slapped her leaving an imprint on my mother’s white skin.

Speculations of the time period.

My mother was about twelve years old when her bike was stolen, according to her recollection, so that brings us to the year 1951. A 1940 Census record shows her living on Fillmore street at the age of 1 and on my grandfathers  U.S. National Cemetery Interment Control Forms, 1928-1962 shows that his wife my grandmother in 1951 was residing on 2487 42nd Ave San 2483_42nd_AveFrancisco, Ca. Ok, I now have an address for the 1950-1951 time period. I googled this address out of curiosity and the light blue residence with the green shrub in front is the dewling. My grandparents had twelve children that reached adulthood. Now, if I were to subtract two children from the 1940 Census that would leave ten children plus two adults living in this small dwelling during 1950-1951 and even if I were to subtract another child that would still leave nine children and two adults in this dwelling. We can only image the tensions that might have grew on each other.

 Another piece of the puzzle, since connecting with my first maternal cousin Karin, I recently got an email from her providing me with a bit of more information: January 27 2015

Hi Michael,

I can’t believe all the information you retrieved on the Bradford family, it’s amazing!! Thanks for sending it to me. Aunt Lucille told me the other day that her father, our grandfather, would go on a drinking binge every 7 years for 5 days. He would also tell all the children really scary detective stories. That may explain why my mother is such a frightened person. Will be in touch.


I am getting closer but have one more fact to add to the missing pieces, I recently had a conversation with Aunt Patricia who is my first cousins’ mother, during our conversation, she informed that her and my mother were at the park one day on the swing sets and were also petting a puppy that happened to show up. While at the park, a man exposed himself to both little girls and they ran home as fast as they could, they told their Dad what had happened and he grabbed his gun, (he was a night watchman for the graveyards) ran to the park. My Aunt tells me they never had another incident like that happen again so only one can suggest what transpired that day once my grandfather got to the park.

I have the slapping incident, small living arrangements for a family of that size and the new information of grandfather going on drinking binges and telling stories to scare his children and the park exposure incident. I can now say with a good amount of certainty why my Mother was so nervous…..

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.

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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