Update using Gofundme

I am very grateful that I received my first donation using Gofundme, still along way to go.

Although it is hope against hope, I am staying positive that this will happen so that I might pay my respects, share stories and reminisce the loss.

If you haven’t heard, Delta has a contest for free airfare, I entered that as well for they will announce the winner by the 12th of this month.

Here is the link going to their facebook page:


While, I am on the topic of airfare, Southwest Airlines is offering airfare as low as $73.00. This will not help me but maybe one of you can use the deal.

Here’s the link for Southwest Airlines:


The below photo is a generation photo of Moms. Left to right. Aunt Sheila, her Mother Mary (Aunt Mary),  Her Grandmother as well as mine, Grandma Loreto taken in Colusa, Ca.

Family Photo
Generation Photo

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
Ancestry.com. U.S. Marine Corps Muster Rolls, 1798-1958 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com 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 Ancestry.com 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 Ancestry.com 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 www.geni.com 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 Geni.com 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 Geni.com, 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 Geni.com 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…..

Sherlock Unlocking the past

First post,

How I found my brother from my Dad’s prior marriage. This person was born in 1949 and after my Dad passed in 1993 I have been searching for his other sons who are my brothers by blood. I wanted to know them make that connection because I am about family. While taking an engineering class back in the early 90’s from a retired Civil Engineer, he made a comment one day that family is the most important people in your lives. He continued and said that family is first to prioritise the job, the school third. I once read an article about teachers not teaching as a whole and here I am in this class being taught as a whole. I was impressed and his name is Michael Woods.

I will do my best to scribe the account on how I found my living relative. The tools that I used in the past still hold true to this electronic age that we live in; what’s that, snail mail. That’s right certain times you will have to use snail mail but first let me show you the process I used in detail.

Tools that I used:

1. Pen, paper and envelope

2. Ancestry.com took some doing. I only had his mothers first name, I experimented for days, then weeks which turned into a few months. I would use the last name of Rios, then leave the last name blank. I played with the birth years but to no avail no leads. I then focused on my brother. I played with the location of where he was born since I already had his birth date. After two days I found a record providing the fathers surname and mothers surname and I grew up in that location; was like hitting a home run when I found that record. So I have the birth record, now I can add the surname to the mother.

While I was searching records  a few kept showing up for a person that had the same name living in a part of Kansas. Since this is a living person I will only reveal the state. I for some reason kept on thinking that he had to be in California somewhere. Lesson learned. Do not have a closed mind. Think differently.To jump track here a bit, I would send out letters to people I found with the name I was looking for and nothing I lost count as to how many letters I sent out but I did get one back saying “Sorry I am not that person”. I was grateful I got a reply back from this person but discouraged as well

Do not get discouraged, that is a pitfall and one that can lead you not finding the person or record for that matter.

Back on the train -Whoo whoo. So, I saved one of those records to my shoebox in Ancestry.com and then extracted the information to Notepad on my desktop. I used White pages found a reference of this person but I still was not convinced that this was my brother. A few days later, I thought to myself, what about Facebook? I wonder. I ran a search in Facebook for this person and saw the State that was showing up in the records I found. I then got a glimpse of the man looking back at me. My heart started to pound as if I just won the lottery.  Deep breath Michael, Deep breath. Once I was calm, I then went to this person wifes’ profile page and found a better photo of this person. I then compared to the photo of a child my Dad had in his Navy Photo album. Same dimples, same facial expression, same nose I could not believe my eyes.  I had to get reassurance. I showed my better half and she was amazed but had reservations. I then emailed one of my close friends and she told me that she would be surprised if the person said they were not that person. Do I take the chance of another let down.

So, I did what any person would do, I send a message to them within Facebook. Days went by then a month went by and still no reply, not even a kiss my butt-barking up the wrong tree.. After a few days, I decided to write a letter (hand written letter-it is more personal) to this person living in Kansas. I also enclosed a photo of a ten year old child, about two weeks later I got this letter from this person from Kansas. I was trying to prepare myself but emotions triggered. Calm yourself I said to myself. I opened the envelope and began to read. It was my brother confirming that he indeed was the person I was looking for. My body was shaking a bit, head spinning that I finally found him. We chatted on Facebook for about thirty minutes, but he and his daughter are still getting used to the idea of me. I don’t blame for they don’t know me or anything about me……Case closed!

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Michael Rios

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