Sunday, February 20, 2011

Motivation Monday - Cherie's Got Her Groove Back

Last Monday I was facing one hell of a week.  There was so much non-genealogy nonsense in my life that I had no time for what really family and continuing down my professional path.  There was even PTA high-school-I'm-going-to-hold-my-breath-and-stomp-my-feet-until-you-do-what-I-want crap.  It was a stressful week, but just as when my children throw temper-tantrums they don't get what they want, well, this chickie didn't get her way either.

Was that why I got my motivation back? Nope.  It was due to a very good friend who sent me an email via Facebook with a genealogy related question.  She only met her biological father once, but wanted to look into her genealogy.  Not being close with him she didn't feel comfortable asking for his parents' names so she wanted to know how she could find out who they were.  A good (and necessary) starting point for research.  With the experience I have, I saw no really easy answer.  She could always try to contact the Vital Records Division in California and request an uncertified copy of her father's birth certificate, but getting one isn't always easy.  Getting a vital record when the person is still living is not easy even if that record is uncertified so since it was 10:00pm off to I went.

     The information I knew:
     1) Her father's name
     2) Where her father was born (California)
     3) Where her father lives now (Washington state)
     4) Her grandmother's surname (Stanford...she did not know her first name)
     5) That her grandparents were not married and that they were deceased.
     6) That her father used the surname Angel for a time, but wasn't sure why

The surname of her father was unusual...Piplic.  My search turned up few results, but you really only need one if it's the right one!  I found her father's birth on Ancestry and the record essentially told me everything I already knew, but the second record I checked was very helpful.  The United States Obituary Collection turned up one result:

"Tony Piplic died Dec. 10, 2003, at age 88.  Mr. Piplic was born Dec 10, 1915, in Portland.  He was raised in Jewell and served in the Air Force.  He lived in Eureka Calif., and Tacoma before returning to Portland in 1963...Survivors include his son "living" (Piplic)..."

Well, now we had a name for the grandfather since his son's name was in the obituary.  I was able to find Antone in the 1920 census for Portland, Oregon. - 1920 US Federal Census, Portland, Multnomah, Oregon, Sheet 22A

In finding this I was able to further tell her that her great-grandparents' names were Lena and Mark and they were immigrants from Austria and that Antone had 2 sisters as of 1920, Anna and Frances.

I sent her information that I found in the WWII Army Enlistment Records showing that he served during the Second World War.  Something that I felt would be of special significance to my friend, since she too is a veteran. 

I finished my email letting her know that I had inquired about the possibility of obtaining an uncertified copy of the birth certificate and that I'd let her know what the state of California said when they got back to me (they still haven't).  Trying to search for "Stanford" and "California" does not provide the best results!  I was going to head to bed, but decided to try one more thing.

Since I had sent her a link to her grandfather's memorial on I attempted a search on their website for "Stanford" and "California".  There were 156 matches.  I began scanning through them and opening in a new tab any female with the Stanford surname that would have been likely to give birth in 1953.  There were a few, but it did narrow it down a bit!

I looked through each tab hoping for something that would jump out at me.  Something that would say "This is the one" but instead I was slowly closing each tab confirming a negative find.  FindAGrave is wonderful, but the bottom line is if someone didn't upload her grave, I wasn't going to find it.  As is typically the way with these things, I clicked on the very last tab I had open and saw this picture...

Evelyn Lois Stanford Piplic Cox Angell

I sat there looking at this beautiful woman (without looking at her information, believe it or not), and said, "Oh my goodness, this looks like my friend!" and then I looked at the write up that went along with her memorial:

"Daughter of Delbert & Anna Marie (Desler) Stanford...Twin sister of Everett & sister of Alvey Delbert...When she and her brother were born, they were so small that the family carried them around on pillows!...Mother of "Living" Piplic & "Living" Cox...She was raised in Milton-Freewater, OR...She was married to William Rall, Tony Piplic, Raymond Cox (div all) and in 16 April 1966 married Edwin Angell...She lived in Seattle for many years and returned to Milton-Freewater, after her mother's death...Evelyn was always thoughtful and cheery person. She loved to laugh and enjoyed her family, friends, flowers and gardening...written by her first cousin, Betty."

It was the right woman (and she had been married to Tony after all!).  I was so absolutely excited to be able to share this link with my friend.  It felt like I was giving a gift and just made me so incredibly happy!

Now, I did leave out the part about how I thought Evelyn looked like her.  Knowing that this family was essentially a family of strangers, I did not want to offend her.  The next morning I received a response from her saying that it was nice to be able to see some of her features in Evelyn because she hadn't seen many in her mother's side of the family.

A strange little twist...when I performed the search again on FindAGrave to see the number of hits I got, Evelyn didn't turn up this time.  Odd how that happens sometimes.  Maybe Evelyn wanted to be found...

I know that everything can't be researched on the internet, but I've got to tell you that being able to find both of my friend's grandparents with the information I had in less than an hour made me feel pretty darn good!  Having an unusual surname helped, and having a family member that posted so much information on FindAGrave was lucky, but those factors didn't change how I felt about it.  It was a triumph to know I could pull it off.  It put a smile on my face to know that I had helped a dear friend begin her genealogical journey and as she said it "feels like Christmas".

It all gave me the motivation to get back to where I belong.  This week I'm focusing that motivational energy and I'm getting my genealogical groove back!  No volunteer group is getting in my way!


  1. Cherie, that is awesome!!!! Gave me chills!!!

  2. What a great story!! It's wonderful when the puzzle pieces fall into place, and finding that picture to boot!! You're friend must be thrilled.

    It was nice to stumble on your blog this morning. We seem to be on similar journeys - the road to becoming accredited, professional genealogy, and PTA :-) Good luck!

  3. Thanks, Claire. You too! Those distractions can be intense! :)

  4. Cheryl - Let me know if you want help getting that birth certificate from California - I live here in Stockton and have never had a problem with any county recorder's office in getting them.

  5. Sheri, you are a sweetheart! I will let you know if I do. The recorder's office finally emailed back and said that getting one wouldn't be a problem for her, but who knows! You may be hearing from me if it goes wrong! :)

  6. I got chill bumps.