President Report (June 2022)

The success of any endeavor is a vision. As President of the Sheldon Family Association, I see my role much like that of an orchestra conductor leading a symphony that has a long history of providing great music.

So, what is a conductor to do? The SFA is approaching its 85th birthday. What a milestone! We have a long history of providing some fabulous research. Much of it was done with boots on the ground firsthand knowledge and research before the internet. The stories of Henry Olcott, Rose Sheldon Newton, E. Mark Sheldon, E. Hortense Sheldon, and of Keith Sheldon are all incredible. As President, I have taken the time to study them! It helps me to make my vision an extension of theirs. Conductors do the same. They learn from the maestros of the past, incorporating today’s technologies, and make fresh new music.

So, what is the correlation? You must have a vision of the performance you want the audience to experience. Guiding the section leaders to understand that vision, they impart that tone and mood to the musicians to do their parts in concert with the audience to get an experience that everyone enjoys.

2021 did not feel like an enjoyable year. No one could have foreseen the events of the last several years, such as Covid. Yet, there were signs from old minutes of SFA Board meetings that I have read that predicted some of the past year’s events. Then there were unexpected events for individuals who had health issues, personal challenges, or both. Through it all, the love for SFA shined through, and we still made some music for which I am incredibly grateful.

Let me start with the update

At last year’s Zoom call, I alluded to ongoing critical issues about finance, research records, membership data, and control of several social media accounts. I indicated that the SFA sought to solve these issues using a third-party approach. Regretfully, we were left with no option other than a legal one by sending a formal letter of demand from our lawyer. We are now making some progress. Please understand that the current Board feels strongly that the unauthorized retaining of these records violates your privacy, violates SFA Bylaws, and violates the fiduciary responsibilities that officers and board members pledge to observe. It is a matter of trust, understanding, and a special privilege that the records and data we are asked to manage belong to SFA. Keeping such data after leaving the Board is theft of proprietary business records. Such is the case we have been faced with this year. Recovering and, in some instances, rebuilding these data has absorbed a tremendous amount of time and effort.

In recent months another expression of abuse has emerged. The SFA started and initially funded the FTDNA project in 2007/2008. The records of how the SFA started the FTDNA project are clear. SFA made contributions to underwrite the study up through 2021. For reasons mainly related to a lack of technical expertise on the Board, the FTDNA project was transitioned in 2017 to then current non-Board leadership. Today, none of the Sheldon Family Association Quarterly Page 1484 leaders of the FTDNA project are members of the SFA. To be succinct, we do not recommend participating in this study. You can be sure that the SFA will no longer be funding this project.

Even with some sour notes, the group has caught up and plays on. We have many new members. Renewals are on track, but it is early in the renewal season. The process of joining and being reminded of membership renewal has been made more accessible, more precise, more transparent. Our sheldonfamily.org website has been redone, and its management is much easier at less cost to the association. We have added several new and exciting interactive sites within the website. We continue to put out issues of SFAQs and are committed to keeping them going out regularly. We are actively looking for a new editor and am happy to report that we have a possible candidate. Our SFA tree continues to grow with new and refined data. The trees for the five progenitors have been put online with membership-only access. This was an incredible feat done by Kevin Sheldon and Wende Warren! Our membership records have been rebuilt. We have regained control of our Social Media sites and are in need of a Social Media Administrator.

Yet, we also stalled on the ACPL project after a strong start last September. In part this is due to distractions and issues beyond our control at the ACPL. I have been in touch with ACPL leadership within the last few weeks, and they assure me that they are emerging from their severe personnel issues brought on by COVID and the local job market economics. We are now at a point that we need to start building a team of volunteers to determine the process and sort through the on-line data at the ACPL.

The SFA has planned, and we would sincerely like to have you join us this August in the Boston/Salem area. Getting together and having a “normal” reunion will do wonders to make sweet music and move the SFA forward. We already have formative plans for the 2023 reunion and, like above, need people to help with the planning and logistics.

We are getting close to the end of this ode and will be starting our next song. Earlier, I spoke of some of the personal challenges members of the current board have pushed through. Life changes force a rearranging of priorities, and I speak from personal experience. I have been in this role for three years and pledge to finish my fourth ending in the summer of 2023. Beyond that, I plan to remain active in the SFA, but I must yield more of my time to anticipated caretaker needs. Again, we need new Board members, either as Directors or as Officers, to step in as the next generation of leaders.

Now the Vision

Rooted in the vision of past leaders, the SFA will continue to be a place to learn about the surname Sheldon and its numerous spelling variations. It will try to do what it can to support places/sites and graves that belong(ed) to Sheldons. It should build on the need to recognize/educate all those that served our country and made community contributions. We need to reach out to see what we have in common with Sheltons, Sheldens, Chiltons, and other spelling variations worldwide. We need to pursue the written and genetic history of all branches of Sheldons and spelling variations in England and Bermuda, Barbados, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. We need to write about the Sheldon trek from the colonial east coast to Alaska and Hawaii. All these stories are fascinating, and much is unwritten.

To Close

My role is to deal with the tough stuff and keep you informed. There are and were other “Sheldon” genealogy organizations out there. There is plenty of room to coexist. However, we firmly believe our collaborations need to be based on fairness, integrity, and respect. The Board will do what is right to protect you and our 83+ year heritage and history.

The Summer SFAQ Newsletter Is Available

We’ve had an eventful year so far and the Summer SFAQ contains all the news and developments the Sheldon Family Association (SFA) has been working on. From a newly redesigned website, making our database of Sheldons connected to the 5 progenitors available to the members, communication tools to connect you to each other, and our upcoming Annual Meeting and Reunion in Boston (August 17-20), there is something for everyone that belongs to our organization. We are very proud of our 83+ year history!

Click here to view this edition and all past SFAQs going back to 1949.   Emails have been sent to all members containing a direct link to the Summer 2022 Quarterly.

View the itinerary and register for the SFA Annual Meeting and Reunion in Boston here.

Thank you all so much for your continued interest and support of the Sheldon Family Association. We really appreciate it.

SFA Family Tree Database Now Available On Our Website

We have some exciting news! The Five Progenitor Sheldon Family Trees are now available on our website! If you are a paid member of the SFA, you are now able to search for and view Sheldon ancestors in our database. Search for and find ancestors you never knew you had! It is an absolute treasure chest of information.

Here are some explanations about this new, never before offered benefit for our members:

  • You must be logged in to see the trees. Instructions are on our website if you haven’t logged in and created a profile yet. https://sheldonfamily.org/member-log-in-instructions/
  • You can search the database by name or choose one of the 5 trees and view starting from that progenitor. Clicking on a specific name will show you all the notes we have on that person. We’ve even left old original genealogist comments viewable so that you can see the history of the research.
  • Living people are private and show only as “living”.
  • If we don’t have a birth date and the person is not marked as deceased, they will show as “living” and will be private. You can help all of us by reporting updates for people in the tree.
  • Check out the Timeline feature when you look at an ancestor’s details. Included are historical events that would have influenced your ancestor’s daily lives.
  • At this time we’ve only included names attached to the five progenitors in these trees. Unattached SFA members may be in our database, but not included here.
  • On-line trees will be updated monthly with any refreshed data we’ve accumulated since the last upload.

We have worked hard to make sure that your privacy is protected and respected. This is why the trees are not downloadable. If you see anything that should be corrected please let us know by sending an email to our research team at sfaresearcher@gmail.com.

Check out the SFA Family Tree Database here!

Thank you all so much for your continued interest and support of the Sheldon Family Association. We really appreciate it. Hope to see you in Boston in August for our Annual Meeting and Reunion! Links to register will be posted soon on the website.

Sincerely,

Michael B. Sheldon

President

Spring 2022 SFAQ Released

The Spring 2022 Sheldon Family Association Quarterly (SFAQ) has been released and is available on our website. This edition includes articles about our new website, The Henry Sheldon Museum, a surviving Sheldon during the Civil War, and an article about Sheldons and the Vermont Marble Industry. There is also information about our upcoming reunion in Boston (Aug. 17-20). Click here to view this edition and all past SFAQs going back to 1949.   Emails have been sent to all members containing a direct link to the Spring 2022 Quarterly.

Click above view this edition and others going back to 1949

New SFA Website

As you can see, we have a new SFA website that is also a communication channel. It has fantastic and exciting improvements.  One of the most significant improvements is that we created a long overdue and needed private “membership only” portal where you can:

  • Create your profile and make changes to your information making it easier to stay in touch with SFA and SFA members.
  • You can see when your membership expires and renew your membership more easily.
  • The “members only” sections give you private access to:
    • Discounted SFA publications (and Sheldon Places has been revised!)
    • Exclusive Sheldon Places Map with cross-references to Sheldon progenitors, Sheldon ancestors, SFA researched history, SFAQ articles about a place, and website links.
    • The ability to join group chats on various Sheldon topics where you can discuss, ask questions, and/or create your own groups.
    • Social interaction – “friend” members and send private or public messages
    • Post questions in forums
    • Have all SFAQ newsletters at your fingertips to research
    • Obtain announcements from myself and others that are for our members only
    • Have personal access to the SFA Bylaws, Annual Meeting minutes, and names of officers.

You may ask why this was needed? The answer is that more and more unwanted persons have used the information on the site to make improper solicitations or pilfer information over the last several years.

Yet SFA knows and feels that the world should know about us. Therefore, the public site will retain many of the previous items it had before, such as information about the progenitors, the ability to purchase SFA articles, the ability to join SFA and view public announcements.

We hope that you will be pleased by the updated site, and we highly recommend you use it to keep up to date about SFA and grow your genealogy database!

To get started, go to SheldonFamily.org as you would have before (the old website is gone and replaced by this one) and click on the Log In link in the upper right corner. When you see the username/password field, click on the “Lost Password” link and enter your email address.  If we have your email address in our system, a password reset link will be sent to your email, and then you can enter a password of your choice and set up your profile which will already be pre-populated with any information we have on hand about your membership.  You will be able to make address changes, etc., as you set up your profile.

Click on “Lost Password” and then enter your email address

If you have any issues requesting a new password or setting up your profile, please send an email to webmaster@sheldonfamily.org.

Thank you again for your support throughout the year.  Please click around on the website. There is information about the 2022 Annual Meeting/Reunion, an update on recent Board actions, and many fun things to check out.

In SFA Friendship,
The SFA Board of Directors and Michael B Sheldon, President

Please note: future emails from us will come from this new website and no longer from MailChimp.

President Report (January 2022)

With the introduction of the new website, the SFA Board made a change to membership renewals at its January 2022 Board meeting.  Annual memberships went from August 1st through July 31st of every year, regardless of the date that you joined or renewed.  That worked fine in the past because most of the SFA business was done by those who attended the annual meeting. However, when the SFA took the annual meeting virtual a few years ago and began sending election and Bylaws ballots out to the entire membership in good standing, things got very complicated.

The change: New annual memberships now expire one year from the day you that you send in your payment (or multi-year payments).  For example, if you paid for a 1-year membership on January 1, 2022, your membership will expire on Jan 1, 2023.  This change makes membership much easier to administer, and the new membership portal automates renewal reminders for us. Additionally, you have the ability to create your own profile and manage changes yourself. Please create your profile so that you are able to make use of your membership benefits.

Important News

SFA had its ups and downs in calendar year 2021.  In the Spring, there was a reshuffling of responsibilities when Sue Sheldon resigned as Treasurer and also gave up her roles as Membership Chairperson and Database Administrator (our Ancestry Tree data). I reviewed some of this in my annual report during our Annual Meeting.  There remain several unresolved issues from her resignation and the Board continues to act on solving them. The Social Media Administrator also resigned. Wende Warren stepped up to fill the Membership, Database Administrator, Publications, and Social Media roles. Susan Russell filled in and was subsequently elected as our Treasurer. An earlier resignation by Marvin Parsons for health reasons left us a need to fill the Webmaster role and Archives. A big thank you goes out to Kevin Sheldon, our new Webmaster, who created our fabulous new webpage.  Elizabeth Townsend, our Secretary, took on the responsibility of the Archives.

The other Board members have also been working hard behind the scenes. Libby Wilson, our VP, is making progress on the Policy and Procedure Manual. Several of us are regularly talking with and in collaboration with the Allen County Public Library to create solutions to restart the ACPL project.

The financial year ended basically with a no net gain to put into our reserves due to donations we made to the Henry Sheldon Museum in Middlebury, Vermont to help with their renovations and to the FTDNA Sheldon DNA project to purchase more DNA test kits for English roots research.

Sadly, we also lost a member of the Board.  Joseph Uphoff, who was a Director at Large and our SFAQ editor, passed away in November.

As you can see, there have been challenges yet we have still put out editions of the SFAQ and we have grown our Ancestry tree by over 500 people.  We’ve created a new Facebook group and a new website.  We remain committed to recover unreturned property, regaining our (c)3 charitable status, and expanding the ACPL Sheldon site data.

Important Needs

I once again put out a call for volunteers to help SFA.  Be it a Director at Large, one our chairpersons (Social Media or SFAQ Editor), or a committee member, if you have some time to spare and want to contribute your skills to our 83 year old organization, please contact me at msheldonsfa@gmail.com.

The Passing of Board Member, Joseph Uphoff

On December 16th, 2021, Joseph Uphoff left this world for his place in the heavens. He was born on 01 Nov 1955 and was connected to the line of John (S13). Joseph joined the SFA in 2007 and began his leadership contributions in 2019. First as an appointed member of the Board of Directors and then elected this past September. In 2020, he stepped up into the role of Editor of the Sheldon Family Association Quarterly.

He was very much the man behind the scenes, very quiet with those he was not familiar with, but very amiable with those he got to know. The more I knew him and the more I talked with him, the better I liked him. He was one to always ask great question without an agenda during the Board meetings. You would not know that he an “independent” academic, a researcher and despite a disability, a public speaker. His area of expertise was broad yet focused. He studied the history and genealogy of Southeastern Asian, Chinese, and Egyptian history. In some cases, he expounded on how those cultures affected our history as well as Europe’s. He most recently wrote about Mayan connections. He was an avid coin collector with knowledge of pre-coin currencies.

His touch on the SFAQ was just beginning to come to light as his first commitment was to reconstruct the efforts abandoned by those who recently resigned the role. He was studying prior issues of SFAQs written by Rose Newton and others and was creating a vision to focus the Quarterly on making it less of a newsletter with interesting gossip to one with more educational and historical content. His definition of history challenged some but given his background his opinion was well founded. He and I were in synch on how to make SFAQ an integral part of our (c)3 charitable non-profit application.

His Celebration of Life ceremony will be private and attended by family and close friends toward the end of February. Filling his shoes will be challenging, but I hope to start the process after the first of the year. In the meantime, Elizabeth Townsend and Wende Warren are stepping in to finish the SFAQ issues Joseph was working on. Michael B Sheldon President Sheldon Family Association

Volunteers Needed

We need volunteers for the positions of Director at Large and for Committee positions 

For more information, you can reach out to Michael Sheldon at president@sheldonfamily.org or at sheldonfamilyassociation@gmail.com. 

Henry Luther Sheldon Museum in Middlebury, Vermont

Our next reunion in 2022 will be in New England.  Somewhere in the Salem area. Date and exact location TBD soon.  While doing their homework, the Reunion Committee noticed that the Henry Luther Sheldon Museum in Middlebury, Vermont, is undergoing renovations and is soliciting tax-deductible donations.

I have asked, and the Board has agreed to have SFA pledge $1000 to the Museum.  SFA will also guarantee any shortfall of SFA member donations up to another $1000.  Two Board members, I, being one of them, have pledged $100 each, so $800 to go.  The $2000 will help replace ten windows on an entire floor of the museum, and SFA will be recognized for its contributions.

So, what, and where is this place?  This museum is the oldest chartered community history museum in the USA, having been founded in 1870.  Henry Luther (1821-1907) is the Great X3 grandson of Isaac (S5). He began his collection procuring roman coins with the funds he made when he sold the coins.  He then went on to collect art and local artifacts.  His home and belongings are still a part of the growing collection of Sheldon memorabilia and local historical artifacts from the Middlebury, Vermont area.  You can learn more about it at https://www.henrysheldonmuseum.org/.  The museum also retains Sheldon records from the area in its library.

But there is another important reason for the SFA donation.  The collaboration and history of SFA are very intertwined with this museum.  A brief review shows that SFA has had numerous annual meetings there.  I found minutes for one meeting dating back to 17 Aug 1949.  Other meetings in 1958, 1984, and a solicitation of the SFA members for the museum when it renovated in 1990. SFA itself was also a regular contributor to it for many years. Today it is a viable and beautiful museum with a small garden in the center of town.  It is worth a visit, as I did briefly this past summer. SFA says thank you for your dues – thus making us able to do things like this.  It is not only about Ancestry trees but also about preserving history, recognizing the contributions made by Sheldon cousins, and keeping regional history alive.

I should also add that SFA makes other contributions. We donated to the Sheldon Theatre in St. Louis a few years ago to support the arts program, and SFA just donated another $500 to the Sheldon FTDNA project this past July bringing its total donations to $1700.  These funds go toward purchasing DNA testing kits to test Sheldons in England to help discover our English roots.  I am pleased to say the SFA (not including SFA members) is the most significant contributor to this effort.

So, if you can give a little, please do.  Make sure to let the Museum know you are a member of SFA and let us know too. Oh! Donations to the museum are tax-deductible.

Michael B Sheldon

President

Sheldon Family Association