Board of Directors activity

During the past year, the SFA Board of Directors met ten times, with at least one meeting per quarter in compliance with the SFA Bylaws. The meeting minutes are on file. The frequency of the meetings was primarily dictated by the SFA property issues with the subsequent filing of a complaint detailed below. Some new policies were created based on membership requests for research data and dues refunds.  At each meeting, the status of the business was reviewed regarding matters of membership growth/retention, finances, and committee activities with a focus on the website, media sites, and the FTDNA study.

SFA Annual Business Meeting

There were 18 members on Zoom, and 15 were present in person. This was sufficient for a quorum. A total of 25 members and guests attended the Annual reunion activities. All comments about the meeting and activities were very positive.

The following is an extended version of the President’s Report given at the annual meeting in Chelsea, Mass., on Aug. 20, 2022.

There were three significant disappointments this year. I begin with the passing of an SFA board member, our SFAQ editor Joseph Uphoff. I will miss his ways and his quirks, but I miss most of all the love he exhibited for SFA and his passion for trying to improve the SFAQ. He relished his role as editor. It was a shock when we learned of his sudden passing.

The second item was the inability to make progress on the public viewing of Sheldon documents on the ACPL website. The September 2021 board meeting and activities were epic, with the effort put forth by those that went to Fort Wayne. We saw tons, learned tons, planned tons, had tons of fun, and developed a very good comradery. Unfortunately, the issues of Covid and some of a personal nature got in the way for both SFA and ACPL, and while scanning has been done, the visual output is not there for all to see because of SFA not being able to review all the content.

Lastly was the difficult but necessary organizational changes in leadership structure. At issue was that over time, membership, research, data management, and finance all fell to one person.

September 2020 saw the addition of some very talented individuals, and the opportunity to shift and distribute roles was a natural evolution. Unfortunately, the desire to change was met with resistance. Requests were made and ignored. There were also rogue actions taken that were not authorized by the president or the board that put SFA at risk. There are many details, and I can assure you the board has been very aware of them and discussed them. For some, this was too much, very unpleasant, and they understandably resigned.

In August 2021, SFA saw a full-on frontal assault with the specific intent of replacing SFA. Because of their collaboration, the group that created this organization was able to obtain and retain copies of all the financials, DNA data, membership information, research records, and entire database in different formats.

The board made many attempts to resolve the matter of having its research, records, membership records, and financial records returned. In June of this year, it voted to proceed with creating a legal complaint that is now a matter of public record. During the week of August 8th, 2022, SFA filed a complaint with the Superior Court of the State of Washington State in Mason County. The complaint was served on Aug. 22, 2022. It specifies SFA’s intent to take our former treasurer to court for breach of her fiduciary duty as an officer of Sheldon Family Association and failing to comply with the association’s bylaws fully. SFA seeks to collect from her the digital/electronic SFA Quick Books client records and specific membership and research records that are the property of Sheldon Family Association.

This matter has been time-consuming and expensive for our small organization. After the treasurer’s resignation, SFA received some information from her. With mediation, just a little bit more, with two letters sent by the lawyers even a bit more, the most important of which was finally returning to SFA control of our social media accounts. Despite this gradual acquiescence of data and power, the fact is that the most critical things, such as the client files with supporting documentation on Quick Books and assurances that the membership and research records we firmly believe to still be in her possession will not be used for personal or commercial benefits, have not been given.

The board was unanimous in its decision in June to file because it firmly believes that our organization must protect its history, files, and membership. SFA has been a leader in many areas over the years. Many have contributed significantly to its collection of objects and data. SFA was a leader in converting its data from paper to digital. It was a leader in DNA research and its collaboration with FTDNA. It will continue to strive for the return of its data and records.

Now the good news:

Thankfully, those board members who remained have been amazingly resilient and productive. Our most recent addition to the board and our webmaster has created a masterpiece of an SFA website. We keep an open mind and keep moving forward with our goal to deliver a quality product for our members and potential members. Our webmaster and membership chair have made keeping membership current and meaningful. Their additions to the SFA website, including the Sheldon Family Places Map site and the chat rooms, increasingly differentiated it from other sites. If we could get more volunteer help, there would be more than we already envision.

The restructuring of the website has helped to reduce some of our operating costs, which has allowed us to consider such things as making contributions to places like the Henry Sheldon Museum in Middlebury, VT. The board sees gifts like that as being in line with being a charitable organization and contributing to public education. It also keeps us in tune with maintaining historical sites with Sheldon connections. The message is that SFA and the monies you contribute or pay are not just about a family tree; it is SFA’s mission to protect and preserve the actions, activities, and records of Sheldons anywhere in the US. It is about 83 years of organizational history. It is about tying things together from the DAR, SAR, and Mayflower records. It is about letters SFA received from Sheldons years ago, and decades of SFAQ Newsletters and manual research. It’s about the journey of Sheldons’ research, starting with HO Sheldon himself and the findings they made and attaching it to people in our trees.

This year we finally re-initiated the annual reunions after a two-year hiatus with a visit to Salem, Danvers, and Boston. Salem is a historic site with solid ties to the Godfrey line, and Boston is home to the Red Sox and Sheldon Patriots, some of whose gravesites we visited.

We had new challenges arise, which the board investigated and discussed. Several people approached us about donating enduring records and research. We have no office or place to store such material physically. Electronic storage is different. It is good news that ACPL has indicated its willingness to continue collecting more durable records and materials, whether personal genealogy or the Association’s. ACPL Director Curt Witcher spelled out the requirements, and we have written them up into a guide to help those who choose to add to the Sheldon collection.

I mentioned that we finally got control of our social media sites. On Facebook, two are open to the public, and the other is only open to active SFA members. We experience more insights and draw off both the new and old on these sites. At a cost, however, since recent phishing probes mean we need to be a bit more guarded. We have a plan currently in discussion as it relates to our website. We need your help here. I am the first to know that electronic communication for our more mature members is challenging. A number of our members are in their mid-nineties, and computers and handheld devices present challenges (updates, button size, jargon, etc.). At issue, though, is cost; again, our senior members are the least able to pay more. So, it is a balancing act for those who can; please create your member logins on our website. More and more information will be placed behind the membership wall for your membership benefits. What we will do with the open-ended social media sites is to be determined. We need a volunteer to help us here!

Through it all and despite the passing of our editor Joseph, we kept up the SFAQs because our heroine Wende Warren stepped in to take on the publication/formatting of it. Many thanks to the authors who contributed in the last year. Please keep it going, and now I am proud to announce a new editor: Jim Berrie is our new SFAQ editor and has also been elected to the board of directors. Jim has a lengthy background in newspaper journalism.

Wende’s membership report is on record. We are status quo in our membership numbers from a year ago. Given the year, I could not be prouder of what has been accomplished. The SFA Ancestry Tree data has grown by almost two thousand names. In addition, the tree now identifies any Patriot, as proven by the DAR, with ongoing work to add data from SAR and Mayflower. We will do what we can to identify other veterans and attach notes from personal contact and through our records at ACPL. If this interests you, please contact us through

SFAs financials, like membership, are stable. The bank account numbers a year ago and today are about the same despite giving a $1,000 donation to the Henry Sheldon Museum restoration project. We saved during our website transition and cut back on some of our research newsletter purchases. I expect that in 2023 SFA will have to draw on our savings account because of our legal expenses.

I want to say a few words about recognition. The board honored E. Hortense Sheldon this year by placing her name on the memorial plaque. She was the essence of being a Sheldon. She did phenomenal, if not epic, work on the Isaac line. She was a Godfrey descendant. She went to many places in her research and had insights into the origins of Sheldon from England. I would ask that you might log on to read the tribute written about her as well as the others we have memorialized.

In closing, I want to make my final remarks with recognition of the board. It has been challenging, yet we have had a few laughs. I give each of you a sincere heartfelt thank you. Two officers cycle off this year but have agreed to stay on until replacements are found. One will also remain as our reunion administrator, and the other will stay in the role of historian. I am delighted to have Kevin Sheldon and Jim Berrie on the board of directors, each with a three-year term. We have the positions of president and treasurer up for election in 2023. Finally, the coffee mugs (pics on social media) we gave out to each reunion attendee were a hit. We will be ordering more—price and shipping to be determined.

See you next year at our next annual meeting in July 2023 in Fort Wayne. The exact mid-month dates are to be determined. If you are a genealogy buff, this is one of the best record archives in the USA!

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