First Birthday, c. 1953So eight years ago I published my first post and it’s been a crazy ride since then. I credit the blog with helping me improve as a researcher, connecting me with friends and family, and giving me a fun outlet–that also pushed me to further explore my roots. And while I haven’t been that consistent–especially in the last couple of years–I still want to keep it open and (ideally) post more often about what’s happening.

On the fun side, I’ve been distracted doing a fair amount of presenting, which has been fabulous! In fact, if you’d like to catch me around Michigan, I’ll be at:

I also will freely admit I get pulled down the rabbit hole in my research–which of course has it’s negatives–but it makes for great blog and talk fodder. I’ve been pulling together a new presentation on occupational records. I’ve found coopers, distillers, bankers, Levantine merchants, my share of farmers and more to discuss and use as examples–like the following Barrel And Box article about the fire at H. R. Rothwell’s factory. Rothwell was the widower of my 4th Great Aunt Frederica Massy who later also married her 1st cousin, Julia Hill Alison.

Coopers

Thanks so much for hanging out with me! Stay tuned for more posts and happy hunting!

Jess

Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal

My Children’s Librarian co-worker brought this lovely book to my attention when it was named a Caldecott Honor book this past winter. And it would fit right in to a family history storytime.

The title character thinks her name is too long and complains to her father. He sits her down to explain all her names and the family and friends that each one represents. Leaving her with a strong foundation in the past to take into her future. Like Tell me a Tattoo Story, it’s a parent sharing the family stories and relating them to a curious child in a way that the children can relate to and keep forever.

And it’s fun to talk about names and where they com from. To be fair, mine was one of the most popular at the time of my birth but my middle name is a strong older name to pair it with. Sometimes there are names passed down, sometimes names created. Those stories of why are worth adding to our files and keeping alive.

Thank you to Ms. Mari for bringing it to my attention!

Happy hunting,

Jess

GSMCLogoI’m honored to be presenting four talks at the Genealogical Society of Monroe County, MI’s 42nd Annual Spring Seminar on March 16th at Monroe County Community College.

I’m presenting:

  • The ABC’s of DNA & Genealogy
  • British Isles to Canada to Michigan
  • Scandalous Ancestors
  • Road Trip! No, really, it’s not all online!

I’m really looking forward to it and have had fun updating my slides! See that attached flyer for more details: 2019GSMCSeminarFlyer

Hope to see you!

Jess

It’s been a weather eventful winter here in Michigan and January and February felt like we were just hanging on for dear life. But in the background plans were being made. So, stay tuned for a number of event announcements, starting with this one (below) put on annually but my local library system, Capital Area District Libraries. There are sessions for all skill levels and time for discussion with fellow researchers. Follow this link for a pdf of the handout: Family History Open House 2019 Final.

Join us!

Jess

FamilyHistoryOpenHouse

I went looking for an ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) of this title after catching an exchange between @CleverTitleTK (Fight on #resistancegenealogy!) and the author. @weiss_squad and @PRHLibrary came through for me!

Cover ImageFamily secrets, DNA, nature and nurture…

As a memoirist Shapiro has written extensively on her family and relationships which no doubt made the results of her DNA test all the more disconcerting. In Inheritance she presents a heartfelt chronicle of the discovery of a non-Jewish 1st cousin in her results, the research to discover her surprise biological paternal family, and the initial correspondence with her genetic father, all alongside her anguish over what that meant for her relationships with her social father and mother—both deceased.

For me this was a bit close to home and I will admit to putting it down briefly as her pain and confusion came off the page. As a genealogist this isn’t a particularly new story to me but, given recent revelations in my own family, it was a timely and emotional read. As the popularity of commercial DNA tests grows it is obvious that stories like this will continue to come to light and Dani Shapiro offers here a thoughtful examination of her feelings, motivations, and fears that can be of comfort to people with similar stories.

Happy reading and hunting!

Jess

Labor Day commemorates the American Labor Movement and the contributions of workers to the country. In the past in the blog I’ve focused on the range of occupations in my family and encouraged people to think about what their own relatives did in life. But I’m hoping that researchers are going the extra steps to read up on those occupations and see if your families were involved in unions and other pro-labor organizations—whatever their occupations. I’ve come across subjects that were stone masons, teachers, railroad workers, auto workers, porters, farm workers, etc.

Remember, we’re looking for more than dates. We’re looking for the stories as well. Were they organizers? Members? Strikers? Negotiators? What were the realities of their work life that unions sought to improve?

If you know the union or organization your subjects were associated with you can look them up in Worldcat.org, Archivegrid, or Google to find possible collections to explore possibly including journals such as the The Stone Cutters’ Journal  below (available on Google Books) or more detailed record sets.

Cover of the February 1922 issue of the Stone Cutters' Journal.

Here are a few examples of collections that may be of use:

Note: Multiple institutions may hold different collections for the same organizations.

What other groups might your families have been members of?

Happy hunting!

Jess

There are lot of reasons to take advantage of the educational opportunities offered through the genealogical communities—local, regional, or larger. Keeping up with new resources, learning new shortcuts, or having it hammered home that there are places where there are no shortcuts. But another reason I have heard echoed at many an event is the simple reminder that there is work to do still. So, this weekend saw me wandering through New England records after seeing a couple of great presentations by David Allen Lambert of the New England Historic Genealogical Society at the 2018 Abrams Foundation Family History Seminar hosted by the Archives of Michigan and the Michigan Genealogical Council last week.

I’d been neglecting my New England lines lately and this was a good kick to get me checking my documentation and filling out parts of the tree I hadn’t worked on since very early in my research—meaning it needs a lot of clean up. Most of the weekend was spent on the Laphams, Gilberts, and Johnsons whose lines trace back into Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. Not only did I track down the collaterals that I had missed before, but it confirmed something I had been told but never located good sources for… that Hannah Johnson Gilbert DuBois’ father did serve in the Revolutionary War. As is happens his widow, Mary Joiner, had a hard time getting her pension so it turned out to be a nice sized file of information including the extract below confirming their marriage.

Proof of marriage between David Johnson and Mary Joiner from Mary's Widow's Pension Application.

Find out what’s happening around you–Conference keeper is a good resource: http://conferencekeeper.org/–and get inspired to do the work!

Happy hunting,

Jess

P.S. Thanks all who sat in on my TB & Genealogy talk, you were a great audience and I hope it gave you some ideas for your own research!