So, this is the point where I look around and realize that I have actually posted the majority of my “favorite” photos over the years I’ve had this blog. Browse the Photographs category for a fun range of pics. As I’ve noted before, photography is something that many parts of my family have gravitated towards–my maternal grandmother’s line in particular left a ton of (unidentified) photos to the family. But for the purposes of this challenge one particular picture did come to mind.

Robert Shea with a Banjo and Cora (Packer) Shea both seated in front of a log cabin.

Robert Shea with a Banjo and Cora (Packer) Shea both seated in front of a log cabin.

This old tinted shot of my maternal grandmother’s parents, Robert and Cora (Packer) Shea, makes me think it should be an old bluegrass album cover. Weirdly, this is the first time I’ve noticed all the shadows in the foreground. They bring to mind Robert’s many brothers–in fact the hat shape of the middle shadow on the right hand side–makes me think immediately of this shot. I don’t know if Grandpa Shea actually played banjo or not. And I’m not sure where this was taken. I suspect though, that it is after their wedding in August of 1922.

Happy hunting,

Cheers,

Jess

I’ve again decided to participate in Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. And I’m already off to a slow start—indecisive about what I want to talk about. Or maybe more accurately indecisive about whether I should tell the story I want to talk about. It’s not a secret per say but it still feels like it falls into the realm of delicate.

Back in 2018, I started talking around an NPE (I’m running with Judy Russell here and translating as “Not the Parent Expected”) in my Genetic research. In other words, after a long time of looking at our matches that didn’t quite make sense and a conversation with someone who should have been registering as a first cousin but wasn’t a match at all, it was clear that one of my grandparents was not actually a genetic match to my parent.  One of my aunts tested to confirm the findings—proving she and my parent were only half siblings. Trauma and angst aside that changed my research dramatically.

I now had another family to figure out. But luckily, we had a lot of matches to work with and my aunt as a match that I could use to help narrow down the possibilities through our non-shared matches. The discovery prompted a deep dive into doing genetic research—with huge thanks to Blaine Bettinger, Diahan Southard, Judy Russell, and Angie Bush whose presentations I have attended and hung on their every word, the members of the Capital Area DNA Interest Group which grew out of  our community need for help with these kinds of experiences, and Ancestry’s Crista Cowan who in a prize consult took a quick look over my theory and basically said yes you’re on the right track.

I was able to lay out our matches and identify, not my actual grandparent—it’s one of four siblings—but very definitely their parents. I had a surname and a large extended family through a multitude of verifiable trees. It has introduced me to research in different counties and states, as well as my first experiences using records like the Dawes Rolls (no, I’m not indigenous), a very informative disputed will, and a first known relative who was a member of the United States Colored Troops (with a gigantic informative pension file).

Dawes Example

This is the family of a 3rd Great Aunt by marriage who were Choctaw Freedmen.

In short starting this line over—no matter how jarring at the time—has opened me up to so many new and interesting experiences. And honestly, we, the addicts, are always looking for a new line to trace.

Happy hunting,

Jess

P.S. The above-mentioned Capital Area DNA Group will hold its quarterly meeting at CADL Downtown Lansing on January 25th., 10-12 pm. Join us!

20181011_124437

Pumpkins outside of  Leelanau Wine Cellars Tasting Room, Omena, Michigan

This morning I attended a Yoga class focused on gratitude and dedicated to a recently lost friend from my childhood. It was heart-warming, there was laughter, and I was reminded to remember all those that got me to this place (whatever their roles)–and to have a little care form myself as well. With that in mind, I would like to take this problematic holiday and focus on my gratitude.

 

Thank you to everyone who’s invited me out to present. Thank you to all who have attended sessions–and asked amazing questions that challenge me and push my research. Thanks to everyone I have taken classes from, researched with, or traveled with on the way to more research. You all help me re-frame questions, think outside the box, and move forward on my path—even (and maybe especially) when it might feel like I’m the one giving advice. Society, Council members, and friends I’ve met through genealogy… Thank you too.

And also, thank you to my family for not calling me out (often) when I use our crazy stories and connections as examples. My research was probably begun more as a means of finding myself, but has become something I know you enjoy and take pride in. Thank you for your support!

Happy Thanksgiving and happy hunting!

Jess

PS. All the love for Just B Yoga!

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