This blog was created as an attempt on my part to spend more time on my genealogical research by sharing my experiences as I take steps along the way. I have been researching the many branches of my family on and off for almost 20 years. Along the way I completed a history degree and a degree in Archives and Records Management, followed by a few years as a Local History Librarian and helping out at the Rockford Historical Museum. But life never goes quite the way you plan and I am currently happily work as a Collection Development Specialist and Readers Advisory Librarian for a public library system where I now (occasionally) butt into the discussions of genealogy and local history.

The blog has fed a renewed passion for my research and opened a number of doors for me. It’s forced me to really figure out my blind spots, be systematic, as well as think outside the box.  But it has also given me the opportunity to find out that I really enjoy sharing my research and helping others with their own. So, you may catch me out and about as a presenter or instructor as well. (Feel free to email me if you have  more questions about that.)

Thanks for stopping in and happy hunting!


jmt [dot] trotter [at] gmail [dot] com

P. S. Oh… and the two ladies in the picture above… neither of them are me. But they are a lovely pair of ladies who like to road trip–even if it means I drag them to cemeteries and regale them with stories about their ancestors. Thanks, Mom and Gran!

Bio & Prepared Talks 2023

12 Responses to “About”

  1. This is a great blog. So glad that Harold pointed the way to me. Will be following you. I’ve done some writing about my side of the DeBoer family. My mother Eleanor is still living and is a great resource.

    1. Thanks, Phyllis! I’m glad you’re enjoying it.

  2. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog this week. I found it while searching information about Sarah Deer, married to Henry Helsel. We are related to him through his first wife, Julia. I’ve worked on for years, and I too have spent time at Rockford browsing the microfilm and wandering through cemeteries taking photos!

    1. Welcome Joy! Thanks for stopping in and reading! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  3. Sandra Lightfoot Says:

    Hi Jess, I discovered your blog when I entered your email into Google! I am connected by DNA to ‘ebshea’ according to GEDmatch! I have only just discovered my Shea connections and still getting my head around all the new information, so I will contact you by email in the next few weeks!

    1. I look forward to hearing from you!

  4. Cheri Dora Says:

    Hi Jess! I had the honor of seeing you this past Saturday for the DSGR meeting at the Detroit Library “Finding your Scandalous Ancestors”. Just wanted to say ‘thank you’! We talked at the end of both meetings as everyone getting ready to leave about researching a direct family member, only to find out through DNA that we aren’t related at all, lol. Anyway, I just wanted to say that listening to you and seeing your work inspires me to feel as if I’m ‘not alone’ in this passion to bring alive those who lived in the past and give them some credence. They mattered! Hope you’ve had a great week!! Cheri

    1. Sorry for the delay in getting back to you and thank you so much for your kind words. You are definitely not alone and yes they mattered!

  5. Beth Says:

    Hello Jess, I’ve read that you are presenting on non-traditional records on July 13 at the Library of Michigan. One area of your genie expertise is Early American research. What time frame is generally considered to be Early American? Is there a location for it? i.e. New England or only the colonies? Will you be touching on this topic in your presentation? I’m interested in attending. Regards, Beth

    1. Hi Beth,
      This particular talk doesn’t relate to any specific time it’s really about brainstorming other possible record sets that might be useful in your research.
      Early American tends to mean Colonial up to the early United States pre-civil War and it’s often focused primarily on the East coast and early westward expansion.

      Hope to see at the Abram’s Seminar!



  6. Roseanne Doane Says:


    I found your blog this week. It’s wonderful!

    I am a descendant of Captain Harry Alison and Frances Sinclair of Wisbeach, Ontario through their daughter, Mary Alison and her husband, William R Macdonald. I’ve been actively doing ancestry research since 1987 beginning with my husband’s family in Massachusetts. My grandmother, Sherife Alison Irvine (wife of Leonard D Vincent) did not want the story of her family to be lost so she shared with me a few generations of grandparents and showed me a family tree done by Ralph Macdonald about the Macdonald/Burr family (his parents). My immediate family roots are in the Flint, Michigan area but go quickly back to Ontario and New York and eventually all over the place. Thus began my journey into my own family history. What a bunch of really good stories have unfolded over the years!

    I have done extensive research on Captain Harry Alison Frances Sinclair’s family in order to sort out this family. Members of different families pop up regularly in the family units of a relative. Children seem to flow between the homes of aunts and uncles with ease. Grandparents appear in the home of nieces and nephews. Grandchildren can be found in grandparent’s homes or in the homes of the grandparent’s siblings. And in the next census, they’ve all moved again. In order to sort this all out, I long since decided to just keep expanding this family tree to include everyone that I could find who was descended from Captain Harry Alison and Frances Sinclair. I’m glad I did, because in doing so, I discovered quite a few cousins descended from this couple. We’ve coordinated along the way to discover a fair amount of information about Captain Harry Alison’s past that put his family in a position to have some pretty incredible stories, marriages, and experiences throughout the world. I’m also excited to meet a new cousin because more insight and stories abound.

    I look forward to delving more thoroughly into your blogs because I’ve already unraveled a few more family connections.

    Thank you!

    Roseanne Doane

    1. Oh cool! Mary is one of the siblings I hadn’t worked down yet. But yes, this family has led me through some very interesting moments in US and UK history. They’re fascinating!

Leave a Reply to JessLibrarian Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s