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!


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!


We also went into Warren, the seat of Bradley County, Arkansas and Aunt Linda and I went into the County Court House so I could look into a few things including the Marks and Brands Books. This is a great example of a non-traditional record. These were the formally reported identifying marks or brands on livestock or lumber so that an owner could be legally identified if needed. While my relatives managed to avoid a number of standard genealogical resources here’s one where I could find at least proof of life for a number of my relatives, such as this record about my Great-Great-Grandfather Sandy York.


Happy hunting,


We probably spent a little too long exploring Palestine A. M. E. Cemetery considering the heat and the bugs but so many names had a story. And my Aunt wanted to locate her Great Grandfather Mose Wheeler and his wife Josie’s headstone—It wasn’t where we expected, but we found it. And the whole trip just reinforced the strong ties to the community. I honestly believe almost every person buried in that cemetery is represented in my database because they are related by blood or marriage.


Mose and Josie died four days apart in 1948.

Happy hunting,


I’ve been running pretty solidly for the last few weeks but I have had a number of wonderful genealogy related experiences in that time.

In the forefront, I owe a large thank you to my aunts who took me back over home to see Johnsville, Arkansas the longtime home of my York, Trotter and allied families and then into Warren, the seat of Bradley County. The trip was two hours from our reunion hotel and the drive was filled with fascinating stories and asides most of which I had never heard before. It was an insightful trip for me and it was very generous of them to spend the day with me.


I got to see what remains of my great grandmother’s home. It’s awkward because I don’t have the emotional attachment to it. But I found it moving as it currently appears that the woods are reclaiming the land.

Thank you to my Aunts–Linda, Brenda and Alfreda!

Happy hunting,


So, the blog has suffered greatly in the last few months (okay, really a couple of years now but work with me) for any number of reasons—new job, day-to-day life, me trying to overcomplicate things… etc. But it’s also happened because I’ve had so many neat opportunities recently—presenting, researching, and writing. Blog posts still may be hit and miss for a time while I work out my new reality but I’ll try to be better about posting.

In the mean time, I’ll be presenting:

  • Finding Non-Traditional Records at the Michigan Genealogical Council’s* Delegate Meeting on Thursday January 12th at 11 am. (rescheduled due to weather) Thursday, March 9th at 11 am.

*Don’t forget to check out their events list for Michigan (and national) genealogy events.

Happy hunting and happy New Year!


Johnson Twins, c. 1957My uncle and aunt are celebrating a big birthday this year! Happy day and many more birthdays to you both!

They’re the bookends in this photo with their father and their older sister in the middle.




I got back on track!

The Packer Family

Happy 150th birthday to my 2nd Great Grandfather Cornelius Packer! He looks so thrilled!

Here with my 2nd Great Grandmother Cora and their daughters—I’m guessing—Aunt Ethel and Aunt Pearl.

Happy hunting,


I really intended it to be out… oh, at least last month (preferably Monday), but the week got away from me. 

Notes Snapshot MGC 2013This past Saturday I attended the Michigan Genealogical Council’s annual Fall Seminar featuring Lou Szucs from Ancestry.com. I enjoyed the day and (as I have said many times) I always get something out of the presentations no matter how often I’ve heard a subject discussed or a particular speaker—it’s  always worthwhile. Szucs offered informative programs on “Hidden Treasures in Ancstery.com” and Midwestern Collections researchers should be aware of. In each I came away with collections ether I hadn’t been aware of or hadn’t, at the time, known a relative they might shed light on. For example to my Holden family… Did you know there was a Directory of Deceased American Physicians in Ancestry.com? It’s not something I’d happened upon yet. (Mind you, I did’t find Horatio or Charles in it, but still…).

For my breakout sessions I attended a presentation on The Clarke Historical Library on Central Michigan’s campus—I’m particularly interested in looking into their collections on the Timber industry given our Shea family’s involvement in in. I went to Richard Hill’s presentation on DNA research which was fascinating and now I really want to read his book—Finding Family. And I finished up the day in Don Hinkle’s presentation on FamilySearch.org. Other talks included researching in archives, New York research, Border Crossings, and Civil War Resources among others.

The short of it… Take time out to go and continually educate yourself—it will eventually help you over your brick walls.

And mark your calendars! The Abram’s Foundation Annual Seminar will be July 18th and 19th and feature Michael LeClerc, Chief Genealogist at Mocavo.com.

Happy hunting!


‘Tis the Season…

Johnson Christmasn 1979

Christmas for me has always been a time to share with family. This is a shot of my Grandparents from Christmas in 1979—the last before my grandfather died in May of 1980. The two younger children facing away are my cousin and my brother. I’m in the center.

Happy Holidays!