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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Weekend in New York: a family history pilgrimage

Alexander Hamilton Custom House, site of the conference 
Last weekend I had a great time in New York City.  It was really the first time I have ever been on my own, for multiple days, in a large metropolis.  No kids, I kept looking for them but they really weren’t there.  Nerve wracking at first but an absolute delight once I got the first minor anxiety attack out of the way.

I was there for a conference but secretly I had a plan.  A family heritage plan.  I unfortunately was not able to make it to the NYC Archives (drat you for not being open on the weekend) but I did make a family history pilgrimage of sorts to a very small green space in the middle of the concrete jungle.

Soldier's Monument, Trinity Church
In a previous post I talked briefly about Anneke Jans and her 62 acres on Manhattan Island.  She and her husband, Roelof Jansen, were originally granted the land in 1636.  After the English government came into power she and her heirs continued to own the land through a grant from the Governorof New York, Col. Francis Lovelace.  Unfortunately, due to a technicality (missing signatures on the deed) the family lost the land after 1671.

New York City and Trinity Church purchased parts of the land at that time but it was not the end of the story.  For over 150 years, in 16 lawsuits, the heirs of Anneke Jans sued the city for their land.  Then in 1847 the final decision was made that the land was purchased legally.

The last remaining remnant of the Jans farm is now a small park that if you didn’t know was there you would miss.  On my last day in NYC I was determined to find it.  Heck it was only a mile walk from my hotel!  What’s a mile when you are on a mission?

Plaque at Duane Park
My route took me past Trinity Church, which, of course, I had to stop at.  Sunday services were occurring so I didn’t go inside but I spent a good 20 minutes looking around the graveyard.  There  were quite a few beautiful tombstones that I stopped to admire.  I also discovered the Soldier’s Monument, which was quite moving and a piece of history I did not know about.

I continued up Broadway from there eventually crossing over to West Broadway until I came to the little diagonal street I was looking for, Hudson.  The small triangle piece of land that lies on Duane and Hudson Streets lies in the middle of one of the Tribecca neighborhoods.  Row houses with red bricks and brown stones lined the streets.  The local market was putting out fresh flowers and arranging pumpkins on the front steps.  Families were out for a stroll and joggers ran by with their headphones in oblivious to the wonder I was experiencing.
Duane Park

Standing there reading the plaques at Duane Park I got that familiar sensation again. You know the one you get when you develop a connection to something that had an impact on your past.  My family once walked here.  They farmed here.  They lived and they died here.  I just sat and took in the late blooming flowers for a minute trying to feel them.

I started back south and crossed over at Church Street.   This route took me past the new World Trade Center.  Stopping on a corner I looked up and appreciated the beauty of the new tower, but unlike the mass of tourists heading to the memorial I had no desire to go.  I am not ready yet, and if you don’t know why, go back and read this post.  Thankfully, I know I am not alone.

Across the street from all of the construction was St. Paul’s Chapel.  Of course it was another attempt to feed my growing addiction to cemetery research so I stopped in.  I did not go in the building and look at the exhibits on 9/11 and the church, but I once again spent a good 20-30 minutes meandering on the path around the church craning my neck to see the markers from the flagstones.  However, my searching was not in vein.  I did find heraldry marking one of the graves and I am now researching who this person was.

The Immigrants, Battery Park
From there I did the “touristy thing” and wandered around the area of my hotel.  Took a nice stroll through Battery Park, discovered the NY Stock Exchange was 2 blocks from my hotel, saw the steps where George Washington was inaugurated out first president, and watched silly foreign tourists try to feed the squirrels acorns.  Yeah, can’t make up that last one.

By the time I was done I walked 7 ½ miles in downtown.  No wonder I was so tired on the 5 hour train ride home.  However, sleeping is nearly impossible on a train I’ve decided.  It’s not like an airplane where the constant hum of the engines lulls you to sleep.  Instead I finished my new book (The Juggler’s Children) and did some work.  Ah, the life of a train commuter. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Genealogy Event is this weekend! Will you be there?

This weekend I am presenting 2 lectures on Friday the 17th at The Genealogy Event in New York City. There is still time to purchase tickets and attend.  This is TGE's 3rd year and it looks like it is going to be at least as big as the last two.  Which means, if you do come, I hope you come say hi to me at some point!  I will be around all weekend, somewhere.

Tickets can be purchased through the website and are very pocket book friendly.  General Sessions are $35, or you can purchases tickets for only the sessions you want to attend.  There are VIP Tickets as well which allow you to sign up for consultations from the experts.  Make sure you purchase tickets for each day you want to attend!

The list of presenters is below and I am sure you will learn a lot from them.  This year they are having a third day of activities too.  The DNA Day will be held on Sunday, and as indicated by the title, will be 100% dedicated to genetic genealogy.

Presenter names from the website:

Ron Arons * Nancy & Biff Barnes * Joe Buggy * Shellee Morehead * Maureen Taylor * Pamela Weisberger 
James M Beidler * Shannon Combs Bennett *Blaine T Bettinger * Janeen Bjork * Angie Bush * Elaine Collins* Laura H Congleton * Phyllis Kramer * Michael Leclerc * Denise Levenick * Dr Rhoda Miller * CeCe Moore * Trevor Plant

A recent addition to The Genealogy Event! DNA Day will feature the following speakers:

Blaine T Bettinger * Angie Bush * Bennett Greenspan * CeCe Moore *

Quite a few speakers are new this year, but some are returning to TGE.  Many of the names on this list are local, but others are national speakers giving a great variety of topics and experiences.  

Friday, October 10, 2014

One Lovely Blog Award

On September 22nd Carolina Girl Genealogy nominated this blog for the "One Lovely Blog Award."  I was surprised by the shout out and humbled too.  Thanks Cheri! It means a lot that a fellow blogger and reader not only appreciates but likes what I do.  

Of course, an award like this, which is meant to be passed on, comes with some rules.  

1.      Thank the person who nominated you and link to that blog
2.      Share Seven things about yourself
3.      Nominate 15 bloggers you admire (or as many as you can think of!)

Since I already thanked Cheri, here it goes with 7 things about me.  Hope you learn something new, and if not, at least you get a giggle with my honesty!
  1. I am actually very shy and struggle on a daily basis to put myself out there.  Many people find this hard to believe since I tend to be bubbly, loud, funny, engaging...gosh what other words have been used to describe me.  Well, that all takes work, and I have to be in the mood.  I am not completely an extrovert but I am not an introvert either, some people call that an ambivert.  The jury is still out on what that means.
  2.  I love cats, but my nose doesn't!  Yep, I'm allergic.  The way I found out?  When my last cat died and the house was cat free for the first time in years I realized that I could breathe.  I mean really breathe!  My eyes didn't water and itch all the time and I had clear sinuses!  Now I get very controlled kitty fixes from my friend’s cats and I wash my hands very promptly and don't let them in my face.
  3. I am a sci-fi addict.  My dad hooked me in 9th grade with Anne McCaffery's The Dragonriders of Pern series.  Until then I mostly read historical fiction (a type of fantasy I guess) or books similar to the Judy Bloom genre.  It was the first book recommendation I took up from my parents.  Usually I rolled my eyes and ignored them, so I am not sure what made me take it.  It could have been the big white dragon on the front.
  4. My favorite color is blue.  I would dress head to toe in it every day if that were possible!  Not that it isn’t possible, but I don’t want to be known as the blue lady.
  5. I have a bucket list of places I want to see before I die.  Besides ancestral villages and most of the typical European places I have a slew of sites I want to see in Asia.  Oh, plus Australia and New Zealand.  Hubby and I would really like to go there one day.
  6. My absolute favorite flower is Lilly of the Valley.  I, however, cannot get them to grow and have to live by looking at other people’s gardens and pictures.  The house we rented in college had a row of these flowers planted against the side yard fence.  I loved watching them pop up, grow, and then produces those delicate little white fragrant bells. 
  7. While I may be a perfectionist and tend to the OCD side with my work, my house is a wreck.  I never really learned to clean.  Well, beyond the pile and stack method.  Woe to those who mess with my piles!  Cleaning is one of those things I have to be in the mood to do.  That mood is usually anger or frustration and when it hits I am like the Tasmanian Devil around the house cleaning in a big whirlwind of activity!

Now it is my turn to share with you those I think have an amazing blog.  Some of these blogs I am sure you will recognize. If you don't know these talented bloggers though, I hope you take the time to get to know them!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Press Release: New Creative Director for The In-Depth Genealogist

A Great New Addition announced by The In-Depth Genealogist
October 7, 2014; Utica, OH:  
Shannon Combs-Bennett Joins Leadership Team at
The In-Depth Genealogist as Creative Director

The leadership team at The In-Depth Genealogist is pleased to announce their newest addition, Shannon Combs-Bennett.  She will be fulfilling the role of Creative Director for the organization.
Shannon began writing for IDG in January 2013.  Her contributions and positive attitude played a significant role in the decision to invite her to become a partner in the business.  Shannon brings a lot of strengths to the table and we are thrilled to have her as a part of the team.
She is a graduate of Indiana University and has a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a focus on genetics.  She uses her degree primarily to help others understand their DNA results as part of her business, T2 Family History. Shannon also lectures on many topics from genetic genealogy to methodology and writes for publication.  Two of her articles received Honorable Mention in 2013 and 2014 from the ISFHWE Excellence in Writing Competition. 
Since 2011 Shannon has been a contributor to Family Tree Magazine and Family Tree University.  She started as their Family Tree First Blogger which chronicled her discoveries as a newbie genealogist. Currently Shannon is a student in the NIGS program, American certificate, and is a graduate of the Boston University Online Certificate in Genealogical Research. Shannon is currently a member of APG, NGS, GSG, IFSHWE, and several lineage societies. 
Giving back to the community is important to her.  Shannon is involved in the NextGen Genealogy Network where she serves as the Education Chair.  In her local genealogical society Shannon assists in planning and organizing their spring and fall seminars.
Shannon joins Jen Alford (Publisher) and Terri O’Connell (Executive Director) in their goal to create a true environment of collaboration and learning for all in the genealogy field.

For more information, please contact Terri O’Connell.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Launch of T2 Family History

Over the last several months I worked, with the aide of several friends, on a website for my new business.  I would not be honest if I didn’t tell you this was a little more than scary but it was something that I needed to do.  I just needed to take a big gulp and put myself out there.

You can check out T2 Family History here.

I decided to shorten my name to T2 Family History to streamline my name.  T2 stands for Trials and Tribulations and I thought the logo, created by a talented friend who is a graphics design artist, speaks to what I do.  She nicely tied in my 2 passions, family history and genetics, with this clean and modern graphic. 

Never fear, I still plan on keeping this blog going.  The other site is intended to showcase my professional side and it will continue to adapt and change as I make my way in the world of genealogy.  This blog will continually be updated with family discoveries, interesting tis-bits, and all the other goodies I post.

Taking the plunge is never easy but sometimes you just know it in your gut when it is right.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The DNA just keeps pouring in!

You may recall that a few weeks ago I went to a conference on genetic genealogy.  Well, I was hyped up on the Kool-Aid and re-energized on DNA.  It happens you know, sometimes you just have to take a step back from the crazy and so you can come back with a fresh perspective on the subject.  Breaks are wonderful like that; they make you really remember your passions.

Anyway, I convinced my dad to bank roll a DNA initiative with the family.  Most have already paid him back, but I figured offering to purchase the DNA tests for the more skeptical family members might get them to bit this time.  Amazingly enough, it did.

Until now only my husband and I were the only ones with atDNA tests done.  He also has an yDNA test but I only did Y and mitochondrial on my parents and his mother.  First thing, I ordered Family Finder tests through FTDNA for them.  After all, I need to figure out whose DNA came from where right?  Then I started on siblings and cousins. 

Best of all, the 94 year old sister of my grandmother took a test.  She is the oldest relative I have; everyone else from that generation is gone.  I don’t know how my Aunt convinced her to do it, but the kit is on the way to the lab.  This one is particularly interesting to me as that line is my German and Irish immigrant line with only 1 line that married into the family with colonial roots.  I will be very, very impatient waiting for the results.

Needless to say as these results keep coming in I am going to be busy with spreadsheets and mapping.  Maybe I can convince my mother to help, she’s retired and always looking for a project.  Wish me luck!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Fall Family Tree University Virtual Conference Starts Today!

I am very excited to be attending my 6th, yes 6th, Family Tree University Virtual Conference this weekend.  In addition to participating as an attendee I will be leading a chat tomorrow, recorded 2 of the 15 webinars, and will be acting as the super moderator for the forums.  Busy is an understatement!

Once again the line up of presenters and chat leaders is excellent.  Each time the VC is bigger and better than the time before.  Plus, I get to attend in the comfort of my home (or local WiFi spot of my choice) and set the schedule of the conference to my schedule.  Which is such a great thing for me!  No need to pick between 4 lectures I want to attend because I can watch all of them in the order I want when I want.

The forums are open and I have already chatted away with some familiar usernames.  Say hi if you are attending too!  If not this time, maybe next?