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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Fredericksburg, VA Fall Workshop / Consultations

If you are in the Fredericksburg, VA area on October 11 consider coming to this FREE presentation by the Fredericksburg Regional Genealogical Society. I will be presenting along with Ray Maki and Ann Amadori (Director of the Fredericksburg, VA Family History Center).  

Register early to have a session with a volunteer genealogist to help you with a brick wall question.  See details at the bottom of this post.

It should be a great time as always and I hope to see you there!

Fall Genealogy Program

Helpful Search Techniques
FamilySearch, U.S. Census, and Find My Past


One on one consults with volunteer

Brick Wall Busters*

9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

11 October 2014

Central Rappahannock Regional Library

1201 Caroline Street
Fredericksburg, VA

Sponsored by:

The Fredericksburg Regional Genealogical Society


The Central Rappahannock Regional Library

* Registration required for one-on-one consultations. Appointments will be scheduled in half hour increments. Please visit the FRGS website for details, email or call 540 621 7732 for an appointment. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

MyHeritage: a new adventure with a new to me family tree

Back in May at the NGS Conference I found myself waiting for Dear Myrtle at the MyHeritage booth.  While I was there I spent my time talking to the great guys manning it.  Honestly, they are really nice people and we were having a great time.  Well, anyway, one thing lead to another and after I mentioned that I was a writer and blogger I found myself being set-up with an account.

Not exactly what I had planned.  I mean how many family tree accounts can one person have right?  However, the demo and the way they answered my questions kind of hooked me. Well, I will admit, I was intrigued by what they could offer me that was different from the other sites out there.  A lot of the same record sties, just searched in a different way.

I do have an Ancestry tree and the beginnings of a Family Search tree.  I am also lazy about my own family research.  Seriously.  Over the last year I have been so focused on lectures, teaching, and writing that my poor shrub has started to gather dust and be decorated by spiders. 

It took a lot for me to say that I would give this a try and have them help me set-up my account.  Now, this is where I need to admit something to you.  I have a free premium plus subscription to try MyHeritage and blog about my experiences.  You all should know that I will be honest with you about those and I did warn them that I could be a bit opinioned. 

Now they knew I would not be able to really delve into the site until August.  The summer is always crazy for me with kids home, vacations, outings, and parental visits to name a few, but, true to my word I sat down last week and played with the site for a few hours.  Oh my, it’s addictive.  Just what I didn’t need!

To put it through its paces I decided to start from scratch.  Well, start with what I have in my head only.  It would be super easy to transfer information over from another site or my computer database but I wanted to try it like a “real” person.  You know, someone who is just starting out and might only have what is in their head, what their parents told them, and a shoe box of pictures or documents.

It was actually very easy to get started.  However, I didn’t fill in all the miscellaneous information the site asked for.  Like what were my parents hobbies, interests, likes, and dislikes.  That may have to wait for the Christmas visit where I will interrogate them one on one.  I can hear them groaning now.

In this first session I managed to enter me, my husband, our kids, our parents, their siblings, and our grandparents.  I figured that was a good first week since I am trying to get as much as I can remember down about them, with pictures if possible, before I start uploading documents later.  What I couldn’t believe was the record hits that happened very quickly.  Even for my husband!

I plan to do 2-4 hours a week on this site for the next couple of months, giving you updates and progress reports as I go.  Also reviews of how I like the functionality of the site and if I run into anything I really don’t like.  After I get the tree up and running I am interested how connecting with others and gathering documents from the site will work.  Plus I just downloaded the app, let's see if I hate it or love it next time!

On that note, I hope you will stick around and see what happens.  It should be fun!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Heraldry and why genealogists twitch

There are already blog posts like the ones here and here out there this morning on the WDYTYA episode from last night that touched on heraldry and coats of arms.  So, why not add one more eh?

I will be the first to admit to you that I am a bit of a heraldry geek.  Love the stuff, have dozens of books concerning it, and in another hobby of mine I take it very seriously.  Now I also realize that not everyone in the general US population actually cares about it.  If they did all those family crest manufacturers would be out of business. 

One thing, that I hope many of you realize, is that just because someone in your family (or a surname you descend from) has a coat of arms associated with it does not mean that it is yours.  Cause unless you specifically inherited it, it’s not.  Really.  It belongs to that person and that person’s heirs, which you may not be.

Now, most of these posts, and the show last night, featured the College of Arms.  They are the body that registers arms in England.  I would like to point out to you that over the centuries many different countries had similar governing bodies and that they didn’t necessarily follow the same rules.  Keep your eyes open when you are researching and make sure to locate the rules for bearing arms for your ancestor’s time frame and place.

I really, really wished that the show would have touched on that.  They didn't and it was a great teaching opportunity missed in my opinion.  Last night’s show (which I thoroughly enjoyed BTW) made me realize that I never finished my heraldry series that I started over a year ago.  Well, I may just need to pick that back up huh?

If you want to see my previous posts on heraldry click the “heraldry” tag or the individual posts below.

Obviously I need to finish with the parts and then move onto more complicated posts about inheritance and display.  Yep, adding one more thing to that to do list!  

Friday, August 1, 2014

Fear comes in many different forms

Ok, this post is a bit, well, unusual.  However, if it struck me it might also hit someone else out there in the same way.  Besides, I tend to believe that if I write it down then it has to happen…

This past week I was catching up on one of my favorite podcasts, The Genealogy Professional Podcast hosted by Marian Pierre-Louis.  Yes, I tend to binge listen to podcasts, that’s just the way the cards fall in my life at times.  Needless to say I found myself driving through the wilds of Virginia this week catching up on the last couple months of the show.

If you have not listened to this podcast I highly recommend it.  Even if you are not a professional genealogist, it is still really good information and gives you great ideas, insights, and things to think about concerning the business side in field of genealogy.  Besides, everyone has a great story to tell, and these professional have some amazing ones! 

To show you how far behind in my listening I was, the first one up was episode 29 with Lisa Louise Cooke from Genealogy Gems which aired June 16th. Anyway… Lisa said something that had me scratching my head and doing some soul searching.  This happens occasionally, but honestly the topic was relevant to how I was feeling at the time so it really clicked.

Marian does a “lightening round” at the end of the show where she asks some fast passed questions and expects equally fast answers.  One of the staple questions asks simply what can listeners do in the next 24 hours to help them transition into a genealogy career.  There are always good pieces of advice given here, everyone has a unique perspective, but for some reason Lisa’s answer struck me like a 2x4 up side of the head.

It was simple.  START! She went on to say that “You have to take action” and “doing nothing is doing something, it’s failing.  It’s ensuring that you are going to fail.”  Wow, well that was powerful.  It also made me want to beat my head against the steering wheel.  Cue 2x4.

You see I can be a very fearful and scared person when it comes to my future.  I am full of anxiety, what ifs, and other detrimental thoughts that can paralyze me in my tracks.  Sometimes I will completely talk myself out of doing something before it even has a chance because of those “what if” thoughts.  Thinking about what she said made me look closer at myself over the next few days. 

It struck me like a ton of bricks. What if it is not a fear of failure but a fear of success that is holding me back and causing the problems with where I want to go and what I am doing?  Failing is easy, it is just letting entropy take over and not doing follow through.  Success is much, much harder.  You have to work at it.

With success you have more responsibilities to say the least.  It brings deadlines, goals, those next steps to take you to the next level, and so on.  Then there are the other factors that I don’t think a lot of people really think about.

In this business it is not all about you, the genealogist.  It can quickly become about your brand, your influence, your clients, your followers, and so much more.  As a perfectionist, a bit of a control freak, and someone who dwells on the details success if a very daunting and frightening prospect.  Do I have the time, energy, or drive to even do that?  Plus at any moment I could run into the cold wall of rejection and failure.

Don’t get me wrong, I am intimately familiar with rejection and failure.   The stack of rejections from conferences or ideas that weren’t “quite what we are looking for” is quite substantial.  However, is that failure?  I thought it was at first.  I mean really, look at all those people who don’t want me or my ideas.  That’s failure right? But it’s not!  Those are really successes because I put myself out there.  I keep putting myself out there too, and for an entrepreneur and budding business owner that is key.  I have to keep putting myself, and my brand, out there. 

The key is to pick yourself back up off the ground by your boot straps and keep on trucking.

Nothing happens overnight and it is going to take months if not years to carve out my little niche in the genealogy world, but by golly I am going to celebrate every little victory.  I am not going to ensure my failure by inaction.  You are right Lisa, you just have to start.

August is going to be a big month.  Hope you will stick around to see what happens.  Big plans, big ideas, and swallowing that fear are all forecasted… 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Two chances to hear lecture on solving a family mystery

Military Pension files can hold a wide variety of information.  The files you want to uncover, however, are the ones where the individual had to prove to the government that they really did qualify for the pension.  These files are large, extensive, and where the most interesting genealogical finds are made.

One of my favorite family history cases was also one of the first large research projects I took on, so it makes it that much more special.  The joy the research and discovery brought me from being able to shed light on a 100 year old family mystery was indescribable.  My only regret was that my husband's grandmother could not hear the story as well.  She died 15 years ago this month, and at times I swore I felt her guiding me.  Meme was a firecracker and I just know she would have been fascinated by her ancestor too.

I am giving two lectures this fall about solving this family mystery. If you have read this blog, and the FTU Family Tree Firsts blog, you know a little bit about my husband's ancestor Harry Coad.  His story was amazing and unbelievable on so many levels that I felt his story needed to be told.

Lies of a Soldier: The True Identity of Harry Coad will be presented twice this fall.  I hope that you will be able to come listen and learn about Harry's life, love, heartbreak, and mystery.

Presentation 1:
Second Life APG Chapter
8:30pm Thursday 14 August 2014

Presentation 2:
Fredericksburg Regional Genealogical Society
7:30pm Wednesday 12 November 2014
Salem Church Library
Fredericksbrug, VA

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

It can't really be July, can it?

Me in front of the Founders Memorial
DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.
The last few weeks were a whirlwind of activity around here.  In fact, I just got home on the 13th so I am still piled under laundry and playing catch-up with the mail and phone!

From the 24th to 29th of June I attended the annual conference for the Daughters of the American Revolution (Continental Congress) in Washington, D.C.  It was my first time and it was absolutely amazing.  I served as a page while there on the Congress Communications committee.  Which, to be
honest, was the perfect assignment.  I helped with the Congress Herald Online, social media, editing / writing articles, and met some truly amazing women who are writers like me.  As a first year page I really, really lucked out.

My favorite part of the week was that my boys and my parents were able to spend time together being touristy in The City.  It’s been years since my parents were in D.C. and my boys were more than happy to drag them from museum to museum.

Then it was home for 4 days and off again!  Yes, I am a glutton for punishment.

This time it was a family trip with some friends to the Berkshires.  We have never been there and it was breathtaking.  I truly didn’t want to leave the amazing weather!  On our trip we did a lot of things besides sleeping and playing card games. Like going to Vermont for dinner since we could and no one in the car had ever been.  My kids were even excited about all of the activities, even if it took some convincing.  For instance they really weren't sure about the Norman Rockwell Museum but warmed up quickly once we got there. 

Family Tree by Norman Rockwell
At the Norman Rockwell Museum
My oldest child, and self proclaimed military history nut, was thrilled we made time to visit Saratoga Battlefield.  I and my husband were giddy when I found one of his ancestors (Philip Greeley, New Hampshire) listed on the rolls of fighting men who were at that battle.  Yes, there was a happy dance done, pictures taken, and books bought.

My highlight was visiting the New York State Library and Archives and doing some research on the family.  My husband truly humors me at times huh? I was able to order several vital records thanks to the index they had for my husband’s lines.  Fingers crossed they have some break through information on them!

For my side I spent time in the New Netherlands Research Room looking into those lines that were part of that colony.  Some juicy things came out of that research that had my friend (who was also doing research with me that day) cackling with laughter over what my family was involved with.  Look for a post later about the criminal master mind and the wife who wouldn’t put up with it!

OK, that’s about all I have right now.  Lots to do, not enough time to get it all done, plus this week is summer camp so I have to go pack lunches.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Writing Life Blog Hop, Week of June 23rd

Earlier this month a good friend of mine, and fellow author, Jennifer Holik asked if I would participate in a Blog Hop for authors and writers.  Well, I couldn't just past that up!  I mean really, a chance to talk about what I am writing, what it’s like, and get to tell you about some of my other writer friends?  That just sounds like a win-win situation to me.  Plus, it’s going to be fun!

Image from the Library of Congress
This particular blog hop started in April of this year by Ellen Barone on her blog The Internal Traveler.  Let’s just say that it’s been going gang busters ever since.  This blog hop has covered a variety of writers from a number of different niches, so if you follow links backwards you will see a wide variety of areas represented.  If you Google “Blog Hop Ellen Barone” you can see a sampling of what I am talking about.  Also, you can read Jennifer’s post about being a writer on her blog and the other writers she featured there too!

On that note, let’s get started!  Let me tell you about writing from my perspective and hopefully you won’t get bored.

What am I writing or working on?  Currently I am working on a handful of projects that range from writing to lecturing.  This fall I have several larger speaking engagements that are taking quite a bit of my time.  I like to compare one of these lectures to a book since I am telling the story of a man as seen through his Civil War pension file.  The audience will get to hear the story instead of reading about it.

In addition to that I am finishing my second genealogist’s guidebook (this time on the Washington, D.C. area) and a book on how to apply to lineage societies.  If everything works out the guidebook will be out in July 2014 and the lineage society book will be out before the holidays later this year.

Currently I am in the outline stages for a third publication on genetic genealogy.  As a researcher with a passion for genetics I see a need for a simple pamphlet explaining the basics of genetic genealogy to the everyday family historian. The idea was suggested to me by several people who have attended my lectures on genetics in my local area.  It seems the training to be a biology teacher may show through from time to time.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?  I am just now branching out into my genealogy business but I can see a difference in what I do and what others in this field do.  Last year I fell into writing about lineage societies for the In-Depth Genealogist.  These types of societies have always fascinated me and as I learned more and more about them the curiosity continued to grow.  Few people speak about what types of societies are out there, let alone giving tips and advice on how to get your paperwork together. 

To be honest, I think that my work will continue to evolve and grow the more I do.  Ask me this question in 5 years and see how it changes.

Why do I write what I do?  Plain and simple, I write what I like and what is interesting to me.  That is what this blog is about and always has been.  For me to be successful at a writing project I have to be enthralled, intrigued, and even pulled to do it. Without that drive I just sit there and stare at the screen.

Also, I like to think that if it interests me there has to be someone else out there that would find it interesting too.  Right now I am writing about my family, DNA, lineage societies, gadgets and gizmos, plus anything else that gets thrown my way.  I’d like to think that it will evolve and be refined the more I write.

How does my writing process work? 
I am a big believer in mind maps, drafts, and doodling.  Everything I write starts out as a sketch or an outline.  From there I flesh it out with key points and items that I want to touch on.  Next I start adding the flowery bits and words. 

If you came to my house you would see lots of colored pencils and markers.  I create in full color.  Each topic is a color, lines are a different one, connections a third, and so forth.  It helps me visualize where I am going and what I am doing.

Also, I keep a small notebook with me for when inspiration strikes.  Sometimes I can be standing in line and a sentence, thought, or idea will pop into my head.  If I don’t stop what I am doing right then and there to take the time to write it all down I will lose it.  That is part of my flighty creative side I am sure of it. 

To keep the blog hop going I have invited the following writers to participate.  Their posts will be out next week and I hope you will “hop” on by to see them!

Cheri Hudson Passey has been researching her family and helping others get started with their own research since the early 1980’s. Born in Camden, SC, the majority of her lines come from many counties in SC, including, Aiken, Berkeley, Clarendon, Darlington, Edgefield, Florence, Georgetown, Kershaw, Lee, Richland, Sumter, and Williamsburg. A line also comes from Iredell County, NC. Truly a “Carolina Girl” for many generations!  

A love of History and Genealogy has grown into collecting not only names, dates, and places, but family pictures, stories, and ephemera as well. Her mother calls her “The Keeper of All Things”.  Cheri is a member of the National Genealogical Society, Association of Professional Genealogists, The NextGen Genealogy Network, South Carolina Historical Society, South Carolina Genealogical Society, several SC County Genealogy Societies as well as her local Grand Strand Genealogy Club. 

She is also active in the Genealogy Community via several social media platforms including Facebook, Google +, Genealogists in Second Life, and Twitter. Her Blog “Carolina Girl Genealogy” has been instrumental in connecting with and sharing information about her family and the research process.  

Julie Goucher has been researching her genealogy and family history since the late 1980s. Her ancestry is predominately within the United Kingdom, although Julie is half Italian and has genealogical links to Italy, Canada, Australia, India just to name a few. A founder member & former vice chair of the Anglo Italian FHS and a member of the Guild of One Name Studies (for the surnames of Orlando & Worship). More recently Julie has been involved as a founder member with the Society for One-Place Studies, and is currently

Following a career in pharmacy management & training, Julie is the writer and developer of The Book of Me, Written by You, which is currently run both as a series of workshops and via online methods. A book to accompany the program is due to be released during 2014. Julie is also working on a further book project which is due to be published in Feb 2015 by Pen and Sword Books and writes a regular column, Across the Pond for The In-Depth Genealogist.

You can keep up to date with Julie via various social media
Twitter -@juliegoucher
Website –
Blog –

G+ -

Michelle Roos Goodrum is a researcher, speaker and writer with a passion for research in land records, organization, photography and genetic genealogy. She writes about various family history topics on her personal blog, The Turning of Generations and pens the column Timeless Territories for the monthly digital magazine, Going In-Depth.  She is a ProGen 14 graduate and administers the Gen Proof Study Groups studying Mastering Genealogical Proof. Michelle became involved in family history in the early 1990s when she realized her ancestors collectively had saved over 130 years worth of the family’s history. She is now the caretaker.

Raymond Johnson is a former criminal investigator and lifetime resident of the Chicago area. His love of Chicago history coupled with his natural curiosity and research skills fuels his many articles on the less well known aspects of Chicago History and two published works.

He conducts historical research for clients through Johnson Research Services and runs various historic tours in the Chicago Area including Elmhurst’s Voices from Beyond Tours and White City Tours through his non-profit “Friends of the White City” and blogs for the Chicago Tribune’s ChicagoNow as “Chicago History Cop”.

He is a past Chicago Area Representative of the Association of Professional Genealogists and has done research work for various television production companies, authors and historical societies. and has been featured on the WGN morning show, WGN news radio, the Chicago Tribune and other media outlets. He is a member of the Hyde Park Historical Society and Jackson Park Advisory Council.