I’m being pulled  in a lot of different directions lately but I still want to keep this blog going so here’s me, yet again, saying I’ll try to be better about writing.

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Summer is a time of family gatherings—weddings, open houses, and reunions. Are you taking advantage of your family time to build on your genealogy research? Even just sitting around and sharing photographs can spark great family storytelling! That’s what Grandma Trotter, my aunts, and I were doing in this picture.

 

One of the projects I’ve been working on for the last few months is an update of my research on Grandma Trotter’s family (my paternal grandmother) accomplished through solo research and a big crowdsourcing project amongst my distant cousins. The sharing was an interesting experiment. I pulled together all of my notes in a register report from our earliest known York ancestors and then one of my cousins sent it out by email to family all over the country with orders to send corrections and additions to me.

Some of the corrections made total sense, some were confusing, some totally contradicted each other. We have step-children, illegitimate children who are still blood related, we even had the moment where I had to look at two people’s additions repeatedly before I understood that representatives from two different wings of the family had married—not uncommon, just confusing in the corrections. But it was a wholly rewarding experience… marred only by the fact that I can’t attend this particular reunion.

[Trotters and Yorks—I’ve been working on our genealogy for years so I know mine is not the only family effected by the reunions being in the same month.]

Happy hunting!

Jess

PieChartBeacuse it’s been a hot topic in my corner of genealogy, this is just a quick heads up for those interested in DNA testing.  Today is DNA Day and sales are running for at least Family Tree DNA and AncestryDNA. It’s about as low a price as they ever go.

Happy hunting!

Jess

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Hi all,

The South Lansing Library will be keeping the tradition alive this year (as Downtown Lansing Library is still closed for Renovations) by hosting CADL’s Family History Open House celebrating National Genealogy Day on March 11th from 10-4 pm.

Highlights include:

  • Breaking Down Brick Wall Using DNA presented by Bethany Waterbury
  • Crowdsourcing Your Genealogy presented by Dan Earl
  • One-on-one appointments with Librarians to help devise research plans to help break through on your own research–DEADLINE to reserve your appointment is February 18th.

Check out the flyer here: family-history-open-house-2017

I’ll remind you all again about the program, but don’t miss the opportunity to have our avid genies on staff take a pass on one of your problem areas in your  research… sometimes all we need is a fresh perspective to break through those brickwalls.

Happy hunting,

Jess

Stow-Davis Furniture Company Employees

Not to mention… the Johnsons, Packers, Sufflings, Holdens, Burroughs… The list goes on. I’m about 0% Native American. I’m a child of immigrants from Germany, the British Isles, West Africa (those last weren’t voluntary). They took the jobs no one wanted. They served our country in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. They helped make Grand Rapids the furniture capital of the world for a time. They were policeman, teachers, and ministers. They worked hard for a better life and to pursue the fundamental right of religious freedom. This country was built on the hard work and perseverance of immigrants and refugees. America’s historical dealings with immigrants and refugees are shoddy at best but I still expect infinitely better than I’m seeing today.

In the picture above there’s a grumpy looking individual dressed in black with his arms crossed, directly below the “w” in “Stow”. I believe this is my Great-Great Grandfather Cornelius Packer. He came to North America as a child from Rainham, Kent, England; grew up in Ontario, Canada; and came as an adult to Grand Rapids, Michigan to work during the lumber and furniture boom around the turn of the century.

What’s your immigrant story?

Jess

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!

Jess

You’ve got some time yet… It’s still Family History Month, which means there are tons of genealogy educational opportunities stretching right into November. And (yes, you’ve heard this from me before) I strongly encourage everyone to get out and attend as many of them as you can. I always, always, learn something new—whether I’m attending or presenting.

For example, I had a wonderful experience presenting in Fort Wayne as part of ACPL’s Genealogy Center’s 31 days of genealogy programming last week, but my evening session looking at my experiences and approach to researching my African American ancestry led to a total change in my research plans for the next day when one of the attendees pointed out a resource I hadn’t realized the Center held—Thank you Roberta, Melissa, and Cynthia each for pointing me in the right direction! I will be transcribing Bradley County slave related court documents for weeks.

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Then, on Saturday, I attended Western Michigan Genealogical Society’s annual Got Ancestors! program. This year’s featured speaker was Cyndi Ingle of Cyndi’s List and I got a great deal out of her programs “Striking Out on Their Own: Online Migration Tools and Resources” and “Building a Digital Research Plan.” The first offered a neat list of mapping resources I haven’t tried while the other offered a nice focused approach for laying out a research plan. But the day was also just a fun one for connecting with people and trading ideas.

I have no doubt that you can look around your community and find genealogy events, but if you’re in my neck of the woods here’s a sampling of some of the great family history related programming you can still catch:

On Saturday, October 23rd, CADL South Lansing Library will be hosting “Family History Hunt” a Genealogy Roadshow-inspired presentation with patrons tapping your friendly local librarian’s for suggestions on where to turn next in their research.

Consider the possibilities offered by a two hour drive down to the ACPL’s Genealogy Center… There are still 14 more days of programs including, “A  Day with Juliana Szucs” (from Ancestry.com) this Saturday, October 22nd, or their Midnight Madness extended research hours on October 28th including three 30 minute classes. For more information on programs, check out their calendar.

Western Wayne County Genealogical Society has a day seminar on November 5th with topics including organizing your records and planning a research trip.

The Michigan Genealogical Council’s annual fall seminar will feature DNA expert, Blaine Bettinger speaking on assorted genetic genealogy related topics, along with bunch of other great presenters.

Take advantage of these great programs! Step away from the computer and go learn something new!

Happy hunting!

Jess

I’m settling into a new office at work, family members are moving out of long held homes, and I’m still piecing through a collection of materials from my Great Aunt’s passing. It’s fascinating what you can find at  times like this—long lost photos, documents you had to hunt down or send away for because no one knew they actually had them tucked away, and odds and ends you would never have thought to look for.

A handful of interesting examples we’ve found include:

Grandma Shea’s Sears charge card giving me an address I hadn’t had before and a glimpse into the history of credit cards that I had never thought about–it’s a metal plate. I’d never seen one like it.

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Grandpa Johnson’s ration card (1942), a sobering bit of United States history:

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Or 3rd Great Grandfather Cornelius Packer’s Naturalization papers… Yes, I had already tracked the packet down at the Archives of Michigan but the journey is just as important as the document in hand and I needed that experience of researching at the Archives:

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Have you found anything interesting or odd?

Happy hunting!

Jess