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.


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 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!


LincolnTardisI finished my last session at FGS2016 and my head was spinning on overload. I want to run home and research in every direction… all at once—track down my elusive British soldiers, follow out my lone possible French line, better document my suspected slave ancestors, track that railroad employee, take a different angle on tracking a few of the elusive women in my tree. I have learned a ton, been reminded of a great deal I still need to do, laughed harder than I have in forever, and connected with a so many interesting and welcoming researchers. Thanks so much to the FGS board, sponsors, instructors, and attendees for a fun week!

Happy hunting,


P.s. J. Mark Lowe, Mary Tedesco and CeCe Moore taught us in the Keynote that time travel was possible in Springfield. So, I probably shouldn’t have been surprised when I saw this in a shop window there!

So the summer got away from me—with major work projects, a career crossroads, and the follow-up from the eventual decision—I’ve been a bit stuck in my own head and not venturing out enough in the world or in my research…. However, I made it through and I’m on the road in Springfield, Illinois for FGS2016.


Springfield, Illinois Sunset

Yesterday was Society Day at the Federation of  Genealogical Societies’s Conference and I spent a great deal of time soaking up ideas for encouraging society growth, creative programming, and all around building excitement for societies and institutions. And I am reminded that I have gotten so much help, training, and solid research assistance from most of the genealogical societies I have connected with, whether as a member or visitor. They are tremendous resources.

In my second start in genealogy in the late 1990s, I had the good fortune of stumbling into the Western Michigan Genealogical Society—an established, extremely active, and nationally involved (#ngs2018gen! woot!) society. They do so much right—they are forward thinking, very welcoming, and (again) so active! Over the years I have participated in annual seminars, informative monthly meetings, bus trips, indexing projects (yes, Sue, I owe you files still!). They work with their local library on history programs and lock-ins, they have a writers group, educational classes, and a DNA special interest group—If I lived locally I’d probably try to do everything. As it is, I travel an hour to get to meetings (not nearly as often as I’d like).

That said WMGS isn’t the only society I belong to. There are societies that I belong to because they cover areas I’m researching, or focus on ethnic groups that I’m working with, or they are a national society offering a great overview of the national scene—along with a fabulous journal.  I can’t belong to every society that I would like to but I shoot for as many as possible. Again, they are totally worth it. For example:

I know many societies are looking for more involvement and fresh ideas in hopes of rebuilding membership and gaining community notice—pretty much the theme of Society Day—but to all the hard-working officers and volunteers that have all but single-handedly dragged their societies along for years… good on you and thank you! It’s time for more of us to step up and make all of our societies more successful.

Happy hunting (joining and volunteering),


Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices, Springfield, Illinois, 2011I’m getting a little antsy about traveling… which is kind of annoying because my road trips tend to fall in the spring and autumn. And, other than a few day trips that I’m trying to figure out how to fit in, I’m fairly tied to the area for the foreseeable future. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get out and explore. A few events on my radar here in the Great Lakes region include:

I was seriously eyeing everything in that two week span in July until life intervened—luckily “stuck” in the area means the Abrams Foundation Seminar is a definite. Hope to see people there!

Happy hunting!


O0019I forget how interesting it is to look through a newspaper like The Chicago Defender, a current and historic African American newspaper, because it’s not something I have normal access to. I spent most of the first day of a recent WMGS bus trip to Allen County Public Library’s Genealogy Center, searching Proquest’s African American Historical Newspapers (available for on-site use) for news of Bradley County, Arkansas. The Chicago Defender had fairly regular columns sharing news from Arkansas including a column specifically on Warren. It featured the comings and goings of many of my collateral and direct line families, society news, the occasional obituary, etc. My favorite finds include those related to my Great Aunt Rachel C. (York) Elliott. A few examples include:

Mar 30, 1957

Mrs. Henrietta Moman and Mrs. R. C. [Elliott] motored to Little Rock to visit Mrs. Elliot’s brother, Fred York, who is ill in the University hospital. We hope he gets well soon.

Immediately followed by…

The Usher board sponsored a tea in the home of R. C. Elliott. Union Hill Baptist Church usher board was co-sponsor. It was a great success.

Sep 27, 1958

Mrs. T. R. Alexander and Mrs. R. C. Eliott motored to Little Rock on business last week and reported that the trip was very successful.

Fellow Bradley county researchers, if you’re looking for a little more color to your family stories and haven’t dived into this resource there are entries on Mount Olive and Union Hill families in particular with heavy coverage of the Feaster, Wilfong, Webb, Steppes, Terry, Phillips and related families and I definitely didn’t go through everything available–mostly focusing on Mrs. Mattie M. Burnett’s run as columnist (very) roughly from 1952-1962. There’s definitely earlier runs with different columnists as well.

Happy hunting,


Working out of order… June included a day trip to ACPL’s Genealogy Center with the Lansing Area African American Genealogical Society. It was a different perspective. I was attending more as a consultant to help the group if they needed than to focus on my own research, so I spent a bit more time keeping an eye out for my fellow researchers then I tend to. Even still it was my first experience of trying to do that trip and get anything done in what amounted to an afternoon. It will never be my first choice! But if you have to, plan ahead.

Clip from LAAGS Homework SheetI gave the group homework when they decided to make this their summer trip—links to The Genealogy Center’s website and catalog, instructions to use PERSI, and the basics I pass on in any of my talks that include planning for roadtrips.

That last on has bitten me more times than I care to admit (example)… but I am infinitely better than I was.

I went in to the day with the idea that I would track down a number of articles on the Hampton’s and their Allied families that traveled together from North Carolina to Arkansas in the early 1800s. I am more and more convinced that the answer to some of my slave brick walls will be found in researching these slave-owning families. Nothing definite as yet but I have a lot of leads to rundown that might help me connect to a few DNA matches.

Happy hunting,


So, I spent the majority of the night of day #6 searching Google Books, the, the website of the University of Glasgow and what felt like a billion other possibilities. I came away with a tremendous amount of information about the Inglis family including Rev. Hary Inglis’ marriage to Mary Bryce and the transcription and film numbers for their children’s baptisms. But I didn’t find the connection. And so armed with every ecclesiastical biography I could find I started day #7 chasing Inglis’ and the hint of an Alison connection.

FastiEcclesiaeScoticanaep212It took me all morning and the rediscovering of a brief biography that had actually been among the first I’d found. [Note to self (YET AGAIN) and all interested… make sure you go line by line through a document.  Skimming might mean you miss the clue you’re looking for.] In the Fasti ecclesiae scoticanae, in a successional list of Forteviot ministers I found Hary and a brief summary of his life including notes on both of his wives the widow of Mr. Maxton and Mary Bryce the widow of Alison of Tofthill.

A quick spin in offered indexed listings for the marriage of Charles Alison and Mary Bryce on 05 Oct 1747 as well as the birth of their son, Charles in Nov of 1750. Dates are lining up neatly! I also have already noted that Hary’s son John (my Harry Alison’s uncle) started his career in the church at Tibbermore and his bio appears later in the Fasti ecclesiae—followed immediately by his successor, Thomas Taylor whom married Harry’s sister, Mary Alison. Everyone’s in the right place at the right time.



I spent the rest of the day pulling together the original baptismal and marriage records and building a better picture of the families. And as always it leads to more questions about the Bryces, Alisons, and the other connections listed in Harry’s memorials–like Lord Melville and Baron Montcreiff who appear to have been instrumental in Harry’s joining the British Army.

All in all it was a very successful day and a fabulous way to close my Salt Lake trip! I can’t wait to go back again!

Happy hunting!


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