01 December 2017

It's Here 2018 NGS Registration!

I have been waiting for this ever since I learned that the National Genealogical Society's 2018 conference will be held in Grand Rapids, Michigan, my home state.

Registration for the 2-5 May 2018 conference, Paths to Your Past, is now open.   

The schedule is filled with excellent topics and speakers.  The track of lectures include Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) Skillbuilding; Immigration and Migration; Methodology; Paths; Trails, and Waterways; State Research; Military; Technology; Occupations; DNA Discoveries; Religion; Ethnicity; Michigan; Records; African American; Tips and Techniques; New York; Repositories; and Organizations.  I am going to have a hard time selecting the lectures to go to as I have highlighted two to three lectures for each time period that sounds interesting.  Speakers are local, regional, national and international in fame!  Their biographies are included in the registration information. 

If attending lectures isn't enough, check out the key note speaker-John Philip Colletta!  I have heard him speak and he is a dynamic speaker.  Don't sleep in on Wednesday morning and miss "Coming Along the Towpath: The Erie Canal and the Peopling of the Great Lakes State"  Michigan population exploded once the Erie Canal opened.  Many Michigan settlers came from the New England States and New York via the Erie Canal.  Dr. Colletta is a must hear speaker, no matter what time of day he speaks.

Another not to miss event is the exhibit hall.  I am already saving my pennies (and more) for this.  The exhibit hall is the place to see the latest in genealogical goodies.  Exhibitors and vendors will be displaying everything from the latest tech gizmo's to books to luggage tags, maps, and more.  Organizations will be available to answer questions, offer mini classes and demonstrations on a variety of topics and more.  It is the place to go.  I would recommend scheduling one lecture time just for the exhibit hall.  You will want to visit the exhibit hall more than once.  Just like Chicago voting, go early and go often.  Popular items will sell out.

Another popular event is the luncheons.  Various organizations sponsor lunch each day.  You get a great lunch, meet great people, and hear another lecture.  The first national conference I went to my strategy was to attend everything I could afford.  I ended up being exhausted by the end of day two.  I would suggest attending at least one luncheon and reserve some down time, especially if you plan to go to any of the evening events.

Speaking of evening events, Society Night is on Wednesday, 2 May 2018, from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm.  Representatives from various genealogical and historical societies will be available to share what their society has from memberships, research sources, historical places, and publications.  My local society, Calhoun County Genealogical Society (CCGS), will have a table.  CCGS will have Calhoun County Pioneer and Early Settlers list; Fort Custer German POW photographs, list of Calhoun County resources and more.  Stop by and say hi! 

The Michigan Genealogical Council (MGC)will have a table as well.  MGC supports its member societies and will have a map with all the member societies in Michigan, as well as information on each society. 

Another evening event will be held at the President Gerald R. Ford Museum.  Attendees will be able to view the museum, hear the Schubert Male Chorus and enjoy dessert with host society Western Michigan Genealogical Society.

All of the above information and more can be found in the registration brochure.  Early bird registration ends March 20, 2018, so save yourself some money, for the exhibit hall, and go register! 

14 November 2017

Michigan to Hold 2018 National Genealogical Society Conference

You have to come visit my home state of Michigan from May 2-5th for the 2018 National Genealogical Society's "Paths to Your Past" Conference.  It will be held in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a beautiful city on the Grand River.  Western Michigan Genealogical Society, which I am a member, is the host society.  I will be there, will you?

I had free accommodations lined up and was so excited because that meant I had more book money!  But, as all plans go, they are subject to change.  A family illness means that I will be staying in one of the host hotels, Courtyard Marriott. The Amway Grand Plaza was booked. I looked into other hotels and the savings wasn't enough to warrant having to drive into the city.

Michigan is a beautiful place to hold a Spring Conference!  The weather should be mild, nice enough to walk outside, but not too humid or hot.  If you are lucky the tulips will be blooming in Holland, MI, only about 40 miles away.  There are so many places I could recommend that I could write a blog a day for the next six months.  Instead, I will say, check out Pure Michigan, the official travel and tourism website for Michigan. 

Grand Rapids is a great place to bring the spouse and kids.  It has great golf courses in the area, great food, great beer, great children's museum, gardens, cemeteries, libraries, historical museums and more.  The beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline is less than an hour away. The water will be too cold to swim in, but the sights are magnificent, seeing a beautiful sunset is a must.

The Library and Archives of Michigan is in Lansing, Michigan, which is less than 70 miles away.  Both are the absolute best for family history research.  Michigan has so many great research repositories.  I will be sharing some in the months ahead.  If you can't wait that long, check out "Michigan Resources" tab at the top of my blog home page.

Feel free to email me, if you have any questions about Michigan research!  Come for the conference and stay for the beauty that is Michigan, My Michigan.  Now, what to do to earn book money?

21 September 2017

Genea-gifts Makes For a Great Birthday

Recently, I celebrated a birthday, my 60th, to be exact and that is all I have to say on the subject.  Gift opening was particularly fun this year as I was able to add three books to my genealogy library, thanks to my hubby, Kirk.

1. Professional Genealogy, Edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills.  I have been contemplating becoming more involved in the professional side of genealogy.  I have spoken at a few genealogical society meetings and enjoyed it.  I thought it would be a good time to read this book.  I haven't decided if I want to become certified or not.  I enjoy researching my family but I don't know if I would enjoy doing it professionally.  Whether or not I become a 'professional' genealogist, this book has a lot of information on how to research professionally.

2.  Scottish Genealogy by Bruce Durie.  My dad's grandfather, David Watt, came to Canada, and then Michigan, from Methil, Fife, Scotland.  Once I have a free afternoon, I plan to explore his Scottish roots and this book will help in the process.

3.  Saxons, Vikings, and Celts: The Genetic Roots of Britain and Ireland by Bryan Sykes.  I am interested in my DNA since my parents provided the spit for their DNA tests.  I purchased more tests after a recent DNA sale at Ancestry.  My daughter and I tested.  I have one for my son, but with the aftermath of the Houston flood, I decided to wait to mail it to him.  My dad is 85% Great Britain, 5% Scandinavia, and 6% Ireland.  I tested as 46% Great Britain, 23% Scandinavia, and 9% Ireland.  My daughter, to my surprise, tested 28% Scandinavia and 27% Ireland.  I decided with that much Great Britain, Ireland and Scandinavia in our genes, this would be a good book to read.

Recent purchases include
1.  Ancestral Trails by Mark D. Herber-another Great Britain reference book.

2.  Land and Property Research in the United States by E Wade Hone.  I have been immersed in Vermont land records and trying to figure out where Daniel Fenn purchased seven lots from the seventh division in Shoreham, Addison, Vermont.  I have the record of his selling them in 1813, but cannot for the life of me find the purchase. I am guessing it has something to do with the changing boundary lines for Vermont and the New Hampshire grants and possibly New York records. I had looked at this book a few times in the library and decided it would be a good addition to my library.

The Newberry Library used book sale is held in July every year and my husband and I usually go to it with my daughter and her husband, who live in Chicago.  I look forward to it every year.  This year I was having some stress related stomach problems and I couldn't go.  My wonderful daughter went and looked at the genealogy sections.  She bought the following books.  Isn't she wonderful?

1.  Scottish Tartans-an interesting read on the clans in Scotland.  My Watts are even in the book.

2.  Tracing Your Scottish Ancestry by Katherine B. Cory.

3.  Tracing Scottish Local History-Scottish Record Office by Cecil Sinclair.This book even includes great notes from the previous owner on researching Scottish records.

It looks like I will be doing some Scottish research soon.  I am tired of Vermont land records, anyway!  My family knows me well and can never go wrong with a good genealogy book.

Are you curious about what books I have in my genealogy library? Check out "My Library" page at the top of my blog.

04 September 2017

Hurricane Harvey and The Leyndyke Family: Part II

Previously, I wrote about my son, Travis, and his wife, Alayna, heading home to Houston for the first time to see what damage Hurricane Harvey had done to their home in Houston.

They were one of the fortunate ones!  Thankfully, their home, cars and pup, Caesar, were all undamaged.  I am one grateful mother.  I was worried for a week about what they would find once they got home.

The devastation that was wrought by Hurricane Harvey is unimaginable.  The news stories are filled with the damage Harvey had on the area.  The news stories are filled with the spirit that is alive in Houston as well.  I speak of Houston because that is where my son calls home.  The damage is more widespread than Houston.  It is all along the gulf from Rockport, Texas to Louisiana.

It is expected that recovery will cost about 190 billion dollars.  Those in the flooded areas have seen great losses.  Entire neighborhoods, schools, libraries, banks, stores, and businesses are dealing with the damage left behind.

One of the things my son said is that there is an army of volunteers ready and willing to help those impacted.  The "Cajun Navy" arrived to help those trapped in their homes.  FEMA, Red Cross, Salvation Army and others are there to help.  HEB, a local grocery store, was one of the first to bring semi loads of food and water to the area.  Houston Texans football star, JJ Watts, through his foundation has collected over $17 million that will help in the recovery efforts.  Jim McIngvale, aka Mattress Mack, opened his Gallery Furniture stores to those in need of shelter.  The reports of those helping is everywhere, these are just a few that make the headlines.

My son, and his wife, arrived home on Friday night.  Saturday morning, they were headed to Lowe's to pick up supplies for a friend.  They were heading to her house to help.  Sunday morning found them volunteering in another area.  Nothing makes me prouder than to know he is helping those less fortunate.  Travis and Alayna know how fortunate they were and want to help.

My daughter, Kirsten, and her husband, Chase, who live in Chicago, have donated to Austin Pets Alive, an animal shelter that is helping with pet evacuations from Houston and finding shelters to take them in.  Our whole family knows our story could be entirely different.

My hope is that the spirit of giving continues for months to come as the Houston area is going to need help rebuilding for many months, if not years.  I know I will be giving.  I have a lot to be thankful for that my family was spared the worst that Mother Nature has to offer.  I won't forget those who weren't spared.  I hope you won't either.

01 September 2017

Hurricane Harvey and The Leyndyke Family

I woke up Friday, August 25th feeling like a weight had been lifted from my chest. My stress level lowered immensely.  I was happy!  My parents, after three months of preparation, were safely ensconced in an independent senior living apartment.  I knew they would be safe and secure.  If they needed help, it was available. I felt like I had energy to do a few things that I had let go over the past couple of years. Well, you know what they say-"we plan-God laughs".

Intersection of Braesmont and Braeswood, Houston-about 4 miles from Travis and Alayna's home.

Never did I think that a once in a 1,000 years flood would hit the area of Houston, Texas during my planning! Houston, the town my son, Travis, and his wife, Alayna, and my grand-pup, Caesar, called home. No matter how old your children are you never stop worrying about them.  Anyone who has seen the news in the last week has seen the devastation that Hurricane Harvey wrought on the area.

Luckily, my son, who is an assistant athletic director at Rice University, was traveling for work when Harvey hit shore.  He had the trip of a lifetime.  He traveled with the Rice Owls football team to Sydney, Australia for the Sydney Cup where Rice University played Stanford University.  It was an awesome opportunity for Travis.

Caesar surviving Hurricane Harvey

Alayna, his wife, had a wedding to attend in Connecticut.  They had a reliable dog-sitter, Elizabeth, who it turns out was God-sent.  They were safe, but unable to return home to Caesar and their house.

Travis arrived to the United States and was redirected to Fort Worth, Texas where he and the Rice contingent have been staying since Monday.  Alayna was able to fly to Dallas and Monday night they were reunited.  They knew the dog sitter had taken Caesar to her home, which was a upper level apartment and prayed all were safe. They had no way of knowing what condition their house was in as they had just moved there in July and didn't know the neighbor's phone numbers. Roads were impassable. They were glued to the news, social media, and area flood maps looking for information about their neighborhood.

As I write this, Travis and Alayna, are preparing to board a bus to return to Houston for the first time since Harvey hit.  They have no idea what they will find once they get to their house.  I have been a nervous wreck worrying about them.  Travis does a great job of keeping me informed, but it is not the same as being there to take care of them.  Once a mother, always a mother!

I sit patiently (okay, I may be stretching the truth a little) and wait to hear from Travis and Alayna and the condition of their home. I am preparing mental lists of items I can take to them, if needed.  My husband and I are ready to jump in the car at a moment's notice to help with the clean up.

I have researched disasters and the impact they have had on my ancestor's, but I never thought I would be recording a monumental disaster that Hurricane Harvey is for a descendant, my son, no less.

Travis and Alayna are only two of the thousands of people affected by Harvey, but they are the two most important ones in my life.  Relief efforts are underway across Houston and the United States. Many, many people are volunteering to help those who need it.  I am just waiting for my turn.

21 May 2017

Best Deal in Genealogy: Family History Library Classes & Webinars

If you are like me you want to make the best use of your genealogy budget.  There are so many things genealogists can spend money on: books, records, research trips, conferences, online subscriptions, society dues, magazines, printer ink, gadgets, DNA testing, office supplies and more.  The list can go on and on.

Last week, I found the best bargain in genealogy.  The Western European Family History Conference that FamilySearch live streamed for FREE!  Yes, free.  It was five days of national conference quality presentations.

Each day of the week focused on an area of Western Europe.  The following areas were covered: Germany, France, The Low Countries, The Netherlands, and Switzerland.  The research I do for my husband and I involved all of these countries except Belgium and Luxembourg, which were included in the Low Countries.

There were 25 classes in all.  I cleared my schedule, except for Friday, and was able to watch 18 of the 25 live streams.  Three of the classes I passed on as I wasn't doing research in those areas at this time; another three I missed because I run errands for my parents on Friday.

It would be impossible to pick which classes were the best, they were all top notch with top notch presenters and handouts.  Presenters included Mindy Jacox, Coreen Barrett-Valentine, Jilline Maynes, F. Warren Bittner, Brandon L. Baird, Heidi G. Sugden, Baerbel K. Johnson, Fritz Juengling, Daniel R. Jones, and Sonja Nishimoto.

The classes I watched are in italics:


  • Finding German Places of Origin
  • Spelling Variations in German Given and Place Names
  • Meyer's Gazetter Now Online, Indexed and Fully Searchable
  • German Church Records and Beyond: Deepen Your Research Using a Variety of Town Reocrds
  • Elusive Immigrant:  Methods of Proving Identity
  • Finding Your French Ancestors Online, Part 1 Family Search and Ancestry
  • Finding Your French Ancestors Online, Part 2 France GenWeb
  • Finding Your French Ancestors Online, Part 3, Geneanet
  • Out of the Ashes of Paris
  • Research in Alsace-Lorraine
     The Low Countries
  • Latin for Researchers
  • Calendar Changes in France, Germany, Switzerland and the Low Countries
  • Gazetteers and Maps for Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands
  • Beginning Research in Luxembourg
  • Beginning Research in Belgium
     The Netherlands
  • Names in Belgium and the Netherlands
  • WieWasWie, Past the Index:  What to Do Next
  • Dutch Provincial and City Research
  • Dutch Research Before 1811
  • Finding Your Family in the Amazing Online Amsterdam City Archives
  • Beginning Swiss Research
  • Swiss Maps and Gazetteers
  • Swiss Archives Online Records
  • Swiss Census Records
  • Swiss Chorgericht (Court) Records
I don't know where I have been the last two years because this is the first time I heard about these classes.  The Family History Library Classes and Webinars at the FamilySearch Wiki is the place to go to find out more information about what FamilySearch offers.

This wiki page shows you class schedules for on site classes at the Family History Library.  Some of the classes are live streamed, as well.  Upcoming webinars can be found here and past webinars, with handouts.

The past webinars section includes an area about past research seminars and conferences.  The 2016 tract was European, Nordic, and Roots Tech en Espanol.  The 2017 tract was British Isles and Roots Tech en Espanol.  Some of the past sessions may be watched from this area.  I plan to go back and watch the British Isles one. Other areas include Africa, Europe, Latin America and North America.

The only drawback to this is that I wanted to stay up all night using all the great information that was presented.  I was able to do a little research and found some amazing records about my husband and my ancestors.  I found or learned:
  • About German vowels and consonants and how to search with spelling variations for my German families.
  • Kirk's great, great grandfather, Quirin Schmitt, birth record and civil registration records in the Bas-Rhin department of Alsace-Lorraine.  This information included Quirin's parents, including mother's maiden name.  A great find!
  • I found the huwelijksbijlagen for Kirk's Dutch 2x and 3x great grandparents.  I was up until midnight searching these gems of Dutch records and have many more names to find.  What is a huwelijksbijlagen, you ask?  These records are marriage supplements and contain the papers that a dutch couple had to present before marriage.  They are a gold mine.  They are in Dutch, but that is a small inconvenience for the awesome genealogical information they contain.
  • I found so many resources for my Swiss ancestors, I may need a month to use the resources and I only attended two of the five sessions!  The Swiss court records are fascinating and I may just order the ones I need for the Canton Bern to see if my Anabaptist ancestors are mentioned. Swiss court records are available on DVD by town for Canton Bern.
This was only a small sampling of what I got out of the conference.  In addition, I have a list of resources to check the next time I go to Allen County Public Library.  I have a list of other wiki's to check out and I have a huge list of online resources to save to my bookmarks.  

This conference was just the break I needed from real life that has been a little busy lately.  I am excited about researching again AND it even got me to start blogging after a few months break.

If you are looking for a great deal in genealogy, look no further than the Family History Library classes and webinars.  You won't regret it.

20 May 2017

What's New in My Genealogy Library

Spring cleaning isn't something that I normally look forward to, but the time had come to go through my office and organize books. I had books stored on the floor and wanted them on shelves.  Most of the books on the floor were recent purchases and I wanted to use them before I put them away.  I decided it was time to put them away.  I rearranged my books a little and did some spring cleaning of my office.  I don't know about you, but once I decide to clean that leads to cleaning the whole room, minus the closet.  That is a project for another day.

This is one of the bookcases I have.  It doesn't hold a lot, but it fits in a very narrow space that I have next to my desk.  I organized the shelves by category (top to bottom): General Research Help; England, Scotland,and Ireland; Germany; Europe (Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, and Poland); United States (Illinois, New York, Michigan); and Military.

I have another bookcase for all my New England books, including all my Great Migration books.  I have a few leftovers that I need to find room for and I will be done.

The new books are books that I purchased because there was a sale online, or in the case of Bernese Anabaptists, I was at the Clayton Library for Genealogical Research, in Houston, Texas and they had a sale section.

While going through all these books I realized that I had a few books that I hadn't put on My Library page at the top of this website.  Those books are:

  • Genealogical Guide to Discovering Your Irish Ancestors by Radford and Betitt
  • Amish and Amish Mennonite Genealogies by Hugh Gingerich
  • Bernese Anabaptists by Delbert Gratz
  • Family Maps of Washtenaw County by Gregory A. Boyd
  • Tracing Your Colonial American Ancestors
  • Tracing Your Revolutionary War Ancestors
  • Tracing Your War of 1812 Ancestors

Please check out the "My Library" page tab and if you see something you would like to know more about email me, or leave a comment.  I am happy to do look ups, if interested.  

One spring cleaned room down and a few more to go.  What about you, do you Spring clean? 

15 April 2017

Blogging Hiatuses and Me

Julie Cahill Tarr posted on her blog today, What Happened to Genealogy Blogging?  She shared statistics about blogs in her blog reader and how many bloggers hadn't posted in awhile.  She asked her readers who write blogs to leave comments about their reasons for not blogging.

Julie's post led me to check and see when I last blogged.  Gasp! It was August 23rd, almost 8 months ago. Although I haven't blogged in awhile, I have been busy with genealogy type things.

First, in August I was busy prepping for a three week genealogical trip of a lifetime to New England, which I was taking in September.  The preparation included:

  • ordering Family Search microfilm on Vermont land records
  • transcribing over fifty of these land records
  • organizing my research for the trip
  • writing research plans
  • researching repository card catalogs
  • and so much more
Next, was the trip itself where I was gone for 26 days.  I could write a year of blog posts based on this trip.  I visited New York, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.  I combined research with vacation.  Some of the genealogical highlights of this trip were:
  • Visiting my fourth great grandparents, Alexander and Sarah (Salisbury) Glover, gravesite and my fifth great grandparents, William and Elizabeth (Beal) Salisbury, gravesite at Joslyn Cemetery, Phelps, Ontario, New York.
  • Exploring the Hingham, Massachusetts area, including a visit to the Hingham Historical Society's Heritage Visitor Center, which was temporarily housed at Talbot's Headquarters.  A blog post in itself!
  • Exploring Cape Cod cemeteries-Old Cove Burying Ground in Eastham; Old Town Burial Ground in Sandwich; Old Burying Ground/First Parish Cemetery in Brewster.
  • Visiting the historical sites of Salem, Massachusetts AND
  • Meeting "Life from the Roots" blogger, Barbara Poole for the first time.
  • Spending many hours in Plymouth, Massachusetts seeing Plimouth Plantation, Mayflower II, Pilgrim Hall Museum and all the historical sites around Plymouth.
  • Researching at New England Historic Genealogical Society library for two days, including a consultation with genealogist Rhonda McClure.
  • Sitting on the cellar hole steps of my fifth great grandparents, Moses and Hannah (Santclare) Poor in Salem, New Hampshire.
  • Researching and exploring the areas of Pittsford and Shoreham, Vermont.  I visited cemeteries, libraries and historical societies in the area.
  • Touring Fort Ticonderoga to see where my fourth great grandfather, Hopkins Rowley, raided the fort as part of Ethan Allen's Green Mountain Boys.
  • Researching at the Leahy Library of Vermont History Center in Barre, Vermont.
This above may have been enough of a reason not to blog because I came home with many records to analyze, but ten days after my vacation I had thumb surgery! I wasn't able to use it for almost three months!  I am still rebuilding strength in that hand.

The holidays came and went as I was recovering from surgery.  January rolls around and I found myself providing care and support to my aging parents.  My parents, who still live independently, needed a little help as my dad found himself in and out of the hospital with low hemoglobin and low blood pressure.  Other parental support came in the form of visiting senior living options for them and presenting them with a few options, which they are still deciding on.

These are a few of the reasons I haven't kept up on my blog. I guess I have a good excuse for neglecting my blog.  One thing I don't like to do is to blog unless I know that what I am posting is quality material and for me that takes time.  Time which has been short in supply the past eight months.

I can't guarantee that I am on the way to regular blog posts, but Julie's blog post got me thinking about my blog, and that is the first step to more posts.