May I Introduce to You . . . Krista Whitehead

Come meet genealogy blogger Krista Whitehead, author of the Exploring Backwards blog, in this interview by Gini Webb at GeneaBloggers.

I have the great pleasure of introducing you to Krista Whitehead and her blog, Exploring Backwards, described as, “. . . Exploring backwards to uncover traces of my family roots!  I travel backwards to explore my family’s past so that I can share them with my family and preserve them for the future.”

Krista, please tell us a little bit about yourself and where you grew up.

“I grew up in the Midwest.  We moved around a bit, so I really wasn’t anywhere for too long.  I moved to Texas in 1994 and have been here ever since.  Texas is my home.  I love it, except when it is 100 degrees in the shade, and then I wish I lived in the Midwest again.”

What got you started in genealogy and how long have you been researching?

“Six years. To be honest, I am not exactly sure how I got started in genealogy.  My spouse knew a lot about her family.  I remember asking my parents questions about our family, and many times they did not know the answers.

I am a curious person by nature.  I work as an investigator in my day job, so researching came quite naturally.  I am fortunate in that I had two previous family members write different family history books.  The (books did not follow) my direct line, so I thought I would write one for my family.  I did not have a clue when I started out.  I think I googled it, and found Ancestry.com.”

When and why did you start or create your genealogy blog?

“My initial desire was, and still is, to write a book. However, after researching for a couple years, I realized I did not know how to begin.  I did not have the ‘stories’ that people were always talking about.  I knew I wanted to share my discoveries, so I would relate a finding to my mother and forget to tell my sister.  Or I would do the reverse.

I was flying home from my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary surprise weekend and I was reading a Family Tree Magazine article about its top blogs.  It was my epiphany.  I did not know people did that.  I did not have a clue as to how many people had already had that idea before me (ha ha).  I knew I wasn’t the first.  I wrote my first blog right there on the plane.  I consider it my family’s blog, because I want them to add supplemental stories.”

Do you have any tips for new bloggers?

  • “New bloggers need to decide what type of blog they are going to write. Mine is all family related.  I   write about what I discover through my research so that my family members can read it and learn too.  And, ultimately, my sister can help me edit it and put it into something tangible.
  • I think adding pictures, when possible, helps the reader understand the subject, the place, and the time.  It makes the blog come to life.”

Are there other genealogy blogs that may inspire you?

“They all inspire me.  I can read them all.  They are like candy to me, short and sweet.  The problem is I get distracted from my own research by reading others.  But they are a great place to find inspiration if you are stuck.  I usually read educational blogs because I still consider myself a novice.”

Krista, what is your favorite blog post?

“This is one of my favorite posts: Playing Craps Chicago Style.   I love it because I finally had gotten my father to talk and share.  He had a colorful childhood, but does not share much.  He is not boastful or flashy.  He has always been a modest man. Listening to him share is one of my favorite things.

How much time do you get to spend researching your family history?

“It comes and goes.  Since I am not near retirement, I have mostly been just a weekend warrior.  Sometimes on a Saturday, I can get lost in the office.  My spouse calls it ‘the vortex’.  I only emerge for nourishment!”

Who are your favorite ancestors?

“I have many.  I will give you two examples.  I have one ancestor who died young, but I love his name.  He was born in 1886 in Amherst County, Virginia; his name was Saint Louis Hicks.  He died by 1907.

George Wiley Whitehead is another favorite ancestor.  He barely survived the civil war.  He was shot by a sniper, wounded and a prisoner of war.  The story goes that he had given the Masonic sign to a Yankee soldier and was ultimately exchanged for one of theirs.

He came home with a bullet in his head, yet he married his sweetheart and they had 7 children.

You can read more about him here:  George Wiley Whitehead.”

What family story or heirlooms do you cherish most?

“My wallets.  I went on genealogical visit to see more about where my mom and her sister grew up.  While we were there, my Aunt Carol gave me four wallets: my grandmother’s, grandfather’s, my grand uncle’s and my great-grandmother’s.  They are grand artifacts of the items that were important in our loved ones’ lives.”

How has genealogy improved your life?

“Genealogy has definitely improved my life.  I have met people that are related to me by doing this.  I have learned so much about my family, I am now the family historian.  It has brought my family closer together.  I talk to some family members more as a result of my hobby then I had previously.”

What do you love most about doing genealogy?

“I love when I make a discovery and I get to share it with my family through my blog.  The discovery is only half of it for me.  I want to share what I discover in a clever and engaging way.”

If you wanted to leave a message for future generations, what would you say?

“My wish for future generations:  Only one, ask your questions now, while you can.  I wasn’t interested in my grandmother (grandmother’s past) when she was around.”

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Please take a moment to head on over to Krista’s blog. Leave her a comment letting her know you stopped by. Welcome Krista, it’s great to have you here!

© 2015, copyright Gini Webb. All rights reserved.

Gini Webb lives in San Diego, California and manages her own blog, Ginisology, while also researching her own German heritage, retired, enjoying life with wonderful husband Steve and visiting with her grandchildren! Are you a genealogy blogger who would like to be interviewed for the “May I Introduce To You . . .” series? If so, contact Gini Webb via e-mail.

May I Introduce to You . . . Jack Coffee

Come meet genealogy blogger Jack Coffee, author of The Edward Coffey Project, in this interview by Gini Webb at GeneaBloggers.

I have the great pleasure of introducing you to Jack Coffee and his blog, The Edward Coffey Project, described as, “. . .  A blog hopefully useful for other Edward Coffey researchers.  Really, it’s an attempt to correct a lot of misinformation floating around on Ancestry and other websites.”

“People ask me why my surname is spelled Coffee and not Coffey.  I have a theory that spelling of the surname changed sometimes because of movement out of the Carolinas and into KY, TN, GA and later into AL and on into AR and TX to other points west.  For example, Coffee was and is a rather popular name in AL, GA and TN.  Some officials in counties that had heard of the exploits of such men as Gen. John Coffee – of Mrs. Andrew (Rachel) Jackson kin – would spell the name of a new Coffey arrival the only way they had ever seen it spelled.  A tenuous argument but no one has ever been able to convince me of a better way the spelling changed.  Spelling varies even amongst siblings with some even spelling it Coffia.”

Jack, can you please tell us a little about yourself?

“My hometown and that of my wife is Baton Rouge, LA.  We have been married nearly 56 years and we now live in a small rural area some few miles north of Lafayette, LA and on the outskirts of the town of Sunset, LA.  My military service made us travelers.  We lived for three years in France and a couple of years in Germany.  In all, I served my country for eight and a half years before taking a discharge and a job with Exxon, now Exxon-Mobil Corp.  During the 28 years I worked for them, we lived and worked in Saudi Arabia and in Singapore and Baton Rouge.  I retired in 1995 and we left Baton Rouge and moved to some lake front property we owned in a remote and sparsely populated Parish in the NE part of Louisiana where we lived for 10 years before moving to Sunset where we have lived almost eight years.  In 2012, believing I had appendicitis, I went to the emergency room of a local hospital and came home with a diagnosis of Lymphoma.  After months of chemo I was finally declared in remission and have been now for nearly two years.”

How did you get started in genealogy?

“I never knew my paternal grandparents or any cousins from the three marriages of my grandfather.  Really, I never knew my father while growing up.  He was a real loser, married six times siring another child, a girl, with I believe his third wife.  A co-worker was researching his European roots and knowing that I spoke German – not so much now – he asked if I would translate some letters for him.  We both decided it might be good to take a basic course, me to help restore some vocabulary, him to learn the basics.  That got me interested in my roots but not before reading a bio of John Coffey Hayes, the Texas Ranger.”

How long have you been researching your family history?

“I began to seriously do research in the early 80’s when I discovered Baton Rouge had one of the finest genealogy libraries in the SE.  Since that time I have continued to do Coffee/y research even after learning that none of my Coffees are actually Coffee or Coffey.  It appears that my 3G-grandfather was either adopted or illegitimate and DNA testing shows us to be Mills.  Ironic that we are Coffey Mills.  My research points to an unmarried Coffey woman in Burke Co., NC living in close proximity to a single young man named Hardy Mills.  DNA shows my descent from Hardy’s father.”

When and why did you start or create your genealogy blog?

“I began the blog on Dec. 7, 2004 and wrote regularly for several years.  I am rather slow to write and post because it has become difficult to find anything new and of interest to readers.”

Do you have any tips for new bloggers?

“Jump in and start.  Don’t worry about grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc.  Well, not too much, anyway!”

Are there other genealogy blogs that may inspire you?

“I rely on Twitter a lot and the professionals who post there.  When I find a topic that one has posted and stirs my interest I will jog on over to their blogsite to see what they have to offer in the way of advice.”

Jack, what is your favorite post on your blog?

“I would guess that my favorite was the one in which I discovered a bigamist and a murderer in my family.  That was only recently (2014) and can be found here:  William Noah Coffey, Bigamist & Murderer.”

How much time do you get to spend researching your family history?

“Being retired and having no other hobbies, I spent the greater part of the day working on both Coffee/y families as well as my wife’s Acadian ancestors.”

What family story or heirloom do you cherish most?

“The walking stick that I inherited from my maternal great-grandfather who died when I was 10.”

How has genealogy improved your life?

“Well, hard to say.  I suspect it helped me forget all of the difficulties I had not only with the cancer but also with the chemo.  I spent a lot of time in my easy chair with my tablet, researching, reading and the like, all the while sending what I found via e-mail to my desktop computer. On those days I felt like moving from the easy chair to the desk chair, they were waiting for me and occupied me for a few hours.”

What do you love most about doing genealogy?

“I love searching old newspapers and finding out who shot who, who went to jail for moonshining, illicit love affairs and divorces, stuff like that! I’m really not a voyeur but it’s kind of cool to find out that even though I am the ‘perfect father and husband’ (tongue in cheek), not everyone in my family even came close.”

If you wanted to leave a message for future generations, what would you say?

“If it was left to my own family, grandchildren for example, I would tell them to take what I have begun and fill in the blanks!”

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Please take a moment to head on over to Jack’s blog. Leave him a comment letting him know you stopped by. Welcome Jack, it’s great to have you here!

© 2015, copyright Gini Webb. All rights reserved.

Gini Webb lives in San Diego, California and manages her own blog, Ginisology, while also researching her own German heritage, retired, enjoying life with wonderful husband Steve and visiting with her grandchildren! Are you a genealogy blogger who would like to be interviewed for the “May I Introduce To You . . .” series? If so, contact Gini Webb via e-mail.

May I Introduce to You . . . Anne Robinson

Come meet genealogy blogger Anne Robinson, author of the Phamily Blog, in this interview by Gini Webb at GeneaBloggers.

I have the great pleasure of introducing you to Anne Robinson and her blog, Phamily Blog, described as, “. . . A history of my phamily and good therapy for those days when you are missing someone you loved and lost.”

A Little About Anne

“Like my hubby, I was born in Pueblo, CO. We live in Northglenn, CO. today.  We raised five kids together. We work hard, three of the kids have college degrees and the youngest one is studying so he can get his BS and then a Masters. Makes a mom proud.

We have dogs and cats always with us and we like to travel. We love spending time with our phamily and we lead simple lives. No showy stuff, just good old fashioned values, lots of phamily photos and kids are always around. We like to walk and run and hike together.

I love collecting dolls and my hubby studies the Bible diligently. We attend church together and considering we have been hit with lots of difficult stuff throughout our marriage, sickness, job loss, etc., we remain strong and stick together like glue.

I am a tea collector, anything with tea I love tea pots, cups, etc. I am the baby in my sibling order and I like to dream. My hubby is the middle child, he is very kind and very level headed. I am an emotional mess some days and he balances that out for me. I am like our youngest Nick, he is like our middle Rebekah. We love our kids and the grand kids and we are so young (wink wink) we have some great-grands too!”

How Anne Got Started in Genealogy

“About five years ago, when a co-worker told me she traced her dad’s phamily back to the 14th century and Vasco de Gama. I went to Catholic school, a girl never forgets a really cool explorer like him! I have dabbled in my phamily history for several years but the past six months I have kicked it up a lot!

My girlfriend Barb started me blogging but my cousins, Mike and Kay, encouraged me to write about the phamily. Wanting to know things about my ancestors that I was too young to ask them. I have always been fascinated where they came from, Yugoslavia/Slovenia/Austria. Plus my hubby has his dad’s genealogy from Ireland for several generations back and someone did lots of research. They did not include photos so I am filling in those blanks too.”

Anne’s Thoughts on Blogging

“I have been blogging since Nov 1, 2009 but got into the genealogy aspect of it because my cousin Mike Barnett was blogging a history for his kids, ‘Life in Bojon Town.’ He wanted his kids, grandkids and nieces and nephews to have something to remember us by.

When I started my blog, my lifelong friend Barb encouraged me. Our middle daughter had a little poodle who got really ill and diagnosed with cancer. She said write about her, you will never regret it, so I did. Plus now when I look back on my blog posts and see improvements I made I feel good writing a mini history of my life and those I loved and cherished.

I am not very tech savvy so I learn a little at a time with various good buddies I have meet through blogging. Makes me feel good to accomplish many things, like these questions, where my text was changing colors! It seems like it only happens to me, but I laugh and roll with it! Thank you.”

Anne’s Advice for Genealogy Bloggers

“Don’t give up! My cousin Kay is a puzzle solver and she encourages me to keep keeping on. She will visit the homeland of our ancestors in August.”

Anne’s Favorite Blog Post

“It is hard to say, I have written a few on weddings posting my mom and dad’s siblings and their own weddings. But there are more than one post. I love that everyone pitches in and sends me photos to use. I love photos.”

Genealogy Blogs That Inspire Anne

“My cousin Mike but I have started to look at others. There is so much info out there.”

Anne’s Time with Ancestors

“I lost my job in November 2014 so right now I have more time. Once I get back to work, hopefully by September, I will work on it maybe two hours daily. Some days I work 4-5 hours at a time.”

Anne’s Favorite Ancestors

“My grandmother Cecilia Steblay, she suffered so many hardships and they made her stronger. Her faith prevailed. She was my mom’s mom and then my dad’s father, Joe Kocman, he and his brother were orphaned and he was one of the best parents ever! Life could not beat him down and take his joy away.”

Anne’s Most Cherished Family Heirloom or Story

“My mom’s cedar chest and a photo I have of my great grandfather, Joseph Kralj and my uncle Louie as a small boy.”

How Genealogy Has Improved Anne’s Life

“It makes me more determined. I am searching now about my great grandfather and you cannot tell me no! I will prevail! I keep searching, redoing it and searching more! Plus I find little bits of info that make me smile. Like my youngest daughter Hannah is born on July 3 and so was my dad’s little brother Frank that passed away during the Influenza Epidemic in 1918.”

Anne’s Time Capsule Message for the Future

“Talk to the older generation. Tape them, record them, listen and date all your information. You won’t ever regret the search you are on.”

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Please take a moment to head on over to Anne’s blog. Leave her a comment letting her know you stopped by.  Welcome Anne, it’s great to have you here!

© 2015, copyright Gini Webb. All rights reserved.

Gini Webb lives in San Diego, California and manages her own blog, Ginisology, while also researching her own German heritage, retired, enjoying life with wonderful husband Steve and visiting with her grandchildren! Are you a genealogy blogger who would like to be interviewed for the “May I Introduce To You . . .” series? If so, contact Gini Webb via e-mail.