May I Introduce to You . . . Debra van Driel Kluit

Come meet genealogy blogger Debra van Driel Kluit, author of the Moments in Time blog in this interview by Gini Webb at GeneaBloggers.

MAY I INTRODUCE TO YOU . . . DEBRA VAN DRIEL KLUIT

I have the great pleasure of introducing you to Debra van Driel Kluit and her blog, Moments in Time, described as, “ . . . Family history and family stories.”

Debra, please tell us a little about yourself.

“I was born in Hull, East Yorkshire, England but have moved around a lot as a child and lived in several countries. My husband is a real Dutch Miller, we live in Rotterdam next to a windmill that was built in 1776 and where my husband makes bread and cake mixes which we sell in a little shop inside the mill.

I am a mother of three children and a grandmother of five.

I speak Dutch fluently but my English has deteriorated so please forgive any grammatical mistakes.”

How did you get started in Genealogy?

“I caught the family history bug at a very young age, I was 16 when I was first given a lesson about genealogy and a desire was planted to start researching my own family history. My maternal grandmother was still alive as were two older sisters of my father and they were able to provide me with many stories of their childhood and several other facts to point me in the good direction. My early years of research was before the era of computers and entailed traveling down to London to visit St. Catherine’s house where all the birth, marriage and death indexes were housed. These were huge tomes which caused muscle ache after spending a whole day lifting and carrying them to the tables. Viewing the census returns was no easy matter either as you either needed an exact address or you would have to view the whole micro film roll of a village or town with the hope of finding your ancestors. We are so blessed nowadays that we can do so much research in the comfort of our own homes.”

Why Debra created her blogs and her thoughts on blogging

After completing a genealogical course with Future Learn, I was given a tip to create a genealogical blog, this seemed like a perfect way to share all the interesting facts and stories which I have discovered during my many years of research with my family who are scattered over the world.”

Debra, how did you choose the name for your blog?

“About 10 years ago, I wrote and self-published a book about my paternal line, during the course of writing this book I had been reading Daphne du Maurier’s book ‘The House on the Strand’ and came across the phrase ‘Moments in Time’, this sounded like a perfect description of my book because it is just small moments in time which we are recording whilst doing genealogical research, as we try to build a picture of our ancestor’s lives.  I decided to give my blog this same name as sometimes I will use excerpts from my book as well as adding stories and facts from my maternal line.”

What research tool or source has been particularly helpful in researching your family history?

“I have used Ancestry a lot but I have also found the website from the British National Archives very useful, especially the A2A access to archives section which indexes the records of local record offices throughout the country. I was able to discover many records of my Strickland ancestors in the Cornwall County Record Office through this site which I could then apply for and receive the copies via the post. The great thing about having ancestors from Cornwall is that there are so many mineral rights for the tin and copper so that almost every land purchase or rental is accompanied with an indenture of the mining rights, these can be amazing sources of information about family connections. Recently I have also used the website of the British Newspaper Archive and have found some really interesting articles about my ancestors which have given me more background information about their lives.”

Debra, what has been your most exciting genealogy discovery in your research?

“Every genealogical discovery is exciting, that’s what makes it so addictive, the joy of discovering the name of an ancestor that you have been searching so long for is so exhilarating. My husband is a Miller and works in a real windmill so it was quite exciting to discover that my maternal great great grandfather and his family were Millers. Even more so when I discovered a book in my father in law’s book case about Kent windmills which he had bought in England many years ago, and which made mention of my ancestors and described my fourth great grandmother as being ‘a veritable Amazon, a masterful woman of wonderful personality’ a woman who lived to be 101 and had 26 children.”

Debra’s favorite blog post

“One of my favourite posts is about an ancestor who was so upset about the death of his wife that he killed his young daughter and then tried to kill himself.

It’s not always nice to find a criminal in our family tree but the wealth of information that can be found about a notorious ancestor in old newspaper articles and record offices adds so much colour and interest to your tree.

The 4th great grandfather of my husband was a solicitor and also in charge of collecting taxes, during the French occupation of Holland in the early 18th Century he used some of this tax money for his own means. In 1807 he was held accountable and declared bankrupt, in the National Record Office in Den Haag we were able to find the original handwritten bills of the money he owed to the tailor and the grocer etc., fascinating reading and remarkable that such things had been kept in an archive for more than two hundred years.”

How much time are you able to spend on research?

“This depends on how much my time is taken up with other demands. I could easily spend hours looking for newspaper articles related to my ancestors or trying to get past a brick wall, but being a Grandmother and also looking after my mother in law fills my time as well as working in our Windmill shop.”

Debra, who is your favorite ancestor?

“I think that I would have to say my great grandmother Rose Tozer because she had such a tragic life. Her own father died when she was two years old and her first husband died when her daughter my grandmother was only two, she remarried a widower with 5 children who was unfaithful but ended up divorcing her and accusing her of being unfaithful and separating her from two of her children. Eventually she ended up committing suicide by putting her head in a gas oven. I would love to meet her and tell her that she is loved.”

Debra, what family story or heirloom do you cherish?

“I don’t have many heirlooms but I do have a small cut glass perfume bottle which belonged to my great grandmother Rose Tozer, if I open it I can still smell her perfume.”

In what ways has genealogy improved your life?

“Genealogy has made me realize that I am who I am through the combined choices of my ancestors. I have inherited not only their genes but also their decisions on where they choose to live or work and how they treated their children, all have had an influence in my life and who I have become.”

Debra, what do you love most about doing your genealogy/family history?

“I love putting together the puzzle pieces and building a picture of my ancestors life.

Genealogy is like detective work, finding clues and sometimes unrelated facts that eventually lead you to find someone you’ve been searching years for.”

What is on your genealogy bucket list?

“With my paternal line I have managed to get quite far back but with my maternal line I have hit quite a few brick walls, my 4th great grandfather Robert Orwin, the Miller was married in London and died in Hull just two years before the 1851 census which would have told me where he was born. I have a lot of information about his life and where he lived but not where he was born and who his parents were. I have tried so many avenues but hope one day to find for certain where he came from.”

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

“Sometimes I wish that my ancestors had left more information for me, a diary or a letter telling me about their lives. That is why I think it is so important to keep a record of my own life so that my children and grandchildren and their children will know who I was and what I thought about things.”

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

© 2016, 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 . . . Anthony Peter Beacock

Come meet genealogy blogger Anthony Peter Beacock, author of the Our Great Ancestors blog, in this interview by Gini Webb at GeneaBloggers.

I have the great pleasure of introducing you to, Anthony Peter Beacock and his blog, Our Great Ancestors, described as, “. . . Our Great Ancestors aims provide information about not only my own family lines, but genealogy in general. Through the blog I hope that I can help people get started with researching their own family history. I also hope that distant cousins are able to discover the blog and find out about their roots.

A Little Bit About Anthony

“I was born near Hull, which is situated in East Yorkshire, England in 1996 and currently live in Hedon which is a historic market town and is about 6 miles away from Hull.

I am currently at University studying Computer Science with Games Development, but in my free time I like to research my family history as well as many other hobbies.”

How did you get started in genealogy?

“I began researching my family history not only because I had an interest in it, but also because of my late father. He became seriously ill and a few years later, in 2007, he sadly passed away. When my dad was ill, he said that he was not afraid of dying but afraid of being forgotten. At the age of 11, I was his oldest son when he passed on, which meant that I felt the need to try and grant his wishes. I thought about family history and that he had started one when he was ill. I decided that it would be the best way to keep his memory alive for future generations.

I then had a problem, because then I thought everyone else deserves to be remembered, because without them I would not be here myself. So that made my decision to research my family, even stronger.

I have now been researching my family history for just over 2 years, and have achieved a great piece of history that is still growing week by week.”

Why Anthony Created His Blog and His Thoughts on Blogging

“I started a genealogy blog in May 2016 as I wanted to document my research publically, in hope of reaching out to distant cousins. I also wanted to give something back to the community by trying to help people research their own family history.”

How did you choose the name for your blog?

“I chose the name, Our Great Ancestors, because I believe it is catchy, straight to the point and it also has a double meaning – great as in great grandfather, and great as in my grandfather is great! The name just came to me, so I went with it!”

Anthony, what research tool or source has been particularly helpful in researching your family history?

“Although I find that Ancestry and FindMyPast are really helpful and easy to use, I use a few other sites such as LincstothePast, Genuki and FreeBMD. On my blog I have featured a list of useful links, which includes anything that I have come across that is deemed helpful. I update this whenever I discover new, useful websites and resources.

I use the MyHeritage Family Tree Builder to actually record the bulk of information, as it sets out the family tree very neatly. I find it very easy to use also.”

Anthony, do you have any tips for new genealogy bloggers?

“Start with yourself and work backwards. You should never work forwards as it is very easy to trail off onto another line which ends up being incorrect! Also you should always double and triple check your research, as there is always a chance that you have missed something vital!

If you have older relatives who are alive, make use of them and their stories. Document them whilst you can, as they are the key to older generations!”

What other genealogy blogs inspire you?

“I myself have never followed a genealogical blog, I just decided to document my own research and give something back!”

Anthony, what has been your most exciting genealogy discovery in your research?

“One of the most exciting (if I can say that) is finding out that a direct relative was the brother to John and Christopher Wright from the gunpowder plot!

Another was that I have over 1700 ancestors in my family tree and all of them are from England! I thought that was outstanding, and it also helps when it comes to researching!

Another was that the Beacock name was passed on by a woman rather than a man, due to an illegitimate 3x great grandfather! I found this very interesting that the Beacock line has survived many situations along the way.”

Anthony, please tell us about your favorite posts on your blog?

“Up to now I only have 7 posts that are actually of any use, whilst the others are website updates. I think my favourite post would have to be either ‘Research: Thomas Beacock’ because it explains the story of my 3x great grandfather, or ‘Research: Frederick Walter Beacock’ (my great grandfather) for the same reason. These two ancestors had interesting lives and situations.” 

How much time do you get to spend on research?

“I make sure that I spend at least a few hours a week on family history as I find it very addictive as well as being interesting!”

Anthony, who is your favorite Ancestor?

“I do not think I can pinpoint one favourite ancestor but I am weirdly drawn towards my 3x great grandfather Thomas Beacock. This is because without him being born out of wedlock and keeping his mother’s maiden name, I would not be a Beacock today. The Beacock line has survived over 400 years in my research, with myself being born in 1996 and Michaell Beacock presumably being born in and around the 1590s. Outside of my research, it obviously goes beyond 400 years.

Thomas Beacock was the first Beacock in my direct line to move the family away from Lincolnshire, which makes him a key ancestor as he changed Beacock tradition in a number of ways.”

What family story or heirloom do you cherish?

“I cherish all of the heirlooms that I possess but I particularly cherish my late father’s wedding ring, my paternal grandfather’s model trains and his pocket watch, my paternal great grandmother’s sewing machine. I also cherish an original photograph of my maternal 2x great grandfather that was coloured. The photo and its original frame was in possession of my 2x great grandparents, then my great grandparents, my grandparents and then was given to me. I currently have the photo hung up in my bedroom.”

In what ways has genealogy improved your life?

“I believe genealogy has improved my life by giving me an interesting topic to research as a hobby. It has also motivated me to visit and talk to more of my extended family, which has brought us closer!”

What do you love the most about doing your genealogy/family history?

“I enjoy discovering ancestors for the first time, especially if they have been in the newspaper or have done something of interest!”

What is on your genealogy bucket list?

“I would like to discover more ancestors in my Beacock line, as I have hit a brick wall with Michaell Beacocke and Bettris Reder who were married on 17th November 1612!

Apart from that, I need to visit the Hull History Centre, the record office at Beverly and at Lincoln. This will enable me to research parts of my family more closely and hopefully gain information from the people who work there.”

If you wanted to leave a message for future generations, what would you tell them (like a time capsule)?

“In terms of family history, I would tell them to ensure that they document their lives as well as their families, as the more information there is about a person, the more the person comes to life. It is a lot better than just a name, date of birth and date of death. Information and photographs are essential in keeping people’s memory alive!

In terms of life in general I would tell future generations that they need to enjoy life and live everyday like it is their last day alive. This way, life is more enjoyable.”

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

© 2016, 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 . . . Melyssa Stratton-Webb

Come meet genealogy blogger Melyssa Stratton-Webb, author of The Golden Age of Genealogy blog, in this interview by Gini Webb at GeneaBloggers.

 

I have the pleasure of introducing you to, Melyssa Stratton-Webb and her blog, The Golden Age of Genealogy, described as, “. . . The Golden Age of Genealogy encourages family history researchers to take a second look at their family trees, and introduces them to new innovative genealogy sites.

One of the biggest reasons I began this blog was to let people know how times have changed.  There are so many new websites available to us in doing our research, and I don’t think people are aware of that.  Family History work is no longer something old ladies do when they retire.  This is a worldwide hobby that is growing exponentially!  It is my hope to share these new sites and innovations with a new generation of researchers, and get them excited about doing their family history!”

Melyssa, can you share a little bit about yourself?

“I was born in Alexandria, Virginia.  My family moved when I was quite young.  In fact, we moved a lot while I was growing up.  My father retired from the government when I was a child, and began a career as a genealogist and writer.  At one point, he was the Historian General for the Mayflower Society, so while I was a teen, we actually lived in the Mayflower Society House which is a museum.”

How did you get interested in doing your family history?

“Because my parents were researchers and historians, I spent my childhood vacations touring cemeteries and assisting in research in archives, courthouse basements, and libraries.  Oddly enough, I didn’t mind.  I enjoyed learning about the lives of those who had gone on before us.”

When and why did you start a genealogy blog?

“I actually began the blog a few years ago, but let it fall by the wayside, as I got caught up in other things that needed my immediate attention.  When the New Year began, and I was prepping for RootsTech, it struck me that I should begin writing again.  I am currently working on my BCG certification and I thought this would be a good outlet to practice writing and re-evaluate my research practices.  When I began writing my blog, I had no idea that I would receive the traffic that I have.  It makes me very conscious of what I write and how I present my topics.

I am fortunate to have two great friends, Kevin and Sarah Arrow, owners of SarkeMedia, which is a company dedicated to helping people with their blogging skills.  So, although not genealogists, they are blogging experts, and their guidance has been phenomenal in helping me understand not only how to present my message, but get it visible on social media.”

Melyssa, what research tool or resource has been particularly helpful in researching your family history?

“I am a huge fan of a couple of sites.  First and foremost is BillionGraves.  I blog often about them.  Too often when we are collecting information on our ancestors, we forget about the countless volunteer hours that have gone into making records available to us.  I like to give back to the genealogy community via BillionGraves by photographing cemeteries and transcribing the inscriptions on headstones.  It is an easy task, and I know the recipients of the work appreciate it.

I am also a fan of GenealogyBank.com.  People new to family history research often overlook the value of newspapers.  I think they don’t realize that their ancestors could actually be in a paper beyond an obituary.  I have found GenealogyBank extremely useful in my research, and I encourage others to check out their website.”

Melyssa, do you have any tips for new genealogy bloggers?

“YES!  Before blogging, make a list of the topics you would like to write about.  Perhaps write a few lines that will jog your memory when you go to write on those topics.  This list will help on those days you have writer’s block.

Keep the blog simple by focusing on one topic.  I found that when I combined topics, not only was the writing time consuming, but the viewership would decline.  Include images.  People become more engaged when there are pictures included in blogs.  Images can help emphasize and clarify a point you are trying to make.”

What other genealogy blogs inspire you?

“Until recently I had no idea there were so many genealogy blogs!  Whether it is a blog for a genealogical society or a blog that lists other genealogy blogs, I have been enjoying them all.  I wish I had more hours in the day in which I could just sit and read through them all!”

Melyssa, please tell us about your favorite post on your blog.

“My favourite post would have to be in my 21 Day Genealogy Challenge – Day 12: What To Do With Old Family Letters.  I enjoyed dissecting an old letter from my great grandmother to my grandfather who had recently married.  I think we overlook so many hidden clues that can be found not only in the letters written, but in the envelopes that carried those letters!  You can see more about this post at the link below.”

How much time do you spend on family history research?

“Well, when writing a blog on genealogy, we are drawing not only on current research but past experience as well.  It would be hard to log all the hours it took to obtain the information.  But as far as writing the blog entries, I would say it takes me anywhere from 2-4 hours depending on the topic.  I often will write the posting and then walk away for a time and come back to review what I wrote with a fresh mind.

I try to write every day, and actually I do; however, the posts don’t always appear every day for a variety of reasons.  I find that when I immediately “Post” the article after writing it, there are errors that I need to go back and fix.  To me, that is embarrassing, and I want my readers to take me seriously.  Another reason I may not post right away is that I am verifying information within the article, or I have had to move on to something that need my immediate attention.”

Melyssa, who is your favorite ancestor and why?

“There are so many ancestors that come to mind.  I have an ancestor that has been a brick wall to my family since my great grandfather Judson was born.  Judson’s father died when Jud was only 2 months old.  His name was General Wilson (1852 – 1880).  That is his name, not military rank.  Finding any documentation on General Wilson has been impossible.  Of course, any search using his name bring up a whole bunch of military suggestions.  It’s hard to search for someone whose name is a high ranking military title.  Because he is so allusive, I would have to say General Wilson is one of my favourite ancestors.

I also love Elias Holmes (1820 – 1895) of Fitchburg, Massachusetts.  This ancestor was very popular in his community and would hold public séances in his home.  I came across a number of newspaper articles about him and his activities, and I just have to say, I would love to spend time getting to know him better.”

What family heirloom or story do you cherish?

“I have a couple of heirlooms that I cherish.  I have been fortunate to be the recipient of quilts made by my great grandmothers and great great grandmother, on both sides of my family.  There is something about quilts that is so comforting, and to know that my ancestors actually used these quilts and here I am now with them, just makes me feel a close connection with them.

My grandfather, Frank Watts (1916- 2013), was a carver.  I have a few of his carvings in my home.  He was so very talented.  People from all over the world would ask for his carvings, and he would just give them away for free.  That is how he was, though.  If you have a talent, you share it.”

In what ways has genealogy improved your life?

“When I was a teenager, I learned that my mother had been married before and that I was, in fact, adopted by my father.  It was a hard blow at the time because I was extremely close to my dad.  Researching my family history, all lines – genetic and adopted – has given me the realization that we are truly one united family.  While I am thrilled to learn of the history of my genetic paternal line, and I do claim them as my own, I cling to the family line I was raised knowing and researching.  It is their ideas and values that shaped me into who I am today.  I have taken the experiences I have learned on this journey and now help other adoptees to not only find their genetic line, but come to terms with having so many “additional” ancestors.  It is okay to love and claim them all!”

Melyssa, what do you love most about doing your genealogy?

“I was recently asked by a relative if I ever get frustrated doing family history work.  It has never crossed my mind to be frustrated!  I love the mystery of it all and the thrill of finding new evidence.  No matter which ancestor I am researching at the time, I feel a close connection, as though I’ve always known them.  It is quite spiritual, actually.  I don’t ever want to lose that feeling.”

What is on your genealogy bucket list?

“Before I die, I want to find General Wilson.  I sometimes think that he is my brick wall for the simple fact that while he is ‘out there’ I will continue to do family history research.  But I have promised myself that if it is the last thing I do, I will find General Wilson.  I may end up having to live a very, very long time!

I would also love to go to Kopervik, Norway.  My birth father’s granddad came from Kopervik.  I have been very successful in researching this family line, and would love to see the village they left to come to America.”

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

“Do not take your elders for granted.  If your parents, grandparents or even great grandparents are living, talk to them!  Ask questions.  In our lives we all have times of hardship and trials, but we are not the first people to experience these things.  Our ancestors were young once.  They loved and laughed.  They cried and buried their loved ones.  We can learn so much about ourselves by studying our family history.  I believe knowing their stories gives us confidence to not only endure our own trials, but to appreciate the talents that we have been blessed with.”

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

© 2016, 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.