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.

May I Introduce to You . . . Kathleen Gregory

Come meet genealogy blogger Kathleen Gregory, author of the Ancestry Search blog, in this interview by Gini Webb at GeneaBloggers.

I have the pleasure of introducing you to Kathleen Gregory and her blog, Ancestry Search, described as, “. . . Follow me on my journey to find ancestors and the documents they left behind to be discovered.”

Kathleen, tell us a little about yourself

“I was born in Enid, Oklahoma the second child of my parents. I have lived in five states: Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Colorado and currently in Missouri. My second great grandparents migrated to Missouri in the 1800s and moved on west to Kansas and Oklahoma. Funny how I am back in the state from which they migrated! I have been married for almost 33 years; I have two grown children and seven grandchildren.”

How did you get interested in doing your family history?

“I became interested in genealogy when Farm Woman magazine ran an article on this topic in 1985.  That was 31 years ago. I have a lot of large binders that I still need to organize.”

When and why did you start a genealogy blog?

“I lost my job and felt like I needed to take some time off.  I didn’t know what to do with my time and my daughter suggested I blog about my favorite pastime, genealogy.  It was my hope that I would be able to help solve my brick walls and connect with new found cousins.”

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

“I like Internet Archive, Chronicling America (newspapers) and e-books for online research. One of my favorite resources is newspapers and I love reading the old microfilm. Community news columns are the best at offering clues to possible family relationships.  Newspapers place a person in a location at a specified time. “

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

“I love reading others’ blogs about their discoveries, trials and tribulations.  We all learn from each other so don’t be afraid to share your failures as well as your triumphs!”

What other genealogy blogs inspire you?

“The Armchair Genealogist; her February writing challenge has inspired me to ask more question so I can write stories about my family.  Ask a Genealogist, The Legal Genealogist, and so many more! I subscribe to other blogs and study them for helpful hints to some of my brick walls. I would love one day to blog full-time!”

Please tell us about your favorite post on your blog.

“The one that has seen the most views is Surname Saturday Louthan Red Headed Hero of Scotland.  The point of this post was to bring to light that all of the information published on the Louthan surname was based on one person’s writings. This is probably true for many others’ family histories, as well.”

How much time do you spend on family history research?

“I don’t get to spend as much time on research as I would like. I try for a couple of hours each week.”

Kathleen, who is your favorite ancestor and why?

“I have tried for 31 years to solve the mystery of my Louthan line. No records to connect my line with any of the others I have found. Alleged brothers married sisters. The wives were sisters but no proof the husbands were brothers. It is one of the mysteries I hope to solve with my blog.”

What family heirloom or story do you cherish?

“I cherish two family heirlooms, an American Fostoria cake stand that belonged to my maternal grandmother and a butter churn that belonged to my paternal great grandmother.”

In what ways has genealogy improved your life?

“Genealogy gave me a sense of purpose and a focus. I feel accomplished when I uncover a record that makes the connection I was seeking, or makes me think about the next step I need to take. There are a lot of strategies in genealogy research that make me a better researcher in general, no matter the topic. Skills I can use in every day.”

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

“I love learning everything I can about my family history; to answer who, what, when, where and why. I love learning about their migrations from the Northeast to the Midwest; their service to their country in wars; and farming the land during the dust bowl.”

What is on your genealogy bucket list?

“I would like to visit all of the places my ancestors lived.”

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

“I think it is important for future generations to know the importance of their family history.  They need to know their ancestors live on in them, in their DNA. Family is more than those who live within your household; your family stretches far behind you and ahead of you. That is awesome!”

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Please take a moment to head on over to Kathleen’s blog. Leave her a comment letting her know you stopped by. Welcome Kathleen, 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 . . . Debby Warner Anderson

Come meet genealogy blogger Debby Warner Anderson, author of Debby's Family Genealogy Blog, in this interview by Gini Webb at GeneaBloggers.

I have the great pleasure of introducing you to Debby Warner Anderson and her blog, Debby’s Family Genealogy Blog, described as, “. . . My name is Debby and I grew up listening to stories my grandmother (Agnes) told about her family King/Rowan. Unfortunately, while she was alive I didn’t write down all she told me. Now I am on a quest to find out more about my ancestors. If you have any information you would like to share . . . Photos and stories would be greatly appreciated.”

A Little About Debby

“I was born in Anchorage, Alaska but grew up in Calverton, New York. My last year of High School I was a Rotary Exchange Student and lived in Tarija, Bolivia.  After graduating from college in PA I moved to San Diego, CA for several years and then moved back to Calverton.  After my son graduated from High School I moved back to Southern CA and live just outside San Diego (and my son is nearby in LA).”

Debby, how did you get started doing genealogy?

“Great question!  I knew the reason I got started was because I always enjoyed listening to all the stories my paternal grandmother would tell about family members.  I thought some more about this and I think since my grandparents came from big families I started writing down who people were in an attempt to try to remember how everyone was related.  I also liked to ask a lot of questions. I started this about 12-13 years old and did some research off and on over the years. I again started to concentrate on my research about 2000.”

When and why did you start a genealogy blog?

“When I was at the SCG Jamboree several years ago, I listened to a panel of big name bloggers talk about the advantages of blogging.  I started after that but my blog never went anywhere and no one read it. I wasn’t even sure I had set things up right.  In November, Diane Gould Hall helped me get things set up, gave me some very good pointers and continues to be my support and advisor. Diane has been a tremendous help.  I think everyone needs a mentor like Diane!  I know there’s so much I still need to learn.”

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

“Attending seminars.  Going to the Southern CA Genealogy Jamboree in Burbank, attending monthly San Diego Genealogy Society meetings/seminars (listening to a variety speakers and talking to other genealogists), and listening to podcasts (since I spend 2 hours a day driving) are the greatest help for me.  Then when I have time to do some research I have some ideas of what to do.”

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

“Blogging is a lot of work and seems very overwhelming in the beginning but . . . you CAN do it!  It’s slow getting started but I’ve already starting making a few new connections because of my blog.”

Please tell us about your favorite post on your blog.

I think right now my favorite posts have to deal with ‘Carrie’s Letters’.  They tend to be the focus of my research right now as I try to put them into book format with tons of background information in sidebars to make them more interesting to read.”

How much time do you spend on family history research?

“Unfortunately, I do not get to spend much time for my research since Work (Monday-Friday) seems to get in the way.  I try to carve out some time here and there.”

Debby, who is your favorite ancestor(s) and why?

“I’m not sure I can pick one Ancestor as my favorite.  As I get to know them through my research I’ve come to admire them all for what they have done in their lives.  I think they’ve all dealt with a variety of different circumstances and made the best of what they had.  Some may be more interesting (e.g., John & Priscilla Alden, Carrie Terry Warner, etc.) but I think that’s based on the information I’ve been able to learn about them.”

How has genealogy made a difference in your life?

“The wonderful people that I have met and continue to meet on this journey of research I am making.  I think doing the research has given me a wonderful opportunity to keep in touch with family that I might not have otherwise and I have met some great new family members that I didn’t know about.”

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

“Getting to know my ancestors.  Putting the pieces of their lives together to learn more about them then just their birth and death dates.”

What family heirloom or story do you cherish?

“I have several items that belonged to my ancestors that I cherish: my great-grandmother’s letters, a teapot from the 1840s, a sewing rocker from the turn of the century, my grandmother’s birthstone ring are the ones that come to mind right now.”

Debby, what is on your genealogy bucket list?

“I have two: To go to Salt Lake City for a week of Research and when I retire to drive Cross Country to visit several different states with places my ancestors lived to do research and some traveling to countries where they came from.”

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

“Start recording the everyday stories you are listening to right now!”

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Please take a moment to head on over to Debby’s blog. Leave her a comment letting her know you stopped by. Welcome Debby, 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.