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.