May I Introduce to You . . . Christopher Shaw

Christopher Shaw

I have the pleasure of introducing you to Christopher Shaw and his blog, Diggin’ for Family, described as, “. . . Documenting the search for my family while throwing in some tips and tricks I have learned along the way.” 

A Little About Christopher

“I grew up in Northville, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. After graduating high school I enlisted in the Air Force where I stayed for 24 years, retiring in 2012. I was too young to just be retired so we moved to where the job offer took us, Summerville, South Carolina. We fell in love with the area (especially the weather) and bought a house and started planting roots. I live here with my wife, Michele, of just over 10 years and our three kids; Tyler, Nathan, and Katie.” 

How Christopher Got Started in Genealogy

“I started my Family History journey back in 1999 but have had some long breaks from time to time since then. I was single when I started but since have married and have three kids, so time with them takes priority over the research.”

“As stated above, I started back in 1999. I was in the Air Force and was being assigned to Germany. I knew that my maternal grandfather was killed in World War II while serving in the army and my mother said he was buried in Germany. However, no one knew anything about his death or the exact location of his grave. There were lots of rumors but nothing official. I wanted to know exactly where he was buried so when my mother came to visit me in Germany she could visit her dad’s final resting place. Well, finding his grave just sparked my interest and I had to know more about his service and how he was killed. My efforts paid off and I found the actual investigation report of his death, dispelling the rumors that my mother heard. And, happily, I was able to get my mother over to Germany on two different occasions where she could visit her dad’s grave at the Netherlands American Cemetery in Margraten, Netherlands.

The research into my grandfather’s WWII service wasn’t enough; I wanted or needed to know more about the rest of my family and our origins. I recruited my sister to help me out and we have been researching ever since. By the way, I have also inflicted my wife with the family history bug and she has joined us in tracing her roots.” 

Christopher’s Thoughts on Blogging

“I started my blog, Diggin for Family, back in 2011, although I have not been real consistent with it over the years. I was trying to maintain a static website where I could share what we were finding with family. I started reading some genealogy blogs and was fascinated by how people were sharing their journeys and the possibilities of making those cousin connections. I also liked that fact that it could help me put a written record of our search together. After reading some of the blogs for a while, and finding the Geneabloggers community, I decided that a blog web presence would meet my needs more than a static type website.” 

Christopher’s Tips for New Bloggers

“If you are serious about writing about your research and history, then write! One piece of advice I have always heard from successful writers is that you have to write and you have to write every day, even if it is only 15 minutes a day. A blog is the perfect opportunity to put that advice into action.

Read every post out loud to yourself and have someone proofread every post before you hit that publish button. Reading your written words out loud can help identify little mistakes in sentence structure, flow problems, and meaning. Try it, I didn’t believe it myself at first, but you’ll be amazed at how different your written words sound out loud. My wife proofreads every post that I write and she is very honest in her constructive criticism, sometimes brutally honest. But, she always finds little mistakes that I made and tells me if everything makes sense and flows nicely.

Lastly, join the Geneabloggers community and follow and read the other blogs. You will get a lot of good information, tips, and ideas from what other bloggers are doing. When you find a post that you like or think is a great idea, leave a comment telling the author. Bloggers love getting that feedback and in return, they will probably start following your blog and leave you a comment. The more people you get reading and following your posts, the more chance of making those great cousin connections. I have made a few connections that I would not have made if it had not been for the blog.” 

Christopher’s Favorite Blog Posts

“The three listed below are my favorite posts, by far.  I guess what makes these my favorites are that each one is written more with emotion than the facts of doing research.

Blood is not Always Thicker when it comes to Family

Making Memories

Documenting the Present? – although I should be better at following my own advice. 

Christopher’s Time with the Ancestors

“Not nearly enough, as all would probably say. I probably spend an average of 8 -10 hours a week on family history related activities. The time I get each week changes with the different times of the year. My kids play baseball and soccer and I try to at least help out the coach if I am not actually coaching. So during those seasons my time at family history takes a back seat. But, no matter what time of year, I try to at least block out some time each week that I can do something family history related.” 

Christopher’s Favorite Ancestors

“It’s pretty hard to name a favorite ancestor, many come to mind. But, if I had to pick just one, right now, it would be my great grandmother, Anna Maria (Hinterhauser) Pakledinaz. She was born in a small German dominated village in what is now Hungary; at the time of her birth in 1890 it was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. When she was 19 years old, she decided to leave her mother and father and make a new life in the United States. The courage that must have taken fascinates me. Anna, along with my other grandparents and great grandparents that decided to make that trip across the ocean in the early 20th century is why me and my family can enjoy the freedoms and liberty that comes with living in this great nation.”  

What Christopher Loves Most About Genealogy

“There is a lot I love about researching my family history. The most enjoyment I have is making connections to times past. For instance, we live real close to and have visited Colonial Dorchester State Park here in South Carolina, a village founded back in 1696. However, we just recently made a connection through my wife’s ancestors to that very village. None of her ancestors lived there, that we are aware of yet, but the original settlers of that village named it after Dorchester, Massachusetts. Her ancestors are named as some of the original settlers of Dorchester, Massachusetts. It’s a small connection but it fascinates me.” 

Christopher’s Genealogy Bucket List

“Lots of travel! When I was in the Air Force and stationed in Germany, it afforded me a lot of opportunities to visit places and villages of my ancestors, opportunities that I just would not have had if I weren’t already in Europe. However, there just wasn’t enough time and/or money to visit everywhere and there are still places right here in the US to visit. So, I want to visit villages in what is now Hungary and Croatia, I want to go back to England and Wales, and we have to get up to Boston, where my wife can trace her ancestors back to the 1630s.” 

Christopher’s Time Capsule Message

“Nobody thinks their life is a story others want to know, but everyone has a story – don’t let yours die with you, your grandchildren will appreciate it.”

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Please take a moment to head over to Christopher’s blog, Diggin’ for Family and leave him a comment, letting him know you stopped by. Thank you Christopher for telling us about yourself and your blog.

© 2014, copyright Jana Last. All rights reserved.

Jana Last is a wife, mom and soon-to-be grandma living in sunny California. She loves family history and enjoys learning about her ancestors. She started her family history research in 1996 after the death of her maternal grandfather. She is the author of three blogs: Jana’s Genealogy and Family History Blog, Grandpa’s Postcards, and Jana’s Place.  Are you a genealogy blogger who would like to be interviewed for the “May I Introduce To You . . .” series? If so, contact Jana via email at jmlast61@gmail.com.

Review: The Invisible History of the Human Race

The Invisible History of the Human Race

In The Invisible History of the Human Race author Christine Kenneally has written an engaging story of how DNA, history, culture and environment have all come together to make each of us unique. Readers will appreciate the great storytelling that Kenneally offers whether it is related to Australian convict records, to DNA testing methodologies, or to how the Mormons grew to become so involved with genealogy.

What the author has crafted is a narrative of approachable science especially since advances in DNA testing and research have occurred so rapidly over the past 15 years. Kenneally’s chapters discussing Huntington’s Disease, Tay-Sachs Disease and the Melungeons stand out and get the reader to understand the ramifications of DNA testing today and in the future. The author gets at the heart of what we pass down from generation to generation and how DNA testing can now help us better understand not just the genetic code, but other influences such as environment, diet, culture and more.

For those who’ve been in the genealogy community for the past five to ten years, you will recognize many of the names mentioned in the book. Kenneally attended several genealogy conferences around the world, including RootsTech, as part of the research process. While I am familiar with the work and writings of these experts, it is always nice to see their offerings made available to those new to genealogy and DNA, one of the targeted audiences of The Invisible History of the Human Race.

If you have friends and family who don’t understand your obsession with genealogy and now your new obsession with DNA, The Invisible History of the Human Race would make the perfect gift, especially with the upcoming holiday season.

Conclusion

The Invisible History of the Human Race offers a first rate lesson in the history of genealogy, genetics and DNA for the lay reader. If I were to recommend this book to a friend, I’d say “Come for the DNA lesson and stay for the great overview of history and science that has made you that unique person that you are right here and right now.”

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Disclosure statement: I have material connections with various vendors and organizations. To review the material connections I have in the genealogy industry, please see Disclosure Statements.

©2014, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.

Genealogy Blogging Beat – Monday, 13 October 2014

saint edward the confessor
Today is Monday 13 October 2014, and here is what’s available in terms of Daily Blogging Prompts and other related events in the genealogy blogosphere:

Items of Note

  • Happy blogiversary to Kinfolk News (started 7 March 2014).
  • Today: Columbus Day (Observed) – US, Thanksgiving Day – Canada, Saint Edward, The Confessor: Feast Day, US Navy Founded – Anniversary, and White House Corner Stone Laid – Anniversary.
  • Later this afternoon, come meet blogger Christopher Shaw of the Diggin’ for Family blog in an interview by Jana Last in our ongoing series May I Introduce To You.

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