I have the great pleasure of introducing you to Erica Dakin Voolich and her blog, Erica’s Adventures in Genealogy, described as, “ . . . For years I’ve tried to climb numerous ‘brick walls’ as I’ve worked on my family history — many of my challenges are my women ancestors. I’ve met many wonderful, helpful genealogists, town clerks, historians, and societies along the way. Some of the names I’m working on: DAKIN, WORTHINGTON, SEARING, RICHARDSON, DeLOSS/LOSS, COPELAND, HARVEY, WRIGHT, EVANS, HELSTEN, SMITH (Conn.), HEARTY, ROBBERT, BOGART, NYE, BLODGETT & COBB.”
How Erica Got Started in Genealogy
“Back in the 1970s, I started with no real idea of what I was doing. I drew a couple of rough trees, came up with my own numbering system and put one page for each person in a notebook. I set up a file card system with the number I assigned to each ancestor so their notebook page could be found.
I remember visiting my paternal grandmother and her mentioning some details about the family when identifying stuff in her house. I was to be her executrix so I wrote down a few notes. She died in 1974. I was the member of the family who ‘became’ the family historian then and took anything home with me that ‘related to family history.’ Over the years, I would sort stuff in the boxes and try to label pictures. Luckily her neighbors had offered that if I ever wanted to visit, I could stay with them. I took advantage of their generous offer a couple of times. They were wonderful hosts, letting me know where to look, introducing me to the town clerk, calling a museum to open when I was there, trying to recognize people in pictures, etc. Unfortunately, I didn’t know WHAT to ask while my grandmother was still alive. That grandmother was the last ancestor alive on my paternal side of the family.
After my grandmother died, I made an effort to interview my mother, but again now I know what I should have asked her too! She told me some stories, which I wrote down and then years later tried to verify — at least it was a hint as to where to start looking.
In the 1980s, I shared a few letters that I had found in my grandmother’s desk (all written in Swedish) with a work colleague who was from Sweden. They dated from 1845 to 1903. We started to translate them: actually, she translated, I scribed. That’s when I started taking my family history more seriously. Thanks to those letters, I connected with one relative in Sweden who I visited before she died in 1990. My Swedish ‘cuz’ clued me into the stories of some of the descendants from those letters we had translated [you know those stories about the unmarried aunt who knows everything going on in the family?] Our biggest challenge was language: she didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Swedish.
A relative on my mother’s side sent me a copy of a family history that someone else had done many years earlier on my mother’s maternal branch. It gave me an idea about how a formal family history should look. Looking at it now, it was well-written and even included legitimate sources for each section. Unfortunately, it was not footnoted. But at least there was a clue as to where to look to verify part of my maternal side and it gave names of some of the wives!
I taught middle school mathematics. I could never work on my genealogy during the school year — I was too busy grading math papers, creating lesson plans or writing up my work. Over the years, I would work on my family history during July and August, and then carefully pack up everything and put it away when Labor Day came. I realized that if I left out the genealogy work, the math papers wouldn’t have gotten graded — out of sight, out of mind.
Since I retired, I have become very serious about genealogy. I work on my family history practically daily and am taking courses through NIGS (online) which is upgrading my skills. I have started attending meetings of local genealogy societies and just love the local contacts I meet there. I find the other GeneaBlogs are great sources of learning as are the many webinars and hangouts that are available online. I love that I can be in contact with other genealogists through my computer, share, help and be helped by others. This is such a wonderful community.”
Erica’s Thoughts on Blogging
“I started this blog (Erica’s Adventures in Genealogy) on 15 August 2011; my first GeneaBlog (Will the Real Ursula Wright Please Stand Up), on 5 May 2010. I came home from a NGS genealogy conference and decided I could write a genealogy blog where I would put online all of the information I knew about Ursula Wright, one of my brick walls.
I hoped that someday someone else who was researching Ursula would see my blog (with 8 posts total, each with a document I have found) and contact me. I am still waiting.
I then decided that I wanted a more general genealogy blog, which would also put up some of the discoveries as I make them and would possibly share the results with potential cousins and relatives. That led to my Erica’s Adventures in Genealogy blog.”
Erica’s Favorite Blog Post
“As I finish a post, it is my favorite at that time. It is hard to choose one. Some that comes to mind:
I wrote two posts about why Nathan Cobb died, part 1 and part 2, tried to make his death be more than just the old man who walked in front of a train. I figured it was worth pointing out it wasn’t just dementia as implied by the newspaper, there was a safety issue and other younger folks had died similarly.
When I wrote about receiving a copy of Martha Searing Worthington’s picture, it was reuniting a mother who died young leaving a child with her neglected tombstone picture.
Another post was imagining the life of my Quaker ancestor and his committee assignments that I can’t possibly imagine doing now, such as confirming the consummation of a marriage!”
Erica’s Tips for New Bloggers
“Don’t put expectations of production on yourself. When you have something to say, write and post. Don’t feel bad that you can’t keep up with the wonderful geneabloggers who post everyday — you’re learning. I started assuming my blog posts would be sporadical, not periodical. I recommend that for others as they start.”
How Genealogy Has Improved Erica’s Life
“I never knew my paternal grandfather (he died when my father was 2) or my maternal grandfather (he died when I was young, met him at 2, but have no memory of him). It was through researching my paternal grandfather, his short life and work, that I learned his story, gained a sense of who he was and his family (as people) and could appreciate what he accomplished by age 30 when he died. It also led me to appreciate what his widow accomplished when she was left with a two-year-old in 1918, before the days of social security for widows. And it gave me a better understanding of my father. That research led to the book I wrote, Bulls Bridge, for my kids, sibs and ‘cuzs’ for Christmas 2012.”
Erica’s Favorite Ancestor
“Another question with the same kind of answer: whichever ancestor I am working on telling the story of is my favorite of the moment. Since I try to find out something about the people, beyond the names and dates, their stories captivate me.”
What Erica Loves Most About Genealogy
“I love finding the stories and honoring the lives of my ancestors beyond just names and dates.”
Erica’s Time Capsule Message
“Be sure to write down where you found things! Be sure to write down those stories you hear as soon as you hear them and then ask questions from the story tellers.”
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Please take a moment to head on over to Erica’s blog. Leave her a comment letting her know you stopped by. Welcome Erica, it’s great to have you here!
© 2013, copyright Gini Webb
Gini Webb lives in San Diego, California and manages her own blog, Ginisology, while also researching her own German heritage, recently retired, enjoying life with wonderful husband Steve and visiting with her now seven 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.