I have the pleasure of introducing you to Jessica Stern and her blog, The Brick Wall Climber, described as, “. . . Genealogy blog with the goal of telling and preserving my ancestors’ stories, and also to provide ideas and inspiration to other genealogy searchers.”
How Jessica Got Started in Genealogy
“I’ve always been interested in my family history, and have notes I took when I talked to my grandmother in my teen years. I started actively researching for myself when I discovered how many records were available online – about three years ago. I loved hearing my grandmother’s stories over the years. She always had family photos around the house and I always wanted to know who the people were.”
Jessica’s Thoughts on Creating a Blog
“When I began actively researching a few years ago, I had the idea that I’d research for a few years, then compile a book that I’d make available to relatives. I started to realize that I wanted to start sharing the stories now and preserving things now – a blog was the best way to do that.”
Jessica’s Tips for New Genealogy Bloggers
“When you research, don’t stop at the website – contact the person behind it. Don’t stop at the family tree on ancestry – contact the person who built it. People have the best information and are often very generous with it. Stories, photos – that’s the best part and its people who have those things. And when you get those stories, write them down, fast! Don’t wait until things are perfect. Write them down now, while it’s fresh in your mind, and add to them or fix them later.”
Jessica’s Favorite Ancestor
“That is a really hard question! Through one of my ancestors, Samuel Appleton, I can trace a line back up to Charlemagne. When I was in Paris last summer, I saw a statue of Charlemagne and pointed it out to my daughter (who is 11). I explained who he was and how he was related – she was very curious and looked at the statue a long time. I could see it set off a spark in her – she wanted to know more, and took lots of pictures of the statue. So, I appreciate Charlemagne for keeping the fire alive through the next generation. Plus, he’s kind of cool in general.”
How Genealogy Improved Jessica’s Life
“Genealogy has brought me in touch with relatives I did not know before – mostly cousins whose lines join mine at some point. In one case, I was put in touch with a closer cousin – a Holocaust survivor I was unaware of until a fellow researcher alerted me. He was an amazing man and I was grateful to have a friendship with him before he died.”
What Jessica Loves Most About Genealogy
“Getting answers to my questions – unraveling the family mysteries. For example, we always wondered about my grandfather’s father – nobody knew anything about him; my grandfather wouldn’t talk about him. I found some old newspaper articles showing that he was arrested for a rather scandalous crime. My mom and her sisters were all shocked – it was in the local papers, but they were little when it happened, and they never thought to look. My aunt said “That explains everything.” A lot of things just suddenly made sense to her that hadn’t before.
I had a similar experience with my father’s family but for very different reasons. There, my grandfather’s parents and siblings all died in the Holocaust. Nobody ever knew even their names, how or when they died – nothing. I was able to retrieve their names and even photos from the Latvia State Historical Archive. It was astonishing to all of us to suddenly understand what my grandfather really lost – we always knew, in a way, but it became very real when we saw the names and faces. We were able to truly understand him. I was also able to memorialize the family at the Holocaust Museum, and allow their history and their names to be preserved.”
Jessica’s Time Capsule Message
“I hope you enjoy my work, I did my best to preserve and pass along your history.”
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Please take a moment to head on over to Jessica’s blog. Leave her a comment letting her know you stopped by. Welcome Jessica, it’s great to have you here!
© 2012, 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.