I have the pleasure of introducing you to Karen Thornton and her blog, Chasing Hannah, described as, “ . . . Chasing Hannah centers mostly around my personal family history, mainly focusing on my paternal great-grandmother, Hannah English Stafford. I additionally want to feature other family stories and histories I find fascinating. I also have an undying love of documentaries, especially when they deal with life stories, struggles, and joys.”
“I was born in Chambersburg, PA, where I lived until leaving for college in the Midwest. My husband and I resided several years in Chicago before heading to the New York City area in 2003 (where I spent my first weekend in Manhattan in the midst of the blackout). After living one year in Atlanta, we moved back again and now reside in New Providence, NJ, where we live with our three kids.”
How Karen Got Started in Genealogy
“I’ve been doing family research since young, but I really started to get going in 2009-2010.
Growing up, I knew my paternal grandparents in Baltimore pretty well. A lot of family stories were passed down, but I never had verification of anything. Also, my paternal grandfather wouldn’t really speak of his past, and I became intrigued at what I could find out about him and his lineage. I mostly wanted to find out what happened to my grandfather’s mother (my great grandmother), Hannah. Finding her death certificate changed everything I knew about her, my grandfather, and ultimately myself.”
Karen’s Thoughts on Blogging
“My first post on Chasing Hannah was July 7, 2013. I created the blog to share my discovery of Hannah’s death in a state hospital and the history of the mental health system in North Carolina. I also felt such a kinship with her, and like many of our ancestors, I feel it’s up to the living to make sure their stories get told and aren’t lost to the wind. And after I told Hannah’s story, I found the great tales didn’t just surround her; all of our ancestors have a great story to tell.”
Karen’s Tips for New Bloggers
“Your stories are amazing. Share them. Everyone has a story to tell. Sometimes writing a post can feel like the most tedious chore. Just write. Remembering your ancestors imparts an enormous amount of respect to those who have gone before you.”
Karen’s Favorite Blog Posts
“The most heart wrenching post had to be the post I wrote describing the conditions at the state hospital where Hannah died. The last two paragraphs of that post were very emotional for me.
Another post I really enjoyed writing is called ‘Combining historical fact with memory: creating the legends of our ancestors.’ I tied in one of my favorite documentaries of 2013, The Stories We Tell.”
Karen’s Time with the Ancestors
“With three children, it’s hard to find the time I would like to research, but I try and do it as often as possible. As many genealogists know, once you start researching, your mind never really shuts off!”
Karen’s Favorite Ancestors
“My favorite ancestor I never met has to be Hannah. How I wish I could go back and relieve any suffering she experienced.
My favorite ancestor I have met has to be my paternal grandmother, Ava Lee Collins. One of the most generous hearts, she epitomized the true meaning of love, nurture, and home.”
How Genealogy Has Improved Karen’s Life
“I truly believe your identity comes from all the people in your tree who have lived and died before you. Only through looking back can we go forward.”
What Karen Loves Most About Genealogy
“Finding uncanny similarities, seeing how a journey they began ended up and sometimes how that journey continues today.”
Karen’s Time Capsule Message
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Please take a moment to head on over to Karen’s blog. Leave her a comment letting her know you stopped by. Welcome Karen, it’s great to have you here!
© 2014, copyright Gini Webb
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.