May I Introduce to You . . . Jacquie Schattner

Come meet genealogy blogger Jacquie Schattner, author of the Seeds to Trees blog, in this interview by Jana Last at GeneaBloggers.

I have the pleasure of introducing you to Jacquie Schattner and her blog, Seeds to Tree described as, “Family, Belgium, Luxembourg and France.”

A Little About Jacquie

“Born in Chicago, I grew up in the Chicago suburbs where I have lived here all of my life; for the last 30 years in Palatine, IL. Earned a B.S. degree in Business from the University of Illinois. I work as a school secretary, allowing me free time in the summer to pursue new information. Happily married for 35 years to Fred Schattner. We have three grown children, two son-in-laws and three adorable grandchildren.”

“My husband’s family originally came from France. My father is from Belgium and Luxembourg. When his family visited, only French was spoken. I studied French second grade through college and have focused much of my research on French speaking countries. I hope to infuse my blog with some of that culture. I also want to write about some of the same genealogical lessons that I teach in my classes.”

“My husband’s family is from the Buffalo, New York area. His family dates back to pre-Revolutionary War. So I have plenty of areas to study. In New York, there are fabulous libraries and historical groups. We visit there and research often. Thankfully Fred is a very patient man.”

How Jacquie Got Started in Genealogy

“I have been actively researching my family’s ancestors since 1996. Although not a member, I volunteered at the local Family History Center (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) for 15 years. Currently I teach weekly genealogy to three different adult education groups and area libraries, and am active on the board of several local genealogy societies. I also volunteer in a local library’s genealogy room.”

“As I look back on my childhood, I realize I was always interested. I was the little girl going up to the oldest person in a group and asking “Tell me a story about when you were little?” I was fortunate that two of my grandparents lived well into their 80’s and one grandmother until she was 99, so I had opportunities to collect many stories. At funerals and weddings (even my own wedding) I would bring a little spiral book and take notes on their stories. I kept all those pages of information and letters in one big shoebox for 20 years and when we got our first real computer in 1996, I bought a genealogy database and entered all those stories and began to actively pursue more information.”

Jacquie’s Thoughts on Blogging

“I have been totally hooked on daily reading of genealogy blogs for about three years. While I have a lot of my family researched, my mother recently reminded me that it is really important to write down the stories I know. When I read about the 52 week challenge, I realized that if I wrote a story a week, I’d have a good start. My daughter blogs about her family, and she helped me set up my blog. She even took the photo of the trees for me.”

Jacquie’s Tips for New Bloggers

“About a year before I started writing a blog, I slowly made a list of 50 ideas to write about, in case I had writer’s block. I still add to that list.”

“For ideas on creating layout and look, check other genealogy blogs. Why do you like the layout of some and not others? Create your blog layout using that information.”

“As an editor of many newsletters (and thus taken many newsletter classes) I use some newsletter knowledge. Rule one is to make it visually easy to read. Font and color is important. Save bright colors for posters. Blogs (and newsletters) should be in colors and fonts that are easy on eyes.”

“Your first blog post should be written about yourself and your background.”

“Publish relatively regularly. If you are going to be away for an extended period of time, write an “away message” blog that you are coming back.”

“I sleep before I publish my newest blog entry, even when I think it’s perfect. The next morning, while fresh, I always find a few words to tweak before I push the publish button.”

“If you want, you are able to change the publish dates of blogs you already published. Also you can write a blog in advance and date it to publish at a future date. (Thomas MacEntee’s advice.) “

“Comment on other blogs, we bloggers love comments.”

“List your blog at GeneaBloggers!”

Jacquie’s Favorite Blog Posts

“Around the first week of every month, I write a blog listing free presentations and classes in the Chicago Northwest suburbs. These blogs are very popular and help others.”

Jacquie’s Time with the Ancestors

“I am a tenacious researcher. I spend anywhere from a few minutes to a couple hours a day and  usually more on weekends and in the summer when I’m off work. Most vacations include a research location.”

Jacquie’s Favorite Ancestors

“I love them all, but the somewhat elusive Hiram R. Dunbar (b.1804 Kentucky – d. 1884 Kansas) is my top pick. In 1828, he married Jamima Wolf and they had 10 children. Jamima lived to 96 years old. Hiram’s life choices reflect much of history during his time period. He was actively involved in the Underground Railroad, saw three sons fight in the Civil War, became wealthy at the California gold rush and homesteaded in Kansas.  He was so proud of this that most of this information is found on his tombstone! Last year, on etsy.com, I located (and purchased) the only known photo of him. It was found in an album about 20 miles from his birth place.”

How Genealogy Has Improved Jacquie’s Life

“Aren’t genealogists the nicest group of people? Honest, helpful, kind, generous. I enjoy meeting, helping and being helped by other researchers. I’ve also enjoyed the relationships I’ve made with family who I have met or become reacquainted with along the way.”

What Jacquie Loves Most About Genealogy

“Teaching! I love inspiring other to find their roots.”

Jacquie’s Genealogy Bucket List

“A trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.”

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Please take a moment to head over to Jacquie’s blog, Seeds to Tree, and leave her a comment, letting her know you stopped by. Thank you Jacquie for telling us about yourself and your blog. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you better.

© 2015, copyright Jana Last. All rights reserved.

Jana Last is a wife, mom and 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.

May I Introduce to You . . . Alex Coles

Come meet genealogy blogger Alex Coles, author of the Winging It blog, in this interview by Tessa Keough at GeneaBloggers.
I have the pleasure of introducing you to Alex Coles and her blog Winging It described as “my blog is “Winging It – The Research Journal of the Wing One-Place Study (and other genealogical ramblings)”. It just turned eight years old although I don’t know how that is possible – don’t they grow up so fast!”

A Little Bit About Alex

“I’m a NZ accountant with an interest in family history and a small obsession with the village of Wing in Buckinghamshire where my great-grandfather was born. I’m also on the committee of the Society for One-Place Studies.”

How Alex Got Started in Blogging

“Many people find blogging (or more specifically a blogging platform) an easy way to start establishing their online presence and sharing their family history. I actually did things the other way round – the website for my one-place study came first and the blog was an afterthought. I figured a blog would be a good way not only to let people know about website updates but also to have more of a conversation about what I was up to with the one-place study and my own genealogy. My one-place study website presents records and research and accordingly is more formal in tone, but I don’t have that restriction with the blog.

Alex’s Thoughts on Blogging

“Don’t let it rule your life – sure, if your main aim is to build up readership then follow the rule about blogging regularly and frequently, but simply sharing what you want to share when you have a moment to share it will achieve the aim of getting out there in the world easily accessible by search engines. If you trot over to my blog after reading this you will see that I am a far from regular blogger!

Readers like myself aren’t necessarily going to be visiting your blog, we use aggregator tools like Feedly to flick through the dozens of blogs or RSS-enabled website that interest us and we don’t even see all the effort you may have put into the visual design of your blog apart from the first time we discover you. Content that resonates or interests us (and our magpie brains may have some wacky reasons for that!) is why we’re reading.”

Alex’s Favorite Blog Post(s)

My most popular blog post by far was a whimsical piece I wrote around a couple of postcards of Wing – A Walk Home Along High Street, Wing – from the point of view of an ordinary agricultural labourer plucked from the 1901 census who encounters at least one of my ancestors during his walk home.

Alex’s Time with the Ancestors

“The Wing one-place study has absorbed much of my genealogy time over the past decade so my own ancestors are probably getting a bit cranky due to my neglectful treatment of them. I’ve written up wee books (well, booklets) about the ancestors on my maternal line and I really do need to show the paternal side some love, but like many family historians my attention gets grabbed by the latest shiny database release rather than staying focused on my research plan. Realistically there’s just not that much genealogy time in my week after work, family, the minutiae of daily life and other commitments (hear those tiny tiny violins playing?).”

Alex’s Favorite Ancestor(s) and Why

“I have a soft spot for several – one is Matilda Coleman who made me cry when I discovered her living (as “inmate”) in the Railway Servants Orphanage in 1881. Her father was killed in a railway accident – turns out a bit of whisky doesn’t cure crush injuries.

Another is Brightwell Holyman who wins favourite name in my family tree, and fathered a child (my ancestor) with his future third wife in 1812. Unfortunately he was still married to his elderly 30-years-older-than-him second wife at the time. The whole village evidently knew the story here but I don’t and I’d love a TARDIS to help me learn more.”

How Genealogy/Family History Has Improved or Changed Alex’s Life

“It’s great fun to learn about history through the angle of a particular individual who may not have been particularly special to the world or their community but is special to you. I love the random-yet-not-random-ness of having an in-depth understanding of one particular aspect or event in history because it happened to intersect with your ancestor’s life yet remaining entirely ignorant of other aspects.

One-place studies are a great opportunity to give back to the family history community and hearing from so many fellow descendants of Wing residents over the years has definitely enriched my life.”

What Alex Loves Most About Genealogy

“I do love the research process. It’s like being a detective without the pressure of having to catch the bad guy and make the world a better place. And my dead friends (I consider all those past residents of Wing my friends) are fascinating, as are the potentially distorted stories the various records tell about them. We get quite a clear picture in our mind from the random snippets of their life they leave behind but do we really know them?”

Alex’s Time Capsule Message

None yet – I need to check with Alex to see if she wants to add something.

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Please take a moment to head on over to Alex’s blog. Leave her a comment letting her know you stopped by. Alex (as you may have noticed) has a wicked sense of humor. I don’t know that you can do better than the example Alex sets with her one-place study publishing at her blog and her website. Oftentimes, I look to both Alex’s blog and website for ideas on content as well as layout/vision/form. Welcome Alex, it’s great to have you here!

© 2015, copyright Tessa Keough. All rights reserved

Tessa Keough divides her time between Arlington, Virginia and Portland, Oregon. She got hooked on researching her ancestors after seeing a pedigree chart at a family reunion. She shares her paternal genealogy at The Keough Corner, her maternal genealogy at Scandia Musings & More, and technology and methodology tips at her YouTube channel TessaWatch. Are you a genealogy blogger who would like to be interviewed for the “May I Introduce To You . . .” series? If so, contact Tessa via email murkeo01@gmail.com.

May I Introduce to You . . . Elizabeth Ross

Come meet genealogy blogger Elizabeth Ross, author of the Mystery Dancer blog, in this interview by Michelle Taggart at GeneaBloggers.

I am excited to introduce to you Elizabeth Plowe Ross and her blog Mystery Dancer, described as,  “Mystery Dancer is dedicated to discovering who Ursula Cheshire was through clues revealed in an antique photo album, and through online historical and genealogical research based on those clues.”

A Little About Elizabeth

“I was born and raised in South Dakota (with a few years in North Dakota and upstate New York mixed in). After graduating from college in upstate New York, I moved to New York City, where I lived and worked for nearly 25 years. My musician/music-journalist husband and I recently moved to Nashville, our new favorite hometown. I am a freelance writer and editor in the health care field, but my passion lies in researching and blogging about my “Mystery Dancer” project and working on other family history projects, as well as creating visual art (photography and collage).”

How Elizabeth Got Started in Genealogy

“As a child, I was mildly interested in my family history. A great aunt on my mother’s side had researched my maternal ancestors to prove eligibility for membership in the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution), and another relative had traced our lineage all the way back to royalty in the Middle Ages. It was fun learning about that as a kid. My grandmother also wrote down some information and stories that had been passed on to her. On my father’s side, a couple of cousins who had converted to Mormonism researched our family, so that pedigree is filled out for several generations.

“I’ve gotten more interested in family history over the past several years, and have enjoyed poking around on Ancestry.com. While I already know the names of my ancestors, it’s fascinating to learn more about their life stories through such documents as Civil War records, marriage licenses, shipping manifestos, historical newspaper articles, photographs and the like.”

Elizabeth’s Thoughts on Blogging

“I am drawn to stories. I usually read fiction, and when I read nonfiction, it’s usually a memoir or true historical tale centered on a specific person or family. I also love looking at historical photographs of people and places and have found myself buying them here and there at various antique shops and thrift stores. And, I love solving mysteries — studying clues, making connections, discovering new clues and finding answers. That’s why I started this blog.

“Almost one year ago, I went to a huge community yard sale. Among the vendors was a rare book and document gallery that was selling a worn, maroon, velvet-covered antique photo album. Full of old black-and-white photos and yellowed newspaper clippings, the book, said the vendor, centered around Ursula Cheshire, a dancer born in the early 1900s and who died in her 40s. The first photo I saw was of a pretty teenaged girl in costume posing dramatically on one knee with her head tipped back. This family album included more photos of the girl (some in costume, some not), baby pictures, portraits of relatives from the 1800s, handwritten captions. The book intrigued me, and I felt it contained a story I wanted to discover. So, before I even knew if I would be able to find out any additional information about the people featured in the album, I decided to start this blog to share the photos and my experiences of discovery, insight, roadblocks and surprises as I worked to unlock their mysteries. I have been incredibly fortunate that my research has yielded bountiful information about Ursula and her family. I love working on my Mystery Dancer blog, and sharing the journey with my readers.”

Elizabeth’s Advice for New Bloggers

  • “I use WordPress, which I have found to be very easy to learn and use. You can customize it with different widgets and features, but don’t go crazy. Before you start, take a look at other blogs to see what you like and don’t like, and get an idea of what works well, what looks good, etc. If you want to do something on WordPress but don’t know how, Google it! So many people use WordPress that you’ll probably find a solution out there.
  • “If you’re going to be writing a narrative that spans a lifetime or more, it may be helpful to create an Excel spreadsheet to track your positive research findings in chronological order of the events that your narrative is covering. Include any Web links and notes of filenames of images you may want to use in your blog. I have done this with Mystery Dancer, and it helps me with organizing, keeping the timeline straight, citing sources and planning future posts.
  • “Focus each post on a certain topic or event, and give it a narrative arc with a beginning, a middle and an end. In other words, each post should be a mini story within the overall story or theme of the blog.
  • “If you tend to procrastinate, publicly commit to a schedule for your posts. I now post on the first and third Tuesdays of each month. Before I committed to that, my readers never knew when the next post would be — one week or two months later, who knew?
  • “Watch the length of your posts, as well as the length of your paragraphs. I think it is difficult to hold the attention of online readers with lengthy passages and posts that are more than 600 or 650 words. I think around 500 words is a sweet spot. If you need to, break what would have been a long post into two or three parts. And include pictures!”
  • Proofread before publishing! That includes checking any links to make sure they work properly.

Elizabeth’s Favorite Blog Post

“So far, I think my favorite post is,  “She Got Her Start in San Francisco.”

“It features several fun discoveries I made concerning Ursula’s birth announcement and family residence, including a link to real-estate photos of the interior and exterior of the family’s 1902-built Victorian house, which was sold in 2011 for $1.6 million! It was exciting to find resources on the Internet that synced with and expanded upon photos and information I gleaned from the album.”

Elizabeth’s Favorite Ancestors

“My favorite ancestor (aside from those I knew/know in person, of course) is a maternal great great grandmother named Clara. Thanks to a cousin who has shared a cache of letters that Clara wrote to her family in 1867, I’m getting to know her as I work on transcribing them. As newlyweds, she and her husband, Charley (my great great grandfather) had just moved from Brooklyn, NY to San Francisco, where Charley was an Army engineer at Fortress Alcatraz (US Army Coastal Fortification.) Even as she longs for home, her humor, intelligence and positive nature shine through her letters as she writes about the couple’s new life on the West Coast (including her first pregnancy and baby). This will probably be my next family history blog project.”

How Genealogy has Improved Elizabeth’s Life

“Learning about my ancestors has given me more of a sense of connection and belonging in this world. My existence is the result of actions and circumstances stretching back generations upon generations upon generations. Knowing what some of my ancestors have gone through, how hard they have worked and what courage they have shown inspires me and helps give me strength to persevere through life’s ups and downs. For instance, sometimes I think, “After all, if my paternal great great grandmother was brave enough to travel by ship from Bavaria to Ellis Island by herself at age 15; I can do XYZ, too!”

“And, doing the research for and producing my blog about Ursula Cheshire has improved my life because it’s just so much fun. I get to do all the things I love to do and I’m learning interesting tidbits about early-1900s American history along the way. At some point, I hope to be able to find some of Ursula’s living relatives (she has no living direct descendants) and share the blog and photos with them.”

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Please take time to head over to Elizabeth’s blog and leave a comment, letting her know you stopped by.  Thank you Elizabeth for sharing your thoughts and your blog with us!

© 2015, copyright Michelle Ganus Taggart, All rights reserved 

Michelle Ganus Taggart lives in Kaysville, Utah, where she enjoys the beautiful outdoors, time with family and researching her ancestors.  She shares her passion for her southern research in her blog, A Southern Sleuth.  Are you a genealogy blogger who would like to be interviewed for the “May I Introduce To You . . . “ series?  If so, contact Michelle  via email shelltag1@gmail.com