May I Introduce to You . . . Michael Dyer

Come meet genealogy blogger Michael Dyer, author of Family Sleuther, in this interview by Michelle Taggart at GeneaBloggers.

MAY I INTRODUCE TO YOU . . . Michael Dyer

Offering a smorgasbord of topics pertinent to genealogy, blogger Michael Dyer truly has something for everyone. When asked how he would describe his blog, Michael said, “Family Sleuther is a family history journal that documents my interest in ancestry and shares helpful, practical research tips. It’s where I detail my excavations into the past, solve family mysteries, and bring life back to those who are history. Readers’ genealogies benefit from my mistakes and successes as I share best practices and lessons learned.”

Not only does Michael take us along on his research trips and other genealogical adventures, he shares his passion for genealogy in a way that ensures that we never get bored. It is with great pleasure that I introduce to you, Michael Dyer of the Family Sleuther.

Michael, tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up and what is your current hometown?

“I was born in Denver and grew up in the shadows of Colorado’s Rocky Mountain foothills. After university, I moved to Washington, DC to work in international development. My day job indulges my interest in other countries and cultures, and affords me opportunities to support the growth of emerging global leaders committed to the development of their communities.”

How did you get started in genealogy?

“In the summer of 2010, I started asking my family questions about our Italian background. There was a large knowledge gap about my Italian great-grandparents who were living just decades prior. How was it possible that my direct ancestors were already unknowns and largely forgotten? The thought was disheartening and I felt like we could do a better job of honoring their memory while growing our family’s sense of identity. That prompted my detective work and initial foray into genealogy.

“My first research project unearthed a remarkable journey: as a 19-year old kid, my great-grandfather sailed to a new country with only $10 to his name. He didn’t speak English, yet he was able to land a job and start a new life for himself.

“While my great-grandfather’s story wasn’t particularly unique, the magnitude of his epic yet forgotten journey ignited an insatiable interest in family history. There’s something compelling about placing your own kin in their historical place and rediscovering people the world has long forgotten. I wanted to learn other forgotten stories. I quickly developed a love for researching my ancestors, and the hunt for the documents that yielded those names and brought them back to life.”

What have been some of the highlights in your family history research?

“Recently, I learned of a Non-Paternal Event (NPE) for my grandfather. I was able to use both traditional and genetic genealogy to identify his father. This was a huge victory because many of the story’s key players are deceased and the NPE occurred nearly 80 years ago.

“Another highlight came in October 2014 after my maternal grandmother passed away. I set off in a cramped rental car with my mother and aunt on a 7-day family history road trip. We covered 2,200 miles, five states, and paid our respects at the graves of 36 of our direct ancestors.”

When and why did you start your genealogy blog?

“I created my blog in June 2013 because I wanted a venue to share the research and stories I was uncovering. My family and friends have a limited threshold for genealogy excitement (you know, the eyes glazing over routine). The blog is a platform to share those stories with an audience that fully appreciates the research and history I uncover.”

You have a good variety of posts on your blog. How do you get your inspiration or ideas for your blog posts?

“I write about whatever I am currently researching. As a result, my posts touch on an array of topics, people, and records. The diversity keeps me engaged, and appeals – I hope – to the readers.

“For example, on a recent trip back to Kansas, I drove by my great-grandparents old farm house. As I studied the century-old home, I realized the house itself was a story. I penciled the idea into my blogging queue. It’ll be my first post about a family home – more new blogging territory.”

You utilize social media as you research. Share with us some of the ways social media has helped you with your genealogy.

“Social media has played an important role in handing me some exciting genealogy wins. Earlier this summer, I used Facebook to organize a reunion that drew 100 family members from across the country after years of dwindling attendance (see A Family Reunion Revived).

“In another victory, I was able to track down a distant cousin on Facebook who confirmed that my 4th great-grandfather was in an unlabeled photograph I own. In fact, she had the exact same photo hanging on her dining room wall! (See Facebook Tags Forgotten Ancestor.)

“Twitter has helped me, too. I caught a tweet by advertising a new record collection of Oklahoma oral histories. On a whim I decided to check for my ancestral surnames and discovered that a maternal great-grandfather had been interviewed about his controversial work assimilating Native American tribes. (see Tweet & Tell: Oral History Surfaces).”

What do you enjoy most about blogging?

“I most enjoy connecting with my readers and hearing their thoughts on a post and their recommendations for advancing my research. That connection is motivating and makes me a better blogger.”

How has blogging helped you in your research?

“Blogging strengthens my genealogy. When I write a post, holes in my research and overlooked next steps become more apparent.

“Blogging also provides me a sounding board that elevates my research. Feedback from my readers with tips and next steps helps me conduct better, more thorough investigations. In a way, blogging is like having my genealogy peer-reviewed.”

What tips can you share with someone just starting a family history blog?

“Write regularly. When I began, I published in fits and starts. My irregular blogging made it difficult for me to stay in the groove, build momentum, or grow readership. Commit and keep at it.

“Also, as soon as you think of an idea, jot it down. If I have an idea but I’m not prepared to write the full post, I’ll quickly log in to Blogger and create just a blog post title. The titled post will sit in my queue until I’m ready to write, and I don’t have to worry that a good idea will be forgotten.”

What are some of your favorite post(s) on your blog and why?

“My favorite posts are usually about discoveries that I didn’t expect or cases I’ve been researching for a while. Among my favorites are:

Disease in the Civil War is the story of conducting research in the National Archives, handling original Civil War pension files, learning about the military service of two of my third-great grandfathers, and discovering that disease was far more prevalent and lethal than battle.

DNA Doesn’t Lie is the concluding chapter of a four-part series where I was able to bust through a Non-Paternal Event’s brick wall and learn the identity of my paternal great-grandfather.”

How has genealogy made a difference in your life?

“It has certainly helped me hone my research and critical thinking skills. Genealogy is a never-ending puzzle that requires careful attention to detail, an ability to think critically about evidence, and synthesize it to make sense of it all while determining next research steps. Family historians are constantly shifting pieces of the Rubik’s cube to figure out the correct relationships and make families whole again.

“But, perhaps more importantly, it’s empowering to know your ancestors’ stories and to understand their lives’ hardships and accomplishments – and to see similarities across time and context. Willa Cather wrote that, “There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before.” When you learn your ancestors’ stories you begin to see parallels to your own journey. It shifts your thinking about life and identity to know that you have this wealth of experience behind you in your pedigree and in your genes still today guiding you forward.”

What other genealogy blogs inspire you?

“I read a lot of blogs, usually depending on the topic I’m researching at the time.

“I credit Amy Johnson Crow’s blog No Stories Too Small and her 52 Ancestors Challenge with motivating me to blog more regularly.

“There’s a great community of genealogy bloggers on Facebook and GeneaBloggers that I follow. I also read Judy Russell’s  The Legal Genealogist, Jan Last’s Jana’s Genealogy and Family History Blog for her weekly compilation of must-reads, Linda Stufflebean’s  Empty Branches on the Family Tree, and genetic genealogy blogs like Blaine Bettinger’s   The Genetic Genealogist, Roberta Estes’ DNAeXplained-Genetic Genealogy, and Kitty Cooper’s Blog .

What is on your genealogy bucket list?

“I want to bust through my brick wall for my 5th great-grandfather Thomas Kirk (1778-1846) who lived in Licking County, Ohio. I’m trying to learn who his parents were and what his ancestral background was. My goal is to eventually learn who my immigrant Kirk ancestor was.”

*  *  *

Please take a moment and visit Michael’s blog Family Sleuther. Be sure and leave him a comment to let him know you stopped by. Thank you Michael for sharing your blog and your thoughts with us!

© 2016, 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

May I Introduce to You . . . Dianne Nolin

Come meet genealogy blogger Dianne Nolin, author of Genealogy: Beyond the BMD, in this interview by Wendy Mathias at GeneaBloggers.

May I Introduce to You . . . Dianne Nolin

I first “met” Dianne Nolin through a genealogy group on Facebook. It was April and several of us were participating in the A to Z April Challenge, which always attracts over 1000 participants who blog on a wide variety of topics – not many about genealogy though. Recognizing that it was difficult to find other genealogy bloggers, Dianne set about finding a solution. Not only did she create a file with links to the genealogy bloggers participating in the A-Z Challenge, but also she contacted the administrators requesting “Genealogy and Family History” be added as a category in the future. That is the same approach Dianne takes with her blog Genealogy: Beyond the BMD. She saw people struggling to unearth their family stories but were limited in their knowledge of where else to look. Her blogs are full of new ideas and unusual resources, particularly for those researching ancestors from Scotland, Ireland, England, Australia, and Canada. I am proud to introduce to you Dianne Nolin and her blog Genealogy: Beyond the BMD.

Dianne, can you tell a little about yourself?

“I was born in Montreal. My Dad was going to college as a veteran of WWII and we lived in a modified Airstream trailer at the Pederson Residence of McGill University. We soon moved to a small town on Ile Perrot off the west end of Montreal, Terrasse Vaudreuil, where my Dad built our house. Dad never stopped working on the house or building things in the evenings and my lullabies were the sounds of the hammer and power saw.
I now live on Vancouver Island and although genealogy takes up most of my time, I also like to read, cook, knit, and I have done a lot of sailing and camping with my husband and our Shiba Inu, Sadie.

“Since the early 70’s I always worked with computers on some level and it has always intrigued me. In 1995 I took a course on Dos vs Windows. I have taken many on-line courses through a university, 5 of them were on web design. It has given me a couple of ideas for future web based projects involving my family history. All I need now is time to do them.”

When and why did you start a genealogy blog?

“While researching my family tree, and that of my husband and a few friends, I amassed pages and pages of links to websites and references in books that either mention a family member or give insight to their trade or how they lived. I belong to a lot of Facebook groups pertaining to where my ancestors lived and I have contributed or helped others as much as I can. I thought about how I could reach and help more people and it was a toss-up between a website and a blog. A blog seemed the more personal way to go, and it was a new challenge for me. So in April of 2014, with a little trepidation, I published my first post. I started writing every day, but circumstances made me unable to continue with that so I write at least once a week except when I am away from home.”

How did you choose the name for your blog?

“I chose the name Genealogy: Beyond the BMD because most people know how and where to get Birth, Marriage and Death records for their ancestors but may not know how or where to look beyond that. Or even what to look for! My blog posts take readers into the realm of guardianships, pew lists, garden shows, dog races, patents, disasters and lighthouse keepers, to name a few.

“Later when researching in newspapers I found many stories about my ancestors and decided to start a second blog – The Days of Their Lives. I write posts when the spirit moves me. These posts are more for my cousins’ benefit, although more people are interested in reading them. I am hoping also that unfound cousins will read them and get in touch, which has already happened a couple of times. Success!”

How do you decide what to write about?

“I look to my ancestors for inspiration for most of my posts. I try to weave together facts with family stories, which I think is more interesting for the reader. Often I come across something I think would interest readers while I am researching something else, and I will write about it even though I may not have a related family story.

“I am all bout Free! Not everyone doing genealogy can afford to subscribe to paying sites so, save for a few, the links I give are to free information. Most have lists of peoples’ names, though there are a few that are more for information on a certain topic or place. No matter what country you are researching in, these posts will give readers inspiration of what to look for on their own.”

Dianne, what are your favorite posts on your blog?

“It is hard to pick a favourite since I slaved over them all, and my favourites are not necessarily the most popular. One of my favourite posts is It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World because it allowed me to tell the story of my Uncle Horace who has no one else to remember him.

“Another favourite is the 4th one I wrote titled What a Disaster! This one challenged my story writing skills to write about a disaster that the ancestors of my children experienced.

“The next fave is a post I wrote titled Medical History – Knowing your Genes. Although it didn’t garner a lot of public interest, it may save the lives of relatives that read it and hopefully inspire others to check into their medical history.

“I also enjoyed researching and writing the posts on the military, having family members that were in the Militia or enlisted in WWI and WWII.”

What is the most frustrating part of blogging?

“I actually don’t find anything frustrating about blogging. I do it for myself because I like to research and I love to write. My friends and relatives like to read my stories, and I don’t care if I have ten or ten thousand followers. All my info is freely found and free for the taking. As long as I enjoy and am interested in writing the blog I will do it, then I will stop and move on to something else.”

How long have you been doing family history and has your focus changed over time?

“Growing up my maternal grandmother used to tell me stories about some of our relatives, and this piqued my interest in our family history. I got into genealogy seriously when my husband bought me Brøderbund Family Tree Maker for my birthday in 1999.

My focus changes every time I discover more ancestors. I know people call being stuck ‘a brick wall,’ but I like to refer to it as a dam: when the dam finally breaks, a deluge of ancestors come pouring through.”

Besides major websites (like Ancestry and FamilySearch), what research tool or source has been particularly helpful in researching your family history?

“Family. I try to find as many living descendants in all family branches as I can and we work together to find and learn about more ancestors. The bonus is finding over 30 cousins I didn’t know I had!

“Email. People all over the world in libraries, churches, genealogy societies, order of nuns, RCMP archives, etc. have been so kind and freely generous of their time in answering my queries and helping me learn more about my ancestors. I am so grateful!

“Internet. I have found a lot of my ancestors’ stories in newspapers, books at Internet Archive and in the Sessional Papers of Canada.”

What is your favorite family heirloom?

“Not all our treasured heirlooms are in our possession.  One of my ancestors was a famed goldsmith and some of his pieces are in the National Museum of Scotland. My Dad helped in the building of our church, for which he also made the altar, lectern and baptismal font. I remember proudly watching him make them and carefully cut out the wooden letters that spelled “THIS DO IN REMEMBERANCE OF ME” on the front of the altar. These are still in use today.

“An heirloom that means a lot to me is a spoon dish that belonged to my paternal grandmother, which I gave to my daughter because she had her spoons standing in a water glass, and I knew she would use and treasure it.

“But the heirloom that is close to my heart is my maternal grandmother’s wedding ring that my Mom took to a jewelers and had shaped into a heart and made into a pendant for me. When I wear it, I feel close to my beloved Granny.”

What kind of networking do you use to attract readers to your blog?

“I post my blog posts to Twitter and Pinterest, where I not only participate but I learn a lot from others. I have a Facebook group page called Genealogy Beyond The BMD.

I post comments and queries on many of the Facebook groups I belong to, and I sometimes comment on the blogs I enjoy reading.”

Finally, Dianne, what is on your genealogy bucket list?

“Recently I have discovered that two of my ancestral homes are now B&Bs, one in Ontario and one in Devon, so I would love to go and spend the night – perhaps dream of my ancestors.

“I would also like to find documentation for the family story that our ancestor was at the Battle of the Boyne and carried the banner for William of Orange. I recently found out that one of my new-found-cousins has the piece of this banner that once hung in our ancestral home.

“I have another new-found cousin who has a hand-drawn picture of the Seale Coat of Arms. I have been in touch with the College of Arms in London and when I give the go-ahead, they will do a search on our coat of arms, which includes genealogy. This item on the bucket list will be crossed off soon.”


Please take a moment to visit Dianne at Beyond the BMD and leave her a comment letting her know you stopped by. Thank-you, Dianne, for letting us inside your blogging world.

© 2016, copyright Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Wendy Mathias is a retired teacher who divides her time between her home in Chesapeake, Virginia and Smith Mountain Lake.  She enjoys researching her family and digging for the story behind old family photos for her blog Jollett Etc. Are you a genealogy blogger who would like to be interviewed for the “May I Introduce To You . . .” series? If so, contact Wendy via email

May I Introduce to You . . . Anthony Peter Beacock

Come meet genealogy blogger Anthony Peter Beacock, author of the Our Great Ancestors blog, in this interview by Gini Webb at GeneaBloggers.

I have the great pleasure of introducing you to, Anthony Peter Beacock and his blog, Our Great Ancestors, described as, “. . . Our Great Ancestors aims provide information about not only my own family lines, but genealogy in general. Through the blog I hope that I can help people get started with researching their own family history. I also hope that distant cousins are able to discover the blog and find out about their roots.

A Little Bit About Anthony

“I was born near Hull, which is situated in East Yorkshire, England in 1996 and currently live in Hedon which is a historic market town and is about 6 miles away from Hull.

I am currently at University studying Computer Science with Games Development, but in my free time I like to research my family history as well as many other hobbies.”

How did you get started in genealogy?

“I began researching my family history not only because I had an interest in it, but also because of my late father. He became seriously ill and a few years later, in 2007, he sadly passed away. When my dad was ill, he said that he was not afraid of dying but afraid of being forgotten. At the age of 11, I was his oldest son when he passed on, which meant that I felt the need to try and grant his wishes. I thought about family history and that he had started one when he was ill. I decided that it would be the best way to keep his memory alive for future generations.

I then had a problem, because then I thought everyone else deserves to be remembered, because without them I would not be here myself. So that made my decision to research my family, even stronger.

I have now been researching my family history for just over 2 years, and have achieved a great piece of history that is still growing week by week.”

Why Anthony Created His Blog and His Thoughts on Blogging

“I started a genealogy blog in May 2016 as I wanted to document my research publically, in hope of reaching out to distant cousins. I also wanted to give something back to the community by trying to help people research their own family history.”

How did you choose the name for your blog?

“I chose the name, Our Great Ancestors, because I believe it is catchy, straight to the point and it also has a double meaning – great as in great grandfather, and great as in my grandfather is great! The name just came to me, so I went with it!”

Anthony, what research tool or source has been particularly helpful in researching your family history?

“Although I find that Ancestry and FindMyPast are really helpful and easy to use, I use a few other sites such as LincstothePast, Genuki and FreeBMD. On my blog I have featured a list of useful links, which includes anything that I have come across that is deemed helpful. I update this whenever I discover new, useful websites and resources.

I use the MyHeritage Family Tree Builder to actually record the bulk of information, as it sets out the family tree very neatly. I find it very easy to use also.”

Anthony, do you have any tips for new genealogy bloggers?

“Start with yourself and work backwards. You should never work forwards as it is very easy to trail off onto another line which ends up being incorrect! Also you should always double and triple check your research, as there is always a chance that you have missed something vital!

If you have older relatives who are alive, make use of them and their stories. Document them whilst you can, as they are the key to older generations!”

What other genealogy blogs inspire you?

“I myself have never followed a genealogical blog, I just decided to document my own research and give something back!”

Anthony, what has been your most exciting genealogy discovery in your research?

“One of the most exciting (if I can say that) is finding out that a direct relative was the brother to John and Christopher Wright from the gunpowder plot!

Another was that I have over 1700 ancestors in my family tree and all of them are from England! I thought that was outstanding, and it also helps when it comes to researching!

Another was that the Beacock name was passed on by a woman rather than a man, due to an illegitimate 3x great grandfather! I found this very interesting that the Beacock line has survived many situations along the way.”

Anthony, please tell us about your favorite posts on your blog?

“Up to now I only have 7 posts that are actually of any use, whilst the others are website updates. I think my favourite post would have to be either ‘Research: Thomas Beacock’ because it explains the story of my 3x great grandfather, or ‘Research: Frederick Walter Beacock’ (my great grandfather) for the same reason. These two ancestors had interesting lives and situations.” 

How much time do you get to spend on research?

“I make sure that I spend at least a few hours a week on family history as I find it very addictive as well as being interesting!”

Anthony, who is your favorite Ancestor?

“I do not think I can pinpoint one favourite ancestor but I am weirdly drawn towards my 3x great grandfather Thomas Beacock. This is because without him being born out of wedlock and keeping his mother’s maiden name, I would not be a Beacock today. The Beacock line has survived over 400 years in my research, with myself being born in 1996 and Michaell Beacock presumably being born in and around the 1590s. Outside of my research, it obviously goes beyond 400 years.

Thomas Beacock was the first Beacock in my direct line to move the family away from Lincolnshire, which makes him a key ancestor as he changed Beacock tradition in a number of ways.”

What family story or heirloom do you cherish?

“I cherish all of the heirlooms that I possess but I particularly cherish my late father’s wedding ring, my paternal grandfather’s model trains and his pocket watch, my paternal great grandmother’s sewing machine. I also cherish an original photograph of my maternal 2x great grandfather that was coloured. The photo and its original frame was in possession of my 2x great grandparents, then my great grandparents, my grandparents and then was given to me. I currently have the photo hung up in my bedroom.”

In what ways has genealogy improved your life?

“I believe genealogy has improved my life by giving me an interesting topic to research as a hobby. It has also motivated me to visit and talk to more of my extended family, which has brought us closer!”

What do you love the most about doing your genealogy/family history?

“I enjoy discovering ancestors for the first time, especially if they have been in the newspaper or have done something of interest!”

What is on your genealogy bucket list?

“I would like to discover more ancestors in my Beacock line, as I have hit a brick wall with Michaell Beacocke and Bettris Reder who were married on 17th November 1612!

Apart from that, I need to visit the Hull History Centre, the record office at Beverly and at Lincoln. This will enable me to research parts of my family more closely and hopefully gain information from the people who work there.”

If you wanted to leave a message for future generations, what would you tell them (like a time capsule)?

“In terms of family history, I would tell them to ensure that they document their lives as well as their families, as the more information there is about a person, the more the person comes to life. It is a lot better than just a name, date of birth and date of death. Information and photographs are essential in keeping people’s memory alive!

In terms of life in general I would tell future generations that they need to enjoy life and live everyday like it is their last day alive. This way, life is more enjoyable.”


Please take a moment to visit Anthony’s blog. Leave him a comment letting him know you stopped by. Welcome Anthony, it’s great to have you here!

© 2016, copyright Gini Webb. All rights reserved.

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.