May I Introduce to You . . . Elise Ann Wormuth

Come meet genealogy blogger Elise Ann Wormuth, author of the Living in the Past blog, in this interview by Michelle Taggart at GeneaBloggers.

I am excited to introduce to you Elise Ann Wormuth and her blog, Living in the Past, described as, “A history of the Ortman and Berneburg families; thoughts on the practice and processes of genealogy.” Elise has a beautiful blog and shares some great adventures in her pursuit of her ancestors

A Little About Elise

“I was born in Jamaica, New York (part of Queens). My mother brought me home from the hospital in a hurricane and she said we had to huddle near a space heater to stay warm. I’m happy to have that as my birthplace, because two of the branches of my family had lived there since the 1880s. I grew up in Minneapolis, and as an adult, I’ve lived in Boston, Los Angeles, Santa Rosa, CA, San Francisco, and now Santa Cruz, CA. I’ve been in California for 42 years and can’t imagine living anywhere else. I’m proud that my son is a native Californian!”

How Elise Got Started in Genealogy

“Seriously, I have been doing genealogy for about two years. But I was always interested in hearing the stories of my grandmothers. Of course, now I wish I’d asked them more questions!

“My family was and is very small. My father was an only child and my mother had one brother, 16 years older than her. I have one first cousin in the world. So I guess I wanted to expand my family, to find out more about the people who went before. I was especially interested in finding out about my paternal grandfather’s family, since he was one of nine children but was estranged from his family.”

Elise’s Thoughts on Blogging

“I created my blog in January of 2013 for the same reason that many do – to pass the history and stories on to the younger generation of my family. It was touch-and-go for a while because I was still working, but now that I’m retired, I’m devoting a lot of attention to it.”

Elise’s Advice for New Bloggers

“Keep the sense that you’re writing for others, not yourself and that there’s an audience out there that is interested in what you have to say. Also, write about your own history because one day you will inevitably be an ancestor yourself, and your descendants will want to know about you. That also gives you a lot more potential topics to write about on those days when inspiration has deserted you.”

Elise’s Favorite Blog Post

“Oh, that’s like asking which is my favorite child!

I do like the sequence in which the brick wall around one of my maternal great-grandfathers came down in this post:

Some of my other favorites are:

I’m proud of the research and happy with how I wrote about it in this next one:

Elise’s Time with the Ancestors

“Now that I’m retired, I spend quite a lot of time! I probably spend around 20 hours a week, maybe more, maybe less.”

Elise’ Favorite Ancestors

“Oh boy, another hard question. My absolute favorite has to be my Grandmother Berneburg. She lived with us for 12 years or so, and she was a tough, feisty lady who had had a lot of challenges in her life. Even though she wasn’t a warm and fuzzy kind of grandma, we kids adored her.

“I’m also fascinated with groups of relatives – the Langers of Silesia, the three generations of women from Bremen who were all illegitimate, the real story of my grandfather and who his mother was. I’m eager to learn more about all of them.”

How Genealogy has Improved Elise’s Life

“It’s given me something to do in my old age. Genealogy has enriched my life tremendously as I learn about all of the stories of the people who have gone before. It’s also brought me close to a wonderful community of incredibly helpful and generous people both here and in Europe.

“As for what I love about genealogy, I guess I love what everyone does – the chase, the puzzle, the mystery, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. When you get an envelope from an archive, there’s that wonderful moment of anticipation and hope – what will it tell me? I think we all live for that. Even when you discover things that are unpleasant or shocking, it’s still wonderful, knowing the stories.

“The most frustrating thing, if you’d like to know that, is never being able to talk to the people you’re researching and writing about to ask them, “How am I doing? Am I right? Am I telling your story in the way you would want it told?”

Elise’s Time Capsule Message

“Don’t be so self-centered: Talk to your elders! Bug the heck out of them before they pass on! Even if they think their lives are ordinary, they are in fact fascinating to those who come after. Keep saying, “And then what happened?” and write everything down, because the older you get, the less you’ll remember, and that’s a shame.”

Elise’s Genealogy Bucket List

“I want to take a trip to Germany, for sure, to meet living relatives in Erkeln and to track down others in archives. I want to see the places where they lived. I have the route all planned out! I’d like to spend some time in New York/New Jersey, especially looking for gravestones and so on. I’d also like to have a big family reunion where I could do a 10- or 12-hour presentation for my loved ones, because I’m pretty sure they’re not the ones reading my blog every day!”

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Please take time to head over to Elise’s blog and leave a comment, letting her know you stopped by. Thank you Elise 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

May I Introduce to You . . . Schalene Jennings Dagutis

Come meet genealogy blogger Schalene  Jennings Dagutis, author of the Tangled Roots and Trees blog, in this interview by Wendy Mathias at GeneaBloggers.

It is my pleasure to introduce to you Schalene Jennings Dagutis and her blog Tangled Roots and Trees “Where family and history come together.”  She describes her blog as an extension of the genealogy research which she took over from her dad and as “a labor of love for a man who gave me a wonderful childhood and still today shows me how to get joy out of life even when it’s hard.”

A Little About Schalene

“I was born in Washington, DC, at the Columbia Hospital for Women, which no longer exists. My parents were so sure I would be a boy they didn’t even have a girl’s name selected. My original birth certificate had to be amended to add Schalene, which is an adaptation of my maternal grandmother’s maiden name.

“I have always considered Virginia my home state as I have lived there all of my life except for a few years when I lived in Michigan and Massachusetts for work. My husband and I now live and work northern Virginia.”

How Schalene Got Started in Genealogy

“I have been doing research off and on for about 20 years but seriously since November 2012. Dad was the genealogist of the family. I tried working on my husband’s family but quickly hit brick walls in every direction as his grandparents all immigrated from what are now Lithuania, Austria, Hungary, and Serbia. Every few years I’d go back to it and find a little more before getting stuck again. I always helped my Dad with his data entry tasks. I would be typing away on his computer and he would regale me with stories about newly found ancestors. Those times are special memories. Dad had a massive cerebral hemorrhage in November 2012 and I took over our family’s genealogy in earnest at that time. And I’ve become obsessed!”

Why Schalene Started a Blog

“After Dad’s hemorrhage, he was in a nursing home for 6 months receiving speech, physical and occupational therapy. He worked hard and went from being paralyzed on his right side to walking. But one thing that did not come back was his ability to speak. He can understand everything we say, but he simply cannot speak very much. When I would visit him in the nursing home, I would tell him about my genealogy finds. Starting a blog seemed like a good way to remember all the stories so I had something to talk to Dad about when we next visited.”

Schalene’s Advice for New Bloggers

“Every person’s blog must feel right to them. What works for one person may not for another. For example, I do not feel competent enough to provide pointers or instructions about research in my blog. I am still learning. I think it’s one of the things I love about genealogy — there’s always something to learn. The only advice I have, perhaps, is establish a schedule for publishing and try to stick to it. In the beginning, I was very enthusiastic and published a post daily. I quickly ran out of stories. I also pre-write posts so they’ve been ready for weeks and have been proofed a few times before publishing.”

Schalene’s Favorite Blog Posts

“I’ve been fortunate to have two of my posts featured on Ancestry.com’s blog in their What We’re Reading feature and have had three articles published in magazines, which all started as blog posts. But I have two favorite posts and they are about my parents:

A Tribute to My Father and Celebrating Mother’s Day.”

Schalene’s Time With Ancestors

“Too much! My husband and I do not have children. I spend most evenings and can lose entire weekends researching or writing about genealogy.”

Schalene’s Favorite Ancestor

“I used to say I was inordinately fond of my black sheep until I discovered one who murdered his three young children. It made me consider more seriously why my ancestors may have made the decisions they did. I wouldn’t necessarily call him a favorite, but he did make me slow down and think . . . a lot.

“Now I think I have two favorites and they’re by-marriage ancestors. I like them because they left behind letters and unpublished memoirs that helped me know them as people and provided lots of blogging material.”

How Genealogy Has Improved Schalene’s Life

“It’s given me an avenue for giving back to the community. I now volunteer at a local history society.”

What Schalene Loves Most About Genealogy

“Through genealogy, I have been able to maintain a close relationship with my Dad and have found a topic which provides us a way to communicate. Blogging about my family history has also enabled me to collaborate with my youngest brother in an area of interest for him. He is an amateur World War II historian and is writing a book about the war. Whenever I am working on a post about an ancestor’s WWII experiences, I let my brother know. He either helps me with my research or writes what I call a ‘set up’ post as a guest blogger where he provides the historical context for my post about an ancestor’s personal experiences or history. We have great fun together.”

Schalene’s Genealogy Bucket List

“I would like to go to Ukraine to learn more about my Mom’s father’s family. They considered themselves German but lived in Tsarist Russia. My grandfather emigrated in 1911, the first of his family to do so.”

Schalene’s Time Capsule Message

“Genealogy and family history are never done. Your brick wall will come down; it just may not be you who tears it down. And research is all about collaboration and sharing. Your ancestors are not yours alone; they belong to other people as well.”

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Please take a moment to visit Schalene at Tangled Roots and Trees and leave her a comment letting her know you stopped by. Thank-you, Schalene, for letting us inside your blogging world.

© 2015, 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 wendymath@cox.net.

May I Introduce to You . . . Devon Lee

Come meet genealogy blogger Devon Lee, author of A Patient Genealogist, in this interview by Jana Last at GeneaBloggers.

I have the pleasure of introducing you to Devon Lee and her blog, A Patient Genealogist described as, “Searching and Sharing So They Will Know” is the motto of my family history blog. I share my stories of my ancestors along with research successes and failures. You’ll also find tips on photographing your memorabilia (from an amateur’s perspective) and tips to preserve memories in scrapbooks.”

A Little About Devon

“Though I wasn’t born here, I learned to talk, walk and chew gum in Texas. Therefore, I’m a Texan. After the birth of my second child, my husband and I moved to upstate New York, South Carolina, and Iowa. We recently moved back to the Lone Star State and I’ve learned that you can go home again, depending upon how you define ‘home’. I couldn’t be happier.”

How Devon Got Started in Genealogy

“The better question is how I became hooked on family history. When my dad’s parents died, family feuding caused the most important treasures to be lost… the photos and documents. Grandma Geiszler had loved telling family stories the few times I was able to visit and was truly her treasure.”

“From that moment on, I knew that I couldn’t wait until I had more time to preserve memories. If I did, more and more history would be lost. My father passed away after my second child was born. As I was driving to Ohio for a surprise trip, my sole surviving Geiszler ancestor died and I had lost the opportunity to ask her more about the stories she had recently shared.  Most recently, my last living grandmother and my mother died as book ends to 2012. In short, there is really no one left to tell me the stories of my ancestors.”

“Waiting until ‘the time is right’ to do family history. I’m glad I had started 20 years ago as church youth project. Once technology made ‘pajama genealogy’ possible, my activity level and research successes have increased.”

Devon’s Thoughts on Blogging

“9 December 2010 I started my blog with the first post entitled Family History: Patience Essential. I think this paragraph highlights the whole reason I named my blog what I did:

“The lesson to learn is that genealogy and family history takes patience. Patience in waiting for a response to inquiries. Patience as you wait for the contact with the family history to compile their work. Patience as you wait for your copy of the work. And patience as you wait for documents and photos in a format you can use in your research projects.”

“Ironically, I’m not a patient person. The blog title isn’t so much to tell others to be patient. It’s really to constantly tell myself!”

“I originally started the blog as a way to share my research findings with my mother who lived in Texas while I lived in Iowa. When she passed away in December 2012, I didn’t have my muse anymore. I then realized something and wrote this post about it: Thankful Thursday: Followers Have Become My New Muse.”

“My followers and those I’ve inspired keep me going. Many people have been inspired to do something with regards to family history: be it labeling their photographs, photographing their artifacts, climbing their family tree using sources, or turning memories into scrapbooks. I love receiving emails, phone calls, and Facebook messages from friends and readers who have had success with genealogy and wanted to share it with me. They share because I’m probably the only one they know who would appreciate it. All of this works together to keep me going when it’s hard to remember the motto I mentioned earlier: “Searching and sharing so they will know.”

Devon’s Tips for New Bloggers

“You have a voice, use it. Sure there are a lot of family history related blogs online. So what!?! Share the parts of family history that make you giddy. Share the lessons you’ve learned (including mistakes) so others can benefit from your experience. Share the stories you desperately want your family to know and remember. Don’t try to copy anyone else. Just be you.”

“Also, don’t worry if your followers are few at first. Be patient. Either you’ll be found, or you’ll find ways to promote yourself (if you wish).”

Devon’s Favorite Blog Posts

“After 500+ posts, it’s hard to pick one, so I’ll offer four based on categories:

Devon’s Time with the Ancestors

“I research whenever the mood strikes and time is available. This could be 10 minutes a day, it could be more. It all depends upon what’s happening in the household my 5 home schooled children. They are the priority.”

“My philosophy is that it’s better to preserve memories a little at a time, like dropping oil in a lamp. Over time, those little drops can really add up. In addition to preserving the memories of today, I preserve as much of the stories from the past. In time, I’ll seek to research further up my family trees when time and money allows.”

Devon’s Favorite Ancestors

“Do people really have favorites? I mean seriously? I have folks I would want to meet and questions I want to ask them, but I don’t have any favorites per se.”

How Genealogy Has Improved Devon’s Life

“Family history has taught me patience! (Ironic, isn’t it?) Seriously, learning about the struggles, triumphs, and failures of my various family members has taught me to be patient with myself and with others. I still have a long way to go, but I think my ancestors are helping me out.”

What Devon Loves Most About Genealogy

“I love sharing the history. I love photographing the stuff and recording the stories behind them. I love making heritage scrapbooks that my family members not only want to read, but they want a copy of their own. I love sharing stories with my children about myself and my ancestors. Finally, I like how I can inspire others to do something that will benefit their own family’s history preservation efforts.”

Devon’s Genealogy Bucket List

“Hmmm… with the release of my third book, 21st Century Family Historian, I’d love to speak at a major conference to inspire genealogical burnt out or the “I hate Genealogy” crowd to do something to preserve their personal and family history. When we understand the heart of this work, we will do something, no matter how small, to contribute to the efforts of preserving and sharing the story of our family.”

Devon’s Time Capsule Message

“Everyone has a story but only some folks take the time to record them. Turn your heart to your family members (past, present, and future), then go and do something so your story is preserved.”

An Additional Message from Devon

“Somehow after 17 days of knowing him, my husband and I became engaged and have been together ever since! We love Texas A&M Football, BBQ, and Kolaches. The best dates we have are usually spent at home talking and relaxing. My husband and my kids encouraged me to write my first two books which focus on sharing family history through scrapbooking:

  • Power Scrapbooking: Get Caught Up, No Matter Your Style
  • Create a Family History Scrapbook Digitally in 12 Simple Steps

“After speaking at a few conferences and inspiring friends and family, my third book 21st Century Family Historian was written to breathe new life into those who have done genealogy and have burnt out or encourage and challenge those feeling guilty for not doing something yet. I could not have written these books with out my 6 biggest fans in my home and my ancestors who have departed this world.”

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

© 2014, 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.