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

May I Introduce To You . . . On Holiday Vacation 2014

The weekly May I Introduce To You posts at GeneaBloggers will be on holiday hiatus starting Monday, 22 December 2014 and will return on Monday, 12 January 2015.

For the next few weeks, the weekly May I Introduce To You posts written by the fantastic MIITY team of Tessa Keough, Jana Last, Wendy Mathias, Michelle Taggart and Gini Webb will be on hiatus during the remainder of December and into January.

MIITY posts will return beginning Monday, 12 January 2015, when GeneaBloggers will resume highlighting members and their blogs from all over the globe! In the meantime, here is our Pinterest board of all the May I Introduce To You interviews over the past few years:

Follow GeneaBloggers’s board May I Introduce To You . . . Members of Geneabloggers on Pinterest.

© 2014, copyright Thomas MacEntee

May I Introduce to You . . . Jill Ball

Come meet genealogy blogger Jill Ball, author of the GeniAus blog, in this interview by Tessa Keough at GeneaBloggers.

I have the pleasure of introducing you to Jill Ball and her blog GeniAus, described as “a potpourri of genealogy topics with an Australian slant.” Not satisfied with one blog, Jill as added to her repertoire Geneadictionary (an online lexicon of geneajargon), jillballau (Jill’s personal journeys, jottings and joy) and Ku-ring-Gai Historical Society (online news for Society members, the community, and those with links to the district). 

A Little Bit About Jill

(In bullet format – much like her personality – fun, fast and to the point!)

  • Short, white-haired and cuddly.
  • Wife, mother, grandmother and family historian.
  • Formerly librarian, teacher, and IT gal.
  • Lifelong learner.
  • Social media fan and gadget girl.
  • Into Evernote, lists and spreadsheets.
  • Loves geneajaunts, travel and cruising.
  • Takes snapshots not photos.
  • Happy old soul. 

What Got Jill Started in Genealogy/Family History

“I have always attributed this to the Bicentenary year in Australia in 1988 when the celebrations placed a great emphasis on our nation’s history. Looking back I realise it was also the year my maternal grandmother died. I now wonder if that also influenced me to start thinking about my personal history.

Genealogy /family history research draws on the skillset I developed from many years working as a librarian. While I was working in my ‘real job’ I dabbled in family research but once I retired from fulltime work I threw myself into it with gusto. I set out to learn as much as I could by attending talks and conferences, reading journals and joining several societies.

I soon discovered that my background in teaching and Information Technology equipped me to help other genealogists integrate technology use into their family history research so I started giving talks at various venues and online via Google Hangouts on Air. Although I get nervous before each performance I enjoy the opportunities I have to share my knowledge with others (and genealogists are more appreciative of one’s efforts than a bunch of Year/Grade 9 kids).” 

Jill’s Thoughts on Blogging

“Love it! I started blogging on library topics more than ten years ago and when I retired it left a void that I had to fill. It was obvious that genealogy could provide the subject matter that would enable me to continue blogging so GeniAus was born. Since then I have dabbled with a few blogs. Presently I am enjoying my latest venture, the Geneadictionary, this is great fun but the challenge is learning the intricacies of WordPress after being a Blogger girl for such a long time.”

  • Blogging allows me to connect, communicate and collaborate with people that I might not otherwise meet.
  • Blogs educate, enlighten and entertain me.
  • Blogging allows me to share stories and preserve family tales.
  • The dynamic nature of blogs lets me return and update my posts as new information becomes available.  

Jill’s Tips for New Bloggers (and Not So New Bloggers!) 

  • For newbies: Just do it.
  • For oldies: Regular maintenance is essential. Take a critical look at your blog and identify areas for improvement.
  • For all: Remember that blogging is a two-way street, it’s a collaborative medium. Reach out to others by liking and commenting on their posts.

Jill’s Favorite Blog Post(s)

A story of my grandmother, Ethel Jane Pusell, who was widowed at 18.

The twenty-six posts I wrote for the “Genealogy through the alphabet” challenge. I was pleased that I didn’t give up and managed to complete the whole series. 

Jill’s Time with the Ancestors

“Every spare moment and some I don’t have to spare but I always give precedence to the living.” 

Jill’s Favorite Ancestor(s) and Why

“My two grandmothers, Ethel Jane Pusell and Mary Tierney, who both lived to see me married off. I knew and loved them both they were determined, loyal and lovable women.

Two of my convicts: Elizabeth Phipps from London and Patrick Curry from Limerick. Elizabeth was a villain who obviously used her wits to survive in the penal colony of New South Wales. When she married the much older William Magick she probably thought she was setting herself up for life but she didn’t know William would live to 108. Patrick was an Irishman who, on gaining his freedom, worked as a farmer and had a comfortable life. In 1848 he said ‘I have reared a large family in comfort, want for nothing’.” 

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

  • It keeps me off the streets
  • It challenges the old brain
  • It provides learning opportunities
  • It has enabled me to keep on teaching
  • It has brought me a whole new set of interesting friends
  • It has connected me with unknown and lost family members who have added to my family stories. 

What Jill Loves Most About Genealogy

  • The people I meet – both dead and alive
  • The thrill of the chase – there’s nothing like a good mystery to pique one’s interest
  • Having opportunities to help fellow enthusiasts. 

Jill’s Time Capsule Message

Don’t sweat the small stuff.” 

Jill’s Expanded Time Capsule Message

“I am an amateur genealogist/family historian so I don’t get hung up on sourcing and citations. I am not concerned about commas, italics and adhering to a particular format. I believe in recording where information comes from and I always try to provide enough information so that anyone who wants to can check out my assertions. Genealogy for me is a hobby not a serious academic pursuit so I don’t see the need for rigid rules. I fear that we frighten off many newbies with terms such as sourcing and citations. We should just tell them to carefully record where they got their information so, if years later they have a memory lapse, they will be able to find things once more.

If I am writing for a journal I will correctly reference whatever I am writing but I will use the Harvard method of citation (or whatever is prescribed by the publication in question).

For me this stuff is a matter of “horses for courses”.

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Please take a moment to head on over to Jill’s blogs. Leave her a comment letting her know you stopped by (and perhaps provide a new word for her geneadictionary!). Jill brings to her blogs a sense of humor and fun. We get the benefit of her years in the education field and she is one of the positive lights in the genealogy community. Jill will be at FGS/RootsTech 2015 and I look forward to meeting this versatile and entertaining blogger (and vlogger – she also makes videos and hosts Google+ hangouts on air!) in Salt Lake City in February. Welcome Jill, it’s great to have you here!

© 2014, 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