May I Introduce to You . . . Kristin Cleage Williams

Come meet genealogy blogger Kristin Cleage Williams, author of Finding Eliza, in this interview by Wendy Mathias at GeneaBloggers.

I have the pleasure of introducing to you Kristin Cleage Williams and her blog Finding Eliza, named in memory of her 2X great grandmother whom she found in the 1860 census as a free woman. Kristin grew up hearing stories about Eliza and her children, and these stories make their way into Kristin’s blog which she describes as “the story of my ancestors and the story of my memories of my own past. Once in awhile I will post something from the present – birthday parties for my 90 year old aunts, group family photographs – but usually it is about the past.”

Kristin frequently shares her outstanding collection of photos and memorabilia from the more recent past – the 1960s and 70s – when her family was very much involved in the Civil Rights Movement in Detroit. Her family was busy shaping history, yet Kristin writes in a quiet and modest style as if their activities were nothing out of the ordinary.

A Little About Kristin

“I was born in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1946 when my father was there as pastor of St. John’s Congregational Church, an historic African American Congregational Church. My sister and I were both born in Springfield. In 1951 my father received a call from St. Mark’s United Presbyterian Church in Detroit, so we moved there. This is my hometown, where I grew up, where my parents had grown up, and where both sides of my extended family lived. I lived there until 1972 when my husband and I moved to Atlanta, Georgia, and from there to Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina; to Braxton, Mississippi; to Excelsior Springs, Missouri; to Idlewild, Michigan; and finally back to Atlanta when he retired in 2007. This is where all but 1 of my 6 children and 7 of my 8 grandchildren, plus my sister and 1 of my husband’s brothers now live.”

How Kristin Got Started in Genealogy

“I started doing Family History/Genealogy in 1976 after my second daughter was born and after both of my maternal grandparents died. I became interested in the family stories my mother had told us about Eliza and Dock Allen and also about my family’s story. I started by sending out Individual information sheets and Family sheets and asking about the stories. My mother wrote me about her branch of the family, her great aunts and uncles and great grandparents. Although some of the information was not completely accurate, this information was invaluable to me when I started looking for documentation. I also collected memories and stories that my aunts and uncles had and a bit from my paternal grandmother.”

Kristin’s Thoughts About Blogging

“In 2010 I heard Luckie Daniels talk about genealogical blogging during our Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society (AAHGS) Metro Atlanta Chapter meeting. I decided to dive in and set one up. I thought that blogging would help me organize my material and share my information with my family and anyone else who was interested. It has done that and so much more. I’ve met multiple cousins from a long lost branch of the family who shared information and photographs with me. I’ve made friends with other bloggers who give me ideas about research and records and prompts for blog posts. In writing posts, I’ve had to dig deeper and look further to fill out the stories. They have led me to information I would never have thought about if I hadn’t been blogging.”

Kristin’s Advice to New Bloggers

“Just start! Start with what you have and start writing. Write about the information you have, the information you want and how you found out what you know. Mention names, tell stories. You never know when a cousin will Google a name and find you and your blog and share information you don’t have.”

Kristin’s Favorite Blog Posts

“During my research I made several discoveries that moved me more than most. Both of them involved slave research. The first was when I found a newspaper article validating our oral history that my 2X great grandmother Eliza had been owned by Edmund Harrison before freedom:  ‘She was owned before the war . . . .’ I regretted then and still do that my cousin Margaret was not alive to share my find. We had searched for years trying to find something that would prove the oral history.

“The other, ‘The Will 1860,’ was the story of finding two wills of owners of my Cleage ancestors naming them as a family group. This was a very emotional find, to read my grandfather’s grandparents’ and father’s names as property to be left to wives and daughter.

“Another favorite was ‘Stolen from Africa,’ from the Fearless Females prompt during Women’s history month. When I read those questions in the Fearless Female prompts, I knew I didn’t have answers because my ancestors came here as slaves. At first I didn’t plan to do it because of that, but I did and ended up tying in lack of documentation, DNA, my daughter’s name and a trip to South Carolina.”

Kristin’s Time with Ancestors

“I spend hours every day doing online research, unless it’s the holiday season when I spend lots of time with living relations, or when I go on a rare trip to the beach.”

Kristin’s Favorite Ancestor

“My favorite ancestor is whichever one I am working on at the moment.”

How Genealogy Has Improved Kristin’s Life

“Genealogy has put me in touch with family members I would not know if I hadn’t been doing research. Through those cousins, I have found more pieces in the family story puzzle. One way it has not improved my life is that I spend way too much time sitting in front of this computer.”

What Kristin Loves Most About Genealogy

“I love finding new information that fills in the story. I love talking with other family members who are interested in the family story and have information to share. I love following the ancestors and seeing where they end up. I especially enjoy putting memories and stories and photographs together with facts and records.”

Kristin’s Genealogy Bucket List

“I hope to visit the places my family came from – not the ‘old country’ but Athens, Tennessee; Montgomery, Alabama; Lebanon, Kentucky; and Lowndes County, Alabama to see if I can find more information and the location of the old places. I’ve done that in Athens and Montgomery with some success, but I didn’t do any research while there so I want to do that.”

Kristin’s Time Capsule Message 

“I wish that young people, and even middle aged people, would realize that the old relatives are not going to be around forever and may not be able to remember as much as you wish they did as they age. Talk to them NOW! Ask them to tell you about their lives, their memories and to identify those photographs of family and friends.”

* * *

Please take a moment to visit Kristin at Finding Eliza and leave her a comment letting her know you stopped by. Thank-you, Kristin, 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

May I Introduce to You . . . Andrea Kelleher

Come meet genealogy blogger Andrea Kelleher, author of How Did I Get Here? My Amazing Genealogy Journey, in this interview by Gini Webb at GeneaBloggers.

I have the great pleasure of introducing you to Andrea Kelleher and her blog, How Did I Get Here? My Amazing Genealogy Journey, described as, “. . . Just my way of sharing with family, friends, and anyone who will listen, the things that I have learned about my ancestors with a little bit about myself and my own little family in the mix.  My blog highlights the discoveries I’ve made regarding my ancestral roots from Eastern North Carolina and Barbados predominantly.”

A Little Bit About Andrea

“I was born in Queens, NY during the early 1970’s. For the first 10 years of my life, my family and I lived in Cambria Heights, NY and were blessed to have a wonderful group of relatives living within a 15 minute drive from our house.”  Andrea currently resides in New York.

How Andrea Got Started in Genealogy

“I have been researching my ancestors since August 2009. I think there was always a curiosity about where my ancestors came from.  My maternal grandmother had this beautiful old photograph that hung on the wall of her bedroom while I was growing up. It was a picture of my great grandmother holding my grandmother in her lap. My grandmother was this tiny 6 month old cherub and there holding her was this woman who’s gaze just captivated me.  It was like she was sending me a message with those eyes.  She was saying, ‘Find out who I am?’

Since my childhood, I was curious to know more about my roots, but it wasn’t until I had my kids that I started researching.”

Andrea’s Thoughts on Blogging

“I began my genealogy blog on May 30, 2011, on a whim.  Yes, that’s right on a whim. Let’s just say, I was a bit nervous about sharing my writing with the world but I wanted to do it.  I wanted my kids to have something that they could refer to about their family history.  Then I thought it would be neat to share this with the rest of the family. I thought I could present things to them in a way that they would appreciate and would easily understand.  Finally one day, I got up the nerve and wrote my first post, Okay…Here We Go! LOL.

Andrea’s Tips for New (and Not So New) Bloggers

“Just do it! Start writing and sharing. One of the things that is always floating around in my head is that tomorrow isn’t promised to any of us. Wouldn’t it be terrible if the stories we know as family historians weren’t shared, written down and passed on? I would like to write a book at some point but I didn’t want to wait to share what I’d learned.  Plus the process of discovery is so wonderful. Every time I find something knew out, I take a moment and reflect on it. I look at how it fills in part of the story of the individual I’m researching. Then I think about how that reflects on to me. Is there something about this story that can help me on my own life’s journey? What struggle did someone before me go through and how can I learn from that experience? Perhaps it’s learning something like I have an interest or talent in common with an ancestor.  There’s that sense of connectivity you get from doing family history that we are all part of the same chain of life. The more you learn, the more it brings you closer to truly understanding that.”

Andrea’s Favorite Blog Posts

Andrea’s Time with her Ancestors

“As much as I can.  It can be difficult at times because I am a stay at home mom with two kids ages 6 and 9 to keep up with.  I would say about an hour a day. Sometimes that hour is broken up into 5-10 minute increments because I am squeezing it in between gymnastics, soccer, or keeping up with the house.  I try to write something for my blog a couple times a week so that is probably another couple of hours there.”

Andrea’s Favorite Ancestor

“My great grandmother Ophelia Jones Bryant, because of the picture she had taken with my grandmother. It laid the groundwork for me to begin my journey.”

How Genealogy/Family History has Improved or Changed Andre’s Life

“Genealogy has improved my life by giving me the knowledge that I come from very strong people. I know now that no matter what happens in this world I have an inner strength that is capable of handling whatever may come my way. I have read about some of the things my ancestors went through and endured. If they had the strength and courage to carry on then so can I.”

What Andre Loves Most About Genealogy

“I love genealogy/family history because it brings people together. My family now has a deeper sense of where our kin came from and I have now been connected to this wonderful online family of people who have the same passion for family history as I do. Really, there is no bad side to this.  At least I haven’t come across it yet.”

Andrea’s Genealogy Bucket List

“Go back to Barbados and do some research at the archives there. Also, visit the area in St Philip Parish where my grandfather grew up. I visited there, years ago before I was into family history. If only I had come down with genealogy fever, then. (Sigh)”

Andrea’s Time Capsule Message

“There is something to be learned from all those who have come before you. Take the time out and learn about your family’s history. By learning about your ancestors, you will learn more about yourself.”

* * *

Please take a moment to head on over to Andrea’s Blog. Leave her a comment letting her know you stopped by. Welcome Andrea, it’s great to have you here!

© 2015, 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.

May I Introduce to You . . . Vera Marie Badertscher

Come meet genealogy blogger Vera Marie Badertscher, author of Ancestors in Aprons in this interview by Jana Last at GeneaBloggers.

I have the pleasure of introducing you to Vera Marie Badertscher and her blog, Ancestors in Aprons described as, “About Family and the Food my ancestors cooked and ate.”

A Little About Vera

“I was born in the hospital at Millersburg, Ohio, but my family lived in the small town of Killbuck. When I was a child we moved from time to time, but spent quite a bit of time living in my grandmother’s old family home on the Main Street of Killbuck that my great-grandfather had built in the early 1800’s. I went to school in Columbus, Ohio and finished in Killbuck. The family moved to a suburb of Columbus when I started university classes at Ohio State University. After my husband and I married we decided we had lived through enough Ohio winters and moved to Scottsdale, Arizona. We have lived in Tucson since 1977.”

How Vera Got Started in Genealogy

“I’ve been doing genealogy/family history off and on for years, but in a concentrated way since May, 2013 when I started the website.”

“When my mother died in the 90s, I inherited boxes and boxes of pictures and family Bibles, etc. I had heard lots of stories from my mother and maternal grandmother, but wanted to trace branches of the family they had not talked about and also find out more about my father’s family.”

Vera’s Thoughts on Blogging

“When I go to my kitchen, I am haunted by people who came before me. I think of the cooking tips, recipes, and dishes they passed on. For many years, I had been stuffing recipes and memories related to food into file folders with the thought that I’d write a book (just for my family) of recipes and stories about the ancestors they reminded me of. However, it became obvious that I’m better suited to short bursts of activity rather than a long book (particularly after I co-authored a book that took ten years Quincy Tahoma Blog.) I had been writing a blog for travelers where I review books that enhances the travel experience (A Traveler’s Library) so I knew the fundamentals of blogging. It seemed natural to start sharing my stories via a website rather than trying to put them in a book.”

Vera’s Tips for New Bloggers

“Tell stories rather than listing facts. Be sure you let everyone you are even remotely related to know about the blog and know their stories are welcome.”

Vera’s Favorite Blog Posts

“Tough question. Overall, I’d have to say that the most satisfying to me, and I think of interest to the most people, was a series sharing the letters of an ancestor who was a soldier for the Union in the Civil War. Here’s a post that gives links to all of them:

“But I also enjoy my food posts, and every week that I shared Erasmus Anderson’s letters I also talked about some food or recipe from the Civil War era.”

Vera’s Time with the Ancestors

“Probably an average of 3 hours a day.”

Vera’s Favorite Ancestors

“I think I favor those I know the most about. I heard lots of stories about my maternal grandmother’s mother as I was growing up, and I could relate to her on many levels. She was a bookworm, subscribing to Godey’s Ladies Magazine and the New York Times to keep in touch with world affairs even while living in a small Ohio town. She loved to try new things and to travel. Her greatest desire in her later years was to live long enough to be able to vote–and she made it!”

What Vera Loves Most About Genealogy

“Hearing from cousins and getting new stories that I was unaware of.”

Vera’s Genealogy Bucket List

“Find my father’s family back beyond his grandfather. While I have traced most of the lines on my mother’s side back between 9 and 12 generations, my father’s side has been a brick wall.”

An Additional Message from Vera

“Last September, I joined my brother, sister and some cousins at Longfellow’s Wayside Inn in Sudbury Massachusetts for three days. The inn, previously called the Howe Tavern or the Red Horse Inn, was built by a direct Howe ancestor of ours. I am currently writing once a week at Ancestors in Aprons about the five generations of family innkeepers. I arranged for us to talk to historians, visit archives and museums and battlefields where many of our ancestors lived, worked and fought in colonial and revolutionary America. We have deep roots in New England–families including the Howes, the Stones, the Stouts, and William Bassett who arrived in Plymouth on the Fortune, one year after the Mayflower. It was an exciting trip. I wrote once a week and posted pictures and talked at Ancestors in Aprons about our trip, including my stay in a room haunted by an ancestor!”

* * *

Please take a moment to head over to Vera’s blog, Ancestors in Aprons, and leave her a comment, letting her know you stopped by. Thank you Vera 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