May I Introduce to You . . . Linda Stufflebean

Come meet genealogy blogger Linda Stufflebean, author of Empty Branches on the Family Tree, in this interview by Wendy Mathias at GeneaBloggers.

Linda Stufflebean of Empty Branches on the Family Tree is one busy genealogist, teacher, blogger, and contributor to Facebook genealogy groups. Her blog reflects both her eagerness to share family stories and the desire to help others break through those frustrating brick walls. In addition to her faithful and frequent posts about her ancestors, Linda keeps up-to-date links to sources by state as well as sources for various countries and ethnic groups. Whether you are looking for maps, education opportunities, a list of popular genealogy websites or just a good story about Linda’s loyalist ancestors, your time will be well-spent at Empty Branches on the Family Tree.

Linda, can you tell a little about yourself?

“I was born in Passaic, New Jersey, which is very much a microcosm of the United States’ ‘melting pot.’ Although it is very much an inner city, Passaic was a great place to grow up in the 1950’s and 1960’s. However, I consider myself a Westerner, as I moved to Southern California in 1978 and then to Tucson, Arizona in 2010 when my husband and I retired. I have a B.A. in Elementary Education and Spanish and an M.S. in Bilingual Special Education. I taught in Central Falls and Providence, Rhode Island; Mexico City, Mexico; and lastly in Ontario and then Alta Loma, California. Most of those years were spent teaching special needs children. My main hobby outside of genealogy is travel. We spend a couple of months each year on cruise ships, so we’ve been able to see a bit of the world.”

How did you get interested in doing your family history?

“My mother’s maiden name was Adams, and the family was from Massachusetts and Maine. I had been told, although we weren’t directly descended from the Presidents Adams, that we were related as descendants of Henry Adams of Braintree, Massachusetts. I decided to find out if that was true. It turns out my family is descended from Edward Adams of Milford, Connecticut in 1640, and my Loyalist ancestors were on the 1783 ships to New Brunswick, Canada at the close of the American Revolution.”

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

“The most helpful sites definitely depend on the current focus of my research, but I think the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick and the Danish National Archives, both of which happen to be free and have fabulous records digitized and available online, are terrific resources.”

Why did you start a genealogy blog and how did you choose the name for it?

Empty Branches on the Family Tree launched on January 16, 2014, so it’s just over two years old. I had thought about starting a blog for a while and decided it was finally time. Having been a language arts teacher, I enjoy writing and teaching and am a total genealogy addict, so a family history blog seemed to be a great way to blend those interests.”

“One of my blog goals was to share resources and techniques that have brought me success in breaking through brick walls, which could then help others fill in the empty branches on their own ancestral trees. I really wanted a name that wasn’t quite as long as what I have, but a name that reflected the intent to find new ancestors. I couldn’t decide on anything shorter that I liked, so I stuck with the longer version. I also loved the idea that I had a tree in my own front yard that had one dead, empty section, and that became the photo on the home page. No copyright worries there!”

What are your favorite posts on your blog and why?

“Both are multi-part series. The first details my decades-long search to find the family of my great grandmother, Anna Elisabeth Johnson/Jensen Coleman of Calais, Maine and Copenhagen, Denmark. It is by far the most complicated and lengthy project I have ever done in genealogy.

“The second tells of my own life growing up in Passaic. Last year, I read a couple of posts by others which mentioned how important it was for us not to forget to tell our own stories. Since I was one of many who never bothered to share any of my own memories, I started thinking about Passaic and remembering things I hadn’t thought about in years. I loved when I heard from other Passaic natives who left comments like, ‘I went to the Holy Trinity church carnival, too’ and ‘I remember buying candy at Pat’s Luncheonette.’ My son hasn’t shown a lot of interest in the family stories, but if and when he becomes interested, he will be able to read about his own mom’s life growing up, too.”

What is your favorite family story or heirloom?

“I’ve blogged about this, but I think my favorite story is the one my Grandmother Adams told me – Grandfather went to Harvard, but didn’t graduate. Although Harvard had no record of him ever being enrolled there, the story was true. He enlisted in the Navy during World War I and boot camp was at Harvard. He did, indeed, ‘go there,’ and it is very true that he didn’t graduate either.

“My favorite heirlooms are three hand sewn quilts made by my husband’s great grandmother, all of which were rescued from a backyard gardening shed in Oklahoma, and the set of Theodore Haviland china passed down from my own great grandmother.”

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

“I can’t honestly say that I do tons of networking. I follow many blogs and leave comments on those posts which I enjoy or which teach me something new. There are several Facebook groups to which I belong, so I post comments and queries there, too, and occasionally link to one of my own posts. My Pinterest board is updated a couple of times a month. I also bring business cards to share with other bloggers when I attend conferences, but I’m not much of a fan of tweeting, so I don’t use Twitter. Since I am not trying to promote a for-profit business, the networking aspect isn’t anything on which I focus much energy. It just sort of happens.”

What other genealogy blogs inspire you?

“Randy Seaver’s Genea-Musings, Amy Cohen’s BrotmanBlog: A Family Journey, James Tanner’s Genealogy’s Star, Cathy Meder-Dempsey’s Opening Doors in Brick Walls and One Rhode Island Family by Diane Boumenot are just a few.”

What is on your genealogy bucket list?

“To smash through a few more tough brick walls – in particular, finding the ancestral home and parents of Loyalist James Astle of Schenectady, New York and Miramichi, New Brunswick, Canada; finding a death date and probate for Anders Molin of Ystad, Öved and Marstrand, Sweden; and proving the family line of Isaac Sturgell, likely son of William Sturgill/Sturgeon of Lawrence County, Ohio; Ashe County, North Carolina; and Grayson County, Virginia.

“I also would like to visit my ancestral villages in Slovakia and the Stufflebean/Stoppelbein ancestral homes in Langenlonsheim and Laubenheim, Germany.”

* * *

Please take a moment to visit Linda at Empty Branches on the Family Tree and leave her a comment letting her know you stopped by. Thank-you, Linda, 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 . . . Debby Warner Anderson

Come meet genealogy blogger Debby Warner Anderson, author of Debby's Family Genealogy Blog, in this interview by Gini Webb at GeneaBloggers.

I have the great pleasure of introducing you to Debby Warner Anderson and her blog, Debby’s Family Genealogy Blog, described as, “. . . My name is Debby and I grew up listening to stories my grandmother (Agnes) told about her family King/Rowan. Unfortunately, while she was alive I didn’t write down all she told me. Now I am on a quest to find out more about my ancestors. If you have any information you would like to share . . . Photos and stories would be greatly appreciated.”

A Little About Debby

“I was born in Anchorage, Alaska but grew up in Calverton, New York. My last year of High School I was a Rotary Exchange Student and lived in Tarija, Bolivia.  After graduating from college in PA I moved to San Diego, CA for several years and then moved back to Calverton.  After my son graduated from High School I moved back to Southern CA and live just outside San Diego (and my son is nearby in LA).”

Debby, how did you get started doing genealogy?

“Great question!  I knew the reason I got started was because I always enjoyed listening to all the stories my paternal grandmother would tell about family members.  I thought some more about this and I think since my grandparents came from big families I started writing down who people were in an attempt to try to remember how everyone was related.  I also liked to ask a lot of questions. I started this about 12-13 years old and did some research off and on over the years. I again started to concentrate on my research about 2000.”

When and why did you start a genealogy blog?

“When I was at the SCG Jamboree several years ago, I listened to a panel of big name bloggers talk about the advantages of blogging.  I started after that but my blog never went anywhere and no one read it. I wasn’t even sure I had set things up right.  In November, Diane Gould Hall helped me get things set up, gave me some very good pointers and continues to be my support and advisor. Diane has been a tremendous help.  I think everyone needs a mentor like Diane!  I know there’s so much I still need to learn.”

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

“Attending seminars.  Going to the Southern CA Genealogy Jamboree in Burbank, attending monthly San Diego Genealogy Society meetings/seminars (listening to a variety speakers and talking to other genealogists), and listening to podcasts (since I spend 2 hours a day driving) are the greatest help for me.  Then when I have time to do some research I have some ideas of what to do.”

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

“Blogging is a lot of work and seems very overwhelming in the beginning but . . . you CAN do it!  It’s slow getting started but I’ve already starting making a few new connections because of my blog.”

Please tell us about your favorite post on your blog.

I think right now my favorite posts have to deal with ‘Carrie’s Letters’.  They tend to be the focus of my research right now as I try to put them into book format with tons of background information in sidebars to make them more interesting to read.”

How much time do you spend on family history research?

“Unfortunately, I do not get to spend much time for my research since Work (Monday-Friday) seems to get in the way.  I try to carve out some time here and there.”

Debby, who is your favorite ancestor(s) and why?

“I’m not sure I can pick one Ancestor as my favorite.  As I get to know them through my research I’ve come to admire them all for what they have done in their lives.  I think they’ve all dealt with a variety of different circumstances and made the best of what they had.  Some may be more interesting (e.g., John & Priscilla Alden, Carrie Terry Warner, etc.) but I think that’s based on the information I’ve been able to learn about them.”

How has genealogy made a difference in your life?

“The wonderful people that I have met and continue to meet on this journey of research I am making.  I think doing the research has given me a wonderful opportunity to keep in touch with family that I might not have otherwise and I have met some great new family members that I didn’t know about.”

Debby, what do you love most about doing your genealogy?

“Getting to know my ancestors.  Putting the pieces of their lives together to learn more about them then just their birth and death dates.”

What family heirloom or story do you cherish?

“I have several items that belonged to my ancestors that I cherish: my great-grandmother’s letters, a teapot from the 1840s, a sewing rocker from the turn of the century, my grandmother’s birthstone ring are the ones that come to mind right now.”

Debby, what is on your genealogy bucket list?

“I have two: To go to Salt Lake City for a week of Research and when I retire to drive Cross Country to visit several different states with places my ancestors lived to do research and some traveling to countries where they came from.”

If you wanted to leave a message for future generations, what would you say to them?

“Start recording the everyday stories you are listening to right now!”

* * *

Please take a moment to head on over to Debby’s blog. Leave her a comment letting her know you stopped by. Welcome Debby, 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.

May I Introduce To You . . . On Spring Break 2016

Our popular interview series - May I Introduce To You - will be on a short hiatus beginning Monday 28 March 2016 and will return on Monday 4 April 20156

For the next week, 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 a Spring Break hiatus starting today, 28 March 2016.

MIITY posts will return beginning Monday, 4 April 2016, 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.

© 2016, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.