May I Introduce to You . . . Shannon Thomas

Shannon Thomas

I have the pleasure of introducing you to Shannon Thomas and her blog Our Life Picture By Picture, described as, “. . . A glimpse into the lives of those who came before me so it can be shared with those who come after me. Not only will you find information on my ancestors but you will also find occasional posts about me and my family.”

A Little About Shannon

“I grew up in a rural place in Pennsylvania called Shickshinny and now I live only about 30 minutes from there.  When I am not researching I work at an historic inn where I get to meet lots of wonderful people from all over.  I have been married to my husband, Jason, for 10 years but we have been together a little more 15 years. We have an almost 16 year old son, Hunter, and two fur babies. We live in the house that my husband grew up in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania.”

What Got Shannon Started in Genealogy

“My husband and I were watching television one night and there was an Ancestry commercial on and I said that it would be neat to try it out and see what we could find. He said he would like to know more about his great uncle who died at Iwo Jima during World War II. We decided to check out Ancestry and see what it was all about and by day two of searching I was hooked! One discovery led to more questions that I needed to learn the answers to. I eventually started looking in to my own family history as well. I haven’t stopped since!”

Shannon’s Thoughts on Blogging

“My blog has gone through a few transitions since I started blogging in 2006. It started out as a place to share my photography, scrapbooking, and cross-stitching and has since turned into a family history blog. I enjoy being able to share my ancestors but I also like being able to help other with Evernote and Legacy Family Tree software through my blog. I’m always surprised (and excited) when I get an email from someone who has read my blog!”

Shannon’s Tips for New Bloggers

“My only advice is to just do it! Writing my blog has helped me in so many ways and not only with my research. It fulfills the need that I have to write, I have made a few friends along the way, and even made some cousin connections. It can be scary and you may even wonder if anyone will read it. Somewhere along the way someone will land on your blog but, even if no one reads it, you have a record for yourself.  Blogging is great research tool for me because sometimes I just need to put something on paper (or the web) for it to make sense. The big reward comes when someone reads that one thing that you wrote last week or even last year and contacts you!”

Shannon’s Favorite Blog Post(s)

“A blog post that I did in July of this year about the US Marine Casualty Cards database is one of my favorites because it was a great find that I was happy to share it with everyone. The best part came the next day when I was contacted by the USMC History Division about my post. They had some more information for me and told me where I could possibly find more information.

My second favorite is Signatures From Long Ago. Seeing my great-grandparents’ signatures brought back a lot of memories of them. I remember my great grandfather sitting at the little desk inside the kitchen door writing out checks to pay bills and how my great grandmother would write in her little notebooks every day.

When I did How I Use Evernote for My Genealogy I found out that a lot of people were interested in Evernote and its use in genealogy and that led to a few great opportunities for me.”

Shannon’s Time with the Ancestors

“I do something genealogy related everyday whether it is research, database cleanup, reading blogs, or writing for my own blog. There is not enough time to do all the stuff I would like to get done and, if I didn’t get distracted all the time by shiny genea-finds, I would probably accomplish more. I have a craft room / office that is also my genealogy cave (which contains more genealogy than the other stuff lately). My family jokes that if I had a refrigerator in there, I wouldn’t come out for days.”

Shannon’s Favorite Ancestors

“They are all my favorites!  My husband’s 3rd great-grandfather, Joseph Thomas, was killed during the Civil War. He and his wife and their children have been some of my favorites because there were and still are so many mysteries; some I have solved but those usually lead to more questions.  I’m lucky that the majority of our ancestors have stayed in this area and I have been fortunate enough to find some great newspaper articles at my local historical society.”

How Genealogy Has Improved Shannon’s Life

“Genealogy started out as just something fun but, once I got into the stories, I started to understand who our ancestors were and how we have a piece of each of them in us. I feel that I am more present when I am with my family and I cherish the memories that we are making. I have taken many photos and have been able to tell the stories that go with them. Sharing the photos and stories with my family gives us something that we will all enjoy for a long time.”

What Shannon Loves Most About Genealogy

“I love the thrill of the hunt! While it is sometimes frustrating, just when you think you have looked everywhere, you find a clue that points you to something else. I love learning the stories that go with the person. I love learning who they were and what their lives were like. I LOVE it all!”

Shannon’s Time Capsule Message

“Take photos but tell the story that goes with those photos; we want to know who is in the photo and where and why it was taken. Share your memories and stories so they can in turn be shared by the next generation.”

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Please take a moment to head on over to Shannon’s blog. Leave her a comment letting her know you stopped by. Shannon is a generous and helpful teacher and her blog always shows how she approaches her research and how she uses technology tools to make her genealogy life better. Welcome Shannon, 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

May I Introduce to You . . . Dawn Kogutkiewicz

Dawn Kogutkiewicz

I am excited to introduce to you Dawn Kogutkiewicz and her blog, Dawning Genealogy described as,  “ . . . My family research which includes my children’s paternal lines and my daughter-in-law’s maternal & paternal lines, my parents & their siblings, spouses, children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, my siblings & their spouses and children, my husband’s maternal and paternal lines.”

A Little About Dawn

“I was born in Miami, FL and lived in Hialeah until I was almost 3 and then my family moved to Pembroke Pines, FL in 1965.  Then, my Dad was transferred to Greensboro, NC for his job.  I currently live in Elgin, SC with my husband Tommy and we have been married for 16 years. I have two sons, Kenny and David. David married his high school sweetheart, Cassie in 2010 and in March of this year my first grandchild, Easton was born. I have three sisters and one brother, none of whom are interested in genealogy! I do have a niece, Kaitlyn, who enjoys genealogy and has been helping me with Mom’s side of the tree. I am hoping that Easton will one day enjoy genealogy too.”

How Dawn Got Started in Genealogy

“For as long as I can remember, genealogy has been a part of me. When I was about 11 or 12 my family lived in Centerville, OH while my Dad was going through a very long training program for his company. There was a Hardee’s not far from our home and just behind it, there was a small, fenced in cemetery that was from the late 18th century and early 19th century based on the inscriptions I found on the markers. I would walk down the rows looking at birth & death dates wondering what had happened to this person or that person.

I started actively researching my family in the summer of 1980 while I was living in Montgomery, AL and awaiting the birth of my son Kenny. I corresponded with my children’s great Aunt Betty, who generously supplied information, stories and photographs to me over the years. I’ve spoken to my parents at length about their childhood, their families, my Dad’s time in the Korean War and their lives together. I’ve spoken with my aunts and uncles about their families as well.”

Dawn’s Thoughts on Blogging

“I started my genealogy blog at the end of June this year. I am hoping that by blogging about my family and my research other family members will get interested in our family history.”

Dawn’s Tips for New Bloggers

“Start thinking and planning ahead so that you know what you want to talk about! I just bought a calendar and I have written birthdays, wedding anniversaries and death dates so that I can recognize some of these events and people on my blog in the future. I am looking forward to Thomas MacEntee’s upcoming Bloggers Bootcamp where I hope to learn more about blogging! It was Thomas who suggested my blog name too.”

Dawn’s Favorite Blog Post

“Right now I think my favorite post is the one I did on my Mom and the wedding dresses she made for my sisters, my sister-in-law and myself. There is a collage picture with this blog and in each picture of our dresses I used the one with my Dad as he walked us down the aisle and felt it wouldn’t be complete unless I included a picture of my Mom with her Dad too.”

Dawn’s Time with the Ancestors

“Some days I may spend eight hours working on my research and other days it might be three or four hours. It just depends on what is going on, which family I am working on and whether I can do it from home or if I need to go to the repository near where I live.”

Dawn’s Favorite Ancestors

“I don’t know that I have a favorite person but there are several ancestors I feel the need to tell their story so that they are not forgotten. I have found many ancestors who never married, or married and didn’t have children, or who married, had children but none of their children married and the line ends with them. My ultimate goal is to make sure that they are not forgotten by telling their stories.

For instance, I have written a post about my 2nd great aunt, Anna May “Mory” Orth Hoskin and her family (

She lost both of her children who died in their childhoods. I can relate to her because I know the profound loss she must have had because I lost my son Kenny at the age of 19.

Then there is my 2nd great uncle, John Bush Lambert 

He murdered his father with a poker in 1893. He spent the rest of his life in a lunatic asylum in Kentucky. Why did he do it? I don’t know but I am in the process of trying to obtain his records from the hospital. I’ve enlisted the help of the Kenton County Public Library to find any newspaper articles or an obituary for John Bush or his father John William.”

How Genealogy Has Improved Dawn’s Life

“It has given me the confidence to tell the story of my family whether it is good, bad or indifferent. It allows me to record what truly happened instead of pretending that it didn’t happen or quietly letting this ancestor slip through the cracks because someone doesn’t want the truth known.”

Dawn’s Time Capsule Message

I guess I would leave all of my research, computer files, pictures etc and to start where I left off. I would also tell them to be proud of who they are and where they came from.

Dawn’s Genealogy Bucket List

“I would like to go to the ancestral homes of my Rueff and Behrle lines. I would like to find the ancestral homes of my husband Tommy’s grandparents who came to the US in the early 1900’s from Poland and show him where he came from.”


Please take time to head over to Dawn’s blog, Dawning Genealogy, and leave a comment, letting her know you stopped by.  Thank you Dawn for sharing your thoughts and your blog with us!

© 2014, 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 . . . Alex Daw

Alex Daw

I have the pleasure of introducing you to Alex Daw and her blog Family Tree Frog which she describes as “A record of a Queensland family historian’s research in Australia and overseas. As a Librarian, life-long learner and member of the Queensland Family History Society, there will also be commentary on publications, resources and workshops.”

A Little About Alex

“I was born in Sydney, Australia at the King George Hospital for Mothers and Babies in Camperdown. We spent a couple of years in Edinburgh, Scotland when I was very little whilst my father completed his PhD. When we returned to Australia we spent a little while in Sydney and Melbourne before settling in Canberra. I still think of Canberra as home really, as I was there from the age of 4 until 15 – the formative years. It was a beautiful place to grow up in – like a small country town but with the best of everything in terms of culture, being the nation’s capital. We were very spoiled with the National Library, the War Memorial, Archives and so on.  Currently I live in Brisbane, Queensland and have lived here for over 30 years so I must like it!”

How Alex Got Started in Genealogy

“I’ve probably been doing family history for at least 30 years. My parents were very interested in it and I remember looking at microfilms of newspapers with them at the Mitchell Library in Sydney and going to other repositories and libraries regularly. When we went overseas in my late teens, my mother tried to make connections with possible relatives in Sussex, so I was always very aware of being on the trail for ancestors.

“My grandfather and parents fostered my interest in history as a child and we all loved libraries and felt at home there. I enjoyed history at school and Uni and when my studies were completed, family history just seemed a natural way to continue my interest. When I moved to Queensland, my husband’s family were also interested in having some research done on their side and I was keen to help. They had a few mysteries that they wanted investigating and it was fun looking for different names rather than coming up against the same brick-walls in my family.

“I joined the Queensland Family History Society for a bit of moral support and direction and the rest is history. I had fun ‘playing shop’ looking after the Society’s bookshop for a while.  We stored stacks of Toowong Monumental Inscriptions at the foot of the matrimonial bed, until the children came along. Then someone else kindly took over the running of the bookshop so we could make room for a cot. The Society has provided me with so much inspiration and help over the years. I’ve been a library assistant.  I’ve had a go at indexing. I was on the Research Team until recently and I love going to talks/seminars/special interest group meetings. There’s always something going on and other lovely batty people like me who are passionate about this absorbing hobby.” 

Alex’s Thoughts About Blogging

“I did have another blog (Luvvies Musings) but it didn’t have a focus. Sometimes I would blog about my family history. Sometimes I would blog about what books I was reading. Sometimes I would blog about my holidays. Sometimes I would blog about what I was eating! It was all over the shop. I decided I needed a focus and so I settled on family history.

“I started ‘Family Tree Frog’ on 1 January 2012 as a bit of a New Year’s Resolution. I was really inspired by GeneaBloggers too and saw all the marvelous resources and prompts which made writing so much easier for me. I also wanted to make some kind of move towards building material for a book and keeping a record of my research. This seemed to be a smart way to go about it and what’s more, get some feedback while I was at it.”

Alex’s Advice for New Bloggers

“Give it a go! Don’t worry about what other people think of you having a blog. Don’t think of it as a Dear Diary exercise (unless that’s what you want it to be). I think blogging is actually so much more than that and a lot of people misunderstand what it is about. Don’t worry about being perfect. I’m sure I haven’t quite got the hang of it yet and indeed we are all still in the business of discovering all the benefits/hazards of social media but I believe the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages. If it’s a grind, don’t do it. Only do it if you enjoy it and feel compelled to write. It’s not for everyone. Oh and pictures. Don’t forget to include pictures.”

Alex’s Favorite Blog Post

Wealth for Toil – it’s about my great-grand-aunt Harriet Rowland (nee Conner) 

Alex’s Time With Ancestors

“There is NEVER enough time. I work full-time so only get weekends to do research really. I am not house-proud by any stretch of the imagination and my poor husband is at his wits end, I’m sure. He is so very tolerant and has been for many years.  He is, in fact, a saint. Thank you, dear Robert, for all your patience.” 

Alex’s Favorite Ancestor

“That’s like asking which one is your favourite child. But if I had to choose a favourite ancestor it would probably be Harriet. I think she had such pluck as a young woman coming all the way out to Queensland from Portsmouth. Although she came out with her sister and brother-in-law originally, she spent much of her teaching life in isolated areas such as the Bustard Head Lighthouse and Readville Provisional School – places that we would call Beyond the Black Stump or Woop Woop in Australia i.e. far from civilisation. She had to put up with the heat, lack of refrigeration, no air-conditioning, wearing long sleeves, long skirts, silly hats AND put up with a, no doubt, patronising and chronically patriarchal education system. Now that’s perseverance in the face of adversity. Makes family history look like a doddle really.”

How Genealogy Has Improved Alex’s Life

“Where do I begin? I have met the most wonderful generous people through my Society and they are SO smart. I mean REALLY smart and clever. And such hard workers – and it’s all voluntary.  They are truly an inspiration. Now that I have a blog, going to conferences and talks is such a buzz to meet the lovely supportive folk I’ve met in cyberspace, face-to-face. Of course I have collected some cousins along the way too, which for an only child like myself, is a bit of a treat. But I think it has just really made me a more compassionate person or more understanding of the vicissitudes of life and how very fortunate I am to be living the life I lead today.”

What Alex Loves Most About Genealogy

“Those heart-stopping moments when you find your ancestor’s handwriting or a photo you haven’t seen before and you can almost hear them or feel them reaching out to you down the generations. That whole ‘There but for the grace of God go I’ feeling of admiration for all they endured or witnessed or struggled to overcome.”   

Alex’s Genealogy Bucket List

“I dream of going on a Genealogy cruise. Tragic, I know, but I think I would just love it. I would also dearly love to go back to the UK for a decent stretch and have the time to clomp around the places of my ancestors and get a feel for where they lived.”

Alex’s Time Capsule Message

“Hi there!  (Friendly wave) Can you read my writing? Sorry I wasn’t tidier with my filing. Sorry I didn’t scan those photos at a higher resolution. Sorry I didn’t backup my data every month. Oh.  Are you there? Can you hear me? Hello? PS I’m sorry that you have to look at that photo of me all the time … I can’t believe that is the one that survived the flood. There were much nicer ones of me – honest. PPS Daw can be spelled Dore Daws Dawe Door etc. Hope that helps ;)” 

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Please take a moment to visit Alex at Family Tree Frog and leave her a comment letting her know you stopped by. Thank-you, Alex, for letting us inside your blogging world.

© 2014, 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