May I Introduce to You . . . Colleen Murdoch

Come meet genealogy blogger Colleen Murdoch, author of Twisted Limbs & Crooked Branches, in this interview by Michelle Taggart at GeneaBloggers.

Today I would like for you to meet Colleen Murdoch of Twisted Limbs & Crooked Branches. On her blog Colleen takes us with her on her journey back in time as she traces her ancestors and researches the counties, cities and towns where they lived.

Colleen takes a glimpse into her ancestors’ lives, stories and the times in which they lived; all in an effort to learn about their “Dash'”!  On a Mystery Monday blog post, Colleen shared the poem “Faces Without a Name… THE DASH” :

“I read of a man who stood to speak
at the funeral of his friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
from the beginning – to the end.

He noted that first came the date of her birth
and spoke of the second with tears,
but he said that what mattered most of all
was the dash between those years.”

Colleen, tell us a little about yourself:

I was born and raised in Newry, Co. Down, Northern Ireland.  In 1971, just a few days after my tenth birthday, my family immigrated to a small town in Ontario, Canada.  Two years later, due a family tragedy, we returned to Northern Ireland to live in Ballymoney, Co. Antrim – my paternal family’s hometown.  I loved living there with my paternal grandparents “just up the road” and my maternal family, a relatively short car ride away.  It was wonderful being surrounded by my family once again.  Just two short years later we, once again, were making the transatlantic trip to Canada – something I would have much preferred not to do!

“In 1981, just before my 21st birthday, I ventured out of the family home and small town Ontario for the “big city” of Ottawa.  I love Ottawa and the life I have built here with my soon to be eighteen year old daughter and my husband.  Interestingly, I still think of Ireland as home and when we travel there I’m known to say, “I’m going home.” Of course when we return to Ottawa, “I’m going home” too!  My birth country and Canada both fill a little piece of my heart.”

Tell us a little about your blog Colleen:

“I have always been interested in researching my family tree and “hanging out” in cemeteries. Like most of us, I didn’t ask enough questions when elderly family members were still living.  Oh, what I would give for 24 hours and a camera with my ancestors… just to sit and listen!

“I’m researching many family lines including: Murdoch, Wilson, Berry, Love, Scott, Beattie/Beatty, Hendren, Sweeney, Robinson & Elvin, just to name a few.  My families are predominantly from counties Antrim, Donegal and Londonderry.  However, it seems that many of my family, both maternal and paternal lines, “hailed” from Co. Donegal.”

How long have you been doing Genealogy/Family History?  How did you get interested or started in doing your family history/genealogy and why did you start or create a genealogy blog?

“I have always been interested in and wanting to research my family history, and have been collecting information for years.  This may be due, in part, to feeling “exiled” from my homeland and family. So, about six years ago, I decided to put all the information I had accumulated into a “manageable” format and joined Ancestry!

“This journey has grown into something quite unexpected. I have never been interested in researching only names and dates – I needed to build a story of the lives of those who had gone before me. I wanted to know how they spent their “Dash”!

“When starting my journey back in time, I wasn’t prepared for, nor had I expected it to be, an emotional trip!  In fact, I hadn’t even considered it. While collecting photos of my family who were more recently deceased, I knew that would bring up emotion, which it inevitably did. However, to feel a sense of sadness or pain for a great great grandparent who died in 1894… that I certainly hadn’t anticipated!

“I have cried many tears over ancestors who I never knew and wish I had known.  I have learned of family who died in workhouses, War Heroes who died in WWI and those who led a simple, but seemingly happy life.

“Since I am curious by nature, my family research then turned into a historical one – as I believe it should in order to build a true picture of the lives of my ancestors.  This in turn compelled me to start writing about them and the lives they led. I wanted to “remember” them.”

I am bound to them
Though I cannot look into their eyes
Or hear their voices
I honour their history
I cherish their lives
I will tell their story
I will remember them!

Author – Unknown

The added bonus of creating my Twisted Limbs & Crooked Branches Blog and Facebook page is that so many others seem to be enjoying it as well. Through my page I have found family and connected family – those who were brave enough to marry us!”

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Please take a moment and visit Colleen’s blog Twisted Limbs & Crooked Branches. Leave her a comment to let her know you stopped by. Thank-you Colleen for sharing your blog and your thoughts with us!

© 2016, 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 . . . Mary Kircher Roddy

Come meet blogger Mary Kircher Roddy of Searching for Stories interviewed by Jana Last at GeneaBloggers

I have the pleasure of introducing you to Mary Kircher Roddy and her blog, Searching for Stories described as, “Mary Kircher Roddy is a genealogist, writer and lecturer, always looking for the story. Her blog is a combination of the stories she has found and the tools she used to find them.”

Mary, please tell us a little about yourself.

“I was born in San Rafael, California. After college in Riverside, California (where I met my husband) and graduate school in Austin, Texas, we moved to Seattle. We thought we’d be here for five years while Mark was in graduate school but come June we’ll have been here 31 years.”

How did you get started in genealogy?

“In 1994, when my son was in preschool, I met another mom, Barb, who was into genealogy and she tried to suck me in, but I resisted the temptation. But in 2000 my husband was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to teach at the University of Limerick during his sabbatical from Seattle U. I was sure while Mark was teaching and the kids were in school I could do all my Irish genealogy. As I’m sure you can guess, I didn’t know enough names, dates and places before we went to Ireland to make much headway, but I was totally bitten by the bug and I’ve been at it ever since.”

When and why did you start your genealogy blog?

“I started my blog when I was at SLIG in 2016. On our three sabbaticals I’d kept something of a blog of our adventures (when I first started, “blog” wasn’t even a word), but I hadn’t really ever kept a genealogy blog. I kind of saw genealogy blogging as just one more thing I “should” do, and I wasn’t sure I could keep up with it. But while I was at SLIG I talked to people about it, and Judy Russell gave a wonderful talk about sharing the stories of the children who didn’t make it, and that talk just really clarified for me why I needed to keep a blog. I had stories, some about children, some about people who never had children, some about my family that perhaps my cousins didn’t know about, and I realized all those stories needed to be told.”

How did you choose the name for your blog?

“As long as I’ve been doing genealogy it’s been all about the story for me. I’ve followed stories and done research on people that were not related to me because I was interested in the story. Maybe they somehow interacted with my family or maybe they were just on the same page of the newspaper as my family but the story caught my eye. One story I have researched extensively had to do with a young railroad fireman, Phil Redmond, who was badly scalded in a train wreck and wound up in the hospital. I ran across his name because his uncle, who had been a pall bearer when my grandmother’s wee cousin was buried, went to visit Phil in the hospital. As I researched Phil, I created a list of the many people who donated skin for Phil and discovered my grandfather was one of the donors. If I hadn’t searched for the story of Phil, I never would have learned about the selfless act of my grandfather.”

What are your tips for new bloggers?

“Don’t bite off more than you can chew. I decided I couldn’t be an every-day blogger, but that I could do two days a week. I have “Sunday Stories” and “Tuesday Techniques” where I talk about the tips I use to find the stories. Even twice a week can be a bit daunting, but having committed to that, I know it’s a reasonable goal and I do manage to get it done. I tend to try to write a couple of blog posts one day a week.”

Please tell us about your favorite post(s) on your blog.

“I think my favorite posts were the ones I wrote about a baby in the family that drowned and the effect that death had on her family. The ripples from that loss extended generations beyond the event.”

How much time do you spend on family history research?

“Too much. It’s nice that I have a very supportive husband.”

Who is your favorite ancestor(s) and why?

“Right now, probably my great-great grandfather, John Fields. When I was a little girl, a great picture of him hung in my great-aunt’s house, and now I have that picture hanging in mine. I’ve found a few obituaries of him with tauntingly sparse details. I NEED to know more, and from the sparkle in his eye in the picture, I think he’s purposefully withholding information. Which just makes me want it all the more.”

How has genealogy improved your life?

“I have met some wonderful people by doing this. I’m all about Bagging a Live One and I have been able to connect with some cousins that no one in my family knew existed.”

What do you love the most about genealogy?

“Two things – I love the connections to history. Words like “Prohibition” and “Famine” and “World War II” are huge concepts, but when we find an ancestor involved or affected by these events, it humanizes that history and makes it come alive. And I love the connection with the human psyche – we may wear different clothes or style our hair differently, but at the end of the day, we all have the same hopes and dreams for our families; we like people because they did this, but not that. I’ve seen people written out of wills because they were mean to someone or married the wrong guy, and I’m sure that 2000 years ago and 2000 years hence, someone will still be getting written out of a will for the same reason.”

What family story or heirloom do you cherish?

“I have a number of things I cherish, hard to choose, but among them is a small, leather-bound bible from my great-grandmother. It is written in German. Several years ago I scanned a few pages of the bible, including the page where she wrote of her marriage, and made a collage of those scans. I was able to print out the collage and cut it into the shape of angel wings and share that will all my cousins. I’m glad I could pass on a piece of her to her descendants.”

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

“I love love love newspaper research. I use the California Digital Newspaper Collection and Fulton History.  And I use Linkpendium at least several times a week.”

Which genealogy blogs inspire you?

What do you think is the most interesting change in the past ten years in genealogy/family history?

“The ever-increasing amount of material that FamilySearch is putting online. I find myself continually circling back to check again for what else new might be available to look at.”

What is on your genealogy bucket list?

  1. Who or what? Ha ha. Will the parents of Jane Graham Ahern please stand up?
  2. Figure out what  that place in County Meath where John Fields came from is. His obituary said “26 miles from Dublin” but didn’t name it.
  3. Get a chance to speak at a national conference (and perhaps even the Australasian Congress in Sydney 2018)

An Additional Message from Mary

One of the things I’ve really enjoyed is the chance to “do what they did.”  I got a chance to spend a week sailing on a tall ship (The Bounty) and felt a bit like my ancestors might have in the 18th and 19th centuries when they crossed the pond. I’ve also had the chance to drive a steam locomotive through an Engineer for a Day program – Sumpter Valley Railroad Engineer For A Day Calendar. It was so cool to see what my relatives did.

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

© 2016, 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 and a website: Jana’s Genealogy and Family History Blog, Grandpa’s Postcards, Jana’s Place and Jana’s Genealogy and Social Media Hub. 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 . . . Molly Charboneau

Come meet genealogy blogger Molly Charboneau, author of Molly's Canopy, in this interview by Michelle Taggart at GeneaBloggers.

I am excited to introduce to you Molly Charboneau of Molly’s Canopy. As a writer-editor by day and a genealogist on her own time, Molly puts her skills to good use as she takes us inside her ancestors’ lives through stories, letters, pictures and personal remembrances.

Molly Tell us a little about your self.

“I grew up in upstate New York and now live in New York City in the borough of Queens. I majored in history and political science as an undergraduate and environmental health science at the graduate level, and brought knowledge from those fields to my professional career as a writer and editor – working first in print publications and later in digital communications and as a website content editor. So the transition to blogging about family history seemed natural for me.”

How did you get involved in family history? 

“My family’s history always intrigued me because of our varied heritage: French, English, Irish, Welsh, German, Italian and Swiss. But the thrill of finding the 1832 baptismal record of my Québécois great, great grandfather in a Montréal archive was what sparked my interest in doing ongoing genealogy research. 

“My parents had also recently retired, and I realized that their personal histories – and those of family members they knew – could be lost if they were not gathered and preserved for future generations. So I proposed that we take family history trips together – first to Otter Lake in New York’s Adirondack Mountains region, where my dad grew up; then to my mom’s hometown of Gloversville, New York; then to other towns upstate where our ancestors once lived – and my genealogy research just continued from there.”

How did you choose the name for your blog?

“In addition to a love of genealogy, I enjoy being out in nature and have been involved in supporting tree planting in my neighborhood to increase the urban canopy. I got thinking about the word “canopy” and how it embraced both of these worlds – family trees and real ones – so I called my blog Molly’s Canopy.”

Why did you start a genealogy blog?

“On a pre-Internet research trip with my dad, we learned from the 1865 New York State census that we had a Civil War ancestor. I obtained his Union Army pension file, studied the battles he fought in, and knew I wanted to write about him, and about other ancestors. The prospect of a family history book seemed daunting. But as genealogists took to blogging, that seemed like the ideal way for me to begin sharing family stories.

“I started my blog Molly’s Canopy in April 2014 during the Sesquicentennial of the US Civil War – to coincide with attending my first reenactment of some 1864 battles my ancestor fought in. From there, I decided to track his movements throughout the war, examine his life in the larger historical context, and write about it each week. My blog has continued in that vein – looking at the lives of my ancestors, who were average folks but special to me, and examining how they fit into the broader society of their era.”

How have you benefited from blogging?

“The regular discipline of writing a weekly blog post has allowed me to review and analyze my past genealogy research, supplement it where needed with additional research and begin to tell my ancestors’ stories. Having my forbears out in the world, instead of hidden away in files, has been an enriching experience. Along the way I have also connected with many wonderful fellow travelers – genealogists and family historians who share the same passion, new-found cousins who share the same ancestors, and blog readers, including relatives and friends, who leave encouraging comments – and they make the research journey that much more enjoyable.”

How long have you been doing family history research and how has your focus changed over the years?

“I have been doing family history research for 25 years. In the beginning, the emphasis was on bonding with my parents through family history road trips, amassing documents about as many ancestors as possible, and doing oral history interviews of my mom, dad and our older relatives. Though the research continues, my focus has shifted to telling the family stories that those road trips, documents and interviews revealed so they will be there for future generations.” 

What are your favorite blog posts from Molly’s Canopy and why?

Remembering Aunt Rita

Uncle Fred’s letters
(Because they fulfill an aspiration to pass down the stories of my childless relatives.) 

First blogiversary: A One-Gun Salute
(Because it expresses my gratitude to my ancestors for a magical journey of discovery.) 

The Tiny Road Map
(Because it reveals how the smallest scrap of evidence can unlock an ancestor’s history.) 

Killer knapsack

Irritable heart
(Because they synthesized hours of fascinating research into my Civil War ancestor’s war-related illness.)

What do you enjoy most about doing genealogy?

“I most enjoy the ever evolving sense of identity that comes from learning about my family’s history. Every new discovery about an ancestor – and how their personal story meshes with the history of the communities where they lived, worked, raised families and participated in civic life – adds to my increasing sense of connection to a broad, extended family with varied and interesting roots.”

Where do you get your inspiration for your blog posts?

“Everywhere! Of course family history research discoveries provide the framework on which the blog posts are built. But I also do additional historical reading and research on the places my ancestors lived (some of which I have visited), the types of work they did, the lives of women during particular eras, newspaper articles on more contemporary ancestors, and the social, economic and political developments that occurred during their lifetimes. Drawing on all of these resources, my ancestors’ stories begin to emerge – and there often turns out to be quite a bit to tell. I also find that selecting a photo or two for each blog post before I begin to write helps me visualize the focus for that post.”

What other genealogy blogs inspire you?

“I follow Geneabloggers, which is a tremendous asset to the entire family history blogging community, and visit the new and blogiversary blogs publicized there for inspiration. I also follow The Legal Genealogist and Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter.”

What is on your genealogy bucket list?

“Writing a family history book; visiting some of the countries, and hometowns, where my immigrant ancestors grew up; digitizing my family’s huge photo archive; and inspiring other family historians to write about their ancestors’ lives.”

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Please take a moment and visit Molly’s blog Molly’s Canopy. Leave her a comment to let her know you stopped by. Thank-you Molly for sharing your blog and your thoughts with us!

© 2016, 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