May I Introduce to You . . . Sharon Fritz

Come meet genealogy blogger Sharon Fritz of the Strong Foundations blog in this interview by Wendy Mathias at GeneaBloggers

I have the pleasure of introducing you to Sharon Fritz and her blog Strong Foundations named to honor the strong foundations formed by some very strong and admirable ancestors.  Sharon summarizes the purpose of her blog in this quote:  “You live as long as you are remembered.” Through her blog she shares photos and research to keep memories of people and places alive for current and future generations. Sharon is both proud and pleased that her blog is listed among the archives at the National Library of Australia.

A Little About Sharon

“I am a country girl, who likes her personal space. As children, our family moved often, and I have therefore lived in a large number of country towns across Victoria (South Eastern State of Australia). My father was a Bank Manager, and I followed him into a career in Banking and Finance. I have always worked full time while my husband was ‘Mr. Mum.’ For the past 12 years I have worked as a Financial Planner in North East Victoria. My husband and I are looking forward to becoming ‘empty nesters’ (we think?), retirement and new adventures. When not working, my hobbies are spending time with family, family history research, travel and photography, which very fortunately can all be completed together!

“I am currently studying the Certificate of Genealogical Studies (Australian Records) with the National Institute for Genealogical Studies and have recently also commenced the Certificate in Genealogical Research with the Society of Australian Genealogists, which will lead to completion of the Diploma in Family Historical Studies in the future. Yes, I am now addicted to family history research and there is never enough time for research.”

How Sharon Got Started in Genealogy

“My Nanna (paternal grandmother) died when I was six years old. I remember being annoyed that I was not allowed to attend her funeral and being told I didn’t understand, but I did! Maybe I am an old soul? I was only six years old, but I asked my father if I could have my Nanna’s dressing gown and the ballerina doll in the bottle to remember her.  Was this the first indication that I would respect and preserve family items and history? Yes, I still have the dressing gown and blogged about the doll in the bottle.

“My first history project in Form 1 (over 35 years ago) was to research my family tree. My parents could tell me very little, so I contacted both my aunt and maternal grandmother who had so much information between them (more than I needed for my project). I was fascinated! I received an A+ for my project and this started my family tree journey and the collecting of information and items of family significance. I gathered boxes of information but didn’t do anything with it.

“However it was the death of my maternal grandmother in 2006 (at age 96) which initiated serious research and the sorting and verification of the abundance of information that I had collected over many years. After Gran died, an aunty found many old albums full of labeled and dated photos that my grandmother had taken since the late 1920s. This made me realise the importance of asking questions and preserving information now before it is too late.”

Sharon’s Thoughts About Blogging

“The blog was initially commenced in January 2011 to promote a family reunion and launch of a family history book. However, it was a failure as the majority of people who were interested in the reunion did not have a computer!

“In May 2012, Alona Tester at Gould Genealogy, initiated the ‘Family History through the Alphabet’ challenge and I thought it was a great opportunity to start blogging, and then I was hooked.

“Blogging gives me the opportunity to share my research, not just the dates and names but more personal and informative facts. Writing a family history book is very time consuming and costly. Research never stops and the family keeps expanding so the book was out of date shortly after publishing. I love that blogging enables many small stories to be told and can be updated as additional information becomes available.”

Sharon’s Advice for New Bloggers

  1. Get involved with other blogs and websites that provide prompts such as

Sepia Saturday and Geneabloggers . You will be amazed at the direction that your research and blogs can take. You will write about things that you hadn’t previously considered.

  1. Decide who your audience is and what the purpose of your blog is. Be yourself and don’t be distracted. Your blogging will develop and evolve over time.

When I started writing family history, I completed a writing course to improve my skills. It had been many years since school and even then I was always poor at punctuation. I wanted to learn how to write with emotion and to turn facts into an interesting story that people would enjoy and could picture. The only writing I had completed over the years was business reports so I tended to write with a very factual, blunt and technical slant and struggled to make it emotional. I soon learnt that you cannot change who you are, and it is important to remain true to yourself and your own personal style. Don’t try to be someone that you are not.

Initially I would worry if I did not have any comments, but I don’t anymore. My intended audience is family members who want to know more about their ancestors (now and into the future). They do not tend to comment publicly. If anyone else gets enjoyment and comments, then it is a bonus!

  1. Recognise and comment on blogs that you appreciate or that are well researched. There are many inspirational and interesting blogs out there. Geneablogging is a great, friendly and helpful community. Take the time to get to know your fellow bloggers and you will be rewarded over and over again.
  2. Record your sources from day 1. In addition to the photos from my grandmother’s albums, I have copied so many photos and information from various family members over the past 30+ years but unfortunately did not keep a record of who provided which photo or information until recent years.

Sharon’s Favorite Blog Posts

“I take pride in the large majority of my posts but my favourites would be those that required a lot of research.

  1. Remembering My Grand Uncle Robert John (Bob) Jones

No one in the family knew anything about the Jones family. Starting with a couple of photos, I was able to find out a lot of information about Bob. It was extremely enjoyable and rewarding, and I was overjoyed and amazed when Bob’s youngest daughter (aged in her 90s) contacted me. She was young when her parents separated so did not know much about her father either. She was very thankful and able to give me some very important information to enhance my research. She told me that his three children (Lorraine, Verdon and Norma) were all named after places in France where Bob served or visited during World War 1.

  1. A Family’s Remarkable Journey Overland from Nhill to Mildura in 1901

This was originally written by my great granduncle in 1931, and I came across the article by complete accident when researching for another blog. It is an amazing story of endurance and courage which highlights the difficulties faced in times gone past.

  1. AHS Wanganella

This post started from a photo of a war ship in my grandmother’s album. There was no name or details included. From this one photo, I put together a tribute to my grandfather whom I never got to meet.

Sharon’s Time With Ancestors

“Not enough! Although my husband may disagree. Working full time and studying part time leaves very little time for research, but I am trying to research and write a blog every week. Bring on Retirement!”

Sharon’s Favorite Ancestor

“I really can’t choose favourites as they are all a part of me. However I have a lot of information about:

  1. my grandmother Eva Scott (nee Pilgrim). Since she died in 2006, I have realised that I have inherited so many of her traits and have so much in common with her. I wonder if she recognised this? I believe that she did but never told me. Her photos and the information that she provided me over the years are the inspiration behind MANY of my blog posts. Thank you Gran!
  2. my great great grandmother Nurse Edith Geyer. An amazing woman of great strength and courage who overcame such hardship and adversity to become a well known and respected business owner in the early 1900s. One of the first working mums!
  3. my great great grandfather James Pilgrim Senior. He was a true leader with strong morals, who was heavily involved in the community and really tried to make a difference. Additionally, he was one of the first Victorian farmers to trial superphosphate and crop rotations. He came to Australia in 1858 and now has over 1400 descendants in Australia.

How Genealogy Has Improved Sharon’s Life

“Genealogy has given me a greater connection with my family, both living and deceased. I am a shy, introverted person, who finds it difficult to make conversation with strangers. However I am constantly amazed at the automatic connection with family members and other researchers. There are no uncomfortable silences when I am speaking with a relative or other researcher. I suppose that being a family historian gives me ‘permission’ or the confidence to ask questions and ensure that the conversation flows.

“Researching has also given me the opportunity to travel the country and see many places that I would not have otherwise experienced, reuniting and meeting with relatives, who I now call friends.

“Researching my family history has also yielded some surprising coincidences and genetic traits and characteristics. I feel that I have really gotten to know and understand many deceased ancestors and relatives and feel a greater connection to them.

“I no longer waste time on unnecessary things such as house work!”

What Sharon Loves Most About Genealogy

“I love the hunt! The challenge of locating additional information and putting the pieces together and being able to build a picture or story about an individual, place or object. I also enjoy puzzles and strategic games. Family history is an extension to this, very strategic and a huge never ending puzzle, which gets bigger and bigger with every piece that you find. You are always challenged, learning and discovering new things.”

Sharon’s Genealogy Bucket List

“Taking Long Service Leave and completing a 3 month campervan or driving holiday around UK (will that be long enough??) visiting all the places that my ancestors lived, whilst completing research. Very open to suggestions here as I am in the planning phase.

“I am currently studying genealogy and would like to commence speaking to local groups and clubs about family history. It is my goal to join the genealogy circuit when I retire and to hopefully speak at various conferences and events and help others to learn more and to research and write about their family tree.

“One day I would like to have the time to locate, research and reunite lost photos with their owners. I really enjoy reading these blogs and find them admirable.”

Sharon’s Time Capsule Message

“I feel that there will be a problem in future as the photos on phones and computers will be deleted and/or unlabelled. Emails are not retained. So my message to the younger generations is

  • Do not rely solely on the internet. Go searching and you will be surprised at what you find.
  • Label and Save photos and encourage your friends to do the same thing.
  • Keep a memory diary, for your ancestors about everyday happenings and events.
  • Talk to your parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles while you can, before it is too late.
  • Write letters (rather than emails) and ask that they are retained rather than thrown out.

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Please take a moment to visit Sharon at Strong Foundations and leave her a comment letting her know you stopped by. Thank-you, Sharon, 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 wendymath@cox.net.

May I Introduce to You . . . Janice Trumbell

Janice Trumbell

I have the pleasure of introducing you to Janice (Guthrie) Trumbell and her blog, The Guthrie, McCoy, Misson & Showalter Families blog, described as, “. . .  The blog is my online home! It is my space where I share what I have learned about my family, not only the history but also the documents and photos. The blog also provides a way to connect with others researching the same family lines.”

A Little About Janice

“I was born in Toledo, Ohio. I am the mother of two children, three grandchildren and one great grandchild. I live in a small town in southern Iowa with my husband and our fur babies. When I’m not doing family research, I love to garden and read suspense novels.”

How Janice Got Started in Genealogy

“In my senior year of school, I was given the assignment to prepare a pedigree chart for one of my classes. During my research, I found I had very little information to work with. My parents divorced when I was very young so I had only my birth certificate for my father’s information. My grandmother had already passed so I didn’t have a lot on her side either, only what my grandfather could remember. So my chart was pretty incomplete. This was the spark that started the flame to find out all I could about my ancestors.”

How long has Janice been doing genealogy? “It seems forever! I have not had access to a large library so all my research is via snail mail. I received my first computer around 1995 and that is what opened the gates for me.  It provided the outlet to connect with others and find new cousins, in addition to the resources to all the distant locations and histories.”

Janice’s Thoughts on Blogging

“Originally, the blog was basically for me. I am not a writer and didn’t think others would be interested in my family. I had a large collection of very old photos, stories and documents and wanted a place to store my treasures. This was the beginning of the blog in September of 2010. However, over the years, I have added other items that were of interest to me too.”

Janice’s Tips for New Bloggers

“Don’t wait, just start! Look at other blogs for ideas.  Pay attention to their color schemes, layout, etc., make notes of what you like and don’t like.  Think about what you want to say and do with your blog. Pick a name and URL that will be easy for others to find you. Your blog will evolve as you become more comfortable using it.”

Janice’s Favorite Blog Posts

“I have several favorite posts but I love my grandfather’s journal!  I lived with my grandparents as a child, so every time I read his words I can almost hear his voice. His childhood was so sad and difficult but in spite of it, he was a loving husband, father and grandfather. The journal is actually a seven page hand written letter describing his life from childhood to adulthood written to his children.”

Janice’s Time with the Ancestors

“I’m retired so most every day is spent working on family history in one form or another. My days are not spent just on researching but also include updating my database and scanning documents and photos into my computer. Many times I spend all day on genealogy but there are periods where I may have only an hour an then there are times I just walk away from it all. Sometimes, I need to clear my head and get a new perspective.”

Janice’s Favorite Ancestors

“This is a tough question. At first, I had picked two women because I know very little about them and they have become a challenge. However, when I think about my family, I really can’t pick just one. I have a grandfather who was a religious artist from Belgium. I have a long line of ministers in my history. The women had large families and worked hard to take care of them and most had farms to work too. Their lives were not easy so each person is special to me! How do you pick just one?”

How Genealogy Has Improved Janice’s Life

“Ever since my high school years, I have had this burning desire to know more about my family.  Maybe it’s because I knew almost nothing about my father. I have learned so much about my family and ancestors. The genealogy has given me a glimpse into their lives and has eliminated the many blanks in my first pedigree!  I now have a better understanding of who I am because of the research and I am so thankful for it.”

What Janice Loves Most About Genealogy

“I love the challenge! Finding that one clue, that will solve a puzzle and bring everything together. There always seems to be one piece that is still missing. So the hunt continues!”

Janice’s Genealogy Bucket List

“Seeing my elderly parents’ health decline has made me realize that I need to preserve my years of work. As I complete one task, I find more to do, but this is a start: Finish my research, as least as much as I can.

  • Post all notes, documents, histories and photos to the blog.
  • Donate my genealogy reference books to Allen County Public Library. I have already sent two boxes.
  • To have all photos digitized. This is almost complete!
  • Send my completed info to genealogy societies where my ancestors lived.”

Janice’s Time Capsule Message

“I have regretted many times, not asking questions while my grandparents were still living. Once you lose the older generation, the stories and history are lost too! You can never get this back. Take time to know your family. Ask questions of your grandparents, aunts and uncles while they are alive. Record the stories, family recipes and histories.

I am in awe when I think how strong our ancestors were to survive the hardships, illness, and losses that many of them lived through for us to be here now. It saddens me that so many young people today have no idea who their great grandparents were and to be honest, it seems they don’t care.

We are all here because of the older generations. It is not just about us. It is about all those who came before us too! Without the ancestors we would not be here!”

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

© 2014, 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 . . . Christopher Shaw

Christopher Shaw

I have the pleasure of introducing you to Christopher Shaw and his blog, Diggin’ for Family, described as, “. . . Documenting the search for my family while throwing in some tips and tricks I have learned along the way.” 

A Little About Christopher

“I grew up in Northville, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. After graduating high school I enlisted in the Air Force where I stayed for 24 years, retiring in 2012. I was too young to just be retired so we moved to where the job offer took us, Summerville, South Carolina. We fell in love with the area (especially the weather) and bought a house and started planting roots. I live here with my wife, Michele, of just over 10 years and our three kids; Tyler, Nathan, and Katie.” 

How Christopher Got Started in Genealogy

“I started my Family History journey back in 1999 but have had some long breaks from time to time since then. I was single when I started but since have married and have three kids, so time with them takes priority over the research.”

“As stated above, I started back in 1999. I was in the Air Force and was being assigned to Germany. I knew that my maternal grandfather was killed in World War II while serving in the army and my mother said he was buried in Germany. However, no one knew anything about his death or the exact location of his grave. There were lots of rumors but nothing official. I wanted to know exactly where he was buried so when my mother came to visit me in Germany she could visit her dad’s final resting place. Well, finding his grave just sparked my interest and I had to know more about his service and how he was killed. My efforts paid off and I found the actual investigation report of his death, dispelling the rumors that my mother heard. And, happily, I was able to get my mother over to Germany on two different occasions where she could visit her dad’s grave at the Netherlands American Cemetery in Margraten, Netherlands.

The research into my grandfather’s WWII service wasn’t enough; I wanted or needed to know more about the rest of my family and our origins. I recruited my sister to help me out and we have been researching ever since. By the way, I have also inflicted my wife with the family history bug and she has joined us in tracing her roots.” 

Christopher’s Thoughts on Blogging

“I started my blog, Diggin for Family, back in 2011, although I have not been real consistent with it over the years. I was trying to maintain a static website where I could share what we were finding with family. I started reading some genealogy blogs and was fascinated by how people were sharing their journeys and the possibilities of making those cousin connections. I also liked that fact that it could help me put a written record of our search together. After reading some of the blogs for a while, and finding the Geneabloggers community, I decided that a blog web presence would meet my needs more than a static type website.” 

Christopher’s Tips for New Bloggers

“If you are serious about writing about your research and history, then write! One piece of advice I have always heard from successful writers is that you have to write and you have to write every day, even if it is only 15 minutes a day. A blog is the perfect opportunity to put that advice into action.

Read every post out loud to yourself and have someone proofread every post before you hit that publish button. Reading your written words out loud can help identify little mistakes in sentence structure, flow problems, and meaning. Try it, I didn’t believe it myself at first, but you’ll be amazed at how different your written words sound out loud. My wife proofreads every post that I write and she is very honest in her constructive criticism, sometimes brutally honest. But, she always finds little mistakes that I made and tells me if everything makes sense and flows nicely.

Lastly, join the Geneabloggers community and follow and read the other blogs. You will get a lot of good information, tips, and ideas from what other bloggers are doing. When you find a post that you like or think is a great idea, leave a comment telling the author. Bloggers love getting that feedback and in return, they will probably start following your blog and leave you a comment. The more people you get reading and following your posts, the more chance of making those great cousin connections. I have made a few connections that I would not have made if it had not been for the blog.” 

Christopher’s Favorite Blog Posts

“The three listed below are my favorite posts, by far.  I guess what makes these my favorites are that each one is written more with emotion than the facts of doing research.

Blood is not Always Thicker when it comes to Family

Making Memories

Documenting the Present? – although I should be better at following my own advice. 

Christopher’s Time with the Ancestors

“Not nearly enough, as all would probably say. I probably spend an average of 8 -10 hours a week on family history related activities. The time I get each week changes with the different times of the year. My kids play baseball and soccer and I try to at least help out the coach if I am not actually coaching. So during those seasons my time at family history takes a back seat. But, no matter what time of year, I try to at least block out some time each week that I can do something family history related.” 

Christopher’s Favorite Ancestors

“It’s pretty hard to name a favorite ancestor, many come to mind. But, if I had to pick just one, right now, it would be my great grandmother, Anna Maria (Hinterhauser) Pakledinaz. She was born in a small German dominated village in what is now Hungary; at the time of her birth in 1890 it was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. When she was 19 years old, she decided to leave her mother and father and make a new life in the United States. The courage that must have taken fascinates me. Anna, along with my other grandparents and great grandparents that decided to make that trip across the ocean in the early 20th century is why me and my family can enjoy the freedoms and liberty that comes with living in this great nation.”  

What Christopher Loves Most About Genealogy

“There is a lot I love about researching my family history. The most enjoyment I have is making connections to times past. For instance, we live real close to and have visited Colonial Dorchester State Park here in South Carolina, a village founded back in 1696. However, we just recently made a connection through my wife’s ancestors to that very village. None of her ancestors lived there, that we are aware of yet, but the original settlers of that village named it after Dorchester, Massachusetts. Her ancestors are named as some of the original settlers of Dorchester, Massachusetts. It’s a small connection but it fascinates me.” 

Christopher’s Genealogy Bucket List

“Lots of travel! When I was in the Air Force and stationed in Germany, it afforded me a lot of opportunities to visit places and villages of my ancestors, opportunities that I just would not have had if I weren’t already in Europe. However, there just wasn’t enough time and/or money to visit everywhere and there are still places right here in the US to visit. So, I want to visit villages in what is now Hungary and Croatia, I want to go back to England and Wales, and we have to get up to Boston, where my wife can trace her ancestors back to the 1630s.” 

Christopher’s Time Capsule Message

“Nobody thinks their life is a story others want to know, but everyone has a story – don’t let yours die with you, your grandchildren will appreciate it.”

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Please take a moment to head over to Christopher’s blog, Diggin’ for Family and leave him a comment, letting him know you stopped by. Thank you Christopher for telling us about yourself and your blog.

© 2014, copyright Jana Last. All rights reserved.

Jana Last is a wife, mom and soon-to-be 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 jmlast61@gmail.com.