May I Introduce to You . . . Lilian Magill

Come meet genealogy blogger Lilian Magill, author of the Lilian;s Tree blog, in this interview by Wendy Mathias at GeneaBloggers.

May I Introduce to You . . .  Lilian Magill

Remember the little boy in The Sixth Sense who says, “I see dead people”? Lilian Magill does not SEE them (that I know of anyway), but she talks to them. Now don’t worry – Lilian is not troubled like the little boy. Quite to the contrary, she is a warm and caring professional genealogist and family historian who conveys the stories of her ancestors’ lives by “talking to them” in the most charming and often humorous ways. I am pleased to introduce to you Lilian Magill of Lilian’s Tree.

Lilian, can you tell a little about yourself?

“I’m a Sydney girl born and bred. Apart from moving suburbs several times, Sydney, Australia, has always been my home. I’m a trained teacher/librarian, but I no longer teach, having decided in 2007 that life was too short. I took leave and haven’t gone back. I miss the students but not the political side of teaching. When I’m not ‘doing my family tree,’ I read, knit, quilt and spend time with my family. Now that my husband of 40 years is retired, we are free to travel and really enjoy it. Last year we spent six weeks in Europe and loved it.”

How did you get interested in doing your family history?

“My dad died when I was three, and I didn’t know much about him. Mum wasn’t forthcoming with any information, so when I married I started my genealogy journey. It took several years before I really got started. Now I research for other people, with my small business, Research by Lily. I have been doing presentations in the past few years and love that side of genealogy. I think I might broaden that area. I love the family atmosphere when genealogists get together and the encouragement that is freely given.

“I am also studying for my Diploma of Genealogical Studies and am loving it.”

Has the focus of your personal research changed over time?

“With so much being available now online, my research has changed from focusing on the facts, like births, death and marriages, to putting ‘meat on the bones’ of my ancestors. I love that I can search and read newspapers and find snippets of information about them. It makes them real for me. I still love to spend time in archives, libraries and cemeteries.”

What do you think is the most interesting change in family history in the past 10 years?

“The explosion of the Internet, especially Social Media. I can now connect with family, friends and colleagues in minutes, not days or weeks.”

Lilian, why did you start your genealogy-related business? What types of services do you provide?

“I started my business to help those that can’t do the research or don’t have the time. I wanted to use my knowledge to help others. I have two main services. One is where I find where the information, certificates, etc. are located and then give the client the details of how to obtain them. The one I like is my second service where I get to do ALL the research and then give them the full picture at the end. I find this very rewarding. I re-united two brothers several years ago and that was amazing.”

Blogging is just one aspect of social media. How important has social media been to the growth of your business?

“While most of my work comes via the Internet, I’ve yet to know if social media or my blogs have played a part in that.”

Do you have any advice for someone who wants to start their own genealogy-related business?

“Get everything in order FIRST – any tax things organized, any registering of the name and securing the domain name. Build the website. If I was doing it now, I would start a blog first and post my business building trials etc. This way people would know what is going on. Join Linkedin. Look at the types of research you want to specialize in and make sure you have all the details of societies in that area, archives, and newspapers. Then GO FOR IT!  Promote it at every opportunity.”

Why did you start a genealogy blog?

“In answering these questions, I went back to the very beginning and re-read my first post. It was posted at 7:45 a.m. on 21 November 2010 and was three lines. Sometimes, even now my posts are short. So why did I start my blog?  Cousin bait, maybe, but I suppose I started it as a way to write family stories. My Family Fridays have done that. Blogging helps with connecting with like-minded people. I was wearing my Blogger Beads at RootsTech 2016, and people would either ask what they were about or stop as a fellow blogger. Blogging is a way to express what I feel.”

Where do you get your inspiration for your blog posts?

“I look at what others are posting and if I like their ideas, I use them. Things like Surname Saturday, Family Friday, Trove Tuesday and Wedding Wednesday have all come from others. Thomas MacEntee has daily prompts on his GeneaBloggers site and sometimes I use them.

“I did the A to Z of blogging challenge this past April and found it a challenge to find something unique for each day. You had to blog every day except Sunday, using the alphabet. We started with A on Friday the 1st and finished with Z on Saturday the 30th.

Other blog posts are about what I’m doing, researching or feeling. It is a very mixed bag.”

What are your favorite posts on your blog and why?

A Brick Wall Has Fallen! (no not a real one but a family tree one) – I had spent 30 years looking for my maternal great-grandparents’ death and a random newspaper search turned up a death notice that helped me solve it. It was an awesome feeling.

My RootsTech – This was my first visit to RootsTech and I loved it. This post was done after I arrived home and could upload more photos. My poor little iPad couldn’t cope with so many photos.”

What future plans do you have for your blog?

“I’m going to add tags to my posts. This is something that I have seen on other blogs and think it is a good idea. I revamped the blog this year with a new photo and different pages, so I’m happy about that. I think that the blog will continue to evolve as I improve my blogging skills.”

Finally Lilian, what is on your genealogy bucket list?

“I want to go back to RootsTech and also to the Family History Library, expand my range of presentations and develop that side of my business, and continue to expand my knowledge with more study.”

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Please take a moment to visit Lilian at Lilian’s Tree and leave her a comment letting her know you stopped by. Thank-you, Lilian, 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 . . . Devry Dennis

Come meet genealogy blogger Devry Dennis, author of the Down Home Genealogy blog in this interview by Gini Webb at GeneaBloggers.


I have the great pleasure of introducing you to Devry Dennis and her blog, Down Home Genealogy, described as, “. . . The blog features my genealogy research, along with research tips and anything else I find useful that is related to genealogy. The majority of my ancestors settled in Tennessee and Alabama, but my research spans far beyond.”

Devry, please tell us a little about yourself.

“I was born, raised and still live in Nashville, Tennessee. I am a rare Nashville native. Most people are transplants to Music City USA. I have ancestors who were early Nashville pioneers.”

Devry, what got you started in Genealogy?

“Early on in school I always loved history. During my high school years, I went to a genealogy fair in Wayne County, Tennessee with my mom and Uncle Johnny, where my grandmother (their mom) is originally from. It made me want to learn more about my ancestors. My Uncle Johnny gave me a copy of Family Tree Maker software for my birthday shortly after that, and I started my own research then. It’s been about 14 years now.”

Why Devry created her blog and her thoughts on blogging.

“A few years ago, my mom suggested that I create a website containing our family tree and history. I decided on September 20, 2016 to create a blog to share my research and hopefully turn up in a few Google search results if someone was also researching my ancestors. My mom originally suggested the name “Down Home Genealogy”, because she said as a child her mother always talked about going back to Wayne County, Tennessee as going “down home”. It gives me the feeling of going back to my roots.”

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

“I always do a Google search to see if the county my ancestor is from has a genealogy page. Sometimes they have county records there that you can’t find anywhere else. It has been extremely helpful.”

What tips can you share with someone just starting a family history blog?

“I think genealogy blogging is half research, half heart. Just write from your heart. Find your own writing style. I like to write memorials or short biographies about my ancestors, but your style might be completely different. Whatever you write about, it’s important to really enjoy the topic, or you won’t stick with it.”

Devry, what other genealogy blogs inspire you?

“I am new to the world of genealogy bloggers, so I’ve just started branching out. A neat blog I enjoy is Paper and Roots Genealogy. She posts her research along with paper crafts she creates, which are beautiful.”

What has been your most exciting genealogy discovery through research?

“If I had to pick, I’d say it’s when I discovered the identity of my grandfather’s great-grandmother, Martha Harris Windsor. It was a mix of research and my grandfather’s DNA test. That was the topic of my first blog post.”

Devry’s favorite blog post.

“I wrote a post about Jane Boyd, my third great-grandmother. I have a soft spot for her. She experienced a lot in her lifetime, and was such a strong woman.”

Devry, who is your favorite ancestor?

“My grandmother, Ruth Harper. I haven’t wrote a blog about her yet, because I want to make sure I get it perfect and I’d like to put a lot of time into it. She was my best friend. She passed away 20 years ago, but left a lasting impression on me. I was very lucky to call her my Nana.”

How much time do you get to spend on research?

“Being a mom with a full-time job, I don’t get to spend as much time as I’d like to, but I try to squeeze time in for my favorite hobby. I’d say at least a few hours a week.”

What family story or heirlooms do you cherish most?

“I never got to meet my grandfather Fred Harper. He was in the Army Air Force in World War II. He made a clock out of a wood airplane propeller. It’s very neat and I’m glad it was passed down to my family.”

Devry, how has genealogy improved your life?

“I have a better understanding about where my ancestors were from, some things they witnessed, and how things fell into place for me to end up where I am today. I am amazed by the strength of my ancestors. They ventured to a new country, they fought in the Revolutionary War and spent the winter at Valley Forge, they raised children on their own after losing their husband in the Civil War, etc. It makes me proud to know I am related to some extraordinary people.”

What do you love most about doing your genealogy?

“I love when I make a new discovery, or finally unite pieces of the puzzle for an ancestor. Even small discoveries really excite me. I love preserving my family history for future generations.”

Devry, what is on your genealogy bucket list?

“Too many things to list! I would love to visit places my ancestors are from.”

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

“I would tell them to preserve history now. Talk to your grandparents, parents and family elders. Record precious details and stories.”


Please take a moment to visit Devry at Down Home Genealogy. Leave her a comment letting her know you stopped by. Welcome Devry, it’s great to have you here!

© 2017, 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 . . . Katie Andrews Potter

Come meet genealogy Katie Andrews Potter of Storybook Ancestor blog as interviewed by Jana Last at GeneaBloggers

MAY I INTRODUCE TO YOU . . . Katie Andrews Potter

I have the pleasure of introducing you to Katie Andrews Potter and her blog, Storybook Ancestor, described as, “Writing the stories of our families with the youngest generation – a place to encourage children to explore their family history.”

Katie, please tell us a little about yourself.

“I live in Indianapolis, Indiana, and am a 9th generation Hoosier, and so is my husband. We have two kids that we homeschool and many pets. I have a degree in Elementary Education, have done graduate work in History, and am working on my certificate in Genealogical Studies. I am a Girl Scout leader, an avid hiker and the author of the young adult historical fiction novels Going over Home and Going over Jordan.”

How did you get started in genealogy?

“I became interested in learning about my family history when I was sixteen. I spent a lot of time talking with my great-great aunt and my grandma and listening to their stories and going through their old photos when I was in my teens, and I began to realize how important it was to listen to our elders when we are young, because if I hadn’t taken the time when I was young, so much family history would have been lost.”

When and why did you start your genealogy blog?

“I launched my blog in January 2017, after the idea had been brewing in my head for years. I have always had a passion for family history and writing, and bringing it to kids completes that passion, as I have loved working with kids since I was in high school. I think it’s so important for kids to explore their family history, and I would love to see them use their creativity to write the stories of their family and share it with others.”

How did you choose the name for your blog?

“The ideal outcome of this blog is to see kids turn their ancestors’ lives into storybooks. I am working on a children’s picture book based on the memoir of one of my ancestors right now, and will hopefully release it in the fall. I would love to see kids do the same.”

Who is your favorite ancestor and why?

“Almyra King Holsclaw is my favorite ancestor. She is my 3rd great-grandmother. She was born in 1842 and lived her entire life in Jennings County, Indiana. She is the one who wrote the beautiful memoir of growing up in pioneer Indiana that I am turning into a picture book. I have heard so much about her from family and am somewhat in awe of her.”

What do you love the most about genealogy?

“The stories. Always the stories.”

What interesting connections have you made through blogging?

“Before Storybook Ancestor, I had another smaller blog where I blogged more about my own personal family history, and I had a grandparent’s first cousin find my blog and contact me. It was amazing.”

What is on your genealogy bucket list?

“To visit Ireland. My mother’s side is very Irish, and I would love to visit County Galway especially where my Mulry ancestors were from. Ireland has always been a dream destination for me.”

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

“Make connections to the past, and invest in the future.”

“A big part of the Storybook Ancestor blog is sharing family stories with the world. If your child has a family story they would like to share, please contact us! You can visit our site to see stories we have already published, and if your children need help writing, subscribe to our newsletter to receive a free e-book Writing Family History for Kids: A Workbook & Guide. We would love to share your special family stories with the world!”

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

© 2017, 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