May I Introduce to You . . . Chery Kinnick

Come meet genealogy blogger Chery Kinnick, author of Nordic Blue in this interview by Tessa Keough at GeneaBloggers.

MAY I RE-INTRODUCE TO YOU . . . CHERY KINNICK

This interview is something I have wanted to do at least once during our 2015/2016 MIITY season – and today is the day! Oftentimes we meet our writers during the early going of their blogging experience, and we don’t revisit them to see how they have evolved or if their views on blogging have changed over time. This week’s interview is a bit like the “where are they now” interviews that we see on news shows or hear on radio shows. Recently I had the opportunity to meet Chery Kinnick of Nordic Blue.

Chery was a guest speaker in a certificate program class at the University of Washington. As she discussed her own certificate work undertaken several years ago, one of her slides highlighted her blogs Nordic Blue and Nearby Norwegians (one an individual effort and the other a group effort). Two interesting things happened – a few class members asked what a blog was and some others asked what GeneaBloggers was (they noticed the GeneaBloggers’ badge displayed at her blog). I never cease to be amazed (and a bit disappointed) at the large number of genealogists and family historians who are unfamiliar with blogs (and most other social media) and I am pleasantly surprised and impressed that the GeneaBloggers’ badge draws attention and gives us a chance to inform the genealogy community about its terrific resources.

I was also reminded that I first became aware of GeneaBloggers when I was thinking about starting a blog, and I not only looked to the website for information and resources but I also to check out the search feature to look up blogs related to two of my ethnic interests – Irish and Scandinavian genealogy. So I came full circle a last month because I met in person one of the first genealogy bloggers I ever read. I took advantage of the opportunity to ask Chery to provide us with an update since her original interview.

So let’s get to it and learn a bit more about Chery, her blog Nordic Blue, and where life and her genealogy interests have taken her since that first interview!

A Little Bit About Chery

“It is not often that I get interviewed twice for the same publication, but I am happy to share what I have experienced and learned since my first “May I Introduce to You” in 2010!

I currently live in the Seattle area, but I am originally from the San Francisco Bay area.  I identify most with my mother’s Norwegian American family, since I was exposed to that culture through many older relatives while growing up.  On my birth father’s side, my ancestry is a bit more mixed, but with mostly Scottish/Celtic genes–European, in general, but with a couple of small variations thrown in for spice!

I have been with the University of Washington Libraries for 27 years, having served as Public Services Coordinator for Special Collections for the last few years.  Most of my work involves training and supervising student employees.  Working where I do has enabled me to learn about various types of historical records available, and even more about the extensive effort it can take to find just the right ones for your research.  I am fortunate to have many historical records experts among my co-workers.”

How Chery Got Started Doing Family History

“I began researching my family history about 15 years ago, and my main motivation was simply to answer questions for myself.  As I started pulling in information from family members and genealogy resources, a whole new world opened before my eyes.  I realized that you really could piece together the past in an understandable manner, while learning about individuals who were central to your existence, but whom you had never met.  It was a fascinating quest.

From a very early age, I knew I wanted to either work in a library, or to write, and I feel grateful that I have managed to do both.  I have a strong interest in Norwegian American history, and also 19th Century pioneer history and biography.  My academic degree is in History, and if you’d asked me to predict that many years ago, I would not have been able to.  I once considered history, my 7th grade class in particular, to be the driest, most uninteresting topic I had ever encountered (maybe it was the teacher?)  I later learned that studying history involves so much more than route memorization.  I am now passionate about research and can be quite tenacious about gathering information.  I sometimes have to put an uncooperative topic to rest for a while, in order to return to it with a fresh perspective.  That technique often brings a measure of success.

I started my family history research by learning to use online genealogy resources, making inquiries of webmasters, writing letters in the hope of connecting with new family members, and so on.  I networked as much as possible, and “met” relatives that even my mother was not aware of—entire branches of the family that I had never been told about.  I cannot stress how important networking with family was to story gathering.  Though I knew I had a veritable army of cousins in certain parts of the United States, it was up to me to play detective and seek them out.  One not-so-typical treasure I gleaned from networking was a small tin-type photograph of a little girl who died of diphtheria in 1885, when she was only five years old.  I could not be sure that a photograph of her existed.  However, she surfaced when one cousin I gave a “laundry list” of wants to realized that little Hattie’s photo was sitting inside a tea cup she had inherited!”

How Chery Got Her Writing and Blogging Vibe On

“Wanting more detailed instruction in genealogy, in 2005 I enrolled in an eight-month-long certificate program on Genealogy and Family History at the University of Washington.  For three subsequent years after that, I took part in a history research and writing seminar at Seattle’s Museum of History and Industry.  Through both programs, I learned a lot about finding and organizing information, but also how to incorporate social history and utilize creative non-fiction to create a readable family history.

In 2008, I self-published a 300-page family history about my maternal grandfather’s family: A Long Way Downstream:  The Life and Family of Thibertine Johnson Winje, Norwegian-American Pioneer.  One of the best compliments I received about the book was when an older cousin excitedly told me, “It reads like a story!”  The book was 7 years in the making from the very start of my genealogy research.  A writing mentor of mine once said: “…a publication is just a snapshot in time,” so even though I chose to publish when I did, it did not mean that my research is completed, by any means.

I was inspired to started blogging about family history when another writing seminar attendee said it helped her hone her own writing skills.  When I first began my blog, there was a growing online community of mutual supporters in the realm of family history blogging.  Thomas MacEntee was a part of that early blog carnival community, and he has taken the idea to an entirely new level with “GeneaBloggers.”

Chery’s Thoughts on Blogging and How They Have Evolved Over Time

“Although I currently do not spend as much time writing for Nordic Blue as I did in the beginning, my posts remain online, and I know I will eventually again find time to tell more stories.  The inspiration to post another article often hits when I discover something new, and since discoveries are now coming at a slower pace, inspiration has slowed a bit, as well.  But, overall, the writing process for the blog helps me to discern what I know, from what I do not know.  It also keeps me accountable, since the information must be presented in a clear and understandable manner.  Once in a while, I am contacted by a family member previously unknown to me, who has discovered something pertinent on Nordic Blue, and the round of information sharing and justification begins all over again.  A library science professor of mine once said that the library is a “live and dangerous” thing, and the same can be said for blogging—all in a good way, of course.  If I added nothing more at this point, there is enough posted information that some of it will prove useful to someone, somewhere, at some time in the near future.”

Chery’s Advice to Anyone Starting a Family History Blog

“Blogging is still at the top of my suggestion list for new and more experienced family historians alike.  First of all, it gives a taste of what it is like to publish.  You can be creative, tell a research story, submit documents or facts for perusal, and there is no need to tie into the entire family history, as with a book.  Blogging is a bit like sending out family history postcards (emphasis added).  A blog is also a place to share family photographs, as well as discuss your efforts at being a photo detective, keep track of your research, and (you know you want to), tout how you solved yet another family mystery.  My favorite blog posts involve showing how I discovered where a “missing” Civil War soldier ancestor was buried, and also, how I debunked some incorrect family lore about a young woman who supposedly “went down with the Titanic.”  It turned out that she was a victim of the U. S. S. Norge tragedy, eight years before the sinking of the Titanic.”

How Chery Divides Her Genealogy & Family History Time

“Since I am working full time and spend an average of three and a half hours each weekday commuting, and also have a family and home to care for, plus other interests like gardening, walking, reading, and quilting/crafting, there is a necessary ebb and flow to my research and writing pursuits.  But, the development of research skills and the discipline necessary to produce a family history has led me to other publishing opportunities over time.  These include:  Snoqualmie Pass (Arcadia Publishing Images of America series), and local history articles for the Washington State Historical Society’s magazine, Columbia, as well as newspaper articles.  Another writer and I are currently involved in creating a biography of a Pacific Northwest nature photographer, and I am doing research for another new local history article.  So many interesting topics, and so little time!

Another thing of great value to me is my involvement in a research/writing support group.  We call ourselves the Nearby Norwegians, and we maintain a blog about things relating to Norwegian culture and interests.  We try to meet regularly, but have never used a formal agenda.   What we value most is the camaraderie, mutual support, and encouragement we give each other in the pursuit of our research and writing goals.  A family history support group is worth every minute of the effort it takes to create and keep going.  For, unlike many friends and family, your genealogy-minded acquaintances won’t “space out” whenever you begin to talk about your latest research successes.”

Chery’s Genealogy Bucket List

“I never consider my future without envisioning some involvement with genealogy and family history, and I plan to also continue researching and writing about pioneer-era history.

  1. I need to make the time to do a second edition of A Long Way Downstream – perhaps a print-on-demand version this time. I have newly discovered photographs and facts, updated charts, and, inevitably, some corrections to add.
  2. Since I have recently discovered the joy of photo books through online vendors, I would love to do more of these as quick family history publications. One photo book I created includes all the Victorian cabinet card and other photographs that belonged to my great grandparents.
  3. Finally, although travel is not much of an option for me right now, someday I would like to visit Norway and step on the same soil that some of my ancestors left in hope of achieving a better life. There is nothing like that feeling of studying family history, and then communing with it on a very personal level, in the exact location that it happened.  It would be an opportunity to pay homage to them, and to somehow show that their daily toil, pain, patience, and resolve resulted in successes that they could hardly imagine as poor immigrant homesteaders on the Minnesota prairie.”

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Please take a moment and visit Chery at Nordic Blue as well as at Nearby Norwegians (and do check out all of the team members of that blog). These blogs were my first introduction to blogs about Norway and Norwegian resources. Both blogs not only inform and educate, but they also highlight some thoughtful and in-depth research and writing (always a bonus). Do take advantage of the wealth of blogs showcased at GeneaBloggers – for the variety of writing styles, ethnic interests, methodology, and research tips and suggestions. The summer months are a great time to give some thought to taking your blog in a new direction, refreshing your blog format, or sharing your research results, photographs and/or brick walls with the genealogy community.

My rather fortuitous “meet up” with Chery and reintroduction to her blogs provided me with six Aha moments:

  1. Blog when you have something to say – remember it is quality not quantity.
  2. Use your blog to send out those “family history postcards” (I love that visual!).
  3. Go with the ebb and flow in life and in your genealogy – relax and enjoy the trip.
  4. List your blog with GeneaBloggers and use that GeneaBloggers’ badge (it does get noticed and you add to our genealogy and family history community with your listing).
  5. Family history is a never-ending story; you don’t have to be finished before you write it, so why not use your blog to write it as you go.
  6. Everyone’s story is important – those homemakers, farmers, laborers, teachers, slaves, soldiers, merchants, domestics, immigrants, exiles, and pioneers are the combination of so many things including their occupations, their ethnicity, their religion, their race, and the times and places in which they lived. Our ancestors are the building blocks of our past and we are the result of those who went before us and made our lives possible.

Start or kickstart your blog, hone those writing skills, and who knows – there might just be a book of collected blog posts in your future. Start that never-ending story.

© 2016, 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 murkeo01@gmail.com.

May I Introduce to You . . . Cheryl Cayemberg

Come meet genealogy blogger Cheryl Cayemberg, author of Have You Seen My Roots, in this interview by Wendy Mathias at GeneaBloggers.

When I first saw Cheryl “Cherie” Cayemberg’s link to her blog in a blogging group on Facebook, I knew I wanted to know more about her and her family. Her sassy title Have You Seen My Roots appeals to my sense of humor. But make no mistake – she is not merely playing around with genealogy. Her stories are serious and well-researched. Cherie also shares just HOW she learned the details, and so while her blog does not intend to be instructional, readers will glean valuable tips on how to find more about their own ancestors. She participates in a number of memes and the daily prompts at Geneabloggers. So without further ado, meet Cherie Cayemberg.

Cherie, can you tell us a little about yourself?

“I was in the Army for almost 10 years so I traveled a bit. I was born in Hazleton, Pennsylvania (I won’t say when!) and after college I joined the Army to be a Russian linguist. Currently I’m living in Monument, Colorado with my wonderful husband and two boys. I’m also currently going to Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design for a degree in commercial photography. I already have an associates in Intelligence Operations from Cochise College, a Bachelors in German from Millersville University of Pennsylvania, and a Basic Russian certification from the Defense Language Institute, but since I served during 9/11 I received the post-9/11 GI Bill. I couldn’t transfer it to one of my boys, so I either get to use that benefit or watch it expire. I wanted to do something fun with it so I chose photography since I take my camera everywhere.”

How did you get interested in doing genealogy?

“It’s a little odd how it all got started. My husband and I were walking around some software/tech store in Hawaii. It was our first Christmas together, and we were shopping. I had gotten bored and started looking at some software. I saw the genealogy software (I can’t remember which brand I started with) and started reading the box. I thought it sounded really interesting, so I told him that I’d like it for Christmas. I sent an email to my mom asking some background questions. When I opened up my present and started my free Ancestry trial, I found my great grandmother within minutes, and I was hooked!”

What research tool or source has been particularly helpful in researching your family history?

“I recently fell in love with Newspapers.com. I have a Hazleton [Pennsylvania] genealogy group on Facebook, and I was lamenting about being so far away from the Hazleton libraries where I could easily look up obits. Another member of the group told me about Newspapers.com. I was extremely hesitant at first because I was sure that they couldn’t possibly have the newspapers from my little hometown, but I contacted them and they did. They don’t have them all, but they had so many more than I expected and they were searchable to boot. I’ve knocked down a couple brick walls using their site.”

Why did you start a genealogy blog?

“I became interested in blogging back in 2010. Jen Woods from Climbing my Family Tree and I were talking about blogging (her blog is amazing), and she told me that I should go for it. I’ve known Jen since we were stationed together in San Antonio way back in the late 90s, and I trust her completely.

“I was also seriously considering becoming a genealogist and thought that blogging would help me hone my skills before deciding what kind of certification/accreditation I should pursue. I thought that sharing my finds as well as my processes would help others and maybe help them in their research. Connecting with others researching the same lines was an added benefit that I knew was out there but never expected they’d find my little blog. I was certainly mistaken and have found numerous cousins since I started five years ago.”

How did you choose the name for your blog?

“Oh, I think you’ll get a laugh out of this story. I wasn’t just looking for a blog name but a potential business name. So I turned to social media and asked my Facebook friends what I should call my genealogy blog/business. Lots of names were tossed around, but ‘Have You Seen My Roots?’ just clicked with me. Of course, fellow researchers get the title, but when I tell others the name of my blog or give them my email address, they start looking at my hair for my roots!”

Where do you get your inspiration for your blog posts?

“I usually find inspiration in whatever branch of my family tree I’m trying to unravel. Whether it’s from scanning obits and funeral cards (I have a ton of them!) or adding sources to people I already have, if something strikes me, I start a post on it. I’ve got a number of posts in the draft folder on my blog for those passing ideas that need to be developed.”

What is your favorite post on your blog?

“I have a few favorites, but my all-time favorite is my very first post. I usually re-share it each year. It’s the story of my 3rd great grandfather, Manus Boyle, who left his family in Pennsylvania to mine for gold in Australia. On his way home he died in the shipwreck of the Royal Charter. That name doesn’t mean much to Americans, but it’s a rather well-known shipwreck in the UK because of the sheer loss of life and the amount of gold that had been onboard. Manus left his family behind for this journey. His wife was pregnant with my 2nd great grandmother, Anna, when he left. He never got to see her. That made the whole thing even sadder to me. The impressive bit was that the shipwreck was actually written about by Charles Dickens.”

What is your favorite heirloom?

“I’ve got stories of crime, passion, and daring escapes on my blog, but one of the things I cherish most in the world is a rosary my mother gave me. I even blogged about it. It’s 200 years old this year. Wow. I didn’t even realize that until right this moment. We aren’t completely sure whose it was, but we believe that it belonged to William Quirk, my 2nd great grandfather. It may have been a relative’s though because the rosary is actually older than him. The date would have referred to the date of a pilgrimage and purchased as a memento of the event.”

What is the most frustrating part of blogging?

“Bloggers always want to get more readers, but I’ve kind of looked at that as ‘it’ll happen when it happens.’ My frustration is finding time to spend as much time on it as I would like. Being in school full time as well as taking care of my family and other obligations leaves me little free time. By the time I get an extra hour or two for research and blogging, I’ve lost my rhythm and that can be hard to get back on the fly. I’m looking at setting aside a chunk of time each week to lock myself in my office and just do genealogy. We’ll see how that goes.”

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

“Twitter and Facebook are the two biggest places I go to attract readers. I share post links to genealogy groups like Genealogy Bloggers, as well as to my own group sites and on my timeline. I always tweet a shortened link with the genealogy hashtag. I used (and loved) Google’s reader and was so upset when they did away with it. It was a great way to share my posts and catch up on posts from other blogs. I’m still mourning its loss.”

What other genealogy blogs inspire you?

Naturally, Jen Woods’ Climbing My Family Tree inspires me. She is the main reason I started blogging. I also envy her ability to keep up with her blog, take care of her family, and homeschool her children. She is a force to be reckoned with!

I also love Thomas MacEntee’s Destination: Austin Family, Marian Pierre-Louis’ Fieldstone Common blog, Heather Wilkinson Rojo’s Nutfield Genealogy, and Linda McCauley’s Documenting the Details. There are so many more I could list, but I’d be here all day!”

What is on your genealogy bucket list?

“The biggest item on my genealogy bucket list is to go to Ireland. I’d love to see where my ancestors came from. I think I’d actually go on a pilgrimage to Lough Derg and walk in my ancestor’s footsteps.”

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Please take a moment to visit Cherie at Have You Seen My Roots and leave her a comment letting her know you stopped by. Thank-you, Cherie, 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 wendymath@cox.net.

May I Introduce to You . . . Kathleen Gregory

Come meet genealogy blogger Kathleen Gregory, author of the Ancestry Search blog, in this interview by Gini Webb at GeneaBloggers.

I have the pleasure of introducing you to Kathleen Gregory and her blog, Ancestry Search, described as, “. . . Follow me on my journey to find ancestors and the documents they left behind to be discovered.”

Kathleen, tell us a little about yourself

“I was born in Enid, Oklahoma the second child of my parents. I have lived in five states: Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Colorado and currently in Missouri. My second great grandparents migrated to Missouri in the 1800s and moved on west to Kansas and Oklahoma. Funny how I am back in the state from which they migrated! I have been married for almost 33 years; I have two grown children and seven grandchildren.”

How did you get interested in doing your family history?

“I became interested in genealogy when Farm Woman magazine ran an article on this topic in 1985.  That was 31 years ago. I have a lot of large binders that I still need to organize.”

When and why did you start a genealogy blog?

“I lost my job and felt like I needed to take some time off.  I didn’t know what to do with my time and my daughter suggested I blog about my favorite pastime, genealogy.  It was my hope that I would be able to help solve my brick walls and connect with new found cousins.”

Kathleen, what research tool or resource has been particularly helpful in researching your family history?

“I like Internet Archive, Chronicling America (newspapers) and e-books for online research. One of my favorite resources is newspapers and I love reading the old microfilm. Community news columns are the best at offering clues to possible family relationships.  Newspapers place a person in a location at a specified time. “

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

“I love reading others’ blogs about their discoveries, trials and tribulations.  We all learn from each other so don’t be afraid to share your failures as well as your triumphs!”

What other genealogy blogs inspire you?

“The Armchair Genealogist; her February writing challenge has inspired me to ask more question so I can write stories about my family.  Ask a Genealogist, The Legal Genealogist, and so many more! I subscribe to other blogs and study them for helpful hints to some of my brick walls. I would love one day to blog full-time!”

Please tell us about your favorite post on your blog.

“The one that has seen the most views is Surname Saturday Louthan Red Headed Hero of Scotland.  The point of this post was to bring to light that all of the information published on the Louthan surname was based on one person’s writings. This is probably true for many others’ family histories, as well.”

How much time do you spend on family history research?

“I don’t get to spend as much time on research as I would like. I try for a couple of hours each week.”

Kathleen, who is your favorite ancestor and why?

“I have tried for 31 years to solve the mystery of my Louthan line. No records to connect my line with any of the others I have found. Alleged brothers married sisters. The wives were sisters but no proof the husbands were brothers. It is one of the mysteries I hope to solve with my blog.”

What family heirloom or story do you cherish?

“I cherish two family heirlooms, an American Fostoria cake stand that belonged to my maternal grandmother and a butter churn that belonged to my paternal great grandmother.”

In what ways has genealogy improved your life?

“Genealogy gave me a sense of purpose and a focus. I feel accomplished when I uncover a record that makes the connection I was seeking, or makes me think about the next step I need to take. There are a lot of strategies in genealogy research that make me a better researcher in general, no matter the topic. Skills I can use in every day.”

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

“I love learning everything I can about my family history; to answer who, what, when, where and why. I love learning about their migrations from the Northeast to the Midwest; their service to their country in wars; and farming the land during the dust bowl.”

What is on your genealogy bucket list?

“I would like to visit all of the places my ancestors lived.”

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

“I think it is important for future generations to know the importance of their family history.  They need to know their ancestors live on in them, in their DNA. Family is more than those who live within your household; your family stretches far behind you and ahead of you. That is awesome!”

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