I am excited to introduce to you Elise Ann Wormuth and her blog, Living in the Past, described as, “A history of the Ortman and Berneburg families; thoughts on the practice and processes of genealogy.” Elise has a beautiful blog and shares some great adventures in her pursuit of her ancestors
A Little About Elise
“I was born in Jamaica, New York (part of Queens). My mother brought me home from the hospital in a hurricane and she said we had to huddle near a space heater to stay warm. I’m happy to have that as my birthplace, because two of the branches of my family had lived there since the 1880s. I grew up in Minneapolis, and as an adult, I’ve lived in Boston, Los Angeles, Santa Rosa, CA, San Francisco, and now Santa Cruz, CA. I’ve been in California for 42 years and can’t imagine living anywhere else. I’m proud that my son is a native Californian!”
How Elise Got Started in Genealogy
“Seriously, I have been doing genealogy for about two years. But I was always interested in hearing the stories of my grandmothers. Of course, now I wish I’d asked them more questions!
“My family was and is very small. My father was an only child and my mother had one brother, 16 years older than her. I have one first cousin in the world. So I guess I wanted to expand my family, to find out more about the people who went before. I was especially interested in finding out about my paternal grandfather’s family, since he was one of nine children but was estranged from his family.”
Elise’s Thoughts on Blogging
“I created my blog in January of 2013 for the same reason that many do – to pass the history and stories on to the younger generation of my family. It was touch-and-go for a while because I was still working, but now that I’m retired, I’m devoting a lot of attention to it.”
Elise’s Advice for New Bloggers
“Keep the sense that you’re writing for others, not yourself and that there’s an audience out there that is interested in what you have to say. Also, write about your own history because one day you will inevitably be an ancestor yourself, and your descendants will want to know about you. That also gives you a lot more potential topics to write about on those days when inspiration has deserted you.”
Elise’s Favorite Blog Post
“Oh, that’s like asking which is my favorite child!
I do like the sequence in which the brick wall around one of my maternal great-grandfathers came down in this post:
Some of my other favorites are:
I’m proud of the research and happy with how I wrote about it in this next one:
Elise’s Time with the Ancestors
“Now that I’m retired, I spend quite a lot of time! I probably spend around 20 hours a week, maybe more, maybe less.”
Elise’ Favorite Ancestors
“Oh boy, another hard question. My absolute favorite has to be my Grandmother Berneburg. She lived with us for 12 years or so, and she was a tough, feisty lady who had had a lot of challenges in her life. Even though she wasn’t a warm and fuzzy kind of grandma, we kids adored her.
“I’m also fascinated with groups of relatives – the Langers of Silesia, the three generations of women from Bremen who were all illegitimate, the real story of my grandfather and who his mother was. I’m eager to learn more about all of them.”
How Genealogy has Improved Elise’s Life
“It’s given me something to do in my old age. Genealogy has enriched my life tremendously as I learn about all of the stories of the people who have gone before. It’s also brought me close to a wonderful community of incredibly helpful and generous people both here and in Europe.
“As for what I love about genealogy, I guess I love what everyone does – the chase, the puzzle, the mystery, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. When you get an envelope from an archive, there’s that wonderful moment of anticipation and hope – what will it tell me? I think we all live for that. Even when you discover things that are unpleasant or shocking, it’s still wonderful, knowing the stories.
“The most frustrating thing, if you’d like to know that, is never being able to talk to the people you’re researching and writing about to ask them, “How am I doing? Am I right? Am I telling your story in the way you would want it told?”
Elise’s Time Capsule Message
“Don’t be so self-centered: Talk to your elders! Bug the heck out of them before they pass on! Even if they think their lives are ordinary, they are in fact fascinating to those who come after. Keep saying, “And then what happened?” and write everything down, because the older you get, the less you’ll remember, and that’s a shame.”
Elise’s Genealogy Bucket List
“I want to take a trip to Germany, for sure, to meet living relatives in Erkeln and to track down others in archives. I want to see the places where they lived. I have the route all planned out! I’d like to spend some time in New York/New Jersey, especially looking for gravestones and so on. I’d also like to have a big family reunion where I could do a 10- or 12-hour presentation for my loved ones, because I’m pretty sure they’re not the ones reading my blog every day!”
Please take time to head over to Elise’s blog and leave a comment, letting her know you stopped by. Thank you Elise for sharing your thoughts and your blog with us!
© 2015, 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 email@example.com