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May I Introduce To You . . . Deborah Sweeney

Deborah Sweeney

Deborah Sweeney

I have the great pleasure if introducing you to Deborah Sweeney and her blog, Genealogy Lady, described as, “ . . . Mainly, I am focusing on the letters written by my grandparents, Roscoe and Gladys Yegerlehner, during World War II with some additional family genealogy, Kentland history (the town where they lived) and World War II history.”

How Deborah Got Started in Genealogy

“I was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts but moved to central Massachusetts when I was three. I consider Worcester, Massachusetts to be my hometown. I currently live in Elk Grove, California (my husband’s hometown).

I have been working seriously on my research since I moved to California in 1994 and was introduced to the Family History Centers by a co-worker (who was Mormon). I have always been interested in my family’s genealogy. Both my grandmothers were a big influence on me. My Yegerlehner grandmother worked on putting together a chart of the Yegerlehner family. They were immigrants from Switzerland in 1851. She and my grandfather were able to travel back to Switzerland and meet some of the distant cousins on several occasions. My maternal grandmother was of old New England blood. She and her cousin worked on proving the lineages for the Mayflower Society and the Alden Kindred. By the time I was in junior high, I was already obsessed with genealogy. I also loved Greek mythology. I volunteered in all my school libraries throughout my school days. One of the libraries had this huge tome of mythology. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent tracking and charting the interwoven families of the Greek Gods. (That’s my total teen nerd moment for you).”

Deborah’s Thoughts on Blogging

“I started my blog last November over Thanksgiving weekend. I had been trying for years to figure out a way to share the World War II letters. I am also terrified that some natural disaster will occur and the letters will be lost before they get preserved. I have had possession of them for about a decade. Before that, my dad had rescued them from the trash bin years ago. My grandmother was doing some cleaning and told my dad he should just toss them. He decided to save them instead. As a result, he carted them around for decades. Finally, I got to the point in my genealogy research that I wanted to read them so he passed them on to me. I had tried scanning them, but there are just so many of them that I would quickly lose interest in the project. At this point, I estimate there are between 750-1,000 letters. The blog has created the perfect way to break the project into small chunks. I spend an hour or two each day with one letter (transcribing, scanning, checking historical references, etc). I have learned so much from the letters in just the last 5 ½ months. I have also connected with several distant cousins as well as descendants of the townspeople mentioned in the letters. My grandmother did not like to gossip but many of her letters mention her daily interactions with the neighbors and other townspeople (in Kentland and Lafayette, Indiana).”

Deborah’s Favorite Blog Post

“I am not sure I have a specific favorite post. There are a couple themes that have popped up throughout the letters. One of them has been my grandfather’s struggle with his laundry. At this point the saga is quite hilarious and I know it is a problem he had throughout the war. When he was stationed in Norfolk, it would typically take 2-3 weeks for him to get his laundry back. He went home for leave in mid July 1942 and was almost immediately called back because his orders to ship out were issued. Of course, he didn’t have time to retrieve the laundry when he returned to Norfolk. At this point in the narrative, the laundry has been shipped across country in an attempt to catch up with him and has finally landed with my grandmother in Kentland. I don’t know yet if she attempted to ship it to the South Pacific but I just published a post in which my grandfather was wondering what had happened to the laundry. Another theme is the arrival of my father. My grandmother was pregnant with him when my grandfather signed up. It was very exciting to finally announce my father’s birth on the blog (70 years later).  That post was titled, September 23, 1942 – Red Letter Day (Roscoe). It was a ‘red letter day’ for my grandfather because he received some long awaited mail but it was also the day (unknown to him) that his youngest son was born.”

Deborah’s Tip for New Bloggers

“Just do it! When I started 20+ years ago, my grandmother gave me piles of lineage charts and family group sheets that she and her cousin had put together. They didn’t really teach me anything. When I started going to the local Family History center, I didn’t really know much about what to do or how to research. I listened to the experienced researchers and I read a lot to educate myself. There is so much available online today and so many opportunities to learn good research practices. There are no excuses!”

How Genealogy Has Improved Deborah’s Life

“I can’t really imagine my life without genealogy. I have connected with some great people (and distant family) around the country over the years. With the addition of the blog, I now have people around the world that I connect with through our shared love of genealogy.

I just finished Boston University’s Genealogy Research Certificate Spring (Online 11). I am working towards becoming a certified genealogist (CG). Next up, I want to do ProGen and then get myself ‘on the clock’ for certification.”

Deborah’s Favorite Ancestor

“I am not exactly sure that I have a favorite ancestor. I have a favorite brick wall ancestor. His name was Alfred M. Dicks. Born in Guilford County, North Carolina to a Quaker family, he moved to Illinois in the 1830s. When he married his wife Ruth Reynolds in 1840, they were disowned from the local Quaker Monthly Meeting for marrying outside the faith. Although I know his parents and family, he is my brick wall ancestor because he was amazingly good at staying out of public records. I hope to travel to Crawford County, Illinois one day and lock myself up in the library in Robinson and see if I can find something more about him.”

What Deborah Loves Most About Genealogy

“I probably love the hunt and the discovery aspect of genealogy the most. I love trying to solve the puzzle and trying to fit all the pieces together.”

Deborah’s Time Capsule Message

“It is never too early to start learning about your family. Ask the questions sooner rather than later, before the oldest generation is gone. My grandmother Yegerlehner was able to help me a little, and even though she lived into her 90s, her memories were gone due to Alzheimer’s.”

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

© 2013, copyright Gini Webb

Gini Webb lives in San Diego, California and manages her own blog, Ginisology, while also researching her own German heritage, recently retired, enjoying life with wonderful husband Steve and visiting with her now seven 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.

Gini Webb
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.

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