Honoring the Soldiers of our Family!


On this 4th of July, we’re celebrating the ancestors and family who helped to give us this holiday. The image is Detroit from our recent fireworks celebration and, while my ancestors are primarily not military, they helped to form this continent. But more about that in another post!

Here in what became the United States, my husband’s family has a long history of service to the country. In the Revolutionary War, Johann Miesse, his brothers and brothers-in-law (the Ebling family) and John Klein and his family, all in Pennsylvania, served with Washington and primarily in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia and Maryland. The Civil War found Ludwig Muhn, immigrant from Langenbrombach, Hesse, Germany, serving with the Michigan 15th Infantry on the east coast. He however never made it home – he died of a fever in Detroit, never making it back to the family farm in Alma. He’s buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Detroit.

There are relatives who served in World War II (I’m not yet aware of any serving in World War I, although I’m still researching!). My father, Wilbur William Nimer, served from 1948 to 1952 in Korea ….

There is cousin Gary in Vietnam with Uncle Jerry, who served there too. Denny’s brother, Van Muhn, served in the Air Force during the Vietnam era but luckily didn’t have to go to Vietnam. And then Denny, who served from 1976 to 1998. How proud I am of him!

When we think about the blessings, freedom and lives that we have, I personally think about these men, their women and families, who sacrificed for us. With just celebrating Canada Day and 4th of July, our families on both sides of an international border have much to be grateful for. Thank you!!!

Attending GRIP – Driving Through Pennsylvania

On my way to GRIP (Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh), I had the pleasure to drive from Michigan to Pittburgh through the lovely rolling hills and mountains of western Pennsylvania. Dairy and beef farms, rolling meadows of planted corn, green …lots of green.
Coming off of the expressway and onto a two-lane road, I came around a curve and discovered a classically beautiful old church.
Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Wexford, PA.

From it’s website (https://www.trinitywexford.org/about-us/#History) I learned:
Founded in 1845, Trinity is located in one of the older settlements of Allegheny County and still bears the word “German” in its Charter name as well as on the inscription on the front of its church building. The church was born when the Reverend Michael Schweigert sought out area Lutherans and organized them into a congregation. The treasurer’s report of 1901 showed an expenditure of $3 to repair the stable in which the horses were kept during services.

Churches, houses of faith, are part of the specialty areas that I assist clients in research. The records of our ancestors within these houses of faith may be the only record of their birth, marriage, or burial when other civil records hadn’t yet been established or are lost, burned, missing. Compilations of indexes helps for these records but going through baptism records and learning about who the godparents were (often family or close friends) can be a goldmine of help to an otherwise lost lineage.

With time still to drive, my mind wandered to the journey that these, and other immigrants and travelers, took to get here and further west. My husband Denny’s ancestors came to Michigan over time from Berks County, Pennsylvania. Looking around at these hills, mountains and contrast of the ease of my journey was apparent. Only five hours from Michigan, back in the 1700 and 1800s, when Den’s ancestors were traveling, or these congregants of Rev. Schweigert, the easiest way was likely the rivers. Of course, later were the developments of the canals, but horse-drawn wagon and walking were the other ways to travel.

So as I begin a week of research, learning and getting more knowledge of the field of genealogy (genealogists are ALWAYS learning!), I’m reflecting on the ways that we learn about, study, find records and fill in the lives of our ancestors. Here at GRIP (Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh), we are taught by nationally-recognized experts about the research sources that document our ancestral lives, learning to document, properly cite, and share information with others seeking our help. There is so much to learn…..there are a variety of genealogical institutes to learn from. If you are interested in learning more, please contact me for information. I’d love to encourage you!

Honoring Passover and Easter

How is this night different from all other nights?  One of the four questions of the Passover Seder …. While I’m not Jewish, I am reflecting on this weekend beginning with Passover tonight and its story, and what I have learned about the Seder from dear friends who have shared some of the traditions and foods of this important event.  As a genealogist, I’m recognizing that in the long history of my ancestors over thousands of years, I have Jewish ancestors.  My AncestryDNA results also indicate that I have Ashkenazi Jewish heritage – a low percentage (<5%) indicating a distant connection – but nonetheless, it doesn’t surprise me as early Christians were Jewish.  And, because of my Eastern European DNA, it is likely that it comes from there.

So I’m celebrating the beginning of an ancient commemoration.

Earlier this month, we celebrated the spring Equinox, honoring our relationship to the Earth, the changing of seasons and our Native heritage, family and friends.  AND I will be celebrating Easter in my faith community and with mom on Sunday.  

Whatever your beliefs, faith tradition or thoughts about all things spiritual or religious, wishing you the beauty and freshness of the spring growth, earth awakening and return of green grass, baseball and flowers.  May you have love, peace and beauty in your life!

What Death Notices Might Be Used For

For those of us “of a certain age”, membership in AARP gives us access to their great publications.  In the recent AARP Bulletin, an article entitled Death Notice Double-Cross https://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-2018/scams-using-obituaries.html provides a perspective that we genealogists need to think about and talk with our families about.

As many of us, when a loved one dies, write (either ourselves or with the help of a funeral home) an obituary that often contain birth date, death date, names of family survivors and more information about the deceased’s life, there is an opportunity for scam artists.  As genealogists, we find obituaries to fill in gaps in  information that we otherwise haven’t found.  A mother’s maiden name, birthplace of the deceased, names of descendants and more are usual items that I know have helped me personally in looking for ancestors in our family.  However, the AARP article cautions against using these pieces of information in obituary notices because of the potential scam opportunities.  While those of us still living and mourning a loss want to honor a lifetime (and I can admit to wanting to document their life for future family historians),  there are immediate concerns here to consider.  Scams of course are becoming more and more creative and brazen.   There is good advice here!

Perhaps the answer for us in these modern times is to consider how and where we share this important information.  Maybe consider sharing the deceased person’s age without giving the birth date or place.  Don’t provide mother’s maiden name or the address of the family.  And maybe provide instead what the person’s great works were or the legacy of the volunteer roles they had – items that enrich what is known about a person.  My concern about this is that the incredible value to us in the obituary, as family historians, is often the information that is only source of some key pieces of fundamental facts of birth, marriage or death.  As a researcher, I’m dealing with obituaries well out of the reach of scammers, but protect yourself in the present so that there isn’t an additional story of sorry if a scammer takes advantage of your loss.

French-Canadian Migrations into the Midwest and Beyond

The time is coming soon – the National Genealogical Society’s Family History Conference is coming in May 2018!!  Can’t wait – AND I’m presenting two sessions:  French-Canadian Migrations into the Midwest and Beyond and Native, First Nations, Indian: Research Indigenous Peoples.   Here’s the recent post from the NGS Blog – http://conference.ngsgenealogy.org/french-canadian-migration-midwest-beyond/R

The French-Canadian session is Thursday, May 3 at 11 a.m. and the Native session is Friday, May 4th at 4 p.m..

Registration is open AND volunteer positions are available – you can get in free to the conference, based in how/where you volunteer.  There is information here to guide you …. http://conference.ngsgenealogy.org/volunteer/  There are opportunities still available and the vendor hall is open to you as well, where you can learn about new programs, mobile apps, obtain books and software and network with other family histories, speakers and professionals across the field.

Join me?!  And please be sure to find me and say hello!

You CAN Take It With You: Mobile Technology for Genealogy


This presentation, offered on Saturday, March 3, 2018, at RootsTech 2018 explained the variety of mobile apps that could help genealogists to do easer, faster research and take their information with them.

The recording, here https://www.rootstech.org/video/you-can-take-it-with-you-mobile-genealogy

Hoping this helps you, please let me know if there is information that you need. Lineage Journeys offers workshops on each of these apps in more detail and Evernote is a great tool that is utilized across the business world, which is how I first learned about it. If you can’t obtain the handout from the RootsTech site, please contact me and I’ll send it.

RootsTech 2018 – A retro view

It’s a little under a week after I first arrived in Salt Lake City for my first RootsTech – the 2018 conference was beginning the next morning, and my presentation too. As it has been a week since it began AND I’ve been home since Monday night, I’ve rested, unpacked and recovered. So in this review of my experience, there is a lot to cover.


First, there is the sheer size of the event – OMG!!! Over 14,000 of your best friends … well, ok, I didn’t meet them all. A special mobile app that linked the attendees on site with their FamilySearch tree gave all of us the opportunity to find cousins!!! I had 212 cousins at the height of the conference and was able to meet up with two of them. How exciting!! The mobile app showed you how you were related – all of mine where in the French-Canadian lines on my tree. SOOOO fun! I hope they continue doing that because we all enjoyed seeing how we connected.

I met the winner of my free RootsTech pass competition – Kimberly Savage arrived at my second workshop on Saturday to introduce herself to me and reported that she’d been having a great time. Here is Kimberly and I when we met!! Glad you had fun, Kimberly.

And then there were the presentations – which I was THRILLED went so well. Acadian & French-Canadian Research and You CAN Take It With You: Mobile Apps for Genealogists. By my estimate, attended by between 150 and 200 people, the participants asked great questions, were engaged, came up before and after the presentation to connect with me and I’ll hope the information helped them.

Being an Ambassador too, had some great perks! Here’s the group of fellow bloggers (GeneaBloggers TRIBE) in the Media Hub where we interviewed speakers and keynote presenters, had a place to write our social media and blog posts, and rest. Yea, you needed a place to rest …. for this first-timer, it was very overwhelming, in a good way!

So heaven for a week looked like constant, nonstop conversation, learning and content about genealogy – cousin conversations, stories, researching and how to connect it all. I think I’ll be on a “high” for a while because it was so great for me. I sooooo hope I get to do it again.

MyHeritage announces new tools – DNA Browser!

MyHeritage made some great announcements about new features in their DNA work!  One, the DNAQuest.org is an effort by the company to help adoptees – using this site address, MyHeritage is offering FREE testing for those experiencing hardships (you have to apply for the free testing) but they have dedicated money to this effort and it should help many.  Just before coming to #RootsTech, I had a great conversation with a woman who used DNA to find three sisters (two half-sisters, one full) and, within a year, they all met and are expanding their family relationships in a loving way!

The other great update from MyHeritage included their new tool – DNA Chromosome Browser.

MyHeritage announced #RootsTech in Salt Lake City a major upgrade of its chromosome browser that makes it easier for users to analyze their DNA matches!  If you’ve taken a MyHeritage DNA test or those who have uploaded their raw data from other DNA companies, you can check out this feature in the MyHeritage DNA drop-down menu.  I’ve checked it out on my own DNA and it is fun, and I’ve been spending alot of time playing with it.

I have to say that the advances in DNA research and the opportunities it provides to family historians and genealogists was SO on display at #RootsTech … the power we all have to break through brick walls and discover relatives, history, migration patterns, and family stories is phenomenal!!!  If you aren’t on board with these tools (AncestryDNA, FindMyPast, FamilyTreeDNA, MyHeritageDNA and more), you are truly missing an opportunity!

Wow, what a morning of powerful speaking, music

An exciting morning program here at RootsTech 2018 helped to wake me up – my energy is beginning to fade!!  NATALIA LAFOURCADE!!!!

Yes, I know it’s not the best picture but Natalia Lafourcade (Mexican pop-rock singer/songwriter) sang the song from Coco that had us all in tears – and FamilySearch did research about her to share.  She found out for the first time that she is descended from a French man who came to Chile, eventually Mexico and Natalie was born there.  Natalie has many musicians in her ancestry too.  Her talent/her voice is amazing!!!  Wish I’d gotten a better picture of her but this picture is when she found out about her ancestry….so cool!

 

How so very cool that Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. came to speak at the conference!  He has been such a pioneer in developing the relationship between genealogy and genetics!  He shared about some of the miracles that have happened even as recently as yesterday at the Family History Library!

We got to see the trailer/teaser for the next ( coming this fall!) season of “Finding Your Roots” – looks incredible.  LOVE the show and it teaches me about records that are available to all of us AND the DNA evidence that can help us fill in our tree too.

All in all, it’s been a really marvelous conference!  I’ve enjoyed the networking, learning and the opportunities to connect with people who “get” what I love to do – genealogy!!!

Speaking at RootsTech 2018!

With a room of people, microphone checks, an interpreter and a whole bunch of enthusiastic and interesting people, my workshop began at 9:30 a.m. !!!

There were great questions, support from friends and even a French expert in the room (thankfully, I didn’t know until later, right?!) who told me that I did an excellent job and that he enjoyed my presentation …. whoa!!

The audience had some great questions and they all provided their emails and a list of the surnames they are researching so that we can help them with their research!  A document, listing all of them with these names, is being shared with them all in the hopes that they will make progress toward documenting their French-Canadian and Acadian families.

It was fun to be presenting to an international group – there were people from all over the United States but also Canada, France, Brazil ….. and those are the ones that I know!  And afterwards, people were stopping me in the hall to continue to ask questions – if you are reading this and have questions, please don’t hesitate to email me at judynmuhn@gmail.com.  I LOVE doing genealogy!!!

The day ended marvelously – with research!!!

Two of my clients are benefiting from my presence in Salt Lake, just a small walk from the Family History Library!  Rows on rows of microfilm, digital content, books, maps and so much more!  I haven’t been here since 2001 I believe and the updates/renovations/new art are beautiful, easy-to-use and empowering.

A truly sweet and helpful volunteer showed me the new way to make copies, create images from online content and even gave me a print card WITH MONEY ON IT!!!  She was awesome – and that has been my experience here at the FHL for years – volunteers eager and ready to help you.  She shared some amazing spiritual things with me – we had a lovely conversation.  What a blessing she was!  And I found things – lots of things for my clients.  Can’t wait to share.