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.

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.

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!!!

RootsTech 2018 is coming!!!


Yes, that is ME – Speaker! I’m SOOOOOO excited! Offering two classes – Acadians & French-Canadians in North America and You CAN Take It With You! Mobile Technology for Genealogy. Can’t wait! I leave Tuesday and begin the incredible, the scary, the fun, exciting and learning opportunity that is being a speaker at the LARGEST genealogy conference in the world! Yes, you heard me .. the world!

Roots Tech 2018

RootsTech 2018 has over 300 classes, keynote speakers, an Innovation Showcase, networking, learning, meeting new people – I’m already hooking up with some likely cousins (all French-Canadians and Acadians are somehow related!) and a client from my Lineage Journeys work. And a helpful and kind participant in one of my workshops who is also an Acadian descendant….and friends from here in Michigan. And more … right? This is aligning to be so cool … can you tell that I’m excited! Watch for updates!

A new year, new opportunities and au revoir!

2018 …. The new year began with so many hopes, joys, heartbreak and opportunities.    Change is inevitable, right?  Yes, and always happening but some changes are just a lot to take and others are just noted without much emotion, and then there are the ones that you can recognize as “watershed moments” – those times when you have an earthquake hitting you and you know that you will never be the same again.

That’s the way December morphed into January – a new year, new opportunities and au revoir.  A new year – filled with excitement about some new roles for me personally, Lineage Journeys as a company, and new opportunities – for both!

It’s not without some trepidation that I am wildly excited to be presenting at RootsTech 2018 AND the National Genealogical Society’s 2018 Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan …. AND (very new information!) at the 2018 Northwest Genealogy Conference in Seattle, Washington.  AND …. ::::::::drum role:::::::::: one of my presentations (You CAN Take It With You:  Mobile Genealogy Tools) will be taped!!!!   OMG!!  Yes, I’m excited.  Lots of new opportunities and a remodeled website, with subscriptions coming in (thank you to everyone who is interested!).

And then an “au revoir” – on Christmas morning, my cousin and godfather, Harold “Hal” Nimer, Jr.  died suddenly as he was recovering from some back problems.  He was recovering but then was suddenly gone.  The genealogist-of-me could add another date to the family tree – Death Date.  Sigh …. he was a sweet, caring, loving husband, father, brother, grandfather, cousin and, in the family’s Lutheran tradition, he was my Godfather.  Memories rushed through my head of times spent mostly with his younger siblings as he was much older than me but his kind smile and loving ways, our recent breakfast together with his wife Judith and our cousin Lynda will now be the last memory of his long, successful life.  Au revoir – until we meet again.  He was buried on my birthday, December 29th.  That’s a week I won’t forget.  As a genealogist, it was a partly happy day as I got to spend time with Hal’s family, and all of Hal’s siblings (my cousins) were there and it was great to see them and talk about our happy memories as a family.  Seeing Hal’s kids and their kids, I enjoyed meeting them as I only heard about them from the proud sharing of Hal and Judy.  It was really good in that way and fostered lots of family history discussions and promises that we would all stay in touch.  And we will – a gathering is planned for July this year.

And another “au revoir” – a spiritual teacher, adopted Sister (“Hunka Sister” in the Lakota tradition), Mary Elizabeth Thunder died on December 28th and her funeral wake, ceremony and burial were over four days in January in Texas.  THAT was the “watershed moment”.   In so many ways,  it was a joyful reunion with friends from decades ago and the telling of funny, heart-felt, loving stories of challenges, fears, ceremonies, journeys and discoveries.  We cried, sang, mourned, hugged each other and held the family in our prayers and hearts, and did what we all knew we had to do – create a beautiful, meaningful, carefully thought-out, ceremony releasing her to the ancestors.  In the course of those days and since, the “watershed” was my recognition that there were things in my life that HAD to go, that were not providing growth, joy, love, or blessing but were contentious, nerve-wracking, negative and gut-wrenching.  I could hear Thunder’s voice – “Make it beautiful.  Live in beauty”.  And so I made the choices that I needed to make and I’m continuing to make.

Lineage Journeys are those we make with our genetic family and our adopted or chosen family.  We love them all and they enrich our lives.

Watershed Moments

A “watershed moment” is a point in time in which you feel that something changed, that you changed, that life changed.

I had a moment/day like that recently. Actually it is more of a series of things that have happened. As a genealogist, there are moments in time that I recognize that I’m noting a date and it was a big deal for my ancestors. Someone died, someone was born, two people were married. There are so many of those moments as a genealogist that I honestly can say that they are dates in a computer sometimes to me … until my own “moment”.

You see … someone died. Actually there have been a series of deaths in the recent past (since my brother died in July 2013 actually) and this most recent death of a beloved “sister” has caused a shift. I put “sister” in quotation marks because, while she wasn’t a genetic sister, she was a sister of my heart … a teacher, friend, beloved leader and spiritual Elder. To me and many. And it was at her funeral and the four days of the wake and then burial ceremony, that I’ve been thinking about A LOT! Without going into all of that here, it DID make me think, as a genealogist of those “watershed moments” of my ancestors.

Perhaps it was in the mid-1860s when my Villeneuve (Amiot dit Villeneuve) ancestral family came from Maskinonge, Quebec to Marquette, Michigan area. My Elliot ancestors came from the same area to Ishpeming, Michigan in the 1880s. Then they all eventually ended up in the Keweenaw Peninsula of Michigan, in Houghton County – around Hancock and Boston Station and the mining communities. They met up there supposedly because they attended the same church. A Villeneuve girl married an Elliot boy, and an Elliot girl married a Villeneuve boy. In June, 1889 when Edward Elliot married Marie Louise Villeneuve in Ishpeming, was that a “watershed moment” for them? Did they recognize the importance of that day and the history that they would create together (they ended up having 18 kids!!!) that resulted in my grandmother? Did the day that great-grandfather Edward died in 1919, crushed by a shifting pile of coal that he was assigned to move, created that incredible “watershed moment” for great-grandmother Louise? She had a pile of children and now no husband. In the 1920 Census, she has eight children living with her. The two oldest sons are working so the family at least had an income but many of the children were very young. My grandmother, Mary Elsie Elliot had married Warner “Waino” Sutinen and was living nearby. Grandpa Warner was also a miner – I wonder if he was present when Edward was crushed … who told Great-Grandma Louise that he was severely injured (he later died of his injuries according to the newspaper account and his death certificate). Certainly, that would have been a “watershed moment” for both families.

Maybe it’s a function of the death of others that gives us “watershed moments” … it has been for me, early in this new year. Does everyone have moments like this?

As this year ends …

WishingYouTheBestHoliday Dec2017

As 2017 draws to a close, and I’m writing with just another day away from Christmas, Hannukah and Winter Solstice are behind us and Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s coming, I’m reflecting on family, research, change and the coming year.

This year was the one with a trip to Australia/New Zealand (part pleasure trip and part research trip), the selling of our home of 18 years and downsizing into a new home, much in the way of our Native ceremonies and family, and new jobs for both my husband and me … well, yes, it has been “interesting”.

But through it all, I am reflecting on the blessings …. getting to know new genealogy clients (through my work at Lineage Journeys) and their families (past and present), learning much new information at the various genealogy conferences I’ve attended (IF you haven’t gone to a conference, even a local one, you are missing out on learning so much, AND making great connections with fellow genealogists!), and building relationships in the genealogy community that I hope will be mutually beneficial.

Speaking engagements have been picking up, and the continuation of my relationship with my local library through monthly presentations, has been a great gift of learning too. Yes, mostly I love to speak because it gives me the chance to learn from others. Yes, I give them information but, more importantly to me, they give me their enthusiasm and excitement for the “hunt” of their family, information about resources that they have found that are helpful, and just the fun of meeting yet another person who is hooked to this hobby that we call genealogy. Searching for our families and where they came from and what they experienced is a unique and growing passion of so many of us – and I so love meeting others that I share this love with!

In this new year, this blog will look different – I’m revising and updating this site and the matching website and pages for my work. With the help of technology, graphic design, wordsmithing, and some great women who are helping me think it through, you will soon see a fresher design and content. I plan to blog more in the new year and share more about resources, sites and helpful information that I find. So please “stay tuned”!!!

Until then, may you experience the peace, joy, hope and festivities of the season with good health and prosperity in the new year!

A Month of Activities, Conferences and FUN!

Federation of Genealogical Societies, Association of Professional Genealogists, and the Michigan Genealogical Council – all in about a months’ time (well, kinda …. late September through October)…..

The late summer and early fall are a time in the genealogy community of much activity, conferences, meetings and learning. This year, I went from Pittsburgh, PA to Washington, DC and Lansing, MI with my own speaking engagements (my company is Lineage Journeys) and other work put in around the gaps. It has been a month of learning, networking, growing and even a few challenges here and there. All in all, a great experience with some new relationships within the genealogical community and some new research findings that are helping clients and even my own families.

AND one of the really interesting things that I learned about was how to get involved in the historic and very important indexing of the naturalization records of the State of Michigan, held by the Library of Michigan in Lansing – you can be part of getting those records ONLINE! Yes!!!

Michigan’s Naturalization Records can be transcribed by YOU!!!

All of us would LOVE to have EVERY record about our families posted on the Internet so that from the comfort of our homes, we could find everything we need. Well, that’s a lovely thought but SOMEONE has to do the typing, the uploading, the work! And it’s exciting and fun to be part of a project and work that is BIG – to be part of something historic….. so here’s your chance!!

Click on the link here:The Library of Michigan’s Naturalization Records Project which will take you to the page you can see here … there are instructions, it’s an online indexing tool (working with Family Search) so you don’t have to download anything to your computer that you don’t like or want. And you too can be part of something historic!!!
Seeking Michigan

AND THANK YOU FOR GETTING INVOLVED!!!!