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!!!!

YOU HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO WIN!!!!

YOU HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO WIN!!!! A FULL REGISTRATION TO THEROOTSTECH 2018 CONFERENCE in SALT LAKE CITY in 2018!!!!

Roots Tech 2018

Roots Tech 2018

Imagine – the LARGEST genealogy conference IN THE WORLD!! Thousands of genealogists, companies that support them, books and webinars, demonstrations, labs, opportunities to learn new research skills and find out about the repositories that will help you to document your family’s history …. that’s RootsTech 2018 in Salt Lake City, Utah in 2018!

As I will be there offering two workshops – Acadian & French-Canadian Research and You CAN Take It With You: Mobile Genealogy Tools – I would love to meet you! However, you have to GET there! SOOOOO …

I’m offering you a chance to win a FREE (yep, you read that right!) registration for the whole RootsTech 2018 conference (airfare, hotel, meals and lab sessions not included). Click at the bottom of the photo to go directly to the website for more information, HOWEVER – did you see the “Subscribe here” in the upper right area of this site?? That’s how you can enter to win my contest – subscribe to my blog!!! It’s easy and I’ll pick a winner by random draw from those who subscribe – you get EXTRA entries for a chance to win if you tell your friends to subscribe to my blog (email me at judynmuhn@gmail.com with the list of names of your friends!). Simple as that!

The rules??

You MUST enter by Sunday, October 29th by 11:55 p.m. – that’s your DEADLINE!

The winner will be announced on Monday, October 30th here on my Blog, on my Lineage Journeys Facebook page and will be contacted via email.

Questions? Contact me at judynmuhn@gmail.com BEFORE Sunday, October 29th – I won’t respond to emails on Sunday, the 29th, so please let me know if you referred people who signed up with their emails BEFORE the contest ends, or with questions.

A GREAT GENEALOGY CONFERENCE

VISITING WASHINGTON, D.C. & ATTENDING A GREAT GENEALOGY CONFERENCE!!!

DAR Entrance

Having JUST returned (it was just over a week ago) from the Association of Professional Genealogist’s (APG) Professional Management Conference (PMC) in Washington, D.C., there were SOOO many things learned to pass along!First – don’t go to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA for short), or the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR for short) Library and Headquarters or any of a number of locations when researching without preparing ahead! These are amazing research facilities but with millions of records, categories, topics and time periods, you will waste alot of time if you haven’t looked at the catalog online.

As I knew for months that I was going – that’s me (my company is Lineage Journeys) at the top sharing my Poster Session entitled What’s In A Name: Clues to Ethnicity & Name Changes – so I began early on to do my online research. Thanks to the APG for the helpful webinars on getting around D.C., the archives and more, I was prepared and ready. The focus of my one day of research (I SOOO wish I had more time and money to do this!) was my husband’s family’s descent from a number of Revolutionary War soldiers. Because others have become DAR members from descent from the same ancestors, I found those applications online at the DAR’s great website (https://www.dar.org) so I was prepared to walk into the library and obtain the documents that were used to prove their lineage.

Was I about to be amazed!!!! Would you look at this incredible room?? This is heaven to a genealogist, besides the spectacular architecture, right?! Not only did I easily obtain the documents that I wanted about my husband’s Revolutionary ancestors (really??! A birth record from 1750 and more!) but I was in this environment that was comfortable, helpful (the staff and volunteers of the library are gracious and warm) and I was given good advice, guidance and maximized my time so well that I was able to take a leisurely stroll back to the Metro for the ride back to the hotel.

So my big tip for today? PLAN AHEAD, RESEARCH AHEAD, and by all means, LEARN about where you are going AHEAD so that you use your time well.

April 15, 2017

Petoskey Stone

Growing up in Michigan is a unique experience. As a kid, when the snow gets melty, dirty, you just want to be somewhere else. But when you experience the glorious moments when the trillium fill the forests in spring, morel mushrooms are cooked intodelicate culinary treats and the call of the lakes, boats, warm summer days or the swish of snow during a ski run with the smell of hot chocolate or bonfires is in the air …. oh, and those trees in the fall – how DOES a maple tree have so many colors within it!! Well, I went off there a bit … but THAT is the Michigan I know.

My heritage, lineage here in Michigan isn’t that long. My people are, on dad’s side, fairly recent (late 1800s) immigrants from Poland and Germany by way of Massachusetts and then to Detroit where grandpa had a bicycle sales and repair company, and my dad and his brothers worked in the auto industry; on my mom’s side, we are VERY long on the North American continent but not so long in Michigan – my Native ancestors are mostly from the regions now called Canada and the Upper Peninsula in the 1870s, having been longer in the eastern maritimes; and mom’s ancestors who founded “New France” in their moves in the 1600s to Quebec and Montreal from northern regions of France (Normandie mostly), settling in for a long time in the area around Maskinonge, Quebec. The French-Canadians came to Michigan in the 1880s where they met my Native ancestors, ultimately my grandparents moved to Detroit for jobs after mines began closing. Mom’s dad was a Finn, coming as an infant with his parents and a brother. So we haven’t been here all that long.

But we are Michiganders. We GET Petoskey stones, pasties, Yoopers (we descend from them), Trolls (those from under the bridge – lower peninsula residents), the Mighty Mac (the Mackinac Bridge), and more. We rejoice in Morel Festivals, FlannelShirt Days, and the four seasons. Genealogy is important to me and, over the years, it has helped to inform me about who I am in the context of family, culture, spirituality and geography. Increasingly over the years, while Michigan is home, so is South Dakota (where my extended Native family are), and Quebec (where other extended family are) but so too, Eastern Canada and Normandy, France, and Scotland and Germany … well, the world actually.

Birds

I’m jealous of the birds. Reflecting on my recent readings of Barbara Brown Taylor’s book, An Altar in the World, I have been working to be more conscious, aware of my surroundings, awake to what is happening with me and around me on a spiritual level. I’ve been watching for altars in my world that remind me of a higher purpose or focus.

So the birds came into focus this morning. Birds clustered on the wires, as it is cold now, and clustering themselves into groups to stay warm. A bird wouldfly up and move to another group on another wire, and the birds already on the wire would move to accommodate the new arrival. No one was fighting. All of them were just working to stay warm until the sun was up more so they could begin looking around for food.

And I thought about how the warmth of birds together on wires could be an image of people grouping together for survival too. We are a family, we humans. We are genetically linked to each other through so many generations – mathematically, we are likely 16th cousins at least and mostly closer (we are all the descendants of the survivors of so many wars, famines, immigration, floods, diseases and catastrophies) and we cluster together.

Lately, due to what I’ve been watching with the elections, we have been clustering in groups around party affiliation, race and gender, our needs/wantsfor the future and the illusions of personalities, words and actions. And I think about how the birds don’t know any of that, but just cluster with each other until it is warm enough to hunt for food. It’s simple that way for them and I think about how we humans complicate so much. I’m jealous of the birds.

The birds have no “baggage” to worry about – self-contained little bodies that they take everywhere. Yes, they have nest homes to take care of but on this morning, none of them were in those nests. They preferred to be with each other, on a high wire in the cold wind. Chattering away, they were doing what birds do – surviving.

Which led my mind to “this is an altar in my world, a place where trust and survival meet, where waiting for the sun to come up and warm the space keeps us together” and I looked around at the cars surrounding me at this stop light. These birds were the conscious ones. The humans around me weren’t even looking at or acknowledging one another but checking text messages, tuning the radio or staring straight ahead. I was jealous of the birds in that moment and the direct connection of their lives.

I think about my family, our family tree, and the people who loved each other, resulting in me being born. And I wish sometimes that we were more like the birds, gathering each morning to talk, to chat, to share before we took off for the day. We can’t even talk directly about the election and what it means to us without someone getting upset (“don’t talk about religion or politics” I’ve been told so many times!). I long for that probing discourse that permits us the honor and space of saying the deep reasons for why we voted the way we did and why we like a certain candidate or the platform items. I long to understand why the white males around my world are feeling threatened by so much and don’t even care that I have felt threatened my whole life by a society that doesn’t value “female”, let alone a society that sets up white v. black, European culture v. the rest of the world, and more. Or even how my deeply felt beliefs have been wanting expression in the broader world without being told to “get over it” or “move on” when I’ve never even said anything of my beliefs. Not. Ever. Asked.

So the birds were an altar for me this morning, reflecting a simple, direct aliveness that isn’t complicated by politics or religion or personalities or money or status. Just simply beingness ….. just manifesting what’s TRUE … not all of this human complication that we’re seeing. Sigh ….. I am jealous of the birds.

Who Are We?

Genealogy research and the creation of our family tree is an opportunity to explore who we think we are.

Genealogy Forms

When I first began genealogy research, I was only 12. A school teacher, wanting to personalize our study of the immigration patterns in the formation of the United States, gave us a four-generation family tree chart and told us to “find out where your people are from” so I dutifully went home to ask Mom. She referred me to my dear Aunt Catherine who, unknown to me until that time, was the family’s historian and busy letter-writer to the far-flung families of our lineage.

Aunt Catherine was the classic genealogist – three-ring binder with lined paper, penciled notes and connections drawn in her own hand, with references to places and dates for each person mentioned. When I reached out to her, little did I know that my interest and now obsession with genealogy began! She showed me what she knew, we wrote on my four-generation chart and gave names to people that I remembered hearing about at family reunions. I hadn’t had interest in the stories when I was younger but now the stories began to matter. Luckily, I had Aunt Catherine and othersin that far-flung network of family to connect with. Aunt Catherine helped me to reach out to cousins across the midwest and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (our people on mom’s side first came into the United States via the mining communities of Houghton, Hancock and the Keweenaw Peninsula.

And Aunt Catherine introduced me to genealogy libraries such as the incredible Burton Collection of the Detroit Public Library in downtown Detroit (now one of my truly favorite retreats on a rainy, cold afternoon) and the wonders of indexes, microfilm and books. I was already a committed reader, but now I became a HISTORY reader. It makes a difference when you can connect your people to the geography and history of the development of our country. Aunt Catherine gave me a
piece of copper and told me about the mines of the Upper Peninsula and how our family was a key part of that. She knew that my great-great-grandfather had been a pioneer in Ishpeming and helped to fell the trees that were cleared to create the first roads in Ishpeming and Marquette.

Sitting in the Burton Collection room in later years, I made my first discoveries of royal lineages through a conversation across the table with a fellow genealogist (and distant cousin sharing the same line leading back to royalty) and began to share with my brother’s oldest child that her ancestors were brave, remarkable people that she could be proud of.

Fifty years later, I’m STILL making discoveries and still excited about genealogical research. I’m more discerning now, working to document by the genealogical proof standards, the lineages of our family. I’ve dabbled in DNA research with samples from my mom and me, and learning more every day. Maybe at some point I’ll feel like I’m “done” but given that I still don’t know my dad’s family’s ancestral name or where they came from (other than the broad reference to Poland), it’s not happening any time soon. So, I’ll stop for now writing here because there are websites and research calling …. get out there and start yours today!!! If you need help, let me know. Giving back to others starting the journey is how I honor what Aunt Catherine began with me.

#genealogy #familytree #LineageJourneys #history #BurtonCollection #DPL

Women and Moontime

Women's Hoop

It’s truly an exciting time – having the opportunity to share with women the wonderful and empowering information about the “Moontime” or menses, bleeding time, “period” or whatever you might call the menstrual cycle. So many of us were raised in a culture that demeaned, dirtied or otherwise made this special and sacred time something negative. I’ve been blessed to have Lakota women teach me how to utilize this time to learn about and from myself, do ceremony that gives me a stronger connection to Spirit and find other women to share with in “Women’s Hoops” so that we can continue to draw from our strength.

This workshop is particularly exciting for me as I’m in the midst of daily ceremony here and some very dramatic changes happening in my life. My “star quilt” career (no, that’s not about sewing quilts!) is developing, shifting, opening and growing in ways that I never suspected or knew to even think about. And now an Elder is sharing  more with me and I’m sharing more with others.  I’m blessed … and change is coming!