Always Anxiously Engaged

Peggy Clemens Lauritzen, AG

Accredited Genealogist and AG are certification marks of the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists (ICAPGen). Genealogists licensed to use the marks have met the competency standards of ICAPGen.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

How do I come up with a topic?

I thank you all for the many comments I received private
on yesterday's post


I can't recall a time when so many people 
reached out to me to thank me, and to ask questions.

One of the questions I had several people ask me was,
"How do you come up with all of these topics?"

That is actually a very good questions.
I can't speak for all genealogy speakers, 
but let me tell you how I do it.

First and foremost,
they come from researching my own family.

I have spent years taking up the research where my parents left off.
And, just when I think I have seen everything there is to see,
I find something new!

I have run across:
counterfeiters
moonshiners
illegitemacies
patriots
tories
people who should have received awards
people who should have kept quiet
veterans
grass widows
"idiots" on the 1880 DDD schedule
families that were nearly wiped out in 1918
babies that were previously unknown
courthouse burnings by my own family
cemetery destruction
massacres
school records
migration trails...

Oh, I could go on and on.
And, so could you.
But, if any of you have heard me speak,
or listened to webinars I have given,
you will notice that many of the above topics 
have been the subjects of my presentations.

I figure if they have happened in my family,
perhaps they have happened in someone else's, too!

So, I take what I learn...
and, I teach it to others.

There is another way I come up with topics.
I listen.
I listen very carefully during conversations at
conferences,
at luncheons,
to those passing me in the hall,
while waiting in line,
to those that may ask a question during a presentation,
when I see heads nodding at the answer to that question
(whether in one of my classes or someone else's).

All it takes is for someone to say they are having a problem in a certain area,
and my ears perk up.

Because if they're at a standstill,
then perhaps others are at a standstill, too.

So, I begin to research everything I can get my hands on
to learn about it.

WThese are two ways that I come up with topics.
And, when I say to my friends that I am always in research mode, 
it means
I am always in research mode.
Always.

There are many people who would love to eventually become 
a genealogy speaker,
or perhaps they are just starting out.

With all my heart, I say
welcome!

There is room for all.
Each one brings their expertise to the table,
and can perhaps help someone that has been struggling for a long time.

Here is how I have done it.

1.  Start out by letting local societies know that you have a topic that they may be interested.
They usually plan their programs a year in advance, 
but let them know that if something falls through,
you would like to be considered.

2.  When word gets around, say yes!
Say yes to societies, public libraries, schools, Scout groups, luncheon groups, etc.
These will all give you experience,
and your comfort will grow at standing in front of any crowd.

3.  Keep track of every single presentation you have given!
All of these presentations will show how serious you are at becoming a speaker.

Here is an example from my own portfolio:
Lecture Experience:
Ambassador – RootsTech 2016
Ancestry Academy - 2016
BYU Family History Conference - 2008, 2011, 2014, 2015
Crawford County, Ohio Genealogical Society/Bucyrus Public Library – 1996-2016
Darke Co., OH – Full-day Seminar- 2012-2015
Dayton, Ohio Family History Jamboree – 1996-2015
Fairfax, VA Annual Spring Conference – 2014
Galion, Ohio Public Library – 2008, 2009-2012, 2014
ICAPGen Conference, BYU, Provo, UT – 2007
Indianapolis, OH – Full-day Seminar – 2013, 2014
Knox County Career Center - Adult Education, 1997 – 1999
Legacy Family Tree Webinars - 2015-16
Muncie, IN Genealogy Symposium – 2012-2015
National Genealogical Society- 2016
OGS Conference – 1998-2016                                                                           
OGS Summer Workshop - 1999 - 2012
Ohio State University - Adult Education, 1994 – 1997
RootsTech – 2015-2016
Shelby Co., OH – Full-day Seminar – 2014
Southern California Genealogy Jamboree – 2015-2016
Webinar, Illinois Genealogical Society – 2012-2016
Webinar, Southern California Genealogical Society – 2013, 2014
Webinar, Wisconsin Genealogical Society – 2014

I don't show this to scare you off.
It's just example of how I have a visible list for organizers to looks at.

I also keep a spreadsheet that shows what I spoke about
at each of the above venues.

4.  Not only do I have a teaching list like the one you see above,
I have a learning list, too.
Each time I listen to a webinar,
go to a conference,
or a society meeting,
I keep a running track of what I have done to further my own education.

I don't want to get stale.
Nor do I want to get into a rut.

So, this is just a small sampling of what I do.

And, I have way too much fun doing it!!
Peggy speaking to a crowd in Sidney, Ohio.
It doesn't matter if the size is great or small,
they still get the same quality of program.

Getting ready to teach a Beginner's Class at the Ohio Genealogical Society Conference.
Or was it a Land Platting Class?
Sisters Cindy and Jodi came up right before one of my RootsTech classes last year.
I grew up with these remarkable women!


All of these experiences led me to be invited to be an instructor for
Ancestry Academy.

I remember starting out with storytelling at my children's school
They would bring me in when they were learning about Ohio history.
The neat thing is that the stories I told about early Ohio history and the 
Northwest Territory
always involved stories about my own family.

My kids became heroes!
Their friends loved it!!!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

A Day in the Life of a Genealogy Speaker

RootsTech 2016 is set to begin in just a few days!
It has been so fun to scroll through my Facebook and Twitter feed and be part of the excitement.
People are coming from all over the world.

This year, I am attending alone.
Mr. Kerry and I were fortunate last year that we had such good weather to travel across the country.
But, there's no guarantee that we'll have good traveling weather two years in a row
to travel across this great country.

Genealogy conferences usually begin with a "Call for papers", 
in which an organization is announcing that they are hosting a conference
and looking for speakers.
There have been a few times where I submitted nothing to the "call for papers",
but was personally asked to develop classes for the event.
Which, I gladly did.

I normally have 30-35 class proposals that are 'at the ready'.
That means that if asked to present, these are ready to go.
The syllabus materials are written.
The slides are done.
Just give me the time you want me to be there.

Speakeres have to make sure that my topics are not "canned".
I look to the audience I will be addressing, understanding what level most of them are in their research, and tweak what may be needed.

I can tell a canned lecture, no matter the venue.

In a few weeks, you find out if you're accepted, and preparations for travel begin.

These are the good parts.
Let me tell you some of the bad parts.

Several years ago, I was asked to present an all-day series of classes for a society.
They had their own projector, so I wouldn't need to bring mine.

I loaded up my laptop, my flash drive, and drove to across the state to get things ready.
It meant getting up and out of the house before 6:00 am.

Mr. Kerry was with me.
He is my rock.

When we arrived, I was taken to a room where a projector was waiting for me.
My laptop and the projector were not on speaking terms.
There was no expert I could turn to.
I was the expert.
No amount of tweaking, begging, cajoling, threatening, etc. seemed to work.

A dear woman volunteered her laptop to see if it would communicate with the projector.
It did!
  Both pieces of technology seemed happy!
I pulled out my flash drive that contained a back up of my presentations.
It wouldn't fit into her USB drive.
The ends were crimped.
I have no idea how in the world it happened, but the ends were bent in an awkward position, 
and they couldn't be inserted into her laptop.

I was beginning to sweat bullets.
People have paid good money, and given up part of their day to hear me!

I asked if the room had access to wifi, and it did!!!!
I signed into my Dropbox account from her computer,
pulled up my presentation, and within a few moments we were good go.

There were a few important things I learned from this:
1.  It is probably a good idea to bring your own projector, if possible.
We were driving, so it worked out fine.

2.  It might also be a good idea to have two flash drives with you.
I have no idea what happened between my house and the venue, 
but somewhere along the way, those ends became crimped.
And, all of the information was lost that was on that drive.

3.  Thank goodness for the wifi connection that was strong enough to allow access to files I had backed up in Dropbox.
I honestly don't know what I would have done without having that option.

4.  It's important that your audience doesn't get a sense of how frazzled you are.
Believe me, I was frazzled.
But, not a person in the room knew it.
They knew something may have had a kink in it, but they didn't have to worry.
And, I didn't need 500 voices telling me how to solve the problem.
It got solved.

Now, on the eve of leaving for RootsTech 2016, why would I even be writing about this?
I have things to do!

Because right now, there are literally hundreds of speakers
 that are going over and over their presentations.

They are tweaking slides.
They are taking some out and putting others in.

Some that have been asked to give permission for their presentations to be streamed.
For them, that means changing their entire presentation to a different ratio,
for the screens are much larger for the streaming.

This would be me.
I spent all day Thursday re-sizing every one of my slides.
They will be re-size again when I present in Fort Lauderdale in May for the
National Genealogical Society.
Miss Peggy, doing what she loves!

If you are fortunate enough to be at RootsTech next week,
be sure to take the time and let a speaker know how much you enjoyed their presentation.
I can tell you right now,
a lot of work went into it.

Hours and hours of work went into it.
And, it's never really done, for that speaker will go over it again
before the next presentation is given.

But, it's all worth it when you receive an email that says:
" I want to thank you so much for teaching 
the class on women at the Dayton Jamboree. It really was the best class I took all day.  Indeed, I was having such a good time in that class, I regretted having to leave and go on to the next one!"


That, my friends, is called payday.

Enjoy RootsTech this week, whether in person or at home.

And, if you see me, come and say hello!








#RootsTech16

Friday, January 15, 2016

RootsTech for First-timers; A Caution About Those Streets

Salt Lake City is beautiful!
This was taken last year when we stepped out the front door of my sister-in-law's home.
There wasn't much snow during RootsTech2015.

We had lunch at the Garden Restaurant, located at the top of the Joseph Smith Building.
The Salt Lake Temple is easily the most recognized of the nearly 150 operating temples
of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

However, if you're not used to high elevation, you might want to read up on altitude sickness.
I experienced it several years ago, and couldn't figure out what was wrong with me.
People twice my age were hopping of tour buses and hiking.
I felt like I was dead.
I was advised to take Dramamine, which I had never done before.
I woke up a day and a half later in one of Mr. Kerry's relatives homes.
I have no idea how I got there.
The altitude ranges from 4,210 feet above sea level to 9,410.
Drink water - lots and lots of water.

But, on to something that you may not expect in downtown Salt Lake City.
They are everywhere. 
And, sometimes I run into the same ones year after year.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is extremely benevolent in its charity.
And, it's also a believer in giving people the tools to get on their feet.
There are many programs and opportunities to help those that may be less fortunate,
so just be careful.

A final thing to note:  those Salt Lake City streets!
They are wide.  Very, very wide.
According to many LDS history books, and the book, 
 Utah Journey, Click here 
I quote the following:

Brigham Young assigned Orson Pratt and H.G. Sherwood to lay out a grid for a new city...
There were 135 blocks, each having 10 acres divided into 8 lots...

The streets were wide enough for a wagon and team to turn around, if needed."

Okay, did I make that bold enough for you?
Mr. Kerry grew up in Utah, and has often cautioned me when I'm there alone, that 
things are farther away than they seem.

We've been married 38 years and I'm still learning that.

So, for those that are not used to altitudes, 
or that may not be used to cities laid out the way Salt Lake City is,
take care of yourself by reading up 
on the above link for altitude sickness.

And, take care of your feet.  
They may get a workout like they haven't had in awhile.

It's not a time for prissy or dress-up shoes.

It's about comfort.
Just trust me.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

And Yet, Another Reason for Family History Centers!

Can you tell I love Family History Centers?

A few days ago, I wrote a blogpost about the ongoing need for Family History Center.
You may read it here.

Well, there is even a greater opportunity for these centers of which
Mr. Kerry and I are Co-Directors of the one here in Mansfield, Ohio.
It has its own Facebook page:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has partnered with many institutions and is digitizing selected books that are housed in their collections.
Just look at all of these fine institutions that are willing to share their collections!

So, how do we use this?

Perhaps we hear that there may be a book written about our family.
Or, about an area our family lived in.
In the above case, you would want to sign in to FamilySearch.
On the top tabs, click "Search".
Then, click on "Books", wither from the drop-down menu, or the above screen.

You will again see the institutions involved, and a blank space where you may fill in 
a family name...
a geographic area...
the name of a church...
You get the idea.  
In this case, I filled in the name "Tinkling Spring"

Tinkling Spring is the name of a Presbyterian Church 
established in 1740 in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.
Many of my people lived in the surrounding area.
There is a website for it here.

The first two are the ones I am interested in. 
I clicked on the first one, which included "Cemetery Records".


I love cemeteries!
And, this old book tells me all about the people buried in the graveyard next to the church.
Could it get any better than that?

Well...
yes, and no.

The second book was about Reverend John Craig, who established the church in 1740.

That's right...1740!

When I clicked on the link to that book, this is the message that came up.

Excuse me?
I do not have sufficient rights?

But read it carefully.
It says that it must be viewed at... 
The Family History Library.
A partner library.
Or a Family Center.

So, I simply went to the Family History Center, thumb drive in hand.

I went through the process again, and it appeared right on the computer screen.

Up in the right-hand corner, you can see where you may print it or save it.

I saved portions of it to a thumb drive, and brought it home where I can read it from here.

So, we see yet another reason why Family History Centers 
located throughout the world can still serve us well.

There may be restrictions that were placed there when the initial agreements were drawn up,
or as it says in the "sufficient rights" screen,
only so many at a time can view the object.

Aren't we fortunate to have this available to us?



Friday, January 8, 2016

We Still Need Family History Centers!

We still need Family History Centers!

One of the most frequent comments I get concerning genealogy is this,
"Do we really need Family History Centers anymore?"

A resounding Yes!!!
I believe we do.  
Let me show you one of the reasons why.

Right now, I am in the middle of preparing to go to RootsTech2016.
I am taking several hundred photos to run through scanners that will quickly upload the photos to my computer.
I saw these in action last year, and I knew this would be one way to conquer the mountain of photos that are making me feel quite guilty.
This photo is from a previous post showing how I will scan them, several at a time.

But...
not everyone is going to RootsTech.
Or to the Harold B. Lee Library in Provo, where they have high-speed scanners, too.
They may not belong to a warehouse club, or have one near to them.
Or, they may not even have a scanner at home.
They may not even be able to afford a scanner.

All is not lost!

After a recent conversation with Pat Richley-Erickson, she asked if I would write a blog post about scanners that are available in most of the Family History Centers that I have seen.

This Lexmark scanner is available in our local Family History Center in Mansfield, Ohio.
It is an amazing machine that all of our computers print from.

And, patrons can scan on it, too!

And, this is a stack of photos I brought out to show how easy it is to use.
Notice that they are in a mess.
Excuse me.  You know you have one, too.
The sign-in screen shows two icons that you may tap on for your work.
Copy = making a regular copy of something that is printed off
Scan to FamilySearch = your photos, documents, etc. are scanned directly to your FamilySearch account.

That's right! 
Directly to your FamilySearch account.

You will be asked to enter your Username and Password, 
just like when you sign into FamilySearch online.
Hint:  The screen size is similar to that of a small tablet.
If you have trouble, bring a stylus with a rubber ball on the end,
or simply use a pencil eraser.

Click the one you want.
For this purpose, I clicked on "Photo".

The directions couldn't be more clear.

Wait just a few moments.

It let's you know when the scan is complete.

And, look!!
It joins all of the other photos I have scanned into my account.

Off to the left, you will see a list that I didn't take take a photo of.
It is simply a list of albums that I can drop those photos right into.

Now, this may not seem like that big of a deal when there are many different ways to scan photos and upload them to different websites.
But, it is a big deal if you don't have a scanner.
Or don't have a Big-Box store nearby.

Here is a similar article from the FamilySearch Blog:


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Just where have you been?

What happened to my grandmother's aunt would never happen here.

I'm telling you, it would never happen here.

This is my line:
Peggy --> Ida --> Bertha --> Celia

This is Celia Moore Gearheart and her daughter, Bertha Gearheart Stevens.
Bertha is my mother's mother.


Celia had a sister named Cora, and she married Doctor William Campbell.

And, he walked away for sixteen years.
Or, maybe it was thirty years.

Several years ago, I came into possession of my mother's journals.  
She was not an educated woman, neither was she uneducated.
In one of them, she recounts the story of Doctor William Campbell.
I have left all of her spelling the same.
You can figure it out.

From the journal of Ida Stevens Clemens
About 1956

"I Ida Clemns have wrote all the Family History I can remember about my grand parents I hope I may be able to find more soe where.  My Grand mother come over in Ky from Ironton Lewarnce Ohio and mett my grand Father and that were married thay help to raise hir sister to children Thelma & Delmer Campbell there mother Cora Moore Campbell his Husband Will Dock Dr. Campbell.  he went away for 16 years before he come back no one nowed Where he went too he come back home and he & aunt Cora went to house keeping and thay lived at Limestone Carter till he Died he was away from home to see some friend of his Koon Moore and he fell of his horse and never did talk any more and he Died at my Grand Father house at Limeston carter Ky.  he was buried at my father Corb Stevens homestead cemetary at or near Lawton Carter Ky. and his wife cora was burred there too and his daughter Thalma Campbell Collins Johnson.  by Ida Stevens Clemens"From the journal of Ida Stevens Clemens

My mom often talked about this scenario, saying that Aunt Cora never asked a word about where he had been.  They just started up where they left off.

I'm telling you, that would not happen in this house.
There would be a lot of explaining to do, 
and if you aren't going to talk... then you're going to listen!

In some of mom's belongings, I ran across this article that she had saved, entitled,
"The Roving Doctor of the Hills"
by Arthur A. Moore

Cora's maiden name is Moore, so this man must be connected in some way.
Plus, a distant cousin of mine uploaded the article onto UsGenWeb.

The article states that he was gone for thirty years!

I know that a common mistake that we, as genealogists can be guilty of is something called
"presentism"
which is when we place today's present values 
to interpret situations of the past.

I can't help it in this case.
The article states that he went on practicing medicine all over the southern states, and even across Texas, into Mexico.  I don't know how believable all of the article is, but what I do know is
that he was gone an awful long time!

They had two boys, which Cora must have continued to raise, along with the help of her parents.

He didn't live long after returning home, for he fell off his horse after going to visit Koon Moore.  
He never regained consciousness, and died.
Thelma (daughter), William, and Cora Campbell
Brown Cemetery, Lawton, Carter Co., Kentucky

We never knew why he left, 
and we sure don't know why he came back.



Monday, January 4, 2016

Walkin' the Floor

Most of my ancestors are from eastern Kentucky.
It is part of Appalachia (apple-atcha).
Though some came from the Tidewater region of both Virginia and North Carolina, most came in through the Philadelphia, PA area, settling in Germantown, before coming down the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with thousands of Germans and Scots-Irish.

And, they are a force to be reckoned with.

My mother used to recount a "legend" to us.  
She said that her father's grandfather, Robert H. Stephens, had his body dug up, and the skeleton hung in Doc Brown's office.  He had assembled the skeleton together to prove he was a doctor.
Others could recall a story where a "hand" floated up to the top of a cauldron of water in the woods near a cemetery, and that Robert Stephens' grave had been dug up.

My line would be as follows:
Ida Stevens --> Corb Stevens --> Richard Stephens --> Robert Stephens

I repeat, these are legends that have been passed down through the family.

One day, while visiting my mother's last living sibling, we got around to the subject of Robert.
I asked him if he thought it was true.
He honestly didn't know.

But, he did say a picture of Robert had been found, and that if I wanted to see it, just go "up the road a piece" to Loreada's house.
If she doesn't answer, just peek through the front door window.  The picture is hanging on the opposite wall.

This is Kentucky.  
It's not wise to go peeking in through someone's window.
But, I thought it was worth the effort, so Mr. Kerry and our four children piled into the van and drove "up the road a piece" to Loreada's.

I told them to wait in the van.
I always do.

I knocked on the door.
There was no answer.
I knocked again.
There was no answer.
So, I gave in and peeked through the door.
And, a set of eyes were peeking right back at me!

I thought I might wake up dead.

Once she focused in on me, she exclaimed, "Law, it's Ida's girl!  Get yourself on in here!!"

As I have mentioned before, things move at a slower speed in the south.
You have to move at that speed, or people may be suspicious of you.

I asked how she knew me, and she said she would have recognized me anywhere, for I looked just like Ida - her childhood playmate and cousin.
And, she looked just like Ida, my mom.

We talked for quite awhile, and she told me about some research she had done on the family.
Then, I asked her about the picture.
She went and got it, and I was absolutely astounded.
Loreada holding the picture of Robert Stephens

Robert's grandson, Corb - my grandfather.

She didn't mind me taking lots of pictures of the picture.  I had an old Vivitar point and shoot, so I carefully laid it outside in natural lighting and took pictures from every angle I could.  This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me, so I had to get it right.

Then, I asked her how in the world she had obtained it.
She said the people up the holler from her had been tearing up their flooring and found it there.
(Note:  Many times, people would use newspapers, magazines, and I guess, photos, to help insulate walls and floors)

Mr. Kerry asked me, "So, were they singing, 'I'm Walkin' the Floor Over You"?
Smart aleck.

Now, the legend of his skeleton will probably remain a mystery.
Although, while visiting my uncle a few years later, he received a phone call asking if he wanted Robert.  I was only half-listening.
He said to hang on, for Peggy's here and I'll ask her.

Someone was cleaning out a closet of an old building downtown and had found pieces of what they thought were a skeleton.
Did I want them?

No.
An emphatic NO.

I have enough skeletons in my closet.
Please, please bury them.
And, let whoever it is rest in peace.