Thursday, January 5, 2017

You know you want to go!!!

Come know you want it.

RootsTech 2017 begins in just over a month, and it's time to get some plans in motion.
Perhaps you will want to take advantage of some of the best "hands-on" opportunities in the genealogy world.
Perhaps you have a "one-of-a-kind" book that you would love to have scanned - for free.
Maybe you can spend a day or two in the Family History Library (love the missionary with the pointer.)
Or, the opportunity to meet some of your favorite bloggers.

Here is probably one of the final contests to help you win a free pass to RootsTech.  It includes:

■ Innovator Summit (Wednesday)
            over 200 classes
        ■    Keynotes
        ■    General sessions
        ■    RootsTech classes
        ■    Getting Started classes
        ■    Expo hall

        ■    Evening events 
This is a $299 value that you may win for free!  And, if you have already registered, your money will be refunded when you contact RootsTech to let them know.
Here is what you need to do:
  • Leave a comment on this blog telling me who you want to meet  or listen to at RootsTech, and what impact they may have had on you.
That's all there is to it!  I'll give you a hint:  I am dying to hear LeVar Burton.  His performance in Roots changed a nation by opening our eyes to what may have seemed impossible.

Find out more about the entire event at:

Let me know by Saturday evening by 11:59 pm EDT, and you may wake up finding some good news in your hands.

Come know you want it!

Disclaimer:  As an Ambassador for RootsTech, we are given the opportunity to offer one certificate for a complete registration.  I am thrilled to be able to offer this!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Lessons from my six month sabbatical

It was over a year ago that I realized I was tired.

November 2015 found me looking back over the year and counting up the presentations and webinars I had done.  It amounted to 62 total speaking opportunities, and I was tired.  

I talked it over with Mr. Kerry, and told him I felt I should fulfill all of the commitments I had made through June 2016, but wouldn't accept any more throughout the rest of the year.

It was a wise decision.

I finished out at close to 30 by the end of June, and had a couple of more presentations in August and September, but I was officially done for the year.  I took the last half of the year off.

I needed some research time of my own.  

I needed some learning time of my own.

I needed to not wake up in a hotel wondering what city I was in.

And now, I am back!  I am refreshed and raring to go.  I am busy through mid-September, and have even booked presentations into 2018.

Let me tell you what I learned during these past six months:

1.  I learned that I miss gathering with my genealogy colleagues, whether they be attendees or other speakers.

2.  I learned that it is imperative that I continue to do my own research.  This usually involves a southern trip with my sisters, which includes a lot of laughing!
Sisters Betty, Fern, and me!

3.  I learned that it is extremely important that I continue to connect with the living.  I was born into an old family, so there aren't many of the older generation left.  I have moved into that position.  I recently sat and listened to my aunt teaching her great-granddaughter the old mountain gospel songs.  I could have listened to this torch being passed all day long.
Aunt Betty teaching gospel songs to great-granddaughter Skylan

4.  Though I was not actively teaching any classes, it remained important that I stay connected with the genealogy community -- mostly through Facebook and other social media.

5.  Continuing my own education was vital, and I'm an active learner.  Every opportunity I have to listen in on a class or webinar is another opportunity for growth.

6.  Though I have 35 presentations that are ready to go on a moment's notice (I have filled in for people that couldn't present at the last moment, so I'm glad I have them.), plus about 8 more that are in process.  I spent these past six months updating and tweaking these presentations and the accompanying syllabi.

7.  I began to review some of my older presentations that have been video or audio taped, so that I could critique what I sound and look like.  For those of you who know me well, this is a really big deal, for I can't stand to watch or hear myself.  But, I felt I must do it so that people who are paying to hear me will not feel their money has been wasted.

8.  I found some much-needed spare time that I didn't do a darn thing.  This is when I replenished myself.  I read, I studied.  I did some self-reflecting.  I attended two funerals, which I would not have been able to do if I had accepted two speaking invitations.

9.  I worked on my much-neglected personal history.

10.  I began to prepare for 2017..

These are a few of the things I have not been able to while always being on-the-go.  And, it's not that I dislike what I do.  I love what I do!  But, I had reached a point where I needed to scale back.

So, in a few short weeks, I will be headed to Salt Lake City for RootsTech 2017, followed by a quick trip to Orlando, followed by another trip to...

I have taken care of me.

And, sometimes life pulls us up short.  I was mowing this past August when I had a tractor accident.  I got stuck on a root. Actually, it was a root and a rock.  I shut everything down and managed to unloose the tractor, only to have it begin to roll and take me with it.  Part of my leg was bruised pretty badly, my arm was torn up, and I fell really hard -- straight down.

Things began to heal, but one area was becoming increasingly worse.  It resulted in having surgery, followed by some pretty limited recuperation.

It was a relief to not have to worry about rearranging a myriad of engagements while taking care of my own self.

So, lessons learned...

*Sometimes, you might feel prompted to do some scaling back.  Listen to that prompting.

*Continue to read and educate yourself.

*Never stop learning.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Faces of Volunteerism

I make frequent trips to the Ohio Genealogical Society. 
Many times I'm there on Monday, when the facility is closed.

Each Monday, for at least the past five years, 
a group of volunteers have met to work on probate files from the Richland County, Ohio courthouse.
Volunteers meet each Monday at OGS to work on probate files.

Past-president of OGS, Sunda Peters (seated in green) has been the fearless leader of this group.

They are unfolding, unstapling, and getting massive amounts of folders ready for digitizing.
A small portion of the probate files coming from the Richland County, Ohio courthouse.

These probate files are some of the earliest records in Ohio, beginning in 1813.  That's just ten years after Ohio became a state!

The box in the upper right corner represents the many staples and other items used to attach papers together.

They are currently working on the year 1900, and have about five more years of work to do.

FamilySearch has hired a contractor, who is at the courthouse filming the files that have been taken apart, unstapled, and put into manila folders.
Currently, she is on the year 1847, so Sunda and her staff are trying to keep her from catching up with them.

After they are sent to FamilySearch (weekly, I assume), they will be available for viewing, just like on a microfilm reader.

Then, they will be up for indexing.
That's how this process works.
Eventually, researchers will be able to search for ancestors by name, and bring up the actual image.

The final product will be probate files that cover the years
1813 - 1935.
Then, the project will be finished.

That's how it all comes together.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Kentucky Research Adventures Never End

15 Sep 2016

MissPeggy and her sisters are at it again. This time,we are in eastern Kentucky, where I am speaking at a conference tomorrow.
Conversation in library:
First man: Well, if it's your baby you need to make things right.
Second man: Well, it just might be.
First man: What are you going to do to make it right?
Second man: Well, I can give her a goat right now, maybe another one later.
First man: That's a good start. It will let her know you're not going to leave her without something to get along with.
Second man: I don't want her to think I'm a knucklehead.
(I know. I shouldn't be eavesdropping. My sisters and I are trying to hold our faces together.)
And, our memories when we passed a familiar town...
Betty: Oh, this is where we followed a man on a horse!
Me: That's right. I turned around in a gas station and got behind a man on a horse. We followed him all the way into town.
Fern: It seems like something else happened here.
Me: Yes, we ended up in the middle of a parade.
Betty: I remember that! It seems like it was a noisy one.
Me: Betty, you had the trombone section beside your window.
We all nod our heads in fond and solemn memory.

16 Sep 2016
I'm fixin' on crying.
There is a young man in the library with us. He is trying to reconstruct his life.
First, his house was flooded and filled with mud. They tried to save what they could
When he finally got it all dried out, it caught fire and he lost everything.
Now, he is here with us trying to copy photos out of school yearbooks so he can have some sort of memory of his life. This is one of many things he's using, besides just trying to find any relative that may have a photo of him.
I'm telling you, I'm fixin' on crying.
This is a library like no other I have ever been to.
They have fed us since we walked in the door. We have had grapes, cheddar cheese, bottled water, granola bars, plus pork chops. Yes, pork chops. Someone brought in extras they had fixed for lunch and asked if we all would like somethin' to eat.
Of course!
Then, she opened up this big tray and there were pork chops an inch thick, with mashed potatoes, green beans with bacon, and biscuits.
Now, she walks in with a box of donuts.
We don't ever, ever want to leave. Please let us roll out and spend the night, for we want to know what's for breakfast!
Oh, and we have found lots of genealogy, too!

17 Sep 2016

We enjoyed a wonderful dinner at the Ramada Inn in Paintsville, Kentucky. We enjoyed something we hadn't had since our grandmother was alive -- potato salad made with mashed potatoes.
I know it may sound a bit odd, but one bite into it brought back every memory we had of visiting her during the summers. The restaurant here had the absolute perfect blend of the pickles, two kinds of onions, etc. Oh, it was good!
Opening festivities tonight included a "Meet and Greet", again with all sorts of foods. I can't remember a time when I have grazed every moment since I pulled out of my driveway. (My mom used to get so mad at my dad when we traveled. She would pack it all up, and he would have it gone before we got out of town.)
There was a wonderful man and woman who spent an hour playing Civil War songs. Both of their voices were good and quite clear.
Another conversation I was part of today:
Man (from a county I'm researching in): Ma'am, what are the names of the people you're looking for?
Me: (I rattled off about a dozen from that county)
Man: I know ever (yes, ever) one of them.
Me: How do you know them?
Man: I drive past their graveyard.
Me: I know right where it's at!
Man: I drive a school bus there ever day.
Me: Are you serious? I've been on that road! Your front end meets your hind end comin' around those hairpin turns.
Man: I know, ma'am. I have to get out and pull my mirrors in.
Me: On your bus?
Man: On my bus. I have to squeeze between two trees. If they get much bigger I'm going to have to figure out how I'm going to do it, for I'm tired of getting out and bending those mirrors in.
Me: Which county do you drive for?
Man: Depends on which curve I'm on.
Good grief.
Later on...
Me (talking to an older woman): I think my tooth is flaring up on me.
Woman: Do you have any sheep dung?
Me: Sheep dung?!?! (trying to recall my mom talking about it)
Woman: I can bring you some tomorrow if it's still a-painin' you.
Me: Uh, no. I do believe I brought something with me to help it some.
Woman: Well, you just let me know.
Me: Oh, I will...
Now, I'm not telling you these things to make fun of the conversations I've had. Not at all. This is Appalachia, and sometimes things run at a different speed here.
These are fine, fine people with deep German and Scots/Irish roots. And, if I ever had to live off the land during famine or a depression, this is where I would want to be.
God bless them all.

Speaker at conference giving directions to his bookstore...
Man: It's just around the corner from...
Audience: ?
Man: It's two blocks from ...
Audience: ?
Man: It's just down the road from ___ Gun's Supply.
Audience - all in one voice: Oh! We all know where that is! We'll find your shop!!!

18 Sep 2016

Miss Peggy is reflecting after a whirlwind three days with her sisters.
After my sisters fell asleep Friday evening, I thought I heard someone singing. I went to the door, and went out to the hall (like an indoor courtyard) and followed the singing down to where I looked over an atrium. There was a bunch of people attending a Baptist convention, and they couldn't sleep. So, they got up, went downstairs, and started up singing. I stayed upon the balcony and sang right along with them.
As I got back to the room, I tiptoed back to the side of the bed by the wall and window, and got stuck. Something was sticking down my back in my nightgown holding me hostage. I called for Betty, and she jumped up asking what in the world had happened.
That stupid rod that you pull the curtains back and forth with somehow got wedged down my back, and was holding me like a puppet, not able to move.
She got me out of my fix, only to have the same thing happen about ten minutes later.
The next morning, a couple were standing behind us at breakfast when the woman said, "You look so familiar. Were you the one on the balcony singing with us?"
Me: (Sheepishly) Well, yes it was. I apologize for being in my nightgown.
Woman: Well, looked a heck of a lot better than the folks at Walmart!
I have stepped up.
Breakfast was to die for this morning. It was all of the stuff I grew up on - bacon and eggs, sausage, biscuits and gravy, fried apples, waffles, etc.
After being interviewed by the local television station, I began my series of talks, beginning with "Following the Money Using Tax Records". I had these people hollerin' and slappin' the legs - over tax records! Probably because so many of mine were listed as "Distillers" on the actual records.
In between classes, a woman came up to me and asked me if I knew much about "those Mormons". I responded that I did, for I am one. She then proceeded to tell me all about "those Mormons" digging up their dead folks. I assured her that WE didn't, emphasizing that she was indeed talking to one. She said a friend of a friend of hers told her they did, so it must be true.
Honey, just go sit back down.
Soon it was time to leave. After eating and talking and laughing and eating some more and laughing some more, we drove with the beautiful moon shining on us through the hills.
We reminisced about an earlier time...
A turkey buzzard swooped down across the windshield, lodging in the front left fender.
Me: (driving Fern's Toyota van) Good grief!
Betty: What in the world was that thing?
Me: I think it was a teradactyl.
Fern: Is the van okay?
Me: I'm going to pull over and check.
Me...pulling feathers and body parts out of the grill. My sisters are freaking out.
I then noticed that the fender was dislodged from the main body. I cleaned out more feathers, snapped everything back together like Legos, got in the car and drove on.
Fern: Are you sure it's okay?
Me: Are we driving?
Fern: Yes
Me: Do you hear anything flopping?
Fern: No
Me: We're fine. Let's keep going and find us a cemetery.
I will miss my sisters when they're gone. Of course, I'm assuming they will go before me, which may not be the case. But, I can tell things are a bit harder for them than they used to be.
Perhaps, just perhaps, that is why I was born so many years after them.

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Music That Soothed Her

Music has always been a big part of my life.  I have written about my love for the piano, and my parents' sacrifice to buy one for me.  The blog post may be found here: 

I don't believe my mother's side of the family had much talent for music.  Mom had no rhythm or timing when it came to singing, and not very good pitch, either.  But, that certainly didn't keep her from singing her heart out.  I didn't notice anyone else in her family being blessed with musical abilities, either.

Dad was a different matter.  His dream was to always conduct an orchestra.  An elaborate stereo sound system always graced our home, where dad would be playing his "long-hair" music.  

I can remember some girls knocking on our door one evening.  They went to my school, but I didn't know them very well.  When I opened the door, they heard my dad's music and screeched, stating that I was one of the luckiest people they could imagine.

I believe that my dad could have been fine musician, if the opportunity and the resources had been there for him.  But, they weren't.

I recently transcribed my dad's journal, and placed the contents on FamilySearch.  I was reminded of something that he often talked about, and I blogged about on 12 Mar 2013.

"Dad always talked about his little sister, Betty, who died when she was 3 1/2 years old.  

Betty was born when Dad was two years old.  She was the sixth child out of eleven that would come to that family.

One day, older sister Mary was rocking little Betty by a pot bellied stove that had a pot of beans cooking and bubbling away on the top of it.  As she rocked Betty, she would "push off" with her foot against the stove.  Each time she pushed, the pot of beans would move a little closer to the edge.

It eventually moved too close to the edge and fell right on to baby Betty and Mary.  It mostly covered Betty, scalding her severely.

It took Betty three, agonizing days to die from the burns.  What a terrible death!  And, the terrible feelings that Mary must have had running through her 11 year old mind.  The helplessness of her parents hearing her cries must have haunted them throughout their lives.

One of my sisters is named Betty in honor of this sweet little aunt that died so many years ago."

But, I didn't finish that story.  

Dad mentioned:

"...and of course the doctors was not trained to treat severe burns in those days and the most the doctor could do for her was to give her Morphine to ease the pain till she died, We lived on Clark hill at that time, a part of Olive Hill.

 I was in school at that time but I believe my mother told us that after Betty’s burn quit hurting so bad that she was rocking her in that same rocker and Betty started singing a song that we all sang in church and at home from time to time and the name of the song was,
            Heavens bells are ringing and I’m going home
            Heavens bells are ringing and I’m going home
            Heavens bells are ringing and I’m going home, away to beauliland.
That song has come to my mind many times during my lifetime and something tells me that she went right straight to the presence of God, it would be hard to make me believe anything different."

It took little Betty three whole days to die.  Three whole days.  There was nothing they could do but give her morphine to ease the pain.

I, too have lost a child.  He was much older, but still my child.  There wasn't much to comfort me.

But, as I read Dad's journal, I began to think about the words that my grandmother sang to her little girl, probably hoping that the sound of her voice and the words to the song would comfort them both.

I tried to find the song, and I believe it may have been the combination of two songs.  Here are the words:
"Climbing Zion's Hill"
Oh, the heaven bells are ringing and I'm a-going home
I'm a-going home, yes, I'm a-going home
Oh, the heaven bells are ringing and I'm a-going home
Climbing up Zion's hill
I'm climbing, I'm climbing
Climbing up Zion's hill
I'm climbing, I'm climbing
Climbing up Zion's hill
[Instrumental break]
If you don't, my mother, you'll be too late
You'll be too late, you'll be too late
If you don't, my mother, you'll be too late
Climbing up Zion's hill
I'm climbing, I'm climbing
Climbing up Zion's hill
I'm climbing, I'm climbing
Climbing up Zion's hill
[Instrumental break]
If you don't, my father, you'll be too late
You'll be too late, you'll be too late
If you don't, my father, you'll be too late
Climbing up Zion's hill
I'm climbing, I'm climbing
Climbing up Zion's hill
I'm climbing, I'm climbing
Climbing up Zion's hill

And, I was even able to find a recording of a mountain woman singing this song -- probably sounding much like my own grandmother would have sounded.  It's only a couple of minutes long, but if you feel so inclined, please listen to a piece of Appalachian history -- one that my grandmother may have sung to comfort her grieving heart.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Adding Them Up and Keeping Them Straight

I love my military ancestors.
40th KY Infantry, Co., K

As I look into their faces, I often wonder the thoughts that may have been going through their mind as they left their homes and families; perhaps never to see them again.  The photo above is of Robert H. STEVENS, a veteran of the Civil War, and one who served as a POW.  He also suffered a pain in the side and a broken foot, perhaps from a sudden jar from shells from a cannon.  (information taken from the 1890 Kentucky Union Veteran's Census)

After picking up where my parents left off, I began to discover more and more military ancestors; so many that I began to lose count.  I really wanted to keep a running list of them, and prepared an Excel spreadsheet to do so.

First, I asked Mr. Kerry to give me a list of all of the wars the United States has been involved in, including the years.  In just a couple of moments, he handed me a list.  (Note:  We have been married nearly 39 years.  The trash has been picked up every week during the wee hours of Friday morning -- for 39 years.  Every Thursday, I gently nudge him and ask, "Kerry, do you remember whose coming tomorrow?"  His answer, after pausing to think, "Uh, your sisters?"  Sigh...But, he can remember every war America has been part of.)

I entered those wars and their years across the top of a spreadsheet, leaving a column on the left to enter their names.

Each time I find a new military ancestor, it is easy to insert his/her name on the left, and to write a very brief description in the war column.

I now have added ancestor #169!!  I could never remember all of them without a chart to help me out.

I have also included those who are currently enrolled in the military.

It's just one more way to keep me straight.  Perhaps it can help you, too!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Documenting Your Experience - It's Worth the Effort!

I need help keeping up with my own self.

When a "Call for Papers" is issued by a society, there is usually a section that asks for prior speaking experience.  In past years, I didn't really keep a record like I should have, and it was a difficult task to reconstruct all of those events.

So, I began a file in Dropbox to help me in that effort.  I call it my "Genealogy - Learning and Teaching List".  It looks like this:

Each time I attend a class or present a class via conference or webinar, it is recorded.  I looked back over my calendar, and using syllabi from conferences and webinars from various organizations, I put it together.  Let me show you what 2015 looks like:

Again, there are two divisions for each year -- one for learning and one for teaching.

Here is part of the file for learning:

The list goes on for several more pages.  It also includes conferences where I have attended classes.  As much as I love hanging out with genea-friends during these events, I am also there to learn!

The one I am showing below was the clincher for me:

Last November, I was reviewing my lists for 2015.  As I was adding up the various venues I had been part of, either in person or via webinar, I realized why I was feeling a bit worn out.  

The in-person events added up to 62.
The webinars accounted for about 15-20 more.

I made the decision to fulfill my commitments up to the end of June for this current year, and to spend the last half of the year working on my own.  That includes research on my own family, refreshing some of my lectures, and the development of new ones.

And, it has been wonderful!

I have made a trip to Kentucky, with another one planned in September.

I have refreshed about 1/3 of my current lectures.  The others are still in the works.

I am in the middle of developing four new ones, with a few more rolling around in the back of my head.

There have been some "Calls for Papers" that I have responded to, and when I do I include the cumulative experience that I garnered from compiling my lists.

Now, there is another reason I am keeping this type of a record.  As with any credentialing organization, I am required to renew my Accreditation through ICAPGen every five years.  Though I am not inclined to do client work anymore, I feel I must show that I am keeping myself current and fresh.

These lists do the job for me.

And, there's even one more reason.

I have talked with several genealogists through the years that would love to become part of the speaking circuit.  A few still have children at home, or for one reason or another are just not able to do it right now.

My advice:  Do the above!

Start where you're at, and begin to record and document every time you are asked to present a class anywhere.  It doesn't matter if it's:

  • At your child's school
  • Teaching a youth class at church
  • Helping Boy Scouts on a merit badge
  • Giving a class at the public library
  • Speaking at a local genealogy society
  • Demonstrating a skill at a local history fair (think spinning, churning butter, ropemaking, teaching about early settlers)
  • Serving as a docent at an historical site
  • Writing an article for your local state or county society
I think you get the idea.

All of these experiences count!  Most recently, a friend of mine was able to receive credit for two college classes because her cumulative list showed the advisor the needed field experience for teaching.  

Be sure to ask for a letter of recommendation from any organizer that you work with.  These can carry a lot of weight, especially if they keep asking you to return.

Your time and your effort count.  But, until you actually see it written down, you may not realize just how much you have done.