Texas Institute of Genealogical Research (TIGR)

In Austin, TX, May 22-25, 2017, I will be part of the faculty presenting the first annual Texas Institute of Genealogical Research (TIGR). The institute will be a week long, with focus solely on Texas.

I am excited to be presenting “Shining Stars and Hidden Gems: Research Repositories of Texas.” Since moving to Texas two and a half years ago, I have made quite an effort to visit some of the wonderful research repositories in this BIG state. I have had some fantastic experiences and have gotten to hold in my hands some of the most precious and descriptive letters from the time of the Texas Revolution.

One project I have been involved with has been examining the personal writings from men who served in the Georgia Battalion. On a research visit to the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, located on the University of Texas campus, I had the privilege to read some very interesting and heartbreaking letters describing the times and conditions of the soldiers.

Letters written by John Sowers Brooks, available for viewing at the Briscoe Center, describe the terrible conditions the soldiers had to endure and are saturated with the loneliness these men must have felt.

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Letter from John Sowers Brooks, to his father, dated 25 February 1836, from Fort Defiance, Goliad, Texas; Briscoe Center for American History, box 3H90, Folder “Brooks (John Sowers) Papers [no folder numbers].

The letter reads in part:

“We will march at the dawn of day tomorrow with 320 men and 4 pieces of Artillery, 2 sixes and two fours. We have no provisions scarcely, and many of us are nearly naked, and entirely destitute of shoes. But something must be done to relieve our countrymen. We have suffered much and mar reasonably anticipate much greater sufferings. But if we succeed in reaching Bexar before the garrison is compelled to surrender, and are successful in taking the place and its gallant defenders– we shall deem ourselves amply repaid for our trials and hardships.”

Unfortunately, John Sowers Brooks was injured in battle, having received a bullet to his thigh which shattered the bone. He died during the massacre of Fannin’s Men at Goliad on 27 March 1836.

There are more letters to tell this tale. And hundreds of other tales of the Texas Revolution as well. The letters and stories are hidden in archives and manuscript collections across the state. My lecture at TIGR will share some of the repositories you can visit to find them. I hope to see you there!

Wow! My Kansas Webinar Made the Top Ten Webinars List!

Last month, I presented a webinar titled “Home on the Range: Kansas Research Tips” for Legacy Family Tree Webinars. It was a fun time and a great experience.

I was notified that my webinar was among the top ten for the month!

Screenshot of the blog post at Legacy News

You can read the entire blog post at: Top 10 Genealogy Webinars of March 2017

Needless to say, I am highly honored to be among so many of my favorite colleagues! Much thanks to Geoff Rasmussen and the Legacy Family Tree Webinars crew for their support, not just to education for genealogists, but also for giving speakers such a great opportunity as well!

More 2017 Plans… and into 2018!

So a few more things have been finalized that I can now mention publicly.

I have two all-day seminars scheduled this year:

  • 12 August 2017 – Ark-La-Tex, in Shreveport, LA holds an annual conference. This year I am their conference speaker! See this link for details.
  • 7 October 2017 – San Antonio Genealogical and Historical Society, I will be the annual seminar speaker for this group as well. You can find out more information about the seminar here.

The BIG NEWS that I want to share is that I will be a co-coordinator in a course at SLIG in 2018!

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I will be teaching a course with Kathryn Lake Hogan, with special appearances by Judy Russell and David Ouimette! The course will cover the Great Lakes region, more than a general survey, and intended to highlight the unique nature of history, records, documents, and methodology surrounding research in the Great Lakes region, both from the U.S. and Canadian sides. Watch for more details on this course coming soon!

My 2017 Plans…at least so far

calendarI know it has been an incredibly long time since I have posted anything. I’d like to report that I have been away on a fancy vacation, backpacking across Europe or something equally as exciting and adventurous, but let’s be real here. I’m a parent and a self-employed genealogical researcher and speaker. Who has time for adventures like that? (Well, unless it’s research-related, right?)

This doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy! The biggest thing that has happened is that I have taken a position as the Case Manager for my friend and colleague Deena Coutant of DigiDeena Family History Solutions. This means I am working to supervise all of the projects she’s got going, sending them to contractors, helping with marketing ideas, and working on research projects as needed. This job has been keeping me quite busy, especially as I get stabilized and familiar with the processes, and learn how to work with the contractors Deena already had in place, and helping to hire new contractors. It is an exciting time and we are having a great time working together!

I have also been busy getting my speaking schedule in order for the coming year. Here is what I have on the calendar so far:

*all times in Central time zone unless otherwise noted

There are several other items I have in the works, but the details aren’t firmed up yet, so when those items are worked out I will be sure to update this page and my calendar.

Here’s to 2017 being an awesome genealogy year!

TxSGS Annual Conference Presentations

I can hardly believe that it is almost time for the Texas State Genealogical Society Annual Conference again! It seems like it wasn’t that long ago that I was speaking at last year’s conference, for the first time. Well, this year I will be speaking again! The conference will be held in Dallas at the Crowne Plaza, October 28-30.

Friday, October 28,  I will be presenting two lectures:
Ahead of the Times: Texas Newspaper Research (2-3pm)
Newspapers were daily snapshots of our ancestor’s lives; Texas newspapers are no exception. Examine the broad spectrum and history of Texas newspapers for genealogical research. Methods, techniques, and strategies for obtaining those items of interest will be demonstrated.

From Deeds to Dirt: Analyzing Research with Maps (5-6pm)
This program demonstrates skills needed to move from land descriptions in historical documents to maps depicting those locations in order to analyze and solve research problems.

Saturday, October 29,  I will present:
Who Lives Next Door? Using the FAN Club in your Research (2-3pm)
Untangle individuals of the same name and solve genealogical mysteries using the “FAN Club” principle. Methods to identify FAN Club members and case studies will be demonstrated.

I’m so honored to be speaking at a conference alongside some of my favorite colleagues and friends! Such talented genealogists and speakers attending are Judy Russell, Cyndi Ingle, Deborah Abbott, Lisa Louise Cooke, Rick Fogarty, Sara Gredler, Colleen Greene, Michael Strauss, Billie Fogarty, Kelvin Meyers, Teri Flack, Debbie Parker Wayne, Ari Wilkins, and at least twenty other speakers!

Early Bird registration is open through October 7, 2016. Don’t delay! This is sure to be one of the best state conferences yet.

“Crossing the Pond” An upcoming course at the British Institute

britishI will have the pleasure and honor of teaching at the “British Institute” hosted by the International Society of British Genealogy and Family History (ISBGFH). I will be teaching three classes in the course titled “Crossing the Pond: Finding Your Immigrant Ancestor in Their Homeland” coordinated by Eric Stroschein, along with Luana Darby and David Ouimette, CG. The following is an excellent description of the course:

Are you stuck? Have you hit the European immigration research brick wall called the Atlantic Ocean? Want to learn how to resolve your own research problem? Whether your immigrant ancestor came directly to America or through the British Isles this class is for you. For this class, it does not matter where your immigrant came from.

Crossing the Pond teaches proven beginning to advanced methods, instructing students how to resolve their own research problems. Students in this course will bring up to 5 of their own European research problems to work on throughout the week. Crossing the Pond demonstrates sound methodology translates to all countries.

This workshop style course has the look and feel of private consultations centered around morning classroom instruction on methodology and followed by problem solving with guided research by your instructors in the Family History Library while using your own research problems.

The three classes I will be teaching are:

  • Using Lists to Find Proof
    • Genealogists examine lists every time they conduct research, whether it be in the form of censuses, tax lists, directories, petitions, or others. This class will demonstrate methods of examining lists as a research tool for proving the identity of our ancestors.

  • Using Church Records to Find Ancestral Origins
    • Use maps, directories, county histories and other clues from family lore and tradition to determine the religious affiliations of your ancestors. Locating, examining, and analyzing the records for a given church, might be the key to identifying an ancestor’s place of origin.

  • Canadian Migration and Immigration
    • When we think about our immigrant ancestors, we often visualize them coming directly to a United States seaport such as New York or Philadelphia. However, many of our forebears entered through Canadian ports before migrating south overland to become U.S. citizens; some may have crossed back and forth several times creating many records for genealogists. This class examines some of the common migration patterns and the documents they created.

I know I wish I had this course when I was beginning my genealogical research. There is still time to register! If you sign up by September 15 you will save $65 on the registration fees! The classes take place at the Plaza right next door to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. There is no better format than a half day learning and a half day researching, if you ask me. I am sure this course will be of use to anyone who is looking for their ancestors’ origins “across the pond.”

More information on the other instructors:

Course Coordinator:

Eric Stroschein, is a professional genealogist located in Mount Vernon, Washington. He owns Generations Detective, a genealogical research firm that offers a wide variety of services. Eric has roots in the British Isles and has had great success finding ancestors in their native countries for his clients and his own family. He lectures nationally at various genealogy conferences. To contact Generations Detective please visit: http://generationsdetective.org/contact/

Course Instructors:

Luana Darby, MLIS, is a professional genealogist and lecturer, based in Salt Lake City. She is the owner of Lineages by Luana, a genealogical research company which focuses on US/Canada and Western European research. She has served as president, vice president, and treasurer of the Utah Genealogical Association and currently serves on the Association of Professional Genealogist’s board. She also is employed as an adjunct faculty member at BYU-Idaho in the family history department. 

David Ouimette, CG, CGL, manages Content Strategy at FamilySearch, prioritizing historical records worldwide for digitization and online publication. He has conducted archival research in dozens of countries across the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia. David lectures at national genealogical conferences and institutes and authored Finding Your Irish Ancestors: A Beginner’s Guide.

My lecture at the APG PMC is all about the “PERSIbilities”

In just two short weeks I will be attending and presenting a lecture at the Association for Professional Genealogists Professional Management Conference in Fort Wayne, Indiana. (My how time flies!) I will be presenting a lecture on a resource that is one of my favorites: the Periodical Source Index, or PERSI.

“PERSI Possibilities: Better Research with ACPL’s Periodical Source Index” will take place on Thursday 22 September 2016 at 1:15. So right after lunch… I do hope the great examples I will share and the stories I plan on telling will keep everyone awake!

A colleague and genea-pal Darcie Posz suggested I start a hashtag for my program #PERSIbilities. I love that and wish I had thought of it myself… I may have to retitle my lecture! In this program I will give the audience a look into the Periodical Source Index (PERSI), its new partnership with Find My Past, and tips and techniques for getting the most out of this valuable genealogical resource.

There is still time to register for the conference. Click here to go to the APG conference page. The entire conference runs from 22-24 of September at the Allen County Public Library. There are some fantastic presentations in the line-up that I am truly looking forward to attending. There are twenty-five different lectures and five workshops to choose from high-caliber genealogists working in the field today.

Besides the opportunity for learning, the conference is being held in one of the best genealogical repositories, the one that started PERSI, the Allen County Public Library. Who could ask for anything better? So, consider adding the PMC to your genealogical education plan. I hope to see you there!

Village Genealogical Society Seminar

villagesI am VERY excited to be presenting an all-day seminar to the Village Genealogical Society and the Akansa Chapter, NSDAR on 17 September 2016. The seminar will be held at the Coronado Community Center, 150 Ponderosa Lane, Hot Springs Village, Arkansas. To register visit this website http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~arhsvgs/ or click here:  VGS Workshop 2016 Flyer and Entry Form (pdf).

The group has picked some fantastic topics. I will be presenting:

  • “Census Hurdles: How to Jump Over or Go Around”
  • “From Deeds to Dirt: Case Studies in Analyzing Research with Maps”
  • “Cluster Research and the Fan Principle: Finding Your Ancestors through their Friends, Associates, and Neighbors”
  • “The Heart of it All: Migration Research Methods”

This seminar will begin with some foundational research record sets and methodology (censuses and maps), and then build on those lectures in the afternoon with two methodology lectures. The “Cluster Research” lecture will explain the FAN Club principle (thank you Elizabeth Shown Mills) and demonstrate some of the best methods for identifying your ancestors’ FAN club. The second, “The Heart of it All” will bring together all of the records, techniques and methodologies from the day into a final case study on determining one family’s migration route and their reason for moving.

I’m looking forward to this opportunity and I hope to see some of you there!

Genealogy-world News

I have had a VERY busy summer which has resulted in a very inactive blog. However, there have been several happenings in the genealogy world that I wanted to share. You may have already learned about some of these, but if not, check them out:

1. From the FGS Voice Website: “The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) and the National Park Service’s Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park announce a partnership to develop a searchable database of more than 130,000 soldiers of the U.S.-Mexican War…The database will allow descendants of U.S. soldiers to connect to their personal history and help Palo Alto commemorate and tell the stories of these soldiers. After the database is developed, unit histories, digitized documents, and information on U.S.-Mexican War soldiers will be added. Efforts will also be made to include names and information about Mexican soldiers in this war.” This is going to be another fantastic partnership from FGS for preserving records.

2. The Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) has partnered with Legacy Family Tree Webinars for their monthly webinar series. From the news release: “The Board for Certification of Genealogists and Legacy Family Tree Webinars are excited to announce a new partnership. Legacy, host of the webinar series at FamilyTreeWebinars.com, will now also serve as host, producer, and publisher for future BCG webinars. This arrangement will produce and promote high-quality education in genealogy standards and methodologies by one of the leading creators of genealogy webinars.” The first webinar under this new partnership will be “Another Kind of Navigation: GPS for Genealogy” presented by Shellee Morehead, Ph.D., CG on Tuesday August 16, 8pm Eastern and can be registered for at: http://familytreewebinars.com/webinar_details.php?webinar_id=477

3. PERSI (the PERidocial Source Index) has a new landing page on FindMyPast. From the PERSI webpage: “The Periodical Source Index enables you to easily locate key information about people and places. It contains over 2.5 million entries from thousands of historical, genealogical and ethnic publications, making it an invaluable, comprehensive family history resource.” PERSI is one of my favorite resources. I will be giving a lecture on the subject at the Association of Professional Genealogists Professional Management Conference September 22-24, 2016 at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

4. “Refining Internet and Digital Skills for Genealogy,” a new SLIG course being offered by Cyndi Ingle (of Cyndi’s List), is sure to be one of those courses you think you might not need but you really do. We all get really comfortable with our computers, and our data and research processing systems, but we don’t know what we don’t know about how to be better or more efficient researchers. From Cyndi’s List Facebook Page: “There are still some spots open for SLIG 2017, the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. My course is, “Refining Internet and Digital Skills for Genealogy.” We will focus on getting your digital research organized, performing more productive searches online, locating records and repositories necessary to move your research forward, using tools that help you analyze data in your research, and the final output of your research efforts. If you’ve been spinning your wheels for a while and want to take full control over your computer, please join us in SLC next January. Sign up for the course here: http://slig.ugagenealogy.org.”

Those are four things that I’ve been excited about in the genealogy world. I hope you check some of them out and can utilize, donate, or benefit from them! Happy summer!

A Father’s Day Look Up My Family Tree

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Kenny “Crazy” Miller

My dad, Kenneth Karl Miller, still living although he maybe shouldn’t be after all of the “crazy” things that have happened to him over the years: he blew up a house once accidentally, lived through a major motorcycle accident, car accident, tornado, lung cancer, numerous broken bones and other odd accidents that would only happen to him. He’s like a cat with 9 lives. He is usually called Kenny, but my kids call him “Crazy” or “Crazy Grandpa” because he always plays little jokes on them or acts a little off to tease them. For example, he would lay his hand on the table and tell them to hold it down and wind it up using his thumb as the crank. Then, when they’d let go, he’d flop it around on the table like an out of control wind up toy. They’d squeal in delight. I’m not sure how old he was in this photo, probably in his early teens, but even then, he looked a little mischievous. My dad lives in Findlay, Ohio.

 

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Karl H. Miller

Karl H. Miller, my grandpa, was born 19 February 1922 and died 12 November 2005, and a native of Wood County, Ohio. We are all still sad about losing him. He was one of the kindest, most gentle people I knew, and many say the same. He loved his wife for 60 years, they married in Zoar Lutheran Church in Perrysburg, Ohio in 1945. He worked his ass off despite a debilitating injury to his hip when he was nine years old. He always walked with a limp and used a cane most of the time I knew him. He worked an 80-acre farm with my grandma and drove a cement truck. He did all of that heavy physical labor despite his bad leg. He always had a smile on his face and never complained even in his worst pain, at least not that I heard. In the end, he had some strokes and spent many years in a nursing home, barely able to communicate. It was hard to watch a man of such perseverance, kindness, and strength be reduced to a pile of skin and bones, laying helpless in a bed. He always had a kind thing to say, a smile to give, or a funny story to share. I can still remember the shape of his hands, hard-working but gentle hands.

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Charles Miller, from wedding photo

 

Karl Henry “Charles” Miller, 1889-1972,native of Wood County, Ohio, died before I was born. I don’t know much about him except that after his wife Ernestine died, likely due to complications after childbirth, he left his three kids (Wilma, Karl, and Jim) to be raised by his parents, William and Carrie Miller.

 

 

 

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William “Bill” Miller, the only photo I have of him, from his 60th Wedding Anniversary

William John “Bill” Miller, 1863-1952, native of Wood County, Ohio. I didn’t get to know this man either, but I think my grandpa looked up to him. He always had good things to say about him and appreciated him for taking him and his siblings in. Bill was a farmer. Bill married Caroline “Carrie” Ann Limmer. I am named after her, but my parents spelled it “Cari.” (Which coincidentally, gets misread or misspelled as “Carl” all of the time. So, my grandpa “Karl” gets remembered in my name as well sometimes.) All my grandpa ever wanted was his own farm, which he eventually bought. My grandpa told me that his family knew German, would speak it sometimes at home. However, I have not yet found the Miller/Mueller immigrant in this line. Bill Miller’s parents were Fred and Mary Miller; Fred’s parents were John and Mary Miller, with no clues YET about their origins.

I don’t have any photos of Fred Miller, another native of Wood County, Ohio. He was born in 1842 and died in 1911. He married Anna Maria Artz in Wood County in 1862. His wife came from Nordheim, Germany. The Artz line has been traced back to Nordheim by some distant cousins. They have gotten me in touch with a cousin who still lives there. He’s a few months younger than me and I see him on Facebook from time to time. (Hi Ruediger!) Perhaps I’ll get to visit someday.

I feel most attached to researching this line but it is also the most difficult. With a brick wall like “John and Mary Miller” in the 1840s, it’s a tough research road. But one I’m gladly walking down.