Monday, September 15, 2014

Missouri State Genealogical Society Conference

Not only did the genealogists come to town this summer, but I got to meet up with some of my long time genealogy friends at the annual conference of the Missouri State Genealogical Society (MoSGA) in Columbia, Missouri in August.

The keynote speaker was D. Joshua Taylor, president of the Federation of Genealogical Societies and on-air talent for Genealogy Roadshow and Who Do You Think You Are? I had not heard Josh speak in person before, so that was a real treat. The conference was also an opportunity to meet up with my fellow bloggers, Jenna Mills of Desperately Seeking Surnames, Diana Ritchie of Random Relatives. Also part of the "Genealogy Girls Gone Wild" weekend were Beth Foulk (Genealogy Decoded) and Diana's friend, Nancy Knight. I also got to spend a few minutes catching up with Kathleen Brandt of A3 Genealogy, another researcher on Who Do You Think You Are?

Beth Foulk
Beth Foulk has been speaking about genealogy regionally for quite some time. I first met her when she spoke at the state conference of the Nebraska State Genealogical Society a couple years ago. Beth is knowledgeable, energetic and enthusiastic. Many of us have commented that she should be on the national genealogy speaking circuit. That is going to happen when she speaks at the conference of the National Genealogical Society in St. Charles, Missouri next May. If you are going, make sure you attend Beth's sessions. Beth totally rocked it in Columbia with her pre-session. Even though I heard her speak about timelines at the Nebraska conference, I learned even more this time around.

Josh Taylor shares some "behind the scenes"
stories of genealogy on TV
Josh Taylor's conference sessions were informative and interesting. However, the talk I enjoyed the most was his after dinner presentation with some "behind the scenes" stories from Genealogy Roadshow and Who Do You Think You Are? While contract provisions don't allow him to tell all of the secrets, he was able to share enough to give us a glimpse that it's not always like you see it on TV!

It's always a treat when you find something in the book sale that relates to your family.
My Revolutionary War ancestor, Johannes Bellinger,
is included in this volume I found on Early Families of Herkimer County New York.

The highlight of the weekend was hanging out with my friends and talking genealogy.

Me and Diana Ritchie
I still don't have that "selfie" thing quite figured out!

Jenna Mills - probably Tweeting about the conference

Diana, Nancy and Me
Diana and I were winners in the prize drawings.
Apparently I didn't understand the "rules" so I dropped my ticket in any old basket I found.
So my prize was donated to the library of my local society.
Photo (c) Jenna Mills 2014

After enjoying a wonderful meal with friends,
overlooking the Missouri River at sunset.
Coming Up in 2015!
Judy Russell, The Legal Genealogist
will be the featured speaker next year.
I'll be there!

Sometimes I don't always make it to the conferences I register for, but when I do, it's well worth it! I'll be making two trips to Missouri next year - for the NGS conference in May and the MoSGA conference in August.

When the Genealogists Come to Town

I admit that I haven't been blogging much this year. It's been a period of transition following the death of my father, moving and adjusting to my new life. That doesn't mean that I haven't been doing genealogy, however!

My last post was last spring when I wrote about meeting up with Dear Myrtle and Mr. Myrt, Pat Richley-Erickson and Gordon Erickson. Since then, I've met up with two more genealogists who came to Lincoln. I still find it fascinating that we genealogists are able to get acquainted on social media, so once we meet IRL (in real life), we are already friends.

In August, one of my Facebook genealogy buddies, J Paul Hawthorne of Escondido, California was in town for business so we made plans to get together. 

Susan and Paul at the Nebraska State Capitol
We had a nice dinner, during which we talked nonstop genealogy. I gave Paul the ten cent tour of Lincoln, which included a photo op outside of the Nebraska State Capitol and the statue of our city's namesake, Abraham Lincoln. The next afternoon, in nearly unbearable heat, we toured Wyuka Cemetery, visited several of the points of interest on the self-guided tour and stopped at the memorials for 9/11, the Nebraska firefighters and the Nebraska Holocaust Memorial. We also made a stop at my Dad's grave in the veteran's section. A serviceman was there, placing pennies atop the stones of the veterans. He told me that he comes as frequently as possible to pay his respects.

This past weekend, Laura Prescott was making her way across the country as she is moving to Utah to work for She posted on her Facebook page that she was hoping to meet up with other genealogists along Interstate 80 to help break up her trip. I first met Laura when she spoke at the Nebraska State Genealogical Society's conference a few years ago. So, along with my fellow Lincoln genealogist, Gail Blakenau, we made plans to have breakfast on Sunday morning.

Gail, Laura and Susan
One thing you can count on when you get together with other genealogists, it's non-stop talking about family history and research. And I always learn something new! It was great seeing Laura again and to learn about her new adventure with Ancestry - developing online education classes. This is definitely something to look forward to in 2015.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Meeting Up with Dear Myrtle

I continue to be amazed at the power of online social networking. Yesterday morning over coffee I was browsing through my news feed on Facebook. I saw that Dear Myrtle, Pat Richley-Erickson, posted that she was in Iowa City, heading west. I jotted off a quick message and asked if she and Mr. Myrt might have time to stop in Lincoln on their way home to Utah. Within minutes, we had a plan to meet later in the day at a restaurant just off Interstate 80 on the north edge of town.

Susan and Dear Myrtle - Pat Richley-Erickson
The Floppy Hat Genealogy Meet Up
The Ericksons kept me posted throughout the day as to their location so we could plan to arrive about the same time.

This was our first time to meet in person, but we've known one another for several years because of Facebook. I've attended countless webinars and hangouts conducted by Pat and have learned so much about genealogy and tools from her.

I must admit, I felt honored to have her and Gordon "all to myself" for a nice relaxing dinner and to share our thoughts and experiences about genealogy collaboration, technology, presentation techniques and more. I was thrilled they were willing to schedule time in their travels to spend some time together.

Most genealogists on Facebook will likely agree with me - over the years, you get to know your Facebook friends as well, if not better, than the friends you see every day. You keep up with the highs and lows, the successes, family matters - all in addition to what we share with one another about our life in the genealogy world. I've been fortunate to meet several of my Facebook friends over the last four years - either at conferences or by getting together when they were passing through town. There's no awkwardness because we already know each other.

Pat and Gordon are intelligent, kind and interesting people. I'm honored to have them as friends.

Mr. Myrt (Gordon Erickson) and Dear Myrtle
Lincoln, Nebraska

Sunday, May 18, 2014

My Kelly Family Heritage book on Shutterfly

I've been trying out some photo books on the Shutterfly web site. Here's my first attempt at a family heritage book.

Photo Book Tip: Create an adventurous travel photo album at

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Goin' to Kansas City! Kansas City Here We Come!

Actually, the "Genealogy Girls Gone Wild" weekend in Kansas City was two weeks ago and what a weekend it was! Back in 2010, I met fellow bloggers Diana Ritchie who writes the Random Relatives blog and Jenna Mills who writes the Desperately Seeking Surnames blog. We met as geneabloggers at the Family History Expo in Kansas City that year and became fast friends.

Diana and Jenna at the Midwest Genealogy Center
Independence, Missouri March 2014
A reunion has been in the works for quite a while. I actually got to see Diana in 2012 when she and a friend visited Lincoln in conjunction with John Colletta's appearance at the Greater Omaha Genealogical Society conference. I didn't make it to Omaha that year since I was looking after my Dad, who just had a stroke. But Diana, her friend Nancy and I got together for brunch, went by the home and business owned by Nancy's grandparents and then on to Wyuka Cemetery where Nancy's relatives are buried.

Jenna had all of the advance info on a conference that would be held at the Midwest Genealogy Center in Independence, Missouri on March 8. She assured us that the speaker was one of the genealogy rock stars we would want to see, so we began making plans to attend. Also included in what we referred to as March Madness was Susan Clark of the Nolichucky Roots blog. You might recognize her by her "right eye" profile photo on Facebook. Honoring her desire for relative anonymity, I'm not posting a photo of her here!

We were in touch via Facebook messaging daily, deciding what hotel to stay at, times of our arrival in the Kansas City area, extra curricular activities, and a research day at the Midwest Genealogy Center. Jenna was dubbed the cruise director of the Lido deck since she made arrangements for a Saturday night dinner with the conference's main speaker, Lisa Louise Cooke of Genealogy Gems, and Kathleen Brandt of A3 Genealogy. (yes, Jenna finally let us know who the speakers would be!).

On the Road Again

I made a leisurely drive to Kansas City, stopping in Nebraska City for lunch at Parker's Smokehouse. I can now say that I've eaten at all three of their locations! I arrived at the hotel late afternoon on Thursday, got unpacked and had snacks and beverages until Diana's arrival. While we all kept in touch with each other via Facebook messaging, I was ostracized by the others by having texting blocked on my wireless plan. Yes, I gave in to peer pressure and added unlimited texting to my plan once I got home!

Diana and I had a nice BBQ dinner out that evening. One HAS to have BBQ when visiting Kansas City.

Library Day

We met up with Jenna on Friday morning for our research day at the Midwest Genealogy Center, which is part of the Mid-Continent Public Library. Jenna had been telling us that we had to get a library card for remote access to the library's vast assortment of databases we could access from home. The card was $20 for six months and has already paid for itself. I haven't counted the number of databases, but I'm sure there are more than 100 available. Being the newspaper archive junkie that I am, I'm going wild in the archives of the Kansas City Star, New York Times and other old papers. There are also databases of history resources, maps, books. I'm a kid in the candy store!

Diana and Susan pretending to do research.
Photo copyright 2014 Jenna Mills, used with permission
We had to refrain Jenna from ripping off the map of Germany!
Jenna knows her way around the library already and knew we would want a tour. So we got a quick tour of the facility. What a library! An entire building dedicated just to genealogy. Okay, I admit it, I don't get out much, so this was the most impressive genealogy collection I've seen. (ACPL and the LDS library in Salt Lake are still on my "to do" list).

I didn't go with a research plan in mind - I just like to get acquainted with a place first. So I looked through some books with Nebraska connections and found a few items. One of my favorite discoveries was locating a photo of the drugstore in Lincoln, Nebraska that was operated by my great grandfather's brother in law. It was late in the day when I discovered several feet of shelf space dedicated to Blair County, Pennsylvania where my Pecht/Peight ancestors lived (for those who have been following the story, that was where my third great grandfather, the axe murderer, lived). That guaranteed another visit to the library later this year.

Susan Clark arrived and checked in with us and spent most of her research day looking at microfilm records. This was my first meeting with her and as with Diana and Jenna, I felt an immediate connection. Well, heck, we've been friends on Facebook for years, so it's not like we were strangers. Susan has one wicked sense of humor, which I like!

As you can see in the photo, we were wise enough to get a private research/conference room since we knew we would be chatting and didn't want to disturb other library users. The library is really user friendly. There are desks and work spaces throughout the facility, shopping carts so you can gather up the books you want to use. There's plenty of electrical outlets to keep your laptop or tablet charged. Microfilm readers and copy machines are set up to save images to USB flash drives. I will definitely come more prepared on my next visit!

Friday evening, the four of us had a nice dinner and talked quite a bit about DNA and genealogy.

Conference Day - Saturday

The "genie tech" conference brought us back to the library on Saturday morning. I hadn't met Lisa Louise Cooke before, so it was a kick for me when she spotted me in the registration line, waved and said "Hi, Susan!" Amazing what online social networking does! It's like we already know each other. Genealogy friends from Lincoln and Omaha were also in the audience and I touched base with them.

Lisa's topics included newspaper research, Google Earth, and using iPads/Tablets for genealogy. I had viewed her webinars on these topics before, but it was really nice to see and hear her in person. Lisa is a fantastic presenter and if you get a chance to attend one of her presentations, do it!

And Kathleen totally rocked it with her presentation on DNA. Wow. This was the first time that DNA was explained in a way that really made sense to me.

Saturday evening, we enjoyed dinner at a Mexican restaurant with Lisa and her daughter; Kathleen and her friend from Jet magazine; and Beth Foulk of Genealogy Decoded. I'd met Beth last year when she spoke at the Nebraska state genealogy conference. Sadly, my hearing isn't the greatest in noisy restaurants, so I only got in on about half of the conversation, but even so, it was a great evening!

On Becoming 'Maxine'

My "real life" friends know how much I b----, I mean complain, about the uncomfortable chairs and seating at conferences. I've left entirely too many conferences early because I could just not tolerate the horrible chairs! Yes, I am turning into the cartoon Maxine! I came prepared for Kansas City and ordered a "butt cushion"! I was surprised, but it really worked! If you are a fellow rear and back pain sufferer at conferences, I definitely recommend this! I will put up with the teasing I take, but I'm not going to any more conferences without my cushion! LOL.

GG Gone Wild!?

Well, we genealogy girls had a fantastic time, even if we seem to be the "early to bed" types! I had a blast and it was a great reunion with my blogger buddies. We all said that Kansas City is a pretty quick drive for all of us and we vowed to do this a few times every year. Next time, I'm definitely going with a research plan in mind.