Sunday, August 30, 2015

Genealogy Synchronicity - Tibbetts home in St. Joseph, Missouri

Dare I say we are fools if we don't believe in Genealogy Synchronicity?

Last week, I had an experience that can definitely be described as Genealogy Synchronicity!

Back in 2011, I wrote about discovering the obituaries and death records for Nellie Welch Tibbetts and her husband, Frank Tibbetts. Nellie was the sister of my great grandmother, Mary (Minnie) Welch Kelly. I had discovered photographs of the home where Nellie and Frank lived in a photo album that belonged to my great grandmother.

The Tibbetts home in St. Joseph, Missouri

I've made several trips THROUGH St. Joseph, Mo in the last two years. It wasn't until last week that I spent an entire day in St. Joe and my last stop of the day was a "drive by" to finally see the Tibbetts home.

As I pulled over to park my car, I saw that the house is currently For Sale!

This was exciting to me, as it meant I would be able to take some photographs without the current owner wondering what the heck I was doing there!

I walked around the property, taking a few exterior photos, when, after a few minutes, a young man exited the front entrance and said Hello!

He happened to be the realtor for the property and he had just arrived at the location!

"Have I got a story for you!" I said! I told him that the house had been owned by the sister of my great grandmother and her husband in the early 1900s. I told him that the owner of the house at that time, Frank Tibbetts, had been a brick mason! The realtor told me that is father is a brick mason!

I brought up the photos of the house, including members of my family, to show him, on my smartphone. Yeah, he was pretty impressed! He told me the house was a foreclosure. And I was able to enter the property to look around.

Here's a photo from Minnie Welch Kelly's photo album taken at the house. I believe the women to be Nellie Welch Tibbetts and her sister, Agnes Welch Garrigus. The "porthole" window at the house is a good indication of where the photograph was taken.

This photograph is taken from the interior of the house. The windows match up with the photographs in Minnie Welch Kelly's photo album.

Here's the fireplace inside, which is probably original to the house.

This is one of the windows looking to the South. My speculation is that the "stained glass" is not original to the home.

These are the stairs to the upper floor of the house. They do not appear to be the original finishing, but quite possibly were there when the Tibbetts lived here.

This is one of the windows, facing South. Quite likely original as seen in the photos in Minnie Kelly's photo album.

As the house is currently vacant, I feel it is acceptable to post the current "for sale" information on the property. The asking price is $63,000.The photos on the real estate site show a home that looks much better than it does "in real life."

For me, I'm just glad that I made the decision to stop by when I did. How often do you really get to look inside a house where your family lived???

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Deep Internet - Learn how to make use of Database Searches

Genealogy Research in the Deep Internet

Join me in Omaha on July 18 when I show you how to find hidden treasures online in the "Deep Internet." Did you know that at least 80 per cent of genealogy information online cannot be found using a standard search engine such as Google? Are you missing out on 80 per cent of information you can find out about your family online?

If you've been frustrated with the results of your searches on Ancestry, find out how you can improve the way you search by using some adjustments to the way you think about search strategies!

This presentation is Free and open to the public. But you need to preregister here:

July 18, 2015
2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
W. Dale Clark Library
215 S. 15th St
Omaha, Nebraska

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

My Nebraska - by Patricia Landon Kelly Petersen

Today I came across a long lost poem written by my mother, Patricia Landon Kelly Petersen, in 1968. This poem was also very special to me and it was read at her memorial service in 1983.

My Nebraska

Oh, you'll never know Nebraska
'Til you've seen her in the Spring,
Awakened by a gentle rain
And hear the robins sing.

Every green and growing petal
Has its face washed, oh, so clean.
If you've been here in Springtime,
You'll remember what I mean.

Oh, you'll never know Nebraska
'Til some summers you have spent
To hike, to swim, to fish, to sail
Or just be quiet and content.

If you've never heard the wind blow
Through those cottonwoods so tall,
You don't know what you're missing,
That's my favorite sound of all.

Oh, you'll never know Nebraska
'Til you've felt her winter cold,
Shared one of her White Christmases,
It's a splendor to behold.

And to see the little children
Bundled up from head to toe.
They ignore my shoveled pathway
To wade the deepest snow.

Oh, you'll never know Nebraska,
Come see her in the fall.
Then she really shows her colors
With the kindest touch of all.

I can taste that first ripe apple.
I can smell that bonfire now.
If I could ever be more blessed
I wish you'd tell me how.

And did you ever go away?
Get so homesick you could cry?
If I tell you that I haven't
Then I'm telling you a lie.

I wonder if you've played this game
When you're returning home,
To see who can be the first to spy
That long familiar dome.

copyright 1968 Patricia Landon Kelly Petersen

Friday, May 29, 2015

Ancestry and Family Tree Maker - Why I Am Bass Akwards

Once again, the rumors have surfaced that is up for sale. As happens with such rumors and announcements, the genealogy community is all aflutter, scared silly that everything they have added to their family tree on Ancestry is about to disappear.

Maybe I have more confidence in online sites than others. From participation in many online genealogy forums, I've arrived at the conclusion that I use my software and Ancestry web site differently than most. at the conference of the
National Genealogical Society
St. Charles, MO 2015

I've gathered that people using Family Tree Maker (FTM) software enter all of their data within the software and perhaps sync it with their tree(s) on Ancestry. I do just the opposite. I enter all of my discoveries directly on the Ancestry site. Every few weeks (or months, if I get behind), I download the GEDCOM from Ancestry into my FTM software. I consider the FTM GEDCOM download as a backup of my research.

Am I lazy? Do I like living life (and my research) on the edge? I don't know. All I know is that this is what works for me.

I'm pretty much a digital kind of gal. And I know that may subject me to some dangers. I have my scanned images of documents and my personal digital photo archive all on my laptop with a backup to the cloud via Dropbox and my Amazon photo cloud. Have I thrown away or discarded any of my original documents, photographs, scrapbooks, slides or negatives? Not on your life! It's just easier for me to manage all of the data in a digital archive.

I think that we all like what we are used to. That is why I prefer OneNote to Evernote (although I use both). I prefer Family Tree Maker to Roots Magic and Legacy. Why? Because it's what I'm used to. In my working life, I always used the analogy: the only person who likes change is a wet baby! The same is true with genealogy and our software.

The advantage of being able to download a GEDCOM from Ancestry is that I can import it into whatever software application I'm using. Each of the major software packages provides different options for reports, printouts, books, etc. Having been 100% digital for several years, I'm just beginning to recreate hard copies of my research using the various software applications. Each one allows me to have different options, printouts, etc.

Am I concerned about an impending sale of Ancestry? Not so much. Do I fear that all of my research will be lost? No. Why? Because I have my GEDCOMS, my scans, my notes, my boxes and boxes of documents and photographs. And everything is backed up - on my laptop, Dropbox, Amazon, as well as on external hard drives.

For now, Ancestry remains my online tree of choice. The online family trees on Ancestry are excluded from my routine searches. I think we all know how unreliable so many of them can be. But I know they are there if I need a few hints. FamilySearch provides me with additional resources, but there is NO WAY I'm going to get into a discussion of sources or "who's right and who's wrong" in entering data or citing sources. The best I can do is to make my research available for future researchers, with source citations. I'm not going to get this all done in my lifetime, but I can leave some bread crumbs for those who choose to follow my research in the future.

Seriously, who really knows if Ancestry will be around in 100 years? I sure don't. FamilySearch-LDS - definitely a good chance of survival. Who know if the Internet will even look the same in 100 years? All I know is that I will continue to do my data entry on Ancestry, with my back-ups to FTM.

At this point in my life and research, my objective is to produce as much as possible into "hard copy" that can be printed/published and donated to local societies and libraries for those family members and historians who come after me.

Join Me in Searching the Deep Internet!

I've cut back on my speaking engagements this year while I pursue some education, classes and genealogy conferences for my own personal growth and development. However, I remain committed to the Omaha Public Library's (OPL) summer sessions and I'm always thrilled to be invited back! This summer marks my fifth speaking engagement at OPL as part of the genealogy series in the summer reading program.

On July 18, I'll be speaking about the "Deep Internet" and the various web sites you need to be searching to find information about your ancestors. Google doesn't do it all and there are other web sites where genealogy information can be found. You can think of this as a Scavenger Hunt - or "Nebraska Jones" on a vast treasure hunt for family history information!

I'm still in the process of creating this presentation and I'm excited about the adventures we will share together!

July 18, 2015
W. Dale Clark Library
215 S. 15th St
Omaha, NE
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Register here

It's Free! So reserve your space today!

Why I Love

I subscribe to three paid newspaper subscription sites:, Genealogybank and As a journalism major in college, I had always been something of a news junkie until recent years when all of the "bad news" in the media made me cancel my newspaper subscriptions and stop watching TV news. You know the saying, "If it bleeds it leads." But I still feel as though printer's ink runs in my veins and I absolutely love Love LOVE old newspapers for my genealogy research.

The team from at the recent conference
 of the National Genealogical Society in St. Charles, MO.
I HAD to stop at their booth to tell them how much I LOVE the site!

Comparing the Big Three

Over the past thirty or so years of genealogy research, I've had on-again off-again periods of being active. In one of my off-again periods, I subscribed to NewspaperArchive and I was searching non-genealogy topics. It became a valuable resource for me once I returned to family history research. That is, until they discontinued carrying images from some of my favorite newspapers because of the end of some licensing contracts. Even with their increase in fees (close to $200/year now, billed every six months), I've maintained my subscription because I continue to find articles about long lost relatives within their pages. Compared to the other sites, I believe their pricing is too high, but I've found enough information there to justify the expense.

GenealogyBank is also a favorite newspaper subscription site and it also includes more contemporary obituaries which has moved my research forward considerably by examining the lists of survivors. The annual cost for new subscribers is about $70. Monthly subscriptions are available. You can also get a 30-day trial for under $10.

Whenever anyone asks about which paid site is the best, my answer is always "Whichever one has the most newspapers in the area where your ancestors lived." That being said, I maintain my paid subscriptions to all three sites and will continue to do so as long as I can afford to.

The annual subscription to is $79.95, but with my subscription to Fold3, I get it for $39.95. I call that a bargain! Monthly subscriptions are available for $7.95.

Why I Love the Most

That brings me around to, an Ancestry company, which has become my newspaper subscription site of choice. Of the three big players in paid subscription sites, I find the easiest to navigate and search. I can search by my ancestor's name or keywords. I can also search within specific newspapers. I have to say that it was a little weird when I found articles about myself or that I had written in those pages! But it was amazing when I discovered several Letters to the Editor written by my grandfather, William Kelly (writing as W. L. Kelly). It was so nice to know where I inherited my spunk and tongue-in-cheek delivery style. makes it very easy to clip an article. You have the option of keeping your clippings private (which I do most of the time) or make them public. If you want to share the clipping using social media, you need to make the clipping public.

As of this morning, the site has more than 102 million page images available to search!

Let me take you through a few screen clippings to show you the ease of using

This is a screen shot of some of my clippings on

As you are saving your clippings, make sure you click on "Edit" and add a description of the clipping, using your ancestor's name and keywords. Think of this as writing a headline for the article. Otherwise, you will not be able to search for clippings about a specific ancestor. Yes, I learned this one the hard way, and I'm still back-tracking, adding those names and keywords to my clippings.

See how easy it is to save to Ancestry!

You just select which tree and person
to whom you are saving the clipping!

Share With Others!

This may be one of my favorite perks of the site. It makes it very easy to share the clipping with other researchers. I'm a relatively new fan of Pinterest, even though I've had an account since it first came on the scene. I have a Pinterest board, Ancestor News, where I can share clippings with other researchers. I also set up a Facebook group for other Pecht family researchers and I can share clippings with those cousins. Just remember, the clipping must be made Public if you want to share it.

It is still up to you to explore each of the paid sites and determine which has the most bang for your buck for the geographic areas where your people lived.

Screen captures are from and are used here for educational purposes. No violation of copyright of the images is intended.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Watch Live Streaming from Jamboree - Free!

One word that attracts all genealogists is "Free." Here is an upcoming education opportunity that you won't want to miss!  The Southern California Genealogical Society (SCGS) is hosting its annual Genealogy Jamboree in June. If you can't make it in person, this is an outstanding opportunity for you to hear some great genealogy speakers.

SCGS is offering several of the sessions via online streaming during the conference. Not only that, if you are unable to view them all live, you can watch them online for the month following the conference!

Blogger Randy Seaver lists all of the live-streaming sessions, topics and speakers on his Genea-Musings blog, so I won't repeat them all here. Click this link for more information. 

I may have taken a few criticisms for my post last month regarding genealogy societies, but SCGS is one of my societies that is doing it right!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

NGS Summary - Part Seven - In Conclusion

In Conclusion . . .

Overall, I had a ball at the 2015 conference of the National Genealogical Society! Kudos to all who put this together. I've been the coordinator for a 10-state (non genealogy) conference, so I have a pretty good idea of what goes in to the planning.

Ann Fleming tossed out the first pitch
of the StL cards v. Detroit Tigers game
and got chased by FredBird!
First of all, KUDOS to Ann Fleming for taking on overall responsibility for organizing the conference! Whoo Hoo! I was so proud of you at the game between the St. Louis Cardinals (my fave MLB team!) and the Detroit Tigers on Sunday evening. Well Done!

Even though some of the so-called genealogy "Rock Stars" were a disappointment to me, I still had a great time and learned a lot!

The social aspect of the conference remains the high point of my week. I loved getting to meet my friends from Facebook and FB groups, who I've only known in an online capacity for a few years. Finally meeting in person totally Rocked!

The iPhone app for the NGS conference was Uh-Maze-Ing! Before I left home, I had entered my schedule for the conference. Even though I changed my preferred sessions on a daily basis, I LOVED being able to pull up the app on my phone to see where I was supposed to be next. NGS gets 10 stars for this!

The Cards are my favorite MLB team, so it really was
a thrill to attend the game on Sunday evening.
Thanks to my friend, Diana Ritchie, for scoring great seats
behind the Cardinals dugout!!!!
I also LOVED having the syllabus in PDF format prior to the conference. Even though I had downloaded the syllabus to my Kindle Fire HDX before I left home, I only referred to it a couple times during the conference. It was nice that you gave me a USB drive with the syllabus, but - I really didn't need it. In fact, it still hasn't surfaced during my unpacking from the conference.

Meals . . . I managed. I applaud NGS for offering options for vegetarian and gluten-free meals. It's a start. I'm a "wheat-free, grain-free" eater. I'm easing off the foods that wreak havoc for a diabetic - such as potatoes and sweets. So the menus that included taters and desserts created an issue for me. But - I survived and brought in my own snacks that fit my eating plan. I gained 4 lbs on my trip, which wasn't really a surprise. Two of those are already gone, so I'm okay with that!

Those who know me well know that I do NOT want a lot of paper! I could easily have done without the majority of the "Stuff" that was in my registration bag. Sadly, I left the majority of the promos, bookmarks, etc behind at the first hotel I stayed in. I wasn't even that enchanted with the USB drive with the syllabus as I had downloaded it to Dropbox and my Kindle HDX. But, no doubt, I'll find another use for it. Planning ahead, I brought along my own Bright Pink tote bag! Had I misplaced anything, it was certainly going to be easier to find than looking among all of the Green Totes!

Seating .... OUCH! Yes, you really crammed us in together. This was almost like airline seating.Seriously, would an additional 6" between rows have been that much to ask for? Many of us take notes on our mobile devices and for those of us who have a bit of a tummy - well, it's difficult to take notes when we don't have a table. It would be REALLY nice if the last three (or so) rows of each room were chairs with tables so we could easily type or take notes on our mobile devices. I brought along my own "butt cushion," but still, a bit more comfort would have been nice.

Food options: Must say, I give you points for the Food Trucks, even though I didn't make use of them. Friends gave them high marks. I attended a conference in Denver in April (4,000 participants!) during which the food options were limited to roasted nuts and coffee. So NGS scored high in this regard. For the meals/banquets I didn't pay for, I was able to get a decent salad option. I thank you for offering choices!

This was my first national genealogy conference. I adapted to meet my own needs. It could easily have been a day or a day and a half shorter, with fewer choices of sessions. But I had a good time and learned a lot.

I conveyed my pros and cons regarding the sessions to NGS via the IOS app. While I still may be considered "the Cranky Genealogist," I really did enjoy my time in St. Charles.

Will I attend another NGS conference? Probably.

NGS Summary - Part Six

It is with great appreciation to my friend (and fellow fan of the St. Louis Cardinals!), Susan Clark of the Nolichuchy Roots blog, that I share these photos from our last night and blogger get together in St. Charles, Mo. Thank you, dear Susan, for arranging this wonderful send-off to unwind and celebrate the days we had together at the conference of the National Genealogical Society!

NGS Conference Summary - Part Five

The Exhibit/Vendor Hall

When I wasn't attending a session, I wandered around the vendor exhibit hall, checking in with friends and organizations with which I'm associated.

Terri O'Connell and her daughter were holding dowm the fort at The In-Depth Genealogist

Jen Baldwin at My Heritage

Missouri SAR


Barb's Branches
Beautiful Handcrafted jewelry

Barb's Branches
I bought a beautiful handcrafted necklace

Allison Dolan and Diane Haddad from Family Tree magazine
Janet Hovorka
The Chart Chick

With Lisa Louise Cooke
Genealogy Gems Podcast

James Beidler
One of my genealogy besties, Jenna Mills,  at the MoSGA booth

Association of Professional Genealogists
The beautiful "tree" necklace I bought from Barb's Branches

End of the Line
Load Out After a Successful Conference

NGS Conference Summary - Part Four

At this point, I have covered the sessions by the people I felt were the genealogy Rock Stars at the conference of the National Genealogical Society (NGS): John Colletta, Judy Russell, and Crista Cowan. Their presentation style really showed their passion for family history research.

Other presentations I attended also had value for me as a genealogist and researcher.

Jordan Jones - President of NGS and a Facebook friend. I attended his session on Evernote for Genealogy. I'm a user of Evernote, I'm a long time fan of Microsoft OneNote and continue to use it several times each week. I suppose we all like what we are used to. I shall continue to use Evernote to save documents, but OneNote shall continue to be my note-taker of choice.

Terry Koch-Bostic - I attended the luncheon at which Terry spoke about intuition and genealogy success. I definitely resonated with her remarks as I often rely on my spirit ancestors to help me with research or locating graves in cemeteries. Genealogy Serendipity might not be everyone's cup of tea, but Terry's remarks were definitely within my wheelhouse.
Meeting up with Barbara Mathews

Barbara Mathews is a longtime friend on Facebook and I attended her session about lineage society documents. I have ancestors who served in the Revolutionary War and Civil War. I'm not sure if joining a lineage society is in my future, but if it is, I know who my mentor will be!

Patricia Jordan Roberts did a session on self-publishing via LuLu which I really enjoyed. I have several writing projects that I would like to self-publish and her session provided me with many ideas.

Julie Miller's session on planning your Digital Afterlife opened my eyes to some additional things I need to do to take care of my "stuff" after I'm gone. Have you added a "Digital Life Memoradum" with your will and "laundry list"?

NGS Conference Summary - The Sessions - Part Three

Me with Crista Cowan at NGS

So, you think you know it all about searching on Ancestry, eh? If all you ever search is based on your ancestor, you are missing out on a LOT!

Did you know: has more than 16 BILLION (yes, I said BILLION) records online?

There are 1-2 MILLION records being added to Ancestry's database each DAY!

There are 1.7 BILLION records in the City Directory database! This is the largest database on Ancestry.

When searching on Ancestry, remember that you are NOT searching for people, you are searching for RECORDS! This concept alone will change the way you look for records on

Crista says that the shaky leafs or hints you receive on Ancestry represent only 10% of the databases on the site. Remember that these are HINTS only! It's up to YOU to decide if that's your person!

When doing a search, Crista says that she never goes beyond three pages of results.

Card Catalog

Have you learned to use the Card Catalog on Ancestry? If not, you may be missing out on many records on your ancestor! You really do need to look into the specific databases, rather than using the generic search your people!

Type-ahead List

When you search on Ancestry, are you allowing the search to use the "type-ahead" list? If not, your are merely doing a keyword search. The "type-ahead" function allows you to drill down farther to find records on your ancestor. This was new to me!

Crista has that "Tony Robbins" presentation style that I appreciate! Her passion and enthusiasm for family history research are obvious. She knows her stuff and she doesn't give a canned presentation. Whenever you have the opportunity to hear her speak in person or view one of her online video lessons, go for it!

NGS Conference Summary - The Sessions - Part Two

Continuing on with my impressions from the conference of the National Genealogical Society (NGS) conference last week . . .

Rock Stars: Judy Russell, The Legal Genealogist

Me with Judy Russell, The Legal Genealogist
First of all, I have to admit that I'm a lawyer-wannabe. I got hooked on studying communications law when I was in journalism school in the 60s-70s. And I even enjoyed studying contract law. Then I got obsessed with CourtTV in the 90s.

I even went to an orientation session at the University of Nebraska College of Law, Becoming a student at that time wasn't going to happen, so I took several paralegal classes at the College of St. Mary a couple decades ago. I am still hooked on law, especially copyright law. So it should come as no surprise that Judy Russell is one of my genealogy Rock Stars.

I was wandering through the vendor hall at NGS and Judy was standing by the booth sponsored by the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG), of which I've been a member for a couple years. One of the ladies asked if she could help me and I replied, "I want to meet Judy Russell!" At which point, Judy and I greeted each other and posed for a selfie as we've been Facebook friends for a couple years.

When I attended the state conference of the Missouri Genealogical Society (MoSGA) in 2014, I was thrilled to learn that Judy would be speaking at the 2015 conference. So I wondered if I was going to "overdose" on Judy by attending Judy's sessions at NGS. This is not possible! I ended up attending three of Judy's talks at NGS and she knocked it out of the park on every one!

First, I attended Judy's talk at the luncheon, The Rest of the Story. The one concept I got from this talk is that some of our ancestor stores may not be ours to tell. Respecting the privacy of living persons is important.

The sound bites-tweets-comments from this session include:
  • We do a disservice to our history when all we do is repeat facts.
  • We must put the story of every member of our family into the context of their life at their time in history.
  • We are the gatekeeper of secrets.
  • Not every story is ours to tell.
  • Sometimes it is our responsibility to leave the stories there.
  • There is a distinction between story keepers and story tellers.
Living With Legal Lingo

The next session of Judy's that I attended was Living With Legal Lingo. From my days as a student of paralegal studies, I was already a fan of Black's Law Dictionary. I remember writing out my 3x5 cards of legal definitions in preparation for the tests at College of St. Mary. Even when I downsized my collection of physical books a couple years ago, I HAD to have the e-edition of Black's. It IS ESSENTIAL!

What I learned from Judy in this session that there are many other law dictionaries that are contemporary to their times. Quoting Judy: "To understand the records, we need to understand the law at the time and place the document was created."

Additional Legal Resources:

ARG! No, that wasn't enough! I also attended Judy's luncheon session about Pirates in genealogy! And they aren't all Jack Sparrow! This lecture was just pure fun! 

On Saturday night following the conference, about 25 of the genealogy bloggers got together for dinner. It was beyond my wildest imagination that I would actually be seated next to Judy at this dinner! Sometimes, I'm a Chatty Kathy, but in this situation, I was just thrilled to sit there and listen to all that Judy had to share! She is one classy woman, a genealogy rock star, a legal beagle, and I am honored to be in her presence!

Yes, in my book, Judy G. Russell is a Genealogy Rock Star! And I am looking forward to spending two days with her in August at MoSGA!!!

NGS Conference Summary - The Sessions - Part One

I've already commented that meeting up with my online friends was the highlight of the 2015 conference of the National Genealogical Society (NGS) last week. And I did not make an effort to attend a session in every time slot at the conference. I've learned to pace myself, as well as pick and choose the topics in which I'm interested.

Based upon my post a couple weeks ago regarding genealogy societies, I'm no stranger to controversy nor saying what's on my mind. This summary will reflect my opinionated point-of-view. I chose many of my sessions based on the reputations of the nationally recognized speakers. This was an opportunity to hear many of the noted genealogists who have been touted as "rock stars" in the field. In this regard, I was very disappointed in several of the sessions I attended. I won't be naming the names of those who disappointed me, but I will state the reasons why.

Genealogy Rock Stars? Some Yes. Some No

In most cases, their content was good. However, their presentation style (if you can call it that) was to read their entire speech in a monotone voice. If this is what they are going to do, give me an article or handout and I can read it myself. It wasn't just being tired from the road travels that put me to sleep (literally) in some of these sessions. I even went to a second session by one presenter, hoping it would be different. It wasn't. One lady who I'd met during a dinner get-together had even warned me, "whatever you do, don't go his sessions in the afternoon! He'll put you to sleep!" I went in the morning and I knew what she meant.

These folks have the credentials. They are noted and successful authors. But when it comes to public speaking, they just didn't cut it. I shared my opinions with my pals at the conference and they were pretty much divided half and half. Half agreed with me and half didn't. I described my perspective as desiring speakers who have the stage presence and enthusiasm of someone like Tony Robbins. I know they are passionate about genealogy; they just didn't show it. Some of my impressions may have been influenced by my experience at the I Can Do It! (ICDI) seminar sponsored Hay House in Denver in April. That two and a half day seminar featured the best authors and public speakers in the personal development/inspiration genre. Each and every author/speaker at that conference demonstrated passion and enthusiasm. Not one of them put me to sleep. I digress, but the ICDI conferences are the gold standard by which I measure other conferences.

That being said, I WILL applaud the authors and speakers who inspired me and made attendance at the NGS conference worth the price of admission.

What's for Dinner?

Upon arrival, I was rather surprised at the number of paid luncheons/banquets I signed up for. I didn't think I had signed up for that many. I don't know whether it was good or bad that my decision to attend a meal session was based on the Menu! I have been wheat and grain free for about ten months, so it was challenging to select meal-based sessions based on my new eating style. The conference planners really seem to like taters, rolls/bread and sweet desserts. There really are a lot of other fruit/vegetable options, folks! But I managed (by smuggling in my own snacks to get me through the day). Certainly, the fresh dinner rolls, brownies and sweets were tempting, but I passed. Not part of my life any more. Cheesecake? Well, that's permitted in moderation as long as I don't eat the crust!

MY Genealogy Rock Stars

John Colletta

I first heard John Colletta when he was the featured speaker at my local society a few years ago. He's got the street cred - he can write, he can speak, he can inspire. He's got the passion for family history, research and telling the stories of our ancestors. A friend and I agreed. We don't just love John Colletta; we want to BE John Colletta. Unfortunately, I missed his seminar in Omaha a few years ago as it was right after my Dad suffered a stroke; I didn't feel I could leave him alone yet. But just this week, I learned that John will be speaking at the Iowa state genealogy conference in October. Count me in!

The first session I attended by John Colletta was "Princples of Good Writing and Good Storytelling"

My "sound bites, tweets and quotable quotes"
  • Family history writing can be just as readable as fiction.
  • Elements of a good family history story include: the setting, characters, conflict, theme or idea.
  • Get an proofreader with obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Write with the five senses: touch, taste, sight, hearing, smell
  • You are not rewriting your ancestor's county history - you are writing about your star (ancestor) in the context of that history. Your ancestor is is the star of the story.
  • Strong verbs don't need an adverb.
  • Use literary techniques such as suspense, surprise, romance, horror and humor.
I also attended the banquet at which John spoke, although I didn't take notes. There are times to just sit back, enjoy and be entertained.

I said it in 2010 and it still applies today: John Colletta Rocked It!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Meeting More Friends at NGS!

The social aspect of attending the conference of the National Genealogical Society (NGS) for me was definitely meeting IRL (in real life) many of the friends who I've know on Facebook and other online forums for several years. Here's a few of the pals I met up with in St. Charles, MO last week!

With Barbara Mathews

Judi Cook and Linda Conroy from LLCGS

With Judy Russell, one of my "Rock Stars"

With Scott Stewart - an amazing photographer!

Some of my dearest friends!
Susan Clark
Diana Ritchie:
Linda McCauley:

More Dear Friends!
Jenna Mills:
Kathleen Brandt:

Another of my Genealogy Gems!
Lisa Louise Cooke:

Karen Krugman -

Janet Hovorka

Allison Stacy and Diane Haddad of Family Tree Magazine

James Beidler:

Kathryn Lake Hogan
Oh, how I love this woman's laugh!

Some of the Nebraska folks:
Me, Mary Campbell, Robbi Ryan, Donna Thomas

Dear Friends from "back home" in Nebraska
Martha Grenzeback and Nancy Archdekin

With Martha G and Nancy A! - my Omaha buds!

The AMAZING Crista Cowan
The Barefoot Genealogist from

Terri O'Connell
Oh, how we connect with those Chicago bands from the 60s!

Definitely one of my fave selfies of the week!
With my Genealogy BFFs!
Diana Ritchie
Jenna Mills

The Lovely Jen Baldwin

Cari Taplin
Who Wears the Pants in YOUR family?

Jamie Mayhew

Julie Cahill Tarr