Healing Through Stories

I have ancestors on both sides of my family tree who fought against each other in the American Civil War. My Dad’s family was from the South, my mom’s family was from the North. My ancestors fought against each other in this gruesome, brutal war. Stories about wars often paint one side as heroes and…

When Your Family History Connects with History

First flight, 120 feet in 12 seconds, 10:35 a.m.; Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Source: Library of Congress On this day in 1903, the Wright brothers successfully flew an airplane for the first time in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The following year, after repairing their airplane, they conducted flight tests in Huffman Prairie, just outside their…

Some Notes on Chinese Genealogy

To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must cultivate our personal life; and to cultivate our personal life, we must first set our hearts right. – Confucius (551 BC…

Using Historical Place Names

A good question came up on my favorite genealogy Facebook group, Genealogy! Just Ask! yesterday. I tried to answer it as best I could on the original post, and others gave some good input as well, but I thought it would be helpful to some if I answered it more in depth here on my…

The Cliffords, Part 1: Brick Wall Immigrants

Featured Image: Hamburger Hafen (Port of Hamburg) by Adolph Friedrich Vollmer, 1840. Ah, yes. Clifford. Kliefoth. The family that made me want to study German Genealogy in college. And I studied for four years and still didn’t find them. But they will be found. Someday. They originated in Germany as Kliefoth (pronounced like “klee-fote”), and…

Research Summary: Andrew

Featured image: John Wesley Andrew sitting on his porch in Geneva, Nebraska Surname summary: I have decided to devote my research time each month to one direct line surname that exists in my five-generation pedigree. My surname for the month of November was Andrew. This is one of the few lines on my grandmother’s side…

Can You Trace Your Genealogy Back to Adam and Eve?

“Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions.” – 1 Timothy 1:4 Can you trace your genealogy back to Adam and Eve? This question comes up all the time when people talk to me about genealogy. As a professional researcher, when newbies to genealogy ask that, I generally just roll my eyes…

5 Things You Should Not Do with Old Family Artifacts

  Here are two pictures of family artifacts. Both are marriage certificates of my ancestors on different sides of my family. The first document is older than the second by about 50 years, and it certainly shows its age. You can see it has creases from being folded and water marks from being exposed to…

Little Jonnie Lathrop, or, Life and Death on the Prairie

This is my great-great-grandmother, Caroline Jane (Webber) Gile. I love this picture. Usually in pictures this old the people don’t really smile, and old photos of babies usually have them by themselves or in mother’s lap, and half the time baby is blurred out because she is moving too much for the camera to focus.…

The Handwritten Past

My Grandpa lives in a little brick house in north-central Kansas in a small town with a population of about 300. Just outside of town is the land where his grandfather built a homestead when he first moved to Kansas from Ohio. Grandpa has driven us grandkids around on those dirt roads in Kansas and…