07 October 2014

Today's Tip - Search for Place under Surname on FamilyTreeDNA

Have you submitted your DNA for the Family Finder test offered by FamilyTreeDNA? Here is a tip for narrowing down your results to those that are more relevant to your ancestral places.



Under Family Finder - Matches, find the sorting box for Ancestral Surnames. Enter the ancestral location of interest. Do not add the surname. The surname locations are indexed together with the surnames. The results will include all matches who have indicated that one of their ancestors originated from the target location. 

Searching Family Finder matches by place will help you:

  • survey surnames originating from a particular location
  • connect with individuals whose ancestors originated from the same small town, village or shtetl

Happy Searching!

Jennifer Shoer aka Scrappy Gen

Let's Remember!

01 October 2014

Go See Your Grandma

When was the last time you thought about your grandma? Thanks to the Meet My Grandma initiative, #MeetMyGrandma, from FamilySearch.org, lots of people are talking about their grandmas. This initiative from the LDS church is to encourage their younger generation to capture stories from their older family members. An emotional connection (grandma!) and great social media marketing have made it popular and I hope it catches on with young and old alike, including with those of us who are not part of the LDS church.

Before it’s too late, go see your grandma. Talk with her. Ask her about her life. Not sure what to ask? Try this list from the Lineagekeeper’s Genealogy Blog; Fifty Questions for Family History Interviews. Don’t exhaust her and try to ask all of them. Let her talk as long as she wants and follow her lead. 

Their suggestion to tell one story you love about your grandma is simple and easy to accomplish. I was lucky to know two grandmothers and two great grandmothers and I have stories to tell, but you know what I wish? I wish I had asked them more questions while they were here on Earth. 

What are you waiting for? Go. Go now. Call her. Email her. Get in the car or on a plane and go see her. Talk with her and don't forget to listen. 

Jennifer Shoer aka Scrappy Gen


Let's Remember!

p.s. you can see my grandmothers here, here, here, here, here and here

30 September 2014

My Genealogy Sabbatical Year

If you could spend each of the next twelve months living in one of your ancestral locations and researching on-site, where would you go? 

Join me as we dream up our genealogy sabbatical years. The rules for the genealogy sabbatical year meme are that you have enough money to support yourself and you are free of regular life responsibilities. There is nothing that will distract you from your mission, family history immersion research. 

Month 1: Connecticut         
My first stop would be the state of Connecticut. It isn’t far from New Hampshire, but life responsibilities keep me from spending an extended amount of time there. My paternal grandfather’s lines are embedded in Connecticut for generations. My mother’s parents’ families settled in Connecticut in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Both sides immigrated to Connecticut, her mother’s from Prussia, today Poland; her father’s mother’s family from Ireland to Canada to Vermont and then to Connecticut; and her father’s father’s family from Ireland.

Month 2: Massachusetts
The second month would find me next door in Massachusetts. My paternal grandmother’s roots are here. Her mother’s family came from Northern Ireland in the late 1800s, while her father’s family has been here for generations.

Month 3: New York
I was well into Northern Ireland in my mental trip planning, when I realized that before I headed to Ireland, I must go to New York. My grandfather’s maternal grandmother died with child at a young age so we didn’t learn a lot about her family from family lore. Her mother’s maiden name was Diamond, which brought us the only family story I have heard which was that she was related to the family of the Diamond match company. I have not found that connection. The Diamonds and Murtaghs most likely arrived in New York between 1830 and 1840. My Murtagh 2x great grandfather's headstone indicates he was from Old Ballinacargy, County Westmeath, Ireland

Months 4-5: Poland and Germany
After gathering all that I can in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York with a possible side trip to Rhode Island during one of the first two months, I would spend the next months in Poland and Germany. Both of my maternal grandmother’s parents came from the area of Włocławek near the Wisła or Vistula River. While I can get along in German and can roughly translate Russian, I would need assistance with Polish records. Luckily, per the rules of the genealogy sabbatical year, I can afford to hire a guide or a local genealogist.  Germany is included in this research plan because these grandparents were Germans from Russia, or Prussia, or Poland, depending on the year. While further research is needed to determine their German ancestral origin, part of my family fled the Soviets before WWII and went back to Germany, where they ended up living in the East until 1990 when the two sides reunited shortly after the wall began to come down in 1989. There is both modern and ancient family history to pursue, including known living relatives.

Month 6: Canada
From Poland or Germany, I would fly back to Canada and visit Quebec and Ontario. My grandfather’s grandfather was born in Montreal, while the family was migrating from St. Columban, Quebec to Vermont. The story is that the family arrived in Canada in the late 1820s from Freshford, Kilkenny,Ireland. I am hoping to hunt down some records regarding their early time in Canada and firm up the connection back to Ireland.

Month 7: Northern Ireland
From Canada after a possible stop south of the boarder in Vermont, I would head to Northern Ireland. My grandmother’s mother, Mabel Hill, was born in Belfast and Mabel’s father, William Hill, was born in Ballymoney. The Hill family had been there since at least the early 1800s. They were Presbyterians. They were most likely English or Scottish. William, his wife Annie, and Mabel oft repeated for American records that they were English. William’s middle name was McPherson. Annie’s maiden name was Connor(s) and had family living in Scotland. I hope to find Annie’s birth record and learn more about where her family’s origins as well as the origins of the Hill family.

Month 8: Ireland
From Northern Ireland I would head south to Ireland in pursuit of my Catholic forebears. I have two known possible towns to explore. Hopefully further research in New York and Connecticut would reveal more information about the origins of my grandfather’s father’s family. They were Smiths, so it shouldn’t be that difficult.

Months 9-10: Scotland and England
Until now during my genealogy sabbatical year I have been working on locating the ancestral origins of my great through 3x great grandparents. If I have learned enough in Connecticut, Massachusetts and in Northern Ireland, I may be able to head to Scotland and/or England to learn about the places from which my earlier ancestors hailed.

Months 11-12: Revisit or Recap
I would use this time to revisit the documents, narrative research notes, photographs and connections I have amassed throughout the year. I would focus on organizing and filing or displaying as well as editing the narrative research notes. The notes would serve as a basis for my finding reports. 

Time for Your Genealogy Sabbatical Year
How would you spend your genealogy sabbatical year? Where would you go? What would you do? Dream big!

Have fun dreaming and planning and let us know where you will be. 

Jennifer Shoer aka Scrappy Gen


Let's Remember!


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