About Me

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Lake Mathews (Perris), CA, United States
I am a native of Illinois and grew up in Wilmette, a northern suburb of Chicago. I have one sibling, an older brother. After dropping out of college, I moved to California in 1973 with my first husband. I married my present husband, Butch, in 1977 and got 4 children in the deal. They have gone on to make me a grandmother 25 times over and a great-grandmother of 19. Three years after I married Butch I returned to school. I got my bachelors and masters degrees in speech communication and was a professor in that field for 13 years. I retired in 2001 to return to school and get my doctorate in folklore. Now I meld my two interests - folklore and genealogy - and add my teaching background, resulting in my current profession: speaker/entertainer of genealogically-related topics. I play a number of folk instruments, but my preference is guitar, which I have been playing since 1963. I work in partnership with Gena Philibert-Ortega with Genealogy Journeys where we focus on educating folks about Social History. More about that can be found at http://genaandjean.blogspot.com and more about my own business projects is on my Circlemending website.

Friday, August 20, 2010

FGS conference, Knoxville, and Sheila Kay Adams - keeping the tradition alive

I have been a fan of Sheila Kay Adams for many, many years (we met at a Summer Solstice Folk Music, Dance, and Storytelling Festival sponsored by the California Traditional Music Society back in the 1990s). What a pleasant surprise to find that she was the entertainment for last night's program, "Come and Sit a Spell," at the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference in Knoxville, Tennessee. Not only have the years been good to her (she looks as if time has not touched her since we last saw each other), her delivery is as spot-on as it ever was. This woman has a way with words that is amazing: she can tell a story with a straight face, acting as if it is just as common as anything for her son to also be her (distant) cousin. Sheila shares her stories of her hometown of Sodom in such a way that her listeners feel her experiences and get to know her many relatives (and it does seem that all residents of her village are related). Of course, we can dwell on the stereotypes of the hill people, but Sheila reminds us that these are people of strong stock and solid beliefs (many, many of them, in fact). We got to visit, with her songs and stories, the pioneers of this country that have helped to preserve the oral traditions and tales that bind us together in this generation. You may not have a family from the south, but the elements that connect Sheila's family (value systems, traditions, music, stories, shared history, etc.) are the same ones that tie our family circles together. Check out Sheila Kay Adams at her website, view her YouTube interview with David Holt, or hear her sing "Little Margaret" on YouTube. Get a sense of the mountain people and their traditions that remain alive even today, and hopefully tomorrow, too.


  1. So sorry I missed this. It sounds like one of the things I really would have enjoyed. I am always a fan of a good story.

  2. Patty, you would truly love her! She is really a hoot!