About Me

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Lake Mathews (Perris), CA, United States
Born in Illinois, I grew up in Wilmette, a northern suburb of Chicago. I have one sibling, an older brother. I am married, for the 2nd time now, to Butch & got 4 children in the deal. They have gone on to make me grandmother 25 times over & great-grandmother to over 20!. After many years working in industry, I got my bachelors and masters degrees in speech communication, & was a professor in that field for 13 years. I retired in 2001 & returned to school & got my doctorate in folklore. Now I meld my two interests - folklore & genealogy - & add my teaching background, resulting in my current profession: speaker/author/entertainer of genealogically-related topics. I play many folk instruments, but my preference is guitar, which I have been playing since 1963. I write the "Aunty Jeff" column for the Informer, newsletter of the Jefferson County NY Gen. Soc. I work in partnership with Gena Philibert-Ortega & Sara Cochran as Genealogy Journeys® where we focus on educating folks about Social History. More about that: genaandjean.blogspot.com. More on our podcasts: genjourneys.podbean.com. More about my own projects: Circlemending.org.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Countdown to Salt Lake Expo, Generation Maps, booth 401-403

We have arrived. Spent some time in Salt Lake doing research & finding a ton of information for a friend . . . using FamilySearch (the library catalog), New FamilySearch, and RootsMagic, together with the microfilms of a small village in Germany, took me back into the 1600s for her line! I think I'm as excited as she is.

Speaking of excitement, there is a ton of it over at the Expo Center in Sandy, where we are now. The exhibit hall is taking shape with all sorts of genealogy-related materials! We just put up the basics of our booth (are bringing in the instruments tomorrow morning) and are pleased to be part of this event. Saw Generations Maps beginning their unloading process just as we were leaving.

They are in booth 401-403. Check out their cool ways of displaying your entire family.

Hope to see you at Expo . . . it all begins tomorrow morning at 7am (for registration).

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wordless Wednesday, 26 August 2009/24 August 1911

My mother - I miss her every day, born 98 years and 2 days ago today

Virginia Marie Johnson Wilcox (b: 24 August 1911, Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; d: 24 June 1994, Evanston, Cook, Illinois) md to Lee Roy Wilcox, 21 December 1940, Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday, 25 August 2009/27 August 1963

Ottilie (Aunt Till) was my grandaunt. I never knew her because she moved from Illinois to California after I was born and died before I got out to the West coast. I knew her daughter, my 1st cousin once removed, however. So I finally went to visit her grave at Forest Lawn in Long Beach, just before they made restrictions on photographing headstones and getting information about those buried there. Ottilie was cremated and her remains are in a vault, as are those of other, more distant family members.

Ottillie Phillipine Mueller (b: 9 July 1877, Manhattan, New York, New York; d: 27 August 1963, Torrance, Los Angeles, California), was married three times:
1) William Schmeckebier, April 1894, Chicago, Cook, Illinois (d), no children
2) Carl Dallman, bef. 1898, Cook County, Illinois (d), 3 children (all deceased)
3) ? Luepke, aft. February 1912, Cook County, Illinois (d), no children

Her life was a hard one and much of it spent as a single mother. She finally decided to join extended family in California. She was interred in Sunnyside Memorial Park, which was later purchased by Forest Lawn.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Countdown to Salt Lake Expo, Programs of Jean Wilcox Hibben

In 4 days the Exposition Center in Sandy, Utah will be alive with genealogists of all levels, learning, sharing, and enjoying the experience of family history. But today, there are still some genealogists who are unaware of this event . . . I've met some, right here in Salt Lake City, who had no idea this experience was about to occur! We need to get the word out . . . it would be terrible to learn, at church on August 30th, that one had missed such an opportunity! Click on this logo to get all the latest information:

And I am hoping to run into some of my genealogy friends (new as well as "old") at one or more of the programs I am presenting:

Friday, 28 August, 10:00am: "Yes You Can! Do Genealogy in Spite of a Learning Disability"
Friday, 28 August, 4:30pm: "Genealogy on Wheels: Doing Family History Research in an RV"
Saturday, 29 August, 11:00am: "This is not Your Grandma's Genealogy: Making the Transition from Paper to Electronic Record Keeping"
Saturday, 29 August, 2:30pm: "To Zion in Song: The Westward Migration of the Mormons" (this is a program with lots of music, including sing-alongs, and featuring my husband Butch on saw and spoons . . . I play the boring instruments like guitar, banjo, and mandolin)

Check my link on the Expo website for more information on these programs.

On Saturday morning I'll also be interviewed by Lisa Louise Cooke, of Genealogy Gems podcast, talking about the RVing concept for genealogists. I'll provide that specific YouTube link once I get it!
Of course I'll also be at our "Circlemending: music of our ancestors" booth - #621 (in the corner by the tables and prize drawing area . . . stop by to say "hi") - plus I'll be helping at the "Ask an Expert" area.

There's so much to do and see (and buy) that it would be a shame to miss the opportunity.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Countdown to Salt Lake Expo, RootsMagic, Booths 301-303

Can you feel the excitement in the air? Well, I can! We are already in Salt Lake doing some preliminary things and research at the library before we set up our booth on Thursday & experience the Expo on Friday & Saturday. It will be great to see folks we often visit at the various conferences, seminars, etc. and among those are the folks at RootsMagic!

I love RootsMagic software, and this latest version (4) is great for those who are using New FamilySearch as it works as a companion program with the on-line databases. Besides that, RM4 is a user-friendly software. I was visiting with a genealogist friend on the way up here and she is having all sorts of problems with the software program she uses . . . I told her about RM4 and now she wants to check it out!

Some of my favorite features include the editing options. I like being able to color-code my ancestors (I'm very color-oriented when it comes to organizing things). I also like being able to do a correction of a place (such as one I spelled wrong on many entries, but don't want to try to find each and every one) by going into the place editing option and then fixing all of them at once. Also merging incorrectly written locations with the correct notation is also a simple task. And I love being able to add additional events to my ancestors' lives (like "political office" or "knighting" or "wounded in battle"). It is easy to do and then makes the printed copy more complete without me having to put everything into the notes.

If you are interested in considering a new genealogy software program, and you will be at the Expo this coming weekend, check out Bruce Buzbee's booth - 301-303 - and tell him I sent you! He is now taking orders for the fabulous book that will help users of RM4 and has a deal on it at his website. So check out RootsMagic while you are at the Expo!! And check out his website and blog on-line, too (even if you can't attend Expo).

Friday, August 21, 2009

Countdown to Salt Lake Expo, Review of CRASH COURSE IN FAMILY HISTORY, booth 321

My experience of reviewing Crash Course in Family History, 3rd ed. was both enjoyable and educational (I have a number of websites that I now want to investigate that I either did not know existed or did not realize contained as much as they do). Thank you, Paul Larsen, for this experience.

It is clear from the cover of the book that this text deals largely with the use of technology in doing one’s genealogy. This, of course, is pertinent to today’s society, but includes a built-in obsolescence problem: some of the data may already be out of date (with website changes and removals, plus the additions of others that might be preferable for the various elements discussed). Mr. Larsen has thought ahead about this issue, however, and is developing a companion website where one can get the most updated information. Also, his production runs of the book are small enough to allow him to update each time a new printing is prepared.

I think it would have been helpful to add a little more about non-Internet options (Family History Centers and their parent, the Salt Lake Family History Library, are given good coverage). A section on genealogical and historical societies, as well as public libraries, would have been a nice touch. The genealogical societies are having something of an identity crisis with the influx of so much web-based research, yet they definitely have their place in the genealogy community and some mention of them (and, perhaps, the website “Society Hill” so people can find them across the country) would perhaps help keep them afloat. Historical societies and local public libraries, and their role in helping people learn about their ancestors’ home towns, are also shortchanged here.

I was impressed with the basic explanation of LDS beliefs and temple ordinance information to help clarify the reasons for the strong Mormon influence in this field. It was neither too preachy nor too simplified. The explanation of the New FamilySearch program was as comprehensive as possible, for this particular moment in time. However, I think listing the nFS Certified affiliates was not necessary and may even be discovered to be problematic since the list is subject to frequent revisions (the updated list can be found on the Internet and will probably be handled in Mr. Larsen’s website updates as well).

Information about using the computer in doing genealogical research is very helpful, especially the section on photos and file types (one of the best explanations I’ve seen). I would have preferred to have seen the clip art of a scanner to have been one of a flat-bed instead of a single-sheet feed. While the differences are explained, someone, unfamiliar with the various types, looking at the photos and then moving on might not understand that there are many brands of scanners that take books and even objects, making them a useful tool in library research.

I really liked the organization of the different chapters with one exception: material from chapter 4 (on the purpose of doing family history) would have been, in my opinion, better placed in the first chapter (or as a preface?). The reason: not everyone is convinced that doing family history is a valuable use of time; the purpose of this activity is very clearly and effectively described in chapter 4 and may inspire a person to continue reading to learn the “how,” once they understand the “why.” Perhaps Mr. Larsen’s personal experience and revelation about writing the book would be better placed at the end as an “afterword” (while I found it moving and fascinating, the person looking first for information for his/her own use might not be so inspired by Mr. Larsen’s experience). That said, I need to add that the rest of the chapter organization flowed well, in my opinion. And the final two chapters are placed perfectly.

Discovering the “best of the best” websites had to be a hard task and the research that went into this quest is impressive, to say the least. Identifying websites that require the user to pay a fee was also much appreciated. Because websites are so frequently changed, I would have liked to have seen this book organized so that pages could be removed and updates slipped in (though the link on EasyFamilyHistory will be set up so that the most recent information is available, the reader will need to hand revise or print something to paste on an existing page). Mr. Larsen’s planned blog will be a “must” for the purchasers of this book as I am relatively certain he will include information on website updates via his blog. I am looking forward to being a regular reader of this upcoming blog. (Of course, this is going to mean more work for Mr. Larsen, causing him to have to monitor the changes, though I sort of suspect he is doing that anyway). This makes his book a “living entity” that will be able to grow (or, heaven forbid, shrink) with the industry.

Initially I was troubled by the ethnocentric approach to much of the research described: this is very much a book for use by Americans in America. Of course, the fact that it is written in English might lead people to assume that, but I thought it would not get the mileage it deserves in, say, the United Kingdom, simply because of the wording, particularly in the section “Honoring Your Ancestors.” However, Mr. Larsen informed me that there are already plans to have the text modified for users in other countries so even those whose ancestors did not immigrate to America will find a user-friendly version sometime in the future.

It is clear that this text was written with LDS researchers in mind and, (no offense to my fellow Mormon genealogists) because this particular group often forgets the scholarship necessary to accompany the research, it is a much-needed resource for this audience. Chapter 2’s discussion of source citation is an excellent element of this text and responds to that deficiency in that particular population. But this book also fulfills a need in the general genealogy community: a comprehensive list of areas to check in order to claim that “reasonably exhaustive search” that we are encouraged to conduct.

For anyone considering family history as a pastime, an avocation or vocation, and/or a sacred duty, this book is a good place to start. The sometimes amusing, sometimes heart-wrenching, sometimes motivating examples of the experiences of other genealogists, amateur and professional alike, make this text one that touches the hearts and minds of the reader. If one can read this book and then elect not to investigate his/her own ancestors, I would be amazed. Thank you, Mr. Larsen, for filling a hole in the genealogy bookshelf.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Countdown to Salt Lake Family History Expo!

A week from today we will be setting up our booth - #621 - at the Family History Expo outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. We are looking forward to seeing lots of old friends while also making the acquaintance of many new ones. We will be doing short demonstrations of the music of our ancestors and will have 8 CDs available for purchase (7 of mine and one of my husband's featuring his most unusual saw and spoon playing). We also are planning something new this year: downloads of MP3 files onto a CD (or your own flash drive) so you can purchase just the songs you are most interested in. Of course that means there is no written information on the songs, but for someone wanting only a very few, it can be a pretty good deal at $1/song and $2 for the CD (though people who download them to their own flash drives will save that $2 cost). We will have a list of all the available songs and also have them on a player so the prospective buyer can listen to them first. So if you think that this is something that would be of interest to you, stop by the booth and check it out! (Of course, this option is not a "show only" deal and we will have this available after the Expo is over, too.)

As I've mentioned before, we will also be presenting "To Zion in Song" at the Expo. We will document the Mormon trek from Nauvoo to Salt Lake with the songs that the early Saints sung. We even get folks singing along, if we're lucky. One of the most interesting songs we present is one that was written in 1946 by Myron Crandell. Crandell titled his song "This is the Place," after the prophetic statement Brigham Young made when he viewed the Salt Lake Valley for the first time. In its original form, this song consists of 7 verses which detail just about every major event from the departure from Iowa to the settling of Salt Lake City. Included are Pres. Young's bet with Jim Bridger, his admonition to the Saints to settle in Utah and not continue to the gold fields in California, the continuous missionary efforts of the Church, the formation of the Mormon Battalion, the Mormon fight with crickets and grasshoppers, the building of the first Utah temples, the role of the Mormons in creating the well-irrigated valley as well the as roads (and, eventually, the railroad) leading into their Zion in the mountiains, and the threat of Johnston's Army (discussed last week). (None of the verse subjects is in the order of occurrence, however.) It is said that this song was used to teach Utah history to the school children, in spite of the lack of dates or chronological order of the verses.

While we sing only one and a half verses of this song in our program, the song, in its entirety (or close to it), can be found sung by Ed McCurdy, Rosalie Sorrels, and others on their various recordings. I have not been able to locate the complete lyrics on line but they are printed in the wonderful book by Richard E. Lingenfelter - Songs of the American West - that I mentioned in an earlier blog.

Come to Expo and at least hear part of the song! And all or parts of many more.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wordless Wednesday, Wilcox-Miller, August 1911

"Deeda & Mema" - my paternal grandparents, Lee Alfred Wilcox & Pauline Elizabeth Miller, married 17 August 1911 (98 years and 2 days ago), Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday, Leora Pryce Miller

Ada Leora Pryce Miller (b: 26 June 1888, Milton Junction, Rock, Wisconsin; d: 24 August 1973, Riverside, Riverside, California) was the daughter of James Corliss Pryce, Jr. & Ada Florence Brightman. Her line goes back to such notables as the Spencer family (of Princess Di) and John Howland of the Mayflower. Many of her ancestors were involved in the Seventh Day Baptist church of Rock County, Wisconsin and include such Colonial ancestoral names as Clark/Clarke, Greene, Davis, Maxson, Rogers, and Lanphere/Lamphere. My research has taken me back in this line to the Coggeshall/de Coggeshall family before 1100 AD. It's a remarkable lineage that is not mine, but that of my second cousins.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Family History Expo Countdown - New CD

Well, after much work, we finally completed my 7th CD in a series of recordings based on the family history songs/stories programs I do. This one is "Songs of the American West" and will shortly be available through my distributor, CDBaby (I'll make that announcement when the CD is "up" and "on-line" with, hopefully, digital downloading available).

However, if you are going to be at the Salt Lake Family History Expo (being held in Sandy, Utah) on the 28th & 29th of August, you can get a copy there or purchase individual songs as MP3s (either on discs we provide or downloaded to your own flash drive). This is a new option we will have available at the Expo in our booth, #621 (it will look something like the photo below), and can save some money if you want only a very few songs or a selection of songs from different CDs.

This particular CD is unique in that it includes some original ("lost") verses of familiar songs to help demonstrate some of the lyrics your ancestors sung. Most notable is the song we know as "Home, Home on the Range" but was originally written as "The Western Home" by Dr. Brewster Higley. The website for Kansas Heritage gives some fascinating history of the song and its virtually unknown author, along with links to lyrics and stories related to the piece. Check it out for some interesting reading, then come by our booth at the Expo and hear it.

For more information on the Expo, click on the Family History Expo logo at the top of the page . . . there's a lot happening and many experts to assist you in your roots pursuits!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wordless Wednesday, 12 Aug 2009

To give faces to stones, following yesterday's Warnke/Hollander/Vallee family resting places, here are Alonzo (Lou) Vallee (5th from the left, standing) & his second wife, Anna Hedwig (Hattie) Hollander Warnke Vallee (1st on the right, sitting) celebrating Thanksgiving 1947 in Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday, 11 August 2009


"Aunt Hattie" (Anna Hedwig Hollander) married Edward Warnke in 1892. They had one son - Gordon - and a long life together. Edward died 10 September 1939, while traveling in Minnesota from their Wisconsin home.

Edward Warnke's sister, Emma, had married Alonzo (Lou) Vallee and they also made their home in Wisconsin, near the Hollanders in Milwaukee. Emma died 25 May 1939, preceding her brother in death by almost four months.

Following the deaths of their spouses, Lou Vallee and Hattie Hollander Warnke decided to "keep it in the family" and married each other (with the blessings of the family members), having almost 10 years together until Lou's death in 1949.

While the initial graves were arranged in two separate plots (one Warnke, one Vallee), it was decided to move the "group" together. When Hattie died in 1961, she was placed with her two husbands, along with her sister-in-law, in the Hollander plot in Forest Home Cemetery, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with Hattie's parents - Adam & Carrie Hollander - and her sister - Maria Eva (Mamie) Hollander.

The order & tombstone engravings of the Warnke/Vallee graves would lead one to wonder who these people were and how they were related to each other. But now you know!

From left to right:

Edward Henry Warnke; b: 21 March 1867/1868, Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; d: 10 September 1939, St. Paul, Ramsey, Minnesota, USA

Anna Hedwig (Hattie) Hollander; b: 13 June 1869, Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; d: 26 August 1961, Wauwatosa, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

Alonzo F. (Lou) Vallee; b: 10 January 1867, Fond du Lac, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, USA; d: 28 November 1949, Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

Emma M. Warnke, b: 17 August 1869, Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; d: 25 May 1939, Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Countdown to Salt Lake Expo, Booth 621

Hard to believe, but in 21 days we will be setting up our exhibit at Booth 621 (in the back corner by the tables) to share with everyone something about music and how it relates to their ancestors. Are you going to be at the Salt Lake Family History Expo (actually to be held in Sandy, Utah)? If so, be sure to stop by to hear a song or share a story. If you aren't sure about attending, click the link above to see all the incredible things that will be happening and classes that will be presented.

I will be presenting 4 classes, including one presentation with hubby Butch called "To Zion in Song" (on Sat. at 2:30) dealing with Mormon pioneer songs & how they were employed during the pioneer trek west through the settling of the Salt Lake Valley. Some of the songs are still performed in the Church today, but most are almost lost to obscurity. For example, the "Johnston's Army Song" (also called "The Mormon Doo-Dah Song") tells the history of the threat of the government (and Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston) to come in and take over the newly formed city in June 1858. (Curtis Allen has a great blog about it.) The entire procedure of the preparation of the citizens to either protect or burn their city, according to the actions of Johnston's army, are described in the lyrics of the song. Of course it is sung to the Stephen Foster tune of "Camptown Races," which was, even earlier, used as a sea-shanty called "Banks of the Sacramento."

We have great fun playing and singing the "Johnston's Army Song" in our program . . . if you are at the Expo, come to the presentation and sing along! If you want to hear the song, check out the clip of it at CDBaby, where our CD "Songs of the Mormon Pioneers" is handled. Sorry, no MP3 download is available at this time (check back periodically, though, as we're trying to get that arrangement set up).

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday, 4 August 2009, 4 August 1934

Edward Everett Wilcox, b: 21 February 1855, Decatur, Van Buren, Michigan; d: 4 August 1934, Dallas, Dallas, Texas; buried: 6 August 1934, Oakland Cemetery, Dallas, Dallas, Texas and his second wife, Leonora Adelia Stickle Caskey Welch Wilcox, b: 26 September 1863, Vandergrift, Westmoreland, Pennsylvania; d: 24 July 1934, Dallas, Dallas, Texas; buried: 25 July 1934, Oakland Cemetery, Dallas, Dallas Texas