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.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - 5 January 2010 - Rising from the dead

It's Tombstone Tuesday & I want to share an experience rather than a stone.

On January 3 I received an email from a woman who told me about an error in something I'd posted. She was so excited about contacting me that she didn't even notice I'd emailed her back when she picked up the phone & called me from Illinois. It seems that she is a cousin to my 2nd cousin, once removed, whose stone I posted back in June. Elaine Strauss Hill's aunt (her father's sister) had had a daughter, Joan (Elaine's cousin), and that was the person who contacted me after finding my Tombstone Tuesday about Elaine (to whom I am related on her mother's side). My error had been that I had listed her husband as having died (information received from the cemetery) . . . apparently that is very wrong as he is still very much alive (please, Mr. Hill, forgive me . . . I only know the information I am given and the records from the cemetery office are very hard to decipher so I am not sure just where the error occurred - their info or my interpretation . . . but there was even a burial date I picked up from somewhere!!). Note: I have corrected that TT entry to put Mr. Hill back among the living!

Anyway, once we straightened out who is alive & who is not, Joan & I continued to share notes. She knew all of my relatives on that side of the family as they lived close by and she & Elaine were together a great deal so when Elaine's mother's family members were over, Joan got to know them. She knew my dad's cousin was always called "Uncle Bill" (Dad always called him Wilbur and I had never heard him referred to as Bill). She knew that Bill's sister had died in an asylum (one of the lesser known pieces of family trivia). Joan knew my Dad's aunt and that she had come out to California and said she had been in the San Francisco earthquake (I later realized that was impossible as she did not move to CA until after 1912 . . . must be another quake . . . I'll have to check that out).

Then I told her about a family cousin who immigrated from Germany and became a china painter. She gasped. I said, "I suspect you have some of that china?" (It seems everyone remotely related to the family got some of the hand painted china of Carl Hohn.) Well, she told me about a pin (she turned into a pendant) that Elaine had given her - a fine porcelain with a hand-painted flower; also of a salt & pepper shaker set she has (what she described is identical to the ones - I have about 13 sets - in my china cupboard). Carl did like to paint salt & pepper shakers! She was thrilled to learn of their provenance.

Joan is not my cousin, but we connected on many levels via mutual relatives. She told me about Elaine (whom I met only a handful of times when I was very young): Elaine was a fun-loving member of the red hat society; she was always ready to have a good time. She and her husband were devoted to each other. These are the things that help us to know our deceased family members & I am very grateful for Joan's reaching out to me to correct that one little item; from that, I got to know family that I grew up less than 25 miles from but never really knew! Joan also had addresses and information on my cousins whom I have been trying to identify and locate.

Why do I put this into "Tombstone Tuesday"? Well, I started "doing" TT because it sounded like fun. I decided to try to put up photos of stones of people who died or were buried very close to an anniversary date of the posting (that's been quite the challenge, let me tell you!). Anyway, it was because Joan was doing what she (and many of us) sometimes did: Google a friend or family member, just to make sure there's nothing negative out there on the web. Low and behold, a link to my TT posting came up for "Elaine Hill." And more of my pedigree is getting filled in (and erased, as need be) as a result. So, when you other Geneabloggers post your TT (and other blogs for Wednesday, Thursday, etc.), don't forget the labels for the post! Who knows who is searching for your ancestors and just might send you an email, too.

What a great way to start 2010!!


  1. That's wonderful! I love stories like this! Congratulations!

  2. DearCOUSIN,
    THANKS for sharing how your blogging brought you together with your distant relative. Am wondering how can we get MORE people to blog, so they can have experiences like yours?


  3. I'm so happy for you and happy that you shared this wonderful story!

  4. Wonderful! Congrats to you on a new connection!