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.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Countdown to Mesa Family History Expo - 4 weeks

The Mesa Family History Expo is only 4 weeks away. Here we are on Christmas eve and celebrating the birth of our Savior. We are also planning for the trips in the New Year, as well as resolutions for the next 12 months. Is one of your resolutions to work on your genealogy? Here is the perfect start of 2011: a place to get your genealogy resolutions off the ground while rubbing elbows with some of the best in the business. All that and a FREE exhibit hall (more on that next week) with lots of opportunities to improve your family history research. Check out Family History Expos for more on this event.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - The Hibben Home Creche

My creche is mostly composed of my wolf figurines with my mother's family's nativity set (which she had in our home while I was growing up). It gives me a peaceful feeling to see the old with the new and know that traditions from my childhood and my mother's live on in my home.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - 21 December 2010 - Helen Lorentzen Clayton

Helen LORENTZEN CLAYTON, the sister-in-law of my great-granduncle, Heinrich (Henry) Ignatz TRAPSCHUH, born 15 July 1864 (probably in Canada) and died 22 December 1892 (108 years ago tomorrow) in Wisconsin, buried in Forest Home Cemetery, Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Hoping that posting this may connect me to my relations from that branch of the family. Henry and his wife, Margaretha (May) LORENTZEN TRAPSCHUH, divorced after having 2 children. Henry moved to Minnesota and remarried. Margaretha stayed in Milwaukee. I know nothing of their relationship.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunday Singalong with Circlemending - Songs of the Season - The Birth of our Savior

It is the last Sunday of Advent. This coming Friday night is Christmas eve, when we celebrate the birth of our Savior. There are so many songs, hymns, and carols that celebrate that event. Surely you have many favorites, so share one here.

One of my favorites is "Infant Holy" - it's a simple song and I love the version on the recording "Twas on a Night Like This" (discussed a couple of weeks ago. But here is a YouTube version with a lovely background video, the song performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Enjoy the experience.

So now it's your turn: Share the lyrics, title, or link to a favorite song that speaks to the birth of our Savior, the reason we celebrate this time of year. Let us not forget the Reason for the Season.

Merry Christmas to all my followers, and to anyone who just stumbles on this post.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Mesa Family History Expo Countdown - 5 weeks

Only 5 weeks until genealogists from all over the country will converge on Mesa, Arizona to enjoy the Family History Expo and learn new ways of researching their family trees. Last week I discussed the various things people can do while visiting the Phoenix area. Today I want to suggest a schedule for those who are beginning genealogists. Now, these are not the only choices for beginners; in fact, if you have some specific areas of concern (ethnic genealogy research, software interests, etc.), then I wouldn't suggest this list. But if you are new to genealogy and have no idea what to "take," this schedule might be helpful:

10:00 am - Putting the Flesh on the Bones - Ron Arons
11:30 am - Juicy Family History: 25 Ways to Write Compelling True
Stories - M. Bridget Cook
1:30 pm - Who is That? Why Did Your Ancestor Associate with Apparent Strangers? - Jean Wilcox Hibben
3:00 pm - In the Beginning – Just Getting Started - Betsy Frith Gottsponor
4:30 pm - 7 Habits of Highly Successful Genealogists - DearMyrtle

8:00 am - State and Territorial Censuses & Substitutes, Additional Names for U.S. Genealogical Research - Leland Meitzler
9:30 am - I LOVE Libraries: Using Libraries for Your Genealogy - Gena Philibert Ortega
11:00 am - United States Immigration Overview - Jason Harrison
1:00 pm - Little Known Facts About the U.S. Census - Shirley Gage Hodges
2:30 pm - Keeping Your Genealogy Computer File Clean - Janet Hovorka

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - Holiday Books

My Christmas book display - many of these have been in my family for generations. I appreciate that my ancestors hung onto them.

Happy holidays.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Monday "Mum-along" with Circlemending

Since I was busy yesterday (Sunday) dealing with computer email problems, I never got the Singalong blog posted, so today I will suggest a Mum-along. The Mummers were the folks who took holiday music to the street when Cromwell banned it from the Church (1600s). While many mumming songs have become our regular Christmas carols (from the French carole meaning "ring" - songs that would accompany dancing, usually those performed in a circle, or ring), I thought it would be interesting to see if others like mumming songs as I do. Sometimes they are songs sung as rounds (another form of ring), sometimes they are songs that simply express the joy of the season. One verse resembles the previous, with just simple changes, encouraging people to sing along.

While the mummers usually did their plays and music in disguise (possibly so that Cromwell's people would not recognize them, saving them from the stocks), we sing them around the piano, fireplace, or even going door-to-door. They often wish happiness and health to the household they visit, suggesting a prosperous New Year. They also often ask the householder to give them some food, drink, or even money in exchange for those wishes.

One of my personal favorites of the mumming songs is named for the punch - wassail - that is also part of the holiday (read more about that at Wikipedia, and check the companion article on wassailing, the focus of the song I include here).

Here we come a-wassailing among the leaves so green,
Here we come a-wandering, so fair to be seen,
Love and joy come to you, and a Merry Christmas too,
And God Bless you and send you a happy New Year,
And God send you a happy New Year.

(See the full set of lyrics here). On YouTube, there is a wonderful instrumental by The Canadian Brass and a vocal by the Strathroy Chorale, among others.

One of my favorite renditions is on the Caroline & Sandy Paton recording "'Twas on a Night Like This" available from Folk-Legacy.

I recorded a version a couple of years back that can be heard or purchased (as a CD of Holiday Songs) from CDBaby.

So what songs on this type of theme are your favorite of the season? Share lyrics, links, or just titles here . . . and maybe sing a few to add some merriment to the holidays.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Mesa Family History Expo Countdown - 6 weeks

It's time again to start counting down to a Family History Expo. This one is taking place in Mesa, Arizona. It's the third time they have held one there and I'm proud to have been asked to present at all three. I am looking forward to being involved again, not only because it is an honor, but because it is my husband's home state. He was raised in Tempe, a descendant of some of the first settlers of the region. Every time we go back, he tells me where the city "used to" end and what had been in place of the freeways and sky-scrapers when he was growing up! I've heard it all so many times that I think I can run a tour now. Speaking of that, I thought I would let you know what other sights await if you plan to attend the Expo.

I don't know how many times I visited the Phoenix area before we finally took a trip to the zoo. What a great place! This is especially nice if you are a genealogist with family members who don't care to spend their day learning how to dig up the dead. They can leave you at the convention center and head over to the Phoenix Zoo, one of the 5 most kid-friendly zoos in the country. Take the Safari Train around the grounds to get the lay of the land, then exit wherever you want to focus some time (this zoo is too large to properly visit in just one day).

A few years ago we had a family reunion in Papago Park. What a great place! Providing the weather is being nicer than it was last year, this is a wonderful location for a picnic, hike, and visit to the botanical garden. Read some park reviews here.

Every year we attend a folk festival in March, held at Sahuaro Ranch Park Historic Area in Glendale (just outside Phoenix). The grounds are amazing - sort of a pioneer town with all sorts of exhibits and historical information. This is a kid-friendly place that is bound to be interesting (with all sorts of birds wandering around the orange groves that surround the property). Visiting is free. Check here for information and exact location.

If you are into shopping, Scottsdale is a wonderful place to just wander and browse (but watch your pocket-book, some prices are steep). There are some art galleries there that have some incredible pieces, especially featuring Southwestern art. Frank Lloyd Wright wintered in Scottsdale, so you can bet there is some of his work to view. Check this site for more information.

What if the weather is "normal" for January (rainy, cool, blah). No problem, there are other options. Since you are at the base of the Superstition Mountains, why not learn about the history of that area. It is not recommended that you take off for a hike in those mountains, unless you are an experienced hiker, but the next best thing is the Superstition Mountain and Lost Dutchman Mine Museum. Learn about the early legends of the area for a very minimal charge and no danger of falling or getting lost.

More Arizona Museum links can be found here: youth-oriented exhibits, natural history displays, modern marvels museums, etc. Even if the weather is a bummer, your visit to the Phoenix area need not be.

Hungry? Well, that happens. This is a college town, you know, so there are plenty of fast food joints, bistros, health food eateries, and specialty cuisine restaurants. Over the years we have found ourselves drawn to some of the same locations repeatedly. My husband's favorite (and it was his favorite when he was a child growing up), is Bill Johnson's Big Apple (if you see us at the Expo, be sure to ask him the stories behind it). There are now 5 locations in the Phoenix area so there's bound to be one near where you are staying! We also have come to enjoy Monti's La Casa Vieja Steakhouse in Tempe - the food is not cheap, but they give you a ton of it. Plus, you can split a meal and, if you pay $5 extra, they'll provide you with a second soup/salad, side dish, and bread serving for the second person - that is a good idea that I wish more restaurants would adopt!

So join us at the Arizona Family History Expo - click on the image below - and find out about "Old Dogs Learning New Tricks"!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - 7 December 2010 - Cleveland H. Sherman

Cleveland H. SHERMAN, born: 11 July 1884, died: December 1974
Buried: Spokane, Spokane, Washington

He was married to my 1st cousin, twice removed (Florence Luella TRAPSCHUH, daughter of my great-granduncle).

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sunday Singalong with Circlemending - Songs of the Season - Snow

OK, I am reading Facebook posts by friends all over who are dealing with snow (some say they are enjoying it). I moved to So. Cal. to escape the snow of the Midwest, but I still appreciate snow - in photos. And in songs of this winter season. Many of our most well-known Christmas songs don't mention Christmas or even Santa, but they focus on the weather - the snow and/or cold.

One of my absolute favorites is called "Dark December" (click the title to access the full song lyrics) by Graeme Miles and some of the lines dealing specifically with the weather are:

Should we curse the winter, for being e're so dark?
When the sun is late in rising, but early to depart.
When the bitter northern winter winds freeze our very hearts.

cho) Oh, should we curse the winter? (3X)
And December most of all.

It's an old and obscure song with a haunting melody (I have recorded it, as have a handful of others). Just singing it makes me feel cold!

Any songs about the weather of the season? Share them here (some lyrics, link to lyrics, link to an MP3 or YouTube video, or just the title).

Your turn.