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, November 19, 2013

The Austin Episode

The Genealogy Roadshow episode filmed in Austin was actually the first one that was recorded. But it was the last one aired . . . and that worked for me. Well, it really didn't matter to me about the order, but it was sort of interesting because that was the episode that included "my kid." At least, that's how I phrased it.

So, YES, "Max Hibben" is my kid. I taught him to ride a bicycle. I helped him with homework. I took him to get a cool looking outfit for his first dance. I (along with a host of other brave folks) rode with him as he learned to drive. But, no, I did not give him birth, nurse him (except back to health from the age of 8 on), change his diapers (for which we are both grateful), or hear his first words. He is, technically, my step-son. That means that my ancestry is not his; he shares his with his father and his biological mother, who was adopted in infancy and whose bio parentage is unknown.

Max helped some with some field research on an Austin story (he has made Austin his home since the 1980s and works there as a well-known DJ). So I suggested that he submit his story about his father's family's connection to Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island. I did not know if the show would accept it, but it certainly would make for an interesting story.

The question that has been asked over and over is, "Did Max know that he was related to Roger Williams?" Well, no more than anyone else on the show knew about their ancestors. He'd heard the stories throughout his childhood, but no one had proved it to him, nor did his father (my husband) have the lineage verified. Grandma and Granny (Butch's mother and grandmother) had always talked about the relationship, but was it valid? I agreed to work on the verification.

Consider my situation: After 36 years of marriage, I was actually questioning my husband's claim of being Roger Williams's 7th great-grandson. If it turned out that this family legend was false, I would have failed the show (bad) and I would have failed the family (worse). I was running the risk of letting down my bosses and being kicked out of the family. Max wouldn't be too pleased either.

After quite a few hours of research, I was immensely pleased to discover that all those stories were true. My rebel son with tattoos, piercings, and purple streaks in his hair was carrying on the tradition of bucking the system that we traced to the founder of Rhode Island (who, according to my family tree, was a close friend of my 8th great-grandfather, John Gallup . . . but I still need to complete that confirmation).

I do want to include one disclaimer: we sent in the family tree information to the producers, but how the editors put it together is out of our hands. Max's lineage connects him to the Chlarson family that, unfortunately, appeared on the television show as Charlson (I know, it looks as if I spelled it wrong so they corrected it, but I really did spell it right . . . I am surprised many of the Chlarson clan - and there are thousands of them! - didn't descend on me en masse).

Want to watch all the shows? Check PBS on-line. And, yes, that is my kid talking to Josh on the thumbnail link of the Austin Show.