Monday, October 05, 2015

Temecula Valley Genealogical Society Open House

Will you be in the Temecula, California  area on Monday, October 12th? Consider having dinner in Old Town and then check out the Temecula Valley Genealogy Society Open House.

Temecula Valley Genealogical Society
Open House

Bridging the Past to the Future

Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 1915 San Francisco World’s Fair and the 1915 Panama – California Exposition in San Diego.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Temecula City Hall
Conference Center

Refreshments. Prizes. Displays. Family History

Friday, September 25, 2015

Meet the Author: An Interview with Deborah Sweeney

**Note from Gena: In my last blog post, I introduced you to the book  Dear Mother, Love Daddy by genealogist and blogger Deborah Sweeney. In this interview we learn a little more about her book and how Deborah is preserving her family history.

Yegerlehner family. Used with permission of Deborah Sweeney
Gena: Who were Roscoe and Gladys Yegerlehner?

Deborah: I always like to point out that Roscoe and Gladys, in the big scheme of things, were nobodies. They were not famous or infamous. However, to me, they are very important because they were my paternal grandparents. They lived the lives typical of middle class Americans of the 20th century, living through both world wars, the great Depression, the Cold War, the Civil Rights Era, and so on. Roscoe was the grandson of Swiss and German immigrants who arrived in the United States in the 1850s. They worked hard, purchased land in western Indiana, and were successful. They had many descendants who spread throughout the United States, some of which have been noteworthy. Roscoe’s closest brush with fame was his uncle Silvester Schiele, who was one of the four founders of the Rotary movement in the early 1900s in Chicago. As a result, Roscoe was a life-long Rotary member. Gladys’ ancestry paints a tapestry of American history from pacifist Quakers, Revolutionary War soldiers, slave-owning Virginians, and Irish immigrants. While Roscoe’s family was more well-to-do, Gladys’ family life was more turbulent. Her parents had a rocky marriage, and her mother was left to raise the children alone in the 1910s and 1920s in Terre Haute, Indiana. Gladys was a survivor who knew the value of hard work and making the best out of less than ideal circumstances.

By the opening of World War II, Roscoe and Gladys had been married ten years. Roscoe had been a school teacher and principal but during the Depression switched gears to study medicine and become a doctor. Before they married, Gladys had taken business courses to become a stenographer. To support the family while Roscoe attended medical school, Gladys took coursework at a beauty college. She ran a hair cutting business during the mid 1930s. After Roscoe finished medical school and his internship, they settled in the small northern Indiana town of Kentland and Roscoe set up a private practice. Within the month following the attack of Pearl Harbor, Roscoe volunteered for the Navy and was granted a commission as a Lt. (jg). Like many other Americans of the time, Roscoe and Gladys felt compelled to do their duty for the war effort and did not want to be accused of shirking their responsibilities.

After the war, Roscoe came home and resumed his practice. He became a fixture in the town of Kentland for almost 25 years. When he retired in 1967, the town and his colleagues honored him with several going away parties. There are many people alive who still remember Dr. Yeg, or were one of the babies he delivered. I occasionally receive messages from people who tell me tales of experiences they had with the good doctor.

Roscoe. Used with permission of Deborah Sweeney

Gena: You started blogging about these letters a few years prior to publishing them in book form. What made you originally decide to share them with your readers?

Deborah: My original focus with the letters was to find a way to share them with family members, especially my dad. He had been the caretaker of the letters for several decades before me, but he had never actually read them. The letters cover a critical part of his childhood, in much more vivid detail then he could have ever imagined. Any historian or genealogist will tell you that finding letters like this is a wonderful treasure. One of the best parts of the experience is finding long lost relatives. My great-grandmother, Roscoe’s mother, had an older half sister. Through the letters, I am now in contact with a whole branch of the family because their ancestor was mentioned periodically in the letters. Through this connection, pretty much the entire branch has done DNA testing in conjunction with my research. It was been amazing!

Since my blog was very new in late 2012, transcribing and posting the letters also gave me a way to establish a daily routine. I have written about many different things on my blog in the last three years, but the letters are a constant. If you have ever looked at a pile of 1,000+ letters, it is very overwhelming! You also don’t know where some important genealogical clue might be buried. Blogging the letters has provided me with focus. I don’t think I would have gotten this far on the project without the blog keeping me on schedule.

Gena: Have you had any surprises or a-ha moments as you read the letters?

Deborah: Almost every single day! Some more so than others. One of the most current a-ha moments happened in the fall of 1943. My grandfather arranged to have a couple of his buddies send flowers to my grandmother for her birthday (Nov. 1). These buddies were on their way back to the states. Roscoe never really mentioned their names and I always like to identify everyone if I possibly can. Finally, buddy #1 was named as Lt. Palmer. It still wasn’t enough information for me go on, but then I came across another clue in some of Roscoe’s Navy paperwork. I was able to figure out who Lt. Palmer was, and I am hoping to make contact eventually with some of his descendants. Because who wouldn’t want to know that their ancestor did this really cool thing for another officer’s wife? I just discovered who buddy #2 was. He had been a former tent mate of Roscoe’s in the Russell Islands. This particular gentleman belongs to one of the founding families of Reno, Nevada. It just amazes me how all these men from all over the country from different walks of life were thrown together, men who normally would have had nothing in common. Some of the relationships survived the war, while others didn’t.

Gena: What tips would you provide to others who have family letters?

Deborah: I would recommend opening up those letters and learning how to preserve them properly. Read them and share them! Come up with a plan for passing them on. I don’t know if my children will necessarily be interested in keeping them. People are constantly telling me how there used to be letters or diaries in the family, but after the caretaker died whoever cleaned out their house just threw them away. Disasters happen, too. Things beyond human control, like fires or tornadoes. While I haven’t made definite plans yet for these letters, I hope to donate them to an institution or library in Indiana someday. But I want to preserve and organize them first, and find all the buried treasure within them.

Gena: Thanks so much for sharing your book and family history with us!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

On The Bookshelf: Dear Mother, Love Daddy

In the good old days, family history books  were typically large hardcover tomes that were filled with a bunch of facts and  little to no story. I love that we are starting to get away from this dry type of genealogy writing that few people want to read to telling the stories of our ancestor's lives.

(Yes, I said it. I'm sorry. I know you and I love names, dates, and places but pretty much no one else does. If we truly want to hand down our family history we have to think outside of the box.)

Some people are lucky to inherit the "stuff" (h/t to my friend Denise Levenick). And those people often find great ways to share their stuff with everyone.

Dear Mother, Love Daddy. The World War II Letters of Roscoe and Gladys Yegerlehner May 1942-September 1942 is one of these works. Genealogist Deborah Sweeney shares with the reader the letters written by Roscoe and Gladys that provides us with another look at the World War II years.

According to the press release :

On Sunday, December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, and so the United States entered the Second World War. American men from all walks of life rushed to enlist, and not all
of them were young, single men.

In 1941, Dr. Roscoe S. Yegerlehner had been out of medical school for three years with a growing medical practice in the small northern Indiana town of Kentland. Married for almost thirteen
years, he had a loving wife and two young boys. He volunteered to serve in the United States Naval Reserve and accepted a commission as an assistant Surgeon with the rank of Lieutenant (jg) in May 1942.

Six months after Pearl Harbor, Dr. Yegerlehner found himself on a crowded train headed towards
the Norfolk Naval Training Station in Virginia. He would eventually serve in several posts
throughout the South Pacific. During his 18 months of overseas deployment, he and his wife
corresponded every day. They lovingly addressed their letters to “Mother” and “Daddy.” This is
the first volume of their letters.

Deborah Sweeney. (c) 2014 Andrea Reese

My post tomorrow will be an interview with the author about this wonderful family history.

About the author: Deborah Sweeney is a genealogist, writer and blogger. Since 2012, she has published over eight hundred of her grandparents’ letters on her website, Genealogy Lady. In addition to the letters, she has written several articles about genealogy and DNA research. She is a graduate of Boston University’s Genealogical Research Certificate Program and the ProGen Genealogy Study Group. Ms. Sweeney lives in Northern California with her family.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Next Stop Stockton!


Thanks to my friend Sheri Fenley my next stop is Stockton, California presenting to the San Joaquin Genealogical Society. Join me at the Chavez Central Library on Tuesday, July 14th as I present two lectures, 50 Websites Every Genealogist Should Know and Newspaper Research for the 21st Century. 

This event is FREE but requires prior registration. You can register here.

See you there!

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Sailing Away Genealogy Style

(c) 2012 Gena Philibert-Ortega
Well, it's time for the Gena and Jean Genealogy Tour 2015. Jean and I are headed to Ensenada on the Carnival Imagination. Those who are going with us will be enjoying a few days of relaxing, genealogy presentations, and 1:1 consultations to help break down a brick wall or two.

While this ship has sailed, next year's cruise will be even better. Details will be announced on the official Gena and Jean blog.

Monday, July 06, 2015

July Adventure Redux

Remember, a week ago when I announced my July adventure? Well things change and I'm happy to add a new virtual presentation via the Utah Genealogical Association's Virtual Chapter on July 16th.

So please see below for my latest schedule:

First, I spoke July 1st virtually via the Legacy Family Tree Webinars. My topic was The Secret Lives of Women - Researching Female Ancestors Using the Sources They Left Behind. If you've heard me present this before, you won't want to miss all the new tips for researching female ancestors that I've included. You can still hear this presentation for free until July 8th here. After that, consider becoming a member of the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website where you can listen to over 240 webinars (and growing) for free. It's a great opportunity.

Next, on July 6th I'm at the Corona Genealogical Society presenting on social media. This is a great opportunity to check out the Corona Public Library and  the Corona Society.

Then I go out to the high seas as  the Gena and Jean Genealogy Tour Takes to the Sea! Jean and I are genealogy cruising on a quick trip to Ensenada. More details can be found on our Tour blog. Miss out this year? No problem, we are doing it again in 2016. Stay tuned for more details.

Then I pack up again and travel up the state for more presentations. You can catch me at:

July 14th San Joaquin Genealogical Society (Stockton)
Topics: 50 Websites Every Genealogist Should Know and Newspaper Research in the 21st Century

July 15th El Dorado Genealogical Society
Topic: Combining Genealogy with History

July 16th Utah Genealogical Association Virtual Chapter
Topic: Researching Mormon Women

July 18th California State Genealogical Society and Library
Topic: Her Name Wasn't Unknown: Researching Your Female Ancestor's Life

July 21st San Ramon Valley Genealogical Society
Topics: Newspaper Research for the 21st Century and Five Lessons from Researching Genealogy

July 28th  North San Diego Genealogy Society
Topic: WPA records

Most, but not all, of the above  presentations are free to attend. In some cases prior registration is required. Please use the above links to learn more about each presentation.

Join me as I travel around talking genealogy. Will I see you at one of my stops? Please let me know, I'd love to meet you.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Join Me Online: Legacy Tree Webinars

I'm excited to kick off July with a Legacy Family Tree Webinar.

Join me Wednesday, July 1st for The Secret Lives of Women: Researching Female Ancestors Using the Sources They Left Behind. Great new resources and ideas for helping you to research female ancestors. Register today at Legacy Family Tree Webinars.