RootsTech 2019 News and Updates

As many of you know, I am a 2019 RootsTech Ambassador. What that means is that I get to share with you all the wonderfulness that is RootsTech when it happens (February 27 – March 2, 2019) as well as give you the inside scoop of the speakers and contests that will be occurring.

It was announced last week that Saroo Brierly will be the keynote speaker for Friday, March 1st (there is a different keynote for each day of the conference). Did you see or hear of the 2016 Oscar Nominated movie Lion? It is based on Mr. Brierly’s life as an accidental orphan in India who is adopted by an Australian couple. The movie is excellent and I am so excited to hear Mr. Brierly’s talk. What is neat about RootsTech Conferences and their keynote speakers is that not only do you get to hear their story but also the awesome folks at Family Search research the speaker’s family history. A little of that story is then revealed to the speaker and the audience live on stage. It is quite thrilling to see his or her reaction.

You can read more about Saroo Brierly and why YOU will want to hear him speak live by clicking here.

What if you won an ALL-INCLUSIVE trip to visit the home of your ancestors? It can happen through entering a contest sponsored by RootsTech and Deseret News. They are looking for short videos (only 3 minutes or less) that showcases what you think it means to Connect and Belong (the theme of RootsTech). There will be three categories: Youth, Amateur or Professional. The grand prize is an all-inclusive trip to the homeland of your ancestors. The top ten finalists will also win a free four day pass to RootsTech where their video will be judged. Click here to get all your questions answered and how to enter!

Finally, there is still time to purchase your pass to RootsTech! Be sure to follow me on Facebook for the latest news.

Register and purchase your tickets here!

Remembering Our Ancestors’ Birthdays

Today, November 5th, is a special day around here. It is Bertille “Tillie” Anne Brand Klein’s birthday! She was born on this date in 1914.

Do you acknowledge your ancestor’s birthdays? If so, how? I tend to only remember/acknowledge those relatives that I knew personally. My grandparents and my father are the birthdays that I remember. I take a moment to think of them and how they affected my life. I enjoy sharing photos with others on this special day in my loved one’s life. Many times I am not the only one that remembers them and I thoroughly enjoy hearing others memories. Many times I hear stories that I had never heard before. That is a true blessing!

As for Bertille aka Tillie, you, my dear reader, know her by her words. By her chronicling of her small town of Hecker during the 1930s. She is most likely pretty one-dimensional in your mind. But if you knew her..

If you knew her you would have loved her. I was blessed to have known my grandmother for over twenty years. She lived with us for the last five or so years of her life. So I was able to develop a relationship that went beyond familial. It was a true friendship.

She was a quiet soul that enjoyed listening. Being a teenager/twenty-something, I enjoyed having her listen to me. Listen to me complain about my step-father, my Texan boyfriend, my college woes, etc. etc. So many troubles I thought I had then and she was always there.

Take a moment when that date comes up and remember whose life you used to gather to celebrate then. Take that moment to still celebrate by raising a toast or looking at old home movie or sharing a photo.

Remembering those who came before us is good for the soul.

Did you know Bertille in real life? I would love to hear your memories of her! Please share below.

Dreaming of RootsTech? Enter my GIVEAWAY for a chance at a FREE pass! Giveaway is NOW CLOSED!

Enter For Your Chance Here!

As many of you know I have the honor of being a RootsTech ambassador for the 2019 RootsTech Conference. It is a mecca of all things genealogy! A chance to see amazing speakers plus be surrounded by those who appreciate the connections and sense of belonging that comes from researching your family’s story.

One of the perks of sharing all the goodness that is RootsTech is that I get to grant one of my lucky winners a FREE 4 day pass to RootsTech to be held from February 27 through March 2, 2019 (a $299 value)!

Pass includes the following:

  • Over 300 classes
  • Keynote/General Session
  • Expo Hall
  • Evening Events

Pass does not include the following:

  • Transportation to and from Salt Lake City, Utah and/or the Salt Palace Convention Center
  • Lodging and Food
  • Paid Lunches
  • Paid Labs

If you have already purchased your ticket, I encourage you to still enter! You will be reimbursed your ticket price. Win! Win!

This giveaway will end on Friday, October 19, 2018. PLEASE NOTE! This giveaway is NOW closed. Thanks to all that entered!

P.S. You will want to get your tickets to RootsTech sooner rather than later, a little birdie told me that the ticket prices will be going up soon!

It’s Try-It! Illinois Time! Don’t know what this is? Read on!

Do you live in Illinois? You might be able to access genealogy databases for FREE during the months of October and November!
 
Try-It! Illinois is sponsored by the Illinois Secretary of State and State Librarian, Jesse White, as well as the Illinois State Library. It offers library users the opportunity to discover and evaluate a wide variety of online databases.
 
The genealogy specific ones are Fold3 (military records), Chicago Tribune Historical archives, Newspapers.com, MyHeritage Library edition (similar to Ancestry) plus many more!
 
So how do you access these great resources? First, contact your local library and ask for the Try-It! login and password.
 
Then go to http://finditillinois.org/tryit/. After you have logged in, click on SUBJECT and scroll down till you see Genealogy and Family History. Pay attention to the specific log-in instructions for each database you choose.
 
Happy Exploring!

Giveaway Time on Facebook!

Join me over on my Facebook page!

Did you know that October is Family History Month? Yet another reason I love this month! There is nothing better than the weather getting a slight chill in the air and cozying up with a soft blanket while reading a good book. Do you agree?

Over on my Facebook page, I am running a giveaway for a copy of the newly released historical fiction book. Grandmother’s Fan, written by a loyal Tillie’s Tales reader, Sandy Eckart. The book is “the story of a beloved family quilt, told from its own perspective and spanning four generations across 90 years. From the moment of its creation, the quilt is able to hear the activities around it. It learns of the world by listening to its family’s interactions and soon longs to view its surroundings and the people it has come to know and love. A request by a ghostly visitor to the household unleashes a series of events that impact the quilt in ways it never thought possible.” [as described on the book’s website]

Wow!

I love how she was inspired to write after acquiring the quilt that she based the book on at her grandmother’s estate auction in Prairie du Rocher, IL. This book uses fictional names for areas that are mentioned in Tillie’s Tales journal entries, but a keen reader might be able to figure out their actual names.

I encourage you to head on over to my Facebook page and enter to win a copy for yourself! The giveaway is open until THIS FRIDAY, October 5, 2018.

RootsTech: What is it and why should you go?

What if I told you of a conference you could attend with 27,000 of your closest friends and all you talk about is family history? This place does exist and it is called RootsTech.

I attended RootsTech (held annually in Salt Lake City, Utah) for the first time this past February. It was amazing and overwhelming and amazing and fun and amazing and mind-expanding and amazing.

Did I mention amazing?

RootsTech is held the last week of February and encompasses 4 days of workshops/seminars (over 300+!), an enormous expo hall, inspiring and enlightening speakers all centered around one thing. Making connections through knowing your family’s story.

You can read more about all the benefits to attending here.

I am already planning to attend RootsTech 2019. This year I will be serving in the role as a RootsTech Ambassador. This means that I get to share with you who the keynote speakers will be as soon as it is released. I will also be sharing all the goodness that is RootsTech – what is different this year and what has been made better.

Best part? I will be able to giveaway a pass to RootsTech! Look for more details on this in early October (also known as Family History Month).

If you are like me and want to get your tickets now at the early-bird price (a savings of $110 on regularly priced tickets), then be sure to click here and get your tickets today! (P.S. If you win my giveaway and have already purchased your pass, you will be reimbursed for the price you paid for your ticket. Win. Win.)

RootsTech is unlike anything I have ever attended. It is like Genealogy BootCamp but in a good way. No one is screaming in your face but rather looking at your name tag and asking: Are we related?

Feel free to post any questions you may have as well as your own experience if you have attended RootsTech in the past.

I hope to see YOU there!

Let’s Get Social! Genealogy and Social Media

Genealogy is more about making connections between the past and the present and sharing stories within the two then it is about the filling in the blanks of certain life events. Have you ever thought of using social media as a tool in the gathering of these stories and a means of making those vital connections? Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are just some of the outlets that you should be using as an active family historian.

I know most of you know about Facebook. If you aren’t on it yourself, you have probably heard about it especially recently in the news. Despite the privacy concerns, I still think Facebook is a worthwhile tool to help you connect with living relatives as well as classmates and/or friends with whom you may have lost touch. Did you know that you can form your own private Facebook group on whatever topic you desire? Say you would like to form a group from one of your family branches that has annual reunions. Facebook is a great way to communicate with those family members. You can then easily share photos within this private group after the event. You could also form a group on just a surname that you are researching. Invite a bunch of folks that are looking into the same line and exchange new research hits and misses all within the group.

Twitter. It is not just for our current president! If you have never dipped your tow into the waters that are Twitter and you have n interest in genealogy, you really must dive right in. The water is fine and full of nice and welcoming like-minded individuals! Twitter is a great place to ask general research questions as well as the chance to talk with actual genealogical librarians in real time. One account I highly recommend is David Allan Lambert’s (https://twitter.com/DLGenealogist). He is the Chief Genealogist at NEHGS (New England Historic Genealogical Society) based in Boston, MA. One neat thing that happens on Twitter is called Twitter Chats. These happen on a scheduled date and time and can cover an array of topics. One chat that I enjoy participating in is #GenChat. This is the chat that specifically covers genealogical topics. #GenChat happens usually twice a month on Fridays at 9 p.m. Central Standard Time. #GenChat has covered topics related to RootsTech, finding female ancestors, and records found specific to certain locations among many others. They are fast-paced conversations but are fun to follow. The moderator will usually post a question and all can chime in their answer using the same hashtag of #GenChat. Simple search “genchat” in the Twitter search box to see all the recent tweets.

The last social media channel that you may be ignoring is Instagram. Instagram is very popular with the younger crowd but don’t let that give you an excuse to not give it a look. Instagram is a photo platform which makes it perfect to share all your old photos. I enjoy posting photos of not just my ancestors but also my research process and how I got started in genealogy. A wonderful account to check out on Instagram is Save Family Photos (https://www.instagram.com/savefamilyphotos). On their home page they state that their mission is to “save and share family stories, one photo at a time.” Many times they will repost photos that others have posted on their personal Instagram accounts. Their mission is one that I think all of us as family historians would agree with. I believe that through posting your family photos on a site like Instagram you will not only be sharing them with relatives but also helping to save and share the story that lies behind that photo. Since Instagram is very popular with teens and up, I believe that when you share your family photos on that platform you are then meeting them where they are at. You could then help plant a seed of knowledge and perhaps curiosity into their family tree that maybe wasn’t there before.

Another aspect for all of these social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) is that it is a way for you to learn more about businesses that cater to the genealogy market. There are so many small businesses that make gorgeous family trees (check out Branches.art at https://www.instagram.com/branches.art/ for an example) and other unique pieces of art that are of interest to the family historian. Simply search genealogy or family tree on any of these platforms and see what comes up.

So I urge you to give each of these outlets a glance. There are benefits to each one. Try one out this month and see if it is a good fit for your interests. If not, delete your account and try another one. Make some connections and see your family tree grow!

I would love to connect with you!

Find me on Facebook: http://www.fb.com/tilliestalesandmore

Read my tweets on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/tillies_tales

View my photos on Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/tilliestalesandmore

**Leave a comment and let me know which social media outlet you use the most for your family history interests!**

[Note: this article was originally written by myself, Angie Kelly, for the June 2018 issue of the Newsletter of the St. Clair County Genealogical Society]

I Am Here Because Of Immigrants

Today in America we celebrate Independence Day. It is a good day. It is a day that makes me reflect on my immigrant ancestors. I wonder what they felt when they celebrated their first 4th of July. Was it momentous to them? Were they proud to live in America? Were they happy they made the sacrifices they did to come over?

My family history’s immigration stories happened around the 1850’s/1860’s for the majority of the branches. There is one branch (looking at you Dunlap line) that I don’t have that date as of yet. [Isn’t there always that one line??]

They came over to escape hardship. They came over to escape conscription. They came over as single men/women. They came over as families with young children in tow. They came over mostly from Germany and Ireland. They were all seeking something more.

I hope that America exceeded their expectations. I hope their road to and within the U.S. was paved with easy choices and few turmoils but we all know that is never the case. They struggled. They persevered. Most of all, they stayed and didn’t give up.

Perhaps they didn’t have any other choice.

I have a shirt that reads “I am my Ancestors’ Wildest Dream.” I truly believe each and every one of us is just that. When you look at your roots and where your family began and then look to how your life is now, it is pretty amazing. And just like them, we have troubles, we have hard choices but also like them, we do not give up.

Happy Independence Day! May you never forget where you came from and where you are going.

Be Your Ancestors’ Wildest Dream.

**Where did your immigrant ancestors come from? How long has America been home for the branches of your family tree?**

What Started It All : My Love of Genealogy

An early memory. I walk into my parents’ bedroom and see my mom looking at a big piece of paper that to my 8 or so year old mind covers up her entire bed. I ask “What is that?” My mother responds “It is a family tree.” She then showed me her name and my grandparents’ names. She went on to explain that she had recently talked to her Aunt Caroline (her dad’s sister) and with her help had written down all the names and dates of those that encompass the Klein Family Tree. “Am I related to everyone on here?” I asked. “Yes” was her reply.

I was amazed. Both of my parents are only children. I grew up in a very nuclear existence with my brother and sister and I being the only (and I indeed mean only) grandchildren on both sides of the family. Were we spoiled? I don’t think so. I like to think that our grandparents treasured each of us a bit more because we were it.

But looking at this family tree, my world suddenly expanded. A seed was planted.


My father died from brain cancer when I was ten. Understandably, his death deeply impacted my life. His parents were still alive when he passed and I subsequently formed a strong relationship with his mother, my Granny Dunlap. She was an interesting soul. She was born in 1909 and was never the happy homemaker. Though she loved to cook, she was a working-out-of-the home mom all of my dad’s formative years. She could also handle her alcohol better than a person twice her size (she wasn’t even five feet tall). “Oh, the stories I could tell you…” she would often say when she was feeling a bit tipsy. But that was as far as it would go.

As she got older, old photos would begin appearing around her home. We would ask her who they were and she would tell us. She was great at labeling the backs of said photos as well. The stories she would share would be few and far between (especially when sober). But I was a teenager at this point and not too concerned about asking the right questions.

When she passed away at the age of 81 in 1990, so went the stories that were never shared. Since my father had no siblings and now both of his parents were gone, I felt a loss of connection. I had no one left to ground me to that side of my identity. My last name’s meaning and origin was a big question mark in my mind.

All were gone (on that side of my family tree) and in their wake was a heart-shaped hole.


Flash-forward to my early twenties. I am living near Madison, Wisconsin, just out of college, newly employed and lots of free time on my hand plus access to a world-class Historical Society Library.

Libraries are my second home. I began investigating first the census records and then requesting death records, marriage certificates, you name it I searched it out. This was in the early 2000’s so the internet was still in infancy. Not everything was online (hint: it still isn’t).

I started asking those questions to my dad’s cousins and my grandmother’s remaining younger sister. I began paying closer attention to our annual trips to Southern Illinois and visited cemeteries with my mom and her cousin for that side. I began filling in some of the blanks.

And the more I fill in, the more is left gaping open.

So I press on … with no end in sight.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.


What got you started investigating your family history? Do you know your family’s story? I can help.

One page of my mother’s original family tree

Love Reading Old Diaries?

If you enjoy reading Tillie’s Tales of the 1930s, I highly encourage you to check out the website Paper of the Past. Mandy is a scrapbook collector who shares the stories of those who wrote in them on her Instagram page. She brings to light what might have been forgotten and/or discarded.

Starting tomorrow, June 16th, she will be emailing excerpts each week from a diary she discovered that dates to 1891. The author, Leona, is 16 when the diary begins and lives in Houston, Texas.

You can subscribe to these emails by clicking here.

Thanks again for your ongoing support of Tillie’s Tales.