The Dusty Genealogist
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Everyone Loves A Good Story!

It’s December and the month for getting together with friends and family, reviewing what you have accomplished in 2018, and making a plan for 2019. Families come in all varieties, types, and configurations. I suspect it has always been that way. Whether your friends have become part of the family, or you choose not to gather with family, the collection of people who are important to you should have a place. Consider listing “friends of the family” on your genealogy. Identify what contribution that person made to your family. Maybe they were the reason for the ancestor with an odd name!

It is important for your health, mental and physical, to have someone to confer with, share ideas with, or with whom to enjoy one hour a week. Take December to reflect and plan to take an interest and action in something you like for the next year. Whatever you spent this year thinking about doing, spend this month figuring out how to do it for next year.

You don’t need the full road map to complete the journey of your interest in one month, just a start. Find out about whatever it is. Who do you call? Start small, but start! Next year at this time in 2019, you will be welcoming and greeting the people you didn’t even know this December.

We look for genealogy of our ancestors. We want to find out about them. Their names alone are interesting to us. Have you ever wondered about how a grandfather was named that particular name? I wonder more often than not what kind of woman thought marrying a man named Maddog, son of Maddog, was a good idea? My hope is that she thought he would be a good provider for her and the Viking family they created in the early 700s in Sweden. I prefer not to think that she thought he was the craziest man in the bunch and that appealed to her. These are my ancestral grandparents.

I have several ancestral grandfathers who were knights. Their daughters married knights. Daddy met with the knights he worked with and their girls married young men in the family business of being knights. That was the circle of people the family knew. That’s how most young women meet their husbands. They are in the circle of people they know.

I have one ancestral grandmother whose documents and history state that she was accidentally beheaded. Now how does that work? How do you become “accidentally” beheaded? The records make a point of saying that it was “accidentally.” But there isn’t a lot of information. Was she suspected of being someone else? Did she just put her head in a guillotine to try it out? Was she in the way of the knight’s sword practice? How do you explain that to the family?

In more modern ancestry, what caused you to live in this area? Why did you choose the house you live in? Why do you cook what you cook? Why do you participate in your chosen activities? How did you decide to learn to bowl or to play the accordion or drums in a band? Why do you do the things you do?

Part of genealogy is to find your ancestors. We belong to the human race. It is nice to narrow that down to your particular line. It is also important to know who these people are and why they did things. I often say the family did the best they could do, at the time they were doing it, for the benefit of their family, with what they had to work with. These people are your ancestors. They did the best they could so that you are alive today.

Your families all have interesting stories and everyone likes an interesting story. My grandmother Laura used to say that history was written by the first to write it down. Many people spent hours of their lives watching TV stories like “Little House on the Prairie” or “Roots,” because someone did genealogy and wrote a story. In the early 1970s, turning a story into a book was complicated. Today, with the help of websites like <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, or other sites, anyone can write biographical history, memoirs, a photographic history, or a book of any length about your family.

Family Search has free specific training to help you write family history. It is offered online. I believe Ancestry charges for training to write family memoirs but I’m reasonably certain it will help the writer. If you have access to Ancestry, please check it out. If you are blessed with family photos, Shutterfly or Blurb may be an option. Look for coupons to lighten the expense. Their books are very pretty. You could make a coffee table edition of your family history.

Amazon has a step-by-step process for writing a real book. They publish on demand. They will print one or many books. These books are easily ordered by all of your relatives without additional up-front cost to you. As the author, you follow their instructions and real people are available to help you with their instructions if you get lost. Look for which is Kindle Direct Publishing offering e-books and paperbacks at a reduced rate, according to their current website. Overall, the price of writing and printing a book of any size is much more reasonable than it has ever been!

If you have military veterans in your family, consider the Veterans History Project, American Folklife Center, or Library of Congress at <> for a free downloadable kit to have all the necessary paperwork to provide your ancestor’s story of life as a veteran with his or her particular military experience. It is a really nice project and it is free to submit your veteran ancestor or for you to video your living relative. Welcome to the world of the smartphone and video and audio applications. You would be surprised how many people look at those stories, make research copies of documents, and do video research.

Many of the websites I have listed have periodic coupons and discounts throughout the year, especially for the holidays. If you are not ready for the 2018 season and gift giving, make a plan to contact one or more of these websites above to find out what you have to do to publish your stories.

Not only are you providing your descendants with a source of family history, but a source written by their ancestor. Also, what a marvelous credit to give yourself, the title of author. Have a wonderful holiday season!

Bio: I am a Certified Genealogist and a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. I believe that the hobby of genealogy is fun, exciting, and very satisfying. Through researching genealogy, you may add skills, meet new friends, and gain new respect for those who have gone before you. You may reach me via email at ‘’ with questions or comments. I thoroughly enjoy the hobby and hope that you will too. Print your photographs of family, don’t just leave them in cyberspace. If you insist on leaving your family pictures in cyberspace, label them and mail them to your email or other locations. Label your photos with a first and last name, an approximate date, and a possible location if known. Please look for a new book from this author to be released in 2019.


By Marjory Regan

A brief bio of Marjory Regan: I am a member of the Williams Mills Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) and a “Certified Genealogist’ Thank you for your questions, comments, problems and successes. Email me at I think genealogy is a fascinating hobby; I hope you will, too. Get Started. Do something small every day, it all add up. Label the photos! First & Last names and approximate date of the photo. Do it for an hour while watching TV.