Oct 312018
 
A Great Cloud of Witnesses

Genealogists and cemeteries go together like peanut butter and jelly. So exploring cemeteries is nothing new to me. I’ve tip-toed through broken stones and overgrown lilac bushes in the cemeteries of German villages in Ukraine, hoping to find a shard from an ancestor’s grave. I’ve bumped over gravel roads to find the country cemetery out […Read more]

Apr 072018
 
The Elusive Wesley

I know he existed. But where did he go? One of our family mysteries is Wesley, an orphan boy that lived with my Schott grandparents sometime in the early 1900s. The family lore is that my Grandpa Peter “went to the train station” to pick him up, that he was a bit wild, and that […Read more]

Feb 272018
 
Dabbling in DNA

You may have seen the Ancestry ad where a man trades in his lederhosen for a kilt after taking a DNA test that shows he is more Irish than German. A word of warning—if you make your wardrobe choices based on a DNA test, you may want to make sure that store takes returns. And […Read more]

Sep 062017
 
The C in DACA stands for children

My Grandma Lydia was just 4 years old when her parents brought her to the U.S., an immigrant from what was then the Russian empire. She was pretty lucky compared to today’s Dreamers. Laws about entry were a lot vaguer, no passports required. Germans from Russia were often sneered at as “Rooshians,” but she lived […Read more]

Apr 242016
 
The History of the Schott Name

There are several theories for the origin of the name Schott. The one described by Johann Schott von Schottenborn in 1587 is that Schott ancestors originated in the town of Schotten in Hessen, Germany. He describes how his branch of the family left Schotten and settled first near Eisemroth, Hessen. They were smelters and forgers […Read more]

Feb 072016
 
First-Timer Impressions of RootsTech

After 20 years of doing genealogy, I thought it was about time I got myself to RootsTech, an enormous annual genealogy convention in Salt Lake City. A few first-timer impressions: The positive Tech stuff – the wifi connection was awesome and there were charging stations everywhere for my hungry electronic devices. The charging station counter […Read more]

Jul 062015
 
The Things You Don't Ask

I was always intrigued by the Salmon La Sac exit off Interstate 90. Partly because it’s such a quirky name. But partly because, every time we drove by it on a family road trip, my mom used to say with nostalgia, “Oh, we used to go camping there.” Why did this comment never intrigue me […Read more]

Apr 132015
 
Happy Birthday, Mom

I love how family stories just pop up sometimes. Like last night. I’d called my aunt to talk about a death in the family. Suddenly we veered off into reminiscing about how she’d first come to Seattle. She and my mom were both doing clerical work at an industrial laundry company. As two young women […Read more]

Apr 012015
 
A Letter to the Governor

Some family stories can be proven. Some can’t. But sometimes those stories leave a trail of clues. My dad was the first of his siblings to go to high school, although he was the sixth born of 10 children. In a farming family during the Depression, high school was unnecessary and a poor substitute for […Read more]

Oct 202013
 
Fading Family Roots

I went to a funeral last week and met my childhood. The funeral celebrated the 94 years of life of my friend Sharon’s father. It was held in the church where I grew up, in the neighborhood where I grew up. I recently moved close to my old Ballard neighborhood. Current-day Ballard is a trendy […Read more]