Tuesday, September 1, 2020

RootsTech 2021 is going Virtual!

 FamilySearch announced today that RootsTech 2021 will be going virtual. This is going to be an exciting new conference as not only will it be held online, it is FREE! Yes, you heard that right. Absolutely free. You will need to register but you will get access to the same type of content: keynote speeches, genealogy classes (offered in multiple languages), and a virtual marketplace where you can engage with your favorite genealogy and family history organizations. The full press release can be read here

As a RootsTech ambassador, I am looking forward to sharing these updates with you over the next few months. 

Register at RootsTech Connect at https://www.rootstech.org/?lang=eng

Check out this wonderful promo video created by FamilySearch 

Monday, May 25, 2020

Memorial Day - Remembering Joseph McKenna

Over the last few months, I have been researching the military records for my ancestors. I'm always looking for a story about their life so I can feel a deeper connection with them. They are more than just the birth and death dates on their headstone (if they have one). 
Since it was Memorial Day it was fitting to look into one of my ancestors who died in service for their country. I have been tagging members of my family tree with a "Died in service" or "Killed in action" tag to help filter on those individuals I want to come back to. I want to memorialize each one of them. I researched one of my Canadian relatives today. 

My 2nd cousin 2x removed, Joseph Alphonsus McKenna, died on August 19, 1942 in France. He served in the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve. Using his Find a Grave memorial, his service file, and some creative Googling, I learned his story of sacrifice.
Joseph enlisted at the age of 18 in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. He was a farmer, working on his father's farm. He left high school at 14, only attending one year. His mother had died earlier that year. I wonder if Joseph was feeling lost at the time.
His rank was ordinary seaman and he moved up the ranks to an able seaman, working on different ships (listed in his service file).

According to his Find a Grave bio, he was involved with the Dieppe raid. He was shot in the chest and killed instantly while manning a Lewis gun on one of the landing craft.
I found the memoirs of A.G. Kirby posted on a blog that described what he found the next morning:
"Evidently, poor Joe had taken a burst of machine gun fire through the windscreen and with his chest torn asunder, collapsed into the bilge along with his Stoker. They both died immediately, we were told, and lay together in a pool of blood all the way home. For Joe and his English Stoker, R-84 had become a plywood coffin."

What an awful way to die.

McKenna's body was taken to Newhaven, England where he was buried in the cemetery there.
You can pay your respects to his memorial https://findagrave.com/memorial/159599101
Thank you Joseph for your service. You are not forgotten.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

A long overdue update

It has been far too long since I really blogged here. And over the last few weeks you would think I would have more time to do so. While my commute is lot shorter and no longer requiring me to wake before 6 am each day, I still find myself very exhausted each day. I have been quarantined in my condo for nearly 5 weeks now due to the COVID-19 epidemic.

So what have I been doing while home? I am still serving our members and general public as a staff genealogist for American Ancestors. My days consist of catching up on Ask-a-Genealogist emails, writing lectures, presenting webinars, working on some project work (top-secret for now!), participating in chat service 3-4 pm, preparing for and giving consultations, and answering general inquiries that may come via phone. We may be closed in person but there is still a lot of work being done behind the scenes. Recently I participated in a tweetup on Twitter to help touch base with other genealogists during this time and see how they're keeping up with their genealogy.

I'm looking forward to some upcoming webinars I'm giving for some genealogical societies as well as some upcoming conferences that hopefully won't be cancelled. Many societies are making the move to host more webinars so we can all stay connected and not outright cancel anticipated events.

When I'm not working, I'm watching mindless tv as I can't bear to watch the news and death tolls. It's been far too depressing and mentally I need to keep busy and calm as much as possible. I have several health issues so freaking out about getting ill with a new virus is not going to help. Stress levels need to be controlled as much as possible and sometimes that involves eating junk food (yes I stress eat).  I do want to say that it's ok to freak out. These are scary times and I wonder how I'll feel when I look back on this entry a year from now, 10 years from now.

How are you keeping busy/sane/safe during this time? Leave a comment on how you're doing.