My path through genealogy has been filled with twists, turns and surprises. I began with my own family research and have added building and genealogical research for clients across Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma since 2014. My most recent genealogical research has included explorations in Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina and Georgia. In 2018 I had the exciting opportunity to conducted research for the TLC television show Who Do You Think You Are? The episode will air in December 2018. It was great working with the show’s team, brainstorming through brick walls and finding amazing stories in my own community.
My own genealogical odyssey began in the 1980s – somewhere around the middle of that decade I had a homework assignment to complete my family tree. As luck would have it we were going to visit both maternal and paternal grandparents and I could ask them to help me fill in the blanks. My mom and I sat down with both grandmothers and I still have the notes we both took on that Sunday afternoon. It is my first memory of talking about the generations of parents, grandparents, cousins, aunt and uncles, none of whom had I met.
I would say now that I have met many of them over the last 30 years and their stories are alive in my soul. Within a few years of my first family tree outing, I joined the high school debate team and my love of research and adventure found its home in my core being. Additionally, growing up we were the “young-uns” in the neighborhood. My parents were decades younger than any of the locals when they built their home in the early 1970s. I became good friends with our closest neighbor, Shrilda Woods, who was 83 when we moved in. I visited her often and she would share her stories. We shared a few adventures together, but I will save those tales for another day. Shrilda passed away in 1996 at the age of 105.
I have been privileged to have traveled to dozens of countries for my career and pleasure. I have walked in towns and villages where my forbearers trod. I have stood on land they worked and tried to imagine how their lives unfolded. It has made me think differently about my own life, a process that I will detail in future posts. For now, I would like to introduce you to Roma, the first namesake of this blog and company.
Roma Clara Josephine Rasa Siegel (1909-1988) was my maternal grandmother. She passed away in 1988 when I was a senior in high school, yet she has remained a presence in my life as probably no one else has. I will borrow an idea from writer Isak Dinesen, whose name might not be familiar to you but her work you are – her autobiography and other books were made into the screenplay for the movie Out of Africa. Dinesen explained that when she wrote about one person more than any other it was perhaps not because he was the most important to her, but because he was clearer. I feel very close to Roma, especially as I have learned more of her early life through my research and talking with those who knew her best. She is a shining light in my life, because for whatever reason she is very clear to me. I feel I understand her and will share many of her stories some funny (Grandpa teaching her to drive or my cousin Carl and his friend Brandt leaving a dead snake on her kitchen counter) to hard work (running a general store with Grandpa) and of perseverance (living a full life with her husband Carl and after his death in 1964). She also was a chronicler of local history and while she left this life more than thirty years ago her memory and her stories live on in Florence, MO, the town she called home.
Whether you are just beginning or are trying to overcome obstacles on your journey, I look forward to helping you. I would encourage you to check out the Family Search wiki to help you choose a professional researcher and understand expectations and requirements. Then, contact me and we can get started on your story!