What started your interest in genealogy?
As a young child I was amazed by the 1800s family bibles, old books, and a pedigree chart on shelves in my grandparents’ dining/library room. My church taught some lessons on the benefits of family history which I noticed from my childhood, though I did not have any involvement until doing the genealogy merit badge in Boy Scouts. A couple years later while still in my church’s youth group I participated in another goal program that involved family history. Being involved in doing family history myself was start on what became a more advanced interest for me in each coming year.
What are your specialist areas of interest and why have you chosen them?
I’ll focus on two areas I’ve spent the most time researching:
Mid-Atlantic United States
My mom’s side back to the mid-1800s is almost exclusively from Baltimore, Maryland. My paternal grandmother’s ancestry had a few generations in New York, while my paternal grandfather’s ancestry were in New Jersey. On my mother’s side all we had was living memory, so I gained a lot of skill in these areas by experience. After several years of researching my family I became accredited for this region with the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists.
Many of my ancestors come from Germany, and most of the ancestral lines were stuck in the mid-1800s, giving me many great opportunities and motivation to do Germany genealogy research. Later an opportunity to do research professionally gave me more experience in United States and Germany research.
Your most exciting discovery, either personal or professional?
It is hard to choose because I have seen many miracles or serendipitous events in my own genealogy research.
In doing my own ancestral research I felt the pull of my ancestors to discover them. I have felt led in miraculous ways as I prayed for help and did the best I could.
Regarding DNA, I was able to get evidence that my maternal great great grandfather was born from an Irish father. No one in the family knew it, as he was raised by a German family, and took that family’s name.
Regarding long lost family, I found a great uncle who was a son of my great grandfather from a previous marriage. I spoke with him once before he died, and confirmed a lot of details. His half sister never knew he existed.
Regarding miracles, one of my favorites was searching for the grave of an ancestor who was buried along with his wife in what is now a corn field. After getting directions from a local to walk along a line of trees and brush that divided the fields, we had walked all the way without seeing any headstones. After a sincere prayer asking for help to find them if it was God’s will, I raised my head and saw the tops of the stones just visible in front of me precisely where I had stopped to pray.
A typical day’s work?
My current jobs are with an heir search firm and teaching an online genealogy course.