KDP Writer’s Block Busted!

Short post so I can get back to my Kinship Determination Project! 🙂

I have been spending a fair amount of time researching for my KDP.  One of my ancestors who is a subject in my lineage narrative is famous (in limited circles) and so I have been researching a lot of materials written by and about him.

But, I haven’t been writing much.

So, if that ever happens to you, here is what I did. I gave myself some very achievable, but measurable, goals:

  • I must write 500 words per day–they can be “ugly” but I must write 500 words.
  • I must write a minimum of 3 footnotes.
  • I cannot play my card game (!) until I have written my 500 words.

Five hundred words is not impossible.  I can even knock it out in about 30 minutes as they do not have to be perfect.  I find that if I write just 500, I will often write 1000.

It’s working for me.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting:  written 500 words per day on my KDP, spoke at the Stillaguamish Genealogical Society on Ostfriesland culture and genealogy, started and completed the SGS newsletter (out now for proofreading/editing), attended a presentation at SGS on genetics and health by my friend, Janice (Nice job, Janice!); started to work on my six proposals for the Northwest Genealogy Conference (held in 13-15 August in Arlington WA).  They are due 31 December. Met with a potential client and sent out a contract/proposal to him.


How was the conference?

It was great!

I have never chaired a conference before and this past week (11-14 August) I was chair of the Ostfriesen* Genealogical Society of America (OGSA) biennial conference held in Rockford IL with 132 attendees.  I had a great crew of folks to help and there were only a couple of glitches.  Not bad, I thought for a first timer like me.  The Board even moved the entire collection of Ostfriesen materials from the Minnesota Historical Society Library, where they are normally kept, to the conference location!  This takes a U-Haul truck and lots of labor.

Saturday:  Attendee’s tea. Ostfriesens are a “tea culture,” not a coffee culture.  I discovered this after I had become a committed tea drinker; I decided that the propensity towards tea must be genetic! Lin and I gave a presentation on “An Overview of Ostfriesen Genealogy.”  The group has a lot of newbies and so it’s always good to reacquaint them with the many unique sources they will be using for the week.

Sunday:  (This was the day I was most worried about.) We took everyone who wanted to go to church in one of three familial churches and then brought them back to one of the three for a community picnic.  Over 200 people were in attendance!  It was great fun and so well organized by the ladies of the church.  They were thrilled as it was a good money maker for them.  One of our Society’s big project (7 years in the making) was the compilation of the parish records into a book, The Ostfriesen Families of German Valley.  This was dedicated and presented to the two participating churches.  After the picnic we had two buses do a circuit to three of the cemeteries in the area and the local historical museum.  I was afraid we might leave someone behind but the last bus picked a couple up who had thought they had been left behind!  That night we had three concurrent sessions.

Monday:  Wayne Brouwer, a distant cousin of mine, was the plenary speaker and talk to us on three different occasions during the conference.  He presented an overview of the Ostfriesens in Illinois, the personality characteristics of Ostfriesens and role of the German Reformed Church and its schism.  In addition to the three plenaries and the library, we had 5 sessions, three tracks per session.  (I can attest that that is a lot of teachers to find.  I was in charge of the program!)

Tuesday: This day was another set of concurrent sessions and a banquet that night.  Since it was the organization’s 15th year we celebrated with party hats and birthday cake.  Seeing Ostfriesens (INFJ’s) with party hats on is quite a treat!

After the banquet everyone chipped in and packed the library and contrary to our usual expectations of driving away at noon on Wednesday, the truck was on it’s way back to Minnesota three hours early because of all the great help.

Of course this stopped all client work for two weeks!  And I made a promise to Karen I would go “on the clock” after the conference. Stay tuned; I will let you know when that happens.

Happy Hunting!


* Ostfriesland is a small area of Germany contiguous with Holland and the North Sea.  they speak a unique language, a mix of Dutch, German, and English and have the same dike culture as the Dutch.

What I have done since the last posting:  The two weeks or so seem like a blur.  Right up until I boarded the plane for Chicago, I was working on the details of the tours and the program.  Upon sitting in my seat, I promptly fell asleep (even missed the safety announcements) for the duration of the flight.  I got in 3 days of personal research in the community where my mother’s family first settled (1850’s) and met some great people and got some very interesting information. (See next posting) and managed and attended the Ostfriesen Family Reunion: 2012 OGSA Genealogical Conference.  I also agreed to do it again in 2014!

What have I been doing?

What I haven’t been doing is thinking about certification!

I have been working almost every non-gainful employment hour on the genealogy conference in Illinois:

  • finalizing the program
  • getting the speaker bios/pics together
  • working on the tours
  • organizing a picnic
  • planning the fun things at the banquet
  • writing the script for the four days (if you ever plan a conference make sure you do one of these!)
  • and building a mobile app for our schedule (got the idea at the NGS conference.  See below for how to access)

Whew!  No wonder.  And this does not describe the “minutia”….building two presentations: “1719 & 1757 tax assessments in Ostfriesland” and “Ostfriesen Genealogy: an Overview.” Both of these I am doing with another person.  Also buying pretzels (who knew that Freeport IL was the pretzel capital of the world!….well, maybe not the world.)  Also, I have been copying handouts for the presentations and finally being nervous that we won’t have enough people and we will lose money!

So, no, I haven’t been thinking about certification.  But, I plan on going on the clock right after the conference.  Really!  Stay tuned!

Oh, did I mention that I am also planning to take a small group on a “study abroad” to Salt Lake City in February.  This will be a combination of coaching, genealogy research and fun.
Oh, did I mention that I am leaving for the conference a few days early so I can do some research on my maternal side in the county where two of my ancestors landed in the 1850’s before moving on to Iowa in the 1870’s.  There is a singular lack of vital records that I can tap into but I am hoping that land records will be of interest.

Happy hunting!  You may not hear from me for two weeks; then again, you might.


What I have done since the last posting:  here is the app:  http://guidebook.com/g/OGSA2012

What is “Plan B”?

….especially when you decide to abandon “Plan A?”

Plan A: Use my friend’s request to trace her Norwegian Civil War ancestor as my project for the Client Report.

Plan B: Do another (how many?) client report instead.

Michael Hait made the observation after the last blog posting that I should instead do lots of client reports and pick the best one.  This was instead of submitting the first one I did.  He thought that the improvement in the reports is observable and I would see that as well.  I fought this idea for this past week but have now come to the conclusion that he is right, not only for the reasons he gave but for a couple others as well.

So, here is the thought process I went through:

I love what I have done for Mary.  I think she will be very excited when she sees it.  Of course, I did not want to “abandon” all that work, but then I realized I was trying to have the report do “too many things”….it was 1.) my friend’s request, 2.) a class project AND  3.) the Client Report.  I needed to give up on at least one of those three and it couldn’t be the first.  I then toyed with the idea of starting another class project, which if I worked very hard I could do.  The problem?  The topic I was thinking about required obtaining a lot of InterLibrary Loan sources which may or may not arrive in time for the paper.  I could pick a different topic/person for the class project, but I didn’t feel like there was anyone that really captured my imagination.  So, I looked at the Client Report…..

Dispassionate assessment: The project was getting too complicated for a Client Report.  I now think that being much simpler is a better approach for this report.  The point is to show the level of professionalism of the author.  (of course, more than that, but you get what I mean.) I love the report but perhaps that was getting in “the way.”

I went back to my original list of options I had:

  1. spend X number of hours to identify the occupants of Beshotenweg, a street between Weener and Bunde in Ostfriesland, Germany.  The pastor recorded the house number of each family as he recorded a birth, death or marriage.  Eventually, it would be very cool to trace their movements in and out of the street.  My gggrandmother was born and lived on that street.
  2. spend X number of hours assisting in the development of the family book for German Valley, IL.  This is a monumental task that is being taken on by the Ostfriesen Genealogical Society of America (OGSA), but in all honesty, it is about completed.  I think there is little opportunity for this one.
  3. I am sure there is a person who would like some portion of their family traced.

It is probable this will delay the submission.  If the new Client Report delays the submission by more than a month then I am in conflict with the conference I am planning.  If that is the case, the submission wouldn’t occur until after September of this year.  But, that’s OK.

That’s what I am thinking about today. A setback, by one definition, a new learning curve by another.  Did I think it would be smooth?

Happy Hunting!


Things I have done since the last post:  worked on the conference (program, budget, respond to requests for information, publicity), assumed management of our Class web site for the instructor, worked on my class assignments for March 15 and (albeit slowly) worked through what to do with the Client Report that I have done.

Surname Saturday: or What is Wientjes all about?

First of all….sorry for the earlier, and incomplete, publication….don’t know what happened.  🙂

There is a website for all genealogy bloggers at http://www.geneabloggers.com/.  (Check on the link on the sidebar.) Basically the blog “owner,” Thomas MacEntee, keeps a list of all genealogy bloggers.  He is very active with at least one post a day and sometimes two.  He has several activities he runs through his blog besides just listing bloggers; for example, today is Surname Saturday.  The idea is to write something about a surname.  I looked over his lists of “days” and while some would be fun to write about they didn’t seem to be in keeping with certification, until Surname Saturday came up.

My genealogical proof is about my great grandmother Grietje.  She was born in 1854 in Ostfriesland, a small region (about 4 Iowa counties in size) of Germany adjacent to Holland, about the time that families in the area were settling in with the concept of surnames.  Until that time, surnames had been primarily patronymic  except for the wealthy who had true surnames (e.g. my Bode family had their surname since the early 1700’s).  As a consequence, Grietje had some choices and, unfortunately for me, she used them all at some time or another.

Wienenga is the name she used when she was married.  Wientjes was her sister’s birth name and the name she used when she immigrated; Wennenga was also used. As a point of explanation: “-enga” is a common ending in the Ostfriesland area and is generally thought of as “clan of-“, much like O’Connell is of the clan of Connell etc.  However, clan of “Wien” or “Wient” does not make any sense as it is not a name in the Ostfriesland/Holland area.  You can see the problem this caused me as I tried to trace her ancestors.  It was a mess.  That’s why she is a great example of how indirect evidence helped build the case that Grietje Wienenga (as she was married) was the same person as Grietje Wientjes and who was the sister to Eda Wientjes.

I find the hard part about writing genealogical proofs is to make sure I am putting in only the information that proves my case and also making sure it is in the right order.  I am sure if I write enough of them it will get easier, but this one seems to be particularly difficult for a number of reasons:

  1. I gathered the information leading to her identification over a long period of time and it did not (surprise, surprise!) come to me in the order that built the case but rather came in erratically.  Then all of a sudden, there was the answer!  It just took 20 years to get there.
  2. It is complicated by the fact that I had to first find her sister who I didn’t know existed
  3. It was also complicated by the fact that her sister was in her household in the 1870 census but the enumerator so misspelled the name (Mittjus) that I did not recognize it as being the same as Wientjes.  And at that time, I didn’t even know I was looking for a Wientjes!
  4. I could not find her immigration record because of course I was using the “wrong” name.  As soon as I had the “right” name, Wientjes, it was right there.

The pieces that made it work were the naming practices of the children (first male after father’s father, second male after mother’s father, etc.).  I compared the 2nd male and 2nd female children of the woman I thought was the sister and Grietje’s children.  While this would not be conclusive if their names were Jimmy and Johnny, Ostfriesen names are very unusual and both Eda and Grietje had the children of interest named Boyo/Boyd and Grietje/Gertrude. Not very common.  from that I layered on other clues and eventually could identify Eda’s village of origin.  With Eda’s village of origin, I looked for Grietje’s birth….and there she was!  It was a very exciting moment that I remember to this day.  My personal “goose bump moment”.

So think about your name and it’s origins.  Do you have any surname stories to tell?  Why not share them here?

Happy Hunting!


Things I have done since the last post:  reviewed all my certification work to date and marked them up.  Incorporated the edited comments into the Proof document.  I still need to do the Lineage.  Signed up for the 2nd quarter of my class and worked on the newspaper assignment (reading and analyzing 4 weeks of the New Ulm (MN) Weekly Review of 1878.)

So what are the requirements for application?

There are seven components to the application:

  • Code of Ethics
  • Background resume
  • Document work on a BCG supplied document
  • Document work on a self supplied document
  • Research report for a Client
  • Case Study using Conflicting information
  • Kinship Determination report

For the next few blogs, I thought I would take each one in sequence.  It is very possible that I will do this periodically so you can see how I am doing.

The “easiest” one to do (“all” you have to do is sign your name) is the Code of Ethics; however, it is a life long commitment to acting responsibly to the people and the objects with which we work.  It points out our civic responsibility to the institutions that assist us in our discovery.  In these hard economic times and as library staff hours are reduced (Seattle library was closed last week for a “furlough”) our responsibility to be less “needy” increases.  We also must be more patient as we wait for assistance; or less demanding when a document is not delivered from the stacks quickly enough for us and not surprised if we find out a governmental office is closed when we wanted it (but didn’t check their schedule) to be open.  It is every day; forever.

Having a deep respect for libraries, the people who work there and the books and other media within them should be easy for genealogists, as we know how fragile these documents can be.  Do you know someone who rescued materials from the dump to put in a library or a heritage center that have helped a genealogist?  I do.

Frau Popkes rescued the records of the 19th century notary public, Thomas Cramer from Weener, Ostfriesland (Germany).  In those documents I found the land purchase document by my gggrandfather, Baje Loerts Wientjes.  These records are now stored in an archive in Weener for many to use.  One day I hope to go back and scour the records for others of my family.  Stories like this repeat themselves all over the world and point out the fragility of the records we have.  It is stories like these which make our obligation even greater to act responsibly in all matters relating to the the materials we use and the people who help us use them.


what I did today:  went to a 2 hour yoga class and then did very little on the lineage report.  I have a list of 8 children each with a birth and death date.  This makes for 16 citations just on a list of 8 names.  I did two citations this evening!

Should I get more organized?

Perfect weather here in Seattle, making it difficult to be indoors.  We have a limited supply of weather perfection here in the NW and people tend to really appreciate the gift!

BUT…I thought I should get a little more organized first.  Since I am also chairing a conference in 2012 in Illinois, I had a lot of “stuff” sitting on the desk.  It was a bit of a mess. I wanted to show you how messy it was.  Unfortunately, I took the before photo vertically but the blog rotated it to a horizontal orientation, even tho’ it is in file in the correct orientation.  Whoops! At least I got the cleaned up photo uploaded  (Technology 1, me 0)

after clean up: notice cat

I went to IKEA and bought a new book case and this morning I assembled it.  Of course, just having a new book case means you have to go through everything and cull.  Which I did do.  I now have the white 3-ring binders by family for sources on the top of my desk, reference materials to the right with scratch paper, and in the book case (out of the picture range) is all my ethnic information for Ostfriesland (OSBs, tax rolls, books, maps etc.), Sweden and Denmark, family books (Hemmes, Jacobson, Wientjes etc.) and a whole shelf for the conference!  Yea!


what I did yesterday:  wrote some more on the lineage report (got to Johan Edvard!); joined National Genealogy Society, read some of their materials, went to IKEA and bought the book case, watched some football.