Archive for the ‘Announcements’ Category

It’s 2023 – In Person Again?!

Thursday, July 6th, 2023

Our speaker this year is Katherine R. Willson.

Katherine R, Willson
Katherine R. Willson

Katherine R. Willson (Dexter, Michigan) is an engaging & dynamic genealogy lecturer at local, regional, and national events; a full-time researcher for private clients; and a genealogy educator for 20+ years. She is the founder and Past President of the Virtual Genealogical Association, past President of the Michigan Genealogical Council, past board member for the Association of Professional Genealogists, and a course coordinator and instructor at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. Katherine authored The Genealogist’s Guide to Grand Rapids, Michigan as well as the Genealogy on Facebook list, a catalog of 17,000+ genealogy/history links on Facebook, found at 

The sessions to be presented throughout the day are:

Our European Ancestors’ Voyage to America

Learn about your immigrant ancestors’ voyage from Europe to the United States, and how those journeys changed from the 18th century through the 20th century. How did our ancestors prepare for the journey? What immigration restrictions & quota laws did they face? How were ports of departure and arrival chosen? What was the ticket cost? How long would the journey take, and what were the expected ship.

Resources for Genealogical Research in Foreign Countries

Once you’ve discovered your immigrant ancestor’s home country, how will you go about finding documents generated while s/he was still there, and how will you research his/her parents? We’ll discuss available resources for beginning your research in foreign countries, including how to locate foreign language genealogy terms and online maps providing contextual information on shifting country borders.

40+ Sources for Finding Maiden Names

40+ possible sources to consult when searching for a female ancestor’s maiden name. Discussion will include search tips for locating these sources.

Adding a Genealogical Codicil to Your Will

When you die, what will happen to the genealogical materials you’ve accumulated throughout your research? Do your loved ones know what to do with your collection after your death, or are you at risk of losing it all to the trash bin when your estate is cleared out? A genealogical codicil to your will can clearly state your wishes, and this presentation will discuss the many options available to you. Sample copies of codicils will be distributed.

The seminar is being held at Park Congregational Church – the church over the road from the Grand Rapids Public Library. Parking is free in the church’s parking lot. Entrance to the parking lot is on Ransom Ave NE, just north of Fulton Street.

Location of Car Park Entrance on Ransom Avenue

The Seminar is priced at $45 if you bring your own lunch and
$60 including a sandwich and cookie from the Schnitz Deli on Fulton Street.


It’s 2022 – No Longer Virtual?!

Wednesday, July 6th, 2022
David E. Rencher, AG®, CG®, FUGA, FIGRS

Our speaker this year is the well known David E. Rencher, AG®, CG®, FUGA, FIGRS – Chief Genealogist with FamilySearch and former Director of the amazing Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

David E. Rencher is employed as the Chief Genealogical Officer for FamilySearch. A professional genealogist since 1977, he is one of the rare few who have earned both credentials: Accredited Genealogist® with ICAPGen in Ireland research (1981) and Certified Genealogist® with the Board for Certification of Genealogists (2006). He is the Irish course coordinator and instructor for the Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research in Athens, Georgia, and the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburghin Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Brigham Young University in 1980 with a BA in Family and Local History. He is a past-president of the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) 1997-2000, he is a past-president of the Utah Genealogical Association (UGA) 1993-1995 and a Fellow of that organization. He is a fellow of the Irish Genealogical Research Society, London. He is the past Chair of the joint National Genealogical Society and International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies committee for Record Preservation and Access; he serves as Director on the board of the National Genealogical Society and as a Counselor for the New England Historic Genealogical Society.

The sessions to be presented throughout the day are:

Out of the Ashes – Irish Genealogical Collections
This session focuses on describing the material in various Irish genealogical “collections” which have been digitized by the Genealogical Society of Utah. These collections represent a wealth of genealogical material, much of which was gathered prior to the destruction of the Public Record Office in 1922.

Colonial Research Strategies: Overseas Records
This session focuses on the colonial period pre-1776 and looks at a variety of record sources and websites that assist with early emigration research to America.

Methodology for Source and Archives Research
Just as using the wrong tool on the right problem produces poor results; using the right tools the wrong way also produces poor results. This session identifies the sources and the associated archives to optimize your time and resources spent in your research.

Proven Research Strategies that Transcend GeoPolitical Boundaries
This session helps change the researchers thinking about processes, analysis, comparisons, correlating the evidence, compiling the family, and conducting the research using U.S, and Irish record samples.

The seminar is being held at Park Congregational Church – the church over the road from the Grand Rapids Public Library. Parking is free in the church’s parking lot. Entrance to the parking lot is on Ransom Ave NE, just north of Fulton Street.

The Seminar is priced at $45 including a lunch from Grand Traverse Pie Company.
$35 if you bring your own lunch.

It’s 2021 – Still Virtual?!

Wednesday, July 21st, 2021

2021 has mostly continued as 2020 left off – with everyone “doing Zoom”. So this year’s Got Ancestors?! conference is again being done by Zoom. Our speaker this year is Dana Palmer, CG®, CGL(SM).

Dana Palmer

Dana has been a genealogy instructor at Sinclair Community College since 2010. She has spoken at national, state, and local genealogy events including RootsTech, NGS, FGS, and frequently at OGS. She specializes in lineage society applications, publishing family books, and Midwestern research – specifically Ohio, but she also has experience in Germany, Denmark, and the U.K.  She also reviews military repatriation cases for Eagle Investigative Services and is part of the Silver Book team for the Society of Mayflower Descendants. She has received numerous awards for her books and volunteer efforts. She belongs to several lineage societies including ISDUP, NSDAR, USD 1812, and Colonial Dames. She loves problem solving and tracking down those elusive ancestors.

The schedule of topics is as follows:
9:15 to 10:30   Free Online Genealogy Resources: Discover how to find and use information found on free genealogy websites such as Family Search, RootsWeb, US Gen Web, Chronicling America, and others.

10:45 to 12:00 Effective Search Strategies on Family Search: Learn tricks to find your elusive ancestors in the historical records and catalog on Family Search.

12:45 to 2:00   Tricks of the Trade- Effectively Using Genealogy Websites: Knowing how to use the tools on the most popular websites can help you find your family. Come learn the tricks of the trade.

2:15 to 3:30     Chronicling America: A Newspaper for Everyone:  Using online search engines can be tricky! Learns some techniques to find elusive ancestors in the newspapers on Chronicling America.

Registration is available here

Finally – it’s 2020?!

Tuesday, August 25th, 2020


Lisa Louise Cooke

Lisa Louise Cooke

So – what a year 2020 has been so far! Many events cancelled, many other events changed somehow.

This year’s Got Ancestors?! 2020 Seminar is no different. We have switched it to a Virtual Seminar. Our speaker, Lisa Louise Cooke, will be at her home in Texas, and all the attendees will be at their homes where ever they live. Or maybe you’ll be sitting in your car because you have lousy internet connectivity at your home.

In any case, we’re please to bring Lisa Louise Cooke to you for a day of (virtual) presentations and learning.

Stay tuned for more details and registration when we have it ready to go – for now at least save the date if you didn’t already.

Now for 2019?!

Monday, August 12th, 2019

Save the Date!! This year’s Got Ancestors?! seminar will be on Saturday 12 October at The Salvation Army Kroc Center on South Division Ave.

Michael D. Lacopo DVM

Michael D. Lacopo DVM

Our speaker is Michael D. Lacopo DVM. Dr. Michael D. Lacopo was born and raised in northern Indiana surrounded by extended family always willing to tell tall tales. Intrigued by his maternal family’s claim to be kinfolk of Abraham Lincoln, and his paternal family’s stories of murder and mayhem, he took to genealogical research in 1980 to substantiate these family stories.

Genealogical research as a hobby was in its infancy in the 1980s. Combing libraries, archives, cemeteries and courthouses as a teenager, Michael gained the skills needed to become a keen researcher. His first major challenge in the world of research was tackled by finding his adopted mother’s birthparents in 1982. You can read about this adventure at his blog at with some engaging story-telling, plot twists and new findings!

Although a budding genealogist in the 1980s, Michael completed his doctorate in veterinary medicine in 1991, while still spending time honing his research skills. As befitting a doctor, Michael treats his genealogical research as he would medicine – carefully, methodically and completely. Several genealogical journal articles and publications appeared along the way. In 2013, Michael retired from his medical career to pursue genealogical research full-time as a profession.

He has contributed to numerous periodicals and has helped numerous people in their quests to locate their relatives – living and dead. He appeared in USA Today in 2000 discussing genealogy and the proposed destruction of the federal census tabulated in that year. His national lecturing began in Sacramento, CA, at the National Genealogical Society’s national conference in 2004, and has continued with several local, state, national, and international conference speaking engagements to this present day.

Michael’s interests and strengths include Mennonite research, German and Swiss research, especially as it pertains to the 18th century immigration to America, among many other topics. He makes many trips throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest states chasing ancestors in primary repositories, and also devotes a considerable amount of time to European research, being proficient in reading German script. Having ancestors from many geographic locales as well as immigrants spanning the 17th century to the 20th century, Michael has a wide variety of proficiencies. He believes that as genealogists we should tell the tales or our ancestors and is a vocal proponent for learning the social history that interweaves our ancestors into the fabric of the past.

In addition to his story-telling and educational blog, Michael’s presence can be found online at, or for more up-to-date lecture and research information, at his Facebook page at

Crisis Averted – More Space Available

Thursday, October 4th, 2018

Update to yesterday’s announcement that we had reached the capacity of the room…

I’ve been to the venue this morning, and we can add another 21 (or 42 if need be) places into the room for attendees to this year’s Got Ancestors?! So then what did you do? DNA! seminar with Your Genetic Genealogist CeCe Moore.

So registration is back open again, and don’t worry – everyone will still be able to sit on a chair at a table.

See you on the 13th of October!

Room Full – A Happy? Problem

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018

As at 3:30PM on Wednesday 3 October we have suspended registrations for the 2018 Got Ancestors?! Seminar with CeCe Moore – we have reached the capacity of the room when it is set up in “Classroom Style” with people seated at tables.

We are checking for possible other seating arrangements that might get some more people into the room, and hope to know about this tomorrow (Thursday 4 October), but for now Registrations are suspended.

I will accumulate a wait list on a first come, first served basis. If you want to be added to the wait list to be advised if more capacity is available, please send an eMail to

Investigating Cold Case Murders From Her Couch

Tuesday, August 28th, 2018

The video linked here is from the Today Show, and features our October 13 Speaker, CeCe Moore talking about some of the recent cold case murders she has solved using genetic genealogy and traditional genealogy to point investigators in the right direction.

CeCe Moore with Megan Kelly on the Today Show

CeCe Moore with Megan Kelly on the Today Show

You can register online for our Seminar at The seminar runs from 8:30am to 4:45pm on Saturday, October 13th 2018.

This Year’s Title

Monday, August 20th, 2018

The title of this year’s seminar So then what did you do? DNA! comes from a scene in one of last season’s episodes of Finding Your Roots where Dr Henry Louis Gates Jr and CeCe Moore are discussing the research, and Dr Gates asks CeCe Moore what the next step would be.

So then what did you do? DNA!

So then what did you do? DNA! Image provided by CeCe Moore.

Online Registration is now available at 

There will be a few days delay in getting the paper registration ready, but please use the online system if you’re reading this.

Ready for 2018…

Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

Your Genetic Genealogist – CeCe Moore

We’re delighted to announce that the speaker for Western Michigan Genealogical Society’s 2018 Got Ancestors?! Seminar is Your Genetic Genealogist – CeCe Moore.

CeCe Moore is well known for her appearances as the genetic genealogy consultant on television series like Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., as well as on other TV shows where she has appeared as a genetic genealogy expert.

She is a leading proponent of genetic genealogy education, and is a co-founder of the Institutor Genetic Genealogy.

You can find her blog at Your Genetic Genealogist and follow her on Facebook

We will again be at The Salvation Army Kroc Center on south Division Avenue.

This will be CeCe’s first visit to Michigan, so save the date – Saturday, 13 October 2018 for a great day of learning.