Posts Tagged ‘Got Ancestors?!’

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.


Here We Go Again…

Friday, August 25th, 2017

Judy G Russell, JD, CG, CGL

Judy G Russell, JD, CG, CGL

Registration is now open for our 2017 Annual Seminar Got Ancestors?! – Legal Matters! with Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL. 

You can register online here (preferred), or download the form from here to fill it out and mail it in with payment.

We’re back at The Salvation Army Kroc Center at 2500 S Division Ave, Grand Rapids MI 49507 for 2017.

This year you can either bring your own lunch to eat, or we will be having boxed lunches catered in by Grand Traverse Pie Company for $11 each – make your choice when you register.

See You There


2012 Got Ancestors?! Registrant Questions & Answers

Monday, October 29th, 2012

Below are the questions submitted by registrants to this year’s Got Ancestors?! seminar.  We had many answers to these questions; too many to list all here in this article. Some answers are suggested places to look and others are very detailed. Take a look. You may find the answer to your questions! Click here for a complete list of GotAncestor?! Registrant Questions with Answers. Thanks to all who contributed the Questions and the Answers!

QUESTION: (Vickey Parker) To narrow the search of common last names, is there a trick one could use?

QUESTION: (Sue Irvine) Where would I find records (1745-1812) for a Quaker who married a non-Quaker in central New York? Assuming no birth records, where would the children be baptized?

QUESTION: (Sally Akehi) My great aunt, born 1894 in Iowa, raised in Allegan MI, also married there, but left her Husband & baby in 1915 and went…somewhere!! Chicago, we think. We know maiden name, 1st married name, but NOT 2nd married name!What resources do we have for IL with searchable field for maiden name?? How to break thru this brick wall??

QUESTION: (Mary Alt) Does the Allen County Library have confederate soldier records from the Civil War? (more…)

The 2012 Seminar SURNAMEs!

Monday, October 29th, 2012

The 5th Annual GotAncestors?! Seminar is now a memory. To followup we’re posting 100s of surnames being researched for all to find. Look for your common interests and make contact.

Here’s a preview:

Adrianse | MI | 1840’s-now  / Betty Snow –
Ahlberg | Sweden > Michigan | 1880s-current   /  Don Bryant –
Alison | Scotland<Ontario<Detroit, MI<IL | 1770-1900 / Jessica Trotter –
Allen, Betsey | PA, OH, and possibly MI | 1805–1865 / Claudette Darling –
Allison/Ellison | KY, TN, AL, AR | 1775-1920   /  Paula Naujalis –
Alt | Alsace, Ohio & Michigan | 1830-present   /  Mary Alt –
ALTHOUSE/ALTHAUS | Darmstadt,Palatine  /  Claudia Day –
Anthony | Virginia | 1850,1860   /  Erma Shaw –
Atwater | Michigan | 1850-1970 /  Vickey Parker –

Click here to download the entire list (PDF) 2012 GotAncestors?! Registrant Surnames List.

[Update 2 November – added a revised PDF file that is searchable, and the eMail addresses are clickable.]

Youth Sponsorship Programme Announced

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

For the 2011 Got Ancestors?! Genealogy in Black & White and Blue & Gray seminar with Tony Burroughs, Western Michigan Genealogical Society is pleased to announce a sponsorship programme to encourage people aged 15 – 25 to attend the seminar.

WMGS is offering a limited number of sponsorships to people aged 15 – 25 who wish to attend this year’s Got Ancestors?! seminar. If you’re young and interested in learning about genealogy from a great expert, you’ll be able to attend the Friday and Saturday sessions at NO COST if you are among the first 20 qualified people who register. This is a $59 value. You MUST register online if you wish to receive one of these Sponsorships.

The purpose of these sponsorships is to:

  • promote an interest in genealogy among young people;
  • provide a free educational opportunity to learn about genealogy in the context of the American Civil War;
  • encourage an inter-generational activity that young people can interact and share with their parents and grandparents.

To take advantage of this offer, eligible people should go to the Got Ancestors?! registration page and click the link for “If you are registering for a Youth Sponsorship, please USE THIS FORM“.

What: WMGS’ Annual Seminar Got Ancestors?! Genealogy in Black & White and Blue & Gray
Who: Tony Burroughs, FUGA1 – expert genealogist, author and lecturer
When: Friday 4th and Saturday 5th November 2011
Where: Prince Conference Center at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan

1 = Fellow of the Utah Genealogical Association

More information about the Got Ancestors?! Genealogy in Black & White and Blue & Gray seminar can be found at

Got Ancestors?! 2011 Seminar Topics

Friday, August 26th, 2011

Message from WMGS President – Don Bryant

The events of 150 years ago are an important focus for us in this sesquicentennial year recognizing the American Civil War. Arguably, the Civil War would never have happened if not for slavery. Many American families have direct connections to that hateful institution and the resulting war. For some, there is no desire to learn about the hardships of the past. Others have found where there is suffering there are heroes, stories of endurance, and inspiring examples. It is important to learn about our forebears who lived during that conflict, or experienced slavery, or even fought and died to end it. That knowledge fosters a personal connection to history and shapes our self-identity.

As an expert in African American genealogy and a member of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Tony Burroughs brings an important perspective to our annual genealogy seminar. Mr. Burroughs’ background as an educator, former board member of national genealogical organizations, and polished speaker make him an ideal choice to present this year’s GotAncestors?! Seminar – Genealogy in Black & White and Blue & Gray.

We have chosen 5 great topics to be presented by Tony Burroughs during the Got Ancestors?! Genealogy in Black & White and Blue & Gray seminar on 4 – 5 November 2011.


Voices of Freedom: African American Soldiers in the Civil War
How often do we hear from Civil War soldiers themselves? Not often. It is especially rare when we hear from African American Civil War soldiers when most were prohibited from reading and writing. African American soldiers did discuss their war experiences. Hear what they said.


The Nature of Genealogy

A successful genealogist is not one who knows all the records. The Nature of Genealogy dictates researchers must be adept at why records are created, what they were created for, how and when to use them, how they interrelate to the circumstances of their ancestors, and how to execute a successful strategy. This presentation will cover understanding history, research, repositories, records, theory development, results analysis and publishing findings. It is woven around a case study discovering a new ancestor by an experienced genealogist.

The Six Phases of African American Genealogy

This special extended session is an overview of the methods and sources in the six distinct phases that are the building blocks of African American genealogy. It progresses from beginning to more advanced research, highlighting some of the problems and complexities of African American genealogy along the way. It is designed for beginners, intermediates, and advanced researchers.

Did Your Ancestor Serve in the Civil War?

How can you determine if one of your ancestors served in the Civil War, or verify oral history that one served? Learn how to prove your ancestor served and learn how to investigate their Civil War experiences. This lecture demonstrates strategies for identifying Civil War ancestors, provides methods of proving genealogical relationships, illustrates Civil War records and resources, and discusses navigating through records at the National Archives.

Creating Order Out of Chaos

Have you searched in every courthouse, every library, and every archive and still haven’t solved your riddle? One of the keys to success in genealogy is doing more with what you have. Sometimes the pieces are there, we just need to look at them in different ways. Reorganizing and analyzing may solve your riddle.

We look forward to seeing you there!!



2011 Seminar Title and Topics Announced

Sunday, August 7th, 2011

We are very pleased to now announce the title of this year’s Got Ancestors?! seminar with Tony Burroughs:

Got Ancestors?! Genealogy in Black & White and Blue & Gray

The title reflects the variety of topics we’ve chosen for Tony to present on Friday evening and Saturday, with some topics aimed at researchers of African American genealogy, some at beginners, some more advanced and of course in this sesquicentennial year of the Civil War, something about the Civil War. Several of the topics overlap more than 1 of these themes.

We look forward to seeing you there!!!