May I Introduce To You . . . Karen Miller Bennett, CG

Karen Miller Bennett, CG

I have the pleasure of introducing you to Karen Miller Bennett, CG and her blog, Karen’s Chatt, described as, “. . . Karen’s Chatt blog and website focus on my family’s history, the histories of other local families, and the history of Chatt and its inhabitants; I also feature a local tombstone on my weekly Tombstone Tuesday.”

About Karen

“I grew up and still live in rural Mercer County, Ohio, near the small village of Chattanooga. ‘Chatt’ is in west-central Ohio, a mile from the Indiana state line. I have been a Board-certified genealogist for 10 years, certified by the Board for Certification of Genealogists. I am the registrar for the Lima Chapter NSDAR and a past chair of the OGS First Families of Ohio. My main interests are local history, cemetery research, German research, lineage societies, technology, and writing. I have been married to Joe for 40 years and we have one son. I have been a practicing Registered Dental Hygienist for over 40 years.”

How Karen Got Started in Genealogy

“I have been researching for over 20 years. I had an interest in family history research for many years but it became a serious endeavor after I helped our son research a Mercer County Civil War veteran for a school assignment years ago.”

Karen’s Thoughts on Blogging

“I created the Karen’s Chatt website in January 2011. What started out as a website to share family history and lots of old family photos quickly turned into a blogging website. By blogging I regularly research, write, and share family stories and memories as well as stories about the Chatt area and the people who once lived there. I find that by blogging I can do these things in small, manageable pieces and share the information at the same time.

My German Lutheran ancestors settled in this area and most of them and some of their descendants remained here all their lives. Most were farmers and we have farms on both sides of my family that have been in the family for over a century. The Schumms (my maternal line) established a little village and a Lutheran church of the same name a few miles north of here in Van Wert County. The Millers (my paternal line) attended the Lutheran church in Chatt. Since I have close family connections to both churches I translated the records of both a few years ago. Those records contain some information that is not available anywhere else, providing a good resource for local family histories. They give details about individuals and show how the families of the two churches and the community are intertwined. Blogging gives me the opportunity to share this information.

I post a blog twice a week—on Tuesday and Friday. On Tombstone Tuesday, I feature a local tombstone and often use the translated church records as well as the usual research resources to provide additional information about the individuals. My Friday post may be about a variety of things—family history, Chatt, history, technology, holidays, memories, or something I am currently involved in or doing.

An added benefit of blogging is hearing from others. I especially enjoy hearing from distant relatives and learning new information.”

Karen’s Favorite Blog Posts

“A couple of my favorites:

  • The Scrapbook, looking back at my dad’s high school years through a classmate’s scrapbook.
  • A Story for Veterans Day, a WWII story about my dad and how, through my blog, I made contact with someone who had heard the same story.”

Spending Time with the Ancestors

“Unfortunately, I do not get to spend as much time researching as I would like because I still have my day job as a dental hygienist. However, posting regular blogs keeps me researching and writing, but in small increments.”

Karen’s Tips for New Bloggers

“Write about what you enjoy and what you know. Write and post your blogs regularly.”

How Genealogy Has Improved Karen’s Life

“Genealogy research has expanded my learning experience to include history, law, customs, writing, reasoning, source citations, among other things. Preparing my BCG certification portfolio was an enormous learning experience. I have met many great people and have made friendships through our common interest in genealogy.”

Karen’s Favorite Ancestors

“I love them all, but the handsome Louis Breuninger, my great-great-grandfather, has to be one of my favorites. He was a devout and generous Christian, an educated man, an inventor, and a fine wood craftsman. Our family has a number of items that he brought with him when he immigrated in 1840–his leather boots, rifle, and various documents of genealogical value. We also have a number of his letters and a walnut cupboard he constructed. I feel a strong kinship to him because of these items. He lived in Wisconsin and Ohio, but I have yet to learn why he went to Atlanta right after the Civil War.”

What Karen Loves Most About Genealogy

“I love the challenge, the research, and the thrill of discovering new information. I enjoy learning about family relationships and seeing how families in a community are intertwined.”

Karen’s Time Capsule Message

“Take the time to write down your lifetime memories. Someday someone will want to know about your life and your experiences.”


Please take a moment to head on over to Karen’s blog. Leave her a comment letting her know you stopped by. Welcome Karen, it’s great to have you here! 

© 2013, copyright Gini Webb

Gini Webb lives in San Diego, California and manages her own blog, Ginisology, while also researching her own German heritage, retired, enjoying life with wonderful husband Steve and visiting with her grandchildren! Are you a genealogy blogger who would like to be interviewed for the “May I Introduce To You . . .” series? If so, contact Gini Webb via e-mail.

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May I Introduce To You . . . Deborah Tomasetti Perham

Deborah Tomasetti Perham

I have the pleasure of introducing you to Deborah Tomasetti Perham and her blog, A LIFETIME LEGACY State of Mind, described as, “. . . Connecting generations and preserving memories of the 20th and 21st centuries.  Helping us better understand ourselves and others by learning about our family history: where we came from, WHO we came from, why we are who we are, why we do what we do, why we say what we say.  It’s our legacy.  Let’s pass it on.”

About Deborah

“I was born on Long Island and now split my time between Long Island and New York City. For the past 30+ years (until recently), I owned a court reporting agency.  Court reporters are natural-born listeners, recording stories in the courtroom of people’s everyday lives and the difficulties they’ve encountered. In 2012 I decided it was time to move beyond the courtroom and into the living room, combining two of my passions:  memorializing stories and family history.  I reinvented myself as a personal historian helping other families’ research and preserve their own history.  Jumping right in to the profession, I proudly serve as Secretary on the board of the Association of Personal Historians.”

How Deborah Got Started in Genealogy

“From the time I was a young child I have been fascinated by the lives of my ancestors, recording stories (initially on reel to reel tape recorder) and building our family tree long before I was familiar with ‘genealogy’ and ‘family history.’  General history (as taught in school) was painfully boring to me, but when I was able to attach myself to times and places in history, I viewed the world from a different vantage point.  So began my trip through history.

All my maternal grandmother’s photographs were lost in a basement flood in the 1950s.  To compensate for that loss, she told stories about her life, lots of stories.  I got to know my maternal great grandmother (who passed away when my grandmother was only 8), I ‘knew’ my maternal great grandfather, my great great grandmother and grandfather.  All these people passed away before I was born, and having gotten to know them through my grandma’s stories, I dearly love each of these long-gone relatives. That day in the 1950s when my grandmother lost all her photographs was the impetus to me passionately preserving our family history, and that event happened before I was even born.”

Deborah’s Thoughts on Blogging

“Since I’ve been working with families helping preserve their stories, my mind is overflowing with experiences, ideas, stories, all outside of my own personal stories.  I started a blog to keep all these stories and experiences, everything I’ve learned, in neatly organized blog posts.  I hope in my own humble way, through my blog, to inspire others to begin family history preservation.”

Deborah’s Favorite Blog Posts

“I’m a new blogger, not many posts . . . yet . . . but there are two favorites so far.  Here are links to both . . . one is personal and one is personal with a lesson built in:


What Kind of an Italian Name is ‘Kevin’?

Personal with a lesson:

Have You Ever Wondered What Your Great Grandmother Looked Like?

Spending Time with the Ancestors

“As with many passionate genealogists/family historians, I’m always on the lookout for new bits of information.  I keep my eyes open, hoping to discover some jewel amongst the mountains of content now available to us on the Internet.”

Deborah’s Tips for New Bloggers

“Well, I’m new to blogging and can’t speak from experience.  But I’ll pass along something my 18-year-old daughter, Julia (‘White Pearl City Girl’ blogger), told me just last evening.  ‘Mom, when you write blog posts, write as though you’re telling someone a story.  Don’t use words you wouldn’t ordinarily use, and don’t worry about what anyone thinks about what you’re writing.  Be your sincere self.  Write for yourself.  People will either like it or not.  And if they don’t like it, they won’t follow you.  But if they like it, it’s an extra bonus.  Just proof it, click Publish, and don’t look back.’  (18-year-olds can be very smart!!).”

How Genealogy Has Improved Deborah’s Life

“Having learned about my ancestors and their sacrifices, ‘genealogy’ has taught me to be thankful for all that I have.  Every one of my ancestors has made it possible for me to sit here today surrounded by my family and loved ones.  Although I cannot thank them personally, I live every day being the best person I can be, as a tribute to them for every breath they took to give me the life I have today.”

Deborah’s Favorite Ancestors

“My most favorite ancestor is my maternal grandmother’s maternal grandmother, Donata Barbera (my great great grandmother).  I never got to know Donata but sure feel like I did.  My maternal grandmother, Antoinette LaPreta, was so very dear to me, and she told story after story about her own grandmother.  Grandma’s own mother passed away when my grandmother was only 8, so she was raised by her maternal grandmother, Donata.  I was curious about this strong woman who left her country to come to America, and after losing a daughter, raised my grandmother to be the incredible woman I was fortunate to call ‘Grandma.’  If I could pop back in time for one day, I’d pick a day in the 1890’s when I could meet Donata.”

What Deborah Loves Most About Genealogy

“For each person I learn about on my own tree and particularly those on the trees of people who I assist in their search, I feel gratified knowing I’ve helped descendants learn who they are and how they got here, that we should all strive to live a good life for our descendants, the way our ancestors did for us.  Our ancestors’ efforts on our behalf may not have been intentional, but their very being was paramount to creating the people we are today.”

Deborah’s Time Capsule Message

“We lived our life as best we knew how.  (Please do the same.)  We hope you are proud of us.

Print and digitize your photographs, label them with names, dates, short stories, and complete your census whenever it’s time to.  Your descendants will want to know!!”

Deborah Tomasetti Perham is owner of A Lifetime Legacy.  Her complete bio may be found on LinkedIn. “Invites welcomed.”

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Please take a moment to head on over to Deborah’s blog. Leave her a comment letting her know you stopped by. Welcome Deborah, it’s great to have you here!

© 2013, copyright Gini Webb

Gini Webb lives in San Diego, California and manages her own blog, Ginisology, while also researching her own German heritage, retired, enjoying life with wonderful husband Steve and visiting with her grandchildren!

Are you a genealogy blogger who would like to be interviewed for the “May I Introduce To You . . .” series? If so, contact Gini Webb via e-mail.

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May I Introduce To You . . . Antra Celmins

Antra Celmins

I have the pleasure of introducing you to Antra Celmins and her blog, Discovering Latvian Roots, described as, “. . .  Discovering Latvian Roots is the place to go for the most up-to-date information on Latvian genealogy and family history research. Along with the tips, tricks and resources of the main blog, there is also the Latvian Surname Project  and the recently launched fiction series, Genea-Fiction, focusing on our new genea-fiction hero – Aila Rudzite, a young genealogist and private investigator who is also a member of the Goth subculture. Aila is breaking down genealogy stereotypes. With platform boots.”

About Antra

“I was born in southern Ontario, Canada, in a family of Latvian emigres. All four of my grandparents left Latvia during the Second World War due to the Soviet invasion of their homeland. My parents and I were all born in Ontario and raised in the Latvian culture, language and heritage, and for the past few years I’ve been helping reconnect other Westerners with their Latvian roots. I’ve been a genealogist for hire for the past three years and have helped people from all over the world reconnect with their Latvian heritage. A number of my clients have also made visits to Latvia and had success in locating ancestral farms and in some cases also meeting relatives they had never met before.”

How Antra Got Started in Genealogy

“I’ve been interested in genealogy since I was a pre-teen, but the ability to really be able to do research only became possible when I was about 25 and I made my first visit to the Latvian State Historical Archives in 2009. Been immersed in it ever since! While there are some Latvian resources online, most are only available at the archives (and the FHL collection also leaves a lot to be desired, as I had tried doing research with their materials while I was in university, but not had any luck). Having spent over 8 months in Latvia in the past four years, I’ve been able to have a lot of archives time.

As a child, I’d read historical fiction and non-fiction. That carried on through my college and university years, and my studies reflected that, with a BA in Religion and European Studies and a Diploma in Applied Museum Studies. Since I was able to start researching my family history, I haven’t stopped.”

Antra’s Thoughts on Blogging

“I created my genealogy blog four years ago, just before my first trip to the Latvian State Historical Archives, and after I’d been using the Latvian online resources, Raduraksti, which had only been available for a few months before that. I did so because there was very little out there on the Internet on how to do Latvian research, particularly if you didn’t speak the language. Since I do speak Latvian, as well as genealogical German and Russian – the other languages needed for Latvian research – I decided I could take on the role of being the ‘bridge’ so to speak, between English-speaking descendants of Latvians and the Latvian records. My website has just grown leaps and bounds since!
In addition to the blog, where I provide research tips and tricks, I have created the Latvian Surname Project, where I have a database of over 1000 Latvian surnames, their meanings, and in what parishes I’ve seen them. I’m also trying to set up a Latvian Genealogy Society. I’ve also recently launched a genealogy fiction project, Genea-Fiction, starring genealogist Aila Rudzite, who is a young Latvian-Canadian Goth (much like myself). The first in the series, a short story called ‘A President For His Country,’ is available on the website, and the first novel is currently being funded on Kickstarter This novel will be set primarily in the United States, and will have Aila and her newest client on the trail of a young Latvian sailor who shipwrecked in Russian Alaska in the 1860s and then journeyed across the United States at the height of the US Civil War.”

Antra’s Favorite Blog Posts

“It’s tough, but I was able to narrow it down to two: Where Could They Be From? and Connecting with Living Relatives. I chose these two because they help with the most difficult part of doing genealogical research – finding the key link in a chain that might otherwise be turned into a brick wall. I believe that if records exist for a given place, there is no brick wall – merely a pause in your research until you are able to consult them all. Only when you run out of records is there a brick wall.

In terms of posts relating specifically to my family, my favourite post is In Loving Memory, which I wrote about my great-aunt Marta, who passed away three years ago at the age of 99. She was an amazing woman who experienced both World Wars first-hand, the Russian Revolution, fleeing across Europe in the midst of total war and then relocating to Canada with her sister (my grandmother) when it became clear that they could not return to their home. They arrived in Canada in 1949.”

Spending Time with the Ancestors

“These days, I don’t get to spend much time on my own research. I usually spend at least twenty hours a week conducting research, though it is rarely on my own family. Most of my research time is for client research, research for the museum I am a board member of Latvians Abroad Museum and Research Centre and research for the Latvian Surname Project or my blog.”

Antra’s Tips for New Bloggers

“Don’t be afraid to get your information out there. Your information might not all be correct, but it is a learning process, and your readers might help you find something that you missed. As long as you fix your mistakes as time goes on, it’s all good! Don’t get caught up in the minutiae of what your blog looks like and concentrate on writing good content. As long as you have good content, the readers will come.”

How Genealogy Blogging Has Improved Antra’s Life

“It has taught me that I’m not the only one out there trying to make a connection to my ancestral homeland of Latvia – there are lots of us out there! I spent most of my childhood feeling very lonely, stuck between two worlds, and since beginning the journey into my family history – and bringing along everyone who frequents my website – it has shown me that there are many of us, and I’m honoured to be able to provide that link between past and present for so many people.”

Antra’s Favorite Ancestors

“Such a difficult question! I have a number of ancestors who are mysterious, who I’d like to know more about, but so far they’ve eluded me, but I like them for the challenges they present. But in terms of those that I do know more about, I would have to say my great-grandfather Arvids Francis, who was an intelligence officer in independent interwar Latvia, who I profiled in the post Bringing Out My Great-Grandfathers, Part 2. His job would have been research-heavy, and from what I know from my great-aunt on that side of the family (her brother, my grandfather, having died before I was born), he even had numerous operations that were the stuff of spy novels, which sounds exciting. I’ve even been able to read some declassified materials and notes from that era that referenced him and his work. The only part I don’t like about him is the sticky end that he met when the Soviets invaded during the Second World War – since he was an intelligence operative for an independent Latvia, this was against Soviet policy, and as a result he was one of the first people to be arrested by them, and he was executed in 1941.”

What Antra Loves Most About Genealogy

“I love connecting my ancestors to the goings-on of history – genealogy is more than just names and dates. A broader understanding of history helps us understand our ancestors’ lives, and what may have affected them and how. This historical context is so so important, which is why recently my blog has shifted from providing just tips and tricks when it comes to genealogy resources to a broader description of Latvian history and how people may have been involved in it. My most recent historical interest of this sort is the late 19th and early 20th century revolutionary movements, which came to a head in the 1905 Russian Revolution. These movements and this revolution are especially important to understand for many descendants of Latvians who emigrated between 1905 and 1911 – these migrants were often involved in the revolution in some way.”

Antra’s Time Capsule Message

“I hope that you can still find records about those of us living in the late 20th/early 21st centuries! I have a feeling the move to digital storage of information might not be as long-lasting as paper records, so I hope there’s still something of us to find! Good luck in separating the useful information from all of the babble out there, and I hope that our Twitter and Facebook feeds provide you with the same breadth and depth of information that paper diaries of the past did! Do try to find information about us, because the more you know, the more you understand where you came from and all of the forces that worked together to make you – you.”

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Please take a moment to head on over to Antra’s blog. Leave her a comment letting her know you stopped by. Welcome Antra, it’s great to have you here!

© 2013, copyright Gini Webb

Gini Webb lives in San Diego, California and manages her own blog, Ginisology, while also researching her own German heritage, retired, enjoying life with wonderful husband Steve and visiting with her grandchildren!

Are you a genealogy blogger who would like to be interviewed for the “May I Introduce To You . . .” series? If so, contact Gini Webb via e-mail.

Send to Kindle