May I Introduce To You . . . Jana Last

Jana Last

I have the great pleasure of introducing you to Jana Last and her blog, Jana’s Genealogy and Family History Blog, described as, “. . . A blog dedicated to sharing the stories, photographs and genealogy of my ancestors from Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Brazil, Mexico, England and the United States. Surnames include Iverson, Gillberg, Madeira, Vasques, Villatoro, Matus, Waterman, Webster, as well as others.”

How Jana Got Started in Genealogy

Jana started her family history research about sixteen years ago, “. . . Following the death of my maternal grandfather, Debs Warren Webster, my mom and I found a photograph album among his belongings.  While looking through this album, I came across an unexpected discovery – a photo of a Civil War ancestor, Ebenezer Perry Carlisle Webster.  On the opposite page was a photo of this Civil War ancestor’s wife, Cynthia Maria Waterman.  These were my 2nd Great-Grandparents, whom I knew absolutely nothing about!  I used to think that I didn’t have any ancestors tied to early American history.  Why did I assume this?  Because my dad’s side of the family immigrated from Sweden and Norway.  And my mom was born in Brazil.  So was her father, Debs.  So, I just assumed that I didn’t have any ancestry connected to the founding of this great nation.  Boy was I wrong!  Through additional family history research, I also found that I had a Revolutionary War ancestor as well.  My 4th Great-Grandfather, Luther Waterman, served in the Revolutionary War as a surgeon.

Since beginning my genealogy journey, I’ve had the opportunity to serve as a volunteer librarian in our local Family History Center.  Currently I serve as a Family History Consultant and Family History Class Teacher in our local congregation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I’ve been teaching this class since the spring of 2007.”

Jana’s Thoughts on Creating a Genealogy Blog

“Me?  A Blogger?  I never thought of such a thing!  Well, maybe I did, but I never thought I could write well enough to be a blogger.  My very talented sister-in-law writes a blog in which she shares her artistic creations, but I never thought I would dare to enter the blogosphere myself.

But, in the spring of 2012, I watched several of the classes which Rootstech broadcast over the internet.  One of the sessions I watched was Genealogy Podcasts and Blogs 101, taught by Lisa Louise Cooke.  Before watching this class, I didn’t even know there was such a thing as genealogy blogging.  And I certainly didn’t know there was an active genealogy blogging community.  Well, I guess this got me thinking about actually starting my own genealogy blog.  As I said, I didn’t have much confidence in my writing skills, but genealogy is something I am passionate about.  So I gathered up my courage, designed my blog (which I’ve already changed from the original), wrote a little blog post, and clicked the Publish button.  Voila!  I was a genealogy blogger!  That was on April 5, 2012.  I have to say it’s been really fun.  The members of the genealogy blogging community have been so warm and welcoming.  And I thank them for this.”

Jana’s Favorite Blog Post

“I don’t have a favorite post, but I’ve especially enjoyed sharing a series of posts I’ve written about the immigration story of my Webster Grandparents.  My mom and her family emigrated from Brazil to the United States in July of 1952 on the S.S. Brazil.  After arriving in New York, the family bought a car and some camping equipment and traveled across the country to their final destination in Southern California.  My Grandpa, Debs Webster, took many photos and bought lots of postcards along the way.  He created a special photo album which contains the photos and some of the postcards of their travels from Brazil to California.  On the outside of this photo album he wrote “1952.”  The following post is a fun one because it shows a photo of the family stopping for a picnic meal along their way.

I can tell which posts are my readers’ favorites.  They are my Fab Finds posts, which list interesting blog posts written by other bloggers during the previous week.  I publish these every Friday.”

Jana’s Tips for New Genealogy Bloggers

“Just be yourself and have fun!”

How Genealogy Improved Jana’s Life

“It has enriched my life in so many ways.  I think learning about our ancestors has a way of teaching us compassion and love for others.  As I’ve learned about my ancestors, I’ve also gained an appreciation for the sacrifices they made and the strength of character many of them have shown as they faced difficult challenges.”

Jana’s Favorite Ancestors

“That’s a tough question.  I have so many favorites.  As I research my ancestors, it’s so easy to get caught up with the facets of their lives and subsequently learn to love each of them.  Each ancestor is so unique and fun to learn about.

I do have a few ancestors who I’m especially intrigued with though:

  • My maternal Great-Grandfather, Watson Emory (Frederick) Webster would be one of them.  I’ve affectionately referred to him as ‘The Traveling Dentist’ in my blog.  I don’t know if he was actually a ‘Traveling Dentist’ by profession.  But he was a dentist who traveled a lot.  And he did practice dentistry in several different locations, including three different countries.  He was born in Ohio and passed away in Brazil.  I’m fascinated by the many places he lived in and traveled to during his lifetime.
  • My 2nd Great-Grand Aunt, Sarah Amanda Waterman holds a special place in my heart.  Sarah was born in 1836 and passed away in 1939 at the age of 103.  I’ve been able to do a great deal of research on her family.  She led a very interesting life and I look forward to sharing more about her in future blog posts.
  • I admire the courage of my paternal Great-Grandparents, Carl Albert Gillberg and Hilda Maria Carlsson Gillberg.  They emigrated from Sweden between 1909 and 1910.  They didn’t come all together as a family though.  Only a few came at first.  Then, they worked to earn money so the rest of the family could join them here in the United States.”

What Jana Loves Most About Genealogy

“I love the “hunt” and finding new ancestors to add to my family tree, of course.  But I also love to learn about my ancestors and their lives.  Who were they, what were they like?  It’s important to remember that those names on our family trees represent real people who had real lives.  They shared the same emotions as you and I.  They experienced trials and hardships, as well as happiness and joy.  As we learn about our ancestors, I think we can learn a lot that can help us in our own lives.”

Jana’s Time Capsule Message

“There are those who mistakenly believe that genealogy and family history is reserved for the more ‘mature’ citizens among us.  Or for when we ‘have more time.’  I used to be one of those who believed this.  I’m so glad I began my family history research at a relatively young age.  So, my advice?  Don’t put off learning about and researching your family history.  Make the time and start now.  You won’t be sorry.  You’ll be able to discover the joy of family history that much sooner.”

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Please take a moment to head on over to Jana’s blog. Leave her a comment letting her know you stopped by. Welcome Jana, 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, recently retired, enjoying life with wonderful husband Steve and visiting with her now seven 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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