Discovering your family's story
Where are you located?
My husband and I retired in 2017 and moved from Illinois, where I grew up, to northeast Indiana.
How long have you been doing this?
For my own family, 20 years… For friends and in-laws, 5 or 10 years... For pay, since 2011.
Tell me something about the people who have hired you.
Most do it simply because they have always wanted to know more about their family history. One person did it as a 60th birthday gift to herself. One did it as an 80th birthday gift to her mother-in-law, and all the daughters chipped in to pay for it. One man had me do his ancestry as his Christmas gift from his wife. One woman hired me do her husband's ancestry, and they gave a binder to each of his grown sons, who now have children of their own. Another job was for a man who is ill and wanted to discover and preserve his family history (and his memoirs) for the benefit of his two grown children. Another client wanted to know more about her grandfather who disappeared in 1924. Another client had me do her husband's genealogy as a surprise birthday gift. Some clients hire me to do a binder, and then hire me again later to add sections to it on other branches of the family.
Is this your primary occupation?
No, just a hobby that grew! Before retirement I was the administrator at a law firm in Aurora, Illinois. Before that, I taught at a Christian school for 19 years. [More about me]
Why should I trust a stranger on the internet?
We are both taking a chance! See my testimonials page; the testimonials from outside of Illinois are mainly from clients who found me via my website and have never met me in person.
Are you affiliated with the Mormon (LDS) church?
What do you need to get started?
Some people have given me lots of information and documents, but others have provided just a handful of names and dates. The more you give me, the faster I can work and the more I can find. But I’ll do the best with what you have, and I can e-mail you with questions as I go along. See "Getting Started."
What resources do you use?
What records are available to you online?
Census records (U.S., Canadian, and British); military records; old city directories; biographies from old books; birth/marriage/death records (either the actual record or an index); land records; cemetery/grave information; immigration and naturalization records; and a host of other things. I never know what I will find! See the "Sample Pages" section of this website for examples.
Can I see my tree online?
Yes. I can send you (and anyone else you like) an email with a link to go to ancestry.com and see your tree. You don't have to have a paid subscription to ancestry.com to see your tree.
Is my privacy protected on ancestry.com?
Yes. Living people’s names, birth dates, photos, etc. are not shown on ancestry.com family trees unless I authorize it.
And I can make your entire tree private (visible to only you, me, and those you ask me to invite) if you prefer.
How do you decide which ancestors to research?
What will I receive after your work is done?
A nice quality D-ring view binder containing my research notes on each person, along with the various documents and records that I find online and the information sheets that I create. Also included is a section with sample census and draft card forms, and a CD containing everything I found, downloaded, created, and/or scanned. Each binder is different, and I can't be sure of what I'll find—but the sample pages on this website will give you an idea of what's typical. One way to have a nicer binder is for me to scan some of your photos or family documents and include them in the binder (and on the CD). If I have helped you write your memoirs, then that can be either one section of the binder, or a separate document.
What do the “big outfits” in Salt Lake City charge for ancestry research?
Generally they charge $1,200-$1600 for 20 hours of research. (That typically covers only one branch of your family tree.) Here are three examples:
Note: If you have a really difficult or complex genealogical issue; if you have done extensive research on your own and hit a brick wall; or if you want very specific information not readily available on the internet (before 1800 or after 1940), then these are the services to use. They are in-depth, international in scope, and made-to-order. What I do is more basic and not nearly so complex (and also a lot more affordable).
What if you run out of leads before 20 hours (or however many hours I paid for)?
I will send you a check for the unused portion of my time.
Someone else in our family did a lot of research many years ago—can you use that?
Yes! I have had a number of clients who handed me a box of old research and asked me to organize it in a binder and make it attractive. I can build an online tree and print out pedigree charts for the binder, so that the old info makes sense and becomes your own story. Then I can add new info that I find online if you like.
What if I want extra binders?
They make great gifts! I can put together extra binders for $30 each, if I am sending them at the same time as your binder and to the same address. (If you do it yourself, the materials cost about $18 plus printing.) Remember—it’s not really a $30 gift, it’s much more than that, since you paid for the research!