Gary Shea's Family History

Beginning Swedish Genealogy Article in the Research Center posted June 22, 2014

This article originally appeared in Family Chronicle Magazine and is now available by arrangement with through their Research Center here.

Beginning Genealogy Workshop, Feb-Mar, 2011, posted December 13, 2010

Open to Members of Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UWM. Runs on four Saturday mornings, Feb. 19-Mar. 19, 2011 (skip Mar. 5). Held at the Hefter Center, in Milwaukee. For more info click here.

My Tree at Rootsweb World Connect Updated, posted February 15, 2010

Ev McBride, a Shea cousin-in-law and genealogist, used the Guest Book to contact me (it is the furthest to the right link in the upper Navigation Bar). She sent me a report on four generations of the Timothy Shea (1827-1918) family. I have updated my tree with many details I previously did not know on Timothy's daughter Catherine (1859-1926), Catherine's spouse Patrick Hayes, and their eleven children . I'm sure there are a bunch of small updates all over the tree as well since I have not uploaded it for some time. I notice that Ancestry/RootsWeb/WorldConnect has improved the World Connect web application such as the logon, and now includes a central point of control if one has multiple trees / databases.

Planning to go to Ireland? Then Here is an Article You Must Read, posted November 27, 2008

Ellen Puff, one of my fellow Shea cousin genealogists, traveled to Ireland in 2007 for an extended research vacation. She investigated her Irish family lines, ancestors that immigrated to the US in the 1800s: including Sullivan from County Kerry, and Shea (my line!) and O'Halloran from County Cork. She has written of her adventures in a thoughtful article for Tourism Ireland called "Finding Family: Tips for Tracing Your Ancestors." It is a great read. I especially enjoy how she organizes the piece around five unconventional rules. Click here for her story.

One More Time - Beginning Genealogy Class Plans for Nicolet Rec Center Fall 2008, posted June 30, 2008

I plan on teaching beginners about family history at the Nicolet Recreation Center in Glendale, Wisconsin this fall.

Beginning Genealogy is about everything you need to know to get the perfect start on your family tree. Four sessions will cover how to begin, sources and sourcing, terminology, researching, family history computer programs, on-line resources, analysis, collaboration, planning and managing your goals.  Students will decide on a computer-based tool to capture their family tree, could be software or an on-line application.  This course will take place in a computer instruction classroom in Nicolet High School. The course is intended for beginners of all ages interested in pursuing their family history.

Here are the current plans:

  • Nicolet High School, in Glendale, Wisconsin
  • Tuesdays, from 6:30PM-7:45PM
  • Session I: September 9-30
  • Session II: November 4-25

Review of Genline in May/June issue of Digital Genealogist, posted May 12, 2008

For my latest take on Genline, the Swedish records web-based application, see the current issue of DG. It is a full issue with lots of interesting articles. The theme of the issue is exploring the convergence of genealogy and technology, from Wikipedia, eBay, and PayPal to genetics.

Beginning Genealogy Classes Coming to Nicolet Rec Center in 2008, posted December 5, 2007

I will be teaching for the Nicolet Recreation Center in Glendale, Wisconsin next year.

What's the class about? Everything you need to know to get the perfect start on your family tree. Four sessions will cover how to begin, sources, terminology, researching, computer programs, on-line resources, analysis, collaboration and managing your goals and research. The course is intended for beginners of all ages interested in pursuing their family history.

Here are the details:

  • Nicolet High School, Glendale WI
  • Tuesdays, from 6:30PM-7:40PM
  • Session I: February 4-26
  • Session II: March 11 - April 8 (skip 3/25)

Here is a link to the Rec Center's catalog. The course is listed on page 32 in this PDF file. The Registration Form is on page 47.

Another Nationality? My Bywater Line, posted September 15, 2007

Although I'm not quite ready to put up another flag on the home page, I have found out that I may also be Welsh. A recently received birth certificate for my 2nd-great grandmother, Mary Bywater, shows that she was born in Llangirrig (also spelled Llangurig), Montgomeryshire, Wales. In the 1851 Wales Census, she was three months of age and residing with her parents and siblings in Llangirrig. Her father, John Bywater, was the Innkeeper of the Black Lion Inn and a farmer of 35 acres. His birth place and his wife Hannah's (nee Ashton), were also in Montgomeryshire, Wales.

The Black Lion Inn is still in business and of course they have a web site.

Link to Mary Bywater's record in my tree.

The Irish Fest Experience - 2007 - In the Genealogy Pavilion, posted August 21, 2007

This year my son and I put in a four-hour shift on Friday night. We arrived early to scope out the Pavilion and festival before settling in to our stations. We were very lucky because it rained on Saturday and Sunday. The stream of festival goers interested in family history was heavy. sponsored the Pavilion and provided three of their experts laden with equipment on the back wall along with three of the IGSW's experts. To get the expert's services it was take a number, mill until it was called, then have a seat and present your case.

I pulled number 37 and managed to get a few minutes with Echo from Ancestry before my shift started. My favorite brickwall is going beyond my second great-grandmother Mary Ann McNally. Sometimes just reviewing the facts out loud will help. I was able to have Echo pull up my site, look at the Rootsweb entry for Mary Ann, and hear my stories on Mary Ann's likely brother Joseph. It's still a brickwall but at least my mental juices were flowing readying me for the night ahead.

More Updated and New Pages, posted December 2, 2006

The Bookstore has been upgraded. It is now a full-fledged aStore. Have a peek to discover my recommended books for genealogy in general and also by nationality categories.

I have also added a link to a new page. The link appears on every page in the Navigation bar on the bottom. For those interested in creating their own web sites here are a few tools I have found quite useful.

Updated Pages and Access to My Review of Ouimette's Finding Your Irish Ancestors, Posted October 4, 2006

I've updated a few pages (for example recent published articles) and put in a link to my review of a recently released and disappointing beginner's guide to Irish family history.

NGS 2006 Conference in the States, June 2006

What a super conference! Fascinating topics - especially those I was able to attend - family medical history, Polish genealogy, better presenting and writing, the Spotswood Rice African-American case study, David Moon's prognostications, and Craig Pfannkuche's privy archaeology. Great booths - even a few with people from Ireland.

Scandinavian Round Table at the NGS 2006 Conference

In addition to speaking at the the 2006 National Genealogical Society Conference in the States in Rosemont (near Chicago) on Friday June 9, 2006, I will participate in the Scandinavian Roundtable, Session F329, at 2:30 PM. The moderator is Kathy Meade of Genline North America. Other participants are Dee Anna Grimsrud, speaker on Norwegian genealogy in session F311 and Michelle McNabb, speaker on Danish genealogy, session F318.

Hales Corners Family History Center Open House October 22, 2005

I attended the Open House and Workshop at the expanded Family History Center in Hales Corners, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, on Saturday, October 22, 2005. The parking lot at 9600 West Grange Avenue was full. My time was limited to two morning sessions.

Anne Marie Hummel very competently covered how to find one's Swedish ancestors' home parishes. I took a page of good notes and came away with a greater appreciation of Swedish American church records, the value of old family photographs taken in Sweden, and news of the recently released "EMIBAS" CD.

Gary Haas provided sound advice on preparing for and using the Wisconsin Historical Society Library in Madison, Wisconsin, before taking us on a virtual tour of this grand facility. "Never hesitate in asking a librarian for help," Gary said. "There are lots of hidden secrets only they can tell you about."

Before leaving, Anne Marie gave me a demo of EMIBAS in the now spacious and well lit research room of the Center. EMIBAS has databases of emigrant passenger lists, passport registrations, Swedish American Line passenger lists, and the names of sailors that jumped ship in American ports.

Article and Lecture News - October 2005

My article "10 Things to Look for in Swedish Records" appears in the September/October 2005 issue of Everton's Genealogical Helper magazine on pages 21 to 25. On newsstands now. If you read it, please pass along your feedback.

My "Review of 'Your Swedish Roots'" is reprinted in the Milwaukee County Genealogical Society (M.C.G.S) Recorder November 2005 issue on pages 115-116. I am pleased to get out the word on this excellent book.

I will be speaking at the the 2006 National Genealogical Society Conference in the States to be held in Chicago (Rosemont) in early June 2006 at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare Hotel. My session, F302 "Starting Your Swedish Genealogical Research" is part of the Scandinavian Track.

The Irish Fest Experience - In the Genealogy Tent on August 20, 2005

Volunteer work doesn't get any better than helping in the genealogy tent at Irish Fest in Milwaukee. My son and I put in a three-hour shift on Saturday night. We manned the surname booth. A non-stop stream of festival goers from absolute beginners to experts able to go back to the 1600s kept us busy. The booth is set up with a personal computer with John Grenham's software installed. With a surname one can pull up its frequency in the Griffith's Valuation (1840s-1850s), bibliographic information, a snapshot of the name's appearance in 1891 Irish birth registrations, what the name means and its origins. All these are great talking points, icebreakers, which can quickly lead to a next step or steps that the customer can pursue.

A young woman of Italian and Spanish descendent insisted on having Irish forebears and learning more about finding them. I said there's always a possibility, if you can go back person by person perhaps one will be Irish.

A young man asked, "how much does it cost [for a consultation]?" before he was willing to sit down. It took some persuasion to convince him that we were volunteers and there was no charge.

Our visiting expert in the tent this year was Mr. Kyle Betit, co-author of "A Genealogist's Guide to Discovering Your Irish Ancestors." His table was next to our booth. For a handful of our clients it was a pleasure to give them the next step of snapping up a copy of Kyle's book (and get his signature on it).

Learn and Discover

The most exciting time in genealogy is when we are discovering. In between discoveries there's a whole range of other actions and they include searching, preparing, planning, strategizing, documenting and learning. The learning is essential or the brickwalls come faster and higher. Without learning we would not know where to look, how to evaluate, what questions to ask. I think it is best to plan to learn. Learning beats my least favorite action, waiting. It keeps the genealogist's mind keen. A short-term plan is just fine. The plan can be as simple as adding a few low-pressure items to the to-do list (sounds like an oxymoron - isn't meant to be - after all there can be items on a to-do list that aren't high priority). The short-term plan could be: go to the National Genealogical Society Conference to learn, listen, discuss and build up the learning part of the to-do list.

NGS Conferences

Link to NGS Conferences

Join a Genealogy Society

Participating in a local genealogy organization is a great way to stay motivated, get new ideas, and be helpful. Meeting with others that have a similar interest will keep a genealogist actively researching: testing theories, bragging about results (to someone that will listen and understand), and finding out about new sources to use.

I saw a listing in the community newspaper about a lecture sponsored by a local group. The topic intrigued me. Before the speaker began the group had its general meeting: It was brief and interesting. There was a report from the travel committee chairperson on an upcoming trip to the state historical society. There was a request for contributions to the group's quarterly publication. There was a raffle for prizes such as a copy of the latest Family Tree Maker software. After the lecture there was time to talk and to browse through hard to find genealogy books for sale at a table.

The dues were reasonable. The benefits were clear. I joined the group. I have since written articles for the group's periodical and served as an officer. The experience has lived up to my expectations and more, so I'd say it's a good idea for any serious genealogist to seek out the camaraderie and join a group.

IGSWLink to Irish Genealogical Society of Wisconsin

VillagesLink to The Villages Genealogical Society

DCGSLink to the DuPage County (IL) Genealogical Society

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