Sunday, May 12, 2013

Back from the NGS

I just spent the last few days in Las Vegas--but not to gamble!  I attended my first NGS (National Genealogical Society) annual Family History Conference, and it was worth every penny spent. One of the many highlights was meeting with fellow Pro Gen members at the Pro Gen breakfast. For those who haven't heard of Pro Gen, it is a study group program that has been around for a number of years. I had the pleasure of meeting Terri O'Connell, Patricia Stenard, and Brenda Wheeler. Terri, Patricia, and I are in the Pro Gen 15 group. Patricia and I have met before, since we both live in Los Angeles. Terri is just as I imagined--a down-to-earth friend with a fabulous sense of humor and fun. Meeting Brenda was a special treat for me. She was my mentor/consultant when I working on my American Certificate program at the National Institute for Genealogical Studies (NIGS). She is also the one who encouraged me to sign up for Pro Gen 18 months ago, to which she serves as a mentor to our entire Pro Gen 15 group. Here's the cool part--she and her husband flew in from their home in Queensland, Australia to attend her first NGS conference. Yes, Brenda is an amazing Aussie!!

By the way--the Pro Gen program is an entirely on-line program. Each group (#22 is just getting started!) meets once a month to chat for one hour. In between, the group reads chapters from the book "Professional Genealogy", compiled by Elizabeth Shown Mills.  The major element is that each member submits a writing assignment that is critiqued by the other members of the study group. It runs for 19 months, and each member is challenged to be the better genealogist. I highly recommend the program. For additional information, go to the website:

Another highlight occurred at the NGS banquet on Friday night. The guest speaker was Mark Hall-Patton, better known as the Amish hat wearing, museum guy from the TV show "Pawn Stars".  He delighted the audience with his stories from the show. According to Mark, the Old Man is really a lovable grouch, Rick is the brains behind the show, and Chumlee is not that dumb--he'll just never qualify for MENSA.

For my last highlight, I want to share something from the Family Search luncheon speaker, Dan Poffenberger.  Yes, Poffenberger! BTW, Family Search is the website run by the LDS (Mormon) Church, and one of the most popular genealogy websites around. Dan spoke of his grandmother's family.  And it's complicated! Her mother married young, had her first child. Then her husband died, under still-unexplained circumstances. She married again, had another child. Husband #2 died from still-unexplained circumstances. She married again, had another child. Husband #3 is killed by the enraged husband of a neighbor. This is all before she turned 23. 

She married a fourth time--to a man that already had 3 children from his previous children. So, that's 6 children so far, right? With this husband, she had 5  more children, including Dan's grandmother. One of the daughters, suffering from a lack of normal growth, appeared in the movie, the Wizard of Oz as one of the Munchkins. She would eventually grow to about 4'10".  So, now she's up to 11 children. And then she dies from a bug bite! (The needed penicillin wasn't around). So, the husband is now raising 11 children--and marries a women with three children of her own from her previous marriage. That's now 14, and they're not done. This couple would have three more children, before the husband dies. So, now, the most recent bride is now in charge of 17 children! Talk about a mixed, blended family!  Makes the Brady Bunch pale by comparison. Some of the younger children spent several years in an orphanage, because the Mom couldn't care for so many children, especially during the 1920's and 30's. Dan's grandmother was one who spent time in the orphanage. Can you imagine how that family celebrated Mother's Day? Father's Day!

Next time--genealogy things I learned at the conference.

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