My Family Story: The Hidden Legacy of Caroline Feil (1858-1936)

Welcome to the next installment of My Family Story focusing on my 2x great-grandmothers. This is the story of Caroline Feil Bliss (1858-1936) who is my maternal grandmother’s mother’s mother. Caroline was born in New Baltimore, Somerset County in 1858. The story of Grandma Caroline is itself quite a tale, as is the story of finding […]

RIP Uncle Ron Keck (1935-2018)

This week, I learned that my Uncle Ron (Carl Ronald Keck) died over the weekend. He was 85 years old. I always liked my Uncle Ron. I thought he was funny even when he was using humor to hide some uncharitable thoughts. I thought he was fond of us (my brother and I) because he […]

My Family Story: The Complicated Life of Alice Jenkins (1873-1898)

Content Note: slavery, white privilege, sexism One of the few family history things that I knew growing up was that my great-grandmother, Harriet Hackney, was from rural Tennessee. She died before I was born so I didn’t know her personally, just through stories that my mother shared with me about her ‘Nana.’ The general impression […]

An Essay About St. Patrick’s Day and My Not-So Irish-American Cultural Heritage

Irish American Pittsburgh

Growing up in a working class Pittsburgh suburb, I knew two things to be true about my family – we were Roman Catholic and we were Irish (with a little German.) We were Irish Catholics and celebrated St. Patrick’s Day robustly. St. Patrick’s Day is also my younger brother’s birthday. Robustly meant lots of green […]

Dear Santa Letters from My Great-Grandmother Circa 1896

One of the sweetest moments in my family tree exploration was the discovery of a very simple item – a letter to Santa published in the Pittsburgh Press on 18 December 1896. The author was a 6-year-old girl named Jennie Rice. She lived at 70 Poplar Alley in the Lower Hill District. Jennie was either […]

My Family Story: The Long Life of Regina Gallagher (1864-1960)

I’ve blogged about my four paternal 2x great grandmothers.  Most people have eight 2x great grandmothers, four on the paternal side and four on the maternal. Now it is time to move onto my maternal side. I’m starting with Regina Gallagher Kramer who spent her entire life in rural Butler County. Regina’s entry has been surprisingly […]

My Family Tree: Unexpected Loss of My Cousin Brian Koerber

Brian Koerber

This is a hard time of year for me. In 2007, my dear old friend died at age 41. In 2010, my elder maternal cousin Theresa died at age 45.  In 2012, another old friend and brother to my college roommate died at age 45. His name was Kevin. I’m now older than all of […]

My Family Story: The Mysterious Life of Sarah Ann Campbell (1871-1907)

I’ve blogged about three of my 2x great grandmothers, all on my paternal side of the family.  Most people have eight 2x great grandmothers, four on the paternal side and four on the maternal. The final paternal 2x great grandma is perhaps the most mysterious of my recent ancestors – her name, I now know, […]

Remembering Things The Wrong Way

Pgh Lesbian Correspondents

My mind is sort of stuck in low-gear these days, so I’m using blogging prompts to plow through while creating content. Write about a time you realised you were mistaken. I have a very clear and distinct memory of the first time I remember an adult in my family dying. My maternal grandfather had died […]

The Story of My Life: Coping With The Dark Tales That I Can’t Explain

Pgh Lesbian Correspondents

Content Note: Catholic priest sexual abuse, sexual assault I’ve learned not to say ‘well, it can’t get any worse’ when it comes to genealogy. Knowledge is power and sometimes learning the truth about your ancestors (and living family) can be harmful. Nonethless, it is truth. It is the story of my life. I have over […]