All in My Queer Family: Discovering DNA Ties to My LGBTQ Friends in Pittsburgh

queer family of choice

One unexpected benefit of chronicling my family history has been discovering that people I already know are part of my extended family.  First there was my friend Dave Ninehouser (6th cousin) and then a neighbor, John Graf (4th cousin 1x removed), followed by finding new-to-me local folks who are also in my tree. Our pet […]

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 […]

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, […]

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 […]

Robert E. Lee Was a Cousin of Mine

This weekend, a lot of rhetoric flowed exhorting us to respond to a horrifying display of white supremacy in Charlottesville, Virginia. One thing that resonated with me was the exhortation by some of my black friends to me, as a white woman, that I need to collect my people. The only people who should be […]

My Family Story: The Unknown Legacy of Anna Gottheld (1874-1949)

Perhaps that is her story, her legacy even. She like so many women in history are lost to us in terms of details, but real to us in terms of having actually been here and part of the tapestry of our lives. She existed in all of her unrecorded, complicated and stark reality. Her legacy is real even if the details are shrouded. Perhaps this post will unearth more details or perhaps it will simply honor the life story that we know.

Rest in power, Grandma Annie.

My Family Immigration Story: The Short Life of Sadie Butler (1872-1922)

I first learned about Sadie Butler in the early 2000’s when I sent away for the Catholic Diocesan records of my paternal great-grandfather whom I (erroneously) believed was Irish Catholic. To my surprise, I learned the Irish Kerr’s were Protestant via the marriage information of my second great-grandparents, John K Kerr (1869-1908) and Sarah A […]

My Family Immigration Story: The Tragic Life of Jennie Tarleton (1868-1944)

Scots Immigrants

I’ve heard tales of Jennie Tarleton my whole life long – the brave 17 year old Scots girl who set sail for the New World all alone from Glasgow. Jennie was my 2nd great-grandmother and her arrival in 1885 makes her my most “recent” immigrant ancestor. Everyone else was here long before she set foot […]