Lisa Alzo, author, lecturer, teacher, genealogist, and blogger helps people trace their ancestors, especially those with Eastern European lines. She has over 25 years of research experience, extensive knowledge and background. She researched her own ancestors and shares some amazing results assisting others. Lisa will be a guest speaker this year at the NERGC
New England Regional Genealogical Conference in Rhode Island April 15-18 2015 on Facebook
I interviewed Lisa March 19 2015 and was fascinated with her ancestor hunt and extremely impressed with all her knowledge and expertise. She can really offer a person an abundance of skills, tools, and methods for finding their roots. A bonus, if you feel inclined to write a story or just share your quest, Lisa can tell your story with her gifted writing.
Lisa is be a big asset for the NERGC and has valuable insight into anyone who wishes to step into the past and find who they are and where they came from.
What are some of the projects you have recently completed and what project are you working on now?
During this month, as I do every March to help celebrate Women's History Month I introduce tips and resources to help people track their female ancestors. The series is called Fearless Females Blogging. I have done a post each day here to honor the women in my own family tree.This I hope will not only inspire, but also educate and advise other women hoping to trace their female lines. Even if a person feels discouraged to pursue their research due to lack of resources or information there are many methods to solve the mystery. I cover a variety of those possibilities and also share an outline on my webinar Silent Voices: Tips and Tricks for Tracing Female Ancestors.
In the book, Tracing Your Female Ancestors compiled by Gena Ortega the following is included: Online resources, Working Women, Women in the Military, African American Female Ancestors, Grandma Was an Alien, Female Ancestors Pre-1850, Women in the Civil War, Women and Divorce, Women and the Vote, Secret Lives of Women, Manuscript Collections Overview, Women's Clubs and Organizations and more! Also see Research: Grandmothers, Mothers & Daughters-Tracing Women
Also, I am writing courses for the Canadian based school National Institute of Genealogical Studies.Currently there are classes on the site that offer researching Slavic ancestors and soon there will be advanced instruction offered on the subject.
Recently I presented four talks on Researching female lines, finding heroes and villains in your family tree, oral and social history, and Eastern European genealogy for the Indiana Historical Society
I have co-presented a number of genealogy boot camps with Thomas MacEntee.
I am also an ongoing editor for Family Tree Magazine
What are some techniques and tools you have used to trace your ancestors and how can someone learn from your methods, especially if they have hit a wall or block? I know I have solved a few family puzzles from searching the internet and found a site by Pam Beveridge Heirlooms Reunited
Most of research methods and background information can be found on my blog The Accidental Genealogist
The biggest challenge, or brick wall people encounter when tracing their ancestors is finding the source locations where records may be available on the family. For example, in locating my own European ancestors the villages where they were changed through out the centuries. This often happens as the borders and boundary lines are reconstructed, often times even the countries change. If your family lived in a small village in Poland it maybe be now located in the Ukraine, etc.
Demographics are vital to finding the records. In the past I have used maps, gazettes, national archives (state or regional) and contacted the church/cemetery records where ancestors lived. Many of the towns in Europe have taken records from the microfilm and digitized them . Some are accessible on line, but you may have to take a trip as I have a few times. If that is not an option you can hire a genealogist over there that is familiar with the area where your family originated. I did so myself before I ventured over seas when I started out many years ago and it definitely helped.
There are many resources on line that have posted family pictures, journals, letters, and basic information that could lead to finding an ancestor. One that has helped me is Discovering American Women's History Online
A database provides access to digital collections of primary sources (photos, letters, diaries, artifacts, etc.) that document the history of women in the United States. Offers detailed descriptions and links to more than 600 digital collections.
What is most rewarding in researching ancestors from your own experience and when you have assisted others?
I think that learning about my ancestors process in what they gave up and also endured to come to America. It really makes me appreciate the sacrifices they made and how hard they preserved to make a new life, identity, and home. Despite language barriers and cultural differences they adopted, but never completely shed their own traditions of origin.
It prompted me to publish Finding your Slovak Ancestors. The countless numbers of descendants of the early Slovak immigrants from the 19th and 20th century are searching for their Slovak roots. This book lists both traditional and online resources necessary for researching Slovak ancestors, and shows how to document and preserve your findings for future generations.
What has given me a sense of total connection was visiting my family over there and meeting my blood relations, like my cousin Renata. It was a very spiritual touching experience. And I was able to walk the same landscape and homestead as my paternal grandparents. I found my family over in still living on the same land as my gr gr grandfather.
I love to teach people how to find their family roots most likely because it was such an unbelievable experience for myself.The "serendipity" and "by fate" encounters is beyond words. Sometimes you find one anser searching for another. You also link to threads you never could imagine.
The written narratives we compile can turn into some pretty interesting story lines. I wrote Three Slovak Women which is a nonfiction account of three generations of Slovak women in the steel-producing town of Duquesne, Pennsylvania and the love and sense of family binding them together. The book opens with Verona Straka, who immigrated to the United States from the tiny village of Milpos , Slovakia in 1922. But there are three sections that unfold on these generations.
Also, some tracing family lines may have a hobby or deep interest that can brought into connecting them with their roots. For example, if you love cooking you may compile a recipe book of your ancestors eating traditions or preferred meals. I published "Baba’s Kitchen: Slovak & Rusyn Family Recipes and Traditions," which contains the pleasant food I grew up with in Baba's kitchen. Another book for my love of sports "Sports Memories of Western Pennsylvania." Here is a recipe posted on blog
Family Recipe Friday: Auntie B's Christmas Cookies
If you prefer to have someone write your family story you can hire a ghost writer. I have worked with people in creating the family tree and the colorful stories and life events attached to each member. By showing someone how to make an outline---recording significant dates, events, and connections associated with each family member the narrative begins to unfold.
What organization, society, or institution did you find to be most helpful in tracing your ancestors?
The University of Pittsburgh and the Carnegie Library held answers to the secrets from my past and the descendants of the other Pittsburgh people. Especially when I published my books on the area.First, the university had a strong Slavic language program. The staff helped me tremendously.
The Carnegie Library had a great archival center. Any contracts, literature, letters could be transcribed.
I am a native of Duquesne, PA and now I can share on the topics of Slavic Studies and genealogy with those who are starting out. The families of Slavic origin who immigrated to this area have rich stories to learn and to tell.
All efforts to preserving the past and paying tribute to those who helped to make Pittsburgh a great American city are centered around the records and archives at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. I am grateful that have generously and graciously opened up their collections to the public. Many of the photographs in my book, "Pittsburgh’s Immigrants," came from these resources.
Below from Blog post Pittsburgh Document Finds Its Way Home
All of Lia's books can be found on Lisa Alzo
Friday, March 27, 2015
Saturday, March 7, 2015
James Parton was Born February 9 1822 in England. Died October 17, 1891 in Newburyport, MA
Parton was one of the most popular biographers in America. Some of his books Horace Greeley, Aaron Burr, Andrew Jackson, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Voltaire. He authored a number of other historical works as well. Read his Revolutionary Heroes, And Other Historical Papers
His first wife, Sara Payson Willis Parton, sister of N. P. Willis, and widow of Charles H. Eldredge (who died in 1846), writer under the pen-name Fanny Fern. They were married in 1856. In 1876 Parton controversially married Ethel Eldredge, his first wife's daughter by her first husband. Parton, James, 1822-1891. James Parton correspondence and other papers, 1831-1891: Guide.
His adopted daughter, Ethel, the daughter of Grace Eldrege (daughter of Fanny Fern’ and writer Mortimer Thomson AKA Philander Doesticks), was adopted by Parton in 1872. Ethel Parton became a famous writer of children’s books about 19th century life in Newburyport, MA, published in the 1930s and 1940s. James had two children, Hugo and Mabel. Hugo had a child James Parton (1912-2001) was founder and publisher of American Heritage.Thank you Cheryl Follanbee for furnishing more info
Parton Home on High Street Newburyport MA
Personal Monday, August 2, 1869 Register (Salem, MA)
|Sarah Payson Willis (1811-1872) d. of Nathaniel Willis and Hannah Parker|
|Collection Smith College Fanny Fern and Ethel Parton Papers|
Shipping News October 23 1891
Sarah Payson Willis was born in Portland, Maine, to newspaper-owner Nathaniel Willis and Hannah Parker; she was the fifth of eight siblings, including journalist Nathaniel Parker Willis. Another brother, Richard Storrs Willis, became a musician and music journalist known for writing the melody for "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear". Her other siblings were Lucy Douglas (born 1804), Louisa Harris (1807), Julia Dean (1809), Mary Perry (1813), Edward Payson (1816), and Ellen Holmes (1821).
Her father had recently become very religious after being inspired by Reverend Edward Payson of Portland's Second Congregational Church and intended to name his fifth child after him. When his fifth child turned out to be a girl, he instead decided to name her after Payson's mother, Grata Payson, though the Reverend urged the Willis to reconsider, noting that his mother never liked the name. Her name was to change often in her life throughout three marriages and with the adoption of her chosen pen name "Fanny Fern". She decided on the name because it reminded her of childhood memories of her mother picking fern leaves. She felt that this name was a better fit for her, and used it even in her personal life; eventually, most of her friends and family called her "Fanny."
Fern attended Catharine Beecher's boarding school in Hartford, Connecticut; here, although Beecher later described her as one of her "worst-behaved girls" (adding that she also "loved her the best"), she got her first taste of literary success when her compositions were published in the local newspaper. She was also sent to the Saugus Female Seminary. She then returned to her parents' home, where she wrote and edited articles for her father's Christian newspapers, The Puritan Recorder and The Youth's Companion.
Fern married Charles Harrington Eldredge, a banker, in 1837, and they had three daughters: Mary Stace (1838), Grace Harrington (1841), and Ellen Willis (1844). After seven happy years, tragedy struck: Fern's mother and younger sister Ellen died early in 1844; then, in 1845, her eldest daughter Mary died of brain fever; soon afterward, her husband Charles succumbed to typhoid fever. Fern was left nearly destitute. With little help from either her father or her in-laws – and none at all from her brother Nathaniel – she and her two remaining daughters struggled to make ends meet. Her father persuaded her to remarry and she soon followed his suggestion.
Fern married Samuel P. Farrington, a merchant, in 1849. The marriage was a mistake; unable to cope with her new husband's intense jealousy, she scandalized her family by leaving him in 1851 and they were divorced two years later.Fern first published a few short satirical works in the Boston newspapers Olive Branch and True Flag. In 1852, again on her own with two daughters to support, Fern began her writing career in earnest. She sent some samples of her work using her real name to her brother, Nathaniel Willis, who rudely refused them and said that her writing was not marketable outside Boston. Her brother was proved wrong, as newspapers and periodicals in New York and elsewhere began printing the "witty and irreverent columns". She began writing a regular column in the New York newspaper Musical World and Times that year, becoming the first woman to write her own regular column; the next year, 1853, she published both Fern Leaves from Fanny's Portfolio, a selection of her more sentimental columns, and Little Ferns for Fanny's Little Friends, a children's book. The former sold 70,000 copies in its first year.
James Parton a biographer and historian, who was editing the magazine Home Journal, owned by Fern's brother Nathaniel Parker Willis, was impressed by Fern's work. He not only printed her columns but invited the author to come to New York City. When Nathaniel Willis discovered this he forbade Parton from printing any more of her work. Parton refused to obey the request and promptly resigned as editor of the magazine.
Fern's first book, Fern Leaves (1853), was a best seller. It sold 46,000 copies in the first four months, and over 70,000 copies the first year. She received ten cents a copy in royalties, enough for her to buy a house in Brooklyn, New York, and live comfortably. Just three years into her career, in 1855, she was earning $100 a week for her column in the New York Ledger, making her the highest paid columnist in the United States. Her first regular column appeared on January 5, 1856, and would run weekly, without exception, until October 12, 1872, when her last edition was printed two days after her death. Fern also wrote two novels. Her first, Ruth Hall (1854) describes her few years of happiness with Eldredge, the poverty and humiliation she endured after he died, and her struggle to achieve financial independence as a journalist. Most of the characters are thinly-veiled versions of people Fern knew, and several – those individuals who treated her uncharitably when she most needed their help, including her father, her in-laws, her brother Nathaniel, and two newspaper editors – are put in a most unflattering light. When Fern's identity was exposed shortly after the novel's publication, some critics were scandalized at this lampooning of her own relatives, and decried her lack of filial piety and her want of "womanly gentleness" in seeking revenge in this manner. The criticism wounded Fern deeply, and her second novel, Rose Clark, is less autobiographical in nature and features a conventionally sweet, gentle heroine; a secondary character, however, reenacts the debacle of Fern's marriage of convenience to Farrington.
In Fanny's Ledger column from May 10, 1856, she defended Walt Whitman when she wrote a favorable review of his controversial Leaves of Grass. In particular, she noted his fearless individualism and self-reliance, as well as his honest and "undraped" portrayal of sex and the human body. She was criticized for her admiration, but her outspoken support marked her as a champion of literature that was ahead of its time. It has been suggested that Whitman imitated her Fern Leaves in his choice of cover art for the first edition.
Sara Willis and James Parton were married in 1856. She and her husband lived in New York City with one of her two surviving children , they also raised a granddaughter, Ethel, the orphaned child of Willis's daughter Grace, who passed away in 1862.In 1859, Fern moved to a brownstone in Manhattan at what is now 303 East Eighteenth Street near Second Avenue; she would live in this house for the next 13 years until her death. Fern continued as a regular columnist for the Ledgerfor the remainder of her life. She was a suffrage supporter and in 1868 she co-founded Sorosis, New York City's pioneer woman's club. Fern battled cancer for six years and died October 10, 1872. She is buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts next to her first husband. Her gravestone was inscribed simply "Fanny Fern." After her death her husband, James Parton, published Fanny Fern: A Memorial Volume