Saturday, October 18, 2008

Dr. Jean Wilcox Hibben was fabulous today

The Chula Vista Genealogical Society had its Family History Month seminar titled "Discover Your Family History" today. Jean Wilcox Hibben, PhD., CG was the featured speaker. The program announcement is here. She made three presentations:

* Clue to Clue: Tracking a Family over Time and Miles -- Using various clues, you can piece together the life of an ancestral family.

* John Adam Hollaender: Survivor -- A Civil War soldier’s life story told in the first person by his wife, Caroline Maria Trapschuh.

* Bringing your Civil War Ancestor Back to Life: Songs & Stories of the War of the Rebellion -- Using music and stories to understand to the events on the battlefield and the home-front.

The first talk, clue to clue, was an excellent review of "how-to-do" your genealogy and family history research. Using her own Wilcox and Freeman families, Jean showed how to use family records, repository records and Internet records to search clue by clue to find names, dates, places, documents, and stories to determine a family structure and events. As she went through the presentation, she provided wise counsel to all genealogists on the research process. Many in the audience were amazed by the records she found in upstate New York in the 18th and 19th centuries (there is hope for my Smith family!). Jean used a lot of humor in her PowerPoint presentation, which was fun and funny.

The second presentation was a biography of a German immigrant in the 1840's, who became a Civil War soldier and a barber. Jean told John Adam Hollaender's life story as his wife, Caroline Marie (Trapschuh) Hollaender, sitting in a chair holding a memory book, with Adam's Civil War mementos and barber equipment on the table nearby. She then used a PowerPoint presentation to show the many papers and documents that she found, and told us where she found them. It was amazing to see how much information could be gathered for one person and his family. Of course, Jean's Hollaender family were packrats...and Jean received the collected family papers, mementos, ephemera and other stuff handed down to her mother and then to her, then did the research to put it all together.

The final presentation was a program of about ten songs from the Civil War era. Jean played the banjo, guitar and mandolin, and her husband Butch played the saw (very eerie sound!), to present these songs, and told stories about the songs themselves and their authors. In several cases, she played different versions of the same song, as sung by the Union and rebel sides. Jean has five CD-ROMs of her songs now - you can see the list at

The audience totally enjoyed Jean's presentations - they were informational, fun, touching, and entertaining - we even got to sing along! I urge you - if you have the opportunity to see and hear Jean at a local society meeting or a conference - to take advantage of the opportunity; you will totally enjoy yourself and learn a lot about genealogy research in the process.

My thanks to Jean Wilcox Hibben for giving so much of her time and effort to educate and entertain us, and to the willing workers of CVGS who made this seminar a success.

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