My Story.

I blame my grandparents for all of this. 

In a good way. 

I was tremendously lucky to grow up with all four of my grandparents around.  I was a demanding chatty little thing, and so to keep me entertained they all got in the habit of telling me stories.  When they ran out of ideas for imaginary creatures and fantastic lands (my dad’s mom even made up an entire series of stories for me about a pirate called Dick Deadeye;  she was always ready with a new installment of Dick’s adventures whenever I asked for a story), they fell back on telling me their own history.

Looking back, I am so very, very thankful they did.

By the time I was in junior high I had come to understand the importance of these family stories, and I had even begun the rudiments of a family tree in one of my sketchbooks.  It was exciting and sometimes heartbreaking to learn about family members I would never know.  My dad told me darling stories of going to the railyard with his much-loved grandfather, his dad’s dad, to watch the massive coal-devouring locomotives coming in and out.  My mother shared tales of her own mischievious childhood, including one of my favorites in which she pasted a wet lollipop to the derriere of her grandmother’s tremendously surprised cat.  And I could never forget the desperately sad story of my grandmother’s adored older brother Bill, who drowned in Lake Ontario at a church picnic at the much-too-young age of 15.  The boy drowned in five feet of water;  he couldn’t swim.

It’s these precious stories that led me to genealogy.

But my approach to genealogy is perhaps a little different than the average genealogist’s approach.  While I like charts and graphs as much as the next researcher, my real passion lies in family stories, treasured family objects, and images.  If there was such a thing as an “interdisciplinary genealogist,” I would be one. 

Heck, I am one.

So my genealogy “work station” pretty much encompasses our entire apartment, from the proper paper files by my desk, to my great-grandmother’s rosary in the wooden box next to my own, to the photo on my dresser of my grandfather, a sergeant in the Army Air Corps, in the cockpit of a WWII bomber.  In our apartment, family is all around.

And that is where you’ll find me:  in my home, among my family.

Niagara Falls, New York, 1915-1939.

The Millers: Niagara Falls, New York, 1915-1939.



  1. Love your blog! Thanks for the comment on “A Culinary Genealogy.”

  2. I am really glad you just coined the phrase “interdisciplinary genealogist,” because that perfectly describes what I am too… I am really looking forward to reading more of your family’s stories – you do a wonderful job of telling them.

  3. Hi Jennifer!
    Thank you so much! I was just messing around again last night on “A Culinary Genealogy,” and adoring all those simple and to-the-point late-Victorian recipes… And I love the digital scans of the actual recipes, all smudged with grease and well-used!

  4. Hi Rebecca!
    You’re very kind; thank you! I wonder if there aren’t more “interdisciplinary genealogists” like ourselves out there…seems to be the best of several worlds, doesn’t it? It would be great to see “family historians” and genealogists collaborate a whole lot more; everyone would benefit, I think.

  5. Just discovered your blog thanks to Donna Pointkouski. You’re off to a great start–welcome to the great geneablogosphere and the genea-blogging community! I think as you read more and more of the blogs out there, you’ll see that the best of them all are “interdisciplinary!” You fit right in!

    • Thanks, Craig, for such a kind welcome! Thank you also for taking the time to read and comment here. I’m really enjoying myself as a genea-blogging “newbie”!

  6. I think I am an “interdisciplinary genealogist”, too… For me, the tree leads to the stories.

    Unfortunately for me, my grandparents are gone, my father wasn’t interested in his own family; my mother was but didn’t know much about anyone beyond her grandparents (and her father’s mother “disowned” after a little — and I do mean little — disagreement during the war); and just about the time my interest in family history peaked, my mother’s memory started slipping away. She is still able to tell some stories but the details are dusty.

    Mom was an only child and I don’t have any children, so the history will die with me unless I can pass it on to my nieces and nephews.

  7. I love the way you write downtothesea!! I have Judges in my family and my brother also found that Breheny is the Irish word for Judge. We have one confirmation from a marriage certificate that my great great aunt was born in Sligo. That would be Jennie Judges, born 1865. My great great grandmother was Catherine Gaffney Judge. Would love to get more info on Michael Judge (Jennie’s and Catherine’s – my great grandmother – father). They had a big family.

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