Family Tree Huggers

By Family Tree Editors Premium

Over the years our Forum has been online, several active members have enhanced the entire community’s experience with their observations, advice, questions and inspiration.

<img width=”153″ hspace=”8″ height=”153″ align=”left” alt=”” src=”/treehugger/FTtreehugger.jpg” />Family Tree Magazine editors have designated these folks as Family Tree Huggers. They’ll have this nifty badge to use an an avatar, and they’ll serve as our sounding board for feedback on article ideas, genealogy Web sites, industry news, etc.

Read on to get to know this group of avid genealogists of all levels. And we’ll be on the lookout for more Family Tree Huggers who help make the Forum a great place to hang out.

Alissa Booth
Forum handle: aekbooth
Hometown: Salunga, Pa.
Time doing genealogy: about 2 years currently; actually began researching more than 20 years ago for awhile
Uncanniest research experience:  I met my third cousin at a playgroup at my house. Neither of us is even from this state, and our common ancestor lived several counties away from here (though his family immigrated to the county where I live from Germany in the 1700s). We discovered we were related during a chance discussion about a photo family tree. Both of us owned the same family history and were able to easily point out our ancestors who were siblings.
Favorite ancestor: Though all my ancestors are interesting to me, I find my great-great- grandmother’s life intriguing, since she lived through the Civil War, World War I and World War II (born in 1855 and died in 1944).
Other interests: reading, scrapbooking and cooking

<img width=”98″ hspace=”8″ height=”114″ align=”left” alt=”” src=”/treehugger/valerie-sm.jpg” />Valerie Craft
Forum handle: vrc84
Hometown: Atlanta
Time doing genealogy: six years
Favorite ancestor: I feel particularly attached to my direct maternal line. The women of that line lived difficult lives, but left a lot of documents behind. It feels like they want to be remembered.
Other interests: Reading, photography, scrapbooking and journaling
Web site: Begin With ‘Craft’
Blog: Begin With ‘Craft’

Jackie Fry
Forum handle: jknancy06
Hometown: I was born and raised in Chicago, and have lived there my entire life.
Started doing genealogy: Technically, I’ve been researching since 1991; officially, it’s probably since 1998.
Uncanniest research experience: There’ve been more than one. But I’d have to say finding out one of my great-grandfather changed his name, and that’s why I hadn’t been able to find him or his parents until I recognized his wife in a census record.
Favorite ancestor: I’d have to say my paternal grandfather, because he’s the one who started me on my genealogy research journey.
Other interests: I collect and love to read children’s series books, specifically mysteries such as Nancy Drew, Dana Girls, Penny Parker and others. I was also fortunate enough to get to meet one of the original authors of the Nancy Drew series, Mildred Wirt Benson, in 2001, just a year before she passed away at age 96.
On genealogy: I like using census records, as I can spot errors and/or find names that might need to be searched for creatively

Linda Matthews
Forum handle: lhmatt
Hometown: Born and raised on farm near Princeton, Ill. Spent most of the last 29 years in Seattle. Currently live in Alabama.
Doing genealogy: For almost 12 years. I helped my son with a school family history project and got hooked   
Most interesting research experience: Researching a cousin who was convicted of murdering his wife in the early 1900s. The old newspaper articles about the trial were very detailed and interesting
Favorite ancestor: My maternal grandmother who lived nearby when I was growing up, and was sharp as could be well into her 90s. I also have lots of genealogical artifacts to gain insight into what she was about throughout the years
Other interests: Home paper reduction through computer filing (including genealogy), politics, general research, yard work and travel.

<img width=”99″ hspace=”8″ height=”115″ align=”left” src=”/treehugger/daepowell-sm.jpg” alt=”” /> Dae Powell
Forum handle: HappyDae
Hometown: I don’t have one, as I’ve been on the move all my life.
Started doing genealogy: 1972
Uncanniest research experience: Probably visiting a German town and feeling deja vu. Later, I learned that one of my mother’s ancestors came to America from there.
Favorite ancestor: Francis Washington Powell, my father’s great-grandfather. His life was dedicated to his family and service of others.
Other interests: Family, databases, scriptures, tennis, chess and of course, humor
Web site: ShoeString Genealogy

Cat Smith
Forum handle: mecatgrl
Hometown: Sonoma, Calif. Best city in the United States!
Time doing genealogy: Over two years now. It started with a box of pictures from the 1900s my grandmother gave me when I was about 10 years old. She never held on to anything. The images started haunting me 27 years later and I wanted to know more about the people in them.
Uncanniest research experience: I found a picture of my family in Monte Rio, Calif., where they’ve been for ages. My great-grandmother labeled the back with the names and the date, 1916. It showed about six people, one with the last name Quackenbush. My sister married a Quackenbush! Yes, this person was a relative of her hubby, but not of ours.
Favorite ancestor: Some are especially interesting because I had the chance to know them. Others, like David Morgan, I find interesting because I have tons of his military documents from the Civil War. My favorite mystery is my grandfather’s father, because I may never have more than his name, but the enigma keeps me going.
Other interests: I love to sing! And I raise money for a breast cancer group Keep A Breast. Doing research, I found in an autopsy report on my great-great grandfather that he died of breast cancer, which gave me another angle on my fundraising. I’m also on the radio and people can hear me online, so some relatives I’ve found through research have been bonding with me through that experience. Also scrapbooking, but I think ancestry and scrapbooking go hand in hand.
Blog: Smith to McQueary to Siebert Family Tree. I host my tree at and can be found by my username, mecatgrl.

Linda Swisher
Forum handle: LHSwish
Hometown: Lansing, Ill.
Time doing genealogy: 25 years
Uncanniest research experience: I became hooked on genealogy when tracking down the grave of my great-grandmother Margaret McCabe. There were two women by that name in that cemetery. Both were in their mid-70s; both lived in the same area of Chicago; they were buried one year and one day apart; and both burials were handled by the same funeral director. Thankfully, Great-grandma’s grave is the one with the headstone. The other is unmarked.
Favorite ancestor: I don’t have a favorite. Henry Herrick is my black sheep ancestor, so I guess he’s it. He was shot by a jealous husband, then later divorced his wife to take up with the other woman, whom he apparently never legally married.
Other interests: I love history and antiques, rock music, sightseeing in my own backyard. I’m a member of Unclaimed Persons, a group started by Megan Smolenyak that assists coroners with unclaimed decedents by tracing next-of-kin.

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