With nearly 20 years experience as a consultant at the Sacramento California Family History Center, Susan has solved literally thousands of genealogical puzzles. For six years she served on the board of directors and as part of her duties trained the staff and planned and implemented nearly a dozen seminars.
Susan holds a full time California DSAE teaching credential from California State University, San Bernardino and for six years instructed local Adult Education students in both family history and computer classes. She has lectured extensively in the greater Sacramento area on a variety of family history subjects.
In 2008 Susan graduated from Brigham Young University with a Family History Emphasis. She has worked with Ancestry.com in their Expert Connect service and completed over 50 projects with a 5 star rating. Susan has fifteen-plus years of professional experience and is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists.
What are your specific genealogical interests?
Digital archives online, U.S. tax records, German-American research, British Isles research, naturalization, Military, Land and church Records are just a few of my favorites. I enjoy the puzzle of eighteenth century research and at the same time I love a good census puzzle. I love the methodology involved in research and I love teaching and writing syllabus material. I have a passion for writing genealogical proof summaries and love the Genealogical Proof Standards established by the Board of Certified Genealogists. To me, it is not just about the facts�but about organizing the facts so that the logic magically appears and suddenly all the circumstantial evidence points to a clear and concise conclusion. I love that. Wow, that is a lot of love. I guess I love it all.
What got you into genealogy?
At the age of seventeen I opened my mother�s book of remembrance and was hooked when I saw photos of my ancestors on the pages. I loved the top hats and the bonnets. I read the birth and death dates of the children on my second great grandparent�s family group sheet. From just those two columns I learned so much about my great-great-grandmother! She gave birth to two sets of twins and one set of triplets; twelve children. Of those children only four lived to adulthood. I cried when I saw these dates and places�and I understood how important this information was. I wanted my own copy of the records. I started gathering records from my great aunts and uncles�far beyond what my own parents had collected. The rest is history.
Most surprising genealogical find:
Before his death, my 4th great grandfather wrote a short sketch about his heritage. He wrote of his father George and grandfather Israel Burket�how they came from Germany during the Revolutionary War. I went to work as a novice genealogist driven to find the facts. When I learned that the only ships sailing from Germany during the war were mercenaries coming to aid the British, I did my due diligence and searched the military records. There was nothing.
One day I was looking at tax records in Bedford Township, Bedford County Pennsylvania which is the township where my fourth-great-grandfather was born. There was my Israel on a record dated 1772. He was here before the war. I pulled up an index to land warrants for the county hoping to find Israel. No record. The roll of film was alphabetical by counties in Pennsylvania and the next county was Berks County. I knew Berks County was many miles east of Bedford but something told me to keep rolling. There he was! Israel Burket had a warrant for 50 acres of land in Berks County. I opened up a book entitled Berks County Pennsylvania Church Records of the Eighteenth Century and found my fifth-great-grandfather�s birth and christening referenced there. He was not born in Germany. I found Israel on a ship passenger list recorded as Israel Burchert. He came to the United States in 1751 on the ship Edinburgh. It was an incredible find!
I later learned that my fourth-great-grandfather�s mother Catherine Schwabeland actually did immigrate during some of the early battles of the war�in the year 1774 on the ship Union. This was one family story that got a little twisted very early on, but the unraveling of it was a great adventure.
If you could find the family history of any historical great, who would it be and why?
I would love to research the family history of Helen Keller. She is someone I admire and respect for her attitude and her positive influence on the world. Many of my favorite quotes come from Helen Keller. My favorite is: Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.
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