All plans must adjust to reality.  My 2019 plans were somewhat waylaid by my Mother’s cancer diagnosis in February and the long road to her final adieu in October.  I think I made seven trips back to Minnesota, but all were tremendously rewarding.   She enjoyed her 87th birthday bash on 26 April so much!

Beverly Jonnes, 87th birthday, Stillwater MN (photo by author)

Mom was fortunate to have so many family and friends support her throughout the ordeal.  I thank everyone who kept her company one way or another.

The effect was that a few projects were delayed or cancelled. I never took a road trip to upstate New York and had to cancel attendance at Minnesota’s North Star conference, among other adjustments.  Administration of the family project on FamilyTreeDNA suffered, too.

Nonetheless, 2019 was still a great year.  I continue to find genealogy very rewarding in this, my second year as a professional.  I served several clients in 2019.  I visited Norway for the first time and was very pleased by what I discovered.  The Norway trip, and especially the personal visit with my Sogndal-area cousins, was the highlight of the year.  Thank you, Lereims!

Reunion with Lereim cousins, Kaupanger, Norway, 10 June 2019 (photo by Lucia Jonnes)

Client Services: People keep reaching out and I turn away potential clients every week.  My favorite project in 2019 involved fairly recent history – World War II.  I helped a family order their ancestor’s military file from the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis and then documented his numerous instances of heroism in combat, linking each of his medals to the appropriate actions.  Capt. Lester D. Matter, Jr. of the 601st Tank Destroyer Battalion was quite the man.  In the process, I learned a lot about tank destroyer units and various battles in North Africa and Italy.  It was an honor to complete this report and share it with the family involved.

Although attendance at genealogy conferences and courses dropped off markedly in 2019, I was still able to participate in some key educational opportunities.

Professional courses, conferences & webinars – 2019:

  • SLIG Course: New York to the Midwest, 1780-1840, Salt Lake City, Utah (5 days), January
  • MnGS webinar, Nancy E. Loe, Organize Like an Archivist, February
  • Fairfax Genealogical Society Spring Conference (2 days), April
  • Family Tree Maker software presentation, Fairfax, Virginia (3 hours), June
  • APG webinar, Paul Woodbury, Organizational Strategies for Genetic Genealogy, July
  • VGS course, Finding Hidden & Disappearing Ancestors, Williamsburg, VA (1 day), October

The biggest event of the year was going to Salt Lake City to attend the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) for the first time.  Joshua Taylor‘s 40-hour course on tracking the migration of New England ancestors through New York and Pennsylvania to the Midwest was amazingly useful.  I frequently reference the course material.  Some of you may recognize Josh from his TV appearances on Who Do You Think You Are? and Genealogy Roadshow.  I can’t say enough about the quality of this course.

D. Joshua Taylor (Source:

The one-day course in Williamsburg on 19 October was also wonderful.  It was sponsored by the Virginia Genealogical Society and featured Thomas W. Jones, widely considered the dean of American genealogy.

Looking forward, I really want to dive back into genetic genealogy more thoroughly and become more systematic about analyzing my DNA matches.  That’s why I’m going back to SLIG this January to attend Paul Woodbury’s DNA course.  This could be especially helpful to my Bonn/Bønsmoen ancestral line, which only goes back 4 generations.  Most of the other lines in my family tree go back much further and likely won’t benefit from DNA analysis.  (Autosomal DNA matching is useful only for 7 generations back or so.)

2020 Goals:

  • Maintain my blog
  • Continue to serve clients on a part-time basis
  • Go through my Mother’s papers for genealogical information
  • Continue to develop expertise in Norwegian genealogy
  • Upgrade my ability to use DNA matches for genealogy
  • Prioritize the Bonn/Bønsmoen line in my personal research
  • Conduct research on my great-uncle Jack Bonn
  • Conduct research in Alsace-Lorraine on Lawrence Whaley and Rosie Reist (Miller line)
  • Submit an article about Mary Lukemire, my grandmother’s lost sister, for publication
  • Finish NGS course American Genealogical Studies: Branching Out

Certainly there are other lines in my tree that require additional research.  Finding the parents of Wesley Blalock (1825-1895) and Stephen W. King (1824-1865) are two such examples.  In both cases, I have good candidates (William Blalock and Henry King, respectively) but haven’t quite met the Genealogical Proof Standard.  We’ll just have to see how much time is available.

2020 Calendar:  The calendar is filling up fast.  Here’s what I have so far:

  • Attend SLIG Course: Introduction to Genetic Genealogy, Salt Lake City, January
  • Attend Fairfax Genealogical Society Spring Conference, Northern Virginia, April
  • Genealogy trip to Colmar, France to research Lawrence Whaley and Rosie Reist, April
  • Travel to Switzerland/Austria/Hungary, April-May
  • Attend Minnesota Genealogical Society North Star conference, October

I won’t be going to the National Genealogical Society (NGS) conference in May because we’ll be in Europe then.  I may attend the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) conference in Portland in October, though.