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Vacationing with Your Ancestors – With the Help of a Certified Tourism Ambassador (CTA)

It’s that time of year when we all begin planning and looking forward to summer vacations. And if you’re like me, you try to schedule at least one trip around researching some of your ancestors in a really great place—and everyone in Franklin County, Pennsylvania hopes your ancestors lived here—and that you’ll be visiting us soon!

To help prepare for your trip, check out our Certified Tourism Ambassador (CTA) program through the Franklin County Visitors Bureau (FCVB). This year, the FCVB invested in this nationwide program whose objective is “to increase regional tourism by inspiring front-line employees and volunteers to turn every visitor encounter into a positive experience.” So how does a CTA fit into a genealogy vacation?

Franklin County’s First CTA Training

 

 

 

 

 

 

My hope is that by becoming a CTA, I can make every researchers’ visit to Franklin County the most fulfilling it can be. I do this by studying all aspects of Franklin County, to be the go-to source for finding Pennsylvania ancestors. I’ve learned through experience that my most successful trips were those where I contacted area experts who helped guide my research. Rather than using the hit-and-miss method when I wasn’t familiar with county towns and townships, these knowledgeable people pointed me to the most important repositories and sights, such as:

  • Courthouses & Archives
  • Historical Societies & Libraries
  • Ancestral Homes & Farms
  • Schools
  • Businesses
  • Churches
  • Funeral Homes & Cemeteries

Besides giving directions, locals also know what records each repository may hold that will helpful when researching your family history. We also know the best and most convenient lodging, restaurants, and other non-genealogy things to do (for any family members who might not be into the research thing).

So when planning your “family” vacation, don’t forget to contact someone who will make sure you spend your time as efficiently and productively as possible. In Franklin County, it’s definitely a CTA—and it could be me!

Janet Pollard, Franklin County Visitor’s Bureau, and a new CTA

 

Put Aside the Dead People . . . Just for a While

Besides ancestor hunting, one of the best things about researching our genealogy is re-uniting with and meeting new cousins. This week I’m lucky enough to do this again at a “Mini Marquet Reunion” in California. I’ll be reconnecting with a cousin who I haven’t seen since the 1970s, meeting another cousin’s daughter, and introducing a fifth cousin that I met through the internet, to all of these people.

My mother, Miriam Marquet, and her two older brothers, Win and Art, were raised in Berwyn, Illinois in the 1930s and 40s. By the 1960s, the Marquet brothers and their families were living in California.

Arthur, Winfield, and Miriam Marquet, 1934

Our family traveled west a couple times to visit my uncles in the 1970s—five kids in a station wagon without air conditioning, and once with a collie! We couldn’t wait for the Holiday Inn swimming pool!!

Steve, Pam, Chris, Kim, and Ed on Vacation in 1971

But then I lost touch with my Marquet cousins—until 2012, when I contacted my cousin Matt, Art’s son, who was still in California. I knew his mother was interested in genealogy, so I asked if he had any information on the Marquet family. Because I made the effort to reach out, he sent me tons of old photographs and documents. It was then that I was proclaimed the family historian. That same year I was contacted, through Ancestry.com, by Jane, a fifth cousin who also lives in California. It turns out that she and I share a five times great grandfather, James McMaster, who we were both researching. Two maternal cousins living in the same state meant that a trip out west was in order. My husband,Tom, and I traveled there in 2013, where I met Jane in person and reconnected with Matt and his wife, Sherry.

Pam & Cousin Matt, 2013
Pam & Cousin Jane, 2013

But what about my Uncle Win’s family? About a year later, I saw that my cousin Amy had developed a tree on Ancestry.com, so I messaged her. In the fall of 2016, she came to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania “on her way” to a cruise out of New York City. She rented a car in NYC, and drove 4 hours south—definitely not on her way—to reconnect with my two New Jersey sisters, Chris and Kim, and me. Since she made that crazy trip, I promised to go back to California, and that’s where I’m headed this week.

Sister Kim, Cousin Amy, Sister Chris, and Pam, 2016

So on Saturday, January 27, Amy is hosting our first Mini Marquet Reunion at her house. Matt and Sherry will be there, and even Jane has agreed to drive down and meet more cousins. Amy’s sister, Mallory, is also coming, as are (I hope) the cousins’ children—first cousins once removed. I’m so psyched to meet more living people!!!

And maybe after talking genealogy a little, we’ll put aside the dead people, just for a while, and be thankful for the opportunity to meet new cousins and reconnect with the old—and yes, we are getting old! But hopefully some of those “once removeds” will carry on in the ancestor hunt where we leave off.

Finally, this year, I encourage everyone to take a break from your computers and archives, and connect or reconnect with your living family. You just may enjoy them more!

You Always Remember Your First Time. . . .

Your First Franklin County Genealogy Workshop, Of Course!

Yes, it’s over *sad face* but it was so much fun! A great group attended our first “Finding Family in Franklin County” genealogy workshop. Because of their honest feedback, I am calling this our Pilot Program. I especially enjoyed catching up with everyone at breakfast and dinner. My first question was always—hesitantly—“Did you find any new records?” And the answer from everyone was, “YES!” Someone even found a real live cousin!

The attendees from Virginia, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh checked into the Mercersburg Inn at noon on Wednesday. That afternoon, we presented three 45-minute sessions:

Wednesday night, we met for dinner at the James Buchanan Pub and Restaurant for great conversation and discussion of plans for Thursday—where people going and what they were looking for.

Justin McHenry with Bill & Nancy at the Franklin County Archives

On Thursday morning we met for breakfast to give everyone an encouraging send-off. Individuals went to the Conococheague Institute in Welsh Run, Fendrick Library in Mercersburg—actually 2 people went there Wednesday before and after dinner—the Franklin County Historical Society and of course, the much heralded Franklin County Archives. Coincidentally, everyone was researching in the south-western part of the county, so they could discuss where they were going and what resources they were looking for. As I checked in at the various repositories, it was evident that everyone was doing fine, and appreciated the time to research on their own. We met again for dinner and to share what everyone found. Justin McHenry at the Archives was clearly the star of the day, finding records that others were not aware existed.

Jean working at the Franklin County Historical Society

On Friday morning, at our final meal together, the group openly shared their thoughts on the workshop. This was a true debrief of what everyone liked and what could be improved for next time—and there WILL be a next time! Because of the great relationships we developed in three short days, we got excellent feedback on what to continue and what to add. Some of the suggestions were to include historic tours as an option, rotate the venue around the county, discuss more about cemeteries and church records, and include more “locals” from the genealogy community—all ideas that we will definitely look at incorporating into the next session.

But mostly there was praise for the workshop:

“This workshop would benefit beginning researchers as well as more experienced researchers because we could choose What and Where to research and go at our own pace. The discussions about the local repositories and what they offer was the jumping off point for us to explore what interested us. Pam was an excellent facilitator to point us in the most advantageous direction for our personal research goals.”

I couldn’t have worked with a better team. Thank you Janet and Justin—and my advisors!!

Me with my group of “Advisors”

After the group picture—it’s what we genealogists do—I thought everyone would head home, but I was wrong. After checking out, everyone went on another excursion, either to a repository or sight-seeing around the county. And I went home, satisfied that we did what we set out to do—help others Find Family in Franklin County.

Finding Family in Franklin County – June 2017 Workshop and Getaway!

In less than two months, I will be collaborating with several people who share an interest and expertise in Franklin County, Pennsylvania genealogy. We are joining forces to put together the first Franklin County Genealogy Workshop (and Retreat). We’ve added “Retreat” because of the beautiful home-base for this workshop – the amazing Mercersburg Inn in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania. Jim and Lisa McCoy, owners of this magnificent bed and breakfast have given us special rates for this event and will serve up breakfast and dinner for two days!

The Mercersburg Inn

Besides meeting others researching ancestors in Franklin County, we will answer your questions such as:

  • When was Franklin County formed?
  • What if my ancestors were living in Franklin County before it was a County?
  • Why did people move here and why did they leave?
  • What original records are available and where are they?
  • What are Orphans’ Court Records and why should I look for them?
  • How do I find my ancestors’ cemeteries?
  • What research options are available to me after I return home?

 

Check out the details:

The Schedule:

Wednesday afternoon, June 21:

  • 1:00pm Check-in
  • Interactive Presentations:
    • 1:30 The Genealogical History of Franklin County – Janet Pollard, Franklin County Visitors Bureau
    • 2:30 Original Records, In and Around Franklin County – Justin McHenry, Franklin County Archives
    • 3:30 A Guide to Franklin County Repositories – Pam Anderson, Anderson CoGen
  • 6:00pm Dinner

Thursday, June 22:

  • 8:00am Breakfast
    • 9:00am-4:00pm Research and lunch on your own
  • 6:00pm Dinner

Friday morning, June 23:

  • 8:00 Breakfast
  • 10:00 Checkout (or choose to add another day)
  • Continuing researching your ancestors

Schedule individualized consultations with Pam Anderson on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

 

Accommodations:

Mercersburg Inn 

405 S. Main Street

Mercersburg, PA  17236

717-329-5231

Cost:    Wednesday & Thursday – One-person Registration with Dinners – $355 per room

Add on Friday Night Stay for $110

*Additional person $110 – shared room occupancy

 

Contact me at (717) 597-1345 or [email protected] if you have any questions.

We hope you can join us!!

 

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