Jean: Yolanda, it is hard to know where to start. You have so many interesting things on your website, I cannot imagine you having time in your life to sleep! I’d like to take a moment for you to tell us about some of your projects, the first, of course, being the major one: Ohio Family Research. Now, I’m pretty good with United States geography and the first thing I see is that you are promoting research for those with Ohio roots, but you live in Florida. Do you get to Ohio often and is it because you have family there or do you do that travel for research?
|Yolanda Campbell Lifter|
Yolanda: I was born in Ohio, and spent my first 13 years there. I returned to Ohio for a funeral in 1995, after being away for 21 years. My sisters and I visited my father’s grave (who had died in 1969) and we were talking about how we did not know much about his family. They suggested that since I was a stay-at-home mom, I should start finding about his family.
Once I returned home, I started with my paternal grandmother’s obituary and went from there. I had obtained quite a number of Ohio resources and began to do look-ups for others. My husband said since I was spending so much time on this, I should start charging people. So in 2000, I founded Ohio Family Research.
I do visit Ohio on a regular basis (at least 3 times a year) for on-site research. I also have a personal library of Ohio resources.
Jean: Because of the different repositories you list, it appears to me that you drive back and forth between the two states. Do you set up research jaunts along the way?
Yolanda: I drive or fly to the repositories. My mode of transportation depends on the time of year and the amount of time I have to spend at each locale.
When I drive, I do try to get some research done along the way in various counties and states. My next trip is scheduled for April 2017, and I also have one in May 2017. I will fly to one, and drive to the other.
Jean: You grew up in Ohio, like many of your relatives . . . when did you relocate to Florida?
Yolanda: My mom moved the family to Warner Robins, Georgia, in 1973. I came to Florida in 1978 to attend college, and never left.
Jean: It intrigues me that you are the president of the Great Lakes Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists . . . it sounds like it would be awkward to get to meetings! I have that same role in Southern California and find it time consuming while living in the target region . . . How on earth do you manage the role from so far away?
Yolanda: Our annual meeting of the Great Lakes Chapter APG is always held at the annual conference of the Ohio Genealogical Society which I have been attending for quite a number of years. We try to have a couple of gatherings each year so I make those if possible. In 2016, a number of us had lunch at the NGS Conference in Fort Lauderdale.
Jean: I know I’m focusing a lot about you as a person, but the organizations to which you belong are likely to be of interest to our readers. I would suggest people go to your website to read about them all, but let me focus on one in particular: The Graveyard Rabbits. I remember when this group was established and know a few other “rabbits.” So, what makes one a Graveyard Rabbit and how does that affect the genealogical community?
Yolanda: Cemeteries are my favorite aspect of research. This is rather ironic since up to about age 22, I would close my eyes every time I passed a cemetery (or look away if I was the one driving!). Relationships may be found based on burial locations and children that died between census years may be discovered.
Becoming a Graveyard Rabbit gave me a way to tell a story about a particular cemetery or individual. When I blog about an individual, I try to give a little glimpse about their life, not just the dates listed on their gravestone. I am very fortunate that I am able to travel to where my ancestors were born, lived, and died.
Jean: Another thing I learned from your website is that you graduated from the ProGen Study Group – in fact, the 4th one! That was a long time ago. To whom would you recommend this program and why?
Yolanda: I believe any person involved in genealogical research would benefit from ProGen. It is a wonderful program to help you develop your research skills personally and/or professionally as a genealogist. I learned so much for the course and one of the pluses was the feedback from my peers for the assignments.
Jean: You are a member of the Guild of One Name Studies. What is that and what does that membership do in the process of family history research?
Yolanda: The Guild of One-Name Studies is the research of a particular surname, usually throughout the world. My single name study is Stoops (Stoop/Stoup/Stoups/Stope/Stopes) which was the surname of a paternal 3rd great-grandmother. I thought the name was rather unusual and would not be too overwhelming to research versus some of my other ancestral lines (Allen, Campbell, Harrison, etc.).
I think I have found a Stoops in every state at some point in time. My goal is trace all the Stoops in the United States back to their immigrant ancestor (there are two men with the surname who are possibilities). I have just started to use DNA to help with the study.
One of the pluses about a one-name study is that I always have something to research wherever I go. If I complete my research to-do list at a repository and still have some time left, I research Stoops. It also provides me the opportunity to research in other parts of the country. By doing so, I become familiar with the records in other locales.
Jean: I see that you are a member of the International Society of Family History Writers and Editors. Can you tell us something about your writing projects – places one might read articles you have written or publications with which you are associated?
Yolanda: I am a want-to-be writer. I have written articles for genealogical society newsletters, and for my blogs (Graveyard Rabbit Journeys, Ohio Family Research, and Yolanda’s Yesterdays). I do have a book I hope to finish in 2017 that was started as a ProGen assignment. It is a research guide to an Ohio county. I also have a couple of cemetery book projects in the works.
Jean: I always like to ask a question about a researcher’s genealogical experiences . . . so, without violating confidences or naming living individuals, can you tell us a short story of one of your research exploits?
Yolanda: One of my most unusual projects was research of a client that had family who were members of a gang in Columbus, Ohio. Several brothers committed a number of robberies in the 1920s. They seemed to be good at what they did since their exploits made the newspaper quite often. One brother died in the fire at the Ohio State Penitentiary in Columbus in 1930, and is buried in an unmarked grave. Another brother was buried under an alias. This family seemed to be elusive even after death.
Jean: Is there anything else that you want folks to know?
Yolanda: Although Ohio is my specialty, I am available for research throughout the United States. So far this year, I have trips scheduled for Alabama, Georgia, Maine, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, and Virginia. Additional information about me and my services may be found at my website.
Thanks Yolanda for sharing your Genealogy Journey with us!
--Jean Wilcox Hibben