Tuesday, April 5, 2016


For this year's challenge, my theme is The Fun in Writing. Each of my 26 posts for April is aimed at illustrating fun parts of an author's day. A writer doesn't only write.
Creating a story or an essay requires research, revision, editing, and lots of coffee and chocolate.

This is also Insecure Writer's Support Group Day. #IWSG

What I have learned over the years from the A to Z Challenge is that composing 26 blog posts with a theme each April has done wonders for reducing my insecurity about having the ability to produce coherent sentences. (Apparently, it has done nothing to help me reduce my rambling sentences!)

E is for Eastern European Ancestors

This is the first of four Wednesday A-to-Z posts related to my research for a novel based on my ancestors: sixteen great-great grandparents who shared the experience of emigrating from (out of) Eastern Europe (and ultimately immigrating (in)to the United States.)

Those of you who have researched any of your family history know the exciting experience of discovering a new relative or a "lost" ancestor. Since the advent of internet ancestry sites, such as Ancestry.com, finding elusive elements of your family tree is exceptionally easier than when I first began my research.

The detective work involved, though, was possibly more fun back when the search involved greater effort than typing in a name and clicking on a "search" key.

Some of branches of my family tree originated in the Eastern European countries of Bohemia, Prussia, and Bavaria. Accomplishing my research in those areas required heavy dependence on library books and the internet. Closer to home, my sister and I took a "cemetery" tour I had mapped out, traveling around the Wisconsin countryside to all of the known locations where relatives were reportedly interred.

Every encounter of successfully discovering another ancestor's cemetery tombstone is an energizing event.

But writing stories about life in Eastern Europe during the early 1800s,
based on my earlier research, is equally exhilarating!
Here is a page from my cemetery research files:

Maternal Great-Great Grandparents, Caroline Heider & Gustave Maigatter
In 1866, Gustave immigrated with his parents from Magdeburg, an important Prussian fortress until 1912:
most of the city was destroyed in World War II (1939-1945).


  1. Wow, that is some research you have accomplished Gail! I am sure the hard work proved to be worth it when your found the trails of your ancestry. This was an interesting read.
    @KalaRavi16 from

  2. Thank you, Kala. Hard work, but so rewarding!

  3. Fun, fun, fun! I love researching the past. I have a headstone today on my Vintage Daze post, although not of a family member.
    I'm loving your A to Z posts.

  4. I can imagine the joy of finding a lost relative or unearthing facts of the life of an ancestor. But the research you've shared shows the hardwork that went into it. Well done :)

    My Era from @theerailivedin
    The Era I Lived In

  5. My dad has done a lot with ancestry research. I need to see what he's come up with lately. Thanks for stopping by!

    I’m exploring different types of dreams and their meanings.
    E is for Epic Dreams
    Stephen Tremp’s Breakthrough Blogs

  6. My dad has done a lot with ancestry research. I need to see what he's come up with lately. Thanks for stopping by!

    I’m exploring different types of dreams and their meanings.
    E is for Epic Dreams
    Stephen Tremp’s Breakthrough Blogs

  7. Thanks for visiting Trisha, Mera, and Stephen.
    Ancestry research can really get into your blood!

  8. Wow, very cool and so much fun. Have to laugh because I'm a rambler myself when it comes to writing exercises and essays. We can be coherent and ramble - sort of like Didion, only more positive. :)

  9. I always admire those that research their family history and ancestors and the discoveries that are made!

    thanks for visiting and enjoy the rest of the challenge!


  10. Taht's so cool! I mean, reseraching your ancestors. I'm following a woman who is devoting her blog to cgronicling her family's history and her research about it (her ancestors were mostly from Germany). She's prompted me to look more closely to my own family history.
    I don't think I'll go as far as reserching the way you are (but, hey, who knows?), but for the moment, I'm gathering stories. As she told me, I'm a writer ;-)

    The Old Shelter - Jazz Age Jazz

  11. I love genealogy, and I agree, it's more fun when you can build on the Ancestry data. We did a cemetery tour as well -- some were hard to find, but overall, it was very rewarding.

    Yvonne V

  12. I wish you all the best for your research Gail. I hope you find many more details of your ancestors. 'Cemetery Tour'? How did you get this cool idea?

    @SarahVamshi from
    The Tin Trunk

  13. Gail, I'd love to get you in a room with my favorite genealogist (and bestest crit partner) for some conversations. What a trove! You must be giddy with all the options this research has given you. What is the genre? Historical fiction? Historical mystery? Family saga?


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