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  • JK Hoffman

Uncovering the Past

Updated: Apr 27, 2018

Getting started in genealogy


Hello and welcome to my blog. Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to catch up on Lizzie and other interesting facts about Arizona.

I am no expert; mind you, just an Arizona native who loves her state and its rich history. I am an amateur genealogy researcher, and fanatic. I have been doing research on Ancesstry.com for about 15 years now.

My family has only been in Arizona since the 1920’s, so my research centered in the mid-west. However, Garry’s family, my husband, had been in Flagstaff since 1883. So, when I hit brick walls on my family, I turned to his family to research. I was excited to do local research.

I started with the general knowledge of what he knew… nothing. He knew that he had a great grandparent die in a house fire. Okay, where? He replied, maybe Michigan. Well, Michigan is a start. Then he told me, he had always heard that his grandpa or somebody ran away from home at an early age to become a cowboy. He thought that it had to do with a Catholic School. Okay, where? Well, maybe Michigan. Great, so I started my search in Michigan.

I only knew his grandfather’s name, Bertie Hoffman. With that information, I began my search. I had no problem finding his family in an 1870 census in Ottawa, Michigan. Okay, now who came to Arizona?

Census forms from back in the 1800’s are fun, not. The writing can be hard to read and name spellings can be confusing. Some are impossible to read with smudges on the paper. However, they can be a valuable tool. Luckily, the federal government in 1850 decided it was important to include wives and children’s names. Before that time, only the man’s name was listed, with a check mark as to age and sex of said persons. Searching for women before 1850 can be challenging. If , you are lucky enough to have a family bible that has been written in, you have hit a jackpot. My family from Arkansas and Oklahoma did not believe or did not know how to write in bibles. Probably couldn’t read or write.

I now knew the first names of his great grandfather and grandmother. I still did not know his great grandmothers maiden name. I asked Garry’s mother if she had any knowledge of his father’s family. I had to ask her since his father had passed many years before. Note, ask questions and keep a written journal while people are still alive.

She gave me a copy of his dad’s death certificate. Another document that contains important information. If, the person giving the information has any clue. I then was given Bert’s death certificate. Aha! Her last name was either Sturn or Stern. One had one spelling and the other was different. Phonetically, it was the same. Success. Now, I could begin my search on them. I learned he was a shoe cobbler and immigrated from Germany. She also immigrated from German. Same town, Baden. Did they know each other before coming to America? One can only guess. They both went to Michigan and married less than two months after he arrived (but had he come earlier and then returned to Germany?) More questions than answers. A mystery! To be continued…

I have made a decision as to publishing Lizzie. As you all know this book has been my life for the past two years and the time has come to make that crucial decision as to publishing. As I have learned, there are no easy answers. To self publish or get a publisher. I compromised on what I feel is an excellent decision: Outlaws Publishing. Owner, Mr. J C Hulsey, is a very accomplished writer himself but also publisher. There is of course no date available yet as to when she will be available on Amazon.com. This will be where you order copies for yourself. Of course, I do plan on having book signings and will make myself available to book clubs in the area. After publication, please just send me an email on this site and ask me if I am available.

Be sure to listen to Outlaws Radio Show, episode 149 as I was a guest on the show. Yes, I did my first radio interview. Just google the show and enjoy. Check back for more news and blogs. Later and have a great day.

Hello and welcome to my blog. Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to catch up on Lizzie and other interesting facts about Arizona.


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