Shannon Combs-Bennett has always enjoyed learning about history. Her father was a secondary school history teacher and every story, family vacation, or trip to the local grocery store became a history lesson. As a child, she loved listening to the adults talk at family reunions or other social occasions and hearing all the stories about the family. As an adult she never dreamed she could learn more than what she knew, or in some cases completely destroy the family myths with a search at an archive. She has become the second genealogist on her mother’s side of the family, taking over from a cousin who researched the family’s history in the pre-computer age.
In the fall of 2010 her oldest child came home from school with a family tree project. This was the catalyst Shannon needed to propel her head long into genealogy and family history research. Shannon was selected to be the second Family Tree Firsts Blogger through Family Tree University and wrote weekly blog posts from December 2011 to December 2012. She took this time to jump start her genealogy education and really dug into researching her and her husband’s family. Her tenure ended with her first published article in Family Tree Magazine “Testing the DNA Waters” in the December 2012 issue.
She started her personal blog, called Trials and Tribulations of a Self-Taught Family Historian, also known as TNT Family History, at the same time as a supplement to her writing at Family Tree Firsts. It quickly became a place for Shannon to post her research, hard sought for finds, thoughts, opinions, and a myriad of other things that she found interesting. She has always had a love of teaching and education which makes a personal blog the perfect outlet for her.
As a relatively new genealogist Shannon is still looking for her niche. She enjoys studying and researching a large number of topics, but is passionate about only a handful. Other than genealogy those subjects include: genetics, heraldry, stained glass, embroidery, and illuminated manuscripts. In the near future, Shannon is planning on becoming certified in the genealogy field. She can’t wait to take her research to new heights, and into deep dark dusty places, which currently, she can only dream about.
Shannon is the author of IDG’s monthly column, The Society Pages.
Go In-Depth With Shannon:
What is one tip you would give a newbie genealogist?
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. I was petrified about making a wrong assumption, messing up a pedigree chart, and in some cases just plain looking silly in front of people who have done this a lot longer than me. However, no one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes. The lesson is to learn from them and own them. Just remember: don’t cover them up, make notes on where you went wrong for reference, don’t delete anything from your database, and correct your published writing as soon as you know. We all make mistakes so don’t sweat it.
What is your best small world ancestor story?
During the Revolutionary War my mother’s 4th great-grandfather and my father’s 4th great-grandfather fought against each other at the battle of Guilford’s Courthouse. Edward Arvin enlisted at the start of the war and was a member of the Maryland Line. He served the duration of the war with his brother Thomas. John Foote was an Irishman who was pressed into serving in the British army under Cornwallis. Edward was even wounded at Guilford Courthouse by a spontoon and was under medical care for several weeks after. John fell ill in South Carolina a few months later and was not present at the surrender at Yorktown. He subsequently fled the British army and stayed in South Carolina after the war was over. My parents find this odd twist of history funny to say the least.
What are your feelings about adding non-blood related lines into your research?
I think that if you have any connection to a non-blood relative, who may be able to help you fill in your family history, you should include them. My charts have an adoption, a changed identity, numerous marriages, and divorces. I have traced people who technically were not blood relation to understand what happened to my ancestors. Also, on the collateral lines I like to find the parents of spouses whenever possible. You never know who will have a piece of your family history in their attic and with those extra associated names in your tree someone may find you.
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© 2013 Shannon Combs-Bennett
Shannon Combs-Bennett is a stay at home mom who writes both a blog and for print publication. Her passion is hunting down the facts behind her family’s stories. You can follow her on Facebook(www.facebook.com/TntFamilyHistory) and on Twitter (@tntfamhist.) Shannon is the author of IDG’s monthly column, The Society Pages. This article originally appeared on The In-Depth Genealogist and can be found here. [insert original link]