Join Me For #genchat in 2015!

One of the live-streamed presentations from RootsTech conference in 2012 was “Twitter:  It’s Not Just ‘What I Had For Breakfast’ Anymore” by Thomas MacEntee.  He spoke of how Twitter worked and how it could help our genealogy research.  Thomas is an excellent speaker and this talk convinced me to join Twitter and see what all the fuss was about.

I have to say I didn’t use it too much at first, but I did catch some of the news I didn’t otherwise read about on Facebook or via the blogs I followed.  In January 2013, I started seeing tweets about #genchat, which was to be a genealogy-themed chat with different topics twice a month.  I checked it out, and I was very quickly hooked!

Where I thought I had no knowledge to contribute to anyone else, through #genchat, I found out otherwise!  And where I was lacking, there were plenty of folks who were more than willing to share with me.  Not only that, these #genchat people were nonjudgmental and honest about their own genealogy shortcomings (source citation, anyone?).  And they were fun!  And funny!  #genchat had become an addiction and a time I could look forward to.

Which brings us to the present.  #genchat is about to enter its third (!) year.  If you never participated in a Twitter chat before, now is the time to do it, because this Friday, January 2 at 9pm Central (10pm Eastern) is the first #genchat of 2015:  “Hey, what’s new with #genchat?”  I cordially invite you to join us!

Here are my recommendations to get started:

1.  If you’re not on Twitter, be sure to set up a Twitter account.  And be sure to follow @_genchat

2.  Be sure to visit the #genchat homepage for information on how it all works, the schedule for the year, and to give feedback.

3.  There are various ways to follow along:

  •  following the hashtag #genchat on Twitter (I find that you don’t catch all the tweets, though)
  •  ultilize a Twitter platform on the internet, which will require allowing that platform to access your Twitter account.  Some of the popular platforms are,, tweetdeck, and  Depending on the device you’re using, some platforms work better than others.

4.  If you’d like to start to get to know other genchatters, be sure to show up half an hour early for an informal social chat at our fictional watering hole “Treeverne Upon the Gene” (see here about halfway down for a description by our bartender).  Just be sure to the use the hashtag #genchat so we can see you!

5.  Dive in!  It can go really fast, so don’t worry if you don’t catch everything at first.  If you just want to lurk,  that’s OK too.

6. I’ve heard that the #genchat sessions will once again be Storified (kind of like a compilation of the session), so if you want to make sure you didn’t miss anything, you’ll be able to review a rough transcript of the chat.  Go to

So again, please do join us on Friday!  I promise it will be fun!

Holiday Hiatus

Greetings, readers!  Things have been super busy as my household gears up for Christmas.  I haven’t had any time to write blog posts at all, but that will change after the holidays.

Meanwhile, enjoy making memories with your families. Create your next family story!

imageMerry Christmas!

Great-Great Aunt Ella Jane (Pleau) Britenstool

Ella Jane Pleau was born March 10, 1988 in Rochester, NY. Although she was the second to last child born to George and Emma Pleau, she became the baby of the family after the death of her younger sister Lucy in 1895.

Ella worked as a clerk in a photograph company, which I assume was Eastman Kodak. On December 27, 1911, she married Chester B. Britenstool in Rochester, NY (more on that in a minute) by clergyman R.R.M. Converse, witnessed by Elizabeth Foster (perhaps a friend?). Chester, the son of Julius Britenstool and Ella Bryant, was a tailor and later a clothing designer.

The couple lived with Chester’s mother at 93 Prince Street, then at other locations in Rochester. They moved to Buffalo, NY in 1917 and back to Rochester in 1929. Eventually they moved to Webster, NY by 1944 and lived there at least through 1965. They appeared to have returned to Rochester by the time Chester died in June 1970.

Ella died November 16, 1980. Ella’s funeral, like her sister Evelyn’s, was at St. Boniface Church. Both Ella and Chester are buried at Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester, next to Chester’s parents.

Grave of Chester and Ella Britenstool.  Author's collection.

Grave of Chester and Ella Britenstool. Author’s collection.

As I conclude this outline of my great-grandfather’s siblings, I’d like to return to a scene from Ella and Chester’s wedding reception. I discovered an article in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, and found it to be the most intimate look at the family. Following is my transcription of the article, with my comments in brackets:

New Year’s Wedding Reception

On New Year’s eve at the home of the bride, No. 609 North street, there was a wedding reception for Ella J. Britenstool, youngest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George Pleau, who on Wednesday last became the bride of Chester Britenstool. [I wonder if they took a short honeymoon before returning to celebrate.] The bride wore white serge and carried roses. The dining room was decorated with holly and wedding bells, and the table with ferns and pink carnations. [This tells me that George and Emma shelled out some money for this, if they got flowers and greenery in the middle of a Western New York winter! And doesn’t this sound pretty and festive?] There were musical selections by Miss Florence Weber, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Weilert, Albert[,] George, Jr., and Eugene Pleau. [First, I am concluding that they must have had a piano in the house. Second, what a musically talented family! And what a joyous time they must have had!] Mr. Britenstool is a son of Ella M. and the late Julius Britenstool, of No. 93 Prince Street.

A modern view of 609 North Street, Rochester, NY.  Courtesy Google Earth.

A modern view of 609 North Street, Rochester, NY. Courtesy Google Earth.

I can only imagine the scene, with snow on the ground outside the home, but music and laughter coming from the inside; the entire family together in celebration.