My name is Patricia Dumond. I'm both a genealogist and a web developer. This website, An American Family, is about family history (genealogy) with a tech twist. I live in Hinesville, Georgia, with my adult son, my sister, two dogs (Mab and Molly), and too many cats. I've lived here in Hinesville since August 1990. My husband, Paul, and I arrived here with our two sons the weekend that Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. That's important because Paul was in the Army.
He'd just returned from a tour in Korea and we moved here from Fort Rucker, Alabama. I was at home in our newly-rented mobile home, unpacking boxes, and he was on-post signing in to his new assignment. Around four-thirty he came home and asked if I had been listening to the news. I said no, the cable guy hadn't shown up yet, why? He said "Saddam Hussein invaded Iraq." I asked him why Saddam Hussein would invade his own country and Paul said, "No, what's that other country he wants?" "Iran? Kuwait?" and Paul said, "Kuwait, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait." This mattered to us because Paul had just signed into the 24th Infantry Division and we knew he was going to war.
Our lives in Georgia didn't start out on a high note. Paul went off to Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm for almost ten months. While he was gone I got a job on-post (the day before my leave without pay from my Fort Rucker job expired). It was a terrible job, but I got a better job about four months later. I liked that one, working at G3 Training, but lost it in a reduction-in-force 18 months after that.
A reduction-in-force, or RIF, is generally considered a bad thing and I wasn't happy about it when it happened, but I went to a job that turned into a career in Information Technology so it turned out well. The job I went to was actually just another clerk-typist job, but I lucked into IT because I was the only one in the building who knew anything about PCs. I helped usher in the age of a computer on every desk at Fort Stewart.
Man, I didn't mean for this page to turn into my life story. Let me make it short: Paul and I loved it at Fort Stewart. He went off on short tours and deployments and I just stayed here, getting the boys through Boy Scouts and high school, progressing in my career. In 1998, he retired from the Army and we looked forward to many, many years in the house we bought the year before he retired. We got almost 11 good years and about 10 months of lung cancer. He died 5 days after his 52nd birthday on 10 June 2010. Five-and-a-half years later I still miss him all the time. I've made a life for myself, but it's not the one I envisioned.
Genealogy and Me
I was already creating websites back in 1999 when I discovered genealogy. In fact, the entire reason I became a genealogist was to get our family history on the web. I was visiting my parents, Walter & Iona Jones, and my father called me in to his computer room to show me the website his brother, Michael Fitzpatrick, had put on the web for the Fitzpatrick family of New Orleans. Dad wanted to know if I could do the same for the Joneses. I said I could, but I'd have to do the research first. Uncle Mike built the site for his cousins, Colleen Fitzpatrick, and Merle Ann Fitzpatrick Farrington. Those lovely ladies had done all the research - he just built the site.
It just so happened that I had just read (in the newspaper, isn't that quaint?) that the Latter Day Saints were putting their vast genealogical holdings on the web: it launched that very week I was on vacation visiting my folks. Of course, we know this wonderful site very well in genealogical circles today: FamilySearch.org. I told my Dad to get up and let me sit down and typed in the URL to FamilySearch in his browser, Netscape Navigator. I asked Dad what his grandfather's name was and I typed in "Jessie Augustus Reid". Neither of us held out much hope of finding him. Jessie was a poor dirt farmer from rural Mississippi. Why would his family tree be on the Internet? But it was, back to his great-grandfather. As we read through the family group record for Jessie's parents, Dad kept saying, "I knew him. They called him 'Mun'. They called him 'JT'." All of Jessie's siblings were listed and Dad knew all of them, except one. I later tracked him to Chicago, where he died, but we never found out why he had left Mississippi and never contacted his "home folk" again. As we were marveling at the technology that made it seem so easy to find these people, dead and gone for years even twenty years ago, my father said "Do you think you could find my father?" And that is how I started "doing genealogy"
An American Family
So, my genealogical journey began with two goals: put up a website with our family history and find my grandfather. I actually succeeded in both. An American Family went online on 28 November 1999 and has been online in various iterations ever since. I remember that Christmas, visiting my parents and showing Dad what I'd done with the site. He called out to my grandmother, Viola Chandler Dishman, to "Come see, Viola, you're on the Internet!" While my father never met his father, who had already passed away before we started looking for him, I was able to put him in touch with a cousin and a sister and add two previous generations of Joneses to the family tree.
Last year I decided to transform the site from a static website to a WordPress blog. It's been operational as a blog ever since, although my activity in 2015 was definitely low and in spurts. 2015 was "the year that sucked more", 2016 has to be better.
A Marriage of Tech and Genealogy
During 2015 I went back-and-forth between personal posts and tech posts, with no goal in mind. It was a hot mess. As I was working on the page styling early in January 2016, I took a look at my sad tagline "Genealogy and family history of the Jones and Dumond families" and decided I needed a new one. I decided on "Family history with a tech twist" although I liked "Family history with a twist of tech" better. I decided not to go with the allusion to an alcoholic beverage since I drink a beer twice a year.
So the new twin foci for An American Family will be family history and technology. The technology stories will be for anyone who is "online", which is everybody reading a blog. There will be articles for bloggers and others who have their own websites, but there will be articles on security, social media, and software anyone can use as well.
On the family history/genealogy side of the house I'll be continuing my "Memoirs" series with newly-minted stories as well as covering my 2016 Genealogy Do-Over and current topics in family history and genealogy. Additionally, I'll be creating new family history functionality and opening these tools first to my own family members and later to the genealogy community who subscribe to the site. These tools will include forms for creating family group sheets (already in development) and family tree software which will be coming to the site later this year.