This marks another addition to the regular feature here at little Indiana: Indiana Blogs! If you are an Indiana Blogger, please use the contact form and send me an email. You may be featured right here on little Indiana.

Indiana Blogs: TJL Genes

Indiana Blogs: TJL Genes


TJL Genes is an Indiana blog that is on the hunt! Travis is searching for his ancestors–and finding a lot of interesting surprises along the way!

He’s got a long list of names that he’s unearthed in the process. I was surprised to see my mother’s maiden name among the lengthy list of tags but it did not lead to a relation.

If you’ve ever been interested in finding your roots, you will really enjoy learning about the process after a peek at TJL Genes!

Indiana Blogs: TJL Genes

Why did you start TJL Genes: Preserving our Family History?
I started my blog in order to share my research notes, and hopefully connect with other cousins who might also be researching their family history.

What about that name? Why TJL Genes: Preserving our Family History
The name stands for my initials, “Travis J. LeMaster“, and “genes” for genealogy.  I added the “preserving our family history” later as I realized the name for the blog wasn’t very descriptive.  Looking back, if I had to do it over again, I might have chosen a more catchy name.

What are three of your most favorite posts?
Three of my favorite posts :

What keeps you ready and raring to post? Why do you blog?
New discoveries about my family keep me blogging, as well as the desire to share the information I’ve already collected, so I can pass on to others.  Blogging often helps me think through a research problem.  Blogging about missing ancestors or “brick walls” have also led to correspondence and friendship with new cousins and fellow bloggers.

By blogging, I’m hoping that I can get the information “out there” so that future descendants will one day pick up where I’ve left off and add to the story.

How did you get into genealogy?
I started as a Boy Scout, working on my genealogy merit badge.  My dad, a history teacher, had done some work on his family in the mid-1970s.  I picked up where he left off, started researching my mom’s side as well, and have never looked back.  Now I also research my wife’s side of the family, so that when I get stuck on one branch of the tree, there is always somewhere to go.

Do you have any advice for others who are just digging into their family history?
Start with what you know and work your way backwards.  Interview family members and ask questions (who, what, where, when and how) and be sure to document your sources.

Many times I’ve been frustrated because I have information written down that I don’t know where the source came from.  Join a local historical/genealogy society and utilize the free resources before you shell out money for the pay sites.  Remember – not everything is on the internet.  To do genealogy properly, you will need to visit courthouses and search for records.  Genealogy is like every other hobby or interest – it can be as expensive and involved as you want to make it.

Have you discovered anything surprising? Do you have any neat/unique/interesting family stories or relations that you’ve found in your search and would like to share?
The most recent surprise was finding that I was related to a member of the John Dillinger gang, Harry Pierpont.  Harry was John’s mentor in bank robbery and engineered the prison break from Michigan City in 1933 before busting Dillinger out of jail in Lima, Ohio.  In the process, he murdered the sheriff.  Harry ultimately died in the electric chair.  Matt Leach, head of the Indiana State Police, referred to Harry as the “brains” behind the gang.

I have roots that stretch back pretty far in America, and have discovered instances where I am related to myself due to different branches of the family inter-marrying.

There have also been several times when I’ve been surprised to find records of divorce, bankruptcies, etc. in otherwise tame and well-respected families.  In the end, we are all human

Is there anything else that you would like little Indiana readers to know about you or your blog?
I would want people to know that doing genealogy is not about how far back you can trace your family, or who your famous ancestors were, but it’s more about discovering where you came from and what you are made of. 

I have been fascinated to dig deeper into the regional and national historical events that have shaped the decisions my ancestors made such as where the lived and what they did to survive.  You truly cannot understand the present without knowing something about the past.

Blogging and genealogy are just one more thing on my plate.  In addition to working full-time, I’m also serve on my local town council, which keeps me pretty busy.

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