Debbie’s passion for genealogy began sixteen years ago when she started exploring her own family history. She always loved hearing family stories from her older relatives and jumped at the chance to help her dad try to find out who his great, great grandparents were and a few other family mysteries. She began looking for answers to these and the truth about the stories passed down through the family.
Debbie was instantly hooked and has continuously educated herself in order to hone her skills to find the true stories and break the brick walls in her family’s history. In December, 2007, she completed the National Genealogical Society’s American Genealogy: A Home Study Course. Debbie has attended the National Institute of Genealogical Research, numerous Ohio Genealogical Society and national genealogical conferences, and local workshops.
Soon after starting research on her family history, she became active in the Allen County, Ohio Genealogical Society, including serving 4 years as president. She continues to be active in this society, presenting serving as vice-president, and belongs to numerous other genealogical organizations and lineage societies.
As a genealogical society research volunteer at the Delphos Public Library and Allen County, Ohio Historical Society, requests for research beyond the time limitations of the volunteers were offered to her and these requests became her first clients. She researches primarily in West Central Ohio and the Miami Valley, but has also done research in other Ohio counties and online in seventeen other states.
She has been presenting programs and workshops since 2004, speaking at genealogical and historical societies, libraries, and other organizations, including the 2012 Ohio Genealogical Society Conference. Currently, she writes a blog on her website and is writing a book on her father’s family history.
Debbie and her husband live in Delphos, Ohio with a sweet, old dog and a rotten cat. She is the step-mother of two daughters and has five grandchildren. She graduated from Ohio State University and is a former schoolteacher. After 30 years, she retired from Ford Motor Company and is able to devote more time to her genealogical endeavors.
Deborah Carder Mayes is the author of IDG’s monthly column Beyond the Obituaries.
Go In-Depth with Deborah Carder Mayes:
What is one tip you would give a newbie genealogist?
Get photo copies of everything, scan them into your computer organizing them into folders by surname, location, or record type. Cite the source for each document right away. Write up your findings, ancestors’ biographical sketches or stories as you research. Stay organized. It may not seem important when you’re first starting and don’t have many ancestors and family members on your charts or in your database but down the road, when you’ve acquired a lot of documents, files, and many family members in your database, you’ll see how important staying on top of it all really is. Also, don’t put off finding and talking to living descendants. Tomorrow may be too late.
What is your favorite blog post from your personal website?
It’s hard to pin down just one favorite but four of my favorites, each from a different category, would be:
Double Trouble – This post made me aware of how we get favorite ancestors who we’ve worked on so much that we feel like we knew them and other ancestors who we’ve practically ignore and learned very little about.
A Wedding Mystery – This one’s about my grandparents and makes me feel like they’re smiling down at me from Heaven.
My Biggest Brick Wall-Can You Break It? – This is the thorn in my side. This is the ancestor I set out to find that started my journey and the one ancestor I’ve never found. I posted my brick wall in the hope that someone with the answer will read it and smash the wall.
Death and the Civil War-PBS special – I like this one, not just because it discusses a good show, but because it changed my perspective on what it must have really been like for the wives and children who lost their husbands and fathers during the war. It changed my thinking about how I want to portray this when I write about it in my family history.
What are your feelings about adding non-blood related lines into your research?
I do it all of the time. If you don’t, at some point, you’ll hit the wall and stay stuck there. The only way to find those brick wall ancestors is go under, around, or over the wall to get passed it. You have to research using what Elizabeth Shown Mills calls the FAN approach and trace the families of every person you found who was a part of your ancestors’ lives-friends, associates, and neighbors.
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© 2013 Deborah A. Carder Mayes All rights reserved.Debbie is the author of IDG’s monthly column, Beyond the Obituaries. She is also the co-editor of Allen County Ancestry, the newsletter of the Allen County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society and writes a blog, Rambling Along the Ancestral Trail, (http://cardermayes.weebly.com/blog.html). You can find The In-Depth Genealogist online at www.theindepthgenealogist.com.