[APG Public List] Who do you think you are? My days One and Two.

JFonkert at aol.com JFonkert at aol.com
Sat Mar 5 17:07:54 MST 2011

Roland doesn't exaggerate... it was a great time at WDYTYA.  And, the  
pizza was really quite good!  Thanks, Roland.
In a message dated 3/5/2011 5:53:21 P.M. Central Standard Time,  
Rolgeiger at aol.com writes:

Yesterday but a week ago I  had the happy chance to learn to know several 
members of APG.   
Well, here in  Germany we know nearly nothing  about 
Who-do-you-think-you-are? There was something similar last year in  German TV but I didn’t pay 
attention to it. Someone told me about it  but … well, you know  … 
Last November APG told  about the event in late February 2011, so I decided 
to attend. Twas a good  chance to learn to know some fellow members in 
person. And it’s a shorter way  to England than to  America anyway. So I 
organized the  trip, got three Q-jump-tickets to have faster access to the show, 
bought a  ticket to and fro through Ryanair, booked a hotel in London – 
Kensington  within 15 minutes walk distance to Olympia where the show took place. 
Thursday  night I rode to Frankfurt-Hahn  Airport in the Hunsrueck 
Mountains, stayed in a nearby hotel and  took the 6.20-a.m.-flight to 
London-Standsted. That was funny. The wind blew  the same direction as we flew, so we took 
off at 6.20 and landed 6.10 – always  local time. Thus we landed ten minutes 
before we started. I really liked the  idea. At eight o’clock I had reached 
downtown London and took a cab to my hotel – wow, 13 Pound  Sterling for a  
taxi ride but I was bone-tired and anxious to get there. Three days later I 
 paid two pounds for the same route but using the subway  :-) 
I parked my suitcase in  the hotel, got all I needed and went to the event 
hall. I didn’t know what I  had to expect. I presented my ticket and was 
among the first visitors that  Friday morning. Q-Jump-ticket includes three 
tickets for workshops and my  first was … well, actually I can’t remember. I 
know I attended at least three  lectures that day – one was at 1 p.m. – Mark 
Herber talked about War Memorials  Online at Stand 825 “The Genealogist”. 
He produced various memorials from all  over Britain, explained how they got 
 there and what information could be gathered from it. Some were real 
monuments  on public places but others were found on more or less remote sites 
like  schools or even plants. When I sat down, there were two ladies sitting 
right  near me and I asked one of them in case I felt asleep not to disturb 
me.  Should I snore, please, push me with your ellbow. She recognized my 
alien  accent and asked where I came from. I guess I was the only German to 
attend  the show. I produced a booklet I had put together about the relation 
between  my hometown St. Wendel and England - The  
Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandmother of The Prince of Wales - Relations between  my hometown St. Wendel, 
Germany, and England - and gave here a copy (they had  been planned for 
selling but no occasion arised to really sell it so I donated  about 15 of them 
and took the rest back home). Hope she liked it. I didn’t  fell asleep 
during Mark Herber’s lecture but I started feeling the lack of  sleep from last 
When I first entered the  hall, I made my way to Stand 519- the APG stand 
where I introduced myself to  Paul Blake, Laura Prescott and Kathleen 
Hinckley. Then I strolled through the  hall realizing that these would become three 
very long days (plus an  additional one for London itself) before I could 
go home. And I  guessed they would get extremely boring. There was nearly 
nothing of real  interest for me. All stands dealed with information about 
England – and there was no real genealogical  connection between my research in 
German to that in England.  That’s what I guessed after the first walk 
through the hall. I forget that  quickly after I had talked to several people at 
several stands. Like Ian Hook  at Stand 615 “Leger Holidays” (they provided 
military memorial trips to  France and  Belgium). I gave him a booklet  
whose second half is about a crash of a British bomber in my hometown in  
September 1941. Very exciting talk – he is curator of the Essex Regiment Museum, 
and he told me that some units  of the Essex Regt were controllers during 
the 1935-Plebiscite in the Saar  Region. Very interesting.  
I visited APG stand then  and now and met other people like Craig Scott 
from North Carolina, Carol  Bannister from Nottinghamshire and Rob van Drie 
from the Netherlands – uuh, it  was such a pleasure to meet someone who spoke 
German. My English is not too  bad but in school and later I learned 
something like Oxford English and during  my research I have been in contact to lots 
of English speaking people but most  of them American. You know Oscar Wilde’
s Canterville Ghost where an American  family buys a British castle. When 
the family enters the ghost watches them.  And he tells about the mother she 
was good looking and spoke but absolutely no  English. Well, I got very much 
acquainted to American English and much later I  learned that the Brits’ 
English is much different in terms and pronounciation  and has nearly nothing 
to do with Oxford English as well. I really had hard  times during those 
three days in London to get acquainted with the language –  not to talk about 
the traffic system and the currency.   
In the afternoon I  urgently needed a coffee and bought a cappucino. Once 
that pretty somehow  red-haired girl behind the desk understood my order, I 
ordered some piece of  cake and paid 5.50 Pounds Sterling which is about 6.40 
Euros = 8.50 US Dollars  – for a piece of cake and a bigger cup of coffee. 
Incredible. The coffee was  great but nevertheless …  
I sat on the floor with a  wall in my back and several other people near me 
– a men to my left and a  middle-aged British lady to my right. We sipped 
coffee and listened to someone  lecturing about DNA stuff.  
I attended two more shows  that day – one was “Hiring a professional 
genealogist at home and abroad” with  Laura Prescott who reminded me of our code 
of ethics. Well, I had read and  signed it before I entered APG but had I 
really thought about it? Ofcourse I  follow that code – had I been a member or 
not. Like the ten comandments – they  are basic rules for a functioning 
society. That lecture was great and I really  reflected about the code. As I 
did the next days when talking to visitors of  the APG stand when “I was on 
The last lecture for the  day was “Ideas for research before 1600” with 
Helen Good. Helen is a  tremendous sight – a historian with very much passion 
for her subjects. When I  first saw her waiting for the visitors to come 
along I had thought “oh, my  goodness” but once she started to talk and 
showing examples I was faszinated.  She talked about sources from 16th Century – 
id est 1500 plus. I was surprised  to be able to read most of the documents 
she presented – the numbers were the  same we in Germany had in that time.   
On Sunday I talked to her  about it and produced a sample of another script 
in our catholic church in St.  Wendel and she got fascinated about some 
letters she had never seen before.  During her talk she presented a book called 
“Reading Tudor and Stuart  Handwriting” by L. Munby, S. Hobbs and A.  
Crosby, published 2002 by the “British Association for Local History”  
(www.balh.co.uk). It’s great and a very useful help for those who deal with  that 
period of time in presenting letters and numbers in original with  
explanations attached. 
I didn’t know what to do  that night so I went back to the hotel, bought 
some food and coke in a nearby  supermarked and went up to my room. I had no 
watch with me and my portable  showed our time in Germany. But there was a 
telephone  in the room and it showed the time. So I went to bed at ten and at 
once fell  asleep.  
I woke up next morning at  8 a.m. (telephone time), got up and went down 
for breakfast half an hour later  – to find the breakfast room closed. Hm, 
they were to open at half past 8, now  it was past nine. It was then when I 
realised that my telefone time was wrong  – the difference was 1 hour and 40 
minutes. I hasn’t been 8 when I woke up but  6.20. And it had not been ten 
when I went to sleep the night before but 8.20  p.m. Well, now I knew it.  
I went back to Olympia hall and saw the  long line of visitors alongside 
the hall and around the corner. I produced my  Q-Jump-ticket for Saturday and 
quickly got in. I said “good morning” at the  APG stand and went upstairs 
to attend Audrey Collins’ “Using the National  Archives, onsite and online”. 
Audrey had had some problems with London’s traffic and the  fought a hard 
battle with the computer and the beamer. The beamer shut off  several times 
but Audrey was an experienced lecturer with cool temper. When  one “slide” 
was to cut off once more, she told the audience to memorize this  slide 
before it would cut off. And when it was gone she said: “Hope you did as  I told 
you and memorize it!” we – the audience and I – loved her coolness.  
Finally the problem was solved and she showed us fascinating possibilities on  the 
website of National Archives of Great  Britain (or just England?).   
I was scheduled for the  stand at 11 but got lost in a talk to some 
visitors upstairs and came late.  First I stood in the back and listened to Marie 
Foden and how she made it  before I dared to talk to a visitor. He asked me 
something and I really didn’t  understand anything. I asked him to repeat and 
he used akronyms I never even  heard off. I asked someone from the APG 
stand crew for help which was quickly  provided. That accent really killed me.  
Two hours later I walked  around, talked to the Military Stand members 
(Royal Air Force) and the War  Graves Commission folks and forget to visit 
Howard Brenbrook’s “What’s in a  name?” At about 4 p.m. I quit and made it back 
to the hotel to prepare for the  evening. At about six I was back and met 
Paul Blake at the entrance to the  Pizza Restaurant right near Olympia Hall. 
APG had invited its members for a  reception at the Restaurant with wine and 
drinks. Laura made the reception and  asked everyone to introduce himself 
with name and country. The Brits had the  majority with several people from 
Ireland. After I’d spoken, I got a  little mad about myself. While everyone 
told his country in English, I should  have mentioned it “Deutschland” 
instead of Germany. A  little bit of Patriotism – well, I didn’t. Laura’s 
reception was great and she  thanked all those who had made this meeting possible, 
among them Eileen M O  Duill from Ireland who had  organized the Stand in 
We sat down and ordered  our pizzas and the waiters produced some confusion 
when they brought the  pizzas along and called them other names than on the 
menu. I had ordered a  Caesar salad and it was very good. The wine bottles 
emptied and new were  opened and we talked together and it was really a fine 
chance to talk to  people whom you knew from the lists but never talked 
personally. Now some of  us had a face behind the email adress. Later – after 
most of us had left – I  talked to Maggie Loughran and Geoff Swinfield about 
several things I did not  understand. They knew the event very well. When 
the restaurant closed at 11  p.m. I accompanied Audrey Collins and another 
lady who stayed at the Hilton  and went back to the hotel.  
Roland Geiger 


Roland Geiger
Historical and  Genalogical Research
Alsfassener Strasse 17
66606 St.  Wendel
phone ++49-6851-3166
email rolgeiger at aol.com
_www.hfrg.de_ (http://www.hfrg.de/) 

=> APG - Association of  Professional Genealogists
=> ASF - Arbeitsgemeinschaft für  Saarlaendische Familienforschung

Researchs in 
=>  genealogy
=> local history
=> transcriptions (f.e. old German into  modern)
=> guided tours through St. Wendel (day and night) and St.  Wendel County, 
Saarland,  Germany

Jay Fonkert,  CG
Saint  Paul, MN

Director, Association of Professional  Genealogists
(professional profile at _www.apgen.org)_ (http://www.apgen.org)/) 
Member, Genealogical  Speakers Guild
(professional profile at _http://www.genealogicalspeakersguild.org/)_ 

Member, International Society of Family History Writers and  Editors 

CG (Certified Genealogist) is a service mark of  the Board for 
Certification of Genealogists, used under license by  Board-certified associates after 
periodic competency evaluations.
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