Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Genealogy article in Chula Vista Star-News

The article in the Chula Vista (CA) Star-News weekly paper dated 20 October 2006, on pages 2 and 12, reads:

by Marco Ochoa, Star-News News Assistant

Since 1987 the Chula Vista Genealogical Society has helped curious folks discover not only their ancestors but the history of their families. One of the society's goals is to promote interest in the fields of history and genealogy.

The organization's first vice-president, Randy Seaver, developed his interest for his genealogy when he read "Roots" by Alex Haley in 1981. The following year, Seaver and his family visited several of his aunts and uncles in New England; his relatives also happened to share an interest in their family's history. They had heard stories that they were descendants of Peregrine White, a baby born on the Mayflower, and that their ancestors had owned a castle in England.

Seaver was intrigued by this. However, it was not until 1988 that Seaver began conducting research in libraries. The story about the castle later proved to be untrue but the research confirmed that they were descendants of White. Seaver is the 12th generation descendant from Robert Seaver who immigrated to Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1634. Seaver even traced his own ancestry back to several English noblemen.

"Through my research, I found that I am descended from Charlemagne, William the Conqueror, King Alfred the Great, and many English noblemen. But then, so are most of the people of English and European ancestry." He also noted that he is the 10th cousin of pitcher Tom Seaver, member of the baseball Hall of Fame. He has also learned that he is a distant cousin of various presidents, authors and entertainers.

Seaver conducts most of his research at local libraries and the Latter Day Saint's Family History Center. He said, however, that the most effective means of researching your family is simply speaking to your relatives and collecting information from home sources. Seaver says that, though the Internet contains a lot of information, not much of it is significant.

"The Internet is very useful, but you still have to do research in libraries, courthouses, cemeteries, and historical socities in the places that your ancestors lived," he said.

Though it can be hard work, Seaver enjoys researching his family's history because he says it is like a treasure hunt.

"I wouldn't do this if it wasn't fun...you never know what you are going to find. The harder you look, the more you find," he said.

Seaver graduated from San Diego State University with a degree in Aerospace Engineering and worked as part of an Aerodynamics and Thermodynamics group for 35 years.

In the early 90s Seaver met several members of the society at the library and was invited to their meetings.

He got to know some of the groups leaders and eventually joined the organization. Seaver began working at the society as the treasurer in 2003 and was elected First Vice-President of Programs in 2005 where he arranges for speakers to talk at the CVGS's meeting. The Chula Vista Genealogical Society meets on the last Monday of every month in the Civic Center Library Auditorium.

The Star-News does not have a web site, so I transcribed it. As I mentioned earlier, I provided a fair amount of material in question and answer format via email, and the reporter used some of it, framing the story around the content. I figured he would highlight the Mayflower and the European royalty connections.

We in CVGS have learned a lot in dealing with the press through our Family History workshop experience, and have a better understanding now of how to effectively publicize our events.

What have you or your society learned about press relations?

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