The Latest…

The first quarter of 2020 was quite eventful. My military repatriation work continues to be the most rewarding work I’ve ever done. Effective March 1st, I accepted the position of Interim Director of Library & Archives at the Hagen History Center, although that is somewhat on hold while the HHC is shutdown. I have pushed off all new client research projects until late summer at the earliest, and am contacting current clients to reschedule projects.

Although the history center is closed, our blog is up and running! Check it out here

Stay home and be safe. We will get through this together!

Never a dull moment for Lantern Genealogy!

Things are as busy as ever in my little corner of Northwest Pennsylvania, but first things first, as you may have noticed from the change in my website’s header, I’ve reverted back to my maiden name Varrieur which, if you don’t speak French, rhymes with carrier!

In Other News…I have shifted slightly from private client work to military repatriations and I am absolutely enamoured with the work! Back in March 2018, I was invited to join the team at Stone House Historical Research, owned by Catherine Becker Wiest Desmarais, CG®. Stone House Research is contracted by the United States Army to help locate family members of soldiers missing from past wars. The Department of Defense maintains an active effort to identify remains of U.S. missing servicemen still not fully accounted. They wish to re-establish contact with these soldiers’ families, and to seek family DNA donors. It is an honor to be a part of this heartwarming project and I can’t thank Catherine enough for asking me to participate.

As if that weren’t enough excitement, in July 2018, I became an independent contractor with the Erie County Historical Society. Executive directory George Deutsch has taken on the heady goal of digitizing the ECHS Library & Archives and has asked me to spearhead the creation of a digital index which will afford researchers easier access to the people and content featured in the society’s impressive archival collections which, when lined up box-by-box, stretch to two linear miles! As a long-time volunteer archival processor, I’m well acquainted with the gems found in our archives and am thrilled to be working so closely with the material for the next couple years or so!

Starting a new archive project is like opening a handwritten letter

Just like a letter is a window into its writer’s soul, the papers, photos, and ephemera a family treasures enough to pass from generation to generation, reveal infinitely more of the character, heart, and values of that family than the public records they left behind.

So, meet the Karch Family: my newest archival processing project at the Erie County Historical Society! I haven’t had a chance to really get to know them yet, but these two beauties, sisters I believe, immediately captured my heart and piqued my curiosity.I’m pretty sure I know their names, but I’d like to learn a little more about them before sharing their stories with you.

p.s. The history center is still in the process of moving collections to its new home at the Watson-Curtze mansion and has limited hours, so it’s best to call ahead if you need to do research in the Library & Archives. This particular collection will not be available to the public until it has been processed, catalogued, and preserved in archival quality storage.

Genealogy & the Computer Users of Erie

One of our own was the featured speaker at tonight’s Erie Society for Genealogical Research’s monthly meeting.

Dave Howell spoke about the Computer Users of Erie (CUE) which has a genealogy special interest group that meets at 7:00pm on the first Tuesday of every month. The genealogy group was organized twenty years ago, by four or five CUE members who shared an interest in learning how to research their family history. They were novices, and their mission was to learn how to do online genealogy, to develop a legacy they could pass on to their children and grandchildren, and to have fun doing it.

One of their first tasks was deciding on a software program which would produce family charts and narrative histories. They chose Legacy Genealogy software, and still use it today. They also decided to invest in one search engine. They chose Ancestry and were allowed to have a group membership which allows three online sessions at one time. Some members have their own Ancestry subscription, but for those who don’t, they have the option of buying into the group subscription. The cost varies year to year, depending on how many memberships sign opt in, but it’s typically $15 to $20 each.

The group meets at members’ homes. They tackle research problems members are having, and troubleshoot members’ software problems, working collectively to find solutions. There are lots of happy discoveries and laughter, and over the years the group has developed quite a camaraderie. They have also offered classes, geared at helping others get started on their own genealogy research.

Anyone interested in joining is invited to come to one or two meetings, and if they decide to join, a membership to the CUE is $24/year. You can find more information at the group’s website:

NGS Annual Conference is Around the Corner!

In a few days I’ll be heading to Cincinnati for the NGS National Conference. I downloaded the syllabus a couple of days ago, and I’ve been busy reading through its 600+ pages, trying to lay out a plan for the four days I’ll be there. With ten meetings offered each hour, the choices are a bit overwhelming. Here’s my tentative schedule:


  • Begin with the Power Tools: Transcriptions, Abstracts, and Analysis – the Rev. David McDonald (this is part of the BCG skill-building track)
  • APG Lunch – Curt B. Witcher will be giving a talk on technology’s impact on the 21st Century genealogist
  • Genealogical Research & Writing: Are You a Saint, Sinner, or Bumfuzzled Soul? – Elizabeth Shown Mills (need I say more?!)
  • Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury: The Evidence Presented Clearly Shows… – Barbara Vines Little on creating proof summaries


  • BCG Certification Seminar – Laura Murphy DeGrazia, Alison Hare, and Thomas W. Jones on the certification process
  • Indexes! Indexes! Indexes! How to Find People Who Don’t Seem to Be There! – more ESM!
  • ISBGFH Lunch – J.H. Fonkert on British Genealogy Research (Jay’s in my NGSQ study group and I’m looking forward to his talk!!!
  • Red Herrings and a Stroke of the Dead Palsy: Analyzing and Correlating Evidence – Stefani Evans on complications from common names, impaired memory, and ongoing migration
  • War of 1812: Tracing the British Soldier – Paul Milner – could this explain why some of my male British ancestors went missing???


  • Okay, I “Got the Neighbors’: Now What Do I Do with Them? – ESM (I know this will be a great session)
  • Lineage Society Papers: Guidelines for a Successful Application – C. Ann Staley (A continuing dream of mine, but I do get requests for this, so even if it personally never works out for me…..)
  • Documentation: The What, Why, and Where – Dr Tom Jones on citations (I loved him in the Boston University program and I’ve been fortunate enough to hear him speak before, I don’t think anyone should miss an opportunity to sit in on one of his talks!!)
  • Advanced Word: Automatic Numbering for Genealogists – Alvy Ray Smith. Mastering this would be a big time saver!
  • Common Sense for Genealogists – Kay Havilland Freilich, something I can always use more of 🙂

This schedule is tentative. There are several other lectures I’d like to see, including:

– Federal Records Relating to Rivers and Canals

-Locating and Understanding the Law

-Advanced Probate Research

-Lost in Pennsylvania? Try the Published Pennsylvania Archives

-Making the DNA Connection

But…’s just not possible to fit everything in


Aside from lectures, I’ve also got plans to meet some fellow BU alums for dinner, attend a dinner for geneabloggers, stop by the Nat’l Institute for Genealogical Studies booth to say hi to Louise and Sue, and try to get together with some of my ProGen13 and NGSQ study group co-horts. Oh, and the NGSQ 100th anniversary reception should be fun as well!

It’s going to be a great trip!!