AUGUSTA — Lorna Fanjoy’s deep dive into her ancestry has turned up some interesting tidbits over the years, including a letter written by a family member during the American Civil War referring to the “damn rebels” of the Confederacy.

It’s a hobby that the Auburn retiree said takes up four of seven days of the week for much of the year, and she’s traced lines of her family back to Dover, before that town merged with Foxcroft in 1922; and southern Maine, including Biddeford and Gray.

“It’s so much fun to do,” Fanjoy said.

Her trek took her on Saturday to the first Maine Genealogical Fair, held by the Maine Genealogical Society and the Maine State Library in the Maine State Cultural Building on the State House campus. Emily Schroeder, a state reference librarian who coordinated it, said the event was aimed at “getting information out from different organizations,” because the more connections genealogists make, “the better off you are.”

A panel of experts, including those specializing in Franco-American research, federal Census records and DNA research, were available to answer questions for genealogists who needed advice on where to start or how to get past stumbling blocks keeping them from unlocking pieces of their heritage.

Fanjoy has been tracking her ancestry since the 1980s, but Facebook recently led her to a family member she has never met: A 90-year-old first cousin once removed — her grandfather’s twin sister’s daughter — in Virginia, who is now planning to come to Maine for a family reunion later this month.

So she sought out Craig Siulinski, a professional genealologist from Brunswick who specializes in creating oral histories and blogging about research, to discuss what questions to ask her relative at the family reunion. He suggested asking her about notable life events, whether she had stashes of family pictures and what values she has tried to pass down to her family’s next generations.

“To me, it’s not just about going into a library to find a record,” Siulinski said. “It’s about placing that record in a context.”

Fanjoy said the hunt for her ancestors’ stories hasn’t bored her, because “you never get all the information.” She hopes her children will take it on after she can’t — not that she’ll give up on trying to finish.

“Oh, I’m going to try,” she laughed.

Michael Shepherd — 370-7652

[email protected]

Twitter: @mikeshepherdme


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