I am Laura (Street) Chaplin of Sugar Grove, IL (a rural, "far western" Chicago-land suburb). I was raised in southeastern Iowa and have lived all around the Midwest: Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, and Ohio - currently in Sugar Grove, IL.
My husband and I became interested in family history in college (around 1978) when something a professor said about immigrant ancestors made us wonder who ours might be. And then came the mini-series "Roots." Like thousands of others we were hooked on genealogy! Thus began years of research as avid hobbyists, attending countless workshops, traveling all over the country on research trips, taking some community college courses, and lots more. We like to say our three daughters were raised tramping through graveyards!
I was lucky enough to have a set of Quaker grandparents (my Street family line) who were genealogists long before it became a popular pastime. They left copious notes, mostly on their numerous Quaker lines. That was a huge start to my family tree, at least on my father's side. Then, while still a young mother I compiled a book on my mother's Gerst family beginning with her great-grandparents, German immigrants, and tracing all of their descendants - and they were prolific through several generations! I'm still trying to keep up-to-date on that branch!
Through the years we had so much fun and found so many interesting stories that sharing our experiences and expertise with friends and family became second nature. I became known as the family historian, in several family branches.
In my everyday life I am a wife, mother, mother-in-law, and grandmother of five. For a number of years I was employed by midwestern Catholic parishes, variously as parish musician, choir director, liturgist, and pastoral associate. I hold a BA from the University of Northern Iowa and an MPS (Masters of Pastoral Studies) from Loyola University (New Orleans).
A long-time dream came true with the launch of Willowtree Research: Family History and Genealogy Services in 2013. In 2014 I completed the Boston University “Certificate in Genealogical Research” program and am now a proud BU Gen certificate-holder (OL 14)! The next dream is to become a Certified Genealogist (CG).
In the past few years I've enjoyed becoming a member of the Genealogy Speakers Guild and offering presentations on genealogy topics - many of them at the Town & Country Public Library in Elburn. It's so rewarding helping others enjoy the excitement and tremendous fulfillment of learning about their own family heritage.
The idea of the 'willow tree' expresses my feeling of sitting under a willow - surrounded on all sides - by a sense of family. Let me help you be surrounded by yours!