When Debbie Crumpler joined the Kissing Tree Pioneers Facebook group, one of the first things she asked about was whether the neighborhood had a genealogy club. Her post garnered a flood of chatter — no, there wasn’t one, but lots of people were interested! Debbie and another future resident, Beverly Pritchett, decided to explore making a group.
Becoming the KT Genies
Neither of them are full-time residents yet — Debbie and her husband Wyatt are building in Bonnell, and Beverly is building in Fannin — but that didn’t slow them down. They formed a separate Facebook group and chatted with Lifestyle Director Kevin Wilson. They also set about thinking of a creative name for their club. “All the groups at KT have fun, kitschy names,” Debbie said. “Bev and I talked about calling it a genealogical society, but we were worried that it would sound intimidating. We wanted something open and approachable. We came up with KT Genies, which really fits, because sometimes it takes a genie to figure out who’s in your family tree!”
Welcoming Genies of All Levels
Both Debbie and Bev had a lot of genealogy experience — Debbie was involved with a group in her town of Coppell, and Bev had been a member of the Austin Genealogical Society. When the KT Genies had their kick-off meeting at Kissing Tree, they had more than 50 people attend. “Our purpose for KT Genies is try to get people to help each other,” Beverly says. A survey revealed that most folks were relatively new to genealogy and wanted help getting started. “That changed our thinking about how to run the group,” Debbie says. “Often, genealogy groups have fancy experts come to speak on different topics, but we want this to be a fun social and learning group for enthusiasts. We realized it was going to be more of a grass-roots effort teaching people how to capture the information they find and use all the technology resources that are out there today. So much of it is captured digitally and online. For both Bev and I, it’s our passion, and we’re happy to help people get started.”
Equal Parts Social & Research
The KT Genies meet on the second Tuesday of every month in the Independence Hall, and the group is committed to meeting people where they are in their genealogy search. “At our first meeting, we had 4 tables, each with a moderator, so we could kind of group people by their interests and needs,” Debbie says. “For example, if someone has a question about finding something in a census, and someone else has a question about military records, those questions are all apples, oranges, and grapes. We try to have each table focus on 2 topics each month, and we encourage people to come and be social.”
Know Your Geography!
Just talking to Debbie and Beverly is enough to ignite anyone’s passion about genealogy. Beverly loves discovering the history and stories behind the names on her tree. She recently discovered that her great-great-grandfather had fought and was injured in the Civil War before later going to work for the city of Buffalo, New York, where he was required to work 10-hour days in spite of a federal law that said otherwise. Beverly’s relative sued the city and won (dying before the case was over), helping to improve labor rights.
Debbie was actually on a visit at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City when we spoke and had just discovered a key document that revealed a missing last name. “The first thing I tell newbies is to hone in on the geography of your ancestors,” Debbie said. “This entire library is organized by state, then county, then city. In the past, people tended to congregate with their families and marry the next door neighbor!”
Debbie has even gone online to research the land grants of the land where KT now sits and printed the historical maps from the 1880s. “Hays County has all the records online,” Debbie says. Perhaps someday genealogists of the future will be looking up our San Marcos Records.
If you want to join the KT Genies, check out the HOA events calendar for the latest meeting times and locations.