Traverse City Record-Eagle

August 9, 2008

Northern People: Genealogist digs up roots

Brenda Wolfgram-Moore sought out for advice on genealogical projects

BY LISA PERKINS

TRAVERSE CITY -- When Brenda Wolfgram-Moore talks about genealogy her passion for the subject shows in the way her face lights up.

Wolfgram-Moore, a lifelong resident of the Traverse City region, who traces her local family tree to the mid 1850s, is not hesitant to help others find their roots.

The recently named lifetime honorary member of the Grand Traverse Area Genealogical Society had her interest in family history sparked nearly 30 years ago when her brother, Ben Wolfgram set her on a mission.

"He wanted to know how much land the family had owned over the years," said Wolfgram-Moore who took on the challenge that changed her life.

"I went to the land records office and the register of deeds and started on page one and just kept going," Wolfgram-Moore said, noting how easy it is to get hooked.

"You can always go back and do more. It is time-consuming, but very rewarding," she said.

With her broad knowledge on the subject of everything genealogy, it wasn't long before people started seeking her out for advice on doing their own research.

"As her name became connected with genealogy, people would contact her and ask questions, sometimes just give her stuff they had collected," said Mary Briggs, president of the Grand Traverse Area Genealogical Society.

Included in the items Wolfgram-Moore collected, both through gifts and purchases, were dozens of books that she has since donated to the Traverse Area District Library's research department.

"She gave more than 80 books that she could have just as easily sold or kept," said Briggs, noting that Wolfgram-Moore is as modest about her knowledge as she is generous with it.

Wolfgram-Moore admits that people write to her almost every day asking for information on their family.

"I get as excited working on other people's family as my own, because there is more new information to find," she said.

"I love to see their face when they see something that I found."

In addition to her interest in family genealogy, Wolfgram-Moore has begun compiling a database of Civil War soldiers from the four county area. With more than 2,600 names on file, she says she spends at least some time, everyday working on one project or another.

"I'm also hoping to begin a Korean War database as a tribute to the area vets," she noted.

In an effort to share her projects with the community, she has set up a Web site www.gtregion.blogspot.com that includes images of post cards, newspaper clippings and a wide variety of photos.

"I have boxes and boxes of items, most of which I can tell you what I have, some I just have no idea," said Wolfgram-Moore.