About Us

I Believe

Everyone has the right to information about their family members and who they are.  This includes medical history, ethnic background, etc. Secrecy implies shame. An adoption in the family is nothing to be ashamed of.  I believe in openness in adoption. Adoptees have the right to have answers to their questions, know the first chapter of their story and understand why they were placed for adoption. Birth mothers and fathers have the right to know what became of the child they gave up. They have questions they would like answered too. - Juli Claussen

Locals discover 1865 log cabin—inside their house

Original Article:http://thesouthern.com/news/local/locals-discover-log-cabin-inside-their-house/article_71bde99a-04bc-11df-a975-001cc4c002e0.html
January 19, 2010 1:00 am  • 
When a couple of local business owners began tearing down an old house to make way for new construction, they had no idea of the history they would uncover. Steve Shaffner and Brian Kennedy, co-owners of Tomcat Hill Cabins in rural Carbondale, recently started stripping the exterior off an old home on their property along Illinois 127 and were amazed by what they found underneath: the preserved remains of a 19th-century log cabin. "It's pretty exciting," Shaffner said. "You can still see the round logs with the bark on them." Having lived in the home for years, Kennedy knew the house was originally a log-cabin-type construction before it was built over in the 1940s, but he was not aware of the age and completeness of the original structure. "We decided to tear it apart, and it looks just like an old cabin underneath," Kennedy said, "There's not many around like it in Jackson County." As the partners' interest in the property's history grew, they decided to hire some local historians to look into the cabin's past. They learned the cabin was originally built around 1865 by a man named Franklin Robinson, a Civil War soldier, and was once part of a small settlement named Urbane, named for Robinson's father, Urbane Robinson. Urbane once included two general stores, a post office and a doctor's office but was eventually merged into the city of Pomona. The cabin, preserved inside its new exterior since the 1940s, is the only part of Urbane still standing. Juli Claussen, a professional genealogist and owner of Search & Genealogy Services in Murphysboro, was one of the historians who researched the cabin's origin. "It's just so interesting to see what a cabin looked like in those days," Claussen said. "With the fact that it's on top of the hill and the history of the property, I am sure that that is the Robinsons' cabin, built probably right after he returned from the Civil War." Claussen discovered that the Robinsons, responsible for much of the settlement in the Tomcat Hill area, even had connections with the family of noted pioneer Daniel Boone, as Franklin Robinson was married to the daughter of Rachel Boone, a relative of the famous settler. Considering their newfound historic wealth, Shaffner and Kennedy hope to restore the cabin to what it would it have looked like when it was first built and have found that government grant money is available for such restorations. They also plan to go over the area with a metal detector, as they have already found an 1864 penny, a musket ball and several Native American items on the hill. "Until we tore everything off, we didn't know what we had," Shaffner said. "It's just nice to know the history of it."

History Detective: Genealogist looks to the past to find missing loved ones now

 Original Article:
http://thesouthern.com/news/article_98da64cb-6480-58c7-b19e-2d169184bb33.html
While barely a teenager, Juli Claussen began investigating the colorful tales of her frontier forebears. The family history whispered of adventurers who pushed West, including an ancestor who cashed in on the gold rush, another who allegedly rode for the Pony Express, another who tangled with Native Americans, and another who refused to work all together. "He only wanted to play the fiddle," Claussen said with a laugh. Claussen was most fascinated by her great-great-great-grandmother, Sarah, a Southern Illinoisan who shared the same fair features as Claussen. After the death of her husband during a cholera epidemic that swept through the region in 1849, Sarah raised six children and managed the family farm on her own, earning the respect of all who knew her. "She was obviously very much loved by the family," Claussen said. "They spoke of her with such warmth." Tracing the life of the powerful pioneer woman became a journey of self-discovery for the modern woman. "I felt a connection with her," Claussen said. "Learning about people like Sarah impressed me that as I went through the hard times I would be able to persevere. It gave me a feeling that I had some strength I inherited." That strength helped Claussen deal with the harsh realities she encountered as a social worker in Carbondale, her first career. For many years, she kept genealogy as a hobby, drawing up family histories for interested parties through Web sites and word of mouth. Claussen quickly discovered the skills she used to flesh out the past could help solve the mysteries of the present. Genealogical research is sometimes the only way to track down missing persons, particularly when the method of prying into the present fails. That was the case for an oil drilling company who contacted Claussen in hopes of finding a missing heir, Harriet Freeman, to purchase land unknowingly owned by her. "The private detective could find no trace of her since 1985," said Claussen, now a professional genealogist and owner of Search and Genealogy Services in Murphysboro. Claussen found Freeman mainly through drawing up her family tree, identifying other living relatives and contacting them. While Claussen's work has commercial applications, she is often called on to find missing loved ones such as those who have been adopted. "Because Illinois is a closed-adoption state, a lot of people think there is no way to find them, but really there are a variety of ways that are perfectly legal to discover information," Claussen said. One case had her search for a woman adopted during the depression, for which some public records are scant. "We didn't even know what her first name was," said Ann Rhinesmith, who helped her 77-year-old father, Jerrold McElfresh, find his long-lost adopted sister. "He fell and broke his hip a few years ago, and we decided to try to find her. He just wanted to meet her." The family, now living in North Carolina, heard the adoption took place in Illinois, so Rhinesmith contacted Claussen. After months of researching family history and public records, and cold-calling, Claussen found McElfresh's sister, 83-year-old Margaret, who was overjoyed to connect with her baby brother. McElfresh flew to Morro Bay, Calif., where his sister now lives, to meet her. "It was exciting," Rhinesmith said. "They prepared a little booklet of pictures for him of when she was growing up. There was a picture of their mother and a picture of him when he was only 2 or 3 days old." Claussen said such successes motivate her to keep trying when cases seem to dead-end. "It takes a lot of persistence," Claussen said. "You have to be pretty detail-oriented. You really have to search for a lot of clues and be very patient, and you go on a lot of gut instincts."

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I start?  Provide me with all the information you have and I will give you a consultation at no charge. I may have suggestions for gathering further information before initiating a search. How much will it cost?  Most of the search cases require many hours of research time and involve expenses for documents and other resources. I keep this in mind when I set my fees. If I accept your case on a No Find-No fee basis, there is no financial risk to you if not found. Can you promise to find the person I’m seeking? No one can promise you they will find the person you are looking for, but I promise to do my very best for you and to leave no stone unturned. Why go with a search professional over a confidential intermediary (CI)? Some CI programs are provided at no charge, depending on the state. If a free program is available, this is an option you should consider. However, most charge a fee of $300-$600, regardless whether the person is found, and if found and they do not respond to the CI, then the CI is prohibited by law from giving you any information at all. When you hire a search professional, if the individual you seek doesn’t respond or doesn’t want contact, you will still receive a detailed report on that individual. Why go with a search professional over a search angel? You may wish to have a search angel work on your case first because there will be no charge and there is usually no harm in going that route. However, be sure to use one who has lots of experience and references because well intentioned volunteers sometimes mishandle the first contact and it could ruin your only chance to communicate with that person you’ve been searching for. Also, there are a very few but dangerous individuals who present themselves as search angels but have other motives, so proceed with caution.  If the search angel is unsuccessful, go then to a professional who is likely to succeed when a search angel fails.  However, if you are in a hurry, you may wish to skip the search angel and go straight to a professional. What happens after I agree to a search? We collect all available information from you regarding who you are searching for, either a birth parent or an adopted person, and conduct a search using all resources at our disposal. We may then contact the searched party to verify the relationship and assess their willingness to be contacted by the client, after which we convey all of the information we have collected. What if I am rejected by the person I am seeking? In my experience, most searches conclude on a positive note. Most of the time, the person is pleased to have been found. Occasionally this is not the case, and no communication is desired. This is always disappointing, but sometimes, even in these cases, the person who is found is willing to provide some information through me, such as medical history. When no contact is desired, at least there can often be a sense of closure, and sometimes family members of the individual will be willing to connect. What if the back story turns out to be tragic or shocking?  I will not reinvent, hide, or gloss over information my research has brought to light. I will be truthful and non-judgmental. I will help you come to terms with difficult information.

Juli Claussen – Volunteer Work

My Volunteer Work: A quick overview I lobbied to help pass new legislation in Illinois releasing OBCs to adoptees and related legislation. My local hospital contacts me to search for family members of those who are terminally ill. I am a Search Angel on Face Book’s Search Squad and other sites. I assist a local police detective who is working to locate surviving family of every police officer who died in the line of duty in our region of Illinois and include them in a ceremony in the state capital. These are typically people who died before 1920. I located surviving family members of a group of Navy men who are missing from an incident in the early 1950’s. The family members banded together to push for more information from the Navy about the fate of these men and these efforts were successful. I continue to provide volunteer services related to military veterans.