Back to the basics: Locality Guides

Don’t you just hate it when you have those “duh” moments?  Maybe you don’t ever have those, but I sure do.  Just this last week I was confronted with how much time I had wasted by not following one of the basic principles of genealogy.  Over and over again I have read that the first step in researching an ancestor in a new place is to study that place, what records are available, where are they, when was the county/state founded and what was it before.  I do practice this now, even writing up a one sheet locality guide when I begin on a new area.  I ran into problems this week because it wasn’t really a “new ” area for me to work on and so I didn’t think to approach it in the same way.  I have been researching the Murphey/Murphy clan in northwestern Louisiana for about 10 years now in an on again- off again type of way.  Since my mother-in-law had moved from her birthplace in the NW Louisiana/ SW Arkansas area in the mid 1940s sometime when she was just a teenager and refused to talk about her family at all I had none of the traditional first step sources of asking relatives that I could turn to to start.  So I began by entering  the names I had into internet search engines.  There were so many families and they moved with such ease back and forth over the borders of states and counties and I didn’t have very clear picture of which families were in which county/parish or even in which state at any period of time.  Several of the families had genealogists who were very knowledgeable and had posted sourced information online so for several years I busied myself with tracking down the originals of those sources and adding to them with my own research.  The Murpheys were one big brickwall.  The only reference that I could even find was an unsourced IGI entry and a rootsweb inquiry from 1998  that said that my husband’s great grandfather was “Coon” Murphey.  There was no “Coon” Murphey on a census record anywhere!  They were firmly situated on the back burner.

In 2011 I managed to track down the poster of that 1998 message and found that he was a grandson of “Coon” Murphey.  With the information and records he provided, the Murphey family jumped back onto my active research list.  With all this history in the area, when I began researching the family in depth in preparation for a trip to DC in November I did not take the time, or honestly even think to do a locality guide at this time.  What I did do was to start trying to place the various locations associated with the family on a map, since I want to particularly do land records research.  I had found an uncle of “Coon” on the 1840 Census, along with a lot of other families that the various brothers married into, but they were all in Claiborne Parish.  Not a single person of interest comes up in 1840 in Bienville Parish, where I know that they were founding members of a church in 1844.  Oh well, I guess they moved…. In 1850, Coon Murphey’s father and mother are in Natchitoches Parish, but Coon’s half siblings from his father’s first marriage were with their maternal grandfather back in Bienville Parish.  Coon’s paternal grandfather was in Bienville also as were his paternal aunts and uncles.  A warrant for military bounty land for service in the War of 1812 was awarded to John Murphey, Coon’s grandfather,  in Bienville in 1851.  I needed to find them all in 1860.  Hours and hours were spent trying every spelling combination possible to turn up anyone in 1860 with no luck.  Where could they all have gone?  

Finally, I did what I should have done in the first place and began to research Bienville Parish.  The first thing that I found was that Bienville was only formed in 1848 from the southern part of Claiborne.  The family was probably right near that church they helped found in 1844 all along.  With that little problem settled I kept reading the Family Search Wiki which had lots of good info, but moving on to the USGenweb site for Bienville Parish I came across this little nugget,  There is no 1860 census for Bienville Parish, which was either lost or destroyed.   

Lesson learned.  I will always begin with developing a locality guide whenever I start  research in a new area OR revisit a previously worked location that I have never developed a Locality Guide.

Time Travel

This morning I was sitting at my desk, going through my email and preparing to deal with the mundane chores of paying bills etc. when suddenly I was transported into another world.  Into a time and place where the situations of daily life make me vow to never complain again, about anything, ever, I mean it!

Hine, Lewis photo of Eddy Lou Young


I was reading my latest issue of  Family Tree Magazine Genealogy Insider and clicked, as I always do, on the link for Maureen Taylor’s Photo Detective blog . The post this week was about Ancestral Occupations and in her article Maureen Taylor made reference to photographer Lewis W.  Hine.  From 1908 to 1924, Mr. Hine worked for  the National Child Labor Committee and traveled around the United States photographing children at work in the mines, mills and factories.  His haunting photos went a long way toward the implementation of more stringent Child Labor Laws.  Over 5000 of his images are available online at the  Library of Congress.  The photos themselves, with the captions that Mr Hine added are very moving and just perusing them took several hours of the day, but Maureen Taylor also made mention of the work of  Joe Manning and his Lewis Hine project.  Joe Manning has taken many of the photos that particularly inspired him, and using his skills as a historian and genealogist, has researched the lives of some of the children portrayed in the photos, tracked down their descendants and interviewed them.  The photo above was merely identified by this caption, “Two of the “helpers” in the Tifton Cotton Mill, Tifton, Ga. They work regularly, 1909. Photo by Lewis Hine.” In looking through all the photos from the Tifton Cotton Mill he found the little dark haired girl on the right was in all of them.  

Young family of Tifton GA by Lewis Hine


In this picture of the 9 stair step children, the little dark-haired cutie is right in the center.  The caption Lewis Hine had for this one gave Mr Manning enough information to begin the tale,” A family working in the Tifton (Ga.) Cotton Mill. Mrs. A.J. Young works in mill and at home. Nell (oldest girl) alternates in mill with mother. Mammy (next girl) runs 2 sides. Mary (next) runs 1 1/2 sides. Elic (oldest boy) works regularly. Eddie (next girl) helps in mill, sticks on bobbins. Four smallest children not working yet. The mother said she earns $4.50 a week and all the children earn $4.50 a week. Husband died and left her with 11 children. 2 of them went off and got married. The family left the farm 2 years ago to work in the mill. January 22, 1909. Location: Tifton, Georgia. Photo by Lewis Hine.”   

Mr Manning spent about 5 years tracking down and telling the life story of each of these children, the 2 not pictured here,  and their parents.  Amazingly, all of the children lived to adulthood and several lived past the age of 75.  The tragedy of this photo is that within 3 months after it was taken, the 7 youngest children here were all dropped off at an orphanage and would never again be together as a family.  Imagine the heartbreak that this mother, Catherine Bailey Young faced when her husband, Andrew Jesse Young died in 1906 or 1907 at the age of 37.  She was either pregnant still or had just had her 11th child, Jesse.  Somehow the family had managed to stay together and keep food on the table for 2 years.  Maybe the only way that they were able to survive was by having the children work?  It is pretty difficult from our vantage point 100+ years later to make hard and fast judgments about what should have been done .  The ethical issues involved in child labor seem easy to decipher now, but was it so easy then?

It is a logical fallacy to argue that just because one event transpires after another event that the second event was caused by the first, but in this case you have to wonder if the visit of Lewis Hines to the Tifton Cotton mill somehow precipitated the breakup of this family?  Each individual was affected differently and had differing degrees of abandonment issues etc., but maybe one or more would not have even survived to adulthood if they had remained working in the mill?  You’ll have to read the stories yourself, but for me, I’m just profoundly blessed that I never had to make a decision like Catherine Young did.

All this got me to thinking about my grandparents, who were about the same ages as the Young children. My great grandfather Louis Trzecki was a butcher and for at least part of his life he owned his own shop.  He and his wife Antionette( Tucholske )Trzecki had 7 girls and 1 son between 1892 and 1910.  My grandmother, Agnes was the third child, born in  1895 and she always said that she and her older sisters all worked in the butcher shop.  A butcher shop does not sound like a real great place for kids to be working, but I guess it was better than a factory.   Here is a picture of the Trzecki kids minus the oldest, Helen and the youngest, Irene.Wood River Ill Butcher Shop


Josephine, the youngest in this photo was born in 1905 and looks to be about 3 here, dating the photo around 1908.  It was supposedly taken in front of the butcher shop which according to family tradition was in Wood River, IL, just across the river from St Louis.  I do love the wooden sidewalks, and maybe those are more likely in Wood River than in St Louis?  I have not yet located the shop, in the 1910 Census the family lived in St Louis, but in a news story when Helen witnessed a shooting in August of 1909 they lived in Wood River. [ The news story will have to wait until another posting.]

This 1910 Census of the Trzecki family (line 70-78, family 41) shows the 3 older girls all working.  The older 2, Helen and Stella, both worked in a “Dry Goods” Store, but my grandmother, Agnes, at age 14 was working in a shoe factory.  I wonder how long she had been working? The 1940 Census says that she completed the 6th grade, so she may have begun working at 12 or 13.

Trzecki 1910 Census


The shoe industry was big in St Louis in the early 1900s and Brown’s shoe company was one of the most important.  I wondered if Hine had ever visited St Louis in his quest for documenting child workers and found that he had.  While most of his photos in St Louis dealt with newspaper boys, there are a couple from Brown’s .

Brown's Shoe factory Hine


This photo of “Young girls going home from Brown’s Shoe factory (Washington & 18 th Sts.) at close of day. Location: St. Louis, Missouri” could be my grandmother, or at least friends of her’s.  The photo was taken in May 1910.  Notice the hats that they are all wearing!  My grandmother’s first husband, Stanley Santorski died in March 1923 leaving her with a son, my Uncle Leroy.  I know that for at least 2 years, until she and my grandfather, John Pogorzelski, married in October 1925 Agnes had her own millinery shop.  These fashionable hats, worn by even the shoe factory girls, could have been the inspiration for my grandmother’s later career.  I don’t know for certain if she worked for Brown’s shoe company or not, but the address that Hine gives for the factory is only .8 miles from the address where my 14 year old grandmother lived in 1910 so it is very likely that she dressed exactly like these girls in the photo and walked that .8 mile to the factory and back every day.  Maybe she rode the trolley car like the one in the background of the photo. [ One day I will write about the family story that my great great  grandmother Anastasia (Wonsewicz) Tucholske died from being hit by a trolley.]

Sometimes I get so caught up in the facts and dates and the documentation for all of those that I forget to put myself in my ancestors’ place and  take the time to think what day to day life was really like.  Photos have a way of making it all come alive.  I feel like I would like to just step into the photo and ask them about their lives.  Sometimes I diminish the important of documenting the stories of my parents and grandparents as only being in the 20th century because I am so busy trying to track down things from the 17th century.  These photos really make me think about how different childhood was for even my grandmother.  And how grateful I am.

What is Labor Day??

Labor Day, for many,  is the signal of the end of summer, the last weekend for a camping trip, the last big bar-b-que, the neighborhood swimming pool closes, no more white pants, the beginning of the football season, and  [huge sigh of relief for parents, disappointment for kids] the signal for the start of school.  Now, school has often started already, you can wear what you want, when you want and at least in Phoenix, people might begin to think about the possibility of a camping trip soon.  In July and August you would never be without AC intentionally!

Labor Day was first celebrated in New York City, Sept 5, 1882 according to a Department of Labor publication.[1] It was first made a legal holiday in Oregon in 1887 and soon all the other states followed suit until today it is a statutory holiday nationwide and in Canada.  Many other countries celebrate May 1st as a day to commemorate the efforts of workers.[2]

I am not personally a big supporter of labor movements today, but from stories that I have heard, both of my grandfathers were very heavily involved in them. Since this is a genealogy blog and not a social history blog, I will tell a little of their stories to commemorate the holiday in their honor.

My paternal grandfather, Charles Mathias Boll, who was possibly one of the triplets pictured in my “ Triplets in the Family?” post, was an iron molder. Family tradition says that he was an union organizer and was “black balled” for these activities.  My mom says that she remembers hearing that he worked at Bridge, Beach & Co., a prominent stove manufacturing company whose products can still be found on ebay and in antique stores. According to the 1910 Census he worked at a stove foundry.[3]  The 1920 Census shows him still as a molder in the stove industry, as does the 1930.[4],[5]  By the time we get to 1940, a subtle difference seems to be evident, he no longer works in the stove industry, but just in the steel industry, only working 24 hours in the selected week of March 24-30, 1940 and working only 26 weeks in the year 1939.[6]  My suspicion would be that his labor organizing activities were during this time period since my father, the source of any knowledge my mother had, was 8 on the 1940 Census and it seemed to be a memory he had that effected his life.  I tried to find evidence of Charles Boll’s union activity during this time, but in the interest of actually getting this posted ON Labor Day, I had to delay finding confirmation of this.  My grandfather definitely could not have been just then organizing union activity at  Bridge, Beach & Co., because what I did find was evidence of a major labor dispute that began with the Iron Molders Union against Bridge, Beach & St Louis, MO that spread to several other cities, but it was in April 1887, when my grandfather was only 3 years old.[7]  My grandfather Boll died before my parents were married so I never knew him, but union activity must have been an important part of his life since it is one of the few things that I can remember my father telling me about him.


Charles and Emma Boll holding my father Charles 1931

Although my father was in corporate management for his entire adult life, my mother relates a story about their courtship that illustrates his commitment to his father’s values.  When my parents first met, my mother was working for the catering department of a downtown St Louis hotel.  My father was somehow involved in the procurement and delivery of supplies for the kitchens.  He was a union member and she was a member of management.  One of the unions representing workers at the hotel went on strike and my father, although it was not his union on strike, would not cross the picket line to make any deliveries.  Upper management knew that my mother and father were dating and they put pressure on her to get her beau to cross the lines.  She, of course, would not even consider trying to get him to go against his principles, not that it would have worked anyway.  If I am remembering the story correctly, this incident may have led to them both changing their employment.


John Pogorzelski about the time he began working for the Post Office

I had always heard about my grandfather Boll’s union sympathies, but it was not until a few years ago that I learned from my mother that her father, John Pogorzelski, had also been a union organizer and suffered because of it.  My grandfather Pogorzelski worked all his life in the Post Office.  As far as I know he was not a delivery person, but a clerk in the branch.  The earliest record that I have for his being a postal clerk is his WW1 Draft registration.  Although I cannot read the date on it, he gives his age as 22, so it is around 1917.  He was still a single man, living at his parents’ home on 2225 N Market St in St Louis and his occupation was PO Clerk 25, Post Office Dept USA, 18th and Clark Ave, St Louis, MO.  He retired from the Post Office sometime in the mid-1950s.   I will post more later on just what his activities were.

Now it’s time to be off to spend this holiday with living family !

[2]     Retrieved 2013-09-02

[3] 1910 U.S. census, St Louis City, Missouri, population schedule, St Louis ward 12, sheet 1A, dwelling 2, family 2, Charles M. and Emma A. Boll; digital image, ( accessed 2 September 2013); citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 816.

[4] 1920 U.S. census, St Louis City, Missouri, population schedule, St Louis ward 24, ED 480, sheet 6, dwelling 137, family 138, Charles M. and Emma A. Boll; digital image, ( accessed 2 September 2013); citing NARA microfilm publication T625.

[5] 1930 U.S. census, St Louis City, Missouri, population schedule, St Louis ward 24, Precinct 3, ED 167, sheet 40A, dwelling 730, family 955, Charles and Emma Boll; digital image, ( accessed 2 September 2013); citing NARA microfilm publication T626 and FHL film#2340976, image 808.0.

[6] 1940 U.S. census, St Louis City, Missouri, population schedule, St Louis ward 24, ED 96-629, sheet 5B, 5304 Devonshire, family 129, Charles and Emma Ball; digital image, ( accessed 2 September 2013); citing NARA microfilm publication T627. Roll 2206.


[7] I’m also quitting the footnoting here – in the interest of getting this online today

Information Overload

Have you ever had a serious case of information overload?  That’s what I’m suffering from right now.  FGS in Fort Wayne was amazing, but exhausting!  Classes all day from 8 am until 6 pm and then off to the Allen County Library for research each evening until 11.  It was actually open until midnight Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, but I just couldn’t last that long.  Because the 2 hotels that were right downtown had filled up already, I had to stay at a place about 10 miles away and get a shuttle back and forth.  That little detail added at least an hour onto each day.

The classes that I chose to attend were mostly in the Methodologies  Track, so they were more about the “big picture”, putting it all together, building a case from various bits of indirect evidence and resolving conflicting evidence rather than classes about an individual subject, location or records group.  There were many great speakers, but may favorite was Elizabeth Shown Mills, who gave 4 presentations

  • Smiths and Joneses: Success with Families of Common Name
  • Trousers, Beds, Tacks& Housekeeping bills: Problem Solving with ‘Trivial Details’!
  • Identity Crisis: Right Name, Wrong Man? Wrong name, Right Man?
  • Finding Fathers: Bridging the Generation Gap

You can start to get the idea just from the lecture names.  In each one she illustrated how difficult problems can be solved if we employ the Genealogical Proof Standard, beginning with reasonably exhaustive research, then complete and accurate source identification, skilled analysis and correlation of data, resolution of any conflicts in evidence and finally, last but not least, “a soundly reasoned conclusion or ‘proof argument’.   One example in the Smiths and Jones’ lecture yielded a probable identity for the father of a woman by using land records.  Not just one land record, but actually plotting all the land belonging to likely families despite the fact that it stretched across county lines and into different townships even within the county.   Then correlating that with the road maintenance records from supervisors or commissioners minutes and plotting property of each man named.  These records will sometimes name young men still living at home, they might not own the property, but they will be maintaining it!  Another research avenue she mentioned also involved land records.  Often there is a separate index for grantees and grantors and I have been satisfied to look for the name there and then just go to the particular book and page named.  Ms Mills pointed out that sometimes each individual book will also have an index and that index might have quite a bit more detail.  Particularly in those places where other things like marriages, indentures, bastardy bonds and other great records are recorded in the deed books.  The clerk who compiled the grantee/grantor index might have just left those other little bits out.  There’s also the extra layer of transcription that may have introduced more error.  Knowledge Ability Skill Words 3-Way Signs Learning In the Trivial Details lecture, a man’s date of death was found by looking through his probate file.  The actual date was not mentioned anywhere and the probate had not been promptly opened when the man died.  By reading each of the little receipts and bills and other scraps of paper in the probate file she came across a dated bill against the estate from a merchant for multiple yards of “black domestic” and tacks.  That invoice for the necessary items to outfit a casket and a house in mourning pinned down the date.

These are just a couple examples of things I learned in 1 or 2 classes.  How many brick walls will come tumbling down if I can develop the skill to use the knowledge I received at this conference?

What to Bring??

FGS is only a couple of weeks away and planning for it is my biggest task right now. The question of what to pack for a conference is always puzzling .  There are so many variables between what I might bring and what others bring depending  upon the mode of travel.  Obviously, if you are driving you can throw in the extra pairs of shoes, just in case those new ones turn out to be not so comfortable after a long day.  When traveling by plane, as I seem to always be, a little more planning is required.

Firstly, never bring the new shoes that you haven’t worn much!  Having sore feet definitely puts a damper on your enjoyment of a conference  and you could find your decisions about which class to attend or if you should walk back to the exhibit hall during the break being dictated by your shoe choice.  Tennis shoes are great for the conference, but for air travel I don’t want to pack them because they take up so much space and I don’t want to wear them because of airport security.  Comfortable slip-ons  seem to be the best compromise for me.

A second consideration is what do I wear??  Convention centers are huge cavernous spaces, usually broken up into different sized rooms with dividers.  This means that the temperature inside can vary greatly from one room to the next.  You could be burning up in a sweater in a crowded exhibit hall or a tiny over packed room, but shivering in a larger room or seated under an air conditioning duct.  I generally solve this by wearing short sleeved tops with a sweater or jacket.  During the course of a day that sweater will be on and off multiple times as the need arises.

My third and biggest decision is what to bring to carry my stuff in during the day.  I have tried most of the options with varying results. This year’s FGS is going to be even more difficult to plan what to carry because I will be spending part of each day at the Allen CountyPublic Library doing research, so I do need my computer, and it’s cord.  I was not able to get into one of the original conference hotels right downtown so when the shuttle picks me up in the morning I have to have everything I will need all day with me.   Just carrying my purse is great, but no room there for even my ipad, a bottle of water, or things I might buy.  A backpack never actually gets properly put on my back and so I end up with a terrible backache from carrying it slung over one shoulder, plus it looks pretty unprofessional and I tend to wack people in the face with it when I do put it on my back.  It’s also quite unwieldy when  I get to a room late and have to squeeze into a seat in the middle of the row.  The last couple of conferences I have gone with a rolling briefcase, easy to transport without adverse effects on the back (unless lots of steps are involved), I can bring water and snacks in it and has room for any handouts or purchases and the computer.  The biggest drawback to the rolling bag is that issue of squeezing into a middle seat again.  I did purchase a smaller one that I used at NGS and at least it fits under my seat, but getting it there is sometimes quite difficult.  For FGS this year I think that I will try using the great bag that was given out at Roots Tech this year.  This bag has plenty of room for my computer/ipad, various notes and  papers that I seem to collect, a wallet, snacks and even an outside water bottle pocket. Under the flap there are easily accessible pockets for pens/pencils and a pocket for my phone.  The strap is long enough to be carried cross body if I am walking a long way, but it also has a small hand grip.  Best of all, it takes up almost no room in my luggage so I will bring the rolling briefcase for my airplane carryon and the RootsTech bag will fit in my luggage.  I can always revert to the rolling briefcase if the shoulder bag gets too heavy.  I wish I knew what kind of bag will be handed out for FGS.  Maybe I wouldn’t need to bring anything at all!DSCN2200

I wish that I didn’t need to carry a water bottle because that is a large part of the weight I carry around, but I’ve found that I need to have the bottle with a measured amount of water in it to keep track of how much I drink.  I need 4 of those 16 ounce bottles a day.  Conference organizers are usually very good about having water dispensers with the little cups near the various classrooms, but for me, getting enough of those little 4 oz cups never really works well.  Staying hydrated is not really a packing issue, but it is one of the most important tips that I can pass along.  My brain just does not perform to capacity when I am not drinking enough water, there is a fog that settles in and comprehension drops dramatically.  With all the time, effort and expense it takes to attend a conference, it is important to pay attention to the little things that ultimately determine how much information is gained.

I’d better get to packing!  See you there!


Choices, Choices, Choices

The registration is long ago done, the plane tickets purchased, hotel reserved (not the one I wanted…too slow there), still need to decide if I  rent a car or use taxi/shuttle combo.  I’m ready for FGS coming up in just over a month.  Well, not quite.  The biggest decisions still need to be made.  How do I decide which classes I will attend?

crossroads image


At any time during the day there are at least 8 different classes going on and special workshops in addition. Each and every one of those lecturers will be presenting information that I could benefit from, especially as a professional who may be called upon to research in places other than where my families originated or where they ultimately settled.  Unfortunately, there is no way that I can learn and retain longer than 5 minutes any information that I will not be putting to use in the very near future!

This is why my primary choices tend to be classes dealing with methodology.  I know that, in many cases, I already have the key to tear down my brickwalls.  It is just buried in a document collected years ago.  That document is definitely stored digitally on multiple computers and external hard drives and backed up in the cloud using several services.  That digital image will not be lost, but what good does it do me if it was not properly analyzed?  Even if I actually got it attached to all of the individuals mentioned in the record, out of the 4993 individuals in my database (I really need 7 new people) ,  how will I ever go back and reanalyze the information contained in that source?  When I obtained the image, especially if it was at the Family History Library or on some other research trip, I know that I made notes about the film, questions the document raised in my mind, other people who were mentioned etc., but those notes were in whatever spiral notebook I had with me on that trip.  Those notebooks, hopefully, now reside in  the huge pile in my office waiting for me to go through them and revisit each and every note or document I have found in the last 10 years.  There needs to be a better system!!!

I know that there is.  It involves retraining myself to approach a research trip with a written research plan and then turning that plan into a research report as I do the research.   This is what I have been learning in the last few conferences that I have attended.  Until I get it down and into practice this will be the main focus of the classes that I choose to attend.   So many of the class descriptions are appealing and yes, I need to learn more about DNA, I have those results and don’t know what to do with them so should attend T-234. I have one ancestor who I believe worked on the Erie Canal, at least he lived in Lockport at the right time period, so I would love to go to T-216 and hear Karen Mauer Green speak about “Navigating the Erie Canal Records”.   So many other classes that will be covering things that would benefit my research to know, but alas, I can’t attend them all.    Maybe the DNA class would have info about cloning myself??  Hmmmm?

So, instead of attending all the classes that sound like great fun, many of them having really engaging speakers who tell great stories, I will be reading about those in the syllabus, getting some of the info presented but missing the fun, and attending the methodology classes and hearing over and over again that I need to write and follow a research plan and write research reports for each family.  This is the one thing that will most impact my genealogy skill set in the long run and so it needs to be my focus and priority.  Research varies on how long it takes to form new habits and I think I may be more resistant to change than many, but I will continue exposing myself to the influences that will produce change in my life until that change is accomplished.

Unless of course it is late in the day and the class I have chosen to attend next is way across the convention center.  I may just decide to stay for whatever class is next in the room where I am.

tired person

Maps, Maps, Maps!

Many of you may have used the wonderful maps produced by Arphax Publishing. These are those Family Maps of such and such a county. They take the land grant information from the BLM GLO site  and put it on a map so that you can place it on a modern map.  Last year I had found and subscribed to so that I could access those maps from home on my computer without worrying about which repository had which county’s book.  Those ancestors of my husbands seemed to move around a lot!  It was great, but sometimes I even forgot about having the subscription if I wasn’t actively researching.  I was so surprised the other day when I got an email from them touting their brand new map viewer and interface!   Called the First Landowners Project they now have 7.2 million of the original land owners who received  patents all together on one single map……and it is fully indexed!  You no longer have to just keep your search to one county at a time and you can see who the neighbors are who may live less than a mile away, but in a different county.  Once you’ve found the grant that your ancestor received/purchased you can add a marker to it,look at it on Google maps or go straight to the document on the BLM site.  Here’s a screen shot of an ancestor’s land in Natchitoches County, LA.

Grillet map


My graphics manipulation ability is a little lacking so you can’t really see this too well, but I would encourage you to go to the tutorial on using the First Landowners Project and you will see some of the amazing capabilities of this new site.  I know I will be spending lots and lots of time here.  They are adding more states in the near future and will also be adding the capability to plot metes and bounds on the map so that you can do a map showing your family’s migration from the older Eastern States across the West.  Access to History Geo is $79.99 per year so is a little spendy, but just think of all the map books that you don’t need to buy and have taking up space in your house!    You can print or save your maps so if you are just working on your own family subscribe for a year and get them all done and it is really worth the price!



I sit here on the airplane returning from Birmingham, Alabama with my brain full to overflowing after a week spent at IGHR, as the Institute of Genealogy & Historical Research is commonly known.  This annual event has been held at Samford University in Birmingham each year since 1962.   The Institute has changed and grown each year and now registration for many of the classes is hotly contested.  Several courses are full within 10 minutes of registration opening.  Currently comprised of 10 courses of study, each course having 30 to 40+ hours of lectures and outside homework during the week, each course is an intensive study experience.  The most demanding, and most sought after course is taught by Elizabeth Shown Mills, Advanced Methodology and Evidence Analysis.  This is the only course with  formal prerequisites so I was unable to take it this year, instead taking Intermediate Genealogy and Historical Studies coordinated by Lloyd DeWitt Bockstruck.  I hope to be quick enough with the registration link next year to get into the Advanced class now that I have the prerequisite under my belt, but even if I miss that class there are several other options that I will be taking sooner or later.

IGHR is an amazing experience, not only for the chance to learn from some of the most renown names in genealogy, but also for the opportunity to get to know other serious genealogists from all across the country.  Unlike a conference, where you go from class to class bouncing between interesting topics, at IGHR you are in the same classroom with the same people all week.   You can choose between staying at the dorms on campus or at a local hotel with shuttles arranged to transport you back and forth to the campus each week.  Relationships are developed with the others at your hotel or dorm and these are the people who I will refer business to when I have a question relating to their local area.  I expect that relationships formed this week will be quite important to me in the future years.

The campus of Samford is beautiful with lovely Southern architecture and large magnolia and other types of trees.  It is a Baptist college and was originally named  Howard University.  Their Special Collections department in the library has many records from Alabama Baptist churches.  While I do not have too many families that remained in Alabama, several of them passed through and stayed there for 10-15 years.  Through the resources of the Special Collections Department and the help of the wonderful library staff I was able to find a church in Perry County that both the Bamburg family and the Griffin family attended in the 1860’s.  Being Baptist, there were no infant baptisms that gave me any birth dates, but there were several interesting tidbits that help to flesh out their lives.  Other family members and associates were also mentioned who I hadn’t known of before, so I have more clues and trails to pursue than when I started.  One great aspect of going to IGHR is the ability to ask questions of the instructors if you come up against something you don’t understand.  An entry in the records refers to one of the Bamburgs being expelled from the church because he associated himself with the “Camelites”.  I was able to ask Mr. Bockstruck the next day if he knew what Camelites were.  He thought about it for only a second or two and he didn’t even see the entry, but out of his years and years of research came up with the answer that it must be referring to the Campbellites.  The Campbellites were followers of Thomas and Alexander Campbell who were prominent leaders of the Disciples of Christ in the early 19th Century.  Now, I would have wasted a bunch of time trying to google “Camelites” and wondering if it had something to do with dromedaries or Mount Carmel in Israel.  Instead, I have a new area to research and new church records to search for!

One thing I learned for sure is that when registration opens up next January for IGHR 2014, I will be sitting in front of my computer with the fastest internet signal I can find, ready to click that link to register.


FGS and Allen County Public Library, a Winning Combo!

The opportunity of  a lifetime!  That’s the only way to describe the unique synergy that will happen  August 21-24 in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  All of the families that I research, except my own, ended up in the West and in doing so passed through the Midwestern states, particularly Ohio and Indiana. New England and New York ancestors  made their way West through these more northern parts while Kentucky and Tennessee were common transition states for those moving from the southern states like the Carolinas.  These states and more will be featured at FGS this year.
One of the tracks of the FGS Conference is all about researching in Midwestern and Neighboring States.  Distinguished presenters with expertise in individual states will be sharing the secrets that they have learned over the years and we can just glean the benefit of their years of familiarity with these new localities.  An important concept that I embraced from the recent NGS convention in Las Vegas was the use of locality guides.  Now, the presenters in Fort Wayne will not be able to give us everything we might need for a locality guide in their 1 hour presentation, but they will most definitely be giving us a head start!

Once we have been given this head start, we will have the opportunity to immediately apply some of the knowledge by visiting the nearby Genealogy Center at Allen County Public Library .  A brief look at the brochure describing some of their holdings can be found at   I am particularly looking forward to taking advantage of their extensive genealogy and local history periodical collection which is the largest English language collection in the world.  They have current subscriptions to 6200 periodicals and over 10,000 titles.  This amount of material would seem daunting if it were not for the amazing work that has been done by the library staff in compiling the PERiodical Source Index (PERSI).  This index is not the place to plug in your surnames as it is not an index of all words in each article, but it is ideal place to learn about the areas, occupations and life of your ancestors and maybe you will be lucky enough to have one of those 10,000 titles be a periodical dedicated to your family.
This periodical collection is something that is unique to the Allen County library.  Other genealogical libraries have some periodicals, but nothing like ACPL, so this in itself is a great reason to come to Fort Wayne in August.  I will be hard at work between now and then putting together my research plans.  Hope to see you there!


Why Genealogy Conferences?

FGS blog logo

You may have noticed this emblem on the sidebar of this blog.  It is there to direct your attention to one of the most exciting genealogy events to be held in 2013,  Journey Through Generations, the Federation of Genealogical Societies  annual conference.  It will be held this year in Fort Wayne, Indiana August 21-24.  Those of you who have never been to a major conference might be asking yourselves the question, “Why Genealogy Conferences?”  Those who have attended in the past know why, but that reason might be different for each individual.

My first national conference was last year’s FGS conference in Birmingham, Alabama and my answer to “Why Genealogy Conferences?” was “Elizabeth Shown Mills“.  She is my genealogy hero, and not only for her work on citing sources.  She is the foremost authority on Natchitoches, LA region genealogy where my husband has multiple ancestors. Future blogs will deal with this more. Ms. Mills does not appear at a lot of conferences, at least not out west at my local society,  but I had promised myself that if I saw a conference where she was speaking I would be there if I could.  Last year FGS was my chance and I was not disappointed.  Her talks were informative, but more than that they were fun!  She will once again be a presenter at FGS and I will be there in each of her sessions.   This year’s conference is full of presentations by other amazing genealogists who speak to so many different subjects.  The location of the FGS conference each year lends to the emphasis of one or two of the different tracks and this year’s has many lectures focusing on the Midwest and the groups that tended to settle there.  Most of our ancestors spent some time at least passing through the Midwest and this is the ideal time to focus our learning there.  Many times some of the sessions are recorded and you could possibly listen later to the presentations, but the dynamics of being there in person are not to be missed.  The ability to speak one-on-one to the presenter, to ask questions, to get that little tidbit of advice or direction from an expert in the field that has you stumped….PRICELESS as the commercial would say.

The ability to interact with superstar genealogists is only one facet that comes from attendance at a conference like FGS.  Imagine spending 3 or 4 days with hundreds of people that are just as passionate about genealogy as you are!  The energy that comes from just being able to sit and talk with others that will listen and give suggestions is sometimes enough to blast down those brick walls.  Maybe you will have the key to blast through for someone else?  Maybe you will find the long lost cousin that has the family Bible?  Genealogists are some of the most generous people that I have ever met and this give and take and sharing of strategies is all the answer that is needed for some to answer, “Why Genealogy Conferences?”

The Exhibition Hall is the answer for others.  Are you an “early adapter”?  One of those that always has the newest program, the latest device?  This is where you will find them.  New tools are coming out all the time and the vendors are more than happy to take the time to explain to you how to use them to your advantage.  Even if you aren’t interested in learning new methods or programs, the largest booths are occupied by those tried and true favorites like, FamilySearch, Fold3, NEHGS.  They all have a supply of computers there with staff just waiting to help you perfect your search strategies on their sites.  Who knows the breakthroughs that could be waiting there for you?

One of my reasons for being particularly excited about this year’s FGS is the location.   Fort Wayne, Indiana is the home of the The Genealogy Center of Allen County Library, the second largest genealogy library in the US.    This will be my first visit there and I am really looking forward to exploring the unique resources there.  The Allen County Library is the home to the largest collection of English language genealogy and local history magazines and newsletters.  The PERSI (Periodical Source Index) was developed by the staff there to allow you to find articles of interest to your research.  PERSI can be accessed through HeritageQuest at many libraries, but only in Fort Wayne can you have instant access to the articles of interest once you find one in the index.  Many people journey to Fort Wayne even when there is not a conference going on right there, but travelling there Aug 21-24 for FGS is like getting 2 trips for the price of 1.  How could you pass up a deal like that!

One final group that does not need me to give them a reason for attending FGS 2013 is those that have responsibility for the growth of their local genealogy societies.  FGS does after all stand for “Federation of Genealogical Societies” and the schedule on Wednesday the 21st is dedicated to programs geared to helping societies develop new programs and expand and serve the growing number of genealogists.

See you there!

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St. Louis, Missouri

My favorite city for genealogical research is St. Louis. As the home of my ancestors for over 150 years, St Louis is full of treasures. I will bring you a wealth of knowledge in your search for ancestors in St. Louis.

Natchitoches, Louisiana

My husband’s family has taken me to in-depth study of the Natchitoches, Louisiana area from the time when it was the border between French held and Spanish held territory, to the Carolinas, where Bamberg county was named for a relative, and to New York and Holland Land Purchase research.

Early Boston Settlers

Another line led to research in Puritan Boston in the 1630s, to a brother-in-law of both Rev. John Cotton and Rev . Richard Mather. He was numbered among the early Baptists in spite of his relations. Lutheran church planters and New Light Baptists in the Appalachians, LDS pioneers and Catholics, church records yield some of the most interesting insights into their lives.

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