Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I love Evidence Explained!

I got a copy of Elizabeth Shown Mills' Evidence Explained this weekend, and sat down to read the introductory material today. I have to say I'm seriously impressed!  When I was writing my dissertation, the APA style guide was neither helpful nor inspirational; in fact, my most common reaction was a desire to find the writers and pummel them with copies of the guide while screaming "would it kill you to add an example of a chart?"  With Evidence Explained, I feel all warm and fuzzy and inspired to go edit all my website citation templates right now.  There are even...gasp...bits of humor present.

My brother thinks it's hilarious that I have a little book on my shelf called Evidence and a big book on my shelf called Evidence Explained.  I just don't know how to, well, explain it to him; you really have to have been there. Of course, he thinks genealogists are nuts anyway, so this is just further...ahem...evidence.

Monday, December 19, 2011

First Female Jury in Kansas

I'm really enjoying the Kansas trivia column in the Wichita Eagle lately...they've run through all the usual stuff and are getting to bits of history I've never seen before.  Today's column is about the first female bailiff in the U.S. and first all-female jury in Kansas, and includes the names of the participants; the bailiff was Eva Rider and the jurors were Hattie Riley Ritcherdson, Maggie Clark, Geneva Selig, Agnes Foulks, Frances Boston, Genevieve Munson, Rachel Stewart, Anna Ruddick, Esther Kirkpatrick, Blanche Cron, Nannie Elson and Clara Willis. Wouldn't it fun if one of these were in your family?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories: Fruitcake!

Today's prompt for the Geneabloggers is: Fruit Cake – Friend or Foe?

My Dad always liked fruitcake, so for many years I got him one for Christmas; you'd be amazed how many odd mailing lists that gets you on. Me, I always preferred my grandmother's fruitcake cookies, which are fresh and don't have any alcohol.

Grandmother's Fruitcake Cookies

6 tablespoons shortening
1/4 cup sugar
3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup walnuts, chopped
2 cups raisins
1/2 cup candied citron
1 cup molasses
1/4 cup sour milk
candied cherries

Plump raisins in hot water.
Cream shortening and sugar.
Sift together flour, salt, soda, nutmeg and cinnamon.
Toss walnuts, raisins and citron in dry ingredients.
Mix molasses and milk.
Add dry ingredients and molasses alternately to creamed mixture.
Shape into logs about 2 inches round and chill.
Preheat oven to 350.
Slice logs about 3/8 inch thick and arrange on baking sheet.
Place 1/2 candied cherry on each cookie.
Bake 10 minutes.

Store in a very airtight container.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Advent Calendar -- Holiday Foods

My grandfather was an owner of the Jo-Mar Dairy in Salina, KS, and one of our family's Christmas food traditions stems from that...sort of.  The dairy used pewter ice cream molds to make colorful holiday treats; vanilla ice cream was molded into holiday shapes and then painted with food coloring. I'm told that they were beautiful, but very labor intensive.  By the time I came along, the dairy no longer sold molded ice cream for the holidays, and my grandfather had brought some of the molds home.

For many years, we tried, and mostly failed, to make molded ice cream at home.  The molds were individual serving sized, so there wasn't a lot of mass to the ice cream, and the difference between too cold to pop out of the mold and to warm to hold the detail was a pretty small temperature band that's hard to find in a kitchen already warm from cooking a holiday dinner.  I'm sure that having small "helpers" added to the challenge, as well!  Still, it felt special to have them, even if they didn't stand up properly or have totally crisp details.

In 2003, we tried again.  Success!

Of course, nowadays, those molds are collectibles and people are warned not to use them for food because of lead concerns.  Pity.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Amy Coffin's Genealogy Blogging Book

I ordered Amy Coffin's new ebook The Big Genealogy Blog Book and read it in a morning. Love it!

This is a book with a very tight focus -- writing genealogy blogs.  I liked the ideas for quality control; it's amazing how often the simplest things get overlooked by even long-time bloggers.  Anyone who has been around the genealogy blog world will recognize the "52 weeks" lists, and it's convenient to have them all in one place.  A society that followed the suggestions for a society blog would have a winner, and i expect the same would be true for the tips for genealogy professionals.

This book shows off one of the true virtues of the digital book movement -- it's only as long as it needs to be, and is priced accordingly.  Very nicely done!

Now I just need to implement some of her clever ideas...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Wichita Newspapers online

I stand corrected -- there are some Wichita papers availalbe online.  The Library of Congress Chronicling America site has several Wichita newspapers digitized and online.  Looks like the Eagle is covered until about 1906.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Setting Family History Priorities

While working at the MHGS library Saturday morning, I chatted with a woman who had come in to see if we had anything to help her prove her second or third DAR ancestor (I was unclear on the count because she has also proven some on her husband's line for her daughter).  As the conversation wound about, as it does, she told us that she was one of the very first women in the Army Women's Auxiliary and had been in the first group of women sent to Hawaii after Pearl Harbor.  As she rattled off an impressive list of military and government jobs she has held in her 93 years, I wondered -- why on earth was she spending time searching backup DAR ancestors when she could be writing a memoir about all the fascinating things she's done?  There are probably hundreds of people who could work on those DAR lines, but only she can record what it was like to be one of the first Chief Clerks in the Army during WWII!

I told her she should write her autobiography, but I doubt she listened to me.  I'll have to work on her daughter <evil grin>.  It would be a great pity to lose her story.

I wonder if there's anyone in Wichita working with folks on their memoirs or recording oral histories. I'll have to check into that...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Progress on the Sorting Job

Well, after two weeks, I've made a lot of progress on my sorting job for MHGS.  As things stand now, I have:

  • half a paper grocery bag of church directories, yearbooks and other things that will go into the general library resources
  • half a bag of things to sell, including some 1970's Bollywood postcards, one of which I found listed on EBay for more than $50!
  • about a linear foot of genealogically-useful things sorted into surname folders for the library vertical files
  • and a full tub of pictures that still need organizing.
If you're in the Wichita area and are interested in the Posey or Stockert families, there's some great stuff here.

One of the things in the photo tub is a photo album of pictures of Warren and Nancy Burbank, mostly taken on a 1951 car trip through Hannibal, MO, Wichita and Dodge City, KS, Colorado, and Nevada State Park.  There is an envelope with a San Francisco return address.  Every! photo is labeled, but they were taped into the album so many are stuck together.  I'm not finding any Wichita link, other than a couple of vacation photos, so we'd like to return the album to its family rather than store it on the off chance a Burbank wanders into the library.  Contact me!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Family Mystery Gets a Twist

I found this on Monday:


The Death of Thomas Moreen In Wyoming

Left His Family 19 Years Ago

Salina, Kas., July 24 -- Philip Moreen of this county has just learned of his father's death in Wyoming and that he and his sister, Mrs. T. Carroll of Denver, are the only heirs to a large fortune left by the parent.  Thomas Moreen was formerly a resident of this county and left his family nineteen years ago. Fourteen years ago he was heard from indirectly for the last time. Mrs. Carroll in reading a paper last week read the obituary of Thomas Moreen and immediate correspondence developed the fact that he was her father. The fortune was made in mining and the cattle business. Philip Moreen and his sister will go to Wyoming early next week to claim their estate.

Kansas City Star, July 24, 1907, page 5

I just recently heard the family story about Thomas' disappearance, and had not heard about this subsequent development at all.   Now I'm dying to know more.  Unfortunately, Wyoming is a big place, and the easy things haven't worked.
  • Thomas isn't indexed in the 1900 census in Wyoming, at least under the name Thomas Moreen
  • Wyoming didn't start requiring death recording at the state level until 1908
  • The Wyoming newspaper project hasn't gotten very far on digitizing newspapers for the time period I'm interested in and I'm not finding a Denver paper for the time, either.
  • Ancestry.com's collection of digitized Salina papers doesn't yet have 1907.
  • He doesn't show up in the BLM land patent database
I talked to someone who is in the cattle business in Wyoming and he suggested brand registries and the state cattlemen's association.  
  • I found a brand book for Wyoming, but it starts after a 1909 law and was published in 1913.  State registration of brands started in 1909; before that they were registered at the county level, and all I know is the state.
  • I need to email the Wyoming Stock Growers Association.  According to Wikipedia, they were well established by the early 1900s and kept brand and member info; some of their records have been moved to the University of Wyoming, so I'll need to contact them, too.
"Mining" seems a bit non-specific to be much help, but if the cattle thing doesn't work, I'll start pursuing it. 

Of course, all this assumes that Thomas' cattle and mining business was conducted in Wyoming, but without that I have nothing, so I think I'll run with it for a while.  If I need to, I can run up to Salina and search the papers on microfilm next week...Anyone up for hamburgers at the Cozy?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Good Book -- Ancestors and Relatives: Genealogy, Identity, and Community

I'm less than a third through Ancestors and Relatives: Genealogy, Identity, and Community, by Eviatar Zerubavel, but I already like it.  For example:

"...lineages thus offer their members a sense of vicarious participation in history "through" their various ancestors. By proxy they can thus figuratively touch the past."

is a pretty good description of why I like genealogy.

Kansas History Museum Podcasts

I just discovered that the Kansas Historical Museum publishes a nifty podcast series called the Cool Things Podcast, during which the hosts discuss interesting items in the museum and play Six Degrees of William Allen White.  Check it out!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

MHGS Jubilee

The MHGS Jubillee was yesterday, and it was fun!  At our building, we had hotdogs, antique bicycles, a book sale and ongoing demo of the new Quiring Collection of monument purchase orders (I was astonished at how much work it took to get ready for use.  The woman who took primary responsibility worked pretty much all her waking hours for more than a month, and several other people put in significant time, as well.)  The trolley ride to TKAAM and the library was fun too, and it looked like TKAAM was doing wee with their Fall Festival.

I didn't remember to take any pictures, but I did come home with a souvenir, of sorts.

A couple came into the MHGS to ask if we wanted a bunch of genealogy material collected by Ethel Posey Anderson Brown.  Because one of the items was a typewritten autobiography and the family had owned businesses here since the early 1900s, we said yes, we'd take it, with the understanding that we'd probably keep only a fraction of the material.  Somehow, in the excitement of looking at the old pictures, I volunteered to take a stab at evaluating and cleaning it up.

My current system involves five "buckets"

  • a plastic tub for stuff that makes it to the second round
  • a trash bag (two have already gone outside, including magnetic photo albums and someone's empty used envelop collection)
  • a bag of unrelated books and magazines to sell (anyone want an Oct 1953 copy of Motion Picture Magazine?  They're going on eBay for $10!)
  • a bag of things that might be good resources for the library, like yearbooks
  • and a bag of things I don't think we should keep, but which aren't indisputably trash (like a dozen photos of someone's new puppy.)  
My tentative goal is to trim it to the autobiography, a binder of interesting photos, and a binder of genealogically useful things like birth certificates.

Has anyone out there done this? Any suggestions?

Also, if there are any relatives of Ethel who want some of this stuff, either physically or digitally, email me.  Please!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

MHGS New database

The Midwest Historical and Genealogical Society has acquired approximately 25,000 purchase orders from a major cemetery monument company (and it's predecessor companies) in Wichita.  Some of these records date back to 1919!   There's an index on the website, and copies of the files are available for a small fee.  Very exciting!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

MHGS Jubilee Oct 22

Yesterday, while playing genealogy librarian (do you ever get to feeling like you know enough about a library to be a legitimate librarian?), I volunteered to help with the Family History Month Jubilee on October 22.  It sounds like it's going to be cool -- hot dogs, antique bicycles, a trolley between the MHGS, the Wichita Public Library, the Sedgwick Co Historical Museum and the African American History museum.  If you're in the Wichita area, you should come check it out!  I'll be the one playing sheepdog to get people on and off the trolley at the MHGS stop.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Straw Man Deeds

While working through deeds I found in Nebraska, I found 3 transactions:
  • Henry sold land to his son Elisha
  • Elisha bought land from a neighbor
  • Elisha sold both parcels of land to the neighbor
So, the net effect is that Henry sold land to the neighbor.  After a bit of reading, I conclude that this was a straw man transaction...but why?  These transactions occurred over several days and would have required 3 registration fees, so it must have seemed like a good idea.  I wonder what they were trying to achieve...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Vienna Cemetery

One interesting stop in Vienna last week was the cemetery, Zentralfriedhof .  Our guide was interested in showing us the showpiece markers, like this one for Beethoven

but I kept hopping out to take pictures of the normal people sections, like this one

It's an interesting cemetery.  Firstly, it's huge; apparently a far-sighted city leader decided that the cemeteries around the city's churches were filling up and somewhat unhygienic, so they extrapolated out the number of residents they would have for the next century and established a cemetery out on the projected outskirts that could handle everyone.  While they were establishing it, they created some zones in the center for luminaries, especially the musicians, and moved their graves to the new cemetery.  There's a marker for Mozart, although the actual location of his body is unknown.  It's much more densely filled than many I visit in the U.S.

And remember the scene in the movie Amadeus where Mozart's body is dumped out of a reusable casket?  The scene gave viewers, particularly Americans, the sense that his was a pauper's funeral.  According to our tour guide, this is wrong -- that same leader had decided that burying nice caskets was wasteful and decreed the use of these reusable ones; it was too radical an idea for the time, so the practice didn't last, but it was used for a while.

For more information about this cemetery, check out Wikipedia or the official website (in German).

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Gaylord Cemetery

This cemetery is just south of Smith Center, Kansas.  It's a bit tricky to find, because you have to drive through the tiny town of Gaylord. Do NOT trust any computer map that shows a road running directly east-west from the cemetery to the highway -- it's just a rut in a field and is not a road at all.

It's very well kept, but I didn't find a directory.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Athol Cemetery

There's not much left of the town of Athol, in Smith county, Kansas, but they have a lovely cemetery.  I've seen it referred to as the Athol Cemetery, Pleasant View Cemetery, and Meyers Cemetery.  There's a good directory.

After Googling for directions, I found myself on a little dirt road, driving through a corn field.  As I came over the hill, I saw an incredible panorama view which included a lovely cemetery.

As it turns out, there was a shorter route, but it wasn't nearly as picturesque!

This cemetery had the Moore and Frazier families.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Scandia Cemetery

In the tiny town of Scandia, Kansas, is what may be the prettiest cemetery I've seen -- the Riverview Cemetery sits on top of a bluff overlooking the Republican River.

I didn't see an index, but found my Hays/Sigsbee marker easily from the road.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Collaborative Genealogy

Another issue that has come up with respect to the geni.com kerflufle is the question of "the one true tree."  The debate has been framed in terms of a choice between everyone working on their own, private trees and everyone contributing to a master tree with a single "profile" for each person.  There are the predictable questions of how to make trade-offs between efficiency and quality control.

Personally, I think we need to look to the third model, which I think is kind of a genealogical version of a folksonomy.  For the long version of a definition, refer to this article by Clay Shirky.  For a short definition...a taxonomy is when you arrange things in pre-defined, top-down categories, and the operating assumption is that there is a "right" category, or categories, for each thing.  To my thinking, this is analogous to the one true tree approach to genealogy.  A folksonomy, on the other hand, is a bottom-up sorting system, where each user tags things with his or her own categories, everyone can see how everyone else has tagged those things, and what is useful emerges from general consensus.  Oddly enough, someone is already doing this in the genealogy world...Ancestry.com.

Consider.  I can build a tree on ancestry.com.  This is my tree, and only those people I specifically select can edit it.  But, through Member Connect, I can tag people in other trees that I think are, or could be, the same as a person in my tree.  Now, I get the efficiency of seeing what other people are doing without the rigor and angst of forcing a merging of our research.  The same is true of the ability to link people in my tree to source records like census records and newspaper pages.  Anyone else looking at the same census record can see this link and other records that have also been linked to the person this record has been linked to.  The more people who agree with these links, the stronger the consensus, but no one is forced to accept the consensus view against their will.

Of course, if I don't want to collaborate, the ability to link source records to people in my tree serves as my own personal set of organized bookmarks into ancestry's monster site.  Which is also sweet.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Geni.com, WikiTree and Charging for User-Contributed Content

Like a lot of folks, I've been following the Geni.com kerfluffle.  I just had a chance to listen to the recording of the Geneabloggers Radio show with the CEO of Geni.com, and I have a few thoughts.

First, a bit of background.  Before the geni.com announcement, I hadn't been terribly impressed with geni.com before this -- I posted a small tree and found it frustrating that it wouldn't accept place names it didn't recognize (which I assume was a result of privileging the ability to use a master place name database for cool mapping purposes over the ability to enter the name of a place as it was used at the time of the event), the lack of basic error-proofing (like simple date checking to prevent accidentally entering a death that was earlier than a birth), and the fact that I found content from my personal website lifted wholesale and pasted in as a "document" without any credit whatsoever.  I also don't care for what seems like constant and almost deceptive attempts to get me to upgrade to pro.

I am now unimpressed with geni.com as a company -- they didn't handle the introduction of these changes well, and now that I've listened to Noah explain the problem they were trying to solve, I have to say that the problem, which is a variation of data decay, is one anyone working professionally with databases should have predicted from the beginning.  If they're not great programmers and not great communicators, what are they great at?

I've also entered a small tree at WikiTree, and, while I like the basic idea, and the ad-based income model, I fear that they may be a bit too techie for the average genealogist.  I found it tricky to figure out how to edit the various sections, and I think I'm pretty web savvy.

Part of the general problem here has nothing to do with genealogy.  All over the web there are social sites wrestling with the same problem.  Developing and operating a good site is not free and requires full-time attention, so the host is not being unreasonable to want some revenue.  However, while the host may provide the site and the features, there really is no product until the users contribute a critical mass of content (or social-ness), which they are usually doing for free.  Thus, when a site operator sells the site, or starts charging for it, those members who contributed often feel betrayed or robbed; of course, if the site operator tries to continue subsidizing the site, the operator, and the site, probably won't last.

While I was doing interviews for my doctoral research, I heard a lot about a very similar situation in another hobby area.  When the site operator decided to stop going to a full-time job all day and supporting the social site all night and try to make a living from the site, the community almost imploded; many formerly active participants left and have never returned.  After a few false steps, I personally think the site operator has found a good balance -- the parts of the site that depend on free contributions from users are free to use, and she has put a her effort into finding ways to provide other features that premium users are willing to pay for.  And, no (I'm talking to you, geni.com), site search and editing your own content don't count as premium features.

So...on one hand, this mess is not caused by some flaw that's unique to geni.com, because this is an issue that is coming up all over the web and hasn't been resolved, but, on the other hand, this issue has come up before, so geni.com should have seen it coming. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wichita Photos

Another great link from Wichita State University -- a joint project between WSU, the Wichita Public Library, and the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Society to provide digitized photos of Wichita.  There are approximately 1000 photos online.  The collection is searchable by keyword, date, and 20 subject categories.

Check it out at http://www.wichitaphotos.org/search.asp

Saturday, August 20, 2011

WWI Plaque at Pawnee County Courthouse

On my way out of the courthouse in Pawnee City, I saw this brass plaque listing Pawnee County people who served in WWI.  Unfortunately, I didn't notice that the list only goes to K, which makes me think there's another somewhere.  Sigh.

I like the fact that they listed the Red Cross nurses as well as the soldiers!

I've put the complete list of names after a jump (I think)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Dr. Edward N. Tihen's Notes on Wichita Newspapers

I found a cool resource on the Wichita State University library website today.  Dr. Edward Tihen read and took notes on "nearly every" issue of the Wichita newspapers from 1872 to 1982.  WSU has transcriptions of these notes in searchable PDF files. They have also identified and organized notes on almost 500 topics including particular buildings, neighborhoods, individuals and events.  Each note is tagged with the date of the paper, so you could use this as an index to the microfilmed paper.

This may not be as good as a full-text, searchable archive of the newspaper, but I'm not aware of such a resource yet for the Eagle and Beacon.

Check it out at http://specialcollections.wichita.edu/collections/local_history/tihen/index.asp

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Pawnee City Cemetery

If you find Pawnee City, you've found the cemetery -- it's right on the main road through town.  It's a big, well-kept cemetery with a very good directory and map in a little house onsite.  Beware -- there are half a dozen sections, with names, and the block and plot numbers repeat, so you really do need to write down the names (guess who didn't do that the first time!)  Most of my Shellhorns and Aikins have markers; the Colony plot, however, has several names in the directory but only one marker.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Pawnee City Historical Society

The Pawnee City Historical Society, in Pawnee City, Nebraska is primarily a museum site, with more than 20 historic buildings and many exhibits.  They have recently acquired a building which they call their genealogy building, but haven't had time to really do much with it except house AMERICORPS volunteers this summer. This building is pretty much only open by appointment and a very nice lady came on a Sunday afternoon to open it up and spend about an hour (without air conditioning!) with me. 

What they have:
  • Cemetery records, including directories and maps for Cincinnati and DuBois, and the actual burial records for the Pawnee City cemetery
  • A booklet, written in '70s, about the history of Cincinnati and DuBois, for sale for $7. (This same booklet is available at the Beatrice library, which is only helpful if you can get to the library.)
  • Some digitized photographs 
  • Some old land record books from the courthouse.  The courthouse still has the Grantor and Grantee indexes and the Deed books, but the historical society has the old books that are organized by legal land description.
  • A few school graduation and county fair souvenirs, mostly hidden behind glass
I got the sense that these folks know how to run a good historical museum but are in uncharted waters when it comes to offering a good genealogy library.  There have given in to the temptation to create "displays" on the flat surfaces, which makes it hard to work with the cemetery records, and the land books are in a back room until someone figures out how to work with them.  If they can find a local genealogist to give them a little advice, though, I expect they'll put together a great resource.

I entertained myself on the drive back to my hotel thinking about what a visiting genealogist really wants from a local library...

Saturday, August 6, 2011

I'm a Genealogy Librarian!

Well, I'm an assistant librarian at a genealogy library, which is not exactly the same thing.  I did my first shift this morning as a volunteer at the Midwest Historical and Genealogical Society in Wichita. We weren't busy this morning, so I split my time between administrative things like learning to use the copy machine and exploratory things like poking through the library catalog and the piles of data CDs next to the computer.  The main librarian left us the task of checking a few of the obituary binders for missing pages and I was blown away by how much work the society has done on them, clipping obituaries, death notices and miscellaneous articles about accidents and murders from the Wichita Eagle and Beacon newspapers since 1955.  The binders take up a whole bookcase.

It seems that local genealogy libraries have to split their focus to serve two different audiences -- those who live in the local area and want to research their lines, which requires resources about other areas, and those who are researching lines in the local area, but may not live there.   The MHGS library reflects this -- the basement is devoted to Wichita and the surrounding areas, and includes resources the society has acquired, like city directories, and resources the society has created, like the obituary binders.  The other two floors are more outward looking.  Before joining the society, I had not appreciated how much material they have accumulated on other states; I had always assumed that, because my family arrived in Wichita in the 60's, local libraries wouldn't really have much to offer me.  I stand corrected!

Friday, August 5, 2011

DuBois Cemetery

The DuBois cemetery is just south of the town of DuBois on the main road through town. It's very easy to find and very well maintained.

I didn't see an onsite directory, but the Pawnee Historical Society has a directory and map.

I found a few Shellhorns and Miners here, and lots of Britts.  Selected photos are here.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cincinnati Cemetery

Because the town of Cincinnati pretty much disappeared many years ago, the cemetery is located in the middle of a cornfield.  It is very well maintained today, but shows signs that suggest it has not always been so.  There is no onsite directory, so I would recommend stopping at the Beatrice Public Library or the Pawnee City Historical Society before heading out into the countryside; the cemetery is small enough to walk around looking for stones, but you'd want to be sure you are looking for Cincinnati rather than the DuBois or Pawnee City cemeteries before braving the gravel roads to Cincinnati. It also appears that there were a lot of burials for which there are no markers visible today.

I found markers for several of my relatives, both direct ancestors like Elisha and Flora DeWitt and Elizabeth DeWitt, and for other Miners, Lores and DeWitts.  I've put them all on my website at Cincinnati Cemetery.  (I only took pictures of relatives or probable relatives, which I estimate at approximately 1/4 of the visible markers.)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Beatrice Public Library

The public library in Beatrice is gorgeous.  Lovely building, nice landscaping, very interesting interior. 

They have a pretty good genealogy section, especially, as you would expect, for Nebraska.  Except for the county I was looking for...Pawnee, which is southeast of Beatrice.  I don't think it's the library's fault -- I didn't get the impression during my trip there's much of an organized genealogy force in Pawnee county. 

I did find a couple of useful things.  One was a cemetery index.  The other was a tiny history of Cincinnati and Dubois; from it I learned that Cincinnati was located in a floodplain, which discouraged the railroad, and that the combined effects of periodic floods and the railroad going elsewhere caused the residents to pretty much pack up and move north to DuBois (which is pronounce DOO Boys).  This helped explain some patterns in my data, which made me happy.

It was nice to have the genealogy section out in the main part of the library, like we...I don't know...belong?  Don't have to be hidden in a separate room?  Is the genealogy happy dance really that distracting for other library patrons?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Planning My Research Trip

Things I found helpful while planning (and conducting) my recent research trip:

Evernote: This is free-form (and free!) note-collecting software that syncs across all your mobile devices.  I put together a notebook with weblinks, snippets of text, and lists for all the stops I planned to make, including libraries, my hotels, courthouses, etc -- and they were all available on my phone, my iPad, and my laptop, even when I didn't have internet access.  I was also able to share it with my mom, giving her the info she would need if she needed to track me down (and my phone didn't work for some reason.) I find I'm using Evernote more and more as I learn more about it.

Google Maps: I made a custom map with pins for every library, cemetery, courthouse, hotel, restaurant, and symposium location I thought I might stop at.  It was very helpful for planning my days.  It would have been more helpful during my days if A) I had internet access everywhere and/or B) there was a way to sync it to my car's navigation system.

TMG: The genealogy software I use, The Master Genealogist, has the option to print lists of all the events that meet a given criteria, sorted however you like.  I made event lists for every event that took place in the counties I was visiting, sorted by city, which helped me figure out who to look for in probate indexes, deed books, and cemetery indexes.  I even had a couple of addresses of residences and businesses to check out in hopes of finding original houses, businesses or churches (I found a couple of possibles).

A plain spiral-bound notebook: I still find this the best way to take notes on the fly -- you can schlep it around a cemetery, use it to hold down grass while you take a picture, and use it as a plate for your afternoon M&M break.  Plus, you can use it anywhere, anytime, without worrying about power or dropping it (or sweating on it -- those cemeteries were hot!)

This article by Thomas MacEntee:  I didn't use all of his suggestions, but it was a good way to start focusing my thinking.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Homestead National Monument of America

One evening during the conference, we had dinner at the Homestead National Monument.  The food was unremarkable, but the monument is kinda cool. I hadn't heard of it, but it's actually dedicated to a piece of legislation, the Homestead Act of 1862, which offered free land to anyone who could tame 160 acres of raw wilderness with a house, cultivated crops, and five years of residence.

There are two especially interesting things about the monument.  First, they have a dramatic new building with very well done displays and an interpretive film.  If you go in the evening, you may see a spectacular sunset framed in the windows.

Second, they have teamed with Family Search, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Footnote.com to digitize and index all the homestead application records at NARA.  Considering that they think that something like 70 million people today descend from homesteaders, and that homestead records can contain genealogically valuable information, I think that's great news!

I also think it's great to see how the National Park Service is trying to reach out to more than just tourists and schoolchildren.  Linking the National Archives' historical records with the NPS historical interpretation resources has a lot of potential to make genealogy a lot more fun.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Land Records and Genealogy Symposium, Nebraska

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the Land Records and Genealogy Symposium in Beatrice, NE.  I learned several interesting things, the first of which is that it's pronounced beATriss.

The symposium is a joint venture between the community college in Beatrice and the Homestead National Monument of America, which celebrates the Homestead Act of 1862.  About 1/3 of the presentations focused on land records -- understanding the platting system, knowing what to look for in the deed index and deed book, etc.  Three of the others were on technology -- Google, blogs, social media; I liked the one Thomas MacEntee did on Google the best.  Possibly the most entertaining presentation was on identifying 19th century photographs; even the the event planners, who weren't genealogists, were fascinated.  Gail Blankenou did a fabulous job.

This symposium is offered every two years.  I've only been to one other genealogy conference, so I don't have much to compare it to, but I'd say that it was worth the extremely reasonable fee.  And, when making your lunch choices, go with the lasagna...

Friday, July 29, 2011

Hello World

Weeeeeeeellllllll, here I go, starting a genealogy blog.  I've had a website for several years, and the bulk of my research will still go there, but I decided that I would like to start sharing some of the things that don't fit in that format. 

Specifically, my website at www.julialangel.com/genealogy will reflect the sum of my information about my family.  This blog will reflect my thoughts on such disparate subjects as the things you'll find in the Smith County KS public library, what it's like to be a new volunteer librarian at a genealogy library, and whether or not I find something genealogical useful to do with Google+

I hope that along the way, I'll write something you might find interesting or useful.  Let me know if I come close!