Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Genealogy Events in Nebraska - June 2012

Do you have an event to add? Please email me the details. Click for all events for 2012.

Date & Location

June 1, 2012
7:00 p.m.
LDS Family History Center
11027 Martha St
Omaha, NE
GO-PAF Meeting
Program to be announced

June 3, 2012
2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Walt Branch Library
6701 South 14th St
Lincoln, NE
Drop-In Session – assistance with your research featuring Rayma Shrader

June 5, 2012
8:30 p.m.
Family History Library
3000 Old Cheney Road
Lincoln, NE

June 7, 2012
1:00 p.m.
St. Paul United Methodist Church
12th and M Streets
Lincoln, NE
LLCGS Discussion Group led by Bob Houser

June 12, 2012
8:30 p.m.
Family History Library
3000 Old Cheney Road
Lincoln, NE

June 12, 2012
7:15 p.m.
Dick Administration Building
Union College
3800 S. 48th St
Lincoln, NE
Lincoln Lancaster County Genealogical Society monthly program: Obituaries and So Much More. Presented by Bill Eddy and Debbie Way

June 16, 2012
9:00 a.m. – Noon
Mormon Trail Center
3215 State St
Omaha, NE
Greater Omaha Genealogical Society free class: Finding Family on the Internet: Is It Accurate?; There’s More in the Courthouse than Vital Records

June 20, 2012
2:00 p.m.
Great Room
6201 Normal Blvd
Lincoln, NE
LLCGS Discussion Group led by Lila Garner

June 23, 2012
11:00 a.m.
W. Dale Clark Library
215 S. 15th St
Omaha, NE
Extra! Extra! Read All About It – using newspapers for genealogy research.
Presented by Susan Petersen of

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Those Book Places - Beatrice Public Library

Beatrice Public Library
Beatrice, Nebraska
While in Beatrice, Nebraska over the weekend to visit the Homestead National Monument of America, there were some other places I wanted to visit during this day trip.

On the top of the list was the Beatrice Public Library. The main reason is because this library houses the book collection of the Nebraska State Genealogical Society.

Saturday's visit did not have a research plan. I just wanted to stop in and browse through the collection so that I would know the lay of the land for a future research day.

I was thrilled with what I found here! A very helpful librarian directed me to the Heritage Room, the Nebraska State Genealogical Society collection as well as the other genealogy reference books offered by the library.

For matters of full disclosure, this is where I have to admit that over the past decade, the majority of my genealogy research has been done online. As much as I love libraries, I've managed to remain quite busy just with my online resources and sorting and scanning the documents in my family archive. I've never been to a major library or archive before, so in my limited experience, I was very pleased with what greeted me!

A portion of the collection of
the Nebraska State Genealogical Society
I've always said that I am quite fortunate that my ancestors settled and lived in about a 200 mile radius of where I live. Local resources are bountiful. In the NSGS collection, I found county histories, centennial history books, city directories from what appears to be every county in Nebraska. There's a variety of little gems, family histories, indexes and resources I would never have thought about before.

Heritage Room
Climate Controlled with a glass enclosed rare books section

My first stop was to visit the Heritage Room, which is a climate controlled environment. If you love that smell of an old bookstore (or perhaps an area of your own personal library!), you'll get the adrenalin rush as you walk in. The room is dark and there are four computers and a microfilm reader and microfilm reels. The computers were being used by fellows watching You Tube videos and surfing the net. I felt like I was the outsider here, actually looking through some of the books!

My father's grandparents lived in Beatrice in the 1930s and 1940s. I had discovered the addresses of their residences in city directories on Ancestry.com, but thought I would look through the city directories. My browsing turned up a third address in Beatrice where my great grandmother had lived!

I spent the rest of my time looking through the NSGS collection. My eyes popped when I saw a thick book with "Amherst" on the binding. Anytime I come across anything relating to Amherst, I have to take a look because my friend and fellow geneablogger, Jenna Mills (Desperately Seeking Surnames) has ancestors who lived there. I've been following her stories about tracking down Mary Evingham for a couple years now. As I looked through the book, I sent Jenna a message on Facebook to get some specifics on names and dates. She responded within a couple minutes and I was on the amazing race through this book! Ah! I found not only references but a lengthy bio of her Thomas N. Smith. I took some quick photos and emailed them off to Jenna.

Now - if you'd told me a couple months ago that I'd be using an iPhone for library research, I'm not sure I would have thought that possible. So Jenna and I messaged and emailed back and forth with each of my new discoveries on her family. I was every bit as excited as if I had been researching my own family. Now, I've got to convince her to make a research trip to Nebraska one of these days!

After lunch, I drove around Beatrice to the addresses where my great grandmother lived. The first was a house which could have been there for 70 years. The next address turned out to be a vacant lot. The third address is that of a Baptist Church. So that means I need to dig deeper to find out how long the church has been at that address and what was located there before.

I returned to the library to do some browsing in Lancaster, Cass and Nuckolls county books. My only "hit" was a photograph of a first cousin, once removed and he was barely visible in this photo of about 50 men.

I used the online card catalog in the library to search resources in the collection. Even as tech savvy as I am, I couldn't find a way to click "back" to go back to my search results after I located a book in the catalog. So I again turned to my iPhone and searched the catalog from there.

Now that I know the lay of the land, I will do some more searching of the online catalog and make a list of the books I want to look at on my next visit. I will definitely have a much better defined task list ready for my next day trip.

Overall, I thought the library was very inviting, comfortable and the staff quite helpful. Although, I think that ALL libraries need to stop shelving books within 12 inches of the floor. Eyes that are six decades old with bifocal correction just can't read those Dewey Decimal numbers at that angle! And the knees don't bend as well as they used to!

As Arnold said, "I'll be back!"

Beatrice Public Library
100 N. 16th Street
Beatrice, Nebraska

Search the catalog and get hours of operation here

Seeing the Homestead Act Up Close and Personal

Heritage Center
all photos on this page taken by
and copyright Susan Petersen 2012
Not only does 2012 mark the release of the 1940 census records, it is also the 150th anniversary of the Homestead Act of 1862. The Homestead Act opened millions of acres across the nation to settlement and cultivation. Thirty of our nation's 50 states had homestead lands at some time during the Homestead Act's existence (1863 - 1986).

For the past month, all four pages of the Homestead Act have been on display at the Homestead National Monument of America near Beatrice, Nebraska. This was the first time the Act had been on display outside of Washington, D.C. and the first time all four pages have been publicly displayed as a unit.

The major events celebrating the Homestead Act at the monument have drawn to a close and the folding chairs under the Chautauqua tent were packed up yesterday morning. Tomorrow is the last day that the Homestead Act will be on display in Nebraska.

Yesterday morning, I took off on the short drive to Beatrice to spend the morning at the Homestead National Monument of America and to see the Homestead Act.

Honor to the Homestead States
Not one to enjoy crowds, I was glad I had waited a week for my Homestead adventure. About 2,000 people were on hand for last weekend's events. When I arrived shortly after 9 a.m. yesterday morning, there were less than 10 cars in the parking lot. No rush, I took my time to savor the exhibits before actually viewing this historic document.

The entrance to the Heritage Center is lined with outlines of each state where homesteads were issued. The cutouts on each graphic represent the proportional amount of land that was homesteaded in each state.

As you can see, a significant portion of Nebraska was open to homesteaders.

I have ancestors who were homesteaders. On Fold3.com, I have discovered the homestead documents of my 2nd great grandfathers, John Bellinger and Daniel Landon, as well as other affiliated family members.

Reading those documents provides much insight to the lives my ancestors lived. To "prove up," the homesteaders had to submit documentation that they had lived on the property for at least five years and describe the improvements made to the property. This usually meant that friends or relatives had to attest to knowing the homesteader and describe the improvements.

Palmer-Epard Cabin
On the grounds of the Homestead National Monument of America is the Palmer-Epard cabin, which was moved to the grounds in 1950. It's a small one-room home where a pioneer family ate and slept. Peeking through the windows provided a glimpse of life in the 1880s.

The Freeman Graves

Down the hill from the Heritage Center are the graves of Daniel and Agnes Freeman. Freeman was the very first homesteader. The 160 acres of land occupied by the Homestead National Monument of America are on the very homestead where the Freemans lived and worked.

The Homestead Act of 1862

As might be expected, stepping up to view the Homestead Act was a breathtaking and emotional experience. As I read the first words of the document, my eyes filled with tears, realizing that I was connected to this piece of history through my ancestors. It also saddened me, knowing how many of our Native population was displaced because of this westward expansion.

Roaming the grounds of the monument was quiet, peaceful and calming. At times, I did feel as though I had been taken back in a time machine to the lands settled by my ancestors.

Should your travels bring you through Nebraska, I certainly can recommend you make plans to visit the Homestead National Monument of America.


LongLostRelative's Homestead Act Toolbox with links to news articles

Virtual tour of Homestead National Monument (more than 50 photos that I took yesterday)

Friday, May 25, 2012

1940 Nebraska Census is 60 percent complete

As of this morning, the 1940 Nebraska Census records are 60% indexed and 45% arbitrated. You can help get Nebraska indexed and available online by volunteering and indexing records.
Get started indexing here.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

Photo Source: Library of Congress
enhancement via PowerSketch for iPhone
Please join me on June 23, 2012 for a session on newspaper research for genealogy. My talk is sponsored by the Omaha Public Library.

Click here to register

Description: Newspapers provide an excellent source of information about your ancestors and living relatives. While not always accurate, newspapers provide clues and information that help tell the story of how your ancestors lived. Participants will learn about research strategies and the use of resources including microfilm, archives, free and fee-based online sites.

The talk is free and open to the public.

Saturday, June 23, 2012
11:00 a.m.
W. Dale Clark Main Library
215 South 15th St, Omaha, Nebraska

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Hank Jones is coming to Lincoln - October 13, 2012

Noted genealogist, author, lecturer and actor Henry Z. "Hank" Jones will be the featured speaker for the LLCGS fall conference on October 12, 2012. Be sure to save the date on your calendar and plan to attend.

Hank Jones' biography

Not long ago, Time Magazine had a cover-story devoted to genealogy in the new millennium and chose to close the article and tie things together with a quote from Hank Jones. That's a long way from his genealogical beginnings: Henry Z ("Hank") Jones, Jr. has been actively climbing family trees since the age of eight, when he found an old trunk filled with fading tintypes, family letters, and old newspaper clippings in the basement of his parents' home in San Leandro, California. He wrote his first genealogical work A Few More Left: The Story of Isaac Hillman, his great grandfather, while still in high school. Hank continued to pursue his genealogical interests while attending Stanford University, from which he graduated in 1963.

When Hank discovered that he descended from Abraham Bergmann, a German from Iggelheim in the Pfalz who immigrated in 1709 to County Limerick, Ireland, his interest in all matters Palatine was born. He exhaustively combed all archives in Germany, London and Ireland to gather all extant data on this Irish-German group who arrived with his ancestor in 1709/10 and then published his results in 1965 in The Palatine Families of Ireland (reprinted and expanded in 1990 by Picton Press).

Determined to continue his investigations into all the families who left Germany in the great exodus, Hank then turned his attention to those 847 families who settled in colonial New York in 1710. His New York Palatine project began in 1969: Hank's goal was to write a history of these courageous emigrants firmly documented with sources contemporary with the events!

Palatine Families Research

Every extant New York "Palatine" churchbook was extracted for every Palatine reference 1710 - 1776, and this information was placed on family groupsheets - which eventually totalled 17,000! A major thrust of the project was to find the ancestral homes and German origins of the 847 families, and, via Hank's village-to-village researches overseas, over 600 of the 847 were found and documented in Europe.

His two-volume set The Palatine Families of New York - 1710 was finally published in 1985 and has won the prestigious Donald Lines Jacobus Award as "best genealogical work of 1986" and also the Award of Merit "in recognition of distinguished work in genealogy" from the National Genealogical Society

For his efforts on the Palatines, Jones was elected as a Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists, of whom there are only 50 in the world. Hank has continued to write many articles on the Palatines over the years, and they have been published in The American Genealogist (TAG), National Genealogical Society Quarterly, New York Genealogical & Biographical Record, Genealogical Journal, Genealogical Magazine of Pennsylvania, Der Reggeboge, The Palatine Immigrant, and many others. He also has served on the national Board of Directors of the Genealogical Speaker's Guild and as a Trustee of the Association of Professional Genealogists.

In 1989, Hank co-authored a volume with noted Pennsylvania scholar Annette K. Burgert on the German origins of 250 families from the Neuwied/Westerwald region who arrived in Philadelphia 1740 - 1753 entitled Westerwald To America (published by Picton Press). More Palatine Families, the companion volume to his 1710 set, which chronicles the European origins and American activities of many of the families who arrived in colonial New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey in the great second wave of emigration from Germany 1717 - 1776, was released in 1991.

Psychic Roots

Hank's 1993 book Psychic Roots: Serendipity & Intuition in Genealogy (Genealogical Publishing Company), drawn from intriguing near "Twilight-Zone" experiences shared by over 200 prominent family historians, is now in its 6th printing.

NBC-TV's popular program "Unsolved Mysteries" starring Robert Stack featured an episode based on Psychic Roots. Hank's story of how he started genealogy at the age of 8 by exploring that old trunk was recreated and dramatized. He also had the opportunity to talk at length about his experiences in genealogy on the show, prompting a deluge of mail and calls from viewers wanting to know more about his work and how they might pursue their family history. This wonderful response has prompted a sequel - one of Hank's newest books - More Psychic Roots: Further Adventures in Serendipity & Intuition in Genealogy (also published by GPC): 225 genealogists worldwide contributed 300 new stories/experiences for this latest volume.

Hank's Life as an Actor

As to his "other life" apart from genealogical research, Hank Jones has been in the entertainment field since his graduation from Stanford. He began his career as co-star of the old daytime Tennessee Ernie Ford television show on ABC, logging 400 network appearances on the program; during this period, Hank also recorded albums on RCA, Capitol, and Epitome Records. In 1963, Hank Jones began a twenty year career as an actor in films and television.

He was a featured player in many of the Walt Disney films of the 1960's and 1970's, which still come back to haunt him on television today! These include Blackbeard's Ghost with Peter Ustinov, Elsa Lanchester, and Suzanne Pleshette, Herbie Rides Again with Helen Hayes, The Shaggy D.A. with Dean Jones and Tim Conway, The Cat From Outer Space with Sandy Duncan, and several others. He also appeared in many other films, including MGM's Girl Happy with Elvis Presley (a Palatine descendant of Valentin Pressler of 1709) and 20th Century Fox's Tora! Tora! Tora! the Academy Award winning film about Pearl Harbor.

On television, Hank Jones had recurring roles on My Three Sons with Fred MacMurray and William Frawley, and also on the Patty Duke Show. He was on many of the comedy programs of the 1960's and 1970's, including Love Boat, The Jeffersons, Mork and Mindy, The Henry Fonda Show, Love American Style, Petticoat Junction and many others. One of his  most interesting roles was playing former Beatle Ringo Starr's twin brother (after five hours of make-up every day) in a tv version of Mark Twain's Prince and the Pauper.

Over the years, Hank has been featured in countless tv commercials, several of which (for MacDonald's, Hai Karate After Shave, Honda, and Dial Soap) won awards and were shown on NBC's PriWORLD'S GREATEST COMMERICALS show. A long-time songwriter and member of ASCAP, Hank's song Midnight Swinger, recorded by Mel Torme, was honored with a preliminary Grammy nomination in 1970. In 1986, Hank made three appearances as "champion" on the popular quiz-show Jeopardy! on television. Besides all the fun and money involved, it gave him a chance to talk about genealogy on national television and brought forth thousands of letters from around the country from those interested in the Palatines!

Hank retired from "on-camera acting" in 1981 to devote more time to his first love of genealogical research. He has a daughter Amanda, now in her mid 30s, and lives with his wife Bonnie in the Scripps Ranch area of San Diego.

Biography courtesy Hank Jones, used with permission

Pre-conference session:
7:00 p.m.
Friday, October 12, 2012

Hank Jones Conference
Saturday, October 13, 2012
Southeast Community College
Continuing Education Center
301 S. 84th St.
Lincoln, Nebraska

This is a cross-posting from the Lincoln-Lancaster County Genealogy Society blog, which I also manage; disclosure: I'm the publicity chair for LLCGS.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Nebraska Genealogist of the Year: Ruby Coleman

Ruby Coleman
2011 Nebraska Genealogist of the Year
It should come as no surprise to anyone that Ruby Coleman of North Platte was named the 2011 Nebraska Genealogist of the Year at the 35th annual conference of the Nebraska State Genealogical Society in Grand Island on May 4 - 5, 2012.

Ruby has been doing genealogy for more than 40 years and professionally for more than 25 years. She is an instructor and freelance writer. Her articles have appeared in Ancestry, Internet Genealogy, Family Chronicle and Heritage Quest.

She has also written monthly articles on genealogy for Antique Weekly and a genealogy column for the North Platte Telegraph.

Ruby specializes in research in Nebraska and the plains area. Last year, she published a book on Nebraska research. Her next book focuses on Iowa research and will be published later this year. She has spoken at numerous national conferences as well as at state and local genealogy societies. She frequently is on the program for Family History Expos and writes several genealogy blogs.

Ruby's blogs:

Ruby was nominated by the North Platte Genealogical Society.

Ruby and I have been online friends on Genealogywise and Facebook for about two years and this marked the first time we met in person. I felt very fortunate to be able to spend some time with her at this year's conference and soak up some of her genea-energy. What a lady! I am really looking forward to attending several of her presentations at the Midwest Family History Expo that will be held in Kearney in September. Ruby is also a gadget lady and after watching her use a magic pen for taking and recording lecture notes, guess what's on my wish list!

There were 12 other nominations for genealogist of the year, all of whom were recognized at the conference. Three were nominated by my "home" society, the Lincoln-Lancaster County Genealogical Society (LLCGS): Al Harlow, Judi Cook and Phyllis Erickson. Certificates of Appreciation were given to those present.

NSGS President Floyd Smith III presents
 a Certificate of Appreciation to LLCGS President Phyllis Erickson.

NSGS President Floyd Smith III presents
 a Certificate of Appreciation to LLCGS Program Chair Judi Cook
I apologize for the blurry photo - you know how hard
it is to catch either Floyd or Judi standing still!

Other posts in this series about the 2012 NSGS conference:

Exhausted and Exhilarated

Arrows in Your Genealogy Quiver - summary of presentations by Laura Prescott

The link to this post is: http://longlostrelatives-smp.blogspot.com/2012/05/nebraska-genealogist-of-year-ruby.html

Arrows in Your Genealogy Quiver

Laura Prescott
Genealogy Rock Star
Nebraska State Genealogical Society conference
May 4 - 5, 2012
My mind is still spinning with all of the new resources that I've added to my genealogy toolbox this past weekend, thanks to Laura Prescott. Laura was the featured speaker at the 35th annual conference of the Nebraska State Genealogical Society in Grand Island on May 4 - 5, 2012.

Laura is an engaging speaker who not only knows how to do genealogy research, but how to give her audience the tools to further their own family history quest. In her own terminology, these genealogy tools are the arrows in our quiver. I came home with a quiver overflowing with new arrows. Each of her talks gave me some new sources to look into, as well as a reminder to go back to some of the web resources I haven't visited in a while.

Laura's presentation style is organized, focused and most importantly, she connects with her audience. She had us laughing with many of her anecdotal stories - especially about debunking some of the myths.

Her first session was on timelines and placing your heritage in historical perspective. This is one of my favorite topics and she gave several visual examples of different ways to create a timeline. One of the first arrows in my quiver was a link to Vertex 42, a web site with links to Excel templates that can be used to create timelines. I use Excel for all sorts of data management projects in my day-job, but had never carried that over to my genealogy projects. Laura's pointers opened up a lot of new possibilities for me.

"Three brothers came to America . . ."

Laura had us all laughing with this ongoing theme about family history myths. Many times our research is about disproving "facts" rather than proving them. I always like to hear other genealogists talk about doing collateral research using the FANs approach - Friends, Associates and Neighbors. Sometimes I get so wrapped up researching the inlaws of the inlaws that I feel I'm losing my focus. But I know that the missing link I'm looking for will likely be discovered while researching one of these collateral families. This methodology was validated by Laura in several examples in her own research.

I enjoyed Laura's session about diaries and journals. While I don't have any of these in my collection, a close second are several autograph books that belonged to my female ancestors and my father's daily letters home from World War II. Hidden gems of daily life can be discovered in these artifacts. Laura referred to these as "tangible connections to the past." Sometimes, one just has to stop and think that their ancestor actually held this item, signed this item. If that doesn't give you goosebumps, I don't know what would.

Spinsters and Widows was another of Laura's topics. Don't we all enjoy the challenge of locating our female ancestors? Did you know that a Spinster is not necessarily an Old Maid? Laura pointed out the true definition of spinster as an indicator of a woman's legal status - that she is able to act on her own behalf or on behalf of her husband.

Laura concluded with a session on using manuscripts to create a family history. She reminded us that we are always writing our family history. She emphasized how we need to look at many of our artifacts with fresh eyes - we will often discover something that we hadn't seen before.

I really enjoyed being a student in Laura's classroom. I took away so much from all of her sessions, including  the inspiration that attending these conferences always gives me. I have dozens of web links and books to look in to, so the learning will continue for months to come. And I have a new found Facebook friend!

Visit Laura Prescott's web site

Other posts in this series about the 2012 NSGS conference:

Exhausted and Exhilarated

2011 Nebraska Genealogist of the Year - Ruby Coleman

The link to this post is http://longlostrelatives-smp.blogspot.com/2012/05/arrows-in-your-genealogy-quiver.html

Exhausted and Exhilarated! The 2012 NSGS Conference

The 35th annual conference of the Nebraska State Genealogical Society (NSGS) in Grand Island is now a memory, but one loaded with notes, ideas, new friends, and genealogy tools that featured speaker Laura Prescott refers to as "arrows in your quiver."

Hanging out with the Genea-Peeps
Grand Island, Nebraska
photo by Beth Sparrow
Many of us who live in or research in Nebraska hang out on Facebook in a group called Nebraska Genea-Peeps. (Please join the discussion!). Our excitement for the conference has been building for several weeks as we shared information and made plans to attend. Social networking has provided a way for connections to be made in an instant, with bonds and friendships forming.

When I arrived, I ran into several fellow genealogists I've met at previous conferences. I'm still a bit amazed at how easy it has been for me to feel connected and part of the genealogy community at these events. My usual shy nature has disappeared and I found myself table-hopping to get around to say hello to people I've met before and to finally meet several of my Facebook friends in person.

The first person I saw when I walked into the ballroom was Ruby Coleman. This was the first time we met in person, but we greeted each other with a bear hug as though we had been friends for years. Ruby is one of those special people to me. She was my first contact on Genealogywise and the first genealogist on Facebook to accept my friend request about two years ago. More about Ruby later!

Judi Cook and Cindy Cochran of LLCGS
demonstrate the features
of the LLCGS web site
My colleagues from the Lincoln-Lancaster County Genealogical Society (LLCGS) were there and LLCGS had a vendor table on Friday. It was a great opportunity to promote our October 13 conference featuring Hank Z. Jones.

On Saturday, Nebraska Lt. Governor Rick Sheehy of Hastings welcomed our group to Grand Island and presented a proclamation from the Governor announcing that April 30 - May 6, 2012 is Nebraska's Genealogy Week. He shared some information about how genealogical research had impacted his family - that was a nice touch!

There is so much information to share about this year's conference that I'm spreading this out over several blog posts. Up next: featured speaker Laura Prescott.

It's Official!
Nebraska's Genealogy Week
April 30 - May 6, 2012

Other posts in this series about the 2012 NSGS conference:

Arrows in Your Quiver - summary of presentations by Laura Prescott

2011 Nebraska Genealogist of the Year - Ruby Coleman

The link to this post is: http://longlostrelatives-smp.blogspot.com/2012/05/exhausted-and-exhilarated-2012-nsgs.html