Sunday, December 23, 2012

Third Blogiversary of LongLostRelatives - Year in Review

Time rolls around so quickly! It's really hard for me to believe that is already three years old, having been born on December 13 in 2009. 2010 clearly was a landmark year for my blogging, with more than 300 posts that year. 2011 slipped down to a little over 200. This year, I averaged about one post per week, but my reasons for being AWOL from blogging were addressed in my Transitions post.

But is still attracting readers and serving as cousin bait. Just last week, I received an email from someone who was searching a common ancestor and found the blog. I still get a kick out of hearing from people, sharing our research and discussing our theories.

Evelyn Gibbons obituary
Discovered at W Dale Clark Library
in Omaha
2012 marked coming around full circle. My first blog post was in the form of a query; I was looking for an obituary to confirm if some information I discovered was truly about my Mom's first cousin. It took me nearly three years to discover that obituary, and it was almost in my own back yard, just an hour's drive away at the W. Dale Clark Library in Omaha.


2012 also marked the year of my return to volunteerism. I've been a member of the Lincoln-Lancaster County Genealogical Society on and off for many years. Now, having been a member for seven years in a row, it was time to start giving back. I had approached LLCGS about doing social media via Facebook almost three years ago, but they weren't quite ready for it. When 2012 rolled around, the President asked if I would be publicity chair and one of the first things I did was to set up our LLCGS Facebook page, a blog and Twitter feed. These methods of communication are integral to our full publicity efforts, and along with our webmaster and newsletter editor, we are communicating with our members and followers in a variety of ways.

In the late summer, I was elected as a member at large to the LLCGS Board of Directors. Yes, I chaired the nominating committee, but I was NOT my own first choice for a position on the Board! As I spoke with the movers and shakers of the society, several of them suggested I consider myself for the open position. After some persuasion, I realized I could do a much better job with our publicity and social media if I were involved in the oversight of the organization, so I agreed. I haven't looked back since.

LLCGS is, by far, one of the most exciting community organizations I've been involved with in many years. There is so much enthusiasm and support for genealogy education in our community. It's fun to be a part of that. Our group offers excellent monthly programs, a conference with a nationally recognized speaker, monthly discussion groups, field trips, and weekly sessions at Walt Branch Library in Lincoln. These Sunday Sessions may focus on DNA, Technology, a Writer's Group, Sharing our Family History, German Genealogy Interest Group as well as drop-in Help sessions for members and the community. Walt Branch Library is becoming "the" place to be for genealogists on Sunday afternoons. Just wait until you see the line-up of events we are planning for 2013! There truly is something for everyone.

Genealogy Speaking

I also continued to dabble in giving talks about genealogy. For LLCGS, I gave a presentation on genealogy blogs. During the summer, I was invited back to W. Dale Clark Library in Omaha and debuted my talk about newspaper research. This fall, I was guest of the Friends of Wymore Library for a talk about beginning genealogy. And I'm starting to line up a few more speaking engagements for 2013.

Homestead National Monument and Beatrice, Nebraska

Homestead National
Monument of America
near Beatrice, Nebraska
Over Memorial Day weekend, I finally made it to the Homestead National Monument to see all of the pages of the Homestead Act - the first time all of the pages were on display together. Right before my eyes was that familiar signature of President Lincoln.

I took a lot of photos in the museum and around the prairie grounds that still look much the way they probably did 150 years ago. It was a sunny, peaceful and quiet Saturday morning that left me exhilarated.

I then spent some time getting acquainted with the genealogy materials at the Beatrice Public Library, which is also where the collection of the Nebraska State Genealogical Society is located. I didn't have a research plan in mind - I just wanted to find my way around and see what they had. Then, a true example of social media in action occurred. I've been following Jenna Mills' search for her Buffalo county, Nebraska roots, particularly in Amherst, Nebraska. There, on one shelf, a thick book with the word "Amherst" on the spine caught my eye. I sent off a quick message on Facebook to Jenna to get her surnames. Messages between us then became fast and furious as I discovered pages of information about her family. I was as excited as if it had been my own family! She later said that she just kept clicking on Refresh, waiting as I kept sending more scans to her from the library. I got the biggest kick out of that!

I also drove around Beatrice and found the locations of where my great grandmother, Clara Pecht, had lived after the death of her husband, LeRoy. One appeared to be a vacant lot; another was the site of a church. So, clearly, there are more stories to be discovered in some land records.

Conferences and Kick-Offs

2012 marked the release of the 1940 census and I was involved in the Census Kick-Off celebration sponsored by LLCGS. Judi Cook, our program chair at the time, is a whiz at organizing events with so much attention to detail. People wore 1940s attire, someone brought a vintage 1940s automobile, there was 1940s food and candy (oh, it was Fresh, the items were first on the market in the 1940s!). I put together a music loop of some of my favorite Big Band music to accompany a slide show about the 1940s. It was a great event!

Laura Prescott at the state conference
of the Nebraska State Genealogical Society
In May, I attended the annual conference of the Nebraska State Genealogical Society in Grand Island and became acquainted with our speaker, Laura Prescott. She was fascinating and gave a lot of ideas about resources and techniques I want to pursue. I finally got to meet several of my Nebraska Facebook friends in person, so that was a special treat.

September brought Family History Expos to Kearney, with a turnout of about 300 people! It was great to reconnect with old friends from Lincoln and Omaha as well as other parts of the state. Ruby Coleman of North Platte was our keynote speaker.

Fall brought Hank Jones Jr. to the LLCGS conference in October. He was delightful! And YES, a GOOD speaker can do a full day of entertaining lectures and education without the use of PowerPoint slides! Unfortunately, I missed seeing John Colletta in Omaha two weeks later as I was still keeping an eye on my Dad who had a stroke the day after the Hank Jones conference. (He continues to improve, by the way, thank you to everyone who wrote with your positive thoughts and encouragement).

Reconnecting with the Geneabloggers

While I wasn't able to attend some of the big genealogy gatherings around the country this year, I was able to meet up with some blogger buddies who I first met at the Family History Expo in Kansas City in 2010.

Gena Philibert-Ortega was a presenter at the International Quilt Museum symposium here in Lincoln this year. We were able to get together for lunch at Lazlo's and share a very wonderful spinach and artichoke lavosh. We didn't have a whole lot of time together, but it was Quality time!

I was certainly disappointed in missing the John Colletta conference sponsored by the Greater Omaha Genealogical Society in October - because I had made plans to spend the day with my friend, Diana Ritchie who writes the Random Relatives blog, who has been a very good pal since we met in Kansas City two years ago. I owe her for taking me down the Kindle path! Fortunately, we already had Plan B ready. Her friend, Nancy, has connections in Lincoln and her grandparents are buried at Wyuka Cemetery here. We met bright and early for breakfast on a Sunday morning. I got to look at the beautiful book that Nancy had compiled via Then we scouted Wyuka looking for gravestones. Wyuka has THE BEST resource for locating graves on their web site. Every one is indexed and searchable and then there are maps for each section of the cemetery. One wishes that every cemetery had something this genealogist-friendly.

A short distance from Wyuka was the home and former grocery store that had belonged to Nancy's grandparents that she remembered from her visits to Lincoln. We walked around as Nancy and Diana took photographs. Of course, one of the neighbors wanted to know what the heck we were nosing about for!

Getting our Tech Together

This year I also set up two discussion groups on Facebook where we can talk about Kindle for Genealogy and Technology for Genealogy. Recently, I even created an iPad for Genealogy community on Google+. Please drop by any and all of these groups to ask questions and provide your answers for others. My thanks to Becky Jamison and Thomas MacEntee for their help in maintaining the groups.

As I look back over 2012, even I am amazed at all of my genealogical activities - because I thought it was a pretty tame and laid back year. Apparently not!

With my retirement now less than 40 days away (but who's counting?), I am really looking forward to 2013 and more volunteering with LLCGS, more speaking engagements, more blogging, more blog reading, more scanning, more organizing, more research, more conferences, more day trips, more of Everything that I Love!

I have no doubt that 2013 will be an amazing year!

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to all! And to all a good night!

Love, Susan

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Society Saturday: LLCGS

Society Saturday is a fairly new blogging theme offered by Geneabloggers.

I am a member of many genealogical and historical societies in Nebraska and around the country. Today, I am very proud to take some time to spotlight my "home" society, the Lincoln-Lancaster County Genealogical Society (LLCGS) of Nebraska.

I've been a member of LLCGS on and off for the past 30+ years, but a steady member since 2005. A little over a year ago, I wanted to become more involved in the group and was delighted when I was asked to become the group's publicity chair. I've wanted to bring LLCGS into the social media arena and the time was finally right for our society to have an online presence in addition to our web site, which is superbly managed by Al Harlow.

LLCGS now has a blog, a Facebook page, a Twitter feed and a Google+ page. We also have a newsletter, which is a monthly publication for members only, which is under the guidance of editor Susie Dunn. We all work together in conveying the LLCGS image to the public.

LLCGS is in its 36th year, serving Lincoln, Nebraska, Lancaster County and researchers from around the globe. While many societies are struggling financially and have dwindling membership numbers, LLCGS is strong, with a solid financial base and a membership roster that recently hit 205!

Speaking as a genealogist rather than as the organization's publicity chair, for me the society has three great strengths that make my membership important to me: the variety of our education programs, our free online databases and our resource library of 8,000+ items.


LLCGS has monthly programs along with the member meetings on the second Tuesday of each month. In the last year or so, additional weekly events have been added to our offerings at what I refer to as "Sunday Sessions at the Library." From 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday afternoons, LLCGS members gather at Walt Branch Library, 6701 S. 14th Street in Lincoln, Nebraska for demonstrations, discussion groups, and "help sessions" for budding genealogists. There are Genealogy Interest Groups (GIGs) for German research, technology, DNA and sharing your genealogy. We will soon be adding a writer's group. All of our sessions are open to the public and our presence in one the newest city library branches has opened our group to new members who noticed our sign as they entered the library.

Two of our members hold afternoon discussion groups monthly in other locations in Lincoln.

Our program topics for 2013 have been identified and the program and education committees are in the process of securing speakers and planning presentations. Also in the works are field trips to out of town libraries and research facilities, as well as other special events.

We will be partnering with Lincoln City Libraries in February in the promotion of the One Book One Lincoln project. The book selected this year is Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard. LLCGS will be branching out to other branch libraries to make a presentation regarding the era following the Civil War and reconstruction and how our families fit into that time frame. LLCGS members will be available to help genealogists with their family history and acquaint them with genealogy resources available in the Lincoln City Libraries.

I counted nearly 100 different education sessions that will be available for our members and the community during 2013. How's that for an active society!

Online Databases

LLCGS has provided many free databases to help researchers with their Lancaster county roots. You can search cemetery records, marriage records, mortuary information, probate information, naturalization information. Naturalization records (vols 1 - 14) were indexed by LLCGS members for the period of October 6, 1906 through June 29, 1929.

Sample Search Result for
my grandparents in the
LLCGS database
I've always said that I was fortunate that my ancestors have been in the Lancaster county area since the 1870s, so these database searches are rich with Kelly, Bellinger, Landon, Fitzgerald, Loder and other surnames. The marriage database is also current enough to include my parent's marriage record from 1947.

The newspaper database is growing, with more than 2,200 names uploaded from the Nebraska State Journal this week. I found two references for my great grandfather John Bellinger's marriage to Emma Landon in 1879. This newspaper index is based on cards that were done primarily by Melvin Sitler and cover the period from May 1873 through December 1899. This is a gold mine of records as the information pre-dates vital records in Nebraska.

People can learn more about the LLCGS digitization projects at our first meeting of 2013 on January 8. Facilitators will be webmaster Al Harlow and librarian Cindy Cochrane.

LLCGS Library

The LLCGS library is housed in the Don Love building on the Union College campus, 3800 S. 48th Street in Lincoln, Nebraska. Yes, you read correctly. We have more than 8,000 volumes of genealogy resources including reference books, genealogies, DVDs, microform, periodicals and videos. Our catalog can be searched here. Not only does our collection cover Lincoln and Lancaster county, but other areas of the country as well. Sadly, as someone who has been working full time and being a caregiver, I've yet to visit our library. BUT - once I am retired after the end of January, I can assure you, I will be spending many hours perusing our collection.

Our library accepts donations of materials and funds to purchase new items. At the moment, we are interested in adding to our collection of high school and college yearbooks. I know that once I make a few scans of my own yearbooks, they will be going to the LLCGS library.

Special Projects

We welcome volunteers to help index and scan records and assist in a variety of projects.


Membership to LLCGS is a bargain at $15 for an individual. Joint memberships are only $20. We also have patron levels and accept donations via PayPal. To become a member, visit our web site.

A gift membership to LLCGS makes a great stocking stuffer for you last minute shoppers!

Visit LLCGS Online

Web site





I also want to salute the members of LLCGS, committee chairs and the board of directors. Without the work of this active group of people, LLCGS would not be what it is today. It's all about the people giving back to the community.

LLCGS is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) education organization.