Monday, March 19, 2018

A Deadline and Some Upcoming Meetings

German Special Interest Group Meeting: Wednesday, 21 March 2018

The second German SIG meeting of 2018 is coming up this week on Wednesday, 21 March at 7:00 p.m. in the auditorium at St. Louis County Library Headquarters on Lindbergh Boulevard across from Plaza Frontenac. German SIG leader, Carol Whitton, CG, will discuss "Using Compgen ( Effectively." Much new information has recently been added to this important website for German research. Carol will introduce you to the new features, explain where things are located on the site, and show you how to use the website effectively. StLGS Special Interest Group meetings are free and open to the public. You do not need a reservation.

Early Registration for the Family History Conference Ends Saturday

This coming Saturday, the 24th of March, is the last day for early registration for the StLGS 2018 Family History Conference, Genealogy . . . Finding Your Way Online. Registering early means you save some money and you ensure we have a place for you. For those who want to purchase a lunch, it also guarantees you your choice of meal, especially important if you have gluten-free or dairy-free requirements.

Nationally-known speaker, Pam Sayre, CG, FUGA, our keynote speaker, will provide guidance as you navigate popular websites and Missouri State Archivist, John Dougan, will talk about some of the wonderful material on the Missouri State Archives' website. Author and lecturer, Ann Fleming, CG, CGL, FNGS, will present a wealth of material about understanding and using DNA testing results, and StLGS projects director, Carol Whitton, CG, will show you how to organize those results using spreadsheets. St. Louis County Library research librarian, Mike Bridwell, will help you with Findmypast, and his colleague, Dan Lilienkamp, will discuss how to effectively use online family trees. Finally, from StLGS publications director, Ilene Murray, you'll learn how to access free books online for your genealogy research.

Now doesn't that sound like the perfect way to spend a spring day? The 2018 Family History Conference is Saturday, 7 April, at the Orlando Gardens Conference Center in Maryland Heights. You can get all the details and/or register on our website. Click here to go to the conference page.

 Two More Events for Early April

1. The Cherokee Trail of Tears in Illinois

The Missouri History Museum in Forest Park hosts Mary McCorvie, from the Shawnee National Forest, and Mark J. Wagner, from the Center for Archaeological Investigations, on Wednesday, 4 April, at 7:00 p.m. in the AT&T Foundation Multipurpose Room, for a talk describing the work being done to locate the original segments of the Trail of Tears used by the Cherokee people as they were forced to leave their homes in 1838. This is a free talk and does not require pre-registration. 

2. GI Jews: Jewish Americans in World War II

The Jewish Federation of St. Louis is partnering with the Nine Network for a preview screening and panel discussion of a new film about the half million Jewish men and women who served during World War II. The ninety-minute documentary will air on Channel Nine on 11 April at 9:00 p.m., but if you would like to see the film ahead of time, you are invited to attend the preview at Channel Nine's Monsanto studio (3655 Olive Street, St. Louis, MO 63108) on Sunday, 8 April at 2:00 p.m. This is a free screening, but registration (and a ticket) must be completed online, as space is limited.

If you would like more information, click here. To register online, click here. (Look for the green "Register" button in the upper right side of the screen.)

Monday, March 12, 2018

Thanks for Trivia Night; Looking Forward to the FHC in April

(Trivia Night chairperson, Karen Goode, sends this thank you note to those who participated and those who donated.)

Thanks to everyone who came to St. Louis Genealogical Society’s 9th Annual Trivia Night! We had another fun-filled, successful evening. 

The silent auction we have each year helps make our trivia event more profitable. We get tickets to different venues around town and awesome handmade items. These auction items not only benefit the society, but give bidders an opportunity to purchase something they would like to have at a great bargain.

We would like to recognize some of our members who donated items for our silent auction this year:
  • Ruth Ann Arado: Floral centerpieces
  • Mary Berthold: Cardinal tickets
  • Kathy Dickey: Crocheted lap blanket
  • Ed  Dolata: Landscape paintings/posters
  • Judi Donohue: Items to fill our our baskets
  • Viki Fagyal, Carol Hemmersmeier, and Kay Weber: A basket of gluten-free goodies
  • Kris Fleming: Cardinal tickets
  • Karen & Bob Goode: Items to complete our baskets
  • Trish & Jim Gormley: Jewelry, plus items to complete baskets
  • Valerie Burks (via Peggy Greenwood): Scented household & aromatic therapy
  • Jean Marie Meyer: Handmade totes and artist sculpted items
  • Andrew Webb (via Ken Webb): Handmade Cardinal plaque
  • Erin Weber (via Kay Weber): Donated hours from her business
  • Kay Weber: Handmade greeting cards
  • Carol Welsch: Donated a basket from her business 
If you have something we could add to our auction, please keep us in mind for next year. And do mark your calendar for our 10th Annual Trivia Night on Saturday, 2 March 2019. Hope to see you there!

 Family History Conference, 2018
Genealogy . . . Finding Your Way Online!

Do you use family trees and ignore the records available on the rest of the Ancestry site? What about Have you only done a search in records and not in the catalog? Have you looked at the website for Missouri Digital Heritage? FindMyPast? Do you regularly use the Internet to find digitized books? If you said no to any of those questions, it's time to sign up for the 47th Annual Family History Conference,
Genealogy . . . Finding Your Way Online!
on Saturday, 7 April 2018 at Orlando Gardens, 2050 Dorsett Road, Maryland Heights, Missouri. Also, on the program for the day is DNA research and organizing DNA results and to lighten the day, have you ever found a tree on a website that showed a woman giving birth at age 75 or having children after her death date? If so, you will enjoy a talk on “Does That Even Make Sense?”

Pam Sayre, cg, fuga, is the featured speaker for the day. Rounding out the program are Mike Bridwell, St. Louis County Library; John Dougan, Missouri State Archivist; Ann Fleming, cg, cgl, fngs; Dan Lilienkamp, St. Louis County Library; Ilene Murray, and Carol Whitton, cg. Don’t forget the exhibitors as an added bonus. And if you have questions about your DNA, Ann Fleming will try to provide some answers during the afternoon.

Early registration ends 24 March 2018. Early registration is $50.00 for StLGS members and $60.00 for non-members. Lunch is $12.00 per person. After 24 March 2018, registration for StLGS members is $60.00 and non-members is $70.00.
Learn more about the conference, get directions to Orlando Gardens, and/or register on our website. Click here to go to the conference page.

Come and join us! You won’t want to miss this stimulating and enjoyable day.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Genealogy News: State Historical Society, St. Clair Co., Bellefontaine Cemetery

The State Historical Society of Missouri operates research centers throughout the state: Cape Girardeau, Columbia, Kansas City, Rolla, St. Louis, and Springfield. Recently, they announced new hours for some of the research centers.

Columbia, Kansas City, Rolla, and St. Louis centers will now be open from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., Tuesday through Friday. The Columbia research center will also be open from 8:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. on Saturday. Cape Girardeau's center will continue to serve patrons from 9:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, and Springfield's center remains as is from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Learn more about the State Historical Society's Research Centers on their website: .


Our friends at the St. Clair County (Illinois) Genealogical Society have announced their newest cemetery book for Prairie Du Long and Smithton Townships. The 118-page book "encompasses more than 3,200 burials through 2016 in thirty-one cemeteries." The Prairie Du Long section of the book contains all new material, whereas the Smithton Township section is an update of a 2003 edition. Burials began in both townships in the early 1800s. Both sections include maps: Higgins-Phillips, Wiskamp, Stehfest, and St. Augustine Catholic in Prairie Du Long and St. John the Baptist Catholic, High Prairie, and Franklin/Smithton City cemeteries in the Smithton section. The cost of the book is $15.00, which includes shipping. If you are interested in purchasing a copy, you can find an order form and more information on the society's website at .


 With spring in the air, perhaps you are looking for a chance to get out and smell the flowers? How about a few hours in the beautiful grounds of Bellefontaine Cemetery, where you can also learn about some of the famous women buried there? On Saturday, 24 March, hop on a trolley for a two-hour tour, led by a master guide, who will highlight both the landscaping and the interesting women on the grounds. The tour, from 10:00 until noon, is free but pre-registration is required and donations to the Friends of Bellefontaine Cemetery are welcome. You can register and learn more on the website:

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Trivia Night Silent Auction Taking Shape

This coming Saturday, 3 March, will be the StLGS annual Trivia Night, our largest fund raiser of the year. As always, one of the highlights of the evening will be the silent auction, and our very busy Trivia Night volunteer committee has solicited donations from a wide variety of local businesses and individuals for this year's auction baskets. As you can see, there will be a lot of them!

Each basket is filled with goodies that are sure to delight potential buyers. The bidding forms will have minimum bids to start you off, and from there, just keep those bids coming. We know you will be delighted with the interesting items in the baskets. And what a fabulous, fun way to support your favorite genealogy society. Here are just a few samples to whet your appetite.

St. Louis Art Museum

This basket contains a one-year membership to our world-class art museum, an art catalog, some branded souvenirs, a John Pils poster, a book on women photographers, a book on Matisse, and an art museum tote bag.

Rest and Relax

The focal point of this basket is a beautiful hand-crocheted lap blanket made and donated by StLGS member, Kathy Dickey. Also in the basket find some soothing soap, a lovely picture frame, and an adult coloring book.

Woodard's Basket

Always a generous donor to our Trivia Night, Woodard's has provided a $100 gift certificate for their expert rug cleaning service. While your house is being perked up, you can enjoy some bottles of wine, and the chocolate, cheese, crackers, and more in this handsome basket.

Trivia Night Information

Are you excited yet? Trivia Night is this Saturday, 3 March, at the Richmond Heights Community Center, just a half block south of Highway 40/Interstate 64, east of Hanley at 8001 Dale Avenue. There are still tables and individual seats available. You can register online on our website and get driving directions on the site, too. Go to for everything you need to get you there. We look forward to seeing you and having your support.

Monday, February 19, 2018

"Headlines of History" at the Mercantile Library

Newspapers are the most fascinating of resources for genealogists. Nowhere do we find out more about our ancestors than in the pages of newspapers, often filled with juicy gossip, changing social mores, advertisements that show us what everyday life was like, and photos of the communities and people with whom our ancestors interacted. Of course, many newspapers are now digitized and online, but to get a sense of what many of the earliest newspapers looked like, why not plan a visit to the Mercantile Library's newest ongoing exhibit, "Headlines of History: Historic Newspapers of St. Louis and the World Through the Centuries at the St. Louis Mercantile Library Association"?
Like all of Mercantile's major exhibits, the scope of this massive display is overwhelming, so give yourself plenty of time to do it justice. Beginning on the west side of the lower level with a mock printing office from the eighteenth century, the exhibit covers a chronological look at newspapers in general and, eventually, specific to the St. Louis area. Pick up a free copy of the "Exhibition Checklist" to better understand what you are looking at and then feast on the variety of printed material on display. Don't miss the first known issue of the Missouri Gazette, the oldest newspaper printed west of the Mississippi, and an issue of the Pennsylvania Ledger, from 13 July 1776, which contains the first printing of the Declaration of Independence in a newspaper. Learn about ethnic and specialty papers in St. Louis, about comics and photojournalism, and about some of the famous journalists who lived and worked in St. Louis. Reflect on how history has been captured in headlines for hundreds of years, while you marvel at the treasures being preserved at the library. Remember that Mercantile Library is the oldest library west of the Mississippi River.

"The Headlines of History" will run through the rest of this year and into late summer 2019. The Mercantile Library is located within the Thomas Jefferson Library on the north campus of the University of Missouri-St. Louis. The newspaper exhibit is free during library hours: Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. until 10:30 p.m., Friday from 7:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., Saturday from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., and Sunday from noon until 8:00 p.m. (If you are planning to research, however, hours are more restricted. Click here for complete information.) Parking is available in the West Parking Garage. There are a limited number of spaces designated for the library, but if those are filled, you can obtain a daily parking pass for a nominal fee. Get directions and information about parking by clicking here.

 StLGS projects director, Carol Whitton, had some good points to make about last week's blog entry. She wanted to remind everyone that neither the DAR Revolutionary War Index nor Find a Grave are complete. Carol said the DAR index "includes those who have been proven by a DAR member." There are separate officers' indexes in book form, which might have provided more thorough information. Also, there may be more burials in the West Point cemetery than what is shown on Find a Grave, including those without stones. So while it is unlikely that the officer mentioned in the family story was actually Ted's ancestor, there are still a few more steps that he might take to prove it.

Monday, February 12, 2018

More Researching Family Stories, "Is it True?"

(Our guest author this week is again Dr. Ted Bainbridge, who has written a series of articles on what he has learned from researching his wife's and his own family stories. We published his first article in November 2017. If you missed it, be sure to look in the archived files you will find on the right side of the StLGS News Flash home page at We hope you pick up some good ideas for your own quests based on what Dr. Bainbridge has written.)

Researching a Family Tradition about the Revolution
by Ted Bainbridge, Ph.D.

When Benedict Arnold betrayed the Revolution by giving military information to the British, the army officer who received the information from him was Major André. The major was caught, court-martialed, and hanged as a spy. A family tradition says one of our ancestors ordered the hanging.

“English” was my mother’s maiden name. Shortly after beginning to research our family tree, one of Mom’s distant cousins sent me this in a letter:

Another interesting thing is when Benedict Arnold gave the plans to Major Andrea the Man who was Presiding Officer at the trials was our relation. He Was Brevet Gen. Alexander English who ordered Major Andrea Hanged––He is Buried in West Point cemetery. I visited his grave Many times when I was stationed at the “Point” in 1924 to 1928.

Let’s see how many of those claims we can prove or disprove.

1. Googling “major andre court martial” without quotes produced a hit list of 289,000 items. Near the top of the list was this item:
Proceedings of a board of general officers respecting Major John André ... André, John, 1751-1780, Trials (Espionage), Courts-martial and courts of inquiry.

The title sounded targeted to my search, and is a collection of documents. Selecting the item showed it to be a book, described as follows:

Originally published: Proceedings of a board of general officers held by order of His Excellency Gen. Washington, commander in chief of the Army of the United States of America respecting Major John André, adjutant general of the British Army. Philadelphia : Francis Baily, 1780.

The André incident took place in 1780, so this item was prepared very near the time of the incidents it describes. The website offers full-screen images of the booklet as well as downloads of the document in several formats. The prefatory material includes the cover letter used to transmit these proceedings to the Congress. That letter says the major was hanged on 2 October 1780. After the prefatory material, the first page of the booklet names the members of the court martial board. (See image). So we see that the presiding officer was not named English or anything like that. There was no such person on the board, and so he could not have ordered the hanging.

2. The Daughters of the American Revolution Patriot Index shows no English or any name like that with a rank above lieutenant. There WAS no Brevet General Alexander English.

3. The proceedings end with a report to General Washington that Major AndrĂ©, “ought to suffer death.” That recommendation was followed by the signatures of every member of the board. Thus, the board as a body recommended the execution to George Washington. That he accepted the recommendation and ordered it to be carried out is proven by the fact that AndrĂ© was hanged. George Washington ordered the hanging in spite of the major’s request that he be shot. (That request letter is transcribed in the appendix material following the proceedings.)

4. Our relative said he visited that grave at “the Point,” meaning West Point, which is in New York. Searching the website, Find a Grave, for Alexander English, buried in New York, produced a hit list of three names. Only one is buried at the United States Military Academy Post Cemetery, which is West Point. He died in 1840, aged twenty-three. So he was born in 1817, which was thirty-seven years after AndrĂ© was hanged. He did not participate in the AndrĂ© incident. The tombstone does not say he was a general, and that is highly unlikely for a man only twenty-three years old. [Editor's note: A photo of Alexander's tombstone is on Find a Grave. You can see it by clicking here.]

So we discovered that: (1) The presiding officer of the court martial board was named Greene, not English. (2) There was no Revolutionary officer named English or anything like that above the rank of lieutenant. (3) The board recommended death and Washington ordered the hanging. (4) The man buried at West Point did not participate in any events related to Major André. (5) Every claim in this family tradition has been proven false!

Monday, February 5, 2018

Some Upcoming Events in the St. Louis Area

We'd like to give you a heads-up on three interesting events coming up in the next couple of weeks.

The Bridgeton Historical Commission/Society is holding an "Indoor Fee Fee Cemetery Tour" on Thursday, 15 February 2018 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Bridgeton Recreation Center, 4201 Fee Fee Road. This is part of the society's speaker series. For directions to the center, click here.

"From Franklin to Pulitzer: Pioneer Newspapers and News Pioneers" is the title of an all-day symposium on Saturday, 17 February 2018, at the Mercantile Library in St. Louis. Eight speakers from throughout the country will deliver presentations on all aspects of newspaper history. The keynote speaker will be James McGrath Morris, author of a New York Times best selling biography on Ethel Payne, "first lady of the black press." The program begins at 8:00 a.m. and concludes at 4. Lunch is included. Tickets are $95 and pre-registration is required. For more information on the symposium, click here. To register, call 314-516-7248 or send an email to Amanda Schneider at . Saturday parking is free and open on campus. The nearest lot is the west parking lot. For directions to Mercantile Library, click here and download the north campus parking map.

The O'Fallon, Illinois, History Museum is holding an Open House on Sunday, 18 February 2018 from 2:00 p.m. until 5 to celebrate the opening of a new exhibit on coal mining. A young Eagle Scout, Tommy Fulford, spent a year building this display, which includes coal mining artifacts and tells the history of coal mining in the O'Fallon area. The museum is at 101 W. State Street. Click here to learn more about the society. Click here for a map and directions.
And, of course, our own society events:
  1. Don't forget the monthly meeting this Saturday, 10 February at 10 a.m. in the auditorium at St. Louis County Library Headquarters. Bob Goode, Laura Mackinson, and Ilene Murray will talk about social media for genealogists.
  2. Remember to register for Trivia Night, Saturday, 3 March. You can get lots more information and register on our website. Click here to go to the Trivia page.
  3. Registration is ongoing for our Family History Conference in April, "Genealogy . . . Finding Your Way Online. Click here for more information and/or to register.