Friday, April 21, 2017

Genealogical Musing with Fran

I am sure that by now everyone is aware of the recent death of Chuck Berry, “The Father of Rock and Roll” who was from St. Louis. What a talent and how lucky I was to have been part of that time when we went on Saturday nights and danced and reveled in this new, wild, extraordinary, and fabulous sound called “Rock and Roll.” Chuck Berry is just one of many born in St. Louis who are famous for their contributions in multiple fields of achievement.

When reviewing the list of “St. Louis Walk of Fame” persons, I am chagrined at how many I am not familiar with, and it makes me grimace. What is your connection to St. Louis, and have you gone back to the place where you first found your family there? For many of us, when we add a name to our tree, we immediately plot our course of action. We might do a timeline of when and where that person lived and then try to visit a location and record what we find. I have always found it fills my senses with a wonder and longing to know more about an ancestor when I see how he or she may have lived.

When I recently was in New York City and able to share the family’s early history and walk the streets where they lived with my daughter, it was thrilling and a little bit ego boosting. She had no idea of this information and was not only impressed but proud of her heritage. Felt good! It also cast a new light on N.Y.C. for us both.

If you haven’t made a visit to St. Louis to further your knowledge about your ancestor, then I urge you to do so with maybe a relative with whom you can share your knowledge and who knows, maybe heighten their interests in your discoveries.

St. Louis was founded in 1764 and there is an ongoing dispute as to whether we give credit to the French or Spanish, but the important part is its place in the history of the western development of the U.S. Who stayed in St. Louis? How long? Who died here? Was born here? What did they do for a living? What ethnic background? How did they get here? And for me the never-ending-so-often-asked question is WHY! Yes, why. I always want to try and connect with the past so I can get a better understanding of the history of person and place.

The history of St. Louis is built on the backs of our ancestors who brought a new spirit to this land and used their industry to make it a city that rivals the likes of Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Richmond, and Washington, D.C. in its contribution to the greatness of this country.

My husband loved to share stories and visit the places of his early childhood. Now the grandchildren only have the oral stories from what is remembered, as he never wrote anything about his memories. Just a page or paragraph about one single remembrance would be wonderful to have to share (dated and signed of course). Just as simple as this: “When the children were young, it was always a fun outing to pack a lunch, pens, paper, and crayons and go to the St. Louis Zoo. Sit down and observe, write about or draw a picture of the animal in front of us as we ate lunch.” Not much, you say, but does it not give a picture of the easy, relaxed, free in this case, family outing that brings together a St. Louis location and the family? Of course, that could be repeated by anyone today as the St. Louis Zoo is a much-visited jewel in St. Louis.

But what about the story of a place or event that no longer exists such as the Highlands, the excursion boat Admiral on the Mississippi, or Busch Stadium, when it was on North Grand Avenue? Just some that come to mind that would have been experiences shared with family and friends. There is a story to share about our day-to-day lives and the basic “w”s ( who, when, where, what, and why) are all you need to record. All other details are icing on the cake. So as you move forward with your family history, don’t forget to make it as personal as you can so those who read it later will be drawn to the past and the glory of each life.

How about a “ Meet Me In St. Louis” time in the near future for you to renew your memories and maybe discover more about those wonderful ancestors? This genealogy is a fun and never-ending adventure.

Good hunting and stop by the StLGS office when next in the neighborhood.


For those of you with Missouri roots, check out our 2017 Missouri Research Institute coming in July. Enjoy four intensive days of classes on “Your Missouri People.” More information and registration at

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Early Registration Deadline for the 2017 Family History Conference

Have you registered yet for the 2017 StLGS Family History Conference on Saturday, 8 April at Orlando Gardens in Maryland Heights? You can save a bit of money if you get your registration in by midnight, Thursday, 23 March. This year's conference promises to be another excellent one, featuring nationally-known speakers Cyndi Ingle, Jan Alpert, and Bruce Buzbee, joined by local speakers Bob Goode, Ilene Murray, and Carol Whitton. The focus will be on technology and DNA, and, of course, there will be prizes, some fabulous raffle items, and vendors with all kinds of goodies for you to browse and purchase. The StLGS Trading Post is filled with gently used books for reasonable prices, and we have quite a few new titles available in our StLGS store.

Registration is as easy as going to and clicking on the Family History Conference button. Don't forget to get your coupon code, if you are a member, so you get member pricing. Instructions and a link to the code are right there.

If you have questions, the office is open on Thursday, the 23rd from 9 a.m. until noon: 314-647-8547. We are looking forward to seeing you at the FHC!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Genealogical Musing with Fran

“No one is beat till he quits. No one is through till he stops. No matter how hard failure hits, no matter how often he drops, a fellow’s not down till he lies in the dust and refuses to rise”––words from the work “Defeat” by Edgar Guest. Harsh and somber you say these words are, but do they apply to the feeling of frustration when that elusive, long sought-after relative remains unfound? Well, what to do but brush yourself off and start all over again with new thoughts and an open mind. Yes, back to a clean slate.

First, I go to the experts. I have found over these many years that there is always someone who has probed and studied most all of the genealogical subjects, and it is my duty to go for HELP!

When St. Louis Genealogical Society was founded fifty years ago, education was put at the top of the list of what the mission of StLGS should be. Have you taken advantage of these opportunities? Well, what are you waiting for?

It is not an afterthought or accident that StLGS offers regular classes free of charge to members, conducts an all-day Speaker Series once or twice a year, multi- day seminars, quarterly Irish and German Special Interest Group programs, a free monthly meeting, and an annual all-day conference. Those are a lot of opportunities to further your skills. We know that the best way to get over a hurdle or through a brick wall is to arm ourselves with knowledge.

The annual Family History Conference for 2017 is coming up Saturday, 8 April 2017 and will feature Cyndi Ingle, creator of Cyndi’s List of Genealogy Sites; along with Jan Alpert, fngs, expert on DNA and genealogy, and Bruce Buzbee, creator and owner of RootsMagic software. In addition, local speakers Bob Goode, Ilene Murray, and Carol Whitton, cg, are on the program. What a line-up of experts!

This program is designed to wow and thrill the genealogist in each of us. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by attending, so why not sign up NOW? Early registration ends on 23 March. For information on the conference and/or to register, go to and click on the "Family History Conference" button. And while you are on the home page, be sure to check out some of the other upcoming events too!

Will look forward to seeing you soon, 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Genealogical Musing with Fran

Hi, fellow travelers through time,

I am smiling as I write this, and I want to share this with all of you “older” readers. A little girl is turning ten! The thought was that a little girl who loves to play dress-up might like “stuff” from the past. The old portable phonograph with some 45s and 78s seemed just the ticket, as well as the old pink dial phone! You get the thought here, right?

Well, the absolute puzzlement on her face as to “What are these things and why would I want them?” truly stunned me. Even after I put a record on and the music blared, she just looked puzzled. And you try and explain a dial-up phone. Am I that old? Well, I guess when I can remember our beautiful huge floor model of a phonograph player which required that you crank it up and our first phone where you had to go through an operator, then I guess I answer my own question. Yes, I am that old!

When did it happen? Sixty years old? Sixty-five? Older? When do we realize we are the eldest in the family? When we are treated with deference? It happened this past weekend to me and I have given it quite a bit of thought since.

My paternal grandmother was my ideal. I have only perfect memories of her. Walking to Grandma’s house was always filled with a joyful expectation of what would come. She could cook, bake, sew, do needlework, garden, and most of all tell a great story. The times spent with her were precious. Now I am the eldest in the immediate family, and I don’t think I have the depth to do the job that my grandmother did. The only thing I know about all of this is that I have always had an “old” soul and will endeavor to tell the stories of our discoveries.

As we delve into the past for each name, I hope we are also endeavoring to grasp and record the facts of the era that surrounds that person’s life and times. We do not experience life in a vacuum, and genealogy gives us the opportunity to gather the spirit of our relatives' lives and times.

Oh, by the by, there was something monetary with the birthday card, so all was not a puzzlement.

Continue to enjoy this passion and . . . I hope to see you at the StLGS Family History Conference on 8 April 2017. You can register at

Happy hunting,


Sunday, February 26, 2017

Trivia Night is Friday, 3 March 2017

Are you ready for an evening of fun and games? Have you signed up for the StLGS annual Trivia Night? It's coming up this Friday, 3 March, at the Richmond Heights Community Center, 8001 Dale Avenue, just one block southeast of Hanley Road and Highway 64/40. Doors will open at 6:30 and Trivia Night begins at 7:15. That should give everyone time to arrive after rush hour traffic has made its way home.

As in previous years, thanks to the hard work of the Trivia Night committee, there are fabulous  
baskets of goodies for a silent auction that will begin as soon as doors open. Bring your checkbook and/or your credit card so you can bid on a wide array of wonderful donated items sure to entice you.

You can register a group of eight or just come by yourself and we'll find you a new group of friends to join for the evening. Soft drinks and some snacks are on the house, and you are welcome to bring any other goodies you like: more snacks, dinner, adult beverages, dessert, whatever. (The community center does not allow glass containers in the building so if you bring anything in glass, please plan to take it home with you, full or empty. Thanks!)

Trivia Night is our biggest fundraising event of the year and we rely on your support to make it successful. You can register online at We look forward to seeing you Friday night.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Genealogical Musing with Fran

(This is our second post from past StLGS president, Fran Behrman, who will continue as a guest blogger. Be sure to read her first post from 25 January, and follow her ongoing genealogy journey as she shares more with us on a regular basis.)

“Meet Me in St. Louis” always provokes images of the 1904 World’s Fair, streetcars, and the wonder of an era more than a century ago. What were your ancestors doing in St. Louis at that time? The Behrman family arrived in the late 1800s and settled on Park Avenue. The elders were entrepreneurs and lived the life that this country had promised. As we are all here because our ancestors decided to relocate to this land of “milk and honey,” we relish the quest for more information about these daring men and women who only wanted the opportunity to live free, raise their families in peace, and prosper.

St. Louis has always been a city of neighborhoods, and when we locate where our ancestors lived, it aids us in our search. The Hill, Grand-Oak Hill, Hyde Park, Near South Side, Central West End, DeBaliviere Place, Soulard, and Carondelet are just a few of the St. Louis neighborhoods we’ve come to know. Our ancestors were drawn to areas with those of ethnic origins akin to theirs. Nothing much has changed over the years as we continue to welcome immigrants to this great land of freedom and opportunity for all. Just as our beautiful Statue of Liberty denotes, “Give me Your Tired, Your Poor . . .”

My husband, third generation German, adored his father and went to work with him each day in his store, which was in the Near South Side neighborhood. We have in our home one of the ladders that was used in the store. The stories that were passed on to the children and grandchildren about that time often brought not only smiles but tears. Riding on the back of the milk wagon was a favorite.

We have always felt fortunate to have lived in a time of families settling and staying in a neighborhood. What are your early memories? Do you know the details of the entire family unit? Extended family information can add valuable facts to the make-up of a family heritage.

This thing we do, genealogy, continues to fascinate and puzzle as we move forward. Never a dull moment for sure!

Please enjoy the hunt and let us hear from you.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

An Opportunity to Learn About a Preventorium in St. Louis

During the 1920s, tuberculosis ran amok among all classes of people. Communities made efforts to improve sanitation and to treat adults but not much was done about children. In 1926, the St. Louis Jewish community began a summer camp for at-risk children. Called Camp Fee Fee, it was a preventorium, meant to get kids out into the fresh air and teach them about how to stay healthy so they would not become victims of this potentially fatal disease.

Diane Everman, archivist for the St. Louis Jewish Community Archives, will present a lecture on this fascinating topic on 21 February 2017 at 7:00 p.m. at the Jewish Federation, 12 Millstone Campus Dr., St. Louis, MO 63146.

The lecture is free but pre-registration is required. Call 314-442-3720 or send an email to Cyndee Levy A dessert reception will follow the lecture.

Learn more at