Tuesday, July 11, 2017

From Slaves to Soldiers: Talk at Sage Chapel Cemetery

StLGS member Dorris Keeven-Franke wanted everyone to know about this upcoming talk and invites you to attend. Dorris writes:

"Several years ago, my friend George Abington asked me for help in researching his family history. He had his father's name, and was looking for the name of his father's father. I enthusiastically said yes without thinking (just as I often do) before beginning this research project. You see, George Abington's grandfather was born a slave in St. Charles County. Although I had over 20 years of experience as a professional genealogist, I didn't fully realize the challenges that African Americans face in tracing their ancestors. In fact, all four of George's grandparents were born slaves.

Many of you may have already heard the story of George's grandfather when we shared it with him at a St. Charles County Historical Society program several years ago. Since then, the story has grown so much larger! When the St. Louis African American Genealogical Society was working on their project for a monument for the U.S. Colored Troops, we discovered that the Abington family had a voice in that story as well. Now, that chapter can be updated for everyone! The Abington family, like many other African American families also has a voice in the history of the Sage Chapel Cemetery in O'Fallon, Missouri. These voices do not get an opportunity to be heard very often.

My friend George Abington is here in St. Louis, and I would like to personally invite you to a very special program, this coming Sunday, July 16, 2017, at the VFW Post 5077 (8500 Veterans Memorial Highway, 63366) at 1 p.m. for "From Slaves to Soldiers." This is an opportunity to hear a story that is so seldom heard, and visit the Sage Chapel Cemetery. This is a special place that is filled with the history of George's relatives and is in need of some care.  I do hope you can join us, and please feel free to bring along a friend to share in the story. I look forward to seeing you."

The Sage Chapel Cemetery is in O'Fallon, Missouri. Click here for a link to Google maps.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Family History Library To Discontinue Lending Microfilm

Genealogists who remember the days of sore shoulders and necks obtained from cranking blurry rolls of microfilm probably never thought this day would come. As of the first of September 2017, the Family History Library in Salt Lake City will no longer send out copies of microfilms. As many of you know, the FHL has been digitizing its enormous collection at breakneck speed. They expect to have all of their 1.5 million microfilms converted to digital images by 2020, much sooner than most people thought possible.

All records being captured today are in digital format and many are already posted online. Local family history centers will decide whether to keep the microfilms they already have. Keep in mind, however, that not everything that is on microfilm will be available from the comfort of your home. There are copyright restrictions on many records and books, meaning that they will only be available to patrons in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Another great reason to come with us on our annual research trip each fall!

To read the complete news release from the Family History Library, go to

(Thanks to Pat Stamm for alerting us to this breaking news.)

Friday, June 16, 2017

Genealogical Musing with Fran

Hello from St. Louis, Missouri, the home for fifty years of the St. Louis Genealogical Society, where we like to brag that we have members in all fifty states as well as several foreign countries. If you are a member, then thank you for your support, and we hope that you will take full advantage of your member benefits. Classes are free, there is a members’ only area on our website with information on thousands of St. Louisans, and members are encouraged to use the free Ask Louis service, plus so much more. Also, as a member, you know that you are supporting an all-volunteer organization dedicated to preserving and sharing documents and instruction in basic and special genealogy topics. Go to www.stlgs.org to keep up to date.
 I have been quite busy lately, and genealogy has sort of taken a back seat to everyday life. Imagine that! I am trying to make shelf room for new items and, of course, that can be a dangerous mission, for each item on the shelves has to be evaluated and a decision made as to where it should be placed. Now this chore mandated going through some of the family papers, and, what can I say, I got waylaid. I simply ask you, how can we as researchers not stop and reread and reevaluate each piece of paper or publication? One of the notebooks contained a handwritten note from one of my maternal aunts who died quite a while ago. My aunt had listed the names of her siblings and their spouses that went back five generations. Now I had seen this before and know that we had researched and documented this information, but this time I stopped where she stated that the female progenitor of this line was a full blooded Cherokee Indian. As the saying goes, do I “ Believe It or Not”? We have not been able to find documentation to prove it and I have dabbled in this subject before, but my question to you is, if all the rest of the information on the page has been proved, then can this also be accepted as true? What do you think? In genealogy there are many instances when we are faced with that very question, "Believe It or Not"?
Another example, the death certificate of a relative gives the name of the mother of the deceased. So is that a fact that you can accept and not worry about further evidence? Who gives the information for a death certificate anyway? “Believe It or Not”? Third and last example, several publications state the name of a female/wife of an ancestor but none have any proof or references. The information is not documented, just repeated over and over. Does repetition make it fact? "Believe It or Not"?
The Genealogical Proof Standard states, “We conduct a reasonably exhaustive search in reliable sources for all information that is or may be pertinent to the identity, relationship, event, or situation in question.” What is a “reasonably exhaustive search”? “It is prerequisite––regardless of whether the problem is simple or complex, and includes appropriately broadening the search beyond the person, family event, or record of most-direct impact on the project. The search effort extends to discovery of information that does or might illuminate (or conflict with) the other items of collected data.”
There are many times when I feel like Sherlock Holmes, “Elementary, my dear Watson,” and others when I feel like I am playing a game of Blindman’s Bluff. Researching genealogy mandates investigation and proof. You take all the data collected and analyze the sources. You seek to find facts to support your hypothesis. You analyze and correlate your collected data and then find any conflicts in your data and then go back and start all over to resolve those conflicts. Wow! What work! Yes, it is! But when you have positive proof of your information and your ancestry you get to boast and to walk tall because you have proven your place and your ancestor’s place in the history of this grand, great world we live in. Too much?
We all started our research for a personal reason. When our oldest had to do the family tree for a school project, it suddenly made me aware of what we didn’t know about the family, and so it began. My two sisters soon caught the mania from me and off we went in every possible direction collecting papers and cheering ourselves with each new fact. We knew nothing about correct documentation or the standards of genealogical proof. It was only after I took a class through the St. Louis Genealogical Society that my eyes were opened to all that we had been missing. WOW, what a moment!  Getting it right. Oh, I have gone off on many a flight of fancy since those early days but the difference is now I do a reasonably exhaustive search.
We all have the list of “can’t proves” and each time we review we hope to get a new perspective on how to proceed. It goes without saying that the earlier in history you are working, the less likely you are going to find say a birth record or a death record. And don’t get me started on the lack of records for women! These are some of our challenges and isn’t it wonderful?
I can claim no rank of expert when it comes to genealogy, but I can claim a dedication to serious, honest research. Would we like to forget some of the unsavory relatives that exist in the family line? Maybe, but at the same time it is fun to tell about those characters from the past and get a gasp of disbelief or a scowl of disapproval. After all, there are always a wart or two to be found and whatever else, you can always challenge others to “Believe It or Not!”
I had a few moments to share my thoughts with you on Memorial Day. Many of us have relatives who have served in the Armed Forces and I hope that you have a chance to say thank you to them. I like to think of myself as a “Yankee Doodle Gal” and it is with great pride and appreciation that I think of all those who have stood up for this country decade after decade after decade.  
Well, off to the family gathering to open the summer season. Do love the BBQs and homemade specialty dishes and chatting that brings back memories of those who are no longer with us.
I hope you are enjoying yourself as you seek the facts of your family’s history. Happy hunting and visit us at www.stlgs.org or at the office. Fran

Monday, June 5, 2017

StLGS Special Events

Missouri Research Institute
Your Missouri People

17–20 July 2017, StLGS Office 

Featuring John Dougan, Missouri State Archivist
Viki Fagyal; Ann Fleming, CG, CGL, FNGS; Ruth Ann Hager, CG, CGL; Carol Hemmersmeier; Christina Miller, Senior Reference Archivist; Kay Weber, and Carol Whitton, CG

Four-day workshop, including lunches and snacks, 
plus syllabus notebook in print and digitally

Early registration ends on 15 June. Spaces still available.

More information and registration at http://stlgs.org/events/research-institute


Summer Speaker Series
Mining Online German Research

Featuring James M. Beidler

Saturday, 22 July 2017
Orlando's Event and Conference Center, Maryland Heights, Missouri

All-day workshop, including lunch

 Early registration ends 9 July. 
Combine with the Research Institute before 15 June for big savings!

More information and registration at http://stlgs.org/events/speaker-series


Annual Research Trip to Salt Lake City

                               5–12 November 2017

                                       Led by Bob Goode and Ilene Murray

Six days of research in the world's largest library devoted to just to genealogy!

Trip includes pre-trip meeting and workshop, hotel, airport shuttles, Sunday dinner, Monday orientation, group meetings, and individual assistance throughout the week.
Just a few rooms left! Early registration ends 30 June. 

More information and registration at http://stlgs.org/events/salt-lake-city-research-trip

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Genealogical Musing with Fran

We who live and breathe St. Louis baseball are in the midst of another wonderful time of watching or just listening to the play by play. There have many a champion player born in St. Louis and not all played for the Cardinals. One, St. Louisan Yogi Berra, has been quoted many times and as I was rereading his book, I Really Didn’t Say Everything I Said, I was amused at a few of the quotes that “synced” with genealogy research. Quote #1: “You’ve got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going ‘cause you might not get there!” Just think about it! I am smiling as to how many times I have not known where I was going on a family line only to be pleasantly surprised––or not. Each and every name has a possible surprise behind it, and as we dig deeper and deeper we get to the essence of the person. We might find out that a relative was not law abiding, or not sane, or a wanderer. Or on the flip side, perhaps he was a steady provider for his family, a community supporter, and/or a solid moral person.
A second quote: “ We’re lost, but we’re making good time!” is one where you have to pause and then smile and then think about all those waste-of-time, hasty false starts. Think about those long paths that you go down only to find they lead to the wrong place or nowhere at all. All that energy that could have been saved if, at the very beginning, we would have gone step by step to prove the connection.
Quote #3 “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” Oh, yeah, here we are with two people in the same place at the same time with the same name! Which road to follow and research first? Which one will take us to the right destination?
And the fourth and last quote, “Slump? I ain’t in no slump––I just ain’t hitting.” Well, we have all been in a slump and and not hitting but there is always another turn at bat as long as we stay in the game! I, like you, I hope, am staying in the game! The game of genealogy that is.
My latest interest has been finding out more about the history of StLGS as many questions pop up about how this organization has continued to grow and prosper with “only” a volunteer staff. The mission has always been the same, to “promote family history research by providing educational and research opportunities, offering community services, and collecting, preserving, and publishing genealogical and historical records.” From the very first meeting, there was a togetherness to the group, which stemmed from the common subject of St. Louis genealogy.

Here at StLGS we work as a team to achieve our goals. Volunteers, all of whom are home run hitters, know that it takes a full team effort to continue to keep up the quality of the work to the standards set fifty years ago by the founders of StLGS. If you don’t know us, then I hope you will go to www.stlgs.org and investigate our past and our present projects and events and join our team.
Our 46th annual Family History Conference, which featured Cyndi Ingle, Jan Alpert, and Bruce Buzbee, was quite the success. We want to thank our special sponsors: the History and Genealogy Department at St. Louis County Library, the Genealogy Department at St. Louis Public Library, the Missouri History Museum, NoWaste Publishing, Travel Leaders and Nancy Mettes, Vagabond Information Services and Peggy Thomson Greenwood, Salt Lake Plaza Hotel, Ancestry.com, Carol Whitton, cg, Findmypast, Fold3 and Newspapers.com.

Also our exhibitors: Acclaim Press, Jefferson County Genealogy Society, Once Upon A Trip Travel, Perry County Historical Society, Voices of the Past, Sons of the American Revolution, Missouri State Archives, St. Louis County Library, and Missouri History Museum.
We have two events coming up in July, the first of which, The Missouri Research Institute, 17–20 July will be held at our office at  #4 Sunnen Drive, St. Louis, MO 63143. The second is the Summer Speaker Series, “Mining Online German Research,” featuring James M. Beidler, on Saturday, 22 July. This will be an all-day in-depth learning opportunity for those researching their German ancestors. As the events are back to back we are offering a package deal for those who want to attend both. The Institute is limited to thirty attendees but the Speaker Series is open to many more. Remember that as a member you are entitled to a discount on the cost of attending most StLGS programs.
          There are so many perks to being a volunteer and a member of StLGS but for most of us it is the people we meet and the service to StLGS that keeps a smile in our hearts and a spring in our steps. I encourage you to come and join this “merry band” of searchers and seekers.

Thank you to all who continue to support us and volunteer for us. We look forward to seeing all of you at our upcoming events or when you visit our office.

Happy hunting and, as Yogi Berra said, “Ninety percent of the game is half mental.” Think about it!
Fran Behrman

Monday, May 1, 2017

Genealogy News

We have several interesting items to share with you!

First, an announcement from Scott Holl, manager of the History and Genealogy Department at St. Louis County Library Headquarters. Those of you with interest in the historic St. Louis Post-Dispatch will be delighted to learn that the online database offered by St. Louis County Library to its patrons will now extend to 1968. Previously the database stopped at 1922. Actual digital images of the newspaper, beginning with 1874, are available with your St. Louis County library card at https://www.slcl.org/content/historical-st-louis-post-dispatch-proquest/.
We also want to make you aware of a free week-long conference focused on Western European research. Held from the 15th through the 19th of May and sponsored by FamilySearch, the focus of the conference will be on Germany, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Belgium. If you live in or near Salt Lake City, you can attend in person. An additional 500 people can register for the online version, a series of webinars. The entire week's schedule as well as links to registration are at the FamilySearch wiki at https://familysearch.org/wiki/en/Western_European_Family_History_Conference/.
Finally, check out the updates to our Orphanages page on the StLGS website! Viki Fagyal, author of the ongoing orphanage articles that have been appearing in our StLGS Quarterly, has created a wonderful bibliography, timeline, and census charts that should be of great help to everyone looking for more information on ancestors who spent time in a St. Louis orphanage. Find all these new pages as links in the right-hand column called "More Orphanage Information" at http://stlgs.org/research-2/institutions/orphanages/.

Have you missed any of our blog posts? All previous blog posts are archived online. You can always read them by going to stlgs.blogspot.com/.

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 www.stlgs.org/.