18 December 2017

Interviewing a Relative

With the holiday season upon us and families planning to celebrate together, it seems like a good time to share some tips for conducting a successful interview with your relatives.

You may want to record the interview, so remember to start by asking permission to do so. Then, you may want to keep the following items in mind:

  1. Help the person relax and feel comfortable before you begin your questions.
  2. Keep other people from the room so your interviewee is not distracted. Turn off the TV and silence phones, too, so neither of you feel compelled to respond to texts or calls in the middle of your interview.
  3. If you are working with an older person, limit the interview to an agreed-upon time period and then stick to it so your person doesn't tire out. If needed, schedule a second interview at a later date.
  4. Always ask open-ended questions. Begin your questions with those trusty "5 W's and an H": Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. Stay away from questions that can only be answered by yes or no unless that's all you want for an answer.
  5. Be careful not to put words in anyone's mouth. Phrase your questions carefully so you do not suggest the answers you want to hear.
  6. Be sensitive to your interviewee. If he/she seems reluctant to talk about certain subjects, stay away from them. Maybe try again another time, if it's important.
  7. Do not disagree with an answer that is given you, even if you know it's not correct. Arguing may shut down your interviewee.
  8. If a person wants to enlarge upon a subject, encourage them to do so.
  9. Finally, use visual aids such as old photographs, letters, and family memorabilia to stimulate memories.
Good luck and enjoy learning more about your family history!

Happy holidays to everyone. Your blogger/editor is taking time off to be with her own family and will be back with you in early January.

11 December 2017

Upcoming StLGS Events for Your 2018 Calendar

As the holidays are rapidly approaching and you are undoubtedly setting up your 2018 calendars, we want to help you get started with some upcoming special society dates.

Office Closure
First, as we have announced on Facebook, Twitter, and our website, the StLGS office will be closed on Saturday, December 23rd, so our volunteers can spend time with their families that day.

January Monthly Meeting
Our first monthly meeting of the new year will take place on Saturday, 13 January, at 10 a.m. in the auditorium at the Headquarters building of the St. Louis County Library, 1640 South Lindbergh Boulevard. We'll start the year with a panel discussion where you can "Ask Your Questions." So if you have a genealogy question that you've been struggling with, this would be the time to see if one of our volunteers can assist you. To help us prepare better, please email your question ahead of time to programs@stlgs.org.

Trivia Night

This popular fundraiser will take place on Saturday, 3 March, at the Maplewood/Richmond Heights Community Center. Always a fun-filled occasion, this evening event has rounds of interesting questions, a fabulous silent auction, and bonus rounds with excellent prizes. Registration is now open, and we do hope you will invite friends or just come by yourself and make new ones. Click here for more information and/or to register on our website.

Annual Family History Conference: Genealogy . . .  Finding Your Way Online!

Please join us at this year's all-day conference: Genealogy . . .  Finding Your Way Online! Featuring nationally-known author, instructor, and lecturer, Pam Sayre; Missouri State Archivist, John Dougan, and some of our experienced local speakers, this year's conference will take place on Saturday, 7 April, at Orlando Gardens in Maryland Heights. Registration is now open. Click here for more information and/or to register on our website.

04 December 2017

Holiday Gift Suggestions for Your Favorite Genealogist(s)

It's been a few years since we've published a holiday gift guide, due to space restrictions in News 'n Notes. But, now that we have unlimited space online, it seems like a good time to share some ideas on how to make your favorite family historians happy for the holidays. So, here goes . . .
Technology-related Gits
  1. Flash/thumb drives for using in libraries and sharing or moving files
  2. A portable external hard drive for extra storage or backing up files
  3. A subscription to an online/cloud backup plan such as Backblaze or Carbonite
  4. Extra supplies for digital equipment: memory cards, batteries, portable mini-tripods
  5. A subscription to Ancestry, FindMyPast, Newspapers.com or any similar service
  6. A DNA testing kit (Choose one of the major companies: FamilyTree DNA, Ancestry, or 23andMe. Select the one that has the most people in its database that are similar to your recipient. The more people with the same background in the database, the more accurate the results.)
  7. A genealogy software program or an upgrade to an existing program
  8. Gift cards to the Apple App Store or Google Play Store or to the appropriate store for their particular smart phone or tablet so they can buy additional apps.
  9. Gift certificates to local community colleges or adult education sponsors for classes and practice in using technology
Not Technological
  1. Archival quality photo storage boxes or photo albums
  2. Acid-free photo mounting supplies and/or photo marking pens
  3. Acid free, archival quality sheet protectors and/or paper
  4. Good quality three or four-inch D-ring binders for storing copies of sheets and documents
  5. Gift certificates to St. Louis Genealogical Society (or other local historical/genealogical societies) for membership, publications, and/or special events

Almost all genealogists are book lovers and you can't go wrong with adding to their collections. Try some of these . . .
  1. Any of the QuickSheets by noted genealogist Elizabeth Shown Mills (or, better yet, her excellent book on source citations, Evidence Explained)
  2. The series of Genealogy at a Glance laminated booklets available in a variety of ethnicities: German, Irish, French, etc.
  3. Books on states of interest; for instance, any of the NGS Genealogy in the States series
  4. Books that are specific to areas of interest: neighborhoods, religions, occupations, or any other unique aspect of their family history
Remember, as a StLGS member, you are entitled to a discount on many of the products in our online store. Log in as a member to get your discount code before you shop. Or come by the office and see what we have available in our lobby sales area. We also have gift certificates available for any amount you choose. Have fun doing your holiday shopping or just treating yourself to a gift.

27 November 2017

Family Stories: Is It True?

(Our guest author this week is 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 hope you pick up some good ideas for your own quests based on what Dr. Bainbridge has written.)

Many families tell and retell dramatic, strange, or funny stories about their ancestors. Some of them might even be true. Here are some examples of true, false, and partly-true stories in my family.

From the Mayflower to the Revolution

One of my mother’s cousins wrote this in a letter in 1973: “In the 1920s, Aunt Sadie . . . had the family tree done by professionals. . . . Something that may interest you from Aunt Sadie’s tree––two English [family surname] came over on the Mayflower but died the first winter in Massachusetts. When the second ship came over, two more Englishes came over. They were Geo. and William English. These two were our forbearers [sic]. . . . Another interesting thing is when Benedict Arnold gave the plans to Major André, the man who was presiding officer at the trials was our relation. He was Brevet Gen. Alexander English who ordered Major Andre 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.”

During the 1970s, many relatives born around 1900 told me Aunt Sadie bragged about her tree, always carried it in her purse, and frequently brandished it to relatives while telling them they couldn’t read it because they hadn’t paid for it. The then-current owner promised Sadie she wouldn’t let anybody else see it, but she let me copy it because I lived more than 2,000 miles away. The report was done in 1930. It was not done by a professional. It went back only to Sadie’s grandfather who was born in 1803. It did not include any of the above stories.

Researching reliable historical records shows the following. The Mayflower brought one English, not two, and he died the first winter without issue. The second ship did not bring anybody named English or anything like that. No George or William English arrived in America for at least eighteen years after the Mayflower’s arrival. The presiding officer at Major André’s trial was Nathaniel Greene. The Daughters of the American Revolution Patriot Index shows no English with a rank above lieutenant. The hanging was ordered by the court martial board and confirmed by General Washington. General Alexander English, who is buried at West Point, was born seventeen years after Major André was hanged. Oh, sigh! How disappointing! [More on this family coming in the next installment.]
Went to Texas and Were Killed by Indians

My wife Carol researched a Masterson who married a Lanman, losing track of that family in Iowa in 1850. She asked the current Masterson genealogist of highest standing if she knew what happened to those people. She said they moved to Texas and were killed by Indians.

Carol found them in the 1860 census of Jack County, Texas. Several years later, she Googled “Texas Lanman.” She found a description of an Indian raid that took place in Jack County several weeks after the census was taken. In that raid, three members of that Lanman-Masterson family were killed.

From Portugal or the Netherlands?

A patron at the Longmont Family History Center asked for help researching her family. Some family members said they came from Portugal, others said they came from the Netherlands, and still others said they came from Portugal-Netherlands. The family name sounded Dutch rather than Portuguese.

Carol searched the Internet for an old gazetteer and found an entry for Portugaal in Zuid Holland. Her search of old maps found one, dated 1450, that showed a town named Portugaal near Rotterdam. A modern Google map shows Poortugaal among the southwestern suburbs of Rotterdam.
A Scottish Name in Switzerland

A friend asked me to help her start researching her family. She said the family used to be wealthy and lived in their castle on an island in a lake in Switzerland. The name sounded Scottish rather than German, French, or Italian.

Switzerland doesn’t have a lake with an island. I found that family’s association website. They are descended from the man and woman of that name who were wealthy and lived in their castle on an island in a lake near the west coast of Scotland. The association offers copies of their extensive genealogical data to anybody who can show they are descended from any family members they recognize. My friend’s great-grandfather was among them. So she had her ancestry back to 1750 in one day.
 So . . .

Stories preserved within your family might be true or false or some of each. Think of how you might prove or disprove parts of the story using authoritative sources that do not come from the family. Imagine what you would like to find if the world were an ideal place. Then hunt for such information on the Internet. If an imaginative and persistent search fails, try looking for books on relevant subjects in Worldcat at www.worldcat.org/. That site lists more than two billion items in libraries around the world. If you find something interesting, ask your local librarian to get it for you through Interlibrary Loan.

Hope that you can prove or disprove the stories you have inherited, but realize that some questions cannot be answered conclusively. For example, consider John English, who was a private in the Second Pennsylvania Regiment of the Continental Line and who claimed that he took an active part in the hanging of Major André. He was in that unit for two years before and three years after the André incident. That unit was close to Major André’s location the day he was hanged. No record of events close to the execution mentions John and no record says the Second attended the hanging. Was he nearby? Yes. Was he there? Maybe. Did he participate? We’ll never know. [More on John English in a subsequent installment.]

 Advice and Examples

Read Sustainable Genealogy: Separating Fact from Fiction in Family Legends by Richard Hite. This book is a collection of family traditions and explanations of how they were investigated. Some were true, some were false, and some were a little of both. If the library nearest you doesn’t have this book, ask a librarian to get it for you through Interlibrary Loan. [Or purchase a copy at the StLGS online store. Click here to go to the correct page. Remember to log in and get your discount code first, if you are an StLGS member.]

19 November 2017

Genealogical Musing with Fran

(Former StLGS president, Fran Behrman, is our guest blogger this week. As you gather with your family on Thanksgiving, remember that the holidays are a perfect time for encouraging stories to be told, recorded, written down, and preserved. Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at StLGS!)

Hello from StLGS to all of our fellow genealogists,

What is a genealogist? Investigator, searcher, sleuth, explorer, authenticator, fact finder, scrutinizer, thinker, writer, historian. Just some of the adjectives that you might use to explain what you do in your quest for the facts of your family’s past. There are no shortcuts. No maybes. This is serious work that requires a studious, nosy, persistent, inquisitive, discerning mind. 
 Do you remember your first great discovery? What a thrill! It is the “hook” that makes you want more.
I have a maternal great-grandfather whose name is James Vaton Smith. Thank goodness for the Vaton part as that is how, after hours and hours of perusing through microfilm, I knew I had found my man. Way back before computers and the Internet, the average researcher had to go to the source of original records. It was not always possible or practical to travel to explore those records, so many of us ordered microfilm from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. We had a local Family History Center near my home, so when a microfilm would arrive, I would go there and research. My James Vaton Smith went through Arkansas to join the land rush to claim property in Oklahoma at the turn of the century (we know this because my grandmother was born in Arkansas). Not knowing more than his name and his destination, I started with the most northern counties of Arkansas and planned to search each and every county. I could have come up empty, as he may have never been in any one location long enough to be in a census or tax or land record, but it was my duty to try. Luckily, I did indeed find my James V. Smith in a marriage record in Stone County, Arkansas. That led to knowing my great-grandmother’s maiden name and her parents. What a find! And it was Smith! But he had used his middle name!
No, I didn’t make this discovery in a day or a week or even a month, but the satisfaction and joy of the discovery is still one I remember and smile about. Researching is what we do and the sweet joy of an accurate discovery is a glorious moment.
Do you remember your first discovery? Do you do your genealogy alone or do you have a partner or team that you work with? I have always had the joy of sharing with my sisters who have been as excited and sometimes as stunned as I by the facts we found.
Genealogy has grown in popularity as a hobby (some say it is now the most popular pastime in the U.S.) and it is easy to understand why. The discovery of an ancestor is a thrill. Once you find the name then adding “meat to bone,” so to speak, by researching the person in depth, brings great satisfaction.
Are all ancestors easy to find?  Of course not. But to me the thrill of the hunt is as great as the thrill of the find. How many places have I traveled to that I would probably never have had the joy of visiting if the hunt for ancestors was not my “thing”? Small towns, large cities, and in between, from north to south and east to west across the great oceans to unknown places, following the clues and the documents found in towns that I may have never heard of before.
Genealogy takes an inquisitive mind, which the Energizer bunny ad says “ just keeps on goin!” Do you think you are finished when you have collected all the facts about everyone in your family tree? Well, I don’t think so. After collecting, you must preserve what you’ve found and hopefully write the story of your family’s past. Now that can be an even harder task, but this doesn’t have to be the great American novel. No, this is the story based on documented facts, that you will leave to generations to come who will know the contribution your family made to our world.
I am a genealogist. I am an investigator. I am an authenticator! And I am proud to be a member of StLGS, which has dedicated fifty years to assisting those who want to know about their family’s history.
             Wishing you great success in your genealogical search. Fran

16 November 2017

Meet Author A. J. Jacobs, Thursday, 30 November

StLGS is proud to be a co-sponsor of an exciting author event at the end of this month. Teaming with Meet Me St. Louis and the Kirkwood Public Library, we are delighted to introduce you to A. J. Jacobs, author of It's All Relative, Adventures Up and Down the World's Family Tree.

A. J. is a contributing editor to Esquire magazine and National Public Radio and the author of a New York Times best seller called The Year of Living Biblically. His new book tells of his quest to build the largest family tree in the world and to understand just what makes up family. Told with great humor and enthusiasm for his research, the book crosses the world, ethnic groups, and social classes. It has been described as a "fascinating look at the bonds that connect us all."

What: Presentation, Q and A, and book signing
Where: Kirkwood Public Library, 140 East Jefferson Avenue, Kirkwood, MO 63122
When: Thursday, 30 November 2017, 7:30 p.m.

Advance Tickets: $35 (Includes presentation and book)
General Admission and Tickets at the Door: $20 (Book not included; entrance only if space permits)
Students with Valid ID: $10 (Book not included)

For more information on Meet Me St. Louis, click here.

To purchase tickets, click here.

For directions to the Kirkwood Public Library, click here.

13 November 2017

Loss of StLGS Volunteer, Doris Eshbach, and Upcoming Steamboat Talk

In Memoriam: Dr. Doris Eshbach

It is with great sadness that we report that longtime volunteer, researcher, and exuberant StLGS member/supporter, Dr. Doris Eschbach, passed away suddenly on Wednesday, 1 November 2017. Doris was passionate about her German heritage, traveling with us numerous times on our annual research trip to Salt Lake City and to Europe with her family. She volunteered at the Family History Conference each year, came to every meeting she could, was an ardent participant in the German Special Interest Group, and attended classes and workshops regularly. Doris had been a teacher and university professor before her retirement and then pursued her interest in and devotion to genealogy, traveling, and her family. All of us who knew her will miss her bright smile, her bubbly personality, and her unfailing enthusiasm for the things she loved.

We extend our deepest sympathy to Doris's husband, Leonard, her children, grandchildren, and great-granddaughter.

For Those with an Interest in Steamboats . . .

The Bridgeton Historical Society invites you to hear Porsche Schlapper, the new curator of the Herman T. Pott National Inland Waterways Library located in the Mercantile Library at UMSL, give a talk on "Traveling by Steamboats on the Mississippi."
Tuesday, 14 November from 7:00 p.m. until 8:30 p.m.
Bridgeton Recreation Center, 4201 Fee Fee Road, Bridgeton, Missouri

The talk is free and needs no pre-registration. For directions to the venue, click here.

06 November 2017

Archeology in St. Louis and a Treat for Illinois Residents

From the Old Trails Historical Society in St. Louis County:
You are invited to their November general meeting, 8 November 2017, at 7 p.m., at the West County EMS and Firehouse, Henry Road, in Manchester, Mo.
“New and Amazing Archaeological Discoveries in St. Louis at the Site of the new St. Louis-Based National Geospatial Intelligence Agency” is the topic.
Preparation is underway for the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency on ninety-seven acres in the City of St. Louis. So before it was too late and the ground was bulldozed and prepared for construction, Joe Harl, archaeologist, regional expert, and co-founder of the Archaeological Research Center of St. Louis, Inc., conducted extensive investigations throughout the large parcel of land, knowing that important data would certainly be obtained there. This neighborhood was occupied by immigrants from Germany and Ireland and their families for many generations and went through dramatic changes in the mid-twentieth century. Recovery was made of more than 300 historical features dating back to the Victorian Era in the late 1800s and through the early 1900s. Joe Harl will share the importance of these findings about life in St. Louis between the 1850s and 1950s.
This meeting is free and open to the public. No need to pre-register; just be there!
(Thanks to Viki Fagyal for forwarding this information.)

Try-It Illinois is a collection of databases available to Illinois residents for a free trial until 30 November. Fold3, Newspaper Archive, Newspapers.com, and the Historical Chicago Tribune are just a few of the resources on the site that will appeal to genealogists. To get access, you must live in Illinois and request the username and password on the Try-It Illinois website (right side of the home page in a pale yellow box) or contact your local Illinois public library. You can find Try-It Illinois at http://www.finditillinois.org/tryit/.

(Thanks to the Illinois State Genealogical Society Blog for this information.)

30 October 2017

Catch Up with the New Season of Finding Your Roots

Are you a fan of Henry Louis Gates's interesting genealogy show called Finding Your Roots? Do you know that the fourth season is in full swing? If you have missed the first few shows, you will be happy to know that you can still watch them online at PBS.org, one of the many ways that public television brings quality programs to all of us.

Just go to http://www.pbs.org/weta/finding-your-roots/home/ and choose the episode you want to view on your computer. All of the first four are currently available.

The season began on Tuesday, 3 October 2017 with Larry David and Bernie Sanders. The second episode was on 10 October with Fred Armisen, Carly Simon, and Christopher Walken. Episode three, on Tuesday, 17 October, featured Ted Danson, his wife Mary Steenburgen, and William H. Macy. Episode four aired on Tuesday, 24 October, with Ta-Nehisi Coates, Ava DuVernay, and Janet Mock.

Tomorrow night, Tuesday, 31 October, will focus on immigrants and stars Scarlett Johansson, Paul Rudd, and John Turturro. Seven more episodes will round out the season, which concludes on Tuesday, 19 December. Tomorrow night's show airs on PBS, Channel 9, KETC, at 7:00 Central Time. Check your local listings if you are not in the St. Louis viewing area.

25 October 2017

Legacy Family Tree Free Webinar: Sunday, 29 October 2017

We have received word about another free webinar that might be of interest to many of you. Legacy Family Tree, which is widely known for providing excellent quality webinars, is hosting an all-day event this Sunday sponsored by the genealogy website MyHeritage.com/.

The day's online classes begin at 6 a.m. (Central time) with two one-hour sessions focusing on Jewish genealogy. These are followed by two classes on autosomal DNA, one on using MyHeritage's special features, and one on preserving your genealogy (not in that order).

Each class is free but you must pre-register. You can learn more about the webinars by clicking here. which will take you to the Legacy Family Tree website. When you get there, click on any of the black "Register" buttons to read full descriptions, biographies of the presenters, and exact times for each class.

(Thanks to Phyllis Faintich and Kay Weber for alerting us to this webinar.)

07 October 2017

Have You Got Genealogy Questions?

One of the events that has been most successful for StLGS in the past is our "Ask Your Questions Day." With that in mind, as we plan our 2018 calendar, we have decided to kick off the year with an "Ask Your Questions" open forum at our January monthly meeting. So that we can best choose our "volunteer expert" and be sure to have answers for you, we need your questions.

If you have a question that is puzzling you about genealogy, please jot it down and send it to our vice president for programs, Viki Fagyal. She will compile the questions and consult with genealogists who have expertise in your areas of concern. Please try to keep your questions fairly general such as "Where can I find divorce records in St. Louis?" rather than "I need to know when John Smith and his wife Mary divorced." The more general your questions, the more people we can help with the answers.

Please send your questions to programs@stlgs.org and then plan to attend the 13 January 2018 StLGS monthly meeting to hear the answers and learn from others.

02 October 2017

St. Louis County Library to Host Lineage Society Fair

 If your ancestors were colonists, fought in an early war, or were part of the settlement of a location, you may be eligible to join a lineage society and honor their past achievements in the here and now. The St. Louis County Library is holding a lineage society fair on Saturday, 21 October from 10 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. in the auditorium of the Headquarters building, 1640 S. Lindbergh Boulevard, and everyone is invited to come and learn more about local groups.

Representatives of several societies will be on hand to discuss the work of their organizations and offer membership information to the public. This event is free and open to all. You do not need to register to attend.

Organizations scheduled to participate in the fair include:
  • Colonial Dames XVII Century, Margaret Wyatt Allyn Chapter
  • Colonial Dames of America
  • Colonial Daughters of the Seventeenth Century
  • Daughters of the American Colonists
  • Daughters of the American Revolution, Mideast District and Olde Towne Fenton Chapter
  • Daughters of the Union Veterans of the Civil War, 1861–1865
  • Jamestown Society
  • Magna Carta Dames and Barons
  • Missouri Society, Sons of the Revolution
  • National Society, Daughters of the Union, 1861–1865
  • National Society of New England Women
  • St. Louis Genealogical Society—First Families of St. Louis
  • United States Daughters of 1812
If you have questions, please contact the library at genealogy@slcl.org.

25 September 2017

St. Louis: Did You Know?

If you are doing Catholic research in the St. Louis Archdiocese, an invaluable tool is linked from the St. Louis County Library website, Parishes in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. This provides an interactive Google map showing the locations of open and closed churches with brief historical data. Users can search for an address and see its location relative to churches shown on the map. If you know the address where your ancestor lived, it is easy to find the churches closest to that address. You can go directly to this map by clicking here.
When you get to the map, you can enlarge it by zooming in to see the street names and find your exact address. The churches are marked with green, blue, yellow, or black stars to indicate whether the church is still operating or closed. Click on a star and it tells you (on the left side of the screen) the name of the church, the dates of operation, and a brief description of the parish. Don’t forget, the St. Louis Archdiocese extends south to Perry County, west through Franklin County, and north through Lincoln County.
 (Thanks to StLGS Vice President of Programs, Viki Fagyal, for writing this week's blog post. If you know of an interesting website and would like to share with other genealogists, please contact us at publications@stlg.org.)

18 September 2017

September Genealogy Events

 StLGS German SIG Meeting
The end of this month is filling up with several genealogy events. As we posted today in our Facebook group, the society's German Special Interest Group (German SIG) has a meeting on Wednesday, the 20th, featuring Dan Lilienkamp, reference librarian in St. Louis County Library's History and Genealogy Department. The meeting will take place at the Headquarters Auditorium at 7:00 p.m. Dan will speak on "Using Ortssippenbucher to Research Your Family." The meeting is free, no pre-registration required, and open to all. For more detailed information, go to the German SIG page on our website at https://stlgs.org/about-us-2/sigs-and-special-programs/german-special-interest-group-2/.

Old Jamestown Stories
The Florissant Valley Historical Society will be hosting a program featuring stories of Old Jamestown on Sunday, 24 September, at 2:00 p.m. Led by Peggy Kruse, author of Old Jamestown Across the Ages: Highlights and Stories of Old Jamestown, Missouri, this program will be presented at the historic Taille de Noyer house located on the McCluer High School grounds, 1896 South New Florissant Rd. The program is free, but due to limited seating, you do need to pre-register. Call either Pat at 314-440-2344 or Mary Kay at 314-409-9478. More information at http://florissantvalleyhs.com/event-item/old-jamestown-across-ages/.
For directions to the Taille de Noyer house (on Google maps), click here.

Illinois Ancestors? Two Choices
For those with Illinois roots, Thursday, 28 September at 7:00 p.m. presents you with two choices:

French? Join Larry Franke, reference librarian in St. Louis County Library's History and Genealogy Department for a talk on learning to research old manuscripts from eighteenth-century Kaskaskia. Called "Using the Kaskaskia Manuscripts," Larry's talk will explain the marriage contracts, wills, land records, and manumissions in French civil records from southwestern Illinois. This is a free program, held in the auditorium of the Headquarters building at 1640 South Lindbergh Boulevard. No pre-registration is required. If you have questions, contact the H&G department at genealogy@slcl.org .

German? The St. Clair County Genealogical Society in Belleville, Illinois, is hosting a special lecture on the Rhineland-Pfalz (Palatinate) given by Roland Paul, director of the Institute for Palatine History and Folklore in Kaiserslautern, Germany. Mr. Paul will be talking about a German newspaper called Pfaelzer in Amerika, published in New York from 1884 to 1917, and containing thousands of obituaries. Mr. Paul and a colleague have published the first of four volumes of these obits, from 1884 until 1897, with about 200 obituaries of residents of the Metro East. He will speak about the newspaper and its importance as a source for locating German ancestors. More information at the society's website http://www.stclair-ilgs.org/stcabout.htm/. The meeting is free with no pre-registration required. It will be held in Belleville at the St. Luke Parish Center, 226 N. Church St. Directions to the location (on Google maps), click here.

15 September 2017

Free Webinars: This Week Only!

Genealogy software company, Legacy Family Tree, is celebrating its seventh anniversary by offering fifteen of its most popular webinars for free for seven days only! This wonderful ability to learn from some of the nation's top genealogists began yesterday, 14 September, and will continue for a week. Normally, you would need a membership to its webinar series, which contains 583 genealogy classes taught by 149 well-known genealogists, to view these lectures.

The free webinars include classes on a wide variety of subjects from "Finding Your Early 1800s Ancestors Online" taught by James Baker to "Using Evernote for Genealogy" with Lisa Louise Cooke, and lots more in between.

So how do you take advantage of this great offer? Go to http://news.legacyfamilytree.com/legacy_news/2017/09/our-7th-anniversary-watch-the-15-most-desired-members-only-webinars-for-free.html and enjoy!

Thanks to Geoff Rasmussen and the staff at Legacy Family Tree for their anniversary gift to all of us!

11 September 2017

Zion and Fee Fee Cemeteries Plan Special Events

 Did you have ancestors buried in Holy Ghost (also called Old Picker's) Cemetery who were moved to Zion Cemetery in 1917 when Holy Ghost closed? If so, you might wish to attend a special service on Saturday, 16 September at 10:30 a.m. at Zion Cemetery, 7401 St. Charles Rock Road, to dedicate a new memorial in honor of those whose remains were re-interred at Zion. The cemetery does not have records or names of the individuals moved there, but wishes to honor them as a group.

If you plan to attend, please let the cemetery know so they will have adequate chairs and refreshments. Send a note to marthak@zioncemeterystl.org .

Also, on Saturday, 16 September, you are invited to take a walking tour of Fee Fee Cemetery, which opened in 1814. The tour is planned from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. and there is a fee of $5 per adult and $3 per child from four through fifteen; proceeds to benefit the Bridgeton Historical Society. Parking is limited at the cemetery, so visitors are asked to park at Fee Fee Baptist Church, 11330 St. Charles Rock Road, where there will be free shuttles to the cemetery. Please note that the ground in the cemetery is uneven and not suited for walkers or wheelchairs.

For more information, call the Bridgeton Recreation Center at 314-739-5599.

04 September 2017

Fall Classes at StLGS About to Begin

Did you know that one of the perks for StLGS members is free classes? StLGS classes are taught at our office, 4 Sunnen Drive, Suite 140, Maplewood, MO, from 1:00 p.m. until 3:00 p.m., and the teachers are all experienced genealogists.

The first class of the fall schedule begins this Thursday, the 7th of September, when Judy Belford will teach "Learning About Lineage Societies." Then, on Sunday, 10 September and Sunday, 17 September, Ilene Murray will teach a two-part class called "Foundations of Genealogy," meant for both beginners and those who are looking for some new ideas. Carol Whitton, CG, will teach "Beginning German Research" on Saturday, 23 September.

October brings a class by Viki Fagyal called "Can't Find it on the Internet?" on Saturday, the 21st, and "Beginning Irish Genealogy," taught on the 28th by Carol Hemmersmeier and Kay Weber.

The last class of our fall cycle will be on Saturday, 4 November, when Ted Steele teaches "Beginning RootsMagic."

More detailed information about all the classes is on our website at https://stlgs.org/education/classes/. To register, please call our office at 314-647-8547 during regular business hours (Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, 9:00 a.m. until noon).  

All classes require pre-registration. No walk-ins, please.

Also, Please Note: Bob Goode is teaching a class on FamilySearch.org on Saturday, 16 September, but that class is filled and wait-listed. If you have signed up for Bob's class, you have a space but no new participants are being registered.

21 August 2017

Celebrate French Heritage

For those of you with French heritage or an interest in French history/genealogy, two events are scheduled in the next few weeks in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri.

The first, sponsored by New France: the Other Colonial America, honors one of the founding pioneers of Ste. Genevieve, Louis Bolduc. In fact, Saturday, 26 August is Louis Bolduc Day, and there will be an all-day celebration at the Louis Bolduc House Museum beginning at 9:45 a.m. with registration. This is a family day, and children are most welcome. A scavenger hunt begins at 10 a.m. and, at the same time, the Linden and Bolduc houses will be open for tours. From 11 to 12:30 p.m., a party with sweets, games, and balloon animals will take place at the Linden House. At 1:30, you can take a special curator tour of the Bolduc house to learn more about the house's construction and history. Finally, at 3:00, Yan Bolduc, a historian and descendant of this colonial family, will present a genealogy lecture.

Admission for the day is $9 for adults and $4 for children. More information at https://www.frenchcoloniallife.org/calendar/.

Also in Ste. Genevieve but a month later, the Foundation for Restoration of Ste. Genevieve will hold their annual fall history conference. The three-day event begins on Friday 22 September with a reception and continues on Saturday, 23 September with a full day of lectures from six different speakers. The lectures focus on John Scott, Missouri's first U.S. representative; Louis Bolduc and Agathe Govreau; The Battle of St. Louis and the attack on Cahokia; the Dodge family in the Mississippi Valley; the Green Tree Tavern in Ste. Genevieve; and diversity in the town in the 1770s. The conference concludes on Sunday, 24 September, with a tour of the Louisiana Academy, Missouri's first school of higher education.

A registration fee of $50 includes the reception, continental breakfast and lunch on Saturday, and Sunday's tour. Register prior to 16 September to guarantee your place and meals. Registration form and more information at https://www.historicstegen.org/fall-history-conference/.

(Thanks to Mary Lee Chivetta for alerting us to the September conference.)

13 August 2017

Noteworthy Items to Start Your Week

A reporter from an online magazine, called simply, St. Louis, recently interviewed StLGS projects director, Carol Whitton, about the society's ongoing congregations project. If you haven't yet had a chance to see the article, we think you will really enjoy it. Find it here:


If it inspires you to join the fun, we always need more volunteers. Go to the Volunteer Opportunities page on our website https://stlgs.org/about-us-2/volunteer-opportunities for all the information you need to get involved. In addition, if you are affiliated with a congregation that has records to share, please let us know so we can reach out to you and your church or synagogue leaders.

While working with twentieth-century death certificates, you may have noticed that many have large numbers written on them somewhere in the "cause of death" section. Perhaps you thought these were just random numbers, but it turns out, they are not. Begun in the late 1890s, these numbers are part of the International Code of Diseases or ICD, and they may reveal more information on how your ancestors died, especially if the handwriting and/or the spelling on the certificate is difficult to decipher. Go to http://familyhistorydaily.com/free-genealogy-resources/icd-codes-death-certificates-genealogy/?platform=hootsuite for an easy-to understand explanation of the coding system (try not to get sidetracked by all the ads on the page, though) and then click on the link to find the codes or go directly to http://www.wolfbane.com/icd/index.html/. Be sure to choose the link that corresponds to the revision closest in time prior to the person's death for the most accurate information.

In the following example, note that the person died in 1912 of "chronic bronchitis with pulmonary abscess." If we use the revised code for 1909, the closest date prior to 1912, we can see that the number 96 stands for asthma, which adds more information to the cause of death.

(Many thanks to our Twitter expert, Laura Mackinson, for alerting us to both these websites.)

07 August 2017

A Software Announcement and a Great Article!

 Just a few days ago, MyHeritage.com announced it was purchasing the genealogy software Legacy Family Tree. MyHeritage has been slowly growing in the shadow of the giants, Ancestry and FamilySearch. They have a heavy European emphasis and more than 91 million members. Legacy, for years a top contender in PC genealogy software, is widely respected for the quality of its product and its tech support. It also has a well-used webinar platform.

For those of you PC owners looking to update your genealogy software and save money in the process, Legacy Family Tree is offering a substantial savings that will expire this Sunday, 13 August. You can get the Legacy 9 software and/or subscriptions to the webinars for half-price.

Please do not consider this as an endorsement of this product. We just want to make you aware of a good savings on a reliable product. For those who are interested, you can learn much more on the Legacy website: http://news.legacyfamilytree.com/legacy_news/2017/08/legacy-family-tree-has-a-new-home-with-myheritage.html .

(Thanks to Pat Stamm for alerting us to this special offer.)

With so many genealogists now using DNA testing to help them establish roots, it should not be surprising to learn of extraordinary finds. A recent story, published in the Washington Post, tells of an "Irish-American" woman who discovered an amazing incident in her father's past when she began doing DNA testing of her relatives. It's a great read and a wonderful example of how important it is to follow every clue to get to the truth.

(Thanks to Ann Fleming and Ted Steele for sharing this link.)

11 July 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.

25 June 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.)

16 June 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

05 June 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

17 May 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