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Archive for the ‘cemetery’ Category

Iowa Lakes Genealogical Society
c/o Spencer Public Library
21 East 3rd Street
Spencer, Iowa 51301

http://spencerlibrary.com/

This was a first! My reputation preceded me with this group. The Society had a regular meeting the Saturday prior to my visit. The members were reviewing the National Genealogical Society Quarterly that had just arrived in their mailbox and discovered that the visitor expected next week was the author of an article in the Quarterly. One member took the publication home with him and read my “Genealogical Research in Iowa” article! He was ready for my visit! I was surprised!

Four society members met with me and we had a great conversation about their society and their individual genealogical pursuits, as well as lunch at a local restaurant afterwards.

The Iowa Lakes Genealogical Society includes Clay, Dickinson, Osceola and O’Brien Counties. The group was organized in 1977 and was the beneficiary of Charlotte Brett’s genealogy collection, which today contains over 1,200 books and periodicals. The collection is nicely arranged on shelves in the Spencer Public Library on both sides of tables where the society meets and researchers can work. To access a shelf list of the collection, enter “genealogy” in the public library card catalog.

The society helps sponsor the library’s subscription to Ancestry.com. The Spencer area newspapers through 1936 have been digitized and are available through NewspaperArchive.com. Today the society is updating cemetery gravestone information. As with many groups they struggle with whether to update with print publications or whether to go with free online places such as Find-A-Grave and the Clay County USGenWeb site.

This group is very fortunate to have a quality collection and space for it in a beautiful public library. Thanks to Sharon, Donald, Jean and Mary, this was truly an enjoyable morning!

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Continuing in the quest to find hidden genealogical resources:

Buena Vista County Genealogical Society
221 West Railroad
Storm Lake, Iowa 50588

712-732-7111
Open Thursday 2-4 p.m. and by appointment
http://www.stormlake-ia.com/bvchs/resources.htm

Energy! We met with Kristen Watts; she is young and energetic! Kristen recently became librarian after my long-time friend, Janice Danielson, needed to downsize and move out-of-state. Janice had been librarian for years, perhaps twenty years or more. She knew this library backwards and forwards, but we were impressed with Kristen’s knowledge, skills, and ideas.

Located in an old building that is part of the historical society, this library is stuffed to the gills. Two collections are especially large: original probate files and original newspapers.

The probate files occupy many filing cabinets and have been indexed (publication available for purchase from the society).

The Storm Lake newspapers have been digitized by Advantage Preservation and are available on the Storm Lake Public Library website: http://stormlake.advantage-preservation.com/. The Alta Advertiser newspapers have not been digitized, however, the society has created a finding-aid index of births, marriages, deaths, and major events. The library also has copies of the Aurelia Sentinel newspaper published in neighboring Cherokee County.

Kristin explained that sometimes the volunteers feel a little like orphans, accepting whatever someone else doesn’t want. However, this has given them an “edge;” they have a unique collection.

The society’s cemetery survey publications were created in 1988-1990 and desperately need to be updated. Kristen said work is progressing. She is scanning the current publications and converting the PDF files to WORD documents using a free version of ABBYY finereader 6.0 Sprint. Then she is walking the cemeteries and adding the new information to the document. Sometimes the conversion process isn’t perfect, so she has a little cleanup to do, but it is so much faster and easier than retyping everything.

She also had another technology tidbit: she purchased Dragon Naturally Speaking 9.0 to index newspapers. (This is a voice recognition software that automatically converts the words of a speaker to text. It is my understanding that the user “trains” the software for the specific voice.) I asked her if she has any problems with this and she said some words are a problem, but overall it works great for her. Wow!

Other categories of holdings include (my husband estimates up to 12-14 liner feet for many of these categories):

    *School yearbooks
    *Buena Vista County histories
    *Other Iowa County books
    *Town histories
    *Church histories
    *Civil War and other military information
    *Local society records
    *Phone directories
    *Information for other states

The collection is significant.

When Kristen showed me the obituary collection I was surprised. Each obituary is placed in an envelope and the envelope is labeled with the deceased’s name, birth & death date and the source information: name and date of the newspaper. This was the first time I’ve seen the “envelope” system; I can see some advantages.

This library has moved above and beyond with equipment for library patrons to use: a laptop with printer and a hand scanner as well as the more common copy machine, fiche reader, and microfilm reader.

It was a pleasure to meet Kristen and to pick up several innovative, forward-thinking ideas! While we didn’t see other volunteers during our visit, it was obvious other dedicated people are helping in this endeavor.

Motto derived from the society’s award-winning Fourth of July parade float one year: Got ancestors, we’ve got answers!

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Yesterday Dave and I spent much of the day travelling from cemetery to cemetery in Wayne County; six cemeteries in all.

We came across the gravestone for several members of the Thomas Richardson family at Richardson Chapel Cemetery. For Mary, his wife [Apr 3, 1810 to Jun 13, 1890], we found a long, barely legible inscription. As we were trying to decipher it, a light bulb flashed in my mind; type the first few words that we could read into my smart phone to see if anything came up. The results:

The first four lines were one verse from “Resignation” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1807-1882:

    There is no Death! What seems so is transition;
    This life of mortal breath
    Is but a suburb of the life elysian,
    Whose portal we call Death.

The next four lines were the first verse of “There is no Death” by John Luckey McCreery, 1835-1906

    There is no death! The stars go down
    To rise upon some other shore,
    And bright in heaven’s jeweled crown
    They shine forevermore.

The inscription included verses from two poets.

Technology is wonderful!

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Camp Dodge
7105 NW 70th Avenue
Johnston, Iowa 50131-1824

Michael W. Vogt, Curator
Iowa Gold Star Museum
515-252-4531
michael.vogt@iowa.gov

Melissa Shaver, Clerk Specialist
Iowa National Guard Center
515-252-4313
missy.shaver@us.army.mil

Bob Betz
Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs
Graves Registration, DD214’s
515-727-3441
https://www.va.iowa.gov/contact_us/index.html

My afternoon at Camp Dodge was enlightening! In general (no pun intended), people say, “That is at Camp Dodge.” So, I went to Camp Dodge. In particular, I went to the Gold Star Museum and asked for Michael Vogt, the only name I’ve heard recently associated with genealogy information.

It turns out I had visited here in May 2000, but had forgotten about that visit until after I made my current trip. I had even assembled a notebook of information about Camp Dodge after that visit 13 years ago. Now, as I write this, I am trying to reconcile the information from 2000 with current information and with information presented recently at the State Historical Society of Iowa (SHSI).

Iowa Gold Star Museum

While waiting for Michael to return from an errand, I walked through the awesome museum. I should have spent more time, but that wasn’t my mission for the afternoon. Dave and I will need to return on a day when we can give it proper justice.

It wasn’t until I was talking with Michael that I realized the separation of the records. I needed to visit three places on Camp Dodge, not just one! Michael explained this to me, but I was so caught off guard (again, no pun intended), I still didn’t really grasp it all. Only after I visited all three places, and reviewed my notebook from 2000, did I begin to understand.

Michael showed me genealogy-type materials located in both their library and in the “back room.”

In the Library, WWI bonus cards for all branches of service fill 103 archival boxes (similar to shoe boxes), which line the top shelf around the upper perimeter of the library. Then, several bookcases contain military history books. One area has county and community histories with information about participation of local residents in the various wars and conflicts.

In the back room he showed me a WPA alpha roster of Iowans in the Civil War. While this contains less information than the bound roster books(1), the roster books are organized by regiment and company, whereas this is in alphabetical order by last name of the soldier. This roster serves as a finding aid for Iowans in the Civil War if the researcher does not know that unit. Once the unit is known, much more information can be located.

He showed me Iowa National Guard personnel cards from ca. 1900 to ca. 1970. Note, these are only for the Iowa National Guard, not other branches of service.

One other thing, he showed me the personnel records for the Iowa State Guard (ca 1942-ca 1947). The people who served in this unit were the ones who kept life going at home, while others were serving elsewhere in the world. These are the people who mowed the grass and did other maintenance work at Camp Dodge, for example. While it seems obvious that someone needed to do this work, I had never thought about a separate group being formed for this purpose.

From the Gold Star Museum building I drove to a nearby building which houses both the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs (IDVA) and the Iowa National Guard (IA NG) Records Center.

Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs

At the IDVA I met Bob Betz. This office has 685 boxes of Bonus records. In addition, this is where the Graves Registration project is maintained.

Regarding the IDVA, the Code of Iowa, Chapter 35A.5 DUTIES OF THE DEPARTMENT states: The department shall do all of the following: [selectively chosen]
2. Maintain information and data concerning the military service records of Iowa veterans.
4. Permanently maintain the records including certified records of bonus applications for awards paid from the war orphans educational fund under chapter 35.
8. Maintain alphabetically a permanent registry of the graves of all persons who served in the military or naval forces of the United States in time of war and whose mortal remains rest in Iowa.

To this end, the following may be of benefit for genealogists:

Bonus Records: Beginning with World War I, the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs has paid a bonus to the people who served in the military or to their beneficiary during conflicts. The WWI and WWII Bonus Case Files have been transferred to the State Historical Society of Iowa (SHSI) Archives in Des Moines. The more current records are stored at IDVA in Camp Dodge.

When I explained that neither my husband nor I remember him receiving a bonus, Bob went to the back room and soon reappeared with photocopies of my husband’s application, his DD214, and a computation sheet, showing that he served for 4 years, 23 days and received a $300 bonus. OK, our memory is faulty!

Graves Registration Project: This project began as a 1930s WPA project to identify the gravesites of U.S. veterans buried in Iowa and has continued. Bob, however, told me that he is not sure they get veteran information from all funeral homes. Apparently, funeral facilities are not required to submit the information. So, the information is only as good as what they receive. The records through 1998 contained 275,000 names and microfilmed copies can be found at SHSI and at the Iowa Genealogical Society.

Iowa National Guard Record Center

Melissa Shaver explained her office maintains records for the Iowa Army National Guard (IA ARNG) and the Iowa Air National Guard (IA ANG). She provided a long list of personnel and unit records that included such things as Leave and Earnings Statements, Orders, Morning Reports, and Reserve Training Reports. Records for the Iowa Army National Guard soldiers discharged or separated before 1950 have been transferred to SHSI Archives in Des Moines (including enlistment files from about 1875 to about 1950 as well as pre-1915 correspondence files).

In ALL of these offices, privacy rules prevail. Researchers need to show relationship and have proper documentation before being able to see appropriate records.
——————-
Reference:
(1) Brig. Gen. Guy E. Logan, Adjutant General. Roster and Record of Iowa Soldiers in the War of the Rebellion. Des Moines: State Printer. 6 volumes.

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Another installment in the series to find hidden genealogical resources:

Monroe County Historical Museum
114 A Avenue East
Albia, Iowa

641-932-7046

Hours: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, May 1 through October 31
No admission charge, donation box

I met Rosalie Mullinix at the Fall Conference of the Iowa Genealogical Society and made arrangements to see her at the museum a couple days later.

My husband came along for this beautiful afternoon drive to Albia.

Upon arriving at the museum, my husband took in several of the exhibits, but I quickly discovered the library. And, the first thing to catch my eye was school records. Imagine that! One shelf was stacked full, then I discovered more school records on the table in the center of the room. Eventually, Dave and I discovered a card filing cabinet chocked full of student records.

Rosalie filled us in with the story. The Albia school superintendent is from Albia, so he has somewhat of a vested interest in preserving these records. His office recently moved to much smaller quarters. The staff at the library discovered he had records and asked if they could see the records before they were discarded. When they went to pick up the records, this awesome collection was waiting for them.

Rosalie told me that a library committee has just begun to inventory the collection. With the enormity of the collection it will be some time before they have a listing of their holdings. But I can tell you that it is a combination of country school and town school records and it even includes the permanent student records for pupils who graduated several decades ago. Genealogists, you WILL find student and teacher names in these records!

Rosalie is full of knowledge. She told me I will need to come back to visit the genealogy section of the public library, when the library is open during the week. That is the place where genealogists frequent. Rosalie is amazing; she has been collecting information for years and several publications in the library had her name on them!

Currently the historical society is creating a map to all of the cemeteries in the county using the 911 addresses. Based on our experience when we left the museum, this is sorely needed. While we really didn’t get lost, we did make a few wrong turns.

For the last few years the historical society has sponsored a tour on the last Sunday in August. The tour typically visits an interesting area of the county. The first year they visited the Buxton area, the second year the Foster area, which includes the longest working trestle in the United States. This coming August they are again planning to visit the Buxton area.

After leaving the museum, Dave and I drove to Cuba Cemetery where I have some relatives buried.

Since it was nearby, we wanted to see “the pyramids” at the Hickory Grove cemetery. Dave had heard about these from one of his co-workers, who grew up in this area. Then, Rosalie mentioned them. According to Rosalie, it seems a rather eccentric man (Axel Peterson) frequently loaned money to his neighbors. When they couldn’t repay him, he asked them to work off the loan by working on his three pyramids. He wanted to be buried in one of them. He even had a concrete bench built so people could sit on the bench and see his body through the doorway leading into one of them. Well, when he died, he wasn’t buried there, but his pyramids still stand. We found them. They are pyramids, but they are very small and the whole scenario seems like the workings of a very strange person.

Next we tried to find the abandoned town of Buxton. (This town is a fascinating story in itself; I’ll save that for another day.) After a fashion we found some remains of the town. Then, we sought the Buxton Cemetery. Luckily, it showed up on Google Maps on my smart phone. After years of neglect, the cemetery was cleaned up and today is a testament to the existence and harmony in the nearby mining community. A sign at the cemetery has a listing of burials. Later I found a listing of burials on Find-A-Grave.com and on the Monroe County GenWeb site. The latter two lists are not the same. The one on Find-A-Grave lists 431 interments, whereas the one on GenWeb only contains about 51 names. The Find-A-Grave listing seems more in line with the listing at the cemetery, but I have not compared the two lists. (The cemetery was only active from 1900 to 1923.)

To top off our afternoon, we found some hedgeballs in the ditch along one of the country roads. I like to collect a few each fall to put inside our house to keep the bugs out.

This was a good afternoon.

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Continuing the series of Iowa’s hidden genealogical treasures:

Mahaska County Genealogy and Historical Library
Nelson Pioneer Farm
2211 Nelson Lane, PO Box 578
Oskaloosa, Iowa

Phone: 641-672-2989 (phone answered year round)

Website: http://www.nelsonpioneer.org

Facility open May through September or by appointment.

I was very fortunate on the day of my visit. Information I had indicated that the facility was open until the end of October. In reality it isn’t. The curator happened to be working outside that morning and contacted the librarian who was able to come help me.

The library has numerous county district court docket books, probate indexes and inventories, which have most likely been microfilmed and are available elsewhere. I saw militia registration books, family histories, area newspaper clippings, such as birth, marriage, and a large collection of obituaries and cemetery indexes along with pictures of the stones at Centennial/Dunsmore and Spring Creek Friends Cemetery. Also, don’t underestimate the military collection which includes Civil War and WWI letters. The shelves include Oskaloosa city directories and phone books as well as pictures and year books for schools and William Penn College/University. Mahaska County Farm Bureau Women’s Committee records, pictures, scrapbooks are found here. Also included are funeral memorial cards from Bates, Garland-VanArkel-Langkamp, and Powers Funeral Homes.

In addition, the library has a large collection of country school records, original cards for WPA cemetery surveys, Quaker yearly meeting minutes, sizeable collection of information on coal mines and some information on underground railroad. I also found early naturalizations, assessors books, and in the back room is a large collection of original newspapers.

There is no computer in this library and apparently the society has not made any plans to digitize anything. The library is not heated during cold weather except when someone has an appointment to visit.

This is an exceptional library that needs greater accessibility, more technology, and more climate control with a stonger emphasis on preserving the collection.

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One of my “retirement” activities has been to assist with the Warren County Genealogical Society’s new website. Since I thrive on figuring out new technology, this is fun for me.

Recently, while continuing with my ongoing sorting project, I discovered that Dave and I had taken pictures of Lacey Cemetery in 1979. This is particularly significant because the cemetery, according to one of the Belmont Township Trustees, is being allowed to “return to nature.” In other words, they are not maintaining it.

The township has many cemeteries to maintain and this one has a less than stellar historical event associated with it. However, to Dave and me this is a moral and ethical issue about respecting the memory of the people who are buried there. It should be maintained!!!

We had the negatives for our pictures, so we scanned them. Then, we returned to the cemetery and took current pictures of as many of the stones as we could find. In fact, we have made two cemetery visits, just to verify that we had all the correct information.

Then, I scanned the page from the Cemetery and Death Records of Warren County, Iowa, that the genealogical society published in 1980. I have software that allows me to convert my scanned PDF file to a WORD document, and then I was able to copy it into the web page.

To get the photos all lined up and looking pretty, I learned how to use Table Press.

I am thrilled with the results (and with all the things I’ve learned) from continuing my sorting projects!

The link for the site is: (you may have to register to access it, but this part of our website is FREE to use, just register)

http://www.warrencountygenes.com/home-2/cemeteries/lacey-cemetery/

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