Archive for the ‘Libraries’ Category

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

Michael W. Vogt, Curator
Iowa Gold Star Museum

Melissa Shaver, Clerk Specialist
Iowa National Guard Center

Bob Betz
Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs
Graves Registration, DD214’s

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.
(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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What a surprise! Not all immigrants from Sweden were Lutheran!

Recently I found a book at the Iowa Genealogical Society Library that broadened my horizons.

Ahlstrom, L. J. Eighty Years of Swedish Baptist Work in Iowa, 1853-1933. Des Moines, Iowa: The Swedish Baptist Conference of Iowa, June 1933.

This book is amazing. It contains hundreds of names: the organizers, the pastors, and many of the members of the churches. For many of the churches it gives the date of initial baptisms for early members. It contains dozens of photographs of members, churches, and parsonages. It also tells about the faith struggles of the believers in Sweden and the physical struggles of the immigrants after arriving in America.

The first several chapters provide detailed histories of several churches:

Chapter II: The First Swedish Baptist Church, Rock Island, Illinois. Organized August 13, 1852. Last official meeting March 30, 1930. pp. 36-68.

Chapter III: Village Creek Swedish Baptist Church. Organized August 10, 1853. This is in northeast Iowa, Allamakee County. pp. 69-100.

Chapter IV: Burlington and New Sweden Churches. Burlington Swedish Baptist Church. Organized March 26, 1854. pp. 101-124.

Chapter V: Stratford Swedish Baptist Church. (Swede Bend.) Organized August 28, 1856. pp 125-137.

Chapter VI: Swedish Baptist Church, Kiron, Crawford County. Organized August 16, 1868. pp. 138-168.

Chapter VII: First Swedish Baptist Church, Forest City. Organized in the Summer of 1869. pp 169-183.

Chapter VIII: Central Baptist Church, Sioux City, Woodbury County. (First Swedish Baptist Church.) Organized January 17, 1875. pp. 184-206.

Chapter IX: Woodlawn Baptist Church, Burlington. (First Swedish Baptist Church.) Organized June 13, 1881. pp. 207-216.

Chapter X: Penn Avenue Baptist Church, Des Moines. (First Swedish Baptist Church.) Organized October 18, 1881. pp. 217-236.

Chapter XI: The Swedish Baptist Church of Arthur. Organized October 25, 1885. pp. 237-251.

Chapter XII: The Grand Avenue Baptist Church, Davenport. Organized March 10, 1889. pp. 252-265.

Chapter XIII: Disbanded Churches. pp. 266-283.

Meriden Swedish Baptist Church. Organized September 27, 1869. pp. 266-267.
Denison Swedish Baptist Church. Organized February 12, 1871. About 1885 most of the members moved away; no property or treasury to be divided. p. 268
The Swedish Baptist Church at Lucas. Organized on August 6, 1876. The chapel was struck by lightning and burned down, 1900, and was never rebuilt. pp. 268-270.
The Swea Swedish Baptist Church, Kossuth County. Organized January 21, 1878. In 1924 the church disbanded and the property sold. pp. 270-273.
Gowrie Swedish Baptist Church. Organized March 17, 1884. On September 30, 1931, the church disbanded and the property was turned over to the Conference. pp. 274-277.
The Swedish Baptist Church at Creston. Organized August 26, 1885. February 27, 1925, the church disbanded and the members joined the American Baptist church at Creston. pp. 277-279.
First Swedish Baptist Church at Clinton. Organized February 16, 1886. pp. 279-281.
Swedish Baptist Church of Council Bluffs. Organized May 21, 1893. On March 5, 1919, the organized disbanded and turned the property over to the State Conference. pp. 281-183.
Churches at Moingona, Boone, Centerville, Slater, Foster and Marshalltown are also disbanded. p. 283.

The next five chapters give biographies of the people who were significant in founding the churches in Iowa:

Chapter XV: Gustav Palmquist. A Biography, b. May 26, 1812; d. September 18, 1867. In American from 1851 to 1857. pp. 295-321.

Chapter XVI: Anders Wiberg. A Biography, b. July 17, 1816; d. November 5, 1887. pp. 322-339.

Chapter XVII: Fredrik Olaus Nilsson. A Biography; b. July 28, 1809; d. October 21, 1881. pp. 340-385.

Chapter XVIII: Robert E. Jeanson, A Biography, b. July 3, 1832; d. May 30, 1920. [The founder of Swea City in Kossuth County.] pp. 386-402.

Chapter XIX: Frank Peterson. A Biography, b. November 19, 1847; d. July 30, 1930. pp. 403-414.

This book was especially interesting because my father’s hometown was Swea City, in Kossuth County. His father was 100% Swedish and Lutheran. Based on my Swedish Lutheran background, I thought all Swedes were Lutheran. This book was enlightening.

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Finding more of Iowa’s hidden genealogical treasures:

State Historical Society of Iowa
402 Iowa Avenue
Iowa City, Iowa 52240



Three of us met with Mary Bennett, Special Collections Coordinator, for a tour of the archives in the Iowa City facility.

My biggest disappointment is that only about 5% of the special collections items are in the online catalog. It is absolutely necessary to check the onsite card catalog. Mary explained that budget concerns, staff reductions, and time constraints simply do not allow for getting everything done. However, be sure to check the online catalog to get a flavor of the kinds of materials in this phenomenal repository: http://www.iowahistory.org/shsi/libraries/collections/iowa-city-center/major-manuscripts-collection.html.

As we walked along the rows of shelving, she pointed out the Ruth Buxton Sayre collection, a name I know well. Ruth, a Warren County resident, became an internationally known advocate for rural women, holding various American Farm Bureau and Associated Country Women of the World positions (ACWW). I would have never thought to look in Iowa City for her collection.

Mary said they have a large collection of women’s organization records and a lot of women’s history.

They have:
many documents items relating to the pioneer experience
an incredible Civil War collection including more than 200 diaries,
many personal diaries and letters,
the materials from many clubs, churches and schools,
approximately 3,000 maps,
biographical materials for many prominent Iowans.

In addition they have a World War II clipping project for which volunteers come regularly to work. So far more than 5,000 pages of clippings have been digitized and can be found at: http://digital.lib.uiowa.edu/cdm/search/collection/wwii.

In 1923 the SHSI and the Iowa Federation of Women’s Clubs sponsored an essay contest in which high school students were encouraged to write about their grandparents or their town history. This collection uses 22 storage boxes. I first heard about these essays in 1979 when I was on the committee for writing our town history book, Milo 1880 to 1980. Our local librarian knew of the collection and travelled to Iowa City to see what might help in our book project.

Mary showed us the fully equipped paper conservation lab that currently has no staff and she showed us damage that was done to materials when a water pipe broke in the basement.

I came away with some big questions. In today’s world how can I or anyone else ever use the valuable materials located in this history-rich facility without adequate online finding aids? Why is the state not digitizing out-of-copyright materials and placing them online as fast as possible? Why is a paper conservation lab sitting empty? Will future generations be able to use these valuable resources?

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Finding Iowa’s hidden genealogical treasures:

Special Collections and University Archives
The University of Iowa Libraries
100 Main Library
125 West Washington
Iowa City, Iowa 52242



Staff member, Jacque Roethler, explained to us that this collection includes rare books, manuscripts, and the university archives.

The manuscript collection includes a large variety of items as diaries, Civil War letters, and pioneer documents to Chautauqua, State Hail Insurance ledgers and other business records. Jacque especially encouraged us to use the Resources section of their website to select Collection Guides and Digitized Collections as well as http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/spec-coll/resources/findingaids.html for finding materials. She indicated that we may be very surprised at what we find. For example, if your ancestor was a farmer and purchased hail insurance, he may well be listed!

The world-renown University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop is held on this campus. So, as we were walking through the aisles, it was not surprising to learn this repository collects books by Iowa authors defined as 1) born in Iowa, or 2) lived in Iowa for at least twenty years.

Jacque explained that they are beginning to use Crowdsourcing as a means for transcribing many of their popular collections. The university is digitizing Civil War diaries, letters and other items, then letting interested individuals transcribe them. To access the ability to do this, go to the home page of Special Collections –> Digitized Collections –> Iowa Digital Library –> DIY History. She said they have some users who are very passionate about helping with this project.

The university archives includes Board of Regents items, as well as faculty and staff employment records. Forty-five file drawers contain the latter material, which she said gets a lot of use. To maintain these files, they have a crew of clippers, who continually check area newspapers for university-related articles. In addition they have files for alumni and former students. The collection includes programs from all kinds of university events, i.e., art shows and theater productions to athletic competitions. All things that should be found in an archives associated with an educational institution can be found here.

Jacque said that researchers can use library scanners and save images to flash drives, or they can bring in a camera. She also explained that soon some enhancements will make text fully searchable on their website. And, finally, she indicated donations to their collection are welcome.

Genealogists, do not underestimate the depth of this collection even if you do not have a direct connection to the university!

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Another installment in the series to find hidden genealogical treasures:

University of Iowa Libraries
Map Collection
3111 Main Library
Iowa City, Iowa 52242



Two genealogy friends and I visited the map collection area at the University of Iowa Library. Paula Balkenende explained their collection as she gave us a tour. She told us that they are currently digitizing many Iowa county atlases 1875-1916. More information about this project can be found at: http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/maps/countyatlases/. To access the digitized maps use: http://digital.lib.uiowa.edu/atlases/.

Maps in this collection are preserved by encapsulating them in mylar. The maps can be copied or scanned using either the scanner in this office, or by using an oversized scanner located elsewhere; scans can be printed or saved onto a flash drive. She emphasized that the entire collection is open to anyone, not just individuals associated with the university. She also told us that this facility is a Federal depository of topographic maps of the United States, so maps for areas outside Iowa may also be found here.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps – six large map drawers contain original fire insurance maps for towns in Iowa (original maps contain color coding for buildings, etc.). In addition, they have all of the Sanborn maps for Iowa on microfiche (fiche means the maps images are in black and white–no color coding).

Important Farmlands maps were produced by the US Department of Agriculture in the 1980s and can be found in this collection.

Aerial photos – Iowa Aerial Photo Indices Digital Collection includes more than 2,000 of aerial photos from 1936 into the 1970s combined into photomosaic index sheets that have been digitized. These can be found at http://digital.lib.uiowa.edu/cdm/search/collection/api. Researchers can then find the number of the photograph(s) that they need.

A searchable, but outdated index to 150,000 photos can be found at: http://inpress.lib.uiowa.edu/LibrarySquirrel/aerial-search.aspx. Photos now being added to the collection are indexed in the University of Iowa’s InfoHawk catalog along with the ongoing project of adding the older photos to InfoHawk.

Researchers should use both the online catalog and the onsite card catalog.

Paula told us that Iowa State University is also posting digitized aerial photos which start in the 1930s. This collection is extensive with as many as 150,000 photos and can be found at http://ortho.gis.iastate.edu/.

The University of Iowa photo collection is used primarily by the archeology department and engineers. Genealogists are the minority.

My question is: are genealogists aware of this collection?

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Another installment in the series to find hidden genealogical resources:

Monroe County Historical Museum
114 A Avenue East
Albia, Iowa


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:

Iowa Yearly Meeting of Friends, State Office
411 College Avenue
Oskaloosa, Iowa 52577



As the name indicates, this is the state office for the Society of Friends (Quakers) in Iowa. I was greeted by Mary Thury who graciously showed me the vault where original records are kept. This is the treasure chest since Quaker records are some of the most informative for genealogists.

Fortunately, most of the records have been microfilmed. Mary told me that microfilm copies are available at their office, at the State Historical Society of Iowa, Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, and Earlham College in Indiana. Mary gave me a 17-page listing of the records on microfilm. It is very comprehensive with monthly and quarterly meeting minutes, women’s minutes, men’s groups, memberships, birth and death records, Sunday school records and ministers’ and elders’ records.

Their website gives a list of all churches that are currently a part of the Iowa Yearly Meeting: http://www.iaym.org/churches.

While in Oskaloosa, I also visited Wilcox Library on the William Penn University campus. The Quaker Room contains many published materials for Friends research including the set of Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy by William Wade Hinshaw and several Willard C. Heiss abstract books.

Because many Quakers were among the earliest settlers of Nantucket Island, and then migrated south to North Carolina, some other books also caught my eye:

Coffin, Louis, editor. The Coffin Family. Nantucket, Mass: Nantucket Historical Association, 1962.

Thompson, Ruth F. and Louise J. Hartgrove, compilers. Abstracts of Marriage Bonds and Additional Data, Guilford County, North Carolina 1771-1840, Vol. I. Greensboro, NC: The Guilford County Genealogical Society, 1981.

Thompson, Ruth F. and Louise J. Hartgrove, compilers. Abstracts of Marriage Bonds and Additional Data, Guilford County, North Carolina 1841-1868, Vol. II. Greensboro, NC: The Guilford County Genealogical Society, 1983.

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