Archive for the ‘Migration’ Category

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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Continuing the series of Iowa’s hidden genealogical treasures:

Genealogy Library at the Prairie Trails Museum
Wayne County Historical Society
Hwy 2 East, PO Box 104
Corydon, Iowa 50060-0104


Website: http://www.prairietrailsmuseum.org
Admission: Adults $5; Jr/Sr High $2; K-6 $1

Hours: depend upon the season; closed during the winter, check website for hours. Also, open by appointment.

This is a great research facility: friendly staff, everything organized and nicely labeled, and a lot of resources to peruse and study.

The first thing that caught my eye in the library was the extensive collection of country school records, some dating to years prior to 1900, though most begin after the turn of the century. The school records are arranged by township, and often they are the teacher’s register identifying the school term, names of students, age, sex, birthdate, attendance record and standing (grade) by subject. The library also has area yearbooks, though many years are missing for some schools.

The library has a collection of birth (beginning 1880) and marriage records (beginning 1851), obituaries (beginning 1890), and cemetery transcriptions (burials 1846 to 1991). The librarians were very pleased to show me their latest completed project: preserving and indexing Probates, Wills and Estates 1851-1925. Awesome!

I estimated that family histories, memoirs, and similar materials filled nearly 16 linear feet.

The library has a nice military section which includes a Civil War ledger (perhaps kept by a company or quartermaster clerk) from Feb 186 to June 1863 with lists of provisions, tools, duty and attendance rosters and deaths; the volume names Capt Carothers, Lt. Malott and Lt. Speer, as well as the enlisted personnel, but does not indicate the unit. The collection includes transcriptions of three Civil War diaries (for Aquilla Stanidfird, Ezra Miller, and M.S. Andrews) and a book 1861-1865 Civil War Veterans, Wayne County, Iowa.

A binder Spanish-American War May 1898 – Nov. 1898, Wayne County Veterans includes a typed copy of an article by Veteran Grant Kelley “Interesting Facts About the Spanish American War” which had appeared in Corydon’s Time Republican newspaper on March 5, 1953. Several three-ring binders and books have information about men and women who served from Wayne County in both World Wars.

Scrapbooks with area newspapers have been indexed. These include newspapers from Corydon (1922-2006), Humeston (1922-2005), Seymour (1890-2005), Allerton (sporadic 1881-2004), Sewal, Lineville (1940s, 1980-2002).

Churches of Wayne County, Iowa was compiled by Ortha Green (pencil date: “1972 or after”). Also, histories of the towns in the county are in the library.

Many photos have been preserved in archival boxes and organized into family, town, and school categories.

Corydon is known for its annual Old Settlers celebration. Materials from these events are kept in this library. Also, some local clubs have donated materials.

While the library has some materials for surrounding counties, the primary focus is Wayne County.

A highlight of the library are the shelves of binders and other information from the Iowa Mormon Trail Association. The trail runs through Wayne County and the land of a specific resident, who has become active in the association and donated many materials to the library. I randomly opened one of the binders and read what a father had written about the death of a child and the family’s destitute situation.

It is unfortunate that this library only has a limited internet presence, and it appears that nothing has been digitized.

However, the library is only part of this awesome facility. For a complete understanding of the history of Wayne County, the researcher also needs to visit the extensive museum. It is outstanding!

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Continuing the series of Iowa’s hidden genealogical treasures:

Museum of Danish American, Genealogy Center
NOTE: fka The Danish Immigrant Museum, Family History & Genealogy Center
4210 Main Street
PO Box 249
Elk Horn, IA 51531-0249

May – October
Tuesday-Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

November – April
Tuesday – Friday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Daily admission is free for museum members; $5 for non-members

Website: http://www.danishmuseum.org

Two genealogy friends and I stopped by the library unannounced and Michele McNabb, Librarian-Manager, was extremely gracious and spent considerable time with us.

Michele told us that they like to think this is THE place to do Danish research, outside Salt Lake City. One third of the patrons of this library are Danes trying to find American cousins.

She said that online resources for Danish records have exploded in the last five years but not all have an English-language interface. Many Danish records have been digitized and can be found through sources such as Arkivalieronline on the Danish state archives webpage, http://www.sa.dk/ao/ at no charge. While not complete, these records include church, census, probate, civil, fire insurance, and court records. In addition, AO has started digitizing military records. She recommended using the Danish research guide to Arkivalieronline that can be found at familysearch.org. Beginning in 1868 Danish immigrants had to register with the Danish police when leaving the country. Currently, transcriptions of records from 1868 -1905 are online at http://www.emiarch.dk/search.php3?l=en. An English-language portal to transcriptions of many Danish censuses may also be found at http://ddd.dda.dk/ddd_en.htm.

The Danish Brotherhood in America was a national fraternal organization, which also offered insurance to its members between 1882 and 1995 (the organization became less active after 1975). The membership records for this group have been microfilmed and are available at this library, using database finding aids. A corresponding women’s group, The Danish Sisterhood of America, also has informative records, but these are only available by contacting the organization at http://www.danishsisterhood.org/DanishHTML/default2.asp.

The library offers research as well as translation services which could be very beneficial for Danish descendants who have old letters written in the native tongue.

The library’s collection includes ten file cabinets of vertical files and approximately forty linear feet of family histories (many have little or no documentation), and a large number of biographies, memoirs and collections of letters. Many three-ring binders contain clippings from the area newspapers including:
Audubon County Journal 1897-1995: clippings of weddings, anniversaries, and birthdays.
Audubon County Journal 1897-1995: obituaries
Audubon County Journal 1897-1921: Kimballton & Elk Horn News Columns
Kimballton-Elk Horn Record 1916-1921; 1926-present
The Danish-American obituary index is a nationwide collection of obituaries and funeral notices of immigrants and their descendants.

As is often the case with specialized libraries, the catalog for this library is not accessible through WorldCat.

For the past eight years, a private company has funded young interns to come from Denmark to Elk Horn for a semester of work in the library and other museum departments.

Through a grant from Denmark several Danish-American newspapers, including The Danish Pioneer, Bien, Dannevirke and Bikuben, have been digitized and should be searchable from the museum webpage, http://www.danishmuseum.org in late autumn of 2013.

Background information on Danish immigration, lists of useful genealogical links and other resources are at http://www.danishmuseum.org; Library and Genealogy.

Even though none of us have any Danish ancestors, we came away believing that if we did, we’d find them here.

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I’m searching for ways to write a travelogue without going day-by-day and making it sound like, we did this and we did that… This is one that I wrote a few months ago and updated today for inclusion in my photo book from the trip. I’m not saying this is the best way, just exploring.

In Search of Ancestors
My dream genealogy trip and so much more…

Most genealogists dream of a trip to Europe. Not me. I dreamed of an ancestral trip to New England for years. 2012 was the year! Some of my ancestors were living in parts of New England as early as the 1600s; others were here in the 1700s. During this trip Dave and I were constantly moving as we looked, experienced, located, toured, and touched. We wanted to develop a feel for these ancestral homelands, to understand the lives of the people living there and to absorb the historical perspective of the area.

Genealogy successes
• Located the land where my family lived in northern New York.
• Visited the farmstead where my 5-great grandparents lived and raised their children in Vermont.
• Experienced an “aha!” moment as we talked with a town historian who welcomed us into her mid-19th century home. I knew my ancestors migrated from Whiting, Vermont, to Stockholm, New York. Resources indicate that these New Englanders typically migrated in the winter; the question was: HOW did they cross the Adirondack Mountains in winter in the early 1800s? The local historian told us that the travelers followed the frozen rivers! What a concept! Now I envision bundled-up people pulling sleds piled with a few belongings and others herding sheep and other animals up the frozen rivers.
• Discovered War of 1812 connections to follow up on.
• Touched the monument in New Hampshire with my 5-great grandfather’s name as serving in the Revolutionary War from that community. Wrote down all of the names on the monument; think those names may hold clues for future research.
• Ferried the 27 miles from Hyannis to Nantucket Island and toured the island and several historic sites. One of my ancestral families was among the original purchasers of this island and two other families were among the early settlers.
• Stood where my 5-great grandfather’s unit was camped at Valley Forge.
• Found significant clues hidden in a couple books at the Godfrey Library in Connecticut—if only we had known earlier, we could have looked at the original records in Shoreham, Vermont.

• at the Court House in Canton, New York.
• at town halls and libraries in Whiting, Shoreham, and Middlebury, Vermont.
• at the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) in Boston.
• in the Barbour Collection at the Connecticut State Library in Hartford.
• in the American Genealogical and Biographical Index, as well as the open stacks, at the Godfrey Library in Middletown, Connecticut.

All of these are great places for genealogical research! We scanned records and books, we photocopied when that was more practical, and we purchased maps and books, when possible.

Genealogy gear travel kit

I travel with lots of electronic gadgets (digital camera, flat-bed scanner, FlipPal, DocuPen, Magic Wand, laptop computer, iPhone, etc.) so I have whatever is needed at the time. I did not use the FlipPal, DocuPen or Magic Wand on this trip and we were fine without my small, portable printer which I elected to leave at home. We knew ahead of time we would not be doing cemetery research, so did not take our gravestone rubbing materials or cleaning/repair kit.

Nostalgia digression
• Drove right to the apartment where Dave and I lived for nearly a year (1969-1970) in Massachusetts.
• Met the current owners who showed us the old apartment.
• Ate at the restaurant where we celebrated Valentine’s Day 42 years ago.
• Toured the “closed” Fort Devens Army base where Dave was stationed.
• Shopped at the mall where we worked during that year.

Sightseeing and historical excursions
• Enjoyed an evening listening to Latin jazz music at a black Jazz Bar in Detroit.
• Maneuvered among the hordes of people on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls.
• Visited Dave’s cousin in Buffalo, New York.
• Observed that the Erie Canal is still used for travel from the Atlantic Ocean through the Great Lakes and watched a pleasure boat go through a lock on the canal.
• Cruised through the 1000 Islands on the St. Lawrence Seaway.
• Watched an ocean liner go through the Eisenhower Lock farther up on the St. Lawrence.
• Toured the Olympic Ice Skating Rink at Lake Placid.
• Toured a maple syrup farm.
• Collected rocks along a stream under a covered bridge; saw several covered bridges.
• Saw flood damage from the remnants of 2011 Hurricane Irene.
• Toured the historic sites of Concord and Lexington, and walked the Freedom Trail in Boston.
• Appreciated Boston’s subway “the Tube.”
• Enjoyed the street vendors and entertainment on a lovely Sunday afternoon in Boston.
• Visited Valley Forge, as well as Independence Hall in Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Mint.
• Toured the Hershey factory.
• Visited the memorial for Flight 93 near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Myths dispelled
• My direct line Nantucket ancestors were not whalers as previously thought. They left the island before the whaling started, although other family members stayed and some are still there. Our tour guide, in fact, was a very distant cousin.
• Valley Forge wasn’t the snow-covered quaint camp that we see in pictures. The ground had been farmed the previous season and the winter was mild and rainy. Valley Forge was a muddy, disease-infested mess!
• Flight 93 did not crash in a farm field, as the media indicated. It was a strip mine area, undergoing reclamation to a natural habitat. Because of all the mountains in the area, it is surprising that they didn’ty crash into a mountain.

• Experienced perfect weather – upper 70s and lower 80s the entire time.
• Stayed 5 nights at B&B’s – gracious hostesses, beautiful settings, delicious food! When we left home, we only had lodging reservations for the first four nights. After that, we mostly used an app on my iPhone to play a day or two ahead as we could determine our schedule and location.
• Ate lobster, shrimp, crab cakes, clam chowder, and “fish & chips” (New England jargon for fish and French fries). Enjoyed an assortment of fresh fruit at the B&B’s and some of the hotel breakfast buffets.
• Bought some clothes at the mall where I used to work—they had a Macy’s – oh, my, I fell in love with that store! Wish we had one in the Des Moines area.

Gone seventeen days, took roughly 2,000 pictures, drove 3,850 miles, met many wonderful, helpful people, and spent plenty of money! Vacations for us are learning opportunities; this one was an awesome success!

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