Monday, October 13, 2014

Family History in ICGS Archives - Come to Visit

October is Family History Month. It's a big deal!
Iroquois County Genealogical Society

Family History - that seems important. It is. And some would say, difficult. It doesn't have to be.

It doesn't have to be difficult, but it does take some effort. Like most tasks, the sooner you start, the easier the task. What does that mean?

It means you should get started today! Get a piece of paper and a writing tool. Here are a few ideas to get you started. Spend as much or as little time as you wish. You'll be coming back for more.

Start filling in your family tree.

To get started, you can use the standard forms posted at this link. This site is from the Brigham Young University Television 1997 series called Ancestry. Although this series was televised several years ago, these forms and research steps are still valid today. We also have these forms at the ICGS Archives.

The Pedigree Chart starts with you and works backward through your direct line ancestors, your parents, grandparents, and so on. (This is also called an Ancestral Chart.) Write down as much information as you can. If you have documents that support these facts, collect them in one place, make copies for your files. You'll thank yourself later when you start to ask how you know these facts. This chart shows your direct lines back in history, no siblings, no cousins.

The Family Group Record collects a husband, his wife and all their children, along with the dates and places of marriages, births and deaths. Start a sheet with yourself, your spouse and children, then complete a sheet with your parents and siblings, then to your grandparents and so on. Only one family on each sheet.

Need help with data? We have over 71,000 obituaries that may help you with dates and names. We have newspaper microfilms. We have marriage indexes. We have cemetery inventories. We have helpers who can answer questions. Stop in to see us.

But remember, it's not all just names and dates. Stories are important, too, so here is another suggestion.

Write a letter or reflect on a photo.

These are good activities to do with a youngster or on your own.

August 2014
Connect with a relative: cousin, aunt, uncle, or grandparent, maybe even a neighbor or friend of a parent or grandparent. It's important to talk to living relatives. Write a letter, make a phone call or record a conversation. Tell them who you are and how you are connected to them. Share a story about yourself or your shared ancestor. Ask them what they know about the family. If the answer is "I don't know anything," just share what you know or what you've heard. Tell a story about when you were younger. Sometimes this gets the memories going. You are looking for that "Oh, I remember when..." sentence.

About 1940

Find a photo, even if it is just one of a younger you or a house or a business. Write a short story about that photo, or tell a young person in your family about that photo and have them write your story. Maybe you can even record the conversation. It should get him or her thinking about questions to ask about your past. How old were you? What was happening in local or national history at the time of the photo? How did that influence the family? What did you do for fun at the time of the photo? Try to share how his or her life is the same or different than yours.






Write down your own history.

Don't forget, you are in your family tree. Write a timeline of things about you. It doesn't have to be a full biography, but write down what you can remember. Where have you lived, and when did you live there? Were you going to school or working at a job? What are those things that you wish you knew about your ancestors or siblings? Include those. What do you do for fun or family activities? Include information about your living family members and things you remember about those in your family who are gone. Include what makes you who you are. Think how much this will help those researching you in years to come.

Read a genealogy blog or listen to a podcast or watch a video.

If you are someone who spends time online, it's a good idea to read or listen to some of the experts in the field. (You are reading this blog, but I don't think of myself as an expert, just someone who loves to keep learning.) When I'm traveling, sometimes hours at a time, I listen to podcasts from my smartphone or iPad or tablet. At home, I listen to them from my computer.

Here are some blogs I can recommend. These are free to access.

Genealogy Gems Blog - by Lisa Louise Cooke, an author and presenter who shares tips and ideas on how to get the most out of your genealogy time.
Genealogy Insider - by Dianne Haddad and the Family Tree Magazine staff let you know the current news in genealogy.
FamilySearch Blog - by FamilySearch, a nonprofit family history organization with free access to online records.

Here are some podcasts I can recommend. These are free to access.

Genealogy Gems Podcasts - by Lisa Louise Cooke, includes research strategies and interviews with experts in genealogy.
Family History Genealogy Made Easy - by Lisa Louise Cooke, offering step-by-step help for beginners. (45 episodes)
Family Tree Magazine Podcasts - genealogy tools and tips.

Here are some YouTube channels I can recommend. These are free to access.

Genealogy Gems on YouTube - by Lisa Louise Cooke, more research strategies and training.
Ancestry.com on YouTube - Crista Cowan, the Barefoot Genealogist explains much about records on Ancestry.com and using Family Tree Maker software, but she also gives information on genealogy research.
FamilySearch on YouTube - great resources from FamilySearch.org to help you get started.

What's not to like about all of this? If you need help or encouragement, stop in to see us in the Iroquois County Genealogy Society Archives in the Old Courthouse Museum.

Happy Family History Month!

Friday, September 12, 2014

2014 Oak Hill Cemetery Walk, Researching R.P. Roberts

You would have heard about a German horseman whose barn still stands today, a generous family donating land for a church in Schwer,  a young girl whose spirit possessed a child, a philanthropist who left money to improve education of local boys, and an educational and community leader who spent his later years helping children and adults become productive community members.

The second annual Iroquois County Genealogical Society Cemetery Walk took place on Sunday, September 7, 2014 at 2:00 p.m. There were five volunteers portraying notable people whose final resting place was Oak Hill Cemetery on Cemetery Road in Watseka, Illiniois. The weather could not have been better, a beautiful, sunny day in the Midwest.

Portraying Gebhard Oltmann; Mina Tucker-wife of William; lady possessed by Mary Roff;
Ada Welles, wife of Legrand Welles; and Mae Roberts, wife of R.P. Roberts

This was the first time I had done anything like this. First I had a tough time choosing a person. There were several resources in the ICGS archives that I turned to.
  • Township files - newspaper articles about people, places and activities in the county
  • Obituaries - over 71,000 obituaries of people or relatives who were born, lived or died in Iroquois County
  • Cemetery Inventory booklet - Oak Hill cemetery has been inventoried, as well as all other Iroquois County cemeteries
  • Iroquois County WW I register - list of all veterans, entry and discharge dates
With the centennial of World War I coming up, it was suggested that I could choose the bride of a war veteran. Since I have spent over 35 years in education, I thought about choosing an educator.

It was actually my mother who suggested R.P. Roberts. Robert Paul Roberts, usually called Paul, came from a family of medical doctors. His grandfather, father and two younger brothers were doctors, but Paul chose a career in education. After retiring from the job of Iroquois County Superintendent in 1959, he worked at improving conditions for children and adults with special needs. He served on several committees to improve the school and workshop we now call The Arc and helped to find financing for The Friendship House, a home for adults with special needs. He was honored when the name was changed to The R.P. Roberts Friendship Home.

With a little online research and the ICGS archives, I was able to find all these details of his life and community.

It was a wonderful experience for me, and I believe those who attended had an enjoyable day. Next year we want to improve, so we started brainstorming a list of ideas.
  • publicize the names of those being portrayed
  • invite other "actors"
  • invite visitors through schools, churches, senior centers
  • do more specific publicity - this year we posted it on our Facebook page, on the local cable public service channel, in the local newspaper, on posters in areas of Watseka
Last year our Cemetery Walk was at Body Cemetery, Woodland, Illinois. We portrayed Eliza Meyers Rush, wife of Samuel Rush; Catherine Body Williams; soldier Samuel Wesley Warren; and Serena Body, wife of Isaac Body.

We are already working on ideas for our 2015 Cemetery Walk. Any ideas?

Friday, August 22, 2014

The County Fair - A Memory for Most of Us

We had a great time talking with visitors to our booth at the Iroquois County Fair, July 16-21, 2014.
  • Raffled off full set of U.S. Census books for Iroquois County for the years 1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900 and the 1890 Tax List
  • Entertained children with our "Prize Every Time - Pick a Duck" game 
  • Gave out our genuine, handmade "I'm a Genealogy Fan" fans, even though temps were chilly
  • Sold many books and booklets, such as Aerial Farm Photos of Iroquois County 1955 and Beckwith's 1880 History of Iroquois County. These are available from our web site.

Who could ask for more? ICGS and ICHS in one booth.
We will be there again next year. Watch for us!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Join us at the Iroquois County 4-H & Agricultural Fair

Join us at the Iroquois County 4-H & Agricultural Fair, July 16 - 21, 2014!

Oh, how I remember the county fair. It was that week every kid looked forward to. Well, it's that time again!

Before I go further, I want to wish ALL the exhibitors, young and old, the best of luck! It's great to win, but it's great to have fun and learn, too. The county fairs do that for everyone involved, even us!

The Iroquois County Genealogical Society will be at the county fair again this year!

Stop by our booth in the Commercial Building to see us, and get an ICGS magnet or a "genealogy fan" to keep you cool. (And those are genuine, hand-made fans!) You will find information on the ICGS and popular books to purchase.

For the youngsters who stop by our booth, we will again have our "Pick a Duck - Win a Prize" event. Every duck is a winner, and even the adults liked our warbling water birds last year! Ashley has worked and worked to make sure it all runs smoothly. I had a blast helping sort the prizes, too.

Every duck wins a prize!

A new opportunity this year - for the genealogists (family historians) interested in Iroquois County residents from 1830-1900, we will be selling chances for a complete set of U.S. Census books for Iroquois County for the years 1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900 and the 1890 Tax List. This set is available for purchase from ICGS and valued at nearly $70.00. The tickets are $1.00 or 6 for $5.00. You do not need to be present to win.

Take a chance to win this census collection!

You can find a list of all of our publications at the ICGS web site on this link. We will have the popular book, Aerial Farm Photos of Iroquois County 1955, Informative, Historical, Pictorial, Review of Iroquois County, as well as 1880 History of Iroquois County (Beckwith). We have  Iroquois County marriages, births and deaths, probate and civil case indexes. Another popular series of booklets are the cemetery books for each township. We have several books of church records. For a complete list, be sure to check our web site. We will try to keep the booth stocked with books to purchase while you are at the fair. You can purchase books online or you can visit us at the Old Courthouse Museum, 103 West Cherry Street in Watseka, Illinois.

The Iroquois County Historical Society will be sharing the booth space with us this year. You will see a slide show about the activities of the Historical Society and find additional information about the Old Courthouse Museum.

The Iroquois County Fairgrounds is located north of Crescent City, IL on Illinois Route 49. Follow this link for more about how to get to the fairgrounds and the activities for this week.

Have a GREAT week. I hope the weather is wonderful and everyone has a good time!

Links in this post
ICGS http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ilicgs/
ICGS publications http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ilicgs/sale.htm
ICHS http://iroquoiscountyhistoricalsociety.com/
Iroquois County 4-H & Agricultural Fair http://www.iroquoiscofair.com/

Monday, June 2, 2014

Prairie State Sams Seminar

Thanks to the members of the Prairie State Sams for a chance to speak with them at their Campout for Charity at the Iroquois County Fairgrounds on Saturday, May 31, 2014. What a great crowd, and what great weather for a weekend of camping! This group was raising money for three charities with lots of fun activities during their 4-day campout. We really enjoyed our time with them and hope everyone got some useful information or ideas.

Mary, Debbie and Janet presented a seminar including information about the services and records available at the Iroquois County Genealogical Society (ICGS) archives in Watseka, Illinois. Read the post from May 30, 2014 for an overview of those records and follow this blog for more details on those records. Next we discussed the U.S. federal census records from 1790-1940 and gave some ideas of what other types of census records can be found.

According to Ancestry.com, “The United States was the first country to call for a regularly held census. The Constitution required that a census of all 'Persons...excluding Indians not taxed' be performed to determine the collection of taxes and the appropriation of seats in the House of Representatives.” When you research in the census, be sure to read the information about the census from that specific year for interesting details. A blank extraction form for each year can be found here on Ancestry.com. Check out the May 2010 issue of Family Tree Magazine for even more census information.

In a recent American Government census it was discovered that the centre of the US population lies in the farm of Mr and Mrs John Herrin of Whitehall, Indiana. Their farm is 8 miles west of Bloomington. (Photo by General Photographic Agency/Getty Images)

General notes about census records. Don’t forget to read the information given about the census database you are using. The additional detail may be just what you need to get to that aha moment. As you use census search pages, remember that names were not always spelled the same as what you see today. Sometimes the names was changed, written incorrectly or transcribed incorrectly due to poor handwriting or poor microfilm copies.

There are several free online sites for census research, the largest of which is at Family Search at http://familysearch.org.You can search for names directly, search the Catalog for census, or start with the Family Search Wiki. Enter United States census in the Wiki search box, or use more specific locations. The USGenWeb Project is by volunteers who create content from state, county and local sources. RootsWeb is another website that hosts web pages from different individuals and genealogical organizations who may include census information. Our RootsWeb page is at http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ilicgs/.

Here is a summary what and when certain information is available in each U.S. federal census.

All names in the household were given from 1850 and beyond. In prior censuses, census takers asked only the name of heads of household and the count of others based on ages. Before 1880, we do not know the relationship to head of household even when we have the name. After 1880, each person’s relationship to the head of household is given, so you know if that extra person is just a boarder or a relative. As our country changed, slave counts were dropped and everyone’s information was taken.

Birthdates and birthplaces were not always asked. Ages are given in age ranges only for censuses from 1790-1840. The age ranges differ from decade to decade, but from 1850 and beyond, everyone in the household had the age and the place of birth listed. In 1900, the month and year of birth are listed for all names. If you are looking for someone born within the census year of 1870 and 1880, the age and month of birth are listed. The person’s parents’ places of birth have been listed since 1880. The number of children born to mothers and number still living was recorded in 1890-1910.

Check the census day. As you look at census records, you may notice that the age of your ancestor doesn’t seem to change exactly 10 years at a time. This is due to what is called the “census day.” Information given to the census taker was to be correct as of that year’s census day. Census day was “the first Monday in August” for 1790-1820; June 1 for 1830-1900; April 15 for 1910; January 1 for 1920; and April 1 for 1930 and 1940. This census day change may explain the discrepancy in your ancestor’s age from decade to decade.

Finding marriages make genealogists happy. If a marriage had occurred within the census year, that was noted on the 1850-1890 censuses. The 1870 census even gives the month. Since 1880, marital status was given for each person, and in 1930 persons were asked the age at first marriage. Number of marriages was given in 1900 and 1910.

Knowing something about the citizenship and immigration of ancestors is always helpful. If a person was an alien or not naturalized, this was noted in 1820-1840. You can discover the year of immigration, number of years in the U.S. and naturalization status in various years from 1820-1840 and 1890-1930. For example, in 1940, we see whether the person was born in U.S., alien, filed first papers or naturalized.

Veteran status was given in 1890, 1910 and 1930.  The 1910 census indicated if person was a veteran of the Civil War, and in 1930 veterans were asked in which war or expedition they participated.

There are many, many other types of census collections. Some we mentioned were State Censuses, Slave Schedules, Manufacturing Schedules, DDD Schedules, Mortality Schedules 1850-1880, Veteran Schedules, U.S. Military Casualties, U.S. Draft Registrations and censuses of American Indian tribes. Remember there are also census records in foreign countries.

As you continue your online research, don’t forget to walk away from your computer every so often. We all know how hard that is to do sometimes! Happy searching!

pin it pic

Friday, May 30, 2014

Iroquois County Genealogy Society Archives - Getting Started


What can you expect if you visit The Iroquois County Genealogical Society Archives in the Iroquois County Museum, the old Iroquois County Courthouse in Watseka, Illinois? Here is a brief overview of our collections.

The Society’s collections include over 70,000 obituaries from area newspapers of the 1800’s to present day, inventories of every cemetery in Iroquois County and coroners' files and burial permits. 

Do you need a census replacement for the 1890 U.S. census? Don't we all? We have tax records from the 1860’s to the 1950’s and books of early land and property records. We have microfilm rolls of Probate and Estate records and court cases of Iroquois County, Illinois.


Marriage applications, family histories, maps, atlases, plat books, biographical indexes and newspaper clippings of business and social events can be found here. Baptism, marriage and death records from French and German churches in our collections have been translated.

We have a collection of German OSB books from towns of Ostfriesland, Germany, and Iroquois County area one-room school records and high school yearbooks.

You can find the 1880 Iroquois County History and the 1950 pictorial book of Iroquois County farms. We have information on neighboring counties as well. Our collection includes a library of genealogy books for beginners or experienced genealogists.

We have microfilmed copies of area newspapers and four microfilm readers with printers. As an affiliate library of Family Search, you can order films from the LDS Library in Salt Lake City and read them in our Archives library.

Come in early and stay late. Once you get started, you may wish we were here more than just Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Welcome!!

P.S. Many thanks to Mary for her help in summarizing our many holdings!