Sunday, February 15, 2015

So many books, so little time!

In my first post on this blog, I wrote a brief summary of the types of records and resources we have in the ICGS archives. As I looked back at that post today, it was really brief. That's why this blog is so important. There is so much to tell.

Our "Genealogy Office" has a room that just fascinates me. If you ask Mary (she's in the office every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday), she will tell you that I always have been amazed in this room. It is full of BOOKS, hundreds of them! I want people to know about them.

A personal story I have to share: When I was at the University of Illinois, I used to go to the undergraduate library to study. Many days I would spend more time browsing the bookshelves than studying my books. After all, at that time, I was in part of the largest public university library in the country. Now, the Association of Research Libraries statistics for academic libraries in 2007-2008 shows Harvard University Library in first place with 16,832,952 volumes and University of Illinois in second place with 13,158,748. So many books, so little time!

For a few months, I have wanted to get a list of our books online. We don't circulate these books, but you should know what we have. There's no time like the present. Thanks to the constant updating of our computer records by Deb, time on Friday with Ginny and the computer, my past experience with databases and a little luck, we exported, then I imported 853 book titles into the online library site called LibraryThing. Our member name is ICGS.Illinois.

You can link directly to our Library at
This is definitely a work in progress, but book titles and most copyrights are listed. Tags (those words that help in searching and categorizing stuff) are in the entry, but not showing at this moment. Just one of those mysteries of technology I love so much. Authors should be showing, too, but aren't. Hmmm?

I guess I could have waited until it was tweaked to let you know this was available, but I just couldn't hold back. We have 853 books listed online!! As a former colleague used to say, "Whooo hoooo!"

Check out ICGS.Illinois on LibraryThing. Just saying, "So many books, so little time!"

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Mark your 2015 calendars!

The ICGS Board has set dates for some of our 2015 activities. Expect 2015 to be a great year! Add these to your calendars now, so you don't miss a chance to participate, and check back for more details and reminders in future posts and in our newsletter, The Stalker.

Have you ever wanted to test run an online subscription site without having to sign up for it? Do you wish you knew more about how to get around a site that you are already paying for? Are those free online sites worth your time?

In a new event this year, we are going to try to answer those questions with you. The week of March 9-14, 2015, the Iroquois County Genealogical Society board and volunteers are hosting One-on-One training sessions to help you explore many online genealogy sites. The sessions are free, but registration is required. Sessions will be scheduled in 2-hour blocks of time. We are still working on the specifics, but some sites we are considering include Ancestry, Family SearchFold3, GenesReunited, Archives, Newspaper Archive, World Vital Records, Find My Past, Accessible Archives, and OGSA (Ostfriensen) Database.

Our 3rd Annual Cemetery Walk is scheduled for Sunday, September 13, 2015. We are planning to hold this event at the Flesher Cemetery, north of Crescent City, Iroquois County, Illinois. There will be much more to come on this interesting and enjoyable event. See this post about our 2014 Cemetery Walk.

Last October, we had a visit from Lin Strong, President of the Ostfriensen Genealogical Society of America.

Lin Strong (left) and ICGS President, Mary Buhr
At that time, we talked about having Lin come to Watseka to present a seminar. She will be here on Saturday, November 14, 2015. Part of the day will be spent in the ICGS library using the OGSA publications and other resources available here. Her topics are still being decided upon, but this promises to be a fabulous day of learning and fun.

IHSA (Illinois) Class 2A Watseka Regional Girls Basketball tourney runs from February 9-12. Watch for our ad in the printed program.

One last item to note: As you may know, you can purchase our publications from our web site using Paypal. When you visit our office, you now can use Paypal for in-person purchases, copies or donations. Just another reason to stop by to see us!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

ISGS Fall Conference - What I learned, part 1

Some of what I learned at the recent Illinois State Genealogical Society Fall Conference

 I am trying to use technology to simplify my genealogy activities, so I downloaded the ISGS conference syllabus to the GoodReader app on my iPad. Using the outlines entered by the ISGS, I jumped right to the syllabus page of each session, and I highlighted specific sources or text as the session was happening. I took session notes with my iPad on the Evernote app. It worked well for me. Now I can easily review the notes I took from my iPad, iPhone or computer, without trying to remember where the printed syllabus is.

I attended sessions presented by LaDonna Garner, Tony Burroughs,  J. Mark Lowe and learned about migrations into the Midwest and the records these activities created. The topics included tax records, farmers and tenant farmers, early river towns, African American research and land acquisitions. So a few highlights...

Whenever I hear the word, probate, I think of wills or deeds, but I learned probate simply means recording of records. That means many actions fall under probate proceedings. One set of records to search are sometimes called Cash Books, and we have some of those books in our ICGS archives! I didn't know that.

There was an Illinois County tax taken in 1890. I have to look around for those, as they should help with not having the 1890 federal census. We have the 1890 Iroquois County Tax List available from  ICGS publications.

Did you know states controlled state militias until 1903? Prior to this time, the idea of state versus federal control of militia was unresolved. The Militia Act of 1903 began the process for the establishment of the United States National Guard and federal support for equipment and training.

The book, The Emigrant's Guide to the Western and Southwestern States and Territories by William Darby is available in full on Google Books.
Emigrant's Guide
This book was written in 1818 by a member of the New York Historical Society and discusses the rivers, roads, crops, climate, settlements and other interests in these states and territories. I'm looking forward to reading about the life my ancestors lived and how they traveled across the eastern states.

Where did travelers stay? Kemmons Wilson, the founder of Holiday Inn didn't open his first family hotel until 1952 in Memphis, Tennessee.  Where and what did they eat? The term ordinary referred to a tavern. According to, it is a chiefly British term meaning a) a complete meal provided at a fixed price, or b) a tavern or an inn providing such a meal. I'm sure many times food supplies were carried along, an ordinary might be an option when you didn't feel like going out to shoot your supper.

I still have many notes and ideas to share and study and research from the ISGS Fall Conference, but today it's time to start thinking about Thanksgiving Dinner for 2014.