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The Beginning


Calling all Genea-Musings Fans:It’s Saturday Night again –time for some more Genealogy Fun!!

 Your mission, should you decide to accept it (and I hope more of you do than participated in the last several SNGF challenges), is to:1)  Daniel Loftus and several other genealogists on Twitter (see https://twitter.com/hashtag/MyGenealogyStory?src=hashtag_clickchallenged genealogists to share what first sparked their interest in family history.  What was yours?

My genealogy journey started around 1977 or 1978. I had driven across Kansas to spend some time with my grandmother in Dodge City. While there, we began talking family history. That’s when she asked me to help her find the burial location of her grandmother, Julia.

My grandmother’s mother had died when my grandmother was a young child. Due to the death of her mother, she didn’t know much about her grandparents. Thus, the question.

Shortly after this request from my grandmother, I was at my mother-in-law’s house in Phillipsburg. Since my mother-in-law was actively researching her family, I started asking questions. Thanks to my mother-in-law, I learned how to complete a pedigree chart and a family group sheet. She suggested that I read Hall Greenwood’s book, The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy.

From that point onward, my trips to Dodge City always incorporated learning more about my family history. During one trip, my grandmother took me to the Kansas Heritage center where I re-learned how to use microfilm and searched the Dodge City papers for marriage announcements and obituaries.

It was my grandmother who knew who the researchers were in the family. She helped me connect with my great aunt Gladys who had compiled information on the Crawford side of my tree. Another letter went to my great aunt Esther who had the Crawford family Bible. Grandma also connected me with a Currey cousin who had been compiling information on that line.

During those early years, my grandmother and I traveled to the Kansas City area in search for answers about her grandparents. During that trip, my grandmother took me to her mother’s grave in Olathe. We also visited some cousins in the Liberty, Missouri area and visited a cousins grave. While driving thru North Kansas City, my grandmother talked about how she and her sister, Mary, had left the children’s home to go to work in North Kansas City.

In those early days, my mother-in-law also introduced me to Everton’s Genealogical Helper. When each issue arrived, I would pour thru the ads looking for any possible connection to my family. At times, I even placed my own ads. That’s when I learned to use SASE (self-addressed stamped envelopes).

My early ‘research trips’ were to the Kansas State Historical Society in Topeka. Since my ancestors all settled in Kansas prior to 1890, I was able to access census and newspaper records in their holdings. They also have a collection of county histories from around the country that helped me research my tree prior to their coming to Kansas.

Occasionally, I would make a trip to the Mid-Continent genealogy library in Independence, Missouri where I could access census records for states besides Kansas. I also became fairly proficient in writing letters to request records — and then waiting on those SASE to appear in my mailbox.

I don’t remember how I got connected with Ruth Keys Clark, but I participated in two bus trips to Salt Lake City that she sponsored. Those trips were my introduction to using the vast microfilm holdings of the LDS library.

Thanks to all of that early research, I collected a lot of handwritten notes and photocopies along with letters from other researchers.

Research today is nothing like those early days. However, I still use those skills I learned along the way. As my retirement days are filled with time spent researching, I am forever grateful to my grandmother for that original inquiry. (And, no, the gravesite has not been located but is likely located somewhere in Doniphan County, Kansas.)

One thought on “The Beginning

  1. How lucky you were to have an extended family network already into researching the family tree. I remember The Genealogical Helper. I loved finding it my mailbox every month. That was an entirely different genealogical world back then!

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