Thursday, February 28, 2008

Carnahan Announces Online African-American Genealogy Series

Carnahan Announces Online African-American Genealogy Series

New Videos Can Help Families Trace Their Roots

Jefferson City, Missouri — Secretary of State Robin Carnahan announced today that her office has placed online a five-part video series highlighting African-American genealogy. African-American Genealogy: Putting Together the Pieces of Your Past was created by the Missouri State Archives, a division of the Secretary of State's office.

"I am pleased that we made this series available to assist researchers in overcoming many of the common obstacles encountered in tracing African-American roots," said Carnahan. "Finding genealogical records for ancestors can be challenging, so these videos are designed to help people track their family tree."

In the five-part series, Traci Wilson-Kleekamp, a Family History Research Consultant, provides helpful tips on accessing the best websites, which records are most beneficial, and how to get the most out of original records. Together, "What's Out There?;" "What's Your Story?: Finding It on the Web;" "How Do I Find Out More?;" "What Happened During the Wars?;" and "How Do I Put All the Information Together?" teach researchers to use all the pieces they find to gain a better understanding of those who came before them.

Wilson-Kleekamp guides researchers through the process of identifying ancestors from the era of slavery through a variety of records and documents. The series provides a solid background in conducting slavery-era research and reviews specific books, databases and online resources that contain vital information for African-American genealogical study.

The new website is part of Secretary Carnahan's long-term commitment to the African-American History Initiative, a program that aims to create a broad public awareness of the rich contributions of African-Americans to the state. The initiative also strives to offer new resources to historians, genealogists and to others studying Missouri's culturally diverse history.

The series is available online at

Monday, February 25, 2008

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Maps of Evangelical and U.C.C. Churches

Both of these maps are incomplete. Updates as time permits.

Evangelical and U.C.C. Churches in the City of St. Louis

Evangelical and U.C.C. Churches in St. Charles County

Google Maps

BENNE migration and places of interest.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Hosting issues

A comment was recently posted here about my move from RootsWeb to my own domain. I've read similar sentiments elsewhere and wanted to quickly run down why I'm not very concerned about these issues.

#1 A successful site will be charged more by the hosting company.

I know this happens. I was once co-admin of a site that while not widely known, was one of the top sites for a specific interest. I didn't pay the bill or deal with a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff, but I knew what was going on with my buddy's web hosting nightmares. The differences between the site I'm building and this moderately successful site (in terms of traffic) are plentiful.

That was then (2000) and this is now. Hosting plans are different, and this is an entirely different hosting company. I'm in charge of my work's website and we've used this same host for over a year and a half without any problems.

If I decide to install forums, the number of users will be a drop in the bucket compared to what I used to oversee. So, forums will not be a resource hog.

Most of the content I will create has a limited audience. That's the nature of a personal genealogy site. It's true that I will go behind that a little, but I am not looking to create any sort of regional resource.

Most importantly, my hosting plans allows for 15,000 GB per month of transfer. For a genealogy site that is going to be family-specific, for the most part, that would be a lot of traffic. And should the site become wildly popular (why would it?), I do have some wiggle room in terms of the price. What I'm paying now (less than $7 per month) is locked in for a couple of years and I consider it a very reasonable price.

#2 If something happens to me, the site withers and dies.

My site is essentially nothing more than an advertisement for attracting distant cousins. I see message boards and mailing lists in the same light. After I'm gone, making contact people won't really be a concern, now will it?

As far as someone continuing my work, I hope that happens, but I realize that at the moment there is no such person.

In other words, I'm very content with the package I bought and where this is headed.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


I changed the template recently and see some things that need work, but for now I've updated the list of genealogy/history blogs I subscribe to. If you have any suggestions, post a comment. I have some room in my reader for new additions after weeding out several that didn't have a new post in some time.

Index to the 1850 Agricultural Census of St. Charles County, Missouri

Agricultural census records are probably one of the most interesting records one can find for their ancestors. I like them so much that a few years back I intended to release a series of transcriptions and indexes for the records from a variety of counties that my ancestors lived in between 1850 and 1880. Those big plans were essentially scrapped, though at some point I will release what I had been working on. I believe these records are (or should be) going to show up on a site like Ancestry or Footnote long before I could finish my project, so I'll just make this quick and painless.

The first ag census I looked at was from 1850 in St. Charles County, Missouri. The index has been done for some time now; I actually printed this out and gave a copy to the St. Charles County Genealogical Society. This is something I've been wanting to put online and now is the time.

Index to the 1850 Agricultural Census of St. Charles County, Missouri


The other night when I found August LANKAU in a new database, the next thing I did was check an old database, one of the most useful for St. Louis researchers: St. Louis City Death Records, 1850-1908. Sure enough, there was August LANKAN. If there's one thing I've learned from research of this family, it's that LANKAN is the first alternate spelling that should be searched. That this entry got by me is a little embarrassing, but that's why it never hurts to look again. This general principle was covered by Craig and others several weeks ago, but I think it needs a name — shampoo. Think about it.

And if I'm not the first to suggest that Ancestry digitize the St. Louis death records, add my name to the list of supporters. These records seem to be a little misunderstood by those that have never viewed them and they are probably one of the top lookup requests on message boards and mailing lists for the area.

Here's an example of the information Ancestry provides:
Name: August Lankan
Death Date: 16 Jun 1890
Address: 314 Marion
Volume: 24
Page: 476
County Library: RDSL 33
Missouri Archive: C 10389
SLGS Rolls: 323

What you don't see is the cause of death, place of birth (very generalized, e.g., Germany rather than a town name), approximate age, cemetery, undertaker and physician. (The cemetery is often listed in Ancestry's database, but some entries lack this info.) I may be leaving out a couple of headings but that's basically it. While these are somewhat primitive death records and not the most useful for connecting the dots (the deceased to another family member via an informant or the names of parents), I don't see why anyone wouldn't want to have this information. At the very least, it can be used as a jumping off point to look for an obit, family plot at the cemetery or used with directories to see who was living at an address at that time.

As I mentioned, these would be fantastic records to digitize. Actually, so would the St. Louis burial certificates, a document used starting in about 1881 or 1882 that has a lot of the same information. To me, those two record sets would be just about as valuable to me as the census records, which is the main reason I have an Ancestry subscription.

The burial certificate is a single document, while the death records are actually a register or log of entries that spanned two pages on a single line. Personally, I prefer to have a copy of the burial certificate just because it's easier to file and they often print better from microfilm than the death register. Over the years, the burial certificates started to become more and more like death certificates. Some of the forms even say so at the top. But if you go to a local library and look for pre-1910 death certificates, you're looking under the wrong heading.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Waiting for the GEDCOM...

China View: Updated Confucius family tree has two million members.

I'd hate to be at the family reunion and get guilted appointed as a proofreader or to "family tech support" for this kind of project just because I know more about computers than most other family members.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Come on down, August LANKAU

Here's the beauty of digital indexes: it's so much easier to find things you may miss in a paper or microfilm index. The relevant results are right before your eyes. And this may give a name new life under the eyes of a different transcriber.

While running a few names through the Missouri Birth Records, 1805-1980 database, I came across Augustin LANKAU. Guess what? I never came across this child when I looked at these records years ago at the City Library, nor in any searches of Catholic church records. I knew there was a gap or four years between births in this family, but no more. Now I need to find out what happened to this boy. He did not live to 1900.

New Ancestry Content

Ancestry has recently added two new databases useful to those with a local connection. The first is the Missouri State Census Collection, 1844-1881. These census records are a helpful way to fill in the gaps of the federal census records. Prior to this release, the records were not widely available though the indexes were. Actually, microfilm of at least some of these records is at two or three places in the St. Louis area.

But there is more. While it's true that many of the state census records have not survived the years, the Ancestry collection is not complete. For example, I believe census records for St. Charles County (1852, 1868 and 1876) have been indexed within the last couple of decades, suggesting that the originals are somewhere waiting to be filmed or digitized.

The other database is Missouri Birth Records, 1805-1980. I've used the index and microfilm to the St. Louis records in the past and had very little success with my families. As Ancestry notes, only about 60% of the St. Louis births were recorded between 1870 and 1910.

The inclusion of births past 1910 must be the result of miscellaneous records happening to have been filmed. I can't see the number of those records growing, what with those records not being open in Missouri. The database title is accurate, but don't get excited hoping to find a treasure trove of post-1910 birth records.

Monday, February 04, 2008

I Need a Tivo...

...because African American Lives 2 will begin this week on PBS and chances are I'll miss at least part of it, if not an entire two-hour episode. Yes, I have a VCR, but I just think a Tivo would be cooler, haha.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Free Content at Footnote

Footnote now has 1,062,687 free images and documents from the National Archives.

I tried Footnote for a month last year and liked the site. They just don't have the content I need, so there was not point in continuing the subscription. Maybe in the future.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Unburied Veterans

KSDK: America's Legacy Of Ashes (text/video).