Iron County Historical Society

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March 20, 2023 By: John Abney
NARA Celebrates Sunshine Week 2023
Join the National Archives and Records Administration in their celebration of Sunshine Week 2023 where they are celebrating access to public information, including how the National Archives makes access happen and fulfills open government requirements.
Learn more about how the National Archives’ mission supports the Open Government initiative, and how they are making their holdings more accessible online in their Sunshine Week video series
March 15, 2023 By: John Abney
Tracing Irish Ancestors
As I won't be around most of the day on Friday, I wanted to take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy St. Patrick's Day, even if I'm a couple of days early.  I also wanted to share some links with you for those of you lucky enough to Irish ancestors.  
The first is a reprint of a post that I made last November about free access to Irish Civil Registration records.  Here's that post: 
From Ireland's General Register Office, "Since 2016, the General Register Office has progressively given free access to over 15.5 million historic register records of births, marriages and death, ensuring that Ireland continues to lead the way in making genealogical information available to the public. The FREE Irish Genealogy  website is home to the on-line historic Indexes of the Civil Registers (GRO) of Births, Marriages, Civil Partnerships and Deaths, and to Church Records of Baptism, Marriage and Burial from a number of Irish counties. 
With new archives brought online regularly, the records on Irishgenealogy.iecover births from 1864 to 1921; marriages from 1845 to 1946; deaths records from 1871 - 1971, and death index records from 1864-1870. Since this online service became available in 2016 on, millions of visitors to the website have viewed these records."
The second is an announcement from My Heritage (r) giving free access to their entire collection of 106 Irish genealogical databases from now through  March 19, 2023.  You can access the collection here.
If you are new to Irish family history research, a great place to start is at the Ireland entry at the Family Search Wiki.  There you will find maps, information on Ireland's counties, tips, techniques and so much more.  
Erin go Bragh!
March 15, 2023 By: John Abney
Washington County History Expo 2023

Looking for something interesting to do this weekend?  How about coming to visit the Iron County Historical Society's booth at this year's Annual History and Tourism Expo for Washington County being held this Sunday, March 19th from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

This year's event is taking place  at the St. Joachim School  Cafeteria, located directly behind the St. Joachim Church in historic Old Mines, Missouri.  Speaking of historic, Old Mines is celebrating the 300th anniversary of its founding this year!  Truth be told, I'm a bit biased as two main lines of my French-Canadian ancestors were land owners in the original Old Mines Concession.  

Quoting from the press release about the event, "The Expo offers a great selection of history, tourism and fun facts about the area with this year being focused on Old Mines and the French history.

The area historical societies and clubs plan to have exhibit booths along with other participants from the community. The Old Mines Area Historical Society will offer publications and research help and tips. Mine a Breton Historical Society will display artifacts and photos as well as written materials.

Also representing the area’s history and tourism with booths and tables are La Brigade, The Old Mines 300th Anniversary Committee, Washington County Health Department, Washington County Ambulance District, Belgrade State Bank, Washington County Chamber of Commerce, V.F.W. Post #6996, Cordia-Humphrey American Legion Post #265, Washington State Park, Edg-Clif Vineyard, Winery & Bewery, Fyre Lake Winery, Missouri Author Ross Malone, and The Craft Guild, a newly formed organization celebrating all types of crafting.

Breakfast and Lunch fare will be offered for sale including biscuits and gravy, sausage, hotdogs, chili, a variety of desserts and beverages.

A Silent Auction with many interesting items will round out the event.

The public is welcome and encouraged to attend and there is no charge for admission. Enjoy learning about our County!"

March 12, 2023 By: John Abney
Reclaim the Records
From time to time we share information on other organizations supporting the work of genealogists and family historians.  One such organization is Reclaim the Records.  Quoting from a 2020 blog post on the My Heritage Blog, 

"Reclaim the Records. Led by genealogist Brooke Schreier Ganz, this group of activists — which includes volunteer genealogists, researchers, lawyers, and open government advocates — works tirelessly to get public genealogical data released into the public domain. Their goal is to “put [records] online, for free, for everyone.” Reclaim the Records locates important archival data sets that are not available to the public online, and they use Freedom of Information (FOIA) laws in the U.S. to get copies of this information released to the public. They document everything they learn about filing these requests, and create a guide for genealogists, open data fans, and others who want their state, local, and federal records made more available. When they meet with record custodians that defy the law, who drag their feet intentionally or unintentionally, they put up a legal fight, and they usually win. Once they’ve acquired the records, they digitize what they can and put it all online for free, without paywalls or usage restrictions."  They have reclaimed some 60 million records to date.

Today, they are asking for the public's help in fighting a proposed fee increase of nearly 300% being requested by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that would apply to genealogical records: The public comment period on this proposed increase ends tomorrow, Monday, March 13, 2023.  Records Not Revenue has posted information about the proposed price increase here and this same link gives you ways that you can help fight this price increase.  

March 8, 2023 By: John Abney
1.2 Million Digitized NC Land Grants
Many of us with Missouri roots in this part of the state had ancestors that followed the southern root of migration of what would become these United States.  I, for one,  had different lines of my family starting of in Virginia or Maryland whose descendants moved south to the Carolinas or west into Kentucky and Tennessee.  Tracing those ancestors and their migration isn't always easy, but in many cases land records can be a big help.
To that end, there's great news from North Carolina and the NC Historical Records Online (NCHRO) who just announced the completion of their multi-year project to put 1.2 million images of original documents associated with all 200,000 North Carolina land grants on their free website .  Not only will you find the digital image there, but also a great deal of helpful information to assist in your search.  Note: Photo of the Great Seal of the State of North Carolina courtesy of Wikipedia.
March 8, 2023 By: John Abney
Board of Directors Vacancy
Our annual elections are held at our Annual Meeting in April each year and we are always looking for new people to get involved in the management of the historical society.  We will have one upcoming vacancy on our Board of Directors at that time and are looking for a volunteer to fill that vacancy.  This is a great way to get started in taking an active role within the historical society, "trying it on for size" if you like.
There are really only two requirements.  One, you must be a current member of the historical society.  Two, you must try to attend as many meetings as possible.   Our regular meetings are held in January, April, July and October.  Board Meetings are scheduled for February, March, May, June, August, September, and November, but often times they are cancelled due to lack of business to discuss.  
As I have said before, I can't stress how important this really is.  The fact of the matter is this, we need a new generation to begin taking over for the old.  If you care about Iron County's history and want to see it preserved, please consider joining our historical society (if you haven't already) and think about taking on an active role to take it into the future.  If you are interested, contact John Abney via email at and thanks!
March 8, 2023 By: John Abney
RootsTech 2023 Video Library
While another RootsTech is in the books, it's not too late to see many of the informative sessions from that conference.  The RootsTech Video Library is the place to start.  There you will find sessions broken out into many categories with literally something that would interest any serious family history researcher.  I've already viewed on the sessions about recording family stories and have picked up some great ideas that I hope to use in getting my own cousins to share some of the stories that they remember about our grandparents before we're all gone and it's too late.  
March 2, 2023 By: John Abney
Tips for Finding Female Ancestors
In celebration of Women’s History Month, I thought I would devote this blog entry to some tips that may be able to help you find your female ancestors.   The key, of course, is finding out the woman’s maiden name and then tying her back to her family, but that can be a lot easier said than done.   Here are some ideas that may help.
Obituary Records:  It seems the further back you go in time, the less likely it is that you will find an obituary for either your male or female ancestors.  That said, when you do find one, often times it will give the woman’s maiden name, e.g., “Mrs. Jane Smith (nee Jones) was born……”  and, if you are lucky, tell you who her parents were.  The information in any obituary is only as good the person’s knowledge that wrote it.  Oh, and don’t forget to look for local columns in the newspapers you are searching.  Often times there may not be a formal obituary, but the death might be mentioned in the local news for that area.
Civil Marriage Records:  If there is any record where your female ancestor’s maiden name should be given, this is it.  Still, you have to be careful, especially when it may not be the female’s first marriage.  Look too to see if either or both her parents may be mentioned in the record. 
Church Records:  Remember, there are civil marriage records and church marriage records.  Depending on the religion, these records can be a gold mine of information.  I’m lucky enough to have some French-Canadian ancestors who were good Catholics.  Using Catholic marriage and christening records, I would find not only the wife’s/mother’s maiden name but also the names of her parents (including her mother’s maiden name) and what parish they were from.  In this way (and using just church records) I could trace the lineage of many of my French Canadian lines back from the early 19th century in Missouri to the late 16th  century in France.
Local and County Histories:  Research local and county histories to find out if your ancestors are mentioned and whether maiden names are given.  Unless the entry is properly sourced, use the information you find as a clue, but even if the entry is sourced, verify the source yourself (remember too that not all sources are created equal, e.g., a record created at the time an event took place is likely to be much more accurate than an unsourced family tree).
Local, County, and State Genealogy and Historical Societies:  Besides the archives at these organizations, you might just get lucky enough to meet someone with knowledge about your family.  Where feasible, it is always a good idea to join local genealogy and historical societies in the geographical areas you are researching. 
Military Pension Applications, Pension Payment Records, Bounty Land Records:  All of these can be rich sources of information not only for the person who served / died, but also for members of their families (wives and children).  Application files may have original pages from family bibles, marriage records, depositions, letters, etc.
Other Original Records:  While maiden names won’t likely appear in records such as probate or land records, there may be other clues there that will help you identify a female ancestor’s maiden name.  One quick example.  I knew one of my great-grandmother’s maiden name from her marriage record and even had a good idea who her father was from their appearance together in an 1880 Federal Census record.  My great-grandfather received a land patent in the early years of the 20th century and when I ordered the supporting file for that document, I was able to confirm who her father was through his appearance in that supporting file.
While this blog entry may have only scratched the surface of available records, I hope it has provided you with some possible sources for your research.  Best of luck in your search!
March 2, 2023 By: John Abney
Volunteers Still Needed - School Records
Volunteers STILL Needed!!! School Records Transcription Project
Spearheaded by historical society Board of Directors member, Judie Huff, a project is underway that will eventually create high resolution scans of all of our existing school records. Judie then hopes to use these scans along with a force of volunteers to create a searchable spreadsheet that anyone could use to find information on their family members.
Scanning the records preserves them against any future possibility from loss. With over two-thirds of the school images ready we are set to start the next phase, transcription. Volunteers will have online access to a shared folder which will contain a spreadsheet and images to be transcribed. When all the images have been transcribed, sharing capabilities will be removed and a new school folder will be shared with the volunteer. Instructions will also be emailed to the volunteers on how to access the folder and spreadsheet instructions.
If you are interested in helping or if you have any questions, please contact the Project Coordinator, Judie Huff, at .
March 1, 2023 By: John Abney
Rootstech 2023 Starts Tomorrow!
Just a reminder, Rootstech 2023 starts tomorrow.  What is Rootstech?  Rootstech is billed as the world's largest family history and technology conference, There is NO registration fee for those attending virtually, but you must still register.  If you have never attended a genealogy / family history conference, this offering is a wonderful opportunity to get that experience.   If you have attended a national level genealogy conference in the past, you already know that the expo hall with all the vendors is one of the favorite places to go.  Rootstech will have its own virtual expo hall that you can also visit