While visiting the St. Louis area this past spring, my mother and I paid a visit to The Historic Daniel Boone Home & Heritage Center in the beautiful rolling hills near the Missouri River Valley. Daniel Boone, you may recall, was a Virginia statesman, Revolutionary War soldier, frontiersman and folk hero. He is most famous for forging the Wilderness Road, a route used by pioneers from the East to reach Kentucky.
The Boone home near Defiance, Missouri actually belonged to Daniel’s son Nathan. Daniel lived his final years here and died in the home on 26 September 1820. The interior of the home can only be seen by guided tour. Our guide was very knowledgeable on Boone’s history and that of the house. Surrounding the home is a small village of historic buildings also available to tour. More information is available on The Historic Daniel Boone Home & Heritage Center website.
The Concordia Historical Institute (CHI) is housed in Saint Louis, Missouri on the campus of Concordia Seminary. CHI should be on the radar for those researching ancestors in the Saginaw Valley’s Franconian settlements or other “German Lutheran” ancestors located throughout the United States. Why? CHI serves as the Department of Archives and History for The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS). All of the Franconian settlements’ original Lutheran churches were early members of this denominational body which was originally known as the German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio and Other States. Frankenmuth’s St. Lorenz Lutheran Church was one of the charter congregations when the synod formed in 1847.
CHI’s facilities include collections storage, a gallery, and a reading room for researchers. It maintains biographical records researched by staff and files on past and present pastors, teachers, missionaries and others who have served in the LCMS. Additional items of interest to genealogical researchers include various church records and minutes, copies of church sacramental records, photographs, and personal papers of men and women who served in the church. Even if you don’t have a Lutheran pastor or teacher in your genealogy, you may find mention of them in church records or a minister’s papers who served their congregations.
Concordia Historical Institute maintains a website with finding aids, contact and membership information. Membership in CHI includes access to its reading room, discounts on research services and receipt of its publications: the Historical Footnotes newsletter and the venerable Concordia Historical Institute Quarterly (CHIQ). Both the Historical Footnotes newsletter and the CHIQ feature articles on Lutheran history. These have not infrequently included pieces containing information on Frankenmuth and the surrounding Franconian settlements. Sporadic back issues of Historical Footnotes are available on the CHI website.
I have made two research trips to CHI in the past three years, most recently in May. Each visit has turned up new and interesting and information to add to my family tree or flesh out the biographies of my ancestors and collateral relations. Examples of what I have found include biographical records, newspaper articles, photographs, birth and baptismal records, church minutes mentioning my ancestors and original letters written by long-deceased relations. Their most rewarding collection for me has been my maternal grandfather’s hand-written sermons spanning his career in the ministry. Sermons of exceptional interest include confirmations and marriages of relations, church milestones and celebrations, and funerals of his parishioners and friends. The funeral sermons also fascinatingly spanned the deaths of veterans and active-duty servicemen from America’s three major wars: the Civil War, World War I and World War II.
I never knew my mother’s father; he had died ten years before my birth. Our family was unaware that these papers were housed at CHI or even still in existence. Now, thanks to the preservation efforts of the Concordia Historical Institute, I have begun to know my grandfather.
If you follow my Tweets (and I know you are 😉 ), you’ll know I’ve been traveling recently including to the National Genealogical Society (NGS) annual conference in May and the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR) at Samford University this month. Both are excellent opportunities to learn and improve your skills as a genealogist.
The 2015 National Genealogical Society Family History Conference was held in St. Charles, Missouri, just north of St. Louis. This provided me with the opportunity to not only attend the conference, but to do some research, sightseeing and indulge in another favorite pastime: wine tasting. Look for a couple of future posts highlighting my experiences in the St. Louis area.
This was my first time attending the four-day NGS conference, and I’m happy to report it exceeded my expectations. I also attended a day-long pre-conference workshop on German genealogy. While some of the information presented in this workshop was not new to me, I still benefited from it. F. Warren Bittner’s primer on German history was informative and entertaining. If you’re researching German ancestors and not familiar with F. Warren Bittner, you should be. He is one of the premier genealogists in Germanic genealogy having performed fascinating original research in the field, as well as being an engaging speaker. You can find some of his work published in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly and hear some of his lectures recorded by Jamb Tapes, Inc. Although not presented at this workshop or conference, I particularly recommend his lecture “Understanding Illegitimacy: The Bittner Bastards of Bavaria.” Illegitimacy among our German forbears is not uncommon (yes, there is even one amongst my Bavarian ancestors!), and definitely not for the reasons you may expect. This lecture is available from Jamb Tapes, Inc.
In addition to the German pre-conference workshop, the conference also featured a German track. Baerbel K. Johnson’s talk “So You Think You Want to Get Married: Marriage Records, Laws, and German Customs” informed listeners of German marriage records beyond those created by the church. Town council proceedings include petitions to marry and may illuminate circumstances surrounding your ancestors’ marriages or indicate why they could not marry.
Cutting edge methodology was presented by Elizabeth Shown Mills in “The Problem-Solver’s Great Trifecta: GPS+FAN+DNA.” Here she demonstrated how she proved four generations of a maternal line for which no documents provided direct evidence of the relationships.
Other educators included Thomas W. Jones, Judy G. Russell, Julie Miller, Alison Hare, Angie Bush, and John Philip Colletta, cementing NGS’s distinction as the premier genealogical conference. The 2016 conference will be held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. More information can be found at the NGS website.
This past week was spent honing my genealogical skills at Samford University Library’s Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research in Birmingham, Alabama. Each year about ten different courses of study are taught by faculty distinguished in the fields of genealogical education and research. Courses include beginning, intermediate, and advanced methodology, genealogical writing and publishing, and specialties such as military records and research in the South.
This was my second year at IGHR. I was enrolled in Course 3: Advanced Methodology and Evidence Analysis. The course coordinator and main instructor was Judy G. Russell, J.D., CG, CGL. Additional course instructors were Pamela Boyer Sayre, CG, CGL, FUGA; David E. Rencher, AG, CG, FIGRS, FUGA; Richard G. Sayre, CG, CGL; Craig R. Scott, CG, FUGA and Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D, CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS. In addition to having fancy post-nomials, they are all excellent teachers. Classes in this course included reasonably exhaustive research, conflicting evidence, legal foundations of genealogy, government documents, ethics and DNA evidence analysis, correlation, interpretation.
If you’ve been fortunate enough to see Judy speak, you’ll know she’s an excellent educator, and her teaching in Course 3 did not disappoint. So much so that she received a standing ovation from her students at the end of the week. I have no hesitations about recommending her course. If you are interested, be sure to register as soon as on-line registration opens. Course 3 fills up within a matter of minutes.
Unfortunately, after 51 years IGHR will no longer be hosted by the Samford University Library after 2016. Its future is uncertain, although IGHR is eagerly looking for an appropriate new “home” to continue its mission. On its homepage, IGHR has posted a video lecture titled “Time to Make the Doughnuts!” which addresses this issue. I will certainly miss the beautiful Samford University campus and the dedicated SU Library staff. If you’re looking for a solid genealogical education, I highly encourage taking advantage of next year’s IGHR offerings.