Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Origins of Surnames - Shavlik

And the Search Begins

Just yesterday in Genesis 14:17,  I came across a name for a valley in Israel called Shaveh.  What struck me is how close that name is to my maternal grandfather's name:  SHAVLIK.  The valley has also been called the Valley of Siddim and the Valley of the Kings.

Shaveh is pronounced Shaw-vay' in Hebrew.  The word means: the plain

So I decided to google the meaning of the name SHAVLIK and what did I find?  Over and over again I found the following meaning:

Hebrew for: the plain, that makes equality

 Many Yemenite Jews' family names are consisting of the place in which their ancestors have come to Yemen (like Sana'a) and an "i" in the end (like the family name "San'ani"), indicating belonging to the place they have originated from.

From the above we might assume that the origination of the surname SHAVLIK could give clue to the original location of the family, ie the plain of Shaveh.  Definitely HEBREW, which was a direction I suspected we were going.  Now to figure out the reason for the 'lik' on the end.  Could it be that 'lik' is the part of the word as above that means 'that makes equality'.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

First Family Certificate

This certificate is awarded to Michael G. recognition of this family's contribution to the development of the State of Nebraska for more than 100 years.
William Alexander Hall
Richardson, Nebraska
2 October 1864
The first of about seven certificates I'm working on.  Mike and I have a long lineage of
First Nebraska Pioneer Families

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Photo Thursday

One of my 'successes' when at the Nebraska State Historical Society Research Room last week was discovering that I could look in available cemetary books and find which cemetary an ancestor is buried in.  Mike's 4th great grandfather Aquilla/Equillar HALL was a mystery because he was not buried in the same cemetary as the 'other' HALL's at Palmyra, Nebraska.  Since we now had the name of the Cemetary, Prosper, we could surely find it.  Seems that the Cemetary is also known as Mound Cemetry, Porter, Richardson County, Nebraska.  The location is about 5 miles east of Humboldt, Nebraska.

The cemetary contains burials that were very old and some that were new.  The bonus was the church standing across the road from the cemetary called Prosper Church.  Long abandonded yet stately, the church where Mike's 4th great-grandfather worshiped our Father God in earnest, was filled with hay, horribly vandilized, but still very beautiful.  More on that in my Tuesday Trivia post.  Why is it when searching your family history that the solving of one puzzle leads to the search of yet another puzzel?

Equillar HALL was buried in the same area with his daughter Marcia who married James Shue.  Before coming to Nebraska from Illinois Equillar married widow THOMPSON (her maiden name was ROBINSON) who came with several children, one of them being Nancy Jane THOMPSON.  Three years later Nancy Jane became the wife of Equillar's son, William Alexandar HALL.

Equillar and widow Thompson had two children.  She died shortly after the second daughter was born.  William and Nancy came to Nebraska in 1864 and Equillar and his two young daughters (Marcia was 18 at the time) followed them in 1866, buying land and living next to the younger HALL family in Richardson County, Nebraska west of Stella. 

It appears that Marcia HALL SHUE cared for the aging Equillar, with her husband James and his father James. At the advanced age of 86 years Equillar went home to be with his Heavenly Father in 1880 and was buried at the Prosper Cemetry across from the church where he spent many a Sunday worshiping his God.

Equillar Hall
b. 1796 in Kentucky d. 11 Mar 1880 in Nebraska

The Stone Reads:

to the memory of
Equillar Hall
Who departed this life
Mar 11, 1880
Aged 86 years

He died as he lived, a Christian.

Dear is the spot where Christians sleep
And sweet are the strains that Angels pour
O, Why should we in anguish weep
They are not lost but gone before

Equillar is buried between James Shue and Marcia Shue.  Next to Marcia is James' father James.  Next to the elder James is the grave of what appears to be two children but could be the grave of Equillar's other daughter, Anna, who married the elder James Shue (another case of my mother-in-law is also my sister).  The stone is very old and barely readable.  I wish we would have taken more time to decipher the stone.  Looks like it means another trip.................awe, the life of a family genealogist.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tuesday Trivia

Prosper Church and the Prosper (Mound) Cemetery

The Prosper Presbyterian Church is located deep in the center of Richardson County, Nebraska about 6 miles southwest of Stella or 5 miles northeast of Humboldt in an area the locals had once hoped would be the town of Prosper. The land is laced with streams beds lined with trees, the farm ground is some of the best in the state. 

We were looking for the grave of our Equillar Hall, Mike's 4th Great-Grandfather who was said to have been a real gem of a man and well liked by all who met him.  Back in Illinois he was a Justis of the Peace with dark hair and eyes of the lightest blue in color.  He was the father of our William Alexandar "Alex" Hall by his first wife Rhoda O'Bannion.

As we came up on the location of the cemetery we were given what we genealogists call a BONUS!

The original church attached to the cemetery stood across the road.  Lonely in the adjacent corn field, the church was in great disrepair and had been used for storage of hay for a good many years.  It had been raped repeatedly by vandals.

Stately she stood.  We couldn't resist going inside just to stand in the room where Mike's great-grandfather stood to worship our God and Father.  We felt blessed and sure that this saint of a man had prayed for the generations to come after him that they would know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and indeed Mike and I fulfill that description even though we came to this revelation later than we had hoped (our late-20's).

The light was perfect and I found myself wishing that my Daughter-in-law, Kandi, was behind my camera instead of myself, but the camera was clicking as I shot a few pictures of this grand old church.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Monday Moments


I started this BLOG just this last April but I'm remodeling it already!!! Not a good sign.  The pages on the top are all being redone so that the information there can remain static and easily me!  I'll be working on it this week as I take breaks from the huge mountain of sewing for birthday gifts for July.  July seems to be a popular month for birthdays in our family.


Today I feel like I've cleared a hurdle but can't get over the other side.  I've sent in the paperwork to get my first FIRST FAMILY certificate, that of William Alexander HALL.  I hope I did the application correctly and the proof work is correct.  I guess we'll see and I'll know what to do for the next certificate.  Why can't I get over the other side? 

I really want to start another family but I just can't seem to quit.  The more I uncover the more I want to know.  It doesn't help that as a 'history buff' the time period happens to be one of my favorites so I want to dig and dig.  I was ready to go to another family but this family draws me.

William's father for one.  I guess I can use him (Equillar HALL) as another FIRST FAMILY sense he came before 1867 to Nebraska after William with his two younger daughters.  I'll have to go to Falls City to the county seat courthouse for Richardson County, NE for that one.  I'll have to pull his deed for his first property for my proof citation.  Not a really big deal since I have everything after it already.

Then there's the timeline for this family.  It needs to be created.  I'm so curious. What was it like in Morgan Co, Illinois before they left for Nebraska and why did Equillar (Aquilla) leave the Bluegrass country of Kentucky to go to Illinois in the first place?  Who was Equillar's father?  That has never been discovered.....but really........this is out of my promise of sticking with five generations back until those are finished.  Darn, so much fun......


My ancestrial DNA is in the mail and I can't wait to see the results since a half cousin (we have the same grandfather) did his and discovered that he is a close match to Hebrew Levite.  My grandfather and his mother and father had to leave Germany because of persecussion in the mid 1800's but we were never told what that was.  Now we're pretty sure that it was because he and his mother and father were Jewish.  WOW, it's a real shock, but at the same time I'm not surprised.  Since now has a DNA test that can reach even through my DNA to discover my grandfathers roots I'm anticipating the results will be the same and the excitement is killing me!  The test went in the mail today so I should have the results in the next couple of weeks.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Planning a Trip to The Nebraska Historical Society

Yesterday I had a successful trip to the Nebraska Historical Society, 15th & P in Lincoln, Nebraska inspite of very little time and being totally unprepared. I had only made one other trip to the Historical Society and that was a couple of years ago. There are several things you have to remember about going there plus I'm going to give you some hints on how to prepare beforehand for your trip.

  1. You cannot take large notebooks, or purses into the room. There are lockers, but they cost you a quarter to leave your things and get a key.
  2. You cannot take a pen into the room. There are plenty of pencils available for your use.
  3. You will have to sign in when you enter the room which is at the end of the hallway on your right.
  4. When you leave please leave a few dollars in the box to help keep this wonderful resource up and running.
Helpful Hints to Make the Best Use of Your Trip

  1. You will be using the 'Reference Room'. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday 10-4 BUT if you are new and think you might need help then don't go on Saturday. There are plenty of restaurants in the area but you can always take your lunch and go to your car for it's consumption.
  2. There are usually 2-3 people on staff helping you do research during the hours the room is open.  They used to close for an hour at noon but they did away with that recently.  Please don't be afraid to ask questions, they are there to help.
  3. You can take a laptop computer and a small notebook and/or a file folder to help you with your search.
  4. Copies are 15 cents to 50 cents so bring change for the machines.  I keep a coin purse for that purpose and make sure it is full. 
  5. You'll need money for parking meters also.  Time is 90 minutes per meter 75 cent plug.  Plugging the meter is frowned upon so you may have to move your car a few times so keep your keys and license in your pocket so you don't have to replug the locker with another quarter.
  6. Make a Plan - Perhaps you'll search Obits or look through newspapers.  Maybe you'll spend the day searching through the County and State history books for information.  What I do is make a list of the things I want to know about each family while I'm on the trip, type it up and put it in a file folder.
  7. Whether it's your first or fourth time at the Research Room don't be afraid to ask for a tour of the room so you get a feel of what kind of information is available.
On This Trip

  1. I found the last bit of information, with the source, for the application for my first "First Family" certificate (William & Nancy Hall) that will be mailed tomorrow.
  2. I knew that William's father Equilla was buried in some obscure cemetary in Richardson County.  Instead of looking all over the county in one cemetary and another I searched the county books, found him in the list and the cemetary he is buried in.  This weekend we'll go there on a picture taking trip.
All in all successful for a 60 minute search. That's all the time I had for the day.  I had to ask for help because the information in #1 was NOT in the County History book but an old Nebraska History Book.  I would not have known about the book unless I asked for help.  They are very used to helping genealogists.

My next trip in a few weeks will be an all day trip with a planned lunch with one of my daughters.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday Moments

Thanks for your patience as we take a bit of a BLOG VACATION to reorganize and set some priorities here.

It has taken me longer to get things together and achieve my goals for my genealogy projects this summer than I had planned.  Primarily this is because I find myself busy with summer things and confused because I do not know enough about how to do this genealogy business. 

Thus........the BLOG VACATION to help me prioritize my life so that I can be more productive.

The goal to have all the documets for the HALL 'Nebraska First Family' certificate done by the end of May did not happen.  I'm am still learning so much about this family.  I think I can get enough to put the certificate documents together but I'm definately not done learning about the life of this family.

I have to move on....................

I need to move on so I'm organizing my information and will begin learning more about the SHAVLIK family in July.  Since I don't have much information on them I'm assuming this will be a longer task than the HALL family since I had some great information already about that family.  I'm hoping to meet a  SHAVLIK cousin in Omaha for a 'Cemetary' visit soon, which will be fun.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Photo Thursday

This is a photo of Burton (Birtie) Witlock HALL on the left back and his wife Esther (MASTERS) HALL to the right of him.  Next to Esther is their daughter Thelma (HALL) CUNNINGHAM and between them in the front their daughter Alva (HALL) MARTIN.  Finally next to Thelma is Mike's Grandmother Oneita (HALL) CUNNINGHAM and next to her, her husband Chester CUNNINGHAM

This picture must have been taken at their home in Palmyra, Nebraska

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tuesday Trivia

How the Hall's Took Their Name

Family Legend (according to the late Doris Cunningham-Hall Family Historian)

The Hall's originally used the name William back when most folks only had first names.  They were originally from Normandy and about the time of the Norman Conquest Fitch William went to England and took the last name.....HALL.

Map of Normandy

The name of Normandy is derived from the settlement of the territory by Vikings ("Northmen") from the 9th century, and confirmed by treaty in the 10th century. For a century and a half following the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, Normandy and England were linked by Norman and Frankish rulers.

The Norman and French conquest of England was the invasion and conquest of England by an army of Normans and French led by Duke William II of Normandy. William, who defeated King Harold II of England on 14 October 1066 at the Battle of Hastings, was crowned as king on Christmas Day 1066. He then consolidated his control over England and settled many of his followers in England, introducing a number of governmental and societal changes to medieval England.

According to Doris those 'Williams' from our ancestry who went to England took the name HALL.  I am uncertain if she was speaking of the Duke or not.

Apparently there were 4-5 Halls who came to the New World in the 1600's.  One settled in Maryland and moved to Ohio, Others followed and settled in Delaware and New Jersey before moving to Kentucky.  Equillar's father was said to have been a land owner, who raised race horses in the blugegrass country of Kentucky and was opposed to slavery.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Monday Moments

It's going to be an interesting week here at FOOTSTEPS.  We're going to learn how the Hall Family got it's name on Tuesday, Wednesday we're going to learn more about organizing our time to avoid distractions in our Family History search, Thursday there will be a new picture to be seen.  Friday, of course, is our on going challenge to learn and pratice genealogy resources.

It's A Matter Of Faith

I am gathering information for an article about the faith of our fathers. What do you know about the religious life of your ancestors. If you are part of our families please EMAIL me with what you know.

Sometimes an apparent lack of faith in one of our ancestor's can give us a clue of many things. Are they hiding their faith? Were they persecuted for their faith? What do you know about your ancestors faith? Did they have a favorite Hymn or Song? How did they live out their faith?

Watch for my progress in this area. REMEMBER our goal is to make these people 'real' and not forgotten and not just names on a Family History Genealogy sheet.

Upcoming Nebraska Genealogy Activities and Meetings

Nebraska Educational Television's (NET) documentary of the OCGS "Tombstone Tour" can be found at: Tombstone tour: Finding the value in Nebraska cemeteries

Tuesday, June 12, 7:15 pm
Dick Admin. Bldg., Union College, 3800 S. 48th S
"Obituaries And More . . ."
Bill Eddy who worked with obituaries at the Lincoln/Journal Star will present suggestions and ideas for making obituaries interesting and helpful for genealogists.
Debbie Way from Roper and Sons Funeral Services will provide information regarding content of obituaries and tell about accessibility of genealogical information provided by mortuaries. She'll also demonstrate the process of using technology to make information more available than ever before. (Remember the "smart" tile on the tombstone Gail Blankenau showed a slide of at our May meeting?)

16 Jun 2012: The Greater Omaha Genealogical Society will be hosting a FREE gernealogy class, titled, Part I: "Finding Family on the Internet—Is It Accurate?" Once thought to be primarily the tool of business and science, the internet is being taken over by genealogists. What’s out there? Part II: "There’s More in the Courthouse than Vital Records." Learn what helpful records can be found in the courthouse to document your family history. This class will be held from 9:15 a.m. to 12:00pm at the Mormon Trail Center, 3215 State Street in Omaha. Classes are free, but pre-registration is requested. Please call (402) 706-1453 or email at

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Photo Thursday

Today we have a photo of an event in Nebraska History.  This picture was taken near Fullerton, Nebraska in 1895.  Burton W. HALL is pictured behind the white horse.

This is a wonderful picture of how haying took place then.  Large stacks were made in the fields.  The men on top of the stack ran around and stomped on top of the stack to pack it down after each addition was made to the stack.

E'Lonna (SHAVLIK) GESCH told that making stack's in the 1940's was only slightly different.  On the ranch she lived on near Bartlett, Nebraska the stack was powered by an old car instead of horses and she tells that she and the other children were to ones that did the stomping.  She also said that later she was allowed to drive the car.

Burton and Esther (MASTERS) HALL is the son of William A HALL.  Burton (from the Stella Area) and Esther (from Syracuse) lived in many places including Chase county, Tilden, Meadow Grove, and Palymra.  He actually passed away in Johnstown, Nebraska (I don't know why he was there but was living at Palymra at the time), but is buried in Rosewood Cemetary at Palymra.  Esther later lived in Lincoln where she passed away and is also buried in Rosewood Cemetary in Syracuse. 

Burton and Esther HALL are the parents of Onieta (HALL) CUNNINGHAM, Mike's grandmother.  Mike says he barely remembers Esther (MASTERS) HALL, but said he did meet her.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

On-line Research Links

Rather than combine what others have already written, I've decided to provide you with a list of links, which probably offer some of the best beginner’s advice on the internet today even for the greenest family historian. This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to beginner genealogy advice on internet, but I think it will get you where you need to be.

Where to Start When You Don't Know Where to Start from Gentutorials presented by Genwriters is a 10 step tutorial program.

How to Begin Tracing Your Family Tree by Kimberly Powell at Genealogy with lots of links to plenty of information.

A Guide to Research at

Genealogy 101 – at Rootsweb, while this article is 17 years old, it still has some good basics outlined for the newest of genealogists.

Researching Your Family Tree at is a self-paced tutorial for the beginner

An Introduction to Family Research - a self-paced tutorial from the Brigham Young University Independent Study program.

Genealogy from is a comprehensive article about what genealogy involves.
NATIONAL GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY QUARTERLY from 1987 to date.  Some libraries carry this publication.  Borrow back copies or plan blocks of time to go to the library to read this publication.  It will help you no matter what family or region is present in learning methodology.

Most of these are free articles on the internet, you are not required to subscribe or pay a membership to view them, and they are all very sound advice. Some are quick overviews while many of the tutorials are great opportunities for more extensive learning.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tuesday Trivia


Can you identify if  Onieta (HALL) CUNNINGHAM is in this picture and who are the other people in this picture?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Monday's Moments

It's A Matter Of Faith

I am gathering information for an article about the faith of our fathers. What do you know about the religious life of your ancestors. If you are part of our families please EMAIL me with what you know.

Sometimes an apparent lack of faith in one of our ancestor's can give us a clue of many things. Are they hiding their faith? Were they persecuted for their faith? What do you know about your ancestors faith? Did they have a favorite Hymn or Song? How did they live out their faith?

Watch for my progress in this area. REMEMBER our goal is to make these people 'real' and not forgotten and not just names on a Family History Genealogy sheet.

First Family

I am still working to put together my proof of WILLIAM A. HALL as a first family.  After a day trip to Falls City, Nebraska I hope to put the paperwork all together and send it off the the Nebraska State Genealogical Society by the end of the week.  Interestingly enough in getting information together for this I discovered another family that qualifies, that of the MASTERS family.  Since William's father Equillar came to Nebraska in 1866 I think that also qualifies him as a First Family so I'll have to look into that also.

Mikes mother was Dorothy (CUNNINGHAM) SLOCUM whose parents were Chester CUNNINGHAM and Oneita HALL.  Oneita HALL's parents were Burton W. HALL (son of William A HALL) and Esther MASTERS.

In 1870 William A. Hall raised Durham Cattle (Shorthorns), Poland China Hogs, plus Norman and Clydesdale Horses

The Anglo-Norman horse was a warmblood horse breed from the old province of Normandy in northern France. From early in the 19th century, local Norman mares were crossed with imported English thoroughbreds, Norfolk Roadsters and half-breds, which themselves had Norfolk Roadster and Mecklenburg blood.  Three principal lines developed: a light draught horse, which became the Norman Cob of today; a fast harness-horse which was the origin of the present-day French trotter; and a general riding horse suitable for military use, the Anglo-Norman.  In 1958 the Anglo-Norman was fused with other regional warmblood saddle-horses such as the Angevin, the Charentais, the Charolais, the Cheval Limousin and the Vendéen in order to create the national warmblood stud-book, the Selle Francais or French saddle horse.

An Anglo-Norman mare, book illustration from 1904, after a painting by Thomas von Nathusius

The Anglo-Norman horse excelled in jumping. Winners included Lutteur B, an Olympic gold medal winner at Tokyo in 1964.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Photo Trivia Thursday

William Hall and Nancy Jane (Thompson) Hall with son Guy

For more information on this family CLICK HERE

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Monday This 'n That

Articles in this post: MIA, It's A Matter Of Faith, Nebraska's Best (Decendents News), Upcoming Nebraska Genealogy Events and Meetings

Yes, I've been missing in action of late. We've been having lots of babies here on the farm. Plus the garden has kept me from being infront of the computer plus the scanner portion of my printer went on the fritz so I had no way of sharing photos with you like I wanted.

I am now the proud owner of a wand type portable scanner and will be scanning pictures this week. Soooooo..............we are on a role again! I've got some great projects going!

Nebraska's Best (Decendents News)

The Monday's This 'n That post every week will include important information on the site, a DECENDENTS NEWS section where the family can make announcements, etc on current news. Does anyone remember what Decendent means?

Decendent: Proceeding from an Ancestor.................WHAT? Basically when working on your family history you choose a starting point. Generally that point is you. Everyone behind you are ancestors and everyone going forward (your children, grandchildren, etc) are decendents. However, in the instance of your decentents, you are an ancestor. There have we gone in a perfect circle now?

Basically we'd like to hear from the family about what is going on with you and your children. Keep it general and basic please since we're on the net but do keep us a bit updated. From the perspective of this BLOG the decendents of Michael and Jean Slocum are:

Billie Jean (Slocum) Hansen (5 children), Sean Michael Slocum (4 children plus caring for/adopted Kimberly's), Christopher Gene Slocum (2 children), Kimberly Jean (Slocum) Coffman (4 children) and Katrina Marie (Slocum) Shlick (2 children).

We would like to hear from the cousins of Michael Slocum and Jean (Gesch) Slocum. This means we want to know more about your families and discuss the possiblility of getting together with you for some kind of Cousins Event. It also means that we want to hear from the children of the Children of Chester A. Cunningham and Onieta Mae (Hall) Cunningham, George W. Slocum and Etta Mae (Sinclair) Slocum, August F. Gesch and Mary Elizabeth "Marie" (Rebensdorf) Gesch and Stephen J. Shavlik and Jennie Phoebe (Gunter) Shavlik.

If you are 'cousins' as described above can you let us know more about you and your children? You can EMAIL us or post on this message. We can't wait to hear from you!

It's A Matter Of Faith

I am also gathering information for an article about the faith of our fathers. What do you know about the religious life of your ancestors. If you are part of our families please EMAIL me with what you know.

Sometimes an apparent lack of faith in one of our ancestor's can give us a clue of many things. Are they hiding their faith? Were they persecuted for their faith? What do you know about your ancestors faith? Did they have a favorite Hymn or Song? How did they live out their faith?

Watch for my progress in this area. REMEMBER our goal is to make these people 'real' and not forgotten and not just names on a Family History Genealogy sheet.

Upcoming Nebraska Genealogy Activities and Meetings

Nebraska Educational Television's (NET) documentary of the OCGS "Tombstone Tour" can be found at: Tombstone tour: Finding the value in Nebraska cemeteries

Sunday, June 3, 2012:  2:00 pm to 4:00 pm, Walt Branch Library,  6701 South 14th St., Lincoln.  Rayma Shrader will be at Walt Branch Library from 2-4 PM to assist LLCGS members and anyone else interested in genealogical research.  Bring your questions about 1940 census, puzzles related to where to search next, etc. Invite folks who are curious about genealogy and they can learn how to begin using library resources. 

5 June 2012: Family History Library (Latter Day Saints) 8:30 pm 3000 Old Cheney Road, Lincoln. IMMIGRATION

7 June 2012: Tri-State Corners Genealogical Society (includes Richardson County) Meetings are 7:30 p.m. the first Thursday of each month at the Pioneer Plaza Meeting Room, 1820 Barada Street, Falls City, NE.

16 June 2012: Family History Library (Latter Day Saints) 8:30 pm 3000 Old Cheney Road, Lincoln. EMIGRATION

16 Jun 2012: The Otoe County Genealogical Society will be hosting a presentation on "Witching Unmarked Graves" from 1:00 to 3:30 p.m. at the Unadilla Cemetery in Unadilla, Nebraska, and afterwards at the Park Hill Cemetery in Syracuse. Cost is $5.00, which includes a witching rod and presentation material. Checks need to be made out to "OCGS" and mailed in along with your name and contact information by June 1st to P.O. Box 465, Syracuse, NE 68446. If you would like more information regarding this event, please contact OCGS president, Mary Hanke at

16 Jun 2012: The Greater Omaha Genealogical Society will be hosting a FREE gernealogy class, titled, Part I: "Finding Family on the Internet—Is It Accurate?" Once thought to be primarily the tool of business and science, the internet is being taken over by genealogists. What’s out there? Part II: "There’s More in the Courthouse than Vital Records." Learn what helpful records can be found in the courthouse to document your family history. This class will be held from 9:15 a.m. to 12:00pm at the Mormon Trail Center, 3215 State Street in Omaha. Classes are free, but pre-registration is requested. Please call (402) 706-1453 or email at

23 June 2012: Extra! Extra! Read All About It – using newspapers for genealogy research.
Presented by Susan Petersen of  11:00 am W. Dale Clark Library, 215 S. 15th St, Omaha, NE 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Tombstone tour: Finding the value in Nebraska cemeteries

Tombstone tour: Finding the value in Nebraska cemeteries


May 24th, 2012
Otoe County, NE – Local cemeteries in Nebraska can be sources of area and family history and unique art, embellished on tombstones and monuments. However, many of these cemeteries are falling into disrepair. In Otoe County, one group is trying to bring attention to cemeteries by showing them off as valuable assets to communities.
Sitting atop a hill, just south of the small village of Douglas, the Rosehill and St. Martin’s cemeteries are the setting you would imagine. On a sunny spring afternoon, there is little activity beyond the birds and breeze floating through the trees. The adjoining cemeteries are among between 50 and 60 in Otoe County. Recently, three had more activity than usual.
Early Nebraska pioneers, a movie star and civil war veterans are among notables buried in the southeast Nebraska County. They were among many featured on a recent bus tour sponsored by the Otoe County Genealogical Society .
St. Martin's Cemetery, south of Douglas. (Photo by Perry Stoner, NET News)
The first stop occurs at Christ Lutheran Cemetery south of Dunbar. Mona Kuhlenengel from the cemetery board tells how the rural cemetery got started.
“The cemetery was laid in November of 1893, while the church was under construction and the first burial on the cemetery a little girl named Maria Rode. Maria Rode died Nov. 2, 1893 at age 3 years 5 months and 7 days. She was buried November third.”
Rode died in a house fire just half a mile north of the cemetery adjacent to the small church of the same name. Sometimes it’s the tombstones or monuments that are noteworthy. Kuhlenengel explains the meaning behind that of John Beckfield who came to the area from Germany in 1881.
“An angel dropping flowers on a grave is grief, mourning and a lily is a symbol of innocence purity and the resurrection a petal plucked from the whole flower is like a person leaving the whole of humanity as a petal drops death occurs.”
Next the bus tour heads southeast to near Talmage. At St. Paul’s Lutheran Cemetery , Duane Arends explains his connection to the area.
An example of a Woodman of the World monument provided with life insurance policies around 1900. (Photo by Perry Stoner, NET News)
“My great-great grandfather came over from Germany with four children on the ship Ernestine. I have four sets of great-great grandparents in this cemetery and three sets of great grandparents, as well as grandparents. I will be the fifth generation of Arends’ to be buried on this cemetery.”
It’s here that Otoe County Genealogical Society President Mary Hanke (hankie) points out tombstones that are unique to particular era.
“If you’ll notice all these monuments that look like trees, those are all Woodman of the World memorials and I don’t even think Wyuka (in Nebraska City) has this many.”
From about 1890 to 1920 Woodman of the World life insurance policies included a provision to provide tombstone upon the policy holder’s death. This is an example of small pieces of history that can be learned at cemeteries.
Mary asks the tour, “Does anybody know who Anthony Dexter is? He was a movie star.”
Dexter was born in the area. He was a movie star in the 1950s and 60s including the title role in Valentino. Right next to Dexter is another interesting story; two tombstones with the same date of death. Local resident Marita Kuhlenengel explains they were pilots who died in a plane crash in 1975.
“They were buried side by side because they were good friends. That was out by Chadron where the plane crashed in a snowstorm.”
Caretakers had these cemeteries looking their best. But that’s not always the case. Of Otoe County’s fifty-some cemeteries, the Genealogical Society lists 23 as abandoned. These are often left behind when a rural church closes or remain from more than a century ago when it was common for deceased to be buried on family-owned land. Today they’re aging tombstones with overgrown grass or tucked away in tree groves.
That’s the case for Kay Busekist who came along on the tour. One of her great-great grandmothers is buried on property near where she lives.
“South of my folks there is a cemetery that has my great-great grandmother on it and so we’ve kind of taken over that one, in fact we were just there yesterday mowing it. It’s just a little tiny cemetery that has eight people on it, kind of in the midst of a bunch of trees and it’s kind of neat to see that we are recognizing them now and that those people aren’t forgotten there.”
An angel drops petals from a flower on the tombstone of John Beckfield. (Photo by Perry Stoner, NET News)
Otoe County is probably not unusual in its number of abandoned cemeteries, but the bus tour is part of an effort to change it. According to state law, county governments are responsible for the upkeep of abandoned cemeteries. Hoping to raise funds and awareness, the OCGS is sponsoring a volunteer cleanup day for abandoned cemeteries in July. For OCGS President Mary Hanke and her sister Barb Wilhelm, this effort began with a personal journey. As children, they tagged along when their mother searched for the unmarked grave of her grandmother.
“She was one of those German immigrants that passed shortly after they got here. Our mother was looking for her in the 70s, and we’ve continued on her trail and we have walked the same cemeteries that she walked. And she was doing this all before the Internet and before digital cameras. And it says she’s buried at the Dunbar Lutheran Cemetery. There is no Dunbar Lutheran Cemetery. ” She said, “And we still don’t know where she is. We keep thinking in all this that we’re doing for everything, we’re gonna stumble across her. And if she doesn’t have a stone, we want to put a stone on there. I mean she is our great great grandmother. ”
Wilhelm says walking the county’s cemeteries, they’ve found them to be a valuable source of local history.
“You can follow the migration. I mean it’s really interesting to me that where they came from. You know, like there was like at our cemetery, there’s a lot of English. A lot of English. So this whole little community, you can kind of see their culture as the towns developed and everything, what countries they came from, how they handled things or what kind of occupations they had. ”
Wilhelm continues by pointing out another interesting piece of history discovered. “The diphtheria epidemic in the 1870s. There are several that in Unadilla , for instance, there’s a father and six children and they all died within just a matter of days of each other. And we’ve seen that almost at every cemetery we’ve walked.”
At the tour’s last stop, historic Camp Creek cemetery south of Nebraska City is home to dozens of those among the first settlers of the state. Tour host Lucille Sharp explains the location’s history goes back even farther than that.
“Even in the very earliest of days you would see not only the American Indians, we had Free Soilers, the Abolitionists that would follow the Jim Lane trail, along with some of the earliest settlers that came here looking for agricultural land. This area was named because of the Indians that camped along the creek and these Indians were the Omaha, the Otoe and the Missouri.”
Nebraska City is also known for the underground railroad during during the slave era. Sharp points out the connection in the southwest part of the cemetery.
“This is the stone of Barbara Cagy Mayhew. You’ve heard of the Mayhew cabin in Nebraska City, this is Barbara. This is her stone and she died in 1882.”
While touring cemeteries may seem unusual at first, it is likely an artistic monument or piece of history will be of interest to most anyone.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tuesday Family Trivia

Today's FAMILY TRIVIA is not a question.  We are going to share with you our Sunday Excursion to find the original homestead of William HALL and the burial site of his father Equillar HALL.  We found the homestead but not the burial site of Equillar.

I wish my scanner was working or I had my new one, then I could provide you a picture of William and Nancy (Thompson) HALL.   I will add it later. Today we are going to share a history of William and Nancy's coming to Nebraska, what we have found and what we are searching for.

According to the RICHARDSON COUNTY history book:  "WILLIAM HALL, farmer and stockraiser, Section 14, Porter Precinct, Stella P.O. was born and reared in Morgan County, Ill., and was connected there with farming till 1864, when he came here and located, and has very successfully proscented his present industry here since.  In 1846 he married Miss N.J. Thompson of his native county.  They have six sons--Thomas E., Downy E., Henry H., Burton W., Samuel R., and Willis Guy.  Mr Hall has worked actively in the development of the social life of his locality."

Following locations on a very old plat map, and after going to the wrong location initially, we finally found the property first owned by William HALL.  From the 'story' below you will see that the home we have photographed above was obviously buildt later than the first winter home I'm fairly certain that this home WAS buildt by William HALL and even more certain the 'summer kitchen' was buildt by them due to the foundation type.  In the above picture you see the modest home and the 'summer kithen' along with a 'hitching post' still there.  The trees are typical of trees planted in front of houses that would be buildt in the late 1800's in Nebraska.

This is the photo of the barn, and a couple of corn cribs that are also located on the farm.  I will be going to Falls City, NE sometime in the future to try to confirm the cira of the house and buildings in the near future. HOWEVER there is also an additional homestead directly north of this house with a house on it as pictured below.   It is very likely this is part of the 60 acres north of William's 20 acre homesite that his father Equiller purchased in 1869 OR it could be that the larger house is actually William's original home.  We will find out more when we go to the courthouse in Falls City in the next couple of weeks.

When you first arrive at the corner you see these trees and the creek above and have to go north on the county road to actually find the house.  This part and the house were the 20 acre piece in the section across from the 100 acre parcel that William HALL purchased from Benedict AcAtee for a sum of $600 with the deed filed on October 6, 1864.  Obviously William had agreed to the purchase prior to his coming to Nebraska as per the story below.

This photo shows the land (100 acres) also originally purchased by William HALL in the transaction above.

The story below is from stories told by Angeline (Dalbey) Avery who was one of the girls in the original wagon train by this group:

"September 11, 1864 a train of four wagons started from Morgan County, Illinois for Nebraska.  Two wagons belonged to Will and Nancy Hall and their three small children.  With them came Mrs. Hall's brother, Alex Thompson and a young man, John Hudspeth.  James and Mary Martin and baby daughter, Annie came with one wagon.  The fourth wagon belonged to Abner and Esther Dalbey, their three grown daughters, Matilda, Angeline, and Theresa and two sons, Charlie and Harry. 

They crossed the Mississippi River on the ferry boat about 25 miles south of the Iowa line, then angled northwest into Iowa, crossed the state through the southern tier of counties to Clarinda, then turned southwest across the corner of Missouri to Brownville, Nebraska.  It was just before the close of the Civil War and this was in the land of boarder warfare.  Once they heard the sound of fife and drum and thought it might be "bushwackers", but they were not molested.  They drove through Walden's Grove near Rock Port, Missouri. - 1300 acres of fine timber.  The men of the company went hunting and soon had 32 squirrels.  They were plentiful as the farmers (of the area) had been robbed of all guns and ammunition early in the war.....The wagon train was on the road 21 days.  It rained 7 times and bedding and clothing were wet and they had to stop and hang them up to dry.

October 2, 1864 they reached the farm of Will HALL, SE corner of sec. 6, Portor T., Richardson Co.  They all stayed here about a week while Mr. Dalbey and James Martin looked for farms to buy, made harder by the continued rains--still living in tents and covered wagons as they had on the road.........

The Indians often camped on the Muddy (Creek) near Will Hall's.  The three men of the household who had so recently come from Illinois visited the (Indian) camp one evening that fall of 1864.  The Indians were having a dog feast.  The dog stew was in a big kettle over the campfire.  When it was done each Indian helped himself from the kettle but the visitors did not partake."

The spring of 1866 saw 2 new school houses....a frame building in Richardson Co. NW part of Sec 8, Porter T.  Largely thru the efforts of Will Hall a subscription school was held 1/2 mile south of his home in this new frame building.  Angeline Dalbey was the teacher.  There were 15 pupils.  One was Downy Hall.  Church service were also held in this school which was a 'subscription' school.  The picture below is where the school house stood.

In 1867, Equillar HALL, at the age of 74, came to Nebraska.  He was the father of William HALL.  In 1867 Equillar bought 160 acres north of William's place from William, Sinia, and John Thompson and John Sims for $2,200.

By the time Equillar arrived in Nebraska William HALL was already a Justice of the Peace

William sold part of his Richardson County land in 1871 and the remainder in 1873 at a good profit.

There will be more on this family on Tuesdays through May.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Monday This 'n That

Nebraska First Families and Pioneer Families

It looks like between Mike and I we have eight surnames that qualify as a Nebraska First Family or a Pioneer Family. I have eight months left in 2012 and I hope to be able to get all my proof together so that all eight families are ready for certificate applications before the end of the year.
I am currently working on the HALL family (Mike's Maternal Grandmother's line) who came to Nebraska with a 4 wagon, wagon train in September 1864, while the Civil War was still going on which made travel from Illinois a bit dangerous. William and Nancy (Thompson) HALL came with three small children and 2 wagons of their own. Joining them was Nancy's brother and another young man to the 'HALL' farm in extreme northern Richardson County, Nebraska near Stella. It appears that William Hall purchased this land prior to coming with his family. His father Aquilla (Equillar) came three years later. The HALL's were Baptists, the Elder HALL being a Preacher in a church in Illinois.

Corrections Have Been Made on the Slocum Photo from Photo Thursday last week.

Southeast Nebraska Genealogy Events This Week

May 8, 2012, 7:15 pm
Dick Administration Building, Union College, 3800 S 48th St, Lincoln
Lincoln Lancaster County Genealogical Society monthly program: Genealogical Research Related to Cemeteries. Presented by Gail Blankenau. Pointers for genealogical research related to cemeteries encourage providing data and photos to help other genealogists.
May 9 and 16, 2012, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Southeast Community College Education Center, Room 405, 301 S. 68th St Place, Lincoln, NE
Intermediate Genealogy: Research Your Family Tree.

Instructors: Marcia Stewart, Cynthia Monroe
$25 tuition

Organizing the Search - Setting Up Your File System

To set up and use file folders to organize your genealogy records you will need the following basic supplies:
  1. A filing cabinet or file boxes with lids.  The boxes need to be strong, preferable plastic, with horizontal inner ridges or grooves for letter-size hanging files.
  2. Colored, letter-size hanging file folders in blue, green, red and yellow.  Look for ones with large tabs.  You can also save a bit of money here by purchasing standard green hanging file-folders instead, and using colored labels for the color-coding.
  3. Manila folders.  These should have slightly smaller tabls than the hanging file folders, and should have reinforced tops to last through heavy use.
  4. Pens.  For best results, use a pen with an ultra fine point, felt time, and black, permanent, acid-free ink.
  5. Highlighters.  Buy highlighters in light blue, light green, yellow and pink (don't use red because it is too dark).  Colored pencils also work.
  6. Labels for file folders.  These labels should have blue, red, green, and yellow strips along the top and permanent adhesive on the back.

Once you've assembled your supplies, it's time to get started with the file folders.  Use different colored file folders for the lineages of each of your four grandparents - in other words, all folders created for the ancestors of one grandparent will be marked with the same color.  The colors you select are up to you, but the following color choices are the most common:
  • BLUE - ancestors of your paternal grandfather (father's father)
  • GREEN - ancestors of your paternal grandmother (father's mother)
  • RED - ancestors of your maternal grandfather (mother's father)
  • YELLOW - ancestors of your maternal grandmother (mother's mother)

Using the colors as outlined above, create a separate folder for each surname, writing names on the hanging file tab insert with the black permanent marker (or printing inserts on your printer).  Then hand the files in alphabetical order in your file box or cabinet by color (i.e. put the blues alphabetically in one group, the greens in another group, etc.).

If you're ne to genealogy research, this may be all you need to do.  If you have accumulated a lot of notes and photocopies, however, it is now time to subdivide.  Here is where you need to choose how you want to organize your files.  The two most popular methods are:
  1. By Surname. Then further broken down as needed by locality and/or record type
  2. By Family Group.
The basic filing instructions are the same for each, the difference is primarily in how they are organized.  If you aren't sure yet which method will work best for you, try using the Surname method for one surname and the Family Groups method for one or two families.  See which one suits you best, or develop your on combination of the two.


Create a family group sheet for each married couple listed on your pedigree chart.  Then set up manila folders for each of the families by putting a colored label on the file folder tab.  Match the label color to the color of the appropriate family line.  On each label, write the names of the couple (using the maiden name for the wife) and the numbers from your pedigree chart (using the ahnentafel numbering system).  Example:  James JONES and Nancy AVERY, 4/5.  Then place these manila family folders in the hanging folders for the appropriate surname and color, arranging in alphabetical order by the husband's firstname or in numerical order by the numbers from your pedigree chart.

In the front of each manila folder, attach the family group record of the family to serve as a table of contents.  If there was more thn one marriage, make a separate folder with a family group record for each other marriage.  Each family folder should include all documents and notes from the time of a couple's marriage.

Documents which pertain to events prior to their marriage should be filed in the folders of their parents, such as birth certificates and family census records.


First sort your files by surname, and then create manila folders for each of the record types for which you have paperwork by putting a colored label on the file folder tab, matching the label color to the surname.  On each label, write the name of the surname, followed by the record type. 

Example:  CRISP:  Census; CRISP: Land Records

Then place these manila family folders in the hanging olders for the appropriate surname and color, arranging in alphabetical order by the type of record.

In the front of each manila folder, create and attach a table of the contents that indexes the contents of the folder.  Then add all documents and notes which correspond with the surname and type of record.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Photo Trivia Thursday

This weeks photo:  Can you guess who this might be?

Last Weeks photo:

This photo was taken when Clarence 'Mike' and Dorothy SLOCUM were living on an acreage near Denton, Nebraska.  At the time they were working at the steak house in Denton.

The photo includes:  Dorothy M. (Cunningham) SLOCUM (daughter of Chester A. CUNNINGHAM) and daughters, Shirley (Slocum)  MAHONEY and Kathy (Slocum) ROBOTHAM holding puppies from a family dog names Ringo.  We think the little girl in the front is Sherri Decker daughter of Deanna Jean "Dee" (Cunningham) DECKER, who is the daughter of Dean O. CUNNINGHAM, Sr. the son of Chester A. CUNNINGHAM

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Tuesday Family Trivia

This Weeks Trivia Question:

Often 'farm families' moved to town for one reason or another.  Usually it was when the children were old enough to take over the farm and the parents found town living easier for them.  This also meant that the couple would need some kind of income in their later years.

In the picture this man and his wife ran a business common many years ago.

This is a picture of Warren Sinclair and his 'town business'.  Who can name the business and the business location?  (I've given you a big hint here by giving you his name)  There are also several other stories about Grandpa Sinclair.  Who can share?

Last Weeks Trivia Question:

There are three categories for 'homesteaders' that qualify for certificates through the Nebraska State Genealogcial Society.

FIRST FAMILYSettled in Nebraska by 1867
PIONEER FAMILYSettled in Nebraska between 1868 & 1879
CENTURY FAMILYSettled in Nebraska by 100 years prior to current date

Our question was for you to see which of the ancestrial families in the links above qualify as 'First Families' or 'Pioneer Families'.

I have to say that I was surprised by Jean's line.  Some that I thought would be First or Pioneer Families didn't qualify according to the above date. 

Mike's Line:  Hall and Masters qualify as First Families.  Sinclair and McCleary appear to qualify as Pioneer Families.  There are numerous families that then qualify as Century Families.

Jean's Line:  Gesch and Shavlik qualify as a First Family.  Krska and Gunter qualify as Pioneer Family.  Many other 'lines' qualify as Century Families.

Some of these might change as I go through the process of gathering all the proof information to submit these families for certificates.  I will have to gather proof of the time the families came to Nebraska and then prove through birth and death certificates on down the line the either Mike or Jean are actual descendants of these people.

Last year and early this year have proved bring us huge surprises in our family tree.  I'm curious what the rest of this year will bring.  I will be working on the eight family lines above this year.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday This n That

Organizing the Search

I have two hobbies (sewing and geneaology) that share the same room/office.  Most of you know that it is not the most organized room but I'm working on it.  This is also where my desk is for bill paying and the like and most everything is all mixed together.  Most of the time I know where things are at so if you ask me for something I usually know which pile to go to.  I ALWAYS have a desire to be organized so I started searching the web for ideas on the best way to organize my genealogy so that I could work on it effectivly.  Recently I found that I had paid for a few birth and death certificates that I already had so something HAS to be done.

As  you progress in your family history research you'll find that you have numerous paper documents to file for the individucals that you are researching.  These documents will include; birth records, census records, newspaper articles, wills, correspondence.  You'll find that you need some type of filing system that will keep these documents accessable.

Commonly used genealogical filing systems include:
  • Surname - All papers for an individual surname are filed together
  • By Couple or Family - All papers related to a husband and wife or family unit are filed together.
  • By Family Line - All papers related to a specific family ine are filed together.
  • By Event - All papers related to a specific event type are filed together.
After breaking the system down as above you can then further organize your papers into categories:
  • By Location - Break it down by country, state, county or town.
  • By Record Type - Birt Records, Census Records, wills, etc
Filing Systems

Once you get started organizing your genealogical clutter, you'll probably find that a combinatio of storage methods work best for you.  I find the binder methods works when I am working on a current family or line.  This keeps my research easily accessible and portable.  I also use a combination of compter and paper files. 
  • Filing Cabinet & Folders - This is probably the most popular organizational tool.  They are inexpensive, somewhat portable and easily hold papers of different shapes and sizes.
  • Binders - Binders are portable and don't require a filing cabinet.  If you don't wish to punch holes i your documents you can put them in polypropelene sleeves. 
  • Computer Disks, CD's and DVD's - This method can save a lot of time and space.  It greatly speeds up sorting and cross-referencig. Keep the future generations in mind. As fast as technology is changing in 50 years will your descendents be able to access the files on your disc or will yor technology be so outdated that it will be unusable.  If you use this methos consider making and preservig copies or printouts of important documents.
Next Monday we'll discuss how to set up a filing system.

Laura Prescott
Saturday, May 5 through Sunday, May 6

Nebraska State Genealogical Society
Annual Meeting and Conference 

Have you registered yet?

The 2012 NESGS Annual Membership Meeting and Conference will be held in Grand Island, Nebraska on May 5th and 6th at the Midtown Holiday Inn. The featured speaker is Laura Prescott, professional researcher,writer and speaker. Additional sessions wil be presented by Gary Zaborketsky, Kim Verrell, Cateherine Renschler, and others.
This is the 35th anniversary of NSGS. Cost for the conference is $85.00 for both days and includes lunch and the syllabus. A one day conference registraion is $50.00.
LLCGS will have a table at the conference.
For more info visit

One of Nebraska's Finest

New Nebraska State Trooper Christopher Slocum, his wife Kandi, and children Danny and Jenny
They will be moving to Chris' new post in Fillmore County, Nebraska in the next couple of weeks. Please pray for them!!