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!!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Homestead Act of 1862

This information is found at Beatrice, Nebraska History. From the beginning, the west has exerted a pull on the American spirit. In colonial times, those who dreamed of family farms went from the coastal plain to the foothills, across the Appalachians to the Ohio Valley. George Washington's words in 1784 were prophetic: "The spirit for emigration is great." By the 1850s, huge land acquisitions had filled out the continental United States. The country's sheer vastness strengthened the conviction that the public domain rightfully belonged to the people. The grassy interior between the Missouri and the Rocky Mountains was designated Indian Territory in the 1830s and was bypassed by emigrants on the Oregon Trail. But as the east and far west closed to settlement, expansionists pushed through the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, which opened that territory to farmers.

Sen. Benton's Portrait Distributing land west of the Mississippi became an enormous project. The inability of small farmers to compete with larger concerns precipitated a series of anti-speculation laws. The Pre-emption Act, championed by Missouri Sen. Thomas Hart Benton in 1841, legitimized squatting by letting farmers claim unsurveyed plots and later buy from the government. But didn't working people have a right to free land? Tennessee Congressman Andrew Johnson took up the cause in the 1840s. Southerners opposed Johnson's land giveaway as benefiting working-class whites who were unlikely to vote slavery into the new states. The bill was signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1862 after the Southern states had left the Union.

Freeman Family Photograph The Homestead Act declared that any citizen or intended citizen could claim 160 acres - one quarter square mile - of surveyed government land. Claimants must "improve" the plot with a dwelling and grow crops. After five years, if the original filer was still on the land, it was his property, free and clear. One of the first takers was a Union scout from Iowa named Daniel Freeman. Daniel and his wife Agnes joined the post-Civil War wave of homesteaders who hailed mostly from the Ohio and Mississippi valleys. (editors note: Daniel Freeman's homestead was near what is now Brownville, Nebraska in Nemaha County) Later came European immigrants lured to America by railroad companies eager to sell off millions of acres of grant land and to provide farm-to-market transportation - at a price.

The Homestead Act's lenient terms proved the undoing of many settlers. Claimants need not own equipment or know anything about farming. The quarter sections, adequate land in humid regions, were too small to support plains settlers west of the 100th meridian where scarcity of water reduced yields. Newer laws allowed homesteaders additional land if they planted 40 acres of trees, a practical impossibility. Or they could buy cheap land in the arid high plains, requiring costly irrigation. Speculators still got hold of homestead land by hiring phony claimants or buying up abandoned farms.

Then there were the natural barriers. In the eastern reaches (where Homestead National Monument is today) there was water for timber. Not so toward the west, in the rain shadow of the Rockies. Settlers built homes of sod which they prayed might withstand hailstorms, drought, prairie fires, blizzards and relentless wind. From 1874 to 1877, swarms of locusts darkened the skies and consumed just about everything in sight, including leather boots. If natural disasters were not trouble enough, there were the human struggles. Cattlemen resisted the dividing up of the open range by farmers. In the end it was barbed wire - cheap fencing - that decided the war in favor of the homesteaders. Indian attacks were rare; nevertheless, Agnes Freeman kept the peace while her husband was away by giving visiting Indians food and goods. Farmers faced heavy debt, lack of cash, expensive rail transportation and grain storage, and market fluctuations.

Though never the paradise lauded in popular myth, the plains finally became home to that breed of settler willing to cope with adversity. "You must make up your mind to rough it," advised an English emigrants guide. Eventually frame and brick houses replaced the soddies, trees grew high to shield dwellings, windmills pumped water from deep underground, and a host of technological advances made farming profitable. Today the endless rows of corn along the roadways show how farms have survived; many are occupied by the descendants of the original homesteaders. Meanwhile, the patches of prairie remind us that only a century and a half ago this looked like a most unpromising place to make a home.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thursday This n That

Articles in this post:  The Big Switch, Nebraska's Best (Decendents News), Organizing Your Files.  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, an article on Organizing or other infomation related to Genealogy including any trips we've made or classes we've attended.

The Big Switch
Next week we'll be switching things around a bit.  Our scheduled posts will appear as follows:

Monday:  Monday This 'n That
Tuesday:  Tuesday Family Trivia
Wednesday:  Beginning Genealogy Workshop
Thursday:  Photo Thursday
Friday:  Genealogy Challenge

Nebraska's Best

Chris Slocum son of Mike and Jean Slocum will be sworn in as one of Nebraska's Best a Nebraska State Patrolman today at the state capital in Lincoln.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Photo Wednesday

Testing your family history knowledge.

Just who are the four people pictured  and what is the occasion being photographed?
Can you date the picture?

Post your guesses in the Comment boxes below. Let's see who can get it first!

The answer to this weeks photo will be given on NEXT THURSDAY'S photo day.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tuesday Family Triva

On Family Triva Tuesday's we'll ask a Did You Know question on one of the ancestors in the family lines on the pages above. If you know the answer simply give your answer in the 'COMMENTS' section at the bottom of the post. We'll give the answer on the following Tuesday along with more information on the subject.

Emigrants, Custer County
This weeks Trivia Question:

A number of our ancestors, and if you live in Nebraska probably yours, homesteaded in Nebraska.  Read our article on Homesteading in Nebraska then search through the pages at the top of this BLOG to see who might have homesteaded in Nebraska.

There are three categories for 'homesteaders' that qualify for certificates through the Nebraska State Genealogcial Society so see if you can name the possible homesteaders and which category you think they might belong in.  As always put your answers in the COMMENT section below.  The answer will be given in next weeks TUESDAY TRIVIA.

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

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Homesteading in Nebraska

In case you haven't alreay figured it out, your new hobby in Genealogy has naturally made you a historian.  You probably knew you had a natural bent or interest in history anyway.  This year our country is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the NATIONAL HOMESTEAD ACT.  In Nebraska the Homestead Monument in Beatrice, a National Park, is planning a series of activities.  Because so many of our personal ancestors took advantage of this opportunity I have made it a personal goal to get as many First Settlers and Pioneer Certificates as I can get this year.  I'm hoping that I can get all ----- of them. 

To commemorate this I'm also going to be doing a series of posts on Homesteading in Nebraska and offering some family activities that you and your families can participate in also.

HEADS UP!  This article and the ones following are leading up to our Tuesday Trivia Question coming next week.

This next week you have the opportunity to learn more at the Homestead National Monument in Beatrice, Nebraska as they beging the 150th year anniversary of the Homestead Act.

Wednesday, April 25

Original Document Display (Educational Opportunities)

10:00 am - Homestead National Monument Beatrice

Plan to go to Beatrice Ne to visit Homestead National Monument where the original Homestead Act document will be on display beginnig at 10:00 AM on Wednesday,April 25th. Later that same day there will be a Naturalization ceremony at 2:00 PM. For more information visit the website at or call 402.223.3514.


Imagine yourself as a young person in a place where the land has all been taken. You might want to become a farmer, but there is no farmland available. Then imagine seeing advertisements for land, some for very little money, some for free! You face many unknowns. What is this new land really like? Will there be enough rainfall to grow your crops? Will you have neighbors? Who will they be? What about the people who are already on the land?

Emigrants, Custer County
The Homestead Act, combined with other factors, unleashed a movement of people that lasted into the 20th Century. In this photo, emigrants arrive at the Gates Post Office in Custer County in 1886.
Photo by Solomon Butcher. Wagon trains became the stuff of legends.

The reality of life and death on the wagon train was something different, as Dr. Robert Munkres explained in this video.

How did all this land become available? In the 1830s the federal government had said this area was Indian country — a place where Native Americans could live as independent nations. But with passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854, the government went back on that promise and opened the land to settlement. Newcomers came slowly and began to gradually create farms, towns, and industries.
To encourage this settlement throughout the West, the U.S. Congress passed the Homestead Act and President Lincoln pushed for the building of a railroad across the country. The Homestead Act of 1862 gave 160 acres of public land to any head of household who lived on the land five years. The railroads were given huge tracts of land to encourage construction. They offered this land for sale to immigrants at low cost.
Thousands of settlers, many with families, did move to the Nebraska Territory from the eastern regions of the United States. Smaller numbers came from foreign nations. These settlers traveled westward across the country onto the Great Plains and played a key role in the settlement of Nebraska. Federal land policies set in motion great changes in the physical and cultural landscape.

The above article was taken from a great site called Nebraska Studies and has tons of other great information and activities for young and old alike to learn about homesteading in Nebraska.

Spend some time at the above site learning all you can about the lives of YOUR ancestors who homesteaded this great state of Nebraska.  Then plan some fun family time activities to celebrate!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thursday This n That

Well this is it. Today is Answer Day! For three days every week we either have a Trivia Question or a Challenge and Thursday is Answer Day! 

Additionally Thursdays might include some kind of search hints, or reports on trips I've made to various cemetaries, meetings or conferences.

Since this is our first week we only have the two Trivia Questions to Answer.

Tuesday's Family Trivia

Marie Gesch told Jean that she had always wanted a daughter one day when Jean was staying with her.  She pointed to the doll, pictured above, and said that she had always wanted to have a daughter and if she had, she would have named her Susie.  Jean Gesch Slocum has the doll Grandma Gesch called Susie and the small rocking chair that Susie always used to sit in was last known to be in the possession of Herman Gesch, Jr.

Photo Wednesday

George Washington Slocum 
(see Slocum aka McHenry page)
The picture is in honor of  his
High School Graduation
probably late 1800's to early 1900's
The ribbon he wore probably designated him as Valedictorian.

Interestingly enough, none of George's Sons (raised during the depression)
graduated from High School

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Who Is It - Photo Wednesday

Testing your family history knowledge. 

Just who is this young man and what is the occasion being photographed?  Can you date the picture?

Post your guesses in the Comment boxes below.  Let's see who can get it first!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Did you Know? Family Trivia Tuesday

On Family Triva Tuesday's we'll ask a Did You Know question on one of the ancestors in the family lines on the pages above.  If you know the answer simply give your answer in the 'COMMENTS' section at the bottom of the post.  We'll give the answer on Thursday along with more information on the subject.

This weeks Trivia:

Mary Elizabeth Rebensdorf (Debus/Gesch) aka as Marie Gesch always wanted a daughter.  If she had, had a daughter what name would she have given her?

Monday, April 9, 2012

August Gesch

The above picture appears to be August Gesch, Jr with his first wife and children.  In the picture on the left I am assuming the gentleman on the left holding the child to be August Gesch, Sr.

This picture is of August Gesch while he was working as a engineer for the University of Nebraska, Lincoln and probably married to Mary E. Rebensdorf Debus (Marie).

At this point little is known about the Gesch Family. It is said that they originated in the Gruenberg area of Germany which is high in the Black Forest area. The family later moved to the East Berlin area before the country was divided.

Found in the Ship's Passenger's List, January 8, 1893 "Weimar" Coming into Baltimore, Md. 9034 page 128. August says they are going to Bancroft, Nebraska. This same ship landed at New York on January 5, 1893. It departed from Bremerhaven in Germany. One publication lists the ship's name as "Stein" but all original records list it as "Weimar."

August and Auguste Gesch arrived in 1893 with their son 17 year old son, August along with his siblings Marie, Gustav, William and Emme. Little is known about their life in Germany which is now of great interest for me since a friend recently told me that she found Gesch on the German Holocast Records. This person told me that she was pretty sure that this Gesch family was actually Jewish.

***We now have DNA results from a grandson of August, Jr that indicates a very close Halo match to German Jewish people who were Levites. I have also been diagnosed with a Mediteranian Blood disorder that shows I have small red blood cells which could indicate I am border-line anemic but I really am not anemic.