Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Happy Birthday! One Year of Blogging

It's time to celebrate!  That's right, this blog is officially one year old today!

Thanks to all the readers that continue to visit this site!  I hope everyone has found it helpful because I know I've learned a few things along the way as I research topics.

Comments on posts are always welcome, as are suggestions and questions for future topics.  If you know someone that might be interested, you can always "like" this post it to your Facebook account, "+1" to share it with your circles on Google, re-tweet it on Twitter, or just copy the URL and send it in an email.  The more the merrier!

This last year consisted of a total of 70 posts, equally an average posting once every 5.2 days and there were a total of 4,267 views, averaging 11.6 views per day!

Assuming nothing comes about from the end of the Mayan calendar on December 21st, I look forward to  more postings in the next year!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

More, more, more......City Directories

I'm pleased to announce the addition of more scanned images of historical city directories for Poplar Bluff!  These are in addition to the 1906 and 1908 city directories I blogged about last month. (See previous post.)  City directories are great resources for tracing your family between the decennial Census years by pinning them down in a specific location.

The scanned images are of photocopies made several years ago to allow continued access to the information.  The originals are to fragile to be handled and are literally in pieces which you will notice in some images because they are at an angle, overlap, or are in reversed order (the left page is on the right and the right page on the left) but don't let that deter you, the information is still there and useful!

One other note, depending on your Internet connection, the files may take some time to load as the PDF file sizes range from 6-20 megabytes.


Monday, November 19, 2012

BCGS Donates New Item - Lists of Swiss Emigrants

Lists of Swiss Emigrants

in the Eighteenth Century to the American Colonies. (2 vols. in 1)

This is the authoritative work on Swiss emigration to the Carolinas and Pennsylvania in the 18th century. 
Volume I identifies approximately 2,000 emigrants from the Canton of Zurich during the period 1734-1744, most references comprising such useful data as age, date of birth or baptism, trade, name of wife, names of children, and place of origin and destination. 
Volume II extends the scope of investigation to Bern (1706-1795) and Basel (1734-1794) and surpasses Volume I in the quantity and variety of assembled data.
--Description from Genealogical Publishing Company's website,

This item was donated by the Butler County Genealogical Society in memory of Virginia "Bob" Crossen.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Historic Poplar Bluff City Directories Online

For many years, patrons visiting the library have had the chance to browse through old city directories.  Now you can view the 1906 and 1908 city directories from home.

These are often an overlooked resource in genealogy research.  The early directories not only can they tell you where someone lived but usually include spouse's name (or indicate widow / widowed with "wid") and place of employment.

As the title page shows, the directory contains information for businesses, churches, street guide, city and county officials, and secret and benevolent societies.

The ads for prominent businesses are a fascinating snapshot of local history of a bygone era.  It makes one wonder which places family members living in or visiting Poplar Bluff at the time might have patronized.  Did they visit the store of A.J. Young for "Staple and Fancy Groceries" at the corner of 4th & Main Streets which also advertised "We Sell Sunflower Flour, The Best on Earth"?  Which bank might they have used? The Bank of Poplar Bluff, the Butler County Bank, or the State Bank of Poplar Bluff?  You're unlikely to find "Blacksmithing", "Harness", or "Wagon and Buggy" entries in the yellow pages today.

Use the links below to go straight to the directories.  These are in PDF format, so Adobe Reader is required to view them.  Depending on your Internet connection, it may take a couple minutes for the files to fully open for you since the files are approximately 5 megabytes each.

Click here to see the 1906 City Directory.
Click here to see the 1908 City Directory.

You may also find these by using the library's online catalog and performing a search for them, just like you would do for a physical item. While there, you can also see what other years of city directories are available for use but not yet online.

One last note, does have an online collection of city directories from across the country but currently the only Poplar Bluff directories they have available are for the years of 1939, 1952, 1954, 1957, and 1960.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Celebrate Family History Month with

What a way to celebrate Family History Month! is bringing together their databases, Halloween, and Genealogy's Family History Month into one fantastic contest, (and appropriately named it!) the Death Records Contest.

It's so easy to enter, it's scary!  All you need is an email address.  You don't need to be a member to enter. (A full list of rules, terms, and conditions can be found here.) Whether it's a dark and stormy night or a fabulous Fall day, you can easily enter to win the following:

Prize Description / Approximate Retail Value / Deadline
  • Week 1 - $100 gift certificate ($100) October 16, 2012
  • Week 1- FTM, User Guide, & Advanced User Guide ($114) October 18, 2012
  • Week 1 - Bonus entry for Grand Prize October 21, 2012
  • Week 2 - USD year membership ($155) October 23, 2012
  • Week 2 - DNA test ($99) October 25, 2012
  • Week 2 - Bonus entry for Grand Prize October 28, 2012
  • Week 3 - $100 gift certificate ($100) - October 30, 2012
  • Week 3 - WE year membership ($299) November 1, 2012
  • Grand Prize winner will receive an iPad ($599) November 1, 2012
Today's entry consisted of the following clues which allow you to brush up on your researching skills.  In this case, you'd need to research the 1850 Mortality Schedules for Calaveras County, California.  These Schedules are often under utilized in genealogy research so this is a great way to practice exploring them.

Cadavers of Calaveras

Put on your white lab coat and prepare to save some lives. It’s the late 19th century and the new California State Board of Public Health is reviewing mortality schedules for each district in the state. As you look over your jurisdiction you notice something interesting about the town of Calaveras in Calaveras County in 1850. Assistant Marshall John W. Jones reported that "this district is remarkably healthy. And he was right – just two conditions were deemed responsible for the majority of the 60 deaths there that year. In your report back to the powers that be, you wisely suggest the district invest in privies and a sheriff as a way to save lives in the future. What were the top two causes of death in the town of Calaveras in 1850?
  1. Dysentery, shot
  2. Diarrhea, stabbed
  3. Plague, hanging
  4. Influenza, revenge
Good luck to anyone entering and enjoy the challenges as you learn about new resources!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Genealogy Humor - How We're Seen....

Here's a little detour from the usual subjects.  This has been making its way around online and I thought I'd share. Funny but accurate too! (OK, the jibe might be a little exaggerated!)  Have a great day and enjoy!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

War of 1812 Bicentennial - The Second War for Independence

The digital collections of the Library of Congress contain a wide variety of material associated with the War of 1812, including manuscripts, broadsides, pictures, and government documents. This guide compiles links to digital materials related to the War of 1812 that are available throughout the Library of Congress Web site. In addition, it provides links to external Web sites focusing on the War of 1812.

The following titles are just a sample of what is available for you to research in person in the Genealogy Department of the Poplar Bluff Public Library:
  • Arkansas military bounty grants (War of 1812) / Compiled by Katheren (Mrs. Paul) Christensen.
  • Arkansas pensioners, 1818-1900 : records of some Arkansas residents who applied to the federal government for benefits arising from service in federal military organizations (Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Indian and Mexican wars) / compiled by Dorothy E. Payne.
  • Notes on Kentucky veterans of the War of 1812 / G. Glenn Clift.
  • Records of officers and men of New Jersey in wars, 1791-1815.
  • Soldiers of the War of 1812 buried in Tennessee : names abstracted from Colonel Davidd Henley's "Wastebook", regular and militia personnel for period 1793-1798, in southwest territory (Tennessee) : petition from Overton County, 1813 : Henderson & McGhee, storekeepers, Maryville, Tennessee, account October 1814 to December 1815 / compiled by Mary Hardin McCown, Inez E. Burns.
The library's subscription to "ebrary" provides you with access via the Internet to the following resources day or night:
  • America on the brink [ebrary eBook] : how the political struggle over the war of 1812 almost destroyed the young republic / by Richard Buel, Jr.
  • The naval War of 1812 [ebrary eBook] / Theodore Roosevelt
Looking for additional information but want a physical item to take home to peruse? The following items are available to be checked out:
  • The War of 1812 [DVD] [videorecording] / [compilation, A&E Television Networks].
  • Union 1812 : the Americans who fought the Second War of Independence / A.J. Langguth.
  • The sage of Monticello / by Dumas Malone.
Several works of historical fiction use the War of 1812 as a backdrop, some involving more details and action than others and, although fictional, might be of interest to fans of history. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Cenotaph - Word of the Day

If you've never heard of a cenotaph [sen-uh-taf], it's not surprising.  Today, we generally use the word "monument" or "memorial" in its place but it does pop-up occasionally when performing cemetery research.  Cenotaph literally means "empty tomb" according to and comes from Greek and Latin origins.  The body is either buried somewhere else (such as a foreign country), is never recovered (possibly the result of a large scale disaster), or the result of ashes being scattered after cremation.  But people like to have a physical location to go to remember the deceased, so cenotaphs provide just that.  They can be anything from a simple plaque to an elaborate monument.

You know many cenotaphs without even realizing it:
  • Vietnam War Memorial Wall
  • Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
  • Crash sites involving the September 11th attacks
  • Multiple cenotaphs have even been erected around the world to honor those lost aboard the H.M.S. Titanic, from the U.K. to the U.S. to Australia and points in-between.
Click photograph to see full size.
You don't have to travel far to see one in person if you're a local resident.  Located in front of the Black River Coliseum is the Butler County Veterans Memorial Wall.  The granite columns arranged in a circle are inscribed with the names of veterans killed in action.  More information about this cenotaph is available on the Coliseum's website.

So the next time you're at a memorial site that doesn't contain remains, remember you're viewing a cenotaph. And now you have a trivia question with which to stump your friends!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Following in their footsteps - Brick Streets of PB

Click photograph to see full size.
You may not be able to walk a mile in your ancestor's shoes, however, you can walk the same routes and cross intersections made of bricks in downtown Poplar Bluff just as they did a century ago.

The Butler County Historical Society has a wonderfully informative page on their website chronicling the decisions and progress of building the now historic brick streets.  Articles from the Daily American Republic, along with stories from residents, provide the historical context of the times.

The plaque above, located at the corner of Oak Street and Main Street on the grounds of the library, was presented by the Poplar Bluff Rotary Club to the Poplar Bluff Historical Commission in 1990.

If you're interested in learning about the brick streets in greater detail, the articles cited on the Butler County Historical Society's website are available to be viewed in their entirety on microfilm at the library.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012 Free Census Weekend! has thrown open the doors on their Census collection through midnight (eastern time) September 3rd.  This is perfect if you don't have plans this Labor Day weekend or just need a little time away from the family BBQ.

If you need more access after September 3rd, remember you can access all has to offer by stopping by the library!

Discover yours for FREE this weekend as opens all 713 million U.S. census records from 1790 to 1940. Learn where your ancestors were born, what they did for a living, how much they earned—even meet the girl (or guy) next door. All free through September 3rd.
*Ends September 3rd at midnight ET

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Historic Newspaper Research Available Via Google News

It has been brought to my attention that Google News offers images of historic newspapers though their News Archive Search.  The "About" section offers the following information:

About News Archive Search

"News Archive Search provides an easy way to search and explore historical archives. Users can search for events, people or ideas and see how they have been described over time.
Search results include content from a number of sources, including both partner content digitized by Google through our News Archives Partner Program and online archival materials that we've crawled. Search results can include content that is freely accessible as well as content that requires a fee. You can either browse through the full collection of papers scanned or use Advanced News Search to specify the date range in which you'd like to search the archives."
The closest newspapers in proximity to Poplar Bluff that I could locate are three published in Cape Girardeau:
  • The Daily Republican (1,169 issues covering April 1, 1908 - February 28, 1918)
  • Cape Girardeau Bulletin (232 issues covering December 28, 1967 - Oct 14, 1976) 
  • Southeast Missourian (22,937 issues covering November 17, 1901 - December 31, 2007) This paper is still in production and issues since September 2001 are available on their website.

The oldest newspaper I've managed to locate so far has been an issue of the St. John's Gazette from September 12, 1788!  Another paper I browsed, The Centinel dated November 27, 1805, provides contemporary reports of the state of affairs in France regarding Napoleon Bonaparte.

Resources such as these will provide you with day-to-day historical context (locally and globally) in which to place your ancestor's life.

Happy reading and good luck with your research!

Monday, August 13, 2012 1940 Census Indexed

I am pleased to announce the indexing of the 1940 Census by has been completed!!  They are still working on getting the last states searchable but Missouri is live and ready to be searched!

Testing some of the names used in my previous posting generated better results than I received when searching's indexing method appears to have been far superior to that of  FamilySearch used two separate transcribers for each page, compared the results, and an arbitrator was used if any discrepancies were found in the data.

You can begin your search of their 1940 Census index *here*.  I think you'll have greater results with less errors!

Good luck in your searching!!

Monday, July 30, 2012

1940 Census Update - Missouri now searchable on

Last Wednesday (July 25, 2012), updated the status of Missouri to "Completed" for the 1940  Census. Definitely a reason to celebrate.
Shameless exploitation of
some of my family!

They've added some nifty new features to help you stay on track as you zoom in for a closer look at images. For one, when viewing the page image, the person you click on is highlighted, along with the entire household.  Plus, once the image is enlarged to the point where you longer see the names on the left or the column headings at the top, sidebars appear with the names and column headings much in the fashion of an Excel spreadsheet.

I would like to say I appreciate all the hard work that has taken place to make this available to the public, along with the new features. BUT......... I really hope this index is a work in progress because it is riddled with errors. Fortunately there is a "Submit Alternative Information" option for each person.  I submitted 8 "alternatives" (5 name changes and 3 relationship changes and it would be 11, if gender was an option!) for the household in the first image.
Compare the transcribed information
to the original  handwritten copy above.

I understand handwriting can be difficult to read but I'm not sure the transcriber even had a firm understanding of cursive writing, relationships, or gender.  How hard is it to correctly interpret M or F? Since when does "Father-in-law" look like "Daughter"? If this information was double-checked, to say I'm appalled is an understatement.  This isn't just one instance of a "bad" page.  I searched for other branches of the ol' family tree in this Census and found similar errors in other households, e.g., incorrect name spellings, ages, and relationships!

There is still hope though! is involved in providing another index and currently shows Missouri as 100% indexed but not yet searchable due to conflicting information that is currently in arbitration.  Let's hope their index is more accurate and reliable and shames into an overhaul of their 1940 index because this shoddy work is causing me to question the validity of their transcriptions of other databases.

When I find out the Missouri Census is searchable, I'll provide an update.  In the mean time, good luck searching, you'll need it.

Friday, July 20, 2012

We've upgraded! - New microfilm machine

The library is the proud owner of a new microfilm machine!  An updated and more streamlined model of the previous machine, this is definitely less intimidating and easier to use according to patrons that have already taken some reels for a spin.

One of the best features is the vertical screen.  No more scanning and scrolling up and down each page since the entire page is visible (and legible!).

This new machine still provides remote access from your home, school or office. The information can easily be sent to your printer or email account or saved to your computer or flash drive. To arrange an appointment to use the library's microfilm machine remotely, contact the library at 573.686.8639 or by email. If you're close by, stop in and give it a try some time.

Monday, July 16, 2012

New items - "Show Me, Rosie!" and "A Time for Heroes"

I'm pleased to announce the addition of two items to the Genealogy Reference Collection.  Both titles were published by the Missouri State Society - Daughters of the American Revolution.

The first is "Show Me, Rosie! Missouri's Working Women in the Second World War".  It provides brief portraits of women in Missouri with war jobs in the 1940s.  It was donated by Sylvia Bullington in honor of the Daughters of the American Revolution - Poplar Bluff Chapter.
Next up is "A Time for Heroes : the Ancestors' Stories", a compilation of Revolutionary histories submitted by DAR descendants currently living in Missouri.  This item was placed in memory of Therma Glass, past Chapter Regent, by the Poplar Bluff Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Monday, July 9, 2012

NOW SHOWING at Rodgers Theatre!!! (in July 1965)

Attendees of the Rodgers Theatre during the second and third weeks of July would have seen movies featuring many classic stars, including Bob Hope, Rock Hudson, Doris Day, Elvis Presley, Maureen O'Hara, Sean Connery, and Audie Murphy.

Feel free to share your "reviews" of the movies or memories of your visits to the Rodgers Theatre, whether you were just escaping the hot summer afternoons or going on a hot date, in the comment section below. Don't forget to check their website for upcoming performances and the progress of the renovation.

Rodgers Theatre July 1965

Movies showing at the Rodgers Theatre for
the weeks of July 11th and July 18th.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 236th Birthday America!! - Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness

Were your ancestors already residing on this side of the Atlantic when this amazing document, the Declaration of Independence, was drafted?  Or did they arrive later, benefiting from the courageousness of the colonists to stand up to one of the most powerful nations the world has ever known?  Either way, we live with the legacy of 1776 not only being a pivotal moment in our history, but world history.  If you're not sure when your family tree took root in the US, it's never too late to start searching at the library or online.  Maybe that rebellious streak you have was inherited from an ancestor that was a contemporary rubbing elbows with some "trouble makers" like Jefferson, Washington, or Franklin!

If it's been a long time since you've read the Declaration, below is an easy to read transcription to brush up on the details.  If you've NEVER read it, please do!

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:
Column 1
   Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall,  George Walton
Column 2
North Carolina:
   William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
South Carolina:
   Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton
Column 3
John Hancock
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton
Column 4
   Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
   Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean
Column 5
New York:
   William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris
New Jersey:
   Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark
Column 6
New Hampshire:
   Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple
   Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island:
   Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
   Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
New Hampshire:
   Matthew Thornton

**This transcription is from the website on Charters of Freedom page.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sign Up For Prop. 1 Email Updates

On June 5, 2012, the voters of Poplar Bluff passed overwhelmingly Prop1--a 1/4 cent sales tax for the operation of the Poplar Bluff Public Library.  The Library Board of Trustees and library staff are now in the process of making "good" on those promises made to voters.  Sign up for Prop1 Infoline to stay on top of the latest changes and updates at the Library.

The new funding will allow the library to expand services and offerings, including:
  • Offer library cards to area residents at no charge.
  • Double the library’s book budget.
  • Open the library on Sunday afternoons.
  • Allow the library to continue offering computer classes, Tech Talks and more.
To help users stay on top of the changes coming, Poplar Bluff Public Library is releasing the Prop1 Infoline, an e-mail service dedicated to keeping interested parties up to date about the expansions brought on by the additional funding through Proposition 1.
Sign up for the Prop1 Infoline here:

You can also find Poplar Bluff Public Library on Facebook.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

1930 Butler County, Missouri Plat Book

Genealogists are well aware that just because something is old, it's still useful, even if it's an old Plat Book. The Missouri Digital Heritage Collection, part of the Missouri State Archives and Missouri State Library online databases under the Missouri Secretary of State's Office, has many digitized publications ready to reveal secrets and insights into the lives of past Missourians and their communities.
Today I want to draw attention to the 1930 Butler County, Missouri Plat Book available online.  This is a great resource to see who owned land and where at.  If you have land descriptions from deed records of relatives, this will be a great help in visualizing where that they were located.  The library owns various copies of Plat Maps from the 1970's through the present day.  These could be useful in determining how land was divided up or what areas have stayed in the same family for generations.  Using features on an old Plat Map, such as waterways or railroads, could be helpful in finding a location on a more familiar county road map to visit an old homestead.

Being aware of how items are described in one online library catalog, can translate into successful searching of the catalogs of other libraries. (Caveat: This is dependent on the library using standardized cataloging techniques though! Akin to genealogists properly citing their sources.)  This item has the following subject headings:
  • Butler County (Mo.) - Maps
  • Real Property - Missouri - Butler County - Maps
  • Landowners - Missouri - Butler County - Maps
Using these terms, along with changing the state and county names as needed, will help you quickly locate potentially useful items in other libraries for various locations.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Make the most of your visit - Genealogists and the Public Library

Today's posting is from a handout created by the library's very own Erin Rigby for use in a presentation to help make the most of your library visits.  Take it away Erin!

Genealogists and the Public Library

Preparing to go…
  • Make sure you have a specific research goal. Narrow it down to things like a birth date, the next generation or all the children for a family. 
  • In addition to your specific research goal, have dates or a date range. Doing so will make it easier for the librarian to get you the resources you need.
  • Find out what resources the library has before you go. Almost all libraries have an online catalog. They may also have a website promoting their genealogy resources including ones that may not be cataloged.
  • Bring all your information about the specific people you are looking for. 
Arriving at the Library…
  • First-timers at the library should ask for a short orientation or tour of their genealogy section. Let them show you what they have- they may have a few surprises. If you've been there before, ask about new resources.
  • Be sure to find out where the resources specific to your locality are located.
How to ask a librarian a genealogy question…
  • The most important thing you can do is to be specific while being as concise as possible. 
  • Avoid the nebulous “I’m looking for any information you have on my ancestors.” 
  • Keep your questions pertinent to your research goal. Something like “I am looking for a death date for someone in Minnesota, probably between 1880 and 1900” instead of “They came here from Norway in 1845 and had a rough crossing… lost two children! Then they got to Minnesota… What I want to know is when they died…”
Things to remember about librarians…
  • Be accepting of librarians who don’t know much about genealogy, especially in small libraries. Be prepared to be self-sufficient. You never know if you have the local genealogy expert or the children’s librarian staffing the reference desk.
  • Librarians are extraordinarily willing to help, but they are usually strapped for time.
  • Most libraries have some kind of research service. If you provide specific information they will look it up for you, but usually at a price.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Quick Tip - Business Cards for Genealogy

I love learning about a new way to help further family research.  This week I had the opportunity to meet and help an out of town couple visiting the library.  I'm accustomed to giving out my business cards to patrons to contact me if they need future help but this encounter had a unique twist to it.  They've had their own "business" cards printed with the surnames they are researching, along with their contact information.  I think this is a marvelous idea!  They're easy to carry around and relatively cheap to have printed.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

PB Makes History for Library Funding in MO

THANK YOU to the voters of Poplar Bluff for making this library truly unique and allowing us to be on the cutting edge!  We are the first library in Missouri to transition from property tax support to being funded by a sales tax.  The old saying "it takes an act of Congress" certainly applies here.  In this case, it took the Missouri State Legislature and the signature of the Governor to allow this to even be voted on.

The future of the library looks very bright and the Library Board has many choices to make on how the timeline of the changes to be made unfold.  Their next meeting will be July 2, at 4 PM in the Conference Room and, as always, the public is welcome to attend.  Stop in for it and watch out future start to take shape!

Below is an article from the Daily American Republic with additional details.  Thanks again to everyone that made this possible!!

Library sales tax passes
A milestone for Missouri
By DAVID SILVERBERG Associate Editor
  The Poplar Bluff Public Library will become the first one in Missouri to be funded with sales tax revenue.
Library personnel, board members and supporters celebrated when Butler County Clerk Tonyi Deffendall announced the results of Tuesday’s special election.  
Poplar Bluff voters approved a one-fourth cent sales tax for the library by a vote of 421 to 145.
Now the library board will eliminate the city property tax for the library, a city subsidy of approximately $80,000 annually and the $35 library card fee for area residents living outside of Poplar Bluff.
City residents had been paying $14 in property taxes per each $10,000 of valuation. When collection of the additional one-fourth cent sales tax begins in October, everyone who spends $100 in Poplar Bluff will pay 25 cents for the library sales tax.
“I’m speechless!” was the first reaction from Jackie Thomas, the very happy library director.
A library staff member told Thomas, “Now you can sleep.”
“Poplar Bluff continues to impress me. I arrived 15 years ago and I have been on a high since then,” Thomas said. “This has been a dream so long. Now it is a reality. Now we will do what we planned to do.”
Thomas said the library will now have sufficient funds to expands its hours, be open on Sunday afternoon, have additional “virtual library” locations and “Wi-Fi” access points, double the book budget, have access to more computers, build a teacher curriculum collection, add bookmobile service, develop more outreach programs for children and adults and continue to offer computer classes and Tech Talks.
The library’s current revenues of nearly $500,000 are expected to double with the sales tax revenue.  
“I’m elated the voters of Poplar Bluff once again recognized the importance of supporting the future of the public library,” said John Stanard, a library board member for 18 years. “We are proud of our library. This is a landmark decision for ongoing success of that fine institution.”
Stanard noted the library and community will benefit from this sales tax revenue just as it has from the sales taxes for the Poplar Bluff Parks Department and the Highway 67 four-laning project.
Library board members worked for three years to convince the state legislature to allow libraries to have a vote on a proposed sales tax.
With the help of state Rep. Todd Richardson and state Sen. Rob Mayer, a bill was passed to allow libraries only in Senate District 25 to have a sales tax vote.
Missouri State Librarian Margaret Conroy described Poplar Bluff as being “the icebreaker” for being the first library in the state to pass a library sales tax.
“The Missouri State Library is very pleased for Poplar Bluff and its citizens for supporting the sales tax,” Conroy said. “We are proud of Jackie Thomas. She has worked very hard to provide adequate funding for the library.” Conroy noted the Missouri Library Association will be working on legislation to allow voting on a library sales tax statewide. “We are interested to see how this plays out and the implications for the rest of the state,” Conroy said.
Only 566 or 6.1 percent of the 9,310 active registered voters in Poplar Bluff cast ballots. “We had library patrons networking to get out the vote,” Thomas said. The votes by polling place were:
Ward 1 — 33 to 13.
Ward 2 — 116 to 33.
Ward 3 — 36 to 8.
Ward 4 — 135 to 42.
Ward 5 — 57 to 12.
Absentees — 44 to 37. 
Used with permission. (c) Daily American Republic, June 6, 2012. Vol. 144, No. 122. Pages 1 & 2.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Cemetery Math - Date of Birth Calculator

Aged 51 Yrs, 2 Mos, & 26 Days
Who in the world came up with placing only a date of death on a headstone followed by "Aged X Years, Y Months, Z Days"? (See photo example.)  If "normal" math scares you, this is truly a nightmare when it comes to trying to figure out a date of birth by subtracting months, days, and years!  If they could figure out that information, they must have known the date of birth to start with.  It would seem logical to use the date of birth and death as we're accustomed to seeing today, especially on older stones when literacy rates and mathematical skills were likely to be less than proficient.  Even today, who is carrying around scratchpads to work on deciphering the dates?  This is one fad I'm glad that's over!

Well, I have found a wonderful way to help easily solve this mathematical problem. has a great tool that is easy to use for this very purpose, appropriately named the Birth Date Calculator.  One of the best features about it is it's FREE!

Approximating the date of birth is possible but I am always leery of possible errors that can creep in.  For example, some stones were not erected for months or maybe even until years after death.  Memory doesn't always prove to be accurate when the time comes to actually place the stone.  I hope everyone finds this tool useful in their research!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Genealogy Unshelved

Here's a little something to hopefully lighten the mood after all the recent postings on cemeteries and Memorial Day. If you enjoy it, checkout Unshelved online for more library related humor.

Definitely good advice for someone just getting started with genealogy!

Used with permission. (c) Bill Barnes & Gene Ambaum

Monday, May 28, 2012

New Search Options & Happy Memorial Day!

Just a quick note of interest to follow-up on previous postings for anyone using and  Each have an additional access point to search their databases!  Find-a-grave is now searchable from within and BillionGraves has teamed up with

This is a great example of the interactive cooperation so often found in the genealogy community. The more accessible information is, the better our chances of successful search results.

Have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Billions and billions served ....

BillionGraves is a newcomer in to the world of online genealogy having been launched the Summer of 2011.  This website was recently brought to my attention by my genealogy and work colleague, Erin Rigby.  Headstones, new and old, can be photographed to provide much needed help to genealogists.  Families are far more mobile and less likely to stay in one place for an extended time period, creating "orphaned" graves.  Older monuments are preserved for posterity as they eventually succumb to weathering over the decades and centuries or the unfortunate case of vandalism.  This site is truly connecting the past, present, and future.

I admit I joined the site out of curiosity and have found it very user friendly.  I have taken photos, uploaded them, and transcribed not only mine but those of others as well.  I've even had the privilege of "adding" a cemetery that wasn't included in the site's database.

Screen shot of a partially photographed cemetery.
Using Google Maps and the GPS coordinates from a
smart phone, the layout of a cemetery can easily be seen.
Don't feel like you're experiencing deja vu, some aspects of BillionGraves are similar to that of Find-a-Grave.  Find-a-Grave creates an entry for each burial in a cemetery with the option of loading photos.  BillionGraves only allows legible, photographed entries that are transcribed at a later time from data uploaded by smart phones utilizing GPS technology on iPhone and Android devices. Each photo is encoded with coordinates that allow the grave site to be pinpointed on Google Maps which in turn can provide you with driving directions if you wanted to visit to pay your respects.  You must have their "app" installed on your device (available for free on iTunes and Market) to participate in taking and loading the photos to the website.

If you don't have a smart phone, you can still volunteer to participate.  Transcribers are needed to enter the inscriptions in the photo so the database is searchable.  Names, dates of birth, death, and marriages, epitaphs, and additional notations are all possibilities for a photo.  It's possible to have more than one photo associated, these photos are "linked" during the process of taking the photographs. The back of a stone may have a phrase, list of children, etc., or, if it's an obelisk, there may possibly be names, epitaphs, etc, on multiple sides.

Everyone one from shutterbugs taking a walk through the cemetery to the stay at home transcriber typing the day away can help share genealogy discoveries with the world.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Find a Grave......and another and another

One of the best places to find information to substitute for "vital" records prior to the actual filing of the familiar paperwork now required for births and deaths are cemeteries.  For example, Missouri did not require these records to be kept until 1910 but there are hundreds of cemeteries with grave markers providing the very dates needed to further our research.  And if you're really fortunate, the stone will include much sought after clues to relationships such as "Wife/Husband/Son/Daughter of ......." boasts overs 80 million entries in its database of cemeteries and burials.  You can search by name and narrow it down by state, county, etc or you can search for a specific cemetery and browse the entries.

All entries are entered by members of the site but you don't have to be a member to perform searches.  (It's free to join though, all you need is an email address to sign up.)  Members can add entries (including biographical information and photos of the headstone and/or the individual), leave "virtual flowers" on existing memorials, as well as leave comments.

Another nice feature offered by Find-a-grave is the ability to request photos be taken and to fulfill photo requests of other members.  Not located near an ancestor's cemetery? No problem!  You can submit a photo request and hopefully a fellow benevolent genealogist will take a photo for you and upload it to the site which will then notify you.  Better yet, it's FREE!!

In the box below, you can give searching a try.  The link is designed to search only Butler County but the drop down menu will allow you to choose to search the 80+ million records instead.

Search for cemetery records in Butler County, MO at by entering a surname and clicking search:

Restrict search to


Find-a-grave also has a special search feature for celebrities as shown below to search and view the final resting place of your favorite celebrity.  Not sure who to look for? Try Elvis Presley or George Burns.  There are usually lots of photos and thousands of comments.

Search for famous graves at by entering a name or keyword and clicking search:
Name or keyword(s):

Don't be shy about taking your camera to the cemetery with you this Memorial Day and keep checking back for more cemetery information as we draw closer to Memorial Day weekend!  

Monday, May 21, 2012

Memorial Day is fast approaching!

The official "unofficial" start to summer is upon us with Memorial Day weekend being just around the corner.  Family reunions, cookouts, trips to the lake or river, Cardinal baseball games (yes, I'm biased!), and the answer to students' prayers for the end of the school year to arrive all come together in May.  Somewhere in between all this activity is the longstanding ritual of making trips to cemeteries and placing flowers or other tokens of expression in honor of those buried there, whether recent or long ago.

World Book Online explains the holiday as follows:
Memorial Day, also called Decoration Day, is a patriotic holiday in the United States. It is a day to honor Americans who gave their lives for their country. Originally, Memorial Day honored military personnel who died in the Civil War (1861-1865). The holiday now also honors those who died in any war while serving the United States.
This article later explains that this was seen as a "Union" holiday in the South and most states that were in the Confederacy created their own version of Memorial Day that falls on different dates throughout the year.

For me, Memorial Day has always had a much broader scope.  It was about visiting the graves of deceased family members and placing flowers at their graves, most of which were never in the military. I certainly mean no disrespect to fallen soldiers.  I'm very thankful for all those that answered the call to arms in our country's time of need but in doing so, lost their life.  I believe most Americans have adapted the holiday to honor anyone they have lost, both family and friends, whether military personnel or not.  This seems apparent in the wide variety of artificial flowers available at most retail stores and the sudden "blossoming" that takes place in cemeteries each May.

What does Memorial Day mean to you?  What traditions do you have?  Feel free to share your thoughts and check back in the coming days as I post more information regarding cemeteries and additional resources as we approach the holiday.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Keller Public Library in DEXTER - Genealogy Workshop

The Stoddard County Genealogy Society is sponsoring a genealogy workshop, "Leaf Out Your Family Tree", at the Keller Public Library in Dexter, Saturday, June 9, 2012, 10 AM-Noon. The cost to attend is $5. The library is located at 402 W. Grant, Dexter, MO.

Areas to be covered include:

  • Organization
  • Researching Basic Sources (Census, Vital Records, Military Records, Immigration)
  • Keller Public Library Resources
  • Stoddard County Archives Resources
Members will be available from Noon-2 PM to assist workshop participants with their research.  The $5 fee covers the cost of program materials and can be applied to new Stoddard County Genealogy Society membership purchased on June 9th.

To register, contact the Keller Public Library at (573) 624-3764.  The deadline to register is June 7th.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

May Meeting of the Butler County Genealogical Society

Reminder:  The Butler County Genealogy Society will meet Thursday, May 24, 2012, at the Twin Towers in the Snider Activity Room at 2 PM.  This is a great way to network locally with fellow genealogists whether you are newly interested in the subject or an old-timer that performed searches for records in the pre-Internet world.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

85th Anniversary of Devastating Tornado

This afternoon, four score and five years ago, a tornado wrought destruction and death to the city of Poplar Bluff.  This will be remembered and marked by a few but go unnoticed by most.  May 9, 1927, may have left the community in pieces that day but life went on.

Two days later, "The Daily Republican", published a double-sided, one page edition with the banner headline "Poplar Bluff Will Rebuild".  One column contains a list the deceased.  Over 100 died that day.  As I delved further into my own genealogy research, that list became very personal after finding a death certificate for my great-great grandfather.  I had never read the list, just glanced over it. Looking back, sure enough, there he was: J.W. (John Wesley) Huson, my great-great grandfather.  The death certificate was submitted by D.B. Deem, Justice of the Peace, Acting Coroner (author of Deem's History of Butler County).

I have yet to discover where he was precisely.  His occupation was always listed as being a farmer but double checking the 1920 Census and following up with his widow in the 1930 Census, street addresses for Poplar Bluff were listed on the far left columns of both.  So many of my ancestors were farmers and always listed as "rural", "county road", or "country road", I'd become blind to the street address portion of the Census.

I definitely learned my lesson.  Even if you think you're familiar with a record, it's never a bad idea to take another look. You may find a new clue that leads you to additional information.  If nothing else, you'll be confirming what you already knew.

You can see the resulting devastation in a series of photographs, including a scanned image of the first post-storm edition of "The Daily Republican" published on May 11th, on the library's website.

Friday, May 4, 2012

See How We've Grown! Library Locations in Poplar Bluff

Look where we've been!  Prior to opening in our current location at 318 N. Main Street in 1936, the library was located in four other locations.

April 1916 – July 1919
First home of the Library.

A basement room in the building known as he Criterion Theater, on 129 North Main owned by W. N. Barron.

July 1919 – April 1930
Second home of the Library.

A 6-room house at the corner of Pine & Broadway, across the street from the first building. This corner is currently the Rodgers Theater.   The house, itself, was later moved to a new location at 630 Pine Street, and is still there today.

April 1930 – December 1935
Third home of the Library.
A building at the corner of Poplar & 2nd (210 Poplar) known as the Elk’s Home.
It currently houses the Daily American Republic newspaper offices.

December 1935 – August 1936
Fourth home of the Library.
  N.W. corner of Poplar & Broadway, also known as the Fraternal Opera Building, at 125 South Fourth. This image shows the building prior to the library occupying the site. The upper level was removed by the 1927 Tornado.
Formal opening: September 11, 1936. Dedication: October 12, 1936
The building we currently occupy as it originally appeared  in 1936 until another wing was added on in 1997-98 with  additional modifications made in 2007-08.
2009 - present
These show how the library has grown since the 1936 opening.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Tuesdays are Archive Days in Poplar Bluff

The Butler County Archives and Record Management is open each Tuesday 9 AM to 3 PM.  Many of the oldest records for Butler County are housed here, just across the street from the Courthouse.  You'll find land records, probate records, maps, etc.  This is a treasure trove of information just waiting on you.  Discover new tidbits of information regarding many aspects of life of long-passed Butler County pioneers, ancestors, and former residents.

This is the old "State Bank Building"
at the corner of Vine and Main Streets.
Look for this entrance facing
Vine Street on the "300" Block. 

I can't wait to see the results of the hard work of the volunteers latest projects.
  • One involves identifying and mapping the landowners at the creation of Butler County.  That's not as easy as it sounds, the county lines have shifted, in particular on the western side of the county.  The realignment more accurately follows the township and range lines method of surveying.
  • Secondly, marriage records are a common record used in genealogy but they are creating a divorce index.  Divorces may be considered more acceptable and openly talked about now but are not new as this database will prove.  This is an often overlooked part of genealogy.  Just because a new spouse appears in the census doesn't prove the previous spouse is necessarily deceased.
Stop by and see the volunteers at work on Tuesdays and let them know their work is not going unnoticed or unappreciated!  

Monday, April 30, 2012

History book submission deadline extended!

If you didn't submit an entry to be published in the "Butler County, Missouri Family History Book, Vol. III", you have another chance!  I have been informed the deadline for submissions has been extended to June 30, 2012!

The Butler County Genealogy Society is sponsoring, compiling, and publishing a new book, "Butler County, Missouri Family History Book, Vol. III".  This book will include the history of Butler County in the form of family histories, communities, churches, schools, businesses, farms, memorials, tributes, clubs, organizations, and much more.

Flyers are available in the Genealogy Reference area.  Information is provided on how to submit an entry and ordering information to purchase the book in advance.  A limited number of copies will be printed, determined in part by prepublication orders.  Don't miss out!

Additional information and questions may be submitted to committee chairman Brenda Sheridan at

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

TRCC Donates Genealogy / Local History Books

The library has once again benefited from the donation of items by the Rutland Library.  These are being added to the Genealogy/Local History Collection.  Stop by soon to see these items!!

Willow Springs and Surrounding Communities 1869-1969 Centennial
Springfield, Missouri - Forty Years of Growth and Progress 1945-1985
Pictorial Folk History of Jefferson City, Missouri 1890-1900
Experience Cape Girardeau: faces and places 1850-1950
The old Gravois Coal Diggings [St. Louis]
Gazetteer of the State of Missouri. [reprint of 1837 edition]
This is our ... Saint Louis
Joseph W. Folk of Missouri
In the Arkansas backwoods: tales and sketches
Lexingon, Missouri Sesquicentennial, 1822-1972.
Home town sketches. [Boonville, Cooper County 1926]
Our Jefferson County heritage: reminiscences of early Missouri.
Cape Girardeau: biography of a city
Mansfield, Missouri - The First Hundred Years 1882-1982
History of Randolph County [Arkansas]
Cape Girardeau Sesquicentennial - 150 Years - 1806-1956