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!