Saturday Hours

We will not continue being open on Saturdays due to shortage of staff.

We will still be open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays from 11:00 to 4:00.

If you would like to visit our office during other hours, please call us at 515-302-9854 for an appointment.  Our email address is We are also on facebook.

Thank You

Genealogy tip of the day: July 18, 2015

More about organization: I have a spiral notebook for research notes. I have written one name on the front side of each page. (I’ve only done a few, not the whole notebook.)

Under the name I have the birth date and place, death date and place, as well as burial and marriage information.

Underneath that I have listed:


I can add other sites as I sign up for them.

In front of each site, I put a check mark if I have entered information about that person on that site. On the right side, I put the person’s ID number if there is one.

So for my great-grandfather, Walter Burrell, I have the following information:

Walter Burrell
b 20 Oct 1871 Whitewater, Walworth, Wisconsin
d 30 Jun 1954 Fort Dodge, Webster, Iowa
bur 3 Jul 1954 Memorial Park Cemetery, Fort Dodge, Webster, Iowa

M 21 Aug 1895 Sibley, Osceola, Iowa

Listed 29YB-MMC Burrell-719

This is my way of keeping track of what I want to put online. I don’t want my research to be lost, so I am trying to share it in as many places as possible.

Genealogy tip of the day: July 17, 2015

Today’s tip is about organization.

I work with a number of different notebooks, computer programs and websites. I have a hard time keeping track of what I have done in each case.

With a three-ring notebook, you can tear the pages out and put them in a binder in whatever order you wish.

With a composition book, that’s not so easy. This post explains a type of organization for bound notebooks (called the Highfive notebook in the example). The method puts the index in the back, so it doesn’t matter if you start writing information right on the first page. Otherwise, if you must have the index in the front, leave 2 or 3 pages blank at the front for the index, then start writing the information. You can number the pages, as well.

In the example of the Highfive notebook, instead of recipes, think of surnames. Each surname goes on a line and you highlight the edge of that line, and also the corresponding spot on the page where you have written down information about the person(s) with that surname. You can even color-code them if you like. Then as you go through the book, you mark each page the same way. You will be able to look at the edge of the book and see all the pages with information about Smiths, for example.

As the example states, you can mark multiple places on the edge of the page. So if you have a Smith who married a Jones, you can mark both “Smith” and “Jones” spots on the edge of that page.

Genealogy tip of the day: July 16, 2015

Genealogists generally write dates in this fashion: 16 Jul 2015. This separates the day of the month from the year, and using the four-digit year eliminates confusion as to which century you mean. Each month is (usually) abbreviated to the first three letters.

If you are working in a genealogy program or online tree, you might not have to abbreviate the months. It does help when filling out forms by hand, though.

Part of the reason for using this format is because that is how dates are written in Europe. So using this format lets you get used to how the dates are used there (helpful when you are looking at records from Europe). It also avoids confusion that is possible if you write a date in just numbers, as 11/01/01. Is that November 1, 2001 (or 1901 or 1801), or January 11 in some year that ends in 01? Looking at 11 Jan 2001, it’s easy to tell the correct date.

Genealogy tip of the day: July 15, 2015

Today’s tip is about collateral lines.

Many people only research their direct ancestors: parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and so on. If they find information on the children in these families, they might not keep it because those people aren’t their ancestors, just relatives of ancestors.

Finding out about collateral ancestors — the children in those family groups, or your direct ancestors’ siblings and cousins — can be valuable to your research.

Not sure if you have found the correct family in the 1880 census? If you know who the children are, you can pinpoint whether John and Mary Smith you see are the right ones. You can also check the neighbors in the census to see if there are any known relatives living nearby.

Is this Thomas Jones the father or son? If the age isn’t listed, you can look at who else is in the household.

Sometimes a parent goes to live with a child when they are older. If the child isn’t your direct ancestor and you don’t look for the other close relatives, you could miss finding that person.

Happy hunting!

Genealogy tip of the day: July 13, 2015

Today’s tip links to a blog post about genealogy travel.

The advice is good, but I’d like to add one more tip. Try to find out before you go, what places are available to help your search and when are they open.

Find out phone numbers, addresses and what hours each place is available. If it’s a genealogy or historical society, see if you can arrange for a special visit if you are there when they normally aren’t open.

Recently, we had a volunteer who was ill on the day she was going to work at the Webster County Genealogical Society. She contacted another volunteer, who had made plans to go out of town with friends. So I stepped in, but could only work until 1:30 p.m. because I go to work at 2. That day, we had three visitors: a regular researcher and two women who were from out of state. It was the only day those two women were in town. They were lucky that I was able to be there when they needed access.

At our July monthly meeting, we had a couple from California stop by. One of our volunteers stayed after the meeting to let them research more. Again, it was a day when we normally aren’t open, but we were there for the meeting.

And just to be clear, we are thrilled when we are able to help people, especially when they travel long distances for family history. We are just worried that we might miss someone.

The Webster County Genealogical Society is trying to make our presence known. We have this website, email address (, a Facebook page, a Twitter account, Pinterest and even a phone number (515-302-9854).

~Carol Foltz

Genealogy tip of the day: July 12, 2015

Today’s tip is: Don’t wait.

Don’t wait to talk to your older relatives. Don’t wait to tell your own story. Don’t wait to compare notes with siblings and cousins about events and family tales.

You don’t know how much time you have to hear the family stories from the people who are closer to when the events happened.

There is an African proverb that says when an old man dies, a library burns to the ground. This is true in family history, as well. When the older generation dies, we lose the stories we haven’t heard yet.

So, don’t wait.