Celebrating 40 years

The Webster County Genealogical Society received its charter from the Iowa Genealogical Society in April 1977. This year marks 40 years the WCGS has been in existence.

Come celebrate with us from 10 a.m. to noon on April 29 at the Fort Dodge Public Library, 424 Central Ave. We will have a program on Who Am I? Using DNA as an aid to genealogy research.

Refreshments will be served.

Please sign up at our event page on Facebook so we have an idea how many will be there.

Who are these people?


This was posted in a group on Facebook. The person who posted said:

This mysterious picture was with my Grandmother’s photo collection.. There is no identifying information written on the back, but I am wondering whether it might have been some contest that was held at the Manson Fairground. I know they had foot races, horse races, and other contests in the early 1900s. It appears to be some kind of human-powered pulling contest. Or perhaps they are just horsing around, in the absence of horses! I am hoping that some of you might have seen it somewhere and can help put names with faces. I’m almost certain it was taken around Manson, since grandma had it in her collection.

So it may have been taken in Calhoun County. If you have any ideas on who the people are or where the photo was taken, please email webcoiagenies@gmail.com and put “Race photo” in the subject line.

January 2016 news

Our January monthly meeting will be at 1 p.m. on Jan. 4 in Room 134 of the Fort Dodge Public Library, 424 Central Ave. We will have a program at 1:30. Donna Larson will talk about her trip to Ellis Island. We expect the program to last about 30 minutes.

On Jan. 6 and 7, we will be closed because the library will be closed for staff training. We will be open regular hours on Jan. 5 and the rest of the month, unless we have really bad weather. Check our Facebook page for updates.

Programs for 2016

We have set up a schedule of programs to coincide with our monthly meetings in 2016. The meeting will be held at 1 p.m. and the program will be at 1:30 p.m. and should last about 30 minutes.

January 4 (originally scheduled for Jan. 11, but changed back)
Donna Larson will talk about her trip to Ellis Island.

February 1
Charlene Washington will talk about black history in Fort Dodge.

March 7
Sue Lieske will discuss family surnames.

April 4
Martha Schmidt will talk about her trip to Salt Lake City.

May 2
Diane Esperson will talk about Swedish ancestors.

June 6
Joan Ewing will discuss family surnames.

July 11
Susan M. Olson will talk about Francis Scott Key – a relative.

August 1
We will have a planning meeting for Family History Month (October).

September 12 (special date because of Labor Day)
Carol Foltz will talk about some of the old schools in Fort Dodge/Webster County.

October 3
Family History Month
We will plan our holiday party (December).

November 7
We will plan the programs for 2017.

December (special date: Saturday)
We will hold our holiday party/open house from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the library.

Everyone is welcome to attend any of our meetings and events.

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:

  • familysearch.org
  • ancestry.com
  • wikitree.org
  • iowagravestones.org
  • billiongraves.com
  • findagrave.com

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


familysearch.org 29YB-MMC
wikitree.org 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!