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25 April 2010

Centennial of the Trans-Atlantic Cable from the Oct 1958 Palimpsest

Continuing with the stories from old Palimpsests from the Iowa State Historical Society, this issue discusses the Centennial of the Trans-Atlantic Cable.  The first paragraph (this story is also by William J Petersen) states:
"Iowa in 1858
The pioneers who settled in Iowa prior to 1848 found the steamboat, the covered wagon, and the stagecoach their only means of transportation and communication.  For those who had come from beyond the Alleghenies this was especially difficult, the great distance separating them from family and friends added to the lonesomeness of the frontier. The steamboat was the swiftest means of communication with such points as St. Louis and New Orleans on the Mississippi, and with Louisville, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh on the Ohio.  The first railroad had been constructed west of Chicago in 1848 but only twelve miles of track were laid that year.  It was not until 1852 that the Iron Horse linked the Atlantic with Chicago".
The attached picture is of Daniel Smith Harris, a steamboat captain from 1829 to 1861 who raced his Grey Eagle from Dubuque to St. Paul in 1858 and was the first to deliver Queen Victoria's message to President Buchanan on the successful laying of the Atlantic Cable.

23 April 2010

Postcard Holiday Greetings & "Good Post Card Resolutions"

There are so many great articles in these Palimpsests and soon, I will no longer have them.  (spring cleaning, don't ya know!)  It is snowing this morning in Colorado, at the end of April, and so a little article on holidays matches my mood!

The December 1967 issue is all about postcards and their history.
The author, William J. Petersen writes:  "Of particular concern to the historian is the work of that little known band of German photographers who visited hundreds of Iowa communities and left posterity a rich pictorial legacy.  Their arrival in a community was rarely announced but issues of "The Palimpsest" featuring Davenport, Dubuque, Bedford, Shenandoah, and Emmetsburg are illustrative of the fact that nothing apparently escaped their eagle eyes.  The historical record of the Hawkeye State would be poor indeed were it not for these gifted German artists. Their pictorial contribution, like the various holiday postcards reproduced herein, enliven and enrich the Iowa scene.

Mr. Petersen also included a "Credo" from Hobbies Magazine:
"Good Post Card Resolutions
1.  I will have more respect for my collection of cards - I will keep them clean and undamaged, in a dry bug-proof place, and will examine them occasionally.
2.  I will strive to be more of a connoisseur and less of a pack rat in my collecting
3. I will remember that it is better to give than to receive, and will cut down on my 'hoss-trading' tendencies when exchanging.
4.  I will use my cards and share the pleasure of them with others more.
5.  I will file and arrange my cards in a way convenient for my using them.
6.  I will think about planning a future home for my cards, and not leave them to the mercy of an unappreciative, or untutored person."

Wow! That person really LOVED their postcard collection, huh!

22 April 2010

Great Article in NGS Quarterly about Nebraska Research!

My first issue of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly arrived in the mail last week and the information could not have been more timely!  I am digging through Hansens who married Hansens who married Hansens and, of course, they all seemed to be named Hans!  :-)

Roberta King of Lakewood, Colorado has a 40 page article on "Research in Nebraska" covering just about everything you would need to know to begin your research in this expansive state.  I admit, on my many trips between Colorado and Iowa for the past 30+ years, Nebraska has been my 'auto-pilot' state I always drove through at night.  It wasn't until I began studying my husband's family and went on a daylight trip to St. Paul, Nebraska that I discovered there were so many interesting historical places to stop! I am saddened that I will miss the Nebraska Genealogical Society's 2010 Conference this weekend in Norfolk, close to where I need to do research! But my time and effort are focused on going to Salt Lake.  Maybe the Nebraska group will sell tapes?

Ms. King has listed several Museums, Historical Societies and libraries I would not have thought held other information.  For instance, the Nebraska State Historical Society library in Lincoln holds business records of the Burlington Railroad.  The Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer holds historical collections of Hall County, central Nebraska and the Great Plains as well as family histories.

So much to do before the NGS Conference, so little time...!

1874 Grasshopper plague and the Clay County Fair

The May 1950 issue of the Iowa State Historical Society's Palimpsest is all about the Clay County Fair.  It has a lot of great pictures and stories that reflect life from the time of the first Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa in 1871 through May 1950.  Here are a couple of pictures from this issue, the first, a diploma awarded to Mrs. Jane Auringer for the "best tomato and muskmelon sauces" (I haven't had a muskmelon sauce, have you?  Do you have a recipe?) and the bottom is a picture of farmers seeking aid from a grasshopper plague in 1874.

There are several pictures of people who  apparently were pretty well known  in Clay County.  Unfortunately, again, there are no names tied to the pictures.  I believe one of them is Roy Webb, my son's g-g-grandfather, but I cannot be sure (top left?).  Does anyone recognize the men in the photo collage below?

Quarrying in Iowa

The Hanlons, Finnegans and Bradys  all found themselves in Stone City, Jones County, Iowa for the 1870 census.  John Hanlon, my great grandfather, (indexed as John Handlin) was listed as employed at the Stone Quarries with brothers-in-law Peter Finnegan and Andrew Brady.  I had searched for information on the mines at that time and all along, the history was right here in one of the monthly Palimpsests from the Iowa Historical Society.  This one was from May 1957 and contains some great pictures from Stone City:
as well as this little history:
John moved onto farming in Polk and Dallas Counties in Iowa before his death in 1895.  Peter Finnegan, who was married to John's sister Margaret, stayed in Jones County until his death in 1901.  Andrew Brady, brother to John's wife Catharine, died in Jones County in 1879.

"Shriners Invade Des Moines" Feb 1899 & The Iowa Corn Song

I'm having fun reading these old Palimpsests! This one from May 1963 is all about "Temples of the Mystic Shrine in Iowa"
One of the many stories about the Shriners is this one from February 15, 1899 where it is said the Des Moines Register proclaimed: 

Took possession of it early Wednesday and Hung 
on til Daylight Today
Had a Parade That was Immense and Made 133 Candidates 
Walk the Hot Sands
Began a Banquet at the Savery at 1 o'clock This Morning
and Made Speeches Til Sunrise"

Another story from June 1921 tells:
"Bands from all sections of the country played favorite selections, but the Iowa Corn Song became the prime favorite and could be heard on almost every corner.  The popularization of the Iowa Corn Song on a national scale grew out of the Shrine Conclave held in Des Moines in 1921."

Oh dear! Early meat slaughtering plants in Iowa

I will confess I'm one of these meat eaters who prefers not to think of my meal as having lived before.  One of the Palimpsests in my collection is dedicated to the history of the John Morrell Meat Packing plants in Iowa.  The history is dated 1966, but features some pretty interesting pictures like this, the first "killing gang" from the Ottumwa, Iowa plant:
They all seem like nice fellows though !
Then this picture of the packing room crew from Ottumwa in 1898:
I do hope it was "take your child to work day" that day.  (see the little guy in front?)

A Glimpse of Iowa in 1823

I am slowly letting go of my collection of Iowa Palimpsests that date back to the early 1900s.  I'm reading some of these stories for the first time - they are wonderful.  The December 1969 issue is about an Italian explorer.  "Outstanding among these early travelers was Giacomo Constantine Beltrami, an Italian exile and judge, who journeyed through Europe in 1822 and then crossed the tempestuous Atlantic and wrote his first letter from Philadelphia on February 28th, 1823."  It goes on to tell of his encounters with the Saux tribe while on the maiden voyage of the "Virginia" steamboat (there is a copy of the steamboat's original enrollment in this issue as well as a map of the Mississippi River).

In letters quoted in this issue of the Palimpsest it gives detailed physical descriptions of the Native Americans he encountered.  It is quite a read.

09 April 2010

Multiple Spellings Milburn - Millburn - Milbourn - Milbourne - Millbourn - etc

Wow, so many spellings for an English name!  Today I'm researching my mother's paternal line, descended from Jeremiah Milburn (or a similar spelling) (1780 - 1852)  and wife Sarah Smith (1785 - 1856).  Jeremiah brought his family from Stanhope County, England to somewhere near Hopewell Rocks, New Brunswick in the 1800s.

In 2002 I took my sister to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia to do a little genealogy research on the Milburns.  Ok, I may have misled my sister into thinking it was a lighthouse tour vacation, but we managed to do both!

A Canadian researcher put me in touch with a cousin who still lived at Hopewell Rocks, New Brunswick in the old family home. (Unfortunately I can not find those pictures.)  I sat on her porch and thought how wonderful it would be to live there.  The cousin said...'just wait til winter hits, it won't be so nice'. I guess the home had no central heat - just a fireplace.  But romantic that I am, I still found that attractive.

My line of Milburns ended up in Appanoose County, Iowa.  I thought today I would start back up with Jeremiah and trace the other lines of descendants.  It didn't take long to find a famous poet in the line of cousins!  I was thrilled!  Jessica Nelson North was married to the great grandchild of Jeremiah Milburn. Ok, so she isn't a BLOOD Milburn, but she married one! Cool!  She is famous for the little poem:

I had a little tea party
this afternoon at three.
Twas very small,
three guests in all,
I, Myself, and Me!

06 April 2010

Countdown to the National Genealogy Society Conference...19 days til I leave!

Yes, I know the NGS Conference doesn't start til the 28th, but there is still so much to do!  I need to plan my strategy for the family history library, so I can go straight there when I arrive on the Saturday previous to the conference.  Then, what to do Sunday?  Enjoy a tour of Salt Lake?  Stay locked in my room pouring over class choices for the conference?  Load up with carbs so I can research for extended hours?  (would that really work anyway???)  I"ve also signed up for the BYU Conference on Computerized Family History and Genealogy which will be the 26th and 27th of April (prior to the NGS Conference).

I spent the weekend going over research and comparing notes and family history stories to information available on gravestones.  One would hope they would come close to matching, but noooooooo.  But that, my friends, is one of the many joys of researching your family history:  uncovering mysteries, solving puzzles, discovering as close to the truth as you can come from 200 hundred years away.

02 April 2010


Here a Jones, there a Jones, everywhere a Jones - Jones (yes, it appears they may have intermarried or maybe just married other Jones families?).  Today I am researching the Jones family of these southern counties of Iowa:  Wayne, Harrison and Pottawattamie.

I must admit I have been putting this research off.  It is hard.  ( Do I hear a collective, 'ahhhh, poor baby'? )
Yet in many ways I have a head start.  A researcher from Des Moines, Larry Allan, (who is now deceased) spent years researching this particular Jones family.  And since he was a writer for the Iowa Genealogical Society at one point, he actually documented his research.  Another researcher, Torrence Allen Weisshaar wrote a book "Descendants of William Jones of North Carolina & Kentucky, with Allied Families in Indiana & Iowa" that details land records, bible records and family correspondence.

I have already started family group sheets, erased everything and started all over again. has really assisted with solving some questions.  A BIG THANK YOU to all those who contribute to sites like that so remote researchers can find info.  Prairie Trails Museum in Corydon, Wayne County, Iowa  also found many family group sheets and research from those who married into the Jones family.  My cousin Tracy from Whispering Breezes Cabins on Lake Rathbun (a great place to stay if you're down in that area!)  has even helped out with pictures from the Jones Family Cemetery near Corydon.
Old Church at the Jones Cemetery in Wayne County, Iowa

What I have found particularly intriguing is that this side of the family married a "Rife" and my cousin here in Colorado is getting ready to marry a "Rife" from Missouri.  Hmmmm, I wonder if we are related?  A project for another time.