Those Places Thursday: Dallas County, Iowa

Countdown to Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy:  18 days!
Growing up in Des Moines, Polk County, Iowa I heard stories of my Irish ancestors from my elderly aunt and my father (who was 55 when I was born).  I knew they had escaped torture in Ireland (my aunt relished telling me of how her grandpa's fingernails had been torn off by the English) and had come to Waukee (Dallas County), Iowa and farmed.  We used to visit an old cousin of my dad's who still lived in Waukee, but, alas, according to dad, there were no others!

Well, in the past several years I have found that not to be true...not true at all!  There are a ton of cousins still living in Dallas County!  Whatever reason dad had for not acknowledging their existence went with him to his grave.  Another whole section of the Irish cousins ended up in Dallas, Texas and were removed from any family discussions due to their abandonment of Catholicism.

Today I am grateful for all the resources available online for Dallas County, Iowa.  The Dallas County Gen Web site, operated by Conni McDaniel Hall and Lynn McCleary is one of the best around.  And thanks to many volunteers, the Iowa Gravestone Project should not be overlooked when searching families in this county.
This gravestone is at St. Mary's Cemetery, outside of Dallas Center, Iowa. Many of John's children are also buried here. has an abundance of newspapers for Perry, Iowa and with Dallas County so close to Des Moines, the State capital of Iowa, many stories can also be found in those papers as well.
List of Perry, Dallas County, Iowa area newspapers on
When researching in person, the county offices have been extremely helpful with assistance on fining probate and other court records as well as navigating (and understanding) land records.
1887 Land Record for John Hanlon
My brick wall here, is unraveling the truth of my Irish families path to Iowa.  They traveled first to Wisconsin, then Illinois, then Jones County, Iowa and Polk County, Iowa before landing in Waukee, Dallas County, Iowa.  And even with that info, they moved a few times within the county.  A lawsuit filed against the estate of our immigrant ancestor shows the adult children had moved on during their father's last year of life and he had depended on neighbors for assistance...neighbors to whom he promised his assets on his death. has updated some records this year, but like many of you, we wish it could be faster!  And yes, I've registered as a volunteer, tho my hours toward the project are pitifully small.
Iowa collections on as of 28 Dec 2011
I have been unlucky in finding Catholic Church records in Dallas County.  It would be great to find the family's baptismal records.  Even better if I could find any obituaries or marriage announcements.  Would like to research whether the other Brady, Finnegan, and Hanlon families in the area are related or not as well.  So much to do in so little time in Salt Lake!