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29 December 2011

Countdown to Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy Part 2

Santa brought me a sweatshirt to wear while in class at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy....what do you think?

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!

27 December 2011

20 Days til Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy & Research Trip! Brick Wall 1: William Morlan (1821-1878)

Counting down to the best week long genealogy class ever!  This will be my 5th year of attending the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (over the past 12 years).  Much prep to do and I'll start off with one of my more difficult brick walls: the parentage of William Morlan, born 1821 in Tennessee, married to Louisa Jane Jones in Putnam County, Indiana in 1841 and died in 1878 in Appanoose County, Iowa.   (Family Group Sheets below).

Speculation has William's parents as Elijah Morlan and his wife Mary Ann Countz.
Add to this brick wall the problems of multiple spellings (Morlan, Moreland, Morland, etc).

Depending on whether the speculation is correct, the siblings on the family group sheet could be correct or not! And I have no idea where to go with this research.

Information about William's father being Elijah comes from hints, like these below, that I find as I do research.  This is a page from the History of Appanoose County, Iowa, the biography is that of Belinda Jones Morlan, and someone has written in the margin that Belinda's husband was the brother of William, and were fathered by Elijah Morlan.

Biographical History of Appanoose County, Iowa

More reliable is the information I have on William Morlan and Louisa Jane Jone's descendants.  Marrying into the Jones family was the best thing he did as they were very good at keeping records and gave birth to quite a few descendants who were passionate about preserving their family history.

The research goal with the descendants is to track them to current as far as possible, filling in as many of the blanks as possible...finding their stories, recording their history.
I sent in a Family Finder DNA test thru and would like to find some connection to the 100s of results they have provided.

Here is the Family Group Sheet for William Morlan and Louisa Jane Jones:

I do have Louisa's gravestone and obituary (no copyright worries-I took this picture when I went back to Iowa a few years ago and visited the very beautiful Jones Cemetery in Wayne County, Iowa).

Jones Cemetery, Wayne County, Iowa
One goal of this trip is to find any past issues of the Jones - Davis Newsletters.  I have seen a copy of a page from the Prairie Trails Museum in Corydon, Wayne County, Iowa.

From the Feb 2, 1904, Iowegian.
P. S. If you are going to head to Salt Lake City to get in a few days of reseach prior to the 2012 Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, I hope you have your hotel rooms!  There is a HUGE Outdoor Retailer Winter Market Convention that has sold out many of the downtown hotels.