Midwestern Roots 2014~Day One

Great start to the conference! Opening keynote speaker was Mr. James H. Madison, author of Hoosiers: A New History of Indiana and Hoosiers and the American Story. His books for sale in the exhibition hall were sold out before lunch! How much I’d have given to be a student in one of his classes at IU!

The next session I sat in on was: “The Tired, The Poor, the Huddled Masses, and the Wretched Refuse: US Immigration, 1820-1954,” presented by Daniel Pfoffenberger, AG. A lot of helpful information in this lecture, the push/pull factors of immigration from one’s home country to the US, immigration laws in the US, ports of entry, ports of departure, where to find records, etc. He did touch on checking name variations, using his own surname as an example.

Then, it was lunch break and I made a huge near-mistake. Lunch was provided, so I decided to hit the exhibit hall for awhile and wait for the lunch line to die down. Well, going into a genealogy conference exhibit hall is much like I’m Alice falling down the rabbit hole. I had 1.5 hours for lunch but for some reason I was thinking I had 2 hours. So, after milling around the exhibit hall for an hour, I headed on over to lunch, thinking I had an hour. No wonder the seating area was nearly empty! As I was enjoying a lovely salad and checking my email and Twitter, a couple ladies behind me exclaimed, “Oh! We’re going to be late!” and jumped up and ran off. I checked the time; I had 4 minutes to get to the after-lunch session. Yikes! I headed that way and actually went to the wrong room first…oh my goodness!

I made it to the correct room, right next door, and was actually seated before it began. Thomas MacEntee presented “Building a Research Toolbox.” He gave many examples of how to do this so one could choose an approach that is comfortable for them, such as creating a free webpage on Weebly, of which, yes, I’m currently in the process. It is a landing spot, basically, for all the links I come across that I find useful. As an example, I needed to find an index of court records for Logan County, KY, a few days ago, a site I know I had been to in the past. Guess what? It took me upwards of an hour to relocate it! I definitely need an online toolbox.

Next up was “Finding Females,” given by Amy Johnson Crow, CG. Check records under your female ancestor’s name, her husband’s name, her children’s names, her neighbors and associates’ names to find mention of her. In other words, one might have to do some searching on an array of persons to learn more about the lady in your life.

The last session of the first day was one I consider most valuable. The speaker was F. Warren Bittner, CG, and his presentation was “Using the 1880 Census to Solve 1770 Research Problems.” And, I’m so glad I didn’t miss any of it! We looked at censuses and discussed inferences about ages at time of marriage, time of birth, even time of death. Inferences need to be proven with additional research. We also touched on citing an inference. If Mr. Bittner is presenting at a conference I’m attending, you can count on me being there!

I had a couple hours before the dinner banquet, which I used to relax in my room and do the usual catch-up on social media. At dinner, I sat with two lovely couples (one couple was upgraded to the penthouse suite due to the hotel having to move people around!) and three other very nice ladies. We shared our genealogical stories, research pitfalls and mysteries, and a delicious dinner. Entertainment was provided by Daniel Poffenberger (see above) and his program was entitled: “The Much, Extremely, Incredibly Lighter Side of Family History: Funny Names and Other Fascinating Finds from Years of Research.” Very enlightening! Although, if you’ve spent any time at all researching 19th century records, you know you’ll come across some doozies. One name he showed us was “Manure Ford,” to which the woman to my right asked if they were an ancestor of mine. It’s all possible! The funniest story he told, though, I will post as a separate post all by itself because it deserves it. Suffice to say, I’d bring up the image of this story later and still laugh out loud.

After dinner, it was off to my room for some solitude and preparation for day #2.

As an aside, I’ve decided to finally plan a family reunion since no one else in my family deems it necessary. It will possibly be 11 October 2014. I’m also planning a trip to south-central Kentucky in a couple weeks for a 1-day symposium and related research in Logan County, KY, and a day in September near Indy for lectures by John Philip Colletta, PhD. Much like Mr. Bittner, when I see Colletta’s name, I know I must attend!


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