Getting ready for my research trip

This weekend is the Ancestry Day conference, sponsored by the Midwest Genealogy Center of the Mid-Continent Public Library and Ancestry.com. It’s being held near Independence, Missouri, about four hours from my home in St. Louis. I love conferences and learning opportunities, so I’m really excited to attend.

Attending the conference has given me the perfect opportunity to do a little family history research and meet more-distant family members. My mother was born in Jefferson City, Missouri, and moved with her family to Spokane, Washington, when she was three. I was born in Seattle and moved to Walla Walla, Washington, when I was five. I moved to Missouri in 1989, but have never made the trek to western Missouri to meet my mother’s cousins there.

So on Friday, I will meet several first cousins of my mother, along with her aunt (my grandfather’s sole surviving sibling) and also visit the graves of my mother’s paternal grandparents. I’m really looking forward to meeting these family members ands seeing family landmarks.

The day after the conference, I’m going to travel to Meyer Cemetery, in Hudson, Missouri, to visit the graves of my mother’s maternal grandfather, great grandparents and great great grandparents. I sure hope they have gravestones to provide me with some data. (I struck out last summer with another ancestor’s graveyard.) I had downloaded the book, Genealogy: James McKinley, 1792-1872, Richard Anderson Jeffries, 1823-1914 and Joseph Price, 1818-1904, from Scribd. It’s providing me with plot numbers for the graves in Meyer Cemetery, so I’m hopeful!

It’s already Wednesday so I’m busy trying to get myself together for my first research trip. I figure the things I need to get together are:

  • Directions (of course)
  • Registration information for the conference
  • Synched family tree on my iPhone
  • My file of handwritten (unverified) ancestry charts from previous research attempts, which provide valuable clues and which I suspect I’ll want to refer to during the conference
  • The old photos my mother has given me, in case my cousins haven’t seen them
  • The printed out pages from the e-book, containing directions to Meyer cemetery and plot numbers
  • Chargers so all my devices are working!

It’s so nice to make a list–I already feel less overwhelmed! I’ll be sure and blog about some of the insights I gain at the conference, as well as reflections upon meeting my family members.

This weekend’s find: Application for headstone or marker

Application for Headstone or MarkerThis weekend, I was searching for burial information for my great grandfather, James Earl Jeffries (1883-1944). His death certificate told me his body had been removed to Appleton City, Missouri for burial. I’m going to southwest Missouri next month and hope to visit his grave. So I’m trying to pinpoint where exactly to go.

Imagine my delight when the second item that came up on a search of his name at Ancestry.com was a link to a government Application for Headstone and Marker. James was a veteran: He had fought in the Philippine Insurrection. His widow, my great grandmother, applied to the War Department for a headstone for his unmarked grave two and a half years after he died.

The form not only tells me that he was buried in Pleasant Grove Cemetery in Appleton City, but it gives me his military rank, company and regiment (and serial number), as well as enlistment and discharge dates, and the fact that he was honorably discharged. Even more intriguingly, it supplies an address in Pueblo, Colorado, for my great grandmother. I had not been aware she lived in Colorado after her husband died. I had thought (from conversations with my mother) that she had moved directly to Spokane, Washington, from Missouri after his death. Her sister, I believe, lived in Pueblo. Time for a conversation with my mother!

Finds like these are always so exciting. To me, there’s something so real about a form filled out by hand. I feel as though I’m there, witnessing a little bit of history. And it’s so wonderful when the hand written form, like this one, is completely legible.

Meeting cousins, visiting cemeteries

Ancestry Day badgeOne of the huge benefits of starting this blog is becoming acquainted with my mother’s first cousins, the children of my grandfather’s siblings. They’ve shared genealogy info and family photographs and have been welcoming and interesting people.

I’m very excited because I recently learned about the Midwest Genealogy Center’s Ancestry Day, a family-history conference that will be held in conjunction with Ancestry.com on March 16 in Blue Springs, Mo. That’s a 3+ hour drive for me from St. Louis, but I like a road trip, so I eagerly signed up.

What makes it more enticing is that my grandparents Crawford Brown and Susie Jeffries Brown, grew up in western Missouri and I’ve arranged to spend the afternoon with my cousin, Penny, and visit the cemeteries where my great grandparents (her grandparents), Arthur John Brown and Rhoda Wheeler Brown, are buried, in Milo, Missouri. I hope to visit her mother, my grandfather’s sister, who just celebrated her 99th birthday. In addition, I think we’ll go to Appleton City, where my grandfather grew up. Penny says that his picture (or perhaps it’s his brother’s picture) still hangs in Appleton City High School.

I have family on my grandmother’s side who are buried in Appleton City. I need to do a little digging to see if I can find exactly where, but according to my records (I’ve been really successful in finding death certificates for this little branch of the family), my great grandfather, Earl Jeffries and both his parents (John D. Jeffries and Susan Price Jeffries) AND his grandfather, Richard Anderson Jeffries (my great great great grandfather!) are buried in Appleton City . I’m very excited at the prospect of seeing all these gravestones. Perhaps I’ll find other family members graves there as well!

I’m very excited for a triple whammy that weekend: meeting cousins, visiting cemeteries, and going to a family-history conference. Life is good.

If you’re planning to attend Ancestry Day at the Midwest Genealogy Center, please post a note in the comments. I’d love to meet you!

Planning a genealogy research trip

I live in St. Louis and my maternal roots go back to western Missouri. My mother was born in Jefferson City, but moved to Spokane, Washington, in 1936 with her family. I grew up in Washington and always knew I had Missouri cousins. Though I’ve lived in Missouri for 23 years, I’ve yet to seek out those cousins, nor travel to the area (some four or five hours away) to try to track down genealogy records.

But now that I’m back into the family history research, I’m itching to go on a genealogy research trip. Looking at my calendar, I see that I have three free days next week, so the thought occurred to me that that might be just the time to take a little road trip to look into the Browns and the Jeffries.

Of course, as an organized person, I know that such a research trip will require some planning if it’s going to be productive. But I have to admit that when I think about planning it, my head starts spinning a little. So I figure what I need to do before I take such a trip is the following:

  • See how many of the four western Missouri counties in my database I can realistically fit in a quick trip
  • Choose the counties I’d like to visit
  • Figure out what family members I’d like to research, what records I already have and what I’d like to track down
  • Locate the cemeteries where I know folks were buried, based on death certificates
  • Create a list of other family members who might be buried in those cemeteries
  • Find out where I might be able to obtain the records I seek
  • Know just what I’m looking for when I go to courthouses or libraries
  • Figure out where to stay
  • Figure out driving routes
  • Ask my mother for names of cousins I might reach out to

When I write it all down like that, the spinning in my head slows down somewhat. I need to remind myself that I don’t have to get everything done in one visit. I can take plenty more road trips. But I do want to put some planning into my first one so that it’s at least somewhat productive.

This sounds like great fun. I will post the results (and some photos) here, after the research trip takes place!