Iron County Historical Society

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December 6, 2022 By: John Abney
The Better Angels of Our Nature
With my apologies to President Lincoln for borrowing his words for my title, I wanted to share my thoughts with you on social media.  Suffice to say, that, in many ways, I believe social media in all of its forms has been detrimental to society as a whole.  You don't have to dig very deep on any social media platform to find hate and those (at both ends of the political spectrum) who espouse those views.  Personally, I've taken steps to make sure I don't have to see that content and then ignore it when something slips through.
At the same time though, there are redeeming qualities to social media and, for family historians and genealogists, there is a lot of useful content to be found.  I would start by mentioning a couple of local Facebook pages, those of the Iron County Historical Society and the Iron County Missouri Genealogy Chat group.  If you are looking for a great "how to" page, I would suggest checking out The Genealogy Squad.  Finally, if you're looking for a page with ,"a free genealogy calendar website of events & opportunities", I would suggest checking out the Conference Keeper Facebook page.
I've only just scratched the surface in this post.  Before going, I would also like to recommend checking out the Iron County Historical Society's YouTube channel.  There you will find a few videos from past programs, a virtual tour of our museum, and even a seasonal video featuring historical Christmas postcards set to music.  Happy Hunting!
December 1, 2022 By: John Abney
Stopping Unwanted Calls and Texts
Although not related to our mission, I've been asked to share this with you as a public service announcement.  I don't know about you, but I don't have a single day that goes by without multiple robo calls and texts.  Yes, I have my phone numbers on the federal and state Do Not Call lists, just like I am sure that many of you do as well.
These days though, it doesn't seem to deter the spammers, would-be crooks, etc.  The tips you find in this link may prove useful and, if nothing else, should serve as a reminder to be careful when sharing personal information with anyone.
Image courtesy of the FCC (Federal Communications Commission)
November 30, 2022 By: John Abney
Upcoming and Archived Newsletters
When I started writing the newsletter article about the murder of Iron County Sheriff, John W. Polk and the subsequent trials of his accused killers, I had envisioned either a two or three part article,   I just couldn't do the story justice though and get it all done in three parts.  The first three parts of the article appeared in the Winter, Spring and Summer 2022 newsletters.  As the Fall newsletter was devoted to family history, I held off on finishing up the conclusion of the article until the upcoming Winter 2023 newsletter,  I can tell you now that the article is done and, no, there will not be a Part 5.  
Since it's been so long between Parts 3 and 4, I wanted to remind all of our members that all of our previous newsletters are available in the Members Only tab of the website.  Just sign  by clicking on the Members Only tab and then you will see link to the past newsletters in the Members Only area.  This is one of your benefits of membership.
I hope you have enjoyed the article as much as I have enjoyed doing the research for the article and writing it.  I won't be giving away any spoilers here, but there are some plot twists near the end.  Thank you as always for your support and the Winter 2023 newsletter will be emailed  / mailed in early January 2023.  
If you want to help us save on operating costs and haven't already done so, please consider opting in to receiving your newsletter via email only.  These days, every penny counts and with postage costs aways going up, the savings really do ad up.  You can opt in to email delivery only by sending me an email at and thanks!
November 23, 2022 By: John Abney
1950 U.S. Census - Missouri
Family Search has just announced that the 1950 U.S. Census for Missouri is now available at the Family Search website.  This represents the culmination of efforts by 167 volunteers working as a group with the Missouri State Archives.  Their efforts resulted in the correction of 614,611 indexed names and 1,665,311 total corrections overall.   The Missouri State Archives sponsors a number of volunteer projects and you can find out more about them here.
November 23, 2022 By: John Abney
More Free Content
While we make it our practice not to endorse any paid subscription site, most of these websites have a significant amount of free content that you can access for free.  One such site is that of Family Tree Magazine which you can access through this link.  Here you will find access to free forms, how-to tips, genealogy guides, etc.
November 23, 2022 By: John Abney
Giving Tuesday
Giving Tuesday is the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving.  If you feel so inclined, we would invite you to help support our mission of preserving, protecting and sharing Iron County's rich history.  You can make your donation by clicking on the Donate tab.  The historical society is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and 100% of your donation goes towards the operation of the historical society,  We are an all volunteer organiztion and, as such, we have no paid employees.  Thank You!
November 20, 2022 By: John Abney
Before You Buy That DNA Test
Before you purchase a DNA test, there are some fundmental questions that you need to ask, both about the tests available and about yourself.  I would suggest Googling, "Questions to ask before buying a DNA test" as there is a lot of thought provoking information available about DNA testing on the Internet.  Here's the link to one such article.
What do you want to find out should be near the top of your list.  There are different types of DNA tests and you should become familiar with each before making a purchasing decision. 
Just as important, you should ask yourself if you are prepared to see unexpected results?  There are many, many examples out there where a person took a DNA test only to find out that the man they thought was their father or grandfather wasn't or that that they had half-siblings that they never knew about.  Similarly, you may find out that your heritage wasn't exactly what you thought it was.  When I got my test results back some years ago, I was surprised to find that approximately 1 percent of my heritage is from the Sub-Saharan region of Africa.  This result suggests that I have a fourth greatgrandparent of Africam descent.   I thought this could be an error, after all 1 percent is a very small amount, so I took a second DNA test with another company and got the same exact result.  I have since come to learn that, overall, somewhere around 3 percent of Americans of European descent have an African American ancestor.  As a student of history as well as family history, I know our country's history is a complicated one at best.  Far from being upset by my results, I am instead intrigued to find this ancestor and to learn their story.  
You should also be aware of the privacy debate that is ongoing when it comes to what DNA testing companies can do with your data.  Again, I suggest getting a basic understanding of this issue before purchasing a DNA test. The link to an article on this subject from Consumer Reports is attached here.
I've met numerous new family members that I never knew that I had through my DNA tests.  And, that number is increasing all the time as more people decide to take a test.  Whatever your decision, I hope you find what you are looking for and good luck!
November 20, 2022 By: John Abney
Which DNA Testing Service is Best?
With the holidays fast approaching, you are probably seeing more than your share of advertisements for Black Friday sales events.  The same holds true for DNA testing services who often use this time to offer their best prices of the year.
So which DNA testing service is best?  Like almost everything else, the answer is, it depends on your own individual wants and needs.  PC Magazine has published reviews of the major DNA testing services and the link to that article is posted here.
Within the article you will also find links to reviews of each of the major DNA testing services.  Your deciosion should not be based on price alone, but for each testing site that interests you, you should check to see if they are offering any special holday pricing.  
Before you make the decision to purcase a DNA test kit, there are some questions that you should ask yourself.  Those questions are the subject of my next blog entry so stay tuned....
November 17, 2022 By: John Abney
Our Two Family Trees
I had very good intentions this month, but once again, I've been overwhelmed by events.  I had hoped to do a series of posts related to DNA testing, but beyond everything else going on, I've just found the topic itself so daunting that I didn't know where to begin.  I'm no genetic DNA testing expert, let's get that out of the way right now.  But, like many of you, I've taken a DNA test (in may case two) and I have been fascinated with the results.   More on that still to come.
For now though, I wanted to start the discussion with a reminder that we all have two family trees.  There's our genealogical family tree where we identify our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc., but there's also our genetic family tree which is a bit more complicated.  Unlike the neat organization of our genealogical family tree, our genetic family tree is  complicated by the fact that our DNA is randomly passed down through the generations and not inherited equally across each generation of ancestors.  Here's a link to an article from The Genetic Genealogist that explains this much better than I can.
I still plan doing more posts on DNA testing over the next few weeks, so be on the lookout for those.  Until then, I hope you all have a very happy and safe Thanksgiving!
November 17, 2022 By: John Abney
Preserving the Pawpaw French Language
For those like me with French roots that ran through Old Mines in  neighboring Washington County, Missouri, I'm sharing a link to an article about the effort to save the Pawpaw French dialect that was once spoken by the residents of Old Mines.  Bon appetit!
The drawing at the left is the original 1803 Old Mines Concession that awarded land to the long-time inhabitants of Old Mines.  Philippe Francois Renault was issued a grant for lead mining in the area in 1723.  Debate over the exact founding of Old Mines goes on as does the debate as to whether the occupation of the area was permanent or seasonal.  The first written record that mentions Old Mines as a village was made in 1748 in the parish records of the Ste, Anne church at Fort de Chartres.