Iron County Historical Society

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May 30, 2023 By: John Abney
Upcoming Genealogy Webinars
I apologize for the sparcity of my posts, but most of my free time of late has been taken up with the School Records Project (and probably will be for the foreseable future).  That said, I haven't forgotten about you, it's just that this week, I'm leaving on vacation with my wife and five-year-old granddaughter.  
Before I go, I wanted to share some upcoming genealogy virtual events from  Many of the events are free and this list is updated every week.  You can sign up for a weekely email as wekk to receive information on futuere events.  So, here's this week's list.  See you next week!
May 15, 2023 By: John Abney
More on Maps (Epilogue)
So, at the end of my last post I promised that I would eventually post examples of how I have used Google Earth Pro in my own genealogical research.  That has proven to be a little bit easier said than done.  In way of explanation, I created the three examples that I mentioned a number of years ago.  The images that I used to create the overlays were located in a specific folder on the laptop that I had at the time.  Since that time, I've changed laptops (although I migrated all my files and folders at that time).  And, now, today in fact. I'm getting another new laptop and will have to start that process all over again.  In trying to figure out why my examples didn't work, it seems that the links that I created to those images at the time were no longer valid in some cases and in the case the Ironton map overlays, the needed images were missing.  Something else to do.
So, for now, I am going to share the work that I did with the Old Mines Concession that I told you about in my last post.  This just shows the end results, to learn how to do this you will need to go to the on-line resources that I mentioned in my last post.  
So to start, here's a satellite image from Google Earth Pro with additional details like highway numbers included:
So next, here's that same map with an overlay of a highway map that happened to have the outline of the Old Mines Concession (the big oblong rectangle) along with rectangular survey markings:
Next, I overlaid the Old Mines Concession map on top of the highway map and lined up the boundaries of the concession with the boundaries on the map:
Finally, to see just the "Concession" map on top of the Google Pro satellite image, I reduced to opacity of the highway map.  Now, I can see exactly where my ancestors' land was located.   
I'm afraid the other examples that I promised are going to have to wait, though I will eventually recreate them.  As always, I welcome your comments or questions at
May 12, 2023 By: John Abney
More on Maps (Part Three of Three)
So, last week after lamenting about the impending demise of paper maps, I went on to embrace some aspects of what all this new technology can help us with in our family history research.  I also promised to use this week’s blog post to show how you can put old and new technologies together using Google Earth Pro ® (free download and you only need the free version).  This is very long post and I hope you will bear with me.
Before I get to the complicated stuff, let me once again share some AI generated content to give you a brief overview of using Google Earth Pro in your research:
Google Earth Pro is a powerful tool that can be used for genealogy research. It can be used to view historical maps, satellite imagery, and 3D models of places all over the world. This information can be used to learn more about your ancestors' lives and the places they lived.
Here are some ways to use Google Earth Pro for genealogy research:
  • View historical maps. Google Earth Pro has a library of historical maps that can be used to see how an area looked in the past. This can be helpful for identifying the location of your ancestors' homes, businesses, and other landmarks.
  • View satellite imagery. Google Earth Pro's satellite imagery can be used to see the current state of an area. This can be helpful for identifying the location of current landmarks that may have been mentioned in your ancestors' records.
  • View 3D models. Google Earth Pro has 3D models of many cities and landmarks around the world. These models can be used to get a better sense of the places your ancestors lived.
In addition to these features, Google Earth Pro also has a number of other tools that can be useful for genealogy research. These tools include:
  • Placemarks. You can use placemarks to mark the locations of your ancestors' homes, businesses, and other landmarks. This can help you keep track of the places you've researched and make it easier to find them again later.
  • KML files. You can use KML files to share your research with others. KML files are a standard format for sharing geographic data.
  • Measurement tools. You can use Google Earth Pro's measurement tools to measure the distance between two points or the area of a land parcel. This can be helpful for determining the size of your ancestors' farms or businesses.
Beyond what Google Bard had to say on the subject, I would also add that you can use Google Earth Pro to overlay the historical maps (or other images) over Google Earth’s satellite imagery.  When using the historical maps available at Google Earth Pro, they will automatically snap into place whereas when you use your own images, you will have to do some of the work yourself to make them fit.
I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, but if you have hung in with me this far, I hope you will hang on a bit longer.  First, the best thing you can do is to download Google Earth Pro and just play with it.  When you go to the download screen, I highly recommend downloading the desktop version.  I can’t speak for the version for your mobile devices, but it’s my understanding that the Web version does NOT have all the capabilities of the desktop version.  Remember too that you must have an Internet connection to use Google Earth Pro.
Next, I would recommend doing an Internet search for “Using Google Earth Pro for Genealogy” as there are tons of great free content out there on how exactly to Use Google Earth to your best advantage when doing your research.  One such presentation entitled “Ways to Use Genealogy Earth for Genealogy and Family History” presented by Lisa Louise Cook is available on YouTube.  As she is going through her examples, I would recommend having Google Earth Pro open in another window so that you can pause the presentation and use Google Earth Pro as she gives her examples. 
I had planned on sharing three examples of overlays that I had done using Google Earth Pro, but when I went to review them, I discovered that none of them were still working.  So, now, I will have to go  back and reload them all.  That’s OK, I needed a refresher course anyway.  Unfortunately, they will have to wait for a while, but when I do get them done, I promise that I will share them with you. 
For now, I would like to wish a Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there.  As always, if you have any questions or comments you can reach me at
May 8, 2023 By: John Abney
Website Updates Underway!
You may be noticing some changes to the website.  To avoid confusion, the Our Collections tab on the main menu has been renamed and is now the Exhibits tab.  There is also a new tab called Searchable Collections  that will become the public side home all of our searchable collections.  The first such collection being added is the School Records Project. 
Though it's not there yet, when you click on the School Records Project tab, under the Searchable Collections tab, you will soon be able to see a full description of that project, a link to volunteer to help transcribe the records, and the set of instructions that will show just how easy it is to transcribe the records into the spreadsheet volunteers are using.  Eventually, all users will be able to search for students and teachers using multiple search criteria.  In the interim, as transcriptions for individual schools are completed and validated, a temporary index will be available that will link the students and teachers to a given school and the scanned images for that school.
The scanned images will be located in the School Records Images tab in the Members Only area of the website.  Once the images are uploaded, members will only need to sign in to access the complete set of some 5,000 images broken out by school.  
As these pages are being built and transcriptions are completed, I request your patience.  This is a learning process for me too and as someone who is NOT a website developer,  I'm sure I will have to learn some things more than once to get them right.  For now, I invite you to click on all the tabs mentioned above (remember you have to sign in to enter the Members Only area) and check out what will be.
May 5, 2023 By: John Abney
More on Maps (Part Two of Three)
In my first post in this series, "The Importance of Maps to Genealogists"  I shared an AI generated article about maps and genealogy and shared some links to major digitized historical map collections.  Today's post is about the "old" and the "new"  when it comes to maps and some ways they can come together to help us in our research.
I read one of those articles the other day, something like “10 Ways to Tell if you are Old”.  Prominent on that list was the use of paper maps.  Well, call me a dinosaur because I not only use paper maps, I love paper maps.  It’s true though, paper maps like so many other things are becoming a thing of the past.  My two middle-aged adult children, both IT professionals, probably haven’t touched a paper map since the introduction of the first iPhone and maybe even before that.  So, like the U.S. government removing the teaching of cursive writing from the required Common Core Standards for K-12 education, children will also lose the ability to use a paper map because their parents won’t use one either.  This is the part where I sit shaking my head and wonder what our world is coming to?
That said, there’s something to be said for technology. As I mentioned in my last blog post on the subject of maps, there are some fantastic, digitized collections of maps out there.  Maps dating back hundreds of years in some cases that you can use to see where towns once were; where railroads, canals and roads once ran: or, where county, state, or national borders once were.  If you follow us on our Facebook page, you may have seen a post I did earlier this week on a website I recently rediscovered that takes digitized topographical “topo” maps to a whole new level.  Here’s an excerpt from that post:
"I was still in school finding mode after looking at one of the museum's old topo (topographical) maps and decided to Google historic topo maps for Ironton. Among the sites that came up was Topo Quest and this map for Ironton.  What makes this site unique is NOT the map, but all the other information available there. If you scroll down the page you will find a whole list of historic places and features, each linked back to the map and each with its exact location (including latitude and longitude). Not only that, but you can also click on maps for areas that border the map that is currently open."

My next instalment in this series will marry the old and new technologies together as I will delve into the subject of overlaying multiple layers of maps using Google Earth ®.  In one example that I will cover I used this to overlay a homestead plat to two maps of the same area, one modern and one about 100 years old.  Using the modern map, I could see exactly where the land was in relationship to modern roads.  Using the historic map, I could see that a road that no longer exists bordered that claim, giving me the knowledge of how my ancestors got to and from their home.  Again, there's more to come....
May 3, 2023 By: John Abney
NEW MO State Archives Database
If you are lucky enough to have Missouri ancestors, one of the best resources at your disposal is the Missouri State Archives located in Jefferson City.  If you haven't visited there in person, you should definitely add it to your "genealogy bucket list" of things to do.  
Besides their many on-line databases, the archives also maintains an enormous microfilm collection of county and municipal records among many of their other historical resources.  Just announced by the archives is that some of these microfilm records have been digitized.  Here's an excerpt from that announcement:
County and Municipal Records Database
This database provides PDF images of county and municipal records that have been digitized by the Missouri State Archives. These records are not searchable by name or subject, but can be browsed by county, office, record type, and date.
Content is regularly added to this database, but not all records that have been microfilmed are included. For a detailed list of the records held by the Archives for each county, see our County and Municipal Records on Microfilm page.
I've already checked to see what records have been digitized for Iron County and they include the Iron County Circuit Court records from 1857 - 1887 as contained in Record Books A, 2. 3. 4. 6. and 7.  You will need to keep checking back for the addition of new content.  While these records are NOT searchable, many of the books have indexes making it easier to find entries of interest.  Happy hunting!
May 1, 2023 By: John Abney
The Importance of Maps to Genealogists
Historical maps are an important tool for genealogists. They can provide valuable information about where your ancestors lived, the land they owned, and the communities they were a part of. Maps can also help you track your ancestors' movements over time, and they can be used to identify and locate historical records.
Here are some of the ways that historical maps can be used in genealogy research:
  • To find your ancestors' homes. Historical maps can show you where your ancestors lived at a particular point in time. This information can be helpful for finding other records about your ancestors, such as census records, land records, and probate records.
  • To track your ancestors' movements over time. By comparing historical maps from different time periods, you can see where your ancestors lived and when they moved. This information can help you to better understand your ancestors' lives and their experiences.
  • To identify and locate historical records. Historical maps can help you to identify and locate historical records that are relevant to your research. For example, if you know that your ancestor owned land, you can use a map to find the property boundaries. This information can then be used to find land records about your ancestor.
There are many different places where you can find historical maps. Some good places to start include:
Historical maps can be a valuable tool for genealogists. By using historical maps, you can learn more about your ancestors' lives and their experiences.
The preceding was written by Google Bard, Google’s large language mode (LLM) chatbot (still under development) by Google AI.  In experimenting with “Bard”, I have found it to be pretty good at simple tasks like, “Write a blog entry on the importance of historical maps to genealogist”.  At least thus far, when I’ve asked Bard to write something on a much more specific historic topic, the results have not been as promising.  The only change I made to Bard’s blog post was to add the links to the Online map collections that it mentioned. 
Could I have written something better?  Well, yes, I do believe that I could.  That said, I don’t think I could do it in less than 10 seconds like Bard did.  Getting to my roundabout reasons for this post, first, I’ve been on another one of my map tangents again and I thought this would be a good way to introduce the topic of how important maps are to genealogist and family historians.  Second, I thought this could be the first in a series of bog entries on this subject.  Third, we live in an ever-changing world and as much as I love an old paper map, there are ways to incorporate the latest innovations into our research. More to come…
May 1, 2023 By: John Abney
Virtual Family History Expo
I don't want to sound like a broken record, but if you are a serious family history researcher and aren't familiar with Family Search, you are missing out on a great resource. To be clear, I am NOT talking about the family trees or user provided information.  While each has it's place, Family Search is so much more.  How much more?  Well, I'm glad you asked that question.  Family Search is sponsoring a free, virtual Family History Expo on Saturday, June, 24, 2023.  Registration is required and you can register by clicking here.  
The Schedule of Events includes:
Time (ET) Session Information
10:00 – 10:15 a.m. Expo Orientation
10:15 – 10:45 a.m. FamilySearch Overview | David Rencher, AG, CG
10:15 – 10:45 a.m. Exhibitor Information Forthcoming
10:45 – 11:00 a.m. Break
11:00 – 11:30 a.m. FamilySearch Library and FamilySearch Centers Introduction | Lynn Turner, AG
11:00 – 11:30 a.m. Exhibitor Information Forthcoming
11:30 – 11:45 a.m. Break
11:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. – Overview of Website | Beth Taylor, CG
11:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Exhibitor Information Forthcoming
12:15 – 12:30 p.m. Break
12:30 – 1:00 p.m. The FamilySearch Catalog | Alyssa Gamble
12:30 – 1:00 p.m. Exhibitor Information Forthcoming
1:00 – 1:45 p.m. Lunch
1:45 – 2:15 p.m. Tips and Tricks for Discovering Your Ancestors in FamilySearch’s Historical Records | Debbie Gurtler, AG
1:45 – 2:15 p.m. Exhibitor Information Forthcoming
2:15 – 2:30 p.m. Break
2:30- 3:00 p.m. FamilySearch Digital Library – Uncovering FamilySearch’s Digital Book Collection | Becky Loveridge
2:30- 3:00 p.m. Exhibitor Information Forthcoming
3:00 – 3:15 p.m. Break
3:15 – 3:45 p.m. FamilySearch Wiki – Genealogy’s Hidden Gem | Amber Larsen, AG
3:15 – 3:45 p.m. Exhibitor Information Forthcoming
3:45 – 4:00 p.m. Break
4:00 – 4:30 p.m. FamilySearch – Online Research Help and Resources | Becky Adamson, AG
4:00 – 4:30 p.m. Exhibitor Information Forthcoming
April 25, 2023 By: John Abney
School Records Pages Coming Soon!
So, today's the day.  A "digital groundbreaking" will occur later this morning when I start building the file structure for the nearly 5,000 scanned pages of Iron County School records already in existence.  While the concept of how this will all work is still only in my head, here's am overview of what you will eventually see.
First, on the public side of the website, there will be a searchable master index of all the students and teachers contained in the records.  These records, for the most part, are the County Superintendent Records which is consist of a compilation or records from schools around the county.  Not all Iron County schools are included.  Most notably absent are the records from Ironton, but other schools are missing or have missing years.  These records generally cover the years from 1939 through 1954.  The searchable, master index will contain the student's or teacher's first and last names as well as the school.  This index, in-turn, will be linked to a page in the Member's Only area for the school. When it's first made available, the index will be small as only a limited number of schools have been fully transcribed, but it will grow over time as more volunteers come on board and more transcriptions are completed. 
Yes, you have to be a member to access the Members Only area of the website, but with dues still at $10 per year, we don't think that's asking to much considering the hundreds of hours of work that have gone into this project so far, not to mention all the work that is still to come.  So, going to the Members Only area, there will be a tab created for the "School Records Project".  Clicking on that tab, will take you to an introduction to the records along with a complete list of links to each school's master transcription file (which will also be searchable with built in links to the scanned images) as well as links to that school's scanned images broken down by year.  Even without a name, you will be able to browse the nearly 5,000 school record images and the master transcriptions as they are completed.
If you enter the page from the public side of the website via a link in the public master index, it will bring you to the searchable master transcription file for that school with links to the images.  Unlike the master index, names can and most often will be repeated in the master transcription file as there will be a link there for each time the name appears.
My goal is to have all the images in place as well as the completed transcriptions and their associated pages by July 4th, 2023.  It's a bit daunting and some changes related from turning my vision into reality will no doubt occur along the way.  You will be able to see many of the pages as they are built.  "Under Construction" signs will be prominently displayed to let you know that the page you are looking at is still under construction.  I would be remiss if I didn't take time to thank fellow Iron County Historical Society members Judie Huff (who is also on our Board of Directors) and Mark Hortsman for all of their work on this project thus far.  Without them, there would be no School Records Project, so Thank You!
Look for more blog posts on this topic as work progresses and stay tuned for the School Records Transcription Project Reboot that will be announced in our Summer 2023 Newsletter coming this July!
April 12, 2023 By: John Abney
Cemetery Research Presentation
Looking to get the most from your cemetery research?  If so, you may want to read the information below from our friends at the State Historical Society of Missouri.  To register for this free event, click here.
"Join Bill Eddleman, coordinator of the Cape Girardeau Research Center, for the next installment in his genealogy series, focused on getting the most from cemetery research. Family historians often want to locate the burial sites of their ancestors, but it is not as easy as it might seem. This presentation will give an overview of cemetery research methods, including how to locate cemeteries; the history of cemeteries in the U.S.; what to expect when visiting old cemeteries; how to use tombstone inscription information for genealogy; and how to inventory a cemetery. Eddleman will also provide details on various online sources for cemetery research. Online and free, registration required."