Iron County Historical Society

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January 31, 2023 By: John Abney
Historical Timelines
Example of a historical timeline from the Rumsey CollectionFollowers of this blog will already know what a fan I am of the David Rumsey Map Collection.  The collection contains over 120,000 maps and related items, some dating back to the 16th century.  The best part, they are free to download in varying degrees of resolution (as long as you don't use them for commercial purposes).  What I didn't know and, again thanks to fellow historical society member, Judie Huff, is that the collection also contains over 300 historical timelines (including the one on the left).  More on maps, including the Rumsey Collection, is also included in our Links & More tab on the website, just go there and then click on Maps.
As to the subject of timelines, well, there's a whole lot more to say.  Timelines come in all shapes, sizes, and categories and all can be a valuable part of any family historian's tool box.  One of the most useful things that you can do is to build a timeline for each of your ancestors.  A few years ago, I collaborated with a group of Abney descendants on a book being written about the children of a man named Abner Abney.  One of his sons was Elisha Abney Sr. and there are numerous conflicting accounts of his life and family.  I created a timeline of his life, with sources. that we used as a starting point in our discussion.  This is just one type of timeline.  Another example would be take an ancestor and create a timeline (listing chronologically) all of their life events on one side of the page and then use the other side of the page to list historical events they may have had an impact on their life.  For example, say you have a male ancestor born in the early 1840s in the United States.  That date should immediately make you wonder if your ancestor served in the U. S. Civil War.  Like most other things related to family history, use timelines in the best way that they support your own research.  To learn more, simply do an on-line search for "using timelines in genealogy".
January 23, 2023 By: John Abney
New Name - Same Great Sources
In case you haven't heard, the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, UT and all local Family History Centers have a new name.  Detailed in an article here, the library is now known as the Family Search Library and the Family History centers as Family Search centers.  I've made multiple posts about just how valuable Family Search can be in your genealogical research, so I won't go into detail about them here.  If you've never been to the library, believe me, it is a "bucket-list" experience.  It's been a number of years since my last trip there, but when I was there, I met folks from around the world that had come there in pursuit of their family history.  One couple from Australia were spending their entire 6-week vacation in Salt Lake City, just do research at the library.  Luckily, much of the collection has now been digitized and has been made available on the Family Search website.  If you don't already have one, you will need to create a free account.  
January 17, 2023 By: John Abney
Googling for Grandma
My thanks to historical society Board member Judie Huff for this link that took me back quite a few years to a lecture I attended that was entitled, "Googling for Grandma".  My apologies to the author of that lecture as I don't remember the presenter's name so that I can give them credit for the title of this blog entry.
Back to point, if you haven't added Google searches to your box of genealogy tools, you should really consider doing so.  You might just be surprised by what you find.  Though covered very well in the article attached here, the point that I would emphasize the most is to be specific when formulating your search statements.  
January 17, 2023 By: John Abney
Scots-Irish Documentary
One of the things that I have learned in my 30 plus years of genealogical research is that our ancestors followed similar migration patterns.  By that, I mean that when they moved from one area of the country to another (or from one country to another) they often ended up settling on land that had similar characteristics to the land that they left behind.
So it is with the migration of the Scots-Irish into the Appalachian Mountains and for those that left those lands for places like ours in the Ozarks of Missouri.  After the early French settlers of towns like Ste. Genevieve and St. Louis, the next big immigration wave into Missouri were the Scots-Irish.  I suspect that many of you reading this know exactly what I mean as at least part of your own heritage comes from this migration.  To that end, I thought you might enjoy a short (31 minute) documentary on the Scots-Irish in the Appalachians.  You can watch it by clicking here.
January 16, 2023 By: John Abney
New Volunteer Opportunities Tab Added
When you look at the website's Main Menu, you will see a new tab for Volunteer Opportunities.  We hope you will click on it and more importantly, we hope you will consider volunteering to support one of the volunteer opportunities listed there.  Right now we are looking for volunteers to help keep our museum open and volunteers to assist in a new project that aims to digitize all of our existing school records and to make them available via a searchable index on our website.  While you would need to live nearby to volunteer at the museum, volunteers helping with the school records project can live just about anywhere with Internet access.  Thank you!
January 16, 2023 By: John Abney
FREE European Genealogy Databse

Quoted from Osterriech forscht, GenTeam is a European platform of genealogical databases. Both scientists and amateur genealogists can make their data available here for free for other researchers. The cooperation of collaborators from many different countries has made it possible to compile databases that one researcher could not typically manage alone due to the volume. Our focus is currently on the indexing of ecclesiastical sources from Lower Austria, on a baptismal and death index of Vienna, as well as on an overall index of Austria-Hungary's casualty lists from the First World War. The baptismal index of Vienna between 1784 and 1900 alone will probably comprise about 4 million data records, of which more than 3,000,000 have already been recorded. They will in turn become the basis for scientific research. Of the approximately 3 million data of the loss lists, more than 2 million have already been recorded.

The more than 64,000 registered users currently have more than 21 million records available. These users come from a variety of countries from around the world. They are primarily genealogists, although there are also scientists, historians and biographers who increasingly make use of this resource. GenTeam is free and there is no membership fee.

All voluntary membership is more than welcome!

Project coordinator Felix Gundacker made the platform available with GenTeam (and also promoted its potential), while researchers and research groups have the option to provide data and forward these lists to coordinators (sometimes after prior query/consultation). To conclude, the coordinator ensures that all data is put online.  Map courtesy of the David Rumsey Map Collection.

January 9, 2023 By: John Abney
State Hosptial Number 4's Cemetery
Historical society member, Judie Huff recently shared an article with me about the cemetery that was located on the property of the State Hospital #4 in Farmington, Missouri.  A link to that article is here.  The hospital opened in 1903 and while the last burial in the hospital cemetery took place in 1960, the hospital itself operated until 1987 when some of the original buildings were transferred to the Missouri Department of Corrections and the hospital itself was renamed the Southeast Missouri Mental Health Center.  So what does all this have to do with Iron County?  Well, if you go back to the 19th and early 20th centuries, you will find that the treatment of mental illness was very different than it is today.  Counties were financially responsible for their poor and / or mentally ill citizens.  If the family member couldn't be kept at home and the family did not have the financial resources to pay for their care, the county court would determine whether or not the individual could be lodged at the county poor farm or, if their condition were more serious, at one of the state hospitals.  County financial records show these expenditures and the county court records record the individual cases.  If a family member died in the care of a state hospital and the family didn't claim the body, it would often times be buried on the grounds of the institution.  The link to a transcription of the burials in State Hospital Number 4's cemetery (including section number and grave number) is here.  The cemetery itself is accessible to the public and is located near the St. Francois County Sheriff's Office on Pullan Road, 1/4 mile south of its intersection with Doubet Road.
January 5, 2023 By: John Abney
Free Webinar - Immersion Genealogy
I'm a genealogist.  I'm also a family historian.  To many, these terms mean the same thing.  To others, you may find yourself in hot water if you use one or the other to describe what they do.  The "John Abney definition" that distinguishes between the two is that a family historian goes beyond names, dates, and locations to try to find the stories of their ancestors' lives.  How they lived, their triumphs, their tragedies, their everyday life, what the ate, how they worshiped and where, etc.  
I just saw a new definition for this process, "immersion genealogy" and if you are interested in finding out how to do this, there's a free webinar on the subject on Saturday, January 7, 2023.  Lisa Alzo will be presenting her program "No Easy Button: Using Immersion Genealogy to Understand Your Ancestors". The webinar is being presented by the Florida Genealogy Society and is described as follows:

Family history is so much more than just names, dates, and places, or boxes, lines, and charts. For 21st century genealogists, it is easy to limit our research to the documents or other facts we find online, or to what others tell us to be true. Learn how to take your research a step further to understand your ancestors’ lives through “immersion genealogy”—the process of discovering where they lived, worked, and worshipped, and experiencing those customs and traditions they passed down through the generations. Key resources, methodology, and tips for reaching out to relatives and repositories, and how to make the most out of a trip to your ancestor’s hometown (whether in North America or across the pond) will be discussed.

(taken from website: on 20 Nov 2021)

To find out more or to register, go to:

January 5, 2023 By: John Abney
Help Us Save Money - Please!
I hope you are enjoying the Winter 2023 edition of the historical society's newsletter.  I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who was taken their name off the list to receive printed copies of the newsletter.  We are now up to 28 members who are no longer getting a printed copy of the newsletter.  Other than the expenses associated with the museum itself, the newsletter is the most expensive item in our budget.  Our production costs associated with the printing of the newsletter actually went down with the purchase of our new copier / printer, but as everyone is well aware the cost of postage continues to go up with another 3 cent price increase coming on January 22nd.  Yes, we've looked into metered mail, but with our low volume of mail, it didn't work out any cheaper.  
So, if you are still receiving a printed copy of the newsletter, we hope you will consider switching to the electronic version only..  It's full color versus black & white and it always has additional content to appearing in the print version.  Thanks for your consideration and you want to make the switch, just send me an email to
I've already started work on the Spring 2023 edition of the newsletter.  Besides finishing the transcription of the 1881 newspaper article on iron mining at Pilot Knob, the new issue will feature an article detailing the history of the Sligo & Eastern Railroad which ran from Dillard to Bixby and the Iron County Central Railroad which ran from Bixby to East End.  If you have any information or photographs  that might help me with this article, please consider contacting me at the email address listed above.  As always, if you are interested in having an article published in the newsletter, please let me know.  
January 1, 2023 By: John Abney
Winter 2023 Newsletter Coming Soon
The Iron County Historical Society's Winter 2023 Newsletter is coming out this week.  Finally, our readers will get the final installment in the article on the murder of Iron County Sheriff John Polk and the subsequent trials of his accused murderers.  Also included in this issue is Part 1 of a transcription of an 1881 newspaper article on the history of mining at Pilot Knob; Memorials for Velma Parker and Randall (Randy) Pribble; and one of Velma Parker's many articles, this one on Emerson Park.  The extended e-version of the newsletter contains an update on the restoration of the historic Iron County Courthouse along with selected photos from all three phases of its restoration.  Remember, this newsletter, along with every available newsletter from the time of the Society's creation in 1974 are available in Members Only tab.  The print version of the newsletter is scheduled to me in the mail by this coming Friday, January 6, 2023 (if not sooner).