This was a great weekend! Ritchey and I attended the Louisville Free Public Library’s Kentucky History and Genealogy Conference on Friday and Saturday. This was a FREE conference. There were seven choices of lectures for each time slot – four each day.
I started with Using Google Earth to Pinpoint Your Ancestors’ Locations on Current Maps by Chris Hettinger. Are you familiar with Google Earth? It is a program you download to your computer. You can enter any address or country or state and it will take you to that place – you can look at street views and other things. But you can do so much more with it – and that’s what Chris Hettinger taught. You can take an old map and overlay it on to google earth to find where your ancestors lived – and the same area in today’s world.
Phil DiBlasi, the Staff Archaeologist at the University of Louisville, gave a talk on 19th and 20th Century Burial Practices. He gave information on the funeral and burial practices of these time periods, but also gave information on finding more information about unmarked graves – in which I was extremely interested. Ground penetrating radar will show disturbed ground structure and excavation features, movement or voids caused by collapse of the coffin or casket, and sometimes the coffin or casket itself. I want to do this at the Linton family cemetery in Washington County. There are seven gravestones in the cemetery that is 52’ x 67’. And through letters and other information I know there are more people buried there. I’ve already started saving!
After a lovely lunch at The Brown Hotel we attended Digging Up Grandpa Without a Shovel by Sharon Withers. As you may guess from the title, it is a revival of our ancestors through DNA testing, but Sharon also gave interesting information on the way bits and pieces from our ancestors come down to us. How many of you have tested your DNA? Ritchey and I both did an autosomal testing, and I have tested for my mitochondrial ancestry.
The final session we attended Friday was Walking the Paths of Earth No More: Finding Your Civil War Ancestor by Nancy Ritchey. This was chocked full of information on sources and sites for records of Union and Confederate soldiers. The Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Database is supposed to be exceptional – https://www.nps.gov/civilwar/soldiers-and-sailors-database.htm.
After a good dinner at Pestos Italian and Persian Restaurant – with a friend we saw at the conference – it was an early night for me!
Saturday began with the keynote address by Dr. John Kleber, who talked about his Dutch ancestry and early migration to Kentucky.
Our first session was Researching Your Revolutionary War-Era Ancestors by Denise Hall. Her program and handout was full of information and sources to prove your lineage from a Revolutionary War veteran. One source that I had not considered as proof of lineage were deeds and land records. Anyone can visit the DAR website – https://www.dar.org/. Click on GRS at the top of the page to begin your search.
After a quick lunch at a sandwich shop we were back for Mastering Census Records by Jana Meyer. I think the full amount of information located in census records is overlooked. You do not only find names and ages of your family members, but occupations, where they and their parents were born, if they fought in a war, the address where they lived, how many years a couple has been married, how many children a wife has had and how many are still living, etc. Not all information is found in each census, but if you search for the same ancestors in all available census records you can get a very good idea about the life of the family.
The last session we attended was Tackling Tough Cases with DNA – From Clues to Conclusions by Debra Smith Renard. We were particularly interested in this one since Ritchey’s father was adopted and we wanted to know if he could still become a member of SAR using DNA tests to prove his lineage. And you can! At least with SAR, DAR is a little more particular.
Everyone I spoke with enjoyed the conference and found all sessions very valuable to their search for their ancestors. Hopefully this will become an annual event! I would highly recommend attending a genealogy conference – and there are many. It will only give better insight into genealogy research.