Tuesday, March 31, 2009

April Genealogy Events in Nebraska

April is the month genealogists come out of their cocoon.  While winter doesn't seem to be completely over here in Nebraska, it still a good time to plan on attending one or more of the great events being held in April right here in our state.  

April 2nd and April 9th (Thursdays) - Classes at the Family History Center, 3000 Old Cheney Road in Lincoln, Nebraska.  Each class begins at 7 pm and will be free, but pre-registration is requested. April 2nd - "Correspondence" ... learn how to network to research your family history 
April 9th - "Using Multimedia In Your Family History Research" ... Internet resources, saving documents and photos and sharing them 
To register, call 402-423-4561 or e-mail Tina Wells, FHC Director at tmwells@radiks.net.

April 4th (Saturday) - Grand Opening of the new location for the Southwest Nebraska Genealogical Society (SWNGS), 1 p.m.  The society and their library and computers are now located in the Merit Building, Suite M3 in downtown McCook, Nebraska.  It is on C Street between West 1st and Norris Avenue; parking lot within walking distance.  Patrons should enter on the north side of the building on C Street and take the elevator to the M level suites.  

April 18th (Saturday) - Genealogy Seminar at Mid-Plains Community College, South Campus on State Farm Road in North Platte, Nebraska; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., presented by Ruby Coleman.  
9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.  "Dot to Dot ... Effective Research" (evaluating research needs; class participation in solving research problems)  
1 p.m. to 4 p.m.  "Tracing Ancestors Through Migrations" (study of migrations and learning where to locate your ancestors) 
More information 308-534-1940 or rcoleman@inebraska.com 
Pre-registration is recommended  308-535-3600 (ask for Tom Gorman's office)   

April 25th (Saturday) - Spring Workshop presented by the Greater Omaha Genealogical Society; doors open at 8:15 a.m. and workshop is from 9 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. - Nebraska Methodist College, 720 N. 87th Street, Omaha, Nebraska 
Featuring Roger P. Minert, professor at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.  His topics will be Civil Records in Germany; Communicating With Agencies and Individuals in Europe; Church Records in Germany; Avoiding "Self-Defeating Behaviors" in German Family History. Download a flyer for this workshop at their web page.  

April 30th, May 1st and May 2nd - Scottsbluff Nebraska -- annual Nebraska State Genealogical Society Conference - featured speaker Julie Miller, C.G.  Her topics are The 5 Steps of a Genealogical Proof; Lost in Translation:  How to Cite Genealogy Sources; Chasing the Link:  Passenger Arrival Lists; Firing up the Next Generation of Genealogists!; When Grandpa Went Off to War:  U.S. Military Records.  Events will be held at the Harms Advanced Technology Center, 2620 College Park in Scottsbluff.  Download a brochure at the state web page.  

Hope to see some of you at these great events!  

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Trails Across Nebraska

The Great Migration across the middle of the continent primarily began in 1841.  Earlier than that  steamboats brought people on the Missouri River to the eastern part of the territory of Nebraska.  During a twenty year period of time, approximately 40 to 50 steamboats plied the waters of the Missouri River.  The Platte River served as a natural corridor for migration and eventually provided a vital link from ocean to ocean.  The primary trails in Nebraska included: 

South Pass Trail- key to the Continental Divide and then on to the west coast; the Platte River provided a natural link to the South Pass in what is now Colorado 

Oregon Trail -  a famous trail that followed the Little Blue and Platte River Valleys with eastern connecting points along the Missouri River at Bellevue, Nebraska City and actually further south at St. Joseph and Westport Landing in Missouri

Mormon Trail - originally used by fleeing Mormons who camped at Florence in what is now Omaha, also known as Winter Quarters 

California Trail or California Road - used by gold seekers; also known as the Independence Road; followed the Oregon Trail until it reached the area near Fort Hall and then dipped southward to Sutter's Fort in California 

Overland Stage Trail - alternative route designed in 1858; provided a link from the Platte River to the Green River area; a more direct route than the original route along the North Platte River; went up the Lodgepole to Cheyenne Pass; became the route taken by the Union Pacific Railroad 

The two most famous trails in Nebraska were the Oregon Trail and Mormon Trail. Traditionally the Oregon Trail followed the south side of the Platte River.  The Mormon Trail was on the north side of the Platte River, then following the North Platte River westward. However, in my years of research of early pioneers using both of these trails, this was not always true.  In some cases diaries reveal that pioneers to Oregon were also on the north side of the river and in a few cases Mormons were traveling on the south side toward Utah.   In some years the river changed course and in some cases flooded, so the routes would be diverted.  

I live between the rivers, a short distance north of the South Platte River.  Further north along the North Platte River would be the route of the Mormon trail.  The magnitude of people traveling through here is incomprehensible.  This all took place to make Nebraska a great state. I hope you enjoy the YouTube video, "This is Nebraska."  It is one of my favorites.  

Monday, March 23, 2009

Nebraska State Genealogical Society

In 1978 some avid genealogists organized the Nebraska State Genealogical Society.  It has been going strong since and is a source of help and support for people doing research in Nebraska.  

Membership in the society runs from June 1st to May 31st of the following year.  Members receive a subscription to the quarterly magazine, Nebraska Ancestree and to the quarterly newsletter, NewBrassKey.  They can also borrow microfilm and books from the state society's collection.  For more information about the types of memberships, fees and also the advantages of becoming a member, go to the Nebraska State Genealogical Society web page.  

The society has a Family Recognition program.  A First Family certificate is available to those who have an ancestor settling in Nebraska by 1867.  The Pioneer Family certificate is available for those who prove lineage to an ancestor settling here between 1868 and 1879.  The Century Family certificate is for those who settled 100 years prior to the application.  Samples of these are on the society's web page.  

The Members Only area of their web page is being developed.  You can also access their book catalog through the web page.  The annual state conference will be held April 30-May 2, 2009 in Scottsbluff, Nebraska.  You can read about this and sign up by going to the web page. 

Support the state society ... join now and enjoy the fun!  

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Nebraska Beginnings

Of the 50 states, Nebraska is the 16th largest with a total area of 77,359 square miles.  Known as the Cornhusker State, Nebraska's roots are deep in the history and geography of the United States.  In a much earlier time, rivers carved and coursed their way across the area that is now known as Nebraska.  Ancient sand dunes that are now covered with soil and grass, rose up in the north central portion of the land.  Drainage through the sand created an aquifer stretching for hundreds of miles north and south.  These formations of land would be instrumental in the settlement and creation of a territory and state that would be called NEBRASKA.  

This land was purchased by the United States government 1803 through the Louisiana Purchase.  Within a few years exploration began.  From those early contacts with the area, Nebraska exemplifies civilization in westward motion as millions of people eventually traveled the natural course of the Platte River Valley.  The human rivers of migration had a geographical indentation on the land and an historical impact for future generations. 

Rivers that were carved across the land provided a system of ladders that would be instrumental in migration, settlement and survival in the new land.  They all wind their way into the Missouri River, which eventually finds its way to the Mississippi River.  Nebraska's rivers would receive names such as the Platte River, Republican River, Loup Rivers, Niobrara River and Elkhorn River.  Even the smallest of streams and creeks provided the early explorers and settlers with life sustenance.  

The first settlement of any type was in 1810 at Bellevue along the Missouri River.  The first white settlement there was in 1823 with the formation of the actual village.  The first military post was Fort Atkinson, established by the U.S. Army in 1819.  We will discuss Nebraska's military posts in another blog.  When Major Stephen H. Long followed the Platte and South Platte Rivers in 1819 he declared that the region was unfit for agriculture.  It was detailed on his maps as being the "Great Desert."  It was generally felt that if trees did not grow in soil, nothing else would grow ... and the area was significantly treeless!

In 1842 John Charles Fremont explored the area and stated, "Indians and buffalo made the poetry and life of the prairie, and our camp was full of their exhilaration."  The word Nebraska first began to appear in publication in 1842.  He referred to the Nebraska River which was a name the Otoe Indians gave the Platte River, meaning "flat water."  

The area became known as Nebraska Territory in 1854 and encompassed land now known as Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota and Idaho.  Until then, the government refused to allow white settlers into the area.  When people did begin to enter Nebraska to stay, they did not venture far from the the Missouri River in the eastern portion of the territory. 

And so ... now you know some of the early origins of Nebraska.  

Friday, March 20, 2009

Welcome to Nebraska Roots and Ramblings

NEBRASKA became a state on 1 March 1867.  It is a grand state which people explored and passed through on their way to the west coast.  Fortunately, some found their way back and others took advantage of the Homestead Act of 1862 and 1866 to obtain land in Nebraska.  

There are many Nebraska resources available for researchers.  This blog will be devoted to research and resources in Nebraska.  There will be information pertaining to genealogical events in the state and a lot of helpful hints and tips for doing research.  Occasionally a post will pertain to a Nebraska library that has a genealogical collection.  

Stay tuned for more on Nebraska ... home of many genealogists and home of the Big Red Huskers!!