Saturday, December 29, 2012

Nebraska - The History Harvest

The History Harvest is a new learning initiative in the Department of History at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  It is a student-centered, team-oriented collaboration of community-based projects.  They are using digital technologies to share the artifacts as well as their experiences of the past,  ordinary life.  Community members are invited to bring and share their treasures, such as photographs, letter, objects, stories, etc.  Their goal is to provide a new foundation of publicly available material for historical study.

There are three communities available for browsing on their web page.  They are North Omaha, Nebraska City and Lincoln Refugee Communities.  In each of these communities there are collections that can be browsed and enjoyed.

Many people probably do not realize that Ralph Orduna who was born in Omaha enlisted in the US Army Air Corp during World War II and became a fighter pilot as one of the Tuskeegee Airmen.  He flew multiple recon and bomber escort missions.  The collection from this outstanding Nebraskan was brought to History Harvest by Philip Orduna Reis.  You can learn more about Orduna by going to the History Harvest web page, but also watching a You Tube video.

Who wouldn't love to locate an everyday farming records notebook for an ancestor?   Betty Stukenholtz shared this item and more for the Nebraska City Community of History Harvest.  The three pages from the notebook, dated about 1890,  represent everyday records that a farmer kept, revealing his interactions with workers and neighbors.  It belonged to Betty's great grandfather who emigrated from Germany and farmed in Richardson County, Nebraska.

There are family history interviews, such as that of Betty Wilberger who shared papers and stories about her family from Axtell, Nebraska.   One of the rare documents of the turn of the 20th century railroad was the drover's ticket.  You can view one in Wilberger's collection.  A drover was a person overseeing the transportation of cattle.

Become a part of the past by browsing these excellent collections, brought to you through the efforts of the UNL Department of History.  It is worth your time to see what is available and also determine if you are digitally preserving your artifacts.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Digital Maps at Omaha Public Library

The Omaha Public Library has an excellent web page with links to their digital collections.  The collections are Early Omaha:  Gateway to the West, Trans-Mississippi & International Exposition of 1898, Nebraska Memories, Early Nebraska and World Stereoview Collection.

I am particularly interested in the Early Nebraska collection which contains maps and atlases for the United States, Nebraska and county maps and atlases.  If you are interested strictly in Omaha maps, be sure to check out Early Omaha: Gateway to the West.

The time periods for the maps and atlases varies, but some are from the mid 1800s.  Many of the maps are for adjoining states, such as Colorado, Kansas, Iowa and the territories of Dakota, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.  They are excellent when trying to place your ancestors in a location at a specific time.

If you are interested in purchasing maps from the library, contact them at 420-444-4800 or  Be sure to provide them with the image number.

While you are on the Omaha Public Library web site, be sure to check out information about their genealogy reference collection.  There are nearly 8,300 items.  This is also a "must" if you are planning to visit the library.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Buried in a Nebraska Cornfield

Tombstone of Georgie Nowell 1882-1890

Buried in cornfield in south central Nebraska is a child named Georgie Nowell.  The stone marking the place of burial is almost three feet high and for generations has been left untouched in the cornfield.  Year after year, the farmers have disced, planted, mowed and harvested around it.  The grave is located on a farm south of Hershey in Lincoln Co., Nebraska.  Dates on the tombstone are 21 April 1882-24 July 1890 with “Rest sweet child in peace” at the bottom.  
Fred and Emma Nowell were in the county in 1880 when they are shown as being enumerated at O’Fallons, Lincoln County.  Fred was 24, born in New Hampshire and a stock grower.  Emma was 23, born in Massachusetts, keeping house.  There were two boarders living with them.  Eventually the township where they lived in Lincoln County was named Nowell Township.  Today very few people realize it was named after the Nowell family.
Looking for vital records on the couple, I was able to determine that Frederic D. Nowell married Emma Augusta Basford on 15 January 1880 in Boston.  He was born in Portsmouth, Rockingham Co. New Hampshire, son of Thomas and Lydia Nowell and a stock raiser.  Their marriage was also recorded in Chelsea, Massachusetts.  
Fred Nowell obtained land under the Homestead Act.  In July 1880, he settled on the land and on 31 May 1881 made application for the land.  It was the South 1/2 of the Northwest 1/4 and Lots 3 through 4, Section 4, Township 13 North, Range 32 West, 165 acres.  He obtained proof on the land on 5 June 1886 and received his final certificate on 9 June 1886.  
He built a stone  house with a board and sod roof 35 feet by 15 feet, with an addition 18 feet by 24 feet. There was a stable, shed, corral, granary, wells, fencing and he planted trees.  The papers in his Homestead file indicate that he was absent from the property for five months due to the sickness of his wife and three children.  They moved to North Platte and he accompanied them, but visited the property several times in that time period.  
Because of the loss of census enumerations between 1880 and 1900, we can only rely on information from the 1900 US Census where Frederic D. Nowell and family are in Juneau, Alaska Territory, living on Third Street.  Fred is shown as coming to Alaska in 1890 from Boston, Massachusetts.  He was born in July of 1855 in New Hampshire.  His occupation was stockman and mining.  Emma B. was born in Massachusetts in September 1861.  The children were Ethel who was 11 years old, born in July 1888 in Nebraska and Marion (daughter), 8, born November 1891 in Massachusetts.  From this information it appears the Nowell family left Nebraska and returned to Massachusetts sometime before 1892 when another daughter was born.  
Records of the United States Patent Office for patent No. 763,572, application dated 26 February 1903 and patent dated 28 June 1904 show that Danivill W. Starrett of Oakland, California was the assignor of three-fourths to Frederick D. Nowell, Juneau, Alaska Territory.  The patent was for a water-wheel governor, which was used in mining to maintain a constant rate of speed irrespective of the variations of the load.  
The Nowell family left Alaska before 1910 when they are shown living in the 24th Ward of Boston, Massachusetts in “The Peabody” on Ashmont Street.  Frederick is shown with his own income.  His wife, Emma, is shown as having had six children with only four living.  The others in the household, all single are Florence E., 29, b. MA, Frederick D. Jr.. 25 b. NE, Ethel P., 21, b. NE, Marian 18 single b. MA and nephew Ames, 17 b. MA.   
By 1920 the Nowell family had left Alaska and were living in Berkeley, California.  Frederick D. Nowell, as head of the household, was renting and was a mining engineer.  In his household was his wife Emma B., son Frederick D. Nowell, Jr., age 35, single, born in Nebraska, a secretary.  His daughter Ethel Nowell was 31, single and an artist.   
Alumni records of Harvard University indicate that Frederick Drown Nowell, Jr. graduated 1908-1909 and was living at 2814 Derby St. in Berkeley, California.   The World War I Draft Registration provides more information on Frederick Drown Nowell, Jr.  He was living at 924 N. Curtis in Alhambra, California and working as an account for Ventura Refining Company.  He was born 26 December 1884 and his mother is shown as a contact person.  The registration form was filed in Los Angeles County on 12 September 1918.  
Nowell residence in 1930
The 1930 US Census shows the Nowell family living at 478 Vernon in Oakland, California.  They were renting for $65 a month.  Frederick is shown as the operator of a mine.  Florence E.  was 49, single an a teacher in the public schools.  Frederick Jr. was 45 and a sales manager.  He was also single.  Living in the household was Frederick Sr.’s son in law, George F. Ware, director of a crude oil company and his daughter Alexine B. about 4 1/2 years of age.  George’s wife, Marian, was deceased by 1930.  By the time the 1940 US Census was taken George F. Ware had married his late wife’s sister, Florence.   

From all indications, the Nowell family remained on the west coast.  The only visible trace of their time spent here in Nebraska is the tombstone of their first born son, Georgie. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Genealogy Award

Nebraska Genealogist of the Year 2011
On Friday, May 4th at the Nebraska State Genealogical Society Annual Conference, I received the award of Nebraska Genealogist of the Year, 2011.  The conference was held in Grand Island, Nebraska.

I am humbled to receive this from my peers.  From an assignment in genealogy in 4th grade my genealogical research and studies have blossomed.  There are others in the state as well deserving of the award.  And to those who would like to receive such an award, keep trying and achieving.  Genealogy is a learning process ... daily learning.  Then apply what you learn!

A special thank you to the Nebraska State Genealogical Society for presenting me with this award.

------- Ruby

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Annual Conference of Nebraska State Genealogical Society

Mark your calendar for May 4th and 5th.  Those are the dates for the 2012 Nebraska State Genealogical Society Annual Conference.  It will be held at the Midtown Holiday Inn in Grand Island, NE, located at 2503 South Locust Street.  The speaker for this year's conference is Laura Prescott.

The cost for the conference is $85 for both days.  This includes lunch and the syllabus.  One day of conference is $50 and includes the syllabus and lunch.   A block of rooms has been set aside in the Midtown Holiday Inn.  When you call to reserve a room, be sure you ask for one of those rooms as the rates are discounted.

Registration for the conference can be made online at the society's web page.

Laura Prescott
Laura Prescott is a professional researcher, writer and speaker.  For seven years she worked for the New England Historic Genealogical Society before starting her own research business.  Her lectures should be very interesting and helpful.

See you in Grand Island!

Friday, March 9, 2012

North Platte Genealogical Society Meeting

The North Platte Genealogical Society (North Platte, Nebraska) will meet on Wednesday, March 21st in the North Platte Public Library meeting room.  The meeting is from 7 to 9 pm.

This month Cheri Hopkins of Alliance, Nebraska will be presenting an interesting program on Antique Photos and Cherished Reflections.  She will explain how clothing and hair styles help us identify the time period of old photographs.  That, along with the types of photos, provide more insight into the history of our ancestors.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Lincoln-Lancaster County Genealogical Society

The Lincoln-Lancaster County Genealogical Society (LLCGS) in the capital city of Lincoln, Nebraska, is an active group who provide education and guidance in genealogical research.  They also promote the collection and preservation of records of historical and genealogical value.

The society holds monthly membership meetings that are open to the public.  In addition to their regular meetings, they also have educational programs or discussion groups.  By clicking on Events on the home page, you will find information about the programs.   Meetings are open to the public.

In addition to their meetings and education programs, the society publishes a monthly newsletter for their members.  Their genealogical collection is housed in the Ella Johnson Crandall Memorial Library at Union College in Lincoln.  It is open to the public.  Their collection is not limited to Nebraska resources.  The college is located at 3800 South 48th Street in Lincoln.  Union College is a Seventh-Day Adventist college and closed on Saturdays.  The library hours are:

Sunday  1 pm - 10:30 pm
Monday-Thursday  8:30 am - 10:30 pm (closed during school year on Tuesdays 10:20 to 11:30 am)
Friday  8:30 am to 1 pm

If you are in the area of Lincoln, Nebraska, try to attend one of their meetings or educational programs.  It will be worth your while to also spend time at the library.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Nebraska Courthouse Web Pages

Nebraska in 1895
Genealogical research in Nebraska should not be limited to the large collections, such as, or even to USGenWeb pages for Nebraska.  You should always check online for Nebraska courthouses, using a Google search.  Almost all of the courthouses have web pages.

If you are planning to visit a courthouse, look for the location information and hours.  In some cases, there will be more detailed information pertaining to the county offices.  You can also call a specific office regarding their records, if they are within the courthouse or need to be requested from a storage area, or if they have been archived in another location.

I have found interesting information on Nebraska county courthouse web pages.  For example, Hamilton County has an excellent collection of maps.  These include village plats, county roads and an excellent cemetery map of the county, all of which can be downloaded in PDF.

Nearby Hall County has a link on their county courthouse web page for maps and atlases for Hall County which include the years 1885, 1890 and 1904, along with early maps of Grand Island/Hall County plus early maps of Nebraska.  There are also links to important histories of the county.  Whoever designed their web page has the genealogist in mind.