Friday, August 31, 2012

FGS 2012 - Day 2

So I got a late start this morning and missed the Keynote address with Chris van der Kuyl of brightsolid, but I heard it was great!

The Exhibit Hall opened this morning at about 9:45 with much pomp and circumstance.  The Color Guard marched in and that was the sign for the doors to open.
Overwhelmed doesn't even begin to describe how I felt when I walked into the enormous exhibit hall.  There are more than 75 vendors with everything from books to DNA and from to maps to apps.  I think I only managed to visit about 10 before my first session.  One of the vendors I spent a little time with was Saving Memories Forever.  It's an iPhone/iPad app for recording your own memories or memories about your ancestors (don't worry - there's an Android app expected around October).  I'll have a separate blog post about the app later when I've had a chance to play with it a bit more.

At 11 a.m., Dr. Thomas W. Jones presented "Finding 'Unfindable' Ancestors."  What a treat!  ("celebrity" moment: I even got to meet him before he got started).  I originally participated in his Inferential Genealogy course with our SecondLife group, and I've been waiting quite a while to see him speak in person.  Key point from the session: when your ancestor "disappears," broaden your search chronologically and geographically.
I attended the FamilySearch luncheon and Eileen O'Duill presented "Irish Eyes are Smiling." The food was good and the presentation was fun.  I never knew that FamilySearch's automatic alternate-spelling feature made it so easy to find Irish records!

After lunch, it was time for "Copyright Law Surprises for Genealogists" with Benjamin Spratling, III.  Here's a surprise: I'll never fully understand copyright law.  I'd better put an attorney on retainer.  Hopefully I'll get a discount for being in the legal profession already.  What I did get out of the session was this - currently, copyrights only last for the life of the author plus 70 years.  I'm definitely going to have to do some more research on this topic.

Next, was the other speaker I've been waiting to hear in person.  Elizabeth Shown Mills presented "Finding Origins and Birth Families: Methods That Work!"  ESM told us about the 10 most common traps for researchers, which lead to self-created brick walls.  There was a lot of focus on strong documentation and strong analysis.  I see spreadsheets in my future.

I decided I needed a break, so I skipped the last session and went back to my room for a bit of a rest.  Then I went down to one of the restaurants in the hotel and ate dinner and "rehydrated" with fellow Geneabloggers Thomas MacEntee, Kathy Chastain, Tonia Kendrick, Amy Coffin, Diane Boumenot, and Linda McCauley.

At 7:30, findmypast hosted a launch party for FGS attendees.  I don't know who said genealogists are boring, but they've obviously never been to one of these events.  Food, drink, door prizes, and karaoke.  It just doesn't get better than that!  I was one of several Geneabloggers (see above) who performed "YMCA".  If anyone has video of that performance, there may or may not be a reward for your original film.

Overall, I'd call this a successful day - especially since I checked two great speakers off my "must see" list.  Tomorrow promises to be just as interesting ... I can't wait!

Do we share any ancestors?
Please email me at lostancestors [at] gmail [dot] com

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

FGS 2012 - Day 1

Today was Society Day at FGS 2012.  My schedule was packed full since 7 a.m.
It started with the findmypast Society Leadership Breakfast.  First of all ... there was bacon (yum!)  Then we got to hear Elaine Collins of findmypast briefly discuss the benefits of societies collaborating with findmypast to make a Society's digitized holdings part of their searchable global collection.

Then at 8 a.m., it was time to hear Josh Taylor, Business Development Manager for brightsolid, speak about Transforming Your Society into a Dynamic 21st Century Destination.  I always enjoy listening to Josh speak, but this might have been the best one yet.  It's not every day that someone can be so moved by a bag of dirt.  One of the frequent messages was that societies need to be proactive, and that the link between a society and the community is a two-way street.

Then we were off to our sessions.  The first session I chose was "Defining Mission and Standards for a Society Journal or Newsletter" by J.H. Fonkert.  He asked a couple of tough questions: Does your publication fit the needs of your members? How does it contribute to your mission?  We discussed some ideas on how to answer these questions positively, and I plan to present these ideas to my society when I get home.

Next I attended a case study on the Evolution of the Wake County Genealogical Society with Diane L. Richard.  When I read the syllabus for this session, it was like I was reading about my own society.  She presented a lot of different ways to handle various challenges within the society.  I plan to present these ideas to my society as well.

Quick break for lunch and we were off again!

I listened to Roberta "Bobbi" King explain the "Grand Design for Your Publications: Stand-out Ideas for Look and Appeal" as it relates to Society Newsletters and Journals.  Another very helpful session I plan to implement.

Then it was the session I had been waiting for all day: "Publicize it and Publicize it" by Paula Stuart-Warren.  This was a two-hour hands-on workshop that walked us through the best ways to publicize society events, from monthly meetings to annual conferences.  I got a lot out of this workshop and plan to utilize 99.99% of it.

The evening social was sponsored by the Alabama Genealogical Society.  We went to the historic Alabama Theater, an elegant piece of architecture which was built in 1927 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The interior of the theater was amazing.  It was in service until 1981 when the owners declared bankruptcy.  In 1987 the theater was restored to its original glory and it has been in business ever since.
"Big Bertha" the theater's original Wurlitzer organ
The ceiling in the lobby
We were honored with a private concert by Bobby Horton, a Birmingham native.  He regaled us with songs from the Civil War era.  Not only did he sing, he also played the banjo, guitar, fiddle, and a mandolin (not all at the same time).  Every song has a story, and Mr. Horton is a fantastic story teller, interweaving the stories and songs into a stunning performance.
This is an "action" shot ... he's playing really fast!
It was a productive, enlightening, entertaining, and exhausting day.  I expect tomorrow will be roughly the same, so I'd better hit the hay!

Do we share any ancestors?
Please email me at lostancestors [at] gmail [dot] com

FGS 2012 - Day -1

Yes, this is day -1 because the Federation of Genealogical Societies 2012 Conference doesn't actually start until tomorrow.  But tonight, I was invited to the pre-conference Blogger Dinner sponsored by FamilySearch (I felt so special!)
I found Thomas MacEntee and got my Blogger Beads (sponsored by DearMYRTLE - so thanks, Myrt!)  Dinner was great ... lasagna and steamed veggies with cheesecake for dessert.  I don't know if I enjoyed dinner or the company at my table more ... Thomas, Lisa Alzo, Amy Coffin, Kathy Chastain, speaker George Morgan, and Paul Nauta.  

Paul Nauta of FamilySearch gave a very nice presentation about some of the new things happening at FamilySearch, including Skype groups, Facebook groups, and online chat.  You can learn more about these new features here.
There was also talk about RootsTech 2013.  The conference will be 40% larger than past years.  There will be more classes with more speakers, including a new "Getting Started" track.

Interested in going?  FamilySearch is offering a limited-time early registration discount for RootsTech 2013.  Use promo code blog119 to receive $100 off the regular registration fee of $219.  Hurry!  This offer expires September 1, 2012.   After that, you'll have to wait until later in September to register (and you won't get the awesome discount).

What else is going on at FamilySearch?  Well ... there are two major projects in the works right now - U.S. Immigration & Naturalization Project and Italian Ancestors.  Both projects have exponentially more records than the 1940 U.S. Census and are in dire need of indexing volunteers.  Are you an indexer?  Do you have immigrant ancestors?  Then they need YOU!  (I'm not sure if there is a language requirement for the Italian records, but I'll bet someone at FamilySearch can answer that question)

After a well-deserved adult beverage with some Blogger friends (even a new one, Diane Boumenot!), I retired to my room and finished picking the sessions I would attend Wednesday (which is never going to happen if I don't get to bed pretty soon).  More tomorrow from Birmingham!

Do we share any ancestors?
Please email me at lostancestors [at] gmail [dot] com

Thursday, August 23, 2012

M is for ... MYSTERY!

So this story starts out as a disappointment, then a happy accident, and ends in a mystery.

Here's the deal:

My maternal 2nd great grandfather, Eugene Stiker, had a son named Frank.  He also had a brother named Frank (not someone I've done any research for, so ... out of sight, out of mind, right?)  In an effort to discover more information about Eugene, I requested the marriage record for Frank Stiker, the son.

[this is where the sad music starts playing]

Unfortunately, when I received the marriage record, it wasn't my Frank Stiker.  This Frank Stiker was born 20 or so years earlier, and his wife's name wasn't even close.  I set the record aside, thinking I might never find any new information about Eugene.

A few days later, I was working on something else in RootsMagic and happened to look on the left side of my screen and noticed there were TWO Frank Stikers.  Wait.  Really?  Hmm ... maybe ... just maybe ...

[happy music can start playing now]

Out comes the questionable marriage record once again.  Turns out the record is for Frank Stiker THE BROTHER!  Now maybe I can find some new information about their father!

So I start transcribing the record, which has tons of background information about Frank and the new wife, Ida Pfisterer.  This was the third marriage for both of them.  He was 55, she was 47.  Mental note: need to look for other marriages.  His first marriage ended in divorce 32 years prior and the second ended in death 2 years prior.  New mental note: look up divorce and death records too.  This is officially the first evidence I have of any divorces in my tree.  This is turning out to be a pretty significant find.

[cue the twilight-zone-y music]

Then I notice something a little weird.  HER first marriage ended in death 5 years prior and the second ended in divorce 4 years prior.

So Ida's apparently not real big on the whole grieving thing.  She was remarried AND divorced within a year of her first husband's death.  I dunno, I thought it was a little creepy. 

So now I'm intrigued ... what happened to her first husband?  What was the reason for the divorce from the second husband?  Is she a black widow and husband #2 narrowly escaped death?  Was she a fugitive?  How long were she and Frank married?  Was he onto her little scheme?  Did he get out in time?  I must find Frank's death records!  

Ida Pfisterer is probably as far removed from a blood relative as I have in my tree so far ... but I need to know more about her!  Is it wrong that I'm excited to have a potential murderer in my tree, even if it is just peripheral?

(Okay, I know it's pretty far-fetched, and I'm pretty sure I'll discover that she's just as boring as the rest of my ancestors ... but at least now everyone knows why I never get anything done)

Special thanks to Alona at Gould Genealogy for coming up with the Family History Through the Alphabet challenge!

Do we share any ancestors?
Please email me at lostancestors [at] gmail [dot] com

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

... In Which I Do the Genealogy Happy-Dance!

I was so busy doing the happy dance, I almost forgot to provide an update on my post (here) about the genea-angels at the Douglas County Historical Society in Armour, South Dakota!

When I sent my letter to the Douglas County Historical Society requesting information on the Armour House hotel, of which my 2nd great grandparents were proprietors, I fully expected the same response I had always gotten, which was "no."

To my surprise, I received a response rather quickly, and it wasn't "no!"  (Okay, I was kind of doing a little happy dance at this point).  The Society did, indeed, have a couple of photos of the interior of the hotel, and it was believed that my 2nd great grandfather was in one of the photos.

To say I was excited might be the understatement of ... well, ever!

I came home from work last Monday and there was a large envelope from the Society in my mailbox.  It was all I could do to walk ALL the way back to the house (about 50 feet) before I opened it! 

The first picture I saw was of the dining room of the hotel:
The next photo was of the lobby:
Now, before I go any further, I would like to point out that this was the photo said to show my 2nd great grandfather.  However, they said it was the gentleman behind the desk in his shirt sleeves.  I think they're wrong.  I believe the gentleman standing between the desk and the stove is Zenophile Lanctot (mainly because the other man is too thin to be him).  Here's his photo - you be the judge (just imagine him with a mustache):
Incidentally, after I scanned it, I enlarged the lobby photo enough to be able to tell that the calendar on the wall behind the desk was showing the month of November and the first day of the month fell on a Sunday.  I consulted my handy-dandy perpetual calendar and discovered that November 1 occurred on a Sunday only in 1908 and 1914.  Zenophile died in 1913, so the photo must have been taken in November 1908.  (Of course, this hinges directly on the hope that my inability to remember to change the calendar on the wall was not an inherited trait).

The final photo is of the kitchen area:
This photo was the one that caused me to do the happy dance ... like, for real.  The woman standing at the stove with her hand on the skillet?  That is, without a doubt, my 2nd great grandmother, Eliza Bourke Lanctot!  No one ever mentioned that she might have been in these photos!  Here she is (and you can see why I'm so sure that's her):
In addition to the three photos, I also received a photograph of the couple's grave marker and a copy of the deed to the two lots upon which the hotel was situated (I'm saving that for a later post).

Now I just have to try to identify all the other people in the photos.  Maybe they are their children and/or siblings!  I can't wait!!

Do we share any ancestors?
Please email me at lostancestors [at] gmail [dot] com

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

WikiTree Made Me a Profiler

This is the second in my series of posts about WikiTree.

I'm going to (try to) show you how I go about creating the profiles for the individuals on my tree.  It may not make sense to anyone but me, but here we go.

A profile can be created in different ways.  The first way is to upload a GEDCOM with selected individuals from your family tree program, and let WikiTree create the profile.  It's adequate, but it doesn't exactly grab your attention.  Here's what one of my unedited profiles looks like:
Don't pay too close attention to the source citations.  I uploaded this GEDCOM over a year ago - before I started revamping my tree with complete source citations.

Another way to create a profile is to do it from scratch and by hand.  If I had it all to do over again, I would have done it this way.  Mainly because the GEDCOM I used had a lot of errors in it, not including the poor or non-existent source citations.

I wasn't thrilled with the way the "virgin" profiles looked, so I decided to start playing with them a little.  It took some trial and error, but I eventually came up with a format that I liked.  Once those decisions were made for the first one, the rest of the profiles were relatively easy.

First, you'll need to click on the "Edit" tab at the top of the page:
You will encounter a section that will allow you to edit the personal data for your individual, as well as the family data for that individual.  This is where you will want to check and double-check the information in these areas to ensure that it is accurate.  (Yes, I have discovered incorrect information at this stage).
If you are editing a living person, the name may appear as "Living Jones."  You can change the name to the person's actual name, but you will want to make sure you set the security of the profile to "private."  (more information on that here.)

Now that you have entered the desired information, scroll down and you'll see a section to edit the text in the profile.  
I used this area for a biography of the individual, but it can be used for pretty much whatever you want.  Here's what's cool about this section.   WikiTree has buttons for all the basic commands (bold, italics, etc.).  But what if you want to do footnotes or link to another individual?  No worries - WikiTree has instructions for that stuff, too!
Did you notice?  My individual's surname is Schneider.  All the examples on the page use the surname for place names and whatnot.  How cute is that?
So if I wanted a sentence that said "Mary Alice and her sister Margaret Ellen were the first female members of the All Boys Club" with a link to her sister's profile, a link to the website for All Boys Club, and a footnote for my source, I would type something like this:
Mary Alice and her sister [[Schneider-283|Margaret Ellen]] were the first female members of the [ All Boys Club]<ref>The Big Schneider Book, Schneider Publishers, Chicago, 2011.</ref>
It's not pretty in the editing box, but it ends up looking like this:
See?  Easy peasy.  There are more in-depth instructions and examples for linking pages, profiles, etc. here.  More information on source citations can be found here.

You can keep seeing the finished product as you work by clicking on the "preview" button at the bottom of the text area.

After all is said and done, your profile will be as unique as your ancestor.  Play around with it and you will see that it's not as difficult or intimidating as it seems.  Don't be afraid.  Changes are tracked so mistakes can be fixed!

If you want to check out some of my "finished" (that term is used very loosely) profiles, check out these:
Louis Phelisa Lanctot
Lucile Frances Stiker

Now start profiling!

Do we share any ancestors?

Please email me at lostancestors [at] gmail [dot] com

Monday, August 20, 2012

L is for ... LOCAL PROGRAMS!

L is for ... LOCAL PROGRAMS!

Don't get me wrong.  I'm very excited about going to the Federation of Genealogical Society's 2012 conference in Birmingham next week.  But there's something to be said about conferences and workshops put together by your local society.

This past Saturday, my local society (Delta Genealogical Society) teamed up with another local society (Signal Mountain Genealogical Society) for the Chattanooga Area Genealogy Workshop.  We are two relatively small societies, so when our expected attendance almost doubled in the last 4 days before the workshop, we were pleasantly surprised!  We had about 120 people show up.

It went from 9 a.m. until about 3 p.m.  Lunch was provided.  Sessions ran about 1-1/2 hours and there were two sessions running simultaneously (one was aimed at beginners and the other was more for intermediate/advanced researchers).

There was a session on "Beginning Your Family History from Scratch" presented by Jim Douthat, Vice President of Programs at the Chattanooga Area Historical Society (CAHA), and just this past March was the first recipient of the James W. Livingood Historian of the Year award from CAHA.  Also on tap for beginners was "Treasures Hidden in Census Records," also presented by Jim Douthat.

I attended "The Times in Which They Lived" by Linda Moss Mines.  She is the Hamilton County (Tennessee) Historian, as well as a History instructor at Girls' Preparatory School here in Chattanooga.  (There were a few other things on her resume, but I forgot what they were).  What a fantastic speaker!  Although we probably had about 75 people in the room, I felt like we were sitting in someone's living room.  She really held my attention.  Quite honestly, I could have listened to her for the rest of the afternoon.

Unfortunately, I was asked to help with some behind-the-scenes duties that conflicted with the presentation by Rufus Williamson, President of the Delta Genealogical Society.  His topic was "DNA - Using Genealogy's Newest Tool."

Our main speaker was George K. Schweitzer, who has his own Wikipedia page.  If you ever have the chance to hear him speak, take it.  Do not hesitate.  Dr. Schweitzer has been researching for over 50 years and has so much information in his head, he rarely had to look at his notes (and even then it was probably just to make sure he was staying on time).  His topic was "Searching for Our Ancestors Across the Ocean," which was perfect timing for me now that I'm getting ready to start doing some overseas research.  Dr. Schweitzer always presents his topics in character (see lederhosen at left).  His presentation was not only incredibly informative, but also entertaining.  

I had the honor of meeting Dr. Schweitzer prior to his presentation.  He is probably one of the sweetest, cleverest, most personable, and smartest people I have ever met!   I was even able to get him to sign the book that I bought!

Overall, the program was very well done, and I'm glad I went.  The best part?  Only $20 to get in.  Yep, local programs rock!

Special thanks to Alona at Gould Genealogy for coming up with the Family History Through the Alphabet challenge!

Do we share any ancestors?
Please email me at lostancestors [at] gmail [dot] com

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: They are the 5%

My ancestors, that is.  Randy Seaver gave us another challenge with his post: What's Your Ancestral Name Number?

I'm going to preface my response with the following disclaimers:
1. My grandfather was adopted and I cannot find his biological parents, which wipes out one entire branch of my tree.
2. I have one documented incident of first cousins marrying (but I've heard rumors of more).  This eliminates one set of 4th great grandparents.
3. In the last year I have been reworking my tree to ensure that every fact has a source, so my tree is still very small and I haven't made it past my 4th great grandparents, or into any other countries, yet.

So, with that being said, here is what I have:

The percentage shown is with a full slate of ancestors.

However, if I remove the 252 ancestors from my grandfather's line and the 2 ancestors who are duplicates, my percentage is a little more favorable:  a whopping 7%!

Either way you slice it, I have some work to do.

(I just didn't have the heart to calculate the percentage for 15 generations).

Do we share any ancestors? 
Please email me at lostancestors [at] gmail [dot] com

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What's Not To Love About WikiTree?

This is the first in a series of posts about my experience(s) with WikiTree.  

I have been a WikiTree user since January 2011, and I love it.  I don't know why, but I feel personally responsible when someone doesn't appreciate the concept behind WikiTree.

There was a blog post about a week ago voicing some concerns a user was having with WikiTree.  I don't feel like this person gave the site a fighting chance.  I know they couldn't have reviewed the help topics or FAQs before they started using it.  Here's why:

WikiTree Invitations:

The poster's initial concern centered around the fact that they had to be invited to join WikiTree.  The invitation process is designed to keep folks from joining, dumping their GEDCOMs, not collaborating or maintaining their data, and ultimately leaving it for everyone else to clean up.  The servers were getting bogged down, so they went with an invitation-only system to ensure that everyone was agreeing to the  Honor Code, which promotes accuracy, courtesy, privacy, sources, and most of all - quality over quantity.

This process irritated the poster, which I think probably influenced every subsequent interaction with WikiTree.

There are currently 48,000 users on the WikiTree site.  As it stands, nearly 1,700 have signed the Honor Code, but more get added every day.  If you are already a user and you haven't read and signed the Wiki Genealogist Honor Code, I strongly encourage you to log in now and sign it.  It just makes sense.  (And that *other* paid site doesn't have one of these).

Privacy Settings:

Another of their concerns was that the security settings were "too complicated."  This is one of my favorite features!  Each profile has its own privacy settings.  There are six basic privacy settings:

Unlisted (completely hidden except to Trusted List)
Private (the setting for living people)*
Private with public biography
Private with public biography and family tree
Public - anyone can view, but only Trusted List can edit.
Open (anyone over 200 years old) - this means that anyone can view, but only those users who have signed the Honor Code can edit.

*There are 3 levels of private settings for living people, which are more clearly delineated here.

I am completely in control of the privacy settings for each person in my tree.  Rather than trusting some computer to determine whether I have living people in my tree, I am able to hide some, or all, of the information on living people.  (Except anyone who is under age 13, and the default setting is Unlisted).

GEDCOM Uploads:

Another of their concerns was that the size limit on the GEDCOM upload was a problem.  WikiTree limits its uploads to about 2,000 profiles.  From the GEDCOM FAQ:
If you have more than 5,000, it could be impossible for you to keep up with all the Trusted List requests, private messages, and merge proposals from other users. And if you can't keep up, that hurts the whole community. Therefore we are no longer importing GEDCOMs this large.
I only have 614 people on my WikiTree, and it's hard for me to keep up with everything!

Too Time-Intensive:

I agree that setting up the profiles does take more time than it does on other paid and free sites.  However, on WikiTree, I can decide what I want my profiles to look like.  If I want there to be a biography with source citations, I can have that.  If I want to put the death information first and the birth information last, I can do that.  If I want to make a special page for my great-grandfather's favorite dog (or car), I can do that!  Do you have that much freedom with the other sites?  Nope.  That's why my only public tree is on WikiTree.

Please, disgruntled WikiTreer, please go back and give it another shot.  I think you will be delighted with the flexibility and increased accuracy the site offers - not to mention the collaboration angle - instead of the cookie-cutter profiles that you find everywhere else.

Next time, I'll (try to) explain how I create my profiles using the tools available on WikiTree.

**Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with WikiTree, other than being a user, and I have not received any benefit or payment for my opinions here.

Do we share any ancestors?
Please email me at lostancestors [at] gmail [dot] com

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Chattanooga Area Genealogy Workshop - August 18, 2012

"Aiming to Locate Our Ancestors"


The Delta Genealogical Society and The Signal Mountain Genealogical Society, in joint sponsorship of this event, bring together genealogists and family historians - people who have done research all their lives, and those who have only recently become interested; professionals and non-professionals - who have a common desire to learn how to find more information about their ancestors. The conference will include programs for all skill levels of research experience and will feature tracks on census records, methodology, migration, and more! Lectures, workshops, meal events, and social events all provide networking opportunities with other genealogists. View the class schedule here.

Saturday, August 18, 2012
9:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.

First Centenary Methodist Church
Oak Street Center
418 Oak Street
Chattanooga, Tennessee

$20 per person at the door (box lunch included)

Hope to see you there!
Do we share any ancestors?
Please email me at lostancestors [at] gmail [dot] com

Monday, August 06, 2012

J is for ... JEWEL!

Special thanks to Alona at Gould Genealogy for coming up with the Family History Through the Alphabet challenge!

J is for ... JEWEL!

We find jewels in the most unexpected places, especially when we aren't even looking for them.

My 2nd great grandparents, Zenophile and Eliza Lanctot, were proprietors of the first hotel in Armour, South Dakota from around 1900 until about 1913.  It was called Armour House.  When Zenophile died in 1913, Eliza ran the hotel by herself for the next three years, until she sold it.

This couple has always intrigued me, mainly because Zenophile is one of my "gateway" ancestors (immigrated to the U.S.), and because in those days it wasn't very common for a woman to be calling the shots from a business standpoint.

I've known this information for quite a while, but I've never been able to find a photo of Armour House.  Apparently, it's because I was looking in all the wrong places.

Thanks to the suggestion of my geneabuddy Laura, and some brainstorming on my part, I discovered the Douglas County Historical Society in Armour, South Dakota.  I honestly didn't even know there WAS an historical society.  I mean, the town only has a population of about 700 people.

So I wrote a letter to them and dropped it in the mail last Thursday.  This evening, I received an email from the President of the Society, a wonderful woman by the name of Sharon Wiese, letting me know that they have three photos of the interior of the hotel, and that at least one of those photos purports to show my 2nd great grandfather, Zenophile!  They will be happy to send them to me.  (OMGOMGOMG!)

Her husband even went above and beyond, heading over to the cemetery to take a photograph of the couple's grave marker for me!  Hindsight being what it is, I'm pretty sure my reply email sounded like a 14-year-old girl who was just given free tickets to a Justin Bieber concert, but whatever.

Mr. and Mrs. Wiese are JEWELS.  Not only did they respond to my request faster than lightning, they went above and beyond the call of duty, AND they are sending me the photos at no charge.  They simply asked that I make a donation to the society.  Well, of course I will!

I have been truly fortunate to have crossed paths with these two wonderful people.  I am definitely putting the museum (yes, they even have a museum!) on my list of places to visit when I finally make the trip to South Dakota.

Do we share any ancestors?
Please email me at lostancestors [at] gmail [dot] com