My Civil War summer is drawing to a close, and like the soldiers who stacked their arms and turned their faces homeward, so must I leave behind this remarkable period of history and move forward into the re-united future of the nation.
We’ve studied pension files and service records; read regimental histories and first-hand accounts by soldiers and officers; and visited battlefields. It’s been an amazing journey into a past peopled with heroes, villains and ordinary folks thrust into the limelight by extraordinary circumstances. Continue reading
Autumn has arrived in Iowa! The leaves are changing color, farmers are harvesting, and the days are turning cool. It’s a beautiful time to get out in the countryside and reconnect with your Iowa heritage. Here are a few October offerings to get you started.
Wednesday Oct 2, 2013 – Sunday Oct 6, 2013
Historic Quilt Show: Art and Science of Keeping Warm
9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Wednesday – Saturday; noon – 4 p.m. Sunday.
Living History Farms, 11121 Hickman Rd., Urbandale.
Enjoy a look at rarely-seen historic quilts from the nationally recognized Living History Farms quilt collection and explore the science and artistry of keeping warm. The Flynn Mansion hosts this display of quilts, covers, historic winter clothing, hand-knitted items and household textiles. Be inspired for chilly weather with this peek at how our grandparents made keeping warm beautiful. Children’s hands-on activities include quilt block coloring and sewing cards. The show is free with regular admission to the Farms. Contact: 515-278-5286. Website: http://www.livinghistoryfarms.org . Continue reading
Family History Conference Features Author of Annie’s Ghosts
The 6th annual North Star Family History Conference will feature Steve Luxenberg, author of the acclaimed Annie’s Ghosts: A Journey into a Family Secret. Luxenberg headlines a program including twenty-five educational presentations for both beginning and experienced family history researchers October 4-5, 2013 at Colonial Church in Edina, MN. The conference is hosted by the Minnesota Genealogical Society and is open to the public.
A Washington Post associate editor, Luxenberg worked with two teams of Post reporters that have won Pulitzer Prizes for explanatory journalism. Luxenberg’s investigative reporting experience helped him uncover uncomfortable family history — his mother’s decision to hide the existence of a sister, Annie, who was institutionalized for 31 years. Continue reading
Plans are set for this year’s Iowa Genealogical Society Fall Conference, to be held Friday – Saturday, October 25 – 26, at the Johnston Lions Club, 6401 Merle Hay Road, Johnston. Featured speaker Beth Foulk will present the following topics:
- Colonial Land. Explore the ways our Colonial Ancestors acquired land and the documents they created in the process. Learn about Company Grant Land, quit rents, military bounty land, deeded land, headrights, and indenture.
- American Revolution Genealogy.The War of Independence changed history; our history; our families’ history. It’s a story about which we want to know more. Did my ancestor help? …even a little? There’s much to be learned about our ancestors’ roles in this moment in history. Discover where to start, what the best resources are, and how to tackle the research.
- The Best of Genealogy Book Websites. There are excellent free, published books online to aid your genealogy research. More than just “how to” books or lists of names, these books will add color, history, and context to your ancestor’s life. This class takes a tour of whole libraries and the books you’ll find online. Bring your family tree to life with online books.
- “If I’d Only Known.” We all know that awful feeling when we’ve wasted our time, messed up the tree, or found a better, faster way to the results we wanted. This class outlines – with personal examples – many mistakes that you can now avoid.
- Cool Tools at the Midwest Genealogy Center. It’s a big library with lots of materials! Make the most of this valuable repository by attending this class. You’ll learn what’s at the library, where to find it, and how to use it. Plus pick up a few insider tips.
- Imported to America – Colonists for Sale! It may be surprising that not all Europeans came to America seeking the land of “milk & honey.” Some were “transported” as the sentence for their crime of stealing, prostitution, or other non-capital offense. Others paid for their passage with years of uncompensated labor. It’s a revealing story, and an eye-opening look at a not often told side of Colonial America. Break open the stories of 50,000 or more immigrants through the history and documents they left behind.
- Bonus Saturday Class: DNA – The newest tool for finding your family. What do all those phrases mean? When will it work and when won’t it? Presented by Bob Haskins.
Preregistration is required for this annual event. Cost: $105 IGS members/$125 non-members for both days. Single day registration: $65 IGS members/$85 non-members. Register before October and receive an early bird discount.
Contact: Iowa Genealogical Society, 628 East Grand Avenue, Des Moines, 50309. 515-276-0287. Website: http://www.iowagenealogy.org.
Co. D, 7th Iowa Volunteer Infantry
Pension files and service records are wonderful starting points for understanding your soldier’s war experience, but other resources, such as firsthand accounts from the war can add context and depth to your knowledge.Your ancestor may not have left personal papers but many other soldiers did. From generals on down to the enlisted volunteer, letters, journals and memoirs of those dramatic days abound. Many of those recorded experiences will closely match those of your own soldier, and will give you a sense of what he saw and felt. Here are a few selections to get you started. Continue reading
Bronze Sculpture, Corinth
A visit to Shiloh is incomplete without stopping at Corinth, just twenty-two miles southwest of Pittsburg Landing in northern Mississippi. My 7th Iowa soldier was captured near Corinth and spent several months in a Confederate prison, so visiting Corinth was a “must see” for me on my travels through the South. Corinth was Grant’s main objective in his march south through Tennessee, and the battle at Shiloh was a desperate attempt by the Confederates to preserve the city’s vital railroad connections. Continue reading
The Iowa Genealogical Society has scheduled some great classes for September. All activities take place at the IGS Library, 628 East Grand Avenue, Des Moines, unless otherwise noted.
Check out their website for details and other upcoming IGS activities: http://www.iowagenealogy.org. Or contact the IGS office: 515-276-0287 for class registration. Continue reading
It seems like everything happens at once this time of year. The start of school and the Labor Day holiday kick off a new season of Iowa activities. A wealth of historical events pack September– here are just a few you’re sure to enjoy.
Monday – Sunday, August 26 – September 1
Old-Time Music Festival & Pioneer Expo of Rural Living
9 a.m. – midnight daily. Plymouth County Fairgrounds, LeMars. All-acoustic music festival features old time country, bluegrass, folk, ragtime and mountain music. Dances in the evening, jams, workshops, food, arts & crafts. Good family fun. Camping available. Sponsored by the National Traditional Country Music Association. Cost: $15 per day per person, under 17 free; 7-day special gate pass $65. Contact: 712-762-4363. Website: http://ntcma.net/ Continue reading
7th Iowa Monument, Sunken Road, Shiloh
Two years ago I had the opportunity to visit Shiloh Battlefield in southern Tennessee. Last month I returned to this remarkable military park, to retrace the steps of my soldier ancestor and to remember the sacrifice of those who fought and died.
My soldier was with the 7th Iowa Volunteer Infantry Regiment, and although he did not see combat at Shiloh, many of his comrades did. The 7th Iowa was one of those regiments involved in holding the line of the “Sunken Road,” also known as the “Hornet’s Nest” on the first day of the battle. Their valor in the face of devastating fire was instrumental in delaying the advance of the Confederates and prevented them from sweeping Grant’s Army into the Tennessee River. Continue reading
August in Iowa means fresh sweet corn, State Fair, and back-to-school. If you’re wondering where the summer’s got to, you’re not alone! Here are some special learning and travel opportunities you won’t want to miss.
Now through Sunday, August 11: George Washington’s Acts of Congress. 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily. Special exhibit, Herbert Hoover Presidential Library, 210 Parkside Dr., West Branch. See George Washington’s personal copy of the Laws of the United States, First Session 1789. Museum admission: $6 ages 16 to 61/$3 ages 62+/children age 15 free. Contact: 319-643-6045. Website: http://hoover.archives.gov/ Continue reading