Iowa’s Courthouse Records: Learn More

Carroll County Courthouse

Carroll Co. Courthouse, Carroll

Resources in Print:

Alice Eichholz, editor, Redbook: American State, County, and Town Sources, 3rd ed. (Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2004). Visit the Iowa section for county origins, formation dates, and earliest records information. Continue reading

The Power of GPS (Genealogical Proof Standard)

by Alice Hoyt Veen [note: this article is featured in the July issue of the Iowa Genealogical Society Newsletter]

power4What if you could access a tool so powerful it could help you resolve your toughest genealogical problems? Such a tool exists, and it’s available to genealogists at every level of experience. It costs nothing to use and once you understand how it works, you can apply it to every aspect of your family history project. The Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) is that tool and it should be in every genealogist’s toolbox—whether you are a beginner or an experienced researcher. Continue reading

Learn More About GPS!

Genealogical Proof Standard I

power4Coming this fall to the Iowa Genealogical Society: IGS instructor Linda Greethurst teams up with Certified Genealogist Alice Hoyt Veen to present a series of five classes plus an initial orientation session introducing the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) and how to apply it to genealogical research situations.

Goals: to help dedicated beginners understand and apply sound genealogical principles to their new projects and inspire them to reach higher in their goals; to provide all researchers with tools that take their projects to new levels of discovery, understanding, and excellence. Continue reading

Iowa’s Oldest Courthouse

Van Buren County Courthouse, Keosauqua, Iowa

Van Buren County Courthouse, Keosauqua, Iowa

In the past year I’ve visited more than a dozen Iowa courthouses for various client projects and research. Every courthouse is unique, both structurally and in how the courthouse staff interacts with researchers. While I’ve enjoyed each and every courthouse visit, I’m always happy when my travels take me to Van Buren County, home to Iowa’s oldest courthouse.

Keosauqua, the Van Buren county seat, is located at a broad, horseshoe bend in the Des Moines River. Once a thriving riverboat town, the pace is slower today. The courthouse, built in 1843, is a two-story Greek Revival structure situated high on a bluff above the river. Constructed of brick with oak framework, the walls are twenty-two inches thick on the first floor and eighteen inches thick on the second. Native walnut woodwork trims the interior. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is the oldest courthouse in Iowa which has remained in continuous use. Continue reading

Warrior President

Rutherford B. Hayes: Warrior & President, by Ari Hoogenboom. Kansas, Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1995. 626 pp. Photographs, maps, index & source notes. Hardcover.

Rutherford B. Hayes 19th President 1877 - 1881

Rutherford B. Hayes
19th President 1877 – 1881

Rutherford Birchard Hayes was born 4 October 1822 in Delaware, Ohio, the son of Rutherford Hayes and Sophia Birchard. His father, a storekeeper, migrated to Ohio from Vermont in 1817. He died ten weeks before Rutherford Birchard Hayes was born. Sophia did not remarry. Her brother, Sardis Birchard, a strong influence in Hayes’s life, provided financial assistance and educational guidance. Continue reading

IGS Open House: Answers From the Past

Saturday, 21 June 2014
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Iowa Genealogical Society Library, 628 East Grand Avenue, Des Moines.

Iowa Genealogical Society, Des Moines

Iowa Genealogical Society, Des Moines

Tour the library, visit with twenty-one outstanding organizational exhibitors, and sample the vast resources of the IGS library. I will be one of several IGS volunteers on hand to assist with your research questions. Continue reading

Migration Routes: The National Road

National Road line map

The National Road, by Philip D. Jordan. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1948. 442 pp. Hardcover. Illustrations, photographs, map, source notes.

If your ancestors came to Iowa in the 1800s from eastern states, it’s possible they traveled the National Road. Extending 600 miles from Cumberland, Maryland, it crossed the states of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, terminating at Vandalia. The Road served as a major migration route for pioneers heading west in the first half of the 19th century. Continue reading

Migration Routes: Online Resources

Learn more about America’s migration trails online:

Beverly Whitaker, Early American Roads and Trails ( :   2014).pioneers

“Zane’s Trace,” Touring Ohio, the Heart of America ( :   2014).

Cyndi Howells, “Migration Routes, Roads & Trails,” Cyndi’s List ( : 2014).

Many historic maps identify trails and wagon roads:

Cartography Associates, David Rumsey Map Collection ( : 2014).

University of Alabama,”Historical Maps of Ohio,” Alabama Maps ( : 2014).

Library of Congress, “Maps,” American Memory ( : 2014).

Carleton's 1850 Sectional Map of Iowa

Carleton’s 1850 Sectional Map of Iowa

One of my favorite Iowa maps, found digitally at American Memory, is Guy H. Carleton’s 1850 Sectional map of the state of Iowa, compiled from the United States surveys also exhibiting the internal improvements, distances between towns & villages, lines of projected rail roads &c. &c. (Dubuque: Guy H. Carleton, 1850).

Detail Davis County, Carleton's 1850 Sectional Map of Iowa

Detail Davis County, Carleton’s 1850 Sectional Map of Iowa

It’s a great map, showing the layout of Iowa’s counties, section lines, waterways, communities, and major trails as they existed in 1850. You can zero in to see specific counties in greater detail. Many of the communities have long since disappeared; this is a wonderful resource for picturing the “lay of the land” as your ancestor might have experienced it.

Iowa Genealogical Society Road Trip

Midwest Genealogy Center

Midwest Genealogy Center

Monday, June 9 – Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Iowa Genealogical Society is sponsoring a research road trip to the Midwest Genealogy Center in Kansas City. This trip affords IGS members and friends a great research opportunity and time together to get to know local people with a strong interest in genealogy. MGC volunteers will be available to assist participants with their research. Continue reading

Soldier & President: Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant: Soldier & President, by Geoffrey Perret. New York: Random House, 1997. 542 pp. Hardcover. Maps, source notes.

18th President Ulysses S. Grant 1869-1877

18th President Ulysses S. Grant

Choosing a biography of Grant is almost as difficult as choosing one for Lincoln. Books abound for both men. Many authors choose to focus on Grant’s military career and not his presidency with good reason: Grant’s two-term presidency was rocky at best. Geoffrey Perret explores Grant’s life from beginning to end, but devotes less than a hundred pages to his presidency.

Grant’s life is truly an American story. Born on the Ohio frontier in 1822, Hiram Ulysses Grant was the first child of Jesse and Hannah (Simpson) Grant. Ulysses experienced childhood much as many of our ancestors did. His ambitious, self-educated father was a tanner who rose above the hardships of frontier life and provided a solid, prosperous lifestyle for his family. Jesse adored his oldest son and supplied Ulysses with as many educational advantages as possible, including a slot at West Point. Continue reading