Iowa’s Courthouse Records: Identify, Access & Understand

by Alice Hoyt Veen, CG [note: this article was featured in the Spring 2014 issue of Hawkeye Heritage]

Jefferson Co. Courthouse, Fairfield

Jefferson Co. Courthouse, Fairfield

Consider your life and the many ways you interact with government: federal, state, county, and local. Your Iowa ancestor was no different—he had to pay taxes, register land deeds, pass his assets on to his children, become a citizen, vote, etc. Each point of interaction with government created a paper trail that reveals a wealth of information about your ancestor’s life and the society in which he lived. In Iowa, especially in early years of statehood, the county was the primary interaction point for your ancestor. It’s important to identify, access, and understand the county records relevant to your ancestor. Don’t settle for the basics—dig deep. You’ll be surprised at what you may learn. Continue reading

Iowa’s Courthouse Records: Plan Your Trip

Webster County Courthouse, Ft. Dodge

Webster Co. Courthouse, Ft. Dodge

Plan Your Trip: Twelve Tips

Each county official is unique in how he or she approaches public access to records. Your experience in one courthouse may be entirely different from what you encounter in another. It takes a bit of patience and perseverance, but onsite research is well worth the challenges. Here are twelve tips to consider as you plan your trip: Continue reading

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

Iowa Calendar: August 2014

Aug 2014Saturday, August 2
Grain Harvest
11 a.m. – 4 p.m., weather permitting. Living History Farms, 11121 Hickman Rd., Des Moines.

Experience the many methods used to harvest oats and wheat from 1850 to the present and help bring in the harvest. From hand power to horsepower, witness it all as you hear the smash of the flail and the roar of the steam-powered thresher. Contact: 515-278-5286; Website:

Saturday, August 2
Architectural Walking Tour
4 p.m. – 5 p.m., MacNider Art Museum,303 2nd SE, Mason City.

Explore Mason City’s Prairie School architectural heritage. See the largest group of such homes on a unified site, ending at the Stockman House, a home designed by Frank Lloyd Write in 1908, his first in Iowa. Cost: $4 per person. To register, contact: 641-421-3666. Website: . 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 Calendar: July 2014

postcards_0002 - CopySunday, June 29, 2014 – Sunday, February 22, 2015
Railroads of Muscatine County

Muscatine Art Center, 1314 Mulberry Ave., Muscatine. Museum hours: Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday – Sunday 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. Closed Mondays and holidays.

New exhibition! Since 1855 when the first railroad line was constructed in Muscatine, the city has laid claim to over thirty-five named railroads. Some advanced the city’s prosperity, while others were merely proposed or renamed by active railroads as they grew or came out of bankruptcy. In the early 1900s, Muscatine had four active railroads, two inter-urbans and a city trolley system. 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