Getting Back in the Swing of It – 2017 NGS Conference: Family Lives Here

My blog has suffered a bit since I began ProGen 18 months ago but I’m happy to say that I completed ProGen last month and it was absolutely worth all the work! Just in time too because I was, once again, fortunate enough to attend the NGS conference this year.

The ability to attend national conferences such as NGS is always an eye-opening and educational experience. The conference host city was Raleigh, North Carolina and the theme was “Family Lives Here”. Attendance was close to 2,500 this year and eleven hotels reserved room blocks for conference attendees. Most of those room blocks were sold out early last year! Normally I opt to stay in one of the room blocks, but this year the spousal unit came to North Carolina with me. So we chose to find lodging through AirBNB. I love AirBNB, you meet some of the most interesting people and many times the places you stay are far more comfortable than a hotel room!

The spousal unit and I decided to make a mini-vacation out of the trip to the conference so we left home a few days before the conference started. We had a great time making visits to Gettysburg and Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia and the American Civil War MuseumTredegar Iron WorksHollywood Cemetery and the site where Libby Prison once stood in Richmond, Virginia. While I was attending the conference, the spousal unit was able to visit with friends and made trips to a few battlefields. I wish I’d been able to clone myself and go with him!

NGS did a great job of getting presenters for a wide variety of topics. There conference had a heavy emphasis on North Carolina and southern states research, which wasn’t surprising considering the conference’s location. Since I don’t have any (currently) known North Carolina or southern ancestors, I opted to attend more methodology and organizational education sessions. Choosing education sessions are sometimes hit-and-miss so some of them were less applicable to my current level of knowledge than others, but I was able to take at least one item away from every session.

Some of the more notable sessions I attended this year were:

  • Scots-Irish Research Methodology and Case Study (speaker: David Rencher)
  • Your Portable, Sortable Research Log (speaker: Jennifer Dondero)
  • Using Third-Party Tools to Analyze Your Autosomal DNA (speaker: Blaine Bettinger)
  • From Record Group to Community: Analyzing Data Sets (speaker: Amy Giroux)
  • Clueless? Maybe Not (speaker: Jennifer Dondero)
  • The Genealogical Proof Summary: What It Is and Is Not (speaker: Gail Miller)
  • City Directories: The Solution to Finding Family Members In-Between Federal Census Ten-Year Gaps (Terry Koch-Bostic)

Out of this list of most notable sessions, I would say the top three (in order) were:

  1. “The Genealogical Proof Summary: What It Is and Is Not” with Gail Miller
  2. “Your Portable, Sortable Research Log” with Jennifer Dondero
  3. “From Record Group to Community: Analyzing Data Sets” with Amy Giroux
Unfortunately, the meal lectures were all sold out by the time I registered for the conference so I wasn’t able to hear any of those topics. However, the trade-off for that was more time on the exhibit floor. The exhibit floor was as busy as ever and it was fun visiting with all the vendors. Thomas Jones released a new book this year at the conference which NGS was selling at their booth called “Mastering Genealogical Documentation” and I decided to purchase it. I haven’t started reading it yet, but I’ll let the genea-hood know when I finish it.

I also decided to jump on the Evidentia bandwagon. I’m excited to learn how to use Evidentia; it looks like it will be a great help in my research!

New discoveries this year included a new app for mobile devices called JoyFLIPS and Atlas Preservation, Inc.

JoyFLIPS

JoyFLIPS is promoted as an unlimited scanning and cloud storage app. The interface looked really good on what I saw at the booth display. App functionality includes:
  • Automatic scan and save
  • Organize and share albums
  • Download copies anytime
  • “Tap and talk” (tell stories and create slideshows)
  • Ability for friends and family to comment by voice or text
  • FamilySearch direct upload
  • Optional physical memory stick storage
Their website indicates that they’ll be releasing an in-home photo scanning service soon, which is an interesting thought and I’m curious to see the specifics on that. JoyFLIPS is available via the web and mobile devices. I downloaded the app to my iPhone and I’m excited to try it out.

Atlas Preservation, Inc.

Atlas Preservation, Inc. is a monument and restoration supply vendor. It’s possible they may have exhibited in past years and I just missed them, but Atlas Preservation was a new discovery for me this year. I’ve been considering purchasing some D/2 cleaner for some family tombstones that have been blackened by tree sap but hadn’t really looked into it much. Having the opportunity to speak with someone knowledgeable in the use of D/2 was helpful. While the only thing I inquired about was D/2 cleaner, I did notice that Atlas Preservation had a large selection of supplies available for purchase.

Again this year I stopped at the BCG booth a couple of times to try and get a look at some of the portfolios they bring along for attendees to look at but, once again, the booth was always too busy for me to get a look at anything.

It was great to have the opportunity to greet current friends and make some new ones. I’m looking forward to attending NGS 2018 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Oh, and I almost forgot! NGS announced that the 2019 conference would be back in St. Charles, Missouri! YAY, I can’t wait for 2019!

And because I couldn’t pass up the chance to stop and view it in person, the spousal unit and I stopped at the Indiana Military Museum in Vincennes, Indiana on the way home to see my second great-grandfather’s Civil War letter that’s on display there.

Civil War era letter from Chester E. McCabe to parents Doddridge McCabe and Olive Knapp McCabe
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My First NGS Conference

I had the opportunity this year to attend the National Genealogical Society conference.  The NGS conference is held each May and this year it was held in beautiful St. Charles, Missouri.  I spent a good deal of time prior to the conference reviewing session abstracts and carefully choosing the sessions I wanted to attend.  There were so many interesting sessions it was very difficult to choose which to attend!

Day One (rarin’ to go!)

Exhibit hall entrance

Day one started early with a visit to registration to pick up my registration packet.  The process was very quick and the volunteers and NGS staff were very helpful with directions on where things were located and assistance with a small registration hiccup.  The opening session was crowded but very good.  We were paid a visit from “Charlie Floyd” (portrayed by J. Mark Lowe), a descendant of Charles Floyd from the Lewis & Clark Expedition, who shared with the audience stories of his family and some of his own memories.  He illustrated his reminiscences by using pictures of some of the hand-painted murals in the St. Charles Convention Center, managed to get the audience to join in singing “This Land Is Your Land” and finished majestically by hosting a visit from Lewis the Bald Eagle.  Lewis was an injured bald eagle who was acting as an ambassador to the local bird sanctuary.

"Charlie" and Lewis

“Charlie” and Lewis

 

Mural from the St. Charles Convention Center

After the opening session I had some time to spare before my next session so I went to the exhibit hall to peruse the exhibit booths.  It was packed!  It was somewhat difficult to talk to any of the vendors due to the sheer number of people in the exhibit hall and I was confident I’d have time later in the week to speak with vendors so I made one pass through the hall and moved on to my first session.  Wednesday’s sessions included “But I’ve Looked Everywhere” by Barbara Little, “Professional Genealogy: Conduct, Courtesy, Common Sense, or Ethics?” by Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, “Valuable Illinois Pre-Statehood Finding Aids” by Diane Renner Walsh and “Confronting Conflicting Evidence” by Pam Stone Eagleson.  All the sessions were very interesting but my favorite was probably Pam Stone Eagleson’s session on conflicting evidence.  I felt like I learned a lot from the case studies she presented on.

Day Two (let’s go!)

Thursday started with “Proving Native American Ancestors” presented by Billie Stone Fogarty and “Certification: Measuring Yourself Against Standards” by Elissa Scalise Powell, Michael S. Ramage, and Judy G. Russell.  Then I spent time braving the exhibit hall again, with less of a crowd and better results trying to speak with vendors.  After spending a couple of hours checking out booths and talking to people I headed off to “Genealogical Research & Writing: Are You A Saint, Sinner, or Bumfuzzled Soul?” by Elizabeth Shown Mills and “A Methodolgy for Irish Emigration to North America” by David E. Rencher.  I learned a lot from all the sessions I attended but Thursday’s favorite was probably David Rencher’s session on Irish emigration.

Day Three (forging ahead!)

By Friday I was starting to feel a little bit of information overload but I forged ahead with “Navigating the Best Online Sources for Irish Research” by Donna Moughty, “The Problem-Solver’s Great Trifecta: GPS+FAN+DNA” by Elizabeth Shown Mills, “Scots-Irish Research” by Robert McLaren, “Illinois: Research in the Prairie State” by Diane Renner Walsh, and “Using DNA as a Genealogical Record” by Angie Bush.  I also spent some additional time browsing the exhibit hall and networking with other attendees.  I made it a point to stop by the MoSGA booth so I could place a pin on my Missouri ancestor’s location.  The map was looking really good by that point.

MOSGA Map

MOSGA Map

By far the most enlightening session of the day was Angie Bush’s session on DNA.  I’d set aside my DNA results for a bit because I’d been feeling a little overwhelmed trying to learn about the results but Angie’s session re-invigorated me and I left with a new determination to figure out what my results were trying to tell me.

Day Four (the end is near!)

By the last day the crowd of attendees had noticiably declined.  Sessions were still full but not over-full.  I spent the day in sessions, attending “What Grandma Did & Did Not Tell You” by Jan Alpert, “Smiths and Joneses: How to Cope with Families of Common Names” by Elizabeth Shown Mills, “Military Bounty Land-As Good As a Pension” by Rick Sayre, “Have You Tested Your DNA?  Is There a Non-Paternity Event in Your Family?” by Jan Alpert, “Beating the Odds: Using Indirect Evidence in Problem Solving” by Vic Dunn and “Five Proven Techniques for Finding Your Ancestor’s European Origin” by Thomas Jones.  Elizabeth Shown Mills’ session on common names was the most enlightening and her case studies were excellent to learn from but Thomas Jones’ case studies were equally as good and very interesting.  I left the last day feeling excited to return to my research and disappointed knowing the conference was over.

Overall I enjoyed the conference.  I met some great people, learned a lot and thoroughly enjoyed myself.  The NGS staff and local volunteers were wonderful and happy to help with any questions or concerns.  The crowds were somewhat frustrating at times but it was nice to hear the conference was so successful with over 2,100 registered attendees.  I certainly hope I have the opportunity to attend next year’s conference.

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Around the Town Thursday: Kansas City Livestock Exchange Building

Happy Friday eve everyone and welcome to another edition of Around the Town Thursday!  Today we’re back to exploring Kansas City and we’re highlighting the Kansas City Livestock Exchange Building.


Front of Kansas City Livestock Exchange Building

 


Entrance to the Kansas City Livestock Exchange Building

Originally built in 1910, the Livestock Exchange Building was the headquarters of the Kansas City stockyards.  According to the National Register of Historic Places application: “At the turn of the century the stock yards covered 207 acres with accommodations for 70,000 cattle, 40,000 hogs, 45,000 sheep and 5,000 horses and mules daily. By 1871 seven railroads were operating in the stock yards; today there are over ten miles of track inside the yards excluding acres and acres of track to the east and west.”

The stockyards themselves were originally established in 1871 in Kansas City, Kansas along the Kansas River and Missouri Pacific railroad tracks.  According to the Kansas City Kansan newspaper article “How KC became 1 of great stock markets of world”: “In the heyday year of 1923, 2,631,808 cattle were received at the Kansas City yards.”  The stockyards originally contained five acres and by 1883 another 125 acres had been added.  While there were earlier buildings erected on the grounds of the stockyards, the brick building that currently stands is considered the highlight of the period from 1871 to 1909.

Currently (after a thirteen million dollar renovation in 1991) the building serves as an office building, containing everything from restaurant facilities to a post office to a health club.  While not ornate in decor the building has beautiful original oak woodwork and a simple, yet beautiful Grecian key floor border.

This important piece of Kansas City history has withstood time, floods and the closing of the Livestock Exchange.  It’s now a part of the National Register of Historic Places, which will provide the opportunity for future generations to actually see this beautiful building.

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Around the Town Thursday: The Money Museum at Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  We’ve got a nice little post for you to read while you’re enjoying your good food.  Today we’re peeking in at The Money Museum at Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.


The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City
The Money Museum is located inside the Federal Reserve Bank

The Money Museum gives visitors the opportunity to watch millions of dollars of currency be processed, check out some interesting exhibits and learn about the economy all in one visit.  And the best part of all of this is that it’s free to view!

Reservations are not required to tour this museum for groups of 20 or fewer but you will need to go thru a security screening to get in.  You can sign up for a guided tour for groups of 15 or more.

Hours of operation, parking and accessibility information and information regarding security screening can be found here for the museum.  For a little prep for your tour you can check out highlights of the Money Museum here.  The museum recommends approximately one hour to complete the self-guided tour.  It’s right next door to the National World War I Museum at the Liberty Memorial, however, so you can make a day of it and tour both museums!

This museum is definitely worth your time, so make plans to go learn all about the economy and the currency process at The Money Museum at Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

And make sure to stop by next week for a very special Around the Town Thursday post!  We definitely won’t be in Kansas anymore!

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Lest We Forget: The Poppy

Today is Veterans Day and today’s post is dedicated to all those who have served and all those who are currently serving.  Thank you all for your service and sacrifice!

Today being Veterans Day, you may notice that some people are wearing poppies today.  Do you know the significance of the poppy on Veterans Day?  Originally, the poppies were only worn on Memorial Day but many groups have opted to also wear the poppies on Veterans Day (also known as Remembrance Day).  Veterans Day honors all those who served in the military, whether in wartime or in peacetime.  It falls on the day the World War I hostilities officially ended, “at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month” in 1918.  But why poppies?

The significance of the poppy goes back to World War I and the poem “In Flanders Fields” written in 1915 by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, a Canadian physician who served during World War I.  McCrae wrote the poem after presiding over the funeral of a friend and comrade.

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amidst the guns below

We are the Dead.  Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Flanders fields refer to World War I battlefields in an area near Belgium which is now known as West Flanders, East Flanders and part of the French region of Nord-Pas-de-Calais.  The Second Battle of Ypres occurred here, which is the battle that McCrae’s friend died in and helped to prompt the writing of “In Flanders Fields”.  After all the devastation on these battlefields in World War I, poppies began to bloom in the battlefields.  The only thing that could survive in the devastation, the poppies were able to bloom due to the fact that they are a plant that thrives on disturbed ground.  The seeds lie dormant until the soil is broken up, and then the flowers take root and begin to grow.

After writing the poem, it was submitted to newspapers in England.  It was rejected by The Spectator but published by Punch on 8 December 1915.  The poem was read by Moina Michael, an U.S. professor and humanitarian, who was so moved that she wrote the poem “We Shall Keep the Faith” in reply to McCrae’s poem:

Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,
Sleep sweet – to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With All who died.

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders Fields.

And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honor of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We’ll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.
In Flanders Fields we fought.

According to the American Legion Auxiliary Poppy site, in November 1918 on an impulse, Moina Michael purchased all the poppies that New York City’s Wanamaker’s Department Store had in the store and handed them to businessmen meeting at the YMCA where she worked and asked them to wear the poppy as a tribute to the fallen.  The idea of selling silk poppies is credited to Michael as a way to raise funds to assist disabled veterans.  In 1921, the American Legion Auxiliary adopted the poppy as a symbol of remembrance for war veterans.

And now you know the story of the poppy.

Lest we forget.

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