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Historical Newsletter

November 1999


James W. Hewitt, vice-president and general counsel of Nebco, Inc., Lincoln, was elected president of the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation at the annual Board of Trustees meeting Saturday, September 25, in Lincoln. Hewitt was previously executive vice-president of the Foundation. Outgoing president is James F. Nissen. Other officers elected include: executive vice-president, Allison Petersen, Walton; vice-president, Dr. John Davis, Omaha; secretary, Jack D. Campbell, Lincoln; treasurer, Robert D. Northrop, Lincoln.

Nineteen new trustees were elected to three-year terms during the annual meeting. The new trustees include Virginia Coulter, Jan Cutshall, Kit Dimon, John Doyle, Robin Forke, Norman Krivosha, Conrad Nelson, Jane Rohman, Rex Schultze, James Stuart Jr., Ritchie Wallace, and Dr. John Wunder, all of Lincoln; Jean Bell, Omaha; Sharon Caley, Columbus; Kay Kimberly, Big Springs; David Oldfather and Jackie Rosenlof, Kearney; Judy Rowe, Nebraska City; Jeanne Westervelt, Scottsbluff.

Re-elected to the 110-member Board of Trustees were Alice Abel, Wally Becker, Louise Brehm, Jack Campbell, Candy Henning, James Hewitt, Lee Liggett, James Nissen, Thomas Potter, Dr. Vance Rogers, Ann Sidles, William Weiland, all of Lincoln; Sharon Davis, Joseph Hart, Amy Scott-Willer, all of Omaha; Gerald O'Kief and Joanne Shephard, Valentine; Harley Bergmeyer, Wilbur; Eric Brown, Lexington; Virginia Coffee, Harrison; Thomas Creigh, Jr., Hastings; Judge Thomas Dorwart, Sidney; Wayne Lee, Imperial; George Moyer, Madison; Elaine Norton, Ericson; Beverly Pollock, Ogallala; Dr. James C. Olson, Kansas City; E. H. Shoemaker, North Platte; S. N. Wolbach, Grand Island.

Newly elected to the Board of Directors were Cynthia Olson, Lisco; Amy Scott-Willer, Omaha; Dr. John Wunder, Lincoln. Re-elected to two-year terms on the Foundation's twenty-member Board of Directors were James Hewitt and Robert Northrop, Lincoln; Dr. John Davis, Omaha; Allison Petersen, Walton.

Nissen reported the Foundation transferred nearly $176,000 to the Nebraska State Historical Society during the past fiscal year. The nonprofit NSHS Foundation manages invested funds and donations of cash and property in support of the Society and other state historical organizations. The Foundation's assets grew slightly over 7.5 percent in 1998-99. The public, nonprofit Foundation was incorporated in 1942 for the purposes of soliciting, managing, and distributing contributions to aid in the preservation and interpretation of Nebraska history, particularly for its affiliated organization, the State Historical Society.

(image) John Craig (l.), director of the Nebraska Department of Roads, receives an advance copy of Spans in Time: A History of Nebraska Bridges from Society Director Lawrence Sommer (r.) and Deputy SHPO Bob Puschendorf (center) during the Society's History Conference. The book is a joint publication of the Society and the Department of Roads.



Who knew Nebraska history could be so electrifying? Katie Madsen, Brad Meyers, and Kacie Olberding, three students from Stuart, did when they detailed the history of the Rural Electrification Administration for their 1999 National History Day: Nebraska project. Their exhibit, REA - Electrifying the Rural Area, won at the state History Day contest in the junior division and then went on to win the History in Federal Government Special Award at the national competition held at the University of Maryland in June. They were the only team from Nebraska to receive a special award at the national level. Katie Madsen and her family traveled to McCook in September to visit the Senator George Norris State Historic Site, the home of the father of the REA, and to install the exhibit for public viewing. The exhibit will be on display at the Senator George Norris State Historic Site through the spring of 2000.

National History Day: Nebraska is an annual event designed to get sixth through twelfth grade students interested and involved in state and local history. The competition involves selecting and presenting a subject that fits into the national theme through a variety of mediums ranging from museum exhibits to theatrical performances to research papers to video documentaries. The Nebraska State Historical Society has been active in supporting the National History Day: Nebraska competition and annually provides monetary support to state level winners so they can attend the national competition. The next National History Day: Nebraska state contest will be held on April 15, 2000. The topic is "Turning Points in History." For more information on National History Day: Nebraska and the Society's involvement, call Jessica Stoner at 402-471-4757.

(image) Katie Madsen stands in front of her award-winning exhibit on the history of the Rural Electrification Administration.


The Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal agency, has awarded a museum general operating support grant to the Nebraska State Historical Society. Although the grant, $112,500 paid over two years, directly benefits the Museum Division, it's the quality of Society-wide programs that netted the award. The Nebraska Institute, the digital imaging lab and Ameritech grant, the website, the Mexican-American project, our strong publications series, our excellent conservation facilities and staff­all these in addition to the exhibitions, collections, and public programs of the Museum Division­made our proposal stand out. The funding rate for this highly competitive grant is about 18 percent. The money will underwrite acquisition of collections management software; support The Nebraska Experiment, the next phase of the permanent exhibitions; and expand access to curriculum and historical resources via the internet.


The Museum of Nebraska History will be wearing its holiday finery November 26 through December 30. An 1860s Nebraska Territorial Christmas will be featured in the Carson Parlor with a tabletop tree and gifts, and the 1890s sod house depicts holidays on the homestead. The World War II general store and living room and the Halligan Dollhouse will also feature seasonal decorations. A tree with a jazz theme will accompany the special exhibit Drawing on the Beat: John Falter's Jazz Portraits, and a tree with wedding-related decorations will be featured in the Dearly Beloved exhibit. The museum is open Monday-Friday, 9-4:30; Saturday, 9-5; Sunday, 1:30-5.


The Thomas P. Kennard House, a Society historic site at 1627 H Street in Lincoln, will celebrate Victorian Holidays Past, featuring Victorian toys, decorations, and historic photographs, from Saturday, November 27, through Thursday, December 30. The house will be open Tuesday-Saturday, 9-12 and 1-4:30. There will be an open house Sunday, December 12, 1-5, with free admission. Houses in the neighborhood decorated for Christmas that are also open to visitors with no admission charge on December 12, 1-5, are: the Ferguson House, 700 South Sixteenth Street; Eastlake Manor, 720 South Sixteenth; and the Atwood House, 740 South Seventeenth. For additional information on the holiday event and tours at the Kennard House, call 402-471-4764; Eastlake Manor, 402-477-3610; Atwood House, 402-438-4567; Ferguson House, 402-471-3796.


By Cindy Drake, Library Curator

Census Records

Since 1790 the federal government has compiled the federal census of population every ten years. The 1850 federal census was the first census to record the names of every member living in the household. Census records before 1850 gave only the name of the head of the household along with statistical information regarding other family members. The 1890 census for most of the United States was destroyed in a fire in 1921. A seventy-two-year moratorium exists for releasing census information, so the latest census available is for 1920. The 1930 census will be released in the year 2002. Census records for individuals on the 1930 (currently) or later census years may be requested from the Bureau of the Census in Jeffersonville, Indiana, with an "Application for Search of Census Records" form. Contact NSHS for an application form.

The National Archives has custody of the federal census records. All federal census microfilm that is currently available for public use may be used in the National Archives and the regional records center facilities across the country. Federal census microfilm is available from various sources for personal and institutional use and may also be rented from sources such as Heritage Quest (AGLL) and the Family History Library. A few libraries (such as the Family History Library, Mid-Continent Library in Independence, Missouri, and others) have complete sets of federal census records, while most state libraries (historical societies, large public libraries) have all of the films for their state or region. Printed and online indexes may exist for entire census years or for particular years for states or individual counties. The AIS index is a thirty-five-million-name index that is available online from Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com/rootsweb.asp) as part of membership. The AIS index is "a composite of AIS census indexes for the 1790 to 1850 census indexes and some from the 1860 to 1880 censuses."

A special index called a Soundex was created for the 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930 censuses. The Soundex groups all surnames by sound. The 1880 Soundex includes only families with children under ten years of age. The Soundex for the other years does not exist for every state. For example, Nebraska has a Soundex for 1900 and 1920, but not for 1910 or for the 1930 census when it is released.

Clues in census records from 1790 to 1840 may help you determine date of birth, military service, and immigration information as well as occupation and economic data. Clues in census records from 1850 to 1920 may help determine date of birth, place of birth, date of marriage, number of children, information on immigration and naturalization, foreign-born parents, service in Union or Confederate army or navy, real property, and economic data.

A good source for those just starting to use census records is a chapter titled "Taking Names: Finding Census Records" from the book First Steps in Genealogy: A Beginner's Guide to Researching Your Family History, by Desmond Walls Allen. A more advanced chapter titled "Research in Census Records" by Loretto Dennis Szucs is found in The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy (Revised Edition), edited by Szucs and Sandra H. Luebking. Some other useful sources in using census records include: Guide to Genealogical Research in the National Archives; and Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses, 1790-1920, by William Thorndale and William Dollarhide. A new book that we just ordered for the library is The Census Book: A Genealogist's Guide to Federal Census Facts, Schedules and Indexes, by William Dollarhide. It is advertised to be a "comprehensive review of census schedules and identifies every known index ever published," and to have a "complete tabulation of all U.S. Federal Censuses including non-population census schedules and where the records are located today."

State censuses were scheduled by many states in the five-year periods between the federal census (for example, 1885, 1895, and 1905). They are useful for locating families between the years when the federal census was taken. The 1885 or 1895 censuses are useful as a replacement for the 1890 census (Nebraska has only the 1885 state census during that time period). A printed source that reviews these census records is State Census Records, by Anne S. Lainhart, 1992. Other schedules or special surveys are (1) agriculture schedules (2) industry schedules (3) mortality schedules (4) Special Census of Surviving Union Veterans and Widows (1890) (5) Census of Pensioners for Revolutionary or Military Service (1840) and (6) Native Americans (separate schedules for various years).

The following sites might be useful in any census research online: Censuslinks on the 'Net ("http://www.censuslinks.com/directory/" directs you to the US GenWeb Census Project; "http://www.rootsweb.com/~usgwcens/" for which I have the direct address to Nebraska listed later in this article); Census Online: Census Sites on the Web ("http://www.census-online.com/index.html"); and Genealogy Records Service Census Tips ("http://www.genrecords.com/library.htm").

My columns from January 1996 to August 1996 covered Nebraska population census records. I have updated and revised these columns into one handout titled "An Overview of Nebraska Census Records." You may contact me directly for a copy. A more comprehensive reference leaflet is available from the reference staff titled Nebraska Population Census Records, which gives a listing of the contents, indexes available, holdings, and format for all of the Nebraska census records. This is Reference Information Guide No. 2 and must be requested by title. Another Reference Guide No. 2 is titled Nebraska Territorial Census Enumerations 1854-1857, which gives the exact citation to locating territorial census records in the periodical titled Nebraska and Midwest Genealogical Record. For a current listing of Nebraska census transcriptions available online check ftp://ftp.rootsweb.com/pub/census/ne/. The transcriptions for several counties from the 1870 census are available as of October 1, 1999.

Genealogy Tip of the Month

Reviews that I have read lately about new books available for genealogists include: Finding Your Roots: How to Trace Your Ancestors at Home and Abroad, by Jeane Eddy Westin, 1998; Organizing Your Family History Search: Efficient & Effective Ways to Gather and Protect Your Genealogical Research, by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack, 1999; Family History Made Easy, by Loretto Dennis Szucs, 1998; Past Imperfect: How Tracing Your Family Medical History Can Save Your Life, by Carol Daus, 1999.

Check them out at your nearest library or have your librarian see if they are available on interlibrary loan.

New Acquisitions of Interest to Genealogists

The Descendants of Orin B. Crandell, 1806-1884, compiled by Darlene James. (Crandell and Holscher families in Otoe and Cass Counties.)

Rousselle, [compiled by Ruth A. Borchers]. (Rousselle, Pariset and Owens families in Saline and Seward Counties.)

Early Clintonville (and Grove City) and the Bull and Smith Families, [compiled] by Nancy J. Pendleton. (Starr and Bull families in Franklin County.)

The Wheeler Family, compiled by Donna W. Bathke. (Wheeler and Lapping families in Boone County.)

The Descendants of Richard Davies: From Wales or England to Omaha, Nebraska, by Mary D. Huhman. (Family in Douglas County.)

Joseph Hrabe, Sr., of Rooks County, Kansas: Some of His Descendants, compiled by Delmer W. (Del) Hrabe. (Czech-American family in Douglas County, Nebraska; Republic and Rooks Counties, Kansas.)

My Father's Life, by Lillian J. Hall. (Swedish American family in Harlan County.)

The Story of Joseph Mueller of Council Bluffs, Iowa and his German Forebears and American Descendants, [compiled] by Ralph S. Mueller. (German-American families [Schindler and Mueller] in Lancaster County.)

The Descendants of Nathaniel Owens, Sr.: and Frances (Turner) Owens, Susannah (Bass) Owens, Sarah (Wishard) Hill Owens, compiled by Ruth A. Borchers. (Owens family in Banner and Seward Counties.)

Descendants of Richard and Mary Sisson: Ten Generations from 1608, [compiled] by Joan and David Sisson. (Sisson and Russell families in Cherry and Cass Counties.

Donations are still being accepted for an additional $235 to purchase the 1999 Supplement to the Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, Part II. I have also received the advertisement for the 2000 Supplement that will also have Part 1 and Part 2. If purchased before December 31, 1999, each volume would be $228 plus shipping. Please indicate this title with your monetary donation. Thank you.


New NSHS employees are Steven Ramold of the Library Archives Division; Jeannette Blackmar, Archeology Division; and John Payne, Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center, Omaha. . . . The Historic Preservation Division is benefiting from the services of Todd Knispel, who will be working on a temporary basis until approximately December of this year. Todd was previously a volunteer for HP and will be continuing a number of research projects. . . . Joan Hees, NSHS Human Resource Services Coordinator, was recently recognized by the Lincoln Human Resources Management Association. Joan received certification as a Professional in Human Resources.


November 11: Lincoln Corral of Westerners, "A History of Lincoln's Parking Lots," by Jim McKee, Lincoln historian. Meet at Holiday Inn, Ninth and P Streets, Lincoln, 6:30 P.M. Call Margaret Allington, 488-5698, for reservations (required).

November 14: Sunday at the Museum series, "Firearms Accidents in the American West," by Jim Potter, Publications Division, NSHS. 2 P.M., John G. Neihardt State Historic Site, Bancroft. For information contact the Neihardt Site at 1-888-777-4667.

November 18: Brown Bag Lecture, "Railroad Land Grants in Nebraska," by Dr. John Stover, professor of history, retired, Purdue University. 12 noon, Museum of Nebraska History, Fifteenth and P Streets, Lincoln. Free and open to the public.

November 18: Omaha Corral of Westerners, "The Eagle Ridge Site, European Indian Relations in Early Eighteenth Century Nebraska," by Rob Bozell, Archeology Division, NSHS. Meet at the DC Centre, 7117 Jones Circle, Omaha, 6 P.M. Call Bob Savage, 391-3252, for information or reservations (required).

December 2: Omaha Corral of Westerners, "F. A. Rinehart, Photographer," by Jeff Spencer, curator of the Historical Society of Douglas County Library. Meet as above.

December 9: Lincoln Corral of Westerners, "Cartoons of the Old West," featuring Gary Larson, by Dr. James Wengert and James Denney of Omaha. Meet as above.

December 16: Brown Bag Lecture, holiday readings of Nebraska authors, by Lora Black, Nebraska Public Radio. 12 noon, Museum of Nebraska History, Fifteenth and P Streets, Lincoln. Free and open to the public.

In observance of Veterans' Day, Society administrative and museum offices, the Library/Archives Division, the Museum of Nebraska History, the Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center in Omaha, and the Historic Sites, except Cather and Neihardt, will be closed Thursday, November 11.

In observance of Thanksgiving, Society administrative and museum offices and the Ford Conservation Center will be closed Thursday, November 25, through Sunday, November 28. The Library/Archives reference room will be closed Thursday, November 25, through Monday, November 29. The Museum of Nebraska History will be closed Thursday, November 25; open Friday through Sunday, regular hours. (All historic sites will be closed November 25; call ahead for other holiday weekend hours.)

October 1999 Issue

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