Scenes from the 2012 RSGS “How To” Seminar

The “How To” Seminar, 2012

The Root Seekers Genealogical Society (RSGS) recently hosted a “How To” Seminar consisting of 24 guests and members. RSGS President, Margaret Ann Trail spoke on ways to get started researching ancestors. Those who are new to genealogy research
sometimes are not sure how or where to start. President Trail stated that the place to start is with yourself, documenting who and what you know of your lineage. Many times we take ‘family lore’ as fact; therefore, it is important to document your sources. This is especially important if one is joining a Heritage Society.

Carolyn Bostian spoke on how helpful the census records can be in finding family information. Census records of the year 1850 can answer questions about where a family lived, how many and who lived in a household and how they made their living. These records will also list where any children, parents and their grandparents were born. Therefore, three generations might be listed on one census record.

Geneice Morris talked about the Dallas Public Library Central and in particular the Genealogical Section on the eighth floor where there are thousands of books and rolls of microfilm that concern the records of a single locality, county or state. The county records contain marriage, probate, deeds, and tax and divorce records.  Important information can be found in Circuit Court Records and the Court of Common Pleas. These records are sometimes overlooked. The library also has Military Records, Vital Records, Passenger and Immigration Records… if they exist. Naturalization Records, Black Biographical Dictionaries and Family Histories may also be found. Other information not mentioned may be found at the Dallas Public Library and might be the answer to many questions while researching your ancestors.

Bob Stokes presented a segment about Heritage Quest Online. He demonstrated on a big screen how the research is navigated beginning with the first page. The library of Texas/Tex Share Program is included. However, if you choose that section, a password through your local library is necessary.  Heritage Quest Online offers census, books, PERSI, Revolutionary War, Freedman’s Bank, U.S. Serial Set and much more too numerous to list.

Scott Fitzgerald gave a lesson on Texas Courthouse Research. Scott cautioned to do some preparation work before going to the courthouse. Take time to research the county’s history, the date it started and the parent county. Research the county border and check for line changes. Also, find out the information about their records; if there has been a record loss due water damage or fire. The Redbook and Handy Book are two great sources for this type of information. He also mentioned it is best to determine the courthouse hours before you go, access to the records that are  permitted and banned items. Ask about the location of the county records as sometimes the records are in an annex building. Scott mentioned that it can be important to inquire about the availability of records, the parking and the charges.

Helen Preston informed the group about Miscellaneous Resources that included funeral homes, bible records, newspaper archives for obituaries and other articles, church records, cemeteries, college and public libraries. The seventh floor of the Dallas Public Library has everything one would want to know about Texas.  Helen mentioned another place to research is the National Archives for the Southwest Region located in Ft.Worth, TX. However, be sure to call before going as there are two locations with a different kind of records in each place. Some of the microfilms that can be found in the Archives are naturalization records, passenger lists and index, military service records from the Revolutionary War up to and including World War II. There are other records of refugees, freedmen, abandoned lands, land grants, donated lands and Native American records.

Lana Napper demonstrated organizing your data. In genealogy, it is really easy to get your records mixed. Lana suggested keeping a folder on each member in a family and on each generation beginning with the parents. Behind each member, keep all the information you have located pertaining to that particular person. It is helpful to keep these records and information in chronological order. This system has worked for Lana, however, one can develop a system of organization that is sufficient for them.

To wrap up the Seminar, a panel of the presenters sat for a question and answer period and a tour of the genealogy room. The “How To” Seminar was a great success with six guests joining the Root Seekers Genealogical Society.


Submitted by Geneice Morris
Photographs by R. C. (Bob) Stokes