Friday, July 25, 2008

My Czech friend, Margie

Several years ago somebody suggested that if I needed advise on Czech research I should contact Margie Sobotka of Elkhorn, Nebraska.  At the time I was not researching Czech ancestry.  Little did I realize that a few years later I would discover my grandson has paternal Czech ancestry.   I contacted Margie.  We almost instantly became close friends.  In fact we have worked together on genealogy research projects.  

She was born to Czech parents in Omaha, Nebraska.  Growing up became interested in her heritage and culture.  In 1972, Margie was instrumental in forming the Eastern Nebraska Genealogical Society.  She served as President for two years and since has been their treasurer, sending all of us friendly reminders of dues.  

What makes Margie so special is that she has an abundance of Czech history and genealogy not only stored in her mind, but in translations she has done, plus indexing.  Her first project was to index The History of Czechs in Nebraska by Rose Rosicky.  She has worked with the Nebraska State Historical Society on projects and presents programs and workshops about Czech genealogy.  One of her classic publications that helps researchers is Nebraska-Kansas Settlers, 1891-1895.  

Margie continues to work on her own Czech ancestry, writing her memoirs.  She recently finished indexing 6,000 names of people buried in the Bohemian Cemetery in Omaha, Nebraska.  

It is no wonder that on June 29th she received the Czernin Palace Bronze Memorial Medal in a ceremony at Clarkson, Nebraska.  This award was initiated by a former ambassador of the Czech Republic.  It is given to an individual or entity that has made significant contributions in Czech-American relations.  The metal was awarded for the year 2007 and Margie was one of just five Czech-Americans to receive it.  She was surprised, but those of us who know Margie were not surprised at all.  She is a well-deserving person and genealogist.  

Margie was surrounded by her friends and family at the celebration in Clarkson.  Speakers included Gene Aksamit of the Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International.  Cindy Drake, library curator of the Nebraska State Historical Society, along with Clare Mares of the Eastern Nebraska Genealogical Society spoke on behalf of Margie and her achievements.  

I know that my friend Margie will continue as long as she lives to help researchers, transcribe, index and publish about Czech ancestry.  I hope there are more awards for her in the future.  It's a honor to call you my friend, Margie.  

Monday, July 14, 2008

Genealogy Dreaming

Do you ever have day dreams about doing nothing but genealogy?  I call those my "what if" thoughts.  They include being able to go to every cemetery I can locate looking for ancestral stones.  Going to every courthouse that has records I need.  They also include visiting ancestral locations, here in the United States, in the U.K. and Europe.  And then something jolts me back to reality.  Usually the gas pump! 

I have started writing letters, contacting by e-mail and searching more on Internet to locate things I need.  It is somewhat boring, but helps the budget.  The other day I drove about 25 miles to the Fort McPherson National Cemetery here in Lincoln Co., Nebraska and took digitals of tombstones.  It was something I had been meaning to do for a long time.  The early morning was cooler than afternoon, and it was quiet and peaceful.  

Have you tried FindAGrave  for information on tombstones, along with maps of cemeteries and photographs of people plus tombstones?  It's a great web site, so be prepared to spend some time.  You can search by names and locations or look up cemeteries.  While there, you should also plan on submitting data on your relatives.  I am particularly impressed with the number of stones they have listed for New England.   Some of those cemeteries I have walked through myself.  It brings back memories and starts those "what if" thoughts all over again.  

Another good place to look for cemetery information is the USGenWeb Tombstone Transcription web site.  Click on the "Tombstone Photo Project" to search by states.  This will also take some time to browse through all of the stones.  

Back to the genealogy dreaming!  Maybe I should win the lottery!  

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Nebraska ... a great state to research

Nebraska is where I live.  It's also the land that people passed through on their way somewhere else, normally to the west coast, places like Utah and California and Oregon.  Some who were disappointed in the west came back, and some people came here to stay.  The Homestead Act provided land for those who needed it and thus supplied our state with people.  

Researching in this state is different than other states.  For one thing, if you know where you ancestor(s) married, you may be able to locate the marriage record on which, most of the time, the names of parents are shown, along with mothers' maiden names.  A great bonus!  

Unfortunately people are not going to find birth and death records in courthouses.  If they are there, they are minimal in content and years.  This means you will need to obtain them from the state Vital Records office in Lincoln, NE.  Information on ordering them, along with downloadable forms can be found at   Birth and death records were recorded on a state basis starting in late 1904.  This does not mean every physician or clerk complied.  

The best place to locate records in Nebraska is at the Nebraska State Historical Society, 1500 R Street, Lincoln, NE.  Be sure to check out their resources and indexes at the web page.  They have an extensive collection of newspapers, photographs and manuscripts.  

To locate some excellent web pages pertaining to Nebraska history, geography and genealogy, check out Linkpendium.  A number of obituaries can be found at O'Bits of Nebraska.  Another excellent place to look for obituaries in Nebraska is at Newspaper Obituaries on the Web. 

If your ancestor settled on the plains of Nebraska, you definitely need to use the Library of Congress web page, Prairie Settlement.  This contains Nebraska photographs and family letters, 1862-1912.   An excellent place to locate maps of early Nebraska territory and state can be found on Internet at Nebraska Counties, 1854-Present.  

It's a nice state to call home.  Because of Nebraska's rich history, it's a great state in which to do genealogical research.