Remembering Families

Happy November everyone! Wow, can you believe the holidays are upon us already??

Things have slowed down just a bit for me on the family research front since last posting. I did get a chance to go to the St. Louis Genealogy Conference back on the 14th of October. It was held at the LDS church in Chesterfield, and above all, was FREE! I was lucky enough to find out about it only a few days before it started, and got my registration in before it filled up. I was surprised to find out over 300 people had registered to attend, and it looked like most of them did!


This year's theme was "Remembering Families". I think I only saw one or two attendees around my age, but that never really bothered me. I started off the morning with Dennis Northcott's two classes - one on Finding Ancestors at the Missouri History Museum Library, and one on Researching Civil War Ancestors. I have to say, out of all the classes that day, these two were my favorite, and I couldn't wait to get started digging in to their online Genealogy and Local History Index. I can't believe I still haven't taken the time to visit the museum in person.

These two classes were followed by a simple, yet delicious lunch, served buffet-style in the gymnasium. The main course was dutch-oven stew, and wow. It reminded me a lot of the beef stew Mom makes, which is absolutely a good thing. 

2017 St. Louis Genealogy Conference: Remembering Families

Then I finished up the day with two final classes - one on the Missouri State Archives, which was informative, and the final class on Getting Started Writing Your Family Stories, which was disappointing, to put it nicely. I was hoping for some tips and tricks for more creative, thoughtful writing, but instead was just presented with the standard questions of "who, what, when, where, and why".

Either way, I left the event feeling tired and overall happy I'd attended. You really couldn't beat it for a free genealogy event in my own hometown.

The next day, Mom came out to Washington and she, Casey and I went to the annual chili cookoff. We had a great time filling our bellies with chili of all flavors and consistencies, and topped it all off with giant sno-cones to cool ourselves down a bit.

Gator ride at the lake!

That following Saturday, Casey and I went out to the cabin with Dad and the gang for some more chili (you can never have too much chili in October) and family fun. It had cooled down to a perfect day to ride the gator and sit around eating and talking by the fire pit.

Just last week I was able to finish my first two genealogy classes and was completely satisfied with my "A" and "A-". The next two begin on Monday, and I'm ready to dig back in for sure! These short winter days are sure to make for some cozy study sessions next to the fireplace!  Bring it on!

Spreading the Kindred Joy

So many exciting new things have been going on lately!

Firstly, I'm on the tail end of completing my second genealogy course, and have already signed up for my next two beginning in November - Methodology II and Vital Records. It's working out pretty well so far with my current schedule, and I'm really just loving the learning.

Casey DNA.jpg

Mom agreed to take a DNA test for me, and I finally got her results back. I'm really hoping that digging into her results a little deeper will open up some new lines on her mother's (the Stevens and Steinigger) side. So far it has generally seemed as if all of my results from her side come from the Roby line, but this should certainly bring in some additional avenues to follow. Who knows. I'm starting to think maybe her maternal side just isn't interested in family history whatsoever, and that's why nobody's taking the DNA tests. That would explain her disinterest anyway. I know, I know, this stuff isn't for everyone.

Also on the DNA front, Casey's mother and grandmother have also received their kits. I can't wait to get their results in. My, seems like I'm going to have a LOT of work cut out for me, and will have to set aside some specific time just to dig into all the new matches for everyone!

Oct. 3, 2017: Tom and Casey fogging on those pipes.

Oct. 3, 2017: Tom and Casey fogging on those pipes.

Casey and I went to visit his Uncle Tom and Aunt Sally in Springfield last week. We had a lot of fun catching up, gorging on Sally's amazing spaghetti dinner, and the boys got to bond over a newfound shared hobby - pipe smoking.

I had even more fun the next morning at breakfast when Tom got rolling on old family stories. We tried to convince him to write it all down (he has an incredible memory for details), but I really wished I'd have pulled out my phone and gotten a recording of it all.

Last week we were able to celebrate two special birthdays in one - Casey's dad and grandma both! We went out to a nice meal at Circa STL, a little place with delicious food and walls full of old St. Louis memorabilia. It was perfect. Not only did Jim and Barbara get to open up all their gifts, but I was sent home with a little unexpected gift of my own - Jim let me borrow all of the old "Bonnie Gazette"s to scan and go through.

You see, the Reid side of the family had created and run a little personal family newsletter for years, and although they laugh about it now as if it were so silly, I was absolutely thrilled! I scanned them all as soon as I got home, I was so excited. I haven't taken the time to completely read through them all yet, but I can already see there is a treasure trove of personalities in there - everyone contributed their family news from all parts of the country, many even with pictures.

And it was so well done!

It actually made me jealous in a nerdy sort of way. Why didn't my family think to do something like this? And I thought about how Dad's cousin Dave sends his family emails out on a pretty regular basis for everyone, and how much I enjoy them. Perhaps I could contribute in some way as well.

Why couldn't A Kindred Spirit could be my way?


Almost equally exciting to me, I received my first contact on my new website yesterday, and I couldn't have been more overjoyed. A nice young woman from Gansevoort, New York was reaching out because she had previously seen information on Kenneth Petteys on the site, and was disappointed that it was suddenly no longer there. As it turns out, she had recently purchased the historic house once owned by Sally and Curtis A. Petteys (brother to Kenneth) and was hoping to share the link to his page with the historic board.

Not only was someone outside of the immediate family actually seeing my work on A Kindred Spirit, but was actually finding it interesting and wanting to share it! This was just the ego boost I needed to motivate me into getting things up and running as soon (and as well) as possible.

What's even better is that there were several boxes of old photos and memorabilia left behind that she is still going through, many of which no one has yet been able to identify. Of course I was the first to offer to help her try to identify them, and wonder if perhaps Barbara would be able to recognize any people or places in them.

So very exciting!

Digging a Little Deeper for Those Roots

Just over three weeks in to my first two classes, and I'm already learning a lot. Whether it's from the actual classes (which are pretty introductory so far) or just my renewed sense of motivation to dig in even deeper, it doesn't really matter in the end. I've completed my Methodology 1 course, and am over halfway through the Census Records course, which I've found helpful so far.

In going back to my grandpa Jack Lankford, I've already branched out by reaching out to various places that I hadn't before - Moberly school district for his education records, St. Matthias for any church records, the American Society of Safety Engineers where he was a member, Washington University Archives for Monsanto employment records, and even Kutis funeral home for funeral records.

So far I've only heard back from Moberly school district. After finally finding the right person in charge of the historical records, she kindly called back to inform me that she only had access to records back to 1940. Grandpa's 1930s records were likely stashed away in a box in storage somewhere, and she did not have access to those.

It was disappointing to hear, but at the same time the mere fact that I'd tracked down the right person and received an actual informative response was considered "successful" to me. I was able to update my research log with the information so that I would know I'd at least tried.

In the meantime, I'd also been reaching out for some documents on Dad. He begrudgingly joked about "not living up to his full potential" when I asked him to sign a release for his high school transcripts. But to my surprise about a week later, I received them in the mail. I was surprised that they included not only information about the classes he took, teachers he had and grades he got, but also his parents' names, address, how many siblings he had, what elementary school he transferred from and where else his transcripts had been sent.

I also reached out to the church where Dad and his first wife had been married, and after a week's waiting and a polite followup email, received a digital copy of the marriage registry record for them. It didn't contain much information, but I was able to establish the exact date, who performed the ceremony, and even a marriage license number. Hopefully I can use this to locate the legal records for the marriage.

I think one thing I never really realized until putting all of this information together was that Dad was married literally six months after graduating from high school. I knew he had my brother when he was very young, but never really understood what things must have been like for him until seeing the dates back-to-back and really thinking about it in the greater context of things.

And so the research addiction takes hold...


Well, I’ve finally made the leap and signed up for the first of (hopefully) many classes with the National Institute for Genealogical Studies. I’m starting off with Methodology 1, and after about 30 more courses I should have my American Certificate in Genealogical Studies.

The Institute is based in Canada, but all courses are offered online and are self-paced. I had a few questions up on signing up, and was surprised to get a personal call from the director, Louise St. Denis, in response to my email. We had a good 30 minute conversation going over what I can expect, how to save some money on my courses and supplies, and of course how absolutely thrilled I was to be “officially” getting started.

Class begins on September 4th, and even though I expect it to be the most basic of the basics, the fact that it is leading me on a path to more in-depth knowledge and organization as well as the confidence and authority to actually realize my dream of researching professionally is actually a huge relief to me. I not only have a goal, but a structure and timeline to follow. I’m DOING it!