Category Archives: How-to-do genealogy Websites Recommendation for Genealogy Beginners Websites Recommendation for Genealogy Beginners


Picture  of “Reasons to Start “Doing” Genealogy from The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Genealogy (below):

Vicki’s note – To read the entire Podcast – Click here.   Or go to the link in the article introduction below to listen to this, or any,  of    weekly  Podcasts.  I listen to, or read, podcasts frequently.  I recommend it – though short, the podcasts are informative.  It shows up in my personal Facebook feed, because I “liked It”.

Some of these websites are new to me, or ones I don’t use (yet.) Certainly worth exploring!  I am adding those websites  to the Page “Genealogy Links and Helps” under “Beginning Genealogy”, and the associated topics.   Also is under the topic “BLOGs, Newsletters, Online Magazines, Podcasts, User Groups, & Facebook Groups for Genealogists (Free)”.

Another Beginner’s help is this website –

The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Genealogy

The Ten Best Genealogy Websites for Beginners

“These ten websites are among the best for genealogy beginners. Everyone has to start somewhere, and in the era of modern genealogy, you can do much without having to leave your house. Save that for the experts. Use these ten beginner websites to get you off to the best start.

Click Here to listen to the weekly podcast.

We are fortunate to live in an era where a lot of genealogy research can be done from the computer. Unlike in the past, when beginning your genealogy meant writing to your relatives, cold calling people with your surname to discover if they are related, pouring over published family and county histories that were already a century old, and going to the library to look up or order records, beginners to genealogy have it easy. Besides interviewing your immediate elder ancestors, which should be a first step for everyone, beginners can do much of their initial genealogy research online. Only after you become an intermediate and expert genealogist do you need to venture out to look for more obscure records in person.

There are so many genealogy websites out there right now, though, knowing which ones to use to get started can be confusing. Here is a list of the top ten best genealogy websites for beginners to get you started in the right direction. With these websites, you can get the information you need to put more branches on your family tree, increase your skills and go deeper with your genealogy research….”

Sergeant – My New “Genealogy” Word of the Day

Sergeant – My New “Genealogy” Word of the Day


by Vicki Ruthe Hahn

Spelling is important in genealogy.  I joke that if you can spell “genealogy” and “cemetery”, you are a genealogist!


My (Veteran) sister Wendy passed away recently after over 2 decades of increasingly poor health due to a long term illness.

I have been assisted by the Veterans Administration local Armory staff.  Wendy had emphasized her (stateside) Vietnam Era United States Army Service as SP5 E6 (which was her pay scale).  As I was preparing her obituary, I found out from the V.A. that her actual status was SSG – Staff Sergeant rank. Wendy may have mentioned that long ago, but did not lately.

“Sergeant” is a hard word to spell, as it does not look how most of us pronounce it – “sar-gent”.  Wendy’s life was a good example of the meaning of the word “sergeant” (see definition at the end of this Posting.):

The funeral home website allowed an on-line obituary about twice as long as the newspaper obituary.

Newspaper death notices (very brief) and obituaries (longer, more detailed and usually include visitation/memorial/funeral/burial information).  Death notices used to be free, but now cost.  Hint – Some families do not place a death notice or obituary for their deceased relative for all kinds of privacy reasons and/or cost, etc.  (I know why now!)

I found that death notices and obituaries published in the last few years by newspapers are available free on-line on 

– but that the funeral home obituary is not available at

The V.A.  also informed me that the free military headstone (“niche” plaque) inscription that will be provided will reflect her enlisted (9 years – 3 times Service terms – 31 Jan 1969, 14 March 1972, and 13 March 1978.  Her 2 U.S. Army Reserve enlistment dates will not be inscribed, although she got her Honorable Separation from the US Army 26 April 1985.  (Hint – sometimes what you see inscribed on a headstone, or in an obituary,  is not the complete or correct information about your ancestor).

Wendy joined the WAC Women’s Army Corps. The WAC remained a separate unit of the U.S. Army until 1978, when male and female forces were integrated.

The Armed Services (as any bureaucracy) have many precise definitions that are unique to their institutions.  I.E. “Active Service” means serving while physically being in an armed conflict where the shooting is happening.  While my sister was alive, it was not fun figuring out how to get her partial disability (only available for injuries/events during service), and what the Army meant by “pension”, “Aid and Attendance”, etc.

Each detail of your military ancestor’s service, including the military eras, determines assistance coverage while they (were) alive, and what they are entitled to once they pass away.   And EVERYTHING needs an official numbered  form to be filled out, and then more forms to make sure that you want what you asked for, IF you get approved for it!  Very frustrating.  I feel bad for veterans, and what they have to go through to get help.

For instance, my stateside peacetime Army veteran father-in-law was not entitled to a U.S. Army headstone or burial reimbursement, because he was not in a Veterans nursing home,  or because he did get a disability or pension from the Army.

There are changes through the years.  So look here to help track what military paperwork/headstone clues are telling you about your military veteran ancestor:     and here

As I look at the above link, My veteran father-in-law may qualify for a medallion to be put on his headstone.  For genealogy sleuthing,  it is important to know that descendants have not always done all of the military  paperwork/effort possible to obtain the maximum benefits.  It is very hard work!

Go to your local V. A. Armory, or VFW or American Legion Posts for assistance.  I had many long call-waitings with the Army, and was told once, “I can’t tell you which form to use, or how to fill it out.  You have to talk to …” (The above to get your answers!)

You can also find a lot at the NARA National Archives and Records Administration  –

Genealogist’s go-to database for military records is  .  But it was difficult even for the Genealogy Conference expert  I saw once who was presenting how to use it.    We can more easily find several of the military records in

“Sergeant comes from the Old French sergent and originally from the Latin verb servire meaning “to serve,” as in “to serve and protect,”…”

The Spanish verb “servir” also means “serve, help, do, serve up, wait, attend”  (Google Translate)

” Staff sergeant – Wikipedia

Staff sergeant (SSG) is E-6 rank in the U.S. Army, just above sergeant and below sergeant first class, and is a non-commissioned officer. Staff sergeants are generally placed in charge of squads, but can also act as platoon sergeants in the absence of a sergeant first class.”

Free Legacy Family Tree 24-Hour Genealogy Webinar Marathon – March 12 – 13, 2020

Free Legacy Family Tree 24-Hour Genealogy Webinar Marathon – March 12 – 13, 2020

Vicki’s Note – Here is a great free learning opportunity to do in the comfort of your own home.  I am hoping to participate.  And you can too!

Click here to register:

and for more information:

The 24-Hour Genealogy Webinar Marathon

Thu, Mar 12, 2020 4:00 PM – Fri, Mar 13, 2020 3:59 PM CDT

Join us in making history as we embark on The 24-Hour Genealogy Webinar Marathon, where you will learn how to trace your ancestors from the world’s top genealogists and educators. From advanced Googling to DNA, from The Great Lakes to Australia and Germany, there’s something for everyone… in every time zone.
And thanks to and MyHeritage, the entire event is free!
Pop in for a session or two, or stick around for the full 24 hours — it’s completely up to you. There will even be time for Q&A and door prizes.
If you can’t join us in real time, we’ve got you covered: all recordings will be available absolutely free for a week. Beyond that, you can watch them anytime with a webinar membership to

Applying to Heritage/ or Lineage Societies – Handout

Applying to Heritage/ or Lineage Societies – Handout


Vicki’s note – with her permission, here is the handout from Ruth Anderson’s program for the Stateline Genealogy Club, Beloit Public Library on December 13, 2019:

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Applying to Heritage/ or Lineage Societies – Handout

Ruth E Anderson for Stateline Genealogy Club, Beloit Public Library 20191213

Websites reviewed today: National Society Daughters of the American Revolution

DAR example

DAR example 2

DAR example 3

Applying to Heritage/ or Lineage Societies:

National Society Colonial Dames XVII Century

Colonial Dames XVII Century application example, generations 7-8:

DAR example 4

General Society Mayflower Descendants

Application example:

Mayflower example

There are many more heritage organizations available to men, women and children:

Lineage Society of

Share your family’s story… with Brian French


The key to the successful application is providing documentation for every individual and event in a lineage. This includes providing the link between each generation. As a self-check, I have used a Generation Label that lists each individual’s event, followed by the source citation(s):

Name: Ruth Anderson

State: Wisconsin

Anc: John Gore

Gen: # 6

Line of descent is through: Prudence Lake

(Generational link indicated by +)


calc from age at death-Wauconda Cemetery Burial List: p23

+Elisha Lake probate file identifies Prudence Prouty as daughter & Heir-at-Law. [p7 Elisha Lake probate file] Hist. Cook County, IL: p845


Stamford, Bennington, VT, marriage record-married by Elisha Lake, father-of-the-bride+

[p12 Elisha Lake probate file]-George Prouty buys one stack of hay His. Cook County, IL: p845

1860 Census:Lake Zurich, Ela:Lake:IL page 330++ [Ids daughter Mary & further down page,

mother Prudence Lake


Wauconda Cemetery Burial List: p23 His. Cook County, IL: p845


George P. Prouty birth calculated from age at death- Wauconda Cemetery Burial List: p23 Hist. Cook County, IL: p845

You may find a method that works better for you. You want to know exactly what you have, and what it proves. Sometimes you may need to defend your research. This type of reference document with help with that.


Abridged List of Heritage Societies available to Wisconsin residents:


National Society Daughters of the American Revolution

Leah Burrows, Janesville DAR Regent


National Society Sons of the American Revolution

Charles McGee


National Society Daughters of Colonial Wars

Ruth Anderson, Wisconsin President


Men: General Society of Colonial Wars

Jim Barr


National Huguenot Society [Co-ed]

In process of disbanding – Huguenot Society of Illinois is accepting Wisconsin members


National Society Colonial Dames XVII Century

Ruth E Anderson, Wisconsin State President

Tammy Punzel, Reginald Foster, Chapter President


National Society Dames of the Court of Honor

Karen Wills, Wis. State President

Cindy Ebert, Registrar


General Society of Mayflower Descendants [Co-ed]

Bill Hopkins, Wisconsin Governor

Evalyn Gotham, Historian


United States Daughters of 1812

Kathy Harvey, Wis. State President


Jamestowne Society


National Society New England Women

Karen Wills, Wis. Voyageurs Colony President


If you have questions, please contact me via email:

Ruth Anderson –

I also volunteer at the Rock County Historical Society’s Charles Tallman Archives

most Thursdays. Call for an appointment [608-752-5891], or stop in to chat.


2020 Stateline Genealogy Club, LLC Programs by Vicki Ruthe Hahn

2020 Stateline Genealogy Club, LLC Programs by Vicki Ruthe Hahn


Fresh off the Press – On this day of the dozens, (12/12)

(Ongoing – refer to the tab at the top of the Blog to see the 2020 Programs)

2020 Programs – Stateline Genealogy Club LLC, Vicki Ruthe Hahn

@ (BPL) Beloit Public Library

605 Eclipse BLVD, Beloit WI 53511:

All welcome. Free resources & support for learning/researching family history.

Tuesday March 10; 6:30 pm, “Contemporary Fashion through the Decades – How to Identify Our Ancestors’ Timelines by What They Wore, When” presented by Vicki Ruthe Hahn. 

 Friday March 13; 10 a.m. – noon (in Library Computer Classroom – laptops available)  “Get the Scoop on Your Ancestors – How to Use BPL’s” presented by Vicki Ruthe Hahn

 Friday April 10; 10 a.m. – noon “Which DNA Test? How to Use the Results in Your Genealogy Research”, Two Webinars

Friday May 8; 10 a.m. – noon “Organizing, Scanning & Preserving Print & Digital Photographs”, several Webinars

June? – Road Trip to Newberry Library, Chicago. Sign up, carpooling with shared gas costs, Meet at BPL. 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. plus travel time.

Friday September 11; 10 a.m. – noon   “Commemorating Mayflower Landing 400th Anniversary & Advanced Searching on”, Two (NEHGS) New England Historical Genealogical Society webinars

Friday October 9; 10 a.m. – noon “Finding Your German Ancestors with Maps & Gazetteers with A Little about Great Britain also” presented by John Wasserstrass

Tuesday October 13; 6:30 pm – “Haunted Stateline Historic Houses – How to Find Their History, the People Who Lived in Them, & Those Who May Still Be There!” presented by Vicki Ruthe Hahn – genealogist, and Sherry Blakeley – fiction author with paranormal experiences & psychic abilities (reflected in her cozy mystery books.)  Her books will be there to buy & signing.

 Friday, November 13; 10 a.m. – noon “Regional Soldiers Getting Ready for WW1 & WW2 at Military Training Camp Grant, Rockford Illinois” by Vicki Ruthe Hahn

BLOG – Contact Information, Links & Helps: “”  

 2020 Stateline Genealogy Club LLC Programs

Presented by Vicki Ruthe Hahn

At Other Stateline Locations:

Saturday March 7; 1:30 p.m. – (WBCGS) Winnebago Boone County Genealogical Society, at Spring Creek United Church of Christ  4500 Spring Creek Road, Rockford, Illinois  61114

“Contemporary Fashion through the Decades – How to Identify Our Ancestors’ Timelines by What They Wore, When”  Bring photographs, pictures, or historic articles of clothing to learn how to identify the year.

More to be added!

Two Opportunities to Learn About Your Military Ancestors and How to Join Lineage Societies

Two Opportunities to Learn About Your Military Ancestors and How to Join Lineage Societies


Vicki’s note – two free programs in two months to help you explore how to search for your Revolutionary and Civil War military ancestors.  Learn research techniques, even if you don’t join a Lineage Society.:


1) Burlington Genealogical Society Workshop – free Workshop: Monday 6 – 8:30 pm November 18, 2019 (more information below)


2) December 13, 2019 – “Lineage Groups – Proofs for DAR, SAR, etc.  10 a.m. – noon

“Lineage Groups – Proofs for DAR, SAR, Colonial Dames, Etc.” Presented by Ruth Anderson
Stateline Genealogy Club LLC, Vicki Ruthe Hahn at Beloit Public Library, 605 Eclipse BLVD, Beloit, WI 53511

Demonstration of (NSDAR) National Society Daughters of American Revolution website “Build an App”; Requirements for proofs; info on other lineage groups.


1) Burlington Genealogical Society Workshop – free Workshop: Monday 6 – 8:30 pm Nov 18, 2019 (more information):

Free Workshop: Mon.Nov 18, 2019 ~Finding your Military Ancestors and Lineage Societies that Honor Them.

you are invited to this workshop
~Finding your Military Ancestors
& Lineage Societies that Honor Them ~
~ Monday    18 Nov 2019     6 – 8:30 pm    WORKSHOP     public invited

Research tips, methods, best websites, locating information, 

identifying those who served in your family tree;
and as a descendant, you may be eligible to become a member of a lineage society.

This workshop will help you get started on the research (and the application if you wish~)
Sons of the American Revolution – Brian McManus
Daughters of the American Revolution   Jessica Rae Punzel, Brenda Majewski
Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War –Brian McManus, Jeff Graf
Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War– Pat Blackmer

 Find out if you are eligible to join, or just learn more about successful researching.
A wonderful way to honor your ancestors and all who served~

+ interesting displays of ancestor’s military service by Genealogical Society members.
Research presenters include Judith Schulz and Judy Rockwell.

Burlington (WI) Gateway Center Building
 Look for the red ribbon near the entrance door.  
496 McCanna Parkway 

 Burlington, Wisconsin

It is the building to the right of Burlington High School
Parking is free and the building is handicap accessible  


Public invited, free.  Memberships available, donations welcome.

~Guests always welcome~
Optional: purchase a membership tonight and your membership carries through all of 2020!

The Genealogical Society offers programs, workshops and methods
for anyone wanting to trace the genealogy of their ancestors;
not just from local places, but from any place in the world.
Members and guests attend the Society’s programs from 65 miles around,
with ancestors from everywhere in the world.


1)Facebook page: “Stateline Genealogy Club, LLC
Facebook page: “Genealogy Society of Burlington”
Iniciar sesión en Facebook | Facebook

“Reminiscing – Life Writing Your Story for Posterity to Share With Your Family” AND “Soda Fountains to Robots” Program Oct. 11

“Reminiscing – Life Writing Your Story for Posterity to Share With Your Family” AND “Soda Fountains to Robots” Program Oct. 11


by Vicki Ruthe Hahn

A special Stateline genealogy Club at the Beloit Public Library double program on Friday October 11, 2019 from 10 a.m. – noon.

“Reminiscing – Life Writing Your Story for Posterity to Share With Your Family”, by Vicki Ruthe Hahn

Hands on exercises and suggestions on how to reflect your own life through words, photos, and mapping.  Bring a memento, photo or picture from your past that you want to write about.

Part 2 – AND “Soda Fountains to Robots” – how to create a Family History book, by the author Connie Sveum.

Amusing stories and vignettes of local personalities in local (Beloit WI) family-owned pharmacies with the author.

Books available for purchase and signing.

Family History for Beginners, and Detective Techniques for Experienced Genealogists – Oct 2 Program

Family History for Beginners, and Detective Techniques for Experienced Genealogists –

Oct 2, 2019 Program by Vicki Hahn

Stateline Genealogy Club, LLC


Wednesday, October 2, 2019   9 a.m. – 11 a.m. (SLU) Society for Learning Unlimited, First Congregational Church, 801 Bushnell Street, Beloit, WI – “Family History for Beginners, and Detective Techniques for Experienced Genealogists” 

The Society for Learning Unlimited (SLU) is an independent nonprofit organization affiliated with Beloit College. It offers SLU students many opportunities to explore cultural and intellectual interests in a friendly and stimulating environment.

The SLU student is an older student who is committed to the ideal of life-long learning. SLU offers a wide variety of short courses to a membership of over 600 individuals representing 16 zip codes in Rock County, Northern Illinois, and the Greater Beloit Area.

Enthusiasm for lifelong learning
50 years of age or older
$5.00 per semester membership dues

For further information or a current catalogue of SLU courses.

Phone: (608) 363-2254; Email:

Searching In The Vital Records Maze


Searching In The Vital Records Maze


by Vicki Ruthe Hahn

See the source image

I took the opportunity to go to the Rock County WI Courthouse in Janesville with friend, Debra Ramsey.  Debra has done a lot of research in different vital records offices in several counties/states.  I have not done much other than on-line. Time to get with it!  Only 20 % of the genealogical information that we want is on-line.  80% is in courthouses, churches, libraries, funeral-homes/cemeteries, and people’s homes.

Searching physically on-site takes a whole different approach.  I appreciate learning from Debra’s in-sight and experience.  I arrived first so that I could get an understanding of the facility expectations and assistance.  Each facility has their own rules.

I had to show my ID and fill out a form of personal identity information that is required each yearly visit.  Then I filled out a day visit form including the date and time, and the surname(s) and year (approximate) that I would be searching that day, .  They issued me a locker and key for my purse and cellphone.  I had to turn off my cellphone first as the ring is amplified in the locker.

I had to look on my cellphone first for the search information that I would need.  It was hard to be not be able to have the search information with me from my Family Tree App,, the email client requested names/dates,, and my Legacy Family Tree TelGen Families app, etc.

Pens, cellphones, scanners, cameras, and photocopying are not allowed.  They do supply sharp pencils with no erasers, and (full-size) scrap paper!  I was able to take my notebook in with me.  It was hard to get used to bringing in only printed out family name/date information.  I quickly realized that pre-printed blank forms for birth/marriage/death would have been easier to fill in rather than transcribing every word from the vital record to my notepaper.  I will be more prepared next time.

There are large index books for birth, marriage, and death records, and grouped by type and by year ranges. The staff member helpfully guided me on how to use their records organization. Debra showed me more details, and how to use the Excel spreadsheet indexes on the computer (which she noticed are sometimes incorrectly transcribed from the hand-written book indexes.)  Key word searches are not easy on the spreadsheet, and the format is clunky to use.  Most of the hand-written book indexes are clearly written and readable except for some letter flourishes.

Marriage records, within a book index,  are listed in parallel columns by surnames for several pages of each first letter.  All of the “C” s for example are listed roughly by year and not exact alphabetical, but as they entered the names.  It is necessary to skim through all of the names.  The same page has a column on the left for Groom’s names – last, first, middle; and on the right for bride’s names – maiden, first, middle.  The names do not necessarily line up with each other as couples.  One has to look at the columns to the right of each name for the month/day/year of the marriage, and then to the next column for the vital record number.

We found one case where the groom’s name was listed three times in a row, within a 3-year span, next to three bride’s names.  Two of the names were apparently the same bride with a different (married) surname.  She must have married the first man again after having been married to a second man.   The usual index arrangement is to have the bride’s name within a list (on a different section) alphabetically by her surname(s).  We may have seen this example in the computer Excel spreadsheet index.

The record number refers to the actual vital records kept in books on space-saving (slightly claustrophobic) bookcases that may need rolled apart.  The order of the books is by type – birth, marriage, death; record # range; and year range.  The actual order was mixed up and didn’t make total sense to this librarian.  Yet we found what we were looking for.  Later amended or years-after-the-fact vital records may be kept in more current books.  (I.E. – people without a birth certificate who wanted later to file for social security.)

We noticed that older records forms have more information required on them than the newer ones.  Older marriage records have date and address of marriage; ages and full names of bride and groom (including birth family maiden name of the bride); township/city where they each live; when the license was issued by which county agency; names of two witnesses that were present at the marriage; marital status, number of marriages, relationship, occupation, nationality, and race of groom and bride;  and birthplace and (maiden) name of mother and father for bride and for groom.  More recent records do not have all that, but what a gold mine to have even most of that information!

One has to rely on a staff member to access Winnebago County vital records in Rockford, Illinois.  (Though I think that they told me by phone that it is possible to search yourself?) It takes a long time for the person to scan and print out portions of microfiche for a record.  They may not have indexes, and may not realize the importance of source information to be attached to that printout.

Well worth the trip to anyplace for vital records, if not available on-line.  Some government entities do have vital records that you can look at on-line.  It will cost you to get an official print copy – $20 in Rock County.

Some facilities require you to make an appointment first.  Most have specific hours or days open, some restrict when genealogists can do research.  Each state may have several different facility locations for where they keep vital records, dependent on how old they are.  When records were legally required, and then actually kept, varies.   Some states may duplicate or rely on County level records. The on-line databases are digitizing more vital records, but it seems disjointed, hit or miss. ( Refer to the chart linked below.)

Local, county, state, federal government offices/agencies can be closed at irregular times with planned furlough days to balance budgets, or in-service days for staff training.  The holidays closures are not uniform across agencies, even within a county.  There may be partial or whole closure days adjoining a regular holiday closure. The hours open may change with what day of the week it is, or closures for staff lunch break, etc.  There may be seasonal variations.

Also keep up with possible un-planned closures due to frozen budget/government shut-downs.  There will be vacations and medical leave absences if you need a particular staff person or specialized service.  You may need to look on-line at the agency homepage, or phone/email ahead.

Rock County Courthouse, 608-757-5650, 51 South Main Street Janesville, WI  53545

 8 – 5 weekdays. Staff assistance is available from 8:00 am – 12:00 pm and from 2:00 pm – 4:30 pm.
Searching –

Genealogists are often the lowest in order for the busy staff to help.  The day that I was there, the courthouse was very busy with requests from the public for getting current vital records registered, and active current needs.  One request was for a vital record that a sister wanted of a brother – even though she had a different last name, she was able to get the record with proof of her relationship.  (More information on state’s rules is on the chart linked below.)

Too bad most of my family’s records will not be in close-by facilities.  We can appreciate what genealogists only had before computers and Internet – traveling to the agencies/ facilities, and requests for information by mail with payment by check.  I have been actively doing genealogy research for 7 years, and have been able to get by on online computer only so far.  Now I will be more prepared for on-site research.

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(Vicki’s note – click on the title for a link to the full related article from ):

Wildly varying access rules and availability make a tangled maze of your ancestors’ state-level vital records. Let us guide you through….
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Also see the handout that I got at the Courthouse on the

Wisconsin law for searching death records:

WI Vital Records Law

German Interest Group GIG Workshop Saturday July 20, 2019 Janesville WI

German Interest Group GIG Workshop                    Saturday July 20, 2019                                       Janesville WI

Vicki’s Note – Sorry for the late notice.  Here is another conference/workshop close by, inexpensive, and good speakers!

Click on this link to download a copy of the Workshop flyer and Registration form –