Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Mardens of Aurora

When I was at the Jamboree I met an author who has a book out that details the life of a family who lived in Aurora, Nevada. Aurora was originally the county seat for Mono County, California but then someone realized that it was actually in Nevada. Peggy Knudsen Lee's book, The Mardens of Aurora: A Gold Rush Family came out of her curiosity about a family buried in the St. John's Cemetery near what was once Aurora.

This book and the author interested me because in August 2007, I have a book coming out, published by Arcadia Publishing entitled Cemeteries of the Eastern Sierra. My book covers cemeteries and people in the Eastern Sierra region of California which includes Inyo and Mono counties.

It was neat to meet Peggy because she had done what essentially I had done. She had seen some old graves and wondered about the history of the people lying in those graves. As I researched my book, one of the questions people kept asking was why I was interested in cemeteries for an area that I do not live in nor do I have ancestors. Like Peggy I wondered about the lives and stories of those buried in the pioneer cemeteries I encountered on trips to the Eastern Sierra.

Peggy writes in the introduction to her book, "Walking around the lonesome old place (the Aurora cemetery) made me think of all the folks lying there, their families and their stories." "One grave marker really touched my heart. This was a tall four sided column, engraved on all four sides with their names and dates. they were Dick, age 6 died, Feb 16, 1878. Frank, 8 years old, died Feb 20, 1878. Pearl, age 2, died Feb 23, 1878, and Daisy, 4 years old who had died on Feb 26, 1878...Then we found another, earlier, grave there for "James, Eldest son of H. and Lizzie Marden, age 7 years 8 months, died March 9, 1865." Then further on another marker engraved with the name Hoddie Marden son of Horace and Lizzie Marden, died March 29, 1884, age 18...there were six children of this same couple, gone. It was almost too much to bear..."

As I visited Eastern Sierra cemeteries I too wondered about the lives of the people who lay to rest there. Of the families who lost multiple children in epidemics. Of the tragedy that the 1872 earthquake brought to the area around Lone Pine. Like Peggy I wanted their stories to be told.

Peggy's book is available from Mountain-N-Air Books, http://mountain-n-air.com/. I highly recommend it for those interested in California Gold Rush history or who want to see what one author has done in telling the story of a family.

Burbank Jamboree

Well, my weekend was busy with attending the Burbank Jamboree put on by the Southern California Genealogy Society. Let me tell you-this conference did not disappoint. Every talk I went to was great! If the SCGS, http://www.scgsgenealogy.com/, still has a syllabus you can purchase, I would recommend it! This conference had it all, great topics and great speakers.

For a great summary of some of the speakers and their presentations, see Steve Danko’s genealogy blog at http://www.stephendanko.com/.

One of the presentations I saw was Bill Dollarhide’s State Census and Substitutions. Basically, this is an overview of what he refers to as “name lists” that you can use as substitutes to the U.S. Federal Census. If you do New York research you really need to get his book New York State Census and Substitutions. He did a great series in his Genealogy Bulletin on each state and the “name lists” for that state. The Genealogy Bulletin was a publication of the now defunct Heritage Quest magazine. Bill had the series on sale at his booth at the conference.

One website he mentioned that I was not aware of was HistoryKat, http://affiliate.historykat.com/index.php, this website provides digital images of historical documents. It is a subscription site but at $24.95 for a year, it is an affordable one. Right now they have a little over 30 databases including some state censuses for Colorado, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin. They also have the War of 1812 Bounty Land Warrants. For those with postal employees as ancestors, check out the 10 databases they have for postal employees. The State Census records are also on Ancestry but if you don’t have an Ancestry subscription and you have ancestors in those 4 states, you might want to pay for a subscription. I did notice that some images are “browsable” and some are “indexed.” So I believe that means that there is not an every name index, which could be a problem in searching through a large document like a census.

Of course, when I go to a conference I immediately check out the vendors selling books. The Genealogy Shelf, http://www.thegenealogyshelf.com/, was there with some of their many genealogy and history related books. One of the many books I bought was Finding Indiana Ancestors: A Guide to Historical Research edited by M. Teresa Baer and Geneil Breeze. What a fabulous resource on researching Indiana ancestors! This collaborative works includes chapters by historians and genealogists. Chapters include information on Indiana resource such as the Indiana State Library, the Indiana State Archives, Indiana Historical Society, Society of Indiana Pioneers as well as non-Indiana repositories like the Allen County Public Library, the National Archives, Great Lakes Region, and the Family History Library. All types of sources are discussed including manuscripts, artifacts, maps, church records, court records and military records. Ethnic groups and industries are also covered. My feeling is having glanced at the chapters but not having a chance to sit down a read them yet, this is a great resource even if you are not researching Indiana ancestors because of the thoroughness of the discussions and how they could easily apply to a wide range of ancestors from all over the United States.